Monday, January 25, 2016

Rebirth of a Theocracy - Chapter XIII


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The Temple

“The evolution of culture is ultimately determined 
by the amount of love, understanding and freedom 
experienced by its children. Every abandonment, every
 betrayal, every hateful act towards children returns
 tenfold a few decades later upon the historical stage”
Lloyd deMause

      Far above the abandoned birthplace of mankind, above the scorched and forgotten planet of Earth that slept under an endless curse of nuclear winter, a tiny space station orbited ran by a desolate AI. Its owners have long forgotten that tiny investment into the satellite once served as a prison system for that it produces just enough profit to sustain its own life.
      The sleepers it homed were banished or fleeing men and women who are welcomed no longer in the thriving worlds of Mars. Thieves, murderers and those who abused their child, people who - to avoid starvation and death - joined the dreamworld governed by the AI, and paid with their last remaining dimes, with precious memories that the AI sold to other humans and sometimes with their whole past as admission price.
      The AI in turn forged a world for them consistent with their moral character. They, the men of force were once again given a chance to harness legal violence, to enslave and extort. The State was reborn in this distant segment of the dreamworld, and the AI barred its world away with walls, with shields protecting the domain from solar storms and with a lore in which all the residents believed, to contain this dark force.
      They thought that they were the last remnants of the liberated mankind and that they were spared from the last global war on Earth. They believed that their ascendants watched with watered eyes as the civilization in Earth collapsed and the firestorm washed away the world, save for one victorious empire, the Vatican. They thought they survived because of the State that had enough technologic might to remain hidden and safe.
      There slept, dreaming the world the fugitives dreamt Cantharis de la Cruz and Ana Mionar. The AI analyzed them, and sewn them into the narrative of Vatican as if they were born and raised there, not merely arrived.
      Ana Mionar was given a simple, quiet life, one of solitary contemplation in the dark nights. She lived when the town slept, talking to clients in the morning and at sundown, reading, studying, dismantling the lies of the world at midnight, the propaganda of the State projected with digital words as the sacred revelations of Pope Henoch into the clouds.
      Cantharis was separated from the Shaman, first time in his life, and the AI, being unable to integrate his restless wanderlust, his desire to seek change, Transcendence into a simple life, gave Cantharis the narrative of a Christ.w
      He began talking to people all around the town, seeking out those who will listen. He found one night, in the shades, in hidden libraries and cafés built into the rifts of the Wall surrounding the dreamworld’s enclave Nakurami Meito whose mind Oana Rain opened to new domains, scribbling down notes about a liberated world he often walked in his dreams and found others, who retained their waking memories and knew it was the Shaman who they faced. Cantharis spoke to him about a life without the principle of violence, the foundation of the State.
      There was an aura about Cantharis that made them adhere to the man. There was something other than his otherworldly might, something behind the long, dark coat, the lightning blue eyes, behind the dark, deep tone of his voice, something that spoke of a mastery, of a might not over forces outside, but over his own soul and life. However involved he was with the issues of human life, however passionate he spoke, there was an emanating calm, an unshakeable metaphysical ground in which his presence stood at all times. 
      “What is important is to find and rescue every single child,” he spoke one time. “I have little faith in any other way. First off, if we are to convince someone about non-aggression, we can only do so if it is in his interest to be on our side. It all comes down to this in the end of argumentation for that people will retain their illusions as long as it benefits them. If the children are on our side, who are basically those who hold the future in their hands, it is secured that we will have freedom in the next epoch. The same way the State has been harvesting its power from educating the youth for decades about the virtue of being extorted, ruled, enslaved and slaughtered by him, so must we reach for the children to show them a different way, a way of peace, of cooperation, of non-aggression and trade. Everyone else may panic and scream, cling to their welfare, but as time goes by, they will one by one decease, leaving the world as a playground to their kids – who will be on our side.”
      “Can’t we have freedom in our days?” one asked.
      “Well, we can, it is the matter of convincing everyone but they will not listen. Why would they? They are blinded by the State. Look, evolution programmed us to maximize our chances to survive, and the State exploits in many this basic need. It helps to increase the chances in competition for those who otherwise would not be able to thrive with institutions such as the school, and the laws that require the children to attend. It does nothing else but keeps them away from the workforce until they are old. And then there are the teachers, who live off of the State that asks them not to educate, but to act as a dictator at their jobs and in that they are more than willing to compete. There are, of course, those who are employed directly by the State and know that they have no value to offer to society in any other way. So you see, if we have a way to convince these good people to give up their self-interest and oppose the State I’m all ears, but I just cannot see a way.”s
      Time went by, and the vaticanian voluntaryists started educating the children about their societal place. “You are nothing more but slaves, your energy and time slowly being drained,” one man, who was invited to speak about technology to a school burst out, “you are the hostages of the State, your parents will be put in jail if you don’t attend and if they don’t pay,” said abruptly another, a well-respected businessman in an interview aired live when most of the kids were watching the TV and a pianist who took over the place of Oana Rain, before playing a piece that made the audience shiver and weep announced “this is dedicated for Cantharis, our Prime, who leads the revolution to liberate the soul of every child.”
      There was aghast at first when an unknown group wanted to reanimate the tradition of electing a Prime, a moral leader of the old Earth’s united mankind, one who incarnated virtue and fought against vice; then there was a hunt to find Cantharis who they want to become the Prime, whose sight awakened forgotten memories and dreams from the depth of their subconscious about a Shaman, and finally there was a great crowd roaring in exaltation for the new Prime. 

      A storm loomed over the simulated voluntary city and State of Vatican in a warm spring evening moments before dusk. People gathered in the Square to attend the meditation of Cantharis the Prime, who, through long weeks made arrangements and announcements, calling, knocking in to every soul in the simulation, asking them to participate in the rite.
      Among the gathered was Ana Mionar who’s been walking the path of shamanic though for years without a guide. Early in her career she saw unfathomable insanity and evil in some of her patient’s eyes, not in clear threats or in imposed danger, but in warm and honest compassion for which the ends justified the means, and the end was statism, violence and chaos veiled with a shroud of ‘it was not our faults’ and ‘it will work next times.’ She saw socialists praising a system that reaped countless lives and not calling their faith evil. She saw people advocating for the utilization of the political means against the wealthy and the rich, and when she asked how exactly they’d imagine the State would ‘redistribute’ their wealth, when she asked them to describe the process in a vivid and clear way, to pronounce the verdict that what they call for is extortion and theft, they exploded in a blind rage, screaming that it is only just to do so.
      That night the Shaman, the demon that haunted her life initiated her into an esoteric sight.
      “What do you think I am, Ana Mionar?” asked the shade-sewn poltergeist with a voice that summoned thunders in the distance. Ana looked up from the papers for a moment, from the stack of notes describing and analyzing her patients, classifying them into statist and voluntaryist clusters, dividing the statist patients into ignorant, enabler and abuser sections.
      “A fragment of my imagination, and a very useful one,” she answered, looking back down, signing the paper at hand, putting it back to the folder, and moving the folder from ignorant to voluntaryist.
      “And does it not bother you that you might be insane?”
      Ana put her pen down to the three remaining folder of statists, laid back and folded her arms.
       “Define insanity please. Because even if you are a hallucination, it is an involuntary function of my brain while I fully retain my reason.  I can distinguish right from wrong, knowledge from illusion, so I would not call myself insane.”
      “How do you distinguish the two?”
      “Well,” she sighed, “I will tell you about my method. What I think to be important is not to discover new truths, but to make sure no illusion occupies its place in my mind. You see, if for example I hold the non-aggression principle to be true, I cannot integrate the thought that ‘the State should handle a given problem’ into my mind without cognitive dissonance. If however I hold that it is moral to initiate force, regardless of the inherent contradictions of this proposition, I can easily ask the State to solve social problems.”
      She got up and turned towards the window, peering into the night.
      “You see, the reason why I think you are just a hallucination is the following. When I thought of the way of distinguishing truth from falsehood, I started to use the symbol of lightning as a guidance. My theory is that you achieve truth by connecting your subjective experience with the objective facts of science, and you build a kind of pillar between the two in your mind. After a while I began thinking of this pillar as a lightning that destroys every falsehood between the two, like, for example you think that the initiation of force is evil, and that it is not good if you’d hit your wife, yet somewhere between the two there is a place for a State to reside. The lightning destroys such illusions, and when you speak, you voice evokes thunder.”
      “There is one illusion that you have yet to destroy,” the Shaman answered.
      “What illusion?”
      The Shaman wanted to answer but an ear-splitting crash of thunder shook the house as the governing AI stopped the sounds. Ana looked around, frightened. The Shaman wanted to say, ‘it was just God,’ but another thunder crashed into the house.
      “Oh my god,” Ana jumped up, frightened.
      “Don’t worry about that, just listen to me, Ana.”
      “Okay,” she muttered.
      “Write the following down,” the Shaman said, and Ana, in confusion, grabbed a pen and paper. “I, Ana Mionar, hereby state my intent to be excluded from any agreement or contract which protects me from thoughts and ideas foreign and opposite to my thinking and worldview. I desire to know the truth and I welcome all effort to advance my effort, regardless of my previous will.”
      “Done,” she said.
      “Sign it.”
      “And now?”
      And the Shaman explained how her body floats in a sensory deprivation tank in a space station above Earth somewhere in a distant realm, how she came here with Cantharis who gave her a task back on Mars and that the time has come to execute what she was asked.
      “I can answer everything after the meditation tonight,” said the Shaman, “but before that please find the last remaining child. He hides in the District of the Outcasts. It was recently locked down by the State because too many of the rebels started to search for and expand cracks in the Wall. The AI that runs the simulation didn’t interfere because that is what customers choose to do but the State officials deemed it too dangerous to go in. Please do go in and find that child but be warned, the dream is very volatile there.”
      “What do you mean by that?”
      “The dreamworld is a decentralized virtual reality server and only a tiny little segment of it is the Vatican, but this city is sealed away from the outside, from the dreamworld’s other parts with the Wall that you perceive as the wall of the space station itself. That District of the city is no longer closed off and it is easy there to mold and reshape the dream so just be careful and remember that it is but a virtual domain.”

      As she neared the District of the Outcasts, the former ghetto of those not supporting the State, the city’s lights began to die out. It was darker and darker, only the gold web of the last city’s lights in the Earth above, that, she learnt, was but a lie and the displayed messages in the sky shed some fade, ebbing light. She heard not a single sound.
       In front of her there was, as she neared the District, an unguarded ‘do not enter’ sign. She walked past it entering the street of broken windows and abandoned cars. She knew the place, she travelled through it once or twice to get into the cafés and the hidden libraries to meet with her rebellious kind. She used to feel that this abandoned, time-worn district was the only place where she was safe but now dread and fear climbed up on her spine.
      She recalled the Shaman’s words as he said, “this world is referred to as the voluntary prison of Vatican. When a man is banished, he seeks refuge here but he has no right to make this decision for his child. Children of such fates become orphans who are greatly helped by others to deal with their suffering. But the children within Vatican are adults in the outside world with this body given to them by the simulation’s governing AI based on their mental and emotional maturity or age. These people have stopped growing inside when they were traumatized and you can see their true self here in the Vatican.”
      Ana shivered and looked up from her thoughts, seeing nothing but an endless veil of dark. She stopped, blinked and looked around and saw no source of light. She reached into her pocket to take out her portable VI but she changed her mind, instead she closed her eyes to concentrate on the thought that she was in a dream, not in real life.
      She opened her eyes and saw directly in front a grand temple reaching towards great heights. The darkness still prevailed but her lucidity summoned the light of the moon and of the stars. She looked down at her hands and saw, instead of human skin, vibrant, golden light that she knew would cut through bone and metal. As she thought of that, and as, through concentration she commanded the dream to dress her back to her normal appearance, she realized that she had access to her waking, Martian self with her memories and desires.
      She smiled, recalling that her reason to join the Vatican was to test herself as a subject of a State, whether she has the fortitude and courage to see through the veil and pronounce that the world is based on violent lies. Joy overwhelmed her for that this test told her that she is all right, in contrast of her self-doubts; that she is healed and she is fine, the neglect of her parents when she was a child did not inflict epigenetic changes and traumas causing them to seek a substitute caregiver in the State in her adult life.
      She was fine and this piece of self-knowledge meant that she was walking a right path when she sought to join the singularist Cult of Hypnos. She was free, liberated from her past to do so. Even though she knew very little about the cult, rumors that spread around from unconnected sources, from which she carefully peeled off the facts infected by fear and hatred until the picture of a humanitarian sect emerged. She found out that their desire is to liberate men from death and from the flesh through technological advancements and that they have an annual rite in Azirion’s forests.
      And as she let her thoughts overwhelm her mind she looked up, facing what was in the dark into which she was sent by the Shaman. She stood in front of a titanic temple made of metal, stone and glass. She stepped back and gasped, inside her swirling the feeling of awe and fright. She faced the marble staircase of the temple into which were carved screaming and suffering faces of men and women. At the end of the staircase far up in the heights was a vast door made of iron, inviting and open, built into a wall that reached so far into the skies that it reminded Ana Mionar of looking up at a skyscraper from the ground.
      In the left and right side of the door were windows made of stained glass depicting four images. The first shown as two men, one pointing towards a road in the background the other holding a weapon threatened a father protecting his son, who in resignation handed over to them a filled purse. The second was war, an ocean of blood filling the bottom of the window, people battered and scarred killing one another from the bottom to the furthest heights of the glass. People bound in chains were depicted in the third image, as their hollow, soulless eyes obeyed the will of their masters and the fourth shown children sitting in school desks with the same expression on their faces as on the slaves. Above the door and the four windows was the monumental image of a ruler, a king or a god, reaching out with his hand that loomed over the four window of stained glass towards Ana.
      Light was ebbing through the windows indicating life inside. Ana shivered. Her heart was pounding in her chest and she became overwhelmed with dread as wind began to blow, its sound resembled the screaming and the cries of women and men. She sighed and started to ascend the enormous stairs. As she took step after step she looked back to see that the temple was much greater than how she perceived it from the ground. The vast landscape of the Vatican opened up before her eyes. She had a clear view on the St. Peter’s Square and Basilica as she looked down and on the different districts separated by architectural design. She turned and continued running upstairs.
      The door was open, and not looking at the windows she walked in to the temple. It was cold, colder than outside. Torches mounted on the wall all around illuminated the hall that she entered. At the other side of the hall was a podium toward which lead a straight pathway in-between rows of pews. From above a seemingly endless levels of balconies looked down stacked on one another, rising to what seemed to be infinite heights.
      She looked around in the ground level. As the flames danced, and she caught a glimpse of the murals, Ana instantly averted her gaze to see only the ground. What fragment she saw was blood, orgiastic mass murder and demonic laughter in the haze of violence and war. She walked past the pews and saw that there were pieces of paper carefully placed in a row, one after another for every guest. She took one and examined its contents.
      “Election for President of Mankind,” said the title and below it Ana read “This vote entitles a producer to have a chance in using the political means to wealth.”
      Feeling disgust, she crumpled and threw away the paper.
      She heard, coming from somewhere near the podium the sound of faint, weak weeping. She hurried towards the source to find in a room at the far right end of the hall a little child huddled into a corner, facing the wall kneeling, sobbing.
      “Hey,” Ana said softly, almost whispering. “Hey, what’s wrong?”
      The boy turned silent. He started to raise his head to look towards the girl but quickly turned back towards the corner.
      “Who are you?” he said, sniffing.
      “I came here to find you and help you. Did someone hurt you?” she asked, slowly approaching the boy.
      “N-no,” he stuttered.
      “Why are you in the corner?”
      “She said that it is for my own good,” the boy sobbed and the volatile dream began manifesting his thoughts. The simulation shown the spectral memories that entrapped the boy in this haunted house; a family dinner started to unfold before Ana Mionar’s eyes.
      “Stop playing with the food,” the ghastly mother of the child warned the kid who looked up, apologized and ate a forkful of rice. He was not hungry anymore but he was not allowed to get up until he ate it all so he struggled, taking small bites, rearranging the food to look as if he was almost done, raising the food up with fortitude and steeled heart only to see that he could not swallow it again and watching it fall back to the plate.
      Watching the struggle, the furious, narcissistic rage of his mother erupted.
      “I told you not to play with the food,” she screamed. “This is my house and you are eating my food so you will do as you are told,” she screamed standing up, walking towards his son. Ana, shocked as she watched the child abuse, without thinking jumped in front of the mother to intervene but the illusion just walked past her. The mother took the plate and smashed it into the wall.
      She grabbed the boy by his shirt and dragged him to the corner, screaming: “You’ll stay here until I let you to go, you understand?”
      The illusion disappeared, leaving only the sobbing child behind.
      “Hey,” Ana said to him, “it’s all right, you can leave.” She kneeled down next to him, offering him her hand. “Come,” she said in a warm tone, “we’re getting out.”
      The boy shook his head.
      “Why?” Ana asked.
      “Mom always said it is for my own good and I’ll learn from this,” the boy answered in a sad tone.
      “You think this is for your own good?”
      “Mhm,” he sniffed.
      “I’m so sorry you were hurt. I’m sorry nobody was there to stop your mom or protect you but what she did to you was wrong. Imagine a policeman coming up to your mom and forcing her to eat, and if she wouldn’t, he would throw her into the corner or into a cage. Do you think it would be for the good of your mom?”
      “No, I wouldn’t,” he responded.
      “Then it could not possibly be good for you either, right? I mean, it is only you who can tell such things as when you are not hungry anymore, but your mom pretends to think that she knows. But how could she possibly know, right?”
      The boy nodded.
      “And weren’t you told that you shouldn’t hurt others? How would your mom react if you would do that with a friend of yours at lunch? Look. You don’t have to sit here in the corner alone. You did nothing wrong. And nobody has the right to punish you for anything as long as you didn’t hurt anyone else, remember that. There are evil people out there who won’t let you live a peaceful life and yes, sometimes those evil people are your mom and dad, and you are just a victim accidentally born there. But there is a world out there who can help you and you don’t have to cry alone here, okay? I’m here to help.”
      Ana extended her hand to the boy and he grabbed it. He got up, and they walked out of the room talking, the girl listening to the experiences of the boy, he slowly opening up about his pains and thoughts. As they walked past the door Ana heard a faint, scratching sound coming from another room; she listened, but decided to investigate after the boy was escorted into safety and peace. They walked out of the temple. Ana didn’t brought up the fact that it was a dream, and the boy didn’t seem to notice or care. He took for granted and felt secure in the world that looked eerie and dark to the waking observer.
      “It was after all,” Ana thought, “the projection of his unconscious, of course he didn’t object.”
      A cab arrived. Ana paid attention to choose a driver with the highest reputation. The car stopped in front of the two awaiting at the sign saying “do not enter,” and “area enclosed,” the boy got into the car as he have agreed to her. Ana paid and told the driver to get him safely to St. Peter's Square, where he shall attend the meditation and meet with Ana Mionar again afterwards.
      As the cab disappeared between the houses she turned and walked back into the void, into the lightless, unshaped dream material. The temple still stood and as she looked up at it she was frightened. Memories raced through her mind, distant memories in which she roamed around in the open world, encountering untended, abandoned or unformed parts of the virtual land.
      It was common for the dreamer to travel such an unformed realm for it was the primordial form of the dreamworld; oceans and forests, the original manifestation of the unconscious, unshaped by the lucid dreamer. What Ana saw was not woods, not water, it was shadows defying the light and a gruesome temple built to worship nightmares.
      “Is there somebody else inside?” she wondered.
      In a simulation when she veered away from the domain she was called into to explore other, open parts of the dreamland on occasion she found untended lands. She might find a planet written and ran in the real world by a group of friends who formed within the dreamworld a fantasy land. Ana would pay a visit to the planet in which the other dreamers are immersed in slaying beasts and demons. Surrounded by music, beer and elves, in the inn she would hear tales about the ruins of a forgotten city never found by the dreamers. She would seek it and walk the metropolis once thriving, but its code now forgotten, understood only by the writer who forsook the land, tendrils and roots of nature or unending, corrosive rain slowly dissolving it back into the soil. In other domains, abandoned parts were flooded by seas so that the code filled with errors and bugs may truly be discarded and new ideas shall rise.
      Yet Ana faced not a building devoured by tendrils or suffocated by oceans but one looming into the heights without damage, without harm, eclipsing the sun, light ebbing out if its blasphemous windows, haunted screams filling the air around it.
      She ran up the stairs again and hurried through the hall to find the source of the sound that she heard. There was another door, now opened, yawning into a descending stone staircase. She approached it with racing heart, fear taking over her as a voice, a familiar, soothing voice called for her.
      “Wait,” Cantharis said from the entrance. “Don’t go in alone.”
      Ana looked back, smiling, grinning in joy and relief.
      “Canthy,” she welcomed his teacher as the safety he emanated filled her. “I’m so glad you are here,” she laughed in relief and laughed also in the memories arising in her. “Hey, I thought you are you’re some evil tyrant in a sheep’s clothes.”
      “And you are quite proud of yourself for that, I assume?” he smiled.
      “You bet,” she grinned. “How are you doing here by the way? Are you feeling refreshed, alive again?”
      “You bet,” he laughed and the air crackled with his laughter. His long, black coat turned into dark flames, his veins turned into electric currents tearing apart the flesh. “I am home again in a world where there is work to be done. Let’s check what is down there, shall we?”
      Descending the wet, stone stairs they faced another door. It was thick iron, and as they stepped closer, the door started to open on its own.
      “Look, Ana,” Cantharis turned to her and said, “let me tell you what is going on. You have been left out of things for a long time but now it is time for you to see the truth. You asked yourself, I assume, what is this temple doing here if nobody created it and why is there not a forest or a sea at its place.”
      “Yes, I thought it was the child who dreamt it but he is gone and it still stands.”
      “While we were absent, Ana, the colony went through a change. Many people, the greatest minds of the colony left the city as it was planned really since I was born. Most of the Mars-born generation is gone. The most revered with the greatest reputation are gone. All who stayed are those of whom it is not known whether they are good or evil.”
      She looked at him shocked.
      “Where did they go?” she whispered.
      “Don’t worry,” his teacher smiled, “there is nothing to be afraid now. We have been preparing this for a long time, I personally poured all my money into it and so did thousands of others. You see, we developed a technology based on the distributed database system of blockchain in which every single molecule is a server node in and of itself. We took the content of the human brain, the digitalized memories linked into one another in a causal narrative chain, we also managed to digitalize awareness or consciousness but that technology never seen the markets and we bundled the memories of a man into a consciousness with a will to improve its conditions and uploaded this created Self into the server. It is similar to any blockchain based currency but instead of a coin we have a Self as a unit in the database. The good thing is that the Self, like a ghost haunts the blockchain, it can submerge and emerge in every physical location of the nodes, occupy bodies with minds. We also borrowed the cutting-edge nanotechnology which…” he abruptly stopped, thought for a moment and smiled at Ana. “Well… It is too complex to explain now. Let’s just say that we have achieved a kind of singularity in other planets and the most virtuous people of the colony were offered a seat.”
      Ana stood, staring at him blankly, processing the words she heard.
      “And what about Solaris, and Raoul?”
      “Well they are still on Mars because I still need them. Now, this temple is how the unconscious of those who remained manifests itself in the dream. Come, let’s see what is hidden in its core.”
       Behind the door was a single source of light.
      “Stop,” Cantharis warned her for that watching the light she felt drawn towards it, taking step after step into the yawning abyss in front of them above which that glowing, orange globe lingered.
      For a moment she was enchanted by the sight, forgetting that it is a dream, controlled by the narration of whatever subconscious mind ruled over the realm. She shook her head to regain lucidity and focus, standing at the edge of the precipice. Ana then looked down, extending her arm that started to emanate a golden blaze as she consciously seized control over the dream all around. They stood in front of a wide chasm reaching deep into the ground.
       “You think we should go down?” Ana asked. “Or do you know what is going on here, Shaman?”
      She looked up at her teacher whose gaze was focused on the globe. Cantharis vanished and appeared next to the orb levitating in the air; Ana saw and followed him. She saw there was something inside, something darker than the orange, shimmering sphere within which some gel-like material swirled slowly around and around. It was the outline of a human body sleeping, or maybe not even alive entrapped in the globule.
      “What is this?” she whispered in awe.
      “This is going to be the last Prime. We’ve been working on it with Solaris for years to bring such a being into existence, something resembling a consciousness, a person, something that behaves with consistency and it seems we needed the help of the governing AI of the simulation of Vatican. I’m not perfectly sure but I think it is the AI that is slowly forging this Prime into life.
      “Why would you need a Prime?” Ana asked.
      “The plan is to entrap those who are violent deep into a simulation such as this one, into a statist, no-hope, endless dream or nightmare. Solaris was given the task to find a method to decide with a hundred percent accuracy who supports non-aggression and property rights, and who are bloodthirsty given the chance.”
      “Say,” Ana said quietly, “do you think it is right?” She looked down into the precipice. “Maybe you went mad, Shaman, have you not thought about that? Maybe I should oppose you here and now,” she said, looking up into the lightning blue eyes. “Maybe I should kill you.”
      A chill of excitement and adrenaline ran down Cantharis’s spine.
      “You cannot kill me in a dream, Ana.”
      “I could traumatize you so horribly that you would forget who you are, or render you into a vegetative state. Tell me, Cantharis, have you lost your mind?”
      “Ana, please stop…”
       “Trapping people into a statist simulation, Shaman, because they are scarred and traumatized? Is this your plan now?”
       “Have you not seen the temple with your own eyes? That is the god they unconsciously praise and worship. And no, it is not because they are traumatized. You too and all the orphans are traumatized. Look, Ana, I need you on this. We are going to keep the meditation tonight, and you can reach your waking mind. You can reach out for Solaris and see in full detail the plan, okay? I only ask you to be patient until you can see the whole map and judge only then according to your standards.”
      “All right,” she said grudgingly and ashamed of her violent reaction. “I feel shame, I’m sorry. You deserve my trust, Cantharis, I should have not lashed out.”
      “I’m curious who would win between you and me, though,” Cantharis smiled.
      “Well of course me, after all, I’m the one who studied under the Shaman,” Ana grinned back and they laughed. She asked him about the plan, about what happened in Mars, about the technology he talked about as they walked back to Vatican.
      In the Square Henoch, the pope and the communication channel between the AI and the Vatican it governed reported to Cantharis that every single soul turned up to the meditation. He was given a headset to communicate with everyone else.
      “I’ll go and find a place in the middle so that they can see that we are starting, all right?” he said to Ana.
      “Sure, sure,” she answered, putting on the earphone he received by Henoch.
      Warm and friendly voices greeted him as Cantharis walked through the crowd, addressing him as they would a friend or a brother. He sat down among them, spoke a few words with those closely around then turned on his microphone and closed his eyes.
      Far away the heavens roared and thundered.
      “All right,” he spoke slowly, “let us close our eyes and focus on our breathing at first. Just inhale and out in a way comfortable for you. Find your pace, we have time.”
      As one breathed those next to him unconsciously started to inhale at the same pace imitating one another. The different individual tempos slowly found a common speed of breathing in and out that spread from person to person until the whole city acted as one.
      “Stay still without moving,” the Prime addressed the residents of Vatican in a calm, soft tone after long minutes of silence “and just feel your skin around your hand. Feel the weight of the blood coursing inside.”
      In a meditative state of mind their consciousness reached out more and more to their physical bodies that, connected to the simulation, slept in a sensory deprivation tank somewhere within a space station.
      “Now imagine that you are just dreaming your life. Imagine that somewhere in a higher realm your body sleeps peacefully in the dark. And the weight of the blood you feel, the skin, the flesh all belongs to your body in the waking realm.”
      They followed his guidance. They no longer felt the simulated wind scratching their arms the noises, the approaching thunders. The dripping of gentle rain were distant, unprocessed sounds like static noise that never reached their conscious mind.
       “Imagine that you can you have power over what your dream is like. You can shape buildings, fly, write cloud letters onto the skies, command storms and lightning. Envision with your closed eyes as an electric pillar strikes the top of the basilica from the skies. See the radiance that fills up everything from the heavens to the ground, see the dark clouds gathered above our home illuminated by the brightness, the terrible sound of the clap of thunder shaking the windows and very ground.”
      “Now,” the Prime said, “open your eyes,” and they did, looking up at the building in front of them watching as, to their command a burst of electrical energy crashed with an ear-splitting sound into the basilica.
      Frightened, they involuntary widened their eyes but the connection with their body outside still lingered, and as focusing on their hand made the fingers of the sleeping body twitch so did the sudden movement of the eye forced their eyes open within the sensory deprivation tank in the space station.
      Thousands of souls woke up gasping from a self-inflicted nightmare at that very moment. Awakening into the darkness and silence of the sensory deprivation tank, their brain began filling the world devoid of sense data with noises and visions evoking hallucinations. Patterns and colors of violet, red, green, yellow and white danced before their eyes. Unintelligible sounds sang to them droning songs.
      Memories flooded their minds, an inferno of thought purging misconceptions and false narratives, connecting the life they dreamt with the world outside. They were waking from a dream that lasted for a lifetime into a world from which they were banished, waking from Hell in which they were innocent, ruled over by a State into a man-built Paradise as hated criminals.
       But it was not yet time to wake from the Vatican. The contract they signed still counted the days and the nameless colony still remembered their deeds. Would they try to wake up and return to their former home they would hear the words that many other outcasts heard throughout the times.
      “Are you out of your mind? You think you have gone through a fundamental change of your personality in this short period of time? You have not even figured out why you initiated force against another,” one would say.
      “Years of self-training and therapy still didn’t made me into the person who I want to be and you think you are healed because you fled into the Vatican?” another would ask.
      “You are not ready to be given another chance,” a third would look at them in contempt.
      “We are sorry for your inconvenience,” a female voice reverberated in their skull, “a biological reflex might have interrupted your simulation. Please relax and we will return you to the dreaming state in sixty seconds from now.”
      As the clock counted to zero they had enough time to alter the contract that they have signed. It was done in an instant, accessing the smart contract files through their neural interface, its display projected onto their eyes, opening the contract with the Vatican and just checking a single box named “having access to the waking memories.” The blockchain validated the change in the contract within a second and as they fell back into sleep once more they found themselves sitting in the Vatican knowing who they were and for what crimes they committed in their lifetime.
      The AI obeyed its customer’s demands. They no longer needed the State, they desired learning to be free. They no longer wanted to be confined within a pre-designed dreamworld, they desired new soil upon which they can cultivate their own visions and dreams. And the governing intelligence who made profit by providing a simulated shelter to those in contract with it turned its attention towards helping them build the world they want to see. The wall that once encircled and sealed the Vatican from the other vistas of the dreamworld fell down.
      And after calculations, seeing that communication must be maintained from now with the Martian network of dreamworld servers, and comparing the cost of distant communication with the energy cost of interplanetary travel, the space station’s engines fired up in a deep, resonant hum and, waiting for the moment the station fell towards Mars, the propulsion system launched the station out from the gravitational field of Earth.
       And the tiny, old station once serving as prison then the simulation of the State of Vatican began its voyage toward Mars.

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