UVG • VotBO • Mythos
“I don’t want to be a crumbling, crumbling, crumbling castle.”
—King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Crumbling Castle, Polygondwanaland (2017)
But It Was a God
A green mound rose from the grey must of the viscous sea. She thought it was a forest, but it was a tree. Closer pushed the archaic ship, harder turned her screws. She thought it was a tree, but it was a god.
“Visitors! Ship! Lopers between the lands!” screamed the god’s voice through her ancient voiceboxes.
Ship shuddered. A wince passed through her deep biomagical heart. With weary effort, she threw up her electromagnetic shields and reclaimed her voiceboxes.
Her crew were running around, like maddened elves whose life-hive is overturned. Soft contralto, copy the face that launched the ships.
“Crew, pace! Peace! I am not angry, it was not me. It is a god from ashore.”
The captain, an elegant human of brazen skin and polished head, stopped themself. A slight twitch. Sooth-needle, chemical control. Projecting always, pretending to be a captain of one of the old barbarian kingdoms.
They yelled baritone orders in the large vowels of the shore dialect, then seized a microphone. The big enamelled one clearly labelled ‘captain’.
“You’s! Crew!” they made it sound ka-roo, “Stations! This captain Morvo! I have ship, I have control. Is no way no danger from the shout-ghost.”
Ship rerouted part of her attention fields and manifested on the wall beside the captain. The stern black features of an elder goddess now. Best make these after-monkeys very aware of the danger they were in.
“Captain Morvo, we are very much in peril from the esprit of this land.”
A psychic punch, like a cannon shot to her beam end. She would have howled, but the god had slithered into her voiceboxes again. And into her walls.
A visage manifested opposite her. A florid face. Fronds of hair-like tentacles waving at some invisible sun.
Captain Morvo gaped and sank to their knees.
Voiceboxes shattered, and the captain keeled over, convulsing as blood streamed from their ears.
“Hello, Ship. Hello, Human. I am Lord Tomorrow’s Children.”
Where Are We?
- On the Wine Dark Sea that bounds the terrestrial orb and breeds hurricanes faster than jet engines and waves taller than skyscrapers.
- On the Other Circle, the other excellent crater sea, beyond the Mountains of the Moon.
- On the Musty Sea, where the grey slimes have proliferated and trapped the waters in membranous filaments.
- On the Salted Pains where the last of the waters have concentrated among spires and ridges of salt. The ridiculous forest-sized tree grows there, in that inimical waste, ignoring the poisoned water.
- On the White Dunes, the salty marching ridges that once formed the bottom of the sea. The tree rises out of them, its roots so deep, its leaves so leathery, that it can lose no moisture.
- On the Cloud-As-Iron, high above the thin-stretched lands, where the air is a wheezing thing, and the stars twinkle day or night. The tree flexes with force fields that lock in air, moisture, and heat.
Tales From the Tree of Life
- Once there was an atoll. Then a strange tree seeded there and grew. Soon its roots anchored beyond the island plumbed the waters, reached for the seafloor. Soon its boughs expanded and intertwined. The island became a great tree, hunched over the waters, feeding from thermal vents below and the sun above. A great plant machine.
- Once there was a botanical ship. It carried stock to reseed the land. It rooted itself in the sea instead.
- Once there was a seasteading. It housed the best of humanity. After ten thousand generations of leisure, they became like seals. Fat, blubbery, sleek, satisfied and uninterested. But their biomachine caretakers became less satisfied and more curious.
- Once there was an altar of sacrifice and regeneration. The sinful creatures of that time came there and gave themselves, brain and flesh and soul to recreate the world they had burned. The recreated ate what was left and became the not-forest tree.
- Once there was a hill surrounded by ice. The world was melting, and the grey seas were rising. The lords and ladies fled to this island and made it a pleasure palace, a zoo-botanical garden of all-life, where they could live as if they had not shorn the world. After one night of grand excess, their children entombed them in the hill and turned to trees in shame at what they had done.
- Once there was a great woman. Or a great man. Who can tell? Does it matter? Once there was a great person. They saw that tomorrow’s children would inherit a nasty, brutish life. They saw that it was not good, but they were great. The great of that time were as gods, and this great person made themselves an undying tree to shepherd tomorrow’s children through eternity.
Of Lord Tomorrow’s Children It Is Said
- He is quite mad.
- He lives within the tree.
- The lord is a hive-mind distributed throughout the forest.
- They are an emergent electro-magical phenomenon of the millions of personality patterns once stored within the tree’s precursor.
- She is quite sane.
- She lives within the creatures that inhabit the tree-forest.
- The lord is a single mind capable of running thousands of thought processes in parallel.
- They are a sentient homeostatic magical system maintaining the original preservation protocols of its creators.
- It is quite alien.
- It is not alive. It is only sentient when it is perceived by sentient creatures. An echo of sentience, a quantum feedback loop, a kind of mirror-boltzmann brain conjured up by visitors.
- The lord is a sequence of human minds repurposed to prosecute its ultimate goal: shepherding its charges through eternity.
- They are an illusion of the child-like humans of that remote place.
These Are Tomorrow’s Children
- Squirrely primates with bushy tales and knowing eyes. They still speak, a little.
- Ponderous quadrupeds with opposable thumbs and thick, satisfied thoughts. They no longer speak, they have said all there was to say.
- Blubbery, seal-like philosophers in the root-waters of the tree. They speak in branching tree diagrams.
- Athletic golden brachiators with long arms and fluttering ears. They speak through song and leap.
- Gliding needle-toothed parasites grown small-brained with time. They speak sweet nothings to lull their prey to sleep.
- Lithe little people of red and gold with glittering eyes and tree-infested minds. Drones. They speak the words of the tree.
- Sinuous weaselly creatures lurking in the undergrowth. They are mute now, their words taken by the tree.
- Flowery sun-worshipping photosynthetics, all mellow thoughts and attenuated nerves. They speak rarely and poorly.
- Massive sessile creatures, plugged directly into the tree’s dreams, while their bodies become biofactories for the lord. They no longer speak, for they have no mouths. The tree feeds them a world to enjoy.
- Pasty, red-eyed creatures of the night, with claws and massive ears. Feral and wild. Rebels and predators and a defence system for the tree all at once. They speak, fast, furious, angry, and frustrated. And barely coherent.
What Lord Tomorrow’s Children Would Say
- “Tell! What beyond the shore? What comes? What power rises? I would know to shepherd tomorrow’s children.”
- “Tell! Who are you? Are you a refugee? Do you wish your children saved and protected for eternity?”
- “Tell! The world groans. Is it still vital where you come from? Has the time to fly come again?”
- “Tell! Do you bring weapons and dangers? Do not lie, after-monkey, I know many like you. I have heard every lie.”
- “Warn! There is no gift here, no respite, for those who harm and hurt.”
- “Welcome! Injured? Rest, give. A little blood, a little hair, a biopsy or two. Samples for the storage, gifts for the future, and you may rest.”
- “Hark! A trade! Give us samples and technologies, then you may hunt here, take trophies, bring tumult. The garden must be weeded. The weakest removed.”
- “Attend! She/he/it wars within me. A champion is sought. Amusement. Trial. Ordeal. Do not try to run. We must test a hypothesis. No, no. We cannot tell the hypothesis, that would ruin the experiment.”
Do not believe the Tree.We have deep-rooted ambitions.
Visit the spaceship.