NaNo: Chapter 26

Chapter 26: Reesh Finds Resolve

“If you didn’t contact me just when you did, I was going to be crawling up your ass like a cheap pair of synthetic trousers,” said Reesh, the moment Wyndos’ face appeared.

“Nice to see you, as well.”

Look at that damned smile.  How can Wyndos be so irritatingly serene?  

“Well, let’s have it,” Reesh said.  “What’s the latest on the missing tech?”

“We are finalizing a plan for Carem’s extraction,” Wyndos said.  “In the meantime, this misadventure into multiple planes has uncovered some perplexing aspects of the very nature of planes themselves.”

“Found a silver lining, have you?”

“In a manner of speaking, yes.”

“Well,” said Reesh, “lay it on me, then.”

Wyndos leaned slightly forward, speaking slowly.

“One of the more interesting paradoxes we experience as we design, test, and then deploy sim planes is the relationship between perceived time, and actual time.  As any person who has traversed the sim planes will tell you, their experiences seem to last decades, but they return to find that only a small space of time has elapsed.”

“Yes,” Reesh said, “I’ve often wondered about that.”

“Most simply accept it as a picadillo of the sim.  What most do not know is that when we test new planes, and bring in technicians who are self-aware and wired for comms, they experience no such discrepancy.”

“What do you mean?”

“Five minutes on the plane, for instance, is precisely five minutes in the world,” said Wyndos.  “Something about the test planes is different, or at least, that’s what we thought.”

“My understanding was that the self-awareness was the problem,” said Reesh.  “That’s why we had the disaster back, when was it, twenty six years ago?”

“It was twenty-eight, and our understanding of what happened there has remained a mystery,” Wyndos said.  “Even at the time, we knew that the issue was related to the sim tech. The underlying problem was a very high instance of clients returning prior to forming any memories of their time, which was presumed to mean infant mortality.  The disaster resulted from sending in a self-aware sim tech with comms to investigate. That caused what was referred to at the time as a planar prison, where clients were not returning within the expected temporal parameters.”

“Yes, they were stuck, that’s what I remember reading.”

“It’s one thing to read about it in a book: imagine being there.  It lasted two days, and during that time, nobody knew if the clients were going to return at all.”

“Wait, Wyndos, you were there?”

Wyndos took a deep breath.  “Yes. Those were hard hours.  Some demanded we terminate the plane immediately, but others believed that could harm the clients then in upload.  In the end, we took the risk, and ended the plane. The clients were unharmed.”

“Did they ever find out what caused the early returns?”

“It remains a mystery,” Wyndos said.

“So self-awareness was the key?”

“We thought so, for many years, but could not replicate the problem in any tests.  In fact, on certain occasions, we have sent self-aware testers onto our active planes, but with no adverse effects.  It remained a mystery. However, today’s experiments may have provided the answer.”

“I’m all ears,” said Reesh.

“I will spare you many details, and focus on two twin iterations of our test.  In the first, a tech went into a meta-plane self-aware, but without any communication to the plane above them.  They experienced several hours of time, though only one minute elapsed. In the second, a self-aware tech was sent to the meta-plane with full comms, and they experienced one minute of time in one minute.  So, you see, it appears to be the tethering that synched the passage of time between planes.”

“That IS interesting,” Reesh said.  “Do you suppose it is the actual tether, or the capability of tethering?”

“Can you clarify your question?” said Wyndos.

“I mean, suppose a tech had a fully-operational comm unit, but never engaged it.  Would its very presence ensure the synchronized passage of time?”

Yikes, I’m beginning to talk like Wyndos.  I suppose their dialect is infectious.

“That is an interesting question, and one we will be sure to investigate once the current crisis has passed.  In the meantime, have you given any more thought to the onion problem we discussed previously?”

“Yes, I have,” said Reesh, “and I agree with you.  It seems entirely implausible that we are the outermost layer of the onion, given the infinite possible layers under or over us.”

Wyndos nodded gravely.  “I wondered if that would be your reaction.  If that is the case, then a fortiori, this world, everything we know, is just an illusion, designed for purposes we cannot begin to comprehend.”

“Fascinating concept, isn’t it?”

“Deeply troubling,” said Wyndos, frowning.  

“Not necessarily,” said Reesh.

“By all means, please share an alternative interpretation.”

“It’s not so much an interpretation,” Reesh said, “as an outlook.  So what if we are on a lower plane? Why should that matter to us?”

“Why should it matter?” Wyndos scoffed. “It means that nothing we do here is of any consequence at all!  Our lives, our dreams, our goals, our designs, they all come to nothing! We could be turned off, just cease to exist, at any time.” Wyndos was speaking rapidly.  “All these years of building a society, tweaking it, making it run more efficiently, increasing our standard of living, all of it for what? For nothing!”

“Who cares?” said Reesh.  “If what you surmise is true, what impact does that have, really, on our lives?  At best, it means we will one day wake up to a new world, a world in which no time at all has passed, in which our lives here are just a vivid, troubled dream.  At worst, we are NPCs, just creations meant to amuse and sustain the world for some other meaningless purpose.”

“The lack of meaning is what I can’t accept,” said Wyndos.  “The idea of slaving away for the amusement of some higher power-”

“Who are, themselves, almost equally certain to be in the same spot as we are!  That miniscule chance that we are the outer layer, so to speak, would apply equally to the layer above us, wouldn’t it?  We aren’t really living our lives in service to some higher plane of being; we are illusions serving illusions.”

“The idea of being characters on a page-”

“But who’s to say it’s even an onion?” said Reesh.  “We understand so little about how these planes function, and how they interact.  You said yourself, just today we learned something so fundamental it will drastically alter our understanding of what a simulation even means.  So maybe it’s not an onion, maybe it’s one of those snakes eating its own tail, you know, that long word-”

“Ouroboros,” said Wyndos.   

“Yes, that.  Maybe there is no outer plane, and the nature of existence is just a series of interdependent planes of existence, none greater than the next, and if you go up or down in the same direction for long enough, you wind up right back where you started.”

Wyndos had nothing to say to that, and brooded thoughtfully.

“Is there some flaw in my analysis?” said Reesh.

“None that I perceive,” Wyndos said, the passion gone.  “So, if that’s the case, how do we proceed?”

“What do you mean, ‘how do we proceed?’  We proceed just as we always have, striving and working and fighting and doing our best to be happy, to bring happiness to others.  These questions are about the very fabric of reality, something we plainly don’t understand, and will never fully control. So why let those revelations interfere with our lives?”

“There is some wisdom in that,” said Wyndos, nodding.  “Forgive me, I seem to be lost in self-reflection.”

“If I managed to catch you in a vulnerable moment, Wyndos, it would be a shame to let it go to waste,” said Reesh.  “Why don’t you tell me a little bit about yourself? You seem like you have a long and interesting history.”

Wyndos smiled at that.  “Perhaps another time. Maybe one day I will write my memoirs, and you and everyone else who is curious can pore through the details of my life.”

“I would very much enjoy reading that,” said Reesh.  “But for now, keep working on getting that tech back.”

Wyndos nodded as the link went dark.

(1408 words)

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Published in: on November 28, 2018 at 3:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

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