Saturday, April 18, 2015

Theocracy: Chapter V


      Ana woke up, her heart beating as the drums of war. She had a terrible headache but apart from the throbbing pain, everything was perfect. The room, the weather, the daily plans. What she felt strange was the familiarity of perfection, and the way she was used to it after awaking from her dream, which still lingered in her thoughts. Waking up into her home, the small apartment near the St. Peter square felt like dreaming again.
      There was order in her world. The cars, the roads, the monuments all arranged into an artificial regularity, she watched the buildings from her window, each looking the same.
      „We have no place for spontaneity” – she thought. With that sentence the first memory of her dream struck her, vivid and alive as her last night. She dreamt about a society based on spontaneous order arisen from voluntary interactions, a school transformed into a dispute resolution organization and a kiss from someone who only existed in her dreams.
      Images, emotions and ideas flooded her mind, bursting through the gate of her subconscious. As most nights, she dreamed about a life that cannot possibly exist. A life that contradicts her beliefs about the human way. Sometimes strange, revolutionary political ideas invaded her seemingly casual dream, in other times, she saw her Vaticanian friends through the eyes of Ana Mionar, resident of Mars, and despised them. Tonight it was a nightmare. She had a father who raped her when she was young and she was drawn to the dark cult of the God of Dreams. She dreamt about a world which held secret fears. The eldest generation had seen wars in Terra and feared their siblings and neighbors while the dreams of the youth seemed to reform the laws and structure of life itself. Both generations frightened her.
      She went to the bathroom and took a bottle of pills out of the drawer. She counted the blue medicines inside, then took one out of the six. She closed her eyes for a moment and took a long, deep breath, then  looked at herself in the mirror. The pill oppressed her thoughts and silenced her mind, she – in a moment later – stood, watching the dark sunrise from her window. The sunbeams barely ripped the cloud veil. The sky was deep blue above the cloudy, black horizon.
      Before the Vaticanians were awake, she oftentimes wandered the streets of the Holy City. She dressed up and stepped out into the cold, dark dawn. Artificial memories arose in her mind as she walked past the restaurant that was the home of a dozen joyful event in her life – a date, a dinner, a reunion – memories brought into existence by the AI arranging the simulation in both in the mind of Ana Mionar, and in others to weave the fates together. This was the basic procedure when a new resident moved in to the simulation.
      Dust-like light covered the city as the sun rose and the residents started to commute to work like drones. Suffering faces tortured by endless repetition of a loathed labour passed next to Ana in the streets of the Vatican. Poverty and the struggle against life shown itself in their clothing and in the way they walked, bent by the weight of dreamlessness. There was only one sanctuary of life in these morning hours that she knew, a bakery that opened in the very early hours, the scent of fresh bread filled the streets around it and in the dawn it was the only store opened, the only window filled with light on a street of dark, sleeping houses.
      Ana – who was able to find hope even in such a cursed society – sneaked to the back window of the bakery and stood on her toes to peek in the window. She took a deep breath of the smell of a freshly baked bread. An old lady who was dressed in white working uniform approached the window from the inside and handed a wrapped, round-shaped object to her. Ana gave some coins to the elderly woman. While she continued her walking, she unwrapped the product and with careful bites, she ate the hot bun filled with jam. 
      The effect of the pill she took in early in the morning started to dissolve, and while she was walking, she contemplated the life she thought to be real and the life on Mars she dreamed about. As she saw it, it was not that different. The external world was as different as dusk and dawn, but she felt the same way in her martian life as she did in the vaticanian one. „Of course” – she thought – „since my mind created it, it was not true. It was not empirical, but a fabrication. A simulation”
      The word „simulation” triggered her mind. Ideas clashed and collided. Thoughts overwhelmed her about simulations, about Cantharis, about the vaticanian realm to which they were venturing together, about every aspect of her real life that requires augmented reality ranging from communication to gaming. As the flood of visions invaded her mind, she gasped and sat up in her bed, next to her love, Solaris Midsummer in the Shaman’s ship, sailing in the dark space between Mars and Earth.
      - Are you all right, my love? – asked Solaris. His voice was awake even though they went to sleep hours ago.
      - Yes – she answered, panting heavily. – I had a strange dream.
      - Tell me about it.
      - All right – she exhaled and laid down again into her lover’s embrace, still shaking. – I… actually I had a false awakening from a nightmare. And that was the worst, I thought I was awake the entire time.
      - Hadn’t you try to control it?
      - No, I forgot how to do so. And from the nightmare I awoke into the Vatican where I had a whole life. Really a whole, with social circles and past and family.
      - How did it feel to live there?
      - Well it was – she thought for a moment – deterministic. Yes, that’s the right word. It felt safe, and I certainly knew what will happen that day or the in next ones. It was like the tales they speak about Terra. I’ve read once that some of them lived like ants. Years passed above their heads and they kept repeating the same things over and over.
      - Well I don’t want to see that for sure – said Solaris.
      - Terra or the Vatican?
      - Any world controlled by the state. I couldn’t sleep so I thought about it. In practice, there could be a statist world which operates in order and balance, and the people in it live a life of peace and tranquility as long as they obey. And such world would lift up terrible weights from our shoulders. Responsibilities would be minimized through taking away the consequences of their failures. The state would care about the daily life struggle and race and frustration that comes with living in a capitalist world in which you must have full control over your mind in order to succeed.
      - But it would be immoral – said Ana.
      - Yes, it would be. And there are people who would pay the price of immorality to gain the benefit of entropy. Hear me, Ana – his voice broke off – I fear I could be one of them. You know how I was raised. I’ve only seen violence as example, beating and yelling until I ran away. I have this programming implanted into my brain that I must fight every day, or feed it through the endless repetition of vengeful missions, and sometimes I wish someone would control me and keep me in line.
      - Solaris – she hugged him even stronger in the dark cabin of the ship. – I am sorry for what happened to you, and I understand you. This is how I felt in my dream. But think of Cantharis. You know how he was born and what he went through until he became the Shaman. He will guide us, and the people around us will be safe. Once we’ll have a child, that little being will be the most loved human in the planet and we will protect him or her – she smiled. – And fate can go fuck itself for opposing the what is the right thing to do.
      - You are right. Thank you. But I will not join the simulation of the Vatican.
      Ana was silent for a long, enduring moment, then kissed him.
      - As you wish my love. I will think of you in every moment.
      The cabin’s door  opened, and Raoul stepped in, carrying breakfast and coffee for two on a tray. He placed it on the table next to the door  and went out, the door closing behind him with a faint whisper.
      - And we have friends who help us through it all – Ana said. The fragrance of black coffee filed the air as they woke up and started to have breakfast.
      Raoul couldn’t sleep. He usually needed about four hours  and was awake until four tinkering or reading,  but now his mind was full of energy and planning, so when he tried to sleep, he was recharged with newfound strength coming from the future.  So he got up and started to make breakfast for the team.
      He took the next tray to Cantharis’ cabin. Above the desk next to the door hung a board illuminated with blue led light - old newspaper articles were pinned on it. The Shaman seemed to be asleep, so Raoul put down the breakfast onto the desk, and started to examine the writings. The cut-out news were ranging from the beginning of the twenty-first century to the present, and were connected in an order Raoul didn’t understand, but as he touched the holographic word „Azier” below the board, the connections rearranged themselves.
      It started from the association of pity criminals, politicians and lobbyists, then went to a separated outbreak of a disease called „White plague” in a small African village, resulting dozens of apparently causeless comas.  It was also connected to other news, such one talking about the decline of violence – most importantly domestic  violence – in the middle Earth, one about the death of  the leader of North Korea, followed by  the nation’s opening to capitalism and thriving.
      It was the history of mankind’s transcendence, from violence – arranged by Cantharis – the news spoke an untold tale from the first actions of his father to the last human settling down on Mars.
      Raoul shot pictures about all arrangements with the camera implanted into his eyes and left the cabin silently.
      As the door closed Cantharis woke up and raided the breakfast with ravenous hunger. He saw Raoul’s kindness and curiosity and as he looked up at the board, he was pleased to know that the youth – even when traumatized – are walking humane path.
      He had just finished the breakfast and was heading to the ship’s canteen when a deja reve, a revelation of the future struck him. He knew that Raoul will be there immersed in his book „Transcendence” while eating. He turned around to defy fate, when the second memory of his dream came: If he were to walk through that corridor, he would meet with the couple coming out of their room.
      Deja reve was one of the remaining mysteries of oneirology.  Science has gone a long way since the disintegration of the state. The brain became the utility to defy time and space. Nanobionic neurons enhanced the cognitive capacity of all human beings by using external servers to draw computational power from. Dreams became the meeting place of humans  who were able to talk for subjective hours in a silent cafeteria or date in a foggy forest, while in reality they were taking a nap.
Dreaming became the most important aspect for some, for the likes of the teachers and students of the academy, who had oftentimes attended simulation classes, exploring the depth of particles or the procedure of evolution or the everyday life of the greatest civilizations empirically.
      And there were some who -  through endless training in lucid dreaming, learning self-knowledge and exploring the depth of their own subconscious   - possessed the ability to command their dream and among those was Cantharis de la Cruz, whose mind was intertwined with the AI called Shaman, that helped him to rewrite not only his dreams, but through viruses and tricks of cybernetic warfare, the virtual realities aswell.
And now, as Cantharis was trapped in the deja reve, being unable to break it, a chill of dread ran down his spine from this unexplainable, unprecedented experience. His mind did not obey him.
      He stepped back into his room with growing frustration. A memory emerged from his mind showing the same event and in it he whispered: „The fuck.”
       - The fuck… - whispered the Shaman. He took a deep breath, clearing his mind. He was not awake – he thought – since he was not able to break the spiral of memories. He was not dreaming since the world around him was not a nightmare. He felt himself strangely at home.  He looked at his desk and saw a stack of paper which was not there in the minute before. The title said: Vaticanian Citizenship Contract. He picked it up and read:
      Thank you for choosing our service. Our communication and marketing policy consists of honesty and calling things on their names. Therefore what we offer is not a holiday in an idealized heaven in which the responsibilities of living in an anarchic society are lifted from man's shoulder nor it is a coercive hell based on lies and propaganda.
      According your motives that led you to choose our service we offer either refuge from a world that is incompatible to your standards of living or a peek into the dark history of mankind in which Hobbes' Leviathan feeds on our brothers and sisters as a reminder of the mistakes our ancestors has committed.
      Our simulation is a statist society which means that it is ruled by a monopoly of violence. We recognize the immorality of such a world while we also see the market demand for this.
      Those who might choose to sign this contract will be given the chance to discard their memories of previous life and by doing so they will gain financial and social advantages of having been born into the right circumstances. We offer different deals from which you can chose in the chart below according to your needs and preferences.
      If you have a history of disrespecting the right to life, property and liberty of your fellow human beings and as a consequence of your actions, you fled your homeworld to find refugee in our simulation, we offer you the first package that doesn’t require background protection from any dispute resolution organization. Your contract will include a period of X years in which we will appoint you to a working place according to your skills and abilities as a payment for our service. If you do not possess marketable skills we will train you. You may also choose to trade in your memories as a form of payment. Furthermore the contract includes full social recovery service; talk therapy with the profession’s most revered, training in self-knowledge, ethics and a twenty percent discount with our dispute resolution organization if you sign the contract within the first year of your re-entry into the society.
      We also offer tourist packages that gives full access to every social service and building, a medium reputation and a considerable amount of political power. As a tourist, you will have full access to your waking life memories but you will not be able to effectuate social, political or economical change, nor will you be able to have an impact on the mind of the permanent residents of the simulation. The ripples of your deeds will be removed from all minds. We accept payment in the crypto-currencies, gold and time based currencies listed below.
      We may construct a completely personalized contract to meet to individual requirements ranging between the recovery and tourist packages. You will find more information and the detailed chart on page fifteen to twenty-one.
     
      Cantharis de la Cruz placed the stack of papers back to his desk and called for his students for a meeting to the canteen. They gathered in the small, bright room filled with the scent of coffee. Raoul served a cup of it to each of them. They sat down to the wooden desk, Raoul and Cantharis facing Solaris and Ana.
      - Have you experienced anything strange in the past hours? – the Shaman asked.
      - Yes – said Ana. – I had a strange dream. I dreamt about being someone else in a statist world I’ve never seen.
      - I was reading your book and the words turned into a contract of the simulation – said Raoul.
      - Yea, we found that contract aswell – said Solaris.
      - A very strange thing – nodded the Shaman thoughtfully -  Our brain functions as if we were on LSD. Though we are awake the parts of it that are responsible for dreaming are active and we are in a strange waking dream stage. This is how the Vatican contacts us.
      - It is invasive – said Solaris resentfully.  – They should call or something.
      - Their system is automated. As far as I know we are communicating with an AI. For it, this path is much easier.
      - Cantharis –Solaris turned to the Shaman – I have changed my mind. I will not join the simulation.
      - Alright – he answered. – May I ask why?
      - I might fall in love with it.
      - Understood. You can use the ship to return home, and send it back on autopilot.
      - I’m sorry.
      - No problem – he said and thought for a while, then it clicked. – Solaris, would you do a favor for me, for a payment, of course?
      - What is it?
      - There is a girl in the simulation called Oana Rain. She – I know – is ready to leave the state. I want you to get in, take her dreaming body and return to the colony with her. Help her to rebuild her reputation.
      - Who is she? – Ana asked. As an answer, he recalled the events of his childhood, when he met Clark Novaris and the last time he saw him. He told them about the message he received about the outcasts trapped between the newfound morality and the contract that binds them to the simulation.
      - I was created in a certain way, you see – said the Shaman. - The AI that is connected with my consciousness is programmed to build a better future and I cannot disobey it. Helping these outcasts to return and rebuild their lives will be a great value to society and art. Oana Rain is the first of these and I will go in and find the others.
      Within half an hour, they finished the coffee and went to sign the contract. Ana and Solaris said goodbye to each other and they have returned to sleep. Ana was tired, and so was the Shaman and Raoul. They left Solaris in reality while the Vatican invaded their minds. The neurons in their brains responsible for perception were connected into the simulation server. Ana felt the morning breeze once again while she was heading to the bakery. Raoul was an academic, studying the ancient Earth and looking for patterns in its history. And the Shaman, Cantharis de la Cruz lived a modest life as the caretaker of the Gardens of Vatican City, reading and meditating in the woods in peace until one day, when the clock turned to midnight, and it brought his thirtieth birthday, he awoke from his dream to a lightning that struck the St. Peter's Basilica. The sight of the blue thunder triggered old, forgotten memories within him. He recalled his past life in the Mars and in the Earth. He remembered the city he created and the reason he left it and he knew that the contract he signed - in order to reach the citizens - will bind him to the city for three long years.