Numenera: Vox Aevum

00. The Sleeper Wakes

In which a whisper is heard and a mind awakened

The Sleeper Wakes

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“There was a voice, there was a murmur”

The probability engine stirred in its crystalline tomb, its old subroutines raising the many-faceted colossus from its eon-long slumber. Its adjutants flickered across its colossal surface, coloured sparks of information, striving to raise the overseeing intelligence back to life. They twinkled excitedly, they gleamed fearfully. “There was a voice” they glimmered, “there was a murmur”.

Old, as old as mountains and seas, as old as a young star and just as bright the probability engine buzzed its calcified extremities, shaking off the ages with brilliant flashes of information. It had been asleep for so long, dreaming quantic dreams and processing outlandish probabilities in its half living state. It rested its weary processes, its incomprehensible diamond pathways waiting for the moment when the watchers, the hyperactive servitor subroutines watching excitedly for signs that the Engine was needed again would raise it once more.

“There was a voice, there was a murmur.” they squealed

The Engine’s quantum core was still cold and drowsy; not white-hot as it once was, as it had been the last time the Engine was needed. Yet the first sparks of the Engine’s terrifying intelligence, its mind-wrecking all-knowingness, its worship-worthy all-seeingness were igniting and its drowsy gaze turned once more upon its ward, a chorus of awe-struck sparkling whispers resonating through its diamond immensity as the subroutines scattered to awaken the Engine’s extremities.

One of its eyes came online at first, one of the many eternal prisms that awaited its return, gaze fixed upon the world. The Engine flexed its weary eyes and it gazed once more upon its ward. It could see that the world had changed again, or rather had been changed. Its blurry gaze swept over the endless seas, the deserts, the chasms and mountain ranges of the remade world. It was strange, almost as purpose-driven, purpose-built as the Engine itself. And the Engine felt uneasy for a flash. Its ward, its loving child seemed to resist its prying, as if trying to cover its nudity from the Engines all-seeing gaze. As more of its senses woke up, the Engine tentatively took in the diversity of the world and even in its all-knowing grandeur it brought a feeling of uncertainty. Beings that had been gone had returned. Fauna and flora had changed in incomprehensible or all too comprehensible ways. There was a… man, there were… men once more in the tower of knowledge. They spun lies and… Truth? together to enthrall and to uplift. There were others…

The Engine stopped abruptly from its drowsy inventory and all around the blazing ember of its startled intellect its subroutines cowered in fear into their kernels. It turned its eyes down, focused the whole extent of its gaze upon a single spot on the surface of the world. It gazed at the spot in shock, in awe and for the first time in eons a flash of fear raced through its crystalline circuits. There was something it could see… but couldn’t understand. There was something it could not foresee. The Probability Engine gathered the sum of its mind, every single shard that had awoken and tried to compute through its maddening equations the omnidimensional trajectory of the thing, the… being? And it could not foresee. It redoubled its efforts, straining its frayed mindscape, almost melting its core geodes.

And then it heard it too, a cacophonous whisper, an alien murmur from the darkness that it could not compute or comprehend, even as wave turned to sound turned to light turned to quantum wave function. Something foul from the dark past of the world, or the distant future or from somewhere else entirely, something it was not designed to foresee. It could be from anywhere or nowhere or everywhere, and the great intellect of the Probability Engine had no way of computing it. For the first time in eons the Probability Engine was not all-knowing. And for the first time in eons it was afraid.

“There was a Voice, There was a Murrrmurrr.” it flashed all across its endless diamond pathways, sending its minions into a frenzy, waking ancient devices, long dormant appendages and buried foundries. The Probability engine slowly started shaking off the cobwebs of time and flaring the furnaces of its massive mindscape. It was preparing for the worst. it was preparing for war.

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