Revelation Passage Part 5

This is the last of five parts.


  • 500 million years in the future, or
  • 700 million years before the events in parts 1-4, or
  • 200 million years after the PaleoBringer departed the Milky Way galaxy on a world over 30,000 light-years from the Earth:

    Revelation Five: The Queen of the Galaxy


The transition from mech to bio isn't usually very startling. I woke up on a hard slab, mainly because the nanomachinery prefer to operate in a clean environment. But I was warm and comfortable. I sat up, swung my legs over the edge of the platform, and found a mirror waiting for me so that I could examine my new body. It wasn't what I would tend to wear; my skin was darker, my features a bit sharper. But the changes were expected, and I found the result pleasing.

Being newly bio, though, I was a bit startled at my own clarity of thought. Being bio usually means feeling a bit muddled, but my mission required something a bit different. My brain wasn't biological; it was a diamandoid supercomputer running a very perfect simulation of a brain. It could perfectly express love and lust, pain and wonder. But unlike a normal brain it could also hold most of my memories.

I passed into the antechamber and found clothing. It was very fine, and showed evidence of having been assembled by human labor rather than automation. I savored the sensation as it slid over my skin; when you are mech there is a tendency to tune out or not bother simulating such distractions. The uncontrollable richness of sensation is one reason people drop into bio from mech. It's a thing that probably could be simulated but when you have perfect control it seems kind of ridiculous, a waste of processing power.

There was another mirror, and I passed into the entryway. There was a steel door with a prominent sign. I laughed when I saw this because I was very likely to be the only human being who would ever pass and see this device, and so it was comically redundant:

Leaving Minervan Zone

Beyond this point social and technological restrictions of the Paleohuman Empire are enforced. Re-entry may be denied. Bringing prohibited Minervan artifacts beyond this point may be punishable according to Paleohuman laws.

I smiled at this, because one of those bits of forbidden Minervan technology would be my brain. The accommodation had already been worked out, however, as all parties agreed I would be a poor representative of my culture if I could not bring my memories with me.

I went through the door. Beyond it was a long corridor.

The Paleos have a strict two-tier social structure. They have only one mech personality, the original Bringer who my people know was originally human and named Tom. And their humans never become mech; they generally live less than three hundred standard years, in a single linear instance, at the end of which they die permanently.

Although the Paleohuman mech really run their worlds they have an elaborate system for the fulfillment of human social needs, which includes a royalty which theoretically represents the people to their machines. And while the oldest Paleohuman worlds such as Tristan had been overrun in the war, a few very old worlds survived. Loki, where I had been awakened, is the oldest and therefore its human royalty are technically the ruling monarchs of the Paleohuman sphere of influence.

Ending the war had taken a quarter of a billion years. Although it had been proven that faster than light communication was possible over interstellar distances it was hard to maintain such lines in an environment of constant sabotage and attack. The galaxy is a hundred thousand light-years across, and reaching a consensus seemed almost impossible. Had we not gotten the news from Andromeda that they had linked their galaxy together peacefully we might never have managed it.

The mech had made their peace, but the Paleos had asked the Minervans to place a Minervan human in the Paleo royal line to cement our agreement for their humans. And so that was my mission; I would live and die as a Paleo to demonstrate Minervan tolerance for their ideals.

At the far end of the corridor there was another door with a comical sign, warning that I was about to enter the sphere of Paleohuman influence. I passed through, and before me stood Crown Prince Alex of Loki. He bowed slightly, and I returned the gesture.

"You're quite beautiful," he said, and I could tell it wasn't just protocol. The Minervan mech had been as discreet as possible but they had gathered every bit of data possible about the Prince's sexual preferences and fantasies, and they had designed my body to conform as closely as possible to what he might want.

For my part, I also felt a pang of lust when my eyes first fell on the Prince, and I knew that was because my makers had edited my sexual preferences to make sure I would find him appealing. Oddly, it is exactly this sort of meddling that the Paleos seem to find most distasteful about our lifestyle, yet it seems silly to argue with the convenience. If the purpose of my remaining life was to basically bear children for this man, why shouldn't I be programmed to enjoy it?

"And you quite handsome, Prince Alex," I said. "I think we might make a good couple."

He looked puzzled. "I'm surprised, Princess. I was told that your brain is a diamond. I expected..."

"Something more mechanical?"

He nodded. "You seem quite human."

"I am human. My brain is diamondoid, but my people are very skilled at making such a thing do what your natural brain does. My brain is capable of love, loyalty, and lust." I glanced significantly at his crotch. "And I think I'm going to enjoy this duty."

He laughed sharply. "And humor, I see."

I just nodded. He gestured; there was another long corridor. We walked together.

"My life is public; I assume you know all about me," the Prince said, and I nodded. "Yet I know nothing about you. Given that we are to marry this day, could you enlighten me?"

"Once upon a time," I said, "there was a girl ten years old and afflicted with a withering disease. This was about three hundred million years ago. Her body was aging at more than ten times the normal rate; she had heart disease and arthritis and in those days the Bringers could not cure her affliction. But she lived on a Minervan world, and the first new experiments were being done in the direction that had produced Bringer Tom so many millions of years earlier. The little girl learned of this and insisted that she would rather face the microtome and simulation than the ruin that was her natural body. Because it was a Minervan world, she got her wish. As far as we know she ... I was the second person ever successfully digitized, after Bringer Tom himself."

"You're three hundred million years old?" He whistled softly.

"For someone like me age is a little complicated. I've lived many lifetimes, some in parallel, and sometimes I've slept in perfect stasis for the aeon of an interstellar journey. As a mech I can be copied, and if two instances of me meet we can share memories or rejoin. Although my memory is much larger than a normal human's I've still forgotten most of the details of my life; my mental processes are the same as yours."

"But you could rejoin your sisters," the Prince said.

I shook my head. "Not now. In this instance, I will live and die as one of you. That is my commitment to your people."

"But you won't really die, if there are so many other... copies? ...of you out there."

"How many of those copies will be your wife, Crown Prince Alex? How many will be the first Queen of a galaxy united after aeons of war?"

"And it's worth it to you to accept permanent death to be my wife?"

"I've died many times. But it's the one thing my vast memory does not include, because the instances of me that died could not share such a memory with those of me that lived. My sisters will be jealous of this instance, because none of them can ever share it. They will be proud but wistful. This will be my life. Mine." I gripped his hand hard. "That is one thing my culture cannot provide."

"I like your passion," the Prince said. And I almost shot back We knew you would but I bit my lip instead.

Before we could be married, we had a duty to perform, and when we reached the end of the corridor it ran to stairs that reached a dais and beyond the dais were between 162,000 and 168,000 people. It was hard for me to form a better estimate because the fringes of the crowd were barely visible.

To our side, a loud amplified voice said "She is here" and the crowd roared. I stepped up on the dais and for a brief instant a laser scanner flashed the message zone of voice amplification on my retina.

The older man who had said "she is here" gestured toward my future husband and said "Crown Prince Alex." The crowd roared. Alex took up the announcer's position.

"Citizens of Loki, and of the Galaxy, Princess Anne of Minerva." I stepped forward and the crowd roared. I bowed appreciatively.

"Citizens of Loki, and of the Galaxy, I come to you as a representative of the Minervan Confederation. Today we are prepared to ratify the Paleo-Minervan Accord agreed upon by our Bringer caretakers. I have come to marry your Prince, so that our royal lines might be joined for an aeon in peace and harmony." I didn't bother to mention that I pretty much was the Minervan royal line, such a thing having not previously existed. The crowd, predictably, roared.

Then Alex and I took turns reading the articles of the agreement. I started:

One. All humans on all human worlds, both Peleohuman and Minervan, have the right to know that machine uploading is possible, and to request machine uploading at will.
I wouldn't exactly say crickets chirping, but the applause was subdued. Alex up:
Two. Humans cannot be forced to upload even when biological death is inevitable. The right to experience a single natural lifetime shall not be infringed just because the technology exists to do otherwise."
Much louder applause, though not quite roaring. My turn up.
Three. Human worlds may elect by popular majority vote of their human population to expel those who choose to upload.
More enthusiastic applause; this was a basic point for this conservative society. We didn't bother to include in the text that we didn't mind putting it in because for an uploaded human, the journey to another star is barely more than a nuisance. Alex up:
Four. Uploaded humans can be downloaded back to biological form only on worlds which permit uploading.
The crowd was politely enthusiastic; since they were about to overwhelmingly vote to ban uploading, it didn't concern them. Of course my presence was technically a violation of this article, but it was another accommodation like that which permitted my diamandoid brain. My turn.
Five. Humans will only reproduce biologically, never when uploaded.
Polite applause; it probably never even occurred to them just how weird that can get. That clause had been the last sticking point on the Minerven end of negotiations; there were many on our side who felt it was unnecessarily limiting. But including the clause was preferable to genocidally exterminating the Paleos. It was the one real concession the Minervans made. Alex:
Six. Biological humans will not be allowed to ruinously overpopulate their ecosystems.
The crowd approved. This was a core point of their philosophy, and I knew it had been the first point of agreement between the negotiators. I finished it up:
Seven. Biological human evolution will be constrained to forms which could interbreed with our original ancestors on Earth at the time of the Extinction at Reykjavik.
And at this the crowd really did roar. I think this more than anything drove the Paleohuman resistance, that there would end up being multiple and branching and incompatible species all considering themselves "human." That such incompatibility could easily be fixed in the digital realm was something they didn't quite get. But the reverse was also true; we were willing to put such clauses in the agreement because we knew what was possible for a natural human who chose to become mech. It wasn't really much of a limitation for us.

Loki was a starless world, so the atmosphere was usually kept cloudy to form an insulating barrier between the geothermal taps and the cold of space. This being a special occasion, though, the clouds had been thinning above the crowd since before we began speaking. As we finished our presentation and prepared to ratify the agreement the first stars began to come out.

Finally the Prince produced the ceremonial knife and each of us made a shallow cut in our right wrist, and we pressed the cuts together to mingle the blood. With this act we ratified the Paleo-Minervan Accord, and at that point the Galaxy Ship that had brought my personality to Loki turned on its engines.

For the first time since it had been ejected from its stellar system Loki knew daylight, at least over an area of a few hundred square kilometers. Orbiting just below geosynchronous orbit, the galaxy ship had oriented its collector array to reflect the brilliance of its engine radiation; from the surface within the focus zone centered on our ceremony, it made a very passable imitation of a star. The crowd gasped and gaped; fortunately the galaxy ship wasn't radiating too much in the ultraviolet so nobody was likely to go blind from staring at it.

"So is this daylight?" Prince Alex asked softly.

I could have pointed out half a dozen flaws; the "sun" had a little black dot in the middle, no sunspots, a distinct radial structure, and totally wrong spectrum outside of the visible. But then again, people who did not have diamondoid retinas would not tend to notice such things, so I said "Yes."

Prince Alex then pointed, and said "What is that color phenomenon?" The clouds had cleared but Loki's upper atmosphere was still full of water, and the droplets were making themselves known.

"A rainbow. You don't normally see them because your Day Lights are diffuse; you need a point source of light. Look, there's the second set. It's reversed, see the blue is outside."

"What causes these?"

"Well the boring explanation involves refraction of light and water droplets. But some say the rainbow is a promise by those who guard us not to destroy the world again."

The Prince stared up at the sky for a long moment. "This is a good sign then that our guardians have sent. Many worlds have been destroyed in the course of this war. Is this their promise that such things will never happen again?"

Oh, I knew it was more complicated than that. But it was easiest to say "I think so."

A tenth of the day later we were married.

Passages in the Void 2002-2007 by localroger, New Orleans LA

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