Monday, May 18, 2015

Theocracy: Chapter VI

 Previous Chapters

      The heart of Solaris Midsummer sunk as the door of Cantharis de la Cruz’'s ship slowly opened. He was hidden by numerous layers of clothing. The upper layer was made of Quantum Stealth camouflage material. It bent the light waves around Solaris, making him invisible to the naked eye. It contained his body heat so that he was unseen by thermographic cameras.
      The androids stepping into the ship looked like human security guards. Black jacket, hat, and a menacing look, weapons in their hands. They walked past Solaris, who swiftly and silently entered the space station orbiting the Earth. He made no sound – a legacy of his childhood in which he had to be unseen and unheard in order to survive the cruelty of his parents. He ran through the corridor while releasing his nano-drones. The microscopic, programmed units flew to chamber to chamber, mapping the environment and sending the data into the mind of Solaris, until they found the sleeping body of Oana Rain. He took a left turn and ran into the room.
      The nano-drones changed course. Half of them started to destroy the shell in which Oana’s body was contained, turning the raw particles they consumed into synthetic drones. The other half went backward the corridor to survey. The guards were coming out of the ship, carrying the sleeping bodies of the Shaman, Raoul and Ana.
      Solaris took the girl and – as the androids came out of the ship – he started to run. He ordered his drones to tear off the faces of the androids so that they would not resemble his kind. The mirror neurons in his brain responsible for empathy would not allow him to deal a blow to an other human being. He trained himself for it and knew that his hand would stop and it would unconsciously weaken the blow - if he were to fight.
      The fibers in his muscles used synthetic enhancement to make him faster, and within seconds he was at the entrance of the ship, facing the androids carrying his friends. He jumped side by side to avoid the guards and jumped in the entrance, the door closing at his order. The engines started to resonate. The ship departed the space station and no cruiser rose to chase their client kidnapped by an unknown stranger.
      Solaris kept looking at the radars in disbelief for the first half hour after putting Oana into a bed. Then he left the pilot’s cabin and set up guiding lights from her room to the canteen.
      The girl only woke up after the ship has arrived on Mars. She found herself in an unfamiliar room – though it was certainly inhabited by a female. The walls vibrated in deep blue, white and yellow colors and the whole room looked like The Starry Night of van Gogh.  Projected screens hovered all around the room, showing paused images of lectures, ancient and new,  ranging from the twentieth century buddhist philosopher Alan Watts to the present day futurologist and founder of the academy Dr. Alan Wordsmith, who looked and acted like the reincarnation of the zen scholar.
      Oana dared not to believe. She had access to her memories and knew the faces she saw around her. She jumped out of the bed and ran out of the room to face the sight of her long lost home. The skyscrapers and the cloudwalkers between them, the silence and the clear, blue sky, the small, familiar forests in the ground level with which she was very familiar with. Her eyes filled with tears of joy. As she wiped them her neural implants booted and countless amounts of data filled her vision.             Your subscription to the neural web has ended due to a payment failure. - she read.
      - Welcome - said a soft, yet commanding voice. She turned toward the source and saw a man, seemingly not much younger than her stepping out of the next room. Dark circles were visible below his eyes, and he yawned. - Excuse me, I was asleep a moment ago. My name is Solaris Midsummer and I got you out of the Vatican as a request from the Shaman, Cantharis de la Cruz, stepson of Clark Novaris.
      - Novaris - she gasped. - What has happened to him?
      - I have no idea. All I know is the Shaman received the detective’s testimony of your ethical and psychological trustworthiness. We decided to help you out.
      - Why? - Oana asked. - I mean, I am grateful, but I don’t understand.
      - He had his own reasons. As of me… you see, and you should know it since you lived in a statist world, you can see if a system is enslaving individuals if it steals the most precious, the most valued and rare gift one possesses: man’s time. It does it in a subtle way. It does not forbids you to act, but makes you to execute meaningless little tasks, go there, sign it, find him, ask for it, call them, wait and wait and wait, sit in a class room for almost twelve thousand hours - he said in anger. - Twelve thousand. Can you imagine it? Back in Terra, before the fall of the state, it was the average a child had to survive. In that time, they could have achieved mastery over any science or art. 
      And then its advocates has the arrogance to pronounce: why are you in such a hurry? Don’t you have enough free time?
      If I would have left you there in the end of your simulation, you would have been bound to years of training in ethics and self-knowledge which you already acquired through the teachings of Detective Clark Novaris, am I right?
      - Yes, but detective?
      - Yes - he nodded. - He was a detective in Terra before the Transcendence. He helped - he stopped, then raised his eyebrows. - Wait, you should know these things. The Shaman’s past is common knowledge.
      - Well - she said in confusion. - I just woke up from the simulation, I can barely stand.
      Her mind was tranquil. Thoughts have not yet emerged from the ocean of her consciousness that had been unsealed by the ship of her consciousness for far too long. She was between dream and reality, while the virus that infected her mind slowly and subtly feasted upon her past.
      - Oana - said Solaris. He looked at the girl, who felt as if his look could see through the thousand layers of indifference, contempt, anger and other defense mechanism straight into her soul. - Tell me, why were you banished from amongst us?
      She looked at him for a long time with tired eyes and then the Old God of her past buried and asleep at the bottom of the ocean has awakened. Tears veiled her eyes and she collapsed into her knee, screaming from the agony of her deeds.
      - I - I have murdered my child - she cried.
      Solaris Midsummer stood there, stunned, watching the girl. His eyes were also veiled by her sadness. He stepped closer, kneeled and put his arm on her shoulder.
      - What happened, Oana Rain? - his soothing voice calmed her down.
      - I - She was born and I - she sobbed - I went on with my life without seeing her. Really without looking at her. She was just a shadow in my home - Oana said and burst out in tears, crying and shaking for minutes before she continued. I neglected her. I spent money on her but never gave her love or care, and she became obsessed with her fantasy worlds until one day she dreamt and never woke up - she sobbed. - That's why I had to leave.
      Solaris put his hand onto her shoulder and she just cried, her face buried in her hands. She took a DNA sample through his finger and compared it to that of his lover, only to see the genetic match between Ana Mionar and Oana Rain.
      - What was her name, Oana? - asked Solaris.
      - Annabelle. Annabelle Mionar.
      - She - said Solaris and stopped, thinking of  how much to say. He felt overwhelmed and confused by the turn of events. All through life, after Ana revealed her history, Solaris Midsummer hated her parents for what she had to go through. The traumas she will never fully recover from. The never-ending nightmares of her personal history burnt into her existence as a brand and even though she freed herself, that mark of previous ownership will never go away.
      - She is alive and well. She woke up after you went rouge.
      - Really? - asked Oana with eyes wide open. - Where is she? How could I see her? I will do everything to make up for what I have done.
      - No. You, Oana Rain, will make up for much more - said Solaris in unconcealed anger. - What you did to her is love compared to what her father was able to do after you left her to him. He - He modified her genome to make her body develop faster. He put her into simulations to have the years of subjective experience aligned to her body. All through this time she was raped and abused.
      She gasped. Her mind has been wreaking havoc since her awakening and only now did the emotional storm begun to calm down.  She felt the pain of the daughter she abandoned, yet she knew that if she wants to repair - no, this relationship is beyond reparation. But she was committed to serve her daughter and help her through life no matter what she has to go through to do so.
      - And how did she escaped? - she asked.
      - The Shaman roamed the meta-dream and she heard his call. She woke up from a simulation she was forced to go through and escaped from her home to a child protection shelter. She abandoned the name you gave to her and wants to be called only as Ana or Anabelle as a reminder of the path she mustn't follow.
       She sat in the floor silently, confronting the cold reality of this world which was a nightmare compared to the daily struggle of the Vatican. She wanted to go back. She wanted to feel the dread from the state once again, but she banished the desire from her mind. There, she wanted to be free. Now she must live up to the responsibility that is the nature of an anarchic world. And she had faith in herself and in her city. She had faith in the possibility of reclaiming her reputation and maybe the trust of her daughter through years of work.
      Solaris and the apartment was silent. He left Oana alone and went back to the room for minutes while the home filled up with the scent of fresh coffee. When he returned he was in a long, black coat and was about to leave.
       - I must go. I won’t return for a couple of days, but I will leave my assistant here to help you. You can have access to my terminal and use it to contact whoever you wish. If you have any question or need guidance, ask the assistant.
      Oana Rain didn't look up. She merely nodded with a blank stare before Solaris left the apartment. In minutes, an old man walked out of the room in front of her. He wore a plain, grey robe and had a long, white beard that he was stroking playfully. He bowed to Rain.
      - I am the assistant of Solaris Midsummer. This vessel is the recreated mind and body of Lao-Tzu, so you can call me in that name for now.
      Oana looked at him with a curious look, forgetting the pain she was going through.
      - Yes, this is a newest model. The body is synthetic and it has an own virtual intelligence that was put through a simulation of the master’s life from birth to death. Now I am connected to it and I feel as if I was him, dreaming this world. Really entertaining experience. Now about you. I contacted a moral agent who will talk to you today if you are ready. Her work is to evaluate the moral integrity and psychological health of an individual on behalf of the academy. She is influential, and if you can make a good impression on her, she will lift your exile from the school and some others will follow her who consider her judgment to be trustworthy. I recommend a shower and a light breakfast with water and just a bit of coffee. Your body might not be accustomed to large doses of nourishment.
      - Thank you - she said and got up from the ground. Her legs were unstable. - Where did the boy go?
      - I do not know, young lady. He is sometimes gone for days on a mission in a distant colony. Easy there, do not strain yourself, your body also has to return to the waking world, not only your mind.
      Dr Alan Wordsmith could not speak. He was afraid of the radical invasion of a mind that he saw.
      He left the colony months ago with the purpose of finding that place in the world where he could have the most impact on human fate. Back in the Earth when he, Cantharis de la Cruz and Clark Novaris were waging a crusade against not thinking he had his fair share of fights. But since then Cantharis became the Shaman and the detective became a holy man in hell.
      He knew that child abuse and neglect was the source of wars and tyranny so he did everything to oppose it.He did things without which the colony would turn back into statism. He laid down the first building blocks on Mars that grew into the academy that shelters the children whose only home was an inferno of hate. He funded companies whose purpose was to educate parents to morality and teach them to the love that they never received from their elders.
      Yet - he thought - nothing has ever changed and, as if their fates were carved into stone, he always remained simply the wealthy one.
      Now he stood before his chance of greatness and felt incompetent to walk this path. It is the job of the Detective to deduce why this anomaly occurs that causes hundreds to dream and never wake up. It is the path of the Shaman to get into the nightmare that haunts these workers of the neighboring colony, pull them out and heal the realm.
      But while he pondered these questions he became aware of that he found a pattern in the man's expressions sleeping before him. A repeating order of emotions. Menace, joy and hate followed one another before his face turned into an expression of unimaginable pain for minutes, then he calmed down.
      - What was your husband doing before he passed out? - he asked the wife sobbing next to him even though he knew the answer perfectly well. He saw the footage.
      - He was at work taking care of the cattle. Please doctor help, I feel like I wont make it alone and the children will be left to starve.
      - The cattle? For dairy purposes I suppose?
      - Well he works for a company specialized in organic meat. You see there is a demand for that here.
      - But why? Printing meat has bean around since the first decades of the century, why would you slaughter those beings?
      - Well there is no problem with that, humans have been doing it for millennia, when they were attuned to nature and the Earth was intact. And who knows what will that food do to you in the long run. I mean I've heard... – her mouth was forming sentence after sentence as she talked about her belief, but the attention of Dr. Alan Wordsmith focused on the issue of slumber after he sensed her madness. Since he left his homeworld, he traveled through the planet visiting colony after colony to map the issues of the world.
      As he reached his first destination months ago, the colony on the other side of the planet, he found something that has changed the course of his journey. He was standing in the city’s centre, a hood on his head and a black cape around him, his sword on his side, his hand resting on it, and looked up to the mighty, onyx statue of Solaris Midsummer. His stomach twisted. His mind was raging. He felt the dark confusion of a nightmare. Citizens spoke proudly and with respect in their voice about the demigod Hypnos, who came to them and brought harmony and understanding to them. They recalled the day when all the faces on the media and through the news had become gentle, understanding and humble with their words.
      They said Hypnos, the god of dreams visited them at night in the form of a young boy, but behind his voice echoed countless others. They said he understood them. He listened and talked to them. They felt safe. And then he made an offer to them saying they could help to build a world in which no harm will be done to people –except what they choose to endure. Since then they have been waiting for the call of their god.
      As Dr. Wordsmith visited colony after colony, he find the cult of Hypnos in all worlds. And there was something else. He traced back the missions of Solaris Midsummer through the database of the academy and visited the places that the boy did while working on cases of pollution, natural disasters or countless other dispute issues, he always found something that was not quite right. He found that in the wake of Solaris Midsummer the world turned into a nightmare.
      Now he was in the colony nearest to his home, and in it he found unexplainable cases of loss of consciousness. He had no clue to chase, seemingly it all happened in people who have never met and could never infect each other. As he loomed above the sleeping man to find anything helpful, he looked at his knuckles and saw scar tissue.
      - Was he violent, Mrs. Ebabdoof?
      - No, he would never hurt anyone. I mean he hit the children a couple times but that is of course necessary for them.
      - He did WHAT? - he erupted furiously. - You monster, you know exactly how immoral, how vile, how evil is that. How dare you use force against an innocent little child? Have you learnt NOTHING from our past? Did you not know that this is exactly what led the traumatized soldiers into their raging manslaughter? Did - he stopped and exhaled. - I will not help you or your husband. The only one who deserves any help here is your children.
      Before he turned away he touched the man's arm. A parasitic nanodrone infected his body at Wordsmith's command to scan the consciousness. As he returned to his apartment, he connected himself to his drone and quickly fell asleep. He found himself in the nightmare of the man.
      It was a normal day. Wordsmith had no recollection of his name but he remembered the face when he looked into the mirror and saw it. It was just as dead as asleep.
      He checked in to work, greeted his colleagues and dressed up - his heart filled with expectations of an unknown but dark nature to Wordsmith. He was present as a ghost in his dream, invisibly haunting the scene. As this tense emotion grew in the man’s heart, he disconnected his feelings to that of the dreamers and the parasite only transmitted the sense data.
      Two man was driving a cow to the slaughterhouse when the dreamer walked in and they laughed as if what they were about to do was not murder. They laughed as scarred children laugh when they they torture flies and cats – but they got paid for it. The dreamer approached them with a smile, his heart beating faster and faster. They stopped and shook hands.
      And then Dr. Wordsmith had to endure the most painful, the most sickening scene he ever saw in his life. For the sake of pleasure, the dreamer drove his fist into the animal's skull. They laughed as the cow cried in pain. The next one dealt a terrible blow to his stomach. They laughed again and again as the torture continued for minutes. Dr. Wordsmith watched the scene in shock. He hoped more than anything that if he turns on emotional transmission, he will feel guilt, sadness, despair and regret. But as he commanded the parasite and the dreamer’s feelings struck him, he cried in agony and unbearable physical torture.
      He woke up in sweat and tears. The pain still lingered. As the shock faded and he slowly regained consciousness, he searched through his memory to find the footage of the factory that he saw. He replayed it and watched as the man - and the other two - just collapsed to the floor that day right after the dreamer lifted up his hands to deal the first blow. And the brain scans of the dreamer were showing the pain that his victim should have felt.
      The dreamer was trapped in a loop of his dream, receiving the endless torture that he was so eager to fulfill.
      - It is a computer virus - he said to himself.
      Dr Wordsmith saw viruses infecting the neural implants of a brain from every different kind - good or ill. He helped Cantharis write and spread one at the peak of the revolutions.
      At that night, the humans of the earth have seen and felt with the eyes and mind of their friends and family - experiencing the true nature of the people around them as their brains intertwined for an instant. That was an event that broke up millions of friendships and families - and resulted in a desperate search for virtue among one another.
      But that one was designed to be a medicine and this - a curse.
      That was made to awaken empathy in the masses. This is an unforgiving vengeance.
      He thought of Solaris. Of the boy who thinks that he is a god and nobody knows what he has done, and will do. Dr. Alan Wordsmith started to pack to finally go home.
      Dr Alan Wordsmith, most esteemed thinker of his age, tightened his grip on the sword. He wore a red spanish cape, one that was the mark of the second abolitionists on Terra after the call to dress of Jeffrey Tucker. His gaze were fixated on Solaris's deep blue eyes, who scanned the environment and the gestures of Dr. Wordsmith with quick glances.
      - Where is the Shaman? - the old man asked in a melodic, warm tone.
      -  He said he has to go. He will get the anarchists out of the Vatican. Ana and Raoul are with him to explore the simulation.
      - And you? Why didn't you go with your family?
      - I - he looked down - I was afraid.
      - That is natural - said Dr. Wordsmith in a tone that filled Solaris with the feeling that he is at home and understood. - In the aristotelian sense, a drop of fear is good and necessary for survival. It is the animal inside all of as preserving our precious life.
      - Yes it is. But I want to base my actions on precise calculations, not on the primal chains with which history makes us into its puppets.
      - You will never erase the tale that is carved into memories in the subconscious. Things had happened to you. whether good or bad, they will have an effect on you. It will not drive you, but it determines who you are in a sense that you are someone with whom it happened.
      But if you choose to discard your past, it will indeed haunt you and drive you.To face our personal history is to shed light to the shadows that are haunting the mind and see what should be there, buried below darkness.
      I had to, and we all had to who yearned for this world.
      We sought freedom from political chains as if that was a demon without cause haunting our peaceful planet while the truth, Solaris Midsummer, was that the state could exist only if we let our personal history rule us. The state in large is the manifestation of the hierarchical structure of the family. To be born in chains and accept the validity of those chains results in yearning, wanting and demanding to be ruled. - he spoke with compassion. He hoped that his words will reach what’s left of Solaris Midsummer’s sanity.
      - If you wish to trust your mind and its content, you must face what was done to you with emotional honesty towards yourself. Then you will see what was forced into your mind through terror. Then you will see what's the right thing to do when fear clouds your mind because you reclaimed the ownership above the content of your mind
      - I wont buy that - said Solaris. Just as we use technology to enhance our body and cognition, we should use it to enhance our personality - he responded in a cold tone. - If you work as security, you enhance your muscles and the neural activity responsible for your reflexes. Since that is how you maximize your efficiency.
      But to achieve your emotional goals, to have empathy and self knowledge, we still use ancient methods. We cling to our perception of cognition with tooth and nail no matter how imperfect and ineffective it is.
      We cannot see our self as just another half-done, flawed trait of our evolution that really cries for advancement. We invent soul and categorical imperative to believe that man’s self is sacred, while none of those are valid or real more than a god is. Man is flawed and must be corrected.
      Now I have to go before the stores close. The celebration of singularity has just opened today and I want to see it before I leave.
      - Are you leaving the city?
      - Yes. But I have something to ask. I brought an outcast to here to the request of Cantharis. She is the mother of Ana. I have contacted some ethics agents to talk to her and consider lifting her ban from their property. Now she cannot leave home. Please talk to her and judge her by yourself. I cannot be in the same city with the woman who almost let my loved one to be murdered.
      - Is this the reason why you leave the colony when the Shaman is gone, and we need people like you to solve the cases?
      - Yes - he answered without thinking then looked around saying - take care. - Then he left.
      The sun was setting and Dr. Alan Wordsmith took a cigar out of his drawer and lit it while watching the city. Hours passed as he stood there and thought of nothing. He meditated to cleanse his mind from doubt and self-accusations. As he stood, he received a call that he accepted, and a female voice echoed in her mind.
      - Dr. Wordsmith - she said in excitement. - I have met with an outcast who knew Clark Novaris - the mind of Dr. Wordsmith slowly returned to reality. The orange beams of sunset filled the horizon in front of him. - She is the most sensible, honest and kind person I have ever met. She has courage, moral integrity and self-esteem. She is strong and virtuous. You should meet with her.
      We spent the whole day together and I find her to be one of the most valuable person I could see as my friend. In the beginning she felt really down but got better after she talked about her emotions and now she has hope.
      - I see - he said darkly. - Yrra. Send out a message to all citizen after Solaris has left the city. Contact every security agency and every industrial organization. Tell them that our home faces an invasion. Show them all the proof. Gather the students and show them the evidence we have about Hypnos and Solaris Midsummer. I will open my wallet to all of them to spend on defenses.
      - Is he that close? - asked the woman, dread in his voice.
      - All the colonies fell prey to his madness. When I saw it with my own eyes, I rushed home to see the Shaman disappeared. I have underestimated his abilities. You said she knew the detective? I would talk to her. I can only hope that Novaris still is with us and among us.
      - I am sending a message to all. Do you want to attach a personal note?
      - Yes. Tell them that the planet has befallen to the mind of a terrible god and we are the only pillar of light in this dark theocracy. Prepare to defend this city of freedom. Prepare to fight against this prophet of false promises. The reign of Solaris Midsummer has begun.
      Within minutes the colony erupted in a buzz. Tremendous amount of money was drained from every sector of the economy into defenses. People swarmed the Celebration of Singularity which begun just that day. They bought  the high-end crafts of technologies such as synthetic dragons whose mind can be connected into the AI of an assistant, each with unique weaponry. To the command of Dr. Wordsmith thousands and thousands of drones were launched from the academy. They scattered through the city evenly – enbracing it into a shell ranging from its borders to the sky and as they arranged themselves above the colony, one of them emitted an electric outburst. The blue burst ospread to the drone next to it. Within seconds the drones interwove a shield of lightning over the city and the hemisphere of electricity sealed the city away from the madness of Solaris Midsummer.

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