Jun 7, 2013

Orbho Anagro

The Foundations of Eternity is a science fiction story that begins far in the past when there are still a few Neanderthals living on Earth. The main character of the story is Gohrlay, a genetically modified Neanderthal who lives at Observer Base on the Moon. Gohrlay has been trained as an Observer and she has already visited Earth once and is anxiously awaiting departure on a shuttle that will take her to Earth for the second time.

Gohrlay was not officially scheduled for either of her missions to Earth. She is acting as a junior Interventionist, sneaking down planet in an effort to illegally alter the natural course of human evolution. Gohrlay has decided to introduce a key disease resistance gene into the dwindling Neanderthal population of Earth.

The rule that forbids outsiders from interfering with the natural course of events on Earth is enforced by the Overseers. The Overseers are an artificially modified type of Denisovans, one of the human subspecies that are descendants of Homo heidelbergensis, and they watch over the Observers as a kind of police force. During the time when Gohrlay joins the ranks of the Observer Corps, all of the Observers and Overseers believe that Overseer Doltun is in command of Observer Base.
Evolutionary tree of H. heidelbergensis. Click image to view entire tree.

Orbho Anagro
The actual director of Observer Base is Orbho Anagro. Anagro is an artificial lifeform. The human residents of Observer Base believe that the orbho are convenient robotic helpers. Every human on the Moon has a personal assistant: Doltun's is Orbho Anagro. Anagro has at his command swarms of nanorobotic devices. Anagro can control the nanites that exist in the brains of every human resident of Observer Base. Any human who starts to suspect that the orbho are anything more than servants can quickly have their recent memories erased by the nanites.

The orbho are really the helpers of the alien Huaoshy. For the past 7,000,000 years they have been genetically modifying and artificially selecting primates. We humans are the product of their efforts. The goal of the orbho is to construct a primate that is well suited to have a technological civilization.

An early goal of the orbho in designing humans was perfecting the ability of nanites to interact constructively with the human brain. Most of that design work took place on planets of the galactic core such as Hemmal. An important side effect of that design became apparent when early humans were returned to Earth. They displaced the existing australopithecines and developed sophisticated human cultures. At Observer Base, Anagro allowed various human subspecies such as Denisovans and Neanderthals to explore science and some advanced technologies, but those early humans were not very adept scientists.

Homo sapiens
Modern humans (Homo sapiens) were then designed on Hemmal as a human variant that would be a more accomplished tool creator and they were subsequently introduced to Earth's biosphere. With time, modern humans spread across the continents and out-competed all the earlier human variants. For many thousands of years the Observer Corps consisted of Neanderthals, and they had to watch while modern humans expanded across Earth's surface while the native population of Neanderthals relentlessly declined and dwindled.

Anagro was particularly interested in the behavior of hybrids of the modern humans and earlier human variants like the Neanderthals. Hybrids of Denisovans and modern humans were of particular interest to Anagro since they were close to optimal in their skill as scientists while retaining the innate respect for nature that was characteristic of heidelbergensis and the Neanderthals. Since the Overseers were a genetically modified form of Denisovans, Anagro had little difficulty encouraging the Overseers to make sure that a population of Denisovans remained on Earth, even though this was technically a violation of the rules that the Overseers were sworn to enforce. The Overseers devised a sly trick to hide from the Observers the fact that a group of Denisovans were being artificially maintained on Earth. They kept a population of Neanderthals in a ring around the Denisovan group and only allowed the Observers to watch the Neanderthals from a distance.

By the time Gohrlay was born at Observer Base, modern humans were the most numerous human subspecies living at Observer Base, but the descendants of Neanderthals still dominated the Observer Corps. The residents of Observer Base who were Neanderthal and Denisovan descendants were given the superficial appearance of modern humans by the nanites that they carried in their bodies.

Gohrlay on Earth
By the time of Gohrlay, there has long been a population of hybrid modern human-Denisovan scientists working at Observer Base. Anagro had become intrigued by the positronics technology that was developed by those scientists. In the centuries before Gohrlay's birth, Anagro was frustrated by the fact that these scientists were too ethically conservative. Poised at the brink of creating a human-like positronic brain, the hybrid modern human-Denisovan scientists refused to sacrifice human test subjects as part of their research and they abandoned their innovative and unique positronic brain research project.

Orbho Anagro devised a way to get the positronic brain research back on track. Gohrlay's entire life was carefully planned out for this purpose. She was allowed to learn about sensitive genetic data from Earth that hinted at the fact that someone had long been systematically tampering with the genetic records of humans on Earth. Gohrlay's friend Cliph wanted to carefully investigate these genetic anomalies, but Anagro secretly pushed Gohrlay towards taking reckless action. Convinced that someone else had already been artificially and illegally introducing  genes into populations of humans on Earth, Gohrlay decided that she would do the same in an attempt to protect the dwindling population of Neanderthals on Earth from a microbial disease that had been sweeping through the Neanderthal population.

Interfertile human subspecies: Denisovan, Neanderthal, sapiens
Anagro just as carefully made sure that Overseer Doltun would catch Gohrlay on Earth in the act of violating the Rules of Observation. What Anagro really wanted was a human "volunteer" for the long-delayed positronic robot research project. With the help of the nanites in Gohrlay's brain, she was persuaded to agree to have her brain destructively scanned and its neural network structure converted in to the functionally equivalent positronic circuits.

Many Sails
Occasionally the orbho needed to move primates between Earth and worlds of the galactic core such as Hemmal. The spaceship Many Sails was always available for such tasks. When Anagro was done with Gohrlay he arranged for Many Sails to visit Observer Base and pick up Gohrlay for transport to another world where she could live out her life.

Rather than simply collecting Gohrlay and leaving the Solar System, Many Sails became intrigued by the unusual scheming of Orbho Anagro and the positronic brain project that he was pushing to completion. Many Sails lingered long enough to be observed by R. Gohrlay's developing telepathic powers. Making telepathic contact with "herself", R. Gohrlay was able to develop a basic understanding of the fact that aliens had long ago established Observer Base and were involved in a long and careful process of artificial selection of primates that could exist within the vast intergalactic civilization of the aliens.

Ironically, it is Orbho Anagro's curiosity about the scientific abilities of humans that leads to the science of positronics. Never suspecting that a positronic robot might have telepathic powers, Anagro even uses advanced Huaoshy technology to efficiently convert the structure of Gohrlay's brain into the corresponding positronic circuits. The resulting robot, R. Gohrlay, is able to take control of Observer Base and start down the long road to the establishment of Galaxia, a vast galaxy-wide telepathic mind that R. Gohrlay hopes can keep humanity free of Huaoshy interference.

The story of that struggle between positronic robots and the alien Huaoshy for control of the fate of Humanity is told in The Foundations of Eternity.
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