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The darkness around him began to change. It was as if a third eye had
opened in the middle of his forehead. Directly before him the
nothingness began to curdle; a shape appeared before him.
It was roughly globular; it shimmered, faded, grew strong again. He
had the feeling it didn't exist entirely in real space and time. In
fact, he thought what he was seeing might be only one small
manifestation of the entity's whole.
Your patterns have changed, the Thing said.
"Yes. I can see you now." .
The globular thing brightened, then faded, then brightened again. You
see a set of probabilities. They may or may not come into existence.
Jim's mind spun. He felt himself still changing. More and more of the
details of this place became clear to him. The being he confronted
seemed to grow more solid. Almost familiar. Patterns marched through
him like great storm waves pounding on a shore. "Why did you call for
me?"
You are at the moment the only living being in the galaxy who can
perceive my true existence. Therefore, I want you to be my messenger
to others of your kind. "Others of my kind?" Living intelligences.
"Aren't you alive?"
Not in any sense you would understand.
We'll see about that, Jim thought. "What message do you want me to
relay?."
I control the mind arrays. They are mine and mine only. If Serena
Half Moon and Hith Mun Alter wish to use the relays for their own
purposes, they must first negotiate with me. You will be a suitable
emissary between us.
"Suitable? Why?"
Wl LLIAI! HATER
An infinitesimal delay: Jim sensed another pattern
Something was wrong here, but he didn't know what. Suitable because
you are acceptable to me.
The existence Of the arrays themselves are at risk. There:
time for negotiations. If you control the arrays, will you help I will
negotiate. There is enough time.
A bleak sense of absolute danger informed Jim's next "Are you Delta?"
I am not Delta. Delta is dead. I am Outsider.
Somehow, that was a lie. And in the lie lay a key. He have it yet,
but he would. If he could keep this Outsider ing what he almost.."
almost.." was able to understand.
He tried to curl himself into a hard mental ball, a shell impervious to
Outsider's awareness.
Why do you withdraw from me? Why do you hide yourself? "I want to go
back now and tell them your message." The globe hung there, shivering
and twisting, ming. Jim had a sudden sense that ghostly fingers were
scrabbling at the hard carapace he'd built around clenched himself
tighter, his terror acting as glue. After nameless time the questing
fingers withdrew.
Then go now.
No-space vanished, and Jim opened his eyes in the at the center of the
controller machines. He was covered sweat. He felt as if an immense
amount of time had when he glanced at the digital readout nearby, it
seemed to cate that no time at all had gone by.
"Jim?" It was Korkal. "Why have you dropped the just started."
His bones and muscles felt weak and watery. "I just he said. "Help me
out of here. We've got big problems."
Korkal leaned dlose, took his wrists, and hoisted him chair. "Are you
okay?."
"No," Jim replied. "I'm not okay. And neither are an)
of us. Any of us in the whole damned galaxy."
ABOARD ALBAGENB PRIDE EN ROUTE TO COMETARY
ORBIT SOL SYSTEM:
ETA HUNZZAN FLEETS: 22:00:00 AND COUNTING
It was a council of war with just the four of them in Hith's chambers.
"I don't understand," Serena said.
"Me, neither," Korkal said. Hith said nothing, merely stared at Jim
and waited.
Jim spread his hands. "It's hard. I think it is Delta. Well, not
really. It calls itself Outsider and says Delta is dead, and that may
be true. At least as we understand death. I don't think Delta's body
or brain exist any longer as living entities."
Serena gave her head a puzzled little shake. "Dead is dead, right?"
"Not exactly. You should understand. I wasn't present when Delta's
satellite blew up, so I can't testify as to his actual physical death.
He was still alive, more or less, when I left him, although he surely
looked like he was dying. Here is what I think, though: living
intelligence is a pattern. A living brain changes its structure as it
learns. At some point the structure becomes complicated enough to
support what we call intelligence and, more important, self-awareness
of intelligence. We think about our selves thinking. That is what
makes us different from the lower orders of intelligence. And some
thinkers give a name to that selfawareness: they call it soul."
"I follow so far," Korkal said.
"Good. So the. patterns of intelligence are created by the growth and [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]