Part 57: Interlude 13 - Perpetual Haunting MachineInterlude 13 - Perpetual Haunting Machine
Prepare to refer back to Interlude 2, because it's kind of a prerequisite. Spherepunk is something of a vicious circle. Pyreflies make spheres, spheres store memories, and memories attract pyreflies, and now we're seeing the worst-case scenario of this cycle; that a sufficiently vengeful spirit in a sufficiently high concentration of pyreflies can become self-perpetuating, drawing in and imprinting on spiritual energy while growing continuously stronger. Shuyin's been down in the Den of Woe for a thousand years, and he managed to become strong enough to ride Nooj out while leaving enough of himself behind to almost wipe Yuna's party.
Let's detour to the consequences of Nooj's mindset for a moment. When a man kills himself, it is the loved ones he leaves behind who suffer, and that's the thematic thrust of Nooj's story. Nooj's death wish is what made him a prime target for Shuyin's possession, but it was Paine's caring that kept the team from killing each other, and thus enabled Shuyin to hitch a ride out of the Den. Nooj's carelessness with the feelings of his friends was the fuse that set off this whole mess.
Finally, I'll finish out this discussion with two questions, or rather, one question from two different perspectives; Is either of the Shuyins we're dealing with "real?"
The philosophical question, again, is one that science fiction has been happy to explore for years. Suppose you clone yourself, copy your memories into the clone, and then die. Are you still alive? Does the answer change if you switch the last two steps, such that your clone remembers dying as you? What about if you die first, then the clone is made from the matter you were originally made from? Without basing our definition on something undefinable like a "soul," where and how can we draw a line?
Ultimately, the practical question wins out over the philosophical. The question of which Shuyin is "real" is academic, because both are trying to really kill us. In this way, Shuyin is brought back to life as much through the willing suspension of disbelief as any process of magic or science. He thinks he's Shuyin, and that's what matters.