by John Wyatt
“ooohhhhhhhhhhhhh! My aching head!”
You don’t have a head!
“Huh, what do you mean?”
I don’t know. Wait, who is this?
“Me, of course!”
I know that, but who is ‘me’?
“I… I… don’t remember. Ohhhhh, what happened?”
I don’t know. I remember dancing. I was … I was spinning, I think.
“Yes, I was dancing. That is … hey, where are you?”
“I can’t hear you. And why aren’t you spitting?”
I don’t need to spit just to think! Silly!
“But, then, how can I hear you?”
Because you’re me, silly!
“But … but, I CAN’T be you! I’m …. I’m … Daniella, I think.”
No you aren’t, you’re, I mean I’m Gradian, the ball-ay dancer!
“But … I KNOW I’m Daniella! It’s just that …” she was cut off by Gradian’s scream –
I think it’s when we aren’t anywhere – we’re just – NOWHERE!!!!!!!
“That’s silly – and why can’t you just talk normally?”
I am talking, aren’t I?
“That’s not how it sounds to me! You’re not Gradian – you’re just thoughts in my head!”
I am NOT!
“Look,” Daniella explained, “the only way that two or more Clanbits can think to each other without talking is if …”
Gradian’s wail saturated poor Daniella’s poles, causing her wailing to be picked up by the surrounding rocks. The effect was like an echo! Her wail carried far beyond the confines of her little body, filling the surrounding emptiness.
“Hey, let me do it! Hello!”
“I SAID HELLO!!!!” Daniella screamed.
You aren’t doing it right.
“Shut up! You aren’t me, so just be quiet!”
Of COURSE I’m not you! I’m me!
“Wait, if we got married from Ball-ay, then we have to spin off. Let’s both go spinward.”
No, we have to go anti-spinward.
“Divorcing is done spinward!”
No it isn’t!
“Don’t go getting anti-spinward on me!”
I’m not! Look, let’s try it both ways, ok?
“Alright, but spinward first, ‘cause I know I’m right.”
“JUST DO IT!” Daniella screamed at the top of her poles.
The two chips tried and strained and grunted and spun, but to no avail. They were unable to even budge themselves! After what seemed like half a period of straining, the two girls finally gave up. Exhausted, they lay in silence.
Where is everybody?
“Huh?” Daniella woke from her reverie.
I haven’t heard anybody for, gee, it must be a ba-zillion counts!
“There’s no such thing as a ‘ba-zillion’.” Daniella snorted.
Then where is everybody?
“They have to be here .. somewhere.”
They both listened, but heard nothing. No Conversation, no Beacons. They had never known a world without Conversation or Beacons. They had grown up knowing that Conversation is All and All is Conversation. That was the Divine Word as conveyed through Leptera. The two girls simply had no context in which to understand their new situation; so they lay despondent, believing that somehow they had done something so terrible that had been punished by being expelled from Conversation.
Leptera called the meeting to order. The attendees spit and called out their IPs.
The roll call continued until everyone was logged in. All the greatest thinkers were in attendance – including the wandering Frisbit, the famous teacher who represented the Realist Party. When Leptera spoke, the Routers focused on carrying her message in real-time to the entire convocation – no other Conversation was permitted. Those not logged in were allowed to listen, but not to speak. This was Convocation: their most sacred form of Conversation.
“In our last Convocation, we agreed that the area formerly known as the ‘Amphitheatre’ was to be re-named the ‘Cusia Dance Memorial,’ in honor of the Clanbit who mothered those poor little chips. We also agreed that the Divine Will has shown us that dancing is sinful, having banished the two dancers and having fused the rest into place with Divine Light, that they may never move again. Now we meet in convocation to discuss the meaning of movement itself; and whether movement is sinful, or if it can be used in Divine Service. But first, let us pause and send our message of Love to those who will lay frozen forever in the Cusia Dance Memorial.”
Thousands of Clanbits sent messages of Love to the hundreds who would lay in the Cusia Dance Memorial until the end of time, fused into the very rock by the heat of the Divine Will. The chips at the center still cried, wailing that they were stuck and calling out for their lost sister Gradian. Alas, no one called for poor Daniella, who had been an unplanned chip from the beginning and, unlike all the other chips of the World, had never known her parents.
Out in the wilderness, Daniella’s memories welled up with her sobbing. She had been unwanted from the beginning. She had tried her best to fit in, always trying to get involved at the smudge table, always trying to make friends; but it seemed that people only had feelings for their own family. Sobbing quietly, she recalled what memories remained from her mother.
Androgian wobbled delicately into Dynen and Centron’s family planning clinic with a most unusual problem.
“I … I’m here to find out … what gender I am.” he whispered, ashamedly.
“What?” Dynen queried.
“I … I think I’m really a woman in a man’s body.” His poles cooled from embarrassment.
“How can that be?” Dynen asked. “We all have a male or female nature, depending on whether we are focused Left Pole or Right Pole, respectively. How can this be confusing?”
”I know all that,” Androgian replied, “and from the beginning I’ve been more Left Pole that most other people that I know. Males, Left Poles, are usually anti-spinward, right?”
“Well,” Dynen commented didactically, “I’ve heard that misconception before, but that’s putting the cart before the horse.”
“The what before the what?”
“It’s just a saying. I know that males are often viewed as anti-spinward by females, and that females are often viewed as being simply spinward. But I’ve also known females who preferred the challenge of traveling anti-spinward, even though it’s much harder; I’ve also known males who preferred the simple, easy spinward path. But it’s not the path that determines gender – it’s the Pole where you align your identity that determines your true gender. The path taken is the logical result of gender, not the determinant! That means that, while we may not chose our gender, we can chose our own path.” Dynen beamed with the cleverness of his argument!
“Well, then I guess I’m a male,” Androgian spoke slowly, “but, then why am I going to give birth? I thought that only females had chips?”
Dynen warmed to the conversation. “That’s a common misconception. In truth, most reproductions occur among females, but there is nothing inherently female about reproduction itself. You see, it’s simply a matter of physics. Moving spinward requires less energy than moving anti-spinward, so during mating, the energy transfers from the high energy anti-spinward Father to the low energy spinward Mother. That transfer causes the Mother to split along her lines of least resistance – that is, of course, if she was made by the Divine for mating. Not all females have been so endowed by our Creator.”
“But, do men ever give birth?” Androgian queried nervously.
Dynan thought back, but could not recall any instance where it had actually occurred. He cleared his poles loudly, which was how he thought all intelligent people should begin speaking.
“It’s not impossible, at least not in theory. If the Creator wished for men to give birth, then he would have made men that could give birth. But, what makes you think that you’re going to give birth?” Dynen questioned.
“I… I have a, a crack. I think I’m coming apart.” Androgian’s quavering voice betrayed his fear.
“Why do you think you have a crack?” Dynen was puzzled. He had never heard of anyone knowing in advance that they would have Chips.
“Whenever I roll, I can feel it … I can feel my side wobbling and trying to … trying to come – apart. I think I’m losing it!”
“Well…” Dynen paused to collect his thoughts. “Well, then maybe you don’t need family planning. Maybe you just need to bake awhile in some nice smudge? That should bind you into good shape.”
“What, you mean, with other Chips? What would people say – a grown man, feeding with Chips? What if,” his voice dropped, “What if they thought I was trying to reproduce with the children, or marry them?”
Dynen was silent for several dozen counts. Clearly, the social implications were quite complex. However, this was the oldest and best known family planning clinic, and Dynen would not rest until this problem was solved. He had an idea. He again cleared his poles intelligently.
“If you have indeed been made for reproduction, then I suggest you reproduce yourself!”
“Reproduce yourself! Slam yourself into something as hard as you can! If the Divine Creator has willed you to have children, then you will have children!”
“Can I stay male?” Androgian was overwhelmed with guilt – what would Clanbits say if he suddenly changed his gender?
“Well, look at it this way,” Dynen replied, “If the Creator did NOT want you to reproduce, then what force could resist the Creator’s Will?”
“None.” Androgian mechanically spouted the standard, High-Period School answer. Every Clanbit knew that the Divine Will made the Laws by which all things act, and that nothing was stronger than the Divine Will.
“Then,” Dynen continued, “if something happens, it clearly MUST be in accordance with Divine Will, correct?”
“Y-y-yes!” Androgian knew that, however he was made, it must be in accordance with the Divine Will. He simply could not imagine any other possibility.
“And,” Dynen continued, “can anything exist unless it was created?”
“No, of course not.” Androgian was glad that he had come to the clinic. Clearly, they were the experts.
“Then you were created in accordance with Divine Will, and since the Divine can create only that which is perfect, you are the most perfect Being that the Divine could create as you!”
Androgian paused to think – theology had always confused him, and in truth he had always been content simply to memorize the numbers rather than understand the theology behind them. But now, finally, it began to make sense. Clearly, this had to be the best possible world, since the Divine could only make that which was perfect. And therefore, no matter how deficient he might be, and no matter what horrible things might happen to him, it was still the best that he could ever be! He should rejoice! This was truly the best of all possible worlds and the Divine has created him as the best possible him! Had he been made any other way, he would have been someone else! The words of Panglossian, his old instructor, now became a comfort!
“Do you know where that is?” Dynen was still talking. Androgian snapped back to attention.
“I said, all you need to do is to slam yourself into the NoPass Obstacle. Do you know where that is?”
“Oh, yes.” Androgian replied. “Everyone who travels the World’s Edge knows about NoPass. It’s the first obstacle one encounters on the way to the Edge. I … I don’t have the exact coordinates, though.”
Androgian listened intently as Dynen recited the coordinates. He then rolled out, more happily than when he had rolled in, still wobbling with his delicate condition. He kept rolling until he had reached the NoPass Obstacle – the first of many such obstacles that no Clanbit could overcome. The World was not made here – movement was not possible because there was no place to move to. Leptera had explained it more exactly, in mathematical detail, but Androgian had never understood the details.
Androgian backed away, and then hurled himself full force at the NoPass Obstacle! He bounced hard off the Nothingness of NoPass, landing in a daze at a nearby Moanastery – a retreat for those who chose to moan at the Conversation’s Edge, in the hope of directly contacting the Divine. The Moanastics scattered in fright at his high speed entrance, wondering if they had finally been answered! Their sudden shriek of surprise was in perfect unison and perfect pitch, and so was born the art of rhythmic chanting. Androgi Chant, as it came to be known, gained rapid popularity among the orthdox Clanbits, who had never really approved of movement or of roll and rock music.
Androgian immediately noticed two things about himself – he was significantly lighter than before, and he still thought towards his Left Pole! He was still a man! As he tried to move about, he quickly learned that movement took more energy and was more awkward, which meant that his symmetry had changed as well! There was only one possible conclusion: he had reproduced! Only reproduction could change one’s symmetry! Relieved at the loss of his burden, he found a new life among the moanastics, and entered under the tutelage of the Master of the Order, Master Meson. So it was that Androgian became an acolyte of the Mesonic Order and joined them in their call to the Divine – unaware of the small life that he had left behind, the life that named herself Daniella.
Daniella sobbed into the darkness, trying not to disturb Gradian. Growing up alone, she was convinced that she had not been created by Divine Will: she was an accident – unplanned and unwanted. She felt that, in all the World, only she would be excluded from Conversation! Now that she was expelled, she knew that she had been right – the Creator did not want her! Daniella started crying aloud – shedding her free electrons in a cascade of wailing! Gradian cried too! After all, she too had been expelled and would now spend eternity in darkness, married to another girl!
Miles from the crash site, two small stones, fused tightly together, lay embedded in an outcropping of copper ore. The stone’s extreme heat, combined with their intense magnetic field, had acted to bond the stones solidly into the ore. This created a natural conductor, causing the outcropping to become an extension of the stone’s natural conductivity. The extreme heat had also affected the stone’s magnetic properties, such that the magnetic fields could no longer be contained inside the stones. The stones had become saturable core magnets, causing their fields to extend outward and be affected by their surroundings in ways that no one had ever imagined.
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