Friday, August 21, 2015

Rebirth of a Theocracy - Chapter II


Prophets and Gods 

“And now I see the face of god, and I raise this god over the earth, 
this god whom men have sought since men came into being, 
this god who will grant them joy and peace and pride. 
This god, this one word: 'I.'”
Ayn Rand

    Few doctrines have lived through the transmigration of men to Mars.  Faith that creeped into broken minds had no longer found a void to fill in. No one dared to force a child’s mind into fear of hell – no one dared to roll the dice of banishment when society shields their child.
     It dawned on Christ, on Allah and the Trimūrti. But as the old gods of the Earth have fallen, an ancient tradition rose again that united those who lost faith but still sought to fill their unmet childhood needs with an ever-loving god and those who were raised in peace, with reason and now sought to pierce the skies of human limits.
     They gave rise to shamanism that revered the Shaman himself, and held those values that the legend pursued. But few have ever met the man who helped his kind transcend the Earth. Few know of his true desires, his desires to travel and bring change again as he did in his youth. Few saw him stampeding through the corridors of the academy in search for that one student whose life has gone awry to ask him how he feels and lend him some support. 
     And even few saw him desperate, trying to connect to the servers of Vatican until dawn, looking for that steady heartbeat of Clark Novaris over and over and over, trying to breach the defenses again, the way she reached Oana Rain until he collapsed onto the floor in blinding exhaust and quiveringly fell asleep.
    
As he woke up, the fading memory of his dreams lingered on the back of his mind. 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 lay in the floor with eyes open, unable to move, and saw the figures of his dream manifesting in his room.
     He was in a sleep paralysis and the AI in his mind begun to purge the memories of his dreams. After seeing thousand lifetimes in each night when he slept, and succumbing to the curse his maker gave him, he had to forget the dreams that he saw. He lived as monk in ancient China, as rebel against mighty kingdoms, as peasant fleeing wars and as father mourning his sons. As he woke up, he had no choice but to think that he was reborn again, and the relics of his dreams have filled his mind so that he had no access to his past and self.
     The Shaman helped him. The AI in his mind had purged the unsought pasts, and Cantharis could rise again, free from visions of his dream. To the outside they both were one, not known that the vessel of the man carried two separate minds. but Cantharis heard the metallic voice resonate in his skull saying:
     “Don’t think of Novaris just yet.”
     He sat up and closed his eyes. He took deep breaths and let his thoughts flow freely through his mind and felt despair, sorrow, hatred. For minutes, he waited and saw himself floating above seas where the waves roam freely in the surface. He saw threads coming in and out of himself connecting to souls far out in the world, wavering, waking feelings as they quivered, and scarring him as they tore.
     He opened his eyes and felt vacant, ready to host the vastness of the world. 
     “Want me to begin recording?”
     Since the colony was built, he spoke through books and stayed outside the public eye. He longed for the days of Earth, when he had to fight for freedom. He dreamed Transcendence, and found respite in teaching orphans.
     “Yes, let’s note a couple thoughts, and after that, please arrange them with the past notes, and give it to some agent. I am leaving this world today.”
     It was a long pause before the Shaman answered.
     “Very well then. Recording begins.”
     "The distinction” he begun, “between dreams and reality is about to fade out. Our age, our technological progress is driving us towards to a state of ’awake dreaming.’ It 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, and 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 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… maker 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. I live through countless years of experiences, and store those events that shape my thinking.”
     “In a very real sense the dream is my master.”
     “The time is near when the realm will merge with reality. The exponential curve of our technological progress is ascending. Our task now is to eliminate all evolutionary legacies chaining us, and from conquerors of the universe, we must become the observers. Conquest is only due if our existence depends on it. The conquest of nature is what made us human, and what will make us neo-human, but in the next stage of existence, we must apply new rules of dealing with the outer world. Then, we reach the end of the world to conquer and since men is all that’s left unbound, one step further will bring us to the conquest of our brothers again.”
     “What human existence depends on is the knowledge of the world, and from it stems the power over it. We have to depart from the old paradigm, that says knowledge is power, and see that knowledge is the mind’s cooperation with the universe, while power merely bends it to our will. But when men reaches the state of immortality, when no pressure of evolution applies to our kind, and the technology we created yields full mastery over matter, what then will our need to conquest will do to the world we inhabit?”
     “What havoc would our current mindset bring about with an unlimited power?”  
     He attached a copy of a memory to the flow of thoughts. It depicted his first class in the academy.

     Students eagerly awaited the Shaman in the room. Pillows were arranged in a circular order, all but one occupied. 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 the students, 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, the ideas, carefully planted into each student’s mind by the creator of the simulation, and the rational conclusions 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, siding with one another, forming groups for hours and hours. They had no evidence or proof to support their claims, yet they believed in them regardless, as the nature of the simulation demanded; the nature they accepted when they joined.
     Hence, they became mystics. They all claimed knowledge based on reality they knew, but had no means to present to others. They all stated facts derived not by reason, not from the data of the senses, but from the knowledge that the maker of their world, of the simulation gave them.
     As they abandoned reason, all that remained was the brute force to reach an agreement, and the first lesson of the Shaman became the bloodshed of the doctrines.

     Yesterday’s events creeped back into Cantharis’s mind. Going through the mails he received, he read the name of Clark Novaris, and stopped. He hesitated and awakened an elder, painful event from the bank of his memories, the memory of a bitter goodbye that he had to relive to remember the man who now contacted him.
    
     “We mustn’t let anyone down,” Novaris cried in anger, to which the Shaman replied:
     ”It was their decision to steal and murder; they should have sought help before that! Now let them pay the price of immorality. 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 as an ex-cop. I cannot know how many innocent lives ended up in prison because of me who could be here today, but I have served the state ‘til its very end. This is my only way of redemption from the sins I’ve committed in the past life.”
     With that, he stepped into the spaceship, their eyes meeting one last time before the door closed. The detective smiled, and added:
     ”I might need your help once more.”
     Now, after all the silent years, the Shaman got a message from him. He talked about a rising number of outcasts living up to the philosophy of freedom, about a girl who was the brightest of them, who had learned what was the right thing to do, and now is lost, a pure mind amongst the thousands of mystics. Her only chance of redemption – he wrote - was the breaking of contract, to force the world to expel her for endangering the others.
     “I hereby attest that my death was a suicide, and I have used Oana Rain as an implement to my goal. She is in no way responsible for the events she partook in, and I beg you my son, help her, or help the others like her go through these terrible phases of their lives. Help them. A whole world wants to be free from the corruption of their soul. A whole world awaits a second transcendence.”
     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 connected into his mind. The entanglement between them, the encrypted key to Novaris’s mind saved in the Shaman was gone. Clark Novaris have made his ultimate sacrifice.
     Burning water brushed his skin, and Cantharis just stood, enduring the pain. He got out and dressed up, with dead glassy eyes, his thoughts scattered. It was not until he finished breakfast that he returned to this world from the realm of news and gossip of the web.
     “Order my starship and a pillar here to midnight,” he said to the Shaman. “Close my accounts, end subscriptions, inform friends that I’m gone.”
     “Should I cancel today’s lesson?” the metallic voice echoed.
     “No, I’ll attend that.”
     He closed the articles projected to his lenses, and opened the contacts to find Solaris.
     No answer.                                                                              
     Raoul.
     “The recipient’s mind is fully occupied, please try again later.”
     He searched through his contacts, until he found Ana, and started an entanglement.

     Ana missed Solaris, but knew that his lover was in the middle of a more urgent matter than caring for a child, than answering the call of the Shaman himself, or than keeping a promise to his love.
     She sighed, sent her location to the Shaman in a message, who asked for confidential talk and disconnected from the server.
     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, mommy 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. It’s just… we’ll explore a story, okay?”
     “About what?”
     “About Transcendence. I don’t know how much do you know about our past, that we came from the Earth and so on, but say, what do you know about the difference between those who lived there and us?”
     “Well… you mean… well we live on Mars, so that’s one…”
     “I mean in terms of ethics.”
     “Oh well, what I know is that our rules are uhm… uni… universized… universalized.”
     “Yea that’s the word,” laughed Ana. “And what do you mean by that?”
     “Well that there were masters and slaves, and rules only applied to the slaves, and they were locked into cages because they stole, and also because they didn’t give their money to their masters if they asked,” she said with a spark in her eyes. The blue, glowing light indicated that her enhanced neurons were connected to the home server, empowering her cognitive abilities.
     “Yea, imagine if what would they do with a group of people today who’d rob, build roads from it, and say that it is the price one must pay to live among us… crazy. Now the reason why I am asking is that you can see that there was a change in how we lived then and now. And just as we stepped into the new stage of human progress as we learned how to universalize our moral rules, what do you think will be the next mark of our evolution?”
     Lillian 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, voice trembling “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 multiple minds interconnected into one singular mind, and they call this united mind Hypnos. 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 what he did?” asked the girl with a more peaceful 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 such as hunger or weariness. Instead, we could turn everything into knowledge and information, live eternally in the reality imbued with the dreamworld, seeing not just from one, but from billions of perspectives. No more pain or violence, hatred.”
     “So you think it’s the next step?”
     “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 in a long black coat, a head taller than Ana, behind him a smaller crowd watching him, with red glowing eyes recording him and whispering to each other, as they recognized the legend walking amongst them.
     “Let me in Annabelle, these people have no respect regarding privacy.” 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. Should we worry?”
     While they spoke next to the front door, Lillian hid in the corridor, watching them secretly.
     “No. 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.”
     “Hey, little one” Cantharis said when he saw Lillian. “I hope you don’t mind if I am here for a while” he smiled. “I need to discuss something with Annabelle.”
     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. Cantharis bowed in return. Ana chuckled, took the hand of Lillian and followed by the Shaman they went into a room.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Rebirth of a Theocracy - Chapter I

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Dispute Resolution

”Only now are you going your way to greatness. 
Peak and abyss, they are now joined together, 
for all things are baptized in a well of eternity, 
and lie beyond good and evil.”
Friedrich Nietzsche

       First, there was silence. It was the self-enforced censure of the masses, the rage of a friend towards another, the breaking up of a family for speaking what is true. As the state grew, the ignorance of mankind grew with it by refusing to accept the consequences of their choices.
       Then there was war. A late and desperate war waged by a race who thought that goals are achieved through force, and believed that even more force solves the problem brought forth by the principle of violence.
       And there was silence again. The forsaken Earth stood still and scorched, but a new light glimmered in a different planet, lit by people whose principle was the
non-initiation of force, and all that flowed from it.
       It was the stalwart integrity that kept this new world alive. It was a fierce stance for the principle of freedom that served as soil for human progress. And the black rock once called home reminded all of mankind to scourge those who oppose the natural rights. It taught them to repel the sinners from amongst them, and keep only the just and rightful agents of morality.
       This is how virtue gotten market value and untended corruption became a mark of darkness. And all those who brought destruction in their wake were banished from the colony. Thieves, murderers, and the worst of them, those who dismorphed the soul of a man and gave him mastery over force, the child abusers, they were all outcast from the kingdom of liberty the moment their guilt was proven. This is how Oana Rain became the resident of Vatican, and her daughter the student of an orphanage.
       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 and self-discovery. The self is an entity governed by specific laws, and she knew that she must understand the greatest depths of her own scarred, abandoned and abused soul to gain control over it, to foresee its actions and change course before collision. She thought of herself as a ticking bomb, and her mind was the sole guardian of those around her from the explosion of trauma.
       Now she painted her last dream, the landscape of a distant, nonexistent plane, where all of the twelve moons rose at the same time above a haunted graveyard where her soul was being torn apart by faith and reason.
      “Ana?”
      The girl was deeply transfixed by the beauty of her craft; the voice of Doctor Diyon was a distant noise. The students were about to leave the room, continuing the professor’s line of thought on Chronophysics after the class was over. They were all orphans, some young, some nearing adulthood, and according to the business model of the academy, they were both students and teachers. After leaving the morning class, their day will consist of sharing the knowledge they earned with other students of the facility and asking them, to continue the chain. This is how the school of Dr. Alan Wordsmith provides free education to those who cannot afford wisdom otherwise.
       “Ana?” called the calm voice again.
       Diyon signaled to his assistant, the personal AI following and helping him with his hand, 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 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 go on missions.”
      “Yup” she nodded. “That’s exactly what he does.”
      The days were long gone when Solaris and Ana were inseparable. They first met when Solaris saw the bloody, beaten girl standing at the gate of the school on a rainy midnight. Ana was just standing there, watching the skyscraper. Solaris ran through the building to find the Shaman, who helped the girl inside. They ran brain scans on her, and purged a rare infection slumbering within her mind and saw that her brain was deformed by abuse.
       She clearly remembers to that thundering night. Since then, the sound of rain tapping in the window brought the feeling of home with it, and the flash of a lightning made her think of the night where she could show her memories to people she trusted and see the same pain in their eyes that she felt when it happened. Ana felt visible the first time in her life.
       She soon interwove their classes with Solaris. To pay their living, they went on missions together. They invented, created art, and visited far colonies to find the birthplace of the boy. There was but one night that Ana spent alone in the school’s parlor, and the next day the web’s whispers of a death freed her from her fear.
       An alcoholic old man, Lang Mionar was found poisoned, and when one wished to know more about him, the web spoke of raping her child. He was banished, but lived in his house, near the shelter of his daughter, living off of decades worth of supplies.
       Not a single soul rose to find the killer.
      “I’m asking…” said professor Diyon, “I know it’s none of my business, but he has a terrible past, and I hold it as my duty 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. He came from the outside. 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, the echoes of their steps in the empty corridor had vanished. 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 of all people should know 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. He always wore sunglasses in public to cover that unfocused thousand yard stare that he had. He watched the people come and go, while saw Ana’s stream in the neurocomm channel projected to his lenses. He overheard 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." said the boy. He was born in an outside world, and escaped in the haze of economic collapse. He walked through the desert to gain entrance into the colony which had no name, but produced most of the goods that his home had consumed. He was a child, but accepted no pity or support, he stood up for his right to use his body and skills, and earn a living through his labour. 
      "He watches the watchmen."
      In front of Solaris, the square was crowded, people talking and laughing. They all carried weapons with them. Men and women equipped with unknown number of firearms, with enhancements of their body, blessed with abilities that only they knew and understood, and the strength of their assistants who walked unseen in their human shells, they formed the first line of defense against an outer threat on the colony.
       It was the place of friendships, one of many public squares where people went to find new people, new souls to connect with, and new ways to brace the world they all lived in. They worked to uphold the strength of their community as a pillar of liberty. The statue of Stefan Molyneux loomed over the square, of the Prometheus who brought the fire of philosophy down from the pulpit to the masses.
       While he talked to Ana, he shared his attention between the crowd and the school’s mission table. When Solaris arrived to the colony, he began working as a freelancer, but having no reputation, he was rarely employed. In those rare cases when he was offered a work, he outperformed the greatest students of the orphanage, and the Shaman saw that. He offered him shelter and training in return of his service, which he accepted.
       The Shaman was a living legend, but few knew that he spent his days dreaming. His mind was a private server of virtual words maintained by the AI in his brain. He held his classes in there, interconnected with his students, flooding the content of their mind into a shapeless world to see what treasures they hold inside. He trained Solaris alone, and while other agents were trained in the art of deduction, of combat and of writing, he studied shamanism. He learned how to flood a mind with nightmare, how to force his turmoil into a narrative of madness, and implant that preconceived vision into the mind of his target. He gave him the power with which he may rule the world.   
       Soon after going through decades of simulation, Solaris became a member of the elite watchers of the colony. By the time they were thirteen, he was among the most wanted agents with the highest rating in the system, competing with legendary detectives and agents.
       Ana choose a different path, the path of proaction in the insurance firm of Dr. Wordsmith. He was the founder of the orphanage, and of a hundred other businesses. Ana was unknown by the public, but earned the same as her mate did. She put price tag to each contract between the customers and her firm. They wanted to pay less, and she wanted them to pay less aswell, so her assistant helped her customers to subscribe to firefighters, neighborhood watches, set up security systems, run their child through brain scans to see if they’ve been abused, offer extensive diet and exercise plans and do everything to make the life of their customers become as secure, as safe and healthy as possible. Ana Mionar found that through this she can fulfil her desire to help others, pump blood into all sectors of economy and help and maintain the kingdom of liberty without the need of a state. 
       In those cases of passion or despair when a crime was of a different nature, it took watchers to prevent or strafe it. They were scattered among the city, sleeping agents waiting to be deployed. And when his eyes started to follow instinctively a man with black, long coat, gloves, sunglasses, and a limp, he felt the call to action. His assistant sent beacon nanodrones towards him.
       “Ana.”
       “Yes?”
       “Identify please.”
       He sent out data to his lover. His drones settled on to the man like a veil, and scanned his face, eyes and fingers. She ran them through the data bank.
       “He does not exist.” she said, finding nothing in the system.
       “Is he here with no permit, then?”
       “No firm to back him up, no wallet, nothing. He has never been seen before.”
       “But the scanners didn’t stop him. There should be an automatic system of caging here that stops the banished. Can it be that the owners let him in without firm?”
       “Well no, the price of their insurance would rise to heavens since they deal with rouges, and so would that of their customers who dare to walk the square along with these strangers. They’d go out of business in no time.”
       The man was among the dozens of others, and when he walked past a woman, she stopped. She shivered, and was trapped in a memory loop for an instant. She saw the events of a second over and over, while her mind was scanned for memories to steal. When she regained control over her body, the man disappeared. She stood and stared at the ground, immersed in her thoughts, then looked around and within seconds, a new mission appeared in the table to get back stolen memories. Solaris grinned as he saw the reward, accepted the mission and stood up.
      Memories in the society had market value, as long as they were authentic. Every memory had a quantum key attached to it, which proved that it was not forged, but based on empirical experience. The companies making mind enhancements were thoroughly inspected by the public eye to see that their tech connects keys only to real events, and no breach is possible.
      People bought and sold memories, narratives, sometimes even whole fates, and the memory merchants were swimming in the money whenever 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?" he contacted Raoul Seoc.
      "Grab some popcorn and wait."
      "Raoul. I think I've met with one of your legendary cult members."
      He copied his memories to the message and sent it to Raoul. The answer came after half a minute.
      "It’s 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. He yearned to see his beloved caregivers one more time, to feel the calm and tranquil shelter they provided, to feel home once again, but all he found was secrets and an untold tale of darkness.
            The memory was the initiation rite of a dark cult, in which the members used technology so advanced, that it looked like magic. In the rite the newcomer gave up his identity, his self to connect to the Hypnos metaconsciousness. Since then, Raoul had been searching desperately for members to find the head of the cult. Being connected to his parents when they died, he either did nothing to prevent or help solving the crime or worse, initiated the murder. For this, 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 practiced lucid dreaming. He dreamt, and forced the dream he saw to bend to his will. 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 dreams, the ticking of his clock transplanted into his mind, counting seconds. Before awaking, he spent days in dream, planning his day, life and the encounter with the technological monstrosity called Hypnos, whose parts were once his family, who was the murderer of his sacrilegious parents, and now must face the 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. Hunting 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 crimes in their past, and when he was lucky enough to find one, he presented it to the public. He mostly found child abuse that was dealt with swiftly and without mercy.
      The cause of it was simple: aggression was a plague, and everything must be done to stop its spread. If they were to allow child abuse in even one family, the use of force as an absolute would have spread among the child’s friends, and once they grew old enough, the ancient, dreadful god of the lost Earth would return in an instant.
      The state would reborn.
      These thoughts occupied Raoul’s mind when he was preparing to meet with Solaris. 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. Instead of gravity manipulation training, he used lead weights for maintenance.
      All implants were functional.
      He dressed up without hesitation. He felt the triump of a battle in a great war. He called his cloudwalker and stepped into the vehicle from the open window.

       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 the Shaman 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 barely got out alive, but I got some evidence which convinced the public to excommunicate her. She experimented with abducted children, clearly violating the nonaggression principle. I believe her name was Sia Pride.”
      “So it was rough, right?”
      “It was insane. Why?”
      “Because, my friend, we are trapped in a nightmare simulation.”
      Raoul stopped, and looked around. The corridor seemed safe, 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 not one, but countless minds sewn into one being. Hundreds dream this nightmare. 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. I’ve always wanted to show you, but you’ve been so much into this cult. We barely talk. Though… I am nowhere compared to him, and it makes me ashamed. I don’t think I’ll ever 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 glasslike 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 the void.
      “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 strengthen his belief in God. He, that lost and abused little boy became just as aggressive as his parents were. He ran away, when the colony he lived in had collapsed, travelled through the desert and lived in the streets of the nameless colony for months.
       He was found by the Shaman, and since he himself came from such a fate, knew how to help him. 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; the rage he copied in his childhood from those around him 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 glorious strengtht, with 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 and 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 had never lost his self-control.

      “What do you feel, Sol?”

      “I.. I feel… anger.” he said and the dream begun to tremble. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Rebirth of a Theocracy - Prologue

Prologue

Before midnight, she was banished to hell; but before dawn, she dreamt of Eden. Oana Rain inhaled the clean urban air. She was two thousand feet above the ground on the roof of a skyscraper, one which was not yet afforested. She leaned over the barrier to get a better look of the world she inhabited, and saw the Martian metropolis, the lustful, green parks above the buildings, the pillars of the temporary space elevators connecting heaven to earth, pulsating with dim blue light, the cloudwalkers soaring between buildings in silence, and the Startrail square, embraced in eternal darkness, where thousands of humans had gathered to end the day with flames and dancing.
     It was the world she saw rising long ago from the unoccupied dust of Mars when she was a child. She watched the construction of the first colony from one of the hundred public starships that fled the Earth after the collapse of civilization. She watched as private ships settled down and their owners accepted the new soil as their home, she saw as her parents traded their skills and tools for gold, until the family was able to fund their own home.

     While her parents worked endlessly to secure a place amongst the denizens of the colony, to build a home for themselves in the newfound sanctuary of mankind, she wondered about what is it like to live outside the spaceship. She felt alone and fell into the embracing visions of her dreamscape each night sobbing, not understanding why her parents choose the company of others rather than hers. She buried her parents in his young adult years, believing that her loneliness was selfish and she was loved. Hence when her daughter was born, not acknowledging and experiencing her childhood suffering as valid and unjust, she found it natural to bury herself into her career. Her child – Oana thought – browsed the network all day, learning about life. 
     Oana Rain’s life and future collapsed the day when her child fell into a deep coma due to a neural virus infection that attacked her brain from the depth of the network. She never saw the bright green eyes of her little Annabelle again. 
     The way she treated her child has been exposed to the public. Her neglect became visible to the residents of the colony and her reputation diminished. “I will not buy from someone who deals with a murderer,” they said and so Oana Rain was banned from shops, roads, squares, from all parts of the colony. 
     Now she dreamt about the colony again. Unaware of it being but a mirage, her emotions overwhelmed her. Her eyes teared up in joy while she was watching the familiar landscape of the metropolis. A voice calling her name ripped her out of the enchantment of the city. She turned towards the voice behind her and saw the group of friends gathered to the dinner of celebration.

     “We were talking about you, Oana Rain,” said the man. Distant, raging thunders roared, following his words. She didn’t remember her teacher from the academy, but when their eyes met, the dreamscape of the dinner and the city faded away.
     “I need to tell you something,” he continued. “I had to break through the defense mechanism of the Vatican, and I’ve disconnected you from its servers for an instant. This,” he said spreading his arms, “is my dream.” 
     Oana looked around and saw the distant spiral arms of thousand galaxies in the dark space. It was the Shaman’s dream, the endless rage of the cosmos swirling around them. Each planet in each system homed simulations of life in the endless possibility of evolution. Now, as she had full access to her memories outside of the simulation, Oana remembered this fact from her past life in Mars, when she roamed the dreams of her teacher in classes.
     “Your master,” he continued, “Clark Novaris told me that your life ends today. You will be purified from the curse of this world that you choose to live in. You may return home from the simulation and fight for your sins to be forgiven. Cling to this when you wake up: righteousness is being a sinner in a world of corruption. ”

     The man vanished before she could answer, the dream started to fade, and the darkness of space turned into Oana’s home in the Vatican.
     Awaking to reality from a better world may easily crush the dreaming soul. It is the act of trying to escape the realm of truth and being banished from the desired. The waking mind fights to see just one more minute of Eden, but the dream expels the unfaithful. The memories will fade away and the dreamer will be left with nothing but the longing for the void in the first rays of sunrise.
     Oana buried her face in her pillow. The vision of the man and the distant roar of thunder became blurred, incomprehensible memories. The feeling of home, which imbued her with calmness in the dream, was now crushed by the pain of awakening. She lay in the bed feeling hopeless for minutes, lacking the strength to rise and the goal to move forward in life. 
     This curse of depression haunted her since childhood. She dragged herself from day to day in weakness without seeking medical help, a haunted shell of her true self without energy or purpose. Worthless, she attacked herself whenever she failed to succeed her expectations. Trying to do everything to avoid the anxiety of self-attack, she achieved greatness in her career as a musician, and the residents of her colony praised her compositions. Yet she failed, yet she was banished and she fled to Hell itself.
     Oana Rain became a composer in the Vatican, just as she was in Mars. She performed for the mass she despised. Music was banned in the Vatican. It was the art of the devil, they said. If she were to stand out in St Peter’s square and play the piece she played last night in the church, the girl would be sinning against the will of The Divine. Laws and morality were absolute and unquestionable until the ruling class wanted it otherwise, and Henoch wanted music, the very best of it.

     Only after she reached all the wealth and freedom that fame could offer she discovered the corruption inside herself. Only after the politician class of the Vatican praised her art she found the source of her madness inside her soul. 
     The rejection by her parents in her childhood – she found – was the cause of her self-attacks from which she tried to escape by endless achievements. Parental care has been taken away from her, and believing that she was unworthy of her parent’s attention, she found music to be the tool with which she can get the attention that all children so desperately need. 
     Without self-knowledge, neither respect nor title had the power to soothe her inner conflict; no worldly achievement could heal the scars of unprocessed trauma. So her first step towards purification started when she ceased feeding her demons and the demons of the political system and realized:

     „When you have more wealth than freedom, rebellion becomes duty, and solitude payment.”
     The last sentence of her dream rang again in her mind. 
     “Righteousness is being a sinner in a world of corruption” 
     Hope filled her, and with sheer willpower, she rose out of the bed.
     The smartmatter floor sent a signal to the central intelligence controlling the apartment. The floor started to warm up, the kitchen was already preparing breakfast and coffee. Before she left the room, she searched for pen and paper, and scribbled down the words spoken in her dream.

     The window looking at the waking city withdrew to its frame, and the walls started to play a slow and hollow song. The dome of St. Peter cathedral shimmered in the morning sunlight, and above it, the titanic Earth was still visible through the blue sky, where the last remaining residents of the planet were dreaming about space and their future in protection of the lightweb of the city.
     She knew the truth was different. Outside the virtual reality of the Second Vatican, humanity left the murdered planet decades ago. The Vaticanian server, the abandoned Hell, had been orbiting the Earth without occupants for a long time. The space station was a prison system once, welcoming guests from all around the world, but now, it was the sanctuary of the outcasts, the humans who were banished from the anarchist societies of Mars. They paid with their memories of the paradise to live in the statist theocracy to where their morality belonged.
     Oana collapsed onto the couch, and in the embrace of the hot blanket, she reached for the book on the floor. She found the massive, ancient volume to be a pillow so pleasantly uncomfortable that it allowed her to watch the simulated sunrise without sinking back to sleep.
     The creator A.I. did a perfect job in creating the world to the smallest detail. The outcasts wanted their world to feel authentic, and not a distant branch of the wide Dreamworld, the sum of virtual realities. Below the shield protecting the city from geomagnetic storms, the first clouds were forming. The holographic projector created the Earthlike atmosphere from bottom to top. Advertisements appeared between the clouds, echoing the will of the Pope, just like the white dove crossing through the air, a stalk of weath in her beak. In the wake of her wings, the name „Vatican Research Institution” before the vision disappeared.
     “The Lord is far from the wicked: but he hears the prayer of the righteous,” thundered the voice of Pope Henoch from the heavens. The word “righteous” made her laugh.
     “You know nothing of righteousness, Henoch,” she said.
     She drifted away from the world. Her mind was mapping the last dream she saw, while her eyes rested on the sky. More and more thoughts emerged from the ocean of her subconscious, the echo of a liberated world; an ancient Shaman, whose skin was sewn with lightning, and whose long, black coat ended in dark flames. Her subconscious salvaged the hope of redemption in death; the promise of returning to a forgotten home and however impossible, the wish to resurrect a murdered daughter.
     The world-shaking rumble of the bells reminded her of the fact that it was time to have breakfast.
***
     “Goodbye, Raskolnikov.”
     The heavy tome flew through the room and collided with the wall, bouncing off onto the couch unharmed. Oana stood up and rearranged the apartment which she wandered through while reading. Looking out the window, she read the time from huge, holographic numbers: eleven fourteen. She wouldn’t meet with bishop Novaris until six.
     She dressed without looking at what she picked up or how she looked. After all, it was her last day. Grabbing her black coat she stepped out of the door. She rushed through the corridor, through the closing door of the elevator and, seemingly defying the law of gravity, she slowly leaned against the wall.
     “Hi Oana,“ said a voice, to which she looked up.
     “Meito. Excuse me, I didn’t see you.”
     The boy forced himself to smile. He seemed to be the same age as Rain was, and they had been neighbors since anyone could remember. They saw each other every single day when they walked past each other in the building or in the city. After her concerts, among the countless flowers and gifts, she often found the book she had complained to Nakurami Meito about, about its rarity and the fact that she was unable to find it on the black market. She both admired and hated him for that. Somehow he managed to get the most blasphemous, rebellious writings from thinkers such as Rothbard or Bastiat, yet he did not use this ability for himself, he wasn’t more educated than the masses worshipping the state.
     “Where are you going?” asked the boy.
     “My plan is to walk around aimlessly and alone in the city.”
     Oana watched the reaction of the boy. Boy, because his bodily weakness and bent posture, the fear in his eyes and his words, over which all human beings have power and control, were crying for a mother and not for a lover. Rain loved to play with him, crushing his hopes, and watching his resignation. “Man is the only animal,“ she thought, “who is able to give up his desires and embrace the void.” 
     Though she found joy in this torture countless times, now she recoiled.

     “Or,“ the girl said slowly, thoughtfully, “we could go to a restaurant, provided that I choose which one.”
     “Really? Now?” The boy’s face lit up for a moment, and smiled, but then the joyful look vanished from his face. He crossed his arms and looked at her with disbelief. “How do you mean if you get to choose? Between what do you want to choose?”
     “Just trust me please and please be quiet,“ she whispered.
     He sighed. When the lift reached the ground floor, Meito stepped out first, and then turned to Oana. His hands were shaking.
     “No matter how I tried to reach you, Oana Rain…” he stopped, shook his head, and started again. “You are no better than I am, lost, lonely and weak. I see these traits in you and I don’t like the way you live. Thousands upon thousands would kill to get the life you live, and you should know that. You have a good life here, you have everything. Yet you say this world is unjust and corrupt. For this, I despise you. Yet I fell in love with your music. I am bound by it, addicted. I do not know your innermost thoughts, your favorite book, what breakfast you had, I don’t know if you are in love with someone, sometimes, to be honest, I don’t even get what you say, but I love your music. And your music is you, its pieces are yours, all notes come from you, and if I love that, I must also love you,” he said, and slowly exhaled. “It’s your turn,” he laughed. “I think I’m having a heart attack.”
     “Where did you get such courage, Nakurami Meito?” laughed Oana. She stepped out of the lift and stood next to the boy. “I’ll show you the place. And I’ll tell you who I am. But there can be nothing else between us.”
     They walked out in silence, and Meito called for a cab. Oana gave the destination and, after fifteen minutes of wordless travel, they stepped out of the car at the city’s periphery.
     “This is not good, it’s a dangerous region,“ the boy said.
     It was the region of the outcasts and the unbelievers. People deemed to be broken and defeated lived there, who left the downtown and moved to this unsurveilled, unregulated area. Some thought they choose their lifestyle to freely pillage their brethren.
     In truth, they were those who choose to join the simulation with their mind and memory intact. They knew reality and the reason why they were there. When they looked around they saw Martian criminals cheering for a State holding a monopoly over violence. They saw heinous child abuse being considered as normal. And exposing the nature of the simulation to those who choose ignorance would have been a breach of contract, resulting deportation back to Mars, where they are welcomed only by the desert.
     With the knowledge of freedom which awaits them in the outside world, and knowing that they themselves choose to be there in the augmented reality, they awaited redemption, the moment when they will be allowed to return to the nameless colony. They lived in smaller anarchist groups and worked on themselves, seeking mental health and self-knowledge to be able to uphold the moral rules of reality once they got out.      
     Behind the houses was the security system separating the city. The city was governed by its own creator artificial intelligence. The dreamers fed the mind with their imagination and subconscious world, and in turn, the A.I. intertwined all of their desires, and from the thoughts, ideas, notions of the inhabitants, it created the Second Vatican. Beyond the wall, the Dreamworld spread to infinity, as a formidable and controllable material to anyone who stepped through the city’s border.

     When the taxi disappeared in the distance, Oana started to walk towards one of the buildings. It was a grey block of concrete, at least thirty stories high, just as all of its neighbors. Its door was opened and most of the windows were shattered. Meito followed her closely, his gaze seeing potential danger in every shadow. They went through the empty, long corridor. She knocked twice on the door nearest to the stairs, then twice again. 
     “You sure this is the good place?”

     “Do you want to know what I’ve got to tell you?”
     “Yes, but I don’t want to end up robbed, bleeding out in an empty building.”
     “I will ask one more time.” She turned to him, after someone opened the door just a little, and looked at his eyes. “Would you like to know me, even if it has a price other than your life, liberty or property?”
     “Y-yeah, sure.”
     The door opened.
     “I need to tell you something. There is a paradise, but humans built it. Once you step in, I will tell you everything about it, but the price is the following. You have to agree to stay until you understand and hate the nature of our world and the choices that led you here. 
     What you hate you repel from yourself. If I would allow you to leave without this hatred Henoch would set fire to this place by midnight with your help. You are now a corrupt human being, but you will leave purified, just as I did from my master. I am showing you a way, Meito.”

     “Why exactly should I know these things about the world, or about myself?”
     In Oana’s mind, Meito slowly bled to death, but she took deep, long breaths, and repeated to herself You were just like him, Oana, remember, until she calmed down. She opened her eyes and smiled at him.
     “Meito, you should not know anything. Being ignorant is a choice that you are free to make. But be warned. Through the history of the universe, through billions and billions of years of this magnificent, titanic performance of life and physics you get the privilege to show up, act and shape the tale of our world. However infinitesimal, however invisible, you can step out of the commons and scream that you exist. Such an act of moral courage creates legends, sang throughout the time. 
     Your life is your own, and you have the right to do whatever you wish with it. But know that you have only one chance of stepping out into the stage of life and speaking the truth that may change the world. 
     If however you choose to act on the human potential that slumbers within you, you first need to know what is it that you will say in that moment of shining. You need to know and understand where are you, what are the rules of the both world you inhabit and the person you refer to as yourself. To change or have control over something, you first must understand it. This is why you should pursue knowledge.”

     Meito felt the surge of power rising within him. He felt the awakening of an ancient force within him accompanied by a nostalgic feeling from his childhood, from the times when he believed in his greatness. He looked at Oana, and nodded.
     “I’m with you.”
     She opened the door and Meito stepped in. The girl followed him, and closed the door, which melted into the coffee brown wall, then disappeared.

     Meito stood shocked from the sight. It was illegal, rebellious and lawless. The place was a high cafeteria with bookshelves around the walls, in which banned and forgotten earthen literature lay. An elderly lady was searching for something amongst them whilst holding the books of Mises, Rothbard and Friedman in her hands. In front of the entrance, a black man played a simple piano, and Meito knew he had no state license to do so. To the right, stairs led up to the balcony, where a young couple was talking above a candlelit dinner, and apart from them, the place was empty and dark. The fragrance of coffee filled the room. 
     Above the counter, a black and yellow, diagonally bisected flag was hanging. Black stood for anarchy, for the absence of any group holding monopoly over violence, and yellow stood for liberty.

     The boy followed Oana Rain while looking around. They sat down to a silent table, before them a holographic menu glowed to life.
     “I’ve read a novel once about such a place and people, and that didn’t end well. I have a bad feeling about this, Oana. I’m committing a crime just by being here, and I will pay for it.”
     “Nothing will happen unless you talk about this place.”
     He nodded slowly.
     “So,“ said the girl after ordering “I said I will tell you about the nature of our world, and I have evidence supporting all my claims.”
     “First the theory, and if it is coherent, then we’ll speak of the evidence.”
     Oana looked at Meito questioningly.
     “Sorry,“ he laughed. “My hand is shaking, and I’m becoming impatient, the scientist is curious in me. I haven’t felt like this in the institution since ages, and only now do I see that I really am interested in knowing more things, not just working in a lab. So continue, please.”
     “It is as if you have forgotten yourself, right? The things you like, where you are coming from and where you are going.”
     “Yeah… It is strange.”
     “The year we live in is two thousand and seventy five; we are in a space station orbiting around Earth.”
     He nodded.
     “The station is a virtual reality server mankind used as a prison. Decades ago, humanity left the Earth and terraformed Mars. A man called the Shaman gathered those who were committed to the non-aggression principle and they left Earth together just before mankind killed itself, and its home planet in a monstrous war. 
     They created colonies without any state or central authority, in which - “

     “Wait, it doesn’t work like that,“ he said, fighting his cognitive dissonance. “They cannot do that, the State is the foundation stone of every society. Without them, we are nothing but beasts killing each other.”
     “You may be, I am not. You see, if we truly are beast deeply inside, and it is human nature to be violent, how could you allow the existence of a State? Then it is nothing more but granting unfathomable powers to violent beasts who will use that strength to wage wars, murder and enslave.”
     “Well, but there are a lot of people who are violent, and they are peaceful only because there is a government.”
     “If there are some evil among mankind, won’t those evils be the first to seek office in a government, to use violence legally? And why do you need a monopoly over the initiation of force to stop petty thieves and murderers? Do you think that a competent, creative businessman can’t come up with a plan to catch them?”
     “Maybe…”
     “So, as I was saying, they created the liberated colonies, in which the first rule accepted by all was the non-aggression principle. That is, no one has the right to initiate the use of physical force against other human-like beings. No state, no borders, anyone is allowed to join, but those who violate the first principle will be outcast, banned from private properties, stores, hospitals, everything, and he will be looked at as an illness, a plague. 
     Meito, we are the outcasts. We are the ones who violated that principle, and the reason we are here in the Vatican is that we belong here philosophically, this is our moral home. We had accepted this fate, and, you know,” her voice broke off, “this is the worst thing of all. It was our choice to live in a world where we are oppressed, our children are controlled by fear, and forced to believe, and we all must serve.
     If you go and ask for the bartender, they managed to acquire a copy of the contracts signed to join the Vatican. You will find yours among them. There is also a kind of meditation that will wake you up to the real world for a moment to access your real self.”

     Meito was silent for a long time, digesting the information, then spoke softly.
     “More and more people come out as atheists, and you know that. They are not killed or anything. This world is not that bad. It could be worse, right?”
     “I’m sorry for being too harsh with you. I know this is a hard topic, but I don’t have much time left. I am going to leave this city, and before that, I’m trying to bring some change. I have no time for empathy.”
      “Yes, you are right,” she continued. “There are some who do not believe in the deity worshipped in the church. But I tell you Meito, apart from these people who are frequent at this place, each member of the society is a believer. 
     They believe that a metaphysical concept has the right to rule, is above any moral law, its words are sacred and its enemies will suffer eternal damnation. This being cannot be sensed in the physical reality, yet all thinks it is their duty to obey its will. It is blamed, and they ask it for blessings. Sometimes, when the boat of life draws them toward dangerous waters, they despise it and curse it, but after a while the lost lambs return to the shepherd. We give up our rights to property and life and freedom, just to put the weight of our fate upon the shoulders of this being, to do the dirty work instead of us, serve us goods we do not deserve, and cast to hell the sinners.
      This is the great, unspoken truth of the modern world, that it is theocratic. The only difference, Meito, between an atheist and a believer is that the former calls its god ‘the State.’”

     “But…“ he shook his head. “What you say is true, but for some reason I refuse to accept.” He seemed puzzled. “But you know, I have my own evidence for some of the things you say about the simulation. For example, do you know what we research at the institution? We do nothing. Nothing, I’m telling you, as long as we do not talk about it, we are safe, and we’ll get our paycheck. And the strangest thing is that there are technological advancements, even though we do nothing. I’ve been a scientist since I can remember, but I cannot be one here, and only now do I see how much I want to be one” he leaned back, and said in an almost inaudible voice “ I thought these were unanswerable questions, so I didn’t paid any attention to them. I asked myself “how could I know?” and shrugged it off. But tell me, Oana, why is it Vatican?”
     “Look, men either accept the rational or the irrational as absolute guidance. Those who accept irrationality are living the world of illusion and have no connection to reality. They are the violent men, as Ayn Rand said, the only means they can achieve their goals is by brute force. And I tell you this: faith and violence are twinbrothers; whilst aggression is the physical, belief is the mental destruction and oppression of the self. 
     Our mind is not perfect, and if you plant irrational fear into a child, it will be his absolute, his driving force, and the child will grow up, and as an animal ever-trembling in the corner, fearing the untouchable, shapeless entity, will attack with each interaction. 
     You see, from the soil of faith, grows the tree of violence. Reality works through rational laws, not through violence. Faith corrupts the mind. The reason why it is Vatican is that we are all corrupted.”

     “And what is the right thing to do?”  he whispered, looking at his hands.
     “Righteousness is being a sinner in a world of corruption” answered Oana.
     A silver drone served the dinner. Oana and Meito continued talking for a long time, the air was filled with the scent of coffee and cigarette, and in the background, the man played an old melody while every now and then, he glanced at the girl. The music he played was Oana’s first score. 
     Dusk settled when they left the building. Meito called a cab, and when it disappeared, Oana sighed in relief. She returned to her thoughts where the memory of her dream awaited her in patience, and reminded her that it is almost time to go.

***
     The streets were empty. The sunset painted the holographic clouds and the buildings orange and purple. She was alone with her solitude; others did not dare to step out without the company of friends and family. Oana crossed the Saint Peter square, and before she disappeared between the pillars embracing the place, she saw a man, and next to him was his wife, shouting at his child. The woman was nodding endlessly. Oana smiled, she searched for her gloves in her pocket, and started walking toward them.
     “How dare you contradict my will, you disgusting piece of shit.”
     With fist clenched, he struck down the crying little child who hit the ground in an instant, his skull started to bleed from the fall. He cried for help, for someone. Her mother loomed over her, and stepped on his throat.
     “One more sound and I swear I will murder you.”
     Oana’s palm dove deep into the woman’s stomach, and the miniature thrust engines built into her glove fired, launching the woman off of the boy’s neck, until her back collided with a stone pillar, then she collapsed to her knees. 
     Rain found the gloves years ago in the black market, and it cost a fortune. She had never used it, but maintained its functionality and took care of it daily, and she carried it around in her pocket ceaselessly. Now she felt that each moment of the last years spent caring with the gloves, and the money from which she would have been able to buy a house, was worthwhile. A life of an innocent child is worth every trouble. She turned to face the father, behind him the child was gasping for air.

     “I will kill you if anything happens to him, understood?”
     The man swallowed, and stepped back with shock in his eyes.
     “What do you think of yourself?” shouted Oana. “You, disease of our world, who are awakening the demon of violence over and over, generation to generation. It is unforgivable. You have become perpetrators from victims. Look at him,“ she screamed, pointing to the child, who was grabbing her coat. “Look at his eyes and know that you are the reason why he’ll become a criminal, a sick, insane and contagious person, just like you. Look at me, and swear he won’t get hurt again, or I will kill you otherwise.”
     “I-I swear,” he said.
     “I’ll keep an eye on you.”

     Oana turned to the child and took his small hands. She whispered to him, so the parents could not hear her.
     “You will be safe for a while. If you are afraid of them, find Bishop Novaris, okay? Remember, Bishop Clark Novaris, and give this to him. He will help you.”
     She put a bracelet into of his pocket with a steel medal inside. The medal showed the symbol of the vaticanian anarchists; the letter A divided vertically, forming a cross with the horizontal line. She hugged the sobbing boy, and watched them go home without looking back.
     A chill ran down her spine. Her senses became weaker, her sight blurred and her ears were ringing, the dinner in her stomach turned into poison and she felt as if it was trying to gnaw itself out of her. She felt the world spinning. She dropped to one knee as a cold, rough voice addressed her.
     “Oana Rain”
     Urban legends speak about what it is like to meet an archangel, what it feels like when a law enforcement agent finds you, but none of them say a word about such torture. The being spoke again.
     “I am bound to banish you to hell for your sins, but I will not, not today.”
     As an answer, Oana roared with agony.
     “You are an important person, and His Holiness wants you to stay here as a composer. You have attacked an innocent person, which is wrong, but they have survived. Your sins are forgiven, but one more mistake, and the hounds will get you.
     “Innocent?!”  she spit the words out. “They were not…”
     “What could you do? The child is their property, it is their right to use it as they wish” said the voice with indifference.
     The being disappeared, and she slowly regained her health. She just sat there, on the cold ground of the square, for minutes, and then looked up; the snow had begun to fall. She reached in her pocket and took out a piece of paper, read the words of her dream, and threw it away hoping that someone will find it, someone who is worthless in the eyes of the system, and will not be spared for the punishment he deserves for speaking the truth, and doing what he thinks to be right.
     She sniffed, and got up. The wind shrieked, so she closed her coat, and, with steps hastened, continued her walk below the pillars of the square and between the houses thereafter. She got to an alley, and opened the door in in which an anarchist circle-A was painted. The echo of her steps knocking on the marble travelled through the staircase. She followed the painting with her finger, depicting the hell from the ground level through the Garden of Eden, and the Heaven next to the door of the apartment. She knocked twice, twice again, and then opened the door.
     That was the first time she saw the bishop without his official dress. Clark Novaris wore a black protection vest sewn with nanothread. The material stretched to his perfectly built muscles, even though he was close to seventy. He wore black trousers and leather boots, while his gaze jumped from suit to suit in his wardrobe.
     He looked at his student, hummed while stroking his long, white beard and turned back to his clothes.
     “You are not seeking harmony, Oana” he said. “The higher you climb, the further you are from your roots.”
     “I have no roots, past or memories.”
     “What are you talking about?”
     They looked at each other, both wearing the same puzzled look on their face.
     “What are you talking about?“ Oana asked.
     “Why, about your clothing, of course.”
     She looked at herself, the black boots she wore, only its end visible below the long, blue skirt. Then the brown shirt, the silver medallion she always wore and the white scarf above it.
     “It is perfectly fine” she said, and closed her coat, covering everything except for the boots and the white scarf.
     “Yes! This is perfect,” the bishop said.
     He found a black gown, and before he dressed up, the vest withdrawn from his back, and Oana saw his neural implant covering the spine, and branching off towards the hands at the shoulder. In its two sides, hundreds of scars spoke about the past of Clark Novaris. He turned to the girl with a smile on his face, and walked beside her, while a drone flew in through the window looking at the city. He put his arm around her shoulder and they looked at the drone, whose objective eye blinked lazily.
     “It’s worth making some moments eternal even in our world, don’t you think? I hope you didn’t blink.”
     “I didn’t have the chance to do so.”
     The bishop laughed, and picked up the freshly printed photos from his desk, while the drone flew away.
     “Good, good,“ he handed one of the pictures to Oana. “You and I are became a family since the first time we met.”
     Oana answered with a smile, while watching the photograph.
     “Knowledge is my family. You taught me this one.”
     “My home,“ he corrected her. “Home is the world, and the family is the inhabitants. And I do tell you, we have the chance to create our own world and its residents, if you are willing to pay the price for it before. Oh and by the way, today I can’t talk to you for a long time, I hear the calling of” he stopped, and stared at his desk.
     “Calling of… nature? Duty?”
     “No, it is nothing,” he shrugged, and started to arrange the things on his desk. He tossed the hundreds of pages he wrote into the fireplace, put every pen into the drawer, and covered the holographic projector.
     “So,” said Oana, “This morning I was reading book you required”
     “How do you like it?”
     “I do not. I do not understand how I am supposed to enjoy the private life of a thief and a killer. I see enough of them around me.”
     “Yes, you are right. It is strange to think about it, but the writers of the past preferred to create corrupt people instead of heroes. They made monsters, murders and criminals, instead of setting an example of righteousness.”
     “Righteousness… I’ve heard this word way too many times today. A man appeared in my dreams and told me about it, and he promised that the time is near when I can leave this world. And before I arrived, I saw a man beating his child, so I stopped him, and wounded his wife badly. Really badly, I saw her bleeding.”
     “And?” he asked, still stroking his beard.
     “And I’m still here. Nothing happened. I wanted to die, to get out of this world.”
     “No you don’t,“ he said. “You have no idea how painful it will be. It is not like this simulation, nor a jail sentence that has ended. The pain of isolation that you’ll need to endure will be unbearable. One or two companies maybe lifted their ban of you, but the majority of the colony did not. The people will look at you as a freak, as an infected, disgusting parasite. You will need to prove to them one by one that you have changed. Here, you have a decent life, friends and career. Is this what you want? Are you willing to sacrifice everything just to move forward?”
     “Yes.”
     The following events seemed unreal to her. She watched in shock, in paralysis as the incomprehensibly fast movement of Clark Novaris, as he picked up the knife from the table, put it into the girl’s hand and stabbed himself in the chest, driving it through his heart and spine. The first waves of reality flooded her mind when the warm blood started to flow through her fingers, while the lifeless body of her master collapsed into the floor, and her world begun to fade.