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.

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