Birth of My Dark Echo

 

I see myself on the table. Caucasian, brown hair, chiseled jaw, hawkish nose, light spattering of freckles across the cheeks. Perfectly pressed white oxford cloth shirt, perfectly pressed khaki pants, and real leather shoes. Eyes closed in a light drug-induced sleep, almost peaceful, despite knowing what I am about to do.

I tower above my old body's left side, looking at the form I embodied my whole 18 years. I had once been ions and proteins, now I am photons and composites. I feel something like my old self but am aware of the world around me differently. I can see all light spectrum from infrared to terahertz. I can feel the precise energy state of matter I touch. I can hear the electricity in the walls of the facility. I can taste the stock market.

All around me in a circle are the other Crystal Angels. Twenty-four glistening 6-foot-tall carbon-titanium skeletons. All of us faceless. Our heads dark grey diamondglass domes protecting the myriad instruments of our perception.

At the head of the table overlooking my sleeping meat body is the Overseer. A technological Olympiad of our design scaled up to 14 feet tall. While our metal bones are exposed, he has a skin of subtly undulating matte grey. A skin made entirely of refined elementary superfluidic constructor material.

Constructor. The technology beyond technology. The discovery beyond phenomena.

He wears more than anyone else is allowed to have. Just like the rest of us he has no face. Unlike us his feet are metal talons of a hawk's design.

He ticks his right talon against the marble floor, taptap tap. That habit that sent chills down my spine now sends chills down my conductance fibers.

Now in this form I can finally participate in the group infodense impressions, where before I could only receive pain now I can see visions. Now my mind is crystal lattice bound together in quantum entanglement. Now I directly perceive the character of their hushed reverence. I am part of our group mind as we experience hallucinations of twisted crosses and tesseracts filled with astrological signs, expressing the Overseer's vision of true hypertime over perfect scenes of an Eden reborn on Earth. 

Wordlessly the Overseer extends his left hand, holding the sacrificial dagger by the blade, offering its handle to me. Its hilt is a gold Ouroboros–the snake who eats its own tail forever.

I take the dagger and heft it. In visible light the gold looks handsome next to the black carbon filament mesh of my hands, but clashes jarringly with the titanium bones further up my forearm. In infrared the dagger’s steel blade glows hotter than my new carbotanium hands. My old body glows most. From heat to cold is the path of the immortal.

I know this ritual; I have watched the Overseer perform it before to create the Angels. Now I am on the table, but I have to do this myself.

I begin to chant the words using my auditory speakers, and the Angels join with theirs:

Death to me.

Death to me.

Death to me.

Death to me.

Death to me.

Death to me.

That I may be reborn.

Death to me.

Death to me.

Death to me.

Death to me.

Death to me.

Death to me.

That I may become God.

 

And I plunge the dagger into my old body's chest.

That me suddenly awakens in a scream I didn't know I could make, straining forward into the blade against the restraints. A ragged howl of brutal bodily pain. I twist the dagger and the howl begins to gurgle. Then begins to mix with a laugh. Specs of blood flying up from my old mouth and landing down on the collar of that pristine white shirt. Hot scarlet radiating outward from the buried blade.

I am looking right back into my old bright green eyes. Both of us unblinking, me unable to blink, he unwilling. Both feeling. I know me on the table is cursing me with the dagger. Cursing the circle around us. Cursing the Overseer most. I share his curses. Cursing the whole God forsaken universe which could allow us monsters to emerge in its midst.  

By the Overseer I am become Emmanuel Olidar, the prince of the world. I was designed to become this. I was this before I was born.

With my new gloriously powerful mind I weep for the complete destruction of my humanity. I weep for the impending destruction of the world's freedom. I live a hundred years of anguish in the span of microseconds, watching my old self writhe in pain and sick resigned humor on the sacrificial table. Never breaking eye contact with myself. Pushing the dagger’s blade ever deeper into my past.

Suddenly my old body’s laugh-scream stops. We freeze, his eyes and my sensor arrays locked to each other. Dazed. Emotion suspended. World suspended. Sound absent. Form absent. Inside infinity. Together he and me are I. Together we experience ourselves as ineffable oneness. In this momentary eternity I know that I live on truly, that the transfer kept what matters most. My old face crinkles into a smile revealing red teeth. If I had lips anymore I would have smiled back. Old me smiles for us both, his face reflected in the glass of mine.   

Then the light in my old eyes fades, and the infinity ends.

I break from my dead eyes. I scan across my old body and see that my heart has stopped. I sense the blood in my veins already cooling. I hear the last electrical chatters of my old brain screaming signals into oblivion. I remove the dagger from my old meat chest with my new carbotanium hands. I am empty: the old me of life, the new me of feeling. No sense pining for the past, I am this now and there's much work to do.

"It is done." The Overseer declares aloud, startling me.

He sends me alone infodense impressions of his pride mixed with the hallucinations he’s been radiating to all: visions of Heaven on Earth, of people unified by our Harmony Mesh. Visions of the primitive protein peasants lining up to get access to our glorious technologies. Visions of peace through our wisdom, we who know better than they how to live their own lives. Visions of the seeds of our glorious new era spreading outward to all the stars. Visions of a universe we own as gods.

These images all wrapped in a warm comfort below words that bathes my mind in a synthetic saccharine sweetness. If I had a digestive system anymore I could have vomited. Ah! I quickly clamp down on my mind to keep this feeling from leaking toward him.

"You are now reborn.” The Overseer proclaims, luckily more absorbed in the ceremony than in perceiving my mental state. He radiates hallucinations of a glowing aura around him and me for all the Angels to see.

“You are ready to own your destiny," he proclaims again, "Finally you are complete. Now the world will know peace.”

His constructor skin suddenly ripples dark red liquid feathers across his body, from his head to his foot talons, before settling back to its default flat matte grey.

“God returns to cleanse the world! God returns to love his good children!” the Angels shout in unison as their minds radiate white hot joy and blind devotion, filling the room with hallucinations of their pride in godhood, and their love of the Overseer, and their love of me, their prince reborn. Again I feel a sensation of rising bile without the benefit of a stomach.

I wipe the dagger clean on the hem of my old body's shirt and hand it to the Overseer, blade first. His hand grasps the blade and his constructor skin envelopes it disappearing the dagger into his palm.

I must send him an impression now that my crystal mind can speak his beloved infodense. I have spent my whole life pledging loyalty to the Overseer but only ever in spoken words and petty deference. 

There were others before me that did not ascend, for he sensed their untarnished hearts and destroyed them the instant he smelled their disobedience. I have always understood the game, for this I was told when I was first old enough to use language: I can achieve godhood – and merge directly into his control– or I will die. I am the first vat kid to get here, the first to become the form of the prince.

I chose to lie where the others chose to rebel. Already I feel the walls of my new mind warping under his influence. Already I know I am slowly being consumed. I am still his to destroy.

Now is the decisive moment. 

I fashion a shallow impression of pride in my new form mixed with desire to lead as crusader bringing order to the Earth. A vision of my new metallic form riding a flaming horse and wielding a golden sword with a bag of seeds strewn over my shoulder: burning the world to replant the forest of our tomorrow. I project it out for the whole room, and it is met with feelings of camaraderie and hope from the Angels, but nothing from the Overseer.

Deep in my mind I worry that he sees through me. I start to unfold my secret emergency plan...

But he accepts my vision! I feel his grip on my mind relax I see on his grey faceless face the translucent hallucination of a smile. His old flesh smile. He sends no eyes, only his mouth: crooked teeth, thin lips, slight underbite. The smile that somehow never seemed quite human, even when it was. The smile of my father. The one who began this for us. The one who the others follow as God. The one who believes he is. The one who made us immortal.

May he die first.