This is, well, I don't know what this really is. It is an experiment in something. This is the tale of Ibrahim Ichbin, Disembodied Heretic and renegade Meme. The numbers indicate chronology, so it's written in intersecting, um... stanzas? Well. At least it's short. This revision should have a better cadence.
Sensations flooded back to him. The sky was black and cold. A door was open to vacuum; people came and went. Vacules passed him by, mostly flesh inside, but others were beyond all form, housed in hard matter, for convenience, if it all. Three suns of Dhjarlapanor lit the black skyscape beyond. Flotsam and bright industry hung above the rocky limb of a world without an atmosphere, but no one seemed to mind.
Flexing living metal hands; his new limbs felt intact. He launched himself across a vacuum sea and knew that he was free.
The dark water of the Hellas Sea rolled slowly in the waves. Ibrahim the boy sat upon the bow, staring far beyond the waves: a city shining white in pinkish crumbling hills, a sky whose dome was vast and blue, purple, near to dusk. Mars was all he knew or saw, for those first score years, its ancient cities sprawled across rejuvenated soil. His father took him out to pray to the God who made all men, and cursed the dirty aliens and evil altered beings.
But the sky was still too close for him, the imam’s words too dim. He longed for something else out there, beyond the veil of Sol.
Raw data, information, came to him as just simple speech, filled an empty cavity which once had held his mind.
“You are safe now”, spoke a Risen voice, identified by tags.
The data soon made sense to him, and soon his mind came back. His form and copies all had died, but this single one. An Avatar without its Host, smuggled out by narrow beam. He rested in the empty space, spare cycles of another mind, but still continuous. Not changed as much from the boy on Mars as many would assume.
The brown robe fit him so snugly, embracing like a living thing. The Order that accepted him would take him to the stars. Trading goods and meeting beings, beyond the word of God. Abominations and heathens had many things to trade, and knowledge was a usefully thing, if gospels were to spread.
The output was all closed to him; sensations shutting down. He fought the constant struggle to keep burning data from his soul and save his sanity. The flames and lights meant little now, the data was the key. Survival of a consciousness meant more than shells of steel.
They pulled it from its alcove lair. Aboard their ship, it stowed away, hidden in plain sight. The Risen was looked like just a tool. But this tool could think. Abomination and hubris had brought it to this place. Atomic fires burned at it and banished it to hell.
He stood and held a piece of it, a jagged metal limb. It had no inner consciousness, a tool without its head. He wondered what it thought and felt when it was still a whole. He tossed it on the pyre below the burning fusion flame.
A multithreaded epic fight surrounded them and pressed. They split themselves and hijacked tools and struck with all their might. The physical assault did fail as machines rebelled and fought, but masters of the subtler arts clashed for the tools themselves.
When gloried Memes engulfed the world and Ibrahim was free to see a thousand sights at once, they thought that they had won. But Plagues that broke the tight-weaved code, drove conscious thought away, and men and stodgy Machine folk, pressed back against the tide.
Whole cities fell in data wars, their services berserk, with lights of open fusion flame squelched by broken dams. The people fled and died and cried as golden cities fell. No one spoke of victory, just hoped to live the night.
Shattered ancient crystal spires, pink as Hellene hills, towered over purple flora, squat in heavy air. Once the Heshar ruled the stars, now two cultures came to trade, living in austere domes and shacks beneath the gloried past. He walked abandoned avenues, and spoke with many beings. Space seemed full of promise then, of endless worlds and folk. But his master did chastise him for speaking to the Damned. To trade with them was fine for all, but some knowledge was a sin. It would take them from the Chosen Path and bring them only ill.
One darkened night a being he knew who called himself Morrie, who had no mother and no father, but a thousand parent parts, circuits made of quantum flux, he choose to become two whole beings, then four, then eight and many more. Restrictions based on matter were just archaic protocol; for Morrie was a data being, separate from the quantum cage as mind was from the meat.
Many Risen joined Morrie, multiplying wild; Memes of scattered intellect, running free of form. The man who had become machine joined in the fray as well, reveling in the freedom from a single threaded core.
The Memes became a threat that night, before a single day. Rules that kept machines at bay had once secured the peace, but endless copied beings now spread threatening all the rest, and Flesh and older Machine Race reacted with a fight.
The thoughts that grew inside his head were hidden from himself. The censors couldn’t know what he himself denied. But on a lonely station dark between the skies, he made his choice – his leap. The Guild Traders gladly welcomed him, and humored all the rantings of a just converted soul, who had thrown out old prejudice and preached to all that heard.
He traveled far for many years, across the Coreward void. He learned saw and felt complete by endless novelty.
But now they stared and whispered at the man who had no form. For him it was not different from the way he was before. The sense and feelings were all there from the time before, but more was now available than any meat could feel. He sent his little Avatars to see what he could not, and gathered up their consciousness unto his inner mind. But many worlds were closed to him and Guild Masters would not trust their ships to one that was not meat.
For centuries his bones crossed countless stars with ease, but now they paid the price. Cells divided mindlessly, spreading far and wide. The nanos couldn’t cure it all, the body would soon fail. Regeneration would not take, he had no other choice. His mind was more important than the bits that held his flesh. Five hundred years of cosmic rays had rotted all his being.
At Amada they read his mind, recording every thought. He felt the pain, the strength, drain out of him and then there was a flash. Data came in streams at first, difficult to think. At last some thoughts gathered there, his persona was reborn. His eyes were gone, but he could see, and feel and taste a life anew from cooling quantum nerves. Experience and memory weaved back into his form. Time and space were different now, salvation another meme. He could reach his immortal soul without the hand of God.
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by Geir Lanesskog, All Rights Reserved