⭗ REDIRECTIONS VI ⭗
⭗ MIND MAZE OF THE AZURE MACHINIST ⭗
"I recognize this," Past-Tense said. There was something like reverence in her tinny voice, something that got Charred-Hand’s attention.
"Recognize what?" Charred-Hand asked. Turning around in the vault, he squinted at the time-worn carvings scrawled across the surface of the wall. "This room?"
"No, this," she said. She pointed at one dust mote in particular in a room that was absolutely swimming with them. "We had these during the Azure Age. We called them Spekuverses. Each one is an entire simulated reality custom-built and maintained for the purposes of a single soul."
"Sounds lonely," Charred-Hand offered.
"They can network," Past-Tense said. "I can access them. There must be tens of thousands of them in this vault. Surely one of them must contain a Machine-Priest."
Long ago, in an age of decadence and ennui, entities bored with a given simulation would just jump to a new one, or create something wholly new to fit their desires within a dust-mote sized computational unit called a Spekuverse. For some, this was retirement. For others, it was just a way of life. For those who were uploaded within a Spekuverse (stored by the thousands in a Spekuvault, like ashes in a mausoleum) the end of the Azure Age made these worlds like prison cells, world-sized ones the inhabitant could shape and mold to their heart’s desire, but that they could also never leave, not really. Temporary escape could be had by connecting to other Spekuverses, but even then, the world you would be visiting was a created one, and after a few centuries, it became like visiting other cells in a much larger prison.
Some of the people locked within the Spekuverses went insane. Some spent eons deep in thought and then went insane. Generally the people confined to the Spekuverses are just insane, and the worlds they have created reflect that, taking on entirely alien appearances with absolutely alien laws of nature that make no sense to the ordinary human mind. For the inhabitants, there is little hope of return to the world they left behind, but some have returned in the present age through very specific circumstances. Golems constructed during the Azure Age have digital handshake protocols they can use to connect with a Spekuverse, but once they are inside, they are at the mercy of the mind that has made that mote their home. There are legends about the dangers of such connections, of golem souls getting lost in the simulation they connect with, or being erased and replaced entirely, becoming the body and the vehicle of escape for whoever was formerly trapped inside the Spekuverse.
Accessing the right Spekuverse (when hunting for a person of note) is not (entirely) random when the proper preparations are made. A person with the digital handshake protocols and a BBBOSPA (Big Blue Book Of Spekuverse Ping Addresses) can reasonably index the codes of a given mote against the records kept during the Azure Age to determine who lives within a given mote, when they were uploaded, why they were uploaded, and what their career was before they were uploaded. For everyone else not reasonably prepared, some random suggested worlds are listed on the table below:
1. The Pleasure Domes Of Nak Albuk: Precentor Albuk was a world-renowned hedonist in his age. When he was alive and popular, there was no end to his appetites, and the world inside his Spekuverse absolutely reflects that. Every kind of pleasure you can imagine (and probably quite a few you can’t) has its own nested world to mature and fester within here, and a mind could easily get lost in them, becoming permanent residents while their bodies wither away back in the world outside of the one built by Nak Albuk.
2. The War Room: There is no sign of the original inhabitant of this Spekuverse. Surely they’re still here somewhere, but they’re either so hidden or so uninterested in contact with visitors that they can’t be found. What can be found is a peaceful, well-stocked planning room atop a tower that overlooks a battlefield where vicious hordes of beast-men battle endlessly. Those that die in this Spekuverse rise again, and cannot permanently die no matter how mortally they are wounded. Even better, those who leave this Spekuverse and return to their bodies are refreshed and rested, and some have even reported that their wounds have closed and healed.
3. Historical Reconstruction: Inside of this Spekuverse, someone has painstakingly reconstructed an entire city-state as it appeared at a specific period in history. All of the expected tools and landmarks are there, and even the people speak the language of that place and time and dress the part. There may be others (including the creator) here as well, stalking and watching anyone who wanders into their simulation of what once was. It could be that the place brings them great peace, a peace which the mere presence of interlopers disturbs. It could also be that the creator has become trapped by their obsession, and possessing a body connected to the Spekuverse would be the only way they could hope to escape.
4. The Jumble: Perth McGinion was a middle-weight, middle-aged, middle-management marketer having a mid-life crisis during the middle of the Azure Age. One day, he sold everything he owned (including his organs,) liquidated his retirement, abandoned his family and uploaded himself to his own Spekuverse. At first, it was grand. He played all day, bounding through fields of flowers, losing himself in the amorous embraces of all of the people he ever lusted after and eating all of the foods his preoccupation with his waistline had kept him from eating. After a while though, his godlike powers and the knowledge that he was contained within a speck of dust he could never leave got to him. He started building things– cities, nations, worlds, and then he went crazy. He broke, devolved to babbling babyhood and obliterated everything in a series of tantrums that left all that he’d built laying about like so many kicked over bricks. You may still find him in the surreal jumble of what was, quietly sobbing and babbling incoherently, but make no mistake, this is still his world, and here, he is still a god.
5. The Layered Hell: Much like the planet you left when you came here, this world is covered in layer upon layer built and sundered by the previous inhabitants. Originally occupied by a mad architect who filled the place with temples, this Spekuverse has become the home to dozens of different people from as many periods in history, each going insane and only escaping when a new body plugs into the world. Like a banshee, the trapped inhabitant will come screaming out of the darkness, desperate to force any visitors out of their forms, possess those bodies, and escape. The visitor will then become stranded in the Spekuverse, forced to wait through the endless millennia for a new body to plug in, offering a fleeting chance at escape.
6. The Mind Maze Of The Azure Machinist: Kobol Barbentola was the third most knowledgeable Machine-Priest in the Yithma District during the Azure Age. He was responsible for designing the neural architecture of dozens of simple gods that were constructed during that age, and he has always had something of a fondness for mazes. As such, the Spekuverse he inhabits (as a punishment, since he snapped one day and brutally murdered his entire staff) is a universe of complex mazes full of devilishly disguised traps and puzzles that irritate, inconvenience, tire and lightly wound (rather than outright kill) those who stumble across them. It has literally been millenia since he has had any visitors (almost all of the other Spekuverse inhabitants in the Spekuvault have blocked him) so he will stretch out the torment of anyone unlucky enough to enter his domain. He is not an unreasonable man, though– well, he is. He’s really unreasonable, but he doesn’t think so. To anyone whose maze-navigating skills suitably impress him, he will grant a single boon, though mostly he has only his own knowledge to trade, (including sacred words used to waken oracles and gods from past ages.)