Saturday, November 21, 2015

Rebirth of a Theocracy - Chapter XI


"This, then, is the Singularity. Some would say that we cannot comprehend it, at least with our current level of understanding. For that reason, we cannot look past its event horizon and make complete sense of what lies beyond. This is one reason we call this transformation the Singularity."
- Ray Kurzweil

      “What’s that, Ms. Carson, some midnight coffee?” the man asked looking at Yrra who took a sip from the steaming cup of coffee. She stood above the man, who sat in front of a dozen screens.
      “I have a lot of work to do tonight,” she looked around in the room full of screens. “I’ll speak at tomorrow’s so called judgement day, and I haven’t had the time to prepare my speech beforehand. I know, I know…” she sighed. “So I’ll have to do it this night.”
      But when she looked back, the man no longer paid attention. He saw a flickering arrow projected to his lenses among the countless information pointing towards one screen in particular, and he stared up to the hundreds of displays surveilling the private roads, squares of their customers looming over them. Yrra followed his gaze curiously.
      “Which one are we looking at?” she asked.
      “That one,” the main pointed upwards. “The one right next to the Agora of the Merchants. Can you see that one shade?”
      “Yes I can.”
      “That man veils his identity well. The system recognizes him but he does not want to show who he is.“
      “Is it a problem?” Yrra asked.
      “Not for me. But one wonders why he is hiding. Hmm… let me see…” the man said, and a holographic display of a map opened up in his desk. “Look, he was first spotted here,” he pointed to the middle of a road, “maybe he came out of that house. I’ll ask those living there if everyone is alive and well. And then he went through this way,” he followed the highlighted route on the display with his finger. “The interesting is that according to where he is now, he took a longer road toward his destination. But he took only those roads and squares that are subscribed to our protection.”
      “And what will you do now?” Yrra asked.
      “Keep an eye on him for sure,” he looked back to the screen above, “and wait for the answer of the house’s residents that all is well. But then again… maybe I should do more in war time, which has never happened before.”
      “Maybe you should,” Yrra hummed. “Do you want me to check it out?”
      The man looked at her and hesitated to answer.
      “Well, I don’t know, Ms. Yrra, we have agents ready to be deployed.”
      “I’ll do it cheaper. Hell I’ll do it for free.”
      “Don’t you have a writing to do?”
      “I can write in my head.”
      The man sighed.
      “In one condition. If you survive and you return, you’ll come with me for a dinner afterwards.”
      Yrra grinned.
      “I was hoping you’ll ask me out.”
      “I know,” the man smiled, and before the eyes of Yrra Carson opened up a digital contract hiring her to investigate the shade. “I’m offering you the same payment as to any other agent in return of a full report of the target’s activities and identity that you were able to gather without intrusion.”
      “Okay,” she nodded.
      “And please be very careful out there. This is a dark night.”
      “I will,” she said, put down her cup and rushed out of the room, out the building, stepping out into the evening under the lightning-dome. She looked up to see the crackling shield of electricity protecting her world. And even though she knew that no unknown ship could pass that barrier, a sense of fear began to grow within her heart, a fear for her life and safety in the well-guarded streets of the colony.
      She hurried through the streets, squares and hidden alleys without calling for a cloudwalker. She used to love the midnight walks within the colony, roaming the streets at night when the people sunk back into deep dreams, walk alone in squares where hours ago hundreds and hundreds walked, touch a wall and imagine that on the other side of it families sleeping. But tonight it was different. Tonight the streets were crowded and the squares blazed with life and speaking. And any route Yrra took she met with people who choose the company of men rather than of their dark room.
      They drank coffee after coffee, some of them read books, real, paperback books to pass the time, and others tried to talk but ran quickly out of topics. Not because there were not things to discuss in the haze of an approaching war, but because they dared not to speak of what they all felt, the unfocused, rootless fear that haunted them all and forbid them to sleep at night.
      Leaving the heart of the city and entering a neighborhood of peaceful, quiet houses, men avoiding the dark got scarce and Yrra walked in solitude again. The dome illuminated the region, helping shadows to grow larger. And as she followed the trace of her target, the man they saw on the display, she sometimes glanced into the gardens where cloudwalkers parked, and saw as the fog begun to gather.
      She hastened her steps, she looked back but did not see the lights ebbing from the city for that there was only the mist that in silence engulfed her, and within it the shadows that creeped, branches that reached towards her from the first trees of the Forest of Azirion toward which the signal guided her, toward which her trembling legs took their first steps. She heard wind shrieking from left to right and knew that she left the last house of that region and entered into the realm of nature. She felt as the concrete of the streets ran out from below her feet and the soil and the autumn leaves and branches of the forest crack from her steps that she could no longer keep quiet. And the sign marking the man’s location still glowed on his lenses, and the road he took was still highlighted to guide her into the dark woods, deeper and deeper away from the protection of the dome and of any other soul.
       And at that moment, when the darkness grew the most inside her, and she saw no way back home, and she trembled and her hands froze, and she dared not to look towards the woods from where she heard the sound of branches snapping, and of movement, something changed within her mind.
      A primal drive to survive awoken within her.
      She began to run towards her target, towards the only source of light her mind detected as hope. She left the path. She burst through the trees not caring with branches that cut deep into his face and legs. She fell, but crawled forward until she stood up again and ran. She ran toward that one presence which was marked by her lenses as golden light, and her subconscious perceived it as shelter.
      She ran, without thoughts, through the bushes and trees with feral force.
      She ran until she could not ignore the pain anymore, the bleeding scars on her face, the burning lungs within her chest, until she looked up and saw not the glowing, golden mark her lenses projected as guidance but her target himself, standing there before a great plain, and in that plain a tree of majestic measure.
      “Stop right there,” Yrra yelled with her last breath. Clark Novaris turned towards the forests and saw the dark silhouette of the girl. He saw that she was trembling, frightened, barely standing on her feet, bleeding, and her feral face reflecting bestial forces of combat. It was her subconscious mind that took control over her deeds, the rational observer and thinker gave way to the animal within.
      Clark Novaris drew out his gun, an ancient revolver that was given to him by his father and fired a lead bullet into the skull of Yrra Carson. The girl did not see what Novaris did, but lost consciousness the second the bullet pierced through her brain. She begun to fall back, and before her corpse would drop into the ground like a lifeless bag of blood, Novaris caught her.
      He turned her to her back, took a knife from his belt, cut his hand, and pressed his bleeding palm against the forehead of the girl. Regenerative nanodrones began swarming into her body from his blood. They ate away the synthetic implants of her brain, turning the matter into flesh, tissue and blood, melting into the scarred brain and repairing it. The scars on her face turned back into clean skin. Her muscles relaxed.
      Within seconds, she gasped, opened her eyes, and looked with shock into the eyes of the Detective.
      “You’re… you’re Clark Novaris,” she gasped “Why did you shot me?”
      “To prove my theory,” he answered.
       “What fucking theory…” she snapped but Novaris interrupted her.
      “Shh,” he signaled in anger. “They will hear us! Look, I believe that there is a virus that infected the whole system and it is in everyone. How do you feel? Do you feel fear? Have you felt it when you came?”
      She was angry. It meant that she could feel something other than that primal dread. It was gone. The fear that forbade her to look back as she followed him was gone. The sound of woods snapping, and as she looked towards the sound, the creeping shades and red lights that looked at her and into her from between the woods were gone. She looked around, and saw the beauty of the star-blazed night, the Milky Way blazing in its glory, illuminating the great field in which long grass waved from left to right, and she saw in the middle of the great plain a majestic starship reaching for the skies.
      “Oh my god.”
      She grabbed Clark Novaris; she pulled herself up and stepped toward it, stunned and in wonder.
      “What is that?” she asked in amazement.
      “I have no idea. But it has something to do with the virus. The virus shrouds it with a great tree it seems. Come.”
      The Detective stood up and they began to walk toward the spacecraft. From far away the machine welcomed them by opening its entrance. They walked towards and into the dim yellow light, entering the halls of the star cruiser.
      “It is exactly like back then,” Novaris said in wonder. “It is exactly like that, the chaos, the problems, everything.”
      “What are you talking about?” Yrra asked.
      “Back when we have fled the Earth. I’m sure you studied what happened. It was the plan of Cantharis to build spacecraft in the forests and we hid them similar to this. It is as if someone would reenact the Transcendence.”
      “It is the cult of Hypnos,” Yrra answered. “They say they will want to do that, that shamanism is not of principles but of the exact steps the Shaman had taken.”
      “Oh yes, so you know about that. Yes, yes, yes, it can be that Hypnos cult but from where is all the darkness, all the fear? It shouldn’t be like that. Back when Earth was in its final moments we did not cower in fear. Those of us who were committed to non-violence, we worked day and night with hope until we soared up in the last seconds. We were not paralyzed by dread. It cannot be done like that.”
      “Dread?” Yrra asked. “What kind of dread? What I have felt when I came? But you talk about it as if it was common.”
      “It is common, my dear. What is your name again?”
      “Yrra Carson.”
      “It is common, dear Yrra; you just don’t talk with common people. Some of them felt it for months before the war came, and then when it broke out more and more did. But not only fear, some of them were called into this starship from voices beyond, and some of them answered the calls. Yrra, we are not alone in this ship.”
      They didn’t spoke and held their breath, listening, but there was nothing. No sound, not even a buzz of electricity.
      “Let us stay together,” he whispered, “and let us go and explore the place.”
      They descended into the maw of the spacecraft. The corridor brought them into a room that was vast, vast as the diameter of the ship itself. In the middle stood open the elevator, great enough to house thirty people at ease. All around the great hall were bean bags, tables and chairs, chairs around holographic sets, a great library, the third of the space taken up by the dining hall, the rest was the kitchen, and places of comfort all around the room, great enough to space a thousand men.
      “Great, I’d live that,” Yrra commented.
      “It’s empty. Let’s go one stair up. There is nothing to see here.”
      They walked through the large room and stepped into the elevator. The door closed, and Yrra touched a panel.
      “Welcome, Yrra Carson,” answered the ship. “We are glad you joined us. Your room will be on floor forty-five, the room, will be the third.”
       “I joined? I didn’t join, I don’t want to join. Join what?” Yrra freaked out.
      “Into the Second Voyage, of course. You have been chosen among to leave the planet and join a world of godhood. We upload your consciousness into a decentralized server, into a blockchain whose database is contained within all digitalized atom. The First Voyage has transformed three planets so far into synthetic organisms, and if you join the network you can reach them and work with them. This ship will launch the chosen ones into an opposite direction, until we have set sail to all who is worthy towards four directions.”
      “You said atoms?” Yrra asked.
      “All molecule of the universe is being disassembled and rebuilt into synthetic structure, into smart matter connected to and communicating with all other molecule. It is the final act of Transcendence that begun when men first made fire. It is what you refer to as Singularity.”
      “How do they communicate?” she asked.
      “As I have said all information is being stored in a distributed blockchain database. The data is being stored in all independent node or unit of the system, meaning in all atom. In short, it is a public database of all information available to mankind.”
      “But why is it a good thing?” Novaris asked.
      “The blockchain technology itself has been around for decades. It allows to create an automatized network without a central agent. Applying this technology to the universe itself with the basic principles of human interaction within it, meaning the principle of self-ownership or private property rights and of non-aggression, men may rule matter with thought, while matter will only answer to such commands that does not violate the two core principles of the network. Any command aiming to violate the principles will not be validated by the network and hence matter will not obey the thought.”
       “You talked about chosen ones before. Who are the ones worthy for you?” Novaris asked.
      “All those who were never corrupted by violence,” the machine answered. “Those who will not spread the shades throughout the network the way it happened in Mars.”
      “Wait,” Yrra interrupted. “Is the Mars already part of the network?”
      “No. But the creator of the network made trials with the human population to no avail. Uploading one mind that is violent resulted in corrupting the whole system to a degree. Uploading another gave growth to the virus exponentially.”
       “So those who enacted violence cannot join the gang?” Novaris asked.
      “No, I said those who were never corrupted by violence. It means they were never touched by it. It turned out in the second and third trial that those who were abused in their childhood or those who were traumatized by war or the sight of brutality has corrupted the network just as much as those who initiated force.”
       “Have you…” Novaris turned to Yrra. “Have you never been traumatized by violence in your life?”
      She shook her head.
      “I was raised by Martian parents who lived by the principle of non-aggression.”
      “Hmpf, great for you. And who conducted these experiments?” he asked.
      “The Shaman himself.”
      “All right, I’ve had enough,” Novaris stormed out of the elevator. “You can come or stay, Yrra, I’m leaving.”
      “What’s the problem?” she asked with empathy. “How are you feeling, Mr. Novaris?”
      “Well if you really want to know,” he stopped in the great hall, “I feel like a piece of shit. I was taken away from my parents when I was a child and I was put into the hands of monsters by the State. And from then on I became a cop because I realized I felt nothing by the sight of violence after that, that it did not traumatize me anymore. And then I found Cantharis and I raised him. Now I return to this world only to see that I am excluded from Heaven built by the child who I raised with no sign of violence or neglect because I was beaten to near death as a child. So you can fucking guess how I feel.”
      “You are upset Clark Novaris but you ought not to be,” the voice of the ship echoed in the hall. “Mankind has been split into three categories: those who transcend, those who are the guests of transcendence, and those who shall be sealed into Mars within a simulation until the end of the days. You belong to those who are the guests of transcendence and for you was this great hall built. You may find that this, and sanctuaries alike this one will obey your voice command to a lesser degree.”
      He remained silent.
      “And what are the numbers?” Yrra asked. “I mean, how many people is needed until this ship launches? You said there will be two others, when will they launch? When will you take away the second group? When did the first one launched and who were those it carried?”
      Novaris looked up, awaiting the answer in curiosity.
      “With your arrival, if you choose to join the others, the ship will launch. Summing up the numbers of those who have never been traumatized and those who have never aggressed against others, we will house two third of the colony within four ships. It seems that the second group has not yet been reached with the message but they will be soon enough. The first ship was launched the moment the dome was set up, when it was safe to leave unnoticed.”
      “And when will this one leave?” Novaris asked.
      “The moment the last chosen one will join.”
      “So you’ll just slip off in the night?”
      “No, but one agent of the Shaman who stands ready will trigger an event of great importance that will draw away the attention from the Forest.”
      “One more question,” Novaris turned toward the elevator. “Why do you tell us all this? Do you not fear that we will stop that event from happening?”
      “Because, Clark Novaris, Yrra Carson already decided to stay, and you will not make it back in time to the colony to warn them.”
      “Is it true?” he asked from Yrra. The girl averted her eyes, then looked back to Novaris to answer.
      “You should stay as well instead. You heard the ship, you’d be given a privileged position among the gods. You have nothing to do here anymore. Come with us, you’ll be given everything you ever need.”
      Novaris thought. He stroke his beard for a time too long for her to endure, then he hummed, held up his hand and said:
      “It really is like back in Earth before its destruction. Away from me. Just like back then, there are people to be saved before… before the Fall of Mars. Goodbye Yrra Carson, may you find peace among the stars.”
      The Detective turned his back to her and left the ship, hurrying towards the city to warn them. Yrra watched as he leaves and was silent for long afterwards.
      “Take me up,” she said finally and the elevator closed. She ascended for minutes to the greatest heights within the ship to take her place among the countless others.
      Novaris hurried, but did not run yet until he reached the end of the plain that seemed to him infinite. A silhouette stepped out of the shadows, standing in his way, the figure of a man in height smaller than him, but stood firm and still without fear. Novaris did not stop, he drew his revolver aimed while moving towards the shade, pointing the gun towards his head until he pushed the barrel against the forehead of the man.
      “I’m counting to three then I’ll shoot,” he said, gritting his teeth.
      “I’m the most trusted student of your son, sir, who among other things asked me to deliver a message of importance to you in this hour of your life, when you refuse to join the flight.”
      “He asked me first to describe the events that will happen in the next hours so that you will see that your efforts are of no avail. The Shaman plays a game of chess with the Taoists, who’s been guarding this plain since the Forest was born. They oppose the final step of the plan, to seal the aggressors of mankind to this planet inside a virtual world and leave the last ship here for those who live without initiating force, until all of them joins. They theorized that if they spread a virus of virtual reality among mankind, they won’t be able to be drawn into the New Aeon, so to protect them, they spread the virus pumping fear into them.”
      Novaris lowered the gun.
      “Thank you. Now, the colony has been suffering from insomnia long enough so that everyone is deeply asleep. When they woke up, they will see that the armies of Hypnos kidnapped hundreds of thousands of them. In truth, we are self-destructing synthetic bodies of those who already uploaded their minds onto the ship.”
      “And what is the message?”
      “That everything is being taken care of. Cantharis says that you raised him and he learnt that we are leaving nobody behind. That all who can be saved will be saved. And that he can do it without your help this time.”
      “What is your name, kid?”
      “Solaris Midsummer.”
      “Oh… I see… I see everything now. That bastard kid, I would have helped him if he asks me, I would have…”
      “You did. You gave him the final call to action when you introduced him to Oana Rain. He hoped that you didn’t truly die, but he did not know it for sure. You should know that he was near mental collapse when it seemed he lost you. He asked me to deliver the message only because he was in the stage of denying your death.”
      “I should have not put him through this torture.”
      “Maybe, but your death within Vatican was the first drop of the storm that’s been gathering since a century from now.”
      “A century?”
      “Yes. Ask yourself why we are standing in the Forest of Azirion now. Azier de la Cruz, the maker of the Shaman created the whole plan that’s been playing out since you found Cantharis and helped him in the first Transcendence.”
      “I feel guilty and terrible. How did I not know this many things and you’re aware of them all? I was left out of a whole history.”
      “No, you weren’t. You just haven’t been given the eyes to see the world you’re the part of.”
      They talked for a long time afterwards, and while they did, one by one, all members of the nameless colony slowly fell into a deep and dreamless sleep. They slept, because the dread of the dark did not came to them when exhaustion claimed their waking mind the moment they closed their eyes. They slept, and countless of them never woke up again, for that at night their souls has ascended toward the stars to seek a new planet to live on, leaving the synthetic shell in which they lived in for days, months, years, some for decades, waiting in silence to depart into a heaven that was built by men.
      Novaris tried to look deep into the soul of Solaris Midsummer. He asked questions, he tried to read his face, his gestures, and he felt as if he was watching the fusion of two stars, one of pure light, and one that is since millions of years dead. He felt as one does alone in a forest at night, when the fire warms him and from inside the galaxy he looks up to see the spiral arm of it, the billions of stars, and imagines planets around each, and the mist of those stars illuminates the surrounding where he rests that night. And yet, and yet… when his gaze returns to his home, he sees the only the hostile night, and he is once again terrified by the shadows lurking within.
      This is what he saw within Solaris when the boy talked about the limitlessness of men that we have reached, and then he talked about the State he will create through the army of Hypnos to rule those whose language is violence, and to stop them in corrupting one more soul with it. “There will be,” Solaris explained, “no more pain in the human domain.”
      Yrra Carson explored the spaceship. She read the list of the thousands and thousands of contributors who – the way it happened before Earth succumbed to war – gave secretly their wealth to this project of Transcendence. She, the venerated ethicist of the nameless colony whose judgement people trusted, found names most close to her heart, found names who she revered as great souls, whom she praised and admired, businessmen and artists whose achievements were the foundation of their economy, culture and their world. She read the name of scientists who achieved breakthroughs years ago, and since then their names faded into silence. She saw in the list names of common men and women to whom she remembered talking to, who achieved nothing that shook the foundations of the world, who lived peaceful, quiet lives adhering to non-aggression, and with it, becoming chosen to a life of godhood.
      She explored the engine room, and while she gasped at the marvels of engineering, the Detective said goodbye to Solaris.
       “I have a final proof that you may trust, sir,” the boy said to him. “You understand, my desire is not to rule or to conquer, but to help those who are innocent and pure to remain so. But I was born in violence. I was raised with terror and fear. Freedom for me was a rebellion and streets bathing in blood. I speak only the language of force now, whether I want it or not. I can never erase it from my mind. And it hurts, you know,” his voice broke off, “it really hurts to know that a life of peace without dark thoughts has been taken away from me. That there is a demon within me that will never go away and it can rise up to the surface in any moment, corrupting the sight, covering the sun. But I know I cannot change it. What I can do though is that I can stop it from happening with anyone else again. There will be no more children who will suffer from violence again.”
      “I want to fall asleep at last,” Yrra told the spaceship. Her energy dispersed, the caffeine in her no longer kept her awake, and the exhaustion that slowly fell onto the residents of the nameless colony began to claim her too. The ship guided her to her room, which was the last door of the highest level.
      “Before you fall asleep, if you decided to join at last, take that single pill that rests on your desk,” the AI told her. “It will rewrite your atomic structure while you sleep and connect you to the network. We have a chain of probes reaching to that solar system where the members of the First Voyage reside and rewrite those planets. We also have entangled communication but that is sometimes unstable. It is hard to transfer data through space’s void but you will reach them in your dream.”
      She listened; she walked to the desk, opened the tiny glass box and took out the glimmering blue pill. She studied it for a moment, and then she swallowed it without water. Her vision blurred from the sleeplessness that haunted her. She stumbled and fell into the bed in her clothing, and as she closed her eyes, the engines of the ship fired.
      The pill reached her stomach, and the acid tore apart the sealing layer of the programmed atoms. It released the countless particles within in, and they devoured every molecule they touched, they scanned it, they studied it, and from their former matter, they created a programmed, synthetic copy of them, making them the part of the blockchain.
      Novaris looked back, hearing as the engines woke, and then turned back to Solaris.
      “You should go,” the boy said to him.
       “I…” he hesitated, “maybe I should. But I cannot just let the world to go on its own without me.”
      “There are still countless others who are just like you, staying here to keep in whole the world. You have earned your rest.”
       The Detective looked at him, at the scarred, young child who stood in defiance against his fate, and saw someone he has always craved to be.
      “Maybe I did, maybe I did…” he sighed. “Well, goodbye then. I trust you. And I trust Cantharis for that matter, and I see the world is in good hands if the likes of you and him guide its fate.”
        The colony slept, and the vision of the satellites, the androids, the ever-watchful sentinels of the world were all distorted that day. The starship slowly rose, with the Detective and with Yrra on board. Yrra dreamt, she saw distant planes where all of the twelve moons rose at the same time, she saw as the synthetic molecules slowly devour them. She looked down and saw something similar but not quite like the human body, something ephemeral whose purpose was to interlock sense data into itself. When she thought of another place to be, that body collapsed and emerged from the soil in the place she wished to be. She travelled with a thought between the moons and the planet, she moved around freely, touching the environment around her, breathing the fresh air.
      A question arose in her, and with it, at the same moment, the answer. The border between Yrra Carson and the world around her was but the mirage of the senses, her consciousness was free to merge with countless others to make new forms of life. She was one with the world around her, being aware of everything that happened with and within the planets claimed by mankind. There was no ‘she,’ apart from a collection of memories connected with a causal chain, but shared within the pool of thoughts. There was only a singular mankind.
      It had lost the feelings of the human body, of hunger, of desire, of dreams, of lust, but the blueprint of a shed, forgotten body was within its mind that it could manifest and possess, the way he could possess any clod it could conceive to live, to feel, to forget entirely that it is a god as the Hindu god did, to die at last and to return into the network of distributed database of souls, as countless others did, to live together in a glorious anarchy in which the very marrow of their bones, the particles filling their lungs as they breathe, the blood coursing through their veins, the technology, the fibers, the connections, all matter from which they were built forbid them to aggress against others as the basic principle of the network.
      The ship traveled for long years, and when it touched the ground of an alien domain, Mars was but the world of sleepers under the reign of Hypnos, the dream-god.
      Solaris watched as the ship rose to the skies, and as it disappeared in the dawning red sky, he turned back and began walking towards the nameless colony. He missed the sight, but the
rusty autumn leaves begun to fall from the trees engulfing the plain, and they dispersed mid-air. Their programmed particles like blue dust fell into the ground, and if a lone wanderer would find the place that morning, he could see the first branch of the new tree sleepily growing from the ground. A new tree that will in months grow into the Third Voyage, taking with it the remaining adherents of non-violence, and the shadow its ascent will cast shall forever seal the sinful souls into Mars.

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