Saturday, May 4, 2019

Proxima Doma: Developments (Part VII)

And then there were four. Two of each. It was as awkward as you might expect, but they kept going, and eventually fell into a good rhythm. Now there were two Caretakers. The people of Proxima Doma were getting into a good rhythm as well, and figuring out how to protect themselves better. They were becoming more and more like the Earthans of the day, creating the same kind of infrastructure and society that allowed the original Savior program to end in the first place. The Caretaker program wasn’t so much a program as it was a failsafe. They went for days not having to go back in time at all, and even when they did, usually only two of them would have to work, and it was usually the pair who were responsible for there being duplicates of themselves now. But things were changing once again. The last of the Oblivio-primitivist Pioneers were arriving, which meant it was coming time to erase their memories. Technically, the memories of the ones who were already inside of the simulator dome weren’t completely intact. Étude had built Tertius a command tower in the center of the dome, which stretched all the way up to the ceiling.
The residents had no clue that the tower was there at all. They could be literally looking at it, and would not be able to see it. Their brains were interpreting the tower as a physical object in three-dimensional space, but Tertius was using his power to prevent that information from encoding itself as memory anywhere in the cerebrum. If some other resident of the planet ventured into the dome, they would not be able to see it either. He was only actively allowing the two Études and two Vitalies to see, along with the Ambassador.
The Oblivio ambassador wasn’t the only one who would never have her memories erased, but she was the only one who fully understood that Tertius possessed special abilities, rather than just highly advanced technology. She and the rest of the cognizants realized it would be impractical to leave the integrity of their new way of life in the hands of strangers. They sacrificed their aversion to technology to make sure their people would be safe from learning the truth. It was unclear whether their secret would die with them, or if they would pass the knowledge onto a select few, so the Oblivios could always be protected. One of the pairs were now discussing the far, far future with Tertius and Ambassador Kavita Lauritz, around one of the many fountains Tertius asked Étude to build for him. One day, the dome would not be large enough to keep residents from exploring its borders without realizing it. Similarly, Tertius would not always be around to work his magic. Everything they had come up with was a temporary solution, and it was time to think about how things could last.
“Well, in less than four hundred years, the walls of the dome could likely come down anyway,” Vitalie pointed out.
“How so?” Kavita questioned.
“That’s the estimated time it will take to terraform this planet,” Étude answered in Vitalie’s place.
“Are they doing that?” Kavita asked.
“Yeah, they’ve begun the process,” Vitalie said.
“Venus won’t be done until 2700,” Kavita noted.
“They started earlier, which means they started with older technology. The progress is getting faster and faster.”
“Plus, we have a different set of variables. We’re not saying it will definitely be done by 2600, but that’s the goal anyway.”
Kavita nodded, but also shook her head at the same time. “That’s assuming we can’t figure out how to keep them from reaching the dome walls. I would rather they continue to be protected from all external influence.”
Vitalie breathed deep, and addressed the ambassador more directly. “The average life expectancy for the human species, barring medical upgrades, is still about ninety years. I even rounded up to make the math easier. In four hundred years, everyone living today will be dead. Were any of you transhuman, the timespan would be meaningless, but you will not be able to control where your society goes. The last time our species was living under the conditions you’re planning to live under, we didn’t stay there forever. We figured out how to churn butter faster, and get to places more efficiently. Though thee pioneers for yesterday were fine with their way of life, and many individuals never wanted it to change, as a whole, progress just cannot be stopped. Religion does a pretty good job at suppressing and oppressing, but we always overcome. My point—and I do have one—is that we have no reason to believe your Oblivios won’t do the same.
“Once all the people who came here by choice are gone, and all you’re left with are their descendants, who never developed distaste for technology, memory or no, there’s no telling what will happen. I know you don’t wanna hear this, but there’s no reason to believe by the time the world is fully terraformed, your people won’t have invented cars and television. In all likelihood, history will just repeat itself. Nothing stays the same forever. Ironically, you might be able to get away with it if you don’t erase their memories, because then parents will be able to indoctrinate their children into remaining as they are, but by making them Oblivios, you’re really just making them unadvanced peoples. Unadvanced peoples always either die out, or become advanced.”
“What about the American Indians from our history. Their technology remained stagnant for centuries, while the rest of the world developed,” Kavita said.
“That’s a common misconception. They were more advanced than you’ve probably been taught. They just did things differently. And they died out, because they were massacred, by people who were, not superior to them, but greedy and envious.”
Kavita thought about this for a moment. “Well, we’re here by choice. Everyone in this dome has agreed to have their memories wiped, and to live a simpler life. Our future children never agreed to that, so it would be unethical to find ways of sheltering them, should that go against their wishes. We don’t have to tell them where they really live, but we can’t stop them from trying to find out. It’s less a technology thing, and more a philosophical one. Humans are driven to explore, and we recognize that, which is why we’re not violent, like the anarcho-primitivists.”
“That’s not our biggest problem anyway. I still won’t live forever,” Tertius reminded them. “Unless you can find me some immortality water, I’ll die long before the planet is terraformed. If I tried to adopt transhumanistic upgrades, I would just lose my powers.”
“What you need is a successor,” Étude said to him. “Like Vitalie is for me, and I was for Xearea...and Xearea for Makarion.”
“That would be great,” Tertius said, “if that person existed. There are others with memory manipulation powers, but none quite like me; not with my scale.”
“What if you had a kid?” Vitalie asked.
“Time powers can be genetic, and are sometimes hereditary, but there’s no guarantee. Plus, I’m not going to have a child just so I can groom them to replace me. I never wanted children, so it would be wrong.”
“What if we could create a successor?” Étude wasn’t sure how they would take her suggestion. They seemed to want to know more. “My seer. I haven’t spoken to him in years, but I will never forget his last prediction. He said, the water reptilian living on Earth’s twin can make or break your gifts.
Vitalie raised one eyebrow. “That’s vague.”
“I don’t know what it means, but it certainly sounds like he was talking about Dardius, which is a planet eerily similar to Earth. And it sounds like someone there can give people time powers.”
“It sounds like some sort of animal can give people powers,” Vitalie said. “I mean, are we supposed to—?”
“It’s not an animal,” Étude interrupted. “That’s just a clue to who we would need to hunt for there. She might have a tattoo of a lizard in a river, or maybe an actual pet is owned by the metachooser. I don’t know. But I know we can find it there, if that’s what we want.”
“Where is this Dardius?” Kavita asked.
“It’s two million lightyears away,” Vitalie replied.
“It’s closer to two point eight.”
“Oh, that’s so much better.”
“It doesn’t matter how far it is if you can get me the Cosmic Sextant,” Tertius said.
“What the hell is that?” Kavita was still learning about all this crazy stuff that existed.
“It’s a special device that can help navigate space travel,” Étude answered. “It can’t take you that far without a massive structure that facilitates said travel. It can go a few stars over at most, but definitely not to another galaxy.”
“That’s why they built the Great Pyramid of Giza,” Tertius said. “That’s its entire purpose.”
“Wait, people with powers built the pyramids?” Kavita asked, heartbroken.
“No, we didn’t,” Étude promised her. “People like us just designed them. Pure human ingenuity and willpower is what really built them.”
“It does us no good for the Sextant to be on Earth,” Vitalie said. “We would need Tertius in person to create his successor, and he can’t leave Proxima Doma.”
“I can’t leave this dome,” he corrected. “Fortunately, there’s more than one reason I asked you to build me this tower, and do so with this shape.”
“Yeah,” Étude understood. “It’s an echo chamber; the cylicone. I thought you needed it to magnify your powers.”
“It certainly does that,” Tertius confirmed, “but it’s also good enough to facilitate travel all the way to the Dardius galaxy. If you go back to Earth, get the Cosmic Sextant, and bring it back here, we can reach Dardius. What you’ll find there is anyone’s guess, though, because I never spoke to this fortune-teller of yours.”
“The question is who will go?” Vitalie realized. “I kind of need to stay here and protect the Oblivios, now that it’s finally time for them to have their memories erased.”
“I’ll do it.” It was the other version of Vitalie; the one who never experienced the reality where the colony ship experienced a cataclysm. She could have been eavesdropping on their conversation the entire time. “This planet isn’t big enough for the two of us anyway. I wanna do something important.”

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