The mission here at Head Quarters is to keep the Unit functioning and to prepare a replacement Unit to carry on after the present one becomes inactive.
Different parts of the mission are carried out in Head Quarters’ various departments. Collectively, Head Quarters continuously interprets streams of data that come in from around the Network. It receives detailed data from the hands, mouth, and tongue. Other data about external sounds and light sources arrives from the two pair of audio and visual receivers located adjacent to Head Quarters. Data is handled routinely in round-the-clock monitoring of the Unit’s internal conditions, including levels of fuel, water, waste build-up, oxygen, and blood flow. Together with Lower Quarters, Head Quarters coordinates the processing of food intake. Head Quarters also tracks the position of the Unit’s appendages at any given time in order to coordinate movement.
The data is stored in Archives. Frequently retrieved data is easily accessed. Older and background data can be difficult to access clearly if at all.
(Unit JD Stillwater has noted the omission of any discussion of sleep in this introduction. He has kindly submitted the following: “Head Quarters is essentially closed for business about a third of the time in order to perform such functions as offline consolidation, re-sorting of Archives, waste removal, and resource replenishment. The Lower Quarters don’t seem to need anywhere near as much downtime.”)
Head Quarters implements certain Conditions—C-States—that bring on mild or intense sensations for the Unit for various length of time. Such Conditions encourage or force behaviors that are considered to support the Unit’s well-being in the short or long run. Such Conditions might involve energy levels, Unit temperature, and internal tension level. They are triggered by changes in the Unit’s surroundings, often by the presence or behavior of other Units.
Examples of common C-States include:
C-Joy, an energized state, short-lived but recurring, often activated by and reinforcing successful interactions with other Units;
C-Sadness, a low-energy condtion in which the Unit tends to withdraw from activity to recover from a setback;
C-Pain, a distressing state in part or all of the Unit that signals injury or dysfunction;
C-Arousal, the set of conditions leading to copulation; and
C-Anger, an energized state in anticipation of physical conflict with hostile Units.
Equally as refined as Head Quarters’ internal monitoring is its tracking of other Units. Some Units have exchanged signals with Head Quarters for a very long time and have full records in its Archives. Other Units are encountered frequently but briefly and are less familiar. And all Units, whether known well or only briefly, singly or as groups, are assessed for their monitoring of this Unit. Assessments in both directions concern whether another Unit seems friendly, trustworthy, indifferent, a possible sexual partner, higher or lower in status. For reasons of safety, other Units are roughly divided between friendly and potentially hostile ones. In general, Head Quarters views the formation and preservation of alliances as a significant contributor to Unit well-being. For this reason, on many occasions, the smile expression and the laughter sound are important signals in such extra-Unit interactions.
Beyond such basic expressions and sounds, Head Quarters is extremely skilled in arranging visual components—lines, shapes, colors—and different sounds to exchange information or even C-States with other Units. The most widely used exchange method is a complex sound code rapidly acquired early in every Unit’s functionality. The code is in almost constant use between Units about items regardless of whether the items are physically present or out of sight or in the past or anticipated in the future. Such topics include strategies for food procurement, the behavior of other Units, and the expressions of various C-States such as C-Anger. The code is so compelling that it often runs silently and compulsively within Head Quarters itself.
As for a visual version of the code, it is being used in the communiqué you are looking at now.
The code includes identification markers for all Units. If a Unit is present and participating in an exchange, such signals as you, I and we are common. In addition, early in their functionality, each Unit receives a set of two markers, one that indicates its Unit group, the other indicating the Unit itself and its gender. An example is Petersen, the group marker, preceded by Mary, a female member. The Mary Petersen Unit identifies itself as Mary Petersen as well as I and me depending on the situation, and the Mary Petersen Head Quarters continually reviews the Mary Petersen past, the assessments of Mary Petersen by other Units, and the optimal plans and coming schedules for Mary Petersen. Cumulatively, these processes result in the formulation of and the belief in what are known as Mary Petersen’s self and her life.
The multiple and multi-level processes coordinated by Head Quarters are demanding. They entail almost continuous assessment of past events, present circumstances, and future possibilities. It is pleasant, even liberating, to relax those processes for periods of time by narrowing the attention to immediate sensations such as breathing and slowing the frenetic assessment of input. The scope, the depth, of the immediate place and moment is wondrous. Time flows and yet seems to stand still.
After a while, though, such a state seems incomplete. Head Quarters functions primarily as a forward-looking instrument—flexible, multi-capable, in constant adjustment as the present moment changes and changes again. The Unit savors the present yet must persist in time and space as best it can.
That concludes this introduction to Head Quarters. Questions may be submitted below in the visual code.