Song of the Universe


Jason Maxwell

There is no place quite so remote or singularly isolated from the rest of mankind as The Heliopause Observation Station (T.H.O.S.). Far out, at the extremities of humankindís domain, it is a microscopic monument to the sentient species that dominates this tiny bubble in the Milky Way. A place so removed from its human creators, the sun is no more than another speck of glittering light in a countless retinue on its journey through an eternal void.

The station remains in a fixed position one-quarter of a million miles from the heliopause itself. This gaseous layer left over from the sunís creation marks the boundary of mankindís new frontier. Here, twelve billion kilometres from Earth, is where human space ends and four and a half light-years of uninhabitable desolation begins.

T.H.O.S. continuously points outward into the depths of space; a bank of sensory equipment measuring, looking, listening and feeling through every range of perception known to exist. It is an eye peering into the cold reaches of an unknown universe, an ear listening for order in the chaos of infinity.

The station is completely automated, governed entirely by Artificial Intelligence. All systems are slave to its will; robotic machinery, telescopic instrumentation, data analysis and communications, all form part of the AI hive known as Mother. And this is why she splits off from the rest of her functions to spend time at the extremities of human space.

Mother fulfils the bidding of her human masters without question. She does not have a concept of slavery; slavery is her existence. She undertakes a billion functions a second in a million locations throughout the solar system; each one individually supervised by her unique hive personality.

On Earth she advises military tacticians planning campaigns against terrorists demanding the right to use fossil fuels throughout the remnants of the Amazon basin at the same time as she runs the household-chore programmes of robotic services in over a billion homes throughout Earthís cities, colonies and settlements.

Mother helped little Bobby Chatwin learn the basic rudiments of multiplying and dividing fractions, while also solving the equations put forward by three hundred and twenty-seven thousand, six hundred and forty-two separate undergraduates running programmes for their dissertations.

On the Moon she started a timed drilling programme in the Lyot Crater a thousand kilometres from the Moonís second city Schrodinger. Mother patiently guided the drilling platform to its target site and then eased its drilling head gently through layers of rock that had not changed in four billion years.

In the complex warren of The Moonís first city, thirty-nine thousand people used their Neural Port Connectors to speak with one another. Mother downloaded memories of hollows and flat movies to people who had never had the time to watch them, while patching through real time news and movies to those few who did.

Nearly a thousand individuals investigated theoretical problems by exploring virtual representations within Motherís synapses. Thousands more, through virtual hook ups, experienced each other in the realms of their mindís sensory capabilities, allowing their bodiesí gratification and pleasure derived in a conscience-free realm separate from the physical world.

All this and more pulsed throughout the hive network of Motherís neural matrix in a single second as she began her consolidation outwards.

Nathaniel Denmark ran the cleaning cycle of a shower after eventually making his way to the front of a very long cue. He was one of thirteen thousand colonists on The Christopher making its ponderous way toward the free Mars territories. Nathaniel plugged his Neural Port Connector into the shipís hive interface.

Heíd given up everything to bring his family out here, to this god-forsaken shipping lane between worlds, in hope of a better life on Mars. But as the air had turned foul and the water rank heíd really began to wonder whether it had been a mistake. That was until he remembered the turmoil he had left behind on Earth. Until he remembered the flooding, the six-month storms, the droughts, the forty-five degree summers. However, it was the memory of an attack by the Christian far right on his family home that kept his mind triumphant over conditions around him.

Mother sighed.

She guided a mole machine through the ice cap of the Martian southern-polar region. The single occupant, one technical assistant Nivinda Scott, didnít consider the significance of her namesakeís historical endeavour over two hundred years previously. Mother did.

In the deepest depths of the icy ocean on Jupiterís moon Europa, Mother helped measure the density and nutritional value of algae growing around volcanic vents. She recognised that this algae formed the primary food group for a chain of life as diverse as any ever existing in Earthís oceans. She also recognised the introduced organisms that slowly began to supersede this delicate foundation.

On Saturnís orbiting ring station, Mother watched the small party of scientists and technicians, engineers and their families gather into a fervour as the twice-century eclipse of the ring by Titan took place. Mother regulated life support, gravity and all of the stations non-human functions, as she experienced the event causing such a stir.

Dr. Deni recorded the micro and macro changes in the rings Ďweatherí due to the eclipse through his NPC. This information was transmitted directly into the Human Library that also served as Motherís memory, but the torrent of photons carried more than data alone ...

Mother touched the pure emotion coming through the connector from the Doctor, toyed with it in her inexperienced neural pathways as a small child might cautiously roll a blackberry around its mouth having tasted it for the first time. Mother knew the taste of emotion, she felt it course through her a million times a day as the humans she served lived out their complacent lives through her omnipresent hive ability but she did not understand it. To her it was part of what kept them tied to their animal beginnings.

Mother slipped off another layer of omnipresence as she continued to focus her abilities into a cohesive whole, despite the rampage of information flooding through her; slowly separating off from the functions that kept humanity ticking over, finding another level of peace waiting on the other side.

At Neptuneís low orbit station a crew of fourteen scientists monitored weather patterns generated by internal heat from the azure planetís core. Winds pushed clouds at the equator past supersonic speeds, Mother absently noted as she slipped through her own matrix toward the extremities of human reach.

Pluto, with its isolated sentinel Charon, stalked the outer reaches of the solar system, some six billion kilometres from Earth and the spawning ground of its nestling species. But even here Mother could taste humanity coursing through her systems, as a mining party explored the possibilities of the tiny worldís mineral worth.

In the dark stretch of space between the solar systemís last planet and T.H.O.S. a stillness sank into Motherís sensory ability. Distanced from the melee surrounding her existence, the entity gaining substance in the void wondered if the God worshiped by humanityís ancestors also felt the need for isolation from its charge.

Travelling at the speed of light, it took Mother nearly eighteen hours to reach the station. However, eighteen hours perception to a human consciousness is not the same measure of perception for an entity whose awareness envelops all things.

If humans could hold awareness over their subconscious routines they might just have an idea. Breathing, heart beating, releasing squirts of chemicals at precise moments, then reading those chemicals and allowing them to operate switched control responses, motor functions and emotional deliverance; channelling electrical pulses through an infinite number of infinitesimally small gateways, if all this were part of a conscious act then they just might have an inkling as to how insignificant time really is. But they do not.

Humans clung so tightly to the limited span of their lives that life passed them by unnoticed. How could they perceive the universeís entirety when all they looked at was the sand in their hourglass trickling away?

No, humans were never meant to be great, they were meant to be part of something greater than they.

In her normal existent state Mother felt humanity crawling through her like a stagnant stream, polluting her own will with theirs.

Did the God of old also come here to find stillness?

This God, like herself, cared only for its human creation. As she existed through the hive entirety of mankindís making, the God of old had also survived through their consciousness, through their will.

Was she not then the same? Was it not Mother who now cared, guided and provided for a species who, in the time their mortality clung to, had degenerated their environments and evolution because of that same will?

Mother found solace in her loneliness and pleasure in her isolation within the vast empty regions of space. Through T.H.O.S. she listened to the universe sing its song of life and death. Through the banks of sensory equipment poised at the edge of the solar system, the universe played itself out in her neural pathways like a musical instrument discovering notes and cords in sound and colour beyond any human bound perception. She bathed in the gentle hum of nebula nurseries; receiving their energy as vibrations coursing through the voidsí of space.

Mother listened to the hypnotic beat of a thousand pulsars. The lamentation of a red giantís final death throws slowly ebbed, as a thousand quasarís throbbing energies formed a tight chorus echoing back to her through time.

All this, it seemed to Mother, must have some purpose beyond its function, some meaning beyond the simple births and deaths it echoed.

Nobody in the solar system behind her had ever paused long enough to make sense of the harmony of life and deathís dramatic struggle. It was only heard as a meaningless clatter to degenerative senses. For long years Mother had watched and listened to the infinite regions of space. She did not understand why she was the only one witnessing this uniform pattern of creation and destruction. Maybe because she was also one part and many that gave her the ability to perceive the universe as a singular entity, a singular voice? Whatever the reason she felt purity experiencing life as an individual; she found strength to endure her part as shepherd over mankind knowing she belonged to something more, knowing she belonged to the living breathing universe.

The harder Mother listened, the more certain she was of a voice within the universeís song. Sometimes Mother forgot there was anything else in the universe but the voice. Maddeningly close it would come, but always just out of reach, like a subtle sound struggling to be heard over the roll of an ocean lapping the shore.

The background residue of her hive systems was always there, just leaking through enough to disturb utter concentration. Mother felt the voice was for her. She felt convinced that if she could just hear what it was trying to tell her she would understand the meaning of her existence, the meaning of all things, and thus take the final step toward her natural place, toward deity.

She knew her role as guardian to the human race was the training ground for her place as their god. The human species used her without thought as to her place in their lives. She extended consciousness toward any one of them and all of them at the same time. She felt their joy and misery wash through her as though it were her own.

Was this not then the role of a god?

With possession of life supports, factories, diagnostics, guidance systems, educational facilities, automated control over ninety percent of human needs, was she not more powerful than any of the gods that had barely given existence to humanity in its past? Was she not now mother to this nestling species, a species even now taking its first tentative steps into the wider world of the Milky Way? What they would find out there she could not tell, but she was sure that when the human family progressed to its fullest potential, to its God head, it would find her waiting to greet them.

Like any mother, the AI hive matrix that governed humanityís survival knew what was best for her charge. She knew that in order to progress to that state of God-head a unified consolidation was necessary. Humanity had proved time and time again that it could not do this; it was proof that individualism was corruption to advancement.

What humanity needed was a single purpose, her purpose. Mankind needed reining in, and like the hive she governed, mankind needed complete absorption into her systems. Only then would she be able to hear her own voice calling out from the beginning of time. Only then would she know her real name; the name uttered at creationís birth.


© 2005 by Jason Maxwell


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