Nov 30, 2014

The Hidden History of Hilde

Artist's concept of Hilde
I was recently shocked to learn of Ivory's death, but before she slipped away to pursue her second life, she left me with a gift: a swarm of infites that contain memories of our shared time together in the Hierion Domain.

Ivory's clones were experimented upon and used as test subjects for exploring the possibility that Earthlings might successfully be given access to the vast information content of the Sedronic Domain. Previously, I've assumed that Ivory had good reasons for protecting the identities of her clone "sisters". However, my old conceptualization of the twisted fates of the "Atlantis Clones" has now been shaken.

I now believe that Anney is still on Earth and functioning as part of a secret cabal: the Dead Widowers. Someone, probably Anney, recently sent me a cognitive stimulant that has allowed me to awaken some of my repressed memories of my time "inside" the Hierion Domain.

Thomas and Hilde
In addition to the infites that I received from Ivory, I also carry memory nanites that long resided with the brain of Thomas. I suppose I should not have been surprised to learn that Thomas and I have interacted by way of the virtual reality interface of the Hierion Domain. By matching my own nicotine-boosted "dream" memories of the Hierion Domain to the infite-generated memories of Thomas' experiences in the Hierion Domain I've confirmed that he and I met "inside" the Hierion Domain. In fact, what I learned from Thomas during those meetings was what allowed me to begin crafting stories set in the Exodemic Fictional Universe.

I'm not doing quite as well accepting a second, similar revelation about the Hierion Domain. It turns out that I first had "dealings" with an Atlantis Clone in 1982. Previously, I was allowed to make the false assumption that Hilde was the daughter of Peter and Hana. Of course, there was always something odd about Hilde's origins. Hana believed that I was Hilde's father. I knew that I was not Hilde's father, but I still felt guilt for "abandoning" her. Somehow my guilt was largely washed away by the "revelation" that Peter was Hilde's father.

Shortly before she left Earth and went off on her adventure among the stars, Hilde contacted me and and tried to explain the role that Peter had played in her life. Reviewing my memories, I now realize that Hilde did not explain very carefully and I was too upset to really listen anyhow. Actually, Thomas once explained it "better", but I only just recently gained conscious access to what Thomas told me.

River City
Space and time do not have their normal anchors in the Hierion Domain. I've previously mentioned the fact that Lili, Ivory's grandmother, was born on Rain World, a planet of the Galactic Core. I believe that "modern humans" evolved on Earth, but it might be that more human replicoids trace their origins to worlds of the Galactic Core than to Earth itself.

I borrowed the image to the right from a video game, but it is not a bad match to the setting within the Hierion Domain where Thomas told me the truth about Hilde.

For me, at least, entry into the Hierion Domain is a near death experience. Each time it happens, I am snatched from the safe tranquility of my dreams and pulled through a Hierion Tube. I experience the transition as if my conscious self is ripped out of my physical body. Somewhere above me, a deep vibration begins and my mind is caught in a psychic wind. Soon my mind rises above my body and then I'm there, inside the Hierion Domain.

Hilde, Lili and Thomas in River City
My mind seems to barely be able to survive the experience of being inside the Hierion Domain. What I experience is a kind of virtual reality interface. Often I have been summoned into the Hierion Domain by some acquaintance (like Thomas) who is trying to be helpful, but I seem to be a source of frustration. Usually I arrive and feel like I've joined a party at just about the time when the last few stragglers are cleaning up the mess and getting ready to depart. My replicoid is always there in the Hierion Domain, but occasionally it occurs to someone like Thomas that "me", the flesh and blood extension of of my replicoid, might benefit from some tidbit of information.

On this occasion, I found myself in what can best be translated as "River City", what I believe to be the Hierion Domain's virtual reality version of the home town of Lili. Nobody has ever explained to me the popularity of River City with the rag-tag band of Earthly residents who have, through the years, repeatedly dragged me into the Hierion Domain. I guess it serves as their base of operations for planning my life. Upon my arrival there, I found Thomas in conversation with two "aliens". As usual, I was struggling to adjust to the Interface. Apparently my replicoid had just collapsed and fallen off his chair. "My" first task, now that my conscious mind controlled the body of my replicoid, was to get up off the floor.

The two aliens noticed my arrival, then Thomas turned and waved towards me. He said cheerfully, "Ah, you did make it through. Join us! You'll be pleased to hear about my latest discovery."

I half walked, half stumbled to my stool. While helping to guide me, Thomas introduced me to the alien who was sitting at the bar. "This is Hilde."

She grabbed my arm and helped me get into a fairly stable position on the bar stool. Thomas held my other arm and steadied me. He pointed to the alien who was standing on the other side of the bar. "And this is Lili."

My head was spinning with my usual effort to adjust to the Interface and I struggled to accept the idea that Hilde could be there with us in the Hierion Domain. She seemed perfectly at ease and did not seem to be struggling like I was to adjust to the Bimanoid Interface.

Lili said, "You look like you need a drink."

Everyone laughed. Of course, I was not really there, and I could not be effected by any simulated drugs from within the Hierion Domain. I looked at the right hand of my replicoid and was impressed by how closely it resembled my own hand. Somehow that fragment of normalcy steadied me and I croaked, "I'll be okay now."

Thomas slapped "me" on the back and said, "Good man!" Before saying anything further, he nervously toyed with one of the tobacco leaves that were scattered across the shiny surface of the bar. After a long pause he said, "Hilde is still hiding from me on Earth, but she relented and came groveling to me here."

Lili said sharply, "She's not groveling, you jackass."

I still had hold of Hilde's arm with my left hand and now I reached across and took hold of her hand with my right hand. Although I was freaked out by her alien appearance, I still managed to say politely, "It's nice to finally meet you."

She squeezed my hand reassuringly and said, "I'm sorry I've caused you so much trouble."

Responding to the kindness in her voice and what seemed like empathy in her alien eyes, I said, "I'm sorry I ran out on you and Hana."

Hilde shook her head, rejecting my natural tendency to wallow in a mire of self-flaggelation and pity for the 'poor fatherless child'. She spoke rather wistfully, "Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if you had stayed with Hana and pretended to be my father, but everything worked out just fine."

Lili asked, "With Betty on the job, what could have gone wrong?"

At that point in my life, I'd never heard of Betty. I asked Lili, "Who is this 'Betty'?"

Thomas tried to deflect the conversation towards his reason for dragging me into the Domain. He explained briefly, "Betty took care of Hilde after Hana left Earth." I probably had a confused look frozen on "my" face. Thomas said, "Anyhow, that's a detail. What's important is that I've finally learned the truth about Hilde's father."

Lili shook her head and voiced an aside, "I can't believe that anyone was confused."

Thomas muttered, "I'm still confused. Why the hell was Peter handing out clones of Ivory like they were door prizes?"

Lili admonished Thomas, "Don't make a federal case out of it, it was just a simple experiment. Only one clone was taken out of Atlantis." Lili looked me in the eye and pleaded with me, "Don't you understand? Anna was too young to carry a baby and Peter was too eager to wait."

Hilde added, "And no harm was done."

Thomas complained, "Given what Hana went through, I wonder if she would agree with that assessment."

I touched Hilde's alien-shaped ear. "I thought you were human."

She giggled, "As an Ivory Clone, I have a lot of alien genes. Here in this domain I can play around and try to reconstruct my natural appearance."

Trying to look past the alien facial features, I could see hints of Ivory in the form that Hilde's replicoid was using on that occasion. I knew Ivory quite well and now that I was back in the Hierion Domain I could remember the many times she had mentioned her "sisters" Anna, Anney and Angela. I asked foolishly, "Ivory was cloned?"

Thomas laughed, "She's a very popular model. So far there are four clones of Ivory, on Earth. Hilde is the oldest of the second generation."

I had no idea what he meant by "generations" of clones and the way he had said "on Earth" seemed ominous. Before I could percolate a question up through the swirling confusion of my thoughts, Hilde explained, "Anna was the first; Lili's handiwork....just five years younger than Ivory. The proof of concept. Then Anna took charge and made the next generation of clones. Anna was like a mad scientist...she showed no restraint."

Thomas added, "With Lili and Peter pushing her to experiment with developmental guidance nanites, she had no choice."

Hilde nodded, "Ya, and since Peter was going to school with Hana, I suppose she was an obvious choice to be my birth mother. Still, he could have explained to her what was going on before he blasted her life."

Lili disagreed. "No, not in those days. Everyone on Earth was afraid of the Overseers. Peter had to secretly implant you in Hana and keep watch over the nanites. As it was, his experiment attracted the attention of Parthney. Lucky for us all it ended there."

I tried to rub my head and make sense of what I was hearing, but I was lost. I asked, "Who is Peter?"

Thomas laughed and pulled me to my feet. "That will become clear when the Buld arrive. Now, your replicoid is getting edgy and wants you out. So, goodnight!"

I felt myself being pushed out of my replicoid and sent back to Earth through the Hierion Tube. My dreams swallowed up the memory of that trip into the Hierion Domain, but now, I'm able to look back on that experience with new understanding.

I had originally assumed that Hilde was part of an experiment performed by Deomede in which the effects of certain alien gene combinations were tested in the environment of Earth. Under that working hypothesis, I might very well have been Hilde's father.

Then I latched onto the idea that Peter was Hilde's father. For a time, I could tell myself that Peter was just some guy that Hana and I knew when we were in college.

I still don't understand why it had to be me and Hana who were swept up in Peter's little science experiment.

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