I tried to reach into the ocean like I had reached into the computer. For a moment I thought that I could enter it but quickly was thrust out. I tried again and got the same result.
“You’ve moved in a different direction than the one I was predicting.” Path said. I was able to recognize the sound of his voice now.
“You’re back? But the computer is disconnected from it’s network, how are you communicating with me.” I asked.
“This isn’t as simple as you think it is, there are many ways that I can reach you. I like that you realized you were linked to the mainframe in the surface. Most can’t feel their way through one so quickly.” Path said
I felt a bit of disappointment, I had been hoping for solitude.
“So what do I have to learn now?” I demanded.
“The stakes of the game you’ve been playing.” Path answered.
I was getting a little cocky. “I either figure out a way to resist this thing or I become a slave to it, am I right?”
“That’s just one of the chips and it’s the only one you’ve been playing for. There’s far more involved. Let’s say that you are able to resist the scourge, what do you do then? What effect does it have on the big picture?” Path stated.
“I’m not worried about the big picture right now. I’ve only got this one battle to win right now.” I said
“Then you don’t know what you’re fighting to achieve. You may win the battle for your mind but will you want it when it’s over?” Path said
My mood turned even more sour than it was. I groaned out loud. I had been thinking about how to fight for months now. I didn’t want to have to think about why I should fight.
“I see.” Path said. “I just felt it fair to warn you that even if you win, you might not be happy with the results. Every battle leaves some kind of damage in it’s wake.”
“So you’re saying I should just give up then? Then why bother to harass me into learning how to hear the whispers?” I said.
“No, I don’t want you to give up. I need all the help I can get and you just might be able to help if you’re able to make it through this.” He said.
“So what’s the point then? I’m tired and I’ve used every ounce of strength to get this far.” I said.
“That’s too bad, because it’s not over yet. You need motivation. Fighting just to live is a questionable motivator. Once things get really bad you might decide that living isn’t worth the pain.” He said.
“Well, that’s all I’ve got right now. My friends are dead or gone, I’m too far away to make it back to any kind of base. I’m malnourished. I have some kind of neurological weapon injected into me. Am I missing anything?” I complained.
“You’ll likely be a pariah for the rest of your life. There are a few others but lets not dwell on that right now. Why did you come here?” He said
“It sounds juvenile but I thought I could be a hero to someone. I admit it, it was naive, idealistic, foolish.” I replied.
“You need to become a hero then. The question is to whom?” He said.
“I thought the Scimrahn would. . .” I started to say. I suddenly could feel Path leave, like he was pushed forcefully. My vision grew dim and I was progressively in deeper and deeper darkness.
“The Scimrahn.” The Ocean sneered with a voice that shook me physically. “They will betray the Earth like they betrayed me. They cannot even muster the integrity to band together. They stay in their pitiful tribes because any larger group would tear itself to pieces. Do not throw your life away for those fools.”
I had no physical senses anymore. All I could sense was the Ocean and the computer that I was connected to. The disorientation of being pulled from my senses was immense.
“Who, who are you?” I managed to say.
“I am this planet. I saved the inhabitants from the old gods.” It said.
I suddenly felt the entire planet as it was part of me. I could feel the energy of the suns feed me. I could feel the heat of them course through me like a pulse. I could also feel the people inside, not as individuals but by the millions by the billions and even trillions inside the planet. I could also feel something else. Something not human, not remotely human inside. They were powerful beyond belief! Even the ocean was small compared to them.
They wanted to turn the planet on. They wanted to finish what they were doing here. If they did, all those people would die! They had served their purpose and now they were no longer needed. The planet itself would cease to be.
“I am Loc.” said the Ocean.
I felt as Loc stole a portion of the power they had and reached out to the trillions of people and gave them as much as they could take. Then he and the people attacked them, the old ones with their own power. Loc used every trick he could muster to sting them. It was enough to drive them off but on leaving the old ones struck back and nearly all the people were gone, their bodies left to rot where they were.
“I endured my body being ravaged by time and humankind abusing my body.” Loc said.
I suddenly felt paralysis run through half of me. No, not through me, through the planet. Not just through the planet, through Loc himself. He lost part of himself. The people in the paralyzed half no longer took care of the planet. They ignored it and carved it up to build new buildings. Loc tried to reconnect the severed half but the people fought against him. For centuries he fought to reconnect to the other half. He had more power than they did but he did not want the old ones coming back so he worked only with the power that the people still loyal to him had.
“Now, the time I have is reduced. Every human that fights me, fights against their own survival. Humans have not been able to wield the power of the old gods on their own but I must teach them to!” Loc said.
The planet felt out into space and they were still there. The old ones were waiting. When my mind asked “why are they waiting?” there was an answer but to this day I cannot explain the thought process. It is far too alien. I felt their power again. Terrible power that struck me with fear. I wanted to look away but I was not the one who was looking. I was seeing through Loc’s eyes.
“They are coming back and will wipe out humankind unless I, Loc can teach the humans.” The vast ocean rumbled. “Now, will you aid me in my fight against the old ones?”
I didn’t know what to think. I had only thought of the Chezbah as oppressors. I could still feel the numbness of the paralysis. I struggled to wake up the other half but couldn’t. It frustrated me and filled me with panic.
“What can I do?” I asked.
“Help me bring order to this world. Help me finish my work. Help me free the Kelrath from slavery. Help humankind.
The humans from Earth should know better than anyone that the planet you are on needs to be cared for or you will no longer have a home. My people have not all embraced that fact. You can help spread that message.” Loc answered.
“I’m only one person.” I said.
“I was once human too. I am only one person. Do not underestimate the effect one person can have.” Loc said.
“You were human?” I said.
“Yes, a very long time ago but I became a god so that I could save humankind. Help me save them.” Loc said.
My demeanor changed. “A god? You’re not talking to one of your people that you keep in ignorance. I know that this is all built on technology. All this is based on computer communication. If you’ve survived this long, you no longer have a human body, you integrated your mind with the computer systems built into the planet and when your human body wasted away, all that was left was the computer.” I said.
“Your arrogance is amusing.” The waves of the ocean almost chuckled. “You would argue with me over my choice of title? What is a god? The title means nothing more than a person of power. You are correct that my mind is housed by technology as information but you have no idea what that means. The systems that I have at my disposal are more than eighteen billion times more powerful than my human brain was. I never forget. I have the collective knowledge of the old gods at my disposal. I have absorbed thousands of volumes from Earth’s libraries in the year since you arrived.
My people are not in ignorance, they rightfully recognize my rulership and benevolence! Their knowledge and technology outstrips that of Earth’s. They have ample food and are protected from all harm. There is nothing they lack.” Loc said.
“Except compassion.” I replied. I was thinking of the Chezbah pilots executing the wounded as I watched.
A reprimanding whisper came to wipe the thought out of my head. I needed to stop it. I could not allow my mind to be controlled, not like that. My mind clasped onto the whisper harder than I had ever before. It tried to squeeze through but I clenched down on it with all my might. It felt as if I was trying to crush steel. It struggled with me trying to break free.
“So if you can’t win an argument, you just erase it huh?” I demanded, still struggling.
“Why argue when I can correct. In any event you still have it wrong. My people have compassion, just not for enemies of their planet. The Scimrahn are parasites, a cancer in my own body. They no longer do the work they are meant to do and now try to spread throughout my body. Tell me human, if your body’s cells turned against you and turned cancerous, would you show them mercy? Or how about the Earthers? If your body became infected with a bacteria that was trying to make you ill, would you show them compassion?” Loc said.
The whisper finally melted away. The exertion left me exhausted.
“So thats all we are to you? Bacteria?” I said.
“It’s an illustration human. You understand what it means to have your body under attack from without or within, I am simply putting my fight in a context that you can relate to. Why would I be having a conversation with you if I felt you were a bacteria?” Loc said.
“I’ve read about the history of the Scimrahn, they only rebelled because of the war with the Kelrath. They were tired of seeing people die in a pointless war.” I said.
“Pointless?” the waves crashed angrily. “If I had been able to reconnect to the other side of the planet, I would have already finished my work and humankind would have the ability to defend against the old gods! Most of my early work was on the other side. I lost centuries of data and I lost the Tanroc Fredar.” He said.
I was shocked by this, what did he mean that he lost the Tanroc Fredar? What did that mean about Takoog?
“Yes human, you’ve met my creation. Magnificent aren’t they? I offered them everything. They were to rule humankind but they went mad when I could no longer maintain their minds.” He said.
“You’re reading my thoughts then?” I said
“Yes human, I have been for months now.” He said.
“Fine, then there’s no reason to hold anything back. Takoog wasn’t ‘mad’ he was quite sane. I think they turned against you when you lost communication with them. I think they had a good reason to.” I said.
Another whisper came to ‘correct’ me. I gripped it as hard as I could, but I still couldn’t get rid of it. Then, something else reached in and crushed it for me. I stood stunned for a moment as the void around me lifted. My body was lying on the ground. I apparently crumpled in a ball when my mind stopped controlling my body. What had just happened? Someone or something intervened.
I started to wander some more. I thought about what this Loc thing had said but I was corrected several times. I tried to hold them but in time I would tire out and the thought would be gone. Then I thought about what Path had said about motivation. I expected to be corrected for this, but to my surprise I wasn’t. Then I realized something that bothered me but was corrected for that. I may have realized at this point that I was being corrected only when I thought bad about Path. Only now I can attempt to piece what I lost together.
Out of nowhere came the words. “I’ve distracted Loc but one of his Priests is on his way.” They said.
“What do I do?” I asked but there was no answer.