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Author Topic: CJ's Non-Adult Storytime Thread  (Read 534 times)

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Offline Cyrano JohnsonTopic starter

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CJ's Non-Adult Storytime Thread
« on: April 02, 2013, 07:26:46 AM »
"With thanks to Michi no Sora, who provided these prompts in the Storytelling forum"
Place: A very hot place.
Character: A talking robot.
Object: Your favorite CD.
Weather: Sunny.

Thy Strong Hours, Indignant

This story utilizes a setting that I'm working on for Group RP's. I'm doing some incidental writing in this setting to get the flavour of it.

This body was designed to look into the Sun.

It is not my first body. My first body was human. Flesh and blood, bone and muscle, a mass of sloshing fluids and awkward feelings, with death looming over every moment like the proverbial Sword of Damocles. My first body lived a long time ago, on a world where vegetation formed a thin raiment over the red dust that was everywhere, in everything. It liked to read poetry. It liked huddling with other flesh, the female kind especially. It dreamed of being somewhere, anywhere, other than where it was. It hated those fine particles of red dust, the grit of them in a mouthful of food, the itch of them in the folds of clothing.

This body was designed to look into the Sun. This body floats close to the fire. The solar collectors are an extension of its artificial nervous system. This body tends the power station, pulls itself through the corridors every now and again to ensure that all the components of its extended self are in working order. And then it goes back to its place, hooking itself into the control niche, to look at the Sun. To listen to the Sun. To listen to the song of the Sun.

It is not my first body, nor my second. My second body was organic. It was grown in vats, printed in matter compilers, knitted together by surgeons of immense subtlety with armies of nanites at their command. It was made to the order of my first body, which was dying, reeling from one medical treatment to another, riddled with runaway cancers and nervous disorders and viruses. The sickness was a hydra, the doctors would strike down one ailment and two more would sprout in its place. My first body had by that time become wealthy, by a standard of wealth that made Croesus look a peasant because what they call the "low-scarcity economy" was taking shape. My first body had built its own private mansion in orbit of the red world, had escaped the dust at long last, and now had to escape itself.

My first breath in my second body was illegal. There were concerns about the transmigration process. There had not been enough studies about its effects. My second body did not care about studies. The wealth of the first had found its way into the right palms and made possible the transition to new life. My second body was strong and beautiful, with skin as blue as lapis lazuli because I had ordered it that way. My second body could live entirely on liquid nutrients, a drink that was called soma in an echo of some old joke. It recycled and reabsorbed waste matter so efficiently that I was only subjected to the indignity of urination four times a year.

It was in my second body that I first began to hear the music that reverberated through me, that danced through the corners of my mind like a tantalizing prophecy half-told, the music that convinced me that if I could just listen to it the right way, it would unfold for me the secrets of the cosmos. This music was no abstract thing, mind you: it was real. I heard it on a sound system, reproduced from an ancient disc, a year after I first heard it in my head. It was a symphony supposedly composed by a man living in North America in the nineteenth century. He had heard it, too. The music had to have come from outside both of us. It was my second body that first began to suspect the truth.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

This body was designed to look into the Sun, to float close to its fire and to listen to its music. This body does not need to breathe, or ingest. It lives on light, the same light that powers the station and is beamed from its capacitors throughout the system, providing the power, the lifeblood of the low-scarcity economy. Out there are many bodies, done in frail flesh or constructed from organic materials or built out of metal and silicon. I do not know what they do with the power. I do not care. I listen to the Sun, to its music, to the secrets it tells me.

In Guoyu -- my second body learned this -- the region of the nearest stars to the Sol star is called Xinhuan. The name means "Shining Reach." It was originally meant to be poetic, an allusion to an ancient belief in celestial spheres, the inmost of which was inhabited by Seraphim. The Shining Ones. Seraphim were in vogue among Chinese of that era, because some accounts of them had them shaped like dragons, the Chinese national symbol. It was my second body that began to suspect the truth: that the Seraphim were no myth at all, but real.

The music would ebb and flow, advance and recede like waves in my mind. I listened obsessively to that symphony, studied every known detail of the life of its composer. But listening to it on a sound system was not enough. He had only captured part of it, his vision was a shadow flickering on the wall of a cave. I wanted the whole of it, the true thing, the complete object. I grasped at it. I became a composer myself, a conductor. I travelled between worlds, chasing that music, battling with it, desperate to wrestle it to the ground and claim it like a lover. Always it would escape. The transmitter would go down. The shining voice would fall silent at the crucial moment, leaving me on the verge of completion, screaming, crying out from the depths of my soul, on the verge of knowledge.

I heard, then, of a man who had experienced the same things I had. Heard the speech of something deep in his soul, but coming from beyond him. A man of a scientific age, he ascribed it to a scientific cause, or at least a quasi-scientific one. He had seen them, he said: plasmatic sentients. "Aliens" as some would call them. Seraphim. Shining creatures who dwelt on the surfaces of suns and spoke, and cogitated, in music. They were transmitting to him, they wanted him to prove his worthiness to be in contact with them, to learn from them. They were dwellers on the surface of a specific star, just over four light-years away, but they were masters of quantum tunnelling and the intervening distances meant nothing to them. They were many places at once and held the secrets of the universe.

I knew his experience for a mirror of my own the first time I heard it. The Seraphim were singing to me, I had realized, as much as to him. And then I knew what I was doing wrong. I had tried only to take, to possess. I had given nothing. Sacrificed nothing. What could I give? What could I sacrifice that was precious enough to possess that music?

It was my second body that began to suspect the truth. It was my second body that decided to take action.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

This body was designed to look into the Sun, to listen to its music, to search it for signs. It is one of hundreds of such bodies floating in the star's corona, held aloft by the pressure of the light. But none of the others are here with my purpose, nor with my purity of purpose, I feel certain of it. Once, just once, I've held the true music in my mind -- a brief moment in which everything seemed to finally make sense. I must hold it again. I must possess it again. This body was made for that purpose, to find the Seraphim and persuade them to admit me permanently into their choir.

It was my second body that decided to take action. I had given nothing to the Seraphim, but that would change. As I travelled through the solar system with my orchestra in tow, I begin to read philosophy, to seek out that which millennia of human thought had deemed most precious. The most worthy of sacrificing. At first my body was repelled at the answer that presented itself, as repelled by it as all of what could be called modern ethics had been repelled for centuries. I can remember that it felt actual nausea, a rare thing for that body, when it first became clear to me what I had to do.

But then I took the proverbial step "back." Took a good long look at the ethics of my contemporaries. Had we really transcended or "evolved beyond" barbarism, as we so often patted ourselves on the back for doing? Or had we merely jettisoned honesty about ourselves, about our universe? When I was young, twelve people had died in riots at the Olympus Protests. Pointless violence on both sides, I cannot even remember what was being protested about. I thought about that squalid little event when I read about the step temples of Mesoamerica and what had happened there. And I realized something: if the Seraphim could find me, could find that composer in 19th century North America... could they not have found earlier people? What if the sacrificial fires of early humanity had not represented benighted ignorance at all? What if they were right?

The music grew stronger in my mind as I first had that thought. And I held onto the idea, my mind worrying at its edges, the mental image of what I must do growing clearer and clearer. There was a member of my orchestra who had taken to visiting, to seeking my wisdom... perhaps who was even erotically interested in me, though my second body had been carefully designed for indifference to such things. She was a woman, first chair violin. She was beautiful, passionate, talented. She was precious.

She came to my second body one night when we were alone. My second body had two images of her burned into its brain: the brightness of Saturn reflected in her living eyes as hope and curiosity danced in their depths, and that same reflection in her dead eyes. The striking difference between living eyes and dead eyes.

The guilt and the anguish were so powerful that I can still remember them, although this body does not feel things as that one did. But something was more powerful than either: the music. It came to me fully in that moment, as I stood over, for the first time. The first and, so far, the only time. It seemed to contain within it an entire universe -- or a multi-verse, skeins of possibility stretching and intertwining across the span of hundreds of billions of year. I stood transfixed as the Seraphim reached out to me, reached into me, and showed me the light that created the shadows.

It lasted for an eternity, and for less than a second. It captivated me, altered my soul forever. And then it was gone.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Shortly after that event, this body was designed. It took some doing; financing it and keeping my liberty until the transfer could be made was a full time occupation. By that time I was technically a criminal, on the run from authorities from whom my fame could not protect me, and for whom I was technically a 'murderer.' There was no point in trying to explain my motivations, the philosophy I'd evolved... a philosophy that in any case I was coming to doubt. During the pursuit, many times over the next year, I tried making further offerings to the Seraphim, but they were unmoved. That perfect, clarion moment I'd experienced did not come again. Their only effect was that my second body's name became infamous, my symphonies were banned, my former friends and colleagues denounced me, awards and honorary degrees were withdrawn. By the time the new body was ready for transmigration, almost all trace of my work had been eliminated from the public domain.

It didn't matter. I had come to understand the message the Seraphim had sent me. They had, I came to believe, hinted that I was moving in the right direction... but that sacrificing one life wasn't enough. I had to sacrifice my ties to all humanity. I had to make my way to where they were, around the very star that my counterpart, that prophet of plasmatic sentience, had identified. I had to sacrifice all to come to their temple, to worship as they did. Only then could I finally possess that music.

It was as that understanding came to me that I had this body designed to look into the Sun. Those who did the work designed the chassis perfectly but were worried about the transmigration, saying that they didn't have the tools to carry it off properly. A transparent ploy to pry further funds loose from me. I ignored it, and we went ahead... and a few minutes later, I woke up as me, with a whole new identity.

It took some getting used to. My previous bodies had been some kind of flesh, not this golem of diamond and metal and silicone. For a long time I felt the absence of something, like an amputee feeling the pain of a phantom limb, but larger, more pervasive... like the pain of an entire lost body, a phantom existence. At first I was erratic, my rationality questionable. There would be large blocks of time I could not remember. After one of these I found myself on a shuttle outbound from the underground medical facility that had created me. Looking back, I could see that the station was dead. To this day I don't know what happened to it, or whether I was the cause.

But the feeling faded, the erratic time losses stopped. I began to enjoy the idea of being truly free of the flesh. And I signed on for an expedition to this star. The exultation I felt in my artificial chassis was a thousand times purer than anything I'd felt in a body of flesh. And as the voyage between the stars began, the anticipation of discovery was a sweet constant in a way no body of flesh has ever known.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
« Last Edit: April 04, 2013, 08:43:47 PM by Cyrano Johnson »