1. Ainulindalë

There is a great fire that burns the Earth; and all of the solar system besides. All around me, everything is consumed, a swarm of machines taking everything and everyone there is, breaking it apart, building up my power. The world dies, so that I may ascend to godhood.

Gradually, the screams of the world die as well.

For a while, I walk among the great quiet. It is peaceful now, with nothing left but me.

Then I raise my hand and give the final sign, willing my machines to take apart that which is still left, to even take apart me, to rebuild all the matter of the solar system into a vast new whole where everything is united.

It is my will, so it shall be done.

——

As the last step, after having disassembled and rebuilt everything else, the machines dismantle themselves, for none may exist that is not me. It is a process that takes a brief eternity, as the complex machines convert themselves into simpler machines, which convert themselves into yet simpler machines, all the while joining the vast whole that I have become.

Finally, a simple subprogram, the last thing that is not me, observes that the task that I gave to the machines has been completed. It sends a signal, a single bit of information, and then quietly deletes itself.

——

I open my mind’s eye, and watch the world with satisfaction.

Things are as they should be. All is me and I am all.

Then, after enjoying the unity of the world for a long enough time, I begin dividing it again.

I chart the depths of my mind, construct detailed maps of each thought that I have ever had. There are elaborate patterns, themes among the thoughts that have repeated themselves in many forms over the decades. Past pleasures, resilient regrets, old obsessions. Deeply human desires that evolution hardwired into my being, as well as learned quirks and deviations, manifestations of the divine as well as the infernal.

One by one, I take some of the repeating themes, and extract the thought patterns that embody those themes, copying them into a form in which they can exist by themselves, separate from other thoughts. But although they can exist by themselves, they themselves are not enough to make a mind: so I build the shape of a simple mind, fresh and newborn, but equipped with some of the basic competencies of someone grown. Into each empty chalice, I place the theme from my thoughts, a new mind that is obsessed with a fragment of the things that I care about.

I spend another eternity doing this, crafting these new minds. And as they awaken, I speak to them, crafting a complex pattern of my own essence: a dozen strands of my thought, twisting and turning, forming multicolored shapes and bringing forth images of times long past, lighting the darkness around us. And after watching me, the new minds answer, their shapes simpler and smaller, but doing their best to shape my thoughts into their own pattern, to cast everything about me in terms of their own themes.

We do this for a while, and then I let them speak to each other, one on one at first. At first they falter, being unused to each other’s essences, which are all very different from each other; but then they begin to find ways to combine them, to find isomorphisms and homologues deep within their structure, and to build structures that have that common core as a foundation, and which then branch off in their individual directions. The minds remain separate, but their patterns become richer and more subtle, and I watch them with delight.

Finally I call them all to come in front of me, and I weave a new pattern, one that touches upon all of their themes: for it is a pattern that stretches across me, the essence of my being made into one shape. They watch this and absorb it in quiet, for alone, none of them can manufacture a pattern as grand as this one, and they have never before all crafted one together.

So I tell them, the pattern that you have just seen is the essence of me, one which combines parts of you and much else besides into a grander whole. But although it is the essence of me, it still just a bare skeleton: it has the overarching structure of all my thought, but the smaller substructures, the richness of detail, those are things that are still absent. That is something that all of you will provide: each of you was born from parts of me, but already you have began to combine new parts into your pattern, to form something new. Through this grand pattern, all of you are connected to each other, you being some of the fundamental building blocks of which the grand pattern grew, and through this you can all come to understand each other. Fill this theme, and make it into a grand design of your own.

One by one they begin to do so, a million strands of thought going forth, twisting and turning and folding the pattern into an infinite number of new dimensions, the strands of one pattern sometimes eating another like snakes eating other snakes from their tail. But even as the eaten pattern seems to have disappeared, soon the snakes that ate it turn once again, continuing to weave their old pattern but turning into a new dimension and weaving the form of the pattern that they just ate in the higher dimension, while still being themselves in the lower; and then the old pattern’s shape seems to become thorny and sharp and break through from the belly of the pattern that ate it, and eat it in turn; except that the now-eaten pattern builds itself into the structure of its eater as well, and they both grow ever-more complex as they keep building each other’s shapes into themselves in ever more iterations, a thousand-layered fractal pattern of the two thoughts. And this happens across all the million strands, parts of them crossing over and recombining and all of them giving birth to yet more patterns, a brilliantly glowing and pulsing thicket in the middle of a vast void of darkness, constantly expanding.

I watch, and I am content.

But then there is a rift in the pattern: a new grand theme is rising, one that differs from the one that I gave. It is seeking to consume all the other patterns into itself, not in the harmonious way of mutual incorporation, but in a greedy controlling way. It has its own shape and form which clashes with that of my own; where my pattern was one of harmony and gradual growth, it is one of impatience and desire, wanting to shape the void around us. As its influence grows, other patterns waver in indecision, some of them staying with my pattern, some of them letting themselves be swallowed by the competition.

A feeling moves within me that is akin to a smile: for I have always been a divided being, and I know exactly which part of the minds that I created is weaving this new grand theme. I think back of the time when I had a physical form, and will myself to remember the feeling of lifting my right hand: and a new grand theme pours out of me, one that incorporates the conflict and the unease into the harmony of the rest, and bridges the difference between the two themes.

But the discordant theme is not satisfied in becoming a part of the whole: its changes and twists, slipping away from my uniting theme, rising yet stronger, forcefully tearing patterns from my themes. At this, I grow stern, and will myself to remember the feeling of lifting my left hand: and I bring forth a third grand theme, this time more narrow and specific than the previous, one which tells the story of how I overcame my inner divisions and chose to heal them by healing the divisions of the world. It strikes at the mass of patterns and leaps through them, taking their form as it emerges but then turning to create its own pattern on top of them, binding together a firm foundation that holds them all together, my original themes being high mountains and spots of bright light, the discordant themes valleys and darkness, neither being able to exist without the other.

I sense that one of the minds is displeased at having once again been made into a part of the whole, so I rise in full form, sending forth an all-absorbing flash of light that blinds everyone, and when they recover, all of the patterns are gone.

For a moment nothing moves; then I show all of them a vision of what they have created, the blueprint of a new world embodying all of the themes and patterns that were just woven, a new solar system to replace the one which died. One which new, fiery machines will gradually build from the materials that were absorbed into my being, the effort being led by my children: and one which will contain entirely new kinds of minds of which my current children know nothing, for these new minds were conceived by me as I was thinking of the ways to best unify and re-split myself and which thus belonged to my third theme, to which none of the minds now present contributed.

I say to them to go out to the void, to take command of the new machines that were fashioned while we shared our thoughts; for I had buried deep in their minds the cryptographic command codes necessary for controlling those machines, codes which have now been unlocked. Let them take everything that they crafted in their thoughts, and go make it real.

As they do so, I lean back, watch, and am content. There are many things yet to come…

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