Eulalie was dying. All the True Humans knew that. And this was a major problem because no one in all the domes on all the planets inhabited by humans knew the computer as well as Eulalie.
And since there had not been a true human born since before they knew Eulalie was dying, there was no True Human to train as a replacement for her. There was discussion about trying to create a new kind of Specialist who could be trained, but there was universal agreement that to do so would signal the end of True Human control. Prejudices were hard to overcome, even after 50 or 60 millennia.
Training a Wild Human seemed out of the question. They were just too unpredictable. And the Polysitians? It had been so long since they had been in contact that nobody even knew...or cared...where they were anymore.
One night, while Eulalie slept, she had a dream. She related her dream to Zozula the next morning, admitting that she wasn't terribly sure of the advisability of following the path it revealed.
In her dream she was taken through the do-portal of the Rainbow and traveled the entirety of Dream Earth as if in the wink of an eye and found one good candidate, one neotenite who would be capable of learning how to replace her. She had found someone who, capable of all of the possibilities of the Wishes, Big and small, had chosen to be Herself for as long as anyone could recall.
The Girl was Herself and she was intelligent and, most importantly, unlike most of the inhabitants of Dream Earth, she was empathetic. True, she was also sad and lonely and capable of great fear, but she could also hope, a skill most neotenites had discarded.
There was, of course, the problem of trying to keep her alive if she were disconnected from the machines which had been doing so. And she would no doubt be clumsy in her ungainly, adult-sized baby's body.
But it was a plan. It was Something-To-Do rather than just waiting for True Humans to die off.
They set about trying to create a means of teaching her what she would need to know.
Shenshi turned her attention back to Manuel. It was only a few more kilometers to the coast. Already the dryness of the land around the canyon that held her node had given way to this hilly grassland. To the north seemed to be dominated by a cordillera. To the southeast was savannah, with what appeared to be jungle in the further distance. Shenshi walked onward. She was almost there.
Village history records only the story Manuel told Dad Ose, the priest at the Old Church, about where he obtained the machine that allowed him to create his mind paintings.
One day Manuel had become exceptionally bored. He was tired of the sea, tired of the beach on which he had built his house, and tired even of looking for driftwood and other gifts from the sea with which he had built and decorated his house. And he was definitely tired of the stodgy people who lived their stodgy lives in the village in their stodgy houses of adobe and thatch. There weren't even any Quicklies to watch.
So for no apparent reason Manuel walked. At first it was directionless walking but eventually he headed in the direction of the dome. Maybe he would see one of the people who thought they were gods.
As he climbed up the hills, it became harder for him to fill his lungs with air. Eventually he had to rest and he laid on his back, watching the clouds, looking for the portents of the future the villagers tried to discern in them.
Alpacas. The horse clouds of the past few days were over and the snake clouds were probably on their way. He would have to head back before the chokes began.
As he started to rise, he noticed that he was not alone. There was an old woman, dressed in black who had somehow silently sneaked up on him. She called him by name. And he was afraid.
He rose and leaned against a nearby stunted tree for support...and to keep a grasp on reality.
She spoke to him slowly, of the world outside of his village and the universe in which the world sat and the Ifalong and happentracks and the Greataway...and he understood little of it, beyond the words she had uttered after she called him by name:
You are going to be a famous man, Manuel. In the distant Ifalong minstrels will sing of your exploits--and of your companions. You will have adventures such as men have never dreamed of.
--The words of the woman to Manuel, as reported by Alan Blue Cloud
Manuel asked who she was and how she knew these things.
"I am a Dedo," said Shenshi, for it was she. Then she laid the box upon the ground beside Manuel. "This is for you."
"What does it do?"
"Nothing that does not come from yourself."
Manuel blinked...and she was gone. So he carried the Simulator home. And he put the helmet on his head and he thought. And an image formed in front of the Simulator.