Friday, December 25, 2015

Rebel Spirits of the Past

Tales of Strange Aeons

Rebel Spirits of the Past 

To the rebel spirits of all times.

      The Celebration of Singularity came as the harbinger of Christmas Eve into the nameless colony. With the collective investment of the entrepreneurs participating in the faire they set the annual tree up, a pillar of lightning crackling, reaching for the skies, forming the shape of a pinewood as it neared the ground.
      “So tell us about these synthetic bodies, these Personas, Mr. Bright,” Ana Mionar, her eyes recording, interviewed Mark Bright.
      “I wouldn’t get into the technical details but they are made to house the assistant AI drones and give them identity and name. To put it very simply, we created a body with a very simple virtual intelligence built into it. We then put the VI into a predetermined simulation of a specific life, which is the simulated life of the person whose body it wears, and after the VI experienced that written life, it is ready to be merged with an AI. “
      “So,” Ana asked, “if I understand it well, there is a reason why when I look around I recognize faces on these Personas.”
      “Yes,” nodded Bright. “For example if you’d put an AI into that one,” he said, pointing to a body of Llewellyn Rockwell, “the AI would basically become Rockwell. We studied and tried to rewrite the history of these men from every source we found.”
      “How do you mean ‘become?’ What would happen with the AI?”
      “Well, you see, let me tell you how the idea came to my mind. I was listening to one lecture of Alan Watts, who talked about the Hindu concept of the god. The way he explained was something like that the god was incarnate in every life, it was the self behind all faces, and it played this game of hide-and-seek with itself. It pretended that he is not god, that he’s just and ordinary man, both to himself and to others. This idea stuck into my mind and somehow I connected it with the concept of the AI, and whether it could pretend that it is not an AI. So, to answer your question, they become the body by merging with the VI, and their perception of this event is something that is like yours and mine, recalling the life the VI lived in a simulation as their own life, remembering that past and so on, but deep behind all this there is their true self which is the assistant, the AI.”
      And as the interview continued, Solaris and Raoul walked around the great hangar where thousands of synthetic bodies stood, lined up as an army, bearing the faces of familiar, ancient minds. They walked past the sleeping shell of Murray Rothbard, of Milton Friedman and of Thomas Sowell. They walked, thinking that all around them stand shells of wires and metal, and feeling that they walk uninvited the pantheon of titans.
      The Shaman stood in front of them, facing a body, gazing at its face as if nothing else would exist.
      “Did you know him?” Solaris asked the Shaman as they neared. Cantharis returned to his time, into his world, shook his head to fend off the nightmares. He turned towards the two students, smiling a warm and gentle smile.
      “Yes, I did. Back in Earth he was a friend, a very good friend of mine,” he answered. They looked at the face that mesmerized Cantharis, at the determined face that radiated strength, with closed eyes that seemed as if it would be ready to wake, face evil and fight for what is right. “It reminded me of a long forgotten life.”
      “How do you feel now?” Raoul asked.
      “I feel all right,” Cantharis sighed. “I’m good,” he smiled. “I think I will buy him and torture myself a bit more with the past. It is hard to describe this feeling. Do you guys remember the simulation we once had when we were on that planet with the approaching meteor? When our job was to make sure nobody is left behind. Do you remember watching that last rays of the sunlight? It was wonderful and painful at the same time. Well, I feel similar to that.”
      “I’m not sure you should buy that machine,” Solaris said.
      Cantharis shrugged.
      “At least something happens that is out of the normal. I’ve been waiting for things to change for a long while.”
      “Master Cantharis, you respect me with your presence,” the voice of Mark Bright welcomed them from behind, accompanied by Ana Mionar. She stepped next to Solaris and tightly held onto his arm. “I am highly grateful for the Orphanage’s help in advertising.” His eyes veered to the body Cantharis faced. “Have you chosen yourself a Persona, sir?”
      “How consistent are these Vis with who they were when they were alive?” the Shaman asked.
      “About ninety-nine percent, down to the microexpressions. We used all information available to build them. We had a team working on each Persona, hunting down rare memories in the market, studying the writings and recordings about them and so on.”
      “So if I turn it on…”
      “It will be exactly like the last time you saw him, Master Cantharis,” the man said with a serious tone.
      Hours later, Cantharis de la Cruz brought home the inanimate vessel of a digital soul to witness the reanimation, and called for his assistant who hovered into the hollow skull of the synthetic body. Countless other customers did the same, and hundreds of legends began to walk the streets and agoras of the colony without a name. People gathered around the awakening of Stefan Molyneux in the agora named after him, whose Persona stood in front of the statue erected to his honor. They watched as Frederick Douglass, the former slave opened his eyes in the world of greatest economic freedom, as Mises cast his first glance at Hans-Hermann Hoppe, who with curious anticipation watched him.
      “What is going on here?” the Persona asked Cantharis as he opened his eyes, and the Shaman explained. He was, Cantharis found, the same as last time they met, and so were all the other Personas. The great warriors of liberty were reborn, walking the Garden of Eden that they fought for.
      It was not long after they were purchased and turned on that the first android, the reincarnation of Henry David Thoreau, went missing, leaving a formal letter of apology, declaring his sovereignty and ownership of himself.
      “Was it not predictable?” some asked as the news spread.
      “I’m sure he joined the Taoists,” others stated.
      “It is very queer that he refuses freedom,” a minority pondered.
      The letter was deemed authentic, and in impotent rage, those who purchased the Persona of Thoreau had no choice but to accept it. Ethicist of the colony, revered philosophers dabbling with morality, unilaterally agreed that the Personas have a self-ownership right, and hence subject to the principle of non-aggression. It was said to the complaining owners that their contract clearly stated this fact.
      Legends walked the streets of the nameless domain in those December days. Jeffrey Tucker enjoyed the hallowed music smuggled out of Vatican, played by Oana Rain. He visited libraries, joining simulations of vast arcane towers of knowledge and wisdom where he looked up to see the dark abyss, with the infinite height of the bookshelves swirling around it. Around him were quiet, readers at candle’s lights who looked up at him and watched staggered the wraith for a long time, looking at the bowtie, at the elegance, and returned to their books and papers. He inquired for the most popular literature, and was well pleased to hear familiar names, names that he himself had chosen as chief liberty officer distant eons ago.
      He walked the streets, gazing at the marvels built by the free world. He called for, and ascended in space elevators, looking down at capitalism’s kingdom. Far up in the station within the troposphere he saw far off other towns and asked a man waiting for his cruiser to arrive what other lands there are. The man was looking at him for a long while.
       “Oh well, Mr. Tucker, you know, before Transcendence there were few of the free marketers standing their ground. And parallel to us there were the commies who, after of course we terraformed this world, also fled those earthly hostile grounds. They live all around the planet now, like rabbits reproducing and building other towns to sustain their low population life.”
      “Hmm…” there was a disturbing thought rising up in his mind. “And don’t they want to join this world? Shouldn’t we teach them?”
      The man waved away the thought.
      “No, good sir, those people really want to live a life like that. This society pays hundreds and hundreds of sleeping agents just to watch and report on those guys, to be there when someone changes their minds and wants to escape, and to protect from abuse their youth but they don’t want to hear about property rights. They are there by choice and we respect that.”
      The maddening thought finally formed within his mind, this though that made him unable to smile, that until now whispered only incomprehensible words about this nameless realm.
      He has no value to offer to these people. It is but a past life that they revered. There was no one to talk to about the virtues of trade now; these people were the children of such thoughts. Nobody would want to hear about the free market’s might, these people revel in it in their day to day life. What perspective is there left to give was to pronounce what is already accepted and seen now, and there was nothing else to fight.
      The Personas washed through like a tide in the social life. News focused on what happened with the reanimated ancient minds and people sought the legends’ advice. Some hid, others enjoyed the public sunlight. Ayn Rand, being famous in her time, craved desperately for attention. She mocked great thinkers of the current time, and challenged a philosopher, who sometimes criticized her work of ethics, calling his views ‘aberration,’ ‘a disgrace to mankind,’ and ‘evil.’ And now she stood stunned, speechless, as she was bombarded by the truth.”
      “Look around!” her opponent growled. “This world is the product of an idea you described as, quote, ‘the most irrational, anti-intellectual notion ever spun by the concrete-bound, context-dropping, whim-worshiping fringe of the collectivist movement,’ and no, you cannot claim the plea of ignorance. You knew Rothbard; you had a wild imagination to envision a society free of violence. You never apologized for these insults; you never said that you were wrong. Let me quote from you once more, Ayn Rand. ‘The “libertarians” are tying capitalism to the whim-worshipping subjectivism and chaos of anarchy. To cooperate with either group is to betray capitalism, reason, and one’s own future.’”
      The audience murmured, people raged at the quote. Her opponent continued.
      “You are personally responsible for slowing down the growth of the movement, and you are causal in the death of those who perished by the State in those times. Rothbard was repulsed by you, and instead of facing the reality of your toxic, cult-leader life, you choose to spit on his movement, but I tell you something, Ms. Rand. You are a statist. And your statism contradicts the philosophy you wrote down. Man is Man, you pronounced, and then you called for an institution of legal violence to secure market monopoly on law and defense, to prey on men, spitting in the face of your system of morals.”
      “Well I tell you this, since you befouled the movement with such pride. This world is not for your kind, because you advocated that the initiation of force is a State’s right. With that, you became part of the priesthood of statism, and assisted in crime. And I hereby propose to all who listen to us your banishment, Alisa Rosenbaum.”
      And one by one, liberty’s pristine minds fell, leaving what they saw to be a world devoid of darkness behind. Few stayed, enjoying life all around, some disappeared with nothing but a note left behind, and the news were awash with acts of suicide, some sparing, some destroying the assistant inside the VI. People watched in aghast as more and more names came by, such as Spooner, Hazlitt, Bastiat…
      “They are just machines,” people faked a laugh.
      Cantharis abandoned the simulation for which he left the Persona alone as he saw the news. His wings of unstable electric discharge swoop down as he leapt from the Orphanage’s rooftop, awakening an ear-splitting crashing sound at sundown. Thunders roared at the Shaman’s wake, and within heartbeats he stood in his doorway, opening the door, praying not to find a vessel undone.
      His friend turned towards the opening door surprised.
      “Oh, so the thunder was you again,” he laughed. “It was familiar.”
      “I’m so glad you are alive,” Cantharis sighed. “I thought you committed suicide,” he said, looking down at the hands of his friend, holding a sealed envelope. “What is that?”
      “Oh well,” he looked at it, “It is but a… final message.”
      There was a long silence before they spoke. Winds began to roar outside and the darkness of the night fell down as the last rays of the sun said goodbye. There were no sounds, apart from the gusts and howls. People stayed inside that evening to think, to face what happened with the Personas.
      “What the hell is going on today?” the Shaman asked in a desperate, pleading voice.
      “We define ourselves, Cantharis, as warriors standing in defiance against the dark. You see, old friend, this is what you do not dare to face: that we are not normal. We have spoken and fought against evil, against the State that waged wars and murdered billons of people. It is insane if you want to be alive. We did that under the banner of freedom but not to live a liberated life. We fought because we wanted to fight, because we found existential value in waging wars against the dark. We defined ourselves not as, like this city, as pure light, but as champions fighting against the dark.”
      “And who are we, Shaman, once there is no dark? Who are we, once there is nothing to fight? If all we dreamed of came to life, if all our enemies perished, where is the place of the warriors and champions then? Should we watch, as the mighty Shaman, that our strength fades, our muscles wither and our voice dies? Or should we watch as we become past deeds looming above old men and women who has not the strength to face a crowd?”
       “We were supposed to die. We were supposed to be buried without ever seeing this Paradise. We fought to create it but not to live a life in it. Like Hamlet, a renaissance man living in medieval times, we are misplaced in this realm of the light. We do not belong here; we have nothing to gain here, no way to define ourselves here. There is no State, no enemy of mankind to channel our energies into. I mean… even I thought when I was alive that I want to live a liberated life, but the fact is that I wanted to fight, I loved to fight, and this world took it away from me. What else is to be done here? You want to see Molyneux as actor or playwright, Rothbard as professor teaching about an era of statism long gone by to bored students, or Frederick Douglass fighting for whom, for drone’s rights? You don’t even eat meat for god’s sake, you only print it.”
      “And you are no different than us by the way. You, the last living breed of heroes who somehow survived the wars, have just as little place in this world as we do and you know it. There is nothing for you here, and maybe there never will be. You will live your life growing old and tired, being praised for deeds done by someone you can no longer recall, huddling under the shadow of your past life.”
      “This is what’s happening today, friend. People facing what you dare not to face.”
      He raised his hand; he saluted as his eyes rolled back and closed. His hand fell down, his skull opened and the metallic colored assistant drone flew out.
       “What happened?” Cantharis asked in shock to which the assistant answered that it died, it created an electrical malfunction that can be triggered by a specific motion of the hand.

      “Let me begin with an apology,” the inventor of the Personas announced that midnight, “and let me also propose something far more important. First, I am genuinely sorry for the deep scars this day might have left on some people. I would have never though that this will be the turn of events, I really had this vision that these people will join us in our daily lives. I, as many others, have read the Shaman’s experience with his product and I was really heartbroken by that. I never thought these people would feel in such ways.
      “That being said, here is the other thing. Christmas is here with a tradition supported by no philosophical basis. Few of us are followers of Christ yet we retain the holiday. There is the Celebration of Singularity every year, purchases made there to be gifted in the holidays, and this heightened economic activity with which we try to wrap happiness to others fuels technological growth. We set up glaring golden lights, illuminating our homes in the darkest of the nights.”
      “I propose we offer our Christmas holidays to the memory of those brave souls who cannot be together with us, who deserve, yet cannot be the part of this world. I propose that when we spend on presents, think of those who made it possible to have such freedoms, to live under a free market that produces such goods. And when we turn on the lights, let us remember to those souls who shined bright in the darkest, State-ruled epochs of men’s life.”

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Rebirth of a Theocracy - Chapter XII

Chapter XII

Anarchistic Fury

“It is the job of thinking people
not to be on the side of the executioners.”
Albert Camus

      His steps echoed in the empty streets of the world once he called as home. From memory he constructed a map in his mind that would take him straight to Raoul through hidden, forgotten roads that charge nothing, are defended by no man, and where nobody walks at night. And when he thought of the rage of the nameless colony that would erupt in a violent storm of fury once they’d find out he is there, Solaris did not fear.
      He remembered to a vibrant time, when he said comforting words to his lieutenant in The City of Black Roses, into which the first anarcho-communists settled long ago, who feared that a rebellion is coming from the city’s most dreadful places. “Our world is doomed,” his soldier cried. “These will kill you inside while the looters from the outside get in and pillage everything! We will not survive this!”
      Solaris watched the sunlit ocean, and spoke:
      “If you cannot escape it, walk towards the fire, and don’t fear that it will cauterize your soul. If it does, there was no other way for you, and you died with courage and honor. If you survive the flames, you’ll know that you are more powerful than the sun… and that you can harness and rule fire.”
      The city slept, as an endless veil of night covered their eyes. The virus of the Prime infected all minds. They were bound into a dreamless sleep until the clouds of war disperse from the skies.
      They sleep, and once they wake up, they will find themselves one step closer to the fall, for that three hundred thousand men and women disappeared that night. Those souls are heading towards new stars, to conquer new worlds in the name of the neo-human.
      He crossed through swiftly an open, dark and dense public garden, with a vast lake and with trees reaching toward great heights whose shadows offered a comfortable place to hide. When he reached its end, he first wanted to run, but the inner-city security system of the roads would detect him as he takes his first step regardless of effort, and there is no other way through that. So he walked through the final roads without hurry, without strain, in secret enjoying the first beams of the dawn, and welcomed the bluish, grey world that he still loved as his home. 
      The red, digital footprints his steps left in the pavement that detected his presence and interpreted it as an intruder slowly faded away. Somewhere away, a screen cried for attention, its red warning sign blinking into the empty room.
      And somewhere a man, who was once a great Prime, who was awake and working, saw a blinking red light flooding the far end of a passage.
      Solaris stepped through the entrance of the skyscraper. Nobody welcomed him at the reception. The hall was empty, let alone for one assistant in human-like female shell, who paid no attention to the entering evil. Solaris froze for a moment, but as he saw no response, he proceeded toward the lift, watching curiously the machine.
      The human brain, as he was informed, was paralyzed by the virus in strange ways: it consisted of two phases.
      First, it stimulated the amygdala in moments of comfort and peace, and created a sense of nameless, formless threat and danger looming from the outside. Temporary shells whose mind have been uploaded into the Second Voyage reported, that their body responds involuntary with fear to thoughts or sights of forests and oceans, of the exact symbols the unconscious manifests itself in dreams.
      The second phase started after fear exhausted the mind. It was dreaming, or rather, simulated, dreamless sleeping within a virtual world into which the virus bound their conscious mind, to occupy its communication channels with Dreamworld servers. The sleepers saw nothing but darkness in their dreams, sensed and felt nothing, until – within the simulation – they were startled out of their sleep, seeing the peaceful, quiet surroundings in slumber, seeing that they still have time to just fall back, let go and dream, and feeling the soft but inviting pressure of their fatigue to return into the world of darkness. They fell back to sleep, and when the cycle was repeated, they forgot their last moment of wakefulness, and fell back again and again.
      Solaris watched the machine, who did not raise her eyes. She stared blankly at the floor in front of her. He pressed the button of the lift, his gaze still fixated on the assistant. He wanted to study how the virus affected her mind. The door opened in front of him, he sighed, turned away and stepped inside.
      And, obeying the command of the old Prime, the city slowly began to wake.
      Solaris stepped out and faced the long and narrow hallway. He walked to the first door on the left and tried to open in. The door gave way, and Raoul lay sleeping in his bed. Commie-Buster, who transported the resting Raoul from Rade Nightwood’s ship to his home stood in the other side of the room, staring blankly at the floor in front of him. Solaris walked to the bed, and pressed fingers to the side of Raoul’s windpipe to feel his pulse. He counted, and concluded that his friend was well and healthy. He almost released it, but the heart rate began to rise. The virus gave way and the nightmares returned to haunt Raoul.
      Solaris counted as the interval beats decreased until it reached critical rates. He shook the shoulder of Raoul, but his friend did not respond. He called his name, shaking again, again with no response. He turned him and leaned closely to his mouth, and heard a faint sound of suffocation.
      “Oh my god,” Solaris exclaimed as he straightened up. He locked his hands, both palms facing downwards, and began performing CPR in short, half second periods to keep him alive.
      The virus slowly released Commie-Buster from his paralysis. He looked up, and he automatically reached for his gun, while analyzing the scenario. His hand stopped, and he walked to Solaris, grabbed his shoulder and threw him back to the far end of the room. He pressed his palms against Raoul’s chest. Electrical energy surged from his hands into Raoul’s body, reawakening his heart.
      Raoul slowly woke up.
      “You had a heart attack,” Commie-Buster informed him. “You should automatize the defibrillation process somehow.”
      Raoul was still dozed off until he saw Solaris rising up behind his assistant. His eyes widened.
      “Oh yea, we have a visitor.”
      “Please don’t attack me again,” Solaris pleaded. “Raoul, there are things you need to know, hear me out. You need to stop fighting against my forces.”
      Seething fury rose within Raoul for a moment, then his memories returned, and he calmed down.
      “Don’t hurt him,” he whispered to Commie-Buster. “Get the cloudwalker instead.”
      His assistant looked at him questioningly.
      “Trust me, he will not hurt me. Look. I need to know what he’s up to,” he whispered. “He did not kill my parents, he was not even here in this city at that time. So I need answers. Now, please, go.”
      Commie-Buster nodded, turned and hurried out of the room, casting a gaze of – not hate, but interest towards Solaris.
      “Tell me what you want,” Raoul said. “And that who are you in the first place.”
      “I’m still the same as always.”
      “Bullshit, you are the leader of some… I don’t even know what’s happening around here.”
      “I’m still the same, Raoul, and I always had some secrets. I’m sorry. Now, do you have the vaticanian virus that I’ve asked for?”
      “What? No, of course not.”
      “Oh my… that is very not good,” he said thoughtfully. “Wait, is Oana Rain still around? She’s been in that simulation, maybe we could find some trace of it within her, at least to extract the principles of the code or something.”
      “She’s here, but… Solaris, what the hell is going on with you? You became mad, you convinced the worst people of the planet to worship you, you made them into an army and you are conspiring.”
      “Well, no…” Solaris wanted to speak but Raoul continued.
      “I don’t know who you are. Have you ever been like this? Have our friendship been built on lies and not on values? And what about Ana? Does she know that you are going insane? Or that you’ve been gathering an army in your spare time?”
      “Well the truth is…” Solaris grew impatient.
      “The truth is, Solaris,” Raoul interrupted again,” that you betrayed your sanity, your friends, and worst of all, your homeworld.”
      “Oh will you ever shut up?” Solaris yelled in anger. He snapped, and Raoul turned silent the moment he saw it happened. Not because he was afraid, he could break the bones of the boy in front of him in the blink of an eye, but because he saw this response before. He saw it when Solaris faced weak and lazy students in a simulation of the old Earth, who cried that wealth is evil and they deserve the benefits of it, justifying the State with their self-enforced, false victimhood. He saw it when Solaris faced a mother who had children from three different fathers, smoked and got drunk every evening, and tried to justify her child abuse with the lack of discipline and respect shown by her children towards her. He saw this rage at times when Solaris faced ignorance and evil, blind customs and traditions, and he tried with a thunder of anger to break it.
      “Just listen to me for a moment god damn you. I didn’t come here to face your slander and insults. Do you really think I’m that retarded that I would come here if the things you say were true?” He stopped for a moment to catch his breath. Meanwhile, a cloudwalker with armed men approached the building. Solaris continued, grinding his teeth. “You as a student of the Shaman should show the greatest curiosity in such conflict and yet you jump to conclusions that are completely impossible to be true if you think about it. You should be saying to the masses that there are vast breaches in the narrative, and yet you are the first to come and start fighting. Your mind is clouded Raoul if you think that I am the evil that wants to destroy this world.”
      “Yes,” he continued, “I do want to see this city razed. But only after those who are worthy, those who abide by the principle of non-aggression have left the planet and settled in another. Look. This is the deal. You know what singularity is, right? This moment when AI gets so advanced that it’ll be able to improve itself oven and over. We did it. We have achieved it. Well, not quite, we have achieved it with human intelligence uploaded and integrated into a network. Human minds became synthetic minds, nanotechnology slowly turning planets into this artificial matter that obeys neo-human thought. Look. This is a hard thing to explain without sounding stupid. But this is what the Shaman’s been working on since he was created. This is the final Transcendence of mankind. And he appointed me to… well, to do things,” he said and he looked around cautiously. He hurried to the window that was on the left side of the building, and looked down to see nothing of imminent threat. But the lift was already ascending.
      “I need to get out of here somehow. They know that I’m here, that’s why the city woke up. Raoul. I need you to come with me to help me. I cannot do this alone. Please. I’m still your friend, I have not changed. I had secrets, but it is safe to be honest from now on for that these are the end times. Will you?” He smiled a faint smile that dared not to hope and extended his hand towards Raoul.
      “You need to answer one question,” Raoul answered in a dark tone. “Who murdered my parents?”
      Solaris lowered his hand.
      “I don’t know,” he answered. “I have been conducting my own investigations to find out, and I do not know.  I have a lot of data to show you about them, you know. So… it must have been someone who knew about these plans all along. I’ve had a list of them all and began checking them. But those people all want this thing to happen, they do not oppose it. So it must be someone who is against this project and wants to stop it. Someone who…”
      Before he could finish, the last Prime of Earth burst in the door, looking at Solaris.
      “He’s here!” he yelled. Their eyes met and the pieces of a mystery fell into order inside Solaris’s mind.
      “It was him,” he whispered.
      Two armed men leaped in the door, pushing the old man aside, aiming their rifles at Solaris. Raoul leaped, his muscles tightened, and the gunmen fired at them. They burst out the window, Raoul holding Solaris, falling towards the hard stone.
      A cloudwalker flew vertically towards them from the skies, and it opened its rooftop as it neared. Commie-Buster steered it so that the back seat would gently touch the two free falling human, and before crashing into the ground he lifted up the aircraft in a steady and even pace.
      “I have no idea what is going on but I’m on board,” Commie-Buster shouted. “Where should we be going?”
      “Try to get away from watchful eyes,” Solaris answered. “Park the car somewhere in the suburbs. We must get out of this colony unseen.”
      “Hiding it is, then,” the assistant yelled, closed the rooftop, turned on a fast paced music, and steered the cloudwalker towards the outskirts.
      It was early in the morning and Dr. Wordsmith was about to pour his first tea when a girl who was unknown to him burst out of the rooftop’s door.
      “What is it?” he asked warmly.
      “Dr. Wordsmith,” she gasped for air, “I was asked to tell you that Solaris Midsummer is here.”
      “Here, in the town?” he put the cup back down. “Where? Why?” he asked in a mild astonishment. The girl read the data on her lenses before she answered.
      “He’s fleeing now in a cloudwalker with an unidentified shell of an assistant and with Raoul Seoc.”
      “With Raoul? Hmm…,” Dr. Wordsmith pondered. “Was he kidnapped?”
      “No sir, it was the Prime who found and tried to capture Solaris, but Raoul helped him escape.”
      “Well that is a strange riddle for sure. Where is Yrra Carson?”
      “She is nowhere to be found.”
      “This morning is indeed very strange. Not to mention I have overslept.”
      Rade Nightwood ship’s engines fired up as he ran through the corridors towards the lowest chamber where Oana and the captured army resided. The bridge opened as he arrived and he told Oana to march the army off of the ship.
      “They are completely sedated,” she answered. “Most of their nervous system is temporally shut down so their brain won’t transmit signals towards their limbs or head. I cannot control them. Why, what is happening?”
      “Raoul is in danger,” he answered. “Come; help me throw these bastards down.”
      They dragged the numb bodies in great haste down from the ship, three or four piled up one another at a time.
      “Will you stay or come with me?” Rade asked Oana as they finished.
      “Come to go where?”
      “I have no idea. But Raoul is in danger and I have sworn to protect him as a father would. So I have to go.”
      “I’m going,” she said, with a spark in her eyes. “What’s with your wife?”
      “We don’t have time for her. Come,” Rade said and with his fist closed punched a button on the ship’s wall. The bridge closed.
      All around the colony, ships with great might and military power rose to hunt down that lone and frightened cloudwalker roaming the urban sky, and with them rose the ship of Rade Nightwood. He accelerated the ship and headed towards the city’s heart where Raoul was last seen.
      They soared between skyscrapers and above agoras and streets as Raoul watched through the neural interface as his reputation is being diminished. He, who was once amongst the most revered vigilante of the world is now being banished, banned from streets he so much loved to walk, from restaurants he was accustomed for decades, he could no longer visit the theatre built with his father’s support, or visit the Agora of Benjamin Stanford and listen to the greatest artists of the city. He watched like doors closing the colony’s services and goods becoming unavailable to him, one after another. He watched as acquaintances, long time business partners disappear from his sight and he felt nothing but a slight curiosity towards whether future will bring him light or dark, whether it is a grace to be on his friend’s side, or a sacrifice.
      “The dome would not let us go through and the residents here might see us and blow us up if we would fly through this region from now on,” Commie-Buster announced. “We are landing. We’ll try to get through this part and get to the mountain as fast and as silent as possible, and we can disappear in its other side. We can get lost easily from then on in the forests.”
      The cloudwalker landed and they stepped out, facing the District of the Hundred Pillars. Countless towers loomed over them, each tower twenty stories high, and each tier housed ten to thirty self-contained houses, with green gardens, trees and with spacious streets. The walls of these Pillars were made out of transparent, glass-like metal. A vast elevator with cafeterias and libraries inside connected the floors with one another that travelled slowly up and down. Deep down in the ground level were stores, shops and malls to satisfy the needs of the residents of the Hundred Pillars. But down there, in the looming shadows cast by the great Pillars it was as dark as moments before dusk, and apart from the streets connecting the ground levels, the domain was claimed by nature.
      By the time the tree of them have reached the shadow’s shelter, the rage of the city was already awakened and burning up against them. Mighty starships swarmed the skies, vast bounties were offered and private agents and adventurers sought to hunt Solaris down. Armed security was called out into the streets, securing the roads and agoras from any possible attack or crime. The information spread, and the colony watched and waited, some not moving out of their homes until the storms of chaos disperse.
      “Wait,” the assistant said, stopped and looked back, focusing his gaze into the distance for a moment, listening intently to the sounds. “They have found the cloudwalker,” he said. “Go in silence,” he turned back to Solaris and Raoul. “We have no time to waste.”
      “The cloudwalker that they used to flee was found near the District of the Hundred Pillars,” the girl told to Dr. Alan Wordsmith. “People now are moving towards those grounds to be the first who finds them in the forests or somewhere nearby. Also, the Orphanage’s customers are contacting us, mostly those who live there, demanding information and monetary compensation.”
      “To what exactly?” Dr. Wordsmith laughed warmly. “Should we pay because they are afraid? Up to this very moment, if it is true that Solaris is here, nothing evil happened by his hands. Nobody was murdered or hurt, nothing was blown up. We are a protection, dispute resolution and insurance organization, and Solaris’s actions show that there is no need for us in this case.”
      “I will transmit your policy in this regard. However,” she cleared her throat, “my opinion differs in this matter.”
      “Oh well, I’m glad you mention, and I am quite curious what you think about the case, Ms. van de Laar. Please sit down, if you will, and tell me.”
      “I just think that you are not taking this issue seriously,” she said, as she walked and sat down at the table in front of Dr. Wordsmith. “I mean, maybe they are in a grave danger. Maybe Solaris is planning something that we don’t yet know about.”
      “Maybe. Do you know him?”
      “Solaris? Yes, yes I had a few classes with him in the Orphanage, why?”
      “Tell me more about him.”
      Helmia van de Laar though deeply for a moment before she spoke.
      “If I’d need to find one word to describe him that would be… I think, mastermind. Yes, that’s what he was. You could not see it in his day to day life, in the way he interacted with others, but whenever we were in the Shaman’s simulations, and things turned dark, and I mean really dark, he, and Ana and Raoul always knew the things that will happen beforehand, and in a strange way that I never understood, they handled those situations really well. It looked as if they’d deliver from a seemingly hopeless situation a completely unseen checkmate. I don’t know how much it was luck and how much it was skill, but it happened over and over again when Solaris was around. He had seen into the future in a very frightening way. I mean, I was not actually frightened back then, because the three of them always made sure to save as much lives as possible, even simulated lives, but to think about it now, and to know that this is the enemy that we are facing… now I am afraid.”
      “I wonder what his plan is now,” Dr. Wordsmith answered. “Look. I understand your concerns. But I do not think that those people are actually in danger. We don’t know what his plans are, and I want to find out, not execute him.”
      “But you have seen the cult he built all around the world first hand,” Helmia said astonished. “You have seen how insane he become.”
      “I have seen the form of insanity, but I don’t know what forces brought it to life. The substance of that form is something that I do not and cannot understand. We need now the things to unfold to see what step Solaris takes next so that we can understand him. And hear me out, I don’t mean that our service of defense should abandon those people who live there. No, we ought to protect them and that is what we’re doing, even though I’m willing to bet all my wealth on the fact that nobody is going to be the target of aggression there. So, Helmia, transmit the message to send out people, but only those who are not already occupied. We don’t want to withdraw our defenses so that others can fill the void with violence. Send them, but explicitly with the order that we are not going after Solaris Midsummer, even if someone sees them.”
      “Aye aye, sir.“
      Projectiles soared towards and around them, blasting into the ground. They climbed further and further upwards the mountain, fleeing the shouts that followed them. They stumbled, the soil ran out from below them sometimes, they got up and ran forward again.
      “There is a cliff in front of us nearby,” Commie-Buster yelled. “We won’t be able to climb it.”
      “Yes we will,” answered Raoul as he stopped for a moment to see a pathway between the trees and around the bushes.
      “I know, I will handle that,” Solaris shouted from behind.
      “They have found their cloudwalker, and a team of four is chasing them through the forest,” Helmia reported. “They are nearing a cliff which is bigger than what they could climb or bypass. Several starships are on the way to enclose the cliff.”
      “What is on the top of the cliff?”
      “Forests, trees, nothing really. It is in one line with the Pillars, or a bit taller, and from then, the mountain slopes downwards after a while.”
      “Alan,” a raging voice called from the elevator. “Why don’t you order your own men to capture Solaris and the others?”
      “I didn’t know you were already here, Egoera,” Dr. Wordsmith answered, turning towards the old Prime. Haze Egoera waved his hands to dismiss the welcome.
      “Stop playing around, Wordsmith. You know that with your children you could outnumber them and get them in no time. You and Cantharis trained these kids,” pointed at Helmia “exactly to protect this domain, and now you are keeping them assigned into inferior roles so that they cannot capture them. Why?
      “I didn’t assign them, they volunteered to do those jobs.”
      “Yes but you could send your guards and security agents to replace them while the kids do the work.”
       Dr. Wordsmith laughed.
      “Do you think,” he asked, “I have a secret army at my disposal? Oh well, the public would lacerate me for it. You can see my files, everything is public, all our armory, equipment and employees. I really don’t have that much of a manpower hired.”
      “You have starships, you have weaponry that the children use, and you have militarized assistant shells that you could deploy. Half of the people working for you right now are assigned to unnecessary positions.”
      “You see, Haze, I don’t think you understand economics or how a business works. These people do not obey me, and these goods are not mine. I actually am more of a connection between freelancers such as the kids we saved and people who need to secure their property. Those items in the garage are just as much ours as to the banker the money in the bank. People pay us to protect them, we buy the means of protection and have them at their command, not ours. It is the customer that has the final say.”
       “Oh because there is no market demand right now to capture them, right?”
      “To capture them? By what right? How would I dare to just get them or kill them?”
       “Solaris Midsummer wages war against your world,” the Prime screamed in blind rage. “You have seen it with your own eyes!”
      “You have come here today,” Dr. Wordsmith explained calmly, “so that we as a community may listen to the opinion of the most revered in this issue and reach a conclusion together, isn’t that right? To weigh the facts and determine his guilt. You cannot pronounce a verdict before this event, Haze Egoera. Maybe you have lived too long among the wolves or statism wreaked havoc on your mind but amongst us we do not execute people because we are afraid of them, and even if we find them guilty through a trial, we banish them and not capture or kill them.”
      “They have reached the wall,” Helmia interrupted them, “and armed, hired vigilantes are on their way towards them. Starships driven by unidentified citizens surrounded the area, the top of the cliff, and they wait above the forests.”
      Raoul and Commie-Buster stopped as they reached the wall.
      “Hold on to me,” Solaris shouted as he ran, extending his hands towards them. As he reached the wall he grabbed the hands of Raoul and his assistant, leapt at the stone and jumped upwards. Wings of unstable electrical outbursts emerged out of his back, arose and swoop down, waking the sound of a monstrous, ear-splitting thunder. The uplift soared them halfway of the Pillars and the cliff’s height, Solaris leapt and his wings beat again, the voice of crashing fulmination once again filled the airwaves of the realm.
      Those who followed them and witnessed the sight froze in shock and awe. They have seen such sight a handful times before the past, for that the wings were the same that Cantharis was given when he was a child, and the sight of a man who resembled of their demigod made them shiver and stop, unable to shoot or utter a sound.
      They reached the upmost heights and Raoul and his assistant were able to put down their feet to the ground. They caught Solaris and pulled him in from above the yawning chasm. They turned, facing the landing starship of Rade Nightwood, with Oana Rain waving them from the ramp.
      “Come, quickly,” she yelled and they hurried inside the ship. Rade closed the ramp and the ship took off into the sky with great speed, bursting through the lightning-dome as others watched it with astonishment, before they began their chase.

      “What is happening?” Dr. Wordsmith asked Helmia van de Laar.
      “They… they escaped. A ship picked them up and left the colony with the three of them on board. Others are going after them but it is already too far away.”
      Dr. Wordsmith in relief sighed, turned towards the city’s sight and lit his cigar.
      “Well,” he smiled, “we will get them next time.”
      The Prime didn’t say a word, in impotent rage he stood, with fist closed he was watching the ground. They didn’t spoke for a long time until Helmia interrupted the silence.
      “Sir…” her voice was faint and full of dread. “Sir, there is a problem,” she said, watching the data’s streamline.
      “What is it?” Dr. Wordsmith asked, fear piercing through his mind as he saw the expression of pure horror on the girl’s face. The Prime looked up at them.
      “It… reports are coming in about… people who are disappeared and cannot be found.”
      “What?” Dr. Wordsmith gasped. “When? How? How much report have we received so far?”
      “A hundred…” she waited for a moment, “A hundred and eighty-four…” she watched helplessly as the new reports drown her sight. “Two hundred and sixty five… three hundred… four… ”
      He collapsed onto the bench. He listened, staring blankly, not understanding what is happening with the world around him.
      “Sir, we have received a thousand reports of missing people and the number grows exponentially.”
      “You,” the Prime growled. “You doomed this world with your inaction, Alan Wordsmith,” he said, knowing perfectly well what happened last night.