…and tore a hole in the world. The fabric of reality fell back and Akin stepped through into a vast, starless night.
He was outside the hyperspatial heliosphere. Within, he saw Synod homeworld orbiting twin suns between which a zillion particles glimmered like motes in a candle flame. This was the enchanted loom, the physical substance of Heaven: billions of minds, condensed to photonic qubits in the exhaust of specially modified stars; an engineering feat in which Akin had played his own part.
And what of those subjective entities, living their lonely lives among Heaven’s empty cloisters? Mere epiphenomena, emergent bi-products of the network – their self-belief simply a convincing illusion as, Akin knew, was his own. Which of these he thought, gazing at the stream of particles, is me?
Yet the pneuma did survive death, but was lost, evaporating into the unknown. This had been Akin’s discovery, for which Kohl eventually paid the price – a crack in Heaven, through which souls were draining away.