This is as far as I ever got on this particular book. There are a number of mysteries described in it that go unanswered. I’m sorry for that, but perhaps others will write about these things and reveal what happened. For instance, Ni’a has never described to me why they went to the Terra Supreme after their meltdown. Their own memories were not clear about it to this date. Maybe someday they’ll remember.
I have other books in mind that I would like to work on, too.
However, my life has taken an interesting turn after this point, and I am now largely occupied as a tour guide for the Crew and for the Children. I alternate between taking Crew on tours of the Garden and its cities, and taking Children and their Tutors on tours of some of the Network spaces that the Crew have been willing to share in return, including the Bridge, or to the fallow decks and the shipyards. As part of this project, I have to keep abreast of the developments in all areas of the ship myself, so that I know what to show people.
I don’t have a lot of time to write books these days. And I know that if I even split myself into multiple instances, like Metabang has done, this occupation would still take up all of my time and focus. I think it’s because it’s what I really want to do right now.
That said, I’d like to leave this book with a little note about time, space, population numbers, and memory.
I have been very wishy-washy in my narration when describing the Sunspot in more than just its physical dimensions. And looking back at my predecessor’s writing, Metabang was, too. This is in large part because once a human lives longer than half a century, let alone five hundred or five thousand years, their psyche starts to reject the sheer amount of time that’s happened. And if you fill that time with repeatedly raising children from conception to death roughly every 250 years, you start to compartmentalize things and forget just how long it has been.
I am constantly appalled by the enormous errors in calculation I have made, and as a result I tend to shy away from the actual numbers, and it appears that Metabang was doing so as well. At least, it had the strength to write “hundreds of generations” early in its book.
I have taken some time to calm myself and consult the Auditor for specific numbers. These may surprise you, even if you are Crew. They show that something is going on here that bears some investigation.
When I showed them to Ni’a, because they asked, they decided to take on that project.
Here they are:
The Sunspot is, at the time of this note, 130,301 years old.
It has seen the births of 977,187,603,277 Children.
There are currently 3,609,552 Children living in the Garden and halls of the Sunspot.
But there are only 53,007,633,074 Crew currently extant on the ship, at this moment.
Only 36,835 of those Crew are Pembers. This is irrelevant to my question, but I thought you might like to know it.
There have only been 1,502,357,309 Monsters so far.
Exactly 900,000 Crew members are Elder Crew, and have been here since before the Sunspot was built.
64,008,216 Crew members have committed to Accord, permanently merging their consciousnesses and memories, to reduce their numbers to 23,500,637. It’s a surprisingly uncommon practice for how much it is talked about.
These numbers come directly from the Auditor and are subject to change by the minute.
But going by the numbers as I’ve received them, that leaves 922,633,495,763 missing people unaccounted for. They first lived aboard the Sunspot as Children. Most of them have ascended, according to the Auditor, and lived as Crew for a time. And then they disappeared. Their disappearances are unrecorded. The Auditor is not set up to sense them.
(Did I do these numbers right? I feel like I have dissociated during my attempt to calculate them, and I don’t want to try again. I’m most likely off by 900,000 and that’s less than 1%. It doesn’t matter.)
I have suspicions about where these people went, assuming they all left by the same means. And I have not gotten anyone I suspect to be responsible or knowledgeable about it to admit to anything. In any case, there is no one else who is better suited to investigating this than Ni’a. And even at 12 years old at the time of writing this passage, I can’t exactly stop them from trying.
Benejede, look out. I gave them your name first.