Pendulum Ch. 18: Tremors

A new array of sensual information raced through the network. Things had begun to get weird only a fraction of an axial rotation earlier, when something large had rammed into ITS skin, penetrated it and damaged a section of the net. Smaller such objects had followed, in irregular intervals, but within a brief span of time. Not all had impacted the network, though. Few had crashed in places it had never managed to expand; cold, nutritionless rock, a small body of flowing water.
At first, nothing else happened, and time passed as always. The enormous source of warmth above in the distance sent its energy over the vast surface at the usual pace, and would continue to do so for one third of a rotation. But soon, new information packages propagated from all impact spots. Impulses ran through the data-ways and got reproduced and reevaluated at each junction, then merged at the next hub in range.
Roughly half of them started to cause tiny tremors that triggered fresh waves of data to spread out in concentric rings, now adding to the existing dataset a layer of information that made little sense yet, while the other half remained still; except for the largest object.
The first thing to fall from the sky had caused the biggest wound, and it would take several rotations to isolate the edges of the hole it had ripped in the net, and even more to grow it back. IT did a quick calculation. If things remained stable, IT could close the gap within two cycles, depending on how IT could handle the object. The quickest way would be to encircle the object, or penetrate and devour it, if applicable, depending on its nature. Maybe it was like the rock or the fluid, containing nothing of worth. The wound was still sending alarm packages to the nearest hubs, but those got already filtered out now—it couldn’t be helped.
But things were in flux; one smaller object now moved about, its tiny vibrations drawing lines on ITS internal image of ITSELF, and there was not yet enough data to derive a pattern. This miniscule motile was an at first incomprehensible new piece of information. Nothing comparable had ever existed here. There was no frame of reference IT could use to extrapolate its behaviour soon.
The largest object, the one that had completely penetrated the net and sat halfway inside the ground, unmoving, was energetically active. It had a swirl of data coming in and out of it, and it produced heat. Currents of energy seemed to surround it, but not constantly, and its tendrils—or whatever it was that sometimes extended from it, disappeared without a trace in unpredictable periods of time—behaved in ways IT couldn’t calculate. The vibrations it produced were nothing like those of the motile. Those were not perfectly rhythmic, but slightly irregular tremors that appeared to be accompanying motion. The pulses the large object emitted were more wavelike, and the data streaming in and out was interesting. It followed patterns IT could not understand, in a format not compatible with ITS internal models, but with time, that too might change.
The motile moved at a very low speed. A small subunit traversed a short distance to one of the other objects that had fallen from above, but not caused any wounds. It, too, now moved about, as if activated by the first unit, expanding the size of the motile.
The first set of calculations was finished. All objects had entered the system from the same place in the sky, within a brief time window. The intervals in which they had dropped had determined their position now, and a line from the most distanced pieces was almost perfectly straight, as if it all had originated from another thing that had moved at an altitude IT could not access. Even though IT had registered all positions now, IT couldn’t foresee which of its parts would become mobile and move to its primary unit.
The tremors got lighter, but again its size grew, by about one point five the volume its last addition had caused. Another yet to activate object had dropped in the direction the motile moved now, but at a longer distance, and if IT was right, the alien body would grow again.
IT waited. Each addition to the body added two more sources of vibration, of which one at each given time was touching down, while the other was in motion, and each of these segments moved in varying distances from the others, as if this was not one, but a number of pieces moving together. But was something like this even possible? IT collected data and waited for more pieces. The motile, the number of its fragments, utilised a comparatively quick method of movement IT couldn’t emulate ITSELF, but a limited understanding began to dawn. And as calculated, the object reached the smaller fraction that had stayed inert until now, and the frequency of the vibrations went down, until all its parts, subunits, or maybe individual components moved again, along the path their impacts had drawn on the surface. If the extrapolation was correct, it would eventually arrive at the large object.
Miniscule amounts of data between the components of the objects indicated it was connected internally, too, but in ways IT could not yet grasp. The motile also still occasionally exchanged data with the large thing that sat at the edge of ITS net, near a large body of fluid IT hadn’t found a way to extend into yet.
Time would tell. All IT could do was data collection, anyway, apart from ITS preparations for the big cycle, which was not in danger. At least not yet.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s