A Theory on the Origin and History of Extraordinary Navigational Powers

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FROM: COMMANDER YONSON, CIS
TO: ADMIRAL TOLWYN

Sir,
 It has come to our attention that a student of Progress University has been researching the appearance of Navigational powers exhibited throughout the history of space exploration. This information is accurate, and is a veritable road map for some of the advanced theories inherent to the NAVCOM A.I.
 Fortunately, damage control will be possible. She has been contacted, has accepted a position at Akwende, and has agreed to suppress her findings for the foreseeable future. We are in the process of cleaning up the historical records which allowed her to come to these conclusions.
 I have included a summary of her dissertation below.

A Theory on the Origin and History of Extraordinary Navigational Powers

Researched, compiled, and interpreted by Lang Tanaka, in partial fulfillment of the requirements specified by Progress University, Semester II, 2641.

INTRODUCTION

It is my intention to prove to the discriminating mind that the vaunted "Pilgrim Navigational Abilities" are neither the result of a divine gift nor the inexplicable luck of a madman and blindly devoted followers. Rather, I will attempt to explain the phenomenon as the consequence of genetic mutation engendered by non-Terran conception, gestation and birth.

Due to the political and emotional nature of the philosophies, accomplishments and subsequent martial stance of the Pilgrims, I find it necessary to preface this paper with a definition.

Mutation (n.) 1.The sudden change of characteristics which are genetically inherited, and cannot be traced to previous generations. 2. Any difference in the chromosomal makeup of a germ cell that was not previously extant in the parent organism. 3. Any change in form, qualities or characteristics.

Mutation is the inherent mechanism that allows any growing organism to adapt to new environments and conditions. It has proven vital for the survival of Homo sapiens in the various climates and levels of civilization found within the relatively nurturing atmosphere of Terra. It is what has allowed us humans to survive millennia of change, and to thrive in a variety of disparate environments.

While I cannot insist that any reader using this work as reference material do so in the spirit which I intended, I insist that wherever my name, or this report, is referenced, the following footnote must be appended:

It is the opinion of Lang Tanaka that the mutation of the Pilgrims does not constitute the creation of a new species of being, but merely a new race of man.

History of Space Syndrome Mutation

EARLY TESTS

The earliest studies of the effects of non-Terran conception, gestation and birth that were begun during the late 20th century were largely inconclusive. These mostly consisted of experiments on animals (primarily mice, although one experiment using primates has been reported). Conditions in space were not optimal, and the political pressure on Terra was such that, not only did they feel it necessary to perform the tests in complete secrecy, but 73.2% of the experiments (both space-based, and Terran-based controls) were considered "tainted" by biased researchers.

However, while the results were inconclusive, the resultant opinion was that low-G and zero-G procreation was feasible. Granting that the data was flawed, it was noted that conception was more likely to fail (an estimated 22% under fertile conditions), birth complications were increased (19%), and there were an array of psychological effects on the gravid animal. These were attributed to the zero-G conditions. Notably, genetic "defects" were considered within the range of average, with any variation from the norm being statistically nonexistent.

When similar tests were performed in 2173, on Phobos Station [Dr. Monzoli, Report 217, 2173.118]. the results were very different. Conception and complication fell to within normal range, with no unusual psychological effects on record. The station, it should be noted, had a centrifugal gravity of .6 G. The statistics on record show that the stillbirth rate was 4% higher than the norm, but this was apparently considered cause for neither concern nor autopsy. When later experiments were conducted on Olympia Station using Rhesus monkeys [Drs. Gray and Bauer, Report 682, 2175.336], results were similar. Normal conception and birth ranges, and slightly elevated stillbirth rate, with a sub-note that one of the resultant males showed psychotic tendencies and had to be killed. Subsequent generations showed similar elevations in stillbirths, and a recurring, but not consistent, level of psychosis. [Dr. Gray, Reports 20, 55, 72 and Dr. Bauer, Report 22]

Unmentioned in their reports is that at least two of the monkeys escaped and defied capture for several months, living in the crawlspaces between various bulkheads and decks until starved out. [Station Maintenance Reports 2175.053-152)

Meanwhile, tests were underway to determine what effects local-space travel had on pregnant women. Results were conclusive that even the high-G forces involved in acceleration and deceleration were harmless to a healthy fetus [Space Exploration and Colonization Council, Houston, Press Release 2175.077], and the door was opened to colonization lobbying.

Despite obvious reluctance to go on record as approving human procreation in space, there was enormous public and political pressure to begin colonization of space, and both Drs. Gray and Bauer concluded that there was no real danger for pregnant women, certified by the SECC, to travel off-planet. They did add the caveat that they considered the subject to be under-researched, and lobbied the United Nations to fund further tests. The funding did not materialize, although subsequent notes by station physicians provide a great deal of information for the historical researcher.

CONDITIONS

By the year 2250, there were nineteen fully functional space stations in Sol System, and while all but two of them (Luna and Phobos) were designed with the possibility of an internally expanding population (i.e., children) in mind, few were able to live up to the reality. The academic zones were rarely used for the purpose they had been intended, almost universally being reclaimed for extra cargo space (Mimas), additional living quarters (Eros), manufacture (Titan and Neptune) or whatever seemed important at the time.

Schooling became more practical than academic, with a system of apprenticeship becoming very common, and the liberal arts and other “traditional” subjects being reserved for those whose parents could afford vids and tutors.

Small children, from infancy until the age of six or seven, spend their time either with their parents at their occupations (the “Timmy Tether”―an elastic leash for tying children to their parents or to “safe” areas―gained popularity on Titan, and was quickly adopted on all other stations), or in “Wild Hall”―a kind of recess area where one or more adults supervised the children at play. After the age of seven, they were assigned to menial jobs in various departments, working their way through increasing levels of task difficulty until they could pass the exams that would enable them to enter the professional workforce. Work hours were strictly regulated, for children as for adults, and rarely exceeded ten hours per 24-hour standard day. Literacy was surprisingly universal, usually learned at home from vid programs [Rose Sicilliano, Born in Heaven: The Life of a Station Child, Twelfth Press, 2592]

After half a dozen generations had been born in space, the social dynamics began to change considerably. Gradually, castes and ghettos began to form. The less fital, or intellectual, an occupation, the closer to the hull of the ship were the assigned living quarters. Pay ranges varied little between occupational “levels,” and so at first there was little besides the location of the home suites to distinguish the various groups. Clothing, jewelry, foodstuffs and other amenities were equally available-and limited―to all station personnel. Over time, however, hairstyles, dialect jargon and, especially, living quarters, began to diverge. [Guillermo Sanchz, Caste Societies, D'bell Associates, 2623] With this divergence came the first real evidence of Space Syndrome Mutation.

EMERGENCE OF MUTATIONS

In space, population load is an ongoing logistical problem. Early space stations especially could not afford to spend resources, either tangibles such as food or intangibles such as time, on non-productive personel.

All people who received living visas for space stations were gene-typed. Those applied for parenting permits were again gene-typed and cross-checked for potential problems. Within a few weeks after conception, the embryo was checked for genetic imperfections, and any "unviable" embryos were either aborted or returned in vivo to Terra.

This routine was set on Luna station in the earlist stages of space colonization, and was adopted universally as each new station went on-line.

It was actually noted in the early days of colonization [Dr. Synatschk, Mutations: Occurences and Causes, Luna Station, 2189] that the number of mutations was unusual, not just in comparison to Terran statistics, but specifically in light of the fact that all parents were first gene-typed to prevent such an occurence. The gist of the report was that lower gravity, stress, and a lack of dietary trace minerals combined to create a heightened level of pre-birth defects. Dr. Synatschk's paper was well-researched and eloquent, and was accepted as the authoritative work on the subject for decades. Statistics varied from station to station, and this was attributed to varying levels of stress, gravity, etc.

It wasn't until 2244 that K. J. Ludwick, an administrative assistant in the Human Resources and Recruitment Division, noticed a correlation. The ratio of unviable embryos increased the closer to the station's hull the mother lived. Upon closer examination, ratios also increased the closer to the edge of the solar system the space station was situated, with a decrease for those stations with unusually thick hulls. Radiation was considered, faulty air or food supplies were investigated, employment conditions were studied. [See Appendix A, section I, for a list of studies.]

Nonetheless, there was little outcry since there were far more “normal” conceptions than abnormal ones, and procedures were in place to prevent things from getting out of hand. The phenomenon was eventually attributed to the mysterious (and probably non-existent) Planck Radiation, labeled “Unavoidable” and dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

Indicators of SS Savants, pre-2500

CHANGES IN THE GENOME

Space Syndrome Mutation would have had a great deal more press, and a predominant place in history, if the mutated embryos had been brought to term. In fact, miscarriages, short lifespans and misshapen humans would have been common occurences if events had been allowed to take their natural course. Missing or extra limbs, bone deformities, cardio circulatory predicaments, nearly anything that could go wrong with a developing body might be expected to surface eventually. Instead, there was a simple outbreak of preventative medical procedures and pharmaceuticals. No need to become alarmed, the community was told. Disappointed parents were encouraged to try again, and after 2244, to try taking up a temporary residence inward.

However, only those genetic imperfections being screened for were being caught. [Eros Station Medical Procedures Manual, 2247, Section 3, pages iv - xxvii] Physical deformations were under scrutiny. Unusual abilities or characteristics that manifested throughout individuals' lifetimes were not.

Nevertheless, there are some indications that abilities were also beginning to mutate. Nothing especially unheard of, but when added up, an unusually high count of unusual traits and charactertistics were being recorded.

When comparing each generation with the previous generation (a generation being a period of 25 years), there are some facts we can point out as irrefutable:

  • The tallest people were taller, the shortest people were shorter
  • Healing times were on average faster
  • Onset of puberty occured later
  • Gestation took longer
  • Psychosis (particularly schitzophrenic paranoia and Multiple Personality Syndrome) manifested more often

[Appendix A, Section III]

These statistics are not quoted to claim that humans were “evolving” to some “new stage” in human development, but to prove that mutations were undoubtedly being introduced into the genome.

Emergence of Abilities as Mutations

By the mid-23rd century, certain abilities were becoming recognized in the ever-changing lingo of the stationers. To a large extent, these referred to people previously known as Savants.

The varieties of Savants to be found on the intra-system space stations ranged from the useful to the merely odd. "Zappers" were those able to quickly locate electrical or physical breakdowns in the station's systems. "Chipheads" were able to engineer flawless hardware designs, to the micro-level, faster than the best computer systems. A "Toolkit" seemed preternaturally able to fix things with whatever unlikely supplies were at hand. "Crunchers" could handle complex mathematical calculations without the use of computers. "Rabbitfoots" were said to bring luck to missions (although there is no empirical evidence to support this last). By the end of the 23rd century, these abilities were common enough that it was possible for the Recruitment divisions to hire for specific abilities.

Also from that period of time,there is evidence that one of the abilities considered interesting but not particularly useful was the "Compass." People with this ability had an astonishing sense of direction, being able to tell instantly where nearby astronomical objects were located. On a station where "down" is merely the direction that the station's gravity is pulling, a Compass could always point directly toward the center of the nearest planet or star. [Mimas Human Resources Precedent {symbol} Protocol Manual: Job Descriptions, version 8, 2280]

Indicators of Advanced SS in Pilgrims, post-McDaniel

Ivar Chu McDaniel's following of believers began to form at the very onset of the 24th century. Although originally small in number, it eventually grew into an active cult following known as the Pilgrim movement.

While it is unknown whether he specifically recruited Savants to join him in his exploratory quest, it is known that he first began to preach his vision at Neptune station, which was the farthest station from Sol and had perhaps the highest concentration of Savants per capita. People from all walks of life joined him, and we have to assume that, with the new emphasis on exploration and the high percentage of Savants on Neptune station, at least a few of his followers would have the Compass ability.

That the Pilgrims had an unusually high survival rate during the infant years of the Morvan Drive is historical fact. [Neptune Station logs 2310-2344] Early Confed slowship missions had a success rate of only 91%, while followers of McDaniel enjoyed close to 99% success.

On Terra, Savants were only just beginning to be seen as having extra-normal abilities. Prior to 2300, Savants were simply considered "skilled" or "geniuses." They were considered to be experts in their fields, certainly, but nothing more. It wasn't until the McDanielists, as they were then known, began to openly refer to Savants-and particularly the Compasses-as "the Graced," that the Savants were seen as a phenomenon worthy of research.

Projects were funded, research was begun . . . and rumors were spread. There is no known evidence that any procedures more radical than chem-scans and brain-wave analysis were performed. In fact, hard evidence to the contrary exists. [Census of the Outer Planets 2304-2328] (There is good reason to believe that rumors of gene-screening originated with the Pilgrim movement, which was openly interested in recruiting Savants.) Regardless of the source of the rumors, Savants emigrated or went underground. Perhaps if the research had continued as planned, more conclusive results would have resulted. As it was, no abnormalities were reported. Nevertheless, the full emigration had begun. The Pilgrim Alliance was established on Beacon in 2325. By 2360 they had a fleet larger than any commercial firm, with nearly half as many ships as Terran Federal.

The point of interest here is that Pilgrims encouraged Savants to intermarry and procreate, andf by the end of the century had reason to sub-categorize Compasses. There were three types of Compass abilities: the Visionary, the Explorer and the Navigator. According to information available from the Pilgrim libraries, the Visionary's ability was in determining which systems would prove most valuable to expansion, while the Explorer's ability was to navigate a slo-ship safely through unknown and possibly treacherous environments. Explorers also were responsible for the holo-cartography of new territories. Navigators seemed to be able to expertly navigate any territory which had been explored, notably without the use of traditional computational or cartographic aid. If an Explorer had passed through an area safely, so could a Navigator.

It was partially due to this variety of phenomenon that the Pilgrims gradually came to believe that they were “graced” by the universe, with a manifest destiny of exploration and colonization.

Summary of Parallel Tonality

The scientists of Terra were not inclined to believe this “divine” version of the Pilgrim's abilities. Research projects were funded, staffed and maintained over a period of more than 200 years. A variety of reports have recently been made public, and while most are undoubtedly still under the deepest degrees of clasiffication, there is still quite a lot to be gleaned.

The first notable discovery is that the brains of most savants, particularly those born in the farthest reaches of space, have an unusual pattern of convolutions in the brain. Unlike most human brains, where the pattern of convolutions is fairly evenly distributed, there is a “patchiness” in Savants. Savants have deeper and more intricately folded layers of tissue, notably near the brain stem and the left frontal lobe. These do not seem to respond to external or internal stimuli any more than on a non-Savant human, or even seem particularly necessary to the functions of the subject. Decades went by without any advancement of the theory of why the Compasses “worked.”

The breakthrough came when Dr. Kyu Park discovered a series of experiments that had been taking place in the year 2153. “Parallel Tonality” had once been of passing interest in the pseudo-science circles, being posited as an explanation of telepathy and the popular theories of reincarnation. [Parallel Tonality: Ramifications Regarding the Exploratory Endeavor, Dr. Park, Yosu University Press, 2489]

Although the original experiments had been ridiculed, Dr. Park was intrigued by the idea, and applied it to the conundrum of the Pilgrims' extraordinary abilities. More advanced scientific techniques were available, and it proved to be key in unlocking half of the Pilgrim mysteries: how Navigators were able to “know” what previous Explorers had encountered.

The human brain, it was suggested, was not a device for storing information, but rather was a tool which scripted information onto a parallel dimension, dubbed the “Tanque Dimension,” similar to the way an info-vid burner downloaded its data onto a data-chip. It was conceptualized as a series of vibrations, like a musical tone, that were etched into a parallel dimension, and instantly frozen―hence the name Parallel Tonality. Afterwards the same brain would then be able to “read” the information it had scripted. This explained the phenomenon of memories “lost” with the removal of brain tissue being recovered over time; as the brain rewired itself, it relearned its ability to read what it had previously written.

Summary of "Dead" Dimensions

The concept of parallel dimensions was certainly not new to the 27th century. It had long been understood that while humans could perceive only four dimensions―the material world's three dimensions and time―there could easily be more, beyond human conception and experience. In fact, there have been a small number of scientists throughout history who made a study of the “dead” dimensions, a purely academic study with little practical application, or so it was universally thought.

Dead dimensions were physical dimensions that were created simultaneously with the still-extant four, at the very beginning of the universe . . . but that did not survive the outward expansion of the super-heated universe. The ongoing hypothesis was that as many as two dozen extra dimensions had been born with the universe, but were ripped away to wither and warp into nearly infinitely-small dimensions, to lie hidden somewhere in the dusty corners of the universe. There was a small but devoted scientific following which diligently searched the universe for signs of where these tiny dead dimensions could be found. Theoretically, they alone could answer the question “What happened in the minute which preceded the creation of everything?”

In the 27th century, scientists believe they may have found, if not the locations of the dead dimensions, at least a road sign to the general neighborhood. Despite mankind's reach for the stars and subsequent exploration and colonization, most of the extraordinary astronomical events were still far from mankind's grasp . . . so far away in fact, that astronomers and theoretical physicians were limited to observing events that had happened millions of years ago. Starships were fast, and went far, but not very far or fast on a universal scale. Space was still a tether, keeping sicentists peering out at the universe through a lens that only looked out by looking back in time.

The Akwende Drive changed that. Suddenly, scientists had access to information about a universe that existed, that was essentially close enough to watch, and nearly close enough to touch. Research stations were built next door to the galaxy's Great Mysteries, and overnight, theoretical physics was far from theoretical.

For the Space Exploration program, undoubtedly the most important unexpected discovery was not only proof that the dead dimensions existed, and indeed existed everywhere simultaneously, but that they could actually be stretched back into existence by the myriad and grand-scale stresses that were created by the galaxy's largest event-locations: super-novae, black holes, pulsars, wormholes and the like.

The first discovery was made by an expatriate Pilgrim Alliance scientist, who had voluntarily defected to Terra, asking for and receiving amnesty and a position of research at Mars University.

In light of this new discovery, further research revealed that different galactic events stretched different “dead” dimensions in different ways, and that these differences were perceivable to Explorer Pilgrims.

Just how was difficult to explain, but it was compared to people who, after undergoing relatively simple eye surgery, were somehow able to see in the ultra-violet range of light. They couldn't describe the experience in normal terms (“bluer than blue, brighter than black”), or see well enough to walk across an area strewn with obstacles, but the actual perception was nonetheless there. The Pilgrims could “see” distortions in space by the varying layers of dead dimensions stretched across them. Over time, and after a great deal of financial resources had been thrown at the project, so could Terran navigational computers.

Conclusion

Physiological and historical fact, when stripped away from jingoistic political stances, does not allow for the spontaneous creation of a new species. Religious fervor may sway people into believing that they have “ascended” into a new being; wartime suspicions and patriotism may convince something that the opposing side is made up of monsters and something “other” than themselves.

There is ample documentation that Pilgrims were born of mankind, during a time when exposures to unknown dangers were high and genetic mutations commonplace, and death swift to those who mutated in disadvantageous directions. It is, and has always been, a survival trait of the human species to adapt by mutation, to grow to fit our environment, or to die in the attempt.

Just as endomorphic and ectomorphic traits are evolutionary branches in the human species, created by the pressures of environment and the inability for the unfit to survive long enough to procreate, so are the documented changes exhibited by the Pilgrims. These identical pressures come to bear on those who emigrated to space many centuries ago.

The Pilgrims are a new race of man, but just as height or melanin levels may have at one time answered an environmental need, without denying the carriers of their humanity, so too are the Pilgrims to be accepted into varied and complex ranks of Homo sapiens, no better and no worse than the rest of us.