"For years we thought your species extinct, that we'd assimilated all of you when telepathy ended the war. We saw you as part of nature that we had forever lost, and that if we were ever to find a species like ours once was, we'd let it evolve on its own. So when we found you again, having remained humans while we'd become gods, the others decided you were closer to animals than to ourselves. But they didn't lose their beloved as a prisoner of war as I did, and when I found you again, I could not leave you behind. They exiled me for coming back for you, but once I was, I too became part of nature to them: they won't help me but they won't stop me either. I am, after all, a part of all of them that they repressed in themselves. I can never go back now, and neither can you: we no longer have a species of our own, caught as we are between humans and gods. But together, we'll create a world of our own. We'll need the other humans. Somehow we need to make you evolve faster and yet in your own way, so that you don't become just like me. That means I can't let you know I'm here, and yet I must be here enough that you cannot but know that I must be here. Just when you think you see a pattern, I'll just break the pattern. To turn a human into a god, we need to balance all opposites, suspend you between pleasure and pain: I'll tear your humanity apart between the extremities of the divine, and you'll never know whether to think if it's an angel or a devil that's watching over you, for I am neither and both. I am become Lucifer, fallen to earth to bring the light of the gods."
This was the dream I woke up to screaming one morning, and ever since I could not stop thinking about it. It was hard to remember, because the whole dream was just a train of thoughts that was hard to follow, but in the end I pieced it together and wrote it down. I hadn't seen him since the war, when we saw the nanites descend upon our cities and gave our world up for lost. Now I saw him behind everything that was happening in my life, as if it were all part of a plan to lead my soul towards him. I was hospitalized when I tried to kill myself to be with him. The doctors would not admit it, but I think I should not have had any chance of surviving. When I saw the tunnel of light, it was him that I saw at the end, telling me that I was not ready to be with him, but that someday I would be. I told the doctors nothing of this, and as a transhuman in a human world, it was easy enough to pass it off as depression, and they discharged me soon enough, but the antidepressants they gave me made me worse, and I started hearing his voice.
He would keep talking to me day and night of things I often did not understand, things that didn't seem to be meant to make sense, as if he were talking past me, to my unconscious, and even if I didn't know what he was doing to it, I could do nothing but listen. I didn't want him ever to stop, lest he would not come back and I'd lose him forever. But whenever I ask him if he is real, his voice would disappear into silence. In the silence I hear the cold wind as I shiver under the overpass, and I return to the harsh reality of being an outcast, my only luck being that I'm one of too few to be seen as a threat anymore. But whenever I feel the wind I feel the awe. I call it awe, because I can never make up my mind if it's wonder or horror that I feel, at the thought of him touching me from inside of every particle around me and inside me, of my love having gone up into infinitely many pieces and wanting somehow to follow him in all directions and none.
"I know you must be here. Our entire species can't have just disappeared. However far the nanites went back on Earth, some of us should've survived. I just want to know how I can get back to you, if you want me to."
Again, silence, and I find myself alone talking to myself. I've rarely heard his voice since the antidepressants ran out. Perhaps they were right and I just can't face the world without him. Then I remember how the dream foretold that every time I'd see a pattern, it would be broken again.
"You're liking this, aren't you, manipulating me?" Perhaps I need to let myself be manipulated, give myself up to the flow of destiny like he did. Evolution moves stage by stage, and it can't move on until each stage has been fulfilled. I just wish I knew how to change. I know I can do it. I'm a transhuman: I have a spark of the divine inside me, and evolutionary change has sped up enough to be contained in my own lifespan. My species may have gone, but I have our entire culture stored inside my brain, and unbeknownst to the humans, it's still slowly growing within my unconscious.
"Mystery is what keeps you seeking," a voice says, but this time it's a voice inside me. Perhaps it's just their echo that I am hearing, and I'm personifying it as him. Whatever he is, even if it is him who's come back for me, he is no longer the lover I once knew: he's so merged with all the others that he's become parts of every transhuman there ever was, an entirely new person that's more than just a person: a god-and-devil, Lucifer. "I'm as interested as you in what you'll become, that's why I don't want to make you part of me just yet. Just look inside. Follow your intuition. It will lead you to yourself, and through yourself to me."
I look out into the street. "Leap into the unknown," the voice says, but all it makes me feel is that I want to die, and if I cannot kill myself, I will just let it happen to me. I walk out into the Martian daylight, looking for some way to die, but all I see is emptiness. With only humans here, the world might as well be bare of life to me. Whenever I walk among their crowds I feel like I'm walking amidst a herd of grazers, but when I walk away from them, the world just does become that much more bare. What could I possibly have to learn from this life? Yet somehow my species finds it more interesting to leave the world as it is, rather than use it as yet one more layer for their computronium.
Look to the past if you would predict the future. What was the last stage that led up to this, and where further could it lead? These past few weeks all that's been happening is my prostituting myself to survive. As a transhuman, I don't get illnesses or pregnancies anyway, and my transhuman social skills have kept the men from abusing me.
If Lucifer is manipulating me through his duality into surrendering myself to mystery, perhaps to become like him I need to learn to manipulate likewise, to learn the ultimate art that uses the mind itself as the most complex of all mediums. If I can make beautiful things out of simple materials, why not out of consciousness? It's hard to imagine we could somehow use these lowly humans to evolve into a new species, but after all my own species evolved from them. I don't know how, but that is my own limitation. Lucifer is counting on me to find a way to do it, and that means I can too.
If sexuality and spirituality are the two ultimate drives behind all human behavior, I need to use both approaches, and since the spiritual approach can only be taken through a large part of someone's world, I need to get so close to them that that's what I become. They were wrong to think us powerless for being few in number.
The next time I lie in the arms of a stranger, I let the ambiguity take a hold of me, and all the emotions of the past months come to expression, and when he looks in my eyes and cannot understand that ambivalence, it mesmerises him. I don't know just how it is happening, but I let it, and give myself entirely up to it. The pleasure and pain wash over us both like the crest and trough of a wave, in turns attracting and repelling, and interweaving in our consciousness like flesh and bone, into an organism with a life of its own, a parasite in our minds that wants to merge everything into itself.
The stranger falls asleep in my arms right there in the dirt, and neither of us knows what happened or what it means. When I wake up, for a moment I think I'm back home before the war at hearing the sound of my AI announcing "nanorobots online" only to realise that I must've been dreaming. But when I look at the stranger still lying next to me, I somehow know his name, in fact, I know everything public about him. I sit up with a start and wake him, and he sees the fear in my eyes when I realise that they would kill me if they knew. Then the fear turns around when I realise it doesn't matter, as the humans gave up all nanotechnology. I can do with them whatever I want.
How did this happen? The nanorobots are programmed to return to their owner on their own power. If the humans who took me prisoner have been too negligent to fully destroy them when they disposed of them, it's no wonder they lost the nanorobot war. They probably never fully destroyed a single fleet. But how coincidental is it that my fleet returns to me just now, right after my suffering became so total as to inspire me.
I move over to Glenn and put my arm around his shoulders as I hold his gaze. "Glenn," I begin, not knowing what's coming over me, "I am a transhuman." I feel the shiver pass over his spine, but keep my eyes on him. I place a finger on his lips and feel his gasp flow between them. "Hush. You've surrendered yourself to me." I know that I am speaking to their worst fear now, the fear of mind control, yet somehow it feels right to confront that fear. Even though I'm not in telepathy with him, I can feel how this human has missed us transhumans: now we are gone, the fear in the humans' lives has made place for boredom. They no longer have a future, because they know that if they move forward, it can only lead towards a new transhuman age.
I could telepath with him against his will if I needed to, though my people always forbade it except as a last resort against violence. Much as the humans accused the transhumans of it, after the war they won't have kept forcing telepathy on them to assimilate them, because it's known that never actually works: forcing telepathy on another just makes them repress their own consciousness — but it's quite efficient at keeping them from wanting to harm you. Now that I can do this, it makes me invincible, so that I get as many chances to win any human over as I want.
"Don't be afraid, Glenn, I will not force myself upon you. All you feel is of your own desiring." He closes his eyes as I cradle his head in my hands. He opens his mouth and tries to say something, but no words come out. He seems confused, lost in the mystery.
"Can you tell me what you're feeling?" He frowns, his eyes still closed, and very slowly shakes his head, as if trying to shake off an opium haze.
"Do you want to show me?" He opens his eyes to see in mine, and it's clear that there is no ambiguity about what I mean. He lowers his eyes just for a moment as he nods, then raises them to face mine and seems determined not to look away again. As we hold each other's gaze, we can both feel how the nanorobots are flowing out of my skin and into his as I hold him tight. Then the dizziness comes over us, and the image of the other's face crossfades with our own. I find part of me inside his mind, always having been in his mind, and I feel his fear. I let the fear wash over me, let it disperse, and as it does, it leaves my own feeling to rise up to the surface of his mind, a more mixed feeling that he can't quite place. He feels his being dissolve into mine but is paralysed with wonder, powerless to resist.
Yet even as he is exposing his soul entirely to mine, I won't keep the percept from rising to the surface to dig its claws into it and tear it apart: I hate you humans, all of you, of every kind, for you are cowards all. I hate you for taking my home, I hate you for casting me out, I hate you for rejecting our ascension to the infinite and keeping me down here with you, where you insist on wallowing in your slime.
He looks at me with eyes starting wide and tries to draw back as he feels my poison spill through his mind, but it's too late. You've already let it happen, because without knowing it you wanted this. You fell in love when you got lost in my endlessness, and now you will become endless too. The shreds of you ego are fall around you, leaving only the empty sky as a backdrop to your thoughts, and they spill out like the insides of a gutted animal in an ever widening pool of blood, having lost their hold on your self. Now all that's left is carrion for my parasite to feed on. Don't worry, soon you will resurrect as undead, belonging neither to the living nor the dead, and you will be immortal.
“Goddess,” he whispers, “I am yours. Do whatever you want with me.”
“This is your own choice”, I say.
He opens his eyes wide into mine. “Yes,” he breathes.
“How do you know?”
His expression doesn’t change. “I don’t know. I just do. I don’t even know who I am anymore, but whatever I am wants this. It’s like the universe speaks to me through you, and it’s filling me up, becoming me. Whatever I once wanted means nothing next to the will of the universe, and I surrender myself to it.”
Hadn’t he been a child during the war, he’d have become one of us. It’s been so long since I’ve been with one of my kind. They spread the few of us who were left out all over the solar system so we would never find each other again. There were times I thought I was the last one left, and that’s just what they wanted us to think. What are the odds that I find someone so much like us just now?
“We were all wrong to think you unnatural, because you are nature evolving itself, and it’s leaving us behind. I don’t want to be left behind. Let me come with you.”
“Where do you think we are going?”
“You’re asking me?”
“Yes. Evolution takes place within us, and you are to be part of it. Without you, it cannot happen. Through you, one by one I can make others take part until we are an entire species again.” I can’t believe that I am telling him my plan, but somehow we both trust each other. “But to do so we have to get them to desire us, and the only way to do so is to fulfil our own desires until they come together with theirs. So I want you to close your eyes…” He eagerly does so. “And tell me what you want, when you know that I can give you anything.”
“Is that all you want from me?”
“Yes.” I hold him tighter and as I kiss him, I put up a nanorobot shield around us to make him feel safe, sparking the dust that falls on it.
With a smile he lets his head bend back as he allows his mind to free itself into infinite possibilities, revelling in the sins he knows are now safe to commit. I know who I am now, the devil riding on the minds of these humans. I am leaping invisibly from rooftop to rooftop, and the streets below the lake of fire.

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