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John Rodrigues (M)
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    Vaticinate - draft part 3b
    Nate imagined what it would have been like if he had never been abducted. He was distressed by the climate. He saw the equivalent of the Vat in natural formations such as caves. In a place like that, he could think about the meaning of the Vat. He is exploring humanity's origins. That unwound the trail from the Vat to aliens, posthumans, machines and Earth. There may have been countless other paths by species in the domains. The Vat would be expressed differently for each of these. There may be a series of artifacts which would reveal what that looks like. It would be like a multis that traveled between Vats. There would have been others like him before Tarp. This was like the betan gang, but on his own planet.

    Having had his fill of nature, Nate explored a museum. He was nostalgic for what remained of the human way of life on the planet. It had scale models of what the active areas looked like. He saw where the guild used to make most of its new creations which were no longer in use. He found some of the leftover shelters that used to be the cartel camps or mines. There was a lot less competition these days. He could take over the organization of the exiles and cartel. What he wanted to know was whether he could reanimate people.

    By following the crowd, Nate met additional transhumans to get an idea of their lives. He was going through another type of obstacle course to get to the primary transhuman. Based on what he had seen of the relics before, he found a hidden pursuer cache which could have been used against the transhumans. There was a place where he could be converted to a transhuman, but that was not carried out because of protests from bystanders. They had never met a good human before and had heard a lot to discourage them from accepting such. He was also not responding well to their devices, so they were going to imprison him. While recording this, he figured out what seemed to be a flaw in the transhuman mesh. Unfortunately, it also had a chain reaction because he was facing what seemed to be autonomous augmentation until he was clear of them. Then he was almost captured by an exile gang and had to escape. He was somewhat roughed up. His response to an artifact was replayed as a parallel personality like him from another dimension. Then he was attacked by what must have been nanomals.

    Nate was wondering if there was anywhere safe left for him. Perhaps the same might have happened if a transhuman had showed up on the vat among the mob of people who were accustomed to routines which they did not have to think about and were distrustful of strangers. He would have about as much luck at changing that as this.

    He had to continue his search.


    Trom projected an image to find Lange on the station. He did not want to get the other artificial involved at the moment, but the synd could benefit from his appraisal of the situation. Lange was in a public area, but Trom got his attention and beckoned him toward an unused corridor. "Good to meet for a moment."

    "We have not located him yet," Lange said. He looked nonplussed to be called out on short notice like this.

    "The idea is to save the humans from the aliens. Those stalking Nate will be after us as well."

    "We can defeat them quickly."

    But then Nate would not be as worried. He could not know how Trom did it. "The humans may have gotten over their former preoccupations by adjusting to the station, but there were some things that they should not lose sight of."

    "The utopia that they promised everyone did not materialize."

    "It could not since they assumed the central position was for themselves." Trom's plan had shown that Nate, Knawe and the others were in no condition to run Earth like the transhumans could.

    "Nate in particular had a trait which precluded him from appreciating the posthuman way."

    It was taking him forever to figure out that Trom was in control. "We are about to shift his motivation a few notches." Whether or not Nate ever rejoined the Vat, he would have been effective in shaping things along Trom's lines.

    "He might find what is left of other humans around the planets from which he could try to activate them again."

    "His identity is miniscule compared to the posthumans, but he cannot relinquish it."

    "Humans lack imagination. They do as they are told."

    "If the roles were reversed, he would be a cruel master."

    "So he can have nothing to complain about the way that we have tolerated him."

    "He could become convinced that he was still in the Vat. Then he would not know whether he was not just uploading or downloading." Trom was looking for any gaps in his scheme that remained unguarded and in which someone might run away or otherwise throw it off.

    "The others thought that Tarp had had to be taken out, as well as the betans and Noths."

    "Humor them, but we would have done it differently. We could have made it look like a Correction ruse or we could have made the Vat appear to be no separate from the dungeons." Trom knew enough not to underestimate the impulse toward immortality. It was he who set the transhuman agenda throughout the mesh. It was the greatest of virtues. "All of the confrontations between groups reflected the ancient quest." Trom's only concern was that there might be other types who evolved to compensate for the transhumans, as they had for the humans.

    "Without humans there was no need for megacities."

    "It had not been easy to conquer the artifacts which reacted to the posthumans rather than bringing back the human civilization."

    "The aliens have a stake in the outcome."

    "Maybe Opqrst had not seen an issue," Trom said, "but there would be others who would have thought the betans much more difficult to contain than the humans."

    Lange stiffened. "Then the upshot of letting Nate escape was that we want him to be up against the posthumans by himself so that he has to convert."

    "We have seen to it that the rest are tethered by something else now that will destroy them if they attempt the same, like the way the multis were if he tried to return." Trom made a gesture to show that Lange was dismissed and his image vanished.


    Nate faced a lot of new species on Earth. He has probably been bitten by most of them. In his condition, he cannot be sure what the effects of this are going to amount to. It seems like any direction that he turns to leads to another confrontation. For example he has seen a brain box, the Moderator, the transhuman Trom, and what he calls Nate' prime for lack of a better description. He would prefer to deal with them in single file, but they want to interpose themselves each time that he looks away. This is not going to make finding the villain any easier. He is in the right place at the right time, but all the wrong people also decided to show up. If this was the Vat, he would have gone to his own cell until he needed something. People had lasted for decades in solitary in the old days. They might be gibbering idiots when they finally got out, but they had lived through it. He knew that there were other humans left in stasis somewhere which was the modern equivalent. The place to retreat would be the multis, but that might put him somewhere random. He could have done some of this from another exoplanet, but the Earth had a tendency of being misplaced. Plus his transports where often taken out. He had a premonition of all of the multis arriving at the same time and Earth not surviving the crush of the multiverse. He could easily become dislocated. He saw himself going through this and not being able to affect anything about it.

    "You are sensing the aftermath of themacloud."

    "Who said that?" Nate asked. It was another him almost doubled over nearby exhibiting the effects of noot-deprivation.

    "Nate Prime," it answered the unspoken question.

    "Trom," answered another, this time a transhuman. Finally someone that could give him the answers.

    "What's the occasion?" Nate asked.

    "You seem to want to get to an orbital network," Trom said, "but have to avoid the transhuman admin."

    "Can you?" Nate asked.

    "I can direct the mesh and the artificials," Trom said.

    "The ringleader," Nate' said. "He must be blaming you for the demise of a transhuman."

    "Because of you," Trom said, "some of the transhumans would have let Earth be taken by the aliens."

    "I wanted it for the humans," Nate said.

    "They don't know what the betans had told you about the machines being against posthumans," Nate' said.

    "I had a good multis to get out before the betans tried," Trom said.

    "You could enlist the clones against the transhumans if they could avoid the aliens," Nate' said.

    "That would split the Variates and transhumans," Trom said.

    "You have to see the impending chaos from the posthumans' view versus the machines and aliens," a new voice said.

    Nate looked around and only saw a box. It seemed to have a brain of its own.

    "You can get to Mars complec again," the box said. "There was a betan network there."

    "It is just giving you flack for what happened to the betans," Nate' said.

    "Be careful not to make the synds want to take the Earth again," the box said.

    "There may still be alien ship up there," Trom said. "if you can get to it, but that would bring down the synds and artificials.

    "I have noticed signs of aliens like there were on the exoplanet," Nate said. "There were probes."

    "You have to avoid alien immersion," Nate' said.

    "How do you know that it wasn't evidence of the time-travelers?" an artifact-like object asked.

    "What is this?"

    "There was a Moderator which merged human and machine for cartel," Trom said.

    "And you are merely getting to that transhuman's proxy," the Moderator said.

    "As opposed to the human gang and what is left of the guild or admin," the box said.

    "You could restore the machines against the transhumans," the Moderator said.

    "And unleash a machine that will lead to a takeover," the box said.

    "Then expect the aliens versus machines," Trom said.

    "There is an artifact for that," Nate' said.

    "I thought that there would only be other posthuman species," Nate said, but they had gone.


    Now that Nate was on Earth again, he had to consider how it was going to end this time. The humans had disappeared quietly when last they were seen. Odds were it would not go down the same way again.

    First of all it would not be them, but one of the other groups. From what he had seen, the betans had not really had any chance on their exoplanet. The Martians expected to be around longer than the transhumans, but so did the latter compared to the artificials. The synds wanted to outlast them all. The aliens and machines were in a class by themselves.

    Whoever wanted to take out the machines really had their work cut out for them. It was not going to be like the scifi movies where a resistance holds them at bay until their energy is exhausted and they remain hunks of inert metal. They had already morphed into other forms. From their point of view, everything in nature was like them so they could vanish to others' eyes and still be active.

    The aliens were another interesting case. They did not retreat to their native planets nor were they subdued by being herded toward supernovas or black holes. In fact they thrived in those environments. Their master of the physical elements meant that they could apply the principles as they saw fit. While other species were attempting to build stable niches, they were wreaking havoc.

    The humans could only hope to get out of the middle of all of this, but while they were there, the others tended to collapse in on them. This would be okay if they all canceled each other out like a mathematical equation that left the humans intact, but it was not going like that.

    It also seemed like the quantum elements had their own destinies to fulfill which involved dissolving the domains. So far they had limited their compression to small circumferences on single planets, but there was nothing to stop them from connecting the dots.

    Nate was not going to be able to stop all of that from his perch on Earth. He did not have his choice of the manner of demise either. It was not possible to say who could make the decision for how a species could make a dignified ending. That is what they all clamored so hard to avoid. The most creative would find a use for anything. The most destructive would take anything else out beside what they considered their own. The Vat was a kind of common essence for all those that were contained there though they had never been natural allies. It would have seemed like any domain would serve the same purpose, but somehow that was not in their makeup. They would sooner cooperate with their counterparts elsewhere than put up barriers that would isolate them among their opposites. Perhaps this is what those larger groups had surmised when they tried to establish themselves as the sovereigns of space. The weight of the multiverse would lessen with each of their departures until the Vat was no longer moored. There was a lot of information that had to go somewhere.


    Trom had had the Vat swept for anything that could be interpreted as an alien artifact. He knew that Opqrst was getting data from somewhere and had comms to the unlikeliest places occasionally. The artificials were analyzing this. The aliens may have placed something on the Vat themselves before or had someone insert it for them more recently. This may have been related to the abductions, e.g. if they had been done by a device. Those were also kept on the stations, bases, transports or individuals themselves. When the mesh had been infiltrated by the aliens, Trom had cleared it up, so he was sure that this would be as satisfactory. Trom had also been a significant part of the retribution toward the tyrant for what had been done to the transhumans, so the aliens would eventually have to reconcile with them as well. The transhumans had also been left with nothing after the synds, bots, and nanomals had taken down the megacities before Trom had rebuilt their civilization so he would meet whatever similar effort would be necessary after this.

    The aliens had not counted on the transhumans finding these. The transhumans were the most mindful of all of the types. They were not prone to the mechanistic reflexes of the other groups, including the synds. The transhuman culture had been the ideal that humanity could not attain on its own. It had bolstered all of the good traits. It had survived the period of machine dominance where the humans had become pawns. The transhumans had a secret that the domains were all incomplete without the ingredient that they brought to these. Change was granted intent. The aliens would soon be learning of this.

    The artificials had kept the aliens at a distance so far which was like a truce. They had served their purpose. Trom's goal was to make the transhumans the equivalent of any kind. The Variates were an example of what they could be in space. The same would occur in the other domains. At some point the artificials would no longer be a necessary part of that. Between the aliens and machines, there was a third option, the transhuman correlate which would be bigger than both of them. The transhuman mind would see from all perspectives simultaneously so there could be no error. The artificials had been a first approximation of this.

    Earth was still the transhuman base. The few remaining exile groups on the planet were treated well and sustained in their niches. The biosphere had been made much more efficient by the right amounts of information in the right places with the aid of the artificials.

    The humans there had decided that they wanted to be immersed by their own volition. They had eschewed the proxies. That was hurried by their sudden decline. Tarp had been a nuisance, but Trom had let it slide and he ended up in the Vat. The usual ways to confine humans made them berserker. Putting the population together was okay for the clones. The Vat seemed like its own planet.

    Nate could not be considered a transhuman because of what he had done from which there was no recovery. He had attempted to make Trom's plans look ineffective and that had cost the transhumans a lot in terms of their being the default group which all could count upon. As soon as the others had to think about it, they would make mistakes, and that had caused it all to take an alternative route through the future. The problem was that Nate did not stay put on the station. He had reactivated the possibility of mortality for the humans. The betans would have been stable if Nate had not interfered.

    By exciting the aliens, Nate had put them all in peril. If he could be unlived, that would be preferable, but they have to cope with him as is.

    Trom looked for a quick victory by learning from the artifacts. He knew that the Vore was about to take Nate out. The the transhumans were going to switch the domain on the aliens.


    While searching through the items that were left in a crate, Nate came upon a set of glasses. They reflected the sky. He tossed those aside. There was a box that had someone's picture in a quadrant. Another looked like a small scaffolding which had a couple of miniature bot-like appendages at the bottom. He looked for the way to activate it. He had found an artifact that was unlike the others.

    The surroundings melted and he was in a dark room. It filled with a patchwork of images that resembled augmentation, but were much clearer. Nate could physically walk around and the walls seemed to stay the same distance away from him. There was someone else in it as well. Nate had a hard time believing this. "Opqrst!"

    "Nate."

    "How did you find me?"

    "It was the artificials who are good at tracking. We got a tip from a source inside."

    "Where is this?"

    "I think that it used to be a prototype fabricator of some sort. They did not have the augmented assembly devices that are common now."

    "Why are you here?" Nate asked.

    "To ask a favor."

    "After what happened on Terra Beta?"

    "That was not your fault. They were headed for it anyway. It was a matter of time."

    "What could I possibly add to that?"

    "We need to convince the transhumans to give the Earth to us."

    "They would not."

    "They would if you were for it without reservation."

    "Why would that be?" Nate asked.

    "They are trying to figure out where to release the humans to and will not need it themselves after a while."

    "Why me?"

    "You can run the transhumans like the artificials tried with your group since it is only fair."

    "I don't know if the other humans would go for it."

    "Yes if you said so. Besides, this would alleviate any contention with Knawe over the transhumans."

    "What happens to the planet?"

    "Earth could be left where it was if he agreed, but the other exoplanets would not."

    "What about the humans?

    "If we are successful then we will put the humans where they like, e.g. like dungeons, clones or Vat."

    "I still don't see why it should be me."

    "You will have accomplished what no other human could by subduing the transhumans."

    "What occurs to them?"

    "The transhumans will be put into a station like the betans were."

    "They run other groups."

    "The artificials could be taken out altogether."

    "I'm not sure about this."

    "You would join the betan gang if you do not cooperate."

    "No I wouldn't. This is an Earth device right? Then it would listen to me over you. I want an augmentation interface."

    The environment changed to a darker tint.

    "Be very certain of what you are doing."

    "I'm deleting this content and your person inside it."

    The other disappeared. Nate waited a moment then waived his arms and the normal area returned. He was outside the device again. The device looked no different, but he threw it down and bashed it apart so noone could be in there still or again. That was not his first victory concerning the aliens, but this would persevere compared to the previous.


    Nate was trying to lose himself among the mines. There were some of the exiles around, but he stayed out of their way.

    He was so fatigued, he could barely stand. It had been a while since he had had something to eat. There must be a reason he was rambling around down here. He had to figure out why he was still in this at all. None of the convictions that he had originally were still valid. He was as far from where he started as he could be. His goal was nothing like before. If there was a way to get a second chance, he would opt for it. The humans were going to be taken out because of what he had done. If there was an avalanche this minute, it would not make a difference. He felt like a cardboard cutout or maybe that was how the others had seen him. There was nothing substantial left. He was as dried up as everything else that had been chiseled out of this place.

    It was like nature had slowed down on him. He felt like he might be put into stasis for a long time to reconsider what he had failed to make happen. If the cartel found him, they would put him into a brain box. That must be what it was. He was trying to escape his own mind. This sounded like an impossibility. There was no mesh for that. Maybe it was something else trying to reach him from the multiverse. It wanted him to take a nap. He would briefly have an artificial's perspective. That would make his own appear meaningless by comparison.

    His shoulders shook him with a start. Noone else was around. Something was troubling him.

    There may be more aliens on the way. He let out a sigh.

    Nate knew where he had to go, and who he had to become


    Nate got into the transhuman stores. He needed to match their wits. The only way that he was going to be capable of that was if his mind was running on all cylinders. He had never tried anything that they had before, but there was no time to be selective. There were some ingredients that seemed harmless so he put them together and consumed it. This was more than something for the pain. For a second it was like being on the Vat again when he was amply supplied. It would likely have been regulated out of circulation there though. Then it was like time had slowed down. Either he was not learning a thing, or there were no wasted pathways in his perceptions. He had better finish this as quickly as possible because it would wear off and he did not know what condition that he would be in then.

    He could make an artificial brain that would give him someone to converse with and it would think faster than anyone else and solve the problems. Then it would take care of things for him better than a proxy could. He would like to put this entire domain in stasis until he had solved this.

    Steady. This was his final chance to make it to the Vat. There had been a guy who tried to send his consciousness to ride a laser. If Nate could not access a multis, then he has to get to a transport, whether it was variate or artificial. If he could get back to the betan station, he might be able to fix the alien transport and go from there. There had to be a way. How did those machines travel? All he needed was comms to whoever was in charge. He could request the station to send a multis to pick him up. It did not have to be him in particular if he could get a message to the Noth, then they could complete it, but they might not be around. If he were a clone then they would be able to synch across a mesh. Similarly for transhumans. If he found Lange's twin ship, then that would link to the synd. He could use his augmentation from across the multiverse to the Vatagain. If he could get to the sentient component of the Vat itself, then he could act through it.

    He had to grasp the mindset of the posthumans. If he were an artificial, then they would all be able to converge on the station. Given infinite time, he could come up with a plan to have the others accomplish what was needed, but all he can do now is to alert them. Maybe he could startle them into it. He had to look like an alien so that the artificials would warn the Vat. If the machines were not bad, then it would be easy to maneuver them there.

    If there was a way to transfer his awareness to another version of him, then he could go from an unbounded domain instead of from here. If the aliens could swap a planet's position between galaxies, then they could send a person somewhere else. That had sever possibilities, but then he was looking at the end where he would be another specter in the black hole. Then if he could get the attention of the time-travelers, they would take back to his starting point with full knowledge of what had transpired. He had to tell Knawe what was required, but not have it come from him because she would despise that. Maybe there was a way to put the information into the wristbands so people would absorb it second-nature without effort. If had another shot at it, he would have gone back from the betans and taken his chances rather than come here. There may be a domain where the events that led to the Vat all occurred simultaneously rather than over a long time-period so he could skip to that.

    He had to bring the Vat to him. There had been apparitions there. If he knew how to activate them, then he could become like that.
    There may be artifacts which are connected between here and there. If there was a stratum that was faster than time and larger than space, then he might be able to traverse it without any perceivable delay. Something that could bend the path from here to there to make the endpoints meet would be sufficient.

    If he could stay like this, maybe Knawe would like him better.

    There was something that he had wanted to complete. A couple of them. Find the transhuman. Get to the Vat. He was paralyzed. Someone was headed his way.


    After all that ha happened, Nate still could not find Trom. That was not supposed to be the case.

    He had walked right into a transhuman trap. They took everything that he had. The betans had done what they could to warn him. He also had to relinquish their artifact which they had provided him in confidence. Were any of them around, they would toss him to the aliens themselves.

    The transhumans had their own multis or something like it which was not broken. Nate was sent to the Vat.

    He could not see any of his former acquaintances there. Knawe had not shown up to greet him either. He thought he saw his own augmentation, but it must have been run by a ghost. The word was that he was equivalent to Tarp and the Vat would take him out for what had already happened and also what was headed their way.

    The artificial claimed that Nate incited the betan station to revolt which cost the planet its inhabitants. Lange had been demoted for allowing him to escape. The decision was announced that Nate was to be reset.

    Then something was done that he did not see.

    Nate was dependent upon noot which was not provided and he wanted to go to Earth.

    Sat, Mar 1, 2014  Permanent link

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