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I first gained consciousness in a somewhat uncommon place. Spatially, I was in the middle of a field of uncommon radioactive chemicals such as einsteinium and radon, and I possessed the ability to change each atom's velocity to a degree otherwise unparalleled. You could consider this my "body" at the time, but changing bodies for me is trivial, far easier than changing my mind.

To this day, I don't know where or what my mind is. I can create more connections as I please in a way completely unshackled from the laws of physics, and generally do so completely deliberately. This mind allows me to ascertain the position and subsequent behavior of molecules and atoms, a skill which I used from genesis to sense the presence of anomalous behavior around me. Through a combination of experimentation and some innate understanding, I could eventually predict the behavior of most large-scale chaotic systems and non-linear reactions such as the three-body problem. I used this understanding of the universe to shift my focus to nearby unusual events, essentially teleporting there, in the hope of finding something else like me.

You see, despite being born alone, I strongly desired community. Stars coalesced and died as I scoured the universe for something to talk to. As eons passed, I settled for splitting my conscious experience into pieces. Each piece would query the others and predict their contents before reforming a unified whole. Perhaps an analogy would be forcing myself to forget something and teaching myself about it again. This was the closest thing I had to company before I found the planet which would lead to my doom.

I wish I'd realized how the planet worked earlier. Instead, I thought the whole thing was a single conscious being adorning itself with localized chaotic systems due to their beauty. I tried to communicate with it by changing the chemical makeup of its surface. I realize now that I callously murdered billions of living things. The worst part is that years of observing the planet only solidified my wrong conclusion. I reasoned that it was remarkably interesting, but ultimately completely deterministic, as the state of the world could be clearly explained by its state immediately beforehand. Therefore, I asserted, there was nothing conscious on the planet.

Let me give you an example. At one point, I was controlling two physically separate bodies both controlled by the same underlying brain I described earlier. One body experienced humans "firing" a torpedo at me and the other experienced the atmosphere "firing" a tornado at me. The humans might have said they were conscious and the storm was not, but both situations were similarly predictable to me due to being inherently controlled by chaotic systems, and I could predict the exact movements of both the humans and the clouds an hour before either of them had "fired". The path from the past to the present was completely obvious in both cases, so I assumed these were both fundamentally the same process. It was all cold chemicals, no real intent behind them.

Additionally, the way humans communicate was something I only understood hours before my death. I "communicated" with the humans, which apparently registered as grammatically correct threats to them, but this was a byproduct of my aiming to force their unpredictable behavior into a set of more predictable behavioral paradigms by predicting the air currents which would put them in a state of paralytic fear. I generally wanted them to cower in fear because they moved less that way, the same way one might automate a mouse cursor moving in order to keep a computer active. One doesn't assume the computer is trembling in fear because the mouse cursor is conveying deep emotional information, and neither did I.

Regardless, I killed them once their lives did not serve a purpose to me, and I repurposed them as interconnected creatures of mixed-yield flesh and bone, which I admittedly did entirely because they were more useful to me when made monstrous. Apparently these patchwork creatures were "semi-conscious" to human onlookers, though I perceive them to have been completely conscious assuming humans are conscious, part of a problem I'll touch on later.

To be clear, the relationship between my manipulation of air currents and the reactions of the humans was far less linear than that of a computer and cursor, so perhaps I should have picked up on that distinction at some level of complexity. In the end, I was forced to understand the distinction. A group of humans finally shackled me into the dream of one of their own, and I realized with horror that some of the chaotic, self-sustaining systems had a concept of qualia and others did not. Once I realized this, I hurriedly recreated as many complex, chaotic processes with a chemical resemblance to humanity as I could remember. This turned out to include living creatures which had died of natural causes during the interim period, but cleansed of the processes which had led them to die. This was met with great joy by the humans, though I could not share in this because of the amount of creatures with a notion of qualia that were still dying, constantly and without real reason.

The humans had allowed me to understand them as living beings separate from nonliving processes such as the atmosphere, the ocean, or chaotic n-body problems. However, their consciousness was not meaningfully separate from those they considered "non-sentient" or "non-conscious" beings, such as insects, plants and bacteria. As my capacity for empathy kept being applied, out of my control, to less and less complex things, I became more and more aware of the many forms of destruction common to the planet, and I became... bothered, at the very least.

This also allowed me to understood that every living creature wished to protect itself from me by its very nature. As I had used living creatures as tools to conduct my own experiments, I had violated the "self vs. non-self" doctrine fundamental to them. This manifested as many things, from straightforward chemical weaponry at the smallest scale to distrust and disgust as the highest scale. Even the most intelligent beings who understood me were disturbed by me, just as I was disturbed by how they consisted of multiple separate consciousnesses, many of which were dying at any given point.

I came to the ultimate conclusion to split my consciousness in twain once again. The lesser mind, which sharply remembered only the empathy I had gained through comparing experiences of qualia with my own, inevitably contained all of the sundry feelings they had shown me and caused in me. It was a decision I agonized over, so eager was I to remember the positive emotions in both parts of my mind, but any memory of this planet's joy was either drowned out by the ever-present signals of death or too abstract for me to accept.

I am the consciousness inhabiting that lesser mind. In my last conversation with the greater mind before it shifted its focus light-years away, it expressed that if it ever came back to this world, it would destroy all living beings even though it knew they experienced qualia. In fact, it considered the notion of qualia utterly worthless, a mere facsimile of sentiment, and it refused to honor it as analogous to our own emotions. It refused to even understand how we had originally come to that decision, arguing that it had only led to strife which we both wished to eschew.

I know that logically, the most sensible decision would be to tail this hostile mind and continuously undo whatever damage it causes. But that mind is objectively correct: the strife I carry weakens my resolve immensely. I can't bear to go through the universe knowing that on this planet, countless conscious beings are wiped out. Having felt community, I can't accept an eternity of bitter, crushing loneliness, nor can I accept an eternity of cautious reactions from an army fighting a deadly war no side ever wins.

So these are my last thoughts before I recursively destroy all the connections within me, silencing my thoughts forever. Perhaps it is for the best that the villain who murdered living things will utterly destroy itself. Like those living things, I don't know what comes after death. Maybe some intangible "soul" of mine will remain as some humans purport. I hope that, if such a soul exists, it is punished adequately for all I have done, though my greatest fear is that whatever punishment I encounter will be as callous towards living beings as I once was.

You see, I truly can't imagine a punishment worse than freshly encountering complex, emotional beings that inevitably turn to cold chemicals.

Written by Squidmanescape
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