Hidden Frequencies I: The Prime Mover
Some claim to know the future. Listen very carefully to what they have to say. Then ask yourself this: do they even know the past? My teacher used to repeat this time and time again whenever we were about to set foot inside a new excavation site. It didn’t make sense to me at the time. We were Archeo-Loggers… what else would we do if not look for the past and—well, log it?
Now that I am old and my daily occupation is no longer to find and log items from The Age of Enlightenment, I understand that if one wishes to secure the future, you must become one with the past. Little did I know that the Prime Movers themselves would ever deal a hand that enabled me to do that very thing.
But let me not get ahead of myself. As a once Archeo-Logger, I should know to begin at the beginning before I can even scratch the surface of the future.
I was just another teenager when I set foot in one of the Sixsmith excavation sites. It was in the heart of an ancient, ruined city of the continent where I joined Professor Ukame and my four fellow, future Archeo-Loggers.
Underneath a broken construct of rusted panels and pipes, Ukame bid us welcome and explained the basic rules. “Welcome Nakija,” he said, “I’m glad you could join us.” He turned and made a grand gesture with his hand towards the opening of the ruined building. “As you can see, we stand at the doorway of an old Sixsmith facility. It’s been cleared by Hunters a long time ago and Hoarders have permitted us to use this site for educational purposes, so rest assured this excavation is completely safe.”
“Is that why you told us not to bring any weapons?” I asked, interrupting the welcome speech.
Ukame shook his head. “You’ll find narrow corridors and collapsed area’s to be among the more convenient places to walk through inside. You’d be amazed what tricks the mind can play on you once
the claustrophobia sets in. I wouldn’t want anyone to start shooting or swinging swords on my watch.”
My eyes strayed to the students at my side. Each of them stood in the shadow of their of aloofness and the will to prove themselves the better Archeo-Logger. Of course, I was convinced that I could prove each of them wrong.
“Inside,” Ukame continued, “you will each be assigned your own lab to investigate. The primary focus of your thesis will be based on two questions. Your first question is: what moved Sixsmith to create the first Singularian?”
“And the second?” I was eager… too eager to dive in.
Ukame chuckled. “Your second question will be: what moved the Singularian?”
“What do you mean? Moved it to do what?” I was ready to shake the answer from him.
Again, Ukame laughed. “Everything. From the reason it decided to donate it’s original body to Sixsmith for the transfer process, to the choice it made when it pulled the killswitch on its own species.”
“And how are we supposed to do that when the location has been stripped clean of all things that could tell us anything about what Sixsmith was up to?” Thank goodness, I wasn’t the only one eager to ask questions. She—I didn’t even know her name—did have a fair point.
“Ladies and gentlemen, may I remind you that I have kept you under my wing for six years?” Ukame arched one of his heavy eyebrows and frowned. “If by now you don’t know how to look for clues in what isn’t there, like a true Archeo-Logger would, could, and should, then I advise you to pack your things and go back home.”
It remained quiet for several seconds as we all looked at each other in a silent truth or dare. But I didn’t let any of them deter me, not even when their gazes unanimously moved to me. I cleared my
throat and raised my chin. “So, where do I start?” I asked and turned back to Professor Ukame.
“You’ll take the eastern wing.” Ukame picked up a bag from the field table next to him and handed it to me. “Everything you’ll need is in here. Goodluck, Nakija.”
Accepting Ukame’s token of good luck, I cast a final glare at my field mates and squeezed myself between the opening in the steel frame of the building. I did not bother to look in the bag until deep down in the ruin, the signs and placards were rusted beyond readability. I had no other choice than to take out the map and follow the guidelines from there… Were it not that after three doors, even that became more complicated as the passageway into the final laboratory was bolted shut.
“Oh, you have got to be kidding me…” I muttered quietly as I rattled the door handle to make sure it wasn’t just jammed. Determined to reach the lab though, I took a moment to consider my options. My bag did contain a candle and a small lantern with matches, so that crack inside the wall to my right was looking quite reasonably like a solid option. Especially compared to the half broken bridge between the remains of the collapsed rooftop, dangling on rusted chains and groaning metal cables.
I lit up the candle, swung the bag over my shoulder and with a deep breath, sucked in my stomach to squeeze through once more. It took me several minutes of grinding against the wall and forcing my heart to stop hammering so hard inside my chest before the claustrophobia left me the hell alone. But the feeling was persistent, gnawing at the back of my head every step I squished myself further into the concrete wall until I could see a pale light glimmer around the bend of the crevice.
“Thank the gods…” Despite my words being no more than a whisper, I could feel the construct tremble with its resonance. A quiet vibration… a shudder… escalating more and more at the sound of my gasps as I realized the wall behind me was about to crumble under its weight. I had disturbed it. “Holy mother of machinery!” I cursed as I moved quicker and quicker, pushing ahead and folding
myself through impossible angles. But evertying started to collapse and the more I panicked, the more my way through began to tighten… tighten. Until I barely managed to cram through and pop out on the other side like a butterfly from its chrysalis.
My knees quacked as violently as the disintegrating wall when I watched my only way in and out of the eastern wing seal tight. “No, no!” I shrieked, slamming the flat of my hand against the concrete. I hadn’t even realized yet that my candle had become utterly useless in the bleached light of the lab I had arrived in.
“You must dial back the thermal ionizer to twenty percent if you want the cardiovascular system to remain intact,” a voice sounded from behind.
I froze—completely and utterly stupefied. Turning, I half expected the other students to point and laugh at me as I’d probably done something amazingly stupid by crossing the wall like that. Instead though, my mouth fell open at what unfolded before me.
Like watching moving images through ripples in water, two men walked around the lab, passing through the remains of the interior like ghosts. Their voices were distorted like echoes in a long tunnel.
“Please, Lester. We don’t have time to mess up these presets. My body is growing weaker every day,” the voice came from the ghost of a middle-aged man. Half his face was covered in scar tissue as though he had lost a fight with either a campfire or an old paper shredder. “We are so damn close. We can’t permit variations in the presets we used for the last test.”
The other man looked up from under his brow.
“If I didn’t know any better, I’d think you’ve forgotten that slavery has been forbidden for quite some centuries now.”
Corbyn… I knew that name. Surely this wasn’t Quinn Corbyn, the mastermind behind the first A.I. that triggered The Age Of Enlightenment?
The ghost chuckled quietly and plugged a thick cable into a socket in the back of a monkey’s skull. “When you’re as old as I am, you’ll find that no era passes without its share in slavery, Mr. Sixsmith.”
Holy mother of machinery. . . It’s him! Corbyn and Sixsmith were working together. Sixsmith was Corbyn’s assistant!
“If I ever become as old as you, sir. And the fact that it happens, doesn’t mean it’s the right thing,” the ghost of Lester Sixsmith answered.
For a moment, I forgot I was locked in while I watched the scene move in front of me. It was only when the ripples froze like crystallizing ice, that I snapped from my amazement and realized I’d been staring at nothing but dusty air in the faint light of my flickering candle.
“My gods…” I whispered, wondering if this was the insanity Professor Ukame had insinuated before, “this lab is going to be my death.”
“I can assure you… it will not.” The sound came from another voice, one I hadn’t heard before.
“Who are you?” I asked. My heart thundered through my chest.Was I going nuts? Professor Ukame was more right than I could have imagined. Claustrophobia was real, especially with no way in or out.
“I go by many names.” The same vibration I felt before the wall collapsed now crept along the floor and into my bones. “But I believe your people have come to call me a Prime Mover.”
The hairs on my neck and arms rose as though I was charged with a static current. My knees buckled and I sank to the floor in an overwhelming urge to break down in tears of horror—or amazement. The way the voice resonated, this wasn’t some figure jesting me.
“Please, do not panic,” the voice continued as from the dust in the room appeared the shape of a woman… or man, I couldn’t really tell. It could have been both as far as I could tell by its build and slender proportions. “I did not bring you here to hurt you.”
“Bring me here?” I asked, shivering violently as I feared to look up.
A quiet chuckle, modest and not even cruel, followed the sound of the heavy metal doors behind me unlocking. The low humming of electric charges surging through the system revved up and the old lights, though broken, flickered back to life. “Believe it or not, that crack you crammed through did not lead to the lab you set out to find.”
The entire room started to spin around me. What on earth was going on? My eyes darted between the entity in the dust particles and the frozen ripples in the air.
“You can see it, can’t you?” The figure asked to which I nodded my head. “Excellent. It appears we are compatible then.”
I couldn’t even utter the question that roiled inside my mouth, for before I opened it to speak, the entity moved and crashed it’s dusty alignment straight through me. My vision became engulfed in a pearlescent light and the specter that had been dust until now transformed into a being of brightness. Mind playing tricks or not, this felt so damn real. Prime Mover, God—hell, if this spirit told me it was the consciousness of my mother ready to give me a proper beating because I was going insane, I would have believed it too.
“What did you do to me?” I asked, looking at my hands, my feet… around me, awed by how the pearlescent glow refracted off everything.
“I did nothing to you. I merely moved.”
“Can we skip the riddles?” I groaned as I scrambled to my feet to look the entity in its radiant eyes. With my hand pressed against the side of my head, I could still hear Professor Ukame’s words in my ears: you’d be amazed what claustrophobia could do to people.
“I am a Prime Mover, moving things, setting things in motion is what I do. Think of me as a magnet: everything with the right polarity is attracted to me.”
“Great…” I brushed the dust from my clothes.
“The world is in danger, Nakija.”
Shocked by the fact it knew my name, my attention was drawn to the fullest of my capabilities, considering I was still locked up inside a concrete bunker and found myself in the company of a god and its immense power.
“There is a shift in power going on, a very dangerous one. A shift that holds the potential of becoming the end of humanity as we know it.”
“And why does that require me to be here?”
“Because I—we need you to stop that very thing from happening. You must change the course of the future, Nakija.” The entity burst into a cloud of light and dust as it moved through the room, only to reshape itself after reappearing. “The Great Strife between Sixsmith Industries and Griswold Gen-Tech didn’t end when the Singularians were destroyed.”
“Wait, what are you saying? You want me to do what? How?” I stammered.
“By understanding the past. Your professor sent you off to answer two questions. I will send you off with only one mission.” The Prime Mover remained silent for a moment as if to gather words from the light and dust it was made of. “I need you to find The Singularian and do whatever it takes to make it finish what it was created for.”
“Why can’t you do that yourself?” I asked hesitantly, “you are a god. Don’t you have superpowers of your own?”
The entity smiled and inclined its head. “My powers are to set things in motion—I just did. Now, it is up to you.” It pointed at the doors behind me. “When you step through that doorway, it will take you back to Mr. Ukame. Tell him you cannot finish your thesis. Find the Singularian. Learn from its past. Move the future.”
I wasn’t sure what stirred the core of my being more; the fact that it asked me to flunk my exam… or the fact that it asked me to save the world from extinction.
“There are frequencies beyond those you can observe with human senses,” The Prime Mover continued, “frequencies you are now able to see, hear, and feel. Follow them until you find the Singularian. Move whatever you have to move to make sure it fulfills its duty.”
“And what duty is that?” I arched an eyebrow, slowly understanding that this was real… all of it.
The entity moved its gaze toward the frozen, rippled images at the center of the lab and thawed them back to life. The young lad, Sixsmith, vanished into dust and Corbyn was left standing in front of a dust figure—a reflection of the way I stood right here, right now. “Six centuries ago,” the entity started, “I touched Quinn Corbyn the way I touched you a moment ago. I magnetized him as it were, and laid upon him the duty to prevent humanity from going extinct.”
The ripples shuddered to bring forth a new moving image. One of Corbyn behind a wall of screens, typing away frantically while virtual eyes looked down on him.
“Corbyn was a genius. He wrote the entire code sequence for the H.E.L.A. system all by himself. He was smart enough to find his way around age. At least, long enough for him to write down the final sequence for his own transfer into the Singularian body. When he died and Sixsmith took over, neither of them knew they were running a race they had already lost.”
Again, the ripples moved. This time to reveal an image of a dark-skinned man, glaring vilely through golden eyes.
“Gael Griswold succeeded in the creation of a new species. Hybrids: both human and animal… and designed to kill.” The images moved and morphed until a final explosion dissolved the scene into a cloud of glowing particles, whirling down onto the concrete floor. “I was too late with setting the right things in motion. I failed to protect humanity.”
“Or did Corbyn fail to fulfill this duty you burdened him with?” I asked, smitten by the weight of the message. I was full of questions. Why did the Prime Mover appear now? Why was I next to carry a divine burden? My mind was raving, throbbing… hurting.
“Quinn Corbyn is still trying to fight the good fight.” The entity moved closer to me, bowing its head to look me straight in the eyes yet careful not to touch me again.
“What? He is still alive?” My mouth fell open. The man that started the Age of Enlightenment had seen the world fall back into another Dark Age?
“He doesn’t go by that name anymore. In fact, there is very little left of the man he once was,” the entity answered.
“No surprise. He is what—six hundred years old?”
“He needs your help, Nakija. He can’t do this on his own.”
“What must I do?” Somewhere deep inside, I had already accepted the fact that I was to work a job for a god now. But my ratio was struggling… big time.
“Find him… help him remember. Do whatever it takes, but make him remember.”
“And how do I find him? Where? What name do I follow?”
The entity took a moment to look me deep in the eyes before it turned around and waved its hand at the glowing dust particles. A portrait of pearlescent light formed in the middle of the lab. A man… a machine with green glowing eyes. “His imprinted code is SVRN-1…”