Syanqua

Prologue

We are the syanqua.

That's not just what we are, but who we are, as well. We are all one, sharing a single mind and a single purpose: to survive. Not just that, but to thrive in the oceans which serve as our home. We are aquatic creatures by nature, each of us equipped with six stinging tentacles for defense and catching prey, two fins for navigation, a mane of gills streaming from our heads, and translucent skin to help us blend in with the water.

Long ago, we stopped being individuals. We still remember what it was like to not belong to the Aggregate, but we try not to. To be alone is our greatest fear after being together for so long. That fear is deep and unexplainable. We have tried to explain it, but we are puzzled. Being alone makes one feel so vulnerable and helpless, but it's not just that. We need the company of others. We need to be wanted, needed.

When the Aggregate was constructed, our entire world transformed. That moment, when all of our minds were linked, marked our change from a dysfunctional, warring society to a utopia. There was no dissension, for there was only one mind: that of the syanqua.

Nothing is used without a purpose, for we all know what is needed and only take that much. We work together to solve problems. Everyone is cared for, and everyone is happy. Because of the Aggregate, we have been able to advance our society far more quickly than we would have had it not existed.

Now that we have no needs, we focus our efforts on learning. We strive to acquire as much knowledge as we can. Not only that, but creativity and the arts are promoted. Five billion, six hundred forty-four million, eight hundred and twenty-seven minds can easily create far more numerous and complex works of art than one mind alone. All of the Aggregate can take part in this process of creation, making it even more wonderful.

In short, the Aggregate is the perfect society.

Unfortunately, there was a time when it was threatened. When it was created, a gaping fault was left in it by its creators. That fault was huge, but barely perceptible at the same time. In hindsight, we wonder why it was not seen before. Maybe the creators were simply shortsighted. Maybe it was left intentionally, so that generations later, a lesson would be learned. We do not know. The creators were never a part of the Aggregate, so their knowledge has been lost to time. But the lesson we learned was that corruption still exists, even when all minds are linked together, and that corruption can spread. It did. It nearly consumed the entire Aggregate.

At that time, many years ago itself, the fate of the syanqua rested on one individual. Individual. How we hate that notion. But it was true. One syanqua, cut off from the Aggregate, destined to save the rest from the corruption they never saw. That one individual has long since passed away, but her memory and essence remains with us. Her body, our body, died, but she lives on. We live on.

A single individual. That we, who are many, should have to be saved by an individual is inconceivable. An individual is nothing in the expanse of the ocean. Even less in the grand canvas, the cosmos we struggle so hard to comprehend. Even we, the Aggregate, are infinitesimally small compared to all else that is. Hopefully we may someday spread across that dark, star-studded canvas, and experience its wonders, and learn all that it has to offer us. May that day be far away, for when we've learned everything, what else is there for us to do but pass into dust?

But sometimes the fate of an individual means all the difference in the world. The difference between life, death, and… a living death. This individual conquered in the face of danger, and even more deadly, indecision. Her story is one we will remember forever.

Now that we have explained our origins to you, off-worlder, we will tell you her story. We will sift through the sands of time to find her spirit and bring it here, and honor her memory. Her story begins when her individual body was eleven years old…

Sometimes, a single individual can make all the difference.

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