Mentor of a Doomed World
...and his insane Psyche

Mentor Perhaps he had cried at some point. Perhaps, overwhelmed with the sorrow of losing so many people -- so much of his world -- he just broke down and wept at the senselessness of it all: his planet, a living paradise not very long before, now dying by degrees all around him; his wife, buried in its overheating, sterile soil; most of the population dead in the early stages of the planet's rapid decline, half the remaining population fled, the other half reduced to... something else; attacks from space on the once proud planet of Psychon.

Perhaps the horror of it all, and what he was now doing, got to him sometimes.

He was Mentor. It was an ironically fitting name in some ways: he was once an eminent and well-respected scientist among his peers and the people in general, and had much knowledge and wisdom to pass on. Now, he was alone, except for the only two things that could console his spirit.

One was his daughter, Maya. She was the only one left to teach. He was the only teacher she had now.

Mentor's only other consolation in life was his dream of someday restoring Psychon to the beautiful world it once was. Now, it was merely a rapidly overheating, festering mass of volcanic activity which had consumed virtually everything. The once-happy world, afflicted with a disaster he would never discuss by name any more.

The restoration of Psychon was not merely a beautiful dream, but something Mentor thought within reach. After all, this was the world of metamorphs. His own daughter, once she grew up, would probably learn how to transform herself from her usual form into other living patterns. Molecular Transformation -- an ability common on Psychon. So why couldn't the world itself be made metamorphic -- to revert to its once paradisiacal form?

It was not far-fetched, as a number of unfortunate aliens were to discover later. Psychon science was advanced, partially along lines peculiar to its metamorphic people: for individuals who could learn such exquisite control over all the molecules of their own bodies, uncovering at least a few of the secrets of life was not as great of a stretch for them as for most other species. Their technology had long reflected this fact, including the development of semi-biological computers.

Mentor was one of the lead researchers, on the cutting edge of Psychon's newest technologies. Sometime not long after Maya's birth, and while Psychon started to rapidly die around all of them, Mentor threw his efforts into a new biological machine with the potential capacity to transform his world. It would be a sort of brain for a world he hoped to give the biological capacity of metamorphosis. Such a device required more than the usual computer "mind," more than the usual biological "hardware." It was something which needed an unprecedented amount of mental power, and when the computer, even with little initial mind energy, proved promising, a few people volunteered their minds to Mentor's machine, in selfless acts of heroism they hoped would eventually restore Psychon to the rest of its people.

Mentor, as many others, wanted his child to inherit a restored world to raise her children in. His own wife, buried close by, had died early in Psychon's own death throes, and memories of her beautiful face, her lovely voice, and her sweet scent haunted him when he was alone; while Maya's presence, embodying so much of her mother, looked at him every day with warm eyes that clearly showed that she thought the world -- literally -- of Mentor. For Maya, as she grew, clearly believed her father could return the beauty she still faintly remembered from her earliest childhood -- and Mentor would do anything to bring her hopes to life.

The sacrifice of those first Psychons who submitted the energy of their minds to Mentor's biological computer was not in vain: they ceased to be separate, thinking, sentient individuals; but their stripped mental energy began increasing the machine's abilities. Mentor called the whole system Psyche, after the world it would save, unaware that certain aliens would find other, more ironic meanings -- for it was a mind-ripping computer. Even that early, its power, with its echoes of the metamorphic abilities of sacrificial Psychons, proved itself, allowing Mentor to command his Psyche to reach out and embrace the most immediate area of his new laboratory and bunker-style home, such as it was -- protecting them and shutting down the volcano which had grown so close by.

Meanwhile, others had frantically built ships in which to leave Psychon. What they previously had was insufficient for mass interstellar exodus, and while the respected Mentor's efforts appeared promising, they feared it would be too little, far too late, to save the people. They simply could not count on only one approach for the survival of their race. Furthermore, with so much of the planet being destroyed, they were coming under increasingly bold attacks from aliens who came to Psychon under false pretexts of peace.

Soon, as Mentor gained more experience and continued to improve Psyche; and as more dying Psychons submitted their minds to the machine, Psyche grew more powerful, extending tentacles of influence through more of the planet, and beginning to slow down Psychon's rate of decay.

It was not enough for the ship builders. Psychon was still dying, and they doubted that Mentor could reverse this before they were killed. Perhaps many were also revolted at Mentor's extremely questionable methods. A signal was nonetheless decided upon, that Mentor could send into space upon actual success, even though most doubted it. In any case, they left in their now-complete ships, to take their chances among the stars.

Mentor could no longer even conceive of the idea he might fail, nor could he consider leaving his wife's grave, or abandoning his world; and Maya could not leave her father's side. Some others, already dying with the planet, remained behind, convinced Mentor was close to reversing Psychon's slide to doom, and submitted their minds to Psyche.

Perhaps he had already crossed a line -- or perhaps he did so with his next actions -- from an already grey area into darkness: from an already revolting process that adult Psychons had allowed, perhaps not knowing the full extent of what would ultimately happen; to a much more evil purpose. Mentor, long since obsessed with the restoration of his planet, was already doing a lot of things he might never have considered earlier; now, he progressed to the next step.

Aliens had been attacking his planet -- and it really was his now, for he and Maya were the only Psychons left on the planet now. Yet, with Psyche now powerful enough to transform rocks into ships and even more powerful balls of light, Mentor had a weapon -- the best Psychon ever had -- which he used it to grab the alien ships, let them come out of the ships on their own, then capture the people, and give their minds to Psyche and their bodies to service for the machine.

Soon, he was reaching into space with his metamorphic ships, paying no attention to who might be hostile and who was really innocent. He captured, cajoled, pleaded, and lied. Anything to capture more sentient beings and put them at his disposal -- and his daughter's as well. He would introduce Maya, now a young woman with growing metamorphic ability, to them, for her to "see" and understand their forms -- and those of any other creatures they had aboard their ships.

Mentor smiling No matter how horribly his victims suffered, Mentor smiled, not about the means, which some small part of him still regretted, but about the results, for his biological computer was gaining strength, getting ever closer to being able to restore his world. Mentor was the spider, sitting on a growing planetary web called Psyche, catching flies to be stabbed and drained of their vital juices.

He was a lost soul -- but not entirely.

Over time, when his daughter met all the various intelligent aliens, she found them to be hostile, to the point Mentor had already put them behind force fields. However she may have questioned her father on this, Mentor could easily lie, blaming it on anything but the true reality. Furthermore, when the aliens inevitably left Maya's sight, he simply claimed they had, in the end, calmed down, agreed to help, and were now on their way elsewhere, unharmed.

That was the curious thing. Though he would do anything -- no matter how evil -- for Psyche, and could have easily employed Maya as she grew up, indoctrinating her young and impressionable mind to these "necessities" and "facts" of life, he instead shielded her from knowledge of his methods, telling her no harm came to those who offered themselves to Psyche -- saying nothing of the drained husks laboring in the caves so close by.

Some large part of him -- something still sane -- loved his daughter too much to corrupt her mind and actions with his. He smiled while acting the spider's role; but the same smile was far more true with Maya. Though he never acted the physical metamorph, it was as if he were a mental metamorph. Mentor was a torn man: on one hand, doing virtually anything for Psyche, however dirty and outright evil, and smiling in satisfaction at the results; on the other hand, doing everything in his power to keep Maya clean and free of his actions. To him, she was all the best of Psychon, so like her dead mother; and while Mentor was mostly lost to moral corruption, he still knew she must remain clear of it.

Yet was it truly possible to keep her that way, when her own father's rotting soul was festering, so near her? Did his deep, regal voice sob at night? Did he fear Maya learning the truth and hating him for it? Did he fear something worse, that Maya would become like him, turning into some sort of monster far worse than just physically? Did he ever fear that the innocent, affectionate smile she had inherited from her father would subtly transform into Mentor's other, nearly identical but very different smile of evil pleasure? Did he ever contemplate just destroying Psyche?

The last was no longer an option for Mentor, however, because Psychon -- and Maya with it -- would die, for Psyche was now the only thing holding the planet even partially stable. He couldn't stop feeding the machine that which it needed. Nor could he simply hand his daughter away to some aliens to distance her away from his own evil: he could no longer guess which visitors were hostile and which would be friendly.

Yet, he would soon be forced into some of those very quandaries, with the troubling questions forcibly answered for him.

When he captured several people who appeared more Psychon-like than any other Mentor had captured, he could see Maya was entranced. Though she had always wondered why every alien she ever met was hostile, he could hear definite bewilderment in her voice after she had met the Alphan Commander. It was easy, as always, to sooth his naive daughter and send her away while he talked to John Koenig.

Mentor knew this wasn't a case of some small ship carrying maybe ten aliens: the commander's wandering "Moonbase" contained thirty times more life, nearly three-hundred intelligent individuals -- a prize he could not let slip by. In their base, they were beyond his physical reach; they would have to be cajoled from their shelter, onto ships Mentor could pluck. It was an extraordinary situation, and he tried to maneuver the alien commander, but was frustrated until he finally resorted to coercion, mercilessly threatening to drain some other, already-captured Alphans right in front of their leader's horrified eyes.

Yet Koenig was shrewd beyond Mentor's early estimations, somehow slipping a message to his people, who later, with Maya watching, tried to destroy Psychon. This naturally failed, but Maya was obviously disgusted by the attempt, and stormed out to confront the imprisoned commander. To her father's shock and bewilderment, she later returned to the Grove of Psyche with Koenig. Mentor could not even comprehend what his daughter was doing, until he heard her words -- in an stricken, betrayed voice -- that she had seen the pitiful remains of Psyche's victims, laboring for his -- and, in a sense, her -- benefit. His pained heart could see and hear that Maya's faith and trust in him were shattered, that she was rejecting what he had done as evil. He could see and hear her sheer horror. Mentor had lost his daughter.

He was soon to lose even more, for Koenig started destroying Psyche. Mentor could do nothing as his prized biological computer -- now a horror in Maya's eyes -- started overloading, wildly releasing its force not just within the Grove, but all along its world-wide web. It was Psyche insane, metamorphic energy released in the most destructive ways. The planet, barely held in check before, was now disintegrating rapidly. Psychon was doomed. So was Mentor. Maya....

He could not bear the thought of his beautiful daughter dying for crimes of which she was innocent. It was Maya, not Mentor and his Psyche, that represented the best of Psychon, and he would not allow her to perish. Over the explosive noise and flames of dying Psyche, he shouted to Koenig, pleading in a still commanding voice to save Maya.

His own daughter had far more honor in her than the tatters remaining in her father, and Mentor could only hope and trust that these Alphans would treat his daughter well. Perhaps he had already seen their moral strengths from the first moment they met, or saw them now, or maybe it was only his wild hopes for Maya. In begging Koenig to save her, Mentor entrusted his daughter's life and future to this alien commander, even as Maya herself begged her father to leave Psyche, which she believed had caused him to do evil. He knew she was naive to the truth, however -- the reality that he had pursued a horrifying course, and could not wash away his sins so easily. Psyche had become something of an extension of his own mind; and he still could not leave his world, or his wife who was buried there. Despite Maya's struggles to prevent it, he would soon be buried as well.

Mentor's last sight, as the Grove of Psyche's ceiling collapsed on him, were shadows of Koenig and Maya, his daughter morphing through several increasingly violent forms in an attempt to escape the commander, to save her father -- even as Psychon started exploding around them. His last words were further pleas to Koenig, that the latter not give up on the wildly struggling Maya.

He died not knowing whether his daughter would manage to escape to a new and hopefully happy life, or senselessly throw away her life in an attempt to save her corrupt father.

Character Studies
Zantor    Arra    Mentor    Being

A Character Study by David Welle, copyright 1997-2008.
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.