Thursday, August 12, 2021

Microstory 1689: Connections

In the early days of a universe called Universum Originalis, a civilization formed in a galaxy called Vertea. It wasn’t just a galaxy, but the entirety of the cosmos, according to its inhabitants. A bizarre phenomenon known as The Verge forced all interstellar travel to first converge in the center of what, again, the people thought must be the center of the universe as a whole. From there, they could travel outwards to where they wanted, but they weren’t able to move laterally. And they weren’t able to move beyond the galaxy, because they weren’t even able to detect that other galaxies existed at all. Once they did progress enough to figure this out, some of them decided to explore. They built ships that were bigger and more impressive than anything they ever had before, and they went out in search of new cultures. While these ships could reach incredible speeds, they still took time, and they figured that not everyone would be so patient. If it took them a hundred years to finally find some alien friends, it would take a hundred years to get back. They decided to construct something known as the Nexus Network. Machines were placed on key planets, which would allow near instantaneous travel between the stars, and even between galaxies. They could automate these network builders to go all over the place, so if one of them ever did encounter intelligent lifeforms, anyone could get to them in a matter of seconds, or maybe minutes. Well, they didn’t find anyone. They didn’t realize how few and far between civilizations were. Natural branes are designed to support life in one galaxy at a time, and most likely crumble by the time a new one rises billions of years later. Fortunately, this was just the one universe, and there were infinite places to go once they came up with sufficiently advanced technology.

By the time they came to understand how rare life was, the small group of scientists and their friends had figured out how to travel between universes. At this point, they themselves were billions of years old, so actually interacting with these others didn’t seem as interesting as it once did. They began to feel like the wisest people in all of reality, and while they weren’t pretentious about it, they didn’t think it was a good idea to interfere with the children too directly. That didn’t mean they didn’t want to help. They could remember being so disappointed about how alone they were in their home universe. They figured that the best way to help was to create connections, so no one else would experience the same feelings of isolation. They built more Nexus networks. They didn’t build them in every universe that they encountered, and not only because the proper physics in some didn’t support the technology, but because they didn’t all need such a thing. Sapioplantaverse needed a network, but only one that reached throughout their home galaxy. They were ecstatic when they discovered the Nexus on their planet, which  was deliberately hidden to avoid extremely primitive species from being sociologically harmed by the technology. The artificial intelligence that runs each Nexus is just that; it’s intelligent. The engineers who built the system programmed it to assess someone’s technological status, to decide what they’re allowed to do with the machine, and what they’re not ready for. Some are allowed to go to any world they want, while others can only go to one. Some immediately have access to advanced features, like evacuation mode, while others have to earn that right, if they ever do. The intelligent plant-based were given easy access to the control room of the machine, but weren’t able to do anything right away. This forced them to study what they had uncovered, and figure things out on their own. It took them years, but once they did, they sent an exploration team to the only other planet seen to have a Nexus of their own. It was this universe’s version of Earth, and from here, an alliance formed. Because what they discovered was that they weren’t the only two cultures in the Milky Way. The Ochivari chose this brane to reconsider their options.

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