Friday, July 20, 2012

Star Trek '12: 2612 AD - Founders

A long time ago in a part of the galaxy known as the Gamma Quadrant, many ambassadors were sent forth from the Founders to explore the nature of the universe.  These ambassadors were a little unusual, in that they were infants, not knowing even their own kind.  It was the wisdom of the Founders to choose them for this service so that they could discover themselves at the same time as discovering the circumstances in which they found themselves, so as to form an unbiased opinion.  Always they would feel the call home, to discover their own origins, and report what they learned, but they would be untainted by prejudice.

This would always be ironic, because the Founders themselves had allowed themselves to be corrupted by their own past.

A long time from now, one of these infants will return.  He will be the last of them, and he will be one of the very few of those who were sent away to make it.  In many ways, these ambassadors will have mirrored the original experiences of the Founders, the ones that helped form the Dominion, which terrorized the galaxy for a time, eventually to be defeated by an inversion of itself, and through another reunion with one of its own.

This particular infant, this particular ambassador, spent five hundred years on his own.  He did not know sentient life for all that time.  He observed space all the same, and came to know many wonders, saw manipulations from a thousand different forms, the secrets of nature, decay and creation unfold on an unimaginable scale, with unmatched subtlety, a ballet of atoms and elements.  There were times when he could see the unseen forces, the unknowable architects, interpret the unthinkable in the tiniest acts.

Then one day it was snagged by a passing starship, caught in the exhaust port, unable to resist a sudden curiosity, half-deliberate and part accident, spending a week exploring the mechanics before even considering interacting with the inhabitants, perhaps because he had no conception of them, too complex and terrifying to contemplate.

The poetry of the hardware fascinated the changeling to no end.  He was more experienced than almost any other being in the universe, yet in no practical way had he ever conceived of such things.  There was much recognition, the changeling slowly realized, and he spent several more weeks replicating these discoveries.  This was something he could understand.  It was the conspiracy of human life that baffled him.  It was entirely foreign to him, the infinitely more complex nature of bringing the whole engine together.  Had he known these beings believed thought to be the essential ingredient of life, he would have laughed for the first time.

The riddle of expression was what bothered him most.  Forced to create it for himself, the changeling did not know where to begin.  He had no inherent form.  He had only ever observed.  He knew the ingredients, but he had no idea how they tasted when put together.

He fashioned himself into the most simple thing he could think of, a communications badge, and allowed himself to be worn by one of these individuals, and spent a month like that, fulfilling a function and observing, completely mindless to its significance, and perpetually unconvinced that he would ever make sense of anything that happened.  He picked up the language, mastered it, yet remained silent, as he had been since he first became aware of himself.

One day the woman to whom he had been attached went on a mission and was shot, and it was he himself who was hit, and he uttered his first sound, a scream, and the woman didn’t even register his existence, believed until the day she died that she was the one who’d made the sound.  She never even entertained another possibility, though her colleagues continually suggested that she had been mistaken, even though they couldn’t explain it themselves.

He started making communications, conversations, mimicking her voice, and though it caused a little more confusion, it was also basically ignored, more of himself that remained hidden from the world he believed he would never truly know.

The pull began without him noticing, something that had been going on all his life, but kicked into gear when he had to give up the communications badge existence, when the woman died and the badge was stuck in a drawer.  He didn’t want to live in a drawer, so changed forms, and felt the pull.  It was irresistible.  It was undeniable.

He shot through the stars.  He went through the wormhole.  He briefly acknowledged the Prophets.  He landed on the current homeworld of the Founders.  He didn’t think he had much to tell them.  But he was finally home.

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