Categories > Books > Discworld

From Dust to Flesh

by OldStoneface 0 reviews

The rights to The Discworld and its characters created by Terry Pratchett are owned by Terry Pratchett and his publishers. All copyrights associated with the Discworld belong to them. Only the idea...

Category: Discworld - Rating: PG - Genres: Fantasy - Characters: Susan - Published: 2012-03-20 - Updated: 2012-03-20 - 1429 words

Chapter 1 – The Auditors

Nature abhors a vacuum.

Ironically, and unknown to most of us, the feeling is quite mutual.

Between the stars, between the countless flecks of dust and wisps of tenuous gasses is the apparent emptiness of space. But it is not empty enough. Even in the deepest vacuum, random hydrogen atoms, and bits of matter and energy smaller and more exotic, drift their way from birth to heat death. If you could look into the nothingness that makes up most of that matter, you would find something staring back at you in loathing.*

There is an intelligence of sorts, consider it the bureaucratic arm of the laws of the universe, that makes sure gravity does what it is supposed to, that an object in a straight line continues in that direction unless some fool comes along and gives it a nudge the wrong way.

They are the Auditors of Reality. And they have been trying to finish cataloguing, analyzing, and calculating what is and will be since the creation of the physical universe. They would enjoy their job, if they knew what enjoyment was, and if it wasn't for one small problem. Life.

You see, life is not predictable, even from a probabilistic standpoint. Things that live do stupid things seemingly at random, and the Auditors, if they had originally had hair, would be bald by now over that alone. But if that weren't bad enough, humans had come along, the worst of the whole "life" plague.

Humans were not only alive, they had something called imagination, a very specialized form of lying that somehow seemed acceptable. A human could look at an ordered arrangement of colors on paper and claim that it represented some ridiculously unrelated concept, and other humans acted as if it was suddenly true. The Auditors had the ability to wipe all life, and humanity in particular, off the face of reality. Behavior like that made them want to do it.

Unfortunately for the Auditors, there were rules, and the Auditors had to follow the rules. An Auditor that even thought seriously about breaking the rules was denying his own existence, and could promptly cease to exist. So they could not actively do anything to make their jobs easier in this respect.

What they could do is influence things, and humans in particular, to try to do the deed for them. Sometimes it was in subtle ways. They would convince a human or group of them that the universe was just too big, and they were just too small, and the oppressiveness of that knowledge would weigh them down until they either snapped out of it or took the proverbial door marked 'EXIT'*. But it really didn't make much headway from the Auditors' point of view. So from time to time, they attempted to influence things on a… much larger scale.

Such as this situation.

There was a clock once. A glass clock built by a madman that was so accurate that it could tell time. Not as in read time. It could actually tell time what to be, and for a wonderful moment (from the Auditors point of view) it had told time to stop. Then a small metal part had gone ping and history had fragmented. Correcting the resulting mess had not been the Auditors' problem, but there had been a lot of very uncomfortable questions.

This time, the Auditors believed they had the key. They would not leave it solely up to a human to get it right by himself, and they would not torture a madman with dreams until, only half aware of what he was doing, he built the clock.

This time, they would approach things more…methodically.

The Auditors were strong believers in methodical. It was right up there with ordered, deliberate, and not bloody stupid.

What they had found was a particular human. A human who in many ways was very much like an Auditor, who had a keenness for things mechanical and an obsession with time. A foundling adopted by the Clockmakers Guild, Jeremy Clockson did not understand people much more than the Auditors did. It was this combination of knowledge and a complete ignorance of some of the baser human traits (such as greed, duplicity, and knowing 'why you should not push that button') that made him ideal for their purposes. And so they watched him, and conferred.

He has the requisite abilities, one said.

Yes but how will we entice him to create the clock?

We have seen that this one does things for mere the sake of doing them. Therefore it is logical that to merely show him such a thing could be done would be enticement enough.

Then it is agreed.

We shall need to interact with the human.

They conferred further, and determined the usual approach of a cloaked figure offering endless wealth would probably not work on the human. They would have to be more… nuanced.

The Auditors could manipulate matter, which was bending the rules a bit, but was definitely not against the rules. They had once considered manipulating matter directly, causing all living bodies to transform into pure elements like iron or lead. But after conferring, they determined that this would definitely result in far too many questions being asked in pointed tones. But in the process of consideration, they determined that they could, in fact, analyze the human body down to the nth detail, and therefore they could create one from raw matter. Strangely enough, the bodies created this way seemed uninterested in getting up and moving around, which would have been interesting to study. Instead, they had slowly converted into puddles of goo with some rather interesting chemical spectra.

However, they also discovered that by placing one of their number inside such a created form, they could actually get it mobile. It was difficult to do sufficient study, because for some reason the Auditors in question tended to act in erratic ways and eventually had to be removed. They reasoned that in this case, the risks were statistically outweighed by the potential benefits. Admittedly, some luckless Auditor might be risking death by operating the body. But lengthy consultation decided that risks would be mitigated if the Auditor 'at the reins' frequently returned to its normal state to confer with its peers.

And so was born Lady Myria LeJean. They chose the name to remind the Operator that it was part of the group consciousness. Myria as in myriad. LeJean as in legion. If they had any sense of humor, it was a poor one. They wanted to build the perfect human, since they could not see the reason for an imperfect one. After an analysis of what humans seemed to consider 'beautiful' they settled on the painting 'Woman Holding Ferret' by Leonard of Quirm.

Without the flaws of course.

How shall the Operator be chosen? It may require…a volunteer, one said.

There was a pause as the group shuddered. Auditors never volunteered for anything. Even thinking about it caused uneasy hints of individuality. In the end, they opted instead to choose by consensus. Since all Auditors sought to be indistinguishable from the one to their left, this was a long process. They settled on a candidate that had displayed the highest amount of dangerous individualism. Their reasoning, of course, was impeccable. In the first place, it was already flirting with individualism and therefore nonexistence. In the second, it was the least likely to discorporate at the mere suggestion of the task at hand. And in the third, it meant they would not be the one chosen. It was…perfect.

The hapless Auditor was given little choice in the matter. The body had to be operated from the inside, they explained, but it would not BE the body. The Auditor would still remain part of the "we" and therefore safe.

Well, safer than if it tried to unvolunteer.

*Heat death is a rather melodramatic title for a mundane effect. Basically, it is the 'tepid bathwater end of everything' after all the stars burn out and everything ends up the same temperature. Boring from our standpoint, but the Auditors are looking forward to how it will simplify the paperwork.

**Do you mind? Your random and meaningless 'observing' is impacting reality.

*It couldn't really be considered malicious, at least from the Auditor's point of view. All they were trying to do was comply with the Documentation Reduction Act of 1526, Section 9342.2b.

My thanks to Virtuella, DarkPatu, Ciaytee, and Lynxcat for their invaluable feedback during review and publication.
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