Living Record of Oracle G-9-6 Designation B-ten, Tarikun
Main story by 042lej (currently unreleased)
While there are many moments from the time I first learned of Mindewyn till now that I had the opportunity to speak with her at length, a few conversations remain well-seated in my memory. We never spoke of simple matters, and while I think a good amount of that can be attributed to the fact that she is often quite confused when it comes to the things I say, I like to think that she and I have a mutual understanding that the pursuit of knowledge is more important than idle chatter.
Take, for instance, the first real conversations I had with her.
She was fresh out of her world, stepping foot into this strange and wonderful place, and Jayden was still running around like a headless goose. I mean, he was certainly in a lot of hot water at the time, but that’s no reason to ditch your newfound girlfriend. I was then given the task of humanizing us – telling her stories of each of our adventures, our histories, and most of all, the friendship that binds all of us together.
Of course, I’m not taking credit for her relatively quick adjustment to life on Altera. Sephiya does wonders, and Anori – well, she has her good side, too. But it certainly isn’t out of the question that we share a unique bond; I am the one to go to for recollections of our pasts, simply because I am the one that sees it all.
I am an Oracle, you know. In the battlefield, I am the one that watches everyone, guides them to victory, and greets them without breaking a sweat when they return. Not an effort is imparted on my side during combat, so I have time to listen, to watch, and to remember. Some of the newer Travelers and trainees look upon me with distaste – they think I don’t notice, but it’s only natural when you’ve spent the last few years watching everybody. One of these days, they will learn the importance of having an Oracle on your side; a monstrous beast waiting to pounce or the collapse of a building sometime in the future will shake them up enough to never trust diving without one.
I’m going off on a tangent, though. I wanted to talk about a conversation that Mindi and I shared, along with Anori, Sephiya, and Jayden. It all started with a very simple question:
“Tarikun, what’s a glik exactly?”
I look up from my riceball in surprise. “A gleek? Like, an accidental discharge of spit when you open your mouth? Where’d you hear that?”
Mindi gestures her hand furiously to dispel that thought, a movement likely from superstitions from her home planet. “No, glitk – g-l-i-t-h-c?”
Sephiya sets a small tray of candies and jellies onto the table between us. “You mean a ‘glitch’, right? Did you see that come up in one of your books?”
She nods, and looks back at me expectantly. Even Anori, who had been daydreaming about something, redirects her attention. “Yeah – I’m not that sure what a Glitch is, either. All I know is that you and stupid-face over there talk about them all the time.”
Stupid-face was lying on a couch on the other side of Sephiya’s room at the time, and a well-thrown pillow smacks the bad-mouther square in the face with a resounding fwoomph. “It’s basically what happens when too many console commands have been used, or when a certain energy level exceeds what that particular area is capable of supporting – something like that.”
I finish the last few specks of sticky starch on my fingers, and wave my finger around in a conical fashion for dramatic effect. “That’s the general explanation, and for you, Mindi, it should be adequate to say it’s a very bad thing to ever have happen.”
Pillow-face proceeds to poke me with the pillow while grabbing at more snacks with her other hand. “Well then, mister genius Oracle, why don’t you tell us the real explanation?”
Sephiya joins in as well, settling down next to Mindi with a cup of freshly-brewed tea. “It’s been a while since I’ve done any reading on them, too, and it’s always such a joy hearing you lecture,” she says with a cheeky smile. She knows that her charm doesn’t quite work on me – what affects me most is her rage, and otherwise negative emotions. “Enlighten us!”
“Jayden, wanna come over and help me out with this?”
“You did this to yourself,” he huffs. “And I’m too tired to think right now.” He remains lying down, arm over his forehead to shield his eyes from the lights.
Very well, then. I rub my hands together as I prepare my impromptu lesson on Glitches – a topic that I have done quite a lot of personal research on.
“In order to understand what a Glitch could actually be, we have to first understand what our entire universe is.”
“Universe?” Mindi pipes up.
“Altera, Phelaia, every single world we know of that can be visited by us – they inhabit these huge structures in the sky known as ‘galaxies’. Billions and billions of stars, each with a handful of planets, each capable of holding a world with life. The ‘universe’ contains billions and billions of these galaxies. We are merely a speck-”
“Enough philosophical musings – get on with it,” pushes Anori, which elicits a light flick on the forehead from Sephiya.
“Moving along. Our universe is this incredibly massive but sparse collection of things. In a way, we can think of everything as information, too. For example,” I point to a painting that I know is hanging on the wall behind me, “without looking, I know that painting exists. Even without physical evidence, without touching it, I know it is there. If we then consider that some extremely large memory storage is the thing that remembers where everything is, we could extend the thought to say that nothing really exists around us. Instead, the universe is simply a memory somewhere.”
Mindi looks like her head is literally spinning already, so I give her a chance to digest the abstractions. In the meantime, I reach for a jelly tart colored light cyan from the tray – a concoction made with a special powder and water, sweet and moist to the mouth and cool but dry to the touch. I notice Anori has eaten about five of them already, and a slight smile can’t help but form.
I snap back to reality upon realizing that both Sephiya and Jayden are grinning at me slyly, their gazes boring a hole through the side of my head. Mindi, on the other hand, is starting to return to a state of awareness, so I continue with a slightly redder face.
“S-so. Ahem. Considering that we are a memory, or to be precise, a thought that is being held at the exact moment, something must also be accounting for everything we do. If I lift my arm, if Jayden dives, something must be keeping track of that.
“The theory then continues to say that after this long of keeping track of the universe, which by all calculations are billions of years, if not longer, whatever is doing it does this very well in general. For example, take the mental prowess of Jayden. Oi!” I direct at him, and he turns to look at me. “Mental chess. Where did we leave off, last time?” At the same time, I pull up the same game on my slate, which we use to keep track of pieces in case either of us make a mistake.
Jayden proceeds to rattle off every piece on the field, including their primary and secondary orientations – altogether, forty-nine pieces on the grid. Sephiya and Mindi studied the board as he listed each entry, nodding with each piece. Mindi ends up lightly applauding his efforts, and the grins are now directed at his angry blushing.
“Now, look. If I was to ask Jayden to consider the next three levels of moves, he would have a little more difficulty doing it, but I’m certain he would eventually be able to plot those out as well. It simply takes time – we have to wait.
“The universe, on the other hand, cannot wait. Too many things depend on the precision of time to wait, so everything must occur exactly as intended, exactly on time. Whatever is keeping track of us faces this problem. I, for example, won’t ever cross paths with trillions of planets in my lifetime. The mind knows this, so it doesn’t need to care about it.
“Jayden, like we demonstrated just now, can recall a lot of information and play a game relatively quickly. But now imagine if as he plays, the pieces start yelling at him to do things and he has to obey them.”
Mindi giggles slightly at the thought of the castle-wall pieces growing mouths and speaking, whereas Anori seems to have completely tuned out already. Sephiya is still listening intently, although she allows a small smile to break through.
“All of a sudden, Jayden has to keep track of a lot more things going on, and these are things that don’t normally make sense. The wall can only move once every five turns and can only move one space, yet it keeps screaming to jump two spaces. The huntsmen ask for lightning to strike – something that isn’t even in the game. This keeps happening, over and over, in a very specific place – this chessboard.”
“Sheighst,” comes the cry from across the room. “I’m not even playing and it sounds annoying.”
“Exactly. Somewhere along the line, Jayden will lose track of what is happening, and a mistake will happen. The orientations might get mixed up, pieces disappear, reappear, float, disintegrate, and so on. Some requests take a while to happen, others do completely different things.
“That, in essence, is what a Glitch really is. Rather, what it could be. It’s an unproven theory, but then again, it is quite impossible to prove that because of various logical fallacies- I’ve lost you again, haven’t I?” I ask Mindi.
She shakes her head slowly, but her furrowed brows are nodding furiously. This might be harder than I thought. Luckily, Sephiya chimes in to help explain.
“Mindi, you had a bazaar or something of the sort, where you came from, didn’t you?”
“Yes. I went there often.”
“Imagine hundreds of people, each shouting for you to give them one of a thousand different types of vegetables cooked in one of three ways.” Mindi’s eyes glazed over as she pictured the hordes and screams. “Maybe you would get some of their orders right, but you’d mess up, right?”
“Ah, I see. So this god that is remembering everything is listening to all of us and making mistakes?”
I nod approvingly, and she seems delighted that she finally understood. “Of course, that god doesn’t listen to all of us. You need to know how to speak to them, and the way we know of today are the console commands. By asking the console, or the god, to perform a command, or task, we give them something extra to do and consider.”
Anori snaps back to attention, surprisingly. “Then what about Glitches forming in places with high activity? Even if we don’t use console commands, there’s a definite increase in the instability of that area, right?”
“Yup. That’s because we are being sent there through some archaic console commands as well, and as long as that is in effect, we are still affecting the mind and memory of this omnipotent being. In addition, the more people gathered and the more chaotic an area becomes, the more difficult to keep track of it.”
The lecture ends there, at a rather unimpressive point. The room stews in silence as the Travelers consider the weight of the new information they have just heard.
“Of course, all of this is theoretical, like I said. It may be completely wrong.”
Silence, except for the occasional sound of chewing. Mindi seems content about her understanding, and is happily enjoying her orange jelly cup. A satisfied pupil? How nice, for a change.
Mindi is much brighter than you’d think. The fact that she was able to keep up relatively well with the entire lecture was surprising to me, especially since I have a sort of track record of being a poor explainer of topics such as this. One day, she will be the one to teach Jayden, not I. I can only wish that he finds peace with himself, and finally allows himself a proper companion for the ages. Not that it isn’t fun to poke fun at his inability to be normal; in fact, I think even Mindi enjoys it.
She’s quite the interesting character.