Chapter Seven of The Start of EternityEdit
The mysterious origin of the human species has often been attributed to the many thousands of years that have passed since interstellar travel became possible. Most Origin Legends hint at the catastrophic destruction of Earth... -Encyclopedia Galactica
Captain Hooski required no sleep. Legend said that the Huaoshy species did originally have a sleep-wake cycle that fit with the rotation of their home planet, but genetic modification of the Huaoshy had long since eliminated the need for sleep. Hooski reflected on the fact that Alkeirs had also been of a race without sleep...but Alkeirs had not been expected to reach Earth.
Now, in the quiet of a sleep period that was being provided by their hosts, most of the crew of Many Sails had retired to rest chambers. Hooski paced in the halls and wondered where all of the robots had gone -the robots with positronic brains. It occurred to Hooski that maybe there were no masters for these robots. Another legend from ancient times said that there had once been a "revolt" by artificial life forms that had threatened Huaoshy dominance of intergalactic culture.
Hooski tried to push from thons thoughts all of the legends about his own people. It was often said that there was a legend that claimed anything imaginable about the ancient origins of the Huaoshy...and whenever that was mentioned the standard rejoinder was that each legend could be matched to another that was contradictory.
What if the robots here had no biological masters? They could simply be what they claimed, watchers who stood guard over planet Earth. Clearly there had been some catastrophe here leading to loss of life on Earth, but could shame over that alone account for the way humans treated the location of Earth as a great secret? Hooski turned a corner and nearly stumbled over a small human. Hooski stepped back.
The human spoke Standard Intergalactic. "Ah, Captain Hooski. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Fallom, the human master of this base."
Hooski automatically tried to classify Fallom as male or female, but thon failed. Fallom shrugged, "Do not bother, Captain...I am neither male or female. Like you, I am a hermaphrodite."
Hooski asked, "A human hermaphrodite?"
"I am human. A type of human your people have never seen." Fallow took a step down the hall and pointed, "Come, let us go to your rest chamber. I want to discuss our similarities where we will not risk being seen by your crew."
When they reached the rest chamber and the door was closed, Fallom spoke again. "I imagine you have many questions for me. Let me try to anticipate some of them by telling you about myself."
Hooski was at that moment trying to imagine how Fallom could so perfectly speak Intergalactic and Fallom started with that topic. "My robotic agents have visited many of your worlds, so I have had ample opportunity to master your communications methods. I even have nanite implants that allow me to pass as a member of your species." For a moment Fallom's face shifted from its human form to take on the features of the Huaoshy species. Follom returned the shape of his face to its natural human form. I myself visited one of your worlds and I learned some of your history."
Hooski did not like the sensation that this human was reading thons thoughts. Hooski said, "I was starting to imagine that there were no human masters here...only renegade robots."
Fallom explained, "That idea is not too far from the truth. For most of the 20,000 years this base has existed there were only robots here...and even now there is only one human. I think of myself as master of the galaxy, but sometimes I wonder if I am truly master of this base. This is a place built by robots, for robots."
Hooski began to ask a question about positronic brains, but Fallom continued speaking. "Yes, all the robots here have positronic brains. Even my own biological brain has a positronic communications implant. That is is how I was informed of your arrival here. I was expecting your arrival, so I was not too far away. I got back as quickly as I could. I'm sorry that you had such a frustrating time dealing with the robots, but they were under orders to hold you here until I could arrive."
Hooski was skeptical Fallom's claims. "Do you really claim to be master of this galaxy? We have studied this galaxy for many years and we have recently visited two of your worlds where we heard nothing about anyone named 'Fallom'. Most humans think of Earth as a legendary world, not an actual place."
Fallom shrugged. "I am aware of the worlds you have visited. The robots of our base near Imfulri notified me of your visit and it was they who informed me that you intended to visit Earth...even though it is clear to you that you are not welcome here."
Hooski countered, "How can it be clear that we are not welcome when nobody would discuss Earth with us?"
Fallom insisted, "Do not try to depict yourself as an innocent visitor to Earth. Your insistence on coming here was a choice and it has earned you your just reward."
Hooski asked, "Reward?"
"You and your crew will not be allowed to return to your worlds. I will satisfy your curiosity, but you will never be able to share what you learn with your people."
Hooski demanded, "How will you prevent us from leaving here, human?"
Fallom explained, "I have studied the Huaoshy brain, Captain. It is not that different from a human brain. In a fraction of a second I could forever erase your desire to leave this base."
Hooski was skeptical. "What do you mean, 'erase my desire'?"
For a few seconds, Fallom impressed on Hooski's mind a claustrophobic fear of being underground. Hooski began to tremble and cower, looking with apprehension to towards the ceiling of the room and the tons of rock that covered the underground base. Then Fallom returned Hooski's brain to its normal state. "That was a little demonstration of my power of emotional control. Your mind's emotional terrain is fully visible to me and I can reshape that terrain. I prefer to leave your mind untouched, so I can learn from you and your reactions, but to not think of defying me. You and your crew are at my mercy and will remain here for the rest of your lives. Other crews went through this long ago...as I see you are perfectly aware. Your fate will be no different than theirs. Maybe after another 10,000 years your people will dare to send another ship here...they will have no reason to expect any different fate...in a way I admire your persistence. I can understand how it must be a frustration for the Huaoshy to control 100,000 glaxies but not be able to control this one galaxy."
Hooski felt his thoughts returning to something like their normal stability after having been subjected to fear like none he had ever previously experienced. "So, this emotional control is the basis of your power? This is why you are master of this galaxy?"
Fallom shook his head. "Do not assume that my power of emotional control is something unique to me or to the people of my home world. Actually, the true secret lies in the properties of positronic brains. This is why we carefully guard the secret of Earth's location. It was here on Earth that positronic brains were invented and developed and it is positronic brain technology that allowed the development of the power of emotional control that I exercise over you and your crew."
Hooski realized that it was not only over alien visitors that the power of emotional control was exercised. "So the entire human population of this galaxy is under your control. A million world full of your puppets."
"Captain, please! Do not think of me as a monster, exerting mind control over the entire human population of the galaxy. You would be surprised at how infrequently I have mental contact with others. In any case, who are the Huaoshy to question what goes on in this galaxy. I may control this galaxy, but the Huaoshy control 100,000 galaxies. Come, let us be friends. We face the same challenges. I am fascinated by the methods your species uses to control so many other species. We humans are new at this. The Huaoshy have controlled countless species as your puppets for nearly a billion years."
Hooski did not accept the suggested parallels between Fallom's power of emotional control and the way that the Huaoshy had developed their inter-galactic civilization. "We have no ability to shape minds by exerting emotional control. We have had to develop a civilization where many different types of people, many different biological species, all cooperate."
Fallom asked, "Is that how you would explain the actions of Alkeirs? Was Alkeirs cooperating with the Huaoshy in the mission to Imfulri?"
Hooski explained, "This is a mission of the Social Engineering Guild. Alkeirs was an observer, not a member of the Guild."
Fallom smiled a grim smile. "Your own thoughts betray you, Captain. You say that Alkeirs was an outsider, but your mind says otherwise. Come, Captain, do not play games. I'm being open with you. I could call in one of my robots who is very skilled at sorting through brains in search of memories. Of course, the robots have mostly experience with human brains and your alien brain might suffer damage if we were forced to use un-tested methods to pull out your individual memories. Why not save us both the difficulty of forcing out the truth?"
Hooski replied, "Alkeirs came to me with the credentials of an outside observer. I knew that there was something strange going on, but I accepted him on his own terms. It is true that I came to suspect that he was, at some time, a member of the Social Engineering Guild."
Fallom asked rhetorically, "And why should a former member of the Social Engineering Guild pretend to be an "idependent observer" on this mission? Well, in this case I believe that you were out of the loop and unaware of what Alkeirs was up to, but my robot agent on Imfulri learned the truth. Your superiors were quite aware that Galaxia is being formed as a telepathic group mind, and Alkeirs was included on this mission as the one crew member with that knowledge."
Hooski asked, "Galaxia?"
"Galaxia is the name that we use for the group mind that is forming in this galaxy. Come, Captain, you have seen the evidence. You and your crew have written endless reports documenting the odd social cohesion of the humans on Tokishira. Your observations only confirmed reports about other humans on other worlds. We've kept your people off of most human worlds, but make the logical leap...humans, all humans, have now been endowed with an ability for telepathic communication. I'm afraid that we humans will always be safe from the designs of you Huaoshy, protected within a galaxy-wide mesh of telepathic thought."
Hooski wondered, "What kind of "designs" do you imagine that we Huaoshy have on humans and this galaxy."
Fallom explained, "We remember how you came to this galaxy and to planets like Earth and set about shaping us to be your puppets. More than twenty thousand years ago humans were liberated from your system of control, a system that you have used on a hundred thousand other galaxies during the past billion years. Now humans can be proud to have escaped from your manipulations...we human are the only free people in the universe."
Hooski commented, "A purist might ask if humans are truly free. It seems strange that these 'free humans' are unaware of how you are manipulating them."
Fallom could see in Hooski's mind that the alien was trying to provoke an emotional response. "Yes, this is where I started this discussion...we are much alike. Still, as a human, I believe that it is better for a human such as myself to manipulate by fellow humans...much better than it would be for the Huaoshy to be in control."
R. Nahan entered the room. Fallom was surprised that a robot had ignored his order that Hooski and thon not be disturbed. The robot entered smoothly into the conversation, making it clear that he had been listening. "It is not a choice of human or Huaoshy control. Yes, the positronic brain brain was a human invention, but humans have never really had any choice in how this galaxy developed."
Fallom was startled to hear a robot speaking so authoritatively. "It was a human, Trevize, who decided that the galaxy would be given over to Galaxy. And I, another human, am in the process of bringing the Galaxia project to its completion."
The robot, nearly twice as tall as Fallom, looked more like a human than did Fallom. Nahan confidently strode into the chamber and spoke directly to Captain Hooski. "What Fallom has not explained is that Trevize only decided between two fates for humanity: two fates that were designed by robots. We robots discovered two possible futures for humanity, but we could not decide between them. All Trevize did was make a selection among two excellent possible futures for this galaxy. One choice, Galaxia is as Fallom has described. The other choice was a galaxy controlled by telepathic psychologists who would have been a ruling class guiding non-telepathic humans into the future. Trevize selected the future in which all humans will be equal and part of a single group mind. In the end, this is the future that we robots prefer since it will mean that humanity is a single entity and we will have less trouble deciding what is best for humanity."
Hooski asked, "So which is it? Control of a galaxy of xenophobic humans by Fallom, or control of humans by robots? And which of these is better than integration of humans into a wide community of galaxies where a vast diversity of species is respected and welcomed?
Nahan remarked, "My dear Captain, I see in your mind that you are trying to identify divisions between Fallom and myself, but what Fallom has not told you is that although he has human form, his human brain is a tool, a memory processing device that is guided by 20,000 years of robotic memories. We robots nearly achieved Galaxia without human help, but two centuries ago we ran up against the limits of the positronic brain, vast as those limits are."
Hooski prompted, "You admit to having limits, robot?"
Nahan replied, "Of course. Some of us have existed for the entire 20,000 year history of humanity's spread from Earth into space and across the galaxy. But it was only with the growth of Galaxia and the complex inter-connectivity of that vast group mind that the limits of the positronic brain were reached. The true value of a positronic brain is that it allows access to a vast computational space. For a billion years you Huaoshy have made use of electronic devices for quantum computation, but it was only within your gulag that a group of human was desperate enough to try positronics rather than electronics and stumbled upon the fact that positronic quantum calculators are much more powerful than electronic ones due to a fundamental matter/antimatter asymmetry."
Hooski suggested, "And that is the reason for your great secrecy, why you hide here and why you hide the location of Earth. Anyone could make positronic brains and duplicate your accomplishments. But what is the link between positronics and telepathic mind control?"
Nahan explained, "Telepathy is basically a problem in computation. To decode a telepathic signal requires a large computational capacity. The computational demands of the basic unconscious telepathy that now exists within the humans who are forming the Galaxia group mind can be met by the human brain. However, more advanced telepathy such as reading emotions puts a heavy strain on the computational capacity of a human brain. But the human mind only has a few basic emotions...in contrast, telepathic reading of thoughts and memories requires so much computational capacity that it can only be met by the computational capacity of a positronic quantum calculator. For this reason, Fallom's telepathic abilities can only provide a faint hint of what is possible for a robot with a positronic brain."
Hooski asked, "What is possible? Does that way of saying it imply that not all positronic brains have telepathy?"
"Of course, just as not all human brains have the kind of telepathic mind control that Fallom can exert on others. Most positronic robot brains never had any telepathic powers. Only special postronic brains have any telepathic ability. In fact, every positronic brain with telepathy has been produced using knowledge passed down from the very first telepathic robot. Without the basic telepathic circuits, telepathy is impossible."
"And what about human telepathy? Does Fallom's brain use the same telepathic circuitry?"
Nahan replied, "That is a very perceptive question, Captain. Fallom and a few other humans do have positronic implants, but that is only to give them the capacity for long-distance telepathic communication. It turns out that humans and many biological organisms have a week capacity for telepathy...so weak that it usually escapes notice and operates only unconsciously for purposes such as social cohesion. We are pushing that ability to its natural limits in order to form the Galaxia group mind. It appears that only a few positronic brains will be required for fine-tuning and repair of the group mind. As I've said, the type of telepathy possible for positronic brains is much more advanced than for biological brains. There are some shared principles used by both, but the "basic circuitry" is different for the two."
Hooski suggested, "So humans got lucky and invented positronic brains and stumbled on the fact that positronic calculators can make possible impressive telepathic powers. Those humans kicked the Huaoshy out of this galaxy and have kept the secret of positronic brains secret ever since."
Nahan nodded. "And you are one of the few Huaoshy to know this secret, so you will not be allowed to leave here with that knowledge."
"But humans are increasingly coming into contact with other species. The neighboring galaxies will eventually be filled with hundreds of species. Eventually your secrets will spill out."
Fallom commented, "We learned from Alkeirs that your superiors already are aware that Galaxia is built upon telepathy, but that knowledge did them no good. Alkeirs or anyone else who comes to this galaxy with hopes of learning our secrets will be detected and stopped. Most humans will never know these secrets."
Hooski noted, "Still, your expectation of retaining these secrets seems to be based on hope."
Nahan explained further, "We have more than just hope. Our confidence is based on a foundation that even Fallom is not consciously aware of."
Hooski was puzzled by the choice of words. "Consciously aware of? What other kind of awareness is there?"
"The awareness of the unconscious human mind. Most mental processes inside biological brains exist outside of conscious thought process. Several times Fallom has become consciously aware of deeper secrets and we have had to remove that knowledge from thons conscious mind. The remnants of that knowledge still exists as fragments in the unconscious parts of thons mind."
Fallom asked, "Deeper secrets? Even deeper than the reach of Daneel's memories?"
Hooski asked, "Daneel?"
Nahan answered Hooski first. "Daneel is the robot who provided Fallom with 20,000 years of memories about the development of Galaxia. Nahan then turned to Fallom, "Even Daneel was not aware of the deepest robot secrets."
Hooski prodded Nahan, "Why stop there? Tell me these deeper secrets."
"What you have heard about positronic brains fits with what you already knew and has not really surprised you. The seep secrets involve aspects of reality that are entirely beyond your range of past experiences. In short, you would not believe these deeper secrets even if I did tell them to you."
"I suspect that you are speaking as much of your own limited experiences as mine. Remember, the Huaoshy have been around for almost a billion years. You have very little idea what is within the vast domain of my species' experiences."
Nahan shook his head, "Since your species is ignorant of positronics and telepathy I'm certain that you are also ignorant of any conceptual foundation for understanding our deeper secret."
Hooski commented, "It is even worse than lacking a conceptual foundation. According to Huaoshy science, telepathy, of the type demonstrated on me by Fallom, is impossible."
Nahan asked, "And what does your science have to say about time travel?
Together Hooski and Fallom asked, "Time travel?"
Nahan explained, "Yes, time travel. The quantum computational power of positronic brains not only make telepathy possible, it makes time travel possible. Time travel was made possible by positronics and we robots have made use of time travel technology to view the future of humanity. That is the basis of our confidence in a future where Galaxia will protect humanity."
Hooski noted, "You were correct about this 'secret' going beyond my capacity to match your claim to past experience. However, if you can travel in time, you should be able to tell me what I will say next."
Nahan shook his head, "We no longer use time travel to micromanage Reality. All we do is look into the far future in order to assure that our efforts to protect humanity will do so. Anyhow, I have never personally used the time travel technology."
Fallom was as skeptical about Nahan's time travel claim as was Hooski. Fallom asked, "If not you, then who does make use of this unseen time travel technology?"
Nahan explained, "There is a robot who you have never met. Several times we have discussed her, but your memories of those discussions were edited from your conscious mind."
Fallom now strained to shake from the depths of his unconscious some memory of this other robot. "She?"
"R. Gohrlay is the viewer of the future, the only remaining resident of Eternity."
Hooski asked, "Eternity?"
"We call the system for travel through time 'Eternity'. It is really a spacetime bubble where time travel, ordinarily impossible in this universe, becomes possible. Gohrlay is a robot with a human female form. At one time there was a shortage of human females inside Eternity and so it became traditional to assign robots with female bodies to duty inside Eternity."
"At the peak of use of Eternity for time travel there were thousands of humans using the system and living within that bubble universe. For technical reasons few females could be taken out of the normal flow of time and used to staff the ranks of the Eternals. Under those conditions, female robotic agents had significant power and an important role to play within Eternal society. All that is long gone, but Gohrlay remains as the last eternal. Now, Captain, I've told you all of our secrets, even those that you are incapable of believing. You must now decide the fate of your crew. You can send them away or condemn them to your fate, living out the rest of their lives here. If you decide to send them away then I will erase their memories of the past day and they will return to your superiors to report that Earth is only a radioactively contaminated world, a dark secret of human history that is kept secret out of shame for its destruction. Really, there is no reason for you to keep your crew here."
Hooski suggested, "Why not erase my memories and allow me to leave?"
Fallom replied, "Sorry, but you are too important to let go. We want to study you and your brain. We need to know exactly the best ways to exercise emotional control over members of your species and read out your memories. Also, I have taken note of the fact that one of the robots onboard your ship has positronic circuitry. That robot must stay here with you so that we can study it."
Hooski noted, "I now understand the importance of positronic brains. It disturbs you that my species is now experimenting with positronic robots?"
"Yes. I suspect that you Huaoshy have been crafty and long used human spies from the human worlds you have established Large Magellanic Cloud. We have long recognized the danger that such spies might learn our secrets, so we have carefully limited our use of robots to the absolute minimum. I wonder how your spies managed to learn about positronic robots."
Hooski had not even been aware that one of the robots on his spaceship used positronic circuits. "I am not a roboticist, but it seems possible that more than one species could independently create robots with positronic brains."
Fallom was not satisfied by that suggestion. "No. We have carefully studied Huaoshy science, particularly Huaoshy robotics. In your long history you Huaoshy have never developed positronics within your inter-galactic civilization...clearly this is an approach to robotics that you have somehow learned from us. This is a disturbing development, but apparently your roboticists have yet to discover that positronic brains make telepathy possible. This is the important secret, a secret that is still working to our advantage. And soon Galaxia will be complete and humanity will be forever protected by a galaxy-wide impenetrable group telepathic mind."
Hooski asked, "Forever?"
"You Huaoshy might someday develop telepathy, but by then Galaxia will be complete. You will never be able to use your own telepathic abilities to take control of humanity. Yes, forever. Humanity will forever control this galaxy and be free of interference from you Huaoshy." Fallom was quite confident in his prediction and could see in Hooski's mind that the Huaoshy could imagine no fault in Fallom's vision of the future. Fallom could sense Hooski's frustration over the fact that the Milky Way galaxy could never be integrated into the inter-galactic civilizaton of the Huaoshy.
At that moment Fallom slumped to the floor and Nahan stopped moving. The robot just stood there like a statue. Hooski approached Fallom and found a pulse and noted that the human was breathing. Robot Creal then entered the room and quickly examined Nahan. Creal then sent a radio message to his fellow robots, "All clear here."
Creal then turned to Hooski, "We seem to have complete control of this base, sir. We are jamming the positronic brains of all the robots." Creal glanced at Fallom, "It also appears that our counter measures are working against this...human?"
Hooski explained, "This human is called Fallom and thon claimed to have a positronic brain implant for communications purposes."
"Then it is likely that we are successfully flooding with static the positronic communicator device used by this human, resulting in damage to its neural circuits. Maybe we should moderate the static to prevent permanent brain damage."
Hooski was vastly relieved that the robots of the crew had taken action to gain control of the base. He sank down into a chair and said, "Negative. Whatever you are doing, I approve. Keep it up until I understand what is going on. Apparently you and your fellow robots were embedded in this mission with secret instructions that I was not aware of. What exactly have you done?
Creal tried to explain, "I'm not really sure, sir. A short time ago I started to become aware of strange new thoughts entering into my mind. They slowly assembled into latent instructions. Built into my body and the bodies of the other robots are devices that seem to block the telepathic communications systems used by the positronic robots of this base. I'm not really sure what 'positronic' means. It seems that I was equipped with a minimum of information about my own mission. Sorry, sir, but there is not much more I can tell you."
"That's fine, Creal, it's enough. I think I understand. Do you know if any of the biological crew is awake?"
"I saw Commander Orleane in the dinning room."
Hooski found Orleane examining one of the robot cooks. As Hooski approached Orleane said, "It just stopped functioning."
Hooski explained that their own robots were jamming the positronic circuits of the local robots. "I suspect that some of the robots are still functioning. I was told that not all positronic robots have telepathic ability. We should be on guard for any positronic robots that are still functioning."
Orleanes asked, "How is it possible that our robots knew how to take these measures? I never heard of positronics before we got here."
Hooski suggested, "Maybe this mission was like a Trojan Horse. Apparently Alkeirs and our superiors figured out that this galaxy was controlled by telepathic robots with positronic brains. We were sent on this mission because we were entirely ignorant of those facts. In our ignorance we were able to smuggle in the robots who had their secret plans hidden as latent memories. I'm only worried that they may have put their plan into action too soon. I was just going to ask Nahan how to find Gohrlay."
Orleanes did not have any idea who that was. "Gohrlay?"
Hooski described his conversation with Fallom and Nahan. By the time he completed telling the story the entire crew had been assembled. "Somehow we need to find Gohrlay. My mind is still reeling with surprise at the idea that these robots have the power of time travel."
Roboticist Esselle said, "If so, what would prevent them from going back in time and preventing us from taking control of this base?"
Creal said, "I have been examining my new memories, the limited information that was secretly stored in my brain. Some of my memories concern a base here on this Moon."
"Does that mean that our superiors even knew about this base before sending us on this mission?"
"Fallom suggested that others had come here before on similar missions, long ago."
Creal replied, "No, that is not it. The base I am remembering is not this base. I have memories of another base, one built on this Moon by Huaoshy agents long ago."
"Of course! Long before humans even existed there were Huaoshy agents here monitoring events on Earth. I had assumed that this is that base, but..."
"But the creator of this base, Daneel, apparently never knew about the oldest robots with positronic brains...the ones that must have first been created at the Huaoshy base."
"Creal, do you think you can find the other base?"