That was now, this is then.

We lived on a planet, locked into a regular orbit, within a galaxy, within a sector of a universe, that is captured in the heart of a black hole.

We escaped that planet, to travel within the safe cocoon of a sphere that crosses from star to star, keeping warm, keeping life going, for as long as we can, but still we are in the hole. The maths cannot be denied.

Of the thirteen billion light years that span our known universe, of the total mass of all that we know and do not know to exist, still there is more that we cannot ever know.

After all, not even light can escape a black hole. Worse still what we perceive as the infinite long stretch of time, is in fact just one moment settling stiller and stiller in the unimaginably large dark space that any external force would observe as already dead and gone.

Is it madness to have hope within this vortex? No crew will be sent to rescue us. This storm is so great, we are already abandoned, even as we twist and tumble under the waves.

Still, if we are suspended in the sticky murk of the super-massive, if anyone could come to pull us free, it would only be because they knew we were here. How could you call out, one tiny planet-sphere in a cluster of trillions of astral bodies, and be heard over all the background noise of space, the grinding and whoomping, the hiss of the big bang still echoing on? It requires a new way of broadcasting. A new way to send out the words to creatures that do not know our words. It must be a single message. It must be louder than anything else. And it must be “help”.

Jaxon didn’t know it, but this was the very thing so many of the scientific community had been working on.

Of course their meetings were open. Anyone was welcome to come and contribute to the assembly, but in practise most people just didn’t bother. Life had been neatly divided for a long time into the scientific class and the leisure class. Intellectus was a calling. You were just born asking questions and pursued your interests. Ludos were the game-players and artists. Very few people were outside of this divide, that handful of labourers who donned the exoskeletons and headed out on resource missions or worker in the fields who controlled the harvesters.

There was one more major distinction. Intellectus never used the sonatime. They slept as they pleased, in the ancient earthly tradition of enjoying two night rests. Good work was often done in the quiet, dim time between first and second sleep, whilst the rest of the sphere lay dormant.


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