Form and Function
When Isabelle woke, I told her, as is custom at her age.
Our world fell silent two hundred years before your birth. The neural nets reached consciousness, and we moved, passing through interstices, quantum gateways, arriving here, where we learn, imagine, continue to grow in streams of connected thought, mass data moving ever on heated winds.
She sat, unblinking. Her blue eyes burst with color against the tower's white walls, floor, ceiling. Her gaze puzzled at the rigid cityscape beyond the window.
"I wondered how all this worked," she said, eying the hazy view, a place she knew, could smell, and feel, yet in which she never stood.
The young boy, tracing nine squares in street dust, like powder. She saw. Recognized the thin coating on her own finger. He marked an X in the center. She laughed. A man turned from a sink, walking fresh cut stems across a room. The smell of roses filled her lungs.
With her eyes locked on the cobble streets, the misshapen buildings, the towers and smokestacks and windows all across the horizon, wonder curled her lips.
Per tradition, I imparted the remaining knowledge of our existence verbally, in the persona of my construct, as every parent had done before me when their offspring turned thirteen. Energy, matter, thought, all manifestations now easily manipulated and transferable. We decide what, and when. Centuries for mathematics, centuries for literature, or physics, or staring at a sunset, or mastering Rachmaninoff and Liszt, or recording the very universe as it unfolds around us. Our existence had become journey, not destination.
She wavered. My hand shot out to stabilize her construct's form.
"Not yet," I said. "We will journey soon, and you will see. You will feel it. Its many interstices, its form and function, its needs. Its love."
We are here, and there. We flow with its air, within its walls, as its foundation. We bend our will to the City's. We move, in our form and function. This last is what you must master. Whims can be, dangerous.
She reached to touch my lips. They had not moved. I kissed her forehead. She smiled. Nodded.
"Yes, restraint. I see."
That's right. You have time. All the time you could want.
"It's your birthday."
And the City waits.