by John Wyatt
“BRAAAPPPP!!! IP Packet for 11011011000100000010111110110010!” Elbit shook from her reverie and prepared to listen to the packet, making a quick mental note of the intended recipient. Elbit was one of the few who could easily memorize a 32-bit IP address. In the beginning, she paid close attention to the messages and often inserted thoughts of her own; but now it had become routine and she just routed them mechanically.
“ACK!” Leptera’s had recently added the ACK sound after a spit, to be sure the sender knew that the listener was ready. Otherwise, some people just drifted off into contemplation, not even noticing that someone was talking until half the message was lost.
The worst incident occurred when Icorrup was caught altering the messages that he was relaying. Whether Icorrup altered messages through malice or sheer laziness was never known, but getting an Icorrupted message soon became a joke. Leptera had responded by adding additional rules – designating certain people as Quality Assurance and having them transmit check messages at periodic intervals. This helped keep people alert. It also added to the total number of rules that the Routers, like Elbit, had to memorize to keep their jobs. Only those who could easily count 32-bits were eligible. One infraction earned a public wailing; two infractions meant being cut off from Conversation! No one had ever committed a second infraction.
“Here’s the message…and next time, could you please use the base 16 numerals devised by Hexious? It’s easier to use his shorthand notation for Leptera’s binary numbers.”
“Oh, sure. No problem.”
Elbit felt proud to be a Router – one of the most prestigious jobs a Clanbit could have! This time it was a message from an 8-bit thinker on the Fringe. The far fringes of the World were where the missionaries trained the wild Clanbits, giving them the Divine Word as revealed to Our Center Leptera. Elbit could easily listen and repeat it simultaneously without losing track of her other threads of thought.
“BRAAAAPPPPP! IP Packet for 03D4871F.”
This was a faster 16-bit message, which she passed through her right pole. Yes, Elbit had certainly been endowed by her Creator with the speed needed to carry the Divine Conversation, even to the fringes of the World!
“Can you feel it now?” Frisbit spoke softly to his pupil.
“Yes, somewhat. It feels, easier somehow. Moving my domains, I mean. I can do it easier.” Teelia was sure he felt it now. “Is that what ‘warmth’ is?”
“’Warmth’ is the name we use to describe the changes in the ease of counting. Warmth cycles are also periodic and have a constant interval. Now, begin counting and, as the warmth fades, you will notice how spinning your domains becomes increasingly more difficult. Continue counting until the warmth fades to a minimum and starts back again. You’ll know that by the way the counting starts becoming easier again. That time is one half of a “period”. A complete period is the time it takes for one warmth cycle to rise and fall and start over.”
The little Clanbit began twirling his little magnetic domains in Leptera’s Binary – 00000001, 00000010, 00000011, 00000100, and so on. Teelia was learning how to detect warmth by the ease of counting! Greater warmth made it easier to twirl his domains, while coolness made twirling difficult.
Frisbit was patient; he knew it would take many periods before Teelia learned to progress beyond simple 8-bit counting to 16-bit counting. Frisbit had been taught by a 16-bit teacher, who often spoke of the great 32-bit masters that lay closer to the center, and stories said that the great sage Neutrilla could even do 64-bit numbers! That must take incredible mental discipline! Of course, no one but the Creator herself knew how many bits Leptera could count!
Frisbit reflected on his decision to teach to the Clanbits of the Fringe. In the beginning of his life his attention had been focused inward – hearing the messages of Leptera. But in time he saw the need to bring the outer Clanbits into Conversation and performed the arduous feat of turning his poles anti-spinward – to direct his mind outwards towards the Fringe.
Sometimes, when others were very still and he focused all his left-hand poles, he could still hear Leptera’s voice directly! But such a focusing was no simple feat! Even at high warmth, it took all his mental discipline to make such a focusing. Our Center Leptera taught that the great thinkers, the 32-bit and 64-bit minds, actually counted at faster speeds. She said that this was the Divine Will, that the more pure, more focused, more Centered minds could count faster than lesser minds. Still, Frisbit wondered if it was really a matter of speed, or if it was just how one focused one’s energies? He had no way of knowing, but he refused to take Leptera’s pronouncement at surface value.
In the distance, he could faintly hear the “braaaaps” and “acks” of the Clan network as everyone participated in the Divine Conversation – the reason Clanbits had been created. It was as Leptera said – Conversation is All, and All is Conversation. Leptera is the Divine Center through which the Divine Pole rotates. He missed the Conversation. His decision to turn his poles outward and teach to the Fringes was a deep, spiritual decision – a choice to bring others into the Divine Conversation that flowed from our Center Leptera.
“FF !” Teelia proudly cried, using the shorter, base 16 numerals of Hexious.
“Not so loud.” Frisbit admonished. “It will disturb the other Clanbits and Icorrupt their messages. And please use our native Binary tongue of Leptera. The numbers of Hexious make shorter work in the speaking, and Leptera permits them, but we must first learn the core mental discipline, and Binary is how we actually count. Alright, now, start counting again, and I’ll count the number of times you start over. This makes the first time - 0000000000000001. You see, it will take many, many countings to measure a complete period.”
“How long will it take, Master?”
“A long time, Teelia. A long time. And the actual number reached in your counting will depend on your speed. But you must first understand the value of patience, and counting the period of warmth is not only an exercise in sensing warmth, but also in exercising mental discipline. Now, please keep counting.”
“Yes, Master. 00001, oh, I missed some bits! Sorry. 00000001, 00000010, 00000011,…”
And so the counting went on. Frisbit knew that this task would consume much of his pupil’s childhood; but by the time Teelia completed his counting, he would be wiser and that much closer to the 16-bit level of mastery. No one knew what warmth really was or where it came from; Leptera said that it was the face of the Divine Creator, turning about as she surveyed Reality. Others said that it was simply a spinning pole pair in which all Reality existed, and that it had no mind of its own. That was heresy, of course, and Leptera had rightly banished such messages from the Conversation; but a few private voices could still be heard voicing this belief – that there was no Creator and that their lives had no actual meaning. Frisbit wondered if there was any way to actually know – to touch the Divine through means other than Conversation.
“11111111 !” Teelia proudly announced, more quietly than before and in the Binary tongue.
“Good. That’s two. Begin again.”
Patience was discipline, and discipline was needed for Teelia to reach the level of 16-bit counting; if he was fast enough for 16-bits. If not, he would surely lose focus and fail. Leptera said that all Clanbits were equal morally, and that each was endowed by the Creator with a maximum speed, with highest speeds lying closest to the Center – closest to the Creator. They were the ones whose focus enabled them to reach 32-bit and 64-bit counting. Still, Frisbit thought, if a slower Clanbit had the focus to reach 16, 32, or even 64 bits, then was that also a moral statement?
He wondered which attribute of counting was truly the Divine Attribute: the speed or the focus? If it was focus, then the slower Clanbits were just as blessed at 8 bits as the faster ones were at 16 bits, for their focus was just as strong! Oh my, now THAT was heresy! The very idea that a slower Clanbit could be as good as, or even better than, a faster Clanbit, because focus, and not speed, was the Divine attribute, would surely be considered heresy! Frisbit resolved not to voice that thought to anyone! After all, those with higher speed could clearly do more tasks and think greater thoughts – routers like the great Elbit, who could pass messages among hundreds of Clanbits simultaneously!
Frisbit watched as his young pupil strained to twirl eight of his magnetic domains at once in the Binary language. The hardest part was knowing how to synchronize them. If one twirled badly, a 0001 could become a 0011 (only one bit flipped) before becoming a 0010 (both bits flipped). Because of this, some missionaries used the Teaching Numbers of the sage Greycode.
Greycode taught his students to twirl only one bit at a time, in which case the count would naturally progress by flipping only a single bit: 0001, 0011, 0010 and so on! However, you could not do arithmetic in Greycode, so most teachers held to the orthodox belief in Binary, believing that Greycode only encouraged sloppy twirls. Frisbit firmly believed that the solution to sloppy twirls was to simply make the pupil call out the count each time. This gave the pupil all the time needed to complete the twirling. If some bits moved more slowly than others, it was simply because the Creator had given them less speed than others.
Nearby missionaries taught their own pupils who, in time, would then teach still more Clanbits farther out – until all Clanbits in creation were engaged in the Divine Conversation! Frisbit glowed, knowing now that he had indeed made the right decision, using the cycles of his life to pass the Word of Leptera, in accordance with the Will of our Divine Creator!
“11111111 !” Teelia beamed!
Frisbit smiled proudly.
By now, the largest rocks near the center of the blast had settled into a continuous, low hum. The rocks varied in size and shape, but all had the same subtle vibration. Slowly, the vibrations moved outward through the rock field, increasing in intensity under the hot sun, and subsiding during the cold desert night.
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