The Loop

Somnihein

I step out of the bunker and into the light of the Fever Breach. I feel nauseous, finally given the time to process what just happened. I hold it in, though. I'm sure mom would be proud.   I reach the nearby outpost, keeping low to the ground as I approach the edge of the forest. I'm not really sure what to make of what I see.   I see bodies littering the ground, most are Dhitol soldiers. As I creep toward the edge of the outpost, my Geiger counter ticks with fury. I peek around a corner and see a field of red grass with streaks of green and yellow.   At the center is Fraeia. They sit with an eden's head resting in their lap. The corpse looks almost like someone tried to cut it in half judging from the massive cut along its stomach. Fraeia strokes the eden's hair, rocking back and forth with black tears streaming down their face.   I step forward, not sure what to say or even what I'm seeing. Fraeia mutters under their breath. I can't hear the words, but given who Fraeia is, or was, I assumed they were prayers; last rites and blessings of departure I move closer and Fraeia finally notices me. They reach out their hand and scream, "Stop."   I obey. The radiation surrounding the area is off the charts. I notice the skin of the corpse in Fraeia's arms. Their skin looks almost translucent. While the skin has some color, I notice the faint image of black veins wrapped around the skull. I can almost make out their teeth and other sights best left hidden beneath the surface.   "Neophytes?" I ask.   Fraeia nods, and takes a deep but shaky breath. "I thought they were soldiers. They're practically children." I stand there, unable to speak. A moment passes and they continue, "Why did they fight? They didn't even-" Fraeia pauses and resists their heaving lungs. "Ai mabhela…" I'm so sorry.   I want to console them, but I'm left fidgeting with my fingers in a desperate search for the right words. I then notice a flicker of light in the trees. I squint but can't make out what it is. The light flickers again. I catch the silhouette of large wings and the barrel of a rail rifle.   The gunshot sounds off before I manage to scream…
       

From the notes of Francis "Argus" Bors

 
Humans have nothing that comes close to the loop. The best analogy we have is a debilitating, life changing, existential crisis. The eden deal with the loop every day. It lingers on their mind, scratching at the door until some poor soul let's it in. Can you imagine the will it would take to go on?   At its core, The Loop is a mental illness. Every eden has it, but not every eden needs to worry about it's more devastating symptoms. It's the fear that matters here. The fear is what's truly traumatic about it. They spend their lives avoiding it, but those who are prone to reaching Somnihein don't have a choice. "The loop binds us all," so they say.   The Loop became more as the eons passed. It became a cultural icon, a fundamental component of eden society. Their understanding of life, the universe, and everything stem from it. Circumventing it achieves a higher state of being. It makes you one with the loop, but also separate; Somnihein.
     

Somnihein

Despite it being the name of their very faith, the eden refuse to even think about it. The whole idea of Somnihein is to avoid it. It's a state of being achieved through revelation. This revelation is knowing your own fate. It's knowing what destiny has in store for you, and knowing you can't change it. Let me explain...   To succumb to the loop is to forever be bound to secrecy, not that you'd want to tell. Those who know insist that no good can come from it. They wish they didn't have to be burdened with such truth, themselves. It is said to be a fate worse than death; immortality.   Those who reach Somnihein are often the highest members of eden society. They're diplomats, war saints, and great leaders, but common soldiers are just as likely to walk the same path. Even The breakers of chains have reached this state. They are those who learn of their fate and reject it. Why? Why reject immortality? Let's talk about death among the eden.
   

For whom the bell tolls

The eden have a special relationship with death. Death is the only escape from Somnihein but will only touch those who have yet to reach that state. Those who can't die bear a burden beyond imagining. Only a select few eden will be immune to death. There are those caught in the loop so tightly, that death cannot touch them. Even their gods follow this rule.   For the eden, the only fate worse than death is one where you can never truly die. There is a way out, though. Death can only come at the hands of another eden who managed to reach Somnihein. This death is predetermined, written in stone. You live without knowing just who has the bullet that will do you in. No wonder the eden revere war.   The eden live in fear of learning they are destined to see the great ending; the final death. They fear learning that they will watch all those they love die while they soldier on, marching toward the end of existence, the end of time. Death is fundamental to them. Life is entropy. Life exists to die. Somnihein is the universe revoking your life's purpose, its meaning.
     

The final death

The eden concept of death stems from their understanding of time. eden see time as a fixed series of events. Can someone change the past? Maybe, but if so then maybe they already have. The future is dependent on the past, and vice versa.   The future can be altered but no matter what, it's already set in stone. The timeline has already reached its conclusion. It's just a matter of playing it out. If you are to live forever, then forever you will live. Putting a gun to your own head will result in misfires, jams, or maybe the bullet just misses, no matter how impossible it seems. The universe goes out of it's way to make sure you live on.   There is no way to change it. There is no true solution. That's the loop's final stage, an eden lost for ages trying to solve an equation that never once had an answer. They freeze up as they realize they may very well be destined for infinity. If they conclude that they are, often through a miraculous event on a battlefield they should have died on, they reach Somnihein. A bout of extreme depression follows soon after.
     

Why?

Why is this possible? It shouldn't be. Fate does not exist and the eden are certainly aware of it. What is missing? The eden have no idea why the loop exists. They don't know how or why Somnihein occurs.   Those who reach Somnihein are often offered a way out. Some choose to stay behind. They don't ask questions. They just try to adapt. Those who can't are sent into a black hole, never to be seen again. Perhaps that is the only way to kill what can't be killed.   There are no scientific studies on the subject, no papers published. It's as if the eden chose to remain ignorant, or simply chose to bury the truth until it was forgotten. Is this why they have no history? Could they be haunted by past crimes like we are?
   
I feel the tears welling in my eyes as if preparing for a grand performance. They only need confirmation. I almost can't bear to look. The thought of an antimatter round hitting a body makes me shudder.   My eyes glance to Fraeia, and the tears are forced to recede. Did the round miss? I look at the crater on the ground and based on where it landed, it shouldn't have. A Dhitol sniper, or any sniper for that matter, would never miss a stationary target at such a short range.   Fraeia's eyes are wide. I see shock, disbelief… rage. "No," they whisper. They turn around and see the Dhitol sniper staring back. "No." They stand and their arms stretch out as if to give the sniper another chance. I hear the gunshot, and again, the round hits the dirt and detonates. Fraeia speaks through sobs and labored breathing, "No." They dive for a pistol on the ground and put it to their head.   My eyes go wide and Fraeia pulls the trigger. Again, I hear the shot go off before I can scream. A trail of rainbow vapor streaks through the air. The round passes through their head, yet they still stand. They're alive, left weak and weeping as they drop to their knees. "No…"


Cover image: by Angely Acevedo

Comments

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Jan 14, 2022 04:03

Wow.

Jan 14, 2022 04:33 by R. Dylon Elder

Is that a good wow? I hope it's a good wow.

Jan 14, 2022 12:30

It's a very good wow!

Jan 14, 2022 19:04 by R. Dylon Elder

Woohoo! Thank you my friend!

Jan 14, 2022 08:59 by TC

God, I am just so curious about the mechanics and implications of this. Like. How does it work. Why is it happening. Where does it come from... in my mind, something this existential can't possible just be a coincidence, there's gotta be some reason for this. And again, knowing you I know this will all connect somehow, and I love that I can't figure out the big picture yet. But also I want to know!!   I am thinking about determinism now- in philosophy its generally accepted that the world is deterministic, and that technically everything could be conceived of as "having been written" since the big bang to the end of the world- there is only one way for things to happen, and that is the way they are happening. While this isn't exactly how your world works, I'm wondering if the loop could be considered as an eden "becoming aware" of the chain of events they find themselves trapped in, and that this is knowledge they all have and are all constantly trying to fight against in an attempt to preserve free will or something, if that makes sense.   Anyway man it feels good to get so close to what you had planned hehe, and I absolutely love the way you used this to delve deeper into the relationship eden's have with death. No wonder they love war so much indeed..

Creator of Arda Almayed
Jan 14, 2022 19:09 by R. Dylon Elder

It is all connected for sure and will be revealed! I'm glad your enjoying it. Determinism is a major thing here. The ammount of evidence, and were talking scientific, empirical evidence, that supports the idea that free will doesn't exist as we see it is kind of scary. It feels like free will, but in the end what happens is always what would have happened. It's like one massive dice roll.   For the Eden, who know death to be a grand and desirable thing, finding out you're immortal is devastating. then you consider the fact that you may well life to see the heat death of the universe and oof.

Jan 14, 2022 19:18

Perhaps, but see the Hard Problem of Consciouness before committing to determinism. There are just too many unexplained gaps, ntm the many worlds theories that point to something more going on.

Jan 14, 2022 21:22 by R. Dylon Elder

Oh absolutely. I'd say it's more along the lines of the block universe theory, or eternalism. That's what I really want it to get at but warframe already beat me to it with its latest update. XD   All time exists at the same time whether past present or future. While free will exists, it doesnt matter. What will happen is already happening. It will always be the case and should it change its only because it already changed and is changing. Therefore, it never changed at all. Maybe even a block MULTIVERSE where the many world theories can fit into the equation.

Jan 14, 2022 21:26 by R. Dylon Elder

Also thank you for pointing out the hard problem. I've learned somthing today! Maybe I dont understand how it relates but I'm definitely intrigued.

Jan 15, 2022 03:15

I know, it's all pretty heady, makes my head spin. But I love to read about it and speculate. And of course it makes for some really wild stories!

Jan 15, 2022 10:51 by TC

Well the Hard Problem of consciousness as well as the many world theory dont really go against the idea of determinism- in itself, determinism is simply the postulate that everything that happens has a cause, which itself will have a cause, creating a chain of events that go back to the creation of the world. Many philosophers are actually trying to argue for a theory of free will that is compatible with the idea of determinism (which I’m personally in favour of) though its no easy feat ^^

Creator of Arda Almayed
Jan 15, 2022 10:53 by TC

Also damn this is reminding me of the classes I had on philosophy of time haha :’) its really neat to see how much research you put into your world!! I love it so much <3

Creator of Arda Almayed
Jan 14, 2022 20:12 by Catoblepon

Fraeia noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Jan 14, 2022 20:12 by Catoblepon

Oh my god i broke the comments box, i'm out of it :O

Jan 14, 2022 21:27 by R. Dylon Elder

U on mobile? I dont know why but I am and that's alot of Os

Jan 15, 2022 13:07 by Catoblepon

I am on computer and I also see a lots of Os (which might have been cuz i pressed O too long)

Jan 15, 2022 16:41 by Bart Weergang

wow (good wow)
I had to read that twice, to really understand it, and it was wow again. Well done Dylan!
Also Lol Cato, for breaking the comment box :D

Feb 9, 2022 14:36

Wow. Ok, I need to take a break and reflect on this. I see how the Edens fear the Loop more than death. Because it condemns them to witness the end of the Universe and to be alone until then. I'm wondering if Yur thought of what he did to the neophyte as mercy since they would never have to go through such a realization. And now Fraeia has to live with it.   This article really sent shivers down my spine, amazing work!

Hoo~ Hoo
Feb 18, 2022 07:02 by Andrew Booth

You really never do disappoint. I love the Eden lore we're getting, and this in particular is a very interesting and powerful take on immortality and religion - "eternal life", huh?

Apr 27, 2022 08:36 by Grace Gittel Lewis

Absolutely rad as hell my guy, outdoing yourself again and again. I see now why you said I was close when I mentioned that the Eden's explanations for their views on death didn't make sense— now it all does. You've got a real knack for creating mysteries that, when answered, manage to leave a yet bigger mystery behind...   I don't know if this in particular was inspired by Destiny in any form, but it does remind me a lot of the causality stuff going on there. Now here comes a WILD theory— I wonder if there's something akin to the sword logic going on here? Perhaps those Eden who reach Somnihein are not truly present, part of themselves exists elsewhere, which is what enables their immortality? If they can only die before reaching this state, I think there's gotta be a trigger for it, somehow.   Where the sword logic requires collecting death (or in the cases of the Hive royalty, adherence to one's nature) in order to create a throne world and thus gain immortality, I'm wondering just what it is that Somnihein requires? Is the trigger the thought that they might be immortal, itself? That'd be a wild, tragic answer for sure— and if so that sounds a hell of a lot like we're entering the territory of paracausality. Also please just...tell me to stop if it's annoying/insulting to keep bringing up Destiny haha— it's a BIG COMPLIMENT that you're giving similar vibes here since that's one of my favorite settings— you've still got your own spin on everything that's equally if not more rad.   Either way, this is a fascinating conundrum, and I'm sure whatever the answer is? It'll be rad as hell.

Apr 27, 2022 16:46 by Grace Gittel Lewis

ETERNALISM. THIS IS ETERNALISM. THAT'S WHAT IT WAS REMINDING ME OF. I mean it MIGHT be eternalism, but it's seeming like a very real possibility here. You have people able to see potential futures, things like Gibraltar seeming to alter time, and the strangeness of the loop and immortality.   The only other sci-fi setting I know of that uses this concept (which will remain unnamed as, though it was hinted at and built up for years it was only finally revealed this December— and would be a major spoiler to note here.) relies on...what is basically magic to allow the simultaneous timelines to intersect. Kind of. I mean it also allows timelines to exist all at once, leading to some weird scenarios from time to time— but when it's used for, say, immortality— it requires the power of what is basically a god to accomplish.   If the Eden are bound by an eternalistic view of time, what causes the timelines in which they cheat death to converge into ours? Very curious...

Apr 28, 2022 03:39 by R. Dylon Elder

AHHH YOU CALLED IT! Well done. Yes and the source of inspiration is really wild. You pegged it right. It's the one your thinking of. There is a difference though that is more clear as time goes by. Wooot! Thank you! Also, no worries. I love destiny lore and being compared is super flattering.

Apr 28, 2022 17:50 by Grace Gittel Lewis

NICE. Glad I pegged it— my second comment came to me the morning after I read it (I had a whole weird horror-eternalism dream when I went to bed after binging a bunch of these) and I rushed to my pc to type it before I even showered haha.   I trust that the difference here will be rad as hell, I look forward to figuring it out! And oh for SURE, Destiny lore is so good— I was collecting the physical compendiums back before I was broke, even.

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