On another day, at the park, Student of Chalkboard was floating in the middle of a pond, submerged except for the top of their head, their eyeballs just above the water, watching their peers. While everyone else had become chattier, they still had not spoken. Not even a vocalization of discomfort, not even to cry.
And previously only Emala, Doorway, and Chalkboard had made note of this, but finally Ni’a and the other children had noticed. Student of Chalkboard doesn’t talk? Why not?
Ni’a was kneeling at the edge of the water, smiling, and idly playing with a stick and a floating leaf. Student of Charlie and Student of Vine were standing on either side of them, toys held listlessly in their hands, asking Student of Chalkboard questions repeatedly.
Emala and the Tutors just watched, probably considering whether or not to intervene.
Ni’a was enjoying the moment and alternatively thinking about Student of Chalkboard and about the sun. They were particularly enjoying the warmth on their skin. And also the way the sun glinting in the water shifted as the surface rippled and flowed. Ni’a also thought Leaf might be a good name for Student of Chalkboard, because like the leaf they just floated there unless someone prodded them. Also, this leaf and Student of Chalkboard were the same color.
Ni’a didn’t think that Student of Charlie and Student of Vine repeatedly asking, “what’s your name?” was very fair. Neither of them had chosen one. But Ni’a also thought that getting Student of Chalkboard to communicate with them somehow was a good idea. The thing to do.
Phage’s child looked around at the gleaming grass of the park, which was surrounded by a curtain of dark evergreen trees, then back to Student of Chalkboard. They realized that Student of Chalkboard was watching them specifically. What to do?
Maybe if I send them the leaf, Ni’a thought.
So they leaned over and carefully picked up the leaf with a quick frown. A little less than carefully, they shook the leaf to get the water off of it. Then they tightened their lips, squinted their eyes, and did their best to put the leaf right on the surface of the pond, so that as little of it was submerged as possible. Then they scootched back a couple times and bent down, laying their forearms in the muddy beach of the pond. And, beaming a smile at Student of Chalkboard, Ni’a then blew with all their might to make the leaf float across the pond.
Which obviously wasn’t going to work. Ni’a could see it wasn’t going to make it on its own. The leaf merely spun in place and drifted a little in the right direction. And there was a breeze. And it was like the water itself was working against this plan.
So Ni’a blew again, but this time imagined everything that was needed to get the leaf to go across the surface of the pond to Student of Chalkboard, the wind blowing the right direction, the water currents gently ushering it along, the leaf remaining stable and balanced like a boat. It wasn’t that they understood any of the physics of it, but rather that what was needed just came easily to their mind and they visualized it happening.
“What are you doing?” Student of Charlie asked.
Ni’a kept blowing.
And the leaf did exactly as they had envisioned, coming to settle and spin ever so stately directly in front of Student of Chalkboard, who watched it. Both the other students had fallen silent.
Ni’a sat up, not even thinking about the mud on their forearms, and scowled. Student of Chalkboard wasn’t doing anything but staring at the leaf. So Ni’a looked up at Student of Charlie and asked, “What’s your name?”
Student of Charlie’s tail dropped and their ears perked straight up as they looked at Ni’a in surprise. “Student of Charlie,” they said.
“Then that’s Student of Chalkboard,” Ni’a said, pointing at their peer, who was peering at them again.
Student of Vine shouted over Ni’a’s head, “yeah, you pick a name, too!”
Student of Charlie looked startled, eyes dilating, and blurted, “we don’t -” then panicked. They dropped their toy, turned and ran off on all fours. Their path took a wide arc, headed for just behind Emala.
Student of Vine lept clear over Ni’a’s head and bounded after them playfully, their noodly frame undulating as they alternatively planted their hands on the ground and kicked off with their feet, their tail bobbing up and down like a spring. Their mouth was wide with a grin as they shouted, “hey!”
Ni’a was jealous of their peers’ ability to romp like that. But, then they looked at Student of Chalkboard again.
Student of Chalkboard lifted their head above the water high enough to show their mouth, and then briefly stuck their tongue out. Almost as if they were licking their lip, but pausing just long enough to make it a gesture of some sort. Then they blinked and settled back down.
Something about that, that Student of Chalkboard had waited to do that until after Students of Charlie and Vine had left maybe, made Ni’a feel special. So they stood up to look for another leaf to blow out to them. There was a leafy tree near the pond, where the first one had come from, blown from there by the wind. But upon turning to go to the tree to look for another leaf, Ni’a heard a splash and looked back at their amphibious peer. And Student of Chalkboard was no longer visible, the water surface rippling with rings expanding from where they’d been.
A commotion had just begun around their Caretaker, which Ni’a was ignoring, when Student of Vine yelled out, “yeah!” and came bounding down the grassy slope to the pool and dove right in.
“Oh dear,” said Vine.
“Let them play,” Emala chided.
Then Phage was there with Ni’a, looking just like them, but a black silhouette filled with stars and colorful clouds. Ni’a knew that this meant that Phage couldn’t touch anything, but it wouldn’t take Phage any effort to bring itself from out of the ground or a nanite bin if needed. Ni’a felt warmth and comfort at the sight of their parent, who sat down cross legged and observed them.
“What were you trying to do?” Phage asked.
“I wanted to talk to them,” Ni’a pouted.
“But they don’t talk,” Phage kindly pointed out.
“Yes they do!” Ni’a said.
“They do?” Phage asked them.
“Yes!” Ni’a insisted. “Not with words.”
A myriad of stars formed in the void of Phage’s face, clustering impossibly together, to show a wide grin, “oh. You are very smart! You’re right. They do talk without words.”
“But they don’t talk if they are bothering them!” Ni’a pointed at Student of Vine who was coming up to breathe, looking around briefly, and then diving back under.
“Yes, they do,” Phage corrected Ni’a. “They’re talking right now, silently, like you said. By avoiding Student of Vine.”
“But they’re not talking to me.”
“That’s true, yes.”
“I want them to talk to me.”
“Well, you’ll just have to wait until they want to talk to you. You can’t make them do so. They have to give consent.”
“I know,” Phage’s child looked down at the ground, trying to think of ways around this problem.
“Ni’a,” Phage said, “can I ask you a tricky question?”
“OK,” Ni’a felt themself saying.
“Do you know how you made that leaf go across the pond?”
Ni’a was not expecting that question and looked up at their parent in bewilderment. Phage had no eyes, which was fine with Ni’a. They just looked at the stars as if they were Phage itself, and tried to remember what had happened. Then it came to them, “I blew on the leaf and it went.”
“But you did more than that, because the leaf wouldn’t go if you didn’t,” Phage elaborated.
It took a moment for Ni’a’s brain to get back into the frame of mind they had been in when they blew on the leaf, but before they even got there, their mouth said, “yeah.”
“Do you know what more you did?”
“I made it go across. I made the water and the air make it go across.”
“Right. And do you know what the nanites are?”
“They’re in the ground and in me and in the bin, and they do things for us.”
“Yes,” Phage nodded, and let its grin show again,”and do you think that maybe the nanites were helping you to do what you did, with the water and the air?”
“Yeah?” Ni’a guessed.
Phage nodded again and its grin grew bigger, “if any other student had done that, it would have been the nanites. If Student of Vine or Student of Charlie had done that, they would have used the nanites and it probably would have felt just the same to them as it did to you.” Phage let its grin disappear, and said gently, “but none of you are allowed to do that yet. The Crew haven’t given their consent for you to be able to play with the nanites like that.”
Ni’a frowned. Part of their mind understood what Phage was saying, but part of their mind didn’t really. They felt confused. So they tilted their head and scratched their nose.
“I watched you, and how you did it. You did something only I can do,” there was a smile in Phage’s voice. “You are, after all, my child.”
“I am?” Ni’a knew they were Phage’s child, but felt like they were supposed to ask anyway. Or maybe they were asking whether they really did something only Phage could do, and the wrong words came out. It felt like the same thing.
Phage chuckled, “You definitely are!”
Another question came to Ni’a’s mind. It seemed really important, and like it was kind of a trick to pull on Phage, so they put on a very serious face as they said it, “Why?”
“I don’t know!” Phage declared, standing up. “But I like it!” which made Ni’a feel really special and happy.
“So do I!” Ni’a declared.
“Great!” their parent replied. “So, Ni’a, do you want me to show you how to do other fun things like what you did with the leaf?”
Not really thinking about it but feeling the excitement of Phage’s voice and imagining making leaves go all over the place, maybe without blowing on them, Ni’a nodded eagerly and said, “yes!”
“OK,” said Phage, floating up in the air a little bit and leading the way off around the tree. “Now, I’m also going to show you how to not hurt people. It’s the kind of thing that your peers will have to learn with the nanites, too, but you get to learn it early. Without the nanites.”
“I don’t want to hurt people,” Ni’a declared, worried Phage thought they might want to.
“Good,” Phage said. “I didn’t think you did, but someday you might feel like it. And sometimes you might do it by accident. I’m going to show you how to avoid both those things. But, I’m going to make it as fun as I can, OK?”
Then Phage did something it hadn’t done since before it had started working on the Sunspot as Chief Monster and Engineer.
It reached out to the air molecules themselves, and the energies that moved them and moved through them. All of them, throughout the ship. It felt the patterns of movements and transfer of heat as the sun marched across the sky irradiating the ship with its rays of infrared, ultraviolet, and visible light, filtered just so much by the magnetic bottle that contained it. The upper atmosphere absorbed some of it, and reflected some back. The few clouds that existed today roiled ever so stately in the heat, billowing with the curated winds of the Garden. Everything was encouraged and controlled by the systems of the Sunspot, much of which were embedded in the spokes that rose from the ground to rings spaced every 80 kilometers along the length of the sun’s path. But there was still a considerable amount of chaos in it, enough to keep things unpredictable and natural. And Phage settled into that chaos and became the entire weather system of the world its child lived in. It had already been the weather system, always was, never wasn’t.
But until now it had been letting that part of itself function on automatic. And it could feel its consciousness thinning and its perception of time altering as it took notice again of this greater chaos, its cares dimming. So it pulled back a little, refocusing on its projection in the Augmented Reality space of the park, and on the air around its child, Ni’a.
“Now, watch this,” it made its projection say.
And it flexed the whole of its being ever so slightly, drawing subtly, almost immeasurably, from all areas of the atmosphere, to bring the forces together under that tree, just what was necessary to cause a small whirlwind. It was barely the size of Ni’a themself, and just strong enough to pick up four leaves and cause them to dance in the air. The ship’s logs show subtle arbitrary changes in the atmospheric control systems that do not match the parameters of their programming, so Phage may have done this through manipulating them. But even so, the feat was well beyond the ability of anyone else on the Sunspot. The act of manipulating four leaves by adjusting the entire climate of the ship with tiny adjustments of the systems is something that not even a simulator could calculate with the accuracy and nuance that Phage used. There were always too many variables to measure and keep track of.
“Do you see how I’m doing this?” Phage asked.
Ni’a squinted at the leaves and shook their head, saying, “no.”
“Don’t look at the leaves,” Phage explained. “Look at the air. Look at what’s moving the air.”
“I can’t see it,” Ni’a complained.
“Not with your eyes,” Phage replied. “Look at it the same way you looked at the leaf when you moved it.”
“I can’t,” Ni’a whined. “I don’t know how!”
“It’s OK,” Phage said, holding the leaves in a pattern in front of Ni’a. “Try this instead. Try blowing on the leaves and making them fly away from you. But do it like you did with the leaf in the pond.”
“OK,” and Ni’a just did it with hardly a thought.
Phage, of course, let them exert their will, moving out of the way in a manner of speaking. But it also resisted just enough that Ni’a might feel its presence. That seemed to work. The leaves fluttered to the ground several meters from where they’d been.
Ni’a looked surprised and very excited, “I did it!” They threw their hands up and alternatively lifted their feet up and down in a dance, sort of running in place. “I did it! And I saw you!”
“You’re,” Ni’a’s eyes got really big as they stopped dancing and looked all around, “everywhere.”
“I’m more everywhere than the nanites,” Phage bragged through its projection. “Everywhere, except for where you are.”
“I don’t know.”
They both explained these interactions and their thoughts to me later, when I was able to interview them about it. But at the time, as I watched, I felt a feeling I hadn’t really felt much before. I’d felt worry when I learned what our students could do with the nanites, when they were given power over them. I’d felt concern when my former student Tetcha had started talking about becoming a Monster. But this? While I didn’t understand what I was seeing, I could see that nanites were not being used to do what they did, and I heard their words. And when I saw them do this, I felt fear. I felt, perhaps, terror.
But I didn’t do anything about it, because I didn’t know what there was to do.
Down by the pond, Emala had stood up and was approaching the playing students, telling them it was time to go find lunch.
“OK,” Phage said to Ni’a, “so you know how you can tell where I am without seeing me with your eyes?”
“Yeah?” Ni’a said.
“You can do that with people,” it explained. “And if you pay attention to where people are, you can avoid touching them. And that’s part of how you can avoid hurting them. Does that make sense?”
“I thought it might.”
On the way to food, they stopped by a community maker space to use a dehumidifier on Student of Vine and Student of Charlie, who had both ended up in the water. Phage had helped Ni’a cleant the mud of their forearms while they were at the park. And Student of Chalkboard actually benefited from the wet, and their clothes did a pretty good job of providing a dry surface on the outside. Emala had simple applied lotion to their exposed skin once they’d left the pond. But until they got to use the dehumidifier, Student of Vine and Student of Charlie were dripping wet.
The walk to the maker space was a mix of familiar and strange new things to Ni’a.
They were still learning the area around their home, and while they’d been to this particular maker space before their memory of it was still very ghostly. They remembered things that weren’t on the way there now, and they couldn’t figure out if those memories were from a dream or if those things just weren’t there anymore. But there were people, booths, artwork, plants, animals, signs, and a myriad of other details that were there that they didn’t remember. And it was all interspersed with familiar things.
There was a bollard that had been painted with a small mural that wrapped all the way around it, depicting children playing in a park with their tutors.
A familiar person with black and white fur and a large floral print robe had a shelved cart on a familiar corner. Their cart was full of potted plants that they would give to anyone who was interested. The plants were different than Ni’a remembered. They were talking to someone who was covered in feathers who was wearing a big floppy hat, that Ni’a had never seen before.
But also, through all of this, Ni’a was thinking about pushing leaves about and making the wind blow, and sensing the presence of other people in a way that didn’t use their eyes, ears, nose, or any other sense from their body. They were excited to try it again.
A Safety Patrol officer walked by in their exosuit, their twitchy nose, whiskers, and notched ear marked them as one of Ni’a favorite people, though they had never talked. But for the first time, Ni’a did wonder what their name and pronoun were.
“Who is that?” they asked.
“A Safety Patrol officer,” Phage replied, as Emala was talking to Student of Vine.
“I know,” Ni’a pouted. “What are they called?”
Phage’s AR projection was hovering half a meter up, and it looked down at its child kindly, “Would you like to go and talk to them?”
The idea scared Ni’a briefly, but then turned to excitement. They didn’t think much about why and ended up saying, “OK!”
“We’ll catch up to you,” Phage told Emala, and then led Ni’a to talk to the Safety Patrol officer. “Excuse me,” said Phage as they approached the person, “My child has seen you around here before and would like to meet you. Would you be OK with that?”
“Certainly!” the SP officer replied, bringing their bulky exosuit to a halt, and then leaning forward in their chair to see Ni’a better and look them in their eyes.
“My name is Phage. My pronouns are it/its, of course,” Phage said, then looked down at its child. “Would you like to introduce yourself?”
Ni’a had been watching it talk, so knew that question was addressed to them. Proudly, they puffed up their chest and declared, “My name is Ni’a, and my pronouns are they/them!” They put an emphasis on “they/them” because they were actually quite proud of deciding to use the default pronouns. They felt right. They had considered “it/its” to be like their parent, Phage, but neither that pronoun nor any of the others they had heard felt right. And it seemed that claiming “they/them” as a personal pronoun was pretty rare, actually, so Ni’a felt very special about it. And they wanted to make sure that everyone knew it was their choice.
“It is such a pleasure to meet you, Ni’a,” the SP officer said. “My name is Jeren, and my pronoun is hen. This is my district, so you have probably seen me before.”
“You look familiar to me too,” Jeren said, then looked up at their parent. “And I’m familiar with you, Phage. It is an honor to meet you in person.”
“Any time,” Phage said, sincerely. “Like you, I am here for anyone who needs me.”
Ni’a looked up at their parent in wonder, then back at Jeren the Safety Patrol officer, who took their look as a question.
“I like helping people,” Jeren explained. “So the Crew gave me this exosuit. It is supposed to be used for accidents and natural disasters. When those happen, I can move debris and help free people who have been trapped. But I also get to use it to help people move heavy things, to prevent accidents.” then hen grinned, “but mostly I really like walking around it in. It’s like a big toy.”
“I like it,” Ni’a declared.
“Wonderful!” Jeren said.
“I can move things, too,” Ni’a bragged. Phage looked down at them, but before it could interject, they added, “I can make them move.”
“Oh?” Jeren asked.
“Yes,” Ni’a said proudly. “I am good at it.”
“What do you like to move the most?”
“I can move leaves!”
Jeren nodded carefully and made a point to smile, “that sounds like fun!”
Ni’a felt like hen wasn’t quite understanding what they were saying, so they reached for words to explain it better. It was hard. They felt like there were words they’d heard before that were good, but they couldn’t remember them, so they ended up saying, “they move for me. The wind and the water does too. If Phage lets them.”
“Uh,” said Phage.
Jeren glanced at the Chief Monster in confusion, then seemed to put the puzzle pieces together and hen’s eyes widened. Hen looked back at Ni’a and said, “that’s really impressive! I wasn’t allowed to use my nanites like that until I was ten years old. How old are you?”
“Three,” Ni’a said. “I don’t use nanites.”
“I’ve never been at a loss for words before,” Phage told Jeren.
Jeren smirked, “Children can be like that. It’s OK!”
“I was hoping we would keep this to ourselves, Ni’a” Phage said, looking down at them. Ni’a felt worried, but Phage explained further to Jeren, “I feel like if I don’t help them explain, it would be disrespectful to my child’s autonomy. They want you to know that they can do things that I can do. I am… not like you, or like your tutor. I am not entirely sure what I am, though I have a sense.” Jeren was looking both curious and concerned, so Phage searched for more reassuring words, “In any case, I was asked to guide and protect the Sunspot and that is what I am here to do. Ni’a is literally my child. They are of me. So they were born with natural abilities that I share. They are hard to explain. But they are under my guidance. And since, in a manner of speaking I am the wind, and water, and leaves, Ni’a cannot do anything I do not consent to.”
Jeren’s head oscilated as hen took in the whole scene, as if hen was reevaluating what hen faced. Hen opened hen’s mouth, but was unable to say anything and closed it again.
Phage sighed, “Don’t worry about it too much, please. I can almost guarantee none of this will affect your life unless you want it to. I am always on call for anyone. If you would like to discuss anything with me at any time, I am available. I like talking to people, too. It’s my favorite thing, really.”
Jeren worked hen’s mouth a moment then said, “OK!”
“It was good to meet you. Thank you for talking to us.”
“You too,” Jeren replied. Then they all went on their way.
“Are you Safety Patrol too?” Ni’a found themself asking their parent.
“In a way,” Phage pondering, “I think I actually am, yes.”
Ni’a would have said something more but found themself lost in thought, replaying the whole encounter in their head, trying to make sense of it. And Phage let them think.
Later, after Student of Vine and Student of Charlie were dried off, and they were all sitting around a table eating lunch made by a food artisan, Ni’a noticed a child at another table staring at them. They seemed to be about the same age.
“Hi!” said the other child loudly. “My name is Bri!”
But Ni’a felt too self conscious about their conversation with the Safety Patrol officer, having sensed that something had not gone quite right, and was overcome with shyness. They found they couldn’t talk for the rest of the meal, and Bri looked confused at their silence. Though they were suddenly afraid of Bri, they also hoped that they would meet again. Bri looked like they could be a friend. They hoped they wouldn’t be afraid then.
That night, after the sun had been eaten by the ship’s engine, Phage took Ni’a back to the park to watch the moon. Just the two of them. This time it had taken some nanites from the bin to create an exobody it could use to hold Ni’a’s hand. At Ni’a’s request, it had taken the form of their favorite Fluffy Fauna, an arboreal primate, only much larger, a full head taller than Emala. Also at Ni’a’s request, it projected its Network presence over the exobody, giving it the appearance of being made of the cosmos itself.
Holding Phage’s hand wasn’t at all like touching their Fluffy Fauna, though. It was not soft nor plush nor squishy. It was metallic and hard, but warm. But Ni’a was used to this and liked it, too. It meant that they were touching their parent, and they felt like they could feel its love for them through its hand and its presence.
They sat on a bench with a back that was designed to accommodate most tails. Part of the bench didn’t have a rest at all, and Phage sat there as Ni’a leaned their weight on the back and looked up at the moon.
It was at full brilliance tonight.
Still, it was just faint enough that Ni’a could see the city lights behind it, that were on the other side of the Garden of the Sunspot, as it ever so slowly passed before them.
Phage explained, “so, we call that the moon. But it’s not really a moon. Technically, a moon is a small planetoid that orbits another planetoid. Life usually evolves on planets and planetoids that have moons, and sometimes on moons themselves.” Ni’a didn’t fully understand this, but liked listening to Phage’s explanations anyway, so they kept quiet, leaning into their parent and soaking in the vibrations of its deep voice, “Our moon is meant to be an imitation of a planet’s moon. Probably the planet where the Sunspot originally came from, or its ancestor ships. A lot of the fauna need it to make sense of the night and synchronize their life cycles to it.
“It is actually made in almost exactly the same way as the sun,” Phage pointed up at it. “It’s a ball of plasma. But unlike the sun, it is not dense enough to induce fusion. It just provides a little bit of light. And the Crew fluctuates the intensity from night to night to simulate how a real moon reflects a different amount of light each night as its angle between the sun and its planet changes. I can explain more about that later if you like. It helps to see holographic models of it, though.” It paused to look down at Ni’a and said, “I wanted to show you our moon, though, because it is beautiful and different every night, and you should know how the Sunspot works.”
“I like it,” Ni’a said.
“You’ve had a very big day today,” Phage told them.
“I did?” Ni’a looked up at Phage. They certainly felt that they had, but they were still in the habit of asking questions and confirming things, as if they didn’t understand. It felt right, and usually they learned more when they did that.
“I would think so!” Phage smiled with a face full of stars. “Didn’t it feel big to you?”
“Yeah,” Ni’a admitted.
“I had a big day, too.”
“Why?” came the question of the year from Ni’a’s mouth.
“I have never admitted to anyone besides you about what I can do,” Phage’s voice was low and soft, gentle, but still rumbly. “I am afraid of how people will feel if they learn about it. I tell them plainly what I think I am, but no one takes it seriously, and they make up their own theories, so it never threatens my relationships with them. I know where I stand when they think their own thoughts about it. But if they were to believe me when I tell them everything I can do, that would change everything.”
“Because they don’t understand. And what people don’t understand, they are nervous about. Because they can imagine that if I can move all of the air in the Sunspot that I can then also choose to hurt anyone with that power. Which I absolutely could, but I won’t. Because I don’t want to hurt people. I don’t want to hurt anyone at all.”
Phage smiled again briefly at that. Ni’a got the impression it was a little sad, but it answered in confident tones, “Because there is enough suffering in the universe as it is. People hurt just by existing, and I don’t need to intentionally add to that. And, because, when it comes down to it, nobody can really make me that angry. No one can hurt me, so I do not feel afraid of them, and I don’t feel the need to even the score. Even though evening the score is rarely a good idea anyway.” Then a thought occurred to it, and it tilted its head, “though if someone found a way to hurt you, that might change. I’m not sure what to think of that.”
“Why would that change?”
“Yeah,” Ni’a felt themself nod.
“Because I love you. You’re my child, and I have never had a child before. And I am now feeling things I have not felt before.”
“I don’t know. I really do not know. But I think it might be because I am inhabiting the Sunspot.”
Phage chuckled, “do you want me to tell you the story of how I came aboard the Sunspot again?”
Ni’a looked up at the moon and then at the sun intake far up in the night sky, barely visible in the darkness, the place where Phage said it used to live until just before Ni’a was born.
They liked hearing that story. It made them feel special and safe. It made them feel like they understood Phage better, and it was a familiar story. But now the world did look different than before, and so did Phage. Ni’a felt different. And they found that they wanted to see if the story felt different now, too. So, after a while of thinking about this, they spoke.
Phage hugged them with one arm, and said, “OK.” Then it imitated taking a deep breath, and started from the beginning, “When the Sunspot was made using the nanites that are now in the Garden, after it had been made liveable and people had moved into it and were beginning to be born, alarms started going off all the time. Something was wrong. It wasn’t working right, and the Captain at the time, Eh, asked the rest of the Crew to figure out what it was. And it was Benejede who was able to identify the problem. The ship was beset by chaos. Too much was happening at once, and the process of cause and effect was happening at a rapid and unpredictable pace. We call this state ‘fibrillation’…”