Saturday, February 21, 2015

Theocracy: Chapter III

There was nothing they could do except waiting, so they spent the time talking about the events they’ve missed from each other’s lives; since they’ve barely talked nowadays. The warm feeling of friendly reunion. Solaris listened in excitement as his friend recited the story of the businessman who abandoned Hypnos. Raoul’s tale was interrupted by a voice from behind them.
  - You succeeded my expectations. You nullified the architecture of my simulation, even though it would have been artful – and now you're just chatting.
  They turned around. A middle aged, awfully average man was the speaker, dressed in plain clothes. There was nothing memorable; nothing interesting in his whole appearance - neither his face, nor his voice  – , he was one in a million.
  - Do not look so confused, you two. This man is the thief you seek and also one out of the countless minds I inhabit. You – he looked at Raoul – know a lot about me and I know you are to hunt me down.
  Raoul wanted to answer him, but the man raised his hand to silence him. With the motion, the dream wavered.
  - Do not be rude by interrupting me. As I was saying, I know your motives, and I will help you reach them. You are to venture to the simulation of Vatican, a society which is under my control. Your plans are futile though. As long as I inhabit a body, I exist and spread. It does not matter if you kill the creator of mine. In the Vatican you will find a neural virus used to short-circuit minds and reset them. That is one way of destroying me.
  Now, I see the disbelief in your eyes – he said with a friendly tone. - You must be thinking of a trap or a distraction. The truth is – he sighed, -  I want you to challenge me with the mightiest weapon one could acquire. And the reason is obvious. I want humanity to evolve and grow. I was created as a better version of the Shaman, and more importantly, I am multiple yet one. I was made to help you take the next step. But I cannot know if I really am a mastercraft – that I think I am – therefore I need opponents.
  I do not cling to life. My purpose is to recreate Transcendence, but now against the very nature of mankind. Whether I am the ferryman or the highwayman does not matter to me as long as I bring about a way of existence that is superior to those before. Progress thrives under pressure. Humanity lives in peace now, and if I didn't exist, you would be satisfied with it. Now it is up to you and me to seek new ways of growth until one of us fails to compete.
  The might of the technology versus the students of the greatest hero- he said in excitement. -  This will forever determine the course of our fate – he smiled, and bowed to his opponents.
  With that, Solaris and Raoul woke up, the thief laid next to them unconsciously. They found themselves in the corridor of the building they went into, and it seemed they were inside a simulation for a little less than an hour.
  - I really messed up this day – Solaris turned to Raoul – Ana is with Lillian without me, and I feel awful.
  - Will you come to Cantharis’s lesson?
  -Yea, sure, and after that we should do something together, the three of us.
  - That would be nice – smiled Raoul.
Solaris called for his assistant. The AI connected itself to the thief’s mind, retrieving the stolen memories.
  - Just a moment, Solaris – said Raoul after his friend has finished. He also got into the mind of the thief. Both of them had enough training in cyber warfare to be able to get into most of the minds, but this one lacked any kind of defense mechanism.
  Hypnos left him.
  - Raoul, what are you doing? – asked Solaris upon seeing his friend’s intrusion.
  - He is a thief. He disrespected property rights, Solaris, therefore my actions are justified. I am looking for cult members in his memories.
  - You are walking on thin lines, you know. I will upload the information about this guy to the web, let he be damned, and I’ll send the memories back. I’ll wait for you outside.
  Raoul found the memory and took it, leaving a copy in place of the original. Before he left, the thief woke up, and tried to speak, but the past memories struck him. He stared at the ground in shock and disbelief, then looked at Raoul.
  - Please, sir – he begged – I will be banned from everywhere, if they find out. I didn’t know – his voice broke off.
  - If I were you, I would hurry to pack my things – said Raoul coldly.
  The thief was sobbing:
  - But I didn’t know…
  - Next time you will be more careful  when you plan on lending your body to a cult – Raoul said with contempt, and left the thief. When he walked out, Solaris was staring at the people of the square with a troubled look.
  - As almost all the time, it was a student of the Liberty’s Sanctuary of Orphans and Neglected who solved the crime – he read an article projected before his eyes. – Even though their integrity is unquestionable, and they are a pillar of our society, one starts to wonder after looking through their remarkable achievements. They are the most qualified peacekeepers, guards and detectives of the market,  but is it the effect of such teachers as the Shaman, Cantharis de la Cruz himself, or should we have doubts about the genuineness of the crimes they solve, and the disputes they resolve?
  - It was Hypnos.
  - Your hatred clouds your mind, Raoul. It doesn’t matter, who wrote it. They will doubt us rightfully, hell, even I would doubt us. What you did inside there… – Solaris thought about the reasons driving his friend forward. – You must be careful, my friend – he said softly.
  - I will be – nodded Raoul.
  - Thank you.

  The Shaman immersed himself in the game with Lillian. They laughed as the girl, upon completing a challenging mental task involving basic scientific knowledge, turned into an imaginary scholar, and chased the delusional Cantharis through the room; shouting facts which he denied.
  Ana smiled, but her mind kept replaying the earlier discussion, in which between two playful moments with Lillian, his teacher offered a trip to her, Raoul and Solaris - his best students - to the distant simulation of the Vatican. To get away and see the world was her big dream, Yet, when she accepted the offer and they talked this through with Lillian, a distant part of her mind kept whispering she’d miss her homeworld, and all that awaits is misery and darkness.
  - Market thrives of decentralized! – chased Lillian the Shaman.
  - No, no, no! – he screamed in a high-pitched voice. – If we do not control it, the rich will enslave the poor!
  Even he wasn’t able to restrain laughter as these words left his mouth. The girl cornered him at the entrance of the house. She  had been listing facts he didn’t want to hear; when the door opened – her father found the legend covering his ears at his feet.
  - Daddy! – screamed Lillian, and jumped at her father who took her up while he went in. Cantharis stood up with laughter, and shook the father’s hand.
  - It is an honor to meet you, Shaman – he said bowing his head.
  - Do not subjugate yourself to me, good man.  – Cantharis answered in a serious tone – I feel frustrated by this.  I did not work to tower above men. I am a Shaman, pillar of the worlds.  – Even though Cantharis sounded emotionless, or even authoritative due to his nature as a leader, he hid a smile and his blue, laughing eyes betrayed him.
  - Well then, we are leaving – interrupted Ana their conversation.
  - No! – said Lillian – We were having fun, daddy could join us!
 - Yes, Anabelle – smiled the Shaman – we are having fun, as long as we are welcomed here – he looked at the father.
  - Well, of course. Lillian, would you let me take off my coat please? I’m about to melt away.
  - Okay – she stepped back.
  - Lillian – turned Ana to the girl – Don’t you think we should let them talk? I mean they’ve just met.
  - Yes, they should get to know each other. Ookay – she sighed. – We’ll play soon anyway.
  She took Ana’s hand, and they went into another room. She and her father played a game of simulation together when they were asleep. When they dreamed, the nanobots in their minds connected their neurons to the game server. They found themselves self-aware, yet dreaming in a fantasy world. His father protected the young elf befriending the creations of nature while he himself sought constant challenges. He had been playing since he was ten, and hoped that his daughter will level up soon so she could join him in the battles.
  The three of them, her mother, father and Lillian herself once lived through a war haunted year in dreamtime, which in reality took only a cold, dark night. They fought legions of demons and wandered through the scorched planet seeking shelter. It was their way of forging the family bonds while facing death and darkness. Lillian was six, yet she was wise and tried to learn everything in every second of her life. Such were the children of Mars, raised in peace and blessed with the might granted by technology.
  - I still feel honored by your presence, Shaman – the father continued the line of their conversation. – You helped us transcend from violence.
  - I just finished the job of the anarchists and libertarians before me. You honor me by treating your child equally and living a life of morality, doctor Fischer. Your job as a parent is what makes this world work – he smiled. - I have a thing to tell you. For a time unforeseen, Anabelle will not be available. We have talked it through with Lillian already, and she understood it. I hope it will not cause troubles for you.
  - No, it wont. We only need a caregiver in only one or two times a month for a couple hours. -None of us were able to took her to work today, as we usually do. It would have been dangerous to her. She is our life, you know, but we choose not to leave our work since we both love it. She works ten hours a week, I only work eight, it gives us enough money to do what we want.
  Cantharis nodded.
  - She is really smart – the Shaman said - though she is having troubles using some functions of her mind-expanding nanobots. I can share some practices we use in the academy when facing this problem.
  - That would be really good.
  They spent some time playing and engaging in conversations, until the time had come for the Fischer family to take a nap before Lillian’s mother comes home. She worked long that day, because there was an emergency in her business. They wanted to be there for her when she returned.
  Cantharis and Ana waved at them, before the cloudwalker rose to the sky.
  - I wonder if she hates me – said Ana.
  - Why would she?
  - In such days when both of her parents are working, I, in a way represent her loneliness. They are good parents, but sometimes such a thing happens and I have to come. I hope she won’t be affected by this, neglect can really destroy a child’s brain.
  - She loves you, Anabelle. The whole family does.
  - Yea, you might be right. And now they love you too – she smiled.
  - In the end, he called me Cantharis – he said, and smiled as well as he watched the cityscape and the nearing academy. In mind, he started to construct the elements of the next class, putting together his emotions and memories, creating a world with the enthusiasm of an artist, planning the rules and laws of the world. He remembered the simulation he attached to his thoughts early in the morning, and used some parts of that.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Theocracy: Chapter II

  As he woke up, the fading memory of his dreams lingered on the back of his mind. Everything else was secondary in nature to him, dreams came first. His consciousness was not connected to the reality, he was in the ocean of the subconscious, and the voices from the outer world, such as the laughing of the students walking past his door, faded into blunt noise, like the sounds one hears below water.
  He started to record his thoughts. Since the colony was built, his only connection with the society was  through the books he wrote. He longed for the days of Earth, when he had to fight for freedom. He was made to do that, as the masterpiece of the once notorious merchant Azier de la Cruz, who once waged endless wars against every state of the world, against every fighting force which stood against freedom. Before the detective Clark Novaris brought him to justice, he left his legacy to the world. The child, Cantharis de la Cruz intertwined with the artificial intelligence called Shaman.
  "The distinction between dreams and reality is about to disappear – he noted. – Our age, our technological progress is driving us towards to a state of ’awake dreaming’ which is the state of life, in which the observer possesses the power to shape his environment with his thoughts, travel enormous distances in a blink of an eye, defy the physical laws while he is awake in the objective reality. The waking version of lucid dreaming.
  We will reach this state of existence within the next generations, it is certain. The signs of progress are visible even now. When I wake up, it used to feel like waking to a nightmare, but now, I can barely recognize what is real and what is not.  The malfunction I was born with forces me to endure hundreds of years of dreaming every night. My father wanted me to live through this, to learn much more than a simple human would in a lifetime. After I fall asleep, I live countless lives, have countless names, lovers and worlds I inhabit. There is but one continuity in my incarnations; they always call me Shaman. I forget who I am, where I came from, what my goals are. I live through countless years of experiences, and learn from them.
  The dream is my master.
  There time is near when the realm will merge with the reality. Our task now is to eliminate all evolutionary legacy chaining us, and from conquerors of the universe, we must become the observers. Conquest is only due if our existence depends on it. Human existence depends on knowledge of, not the power over the world. We have to depart from the old paradigm, that says knowledge is power, and see that knowledge is the cooperation with the universe, while power bends it to our will. Once we achieve immortality, and the mastery over space and time, what we are going to desire is not the primitive hormones of our brain making us feel joyful, but something incomprehensible to our proto-god minds.
  Let me show you how I’ve taught my students to reflect on their legacy.”
  He attached a copy of a memory to the flow of thoughts. His first class in the academy. Students eagerly awaited the Shaman in the room. Pillows were arranged in a circle to them. Cantharis was not in the room before all of them got an invitation to a sealed, private simulation, with the server "Shaman” named in the details. They accepted it, and found themselves sitting in an almost empty room, pillows arranged in a circular order, all occupied.
  For them, it was reality, and there was nothing else. No world outside of the room, the technology, which allowed them to reach the sum of human knowledge with the forming of a mental question was beyond their reach, they had no names, memories, past or future, nothing except the room, and the ideas, carefully planted into each student’s mind by the creator of the simulation, and the consequences of those truths. They all knew that their belief is reality, and they all wanted the other students to accept those ideas.
  The first lesson.
  The weapons they had were their minds and bodies. The memory showed the students arguing for hours, siding with one another, forming groups for hours and hours, and in the end, it was bloodshed.
  While going through the memory of that first simulation, a thought struck him. Yesterday’s events started to return. After a long time, detective Clark Novaris, his stepfather contacted him, and told him about the recent events in the Vatican.
  After the nameless colony was established, and the spontaneous order of the society has become visible, Novaris decided to leave Mars, and settle in the simulation of the outcasts. He choose to be their guide, and decided to help those who desired change, but had no means to do so.
  ,,We mustn’t let anyone down” – he said to Cantharis to which he replied in anger:
  ,,It was their decision to steal and murder, they should have seek help then! Now let them pay the price. I am unforgiving in moral cases, and you should be too, for there is no other way to maintain peace.”
  "Very well - he said, giving up the argument. – Then I belong to them. Ex-cop. I cannot know how many innocent life ended up in prison because of me. This is my only way of redemption from the sins I’ve committed in the past life.”
  With that, he stepped into the spaceship, and the last time their eyes met before the door closed, the detective smiled, and added:
  ,,I might need your help once.”
  And after years, the Shaman got a message from him. He talked about a rising number of outcasts living up to the philosophy of freedom, and about a girl who was the brightest of them, who learned what’s the right thing to do, and now is lost, a pure mind amongst the thousands of mystics.
  Last night Cantharis worked for hours; trying to stop Novaris’s sacrifice.
  He was able to connect for a second to the mind of Oana Rain, and tried to hasten her exile, but now he no longer felt the conforming presence of Novaris detective in his mind. The entanglement between them, the encrypted key to Novaris’s mind saved in the Shaman’s implanted AI,was gone.   Clark Novaris sacrificed himself.
  Cold water brushed his skin, and he just stood there, enduring the pain. He got out and dressed up,  with dead, glassy eyes, his thoughts scattered. It was not until he finished breakfast when he returned to this world. He checked the school’s mission board. The retinal projector showed him cases, opened or in progress, and he read through them. He stopped at Solaris Midsummer’s current work.
  - Fuck – he said in surprise, looking at the details. The victim of the theft was the daughter of a wealthy businessman, therefore she had the most hi-tech defense system; and yet the thief broke it in seconds.
  He waved the case away,  and tried to contact Solaris.
  No answer.
  ,,The recipient’s mind is fully occupied, please try again later.”
  He searched through his contacts, until he found Ana, and started an entanglement.
  - Anabelle.
  - Canthy – replied Ana, her voice echoed in Cantharis’s mind, he felt her frustration caused by the name ’Anabelle.’ Or, it was his for ’Canthy.’ He showed his thoughts to her in six or seven channels at once.
  - God – she gasped.
  - Where are you, Anabelle?
  - Twenty-eleven three to north.
  Cantharis saw the location in the map.
  - In minutes – he abandoned the entanglement, and within minutes, left his apartment.

 Before the call, Ana had been missing Solaris. Now she felt a relief knowing that his lover is in the middle of a more urgent matter than caring for a child. In the beginning, when they had no social or combat skills to sell on the market, they offered child-caring services as a couple, but Solaris outgrew it, and now he was after something monstrous, while Ana continued it alone.
  The little girl grabbed her hand and guided her to the bookshelf.
  - Pick one – she said, pointing to the books.
  - You want me to read for you? – smiled Ana. The little girl shook her head.
  - No, I will read for you. When I am sad, mom always reads for me, and now you are sad, so I’ll read for you.
  Ana kneeled and hugged her.
   - Thank you – she said, holding both of her hands – but I am fine. Its just… we’ll explore a story, okay?
  - About what?
    - Transcendence. Did you parents tell you about the humans of Earth? What do you know about the difference between them and us?
  - We are better because we live in peace, right? Because states had power over them and they were violent.
  - Yes, but the state was not the cause of their violence, it was the effect. However sophisticated and subtle, the humans of Earth used aggression to force each other to do so, and they discarded reason, as a means of trade. Even in their families they used violence to have control over each other. The state was the ultimate aggressor, the mightiest beast, ruler of the kingdom of violence.
The little girl kept nodding, while her mind stored the information.
  - So the difference is going from force to logic? Because I’ve heard they were told what to do, or at least most of them, and weren’t able to use ethics by themselves as we do. – she said with a spark in her eyes, a blue, glowing light indicating that her enhanced neurons were connected to the home server empowering her cognitive abilities.
  - You see, Lillian, I think you are smarter than any six year old child who lived on Earth. And that is a big difference, because you represent the progress of humanity from Earth to Mars in a sense. And the story I would like to explore is the story of our future. What do you think will come?
  The girl was silent for a minute while her gaze jumped from side to side, seemingly reading the air, but in fact, she was searching for predictions and information online, choosing the subjects she was interested in and uploading the information into her mind. There was a sudden fear in her eyes, but she continued with fastened pace. Ana watched her in amazement.
  - Ana – she said softly – did you look up this question on the web?
  - I think yes, why?
  - I now have knowledge about a cult and I don’t understand it. I think they worship a god called Hypnos, but it is said that this sect is a branch of the Shamanism. But the shamanism is… Ana, my head hurts, I think I need a narrative – she said with a painful look on her face, holding her hand.
  - You need to be more careful with your mind Lillian, it is easy to overload – said Ana. – Solaris cannot be here because he is looking after this cult with his friend. It seems the cult is one mind interconnected, and because of their connection, they are able to use much powerful technologies than we are. They say they are not harmful but some weak evidence says otherwise. Yes, they are a branch of shamanism, but while this rational hero cult around Cantharis is just showing an exemplar, the Hypnos cult is trying to step over human boundaries, just as the Shaman did.
  - So they are mimicking not who he is, but how he become – said the girl with now a calm face.
  -Yes, and think about it – she said in growing excitement. – With our minds collectively connected, we would have no need for our evolutionary legacies such as emotions and the necessity for language, the urge to reproduce and the enslavement of bodily desires. Instead we could reach for the stars and the very essence of our world, turning everything into knowledge and information, living eternally in the reality imbued with the dreamworld, seeing not just from one, but from billions of perspectives.
  - So is this the next step of evolution in your opinion?
  - Yes, certainly. Can I tell you a secret?
  The little girl nodded.
  - I am thinking of joining them – whispered Ana Mionar.
  The doorbell rang. Ana stood up - feeling the little girl’s puzzled look following her -, and went to open the door. Cantharis stood there, a head taller than Ana, behind him a smaller crowd watching and whispering to each other, as they recognized the legend walking amongst them.
  - Let me in Anabelle, these people has no respect regarding privacy. One more reason to hide from them. – he said, and stepped in as Ana stood out of the way.
  - You could just buy an enshrouding device you know - – Ana said, and closed the door. - It has a dozen variations of hiding functions like projecting a different face or-
  - I will not – he interrupted. His voice was calm, but serious. – Any information about Solaris and Raoul? – he asked.
  - None whatsoever. What are we supposed to do?
  While they spoke next to the front door, Lillian hid in the corridor, watching them secretly.
  - We are supposed to do nothing, Anabelle. We both know Solaris very well, he knows his limits, and has a backup plan. And he is with Raoul. Raoul has a strange obsession of arranging everything before he acts, so his assistant might have calculations about their current state, and it will call us if we are needed.
  - Then why did you came? – Ana asked. – You won’t go and help them.
  - I… I will help them if they need it, and Solaris will contact you, not me. I wanted to talk to you.
  - Me? About what? If it is about Solaris… no it is not about Solaris, you train him.
  He nodded, and started to walk toward the apartment.
  - Hey, little one – Cantharis said when he saw Lillian. – I hope you don’t mind if I am here for a while – he smiled.
  The girl shook her head. Ana gently pushed Cantharis towards the girl, and Lillian indicated the room she came from with her hand, while bowed deeply. Ana chuckled, and taking her hand, they went in.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Theocracy: Chapter I

^drawing made by him   

She saw the strokes of her paintbrush in advance, her arms just obeyed Ana Mionar’s will. As always, she was walking the path of self-expression. She usually painted her dreams, the landscapes of distant, nonexistent planets, where all of the twelve moons rose at the same time. When she was about to finish, she lifted up the brush, and with eyes closed she painted a line by feeling, the she asked: „What will you be?”
      - Ana?
      The girl was deeply transfixed by the beauty of her craft, and the voice of professor Diyon was a distant noise. The students were about to leave the room, seven other child – their ages ranging from nine to seventeen - have continued the professor’s line of thought about chronophysics after the class was over. Diyon called his assistant with his hand, the personal AI following and helping him, to which the metal globe slowly hovered above his shoulder. The professor walked to Ana’s desk, and cleared his throat.
      - Yes? – asked Ana.
      - The class is over. May I speak with you?
      The girl looked around in the empty classroom.
      - Sure, sure, sorry.
      She packed the stack of painting equipment into her backpack hastily, and handed the painting to her own assistant, who took it with its four metallic arm.
      - I’d like to ask you about Solaris – said professor Diyon, while walking through the corridor. – I’m worried. To be honest, I haven’t seen him in weeks, and all I’ve heard about him is that he does nothing but goes on missions.
      - Yup – she nodded. – That’s exactly what he does.
      The days are long gone, when Solaris and Ana were inseparable. They met first, when Solaris saw the bloody, beaten girl standing at the gate of the school in a rainy midnight. They soon interwoven their classes, and went to missions together. There was one night, when Ana was in the school’s parlor, alone. The next day, the news, talking about a death, freed her from her fear. An alcoholic old man called Lang Mionar was found dead, and when one wanted to know more about him, the web whispered about child sexual abuse. Not a single soul rose to find the killer.
      - I’m asking… – said professor Diyon, - I know its none of my business, but he has a terrible past, and I hold it as my personal responsibility to help him. I knew him since the Shaman found him, and in the beginning I though he’ll end up in the Vatican. He was aggressive and stubborn, he simply did not listen. But… - his face spoke his honest worry about Solaris. – But now it seems to me that he is being lost, without goals and happiness. I still see that abused, little boy in him, and I think – his voice became stern – it is our responsibility as a society to help those who cannot help themselves.
      - Dr. Diyon – said Ana in a sweet, innocent voice, - don’t you have your own life to live?
      The professor stopped. He looked at Ana as if he saw a demon, and the girl kept smiling.
      - But Ana, it is about the well-being of your lover.
      - Yes, and this is why this conversation ends now. – Her voice was calm and she kept that lovely smile. – Neither of us have the right to tell others how to live. How would we know what’s the best to him? I’m sure he’s seeking it, let him find it. You should know the best what a superhuman willpower he has, since you saw him change.
      "And his classes are terrible."
      - Oh and – she continued – Solaris has nothing to learn from you.

      Solaris Midsummer was drinking his coffee in a downtown cafeteria, while he watched the people come and go, while watched Ana’s stream in the neurocomm channel. He saw the full conversation.
      "He’s a kind man."
      "I don’t know, Sol. I don’t assume that he wants to use you, but the fact that he places you above himself bothers me."
      "Let’s say he is afraid of the public safety. After all, I really was a terrible child."
      "He watches the watchmen."
      In front of Solaris, the square was full of people, talking, and laughing. While he talked to Ana, he shared his attention between the crowd and the school’s mission table. His eyes started to follow instinctively a man with black, long coat, gloves, sunglasses and with a limp. His assistant sent beacon nanodrones towards him. He overdressed the weather. The man was among the dozens of others, and when he walked past them, a woman stopped. She shivered, and was trapped in a memory loop for an instant. She was paralyzed. Her mind was being searched for memories to steal. When she regained control over her body, the man disappeared, and within seconds, a new mission appeared in the table to get back stolen memories. Solaris smiled when he saw the astronomical reward, accepted the mission and went after the thief.
      Memories in the society had market value, as long as they were authentic. Every memory had a quantumkey attached to it, which proved that it was not forged, but based on empirical experience. People bought and sold memories, narratives, sometimes even whole fates, and the memory merchants were swimming in the money when they found a rare memory from Earth. And there were those who didn’t accept the society’s rules, and through the hard work of days or weeks, they stole memories. Solaris’s target used a technology that was never seen before.
      "What do you see when the impossible shows up before your very eyes?"
      "Grab some popcorn."
      "Raoul. I think I've met with your legendary cult."
      He copied his memories to the message and sent it to Raoul. The answer came after half a minute.
      "Its Hypnos, I’m on my way."
      It started months ago. Raoul Seoc, a decade after his parent’s death, found a memory, in which, just for an instant, he saw his mother and father. The memory was the initiation rite of a dark cult, in which the cult members used technology so advanced, that it looked like magic. The rite was simple, the newcomer had to give up his identity, his self, and connect to the Hypnos meta-consciousness. Since then, Raoul has been searching for members to find the head of the cult. He swore to cut him down, and watch the rest of the cult dissolve.
      Raoul was not entirely awake when he answered the call. He was dreamwalking, the conscious act of crafting one’s inner world. His neural implants had functioned properly, so the message from Solaris was transmitted to him, to which he answered consciously.
      In each subjective hour, thunder shook his dream, the ticking of his clock transplanted into his mind, counting seconds. Before awaking, he spent days in dream, planning his day, and the encounter with the technological monstrosity called Hypnos, whose parts were once his family, who murdered his sacrilegious parents, and now, must face verdict.
      The proof was there, buried in society’s pattern, and in each subordinate’s mind. Raoul Seoc had been jumping from acolyte to acolyte, hunting for that one memory in each mind, in which the initiation took place. The only event in which the students met with their priests face to face. Hypnos had a hierarchical system. It embraced every mind, if they paid the price. Their self, their individuality. The newcomers went through a rite, a dark, horrific ceremony. Raoul saw way too many of these, and in his dreams, he analyzed every nanosecond of the memories he acquired.
      The faces he saw were average nobodies, working inconsequential jobs, protecting simple families. He searched for evidence of past crimes in their past, and when he was lucky enough to find one, he presented it to the community. They were forgiving, in most cases, except when it came to murder or child abuse. The first caused slow disregard and excommunication from the stores, roads, houses, in short, from anything that was in private hands, and here, everything was in private hands. The child abuse, if the evidence was compelling, resulted in almost instant ban from the nameless colony.
      The cause of it was simple: aggression in this society was a plague, and everything must have been done to stop its spread. If they were to allow child abuse in only one family, the use of force as an absolute would have spread among the child’s friends, and once they grow old enough, the ancient, dreadful god of the lost Earth would return in an instant.
      The state would reborn.
      This was the worst nightmare of every citizen living in the nameless colony of Mars. As long as the Shaman lived among them, they felt safe. He, the guardian of peace, the neohuman hero, who helped humanity to transcend their beliefs, now lived a hermit’s life, a legend, withdrawn from society.
      Raoul Seoc knew him. The Shaman, Cantharis de la Cruz was a teacher in the academy, and thus, he knew that his protection was nothing, but the lack of adventure. Raoul’s desire to hunt down Hypnos was a selfish drive, but isn't it selfishness, what drove this world forward? From the selfish desire to create, the greatest pieces of arts were formed. From the selfish drive to be boundless, the most marvelous technologies were created. From the Shaman’s selfish desire to live in freedom, the colony was built.
      Once Cantharis hears the call of wanderlust, he will depart, and it is his students who will protect and watch their world. Raoul was aware of all this, not as a drive to fight Hypnos, but as a positive consequence of his deeds. Once the Shaman leaves, men must not turn to the reign of Hypnos.
      These thoughts occupied Raoul’s mind when he was preparing to meet with Solaris. The path he choose, the secrets the future holds. He called his assistant, who was lost in the private library, amongst the fantasy and science fiction worlds, exploring them, creating simulations based on them and reliving them. It disconnected itself from the world of elves and dragons, and connected into Raoul’s mind to help him craft a plan.
      While the AI computed every possible income of the encounter, Raoul checked his muscle implants. Blue, glowing lines covered his black skin, his muscles were built in such perfection, that it looked as if it would explode out of his skin at any moment. He was enchanted by the primitive technology, hence his library of printed books. He often contemplated, how the statist inhabitants of Earth made it out alive without any rational thought through their life. Instead of gravity-manipulation training, he used lead weights for maintenance.
      All implants were functional.
      He dressed up without hesitation, called his cloudwalker and stepped into the vehicle from the open window. The skies were unusually crowded, but silent, as always. Raoul parked near to the cafeteria, from where he got Solaris’s message.
      „Where art thou, dearest of my allies?” – he sent to Sol.
      „To your left.”
      Solaris was there, at the other side of the square, waving to Raoul. When he approached Solaris, the young boy peered toward a smaller building, and said:
      -He’s in there. I have put every detail into a message that will be sent to Ana in an hour, and she’ll get Cantharis if there is any trouble.
      Raoul nodded, and started to walk toward the building, Solaris followed him in close range. When they walked in, a queer feeling of coming home rose in Solaris Midsummer.
      -Say, Raoul, have you ever encountered with any cult member?
      - Yes, once. I have never talked about it. I barely got out alive, but I got some evidence which convinced the public to excommunicate her. She experimented with abducted children, clearly violating the non-aggression principle. I believe her name was Sia Pride.
      - So it was rough, right?
      - It was insane. Why?
      - Because, my dear friend, we are trapped in a nightmare simulation.
      Raoul stopped, and looked around. The corridor looked right, and there was no physical manifestation of the dreamer’s emotions. He felt confused, but there was no ripple in the matter around him. Before he could ask, Solaris answered:
      - If your theory is right, we are facing with not one, but countless minds sewn into one being. Only the Shaman could control the dream against so many. We see what they want us to see, but I feel it.
      - Feeling is not a valid argument.
      - It is if you’ve been trained by him.
      - Since when… - he looked in shock at his friend, shook his head and started again. – We are far away from each other nowadays, Solaris. I thought you would tell. Since when you’ve been learning from Cantharis?
      Solaris smiled.
      - Since the first time I met him. My shamanic training began two weeks ago, and you’ve been so much into this cult. We barely talk. Though… I would have not told you anyway. I am nowhere compared to him, and it makes me ashamed. And I think I’ll never be like him.
      - Solaris – Raoul said, - can you get us out?
      - I might master some of the dream, but we will go through what they want.
      He looked around, and his gaze fixated on the ground below him. Raoul watched it aswell, following his friend’s eyes. Solaris took a deep breath, and exhaled with closed eyes, then stomped. Below them, not the ground, but the matter itself shattered, and where moments before was nothing but carpet, now, through the glass-like shattering, was darkness. The scar in the dreamwoven matter started to spread, and within seconds, Solaris Midsummer and Raoul Seoc stood in the middle of nothingness.
      - This is what I can accomplish – Solaris said. – The Shaman can summon lustful forests, all I can do is… destroy.
      The words struck Raoul as if a sword had pierced through his heart. Solaris, the young titan lived through hell since the day he was born. His mother beat him up in a daily basis to a point when he was unconscious. He was locked out of the house if disobeyed. His father made him suffer through the worst kind of hell simulation with eternal torture, to strengthenhis belief. He, that lost, abused little boy became just as aggressive as his parents were. He was found by the Shaman, and Cantharis taught him, since he himself came from such a fate. Solaris made it, became peaceful, meditative and a thinker who was addicted to problem solving.
      But Raoul only now saw the struggle he went through on a daily basis. The fury was not extinguished, his rage was still burning within him. He looked at Solaris and saw, not his friend, or that skinny little genius who constantly argued in the academy, but a strength so glorious, self-control mastered to such a degree that no human being has ever reached before.
      They used to go on missions together. Wife-beaters, murderers, thieves were caught by them, dozens of human scum who did not even deserve death, but only the punishment of peering into that dark hell that is their soul, and scream in dread. They saw rapists begging for forgiveness, the mercy of silence, old, earthborn pedophiles, abusers and psychopaths who tried to claim power, and throughout it all, Solaris have never lost his self-control.
      Raoul hugged his friend. 

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