|Trysta on Earth|
I was walking through the lounge, but I wasn't really there mentally. As usual, my thoughts were elsewhere. That day, my thinking was all tangled up over the possible deification of my unreliable collaborator, Gohrlay.
Yes, I did see someone sitting there. It is a lounge: people are supposed to sit there and they often do. But not her. What pulled me back into time and place was the fact that she was so happy. I could sense that she was freakishly happy. And why not? I suppose that if you could see all times and visit all places in time then you'd smile, too.
Her joy punctured my self-absorption, but not enough to slow me down. Until the next day. I was beyond just being punctured when I saw her again. Neurons or infites of my unconscious were shouting: "Who is she?"
I was out of the lounge and three strides down the hallway before my conscious thoughts caught up with the reality of her intrusion. I turned around and went back. She was gone. A flick of motion: I saw that she was in the adjoining utility room. I followed her and I wanted to ask Why are you so happy? but instead I asked, "Who are you?"
Of course, she was not going to speak to me there, not in such a public place, so everything got crooked and the world broke. Pop. For an instant she was gone, having slipped through a crack into another universe, but I was caught up in her wake. Another pop and I could see her again. Close. Something deep inside me said: Trysta? She took hold of my hand and pulled me out of the Time Gate. Or whatever. Maybe I've never traveled through time. I'd be the last to know something like that. I felt her inside my mind and a strange thought formed there, like a crystal: would Trysta have really been able to make a trip upwhen, to a point in time so far from the 1970s? Could she do that? Not giving me time to think about such fine points, she confirmed her identity, "You know me as Trysta."
Click. She folded in half the "tablet" she'd been holding and it disappeared. And why not? It wasn't really a tablet computer. Click. She reached up under her long hair, twisted the chain latch and pulled off her bulky necklace. Up close I could now decipher its coded message: it was a colorful representation of a ribosome, the nano-technology that allows living cells on Earth to translate coded genetic instructions into protein nano-devices.
She'd previously programmed my endosymbiont to recognize that ribosome as a code signal and now a cascade of infite-encoded memories suddenly became accessible to my consciousness. A long string of repressed memories that had been accumulating inside me for decades now bubbled and churned inside my brain, competing for my attention. Staggered by the impact of that memory flood, my consciousness was momentarily swept away as if blowing on a storm front. Click. I knew that this seeming stranger actually was Trysta and so a silly grin came to my lips. She giggled and seemed pleased, "There, now you remember." She hung the necklace on a protruding wall decoration.
I felt like it was more than just remembering because she had previously quite carefully walled off all of these hidden memories from my conscious introspection. Recovering those lost memories of Trysta felt more like living the experiences of previously being with her, but it felt like I was living those many events in an instant. I stammered, "I thought... didn't you depart into the past?"
She gave her head a shake that sent her mop of hair flying. "No, not quite yet. Soon. I have a few more errands that I'd like to complete here in your lifetime, if possible."
Reflecting upon the total scope and content of all my "new" memories, I realized that she'd provided me with what was effectively a list of all the many times that she had "checked in with me" through the course of my life. I was amazed by the plethora of times that she had "slipped into" the bodily form of someone I knew (as I've described here, for example), just so that she could spend some time with me or provide me with a subtle behavioral correction. I began to complain, "Wait... all these... you've been messing with me steadily for decades..."
Trysta laughed merrily at my dismay and said teasingly, "After a while you finally caught on, so I had to do extra memory suppression." She shook her head and seemed to look back dreamily through the past. "You were quite a handful."
For a just a moment, a hot resentment flared within me over the way she had manipulated me, but then I had to laugh at myself. In retrospect, I could see that Trysta had worked hard to keep my spirits up through the years of what might otherwise have been a long dreary slog and agonizing decades of waiting until I could perform my function. I could tell that she was bubbling over and eager to tell me something. I was even more eager to ask her questions. I blurted out, "Why did you wait so long?"
Trysta was in my mind and she knew exactly what I meant. "Well, of course I had to wait until after the Buld spaceship reached Earth-"
I interrupted, "That was four years ago!"
"Yes, only four years. Much has happened since then. And then I needed to wait and study the tryp'At Overseers and discover what rules they were using to police Earth. I've worried that if you knew too much about me then you'd get booted off of Earth, like Ivory did."
I muttered, "I worry about that everyday." I could sense that Trysta was full of confidence. All of her doubts had been resolved. "Do you now really believe that I'm safe from the tryp'At?"
Trysta laughed uproariously. "Oh, yes!" She was giggling so much that I nervously started chuckling. Her happiness was contagious. Finally she could speak again, "After all, you are tryp'At."
I'd been fearing that was true for some time and I suppose it was for the best that Trysta had popped into my life to joyously confirm it as fact. I quietly said, "But that means-"
She let the concept fully develop and flower in my thoughts. "Exactly. So I had to watch carefully and see how you and Gohrlay would get along. During the past two years nothing bad happened. Now I'm satisfied that you two are not going to go to war."
There was no arguing against the facts, but I could not share her sense of relief and satisfaction at how her great protect had turned out. "I still don't want to believe it. I'm on the wrong side!" I'd come to view Gohrlay as the shining future for Humanity, struggling against absurd restrictions that were being imposed on Earthlings by the upstart tryp'At. I did not want to be playing the role of someone who was holding Gohrlay back and working against her lofty goals.
Trysta was truly laughing at me. "That's the beauty of it. Grean not only planted her agent where I never thought to look, she planted an agent on Earth who was totally oblivious to his mission. I'd call it an act of genius, but in retrospect, I now see that it was the logical solution to her predicament."
Even if grudgingly, I had to pay tribute to Grean, "She tricked me."
Trysta nervously looked around the workshop and commented, "This would be the natural time for her to show up and gloat."
I had no memory of ever having met Grean, so I was a bit cocky. "Only if she wants to get punched in the nose." I mused, "How am I going to live with myself, and with Gohrlay?"
Trysta started laughing again and sputtered through her mirth, "Nothing has changed, except you are now slightly less ignorant."
"And how am I going to break the news to Gohrlay? I've been having so much fun collaborating with her-"
Trysta interrupted and corrected me, "You've been driving her crazy with all your questions. She'll be please to have an end to that."
I realized the truth of Trysta's words. My relationship with Gohrlay would now be shunted in a new direction. An odd thought came into my mind. I searched through the newly recovered memories that Trysta had released to me. I said wonderingly, "Do you mean to tell me..."
"Yes, Gohrlay has always know that you are tryp'At. I mean, in this Reality." Trysta could not restrain herself from adding, "She was a clueless twit in the previous Reality."
Without a doubt, Gohrlay had transformed and evolved, attaining a near god-like status in the Final Reality. I asked, "So when did R. Gohrlay make the memory hand-over to Gohrlay?" It was my belief that Gohrlay had come into possession of the entire store of R. Gohrlay's memories from Deep Time.
"Mmmm... good question." Trysta briefly reflected on the matter then shrugged and replied, "I'm not sure that the process of memory transfer is complete, even now. As Asimov taught you, there are physical limitations to the memory capacity of brains and there are also limits to the rate of information flow."
I knew well the story to which Trysta referred. "I've long been uncomfortable with the way Asimov told that story." I was thinking about the way that Daneel had found a biological brain that could hold all of his 20,000 years worth of memories. "I'm not comfortable with the idea that all the vast contents of a positronic brain could be transferred into a humanoid brain."
Trysta reminded me, "Well, of course, Asimov was not allowed to make mention of zeptite endosymbionts." We'd been slowly wandering through the abandoned workshop and now we'd arrived at the Viewing Chamber. She absently ran her hand over the control strip, but the Viewer did not activate: there was no longer any possibility in the universe for pushing sedrons back and forth through time. The Viewer no longer had any purpose, but Trysta was gazing upon it as if it were some sort of shrine.
As usual, I was lost in my own inner world. I had to agree: the presence of zeptites inside human brains was a real game-changer. I began pondering the question of how efficient the pek were in placing a zeptite endosymbiont inside every Earthling. In particular, had they done so for the members of Trysta's family?
My "new" memories of past contacts with Trysta solidified and clustered around the time when I had last seen Trysta, about two years previously, not too long before Gohrlay had revealed herself to me. At that time, Trysta had introduced me to another member of her family, her daughter, Gwyned. Now I experienced a wave of shame because I'd made a promise to Gwyned, a promise that I had not kept. Trysta said, "Don't punish yourself over that silly promise. Now I'll let you own that promise, here and now, from this day forward it will bind you."
My pettiness was not going to wipe the smile from her face. She gave a delicate shrug and pointed towards the Viewer. There, still locked in the control matrix of the Reality Viewer was Earth and, beyond, in the distance, I could see the silver globe of our Moon. She spoke with obvious pride, "Earth is free. And you are now free to do as you please with your memories of me."
I could suddenly remember having been in this "workshop" before. "I" had even previously seen someone using the Reality Viewer to look into the future. My memory of that was muddled; it rested in my brain more like an illustration in a textbook than an actual past experience.
Trysta turned her head and she glanced over my shoulder. Her eyes widened. I turned and saw that we were no longer alone in the workshop. I'd long imagined what a Kac'hin might look like, having for years been provided with clues. Here, now, suddenly, was the perfect image of what I imagined to be the form of a female Kac'hin. Trysta grabbed hold of my arm and whispered, "Grean."
Grean was not there in person. Speaking as a kind of projection, she explained, "Pardon my intrusion, Trysta. I'm here on Tar'tron, but I detected someone prowling in our workshop."
I could sense that Trysta was surprised, but she spoke calmly. "I wondered if you were still on post here, monitoring Earth."
Grean was not buying that. "You know that the tryp'At have cleared all alien influences from Earth. Were I to now teleport into the workshop it would be a violation of the Rules of Intervention."
Trysta sighed deeply, seemingly with relief. "If that is so then it is good news. However, I doubt if those Rules have ever been enforced against the Huaoshy."
Grean observed, "You never were able to comprehend my relationship with the Creators. I simply served as a tool; I was always subject to the same rules as you."
I was awe-struck by Grean, even if she was thousands of light-years away. I'd long dreamed of having a chance to meet Grean and question her. Finally seeing Trysta and Grean glaring intently at each other, I recognized them as two ancient warriors, now unhappy to be meeting again after the peace treaty had been signed. In this case, the Trysta-Grean Pact was in effect, but these two soldiers would always believe that their own side had been correct in the war, the enemy misguided. I asked Grean, "And what of me? What do the Rules of Intervention say about an Overseer who is on Earth?"
Grean chuckled. "Technically you are not an Overseer, merely an Earthling, just one of seven billion."
Trysta pushed the point, "But he is not just any Earthling. He is telling the hidden history of Earth to his fellow humans."
Grean seemed puzzled by Trysta's concerns, her attempt to score one last point in their long battle. "Why worry about such hair-splitting details and legalities? There is nothing you can do anymore to change things. I'm happy to be in retirement."
Trysta seemed to grow bolder the more that Grean professed disinterest in Earth. "I'm happy to learn that you've turned over affairs to the typ'At. That leaves Earth open and susceptible to my influence."
Grean gave a delicate shrug and blinked her large eyes. "Irrelevant, Trysta. You are 10,000 years in your grave and long since forgotten."
Emboldened by Trysta' feisty attitude, I could not pass up my own chance to contradict Grean. "I will never forget."
Grean raised a hand in mock salute. "I see that nothing important is happening. Given the awesome challenge that you face, I suppose that you Earthlings need to continually work to keep your spirits up. I wish you luck! Carry on."
Before Grean could break the communications link that was projecting her image into the workshop, Trysta shouted, "Grean, wait! I have one last question for you."
Grean waited a few seconds in silence then asked, "Well?"
Trysta asked, "Why did you show an Earthling how we perform Time Changes? Wasn't that a violation of the Rules of Intervention?"
With Grean there in the workshop, I could almost recall my lost memories of having witnessed the Eanru Intervention. I was buffeted by a strong sense of déjà vu. Grean looked in my direction and replied, "That should be obvious to you, Trysta. I put a lock on his memory of having witnessed a Reality Change, so that was not a violation of the Rules. I just wanted you to realized that it was permissible to bring Earthlings here. Obviously, you figured that out." With those final words, Grean's projected image blinked off.
Trysta still had a grip on my arm. "She always brings out the worst in me. Thank you for telling her that you will not allow the memory of my efforts to fade away. I knew that you would not be changed by the memories that I shared with you today, no matter how much you resent the way I've tricked and deceived you. You know, I was always acting with good intentions."
"Yes, I know that." I also knew that nothing as paltry as being in a grave would ever keep Trysta down, but something told me that after almost six decades of haunting me, Trysta was finally saying goodbye. That wasn't fair since the memories that she had awoken in me actively itched at my curiosity and pointed towards dozens of intriguing mysteries and unanswered questions. As if I were not already
She was not trying to be cruel, but her honesty stung. "Wrong. I've judiciously given you as much information as you can safely process. Please don't resent your own limitations. Just finish up your chore."
It was not fair that she was in my mind, pushing at me, shaping my thoughts and using tricks on multiple levels. The "chore" that she alluded to was my assigned task of telling her story to the people of Earth. She was giving me my final marching orders and then, I knew, she would be gone from my life. One last complaint was on my mind. "I'm an old man. I might not have time..."
She laughed and threw her arms around me. She rested her head against my shoulder and pressed herself close. Speaking softly in my ear, she reminded me of the facts. "I'm older than you. True, I have good genes and a swarm of medical nanites at my disposal, but I'm an old lady. Even my boy Thomas is older than you."
Yes, I knew that she could control her own physical appearance and she'd been peering into my thoughts during the entire course of my life, learning my likes and pleasures. She knew exactly how to push my buttons and get me to do what needed to be done. I put my arms around her, knowing that she had shaped her body so as to conform to my personal fantasies of the perfect woman. And her cognitive connection to my brain was not entirely one way. I could sense that she was thinking of Eckolir and she was eager to take the final time travel trip into the far past. I asked, "Is he waiting there for you, in the past?"
She shook her head and explained, "No, but there is a copy of him waiting for me in the past, at the time of my final time travel mission. So, I don't fear death. There will be an artificial second life for me and a chance to be with Ekcolir again. Part of him." She pushed herself away, looking at me from arm's length and she sternly said, "Now, I won't bother you any more." But I could sense that there was something more that she wanted.
It did not matter that she looked human. I could see little sweat droplets on her upper lip and her face was flushed. As an Asterothrope female, she responded instinctively to contact with a male. I knew that she was ready for me to depart, but I did not want to leave. I quietly mumbled, "That's all?" I was thinking of two years previously and the lecture that Gwyned had given me.
She replied, "I'm limited in what I can say to you. I did not need to be with you today. We did not need to be here. Your infites could have been remotely activated, allowing you to finally remember all of the past times when I contacted you. However, my own curiosity got the better of me. I wanted to see if I could trick Grean into revealing how she blocked your memory of watching her kill Henry Peterson. She uses a different method for performing memory surgery than I do, a technique that I've never been able to understand. Of course, none of that really matters. I was silly to ever imagine that I might know and understand the fantastic technological abilities of the Huaoshy." Trysta's joy had deflated and her shoulders slumped.
"I understand." I thought I did. "You needed to show me that you can still reach me, even in the far future, decades after time travel became impossible."
She shook her head slowly. "No, this is a trick. For me, it is still before the end of time travel; I can still travel in time. But too many microchanges have already been made. The Final Reality is forming and solidifying around you and it is increasingly hard for me to reach you from the past. I was lucky to connect with you today... I almost could not find you. I'll try again at the next critical point, but chances are this is the last time we will meet."
I sensed that Trysta was still waiting for something. And we were running out of time. My fascination with the mechanics of time travel would not let me drop that topic. All I could do was guess about the nature of the physical effect that was building a temporal barrier between her and I. "Why so? Can't you see and visit everywhen?"
She seemed rather weary of trying to explain such things to me. "Here in this time, you are moving into the Final Reality. A Change, a wave front composed of many microchanges is sweeping over you. This is a very complex Reality Change. For now, I'm still engaged in the process of making the Final Reality Change. Anyhow, I'm not able to explain. I was never taught the detailed mechanics of time travel. R. Gohrlay and Grean did not want to lead me into the temptation of improvisation. Now, go back to your collaborator or muse or your god or whatever it is you call her now."
I knew that she was speaking of Gohrlay. I observed, "You are jealous."
She giggled. "And why not? When I was young, when I was Skaña, I was shown a future in which it was to be me who lived out my final days here in this time on Earth. Neither you nor I could possibly be happy with how all of this has played out. It is to be her who has the honor of seeing this new beginning for Humanity. I was given other compensation."
I panicked at the thought that even Trysta had been kept in the dark about the shape of the future. I had to ask her: "So do we make it or not? Is there a future for Earth, for humans?"
"I did my best to make it so." She laughed rather wildly at the perversity of the universe. "Now it is up to you." She was waiting for me to notice what was in her mind, naked and open before me.
I'd sensed her guilt and I had mistakenly attached it to my own personal source of guilt. I said it: "Guilt."
"Yes, I'm sorry for what I've put you through. You were designed to seek out truth, but I could not provide you with truth. Not all of it. All you got was a story. The makings of a story." Her eyes were full of tears, but she had complete control over her body so she was able to carefully and secretly drain them away. Tears were one more way to control silly, lumbering males, but she was wise enough not to over-use them. One small tear escaped her right eye.
I found it impossible to be seriously angry, even though I deeply resented having been used for decades and kept ignorant of why I was being used. I took a deep breath and wiped the tear from her cheek. "I forgive you, but it breaks my heart that we have not exercised our free will. I hate being a puppet."
She brightened and said, "Thank you for being so forgiving. No matter how much I have abused you, you really should embrace your role. It is better to be a puppet in interesting times than to exercise free will when nothing matters. Anyhow, you do get the last word, you do get to decide how to tell the story."
I still wanted more than words. "But can people learn from a science fiction story? If we had some physical evidence-" Trysta did not want to waste her time listening to me complain. I felt her clamping down on my mind and then -POP- I was back where I had started, in the utility room, but now I was alone.
Yes, I'll wait and hope that I might see Trysta once again, but I don't think she was kidding. That was probably the last time that she managed to find her way into the future of the Final Reality. I believe her bones are in some lonely grave in the middle of Asia, or maybe now all that is left of her is a silent smear of dissolving chemicals. It is up to me to make a monument to Trysta and everyone else in Deep Time who worked so desperately to make this universe and give we Earthlings a chance to reach the stars.
[Editor's note: it is with a sense of uneasiness and trepidation that I have allowed myself to share the story of how Trysta took me into the Hierion Domain and gave me a little tour of the workshop where she and Grean created our universe. I believe that Grean played a trick on Trysta by making Trysta become responsible for my ability to (partially) remember watching Grean make a Time Change. I think Grean knew exactly how to make me believe that time travel had once been possible without violating the ethical rules of the Huaoshy.
|Depiction of Trysta and Grean from the time|
when they worked together at Grean's workshop.
My appreciation for Grean's ability to manipulate the human perceptual apparatus arises from two sources: 1) Ivory Fersoni and her clone sisters, and 2) Gohrlay. In this chapter, I've allowed Grean to wander across the stage and begun to provide my account of how Trysta and Grean collaboratively created the universe as we know it. Where to next? I feel obligated to introduce you to Ivory and Gohrlay.]
Trysta and Ekcolir is copyright John Schmidt, but the text of the story is licensed for sharing under the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA) license.