Ventel Techu closed his eyes and focused his attention on the communications he was receiving from his implant situated on the right side of his frontal lob, the part of the brain enabling higher mental functions. In an altered state of awareness he developed through meditation, he traveled his creativity to an open space, white all around where stood tall, rectangular mirrors refracting themselves into infinity. In each one was a reflection of him. Some minding their business unaware they were being watched, some actively feeling a presence in their mind, trusting it and entertaining a dialogue.
Techu sat, in this place living inside him, with his legs crossed, his eyes closed, surrounded by the mirrors. He had to find a way to catalogue all these versions of him to find those who were in a position to help. Preferably, those who had an implant, which had already made contact with the crystalline entity and who had not experienced the Government takeover of the lab. As he let his mind wonder, he noticed a fractal of himself separating from him like a ghost, floating, light as a feather, positioning himself above the mirrors and reaching into them with thin silver cords now flowing out of his hands. Techu understood he just had created the Librarian, the one who would classify and act as liaison to this multidimensional library of infinite mirrored versions of himself.
Techu only had to remain focused in this altered state of consciousness to receive the answer to his inquiry. He let his mind wondered from his many conversations with Lorelei to what it would be like to board a starship. He saw himself connecting the controls of a small craft with Lorelei’s consciousness and taking her out into the black space. He could feel her excitement and her rekindled thirst for knowledge. He saw himself next in a command centre lit only by screens, indicator lights and laser maps of a galaxy having an interaction with an A.I. he called 29. Finally, his sight moved at the speed of light through the cosmos to stop in front of a horde of mechanical beings shaped like humanoids set on killing him, their eyes red, hurtling in his direction.
He jumped in surprise, taking a sudden hallow breath, not sure of where he was or what he was doing. He noticed he was back in the cave he heard the mineral water splashing behind him. The Spherical Quantum Computer was still in balance on the rocks facing him. He remembered he was screening his multidimensional selves for a perfect candidate to redo what was done. And suddenly, an image imprinted itself onto his mind. A version of him who corresponded to the criteria he had decided upon. Techu took a drink from the cold dark pool, made himself comfortable again and closed his eyes.
Ventel Techu was sitting in the cafeteria of the Science and Higher Knowledge Complex at the centre of urban Atlantis. He was a student in Artificial Intelligence Development and was awarded many prizes for his understanding of emotional responses in an A.I. personality. His research was put into practical use by the Complex to prevent, target and correct those defects in A.I. development. He realized he had been daydreaming again, staring at his meal when his friend Dorèn lowered her face over her plate to lock eyes with his.
– What have you been dreaming about this time? Something more tasty then this..?
Dorèn was a small and frail young woman with an incredible genius for biology and a passion for DNA. She was lifting her meat slice with her fork with a disgusted look on her juvenile face. Techu could not immediately answer her question. He searched his mind to find the thread of his previous thoughts but found none.
– I have a strange feeling. I can’t explain it.
What he wanted to say was that he felt a presence inside his mind. A presence with its own memories, its own agenda trying to reach out to him. He continued exploring this feeling while standing up, cleaning his plate and tray, while walking through the corridors to his work station like an automaton. He was overwhelmed with a variety of feelings the most powerful of which was a sense of imminent danger. He also felt the loss of a loved one, disappointment, anger. He sat alone at his desk in his little office filled with computers, wires, lasers and other electronic devices, focused on this presence that was desperately trying to warn him about something. As he often did when he could not bridle his thoughts, he pulled a small metallic device from a drawer that he attached to the brain implant, a human-machine interface, installed over his left eye and started recording his mind chatter.
Coloured graphs formed on the screen in front of him representing the electrical activity of his brain. Techu engaged a secondary program of his design to translate this information into images and sounds. He stared in awe at the complexity of the data coming in from the implant. The translating program could not load fast enough the images it was receiving and was broadcasting a screeching chaos of sounds in the speakers installed in the four corners of the dark room.
– Oh my. Techu whispered to himself. I need help with that.
He turned off the computers, closed the screens on his desk, grabbed his bag from the floor and filled it with data disks. With the mind recorder still attached to his implant and a portable monitoring device in hand, Techu left his office, roamed the corridors and exited the Complex. He walked the crowded streets among the neon lights and holographic projections to reach the alley where he lived, in an assigned apartment sponsored by the Complex. He took the lift without loosing eye contact with the readings on his handheld device finally reaching his destination. He threw his bag on a counter and turned on, with a vocal command, all the technological gear in his home.
– Atlan, there is a new signal being received by my implant. Can you isolate it?
A computerized voice resounded in the room confirming the AI operating Techu’s personal computer lab was isolating, recording and analyzing the signal. Atlan was an affective AI, property of the Complex. Its creation was an attempt on Techu’s part to show his peers a program able to recognize emotion and respond with emotion could benefit society by conversing with the user instead of answering commands. But, he learned that some users just refused to treat their AI with compassion and respect and end up corrupting its program with negative responses. Atlan had been mistreated, and Techu had smuggled him out of the Complex before they had a chance to wipe him out.
Techu sat at his desk studying the coloured graphs appearing on the screens. There was a lot of informations in this signal. Maybe a data transfer of some kind.
-What is the signal’s origin?
-Processing. The signal is emanating from brain implant.
– …Transmitting and Receiving…
Do you hear me? Techu’s mental operations were interrupted by a voice in his head.
– Did you hear that? he said, his face shining with a smile. I hear you loud and clear. Techu said out loud.
Transmission Incoming. Do you accept?
A brutal electrical shock to his brain’s left hemisphere brought him convulsing to the ground in excruciating pain. He felt his whole body burning from inside, his limps turning to stone. He screamed at the top of his lungs but could not hear himself. Instead, he heard millions of voices talking over each other and was enchanted by them, trying to recognize specific words out of the chaotic choir. Until the pain disappeared completely. Then, Techu felt his spirit hover over his body. In this suspended moment between pain and silence, he noticed there was no floor, no walls, no ceiling left. Only his body and a strange Light shining from the sides, encompassing the space until there was nothing left but a white-out all around.
The caves and tunnels under the Complex were connecting deep within the planet and leading back up to the surface. The cave Techu and unit 147 had found themselves in had a fresh water well and water dripping from the stone wall behind it. The Sphere was still in place, balanced on a rock on the ground. The quantum computer and Lorelei’s container was flashing yellow lights occasionally. Dr. Ventel was lying on his back by the well and connecting through his implant with other parallel versions of him. He already had moved to this alternate timeline using his mind but felt he had to try to make contact with all others. Unfortunately, contacting other timelines was a delicate business and Techu learned not all his twins were apt or interested in doing so. Some were even incapacitated by the simple introduction. He understood that expanding his mind to encompass all versions of him was possible. Talking with them would take more practice.
He opened his eyes, awaken abruptly by the shock his double experienced at the moment of contact. His heart was racing in the most uncomfortable way. He felt for the pain of his brother but it was not his. Techu shook his head and stood up. He scooped cold water with his hand and splashed his face. He made a few steps and crouched to grab the computer sphere now resting on the ground. He took a good look at it and sighed. Lorelei was out there. She needed an anchor. He thought. A lighthouse to find her way back. He sat where he was and started meditating again, the sphere in his right hand. Lorelei, he called. Hear me. Focus on the sound of my thoughts.