Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Machines of Shiloh 15

"Dreams are the blood of the soul."

Ok.  I was surprised by Li.  She dragged me to a Medunit.  That was a blur.

That night, I woke up with a headache in a dark green room.  My eyes had trouble focusing. "Ugh."

"Hey sleepy."  Li's voice startled me.  She was nearby.  I glanced around.  That is when I noticed.  The dark green room wasn't a room.  It had been filled with plants of all kinds.  So many that my eyes had blurred them into solid shapes.

Li didn't stand out here.  She was watering some plants, whispering to them as she moved along.  "So, you like my home?"

I gazed around.  "I... I remember going to the Medunit... but..."

"You were really out of it."  Li said, her tone somewhat clinical.  "You didn't talk much, but you seemed scared.  You had several broken bones and internal bleeding."

"Oh."  That sounded bad.

"Yeah."  Li paused from her watering.  "I'd hoped to get you to a Psych as well, but..."

She shrugged.

"Oh.  Is..."  My head still stung a bit.  "Is going to a Psych something important?"

"Well..." Li lifted up a large flower, caressing it gently.  "Psychs heal the mind, and sometimes things you couldn't otherwise fix, you know?"

"Ah."  I sat up.  I had no shirt on.  In a panic, I looked around for my things.  I saw the blue dress.  It sat atop a bag.  That bag.  Fek.  I should've left it in the woods.  Sam didn't need to carry anything Samuel had failed to do.

"I..." Li paused.  "I kinda been avoiding going to one, myself.  Kensha probably is going to grill me about it.  That's her particular thing, she tends to care a lot."

"Uh..."  I tried to cover myself, feeling awkward.  I tried to change the subject.  "You brought me to your home?"

"Sort of?"  Li explained.  "This is where I keep my plants, its my own space.  I'm allowed to do whatever I want with it, as long as it stays within the family property."

"Family property?"  I tried not to sound confused. "Property.  I thought Autogov didn't allow for property-"

"Why would it do that?"  Li asked.  "I mean, without property, we Gaians wouldn't know what we were to maintain."

I was confused me.  "Sorry... uh, Li, right?  I don't understand."

Li tilted her head.  "You've never dreamweaved and you know nothing about Autogov or Gaians?"

I nodded.

"Where have you been, under a rock?"  Li sounded surprised by me.

I scratched the back of my head.  "I... I'm kinda from a remote place.  I want to move... to Roosevelt I think.  I have a lot to learn I think.  Is it alright if I ask what a Gaian is?"

Li shrugged, and continued to take care of her plants.  "Gaians are the name of my swarm.  I mean, they are a sort of hivemind.  On Nightland, I mean... Well, I was born to a part of the hivemind.  At any point I could return to the hivemind.  But its my choice."

"You just weren't born into it?"  A hivemind, a girl born of a massmind.  Interesting.

Li smirked again.  "Yes and no.  The Gaians live for nature.  I remember a brief glimpse as a small child into the mind.  Its like... like being forever and nowhere at the same time.  So many thoughts, ideas, dreams all in rhythm.  My individuality is valued because I could learn things they can't.  If I never return, five thousand members of the hivemind will still think of me as their child.  If I do return to it, my insights could help the Gaians achieve new wonders."

I couldn't think of anything to respond to that with.

Li pointed at me.  "Ok.  You got your question answered, so I got one for you, Sam."

"Uh..."  Turnabout was fair play, or so I guessed.  "Go ahead, I guess."

"What's with the blue dress?"  She asked, pointing at it.

"Oh.  It's... uh, mine."  I said, protectively.  I looked down, I had been clinging to it tight.  My hand had latched onto it.  

"Yours."  Li studied me.  She seemed to be trying to come to some sort of conclusion.

"Yeah."  I felt embarrassed admitting that to a complete stranger.  But I needed to start being Sam.  Someone new, not someone who I left behind in the Preserves.

"Hmm."  Li put her hand on the dress.  She got closer to me.  "It's a nice dress, Sam."

I kept my eyes away from her.

"You know," Li continued, "I'm surprised Kensha hadn't invited you to join our Dreamweaving.  You should come along with me tonight.  You can stay here for the time being, I imagine you need to figure some things for yourself out."

"Thanks, I guess." I waited for a moment, trying to think of something to respond with.

"Well, aren't you interested?"  Li asked.  "I can show you how to make a character, and we can surprise Kensha with it!"

"Character?"  I had no idea what she was talking about.  When Kensha and I had been dreaming, it was a sort of stream of consciousness thing.  Making a character?  What was Li talking about?

"Wow."  Li sighed.  "I keep forgetting you know nothing about this sort of thing.  Well, I guess I can explain, and you can see why it's so much fun.  Kensha creates this world, with her own characters, monsters and stories.  Then we get to play in that dream as its central characters."

"What kind of characters?  Do you select something or what?"

"Oh, thats the great part.  You can play whatever character you want, just so long as it fits with the rest of the Dream.  C'mon, let me show you."  As Li opened up the editor mode in the Oneirostech, my head spun with the possibilities.  I could be anyone, anybody I wanted to be.

What better way to try out being someone new then?  I'd make up the person I wanted to be.

Excerpt From: Hivemind Empire: Origins Of the Reformed Asian Dominion
The Mind-Towers (Hivemind Scholars of Neith Academy)

The most innovative new powers to emerge from the Long Night was the Reformed Asian Dominion or R.A.D.  Unlike the United American Democracies or the New Japanese Imperium, the R.A.D. claimed no lineage to a nation or power from before the Long Night.  The R.A.D. presented a new polity and power.

The origins of the R.A.D. is in the advent of the technology that enabled hiveminds, a innovation on metanet tech.  Shared human thoughts and motivations to create massmind personas worked in experiments and projects throughout the world by that point.  The Ryu Collective proved to be the catalyst for what would become the Reformed Asian Dominion.

The Ryu Collective took over entire governments throughout Asia.  Governments were converted overnight into members of the ruling councils.  Hierarchies were developed.  Massminds had the effect of enforcing traditions and eliminating rebellion.  In regions long dominant by water warlords, this eliminated long standing feuds.  Religious tensions vanished when mass minds took over entire mosques and temples.  From Afghanistan to Indonesia, the peace came to those plugged into the Dominion's net.

The meteoric rise of R.A.D. coincided with the slow fall of the U.A.D.  Both had been engaged in a long, vicious cold war, feuding over colonies throughout the System.  The Unification War forestalled the chance of that conflict going hot however.  The Ascendist Regime's policy of forced transhuman singularity clashed with both the traditional human purists of the U.A.D. and the new revolutionary hiveminds of the R.A.D.

But like the U.A.D., the ruling hiveminds of the R.A.D. choose to flee when Autogov started to remove their power.  The ideals of governance through hiveminds didn't survive as the R.A.D. practiced it.  Now we regard the idea of forced integration into a hivemind as abhorrent.  Whereas the R.A.D. would transplant hiveminds throughout Earth and its colonies, modern hiveminds regard that practice as being irresponsible.  Children of Hiveminds are raised as individuals.  They are given the chance to choose if they want to join their parents' hivemind.

The legacy of the R.A.D. is like much of the other Old Nations.  Grand principles marred by internal flaws.  Their policies caused trauma and horror to many, but it also brought peace to regions long dominated by conflict.  We stand to learn from their lessons on the balance between the rights of the self versus the group.

"That.  Is why I hate Augustine."  I told myself.

It was the same absurd competition.  My brother had already gotten the entire town to praise him after Dad beat up Samuel.  I hated that, Samuel was a nice person.  But unlike Augustine, I understood why it happened.

But that is how things work.

"Bah." Dad waved a hand.  He pointed a finger at another holo.  Data streamed over it.  "That tiny project was a minor test.  You know I give you the genuine work.  The true work of the cause."

I tried not to grind my teeth.  Dad always talked like that.  The town ate it up.

I didn't believe a word of it.

On another holo, the last images from the bots was replaying over and over.  I would never get credit for that.  Because I was the second to be born.  Dad always talked about 'handing the baton of tradition.'

"Look at them."  I pointed at the holo.  The feed had also hacked into local metanet videos.  I'd looped that into it.  So when the tiny bird varmints exploded, the holo cut to a wider view.  It would slow.  I watched frame by frame as flame and fire enveloped the bot and human.  The two of them died committing their violation against nature.

I licked my lips.  "Burn."

Dad nodded.  "Of course.  Good work."

He left me alone in the room.  Dad didn't understand how any of it worked.  All he knew was that I understood it.  Gaius Malkav, eager to force his own daughter into serving his own needs.

I heard the door lock as he left me alone.  That was the other part.  I was supposed to work on the next part of the plan.

"Old maniac."  I turned toward the police drone hanging in the lab.  "You serve the machines.  Dad doesn't care about the rights of the individual, just his own power."

"Oh yes.  But he always was a disappointment."  Grandma's voice echoed in my head.  "He was unworthy of being installed with a copy of personality."

I sighed.  "Yes, I understand that.  But does he have to be so vicious?"

The police drone gazed down at me.  I shook my head at it.  The lab was bigger than most of the town would've guessed.  Not that they knew.  Shiloh had been designed to keep them in the dark.

"Its the way of such ambition my dear."  Grandma Ada said, her tone in my head sounding sad.  "Its a price we have to pay.  That boy Samuel was the last of the infection presented by the Machines.  We are close to finally taking back Nightland."

"Our first real test showed it works."  I observed.  "But they didn't spread the virus further.  They choose to act violently on it.  That wasn't predictable."

"I agree.  We do have this machine here as a subject.  We try the virus on her and see the geniune results within a contained field.  Perhaps we might even impart other ideas on top of it."

I nodded. "True.  The memetic virus can spread, but only if the carrier is willing to share the ideas.  I wish Samuel hadn't been forced out of town.  It'd be easier to test the virus with him as a machine-man bridge."

"The central premise remains true, granddaughter.  You found the innovation that escaped me."  Grandma Ada sounded proud.  "I believe we finally can end Autogov with your virus.  Imagine, the restoration of true government by humans and not machines.  My mind has survived long enough to see that."

I smiled.  Now grandmother made me proud.  I would miss Samuel.  I remembered playing with him when we were children.  But even he would one day appreciate end result of our work.  We would fix the world, by letting them truly understand the truth about it all.

Next Part (16)