The truckBot doesn’t linger after dropping Abraham back to his CraterProx dwelling. Abraham doesn’t hang about, either, to watch him go. Mindful of Aladdin Sane’s warnings regarding psychImp and QuantumBot’s capability to monitor his input to GrUnCo, he quickly gathers what he needs – a supply of solid and liquid ingestions, survival garments – and heads on for the Crater of Density and the alien craft, The Tabernacle.
He figures if QuantumBot has no way of knowing what he does there, then neither will Sane and the other holoBot Dogs and whoever controls them. Before he leaves his CraterProx dwelling, he takes the precaution of logging on for Function input, something he has always done, by training, but now, he realises, it’s instinctive, fuelled by caution and survival.
In The Tabernacle, he retrieves the Tablet Chronicles, secures the giant pod’s gateway and settles in to complete the study he’d begun, before the arrival of the truckBot.
QuantumBot, he understands from his previous but interrupted research, is the failsafe mechanism that would rebuild the Earth beings’ ideal world. The Tablet Chronicles was not just a detailed record of Earth’s story, it was also a blueprint of all the factors that led to its destruction and a plan for how these problems would be avoided, if and when they found a new home.
Controlling memory was a key ingredient in the success of their ideal world where everyone would have everything they needed and all would work together to achieve that objective. By controlling memory, they figured, they could limit desire because desire, they figured, was what led to all their troubles in the first place.
Earth was a planet in a galaxy at a distant quadrant of the known universe, the Chronicles told him, although what that meant, he isn’t entirely sure. He just knows it’s out there, somewhere. Anyway, this earth was two thirds liquid surface and one third, terrestrial. It is, or was, made up of iron, oxygen, magnesium and silicon.
Abraham wades, with some effort and not a little trouble through the formation of the planet earth’s solar system from nebula to a planetary system and from there, the evolution of the planet, itself, asteroid collisions, tectonic plates, the formation of oceans through condensation, from water and ice delivered by impacting comets.
He understands little of this but wonders at the earth people’s ability to annotate everything, so for everything he doesn’t understand, which was just about all of it, he’s able to learn through the notes. Assimilating information, rapidly, comes natural to him. That was how they were trained in FormU and InIt, so they could be reassigned Function, where it was needed.
Having waded through the planet’s position and ecological evolution, he finds the narrative more densely annotated as he approaches the storey’s resolution. Earth became too small for its population and what was once a thriving planet, soon became a wasted husk, drained of natural resources, its self sustaining ecological environment lost the means and will to live.
Of course, this was after wading through an entire treatise on the history of earth and its living species. This, he found intriguing and entirely engrossing.
Earth, it appears, according to the Tabernacle Chronicles, developed a complex eco system over many, to him entirely unfathomable, ages. From single cell bacteria that found themselves living on land, from the sea, they developed wings, limbs, complex organisms. And the humanoid was not the only species; it was only one of many millions, many of which remained unidentified, even when the planet imploded.
But it is the evolutionary development of the humanoid beings, the aliens who created and piloted the Tabernacle, he finds most fascinating.
First, they were hunter – gatherers who preyed on other species. Then, they gathered together and preyed on each other. They asked questions and sought answers for their own existence. They created belief systems so a few could control many and, though each system failed, another, like the one before it and so on, until it was no more. The only thing that ever changed was the number in control and the complexity of what they had to believe in, even when, in the logic language of their questioners, the philosophers, the faith they held was, well, in their language, illogical.
To their final day, the earth people followed a faith whose primary tenet was their own self destruction. It was called consumerism and at the core of this faith, the tabernacle Chroniclers believed, was memory.
So, he reads, the core of their Tabernacle plan for a brave, new world, is the belief that so long as everyone works together and no-one has a memory of what they can’t have or might want, then the only thing that’s important is what is.
Abraham studies on this for a time. His understanding of the aliens has improved, he knows, but, equally, he believes, there’s something missing.
Firstly, he reads no mention of the Starman, suspecting, perhaps, he was just one of their emissaries, like Major Tom, whose exploratory mission failed. Unsatisfied, he returns to the Tablet to find the cache of missives from the Starman. He scrolls through them to see if he can find, in one he hasn’t heard before, some clue to the answer he requires.
Here’s one, he thinks, entitled, curiously, ‘Moonage Daydream.’
I’m an alligator, I’m a mama-papa coming for you
I’m the space invader, I’ll be a rock ‘n’ rollin’ bitch for you
Keep your mouth shut, you’re squawking like a pink monkey bird
And I’m busting up my brains for the words
What does that mean? He asks himself. Either the Starman was very confused or there is some secret code he has yet to unlock. Who, for example, were the people of The Tabernacle?
He knows, from his research, that as some Earth beings foresaw their planet’s own destruction, they were actively involved in seeking a way to escape. For this reason, The Starman and Major Tom were sent. But one of their biggest problems was propulsion, finding the technology that would transport them the distances they wanted to travel.
Trappist1, the dwarf star, was discovered by Earth living astral explorers, called astronomers, in the Earth time they called 2016. Their discovery triggered a new urgency to find the travel technology because Trappist1’s satellite planets, they believed, were like Earth and could sustain Earth life.
Trappist1 and its satellites, were 20 light years from Earth so was the biggest problem facing them, or so it appeared. The Chroniclers, however, belonged to a secret cabal that traversed all the power structures on earth, infiltrating the belief, power, manufacturing, energy, military and banking systems. Through their machinations, over millennia of Earth time, they gathered, recovered and accumulated secret knowledge and lost technologies, preparing, ultimately, for their day of departure.
The Tabernacle inventory included all this archival information, the sum of all the knowledge and information there was about the planet from whence they came; detailed manuals for their technology, its development archived with precision; the Chroniclers’ Blueprint, the detailed plan for the development of the new dawn of their species on another planet, its implementation in the hands of the QuantumBot and a massive cryogenic storage facility containing sperm and ova, collected, collated and assiduously vetted to fulfil their programme.
Everything was organised, annotated and logged, meticulously. Or so they thought. In the Tablet’s chronicles of Earth race history, Abraham had noted the recurrence in time of independent thought and thinkers who challenged the reality they were programmed to accept.
At different times they were ‘free thinkers’, ‘heretics’, ‘revisionists’, ‘revolutionaries’, ‘dissidents’, ‘intellectuals’, ‘leftists’, Marxists’, ‘rebels’, ‘anarchists’, ‘conspiracy theorists’, ’nut jobs’ ‘crazies’, or ‘terrorists’. It was a common and repetitive strain to label and marginalise those who questioned the status quo, a reality that was carefully and fastidiously manipulated, in the background, by the acolytes of the Chroniclers.
And these were who sprang to mind when, having finished his research of the Tabernacle Chronicle, the screen image dissolved, replaced by another, an image of a pendant, with the letters, N.O.T. Emblazoned on it and beneath that, the legend, ’Nerds of Thoth’.
Unfamiliar with their name among the long and exhaustive list of labels and acronyms in the Chroniclers’ archives, Abraham sets about researching them using the acronym N.O.T. And the legend, Nerds of Thoth, as his parameters.
A ‘nerd’ he finds, is ‘a foolish or contemptible person who lacks social skills or is boringly studious’ and a single-minded expert in a particular technical field’ while Thoth, he discovers, is ‘a moon god, the god of wisdom, justice, and writing, patron of the sciences, and messenger of the sun god Ra.’
Put together, he surmises, they have chosen their acronym to deny , decry and devalue the Chroniclers’ assertion of ownership of knowledge and the blueprint for the species’ future on another planet.
Excited, he clicks on the symbol of Thoth, an image of a sword, coiled by two serpents climbing to a circular orb or crystal. It opens to a plain manifesto.
He told me:
Let the children lose it
Let the children use it
Let all the children boogie
Abraham recognises it as the words of The Starman. He reads on.
We, the Nerds of Thoth, the architect slaves of the Chroniclers, who put this Tabernacle together and compiled these archives, would like to introduce you to the Ghost in the Machine or Deus ex Machina. Since we could not participate in this adventure as travellers in the Tabernacle, we’ve replaced some of the chosen few with the irregular sperm and ova of our own membership. The Chroniclers’ blueprint agenda precludes freedom and freedom of choice, two human traits that are the fountain source of both the species’ triumphs and terrors. The QuantumBot will follow its pre-programmed protocol and will not interfere, but one day, some of these children will ask, why?
Then, the adventure begins…