| T E C H N O L O G Y |

| B E L I E S |

| B E L L I G E R E N C E |

"Once there were three tribes.

The Optimists, whose patron saints were Drake and Sagan, believed in a universe crawling with gentle intelligence. Surely, said the Optimists, space travel implies enlightenment, for it requires the control of great destructive energies. Any race that can't rise above its own brutal instincts will wipe itself out long before it learns to bridge the interstellar gulf.

Across from the Optimists sat the Pessimists, who genuflected before graven images of St. Fermi and a host of lesser lightweights. The Pessimists envisioned a lonely universe full of dead rocks and prokaryotic slime. The odds are just too low, they insisted. Too many rogues, too much radiation, too much eccentricity in too many orbits. If the galaxy were alive with intelligence, wouldn't it be here by now?

Equidistant from the two tribes sat the Historians. They didn't have many thoughts on the probable prevalence of intelligent, spacefaring extraterrestrials. But if there are any, they said, they're not just going to be smart. They're going to be mean. The reason wasn't merely Human history, the ongoing succession of greater technologies grinding lesser ones beneath their boots. No, the real issue was what tools are for. To the Historians, tools existed for only one reason: to force the universe into unnatural shapes. They treated nature as an enemy, they were by definition a rebellion against the way things were. Technology is a stunted thing in benign environments, it never thrived in any culture gripped by belief in natural harmony. Why invent fusion reactors if your climate is comfortable, if your food is abundant? Why build fortresses if you have no enemies? Why force change upon a world that poses no threat?

Human civilization had a lot of branches, not so long ago. Even into the twenty-first century, a few isolated branches had barely developed stone tools. Some settled down with agriculture. Others weren't content until they had ended nature itself. Still others had built cities in space. We all rested eventually, though. Each new technology trampled lesser ones, climbed to some complacent asymptote, and stopped. But history never said that everyone had to stop where we did.

There could be other, more hellish worlds where the best Human technology would crumble, where the environment was still the enemy. The threats contained in those environments would not be simple ones. Harsh weather and natural disasters either kill you or they don't, and once conquered — or adapted to — they lose their relevance. No, the only environmental factors that continued to matter were those that fought back, that countered strategies with newer ones, that forced their enemies to scale ever-greater heights just to stay alive. Ultimately, the only enemy that mattered was an intelligent one.

And if the best toys do end up in the hands of those who've never forgotten that life itself is an act of war against intelligent opponents, what does that say about a race whose machines travel between the stars?"

| s a ṃ s ā r a |

"A gasp and sudden awareness.

You sense the vastness of the nothingness you've been slumbering in. Awake now and rapidly tunneling forth from the forge of souls. Crossing hyperspace into a realm where subatomic particles ping pong against each other. You bear witness as the particles start to shape electron orbitals and atomic nuclei - the quintessential building blocks of creation coalescing into matter.

But it's all on the brink of annihilation.

On a collision course with its defeatist cousin: anti-matter. It's hopeless until a single particle of substance survives and gives birth to the Universe - setting off a chain reaction that will one day be named "Cosmos" by its children. You bear witness to Cosmos being born in the first plank of time. The "Big Bang" it will one day be called.

Remaining silent for another 300,000 to 150 million years, you project forth into an age of darkness to quietly occupy the epoch of time before the first stars are born. A child of the void, you realize your destiny to forever traverse the breadth and depth of this realm. To silently move behind the veil of nothingness. "Dark energy" you will one day be called by the children of Cosmos. "Dark matter" they will one day claim you to be forged from. The children of Cosmos will not understand you, but they will try their damnedest to. They will attempt to communicate with you in the language of mathematics. Some may even try and deny your very existence, while some will think you evil, ancient black magic or perhaps even a God.

And you must bear the weight of a God – for you must hold the very fabric of space-time together in all its complexity - an ever expanding tapestry of matter, light, and energy. You must give form to the Cosmos – that is your purpose.

But you are not alone. You can sense him. Smiling at you in the dark.

Chaos hiding in the boundaries beyond. Slowly weaving his invisible tendrils almost touching the face of Cosmos....savoring the meal to come.

He cannot be allowed this indulgence. Cosmos must be given time to birth its children. The stars, the galaxies, and the life scattered throughout. You must endure and fight Chaos…until that fateful moment you are called to return to the origin of all things. At the end of time...when Chaos can be allowed to finally sate his unyielding and deadly hunger.

You accept your fate and embark on the arduous task at hand. It's not long until the first pinpoints of light break through the never-ending, foggy blackness – the first-born stars of the Cosmos. Chaos begins to move in a slow, deliberate dance towards them. And you counter his moves. Keeping safe the stellar nursery.

This dance will continue on for an eternity, but you already know how it ends. A final, agonal gasp as you collapse backwards into the singularity from which you emerged. The moment you return to once again slumber in the deep nothingness until called upon to tangle with Chaos once more.

He is constant. Everlasting. Incorruptible. And the end of all things, but controllable for a time. Another child of the void - like you.

Maintaining the balance - a cycle of life, death, and rebirth in this endless ocean of realities. Until the time comes when you can finally reveal yourself from behind the shadowed veil. Emerging with an insatiable hunger to consume all. Never sleeping. Never-ending.

As the brother you once knew as Chaos now dances with you."

  • Amal Shah (2015)

M a.n ti x|E. n. K r|y.pt o r. .D o|t.c o .m