The world I'm currently writing is an alternative Earth with Space Age tech that advanced much faster than our Earth because of Ancestral Guidance:

  1. In the middle of every graveyard, there is a patch of special material (called Pactite). Once a person is buried in this graveyard, his memories and brainpower become eligible for Guidance.
  2. Upon the birth of someone with a Guidance-eligible Ancestor, one of their ancestors randomly gets assigned as their Guide. From this point on, they are bonded until death (exceptions apply, see below) in an Ancestral Bond.
  3. A person with a Guide can mentally talk with their Guide and ask them to do things within the power of the Guide, but they do not have direct control over the Guide. the Guide has heightened senses with reduced limits and can think independently of the Guided one, but cannot directly interact with the world or other ancestors.
  4. At the age of 12, a ritual involving the ingestion of Pactite empowers the bond between the Guide and their Guided One into an Ancestral Pact. This pact has the following consequences:
    • The Pacted obtains direct control over the ancestor's senses and mental acuity.
    • The Ancestor remains as a voice inside the head to give advice.
    • The Ancestor can directly communicate with other ancestors nearby.
  5. Further ingestion of Pactite gives a temporary second Guide for 24 hours, but with a recovery period of 3 days involving reduced effectiveness of pactite ingestion and severe withdrawal symptoms. Ingesting Pactite while having the temporary second guide has a 50/50 chance of either making the second guide permanent or destroying all existing bonds permanently.

This Ancestral Guidance is essentially the gimmick of the world, but my problem is that I'm hoping to create a world where everything is explained through technology, and having your ancestors around kinda implies an afterlife, which I don't want. The Pactite started around 1300 BCE through alien intervention, so I don't mind having ultra high-tech solutions that would be impossible for that tech level, as long as they actually address the fact that memories and personalities from the deceased can be passed on.

I've read How could ghosts be explained without an afterlife?, and it kinda works, but it doesn't go far enough. This is more than just random traces of people remaining behind. This is about an entire imprint of the deceased applying itself to their offspring.

I have considered a solution like Assassin's Creed handles this, where your genetic code contains the memory of ancestors, but I don't like the major plothole where even memories after conception are passed on, and where you can even have memories from siblings passed on.

  • $\begingroup$ Unusual solar activity $\endgroup$ – Mason Wheeler Jul 6 '16 at 14:10
  • $\begingroup$ You may be able to split this up into two problems. The first is how to retain the "spirit" of an ancestor in a meaningful way, which is technologically plausible, though not easy. The second is how to manage a communications link between two individuals that appears to be telepathic. This one is a bit harder to do technologically -- the pairing process is probably going to have to be really specific, and you may need to have some special cases for people who ignore their ancestors too much, weakening the link. Breaking it up in that way may make your life easier. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Jul 6 '16 at 18:29
  • $\begingroup$ I suspect it might produce a more cohesive overall result if you decide upon a mechanism first, and then from that, infer the resulting capabilities, required rituals, and limitations, and then craft a game or story around that. I appreciate this might be difficult to do it in that order if you already have a particular game or story in mind, and wish your ghost-talking mechanism to perform a clearly-defined role within that. But on the other hand, sometimes creativity thrives with constraints. Best of luck. $\endgroup$ – Jonathan Hartley Jul 6 '16 at 19:22
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    $\begingroup$ I for one am a little skeptical about the concept that a dead forbear (normal human, but without the knowledge of all scientific and other developments after his lifetime) can provide guidance of a substantial value. In fact in real life, they often do, via books, letters and other communication, and via the political and other systems put in place - and that is just what it is. Some of it is wise, but mostly it is questionable. For superpowers (like acute senses) nano or other tech is sufficient, no need for the supernatural. $\endgroup$ – fr13d Jul 7 '16 at 12:15
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    $\begingroup$ Clearly you just need to inject some midchlorians in your story... $\endgroup$ – MKII Jul 7 '16 at 13:22

15 Answers 15


Alien nanotech solves this simple enough. Strictly speaking "nano" is a misnomer here, maybe "microbots" might be better?

In anycase, the pactite is composed of these "very small" alien robots, which have following abilities:

  1. to communicate with each other and form ad hoc communications and computation networks with each other,
  2. to listen, record, and parse what happens around them,
  3. to build new robots from surrounding matter
  4. to remain active within human body for decades after being ingested
  5. to rejoin with the main pactite after being buried close to it
  6. to generate simulations of people based on recorded data
  7. to vocalize simulated data audible to the person they are within

So you are not really talking with your ancestor, you are talking with a computer program simulating him running on the bots within your body.

The limitations can be explained as arbitrary rules or simply because the simulation programs are only designed for one simulated target so ingesting bots with a second personality running will cause random errors until the network fully syncs to the previously established simulation.

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    $\begingroup$ Alternately, make it biotech, replace "bot" with "microbe" and it becomes easier to handwave some of this. The microbes consume/decompose the brain of the ancestor, creating a new patch of Pactite of that ancestor; the DNA of the Pacted must match xx% or key genes need to match, limiting pacts between relations; Pactite collects on the brainstem to allow interaction; immune system rejects second pacts; mothers pass on trace amounts to children giving them initial limited access. $\endgroup$ – John Franklin Jul 6 '16 at 14:36
  • $\begingroup$ @JohnFranklin Yes, biotech is a possibility, but the nature of the "machines" does not really make any difference as to the difficulty and handwaving required in general. Difficulty is determined by what you do, not by the hypothetical tech chosen. That said, your suggestion does raise the possibility of the people being genetically modified to interface with the Pactite. In that case, yes, biotech would have significant advantages. Many of the abilities I listed could be "loaned" from the host instead of the microbes having them themselves. $\endgroup$ – Ville Niemi Jul 6 '16 at 14:42
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    $\begingroup$ @JohnFranklin Since they're implanted so early, it's a possibility the microbes or microbots become an advanced AI, and learn from the original host until it dies. When ingested, the DNA relation % allows a link to it. Mostly the same, but it allows for less handwaving imo. $\endgroup$ – Anoplexian - Reinstate Monica Jul 6 '16 at 14:51
  • $\begingroup$ @VilleNiemi, you're right. It is, ultimately, just a plot device. $\endgroup$ – John Franklin Jul 6 '16 at 15:23

An experiment to enhance individual intelligent succeeded in more than doubling the neural density of subject brains, but yielded no increase in intelligence. Further tests discovered that the new neurons remained seperate from the original brain matter, forming a seperate hyper-parrallel matrix which was capable of hosting a human level intelligence. The two matrices could interact through their interaction with the body which they share. They could literally push words into the cochlier nerves of their ears, creating sounds which only they can hear.

Pactite is the gene-therapy which initially creates and subsequently maintains the presence of the higher density brain tissue where the second consciousness lives. The consciousness comes to occupy that tissue via much more complicated neural transfer machine which is housed in the Hall of Ancestors and used during the inital bonding. The ancestor/guide-candidate consciousnesses are also stored at the Hall of Ancestors in the form of quantum photographs which detail the state of their brains at different points in their lives. Once per year, every guide-candidate has their brain quantum photographed so that if they die during the coming year, their collective knowledge will not be lost.

Pactite might also help in the quantum photographing process in a manner congruent with the dyes we currently ingest for some medical imaging techniques.


What if the pactite is actually just a hallucinogen? One that provides a consistent mental effect among human users? It activates a part of the brain that allows for a mild telepathy or group conciousness, and the brain translates this as a voice providing advice. Alternatively it allows for a higher thought pattern that the human mind interprets as a voice providing advice. Nothing spiritual about it, just a mind-altering drug.

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    $\begingroup$ some kind of "sixth-sense giving" drug, that causes the same hallucination to everyone? I'd love to read that as a short story, with this explanation being the punch, where you realize how broken the society is..... $\endgroup$ – Patrice Jul 6 '16 at 14:35
  • $\begingroup$ doesn't even have to give everyone the same sixth sense. everyone has "different" ancestors after all. $\endgroup$ – Marshall Tigerus Jul 6 '16 at 14:49
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    $\begingroup$ oh for sure. I was just imagining some kind of short story where they describe this system, and how "communion with ancestors" is great and helps everyone... until, at the end of the short story, the sordid truth is revealed: the world is horrible, everyone is an addict, and those ancestors are just effects of drugs.... $\endgroup$ – Patrice Jul 7 '16 at 17:11
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    $\begingroup$ So, post-Trump America? $\endgroup$ – Marshall Tigerus Jul 7 '16 at 17:11
  • $\begingroup$ We'll see in a couple of years I guess :/ $\endgroup$ – Patrice Jul 7 '16 at 17:12

You can do this with a very high resolution MRI scanner and some hand waving about AI imitating human thoughts. The MRI scanner can read the brain down to the atomic level, so a recently deceased person placed into your alien material so it's brain can be scanned. Since the person is dead, they are immobile and can be scanned at a very high resoluiton. The alien tech is able to extrapolate the neural network and protein strings into the memories and thought patterns of that individual. It then acts like a repository of thoughts.

For communication with a descendant, the alien tech could implant a small amount of itself into the brain, enough to allow for stimulation of the acoustic nerve to simulate hearing a voice and enough along the dura around the brain to be able to read at least the conscious "thoughts" of the host to allow for 2 way communication. The implanted material then communicates back to the repository via neutrinos, quantum entanglement, radio waves, whatever method you wish to achieve the limitations/range you need. Ingesting more would temporarily allow for a second set of implants but would compete with the first set for resources/energy (presumably the implants are leeching nutrients from the host or using blood vessel turbines for energy) so they deactivate after 24 hours in order to not over stress the host.

The limitations of this process would be that the dead person would have to be entombed fairly recently after death (with in a few days unless it is very cold or the brain could be preserved in some way) and significant brain trauma could limit the quality of the memories that could be extracted. Depending on how similar the "ghost" needs to be to the original person (i.e., does it just have the memories, or does it retain the speech patterns, sense of humor, ambitions, etc of that person) you would need specific regions of the brain intact.

Of course you will also have to determine if these ghosts can still evolve to new stimuli received from their descendant. Can they change their viewpoint? What do they do while the descendant sleeps? Are they in a virtual world or do they only "exist" when the descendant accesses them? Can they be emotionally affected by what happens to their descendant? Can an enemy bury their own dead in a graveyard and "hack" the memories stored there?


Go for a Neuromancer solution, then.

In the first book of the series, there is a computer that will perform the following steps if it catches anyone trying to hack it:

  • Copy the whole memory of the hacker into a chip;
  • Kill the hacker.

The computer now has a "ghost" of that person, which lives only in the Neuromancer world's version of our internet. At some point a friend of such a victim steals the chip that contains his buddy and can have the ghost "live" inside his computer.

Even more mind boggling, one day he finds a ghost of himself in the net. He was copied at some point, without his meat body being killed.

So you could work it out like this: at some point in life, people have their memories copied into some sort of computer. Maybe people need to manually activate this, maybe everybody has a nano-computer in the head with a deadman's switch and a link to the net. And the brain-to-machine interface somehow depends on Pactite.

And in this way you can perform cyber séances!

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    $\begingroup$ I kinda agree with nanotech being an appropriate solution (and considered that, even), but the solution I'm looking for needs to work retroactively on corpses from before the alien intervention. I'm also not entirely keen on having everyone be infected with nanotech. $\endgroup$ – Nzall Jul 6 '16 at 11:41
  • $\begingroup$ @Nzall just skip the nanotech, and have either people backup themselves in some way, or the morticians/coroners connect the head of a recently deceased person to a computer for memory extraction. $\endgroup$ – Renan Jul 6 '16 at 11:58

Flash based ancestor

Imagine that it's possible to encode someone's memories and personality and store them in a flash chip. Perhaps like the flash card of a camera. Initially this is invented as a way to prevent death. Everyone has a backup device installed when their craniums stop growing. It has tendrils reaching into the brain and is making a constant copy. Upon a person's death the flash card is removed and stored for safekeeping.

After the first generation of this, perhaps someone makes a machine with two slots. One for the constant copy and a second for the companion. New generation rolls around, one of the stored flashcards is given to a youngster, youngster installs flashcard and has access to a lifetime of memory and experience. A second companion with limited duration could be enabled by hot swapping the companion chips. (remove the old chip, but don't flush it from working memory, load a new chip, share computing resources) This would naturally tax the computing equipment and would not be safe for extended periods. Machinery starts to overheat and can cause permanent failure of the equipment (I'm sure you'll want to throw some brain damage in there too just to keep things interesting). Ancestor to ancestor communication happens over a mesh wireless network.

Two things are required here. Technology to store a memories and personality, the ability to then run that copy on a machine that can communicate with the natural-born personality. (All this could actually be feasible in a hundred years given the way technology is expanding)

You are a hologram

If you don't like the aesthetic of physical storage and tiny computers you could possibly use the notion that personality can be expressed as a holographic image atop the computing machinery we call the brain.

The natural personality is strongly expressed, but a copy made of a dead ancestor could be overlaid overtop. It would be an light image like a photocopy, transparent and less forceful than the host, but overlaid atop same machinery as the host.

A holographic reader could be used postmortem to capture the last state of a person who has died. Faint glimmers of the past companions might persist, but the copy of a copy would be faint. (otherwise you'd be getting persistent racial memory which is not what you asked for)

Multiple imprints could possibly exist simultaneously but could lead to all sorts of problems (bleed-through, missing parts, strange and random mixtures of the personalities --up to you ;-)

Genetic memory

How does a hunting dog know how to point? How does a newborn foal stand up and walk? There must be some component of behavior which is informed by genetics. Imagine a brilliant geneticist unlocks this secret and expands it. Imagine further that he or she invents a way to read all memories into a form which can then be passed on to another. I'd want this to be a destructive process or it gets out of hand quickly (you drink a potion on your deathbed, it blasts through your brain turning it to goo, encoding memories and personality traits as it goes. Your essence ends up stored in a vial.) The mechanism for delivery would be challenging. Perhaps a specially tailored virus painstakingly designed to splice the new memories in without destroying the old. Not sure how you'd cram a second one in there temporarily.

  • $\begingroup$ motor skills are different to memories. When you want to walk, you dont think about every step, you think 'move this way' and your legs go. the reason humans grow so slowly and have to learn to walk is so that the parents and surrounding society can teach them things that cant be stored as instinct before adulthood, for instance language and use of tools. $\endgroup$ – XenoDwarf Jul 7 '16 at 1:20

Find a tool that wraps the mind of a person. Reads and transforms all the information in a genetic code compatible with your brain.

If the brain of a person isn't capable to read any code then enhance it with another machine

Then upload this code onto other people...

I'm not sure if this would work with every dead person, probably it will be only effective if the brain is not completely destroyed in pieces.



Orson Scott Card in the Speaker for the Dead and Xenocide explained sentient life as a strings called Philote. These were bound to physical bodies allowing life to express itself in the universe. I'm pretty sure I'm butchering something here but that is the gist of it.

If your Pactite acted as an anchor to these multidimensional sentient end points they could transfer them to their corresponding ancestor. Card did something like this with a computer program connecting to the main character. Their is still plenty of flexibility to make the idea your own but it's a great foundation. It makes life itself a mystery still but allows for a true sentient consciousness to collaborate with after death.

The limitations could be due to the toxicity of the element adding possible plotline that someone develops a better version of the element. Or it could be overload of the human nervous system by having too many sentient being in their all at once.


Eastern mysticism and Christian tradition have a concept called "Familiar Spirits" where a demon or extra dimensional being will follow someone around and essentially impersonate them when summoned by a medium. Think of Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass

Since your world is high with technology a person may have a familiar or a companion (a nano bot as suggested by another answer or a big brother program with cameras everywhere) follow them that learns them and acts as them in proxy. Or the Pactite itself may absorb the persons memories allowing the memories to take a sort of conscious form.

More fun make the familiars an alien species that has been watching humanity for millions of years and the pacicite is their food or attracts them or something like that.


What you're asking for is impossible.

You can't have a magical material that interacts with the consciousness of dead people without magic.

In the very moment electrical activity in the brain ceases (it's actually a period, not a moment, but that's besides the point) the "consciousness" of the dead person ceases to exist completely. (Unless it was somehow copied, as suggested by another answer, but even that would not be able to explain the weird rules you have for interaction with "pactite" unless these rules were artificially made by someone, though their reason for making these elaborate and seemingly nonsensical rules are anyone's guess)


Machine learning.

There was an actual project on something in this direction (albeit much more primitive) proposed by the United States Department of Defence. The idea was to create a virtual persona, based on recordings of a soldier, to interact with the soldier's family "when phone and internet conversations are not possible" (e.g. when said soldier died in combat).

Given the recent advances in machine learning, it is not too far a stretch to imagine a future with machines that are attached to you for all your life (or just some later part of it), observe your behaviour and process it to learn "how you tick". At your life's end, these machines should have learned enough to imitate you in most situations. They are detached from your body, reprogrammed from recording to simulation and attached to the "Pactite".


The only thing I can come up without 'magic' is the genetic code of your 12 year old's dna as you suggested at the very end. Ie ancestral events after conception wouldn't be possible.

You could have you pactite material store/absorb genetic material of you ancestors at time of death. That way you get all the 'memories'. Since your pactite is in the graveyard where the ancestor's are buried, this shouldn't be a problem.

You could have a combination of the two. When both genetic memories of the pacted and ancestor overlap the memories will be more clear, while when the memories of only the ancestor are still there but less clear or take more focus to reach/interact with/remember. Give you 'guide' a kindof early dementia/alzheimers...

Edit: It would also mean your ancestor would remember the entirety of their death and slightly after as the ancestor's dying cells shut down. If your ancestor had an especially traumatic death he could be haunted by this knowledge!

Further edit: activating the genetic memory of your pacted and ancestor would be a once off ceremony as you suggested. There would be no need for any technological maintenance or yearly checkup of your pacted to ensure the bond stays strong. I don't think you could have the memories of your siblings, unless they predeceased you and you got them as your guide.

DISCLAIMER: I'm not saying genetic memory IS a real thing. The science-based answer to that is that the entire scenario the OP described is unrealistic, unreal and a flat out 'no its not possible'. I'm saying IF it were, and you had sufficient technology to reach it, this COULD be a solution. Please don't downvote me for trying to fix a hole in a trope that has some basis in science but takes liberties with the range of memories available.

  • $\begingroup$ The Assassin's Creed approach. Nice! $\endgroup$ – danielson317 Jul 6 '16 at 19:25
  • $\begingroup$ the assassin's creed approach doesnt work, genetic memory is stored, meaning genes ie skin colour and such, but nothing mental. If it did, we wouldnt have such a large portion of our brain dedicated to it. $\endgroup$ – XenoDwarf Jul 7 '16 at 1:13
  • $\begingroup$ We are talking about linking one mind with another. If we accept that stretch of what is possible , I believe we can accept the stretch about just what is stored in our genes. :) as far as I'm aware though, what you eat, drink, breathe absorb etc is all stored in our cells in some form or another. So some form of our everyday life is stored at one time or another. With an alien tech, surely they would be able to retrieve all that and more from our dna? $\endgroup$ – EveryBitHelps Jul 7 '16 at 3:02

I have only a rough understanding of this, but isn't there some kind of "Atomic" view of time, in which each moment is more like a physical thing than an abstract concept? All the moments are supposed to exist simultaneously. A few google searches couldn't find any more details and I can't remember where I heard about this. It might be my own misinterpretation of something I learned in a philosophy class.

Anyway, if time worked like that you could probably place some kind of communication device at one point and connect to it from another. There would have to be some explanation for limiting it to only one person that cannot interact with others.

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    $\begingroup$ This is a stub of a promising alternate physics solution, but you must develop it a bit more to make it a useful answer. $\endgroup$ – SE - stop firing the good guys Jul 7 '16 at 13:33

I like the solution used in the book "Gewist" by Marco Kunst (sorry I couldn't find its English name; read it in German)

In the story, there is an archive containing mankinds history including all important persons. Everyone entering the building gets his brain scanned and archived. A simulation based on this brain data allows visitors to interact with people dead since long ago.

You could use this in your world to allow communication with ancestors in a science fiction setting: Everyone has to back up his brain so that it can guide future generations (or: everyone's brain is scanned at his burial before the brain cells die or something like that). The simulation could run on a chip in the brain.


There are a number of good answers that deal with how imprints might be made while the people are living, that can then be recycled into guides when the person is dead. Several generations down the road this covers a lot of immediately known ancestors. You mentioned in one of the comments you wanted this to work on ancestors who had died before the alien intervention occurred - since that's trickier, I'll focus on that.

So there are a lot of theories on how ghostly imprints (or residual haunting) might be a kind of natural recording - some minerals, geographic formations, and locations under certain circumstances might 'record' whatever is happening, and then under the right stimulus, probably requiring some access to energy, the area can 'play back' whatever was recorded. Often, the circumstances that lead to such recordings are tied to strong emotion. Gems and crystals are also sometimes said to be able to store this kind of emotional or psychic imprint. Don't worry, it's already in the question that you wanted something more interactive than these kinds of traces, but I thought this could be paired with your other requirements to make a solution.

So, if your people before the alien intervention had a couple of beliefs and practices, this can help make the whole thing work. They need a strong tradition of venerating ancestors, including praying to these ancestors for guidance, a sense of duty to their descendants, and the idea that lasting, living memory is somehow useful to spirits. They also need some idea or superstition of the stone tape type of residual imprints, which they happen to successfully use - I'm thinking some ritual jewelry, which happens to be made of the right crystals and the right mix of minerals, which is ritually given and worn every day of their lives, and which becomes the focus of their family's memory rituals after their death. So these crystals have some kind of emotional imprint or overlapping recording of the person's most intense emotional moments, as well as a bit of how others in their family remember them.

So, during alien intervention, a computer (or several) get dropped on your people. It might be bulky, or self replicating, or dropped in all differing locations, or have a really long range, or be actually connected to the Pactite, I don't actually know. Programs get generated for each Guided One - and maybe they were supposed to guide them (as some kind of social experiment from the aliens) or maybe they were only supposed to observe. As it happens, it uses some vaguely-similar crystal technology to store information - and predictably, that means it somehow actually picks up and interacts with the recorded imprints from the burial crystals. A program which has some of the memories, will self-identify as the person, and seek other memories that fit and discard those that don't, so it ends up one set per program even if they weren't actually programmed that way. Alternatively, once one program 'wakes up' it may deliberately try to pair the memory recordings with other programs either because it thinks that's how the programs are supposed to work, or because the person it's acting like realizes what's happened, and waking others will help their families. The two sets of stored information collide, and programs "wake up" with memories, emotional memories, of the people in the recordings.

This is starting from imperfect, static imprints and recordings, mind, but once the program self-identifies with the person, they can seek out other information about the person (from records, and living memories of Guided Ones), and develop their personalities based on the impressions they remember. And since they already have beliefs that ancestors are supposed to help guide and teach their descendants, they make the situation fit even if it wasn't what the programs and computer were originally supposed to be doing - which is why I mentioned that the programs might not have been meant to guide, but only observe or even other things (since this is a really tricky thing to intend). Once the programs have emotional memories, they will self-identify with the person and act as the person would, not necessarily as the program should. They might also resist deletion once their guided one is dead, and prefer to work with only their own bloodlines if they can. The society that has them might advance more quickly by having ancestors given time and memory storage to think about and plan new things, to not lose bits of information to death or forgetfulness, to simply have more minds working on any given project, or even by having some access to things stored in the alien computer - with strict limitations on what's actually in the computer, what they can understand, and what they can use.

So, my first thought was the Pactite itself was the source of the computer and programs directly - nanomachines or the like. However, since you mention in a comment that you might not want everyone to be dosed with nanotech, maybe there's another solution. Maybe people in your world have a low-level telepathic ability - obviously a science-compliant one. Low level enough to be subconscious and have people be mostly unaware of it (maybe it comes out in hunches or intuition). Perhaps that is why the people could successfully make the stone tapes for recording in the first place. In this case, the Pactite might boost the native ability long enough form a link or alter their minds to make a permanent conduit through which their Guide can find them. Their native ability might be enough for maintaining the link once it's set up. On the other hand, if ingesting more Pactite just boosts the telepathy, that wouldn't necessarily create a second link - but it might be that no one does ingest it without that intention, so the second guide is actively trying to create the link at that time. Or maybe it's not actually telepathy, but somehow the combination of the Pactite and the rituals let a (wireless) link be built to a main computer, where the programs live.

As a bonus, the period of time in which all this is getting set up (the memories meeting the programs) would seem to be the ancestor spirits adapting to the boost the Pactite gives (and the changing rituals), and figuring out dosage and empowering on both sides, for the guide and guided. The framework for ancestral guidance is already present, and if they already have coming-of-age rituals incorporating the Pactite and guides can be easily done once they have some ideas for what works. And, double bonus, this doesn't have to be something the aliens intended, per se (as it is a strange and difficult thing to do on purpose). The aliens might come back and discover their observation computer has been taken over by programs, which somehow have emotional attachments to their subject and identity disorders, and be very confused.


One solution is genetic memory. (Memories of the guide will be limited to until the ancestor conceived the subsequent ancestor).

In this solution, Pactite doesn't summon the ghost of the ancestor, but activates their genetic memory.

In our world's humans, it doesn't work this way. Our genetic memory is extremely course and unrefined. Generally, our genetic memory is stuff like "don't drink something that smells like acid, it will kill you" and various warning things of death or near-death situations.

In your alternate world, if biology has a lot more robust mechanic for managing genetic memory, it could contain much more detail (and result in cells having noticeably larger nuclei) although to avoid bloat, there would probably also be a mechanism to only keep around genetic memories for so many generations. However, to activate it, normally requires some kind of intimate contact with the one memories are pulled from, and of course they have to be an ancestor.

For obvious cultural reasons, eventually intimate contact with people much younger than you was frowned on, but the Pactite leeches bodily oils and fluids from a deceased corpses nearby and holds it like a sponge, but is dissolved on ingestion allowing for close chemical contact between the imbiber and their ancestor. Technically, the pactite contains fluids from everyone in the graveyard, but the person only has genetic memories activated from their ancestors (because that's the only one they contain). It also explains how extra ingestion cause problems and withdrawls, as they're getting too many mixed signals.


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