The conference room hung from the endcap cliff; panoramic windows giving a grand view of the interior of Unity 3. Far below gardens, roads and forests, high above an upside-down landscape and ahead just bluish air. Miss Zhe found the open-but-closed safe-but-thrilling view unsettling like always. As always she wondered if the Doctor deliberately had planned it, or if it was because the conference room was safe from mental eavesdropping as it claimed. She suspected the former.
Most of the Doctor sat around the table; everyone except for Jörg who was apparently away at some business at the other end of the habitat and unable to get to the endcap in reasonable time. Miranda was as always polite and pleasant, offering a wide assortment of refreshments, while Eduardo looked slightly impatient and Li (Zhe smiled at the soon-to-be-apparent irony) was busy with something on the net.
"We expect that you have something urgent and exciting from the Penglai team." Miranda began. "I guess this has something to do with the fall of the PCA?"
"I have this presentation which I think you will find extremely interesting. However, I must ask you to employ the most secure protocols possible - the information on this block is sensitive for all of us. Linkers. Unity. Humanity."
The unity smirked at the melodrama and slotted in the module.
It accessed the block in parallel, employing the different subpersons to get a multiplexed awareness of the contents. The first sense of wondering quickly turned into surprise, fear, awe, despair and triumph. Fighter jets roaring across Daonin. Simulated nanodevices. People watching each other with newfound faith. The ideograph of Confucian law. Understanding flashed from mind to mind as different pieces of the puzzle clicked together, but the unifying understanding also released emotions that threatened their communion. Jörg's flash of triumphant faith ("Yes! It is the Omega!"), Li's sense of suspicion, Eduardo-Miranda's misgivings-mixed-with-amazement, Marie's instinctive fear and Ralf's curiosity all threatened to break their unity and force them into the isolation of individual personalities.
It took an effort of their mutual will and love to remain united, a firm decision to be one rather than many. As the internal dialogues became a multilayered internal monologue things cleared. It watched Miss Zhe sit across the table, studying its members with fascination and a hint of awe. How little she saw.
"And you have brought it here?"
"Yes. Or rather, it brought itself. Agents are attempting infiltration of Nova right now. But Unity cannot be infiltrated."
"No. If one member of an unity is infected, the others will notice it. But I feel uncertain about your loyalties here - are you here as a Linker, discussing what to do next in our organisation, or as an evangelist of the Li?"
Zhe hesitated. Marie noted her ambivalence, so easily detected. Li began to ponder the wider implications, slowly drawing Eduardo-attention to her ideas.
"I am here as a Linker. We met at Adobe, we met the Uni and we know their visions. This was a mistake, a terrible and amazing mistake. It doesn't fit into our vision, but we need to get the word to the Family to get them to intervene. I'm not going to lie to you, Doctor, several of our team believe the Li is a wonderful thing and support it. They think it will give us political power and many new supporters."
"And you are uncertain."
"We can see why. We have begun to wonder if the Li can be stable on its own. If it infects Nova, will it be the same ideology-meme as on Penglai? No. On Penglai you are creating a society by the Li, for the Li; it might be more stable, but don't count on it. The Li might give you democracy, but not peace. Not just the enemies of the Li, but all the new versions: Nova Li, Atlantean Li, American Li, Arcadian Li… It might end up fragmenting humanity into zealots rather than unifying it."
The unity focussed intently on Miss Zhe. Her offhand remark was bullseye - not in content, but in tone. Had she seen through its outward appearance, has she seen right into the fragile core of the multipersonality? Did she know or suspect? Did she understand the yearning, the awful temptation the Li represented? The unity grudgingly admitted that she probably did. Never underestimate a singleton.
"We are not sure yet. It might be very different with us."
Yes. The Omega Society. A way of guaranteeing total devotion to the ideal. What is a bit of psychoredesign after having nanothreads woven throughout the cortex and the grubbiest secrets of oneself revealed to everyone? But what if Unity became just another satrap to a runaway meme empire? What if Community became corrupted into Loyalty?
"We need to act soon. The infiltrators might be good, they are old PCA spooks, but I suspect that the news of what has really happen will spread."
"Unity needs to know. It could become our great ally. We have worked slowly on preparing it for the Linker vision, but this… it forces our hand, things will become fluid."
"Are you in any danger?"
"Not really. Many will disapprove, but we have firm views. The worst that could happen is that we get guilted for barrier raising."
" 'He who erects a barrier to truth erects a barrier to community. He who erects a barrier to truth hides his heart from himself and his fellows, and are doubly deceived'. From the collected sayings of Yotik Henrigues. "
"What can I do? Bear witness?"
"Sounds good. If you are prepared, we will make the announcement within a few minutes. We just have to compose ourselves."
Her overlay showed the Unity meeting as a grid of faces, with tiny indicator icons likely intended to be helpful hints of mood, relationships and references but to her Penglaiese eyes they just looked like colourful hieroglyphics. Still, the ripple of consternation as the Doctor presented the situation was easily read. Even the abstract representations of the present IAIs appeared startled at the news.
Unity One reacted instinctively, making all minds (except for a few gasses) within the orbits of Zeus sit up and take notice. In the next hour Unity would decide which side to support, what to become.