Chapter 126 - Theorising
I look at the mass of gathered and processed data. I make a firm decision, I will return to the real world in a moment. I have spent a few subjective decades running away from literally everything while drowning myself in data, simulations and schematics. But first I should recap what I have been doing, right? Yes, that will be very useful. A good way to spend time, not a sign of me procrastinating once again. No, no.
Anyway, I started this depressed, lonely and introverted binge because I didn’t think things through over the last few weeks.
Gods, how long have I been on this world already? A month or two? It feels quite a bit longer, to be honest. A far cry from the decades that flew by like seconds in the cultivation world.
Anyway, I spent the last subjective few decades while ignoring reality going over all my decision in painstaking detail. I fucked up so many times, it was pretty horrible. If a decision I made wasn’t sub-optimal, it was inefficient or could be easily construed in a manner bad for my image.
Then I simulated the coming thousand years and found that none of those mistakes really mattered. For example, the few mana types I forgot to include in my initial batch of qi will amount to a millionth percent difference in a millennium. Provided I fix it in a years time. I went through all of the decisions I made like that, mapping out consequences and following their effects to theoretical ends.
Conclusion: I made a lot of small, fixable mistakes. Some errors didn't turn out that fixable, like the fact that I nuked the entire shadow mage island, but no use crying over spilt milk. At this point, I was years into my self-imposed seclusion and maybe a minute had gone by in the real world. I wanted to jump into designing solutions immediately but decided to go over my social interactions with a fine-toothed comb first.
Decisions made in a social situation can’t really be labelled as correct or incorrect. Could I have made a slightly different facial expression? What effect would shortening this speech or ignoring that comment have made on my relationships? There are very few proven and quantifiable ways to measure such potentials, so I only spent a few subjective years or so going over that stuff.
Conclusion: my relationship with my students is one hundred percent fucked. My seduction of Re-Haan was pretty great though. For the rest? I don't really care enough about this planet’s locals or the new students to bother with such analysis. I don’t really like Ares enough to include her in my contemplation, but I did anyway for completion's sake.
Lola is awesome, even if she is going through her rebellious stage right now. I’m not sure how to label the fact that she integrated heat into her cultivation method and gave herself a red mohawk other than teenager rebelliousness.
Nearly ten years of on-and-off thinking later, I had a neat list of problems with varying severities. I didn't spend all this time with torturous self-analysis, of course. I did a lot of fun stuff too, like categorizing other memories or piecing together random facts from snippets of memory. I went over the sound recordings I did in order to learn the language and learned a lot of juicy details about this world. That kind of stuff.
With all the serious stuff behind me, I could stop hyper-analyzing every single thing I ever did like some retard and start designing solutions.
The first issue I tackled was mine and Tree’s lack of all types of mana attraction. Even now, Tree is only absorbing the five mana sets I originally sensed, leaving out air, light and darkness. The circle I drew with my own blood is still present inside Tree, now minuscule compared to its massive trunk.
Tree’s perception of time is rather slow at the best of times, so I made a process that will slowly fix it over the course of a few days. Instantly and forcefully ripping the inside of Tree’s trunk apart seems a bit rude. The process will change the circle to include air, light and darkness symbols.
Then I had a brilliant idea. Combining several types of mana into qi will produce the same neutral qi, even if I only merge two mana types. What if I combine a lot more dark mana than light mana? This massive beast horde happened because I stubbornly pulled in similar quantities dark and light mana. What if that is not needed?
So I started a few small tests. Pulling, for example, dark metal and nature mana together into qi will provide a pitiful amount of qi. After thoroughly studying this small quantity of produced qi, I came to the conclusion that qi made from dark mana is perfectly normal qi. Adding even a smidgen of light mana to this process immediately doubles the qi produced.
So I fiddled some more with the circle design in Tree and ran some more tests. In a weeks time, Tree’s circle will be fully changed, by then it will absorb nine parts dark and one part light of all eight mana sets. The total qi produced by this process is slightly higher than the amount produced right now, the additional mana types offsetting the less efficient dark and light ratios.
That should fix the depleting qi levels slightly, nudge this world’s mana imbalance back on the correct path and allow a greater growth potential for the entire pocket dimension.
The second issue I started designing solutions for was my very own stomach pieces floating through this solar system. Firstly, I redesigned my scouting probe. Combining solar panels, more efficient engines and a wider array of available elements, I pimped the fuck out of the flying drones.
The triangular delta wing design is largely the same. The bottom is still blue, the top is now a pitch black. The black material is super absorbent, sucking in any form of radiation. This energy is then used to compress the mana sucked through the engines into qi, which is then sucked into it core through two absorption formations.
The engines are still two tubes through which air is compressed, I made them slightly larger to increase efficiency. I then spent seven years designing a super efficient computer system. It started out as a simple finite state machine, a web made up all possible states that its control components could be in. Making something complex turned out to be very inefficient while using that model.
I was designing these things to scan this planet for qi contamination. The last thing I want is one of these things crashing and breaking open, exposing it’s compressed qi core and causing it to contaminate the surroundings.
Then I tried making a basic processing unit. The shitty things about computers is that a simple central processing unit is very complicated. Making electronics do a single thing is easy and can be done with a fairly low amount of logic gates. The most basic of processors that are general-purpose are very complex beasts.
Long story short, those seven years later I had designed something that I could work with. Then I added a nanoscopic portal so the drone could stay connected with Database.
Then I realized that Database could communicate with the drone through this portal, making the entire CPU design useless. Then I spent another year depressed.
In the end, I simplified the CPU some more, letting it store large amounts of data and instructions. I added a set of broad range spectrum sensors to the drone’s nose, finishing my engineering spree with a round of optimizations and making it ready for mass production.
I then tried to adapt it so it could function in space. In the end, I scrapped that idea because of its terrible efficiency. The best way for me to get eyes in the sky above the atmosphere would be to launch a single vehicle carrying a whole boatload of miniature satellites. I will do that eventually, but not before thoroughly testing the capabilities of this planet's orbital defence network.
Then I went over all the things I have already designed and implemented, from the mass processing plant beneath Tree’s roots to the moon. I concluded that they all performed well within acceptable limits.
That left me with one large problem. The lack of power and qi. I threw some ideas around, from setting up a massive solar park to creating a singularity drive or fusion core, unfortunately, none of them turned out to be cost-effective.
Back on Earth, a single wind turbine needed to run for ten years before generating the energy it costs to produce it. I kept running into the exact same problem. I could make a fusion reactor, sure, but that would require such an astronomical amount of energy that it would take hundreds of years before that investment would pay itself off.
I kept feeling like I was in one of those incremental games I used to play. You needed to click a piece of candy ten times to buy a candy maker that would produce a single candy in ten seconds. A candy producer that made a candy in a second would cost a hundred candies. In the end, you’d end up producing gazillions of candies per second.
That segway had given me an idea though. What if I had a lot of qi generators walking about that would only need minimal up-front investment? What followed was a period of feverous theory crafting and scheduling of small tests. The needed objects, wiring and mystical formulas made from symbols took me mere moments to design once I had the base concepts figured out. I got reminded of a certain foul-mouthed king and decided to put him on top of the volunteer list.
In the end, I came up with a simple ring design, black with a miniature silver tree symbol inlaid. The small tree contained a personal qi containment field and a small link to Database for spying purposes.
Making money costs money, making qi costs qi. I managed to give myself a splitting headache at this point. So I decided to stop beating myself up and look at suboptimal decisions that the people in my surroundings have made so far.
I requested a large amount of data from Database and combed through that for a couple of years. I concluded that my disciples are spoiled brats. Ket tried teaching the wonders of science but ended up making a cult. Bord turned out to be a horrible slave driving dictator. Angeta kept running away from her problems, her eaten tail and her pursuers both.
Selis is turning into a straight-up psychopath and Lola is as lazy as ever. Vox… I don’t want to think about those horrible attempts at flirting anymore. Ares is still a wet noodle, her spine made from the softest substance known to man. Tess is the only one that’s pretty neutral. Except for her animal abuse, she does not appreciate all that feathered kitty cat has done for her.
My headache only became worse.
By now, the web of social interactions and relations had become a gigantic clusterfuck that even I couldn't make heads or tails of it anymore. Following a single strand works fine, any form of overview is lost when zooming out even slightly.
More inconsistencies came up when I took a wider look at my surroundings. The entire dungeon in Capital city doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, to be honest. Every single person with a lick of common sense and working eyes would be able to deduce that only a fraction of the food consumed by that city is imported.
Then there are the dragon attacks, both the one on Tower City and the one my students fought off while I stepped into the foundation realm. First I thought that my mana tornadoes attracted the trio of attacking dragons, but how did the Flight sense it from so far away? Rhea cannot sense mana fluctuations with such high sensitivity and Flight Mountain is far enough that a massive sensor network or antenna would be needed to receive such disturbances.
And the dragon fleet that attacked my students must have left from Flight Mountain before I started my breakthrough to get there that quick. And why did the massive air manastorm Rhea caused while singing not attract any dragons?
No matter how I looked at these problems, I felt like I was missing a large part of the puzzle. So I decided to not think about these irritating things anymore.
I distracted myself by querying Database for an update on how the real world is doing. The beast hordes that used to cover the foothills east of Tower City were all pulled into Tree at this point. The large majority of students had been evacuated to the moon, with only my original students and a small community to the south of Tree holding out against the raining beasties.
I frowned as I saw that nobody was missing any limbs. Then I noticed that Database had lowered the evacuation injury level, lowering it from ‘absolutely life-threatening’ to merely ‘threatening’. On the one hand, I was glad that Database showed some initiative. On the other hand, my threatening speech about missing genitals and limbs had lost its edge. I asked for Database’s reasons and it showed me some interesting data it had gathered about the qi ecosystem of the entire dimension.
That’s when things started to click. The qi generation had spiked tremendously. All the beast remains had brought some much-needed energy variety to Tree’s dimension and the fighting had generated enough energy turbulence to kickstart several qi generators. No longer was the revolving sea the only large source of new qi, now small eddies and streams of power revolved around large battle sites. The large variety of powers and elements used in the chaos were helping the circulation of energies through Tree’s lands.
Having people permanently injured would only cause them to spend large amounts of qi and food with regrowing limbs, Database had ruled this as inefficient and prevented these injuries.
I also sensed some other form of energy influencing the dimension as a whole. I would have called it something like faith energy, had I not known better. Maybe a collective consciousness? I didn't sense it before, but maybe Tree’s dimension now has enough occupants to start forming something like a will of its own? Planets are influenced by its occupants, so there is no reason this wouldn’t happen in this space also.
It felt youthful, full of vigour and vibrant powers. Pure potential and enthusiasm. Also a faint feeling of pressure, of urgency. I wondered what that’s about for a long time, but couldn’t come to any clear conclusions. I tasked Database with alerting me when a clear message could be transferred. This will is still too faint to transmit a clear message.
Headache gone, I wanted to run a battery of tests on this phenomenon. But how do you test something like this? I tried to come up with ways to find out the mechanics that drive such a will generation but kept getting stuck on how to measure it.
It is the soul conundrum all over again, I concluded. A consciousness is needed to measure this amalgamation of all consciousnesses inside a defined area. I ended up shrugging my shoulders and deciding to just see how this thing will play out.
Then I faffed about with rocket design for a bit. I even spend a couple of decades theorising on how to make qi-powered self-replicating spaceships. I churned out a couple of viable designs in the end but kept getting stuck on how I could prevent mutation down the line. Accounting for a couple of thousands of generations is rather easy, but a cultivator needs to take a longer view of things.
All safety measures will break to brute force attacks, and time is the most brutal of forces there is. My safety percentages went down the drain after a million generations or so, and I’m not willing to let this universe turn into a singular mass of dumb, self-replicating machines just because I didn't do my engineering homework properly.
Having spent several dozen years by myself, satisfying my introverted side, I decided to bring things to a close. I took all off the data I had accumulated and condensed it into a usable format, trying to get an overview of all my mental efforts.
So that’s where I am now, trying to form some sort of conclusion from this hermit-like thinking effort I just did. I’ve got to say though, nothing like a self-imposed exile that lasts a few decades to clear my head. I’ve immersed myself in practical problems for so long that I barely remember the reason I closed myself off in the first place.
Ah, the stupid decisions I made, right? Those mistakes that don't really matter in the long run? They seemed pretty damning but put into perspective, they don't mean shit.
Anyway, now I need to make some decisions. So I want to continue my devil-may-care attitude concerning my small sect? I might call it a school, but it’s turning into a sect, I must admit. To be totally honest, I want to put some sort of system in place and then watch it grow. I don't want to be bogged down with all of the minutiae that comes with ruling over a large group of people.
Yeah, so let's just not! I turn to Database and see how it's doing. It is absorbing any and all power that comes near the moon, allowing it to steadily grow in power. It being my qi clone, it still has a long way to go before it reaches similar power levels as me. It’s at the level of a top-tier solid core cultivator right now.
It has the thinking capacity of a small child or a smart animal. That should be enough, right? I give it administrative rights and put a process in place that sends me daily updates on all it does. I form a self-reflection process next. That should allow it to change and grow in a manner which proves the most efficient. Allowing it administrative rights to the rule sets and quest logs already in place completes that job.
Then I line up a new set of tasks for the mass production plant under Tree’s roots. First, it will start making the new drones I designed. That should give me a heads-up on any world-destroying catastrophes before they become a lot of trouble to fix. I schedule a series of rockets to be produced after global drone coverage has been achieved.
Checking on Database, I see that it has scheduled a large list of quests, varying from the gathering of new types of plants and herbs too, finding the dragon that ate Angeta’s tail. I green-light nearly all of them. I then add a new rule to Database so it will stop spying on people and generating quests based on random comments it overheard.
I wanted to poke my eyes out when I read some of the things it had generated. I do not want to know about my student's fetishes and deepest, whispered wishes and desires, after all.
And then I find myself without any new tasks to do. For the first time in relative decades, I have no big problems to think about. Firming up my will, I decide to return to the real world. I have shut off my senses like a big baby, running away from my problems, so I’m slightly curious about what’s been happening.
Two bouncing globes jiggle in front of me. The ceiling is stone and I’m covered in sweat.
*pant* “Oh, hey Drew, you’re back” *pant*
This is an interesting way of waking up…
“Hey Rhea, whatcha doing?”
*pant* “I was feeling an itch and you were available?” She stops for a moment to smirk at me. “You unlocked this urge, after all. Take responsibility.”
I mentally shrug my shoulders and flip us over. “Bad dragon, you need to be punished.” I then spend a few hours educating Re-Haan.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
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