Gaiastan, Chapter 3

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Chapter 3

One week (ten days) later, Mr. Indigo was waked, dressed, briefed, and taken to a drab parlor room. The accommodations were Spartan, even by hospital standards. The walls, floor and ceiling were fashioned of gray cement. The only color and texture, the only life sounds or music, the only organic elements of the chamber were provided exclusively by the Spirituality Kiosk. Essentially a holovision orb shaped like a fertility goddess, it projected 3d imagery and 360 degree sound, turning the walls into virtual windows. Enveloping the device was a faintly crackling corona of white flame, a heatless hearth of colorless fire formed into a floating ring giving the goddess the aura of the sun during an eclipse. The room was otherwise purely angular, stark, and utilitarian. Even Indigo’s chair lacked any comfort with its rigidly upright back and cold, recycled plastic surface.

It was not unusual to find such hard-edged décor in religious or government locales. Utility, discomfort, and minimalism were valued highly by Gaian society, at least in the minds of the Overman and, in particular, in the minds of those who had exceeded the twenty-fifth degree. Their neo-puritan preference for prickliness was traditional. The natural, the organic, the plush, lush, cool, soft, and pastel were the designs of nature. Attempts by mankind to replicate nature were attempts to usurp her— vulgar blasphemies!

The Spirituality Kiosk, sensing Indigo’s discomfort, began to speak, filling the room with a hypnotic, feminine voice.

“Hello, Indigo,” she said.

Indigo replied only with a forced grin.

“I see that you have not attended temple in over two years.”

Indigo tried not to roll his eyes.

“Indigo, you are in need of spiritual rejuvenation.”

Indigo tried to ignore what was coming.

“You are alive, Indigo. Your life is a gift of the natural world. The natural world is the spirit world. Nature is the true expression of Gaia. Complete. Perfected. You, Indigo, are one expression of Gaia. Insignificant yet indispensible.”

Indigo stared into the closed eyes of the fertility goddess.

“Gaianism is man’s comprehension of Gaia. Gaianism is the revelation of the Great Mother to man. Gaianism is the way. It teaches that it is man’s unrighteousness that causes him to stray into evil path of materialism. Do you want to be evil, Indigo?

“Materialism is the desire of the flesh. The flesh is weak. It is man’s materialism that poisons the natural balance of the earth. The natural balance is the source of life. Materialism is thus anti-life and thus it is evil. Evil is sin. Materialism is therefore sin.

“Gaianism teaches us that man is evil by his origin. Man is therefore a state of unrighteousness, thus man is a state to be overcome.”

Serene images of mountain vistas and flowers and waterfalls and frolicking baby mammals dissolved into smoke stacks reaching upwards like towers of Babel and streams of liquid, bubbling waste extruding from the bowels of sprawling factories. The sky turned black as sackcloth and the holovision voice darkened.

“Man must transcend the weakness of the flesh, Indigo. Man must transcend himself. Man must be reborn, recast as the Overman.”

A brute savage appeared. He was grotesque, clothed in furs, hunch-backed, covered in hair and his own filth. He stood over a machine, pulling a lever that was skinning a fawn. He appeared amused.

“Man must transcend himself, Indigo. This is the righteous purpose of Gaianism.”

Behind the brute appeared the Overman, naked, hairless, upright, armed with a shining blade of steel.

“The Overman must overcome the unrighteous nature of his filthy, inner savage. He must overcome his own nature. He must slay the devil that resides within. He must focus inward rather than project outward. He must overcome himself rather than overcome nature. This is the way of Gaianism.”

The Overman raised his blade and slew the savage.

The voice softened again. “Transcendence requires complete focus and mental rigor aligned towards the elimination of material temptation and distraction. Gaiastan is dedicated to providing environments that encourage the transcendental development of her dedicated subjects. We are hoping to see you at temple next Nineday.

“The preceding message was brought to you by the Gaian Broadcasting Service…”

Indigo, just a mid-ranking Overman, was bored by religion. He had seen and heard the meme a thousand times before. He got it, yet he unrighteously yearned for a cushion for his seat. The holovision sensed Indigo’s spiritual fatigue. The aura of flames faded into mainstream media programming. Indigo was not yet ready for the intense mental rigor required of higher Overman degrees.

Indigo was a little surprised to see an image of Staley and himself appear in the holovision field. They were dressed up in their space suits, standing and waving to a gathering of a few hundred under a shower of compostable ticker tape. They stood at the foot of a monumental obelisk that penetrating five hundred meters into the heavens. The Overman loved his symbology.

Now that Mars had finally been conquered, mankind would soon be launched ever outward, out across the celestial Acheron, to bring the life spawn of Gaia to the rest of the galaxy. Gaia was pushing man out from Eden. Indigo and Staley were pioneers of human destiny. They were the first children of Gaia to touch another planet and return. It was a big deal. It had taken two hundred years to finally conquer Mars.

But that appearance by Staley and Indigo at the obelisk, waving to the masses under the rain of confetti, was a media fabrication. Indigo had not left the hospital since the Astarte splashed down. He studied the hologram, zooming in, changing perspective. It was, at first, amazing to Indigo that anyone would even think that it was him. The fake Indigo’s posture was all wrong. His neck was too short. Indigo never waved like that, with a bent wrist. But suddenly he felt guilty for thinking it was wrong. Who was he to question official media? He was just a nothing man, a mundane, an inconsequential, mid-level Overman. The holovision sensed his uneasiness and halted the video feed.

“All individuals are inconsequential,” explained the holovision voice. “A human’s only valid meaning for existence is derived from his service to the living planet. Alone, you are nothing, but you are indispensible as part of a species playing a role determined by our Great Mother.”

Indigo suddenly felt better after having been reminded of his egoism by the Spirituality Kiosk. It was as if Gaia herself was personally speaking to him. The holovision resumed the feed and Indigo watched his avatar waving, smiling, walking, and speechifying. He noticed the face was vaguely his but the expressions were wrong, too, as if his skin was peeled off and layered over some dissimilar skull… Indigo cursed himself for backsliding so quickly. “Blasphemer!” Even a Secular Gaianist like he— an agnostic, more-or-less— was conditioned by fear of the wages of sin. “Blasphemer!” He cursed again. “Never question the motives of Gaiastan. Never question Gaianism. Never question Gaia. There is a perfectly rational reason for this avatar to have been created. There is a higher purpose. It’s been done for the greater good. Suppress your ego, Indigo. Suppress your vanity. Suppress your pride. Pride never helps a person,” he reminded himself.

Then Staley appeared in the parlor before him.

He was there, staring down at Indigo— not a hologram, but in the flesh. He had a curious look on his face, like some mad scientist examining some perplexing phenomenon.

“How are you?” Indigo asked.

“How do I look?” Staley replied.

“You don’t look well.”

“I’ve been thinking.”

“Has thinking made you ill?”

“I’ve learned that the tree of knowledge bears a bitter fruit.”

Indigo didn’t know how to respond to that.

“Do you have your locket?” Staley asked.

“It has never left my person.”

“Have you brain dumped, lately?”

“Not to Virtuality. However, the doctors have downloaded my mind recently for SHIV.”

“You should use a kiosk and download whenever you get the chance.”

“Why?”

“Because you never know when you may be in need of resurrection,” Staley answered with a smile.

“Do you have reason to believe we have outlasted our usefulness?” Indigo asked mockingly, implying Staley was suggesting their imminent physical demise.

Staley’s mind, however, was drifting away, even before his smile had dissolved…

 

Staley had journeyed a hundred million kilometers and six months backwards in time, back to the Astarte. Back to the black and white of space… Back to the stale air of the cabin… Back to the spinning vertigo of raining stars… To the sweet smell of ozone… To the blinking gold and red indicator lights… To the constant undercurrent of psychosis… To the ever present claustrophobia… To the sensation of being on a flimsy wooden raft, floating rudderless downstream towards a thousand foot waterfall.

Staley’s brain called out, “Jump Off! Jump Off!” But his mind intervened. The brain calls out like a barking dog. But the mind muzzles it. The brain is the animal, the primal man. The mind is the spirit, the Overman.

In the Astarte, it was best to focus on the knobs and dials and the gold and red indicator lights; better to immerse in the colors and sounds and strains of routine in order to tether the barking dogs of the brain.

“No! Open the hatch! Be done with it.” Staley shouted in his dream. “Only a few gasps of nothing, then a burning cold, blindness, then mercy.”

His mind clenched and pulled back on the leash controlling the psychosis. Staley always pulled it back, sooner or later. He could always subdue the urge to jump out the airlock and end the agony. Staley’s mind would come back into focus. The dogs were subdued.

Then Staley remembered Athena.

“Are you okay?” She asked with an insouciant toss of her wispy, chestnut mane. Before he could answer, her angelic face blossomed into a flirtatious grin followed by her making her way past him to the control center of their cozy titanium space can…

 

Thankfully, before the entranced Staley broke apart into emotional rubble, a page appeared and escorted the two of them away from the Spirituality Kiosk and out of the hospital altogether. They were led onto the street where they were loaded into a luxury limousine. The car, one of only a hundred or so in the city powered by an internal combustion engine, throttled up and whisked them away toward Grand Central Station.

The highest degree Overman elites were always whisked away in methanol powered vehicles. It has been said that all men are inconsequential… but some are less inconsequential then others. The importance of the elites necessitated exception to the rules against hydrocarbon power. No one questioned this as it was a pragmatic necessity.

Inside the expansive vehicle, their handler greeted them. It was a pointy-nosed Mr. Brzezinski who handed them their cleaned and pressed space suits and had them strip down and dress right there in the back of the car. Within ten minutes, they were at their first function. They parked in the bowels of a great concrete edifice, took a service elevator to the lobby, were hustled along through dark hallways, and finally into another parlor. When the moment was ripe, the pointy-nosed Brzezinski led them through one last door and out into the bright LED light.

It was blinding white.

A crowd, invisible to them behind the brilliant glow, roared with approval. Brzezinski approached the podium to give a short speech. He described for the crowd the duo’s triumphal, inter-solar exploits, and the fulfillment of a goal requiring two centuries of struggle. The crowd roared again and again.

Indigo and Staley stood near on the dais, silent, listening to the exaggerations of their endeavor, fully-robed in their astronaut grandeur, holding their space helmets in their arms. Their couture added much to the spectacle and awe. Their symbology clarified, for even the lowest-ranking Overman in attendance, exactly what the elite Mr. Brzezinski was talking about: selfless heroism. The undermen, relegated to the back of the assembly, were merely humates[1]  hypnotized by the light and energy. The grand symbology was utterly lost on them.

Although many members of the press hailed both of the astronauts with questions on the curiosities of .3 gravity, long-duration isolation, and what it felt like to “walk on Mars,” Indigo and Staley had been given very specific instructions by Brzezinski not to speak in more than one word answers. The two could not yet be trusted by the Gaian authorities and Staley had not passed his SHIV test.

It was pondered by the bureaucrats that they might just save themselves any potential trouble by rebooting Indigo’s and Staley’s consciousnesses with more amenable, albeit fabricated, algorithms. But the Gaian authorities ultimately decided that reformatting their brains and reloading them was an even more risky endeavor. So much could go irreversibly wrong. Furthermore, the dimwitted undermen, who may have been barely one notch above chimpanzee  having been intentionally and systematically dumbed down with jingoism, religiosity, distraction, violent sports, inane celebrity, toxic vaccines, and slow starvation, remained stubbornly and acutely attuned to the wavelength of human authenticity. A rebooted celebrity, behaving like a robotic sycophant, would be immediately discovered by and quickly rejected by the undermen who made up the bulk of society.

In addition, there wasn’t an Overman with sufficient brazenness to even dare to attempt to write the code necessary to give the two icons a new consciousness. The Overman was as arrogant as any patrician had ever been in human history, but he was chronically paranoid of the perceptions of those of higher ranks. Writing a consciousness that was too-authentic would draw suspicion and jealous scrutiny from those above. No Overman wishing to climb the ranks wanted to be noticed for anything other than that which would get them to the next level. Loyalty is the only sure fire method of self-promotion in a bureaucracy. Cleverness and creativity are not traits that hierarchical systems covet. The clever and the creative are perceived as unmanageable and threatening. Overman paranoia was the price one paid for having superior eugenics.

The two spacemen just stood on the podium, coached to smile, but only Indigo smiled. Staley was barely conscious as he had surreptitiously found his way into an opiate-induced fog. Staley didn’t originally like giving himself injections but that wore off rather quickly when his new medication was introduced.

The drugs, supplied by the Gaiastan patho-bureaucrats, were issued to Staley as a means of keeping him sedated and addicted. In other words, the idea was that they could keep Staley compliant, dutifully fulfilling his obligations to the State while he was progressing along the way to his next fix.

This seemingly worked well as everything was going according to plan. The two astronauts stood before the crowd, showered by enthusiastic cheers and biodegradable confetti just like the holovision had predicted. And just after the crescendo of adulation, but not so long after that the emotions cooled into embers, Brzezinski raised his hand to signal the security agents to part the sea of humanity with electrified tape. Brzezinski signaled Indigo and Staley to put on their space helmets. Staley needed to be prodded from his dream state but he finally complied. The crowd roared with approval! Then the trio stepped into the narrow channel that cut through the crowd before them.

The undermen in the crowd grew rabid as the heroes made their way through. The mob thrust hands at them. Their fixated faces bounced up and down behind the human levy like wind-whipped caps of turbulent sea. The crossing for the astronauts was tense as it felt that at any instant the flimsy tape barrier would give way and a tsunami of crazed humanity would crash down on them in a suffocating explosion and rip them to pieces as they tore off their space suits for souvenirs. Indigo tried to quicken his pace but Brzezinski held him back. A sudden move to the train car would fuel the urgent hysteria making the situation unmanageable. Chain reaction mass insanity was a phenomenon not to be encouraged.

The heroes moved onward, deliberately, timidly waving, taking long, sasquatch-like strides in their silvery space suits. Their flash shields were down, concealing Indigo’s wide-eyed terror and Staley’s grim, detached dopiness. How far a walk it was for them through that parted, undulating, screaming mob.

Finally, the stairs!

Up they went, up into the train. Indigo disappeared inside. Staley turned back to stare at the sea that had crashed in on the channel behind them. He raised both of his gilded, silvery arms up in a priestly sort of way. As if by magic, the mass of hundreds fell completely silent. Staley held them with his magical gesture and they looked back into their hero’s black flash shield, mesmerized and frozen.

“You…” Staley called out to them.

They stared back, mouths agape.

“You…!” Staley repeated.

They hung frozen, captivated by his superhuman presence.

Staley’s black visor scanned from left to right across the breadth of his congregation. He inhaled and held that breath, allowing the collective eyes of the mass to transfer their energy into him. Then he shouted…

 

“You-are-the-dead!”

 

There was no response from the crowd.

Staley took this to mean that he had reached them in some profoundly spiritual way. But instead, all that the crowd actually heard was a muffled “Ooo ar uh deh” due Staley’s helmet muffling his voice.

The pointy-nosed Brzezinski, who also didn’t hear what Staley had said either, yanked him into the coach. As it pulled away, the crowd roared like they do at the grand finale of a pornographic-rock-and-roll-euthanasia festival.

And that was how the National Triumph of the great space heroes Indigo and Staley began.

 

#

 

Their Triumph took them to all the great cities of the People’s Republic of Gaiastan. Their locomotive, powered by the most modern steam engine ever developed by government engineers— christened The Big Mother— rocketed the national heroes from gaianopolis[2] to gaianopolis at the blistering, inconceivable, mind-boggling land-pace of forty five kilometers per hour. It was unimaginably luxurious to be ferried about the vast country in such manner. For mid-ranking Overmen like Indigo and Staley, the experience was exceeded by nothing else except perhaps the storied reports from those fortunate enough to experience travel by hypersonic hovercraft, a mode of transport reserved for Motherland Security[3] and the high elite.

Big Mother chugged and puffed and puffed and chugged, belching her filthy black soot upward into the gray skies. Her wheels wound their way down diamond-hard rails of the absolute finest Manchurian steel ever to be imported as she rolled from city to city. The urban population centers were gleaming gardens of pyramidal architectures, each adorned at the top with the all-seeing eye. The largest structures, the arcologies, often stood a kilometer high. Their spires pierced the clouds. Each arco was an engineering marvel of the age, constructed with prefabricated, foamed aluminum and puffed plastic.

What a surprisingly sturdy and downright green material puffed aluminum was, having known to only fail during uncommon global warming induced blizzards. The marginal risk of the top seventy floors of a man-made, Styrofoam being sheared off in a frozen gale and dropped on the quaint neighborhoods far below was but an inconsequential externality, a level of risk approved by the government as tolerable as less than two such events were expected to occur in any given decade. The miracle building material was light and cheap. If the low impact construction method saved the life of one spotted Preble’s snow squirrel, wasn’t it worth it?

On their Triumph, Indigo always took extra time to absorb the majesty of the brilliant metropolitan skylines. The skyline of the city of Rahmcago was especially breathtaking as the two hundred storey pyramids of cobalt blue and magenta were dwarfed against the backdrop of the ever-advancing, two kilometer high sheet of glacial ice that was slowly shaving the city off the face of the earth in a grand geological swipe of Gaia’s straight razor.

Mother Nature, in the form of glacial ice, advanced one meter per annum and could not be stopped, not even with nukes. But just as soon as the toppled and flattened city structures could be cleared away and the bodies recovered, the engineers were directed by the economic development bureaucrats to rebuild the towers a hundred meters to the south. This had the effect of creating a city that swelled upwards in a wave of construction cranes and ever-taller structures that stood like a frozen breaker against the slowly crashing tidal wave of unstoppable ice.

Indigo had a secret hope that maybe, if he was vigilant in his observations, he might actually bear witness to a ten million ton chunk of the great Helcaraxe Glacier calve off and pulverize one of the foam skyscrapers while he watched. But that thought made him ill so he blocked it out.

Staley was unimpressed by any of it— the towering arcologies, the grinding ice, the omnipresent eye, the Gaian symbology, the jubilant fanfare, Big Mother chugging along with her puffs of steam and soot. He remained in his own chamber, usually asleep or completely drugged up and detached.

If Indigo hadn’t known what Staley had been through, he might have been prone to pester him about his antisocial behavior or snitch him out to the patho-bureaucrats. But Indigo knew what Staley had been through and he knew how the world worked. He still fancied himself as one suitable for promotion to the next Overman degree but knowing too much is not conducive to bureaucratic advancement, unless it’s knowledge that can be used as leverage against someone with the power to promote. He kept his mouth shut but he thought about promotion a lot.

“How perfectly green it would be to crack the 20th degree before my mortal body dies,” Indigo would often contemplate. Higher degrees meant more of everything. Higher degrees meant a life of meaning and importance which required uninterrupted access to electricity. Not just electricity during non-peak hours, mind you, but electricity around the clock. How extravagant, he thought. Higher degrees implied a menu that might occasionally include meat. I know, I know, Indigo thought before the nausea returned, seeking advancement for the sake of selfish extravagances like electricity and meat is decadent. But higher degrees also meant better health care rations, death panel deferments, and more frequent consciousness downloads— or “brain dumps” as they were called. You never know when you might suffer an unexpected physical demise. It was best to have your virtual consciousness up to date and ready to take over. A long gap between brain dump and actual brain death might be a source of dissonance and disorientation. Stop being so selfish and egocentric, Indigo lamented to himself. He felt the queasiness in his gut that so frequently accompanied his ungreenness. Indigo so wanted to be a good Overman.

Big Mother rolled on from Rahmcago, breaking down only sixteen times during their Triumph. She eventually wound up in the urban center of Goropolis— a city of at least a hundred thousand Overman and perhaps ten times that number in undermen serfs.

No official stats were kept on undermen. They lived in the clustered hovels that rimmed the industrial sectors, far away from the Styrofoam skyscrapers and quaint urban neighborhoods of the core city. Big Mother cut right through the undermen section.

Indigo watched as their brick shanties and broken glass and smoking chimneys flew by as his train puffed and chugged and chugged and puffed towards the Overtown precinct. Those pathetic undermen in their rags, he thought. Thank goodness Gaiastan is here to provide for those wretched souls. Where would they be without Gaianism?

Big Mother passed through the outer serfdom and into the industrial zone. Ash from the coal fired power plants and mills vented upwards from hundreds of kilometer high fabric smokestacks. The haze of aerosols obscured the dim orb of the sun, casting the earth below in shade.

Aerosols! Aerosols! They were the great savior of mankind! Once considered an evil pollutant, the microscopic specs of sulfurous soot found broad scientific acceptance. Aerosols were the antidote to global warming which had elevated earth’s mean temperature a whopping .8 degrees in the shockingly rapid time span of 300 years.

Aerosols! Aerosols! They saved mankind from the catastrophe of a global winter foreshortened by 8 days. Upon the arrangement of scientific consensus, national directives were issued, public works projects were launched, scientistic bureaucrats were deployed, methanol powered bulldozers were ignited. Financial alchemists were tasked with designing new instruments and derivatives to turn reality into abstraction. Trading exchanges began listing Aerosol Debit Derivatives… symbol: ADD. The economy was completely rearranged in a more enlightened, earth-friendly, sustainable manner.

And the amounts of particulates pumped into the atmosphere by kilometer high smokestacks held aloft by zeppelins rose and rose and rose. The aerosols filled the stratosphere where they reflected the sun’s infra red light that had fueled the pernicious, relentless advance of global warming that threatened to raise sea levels a catastrophic 8 centimeters. It took far less time to reverse the ravages of a degree of warming than the Thirty Year Plan computer model predicted. Almost immediately, the apocalyptic global warming began to reverse.

Pollution was, paradoxically, the State’s brilliant solution to the ravages of pollution. There are no limits to theory so long as it can be formulated via the insight of circular reasoning. It takes an Ivy League degree and an Ivy League ethos to find such grand applications for circular logic.

And as the coal ash aerosols increasingly obscured the sun’s rays, Gaia was finally cooled…

 

And cooled…

 

And cooled…

 

Big Mother puffed and chugged and chugged and puffed through the industrial sector, under the black ash from the foundries and power plants that hung like a hood in the sky. Finally, they passed into the greenbelt zone where the clouds parted and the dull orb of the sun magically emerged through the haze.

The industrial zone had filled Indigo with dread but the dread dissolved just as soon as they passed into the comparative Eden of Overtown. More or less a gigantic park encircling the core city, the Green Zone was filled with thousands of Overman enjoying the latest, government approved leisure activities. Indigo observed the numerous engagements of whims like the nude pogo stick hoppers and the self-flagellating contortionists and the flaming skull jugglers all joyfully utilizing the landscaped paths and gleefully maximizing their allotted blocks of personal lifestyle time.

Indigo wasn’t into any of those pursuits but they were all the rage and he appreciated that they must have been spiritually cathartic to those who endeavored to engage in them. He wondered when, or even if, the State scientistic bureaucrats would ever devise a way to implant flaming skull juggling skills into a brain via computer upload so that he too might enjoy the pastime without spending many years perfecting the talent. The scientific problem preventing this was that muscle memory simply was not very easy to influence by electromagnetic stimulation. It wasn’t for lack of effort, mind you. Many quadrillions of dianars were spent attempting to ‘teach’ candidates how to hold multiple, zirconium encrusted, humate skulls simultaneously aloft via computer skills upload, but the result was almost always a rapid muscular dystrophy that rendered the humate guinea pig a crippled ward requiring immediate euthanasia.

 

Oh the sacrifices made for scientific advancement!

 

Big Mother puffed and chugged and chugged and puffed through the Green Zone and into the core of quaint neighborhoods and styroscrapers[4]. Every city was essentially the same, except for Rahmcago which had a five thousand foot cliff of ice bulldozing its way through the middle of it. So similar were they that every city essentially became the same city to the Triumph-weary Indigo and he soon tired of them all. He tired of the whistle stops and the waving eye flags and putting on his space suit and helmet. He tired of feigning enthusiasm and silently waving to the fanatical masses. This ungreenness, of course, brought on new bouts of stomach sickness which Indigo was sick of as well. He finally wanted nothing more than for the Triumph to end and to escape to some quiet place to take up the craft of naked pogo sticking.

Finally, like everything (except for Gaia which is eternal), the Triumph did end. And when the tour had finished, after six weeks and sixteen Big Mother breakdowns, Indigo decided that he was going to rest for a long while. He planned to visit his guardian’s childhood home, way, way out in the wilderness, away from the masses and the bureaucrats and the styroscrapers and the stomach ailments. He thought he might find the remoteness and smallness and egalitarian-ness of a rustic vacation relaxing. He was convinced that being far away from the transformers and holovision and whooping fanfare would cure his ungreenness. He believed that the rigors of the Triumph were the source of his ungreen thinking and thus the cause of his constant illnesses.

The pointy-nosed Mr. Brzezinski agreed wholeheartedly with Indigo’s idea of a rustic vacation, on the condition that Staley would tag along. In Brzezinski’s mind, there was very little damage a drug-laced, semi-comatose Mr. Staley could do way far out in some Luddite village surrounded by the things that lurked in the unpoliced Dehumanized Zones. The lifestyle of constant fear, subsistence farming, and regimentation of ration bazaars was not conducive to energizing any political scandals that might spread via the digital ether and embarrass the State. Undermen had far too many things to do and far too little technology to spread gossip about any potential flameout of a national hero. “What a perfectly green idea,” the pointy-nosed Brzezinski declared.

Indigo was forced to agree to taking Staley along even though he preferred time away from anything related to the Mars mission. This was not because he disliked Staley but rather because Staley’s presence would be a constant, stressful reminder of their interplanetary challenges. But upon completion of their final rally, the two spacemen were transferred from the sleek, powerful, technologically advanced Big Mother, onto a lesser steam locomotive bound for the undermen country.

[1] Humate: an un-evolved human regarded by Overman as a form of primate or savage.

[2] Gaianopolis: A sustainable, earth-friendly, densely populated metropolis.

[3] Motherland Security: Federalized, heavily armed, paramilitary codex enforcement.

[4] Styroscraper: Term for a 1000+ meter tall habitation complex constructed of foamed aluminum and plastic. Prone to collapse under high winds.

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