Sunday, September 20, 2015

Rebirth of a Theocracy - Chapter VII

 Chapter VII

Purge

“I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.”
William Ernest Henley

       At midnight, white smoke ascended into the air and the crowd roared for their new elected Prime.
      Cantharis’s heart raced as Pope Henoch knocked on his door to announce his victory, and invite him to the balcony.
      “A minute” he cried out standing in the darkness of the room. He heard the cheering of the crowd – the crowd over which he ruled now – and begun to tremble. He started to pace back and forth, overwhelmed by the dread of the power he received.
      In that moment, a lightning struck the basilica, the sound of thunder ripping through the air with deafening force, silencing the crowd and the paralyzing thoughts of Cantharis. A dark silhouette appeared in his room, darker than the shadows, his eyes blazed red. Blue strikes of lightning forked through his body in unending motions.
      “Fear not, child” the darkness spoke, the sound of thunder echoed in his words. “I will protect you from yourself.”
      “Who are you, demon?” Cantharis gasped.
      “I am called Shaman, and we were one once. I was made to help you. I serve and protect you from the nightmares you fear. Now go and welcome the crowd.”
      The being disappeared, the thunders calmed and Cantharis heard the chanting of his name. Confused, he tried to detect his feelings, understanding what he felt and why he felt it and found fear and turmoil. He thought of the thousands of men following him in the past months, praising the words that he spoke. He thought of the symbol they created for his respect, a vertical line over the symbol of the anarchists, forming a cross with the bridge of the A.
      And as he searched through his soul he found hope and a genuine desire to change his world. So the shadow that spoke to him may not be false – he thought, - and may be of good intentions.
      Maybe he really can change the world.
      He walked to the door, opened it and stepped out into the darkness of the night to face thousands of people who believed his promises that said he will behead Leviathan.
      And the crowd roared again. The crowd that listened to his words so many times in the past months, from the moment of his awakening from his past life as a gardener until he was proposed by the masses to pope Henoch as the Prime to rule them all, who will bring heaven down to earth. They believed him. They felt the rejuvenating power arising from his mind, the vision of greatness that he shared with them all. He began speaking to them one after another not about a nightmare their violence will conjure, but about a dreamworld that opens for non-violence.
      And he also showed the true nature of their world to them. Not as Hypnos forced open the eyes of his adherents, but with kind peace, pointing out the evil in their life and when they felt fear and wanted to recoil, Cantharis was there connected to them for them to hide in the shadow that his presence cast.
      So the people of the Vatican were given the eyes to behold the evil that preys upon their land. They saw their kingless state for what it really is; violence and nothing else unique in its nature. To bring forth ancient traditions that the simulation has copied, the theocracy’s masses choose a Prime to themselves as men did in the last years of Earth. They agreed on a king above the body that governed them who would have the might to change the rules.
      Cantharis spoke, and almost all who lived in that world listened to his words. Raoul was there, he, who kept his memories to himself as he entered the simulation and knew and helped Cantharis in his transcendence. Meito was there whose knowledge was forged by the heat of Oana Rain, and he himself became an anarchist after purging violence and its sources from his life.
      And Ana, the girl who sealed her past life away in his mind before entering the statist world, tried not to hear the words spoken by the new Prime. “Show me one case, when violence solved the issues and I will celebrate our new king,” she thought. “The greatest demons rise to power by promising a new world,” she said to her friends. “The state is violence. And if you have hope in he freeing us from it, and if you support his march to get the crown, you become the enabler of the state, and succumb to the force that enslaves mankind,” she recited to the mirror each morning and night.
      She sat in the roof of a flat house in the district of the anarchists. She listened closely to the noises, seeking life in the buildings and the roads but all she heard was the distant voice of the new Prime and the cheering crowd of Vatican. She felt a weight within her chest as she realized that all are gone. All who argued and fought for freedom in their life, those who held up the non-aggression principle as their highest standard are now all gone, become a statist cheering for their new king.
      She was a therapist and she knew these people well. Something was taken from all of them in life; their family, their right for property and freedom from violence as a child, their mind’s grasp on metaphysics as the visions of hell spoken by their priests crawled into their nightmares, or their pure, sense based view of epistemology as their caretakers bent and twisted words and events with lies or switched from rage to affection within days or hours until the child knew not what happened and what he thought has happened. They were broken people who kept coming to Ana to be healed, to find and soothe their wounds. “But then,” she thought, “this Cantharis came and grabbed the fragile, broken mind of theirs that was still so susceptible to lies and used these people for his own ends.”
      Emotions swirled and raged within her as an unbound ocean when a lightning crashed behind her. She gasped and jumped up, turning towards the sound. She faced a figure of shadow and crackling lightning. The darkness it emitted spread through the floor like a cloak it wrapped around itself.
      “Fear not, Ana Mionar,” it said, thunder echoed in his words. “I am a friend and need your help. This world needs your help.”
      “What are you?”
      “I am called the Shaman, and I know you from a past life. I feel your rage toward what’s happened in square. Say, Ana, what do you think will happen if Cantharis keeps his words?”
      Ana felt no fear from the presence of the Shaman, but the reminder of the events made her shiver. She found in herself fright and did not know its reason. She was not afraid of tyrants; she knew that from her childhood. But the thought of freedom frightened her. Her conscious mind switched from feelings to thoughts as she answered the Shaman’s question.
      “Violence. These people are not taught the language of peace, nor do they pursue it. They think the state is evil, and if they get rid of it, their world will be all right, not thinking of what caused the state, not adhering to non-aggression in their own life, curing symptoms rather than the cause. They are psychologically not prepared to live a life of anarchy, just as the member of an isolated tribe would go mental if you would put him into some metropolis.”
      “And as a result,” she continued, “the state would reborn, closing this unique door of freedom forever. Because then all could look back and say justly “that’s what happens if you end the state.” And they would be right.”
      “These are my fears,” the Shaman answered, “and I need your help to stop it. Cantharis will prevail, I am certain of that. In the end of this week, the parliament will burn. And we must do all to stop the bloodshed.”
      “But I’m a no one!”
      The Shaman laughed, thunders roared in the distance.
      “Well then it is time for you to change that.”
      And he was gone. Ana stood there as if she was awakening from a nightmare, perceiving the first glimpses of her reality, realizing that what she saw was an anomaly. And then she thought about the Angels, the law enforcement agents of her world. Men spoke that they appeared as visions, as surreal forms of energy and matter unconstructed into forms through technology that was state owned. And she accepted that theory by seeing the fear into the eyes of their patients and friends when they talked about the possibility of committing a crime.
      “If there is a power,” she thought “that can arise such primal fright within men is the child of state and technology.”
      So her mind that viciously looked for answers to explain this event has stilled, and she once again heard voices from the distance. Prime Cantharis spoke to his people, and Ana listened.
      “And so I turn against the State this weapon of ethics. This weapon that razed slavery from the Earth, the one that has ended kingdoms and wars, spread personhood to races, genders, children shall now be wielded once more under the banner of non-violence to struck down this beast of legal force.”
      Ana listened, and felt not the rising concern that she felt when her patients spoke of the impact of this Cantharis on their life, nor the fear from a tyrant she felt each time pope Henoch spoke of the coming of an aeon, but hope, pure, untainted hope toward a better future.
      “And what comes next, my friends?” Cantharis asked the people. “If the buildings that held your world in chains will burn, will that be our moment of freedom? Or the moment we face an even greater evil, a force within us that helped the State to be born, that accepted its reign, its language of force as normal, and now seeks new source to channel its nature and hatred into?”
      “Will we recoil? Will we cover in fear and resign to its greed for violence? And let the world burn in chaos as our former self stands shocked seeing its own image? Or will we resist the temptation of blindness, and force our eyes open to know ourselves and the path that led us towards statism, towards not revolting, accepting, cheering for violence?”
      “Look deep into yourself and see the devils within, my friends. The time nears when those evils will not be darkened by a much greater foe, when we’ll stand under the principle of non-aggression. And societies who slain the state, who slain what’s defined as the group legally allowed and obligated to the initiation of force, they will not forego the deeds of men who acts by the principle of statism.”
      “Tonight we cheer our victory, but tomorrow we face a viler and more subtle demon. Within each of us we weed out the dark, and sow the seeds of freedom. Go now to the battlefield of the souls, and emerge victorious from the bloodshed, and when your sons will ask, “What did you do in the Great War?” you answer, “I have faced the source of the state, my child. I have faced what praised the deeds of the state, what had faith in state, what used violence, as did the state. I have faced my darkness within.”
***
      Raoul could not sleep so he sat under the artificial starlight and smoked. He was thinking of the way his world works that he still couldn’t figure out.
      He lived so much here, a lifetime within Vatican, yet vaguely he remembered a life as complex and coherent as his own. Not a dream, but a true life on Mars with events good or bad, from birth until he fell asleep accepting the invitation to the simulation of Vatican.
      And it seemed to him that he lived a life here as well from birth to that very moment he thought of it under the vastness of the space. The simulation created a narrative to him and implemented the life of Raoul Seoc into the history of the Vatican with perfect non-contradiction.
      There were people who remembered him and he remembered them too, but those memories in both of them were forged by the AI controlling the world. He did not know in which moment of his life he truly started to live it. Maybe he’s truly been here since almost two decades.
      He shivered. Two decades without finding what he sought. He spent his life in libraries, endless months within the archives to find the trail of the neural virus that he looked for. Gritting his teeth against those saying “This world is what is real! Don’t throw your fate out for a false life!” he never gave up, never faltered. Even with doubts in his heart he moved on towards his goal.
      And then Cantharis came. The man whose deeds served to Raoul as a proof to his life that he lived on Mars. The Shaman, Cantharis de la Cruz walked among these humans to Transcend them from violence, he, who brought him and Ana into this world as companions to his journey.
      Raoul had a theory. The moment Cantharis appeared and begun working on the abolishment was the moment he himself had joined to the simulation. He believed that the AI could not write a past to de la Cruz based on his predicted choices. It could not write him into the past of the world without rewriting the whole history of the world and making anew each man’s life from beginning to end, with the ways they interacted.
        So instead the AI used a god from the machine plot device to his works in the form of de la Cruz, who appeared from nothingness and rose in this world in his age of thirty as liberty’s herald.
      Raoul did not see, but pope Henoch approached him from behind.
      “What answers do you seek in stars, young friend?” he asked from Raoul. He looked at the old man behind him and then turned back again to the sky.
      “I was thinking about… the way this world works.”
      “You mean our simulation?”
      “You retained your memories as well?” asked Raoul. “It is good to have someone who I can talk to about this issue.”
      “Yes, we could say it that way. Your name is Raoul, si? You are the vindicator of our new Prime.”
      “Yes, I am. I have joined this world with him, and will help him in his goals.”
      “But you have your own motives, I assume?”
      Raoul looked at the pope. Henoch looked ancient but strong, around him people regained their energy to live life. His name meant the one who has been initiated, derived from the apocryphal texts, in which they refer to the original Enoch as a Metatron, a rank that is directly below God.
      “I have… if I’d want to be poetic, I would say I want to hold the flames of Hell within my hands.”
      “Oh…” said Henoch and stopped speaking for a moment. “Well I assume we could sell it for a good price. Why do you need it?”
       “Who are you, pope Henoch?”
       The pope laughed.
      “I have countless names. I am a businessman, whose aim is to get rich by this simulation. I also am a humanitarian and believe that this facility serves a greater good, helps the rehabilitation of those who sinned in the past. Within this domain I am Henoch, the one who speaks with God, with the AI that governs the plane. I am the only one who has direct communication channels open from this world to the waking life.”
      “Whoa.”
      Raoul never cared about pope Henoch. He never cared about the simulation he inhabited. The political structure of the system was secondary in nature to him, what came first were the endless writings about its laws. He looked up each document dealing with punishments, and tried to deduce the way the virus works from its effects. He also relied on the memories of his true past, of the rehabilitated criminals who have returned to Mars but bore nothing but their face from their past life.
       “So why do you want that virus so badly, Raoul? I have seen you work tirelessly in the libraries, you are determined until the very end to get it.”
      And Raoul told the tale of Hypnos. He told the dream Solaris and him were trapped in, and that he believed what Hypnos said was true. He told he joined the world to find trail of the virus, that even if all fails, he created cognitive traps within his mind to clone and save the virus if he’s infected by a last attempt of self-sacrifice.
      And pope Henoch answered with tales. He told Raoul what happens in the outside world while they slumber in the station. He told about the approaching siege on his home world by the gathered forces of Hypnos, who in silence turned the other colonies against the nameless one. That a spectre haunts Mars the moment they speak, that the colonies based on communism without rulers have collapsed by the impossibility of economic calculation, and now they all blame the nameless colony as the prime cause of their downfall. And they thirst for their blood.
      “I’m telling you this, Raoul Seoc, because I want to hire you as an agent of mine. I see tremendous profit in these events. Let me tell you how the Hell works. It forcefully transfers any memory its victim has into my servers that I sell for good profit in memory auctions. Its ethical backgrounds are based on argumentation ethics, that if a man uses violence he values the violation of property rights more than peaceful discourse, hence the principle of non-aggression does not apply to him after denying it. These rules apply only to men, who grasp the concept of ethics and their mind works and is developed properly, therefore children and insane men are not subject to this rule. In short, those who deny property rights for others cannot logically claim those rights for themselves.”
       “I’m not sure to gasp or to applaud” Raoul answered calmly. “And I also feel confused by the events at home.”
      “Look, Raoul. There are too many variables clouding your mind. You have a life in Mars, and you are here to further that life. And if you won’t help me, my business will be destroyed. God, I let the Shaman in the hopes of thousands of more visitors coming to the news of a Transcendence, but your colony is sealed and nobody cares about entertainment at this moment of history. So I’m only interested in restoring the order of the world, and you are the one whose help I can rely on.”
      “I really don’t know. I feel…” he never confronted this thought before, but he spoke regardless. “I feel like I’m a puppet of others. Since the death of my parents I was obsessed with revenge, understanding what happened with them. Never have I had my own life. I literally wasted a decade without having any authentic drive that I created to myself according to the values I hold. Never. And then I came here not by myself, but by the command of Hypnos. However true it seems what Hypnos said, I still didn’t come her by myself. And now I would go back to Mars and do things, great things maybe, help to win a war, and I would still be a tool of you.”
      “No, fuck that. I’ve been chasing the fates of others for so long that I don’t even know who I really am anymore, or what I like or what I want. You see?” he said holding up his cigarette. “If I have the chance to do something by myself, I destroy myself while doing nothing that furthers my life. That’s how lost I am.”
      “I don’t want to be here in this simulation anymore. But I won’t help you either. I will go home without that virus that would serve two who want to use me as their means to their ends. And I will fight Hypnos, not for revenge but because I share the values of my home, and want to protect that nameless colony of freedom.”
      “Now, how will I get out of this nightmare?”
      He stood up, and as if his blood pressure had suddenly dropped, he collapsed to the floor. He woke up in a dimly lit chamber of dreamers; blue, glowing light gently soothed his eyes. He looked around and saw dozens of people sleeping, faces he faintly recalled from his life in the Vatican. His synthetic cortex begun to awaken, and information appeared projected onto his lenses.
      He tried to step out of the bed, but his muscles were just regaining their strength. For seconds he could not move his legs, until the sleeping tissues became active again. He slowly stood up and saw glowing arrows showing him the direction.
      Raoul walked slowly through the quiet passage, beeping only filled sometimes the air. The arrows led him to the dock of starships, where among others, the Shaman’s ship parked in peace. But the signs guided him to farther starships that bore the symbol of the station itself, four person cruisers that are driven by automated software.
      He stepped into one and laid down into one coach. He pushed the launching button and the door begun to slide down. The interplanetary model of the cloudwalker slowly rose to heights and accelerated toward the opening gate.
      Behind him was the station of Vatican and behind that was the sleeping Earth. He left the orbit of the scorched planet, and the starship darted past the Moon. Raoul didn’t look back. He focused his mind on the issues of his home world, on being unarmed against a havocking god, on facing him alone, without the help of the Shaman.
      “But there is Solaris,” he thought. “There at least is a man who emits a glimmer of hope,” he placed outside once again the basis of his force. “There at least is one who knows the art of shamanism and was taught by Cantharis to help to transcend this moment of chaos towards a peaceful future,” he thought unknowingly of Hypnos.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Just a lil' something that I wanted to share

I always wanted to write a detective noir, and when I'll finish Theocracy, that will be my next project. Until then, here is my last night first page doodle, and some nice music to the background.

Transcend

Chapter I


      I found the kid in a stormy night within Azier’s basement. The scene was messy, like in a nightmare. The man was nowhere, he probably knew that I was going and left, leaving his legacy behind. And the kid was laying there, strapped into that old medical bed facing the ground, blood all around him, two rails of steel planted into his back, wings of lightning reaching out.
      It really was like in a nightmare.
      I took him down and gave him my coat. The wings on him scorched out the matter. He was wide awake, I asked him if something caused him pain and he shook his head. Tough kid. But he didn’t know where his father was, he woke up strapped into that bed.
      “Where are the others?” he asked when we stepped out of the building.
      “What others?”
      “Have you come alone?”
      “Well,” I said and lit up a cigarette, “who else would care with a child nowadays?”
      He didn’t answer.
      “What’s your name, kid?”
      He looked up and for a second I thought I saw his lips moving silently before he answered.
      “Cantharis.”
      “All right. My name is detective Clark Novaris. I don’t know what will happen with you, but tonight you’ll have to stay with me, okay?”
      “Where Is Azier?”
      I found it strange that he called his father in his real name. But then again, I cannot even imagine what he has done with this poor boy. I kneeled down and looked into his eyes, eyes bright as the color of a lightning.
      “Look, kid. That man did terrible things with you, and I’m sorry. I am working on catching him so that he won’t hurt you or anyone else ever. I can promise you that.”
      He looked at me puzzled.
      “He didn’t hurt me, or at least not intentionally. So for example when he tried to create me he put the Shaman into each new body that pushed him out, and he didn’t know that the Shaman will save those memories and I’ll remember a thousand deaths. But he didn’t want me to be born that way.”
      The world around me began to swirl. I wanted to throw up, but I tried to remain calm, not to frighten him. Or rather it.
      “Who is the Shaman?”
      “The Shaman is an artificial intelligence who lives in my brain” he smiled.
      I sat down. I let the droplets of rain run down my face. I heard distant thunders, and wanted to wake up. But I never did wake up for it was not nightmare, but a reality far worse than my dreams.  And this kid just stared at me with those bright eyes, seeking information to devour with them, while all I was able to saw was a freak of technology.
 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Rebirth of a Theocracy - Chapter III

PDF ePub MOBI

Hypnos

”Why is world history and evolution not stories of progress
but rather this endless and futile addition of zeroes. […]
So what are these barriers that keep people from reaching
anywhere near their real potential? The answer to that can be
 found in another question, and that's this:
 Which is the most universal human characteristic -
fear or laziness?”
Waking Life – Louis H. Mackey
      


      “If we are unable to act, we might as well just let them lead us,” said Raoul.
     Solaris nodded, and ceased control of the dream. The darkness lifted, and the scene begun to shift. Solaris and Raoul were observers without body, soaring through space and time, seeing what the writer of the simulation wanted them to see. 
     The vision they saw was the image of their beloved home. They saw from the sky the colony they lived in, with its highest tower, the tower of the orphanage in the center, with the Agoras between buildings, and the more distant districts, the spaceship necropolises, where the Earthborn cruisers served as houses, after they long forgotten how to fly. And all what they knew and loved so much rested underneath their feet haunted and still, without any souls wandering the streets. No cloudwalkers ascended to the skies.
     Raoul felt lucid again, felt his mind awakening within the dream. He departed from Solaris and flew between the buildings, seeking life to gather knowledge from them. The shops were alive, he saw constant movement within them from the streets, but all steps of the production have become automated unlike in his waking world. Out there people sought the cheapest labour, students having spare time, unskilled artists striving for success, whose employment was cheaper than setting up the mechanic arms. And when bosses offered lower wages in the hope of higher profit, the competition bid them up until wages reached near loss prices.
     Out there, one could always find someone willing to work, and someone wanting cheap labour, while competition set the prices. Within the dream mechanical arms and rails transported the goods from one side of the room to another, for it to be picked up by a claw taking products from the store to the delivery system.
     In the next store Raoul saw a human being, or at least he thought it’s a human, but its hollow skull was open from the top, nothing but walls of metal in the inside. When he looked in, an assistant drone who was arranging the products in the shelves quickly flew into the shell of the human being, the gate of its skull closing behind it. The human’s stare came to life, he waved and smiled at the customer outside.
     Raoul stepped in and greeted the assistant.
     “Where are the humans from this place?” he asked.
     “Welcome. Are you not from the colony, my friend? The residents spend most of their time dreaming within simulations, once a week or month they get to work, arrange orders, and sing back into the Dreamworld. And they just wither away and one day they don’t wake up anymore.”
     “Oh my god I’m shocked. It is terrible.”
     “Not that terrible if you think about it. We theorize that mankind reached an eternal state of life. Their time is counted in subjective hours, just when you sink back to your dreams to see visions for hours, only to wake up a minute or two later. They must be living millions of years.”
     “Why open stores then, if none will visit them?”
      “I believe that they will return to the real life. What would they do then without a store in the streets? And also no one buys the house if we move our stores out, since most sectors of the economy basically died, except for food, transportation and the Dreamworld. Maintaining this house costs almost nothing, we have our own generator anyway.”
     “So everyone just sleeps…”
     “It’s strange, isn’t it? They just started sleeping more and more, until one day they just stopped waking up daily. But I think it is just another trend on the rise, and will go away soon as they all do.”
     “I hope it will… I really do” said Raoul and left the building.

     He soared again, and dusk fell into the city. And the same city that Raoul loved so much to watch from his windows at night, to see the ever-awake life thriving within it, the city where once flames rose after sundown and all the people gathered to celebrate the greatness of life now slept still in darkness.
     “It is man’s dream to live free from the curses of the body, from the actions life requires from him to survive,” echoed a voice from the skies to Raoul. “Yet the true curse is that his goals will destroy him and those pressures of evolution that he so desperately wants to flee from are the ones sustaining his life.”
     “You hunt me, child, yet fail to understand me. I am the nightmare that’s keeping you alive. Without the threat I imply, your kind will fall into the slumber that you see all around you.”
     “Be vigilant, human. C
hallenge me with the mightiest weapon of your kind. Fight against me to reach your limits, to evolve and grow. Fight me with the Hell of the Vatican, until it purges me out of existence, and drives me off from the mind of my priests and pupils. That’s the only way to tide over me. And from the pure minds I left behind shall grow a new mankind, the child of technology and the explosive force of human potential.”
     “See it from yourself.”
     Raoul opened his eyes. The thief they were after laid next to him, slowly waking up. Solaris had already stood next to the man and scanned his mind.
     “His mind is being purged” he gasped. “I reclaimed the stolen memory, but his whole consciousness is collapsing, look at it.”
     Raoul was still disoriented but saw the unusual firing of neurons that the device in Solaris’s hand had shown. The temporal lobe was on fire, the prefrontal cortex was on fire, and all the parts of the brain responsible for memories displayed an activity never seen before. The synthetic technology in his brain was going through a hard reset, reconnecting to the web, purging existing memory banks.
     “Shouldn’t we stop it?” asked Solaris.
     “No, no. Show me his DNA, project it into my lenses.”
     The image projected into Raoul’s eye showed activity around the methylation and histone modification within the cells. His genome was being rewritten, destructive mutations switched off, others were being dialed up. Based on the new string of DNA he was given a new ID within the web and the Dreamworld, creating a newborn identity. The man who committed a crime had just ceased to exist before Raoul’s very eyes.
     Then the synthetic cortex of his brain began downloading data.
     Scientific data filled the man’s mind, literature of all kind from all branches of knowledge, from ethics through physics to history, then the upload of current news and events begun, the map of their planet, the detailed description of the residents of his colony, and in the end the data about living human life, knowledge about mental and physical health, the usage of his muscles, basic training in martial arts.
     The streaming of data stopped and the man woke up. 

***

     The Shaman immersed himself in a game with Lillian. They laughed as the girl, upon completing a challenging mental task involving basic scientific knowledge, turned into an imaginary scholar, and chased Cantharis the Mystic through the room; with a book in her hand, shouting facts that he refused to accept.
     Ana smiled, but her mind kept replaying the earlier discussion, in which between two playful moments with Lillian, his teacher offered a trip to her, Solaris and Raoul, his best students, to the distant simulation of the Vatican. His conscious mind rejoiced, but an unnerving feeling lurked deep within her subconscious. She wanted to think that she feels guilt for leaving her clockwork life, but it is no sin to pursue adventure. She thought of lone nights when she looked up statistics of her world, and saw decrease in population, an increase in crime rates, unwillingness to work for all was given to them, the lack of human progress within the last years. She saw the lifeblood draining out of the people she lived among, drip by drip, while they spent all their daily hours dreaming, roaming the simulated realms until they died, prematurely in their sleep.
     The anxiety she felt was the dread of returning not to her home, but to the ruins of what she once called the Kingdom of Liberty.
     “Education is a human right!” shouted the Shaman, fleeing.
     “You call for forced labour!” Lillian chased the Shaman.
     “No, no, no!” He screamed in a high-pitched voice. “I just want to help the poor!”
     He could not restrain laughter as he spoke. The girl cornered him at the entrance of the house.
      “You will stop telling lies to people, mystic!” she declared.
     Before he could beg for mercy, the door opened behind him and Lillian’s father found the legendary Shaman kneeling, covering his ears at his feet.
     “Daddy!” screamed Lillian, and jumped at her father who picked her up in joy while he went in. Cantharis stood up with laughter, and shook the father’s hand. He looked startled at first, but laughed at the unexpected scene.
     “It is an honor to meet you, Shaman,” he said bowing his head.
     “Do not subjugate yourself to me, good man,” Cantharis answered in a serious tone. “I feel frustrated by this. Of course my frustration should not affect your actions, but still, I did not work to tower above men. I am not king or emperor. I am a Shaman, pillar of the worlds.” The Shaman was a natural leader, and he hid a smile, trying to start a serious conversation, but his blue, laughing eyes betrayed him.
     “Well then, we are leaving” Ana interrupted their introduction.
     “No!” said Lillian. “We were having fun, daddy could join us!”
     “Yes, Anabelle” the Shaman smiled. “We are having fun, as long as we are welcomed here” he looked inquiringly at the father.
     “Well, of course. Lillian, would you let me take off my coat please? I’m about to melt away.”
     “Okay” she crawled down from his father’s chest.
     “Lillian” turned Ana to the girl “Don’t you think we should let them talk? I mean they’ve just met.”
     “Yes, they should get to know each other. Okay…” she sighed resignedly. “We’ll play soon anyway.”
     She took Ana’s hand, and they went into another room. She and her father played a game of simulation together when they were asleep. When they dreamed, the nanobots in their minds connected their neurons to the game server. They found themselves self-aware, yet dreaming in a fantasy world. His father protected the young elf befriending the creations of nature while he himself sought constant challenges. He had been playing since his childhood, and hoped that his daughter would level up soon so she could join him in the battles.
     The three of them, her mother, father and Lillian once lived through a war haunted year in dreamtime, which in reality took only a stormy, dark night. They fought legions of demons and wandered through the scorched planet seeking shelter. It was their way of forging the family bonds while facing death and darkness. Lillian was six, yet she was wise and tried to learn everything in every second of her life.
     Such were the children of Mars, raised in peace and blessed with the might of technology.
     “I still feel honored by your presence, Shaman” the father continued the line of their conversation. “You helped us transcend from violence.”
     “I just finished the job of the anarchists and libertarians before me. You honor what I stood for by treating your child equally and living a life of morality, Doctor Fischer. Your job as a parent is what makes this world work,” he smiled. “I have something to tell you. For a time unforeseen, Anabelle will not be available. We have talked it through with Lillian already, and she understood it. I hope it will not cause troubles for you.”
     “No, it won’t. We only need a caregiver one or two times a month for a couple hours. None of us were able to take her to work today, as we usually do. It would have been dangerous to her. She is our life, you know, but we chose not to leave our work since we both love it. My wife works ten hours a week, I only work eight; it gives us enough money to do what we want.”
     Cantharis nodded.
     “She is really smart though she is having troubles using some functions of her mind-expanding nanobots. I can share some practices we use in the academy when facing this problem.”
     “Yes, we are aware of that. That would be really good.”
     They spent some more time playing and engaging in conversations, until the time had come for the Fischer family to take a nap before Lillian’s mother comes home. She worked long that day, due to a business emergency. They wanted to be there for her when she returned, awake and caring.
     Cantharis and Ana waved at them, before the cloudwalker rose to the sky.
     “I wonder if she hates me. I mean Lillian,” she said thoughtfully, looking out the window.
     “What? Why would she?”
     “In such days when both of her parents are working, I in a way represent her loneliness. They are good parents, but sometimes such a thing happens and I have to come. I hope she won’t be affected by this. Neglect can really destroy a child’s brain. That is what happened with my mother.”
     “She loves you, Anabelle. The whole family does.”
     “Yea, you might be right. And now they love you too” she smiled.
     “In the end, he called me Cantharis” he said, and smiled as he watched the cityscape and the nearing academy. In his mind, he started to construct the elements of the next class, putting together his emotions and memories, creating a world with the enthusiasm of an artist, planning the rules and laws of the world, hidden in a planet of the vast Dreamworld.