My minds' eye flips thru the pages of history and a terrifying truth unfolds. Untold numbers of faces flash before me, tribes of apemen eating each other, Neanderthals totally exterminated, ancient Sumerians, Egyptians, Babylonians, slaves and commoners slaughtered in their millions, billions of Chinese peasants murdered, countless Europeans wiped out thru plague, toil and war, native Americans butchered en mass, Africans sold into slavery and whipped to death, indigenous Australians hunted in genocide, Jews pogrommed and gassed, Japanese cities obliterated in a matter of seconds, homosexuals and gypsies, anarchists and freedom fighters, untouchables and paupers, all killed without thinking, and the individual's survival made unimportant and meaningless, worthless, sometimes existing for just a few short years before made to disappear, just long enough to know a life could've been possible, could've been wonderful, these were history's shadow people and I have to be thankful I had a life, of fun, adventure, love, joy, knowledge, regardless of the fatigue, horror and pain, I witnessed the third millennium digital dawn and thanked my lucky stars, I had the freedom to dream.
I must have passed out from the pressure of the intense acceleration needed to escape the Earth's gravity and for about seven seconds on awakening was quite disoriented, not believing where I found myself. Like in a fabulous dream I'd been launched into outer-space, only this wasn't my astral body, I pinched it, it was solid and aching. And there was my anima, Lilly, stretched out beside me on the so-called bridal bed, except it was actually the control couch for a rocket ship and we were both meshed together and plugged into the ship's mechanisms by our implanted computer cabling, three become one, lights flashing between us in a rythmic pattern to indicate all was under control and on course, to a destination that stunned me when I took it in, glowing from a huge video screen in front of us.
Lilly was also awake but in a fugue, fixated upon the screen, seeming to chant prayers of reverence in a mumbo-jumbo of mathematics and flight-control protocols, her fingers twitching, as if pressing on an invisible keyboard. I fought against sinking into her mystic trance and tried to compute what lay ahead of us. Rotating celestially at the Lagrangian point between Earth and Sun loomed an awesome machine-face, in fact a simulacra of the head of the old Statue of Liberty, growing ever larger as we approached it, made up of an assemblage of variegated contraptions, all of it space junk patch-worked together to form the serene face of the goddess of freedom and I fervently hoped she would live up to her name as we were aimed straight at her gaping mouth.
It was vast, filling the sky like a planet as we zoomed into it, an artificial world unto itself with innumerable habitats, multiple levels and unknown depths and into it's slowly opening, enigmatic smile we flew, as if the tongue was a landing strip and the lights flashing in the windows of her eyes were intelligent beacons guiding us in.
The nose-cone of our rocket had separated and took the form of a space shuttle and we cruised to a stop with a minimum of stress. The machine-head rotated with enough spin to provide about 70% of Earth's gravity and so we disembarked, all suited-up, light-headed and light-footed but with no great discomfort. Awaiting us was a reception party, a crew of military types decked out in sterile white plastic and ceramic space-suits, bubble helmets and all, at the front of which was their leader, a captain-like figure for he wore epaulets and clanking medallions and his helmet had a huge brimmed cap attached to the top of it.
A pompous voice emanated from a throat mike after he gave us a ludicrous, military salute,
'Welcome to the good ship Liberty, I am her captain, I do hope you've had a pleasant journey, we are greatly honored to have you here with us at long last. Please remain suited with your visors down as we have momentary lapses of oxygen supply out here in the passageways. We've been following your progress for quite some time, directing it actually, you've passed all the tests we've set you and now it is time for you to take your place within our great machine as was predicated at the moment of your enlightenment when you got chipped by our agents back on doomed planet Earth. Welcome, welcome, welcome, you two are our greatest achievement and our fondest hope!"
"Oh no!" I groaned, "not more bullshit? Don't tell me, you need fresh blood to rejuvenate your decaying genome?"
"Blood? Genome? I should say not! Our genome is quite perfect thankyou very much. We've cut out all the flaws so that we are supremely healthy, co-operative and law-abiding citizens. What we need is your integrated processing expertise, the life-supports of the mother-ship are breaking down, there's something wrong with our main-brain, the quantum processor, our scientists can't figure it out and as you represent the next generation in computing we're hoping you'll solve the problem."
He lead us thru a maze of corridors, past dormitories, green-houses, factories and labs, all tended by robots, no other humans in sight except for our small welcoming party.
"What do you mean we are your greatest achievement?" I grumbled, getting more paranoid the further we progressed.
"The people of the good ship Liberty are some of the last healthy humans alive in this universe and must be protected at any and all cost. The planet Earth is hopelessly polluted and unfit for healthy human life with a vast assortment of pathogens raging in a toxic soup, but out of that maelstrom our Rat servants were able to select a suitable bacterium for superior bio-computing and it was this we infected you with, then loaded you with nano-machines such as radio-transmitters, sensors,body-builders, infinite information processing, all implanted into your sub-structure via the brain-chip. We knew a genetic mutation would have to occur down there somewhere sooner or later, one perfect homo sapien amongst many deformed monsters and we waited for you, we watched you, we directed you and when you were ready we got our Cyborg agent to pick you up. We already had the female half of our bio-machine, we just needed the complimentary male, as in plugs that fit ports, and you have to admit it, you two are a perfect match." He smiled smugly and again saluted us grandiosely like some 20th century third world dictator.
Lilly spluttered in disappointment, "But I thought I was to be the high priestess in the temple of the great Goddess Liberty through Science?"
"Yes, yes my dear, that's exactly your role, and the religious rituals will consist of programming codes and debugging protocols, the two of you complimenting each other in bio-feedback."
We trundled along endless gantries and peered into various bay windows at vast auditoriums wherein humanity lay stacked and couched, row after row, plugged into life-supports, eyes flickering in REM sleep and hands fluttering in mid-air as if conjuring up demons from cyberspace to come to their aid, all of them plugged into the ship's mainframe via golden cables snaking from the back of their heads. Maybe they were stamped from the same mold as Lilly and I, like brothers and sisters. I referenced my search engine and came up with a match in old Earth mythologies, creatures called "Slans", "X-men", mutants whom ordinary humanity saw as enemies, as the "other", to be exterminated because of their augmented powers. But these people had been reduced to automatoms, their environment clinically sanitized in white ceramic and stainless steel, their freedom of movement industrialized into much mechanical fidgeting.
"All of our happy citizens have been genetically modified to perfection, no disease, no dysfunctions, no abberations, no deviance, each performing necessary duties in their chosen slot to the betterment of the whole, all of it a smoothly functioning machine, society as machine, the good ship Liberty the answer to human history's woes." I couldn't help spluttering,
"But what about individual freedoms, of choice, of movement? What about personalities? What about fucking fun? It doesn't look too liberated to me!"
"Yeah, it looks like an ant-farm and I suppose you want me to be queen of the hive?" grumbled Lilly.
"Oh everyone has their choice of fantasy to live in. We've perfected Virtual Reality technology, each person you see has chosen the virtual world of their desires to frolic freely within, that block over there are gamers in a "Lord of the Rings" type environment, or "Dungeons and Dragons", "Doom", "Chaos", endless games. There's a whole dormitory dedicated to sports, any and every sport, and you don't just passively watch them, you play them! Football, tennis, golf, you can go from one to the next and be a world champion in all, it's one of our favorite live-in past-times.
They think they're kicking a ball, wielding a sword or drinking a cup of coffee, actually they're typing keys and throwing switches, filtering the ship's oxygen or regulating the heat, operating the robots, calibrating the fertility clinics etc etc. I've got a feeling you'll like the Science-fiction Hall, many of our citizens are blissfully happy in the Matrix, Star Trek and Star Wars fantasies, you two can play at being Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker, and at the same time hunt out those sub-routines that are infected by space-bugs and increasing Liberty's entropy, spinning Her out of control, eventually breaking Her apart, the Goddess forbid."
"I'm already a princess, thank-you very much. This is not exactly the self-liberation and enlightenment I was promised," snapped Lilly. "Where's the awesome religious bliss?"
"Why, in the smooth running of the ship of course. How can we regenerate the Earth or populate the stars if the mother ship crashes? Look, here are the labs where the glass wombs incubate the test-tube babies. No more dysfunctional psychos from the Family Drama, the good ship Liberty is mother and father both and the children are well-behaved geniuses that grow into law-abiding, satisfied contributors, all for one and one for all, everyone wanting the same thing, no one stepping out of line. No more waste on fashions, fads, arguments and wars. Perfect, perfect, perfect." "Boring, boring, boring," I giggled in return. "If it's all so dam nice how come there's a breakdown in it's smooth functioning?"
"Yes, that's the mystery. Some of our citizens seem to get lost in their virtual fantasies, they stop providing input, don't run their sub-routines, disappear into the infinitudes of possibilities and we can't get them back. And that's where you come in. We want you to go down into the virtual worlds and hunt out the malcontents, delete the viruses, reboot the crashed souls, whatever needs doing, it's what we've prepared you for, a natural mutant with very specific augmentations." The Captain smiled primly, as if it was all a fait accompli, and I had no say in the matter. I could only sneer.
"Well, I think you're going to be mighty disappointed in me, I don't think I can live up to the perfect organism you expect. I have a certain sexual orientation that you would consider an abberation, it might be a spanner in the works."
"What are you talking about? We've thought of everything in your design."
"I'm have homosexual tendencies, I like my own sex when it comes to having flesh on flesh fun."
"Impossible! We've deleted that gene, and all the genes connected to it. Such deviance has long proved troublesome to a society's law-abiding, smooth functionality, homos are often malcontents, rebels, we've done away with them, as unnaturals, the species doesn't need them and Liberty doesn't want them!"
"Hmmmm. That could be the very problem eating away at your foundations. Life loves variety, Hets need Homos to bounce off of. You deleted too many genes connected to sexuality and now the happiness quotient of your workers is breaking down, and they're drifting into dementia. You've inserted the actual virus that's feeding Entropy, the only hope is to have a sexual revolution in all your virtual worlds, a universal gay liberation if you will, hobbits fucking wizards and Luke Skywalker seducing Hans Solo. Like it or lump it, send us in there for an orgy, Lilly will handle Princess Leia, Lothlorien and all them other spaced-out gals." Lilly lit up with a mischievous smile, "I'm versatile. It's as good a way as any to celebrate the Goddess."
"Science has always depended on taking risks. That hodge-podge of space-junk making up your grand Goddess will break apart and dump you all into the cold of the Void if you don't dare take some new tack. What do you say, Captain Kirk? After all, he was in love with Spock."
The Captain flushed a bright crimson and coughed, "Surely you jest? Sexual deviance in the collective unconscious? Order would be the first thing that broke down. You're joking, yes? Of course you are! That's what's been missing from our humdrum uniformity, a quirky sense of humor. Good show, dear boy, very funny, very funny indeed! Now that we've had our tension-relieving laugh, let's move on, up ahead is the bridgehead of our good ship Liberty, the great temple wherein we revere the quantum processor that runs the whole shebang. This is where your ceremonial duties will lie, you can carry out all the religious oblations your spiritual tendencies require. It's from here we'll send you into cyberspace to explore the virtual worlds and troubleshoot the problem."
We followed him into an enormous hall, the far wall made up of two gigantic windows that looked out onto fathomless space, an ocean of stars splashed across a black void, and we realized we were looking out thru the eyes of the Godhead. A colossal idol stood as the center-piece between the windows, a statue of liberty in white plastic, but instead of holding a torch aloft, She held a glowing, pulsating device like a thermos flask with golden wires flaring up to the ceiling and snaking along the walls, and a curtain of mist falling from it down to the floor and undulating across the entire chamber, enshrouding it with a hushed mystique, the Goddess of Technology uniting stars and electricity upon the clouds of heaven. In reverential awe the Captain intoned an invocation.
"Behold the great Goddess Liberty thru Science, She holds securely, for our ongoing prosperity, the Quantum Processor, super-cooled to Bose-Enstein condensate, able to compute infinite possibilities instantly. And next to her as her consort and procreative partner is the God Technology from whence all our marvelous tools for survival arise." At her feet, smaller and half-hidden in the mist, crouched a metallic sculpture made of disparate contraptions and appliances all bracketed together to form a mechanical monster with large golden horns sprouting from it's bestial head.
"By her side and under Her all-encompassing command are the lesser gods, the archangels and saints, Electro-magnetism, Gravity, the Nuclear Forces, DNA which rules Natural Selection, and not least of this sub-pantheon, Entropy, a god I know you're familiar with as He rules down in your world of planet Earth." He pointed out a line of hideous idols grimacing at them from alcoves in the side-walls, totems that could've been dreamed up in prehistory by a tribe of superstitious cannibals, idols made of grotesque masks, bones, teeth, dried organs from all the extinct animals interweaved with bric-a-brac from all of civilization's epochs, real creepy stuff.
And at the base of the Goddess Liberty lay a couch connected to the statue by innumerable cables, the appurtenances of her horned consort studded with winking diodes, spinning gauges and pulsating read-out windows. The Captain's six body-guards took us firmly by the arm and led us to the couch, strapping us in, connecting cables to the augmentations flowing from the back of our heads and plugging us into various other life-supports. Lilly and I gazed into each others eyes and shrugged, we were trapped, bound together and must acquiece, for the time being, to this mad ship's demands. As if we had mental telepathy, loving assurances flew between us, we were strong and smart and would overcome any ordeal thrown at us, and one day we'd break free of the slave-ship Liberty.
As if he were the High Pope of gobbledygook, the Captain grandiloquently intoned, "You are to be as angels, specially chosen by the Goddess Liberty, to enter Her infinite unconscious domain and hunt down the demons that plague Her peace and sully Her heavenly idyll so that She may continue to rule the stars as is Her divine right. Go forth and stultify!"
Bells clanged and choirs wailed and I felt myself slipping down into an hypnotic daze, my eyes closed, psychedelia flashed and kaleidoscoped and then I tumbled into an immense void, and I was flying, just like an angel, and Lilly was flying by my side. We peered about us, tiny points of light in the distance grew large as we approached and became arrays of jeweled spheres that stretched into infinity no matter where we looked and each sphere was a separate world whose nature I intuited simply by concentrating on it. And thus open before me were all possibilities the Mind could know or dream up, all historical epochs, all science, all fantasies, any game, any sport, any endeavor, it was mine to choose which virtual reality I would go down to explore and expunge.
Lilly signaled to me that she'd made her choice, the time of the mythic Jesus of Nazerath and she would take on Mary Magdelene to celebrate the universal goddess in us all. I smiled and promised we'd meet up when ever we needed each other and I watched her fly away resigned for I had other fish to catch, I wanted to go back earlier, to deep, deep prehistory, to where it all began, the dawn of humankind, and see if I couldn't spot the flaw in the crystalline genetics of the ape-men, the source of all the future wrong turns that the history of man would take. And if I healed that wound, would the bad ship Liberty even exist for me to come back to?