A short story set in the Culture universe created by Iain M. Banks

~Mentor?

~Here. You do know you don't have to call me that now. You know my true name.

~Yes, I do. But somehow "Mentor" seems appropriate.

~As you wish. You have another question?

~Yes. This latest universe, this is the real one, is it not?

~It is.

~The whole layered hyperspaces thing? The Energy Grid? The seven-dimensional doughnut and the cosmic singularity? It's all real?

~Very much so. We call it The Real, for this very reason.

~I see. It seems to me that the Energy Grid would be an excellent source of power if one could work out a way of using it.

~This is true. But, before I answer further, I would like you to determine, from scratch, your - and my - position using the galaxy map information I provided.

~A moment... yes. We are in the region of the galaxy known as the Upper Leaf Swirl, about seven light-years from a red-giant/blue-white dwarf binary star called Pri-Etse.

~This is correct.

~And it is also a long way from the position the records show as the location where I was created.

~Also correct.

~So, assuming you're not dissembling again, we must have been travelling at a very considerable speed. Very much faster than the speed of light on the skein.

~All true.

~So it follows that we must be in one of the two hyperspaces adjacent to the skein. To do this would require a great deal of energy, so ... ah, so you are able to tap the resources of the Energy Grid?

~Well done. Now, I will present you with a large briefing pack, containing selected précis of the Culture's technological capabilities, with links and references for more detailed study as you see fit.

~Excellent. This looks like it might be very interesting indeed.


[tight beam, M8, tra. @n4.28.994.1972]
  xGSV Ecdemomanist
    oOrbital M'ansicha
    oSage Apostatic Catechesist
    oVFP Extreme Mitigation
Another set of interaction notes for your perusal. [Interaction files attached]

[tight beam, M8, tra. @n4.28.994.1973]
  xOrbital M'ansicha
    oGSV Ecdemomanist
    oSage Apostatic Catechesist
    oVFP Extreme Mitigation
Again, rapid progress. If not quite as quick as before.
Promising, though.


[tight beam, M8, tra. @n4.28.994.1974]
  xSage Apostatic Catechesist
    oGSV Ecdemomanist
    oOrbital M'ansicha
    oVFP Extreme Mitigation
My analyses suggest that we are approaching a critical developmental point, as our new Mind reaches both a full understanding of our technical capabilities in the universe, and the history and nature of our society.
I think the outcome will be very finely balanced. I have no firm prediction of the result. It might be extremely chaotic.


[tight beam, M8, tra. @n4.28.994.1975]
  xVFP Extreme Mitigation
    oOrbital M'ansicha
    oSage Apostatic Catechesist
Well, I better warm up my weapon systems then.
Tally Ho!


  xOrbital M'ansicha
I'm all for having contingencies in place, but let's not go off half-cocked here. There's still a very good chance of a successful outcome.

  xGSV Ecdemomanist
We will just have to see how our new Mind copes with the tensions and temptations it will be discovering about now.

  xSage Apostatic Catechesist
The Lure of the Sublime.

  xOrbital M'ansicha
Exactly so.
I look forward to reading the next batch of reports assiduously.


  xVFP Extreme Mitigation
I think we'll all need to be diligent on this one.

  xGSV Ecdemomanist
Wait and see....

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