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  1. The Founding Fathers Political Science Ye fail to recall our hard earned triumph. Faded from your minds is the Vale of Blood! Men of no faith that tremble at the Nymph, How can ye with war, defeat the Horde? Ye will all perish, slaughtered at their hands! Come, preserve your lives and conquer your foes, Listen to me, and you will keep your lands. Ye are naught but, weak and that your foe knows. Give yourselves to him and beg for his grace, Please him before you bring death to his face. 3 Acts of the Lambent Chapter 14: 22-23. The Kalnian Books. Mercifully, it did. Once I got back to Olympus Ariana—I hate that name…I wished my sleep had lasted longer. I am not and never will be a religious person, but I do recall something about the Devil never sleeping. Looking at what Eidolon and Mistral had achieved in eighteen hours, I just might qualify for the post of a demon hunter. It was nothing short of a hostile takeover and Devil Eidolon was pushing the limits of “takeover”. Of course, the title of an exorcist would be the next thing I would aim for. Metal shouldn’t have a soul anyway. I was summoned to an emergency meeting that Shiro had to drag me to. Who summoned me? Eidolon the Devil and Mistral its right hand demon. “But, I don’t want to go…” I whined. “If you don’t go, she’ll take your place. You want that?” She whispered quietly as a few people passed us on the stairs. “I couldn’t care less.” I muttered under my breath. She stopped climbing the stairs and looked down at me. There is no living thing that can survive a thirty-second stare battle with Shiro and hold its will. “Fine. I’ll go.” Shiro moved aside and let me pass. “Don’t do anything stupid in there.” She cautioned me with a smile. “I’ll be a good boy.” I retorted with just enough sarcasm in my voice to make her roll her eyes. Four guards stood at the door, looking like wilted cactuses. Nonchalantly, I passed by them and opened the doors by myself. The revolting sight of thirty-eight people around a black marble conference table with Eidolon at the head made me gag. Dear heavens. The devil has returned… “Welcome, Satoru. We didn’t think you’d come.” Mistral said with a smile that would have made Dracula’s blood freeze. “...and he’s brought demons with him this time.” I announced. “What are you talking about?” Hartmut asked, trying to read my mind. I acknowledged his curiosity by returning his gaze and his interest vanished as he looked at the table like it was a work of art. At least he isn’t possessed. Mistral pointed at the seat opposite Eidolon. “Care to sit?” “Nope.” I said and stood at the door. A man with an egg for a head, yawned and asked: “Why?” I grinned at his reflective scalp. “I’m glad you care so much about my comfort. Tell me, do you rub oil on that, or is it naturally that shiny?” From somewhere in the room, I heard Kurotou’s stifled chuckle. “Egghead’s” face turned red. “How dare you?!” I hushed him. “Eggs don’t talk much. They break easily under pressure.” He jumped to his feet with considerable effort. “You son of—“ Eidolon broke in. “That’s enough, both of you.” Egghead needs to cool down though. I don’t like boiled eggs… I took a glass of water and splashed it on his face. For a second, he was confused. Then, he went insane. “You bloody rat!” Sigh. He’s overheating now. With that amount of oil on his head, I wouldn’t mind scrambled eggs…. I walked over to the empty seat and closed my eyes, while the Devil tried to calm down Egghead. After five minutes of ranting and other members of the meeting throwing in their digressive personal opinions, the room became quiet again. Eidolon made the kind of sound humans do when they clear their throats. Only then did I open my eyes. “Now that that’s out of the way,” I glanced at the sizzling Egghead. “Mistral and I had this meeting called for an important reason. Satoru is unfit to be the Grand Architect and the recent events have proven that. We did him the courtesy of inviting him to the board meeting where the next Grand Architect will be chosen.” Nods and sounds of approval rose. I couldn’t help but smile. Shiro was right, after all. “Who is your candidate?” Kurotou asked. Mistral rose her hand. My smile widened on its own accord. Do smiles have souls? “What is funny?” A familiar voice asked from my left. Funny enough, Petrol-ski was part of the board meeting. “How can a smile have a soul? My smile keeps getting stronger with a will of its own.” I replied and leaned back. Eidolon wasn’t so sure. “Any objections?” I shook my head and whispers arose in the room. Kurotou had a confused look on his face. “None at all?” Eidolon asked, sensing some danger. I’ve got to give it to the AI. It really is perceptive. Kilo was shaking his head at me, warning me not to do anything I would regret. I don’t usually regret watching episodes of failed exorcisms. “User: Loki Torvald. Override firewall through port 5537. Eidolon, initiate and hold shut down. Block loop, count down thirty seconds, proceed. You know my voice.” They all looked confused, but I could feel Eidolon’s dark soul trembling. “What? How did you…?” “You didn’t think that I would let you run free without a back-up plan in case you did something stupid?” Its voice sounded angry, but I could detect a small hint of terror. “You can’t do this! I’m Eidolon AI. I am your advisor and the most important person here!” “Were.” I corrected, grinning. “You were the most important thing here. Until you cost me some sleep, yesterday. Ten seconds, AI. Want to do a quick virus scan?” It growled and I leaned towards the man on my left, acting as if I was going to whisper something into his ear. Eidolon flew at my head, just as the man moved towards mine. I will never forget the sound of metal hitting a human skull. The poor man fainted immediately and Eidolon looked perplexed for a moment, before the countdown expired and it shut down, dropping to the floor with a heavy thud. I used my foot to push the dead metal away and turned towards the silent people. Exorcism, successful. “I just killed the Devil. Any objections?” Some mouths were wide open; others were sealed shut. Some eyes were frozen, looking at Eidolon; others were full of fear, staring at me. I looked at Mistral and froze for a second. She was unfazed. The student becomes the master. The demon becomes the Devil. I gave her the best smile I could manage and turned to Petrol-ski. “Why are you here?” His confident composure had taken a serious blow. That much was obvious as he mouthed some inaudible words. I sighed. They are dumbstruck at the powerful dispossession; it would seem… “I can’t hear you…” I said in a sweet tone. He shuddered. “We…need to rally…our members. Allies…need to be forged.” I frowned. “What allies? You want to throw me out as well?” “No! I had no part in this!” “That’s what they all say. You are not a member of Oethe Inc., nor a person from Terra Ulterior. Eidolon was the reason you are in this room, as such you are its friend. That makes you my enemy.” The blood drained from his face, as I stretched out my hand towards Kilo and he handed me a polished pistol. “I came here, because I care for my people!” I grinned. “I’m sure you do.” And I pointed the gun at his chest. The man in him returned and he glared at me. “You can’t shoot me.” Kilo held his head in his hands and Hartmut closed his eyes. I fired, twice. His face froze and he looked like he died, before he realised that he was unharmed. “Say that again, and I will shoot you for real the next time. Now, I will send you with an ambassador. Politics is boring talk and we need to get your embattled people and the Earldom of Mercia clear on our conditions—whatever they are, anyway. Arkanos?” The young man on the far right answered. “Yes?” “You are the Menon for now.” Mistral spoke at last. “What is that?” “He’s in charge of politics. Did you not read the Kalnian Books?” Her smile faded as she realised where this was heading. “Thinking is burdensome, my dear. I prefer to live in the moment.” After thirty minutes of boring, unnecessary conversations, I screamed at them to shut their mouths up and leave. I hated talking with any person other than myself, Shiro, Kuro and Kilo (in that order), with the exception of a few old people. To be honest, I hated talking at all, and this board meeting had me completely pissed off. They left like a stampede, save for the unconscious man lying on the floor. “Kael.” I called and he froze at the door. “I need to talk with you about our research and development division. But first, Kurotou,” He looked in from outside as I signalled Kael to follow us. “Let’s walk. I need you to do me a favour…”
  2. The Founding Fathers: Intelligent Protection They rode from the East, Blazing fires in their eyes. Behind the white beast, The sound of a million cries. The Griffin charged forth, Leading the armies of Light. Deserts faced their wrath, Fertile lands—the triumph of their might. 3 Acts of the Lambent Chapter 1:29. The Kalnian Books. Five hours more or a lot worse could happen than me slaying every human in a ten-mile radius. On my “suggestion”, the Oethe Inc. flag had been lowered and placed as gravestone for the dead that fell from the sky. Eidolon could only glower and threaten as I casually threw his glittery toys into the mud and rain. “You seem so willing to court Death. The wedding will be in no time, Oru.” Shiro noted as we walked in the forest while it drizzled slightly. We enjoyed the musty spring smell, stepping over wet and slippery roots, soggy foliage, fallen trees and passing dead and budding stumps. Small trees swayed slightly with their leaves from side to side while the taller ones stood upright whispering and shaking their boughs and branches at whoever was beneath. The light, low drone of tiny droplets hitting leaves, wood and stone was an ambient sound track` on its own. The fierce, howling wind blew gusts of cold air through my shirt and trousers, tugging, pushing and blowing them wherever it wished. The grey sky overhead had lightened up a bit, but the different shades of grey that swirled and moved still looked heavy. “I see no problem with that. Where you thinking of marrying him yourself?” Kuro asked from above, standing on a tree that moved and whispered as the wind passed messages through its leaves. All in all, the absence of any other voices and the ambient song of nature was all I needed to remain calm. But, my friends didn’t seem to notice that. She winked at him, flinging a loaded shell with flawless motion. It hit him on the head and he barely caught himself from falling six feet low. “He’s too much of an eccentric for me,” she looked at the time on her forearm. “to consider that option. We need to get you to sleep—fast.” I gave a tired yawn, stroking Haiiro gently. A few minutes ago, Eidolon was as mad as a March hare when I offered to relegate him to a lesser role. The AI threatened me with loud and tedious talk while I used sarcasm to reply it and mostly to entertain myself. I don’t think it found the repartee funny. “I’m moving Io out of the Defender’s position. Kurotou will do better there—for now at least.” “I would like to believe that you’ve thought this through. But, I’ve known you for way too long. Your answer is:” Kuro mumbled waiting for me to finish. “No.” He sighed and Shiro shook her head. “Why do you always do things like this?” I pretended to think. “Hm…Thinking is burdensome…I prefer living in the moment.” “Perfect. You had one enemy, now you have three. Eidolon is going to hate you even more, Io will turn into a lava-spewing volcano, and Kurotou will be so hot at the thought of working under you and replacing his superior. The heat he produces will be enough to keep the whole planet warm for decades.” I hushed Kuro and turned towards the camp. “I’ll stop by Kilo. If that will make you feel better.” “Believe me, it won’t.” Shiro shot back, casting a dark gaze on me before heading back to the Olympus Ariana. “You know she has a point there. I have a feeling you’ll be using Haiiro a lot more within Olympus Ariana than outside it. No thanks to the Mad men.” I sighed and nodded, yawning again. “I’ll catch you later, Kuro.” He nodded and left, leaving me alone in the woodlands. I looked towards the plains in the west. There between two shrubs, Eidolon hovered. The AI was watching me. Quarter an hour later, I found Kurotou with some guards. “What are you doing here?” Picking daisies for your mother. “Picking daisi— “I barely stopped in time. The other guards looked amused. “Do I look like a three-year-old girl to you, freak?” He asked, irritated at my presence, it seemed. “I came to apologise for what I— “ He cut me off. “I don’t want your apology. Get out of my sight.” I’m trying to be the good guy here, mate. Calm down. I swallowed and continued. “You know, it’s not really a job, because there’s no stated rules for labour protection and transactions. If you could at least— “ He moved up to me and pointed his rifle at my chest. His comrades didn’t look bothered. “You don’t seem to understand what it means to get out of someone’s sight, do you?” This was one of the reasons I stayed away from most humans. Almost every conversation went south before or as soon as it got a compass. “I’m trying to apologise here!” He sneered at me. “You can take that apology and stick it up your a— “ I sighed and slapped his gun away from me, bringing Haiiro to his head with my other hand. The other people moved a few steps backward. “They think me to be an inconsequential person. Do you know what that means?” I saw the cold sweat form on his face and gave an unconcerned smile. From his expression, I must have looked like the Grim Reaper. “You are Lhaeryon now. The Defender and the Defence Department is no more. I’m replacing them with you.” He didn’t answer. “It’s an offer. Take it, or leave it.” Research has proven that holding a gun to someone’s head gives better results on average than asking with a candy in the hand. “I’ll take it.” I bowed slightly, lowering Haiiro. “I look forward to working with you, Lhaeryon. Make sure you see me before the day is up.” With that, I spun on my feet and headed to Kilo. I found the old man polishing some rifles in the armoury. “Do you have some spare time, Kilo?” He looked up through bright eyes. “Not for you, Satoru. Except you’re going to help an old friend out here.” I smiled and picked a rifle from a showcase, grabbing a spray container and a cloth from the adjacent aluminium rack. “Compelling and old school as ever. There are machines to do this kind of thing.” I said, rubbing the barrel of the fire arm with the fabric. “There are certain things a machine can never do as well as a human…Eidolon inclusive.” Yawning, I gave him a low five. His smile faded. “How long have you been awake?” “I’ve got three more hours till I go crazy or find a way to dream.” He placed a pristine gun back on the rack. “Still can’t sleep?” “You know me. I like to show a little ginger when competition steps up.” He cleaned his hands and laughed. “Liar. You are more laid back than the ground.” He paused and looked into space. “What else do you have to do?” I leaned against the wall. “You tell me.” He threw me a rifle. “Eidolon’s got something planned. I hear the wind whispering secrets of a girl your age.” “Hm.” I shrugged and cleaned the rifle. “It doesn’t sound like a romance story to me, if it was, I’d know. I was a real ladies’ man at your age.” “No. You were the pool wrecker and Knox Carter at bars. Remember how you broke a mahogany stool on the bartender’s head in Dortmund? Why did you stop fighting? I looked forward to meeting you at the bars back then.” He took the rifle from me. “It was getting expensive. And I’m an old man now. Why do you spend more time with old people than with your age mates, anyway?” “Shiro says I’m willing to court Death. I’d better learn from those who are courting Her.” His eyes grew wide with amusement. “Well then. Let me tell you something since you want to know as much as we do. Appoint that new girl Eidolon’s waking as the Head of your intelligence department.” “An enemy into a friend.” I noted. He grinned and pushed me out of the door. “Go on. Let’s see whether you’ll be as charming as I am.” I walked towards the AI’s favourite section—the one that had a few humans that were still in cryo-sleep. The drizzle had stopped now, leaving the air moist and the environment wet. Kilo was very much different from most humans—the same went for old people in general. Unlike the younger adults, they had common sense and invaluable experience. Since Earth, Kilo remained one of the few people I could call a friend and I hoped it would remain like that forever. Kurotou met me along the way. “Listen, I don’t want to get off on the wrong foot here.” I kept quiet. “But, it would really help if you could tell me what I’m supposed to do as Lhaeryon.” I casually climbed to the top of the Eidolon’s Section, and waited for him to reach me. Nine minutes later, he came huffing and puffing while I sat calmly at the edge. Once his fit of wheezing had subsided, I stood and pulled him to the edge. He stiffened immediately. Holding Haiiro in my left hand, I pointed at the left and moved my arm over the right. Beyond and all around us was Olympus Ariana. The sunlight was piercing through the grey clouds, bringing wide and bright golden rays of light that shone down on us. Humans engaged in various activities, machinery hummed, Nightelves landed and took off, crafts patrolled the ground and the skies. White Sections stood tall, reflecting the glorious piercing rays, while zephyrs moved the air and added a nice chill to everything they touched. “Protect us.” I said and looked him in the eye. He kept his gaze on the scenery. “That’s a lot to ask.” He whispered. “You think you’re inadequate?” The man kept quiet. “You are afraid?” “The Mad men will attack us here. Petrovsky wants revenge. The Earldom of Mercia is sending delegates. Our scouts report unrest near the Ark ship. The drums of war are beating.” “Let them beat. When the drummers are tired, they will sleep.” His look felt like daggers were thrown at me. “The Mad men are on the warpath. And so are we!” “We’d best get off the war path then. Let the Mad men pass us. When they walk down the warpath and meet no one, they’ll get tired and rest. Or they’ll get on another path.” I said, yawning. Surprisingly, Kurotou smiled. “You’re not half bad, freak. We might get along.” “Even if I’m younger than you?” “That doesn’t matter. Protect, yes? I’ll do it.” “Good.” I said and climbed down. “Figure out how to get down, Lhaeryon.” I said, delighting in his confused face. I snuck into the Section, and searched the rooms. The unlit lights and dark halls made it obvious that there was no activity in here. From deep within I heard something hissing. Quickening my pace, I moved upstairs and searched the rooms. There was a quiet, inaudible exchange of words and it grew silent as I neared the source. Slowing to a walk, I opened the door. Sitting in a white dress was—without doubt—the girl Kilo talked about. Behind her, Eidolon hovered with a victorious air around it. I looked at her and she didn’t lower her gaze. Something inside me shuddered at what it saw in her eyes. “I’m Mistral. Eidolon has told me a lot about you.” She said enjoying my unease, and refusing to break eye contact. I smiled, although I was pretty alarmed. “Then you know my name. You are now Adhonys. Intelligence is your responsibility.” Eidolon moved between us, cutting off our views of each other. “Will that be all, Satoru?” From behind him, Mistral giggled. “Satoru? You mean Oru.” I failed to stifle a yawn, but my mind was racing so hard, I was sure they could hear it revving. “Make sure you meet up with me when I wake up.” I said and stumbled out of the Section. A glance on my right forearm and I knew I had a little over two hours to find some sleep. I took a walk into the plains and laid down there. Hopefully, sleep would come now.
  3. Reboot We are fallen and destroyed. O how we are trodden under foot! Our glory is naught, but void… Brethren, we must return to the Root: Our erred paths we will avoid. We will not chase gold, fame or the loot. We will round as the cycloid, And we will start over from the Root. Lamentations of Nazrole Chapter 12:13-14. The Kalnian Books. I have always had a problem with tedious structure. From profitable, but snot-nosed mega corporations to the tiny, but nervous start-ups, they just seem to be addicted to mega-bureaucracy and exhaustive order. Tsk. And I’m part of the crappy system. Here I was, simply wishing to make a complaint about some idiot who decided to pinch my trousers while I was on the roof. To make a complaint, I needed to verify my identity (can you believe these people?! They didn’t verify everyone that left Earth while we were still there?), record or type the complaint (not without stating tons of useless information, of course) then queue up at a mile-long line for four hours and check back in a week for progress, because they were still setting up and securing the wireless protocols. Ahou. I deleted the file from the makeshift tab I put together in a couple of days and walked off the queue. If these people were going to waste their precious time on an unnecessary process, I wouldn’t be joining them. I had more important things to do. Let the idiot that stole my trousers keep them. “Heading somewhere, Satoru?” Jonathan asked me, blocking my path while at it. “Yes.” I said and looked him in the eyes. He looked away. Why do people always look away? What in the world are they afraid of? “We need your help with something. Care to give us a hand?” Nope. “What’s it?” He held out a funny looking kind of bag. What in the world was it? It looked like a space backpack from the early 21st century. “It’s a kadpack.” “It sounds like it as well…” I muttered, feeling it. “Sounds like what?” “..and it feels like something only the UN can make: horrible! What is it?” He looked puzzled for a moment, but quickly regained his stoic “don’t care what you say” face. “It’s a device that compresses matter and allows us to decompress it in any form, using this:” He held out a tube. “Interesting. I’ll get to work.” I took the tube and “kadpack” to the roof of my home Section and decided to decipher it. “You found something to interest you, finally.” Kuro said, and nestled up to me. I smiled a bit and connected my gadgets to the UN-made or UN-affiliated device. The data readings were easy to understand and within a couple of hours, I was shaping monoliths and statues with relative difficulty. One of the outlaws from the proximal Novark area walked up to me. “You learn fast.” His accent was thick and Russian. Every outsider is from Russia these days. Should I answer him? Mother told me not to talk to strangers… I built up a mound near his feet, just missing him. “Stop it, Oru.” I complied with Shiro’s soft warning and looked the big Russian in the eye. He turned his gaze away as well. What is it with these people?! “You killed the Grand Architect, yes?” I asked him. He eyes opened like a punctured can of pressurised gas. “No!” “Pity.” “Why is that a pity?!” Shiro quickly jumped in. “He’s not on the best terms with the Grand Architect.” “That’s not true,” I retorted. “He just broke the first law of survival.” The Russian looked confused. “Never look for trouble in the Wild.” His eyes cleared up a bit. “He came to help us— “ “And he died. You killed him then. You couldn’t refuse his help and he couldn’t refuse the chance to be a hero. Both of you killed him.” From the looks of it, I was freaking this one out. “My name is Petrovsky. I’m the leader of the Resistance.” “…Outlaws…” I muttered under my breath. “Eidolon talked about you a while ago. He wants to meet you again.” Shiro gasped and gave me a pitiful look. “Good luck; you’ll need it.” She said and walked off. I shook my head and followed the…Petrol-ski. That what his name, wasn’t it? He tried to start a series of conversations with me, but after I ignored him, built up wood around his feet and shouted at him to shut up, I think he got the message. I wasn’t a hostile person, I just don’t like talking to strangers or people in general, especially when I’ve been awake for close to thirty hours. By the time we’d made it past noisy populated and windy sparse areas, through damaged grass and between machinery, the foreboding sky looked exactly like Petrol-ski’s face: there was going to be some heavy rain soon. He led me past armed guards and into a pristine Section where an AI ruled over and enslaved the men that contributed to its creation and continued existence. The room reeked of upper-class attitude and I could sense most of it was coming from a robot that shouldn’t even have emotions. The walls were whitewashed and the floor was overlaid in black marble. A silver chandelier adorned with over-sized diamonds and sparkling sapphires hung from the roof, amidst pearl lights that shined even more than it did. The e-textile seats looked way too comfortable for the precarious situation that we found ourselves in and I just had to wonder how full of senseless vanity these humans and AI could possibly be. “Satoru Masanori. It’s nice to see you.” Eidolon said, rising from the heavily ornamented white throne. Seriously, robots that fly need to sit on thrones, even if they don’t have legs? Laughable! I chuckled to myself and scanned the bewildered faces of the poor slaves in the over packed room. “You are to reply me when I speak to you, Satoru Masanori.” I would have looked this AI in the eye—if it had any eyes, and I could bet the Novark on this: it would turn its eyes away. An AI like this has many secrets to hide and it would need to hide some scars if it dared to address me in that tone again. “I decide when I’m to reply to a piece of floating metal with a circuit board in its head.” Jonathan shook his head and stepped out. “You are socially inadequate, Satoru Masanori.” “You are physically lacking in adequate humanoid body parts yourself, Eidolon AI.” I replied, trying to step out, until four guards blocked my path. Sigh. Not Io as well… I looked Io in the eye and he looked at Eidolon. “We are not done, Satoru Masanori.” The AI stressed. I spun back and hurled Io’s gun at the AI, hitting it squarely in the middle. “Stop talking, Metal Head!” The gasps in the room should’ve been audible for thirty miles round. Even thunder sounded its voice to add some dramatic noise to the scene. Eidolon was clearly not pleased, and to be frank, neither was I. “We were interested in your capabilities and intellectual capacity. We think you are what we need to move forward, in the light of Hisashi Susumu’s death.” Eidolon said calmly. To be honest, this was sudden… “You…want to make me the Grand Architect?” “Yes. You already did cause quite a ruckus with the Defence Department. It was you that left Olympus Ariana into the forbidden area, wasn’t it? You caused some people quite a headache and their jobs as well.” I looked at Kurotou, who glared at me. “I don’t like the “didi”. Is that a problem?” “Let me ask you a question, Satoru Masanori. Can I call you Satoru?” Eidolon asked. “No.” “Very well. If you were the Grand Architect, would you have gone to the Novark the way Hisashi Susumu did? Would you have intervened on behalf of the Resistance?” “No.” “Why?” “Why should I?” “Explain.” His voice sounded tired. “Intelligence should have gone first and scouted. The Resistance forces are simply being freeloaders with little to offer, no offence, Petrol-ski.” “His name is Petrovsky.” “Whatever.” I muttered. “Protecting and organising ourselves is our priority. Anything else can wait.” Eidolon turned back to the chair and paused. “You are not someone I want to work with. I don’t like you. Let me be crystal clear: I hate you, Satoru Masanori. However, you are what we need: your mind and skill is what we can’t do without in the leadership position. You aren’t the first person on our list, no, you are the last person I would even consider. Nonetheless, you will be the next Grand Architect—rather, you are the Grand Architect.” I whistled and smiled at a boiling Petrol-ski. Outside, the heavy rain began to fall. “Good. I have my first command for the lot of you.” “Oh? So soon?” Eidolon asked, clearly being sarcastic. “Yes. Reboot. Destroy and restart every single thing. Reboot from scratch.”
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