There are three stories that unmake the world before it begins. These stories concern the individuals Farsten Hand, The Icon of the Lady who Has Fallen To the Sea, and Arclord Redshift. Separately and together, they make decisions that ruin and rebuild their age. Their paths are divergent but not mutually exclusive. Endings are found; burned into existence in the heat of exchange. The first is now.
The humagram stands mute and lost in the plaza. This happens on the first day. Her story, as of yet, is untold; yet in its untelling, understandings shall be gleaned.
A voice was raised in the manner of a telling. ‘The Icon of the Woman Fallen to the Sea,’ the voice announced, ‘is one of many in the central agrigrounds of Commuversity 1 that illustrate the woes and follies of days gone by. To many contemplating passers-by, the slowly active statue looks like a relic of the bygone age she is intended to represent; crudely, if appealingly, delineated by technology that is now almost quaint in its ancientness.’
Prime Disseminator Overhead Fryt - a master elucidator in his spare time, which was mostly spent learning young Deciders - was holding forth on the tale of the lady whose story was not to be told properly this afternoon; or ever. ‘Here she stands,’ he continued, ‘festooned as she is in the likenesses of the unintelligently fetid yet intellect-hungry mutt-weeds that signify loss of control and a resultant death by drowning. These women were the Cylryths: courtesans of the waterbearers who sailed off into the undecided regions back in the maritime period. That era was one of great discovery, yet also one of terror, suppression and the forced shackling and crushing of the youngest of minds. In losing their women to the mutt-weeds, the waterbearers of the maritime age learned a valuable lesson that led directly to great advancements in science. Now, can anyone here tell me what that lesson was?’
Zere’en Best Lucky, the shyest yet brightest of all the new young Deciders, raised a slight gloved hand. ‘Do not screw with that which can screw back at you. Sir.’
‘This is the more common wording,’ Prime Disseminator Fryt said, after Best Lucky had prettily blushed and an indulgent chuckle had sounded among the group. ’We must of course have our rebeller maxims. From the oldtongue, the expression is more readily translatable as, “Do not run directly into the arms of that which possesses the arms to swallow you whole.” ’
Indeed, the small group of potential implantees in the plaza thought the statue had something of an odd way about it. As it indeed did have.
Prime Disseminator Fryt went on to detail the imagined history. We here shall listen to other voices.
Originally crafted from Redyum - a material first forged in the prime days and one receptive at the molecular level to custom nanolight treatement that allowed for full humagramattical capability - The Icon of the Woman Fallen to the Sea now possessed a subtly programmed yet distinctly limited ability to perform for any attendant audience. The artelligence encoded in humagram subroutines allowed for a degree of dramatic representation; whereby The Icon of the Woman Fallen to the Sea would act out the very motions of her own undoing. Her surrender to the lulling cries of the mutt-weeds: and her transformation from lusty siren to cruel, cold suicide as she acted out the throttling of herself after murdering her man. Taken by the slithering brainwash of the ascendant mutt-weeds and with her position as a bringer of passion compromised, the Woman Fallen to the Sea would play out her returning to her man at port - her sexual potency becoming poison; her kisses reshaped by the creeping touch of death.
‘Now she stands with arms outstretched. A look of desperate longing etched into her metallic face which seldom changes. Furious and uncouth; as if challenging the very stars to stand down.’
These stars would concede; but not for her.
It is here we take a different path. This tale does not refer exclusively to the Icon of the Woman Fallen to the Sea, yet her presence within the boundaries of it betrays her importance in the telling. This happens on the second day.
So, then. In the origin days, there was Arclord Redshift. The people of this planet knew of an even older time than that of the waters and the weeds; one not so commonly explored on comfortable field-trips such as the one led on this afternoon by Prime Disseminator Fryt.
This time unremembered was referred to as the Redshift Eternity - since, at some point, it must have been presupposed that the period was not expected to ever end.
But returning to the point. The ruler of this cycle was his holiest typeform incarnate, Prime Arclord Redshift.
It was more often said than written that Prime Arclord Redshift was a being possessed of the means to push his way through the very star curtain itself. Indeed, certain shamans suggested in their orations that the Arclord himself might have come from the other side of that untold-of barrier. This was the dread divide that even the mystics could not reach beyond; for fear of discovering the ultimate truth about the mythical clockworkers, or the supposed holes in the end of eternity - suspecting any knowledge of the curtain’s invisible mechanisms would automatically prevent everything the shamans pretended to know from ever having existed.
In truth, and as a feted architect of these times, Arclord Redshift was merely bigger than the universe itself and capable of shrinking himself down to a sensible size. Which effectively meant, at least in this frame of reference, that he could pretty much do whatever he wanted. Arclord Redshift had of course never seen beyond the world-curtain and certainly did not possess any special ways or means; nor had he held any obtuse extratemporal understandings of the nature of creation.
It was also said that these rumours about his size had been greatly exaggerated. It was said - mainly announced by the perpetually addled Penetrator Crystaltz Touchnail of the Fourth Tribe of the Term Lossless - that the Lord Redshift had been making it up and was in fact really much smaller than the universe itself - and only knew how to make himself big enough to pass as a God; the likes of which had not been spotted by anyone in the wider firmament for a good long while. It had always been said that the Gods were giants; so by dint of this, it transpired to all that Arclord Redshift was and could only be the one and only God. No better options had yet presented themselves; after all.
So the illusion went unchecked for a very long period, as Arclord Redshift set about conquering roughly ninety-three percent of the spiral without anyone ever stopping to challenge him on account of his mostly confusing size. After many aeons spent dominating and eliminating roughly seven thousand extant species in the spiral, the Lord Redshift became convinced of one thing.
This world’s humanoids were the enemy. This world’s humanoids were the weak and the foolish.
This happened on the third day. Despite only being a humanoid himself, Arclord Redshift knew that this world’s humanoids were not to be trusted under any set of circumstances. Henceforth, they were to be eradicated.
Lord Redshift’s wife was only human. The Arclady Zenethyst Jenesister had been born on a small and undistinguished satellite world which the Lord Redshift had detonated in the early stages of the expansion. While it was expressly stated in the low Gospels that not even the long stretch of eternity stood a chance of damaging the near-perfection of the Arclady’s glittering, hologlyphic condition, Arclord Redshift soon made the arguably harsh decision - after tiring of her constant liberalism - to encase her forever in a block of unmelt. It seemed to him to be the proper thing to do; she had, after all, been attempting to save the universe from the shackles of his all-exacting reign for some years. It was long suspected by many that the febrile condition of the Arclady’s mind and the sabotaging thought-blocks that were placed into it by the Arclord’s psychions eventually drove her into the cold finality of cell-disintegration; although this aspect of the story was excised from the prime arc-spool some time after the now-ruling ur-patriarkism had eradicated every female in the spiral and replaced them with mass-produced fleshfeelers. These were, by any stretch, far easier to put up with.
It transpired then that the better civilized parts of a thousand systems were utterly destroyed by the exhortations of the Arclord‘s expansion. This happened on the fourth day.
Monuments even stand to this today; and these are often seen by the students in Commuversity 1’s central agrigrounds.
There is a humagram of the Arclord Redshift. He eventually died of a degenerative condition brought about as a direct consequence of his constantly trying to make himself appear larger than he actually was. It turned out that in all actuality the Arclord really was quite small - and the eventual scope of his actions only served to confirm this to everyone still alive in that age, and contributed to the playing-out of the ignoble nature of his final days.
His humagram shows him as a hero. Such as he was.
It is here we take another path.
On a different but not utterly dissimilar planet in this same spiral, in this same arc-spool of Commuversity 1, Farsten Hand takes a moment out of the daily slednav from his ap to the processing centre to go stand by the fountain near the corresponding humagram that represents that which he desires the most.
Freedom. This is what happens on the fifth day.
This humagram - like its corresponding doppelganger in Commuversity 1’s plaza - is of Arclord Redshift; performing courageous deeds and saving all, in his lost age of reason. Farsten Hand gazes up and it and wonders if the Lord Redshift was truly misguided in his desire to bring order to the spiral. Yet, after a moment’s calm contemplation, Farsten suspects no; the Arclord was truly pure in his intentions.
Farsten is a processor. He is a processor only because this is a condition of the world and the class he was born into. Farsten’s horizons are all in binary; the ones and zeroes that control the flow of his information and understanding. When he closes his eyes at shiftclose, only these runes lull him deeper into his torpor; filling him with the comfort of knowing who is signifier and who is signified. Appearing and disappear to him: the phantoms in digital fog.
After the first eighteen years, Farsten Hand is losing the will to live. He has read of the waterbearers who carried succour to the newer worlds and of the undoing of their womenfolk at the tentacles of the mutt-weeds. This has led to Farsten coming to the conclusion that the womantypes are to blame for everything that went wrong in the world; and everything wrong in his world. All his controllers in the processing centre are womantypes, and none of them understand the way the world is supposed to be.
They are not educated.
They know not of the Redshift Eternity. A glorious time of peace and progress.
A time without womantypes.
He wishes the mutt-weeds had not gone extinct.
Farsten Hand continues to pay homage to the idol of Arclord Redshift. There is a nearby humagram of a Woman who once Fell to a Sea, but this barely registers in Farsten’s eyes.
In his head, Farsten hears a voice. It is not a real voice, but it is a voice that Farsten hears nevertheless.
Arclord Redshift says to Farsten Hand, kill your idols.
Arclord Redshift says, liars tell the best truths.
Arclord Redshift says, everything that is broken cannot be unbroken.
The Lord Redshift is dead and cannot speak yet Farsten hears his voice.
The Icon of a Woman who Once Fell to a Sea speaks also, but Farsten does not listen to her. Farsten Hand now listens only to Arclord Redshift.
Farsten smiles. He feels the hands of history upon his shoulders.
On the sixth day, Farsten Hand goes to the arma centre. There he creds out six full rotats worth to a corrupt viser for a turn’s access to one of their graymat colliders. In the age of the understood, a great Zeer of the Firstking’s call discovered in his labs through careful testing and experimentation with life’s great particles that all of shiftcreation - as the Zeers had come to acknowledge it - was made up of the elusive substance that became known as graymat. Using the imagetwist wetware he stole from a worklab, Farsten convinces the viser he is not only a respected Zeer, but one with the funds to prove it. The viser has no further questions and leaves Farsten alone with the collider.
On the seventh day, Farsten Hand switches on the graymat collider; a device that was only ever expected to be used in times of improbable turmoil; times never forecasted by the throughthinkers to be close any turn soon.
On the eighth day, eighty thousand and two citadels on worlds in the spiral net were stripped of the life that had come to define their positions in the universe.
Every thread of intelligent thought is reduced in an instant to paste. Not just the womantypes. This event was spoken of in latter days as the uncouth moment, or the gray day.
Years later, it is in the memory of Fasten Hand that the statues were erected.
Humagrams had gone out of fashion by this point. Like so many things. In every zodia in this world, a reminder of He Who Is Henceforth Without Name; the last taker of life; the final uncreator who dared to take on creation and was, in his folly, uncreated. In killing reason, He Who Is Henceforth Without Name became a martyr to unreason.
By removing something’s name, you devoid it of its power. And thus reason was returned to creation. This happened on the first day; as it always did.
I put a curse on you, the lost voice of Arclord Redshift said. You are to be kept, to be held; to be loved, to never be let go. This was all a game you fell for. The true losers are those who do as I think and not as I know. You must learn to understand what I did not.
The people of the plaza thought the statue had a odd way about it. Uncouth; as if challenging the very stars to stand down.
Zere’en Best Lucky, the cleverest of the group by far, smiled and laughed; getting it before all the others. Rather than raise her hand to ask to interject, she spoke clearly: interrupting Disseminator Fryt‘s dry treatise in mid-flow.
‘This statue says,’ Best Lucky announced, ‘I was here once, and I got it all wrong. Please do not as I do, instead learn from my example.’
Prime Disseminator Overhead Fryt halted in his oration. For a moment, he looked genuinely surprised - as if no-one had ever challenged the validity of his authority before. Above him, the blackened visage of He Who Is Henceforth Without Name stared down; not animated, or filled with answers.
‘Well,’ Disseminator Fryte said ‘I think, perhaps, young Zere’en may be on to something. She has broken through the stone, if you will.’
In other places, for Farsten Hand there was to be no more breaking-though. Only stillness in perpetuity; an aeon to consider the gravity of his misdeed. In the cold prison of the entropic void that encased his still-living form, Farsten Hand dwelled on only one thought.
This world’s humanoids are not to be trusted. In their haste they created love. Henceforth, they are forever damned.
Days begin anew; the prime arc-spool is often reset.
New stories can be told. This is one of them.
In her model of eternity, the Icon of the Woman who Never Really Fell to the Sea has but one thought.
Do not run directly into the arms of that which possesses the arms to swallow you whole. This is only one lesson. There are more.