The audience rose, pulled to their feet by a quick swirl of light and a short pulse of crackling, like pebbles dropping into a fish tank. The man they had been listening to disappeared in the sparkling twister and left behind him an empty stage and the sudden inhale of a thousand gasps. The gasps were followed by silence. The great hall rang with the silence, its rows of the world's flags swaying gently from whatever force pulled the speaker from his position at center stage. The silence was replaced by troubled murmuring. What he had proposed was so outlandish in scope and so far beyond the capabilities of any scientists on Earth that the audience had assembled with the logical conclusion that to see him succeed would be inspiring, without holding any real hope for his success. When the first declarations of his plan worked, the collective, as prepared as they thought they were, were simply not ready to process the feat.
The speaker proposed a breakthrough in the production and stabilization of a worm hole. He beamed while asserting that it had been two-hundred years to the month since Albert Einstein and Nathan Rosen hypothesized about bridges, what the speaker, with arms raised high and wide, called Einstein-Rosen Bridges. He gestured wildly while laying the historical grounding and presenting what would be needed, physically and technologically, for such a bridge. After going through his list of needs and detailing the arduous work that he and all of his scientist brothers and sisters had undertaken, he had stopped. No more gesturing. He'd stood, motionless, holding the attention of the now silent arena. Then he answered the question swirling through all of their minds.
“We did it. We did it six months ago.”
His words were at first met by confused whispers. Such a bold claim would need to be proven, but with his presentation's passion and his confidence in his findings, the skepticism in the crowd slowly morphed into polite applause.
“You don't seem convinced,” he said, “nor should you be. Words, words, words, but what of the works? Well, our portal is called the EinRos-1, and five months and twenty-nine days ago, at the joint Siberian Chino-Russian research station, we ran our first successful test. We tested the passage of magnetic waves across five-hundred meters. Then spectral rays. Then our most exciting success: the transportation of matter across space-time. I should have facilitated a contest for who could guess the first matter transported across space-time by humans. I'll give you five seconds to think of your own guess. Personally, I wanted to use M&Ms.”
The speaker looked at his watch while the laughter rose and died down. He could see he didn't have much time.
“Have your guesses ready? Diamonds. Yes, a girl's best friend, we sent fourteen two karat diamonds into the wormhole, much to the dismay of our funding team. But to their great relief, fourteen diamonds arrived safely on the other side, five-hundred meters away. Did it have to be diamonds? No, I suppose not. But some things require a little bit of style. And a melting point over 3500 degrees Celsius doesn't hurt, either.”
More laughter, and another chance to check his watch.
Less than two minutes.
“The team was stunned by the success. We were told again and again what we were proposing couldn't be done, not on the scale we envisioned. I was not stunned. In fact, I'd planned on the successful test, and had already sent a similarly constructed gateway, the EinRos-3, with the Mars-bound supply ship, Artax. I briefed a member on the ship, who will remain anonymous until an appropriate time, on the installation and calibration of EinRos-3. Three earth days after the Artax's arrival, Earth successfully transported three items to Mars: Kevlar exo suit gloves, a box of chocolate bars, and this.”
The speaker raised his hand and each audience member received a short video recording in their Elo-Rift headset: a small kitten, pouncing toward the playful hands of the Artax flight team on Mars.
Now the humming of whispered excitement and the murmuring of disbelief and concern sent the room churning. The speaker checked his watch again.
Less than a minute.
“Let them murmur,” he'd whispered to himself.
“And so I stand before you today to let you know we have succeed in what could be the greatest scientific achievement in human history. I don't mean the creation of a space-time bridge. This, in and of itself, is interesting, but the true glory lies in how we use this new power. Before our first success, I worked in secret to devise an experiment worthy of such a breakthrough. Sending diamonds around the world is great and all, but I looked deeper. Actually, I looked outward, into that thick black night and all of her bright and shining stars. I looked out at the places in the grand cosmos the EinRos-1 could take us. I wanted to give the experiment adequate time to work, if it were to work, so just under six months ago I sent a message into the far corners of our own galaxy and, hopefully, many other galaxies beyond. I sent out a request, certain Earth coordinates, and a specific day and time.”
The speaker looked at his watch again. He click the lock on the strap and took it off, looking at its face one last time before placing it on the floor in front of him.
“We've opened a portal through space and time. And now, if my communications and my calculations are correct, you will bear witness to the first successful transport of a human being across space and time.”
The audience paused, the silence of a thousand people trying to process something that had never been said and never been heard. The speaker had always been viewed as a genius, but a fractured, manic, and perhaps troubled genius. Many in attendance wanted to believe him. Many wanted to see his genius finally reveal its full and true self, for the betterment of all the people of the world. Most cringed at his declarations, seeing them as the frantic cries of genius turned to madness.
“In ten seconds, we will know the truth,” he said.
The count began in the minds of everyone in the audience. Some, in their effort to keep from counting too quickly, counted too slowly. Others were so bewildered by the claims the speaker made they could barely count at all. Some stayed true to every second, and on count down of three... two... one... the crackling swirl of twisting light ripped the speaker from their view and left them in stunned silence.
The surge was pushing and pulling him at the same time. He could not find bearings, could not tell up or down or any space or sense of balance. He could not remember what happened once it happened, and could not look forward to what might happen next. The speaker was tumbling, reaching with hands that weren't there, flailing feet and legs from a different version of himself, and finding nothing to set as real. Without a sense of touch, he looked to other senses.
The visions he saw he would've considered new to his eyes, though he knew he wasn't seeing through his eyes. There was no looking around here, no blinking, no closing his eyes from this place. He saw it all, an eternal field of ever-changing color and light. He wasn't seeing forward in one direction. He was seeing everything, all the time, from everywhere. Big and small and far and close, the colors and textures all flooded over and around him, through him, like he was in the rushing river of all things ever seen.
The sound was similar. He was hearing sounds but not through ears. He knew that. The sound was in him. The rush of wind and the the swishing and pulsing sound of water and fire and high shrieking screeches peeling around him like the sound of destruction. Or the sound of creation. He couldn't tell. A low buzz and a high hum and a twittering and dancing of songs and voices and harmony and melody and clanging chaos and hollow echo played in a way that made him feel like it was his end and his beginning.
The beginning of all sound and the end of all sound.
Where he remembered having arms and hands and fingers, sizzling trails of electric red tentacles spread out into the rushing color and noise. As he remembered the feeling of moving his fingers under warm bath water, long red bolts spread out, their tendrils branching into the never-ending space above and below him. The colors shifted to blue, then green. As he remembered spilling boiling water across the backs of his hands, the bolts leaped and thrashed, bleeding oranges and yellows up around him, through him. He swung what he remembered being his legs out into the colorful expanse and kicked up plumes of maroon and midnight blue and deep purple. These darker colors finally gave him a sense of stability, of up and down and finding his place. The wash of colors eased. The river slowed to a calm trickle. This place, this experience, if it were the rushing river it seemed to be, had reached the wide point of a deep and calm pool.
The sounds dipped to a low hum. The colors stabilized into a swirl he could see more clearly. He could see the individual stripes now. He could see the details and watch each rounded swell merge with the next, and watch red and blue become purple, watch blue and yellow turn effortlessly to green. Each merging seemed to make the colors brighter than before.
The shapes mixed and remixed, turning over and over in long rolling spirals. What seemed a chaotic mess of eternal kaleidoscopic recycling slowly gave way to clearer forms. The speaker felt pressure again, first at where his face might be, then down his spine, tingling out and down to his fingers and toes. The colors in the distance were becoming something he could almost see from a memory, while his own body was returning to him. Together, outward and inward, an easier and more reliable reality emerged.
From the churning mixture of light and color and sound, figures. His memory took him first to angels, great beings of light and power and wisdom. In thought, witnessing an angel might be something anyone would want to do given the opportunity. The speaker felt a sense of hope and awe, before facing the emergence of actual beings powerful enough to plot a course through this alien world and find him. He could feel their gravity, feel them pulling him in, or drawing themselves to him, or maybe both, he couldn't be sure. But as they drew closer and he started to feel them alerting him of their presence, the current of color boiled into crashing waves and tumbling rapids again. The tendrils from his finger tips hardened into black spikes and bled their blackness into the surrounding reds and blues and yellows. The torrent temporarily blurred the figures as they approached and the speaker felt their pull release.
For a moment.
Then, amid the bubbling torrent and frothing waves of panic and fear, a streak of blue appeared from out of the chaos like a hand, reaching out to take hold of the speaker. To help him or hurt him, he didn't know, and the crackle and rush of noise rose to a sharp, shrill peak under the force of the speaker's scream.
Before the audience could convene and decide what to do, the crackling sound returned, and the great hall was once again filled with a bright light. But this time, the light was accompanied by a loud, deep moan, like the bellow of a bear deep in a cave. The very building seemed to shake under the noise, and the rumble and groan was enough to swallow the sounds of a thousand terrified screams.
Then all was quiet.
The audience rose from the places they'd dived in terror. They expected to see destruction, or some terrifying beast from another dimension. Anything in their imaginations tied to that sound had to be a destructive, world-ending nightmare. But their wild eyes met no such creature. As they righted themselves and looked to the center of the great hall's stage, a familiar figure stood where he'd stood only seconds before, his head slumped forward as if he were sleeping while standing up.
The speaker, not more than fifteen seconds from his departure, had returned.
The cries and gasps from the audience stopped. Those seated in the circle of thrones closest to the speaker all rose from their seats, unaware of what to do. This man, this wild, insane genius had disappeared and reappeared from nowhere.
One member of the front row stepped forward. The speaker's head rose and he opened his eyes.
“Yes,” he whispered. He collapsed to the floor.
Three of those in the front row rushed to him. He'd fallen on his back and was staring up, seemingly at something very far away.
The first to reach him checked his headset for vital readings. The headset was dead. A medical drone appeared only seconds later, hovering over the speaker while running preliminary scans. It gave its diagnosis audibly:
“Heart rate, fifty-nine beats per minute. Blood pressure, one-fifteen over seventy. Respiration, normal.”
All signs read normal. The speaker was pulled up to a sitting position and his eyes returned to the great hall.
“We need to take him in for more thorough medical testing.”
“Wait a moment, let him breathe.”
“We need to check him for... I don't know, radiation?”
“What is going on? What just happened?”
The speaker raised his hand, waving it and shaking his head.
“I'm... okay. I'm fine,” he said quietly.
“Dr. Bastian, are you alright?”
The speaker smiled.
“Dr. Bastian... that's right,” he said, smiling wider. It seemed like a name he'd been called in his childhood, a name he'd long forgotten.
“Your headset is down, Dr. Bastian. We'll need to outfit you...”
With another one?
The woman stopped. She'd heard the doctor's voice but she'd been staring right at him and didn't see his mouth move. The voice sounded like it was her own thoughts, like it was inside her head.
Dr. Bastian pushed the helping hands away and slowly rose to his feet. He staggered and swayed, briefly seeming like he would fall again, but he righted himself. The others held out their hands to help and implored him to sit back down. He waved them off.
“Please, go back to your seats,” he whispered. They stood their ground, ready to rush in and catch him and escort him to the medical terminal in the next room.
Please, return to your seats.
Another voice in the woman's head. But as she looked around she could tell she wasn't the only one hearing it. The group looked at each other, then back to Dr. Bastian, in time for him to add:
They backed slowly away. He smiled, wanted them to feel like everything was okay.
Sending them telepathic messages didn't help reassure them that everything was going to be okay. It terrified them. But they did as he asked and returned to their seats while he reclaimed his position in the center of the great hall's stage.
Dr. Bastian picked his watch up from the floor and looked at its face. He smiled again and sighed. He sent a sort of testing message out, mentally, to the audience as a whole.
We don't even care whether or not we care.
The gasps and uproar in the audience let him know he'd succeeded. He then placed the watch in his pocket and began:
I can try to tell you the story of our first contact with intelligent life from another planet. I can try to use words to describe how they look, how they communicate, how they think and feel and live, but you must know, from the storyteller's mouth, that I will fail. I will fail because I saw nothing, I felt nothing. I was given knowledge. Knowledge sounds so stupid when describing what they gave me. If I were to show you, in a single instant, the completeness of the human race, of every species on earth, of the earth's life itself, of the life of our galaxy, of the solar system, of the universe, of time and space and the very nature of existence, would you consider this knowledge?
Would you point me toward the ocean and say, “Water,” and be content that you filled me with knowledge? No, we are beyond infants in this game, so let me simply tell you that we are far more and far less than we thought we were, that we are meaningless in this machinery and also its very heart. Even for me, having met them, having felt them, having been filled with the essence of what it means to be, I still know nothing and feel inadequate to relay to you even a fraction of my nothing.
If you are content with this reality, I will proceed.
The first thing you must understand is that there are many dimensions, just as there are “many” grains of sand in our deserts and in our seas. We see, hear, feel, taste, and touch. But we don't sense everything, we have known this for thousands of years. Atoms, electrons, quarks, neutrinos, dark matter, even our discoveries of these things, of radio waves and radiation and ultraviolet light, are simple specks of dust blown by the wind of the Sahara that is the universe. Time, space, matter, these are just the beginning.
I stood right here what you perceived to be mere seconds ago, right? I stood here, at the Sanctum's center, and vanished in a burst of light and sound. Now, being here again, they gave me back the memory of your faces, of your clothing, your seating positions, and even your names. You have no doubt remembered my name in the few seconds you've missed me, but please know that I have been away from this place for more lifetimes than are people in this room. There is no reason for me to have kept any memory of you, of this place, or of earth itself. I was taken to the edges of creation, to the burgeoning ripple of the expanse of the universe's energy outward in every direction. I was taken deep into the center, into the core of existence, to the starting place, or as close as they could bring me.
No one goes to the very core.
From this point on marble floors in this great hall they answered my call. When the blast of light and ripple of sound took me up, I flashed through every physical experience I'd ever had on Earth. I will share this with you, later, if you wish.
Then, after flying and falling and living every moment and dying completely, I was instantly in their midst. I saw and felt nothing but the glow and shine of warm light. It was like being in a pool full of people, where every movement created a current felt by everyone else. I couldn't move without feeling the reactionary movements of the others, and when I began to shake with fear and when my thoughts shouted their doubts, the energy began to cool and the color shifted from orange to red, then deeper red, like maroon. But they weren't colors, not like we see colors. It felt maroon. It felt darker and slower, heavier. Sadder.
The feeling spread out to the others. I could feel their colors change, affected by mine, and we all shifted for a moment. Then the energy came back, like an echo returning to the one who screamed. The echo returned warm again, warmer than before, and washed over me, and around me, and through me. Another echo, and another, each warmer and brighter than the last, until no fear could stay. In that moment, even if I'd wanted to fear, I wouldn't have been able. The warmth of their energy washed through me, through us, and there was peace again.
Something asked who I was. They didn't ask with a voice, it was as if I was asking myself. Then I answered and we all heard and knew who I was instantly and totally. At that point I tried to look. I tried to see, the way we see things here, tried to look down at my own hands and feet. When I looked down there were no hands or feet. There was no body at all, and instead, my vision swept over this room, and my family and friends, and through houses of people I didn't know and then back to the past lives of those people, through their families, father and mother to son and daughter over and over until it suddenly stopped. A ripple spread out in the light and the echo came back with a correction. I was not to be sent spiraling through time, not without guidance. The group agreed. I agreed about myself and about them agreeing about myself.
Sorry, I told you it would be hard to explain.
When we came back together and steadied again, a new ripple spread out from somewhere unseen, a question. The question was about the group, someone in the group, someone in the light besides me. The echo came back in agreement, yes, yes tell us, let us all you know. For a moment I wondered what we were trying to know and then I was filled with it. I did know it, all of it, every question and every highway and side street and tunnel of answer.
How did I come to be here?
The longer I stayed in the light the more I felt completely a part of it, but I also felt the different entities emerging. We were the same power, all living in the same light and life and knowledge, and yet there were voices and I could feel that there were beings in front of me and behind me and above and below me, though those terms are inadequate. There were others, like me, a new part of a pulsing whole, and one of the entities emerged at the urging of the others. The presence felt mobile, like it was young and strong and, I don't know... bubbly? Some of the echoes felt older, deeper. This voice was light and fast and excited.
Another ripple, the bubbly one.
This new entity emerged and the group warmed around me. I knew I would be taken away again. The group deemed it necessary and useful this time, and my eyes were opened again so that I could see the bubbly one's hands in creation.
He was there below me, in the midst of others like him. They each hummed in the warm glow of a swirling mass of changing colors. Some dark, some light, some bright, some dull. I am sorry for being unable to describe the colors, but we don't have classifications to describe the billowing, twisting shapes and hues and tones I saw.
As there are “many” dimensions, there are “many” colors.
The various swirls seemed slightly different but largely similar. You might compare them to the swirling of a galaxy, or the eruption of a super nova. But most were not overwhelming. Much of what I had already seen and felt was overwhelming, but the large expanse of churning masses seemed reasonable.
Until I saw his. My heart, if I still had a heart as such at that time, was drawn to it. Its presence called to me, warmed me, and pulled me in like the open arms of a loved one. I knew this energy. Even here, separated from body and merged with the spirits of beings from another world, the spirals of light and dark and sound and swirling beauty felt familiar.
He sensed my feelings. He was there with me, looking down on what he had done at some other point, and he felt my reaction. He let it run through him and he sent it back to me, charged with the knowledge of what it was I was feeling and why I was feeling it.
The beings were creating. They were making universes, stirring the elements of existence. Some stirred clouds of light and fire, elements we would be familiar with here. Others were using forces I have no way of describing to you and that we have no way to measure or understand. As I felt the different worlds being made, their creators could sense my questions and they sent back their knowledge. Some of the knowledge sank into me and glowed evenly in the stability one gets from knowing. Some came back and shook me, splitting my light into spectral effusions in every direction. If you could imagine your thoughts under high stress and severe confusion, and assign that state of mind a series of colors and shapes, that is what I saw. That is what I felt. But inevitably, my fractal spasms would settle, being calmed by returning waves of understanding from the group, and in some cases, a calmness in the knowledge that I would never understand what they were showing me. Always, in every case, back to a safe stasis.
Once I was pulled into each world and given the sense of purpose for each, they gave me their reasons. It was a sort of science fair. It was a sort of contest, though I never felt a competitiveness about it. Each entity was working separately and together. Each entity was working for the creation of universes where certain things might happen. Some were formed for the production of heat and light, and were tinkered with for maximum effect. They were experimenting. With this realization, they fed me the sense that their world, outside of time and space, was fed in some way by the forces they were creating. Whatever dimensional plane we were in at that time, they gave me the feeling it was being fueled by the products of the created worlds.
One system seemed to be creating heat and light. Another ripple made me know that sound was another source of energy for them. Certain beings were creating dimensional planes specifically designed to produce sound. Explosions, implosions, eruptions, molecules and atoms of densities and masses piqued for maximum sound production. It was like a stadium was being built for the grandest sound and light shows any universe had ever seen.
I could feel a consistency with many of the dimensions. The beings made them feel tried and true, like they'd been created before and would be created again because they were simple and trustworthy sources of energy.
Another ripple to connect their higher knowledge with my limited knowledge:
They were farming.
They were growing worlds that would produce. They were setting up a garden, with sound over here and light over there and radiation and magnetism and dark matter and billions of other things that, no matter how many times they washed their echoes over me, I could not understand.
But his world was different. The bubbly one was not following a tried a true gardening method. The group let me know that, initially, they did not think his world would produce anything useful. He'd been established as, if this helps you understand, eccentric. We were all separate and all the same and yet in the middle of the general hum of wisdom, this young bubbly being was being allowed to take chances and try new things. The energy that went out to him was both excited and worried. The others were proud of his bravery and also not expecting success. He took their ripples and echoes and sent them back, along with a unique ripple. Independence.
He was creating a world where strict rules and old reliable methods would be ignored. He was creating a universe with governing laws that had the possibility to allow for more than one outcome. Using time, space, matter and dark matter, but with – again, words are weak here – controlled chaos? Unnatural naturalness? Electrons in superposition, particles that can seem to blink in and out of existence instantaneously, the elements of what we've started to understand as quantum mechanics and chaos theory. The matter he used was different than the others, his sense of gravitational attraction, electromagnetism, polarity, and nuclear forces allowed for, at the same time, sudden expansion of all energy in our universe, as well as attraction necessary to create bonds between subatomic particles, atomic particles, elements...
Earth. He'd created Earth.
Well, more specifically and accurately, he'd created our universe, and what we call the Milky Way galaxy. I sent him this information, that we named our solar system and our galaxy and all of our known planets. The echo that came back to me felt like warm pride, and attention. It felt something like love. He loved that we named the elements our cosmos.
At first, he watched our universe expand and develop with a lot of hope and very little action. Our universe did produce light, but nothing in comparison to the universes created solely for that purpose. Our universe created sound, but again, only a fraction of the sound of others. These beings, outside of our reference for time, watched our universe, our galaxy, and our solar system unfurl in moments. The other beings, seeing that this more randomized, chance-driven universe created any energy at all, shared in the bubbly one's excitement. There was very little interest at first, then a shared sense of curiosity and wonder, and as the readings of power, of heat and light and sound continued to grow, more echoes reached bubbly and offered encouragement. He returned to them something new, something they hadn't really expressed before.
Hope. He gave them a wishful hope that this new kind of universe might offer a new kind of power.
Hope is what brought me to them. Our universe would go on to compete with others on the levels of sound and light and heat and mass. It didn't produce the way those others produced, but it did well across many fields. But the beings discovered something as Earth formed and humans appeared. Life is a fragile thing, very unruly and hard to predict and manage. Most beings avoided creating a lot of life in their universes for this reason. There are too many variables, and in the processing of the life force that keeps the worlds together, certain things hinder power. One of those things is suffering.
Early life on Earth had suffering. From the beginning, creatures suffered the pain of starvation, disease, the elements, and attack from other creatures. But most of the organisms on Earth tend to utilize the energy of other organisms without creating a lot of suffering. When bacteria attacks a cell, death is relatively quick and painless. When an animal attacks and kills another animal, it is often with little to no pain. The closing off or severing of a major artery, the snapping of the neck or skull, the sudden bite of a shark or the poison of a snake, all tend to limit the suffering of the victim.
But there are a few animals who revel in the torment and suffering of other animals. The main animal among them, the only animal to cause wide-spread suffering to members of many different animal groups at the same time, is sitting here in this great hall.
As humans reached a point of superior technological advancement, the level of suffering we created started to offset the amount of useful energy our universe was creating. Our universe was vast enough that the change was small, but the disturbance was so isolated and so sharp that it drew the attention of some of the older beings. It eventually drew the attention of the eldest. Ripples and echoes of communication ran back and forth furiously. Many called for the universe containing Earth to be collapsed in favor of a more stable one. Others saw the numbers as acceptable, especially for a universe so vast and unique, in favor of the potential benefits of new knowledge it might bring. A sort of argument raged, but as the levels of suffering increased, something else was increasing. It was a new source of power, similar in feel to the hope that the bubbly one had created. It was something the entities shared that they had not been able to reproduce in any substantial form outside of themselves.
Most things created served a programming, something established by the creator to govern the actions of the being. This programming tended to be very specific to the goal of power production, and left little to no choice of actions to the being. But in our universe, given enough processes over to a combination of elemental consistency and conversely to selective chaos, the beings witnessed what they'd hoped for... randomness and what could be viewed, in certain higher beings, as choice. In the humans especially, the numbers were very exciting. The humans, in their own little ways, almost with the imprint of their creator on their very essence, were creating sound, and light, and heat. Their production of these things barely registered in measurements, especially at first, but they were novel. We, the human race, were acting like smaller versions of our creator.
With our adaptation to our surroundings, we also developed other, less appealing habits. As time moved forward and our numbers increased, we began to see ourselves as less of a whole and more as individuals. With this development, the darker sides of our nature appeared. Out of a growing sense of our own self-importance, we began to show more signs of greed and violent self-preservation. We began to steal on a more regular basis. We fought and conquered and enslaved each other. We set up systems of law that propped up the most greedy and the most lustful and prideful and we tipped our scales of power production.
Most cycles, due to the beings' sense of time and space, only last for what we would view as a few minutes and the results are recorded for playback. But our universe's cycle was purposefully slowed. Not only were the beings interested in the unique style and kind of power production, but they also became interested in the human story. They witnessed the rise and fall of our greatest nations. They watched in horror as we warred with each other and with ourselves, but another force was beginning to appear. This new human trait was a more potent source of power than the chaos of heat and light and sound. Humans were displaying selflessness and sacrifice. We displayed foresight, and the ability to learn from past mistakes. We displayed an ability to improve, and to manipulate our surroundings for our collective benefit. The beings saw this as another reflection of themselves. The power they gained here, in the way we parroted their ways of operating, offered substantially more power than raw sound and heat and light. This new discovery, of the nearly infinite power of the goodness of humanity, changed everything. Each being weighed in on the possibilities. They began creating other means of encouraging this behavior on Earth, of seeking to promote the best qualities while eliminating the worst qualities. Many beings thought it should be done manually, against human will, for it was too great a resource opportunity to leave to chance.
Bubbly disagreed. His response danced through their world, setting off sparkling echoes from everyone he reached. He made it felt and known that the reason the human world was so powerful was because of the hands off approach he'd taken in its creation. The reason the selflessness and kindness some humans showed, even to their own detriment, was so powerful was because there was the option to not share and not be kind. Bubbly felt we were powerful and good because we had the power and the choice to not be good. He felt that was the only reason for our incredible power.
As civilization expanded and cities became countries and countries became superpowers, the consensus among the beings shifted. We'd taken too easily to war and unnecessary suffering and death. We'd committed too aggressively to selfish things. When we did find a new way of doing things, or making things, or looking at the world and ourselves, someone would step in to use the new discoveries to serve their own purposes. This was usually done to the detriment of many others, and usually done by the leaders in power. Again, many beings saw the potential for large-scale suffering and death and the weakening effect that might have on their world. They urged the abandonment of Earth and the establishment of a new world in its place. Bubbly urged them to wait and see. He felt a potential in us. He felt a potential that could affect, in a positive way, all of creation.
He wanted us to showcase our heroism and our willingness to sacrifice for others. He wanted us to continue to grow in compassion and ethical strength. With each human invention, we tilted back and forth between angel and devil. We used guns to protect ourselves from predators and to provide easier access to food. We also used guns to kill each other, to war on a massive scale. We created means of travel on land and sea and in the air. Travel allowed us to connect more widely and more quickly, to provide for each other, and to explore our world. Travel also allowed us to drive troops into battle against other troops, to fly bomber jets over cities and take hundreds of thousands of lives in minutes. Through the late 19th and early 20th centuries, we managed to swing back and forth between angel and devil, between lowest evil and highest good, at more and more extreme levels. But slowly, into the 21st and 22nd centuries, a shift began. Technological advances were no longer instantly used to find a better way to kill someone else. A new vice, a better vice, took violence's place: greed. Humans realized that killing people only eliminated potential customers. The tools of nationalism, of religious fanaticism, of fear-based violence, slowly gave way to the desire for profit. When information became a more valuable commodity than ammunition, the violent death numbers around the world shifted. Invading a country by military force gave way to industrial force. Clothes, comfort, and entertainment took the place of bullets and bombs. Countries realized that corporations would have an easier time affecting a country's willingness to trade than army generals. Though greed is not a valiant moral attribute, in their world, this adjustment made a huge difference.
Here, caught in this new stream of behavior, humanity thrived. Creativity was more profitable than brutality, and so we did one of the things we do best: we created. The beings watched us fumble our way through steam powered and combustion engines, through supersonic planes, through nuclear power and space travel, to Ion engines and speeds over half of the speed of light. They watched us improve our interpersonal communications and our management of our baser behavioral psychology.
And then, about six months ago they're reminding me now, something happened that they never expected. They'd never even hoped for it, not until they watched me conceive of it. Six months ago, I decided to send, through our new worm hole, a message out to anyone and everyone who might hear it. I sent a message out, knowing it might not reach any being that could understand it, and knowing that there might not be any beings out there to receive it. They saw the machine we created. They saw my message. They saw my invitation to make contact, and they answered.
In the end, they knew there would be risk in connecting to the consciousness of humanity. They realized this and they reacted anyway. With us, there is the potential to harness nearly infinite hope, love, and creativity, but these traits are coupled closely with our selfish hunger for power. The beings are interested in this struggle, and how we, as a species, managed to overcome it. They're interested in the use of questions of best and worst versus right and wrong. They are still communicating with each other to figure out the clear path to what we would call justice. They gave me the feeling that it is like a new discovery for them, the first new thing in a long time. They have been inspired by our own ability to change. They have been inspired by our own desire to be better than we were.
To help us continue our journey, and to help us continue to provide them with knowledge and power, they showed me things and infused in me knowledge about the world and the universe that might help us all better follow the path of discovery we are on. They taught me how to communicate with you this way. I will try to teach you, too. They made me feel, made me instantly know and understand, the history of our world and our people. They poured into me the history of my life and every life in this room and on the Earth and that ever was. I told you I would share this with you, if you'd like. I think this knowledge will fall on your mind and heart the way it fell on mine. I think it will terrify you. But in that terror, I think it will inspire you to learn from our past and understand our present and continue creating and hoping into the future.
With that, Dr. Bastian raised his arms and closed his eyes and his sight returned to the rushing swirl of the kaleidoscopic river of sensory completeness into which the beings welcomed him. He could feel the push and pull of the others in the great hall. He could feel their questions, see their colors swirling and shifting, some trying to hide and others eager to connect. He felt them all and sent out calls to them all. He welcomed them, called out for them to come forward and answer, to not be afraid.
Their echoes returned, some right away in bright and shining radiance, others in calmer, cooler color bursts, until in the end everyone felt the knowledge of humanity, of the Earth, of our universe, and of time itself. Their echoes reverberated, bright and loud, surging into and broadening Dr. Bastian's mighty river, and their minds and hearts and feelings and thoughts flowed and rolled powerfully together, cascading eagerly forward into whatever lay ahead.