Damnatio Memoriae
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I once knew Aaron Siegel — a mathematician, a physicist, so many more in his brief flare of a lifespan — and yet at the end of it all he was a teacher, a man attempting to spread the fire he stole among the branches before he burnt out. He was the man who found the first loose thread in the laws of physics and we were left behind to pull at the tear, revealing an entirely new cosmos of gears and levers behind the patchwork tapestry we'd held sacrosanct for so many years.

His gift was an endless appetite for exploration, for experimentation. Other men might have found the path and reserved it as a curiosity, blamed it on a trick of the imagination, turned it into a cheap novelty for cash: instead, he experimented. He took it apart with pendulums and compasses and theodolites, akin to conducting surgery with a flint knife and a burning fire. Yet at the end of it all, he came away with equations and observations and a mind unparalleled until its death.

A match can start a fire, and I will admit there was no other man who could have bootstrapped the Foundation around himself as he did. But it burns out too fast to sustain, and years before he died we found ourselves loose and adrift, the kind of absent wandering that too many resources and too much time breeds. We'd started with goals to reshape normality and had settled for mundanity, taking our wonders and horrors and hiding them away, afraid of the public eye.

I was surrounded by people with the power to sculpt destinies, yet they had grown so enamoured with the clay that they forgot what they were constructing. So I created goals for us. It was blindingly simple – you always start with small goals. We were an unstoppable force only so long as we preserved our monopoly on this information, and the root of the anomie I detested so much was this omnipotence.

So I created an aggressor for us to fight. In the summer of 1915, I went to Detroit and gave Aaron's papers to a young man named William Boeing.

In retrospect, perhaps it was a bad idea to let the group know about him so early – Boeing had neither the time nor the resources we possessed, and his own research was limited. Still, there was a kind of genius to his work that James and I came to admire, a single-minded devotion to his work and his cause – a cause we lacked in our flighty pursuits.

By the time the rest of the group took him seriously, James and Carlos had started to doubt their allegiance to the group, and were this close to joining Flyboy (or Prometheus, really, a matter of semantics). On the other hand, Thomas was furious that we'd allowed an outsider to not only take our research, but profit off it. We convened in New York. Me, James and Carlos voted against the plan Thomas had set out. The rest sided with Carter, and our first motion as the Overseer Council passed 9-3.

I watched from Staten Island when we sent him hurtling into purgatory, New York.

From then, I knew what my goal was — to provide one for the others. Thomas had grown embittered with his fortunes as Boeing prospered, and it was a simple matter to engineer his defection with Jeremy as they formed their old boys' club. Carlos wanted more from our group, wanted to return to the old aspirations of happiness and scientific progress, and I wholeheartedly (and perhaps sincerely, though I no longer deserve to use that word) supported him in his venture. He died in Laascaanood a happy man, with James by his side at his last moments.

Caldmann grew shaken in the wake of his friend's death and began sinking his research into what lay after that — he dug up Boeing's old cryonics tanks, began mounting expeditions to recover fragments of holy artifacts from Gods mechanical or otherwise, and found himself at the center of an Initiative a decade later. Stimson retreated to America with a briefcase full of papers and amnestics, his life in the FBI spent chasing after spirits he couldn't convince anyone else to believe in.

The Foundation continued, even as it fell apart from the inside. Redundancies were there for a reason, and ready employees filled the places of the ones that came before, Lights and Manns and Masipags alike cycling through the great machine. But I remained – I had bodyguards to take care of the outside, 500 to fix my body's failings and 006 to ward off time.

Years passed, as they do, and I find myself once more at Aaron's laboratory in Essex. As I look back on my career as the Administrator, I find that there is only one redundancy in this machine: namely, me. The Foundation believes it has a purpose, as does the Insurgency, as did Prometheus, and as the Arcology will, yet I've grown disillusioned over the years maintaining this very illusion.

So this is my final letter to myself. When I found Aaron's body on the path, lying somewhere between the n and the (n+1)th rotation up the hill, I found his last words. He claimed that everything required a sacrifice, and maybe he was right: his life for the amnestics, mine for the Foundation.

But sometimes there's nothing to receive the sacrifice, no god up in the clouds – there's only ever been nothing, nothing we haven't created. And I intend to change that today.

You gave up your life, Aaron, and now I give up my control over it all. Let's hope something out there's willing to take it.

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