The Immunity Syndrome Being
I am I

Immunity Syndrome Being Imagine, if you will, being the sole intelligent life form on an entire planet. Picture knowing of no other existence, no other individual. Put yourself in the place of a being that wonders, deep within itself, if there is something -- someone -- more to life. Think that despite this occasional, vexing thought, you actually belief there is no other than you.

On one planet was stranded such a being, a creature that knew its world was empty -- and was certain of it -- for one simple but incredible reason: its presence could span the planet. Its domain was the world, and it knew of no other intelligence. Yet, it yearned for company, in the worst way, almost as if it had some inherent expectation of contact, something that never actually happened -- at least not within its memory.

It was a lost being perhaps. An orphan. Maybe something left abandoned before it had memory; or the sole survivor of something that killed whatever of its kind that had given it life, leaving a damaged being unaware of anything but itself, yet somehow knowing there were supposed to be others of some sort -- and yearning for their company. Or perhaps it was the last of its own kind, on a planet that once held swarms, born as the last other individual died. Maybe it was intentionally left on the planet when young, to become a sort of caretaker, but somehow misunderstood itself and its place.

Its origin was a mystery, one the creature itself couldn't even answer. "I am I." Despite its lonely desires, and perhaps a faint echo or two of some other memory, that is all it knew.

Yet its world, however lacking in other sentience, was fertile, filled with other forms of life, over which it had intimate control. It could reach out its thoughts and alter conditions anywhere, or even everywhere at once. Yet, at the same time, it seemed part of the world. Indeed, it seemed to be the world, a Gaia-like sentience, albeit with a decidedly male voice.

"I am I." Words with a distinctively religious tone, hinting at yet another possibility of its existence: that it was something like a god, omnipotent in its own small domain, yet far from omniscient even there. Perhaps its was from a race of world-maintainers, spreading from a forgotten origin, and seeding each new world with a new one of its kind. Yet if that was the case, this individual did not know that.

Omnipotent in its small domain, yet not omniscient.

How many times was its world invaded, one wonders, before it even began to grasp the nature of those "invasions?"

On such occasions, it could soon see that something had arrived, bits of alien matter appearing in its domain and scurrying about on its world -- inside itself. It tried to communicate, bundling part of itself into a discrete body of light that would be highly visible, and trying --perhaps instinctively, perhaps consciously -- to find a mind it could touch through the light, and share thoughts with; but the only reactions from these tiny creatures were even more random scurrying, sometimes hurtful little blasts of energy, and eventually, in all cases, a total cessation of their activities.

It concluded these bits of living matter were not unlike the life of its world, but far from sentient --and destructive besides, burrowing into the skin of the world, spitting painful and poisonous bolts of energy, and consuming the world's native life. It was not that the last was unheard of between the planet's own denizens, but given the rest, their consuming the healthy life tissue was the final insult.

Yet at the same time, it found its perfect defense. Its own attempt to touch a mind was a death-blow to these mindless invaders. This world's being had stumbled upon its own immunity: something that could kill the disease of invasion.

It soon noticed something else: invading organisms almost always came in groups, and rather than fatally wound one at a time, which took quite some time, the being found that using its world-altering capabilities could eliminate the sickness more quickly, simply by filling the air and water with compounds the plants could easily and quickly take up as well -- compounds that were harmless to life here, but deadly to any invader, including the strange, lifeless wrappers and other objects they seemed to appear in or with.

It now had a two-pronged immune response.

Yet it never stopped hoping that one of these foreign life forms would turn out to be something more -- that instead of just mindless, destructive invaders, it would find something that would satisfy its yearnings for something more.

However, it never seemed to find anything other than itself. "I Am I." A mantra of its own truth, its own being, all that it knew -- constantly reverified.

The irony of its own existence is that it had the answers already within itself, scurrying around on the surface of the world -- if only it had the proper vision to see them for what they were.

Finally, something made the being recognize this fact.

Attracted to one of the same, very fertile areas of the world that had attracted the previous presence of earlier invaders, were some more new bits of life. The being again made itself into a discretely visible form, and tried to shine the light of communication onto one and then another. The results were typical: the creature found only pointlessly random patterns of perception and behavior. So the now essentially automatic global immune response began. This new infection would be eliminated as soon as possible.

In all this time, it had never stopped to recheck its thinking, never realized its own immune reaction was counter- productive, destroying the very thing it had wanted for so long. Unchecked, its reactions had long since turned into its own disease, an immunity syndrome.

Then something incredible happened. One bit of the foreign life approached where the being had been appearing, and did not scurry randomly away when the presence showed itself. The invader stayed, making strange sounds, not unlike what had been heard before; yet this time, the sonic disturbances were more insistent, persistent. Unsure what the life form was attempting, the being simply shouted the sounds back, in an ironically mindless parody. Then, something echoed within its mind -- its memory. Haltingly, it realized parts of the pointlessly random patterns of perception it had touched in the two others were not so random after all. Rather, they were an intricate, multiply-connected method of communication: sounds leading to words leading to pictures and even abstract concepts.

The creature in front of it was capable of thought. That which the globe-spanning entity had yearned for so long -- contact with some other sentience -- had at last been found! Now, there was not just "I," but something -- a concept of... "you."

This joyous feeling, however, was tempered with the slowly dawning realization of what it had done.

The being, from its memories of the two other foreign life forms' patterns of perception -- minds, it now realized -- found the reverse mode of these individuals' communication: from abstract concepts to words to sounds. Dialog was finally established.

The first topic of discussion was a painful one. The reason its own attempts at communication consistently resulted in death to these life forms were not that they lacked minds -- as the being had long assumed -- but rather that they couldn't handle what they found to be the sheer intensity of the attempts.

The being reeled at the implications, but was still overpowered by its sheer desire, and greater-than-ever need to understand what strange form of thoughts and physical bodies these minds came in. It asked the being that called itself "John Koenig" to lower his defenses -- the shell he had surrounded himself with to protect himself -- so that the creature could his mind, this time with a much more delicate touch. It found a complex mind, organized in the most unusual ways, full of thoughts and feelings the being could not entirely grasp.

The Being Communicates with the Alphans This "John Koenig" was the one that organized the other people, a collection of others of their species. Yet they were all individuals, sentient in their own right, and communicating together! John Koenig felt sorrow at the loss of some of his people, anger at a world that was killing them, and frustration at not having been able to find the answers at first, until they had found the... remains of another species.

All these reasons were yet more things to feel guilty about.

Three others approached, and after some words from John Koenig, allowed their minds to be touched.

A female named "Helena Russell" was a "doctor," someone very concerned with the physical status of everyone. This "doctor" concept was unfamiliar to the immortal being. She had, unfortunately, been beset with a lot to worry about, the presence could now see.

Another woman called "Maya" didn't even turn out to be quite the same species, suggesting these people were even more flexible in their organizations than the creature at first realized. She was, however, the only of her kind among the rest, and the being could suddenly sense layers of happiness and hidden pain, recognizable loneliness mixed with friendship, and now an overpowering concern for one man, a "Tony Verdeschi," that the creature had... attacked. There were other parts of her that could not be comprehended at all: threads of her mind that seemed alien even to her. She recoiled at this intrusion, and in fact seemed most discomforted, so the being retreated from her mind.

The other man, "Alan Carter," seemed to have great concern for those strange flying boxes that they had appeared on the planet in. Through him, the being could see they were "spaceships" that could transport them from world to world -- another startling concept which prompted the being to look away from its own world -- its own self -- and to a far more expansive universe. It didn't have to look far to see the world in Alan Carter's mind, and his yearning to return there from this deadly place -- a wish that had been thwarted by the being's own world-wide immunity syndrome.

Each of these individuals, the world-spanning entity realized, was, in fact, like a whole world too, filled with many living parts, thoughts, and feelings.

Now, the being was seeing its own world anew -- and it was not a pleasant sight, for it could now see a place littered with the remains of many sentient individuals.

It was guilt-stricken at all it had been destroying. "I Who Am No Longer I have much to regret."

The only things it could do were to lower its immune defenses, clear the atmosphere of corrosive toxins, set right the mind of the dying Tony Verdeschi, and allow them to leave. There was no bringing back the dead, however, or restoring anything else that had been destroyed.

It was left alone, guilt-stricken, with much to think about and no one to share it with. Yet, perhaps there were the beginnings of hope, at what the future might bring.

Character Studies
Zantor    Arra    Mentor    Being

A Character Study by David Welle, copyright 1997-2007.
Space: 1999 is copyright Granada/Carlton/ITC, see here for other details.
Introduction and 'metallic' titles/names by Marcy Kulic, who also provided the vidcaps.