May 30, 2016

The Noÿs Intervention

Not long ago, the mystery surrounding the ultimate fate of R. Gohrlay and the positronic robots of Earth began to fade away.  First, Ivory Fersoni and her clone sisters began revealing some secrets from Deep Time. Their revelations served as an organizing force that began to help me to start deciphering the infites that I had obtained from Thomas and Izhiun. Then, most recently, Gohrlay revealed herself to me and I have had some success in wheedling more information out of her. I suspect that Gohrlay has access to all of the memories and past experiences that R. Gohrlay accumulated from the First Reality right up until Gohrlay began her life on Earth here in the Final Reality.

Viewing Realities
With some guidance from Gohrlay, I recently realized that I have access to the story of how Trysta became a time traveler and the agent who was used by R. Gohrlay to bring into existence the Foundation Reality. I was fooled by personal name differences and a language barrier, but with a few hints from Gohrlay, I've now broken the code and provide the following translation of the story as it was originally passed from Trysta to her son Thomas. Angela Fersoni pulled this story out of Deep Time, apparently without ever explaining its importance to Ivory.

The Noÿs Intervention
In Angela's version of the story, her account begins with two poetic descriptions, rendered in a less than poetic fashion below after translation from the original source language:

Skaña was crafted with care from the genetic constituents of the Asterothrope species, but forced to adopt the physical features of a human female. Born well after the extinction of the human species, Skaña was born into a small artificial society where everyone was an Asterothrope or an artificial life form. In fact, it was only those artificial life forms that could physically give birth to these mock humans. Skaña never knew that her entire life was shaped and guided by R. Gohrlay. When Skaña interacted with R. Gohrlay she thought that she was being mentored by an Elder, the esteemed Master known as Tomaught Mystry, the high Magastar.

The Skaña Intervention
Skaña grew up in a community of learners and scholars known as the Lykeion. The majority of the residents were artificial life forms who did all of the menial tasks required to keep students such as Skaña free from distractions. The Lykeion was an artificial environment that existed within the Hierion Domain, but the residents believed that they inhabited a space station in the asteroid belt of a planetary system [editor's note: apparently the star we know as 61 virginis] of a Sun-like star not too far from our Solar System.

[editor's note: Angela's version next provides a detailed account of the Lykeion community and of the monorail line that Skaña routinely used to travel between the Scholar's Nexus and her home dome.]

[editor's note: apparently Skaña exercised complete control over the artificial environment of her home dome. As the story opens (below) it is late evening and the simulated sky is crawling with a simulated display of purple lighting, there is a constant hot wind blowing and tossing the leaves and branches of the trees that grew near her house.]

The 111,394th Century
original cover art by Swen Papenbrock
Skaña returned to her home, weary after a long shift at the Lykeion. She was four years into the qualifying phase of her research studies and she found herself pressed hard to efficiently deploy her scholarship skills under the difficult and challenging conditions that arose while Viewing ancient (Primitive Era) history in the First Reality. Her research topic was mathematical physics, and now only one Magastar even understood the difficulty of Skaña's research.

Skaña sat down in her favorite chair at the dining table and watched her assistant Yequel scurry in from the kitchen with her dinner. "Good evening Yequi." With more than just a little delight, Skaña watched his arm and shoulder muscles ripple as Yequel quickly and efficiently set out her meal on the table.

With a grin and a sly glance from the corner of his eyes, Yequel said, "Welcome home, dear. Why so late again?" He handed her a hot towel and magically brought a hair brush into his right hand. With a few practiced strokes he quickly brushed back her long hair from her face, setting it in place with a silver clasp.

Glancing at their image as reflected in the mirror on the wall across the room, Skaña felt her spirits rise as Yequel transformed her from the appearance of a frazzled and tired girl into a dazzling and confident woman. She squared her shoulders and looked hungrily upon the first course of her meal. "I was making some excellent progress with my German translations. I did not want to stop." She picked up a spoon and began devouring the soup.

Yequel switched effortlessly to German: "Natürlich hast du, mein Liebling." Rather than take his usual place at the table across from Skaña, Yequel set out another set of dishes on the table. "Magastar Mystry is coming up the walk."

Skaña sputtered and spit out some soup. Caught by surprise, she asked, "The Magastar is coming here? Tonight?"

Now sharing her alarm, Yequel raised a hand to his lip. "I thought you knew. Magastar Mystry spoke to me as if you had been forewarned."

"Well, I wasn't told. Did she say what she wants?"

"I was not told." Yequel ladled soup into the bowl that he had set out for Magastar Mystry and then he returned to the kitchen.

The door signaled and the Magastar's voice could be heard through the com system. "Hello the house, I'm coming in."

Skaña rose to her feet and went to stand in the archway that led to the dining room. She bowed to the ancient scholar. "Welcome to my home, Magastar." 

Magastar Mystry crossed the room and passed close to Skaña. "Sorry to arrive in your home on short notice, my dear, but Time waits for none of us."

Skaña gestured towards the second place setting at the table and said, "I'm honored to host you in my little home." Magastar Mystry commented politely on the decor of the house then both of them took their seats.

The Magastar said, "Sorry to intrude at such a late hour, but I could not wait to discuss with you the exciting news."

Skaña picked up her spoon, then waited to see if Magastar Mystry would eat. With some guilt, Skaña said, "I'm sorry, but I got busy this evening and I have not seen my recent personal messages."

Magastar Mystry nodded. "I know well your refusal to use a messaging prosthetic, and I approve. In fact, your aversion to using electronic implants was part of what qualifies you for Advanced Standing."

Skaña had worked steadily for years with the goal of attaining Advanced Standing, but she had imagined that as a long-term and distant goal. Now all she could manage was to repeat the words robotically, quietly and with the smallest possible intonation: a mix of interrogation and excitement. "Advanced Standing?"

"Yes, that is an operational category that very few people even know exists. I gave you a few hints about it three years ago and you have worked efficiently to meet every requirement that I have laid before you as a prerequisite for attaining Advanced Standing. I am pleased by your rapid progress as a scholar. In essence, you will now become my agent."

Skaña again set down her spoon, her attention quite effectively diverted from her hunger. "I am now to study directly under you?"

"Yes, of course. You sound surprised. But why? You know that only I understand your research."

"Well, I thought you were..."

The Magastar smiled and asked, "Too old?"

Skaña shook her head. "I imagined that you are retired, only occasionally offering advice and support to young students such as myself. I did not know that you still accept trainees. Had I known, I would have included you on my examining committee."

"Well, yes, technically I don't take any students. But you are past that level now. Your new rank is Technical Agent. You will be taking orders directly from me, but in the field of 20th century physics, you are the master."

Yequel came in and picked up the cold soup that sat on the table, untouched by the Magastar and now also too cool to appeal to Skaña. He scowled at the Magastar and said, "I suppose you don't eat, but Skaña needs food." He set out the main course on the table.

Magastar Mystry told Skaña, "Go ahead and eat, girl. I'll make a little speech." But she waited until Yequel left the room. "I run a little project that I call the Time Service. As an agent of the Time Service and under my command, you'll now start training for a mission back into the past."

Skaña dropped her fork. "Time travel?"

The Magastar nodded. "Needless to say, those of us who serve in the Time Service don't make public displays of our activities. You must also keep the secret: nobody outside of our small cadre can ever know that we travel through time."

Skaña snapped her fingers. "So that's what happened to Natalya!" She'd wondered where her friend Natalya had disappeared to. Most people who left the Human Colony traveled off to visit Earth or went to live on one of the exoplanets or possibly to visit the Asterothrope Capitol on Mars, but Natalya had simply vanished.

"Yes, you can now resume your friendship with your old chum Natalya. In fact, she will provide most of your training for the first part of your time travel mission."

In half of her mind, Skaña realized that she should be shocked and astounded by the Magastar's revelation that time travel was possible, yet somehow the other half of her consciousness was not at all surprised. From an early age her teachers had trained her to imagine living in the past times that she studied. Now, Skaña again picked up the fork and tried to eat a few bites of her dinner while once again imagining what it would be like to actually visit the 20th century on Earth. Strangely, that thought now made her think of the present. With an anxious tone in her voice, Skaña asked, "When I travel back through time, who will... will anyone go with me?"

The Magastar shrugged. "On the first leg of your journey through time you must travel alone into the past, although Natalya is already at work scouting out your destination and making preparations for your arrival in the past. However, you will be allowed to select your ultimate destination in time and the options available to you actually do include having a fellow time traveler as a companion."

For a moment Skaña tried to imagine forever leaving behind the Lykeion and living out the rest of her life in the Primitive Era of Earth's past. She wondered: who would I take as a companion? Natalya? Yequel? Skaña tried to weigh and compare the different varieties of love that she felt for the others in her life. Thinking of Yequel and her unquestioned faith that he would always be a part of her life, Skaña cursed herself as a fool. What an idiot I was to constantly make use of Viewing to watch the past while never thinking that it was possible to actually visit the past!

Magastar Mystry continued to speak. "But the details of your time travel mission will be decided later, after you have studied all of the possible paths for your intervention into the course of events on Earth."

With a growing sense of alarm at the responsibilities involved in such a time travel mission, Skaña asked nervously, "This is not the first such mission into the past, is it?"

The Magastar slowly shook her head. "No, the Time Service has changed the history of Humanity many times."

Skaña wondered out loud, "What is the goal of these changes to Time?"

Magastar Mystry replied, "Since you ask, I'll share another secret with you, although we may be rushing the details of your training just a bit. First, you tell me: what is the great goal of the Lykeion?"

Skaña replied without hesitation, stating the answer that she had been taught since her earliest days as a student. "We study the History of Humanity so that we can gain the wisdom to start again with a second human civilization on Earth."

"Yes, that is what you were taught. Now, adjust your thinking to the fact of Time Travel which you have only today become aware of: imagine how we might accomplish the worthy goal of the Lykeion by venturing back into the history of Earth and creating a new path for the development of human civilization."

A frightful possibility came into Skaña's thoughts. "Pardon me for asking, but if we change the Primitive History of Earth, won't that change everything here in our present?"

"Exactly so, my child. Does that prospect alarm you?"

"Yes, it terrifies me. Are you telling me that I must go into our past and erase all of history, erase the Lykeion from existence... and in so doing, won't I erase myself?" The last question was asked with astounded and hushed amazement.

Gazing upon the anguished look that was now on Skaña's face, Magastar Mystry laughed. "You must not worry about such paradoxes until you have learned the full details of Time Travel. For now, suffice it to say that you will be protected from the effects of any change to the timeline. You will have the honor of living out your life in the Primitive Era, launching Humanity on a new and better path into the future."

"But you and everyone in the Lykeion will be erased from existence?"

"You will make a better Reality, my child. Nobody will mourn the loss of the Lykeion. In the Reality that you bring into existence, Humanity will avoid the mistakes that turned Earth into a ghost world.  You will be celebrated as the founder of a new and better Reality for Humanity."

Skaña called out, "Yequel!"

After a few seconds, Yequel came rushing into the dining room. "Yes, Skaña?"

With some guilt, Skaña looked towards the Magastar and asked, "Can I discuss... what you have told me with Yequel?"

"If you must. But it will do little good. Yequel will not be allowed to remember any details he learns about time travel or your planned mission into the past. My advice: get some sleep then start your new life in the morning. Natalya will come by and lead you to the secret dome of the Time Service. Tomorrow you will begin a new phase in your life and Yequel will slowly fade away from your thoughts. Remember: where you are going you will have no servants. You will have to live out your life as a fully competent person who can take care of yourself and your family in the society of the Primitive Earth. You will make that adjustment. Your minimal reliance on -and attachment to- Yequel is one of the qualifying factors that won you an appointment as a Technical Agent." Magastar Mystry stood and nodded across the table to Skaña. "Welcome to the Time Service. Goodnight."

Skaña and Yequel followed the Magastar to the front door of the house and watched her walk away down the path towards the monorail. The wind in the trees seemed to speak. A strange idea popped into Skaña's head. She called after Magastar Mystry, "You were watching me work today?" It was more a statement than a question.

The Magastar stopped walking down the path, turned and explained, "I've always watched you."

Skaña felt her doubts and uncertainty about changing the flow of time all evaporate. "You found the future that you've been searching for. You have it now, don't you?"

"Nein, mein junger Nymphe. You found the key to the future, just as I knew you would." Magastar Mystry turned and was gone on the wind.

Yequel slowly closed the door then asked, "How about some dessert?"

Skaña looked at Yequel as if seeing him for the first time. "You knew. You've always known."

Yequel inclined his head in a tiny nod of acknowledgement. "Before you were born I was trained to be your servant and help guide you towards this day."

"And you never warned me, never gave me a hint of what was coming?"

Yequel put his arms around her and replied, "We are caught up in an optimization process. Everything in your life is directed towards allowing you to create the best possible new Reality for Earth and the human species."

For a minute Skaña allowed herself to be cradled and comforted in Yequel's arms. Then she gathered her wits and took him by the hand, leading the way into their house. That was their last night together and then Skaña went off into the future that had been so carefully planned for her, a future in which she changed human history all the way back to the Primitive Era, the time before space travel, in the Era when people only existed on Earth.

Dr. Asimov
Editor's note: Angela's version of the story continues on with an account of how Skaña was given 5 possible detailed plans for how to change the past. Natalya helped to infiltrate Skaña into the 482nd century, where she used the name Noÿs. In an act of misdirection, Natalya had already played a major role in creating and spreading the belief in that century that physical contact with an Eternal could give extended life to a non-Eternal.

blog posts in May
The final time that Skaña spoke to Natalya was when they were together in the 111,394th century, cut off from the Eternals by the temporal barrier that had temporarily been placed in the kettleways at the 100,000th century. Once inserted into the 20th century, Skaña began using the cover name Trysta Iwedon.

Next: the goddess of science fiction

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