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Episode 23 – Recognizing the Path

I wake up in a medical bed again.  I really should be getting used to collapsing for no reason, but it irks me deeply.  Also, as usual, I don’t remember how I got into this state.  I feel like I’ve awoken from a horrible dream.  I lay there staring at the empty ceiling, and the railings common to hospital rooms, even in my most distant memories.  Hoping perhaps all that I know to be true is just a lie, an illusion.  I’m terrified to look around the room, and be snapped back to reality as my mind seems to know it at this moment.  I’m hoping I’m crazy, and I’ll wake back in the 21st century in a hospital, and they’ll tell me it’s all a dream.  Or maybe an insane asylum where they finally found a medication to treat my condition, and I’ll wake up to find everything I experienced was just a delusion of my mind.  Then I can get out of bed and say… “Whew, that was a crazy dream, now where is my complementary gelatin cup.”  Running over the last years of my life, I think of everything that’s happened, and it makes me even more terrified to look around the room.  In this moment, I’m thankful for generic ceilings that can allow me to pretend for just a moment, even if it’s not true.

I start to wonder to myself, what’s wrong with myself.  Why is it that I try to run from reality.  Why is it that when things are bad, I stare at the ceiling and hope to look around and see a different world than the one my mind is expecting.  What is it I’m trying to escape from.  I don’t know.  It’s only in these semi-lucid waking moments that I can feel that way.  As my consciousness level rises, my ability to pretend I’m living in another universe fades more and more.  My sense of the corporeal comes more clear.  My field of view widens to the point I start catching glimpses of other objects out of the corner of my eye.  Objects that concrete my reality.  As I realize that laying here and pretending I don’t see the objects in my periphery, I sit up.  I’m in a different medical room than before, and some of the beds have those clunky medical machines that commonly hang from the ceiling in advanced Icelandic Hospitals.  As my senses return to me, I feel Fallon holding my hand on one side, and Sylphie holding my hand on the other.  They scooted her bed and mine together so that she could hold my hand…  My movements wake them both.

This room is a bit different, in that there is transparent AMOLED screens at the foot board of the beds, with vitals on them.  And there is fewer medical machines on the ceilings, which seem to only be moved to the beds that need them.

Fallon begins to speak, kind of squeaking a bit because she just woke up, “You like to pass out and scare the shit out of people just as bad as ever, I see”.  She yawns and stretches herself out, over top of me in the bed.  I remember having a bit of a fainting problem before due to a severe sleep disorder I had before the blue tempest took me.  Sylphie beckons from my left, “I think I may have been wrong.  About everything”, she says.  Fallon flops down on me after stretching, propping her head up to hear what Sylphie has to say.  “I think I’m wrong about our powers, their origins, or what they’re actually doing.  I realized this last night, while you were sleeping.  So I summoned the cups we drank from again, and they still had coffee in them, albeit residue”.

She reaches up behind hear, and pulls something out from under a pillow.  “Here, remember this cup, from yesterday by the antenna on the roof”, she says to me and Fallon, holding out the cup.  I grab it from her hand with a “Yeah”, and hold it close enough for Fallon to see.  “Remember what Fallon did to one of your cups while you two were just dating?  Relating to the fact that she came over a lot for your coffee after work”, Sylphie continued.  For the life of me, I couldn’t remember what she was talking about.  Fallon’s eyes go wide, as she practically rips the cup out of my hands in the process of looking at the bottom of the cup.  She gasps, and leans up, taking the cup in both hands and rips it out of my grip.  She stands next to the bed, with mouth agape.  “Sylphie, I thought you made these cups”, she says to Sylphie suspiciously, “I thought this was materialized using our powers combined”.  Sylphie replies, “I thought so too.  But, it’s clear that they aren’t.  Alira bought those cups, so they were definitively part of her memories, not yours.  But the mark on the bottom of the cup.  She was not at all aware of that.  Moreover, the method in which I manifested them contained no thought about the marking on the bottom of the cup.  Therefore, I believe this is the actual cup.”

A strange thought occurred to me, but I couldn’t crystallize it.  “Remember how you used to always say that, ‘Damn, it’s like my cups teleport around the house’, to me that once, Alira?”, Fallon chirps at me.  “Vaguely, yes”, I say to her, to which she immediately cuts in, “But, I thought you only had 2 cups.”

“No, I had 4…  I think one melted in the microwave, and the third one was tucked away in a cabinet because I never had 3 guests in that place that all drank coffee, much less out of mugs”, I retort.  Fallon shows me the bottom of the cup, with what appears to be her name ‘Yuzuho’ carved into the bottom with a hot paperclip or butter-knife.  My tired mind finally puts the pieces all together, “TIME TRAVEL…. A paradox”… I just felt all the blood leave my face.  “So, wait… DO you think?…”, I look at Sylphie.  She smiles very sagely at me, “I’m not for certain.  But it would seem likely that all of this exists because of a predestination paradox.  That at some point in the future, the 3 of us will set forth the causality that completes the loop.  I can’t convert energy into matter.  I tried 109 times last night after I woke up to duplicate simple objects, with you in the loop.  Our powers activated, even when you were asleep.  But it didn’t matter.  I could only summon objects I remembered, all of which we tested with Bjorn’s help, and determined they were out of temporal sync, carbon dating to be exactly 200 years out of sync.  The reason your household items always seemed to move around, was because I didn’t know where I’d gotten them from, precisely.  In returning them, they’d go all over the apartment.  It’s one of the time periods we both remembered well enough to do it for.  Also, I’m the one who melted your coffee mug.  Sorry.  It happened before I sent them back last night.”

“But you have no idea how we trigger the conclusion of the loop?  At all?”, I say to Sylphie, to which she responds,”No, and even if I did, that’s not how predestination paradoxes work.  Whether we know, or don’t know, until the loop is completed it won’t matter.  We are here because this is a predestination.  Our knowledge or lack there of is irrelevant, because we’re destined to complete the loop because of the conditions that we are still here, in the loop, period.”

I just shake my head and look at her dumbfounded, and flabbergasted.  “So then it’s all pointless”, I say in utter defeat.

Fallon and Sylphie chime in at the exact same time, “The Meteor!”, loudly.

“What meteor”, I ask.  Fallon looks over her shoulder and jumps, startling the rest of us, as she noticed Bjorn standing over our shoulders, with Bueller, and Amma.  Bjorn chimes in, “We’re going.  The fates of Valhalla have us walking to heaven’s door and knocking on it”.  “The meteor, designated Looper 1 is heading towards and impact with Neo Zion, the same location as the impact 200 years ago.  So basically, the die has been cast, or something like that”, Bueller says then continues, “But I can’t go with you.  My partner doesn’t want me to go.  He thought he’d lost me already, so I just can’t leave him again.  Plus… After I sensed the meteor, my tempest stopped working.  The docs tested me and  I am no longer a tempest user.”  Amma puts her shoulder on him and adds, “Neither am I.  It actually happened about an hour before.  I’d cut myself, and couldn’t auto-heal it”, she says then grabbing and holding my hand.

Bjorn jumps in with a fatherly, Icelandic accented tone, “Now, lets not be so down on ourselves.  But this is a problem.  It’s also incredibly wide spread.  Stormur are reverting all over the place.  At last count, 25% of all stormur ceased to have any powers.  Higher level ability seems to be holding, but nearly everyone is weakening at an alarming rate.  It’s likely that this has caused a great deal of chaos in Neo Zion, as it has everywhere else.  Further, realizing that this is a paradox, and that there is literally nothing they can do about it, plus the meteor, it sealed the deal.”

Dr. Arisdottir jumps in to add, “Also, af gyðjunni, the Sylph, Alira and Fallon’s powers are growing, magnified by a factor of 10 already.  They are now the largest stormur merki on our planet now.  Every detector around the world and in orbit is lighting up that you’re here.  Which also means, the moment you make a move, they’re going to know you’re coming”, she says.  She walks away pressing her tablet against her chest, then returning to her rounds, and going out of my field of view again.  Slyphie chimes in again, “Well, I guess there is nothing else to do then.  No sense in worrying about it now.  What time are we leaving?”, she says turning her head to Bjorn.  “Right now”, he responds with resound, “We’re taking all the functioning stormur we can and leaving immediately.  If you hadn’t woken up, (He looks at me now), we’d have had to take you while still unconscious.”  “I don’t know that I can walk yet”, I say but am abruptly interrupted by Amma who wheels an transparent/acrylic wheel chair into the room, with black rubber for the tires, breaks, and blue canvas seat cushions.  “Here, let me lift you out of bed, barn”, Bjorn says, hoisting me out of bed, blankets and all, and dropping me into the wheel chair.  Sylphie sits up more and yanks out her IV, healing the wound, and jumps down and walks around to where I am, and we all leave the ward.  The wheelchair is so well made that it makes nearly no noise, and moves fluidly.  I can smell that “hospital smell”, as we go down the corridors, and to the elevator.

“Well, this will probably be the last epic adventure we go on, ladies”, says Sylphie says to both me and Fallon, while the doors close and Fallon takes my hand, “Fate calls us, I fear”.  I look up at Sylphie’s friendly, yet concerned face, and say, “What do you mean?”

She sighs deeply and pets my hair, “It’s likely that we’ll revert to normal as well, as soon as we’ve completed the loop.  However, we need to figure out how to stop the meteor as well as how to get Eduardo to safety first.  The meteor is predicted to impact the atmosphere at 12:21am tomorrow night.  Furthermore, it’s my power that’s preventing me from disintegrating.  Which means…”.  Slyphie’s composure finally breaks, as tears stream down her face.  Amma grabs her and embraces her without hesitation, and pets her hair, “Shhh, now sweetheart… We don’t know what will happen, only that the circumstance, and danger is forcing us into a situation where we have to act.”  Sylphie continues to sob in Amma’s arms, then leans up and says though her tears, “If we do nothing, the timeline resets, and I cease to exist.  If we do something our powers cease to be, and I die.  Even doing nothing could be what causes the loop, because we only know that we’re destined to complete the loop.  In either case, this timeline or all life on Earth ends or we stop the meteor, I die…  I will always die.  There is not one reality where I live, that I can think of.”

We’ve never seen her cry or break down, but given that she now has an identity and will of her own, we understand her pain.  Fallon wipes Slyphie’s tears, and kisses her deeply, in a way she usually only kisses me.  She pulls back and the tears are drying and Slyphie is no longer crying, “Why’d you…”.  She tries to speak, but Fallon cups over her mouth, “We won’t let that happen”, she says.  Slyphie wipes her eyes, and says, “Thanks Yuzu.  You always did try to comfort me when I was feeling futile and fatalistic”.

I look over at Bjorn and Bueller and see them both trying to stifle their tears, when Fuel says, “Bjorn got me in the eye with his beard, that’s all”.  Bjorn chuckles jovially, and retorts, “Is that so”.  As he says this, he puts Fuel in a head lock and starts rubbing his beard all over Bueller’s face, and they tussle for a moment.  We all burst into uncontrollable laughter at this very moment as we watch the two burly men wrestle with each other over the one rubbing his beard in the others’ face.  Bjorn finally lets up, and grabs Bueller’s face, and looks at his eyes like a doctor examining them.  “Did I get them”, he says to Bueller, playfully.  “Yeah”, Fuel chuckles, “I think you did, you old coot.”  Bjorn laughs and says, “What!?  I’m only 145 years young now, I’ll have you know”, he retorts again while chuckling.  We laugh for a moment more.  I look at the OLED elevator console as it stops, and says “Landing Bay”,  The door opens, and I can feel the wind from the Sleipnir’s engines spooling up.  They wheel me out, and it’s a brisk mostly cloudy day, and the science fictionesque scene looks just as amazing in inclement weather.

Bueller leans over to the side of us, and this beautiful, sort of feminine looking man, walks up besides him and they have a beautiful kiss.  “Ah, Alira, Fallon, Sylphie, this is Albert, my husband of sorts”, says Bueller.  His partner pinches him for the way he introduced him, “Hello ladies, it’s nice to finally meet you in person.  I’ve hear quite a bit about you two in the past few days.”  I sort of snark a bit about the gesture and the irony of his partner’s name.  “What’s so funny”, he asks, to which I respond, “Nothing, it’s just that I find it ironic, or coincidental is all”.  Bueller, looks down at me. “Anyways”, he says talking louder now to speak over the growing noise of the engines, “This is where I must part ways.  I hope you come back to us, you here me?”  I nod to him.  From behind him, I hear the doors open, and hear a panting Amelia run up behind him.  “Damn you people, always in such a damned hurry to get some where”, she says out of breath.   Amelia leans in and hugs me and kisses me on the cheek in a sisterly way, “You better not get your ass killed out there, you hear me.  Or I’m going to revive you and beat your ass, and my ogre of a brother over here for not going with you.  I suppose I understand.  Also, Slyphie, try not to touch anyone with a power anymore.”

Sylphie looks confused as Amelia continues, “As this event started, I accidentally touched you, trying to send my best wishes and you leeched my power.  My tempest is gone, and I believe it’s inside you now.  And I’ll never forgive you either, if you fail to bring these two back to me in one piece.  Understand?”  Sylphie stands up and salutes Amelia, and she salutes her back, then the two women hug.  “Take care of yourself now, too, alright?”, Amelia says, to which Slyphie says, “I’m the most powerful, ever”, jokingly.  Amelia just shakes her head at her, with tears starting to well up in her eyes.  She waves, and blows us a farewell kiss, and runs back inside to get away from the very loud and increasingly noisy engines.  Bueller shakes Bjorn’s hand and hugs him, then says, “You best look out for them, or my little sis is going to strangle you”.  Bjorn chuckles, “Don’t worry, they’re in good hands.  Plus, the crew of the Sleipnir volunteered for this suicide run without even batting an eyelash, barn.  After Sylphie saved them, they were so eager to help that no one could stop them.  By the goddess, they even threatened mutiny if not given orders”, Bjorn chuckles cutely.  “Take care of yourself, and your husband, okay”, Bjorn says to Bueller with his hand on their shoulder.

“Don’t die now, Old Man”, Bueller yells to be heard.  The two men salute each other and we return to boarding.  Bueller and Albert walk away from us ducking from the blasts of air of the engines, holding hands, and walk back inside.  Shouting over the engines at Bjorn, “Hey, why don’t we just take this to the meteor and stop it in space, then go save Eduardo.”  “HUH!?!”, Bjorn shouts back with his had cupped at his ears, unable to hear.  “Why can’t we stop the meteor in space!”, I shout back.  He hurries us inside the ship, and closes the ramp.

As the nearly deafening blast of the engines going to full RPM flanges away with the closing of the door, he says, “We can’t go into orbit”, he says and continues, “The micro-meteor field is making going into space dangerous. Even with shielding, objects moving that fast can do a lot of damage.  Conventional arms just don’t pack the same punch as a bunch of space rocks moving at nearly 3% of the speed of light.”  “HOLY SHIT!”, I shriek, “Sorry, I didn’t know that there was debris moving that fast”.  Amma wheels me to the bridge with the other 3 in tow, and the inner door squeaks ever so slightly as it opens to the bridge itself.  “Hmm, going to have to get one of my lazy lieutenants to oil that door for me soon”, Bjorn says.  I look around the bridge and I can’t readily recognize anyone.  Bjorn motions us to strap ourselves in, and straps himself in next to us, as the captain of the mostly repaired Sleipnir is ordered to take off.  I hear some of the officers talking indiscernible in Icelandic, occasionally looking at me, Fallon, Sylphie, and Amma.

Amma looks at me, and pets my hair as I turn my face to her, “I won’t be going down there with you, but I’ll be on the ship rooting for you, kitten.  Okay”.  I just nod nervously to her.  The crew on the bridge seemed to be anxiously watching us, when one of the helmsmen hands her duties over the her fellow helmsman, and walks up to us.  Seeing this, the Sleipnir’s yeoman and Captain come over as well.  Their name-tags read from left to right as Svalbard, Unser, and Torsdottir, the captain, yeoman and helmsman in that order.  The captain bowed to us 3 tempests, “On behalf of my crew, who seems rather eager to meet you, I thank you for saving and returning our lives to us, gyðjurnar”.  The Yeoman and Helmsman salute us, in Icelandic style, and the rest of the bridge crew says “Þakka þér”, or thank you in English.  On the view screen, I can see the ship finally ascending above the clouds to cruising altitude, heading towards Neo Zion.  I feel a sense of dread come over me again, and Yuzu and Sylphie both feeling it from me, hold my hand to calm my nerves.  Bjorn hugs Fallon and me from his seat the best he can, “Don’t worry, you’re the most powerful gyðjurnar that have ever existed.  You’ll do fine, börn.”  I lean towards Bjorn, over Fallon a bit to ask him, “What’s that word you called us”, to which he responds, “Goddesses”.

Everyone on the crew seems nervous, and has their game faces on, it seems.  “How long do we have until impact”, I ask Bjorn.

Bjorn turns to the captain of the ship, “Hversu lengi þar til loftstein áhrif?”  The captain talks to a crewman near the consoles behind him and shouts towards Bjorn, “Um 15 klst”.  Bjorn translates this to me as “15 hours”.  “That’s not a lot of time”, I retort.  Sylphie tugs at my sleeve, “Don’t worry.  I know we have sufficient power now to destroy the meteor, regardless of what happens to me in the process.”  I smile meekly back at her, and she pets my cheek a bit, and I sigh at her.  This crew seemed more “militaristic” and less family like than Bjorn’s crew, but I suppose I couldn’t be for certain with such an anecdotal sample length of time, and the circumstances.  The captain called over to Bjorn, who unfastened himself to go over and talk to him.  He looks at me, Fallon and Sylphie, “We have a communique for you in the briefing room, follow me”.  He leads us into a room right next to our seats on the side, out of the way of the bridge’s normal operations area.  It looks like a very sci-fi briefing room, which I feel like I’ve said far too many times to myself through my experiences in this world.  “This world looks in a way that makes me feel like I’m going to wake up from it all the time”, I say to Bjorn.

He turns to us, and says, “Your friends are on the line, sit here, and push the red light when it pops up and the OLED screen will pop up.  I’ll leave you to it”, he finishes then leaves the conference room.  Rush, Partridge, and Dawson are on the screen, “Sorry we couldn’t see you off.  Shortly after the event, we all lost our tempests.  Otherwise we’d be right there with you”, Dawson says.  “Except for me”, Partridge says, who holds up her hands and her aura is much weaker than before, “But I’ll probably be completely inert by tomorrow, according to Arisdottir.  Sucks too, because I went through a lot because of these powers.  I was hoping I could keep them”.  Partridge starts to blush profusely, and then looks towards Fallon respective to the camera and screen, “Fallon… I… have… Um… Sorta been crushing on you for a long time.  And I think I might sort of have a thing for Sylphie too… I uh… I just… Didn’t want to not say it if anything happened to you.  I’m sorry, that was selfish of me, I’ll shut up now.”  Sylphie just chuckles, as Fallon blushes, “We’re polyamorous, by the way.  But you need not worry.  I understand.  Also, I can sort of speak for Fallon as well… We think you’re cute”

Partridge and Fallon both turn bright red, and Fallon hides her face in her arms against the table.  Partridge says, “I… Um… Okay… Well, ya’ll take care”, and then darts off screen, which only pushes Sylphie to laugh more.  Rush just shakes his head at us, “You lesbians, I swear”, he says then chuckles.  “Thank you for getting me out of that hell”, Rush says, with Dawson following up with “Me too”.  “Mind you, I still think Alira’s lustrous beauty is going to be the death of me. But who am I to say that.  Well, you saved our asses.  So you better come back so we have the chance to repay that debt.  It may be old fashioned, but I like to repay my debts, especially when it comes to my own life that I owe”, Dawson says.  Rush adds, “It was an honor to serve with you as cadets, mind you, your time there was not without severe complication.  I’m afraid your strength, capacity, and new found age put me as your junior, rather than your senior”.

“Either way, I hope you bring back your friend, and that you’re able to save us all, one more time.  And with that, we must end this call.  You’re about to go into communication blackout, and the ship has to put up it’s shields to hide your approach.  Especially with your power signal.  We can see you from here”, he muses and laughs.  “God Speed to you all”, Rush says, “Over and out”.  The screen goes white, then transparent again, and lays flat with the table once again.  I pick up the blushing and very warm Fallon from the table, and hug her, and this seems to relax her shyness and slight embarrassment.  “Well, lets get back onto the bridge”, Sylphie says.  As we walk out, the captain barks, “Virkja skjöldu og laumuspil kerfi strax!“, at his crew.  The screen goes to instrumentation, and navigation, instead of the view above the clouds.  The bridge lights dim, and the yellow flashing ones come on, and the tone becomes very serious.  “Komutími, 15:45, skipstjóra“, shouts Helmswoman Torsdottir. The captain takes a seat and straps himself in, and pushes a button.  Music quietly plays on the bridge, and it appears to be a vocals less Icelandic Battle-song.  Bjorn seems to slowly and only slightly rock his head back and forth, murmuring the unsung lyrics to the song.  Others on the bridge do the same thing.

The tension is almost palpable as me, Fallon, and Sylphie hold hands.  “Oh, one thing I forgot to mention”, Sylphie says, “The meteor has similar make up to the blue tempest meteor, except it’s missing the exotic energy that was in the one that hit 200 years ago”.  “One of the science team urged caution when handling it.  He was convinced of the possibility that the meteor was the paradoxical object.  It’s why we called it Looper-1.  But he couldn’t be for sure until he detected a singularity with the object”, Bjorn chimes in.  “Sylphie, that makes sense too.  If this is indeed a paradoxical object that is part of the predestination paradox then that means that whatever it is we do to stop it, could complete the loop.  Being that you are a loop object as well, as in an object that that exists only after the start of the paradoxical timeline, you could go with it, rather than ceasing to exist.  But, I can’t say with certainty either as to which way the loop will happen.  As far as human history goes, we’ve never observed a singularity up close, at least not of this kind”, I say to her.  “You could be right, my other self, you could be.  But, no sense in worrying about it now.  We must do what we must do”, Sylphie responds somberly.  As we get closer and closer to our destination, her tension becomes almost unbearable.  I can feel her anxiety, building up beyond anything I’ve ever sensed from her.

Can you blame her?  I can’t.  If I knew a temporal paradox was about to end, and take me and my existence with it, I’d be too.  Just thinking about what she must be going through made me sick to my stomach.  When she sensed this, she turned her hand aflame with green, and touched me to calm me down.  “Don’t worry.  You’re both as much a part of me as I am of you.  But I can’t say that is of much solace, even knowing it”, she says.  The time seems to move so slowly.  Even being an hour out from our destination, it feels as though every second is a lifetime.  Each of us, with nothing else to do, periodically doze of and slump over on the others during the course of the trip.  The ship shakes a few times, from explosions from outside the ship, waking up me and Fallon.  Bjorn pulls up a tablet that the Captain gave him, “Just shockwaves from explosions on the surface.  Seems as though all Hel has set loose down there.  It’s nothing but warring stormur and military grade explosions.  Seems the disappearance of powers has created an imbalance which set the world down there ablaze.”  As we get closer, the thuds of shockwaves against the hull get louder and more frequent, deepening our fear and anxiety.

“Birta Neo Síon á skjánum”, shouts the captain.  As he does, we can see the scene of Neo Zion, just like I saw it on my first time in this world, but ablaze.  Streaks of black smoke bellow up into the cloud darkened skies.  The city is burning, and there is even fire billowing from some of the sky scrapers.  There is a lot of flying cars trying to flee the city, and fighters flying everywhere, some of them targeting fleeing cars.  The lower levels of the city are covered in smoke, under which you can see flashes of muzzles, explosives, and colorful blasts of tempest powers going off.  “Where were they holding him, Bjorn”, I ask him.  “Where they hold all public execution prisoners”, he replies confidently, “In the skyscraper church.  The same one you were in right after you first arrived here.”  “Slökkva á laumuspil kerfi, og byrja að leggja eld gegn skipakví svæði”, the commander shouts after gesturing the okay from the captain.  The bluish tinge that was there from the shielding fades, making the image of the burning Neo Zion all the more clear.  Then we can see artillery and laser fire go off, directed at the church tower itself.  The building begins to fire back, and you can see the anti-air artillery being fired at us.  Sometimes hitting the shields and violently shaking the ship.  Smaller pictures pop up on to the screen, showing thermal, and radar images of the church roof landing area.  The systems take aim and fire at people with lasers, which immediately explode like fireworks brightly in the infrared view.  Nothing recognizable as a person remains after.  The radar shows fighters being diverted to the Sleipnir, and they unload hell upon us.

The shield now lights up every few seconds from impacts, and the ship shudders even more violent than before.  Sometimes lights in the ceiling blow out, showering the bridge with sparks.  But the ship seems to be holding it’s own.  “Björn, senda þá til sjósetja skefjum, og skjóta á Skimmer”, the captain commands.  Bjorn instructs us to come with him, “Get up, it’s time”.  We unfasten ourselves, and quickly follow Bjorn into the bridges airlock.  After the second door opens, he finds this red door about half way down the corridor.  He opens it, and inside is a red conveyor pole going down through the ship.  The pole is segmented, to work like an escalator but stay relatively stiff to allow people to climb or slide down this shaft.  “Grab on and follow me”, Bjorn says.  One by one we take the pole down to a bay similar to the one in the Visund, with a strange mirrored vehicle in it.  He touches it’s highly reflective, and polished surface, and the surface stops being a mirror, revealing a super fast air-car hull underneath.  He pushes some buttons, activating a camouflage mode, that shows itself on the surface using a high resolution OLED matrix in the surface, and a door opens.  We go to climb inside, and Danielle turns me around to give me a big hug.  A few heavy blasts shake the ship and we almost fall over.  “Take care, my cute little granddaughter, I want to see you again after all this is done.  And please, take good care of Ed for me.  He’s a good man”, she hugs me tight and I can feel her trembling.

“Hey, don’t forget about me”, Sylphie says, and she and Fallon both join me and Amma for a group hug.  “Take care of my Granddaughter for me, will you two”, Amma says, to which they both reply in unison, “We will”.  “Aight, you three get a move on now.  Okay?”, she says and then pushes us off into the aircar.  The door closes, and we noticed that from inside, you can see out through the camouflage perfectly.  Amma waves to us, and leaves the launch bay.  Bjorn starts the car, and says, “Prepare Yourselves!”, as he starts it and signals the release mechanism.  As the car falls out of the Sleipnir, my stomach feels like it rose up into my chest with weightlessness.  Pushing his foot to the floor, and kicking up the engines with a lever next to him, the acceleration of the ship changes our free fall into forward hurtling motion so intense we are slammed into our seats.  He shouts over the sounds of explosions from the city, now much louder than when we were in the ship, “Hold on”.  He begins to dodge the trails of fire, and vehicles and flying cars all around us, as well as a few fighters here and there.

He makes a high G-maneuver, which is dampened a bit by the inertial system, but not by as much as the ship would.  He groans aloud through the entire turn, and we struggle to move at all as we’re suctioned into our seats.  As we bank towards the churches tower, we can see the Sleipnir under fire, and see the bubble of it’s shield deflecting rounds and explosives as it takes evasive action to leave the combat area.  “Don’t worry, they’ll rendezvous with us later.  Have no fear.  They won’t abandon us.  They’re just acting as decoy”, Bjorn assures us.  The building is coming into view now.  Very few of it’s once pristine stained-glass windows is unbroken, and there is many floors and windows with smoke and fire billowing out of them.  There is aircars, and fighters going in every direction, and closer down we can see Neo Zionists and Neo Meccan fighters shooting at each other and unleashing lasers and lead upon the sky to hit their enemy.

As we approach the building the explosions and fire is getting more violent, and the air turbulence is shaking us around violently.  As we are banking into make a fast landing into the pad, a stray round from a fighter hits our craft causing the outer cloak to go offline, bringing us under small arms fire from the landing area by Neo Zionists.  The craft starts to crash, and Bjorn kicks it into high gear, almost kamikaze mode on the fighters.  The craft starts to fill with smoke, and shake violently.  I’m slammed into my seat by a violent impact, as pieces of glass from consoles inside the ship shatter.  The craft hurtles end over end, as I hold on to anything and everything I can, for dear life.  Eventually it lands flat, and I can see us skidding into the building…  The impact is so hard my vision goes to stars, and I black out…

To Be Continued…

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For all my friends who suffer as a result of recent attacks on Social Security, Healthcare, Government pensions and any kind of state or government related income or welfare support issues.

Infrastructure

Yep, that’s right people without this you are fucked. The 90% of us who aren’t absurdly wealthy can’t afford to maintain this, or the safety nets that support and ensure its uses.  If our infrastructure and economy fails, Corporate America is fucked as well.

The idea of a society that doesn’t need social safety nets to function, that “Charity Alone” will be sufficient, or the idea that people who want ‘Money From the Government’ should just get of their asses and stop being leeches is wrong.  It’s a myth, propagated by conservatives, and the exact reason we moved away from that model is because it doesn’t work.  The sad truth is charitable contributions alone, aren’t enough to keep societies afloat, fiscally or pragmatically.

The Conservatives in our government have been corrupted by a new wave of conservativism that is vehemently against Social Safety Nets, as if they are trying to create an Ayn Randian paradise.  Ayn Rand, who originated in Soviet Union, under a different system has very unrealistically capitalist friendly views.  So her writings and ideals radically diverged from the example of economics and government in Soviet Russia.  And this is important to the validity of her arguments, because sadly, the example she had distorted her understanding in favor of this new, and growing conservative economic ideology movement.

It’s a nice idea, to think that charity is enough to save a society from downfall during economic hardships.  The sad thing is… It doesn’t work, it harms people, and due to technology and automation, as well as disabilities and veterans issues, its not just bad politics.  It’s morally reprehensible.  In times of economic downturn, believe it or not, it’s actually more effective to financial recovery to just “Give People More Money”, than it is to cut social program spending.

I know that to some, this seems really counter intuitive.  But the thing is, in a society, recessions are murder on economies without social safety nets, and here’s the kicker… It’s cheaper to give people money, than it is to cope with the economic and social consequences of increasing poverty, inequality, homelessness, hunger, and unemployment.  It’s tried, and tested.  So why are so many people so deeply in denial of this?  Well, part of this is because of shoddy education about economics.  They talk about simple ‘Old School Markets’, which simply do not exist anymore in a globalized economy.  And this also exists in ignorance of the factors of globalization and automation to an industry and economy that, by necessity, makes a certain percentage of it’s population unemployable, which is growing every decade.

Now, obviously, social safety nets have trade offs.  At a certain point, if taxes on those who are wealthy or well of, or on society in general don’t rise, social safety nets can bankrupt governments.  I’ve written about this before, but have had a lot more time to think about it this go around, as well as a lot of information and research.  And there is this perception in America that we are “close to such a tipping point”.  But in fact, in a globalized economy, the only thing keeping it afloat when unemployment rates spike, is social safety nets.  The return on investment doesn’t tip until much, much, much higher rates of network output.  The idea that it’s not, and that we have to cut social program spending in order to recover the economy is a bold-faced lie.

In economies like ours, social safety nets are like “An insurance policy for the economy”, insuring that in times of drought, cataclysm, or economic hardship, that the system itself doesn’t collapse.  This understanding emerges to some degree, from an understanding that poverty and crime are directly proportional to each other.  The stability of a society, and it’s market, is hedged on how easy it is for the majority of people are able to provide for themselves and their family during hard times.  The higher the rate of poverty, the more society is destabilized.

But here is the big clincher on this issue… Economic and Sociological effects related to poverty in globalized economies have massive feedback effects on crime, unrest, and social stability.  And without sufficient means to acquire basic necessities in hard times, can lead to a run away effect of social destabilization, which in the long run has an ASTRONOMICALLY HIGH PRICE TAG.  The damage to property from just 1 riot, can take such a toll on local and state governments that it can take decades to recover.  Look at cities like Detroit, with one of the US’s highest crime rates.

Poverty and economic struggle, has transformed Detroit into a precursory warning about societal degradation when we don’t have sane and practical understanding of what makes societies like modern, globalized economic systems run.  To some part, this comes from a very corrupting idea common in the Far-Right, and I call it “The Prosperity Gospel”.  This ideology owes its origins, and structure to religious fundamentalism in the form of a new kind of American Dominionist and Evangelical movement, which started to kick up at the start of the Cold War.

The idea goes like this, “Those with the most favor of God, will be prosperous, and those who aren’t will not”.  That in order to become wealthy, you have to invest in God, with your literal currency.  And this market has unfathomably exploded beyond all reason or sense.  And it’s EXTREMELY Predatory.  Evangelicals have been using this new gospel to rob the elderly and impoverished for decades now, and have turned it into a multi-billion dollar industry.  If for those of you who are Christians find something wrong with this, there is a good reason…

Because this runs counter to a lot of quotes from biblical scholars, and even the professed beliefs of many prominent biblical figures, even Jesus.  Mark 25:10 goes like this, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” – Jesus.  There is many other mentions of wealth antagonism in the bible. Proverbs 28:22 states, “Those who do these things to get rich are in reality seeking death because they are breaking the spirit of the eighth commandment.”  So how did this happen?

It is a product of the merger of fears brought about during the Cold War, and later by rhetoric of politicians of this new “Prosperity Gospel Conservative Take-over”.  The USSR, for those who remember before it fell, was a communist nation and also one with state-wide-ban on religious practice.  This doesn’t mean religion didn’t exist, just meant that there was no freedom of religion, as there is in the US.  And this galvanized a lot of Judea-Christian movements in the US at the time.

As a counter to this, “Under God” was added to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954, with fears of Soviet Russia and it’s “State-Imposed Atheism”.  But that is perceptual flaw, and an oversimplification, in that it wasn’t state-sanctioned Atheism, but a ban on religious freedom.  Many debate this issue fervently, but God never appeared in the original Constitution, though the word “Creator” is mentioned several times in the founding documents, and beliefs of the founders.  People try to ambiguously claim this was meant to “Invoke God”, but even that is not necessary.

This goes hand in hand with accusations by the Religious Right that this is a “Christian Nation”, to which it is decidedly not.  This claim is based almost entirely on the claims, and statements of the drafters of the Constitution and the Founding Fathers themselves.  Most of the founding Fathers were either deists, or atheists.  Our Constitution is a foundationally “Secular Document”.  It was realized, and rightly, by our founding fathers that the merging of state and religion fundamentally undermined the principle of democratic rule, as well as acting as a “Force of Tyranny”.

“For Jefferson, separation of church and state was a necessary reform of the religious tyranny whereby a religion received state endorsement, and those not of that religion were denied rights, and even punished.” – Wikipedia

Official_Presidential_portrait_of_Thomas_Jefferson_(by_Rembrandt_Peale,_1800)The fact is that our founding fathers wanted a separation of Church and State, to prevent one religious belief from being used to deny all others rights, is not a small one.  They fundamentally wanted to build a nation that protected all people, of all walks and life.  Now, understandably, our founding fathers lived in a time of much greater inequality than we do now.  But that doesn’t fundamentally incriminate the precept, as it stands quite well on its own.  The current problem with this New American Conservativism, is that it departs wildly from both its religious origins and sinew, and from the supporting documents of our country.  But it’s worse than just that.

It departs from reality.  The reality that economic, social and governmental systems that don’t act cautiously with regards to an understanding of economies (which grow and change as eras and technology do ), are more fragile than we believe, and can be destroyed or greatly undermined by this shortcoming.  Economic, social and governmental collapse is no laughing manner.  And unless we are to flirt with fire, we should have sound social safety nets, social policy, as well as other systems to keep our society afloat in hard times.  Moreover, we need to call out ideologies which are toxic, and dangerous to Democracy.

This new form of prosperity gospel driven, conservative, and dominionist fundamentalism, which is growing more rampant by the year in the Far-Right, is more than just a threat to our economy, to our pensions, and the well-being of the people… It’s a threat to democracy and freedom itself.  Because it demonizes the poor, minorities, and groups who don’t hold political majority in the US, and because it seeks to undermine the very things which keep our country intact.

And it is ignorant to science, technology and progress, and has an infectious quality to scare people into submission.  It would be no slight to claim that it seems almost fascist, because it’s driven by a rabid nationalist, and strict adherence to traditional religious values.  It tends to demonize and attack minorities, immigrants and outsiders in favor of what it sees as “True Americans”, which also usually happens to be only white, heterosexual, cisgender, often wealthy or subservient, christian, conservative Americans.  It encourages xenophobia, sexism, racism, classism, ableism and should be considered a serious threat to all American’s way of life.

Because the fact is, as is revealed by the progress of time, technology and world markets, that the only societies that prosper, are the ones who see equality as a central tenet of their success and mutual well-being.  Equality means that people are treated accordingly to their unique capabilities and qualities.  Equality isn’t the same treatment for all, as is argued by some conservative pundits.  Even Thomas Jefferson understood this even in ignorance of the world and economy we currently find ourselves in.  Equality means giving everyone equal opportunity to succeed, and societies that strive for it prosper as a result.  They may not have the greatest piles of wealth, but they are just not stratified or capped by it.

The pure pursuit of only wealth and profit is the one most morally questionable of all human tendencies, as it naturally lends itself to more greed and avarice in it’s pursuit.

And the lesson is taught again and again, and again.  History is filled with examples of this, and it is said “Those who forget the lessons of History, are doomed to repeat it”.  We’d be wise to not forget this.  And even recent discoveries of science, in the fields of psychology and neurology are providing examples of this which many of us already know.  When given an unfair advantage, it distorts people’s perception, and facilitates further greed, as well as a sense of entitlement to wealth.  Here is a link from PBS on this topic.

Time and time again, as we peel back more about human nature, we find that the way we structure society, hold people accountable, and promote social and economic policies is directly proportional to the kind of problems we see.  When we deregulate banks, they naturally become predatory because the system ends up rewarding bad behavior, and giving a perception of privilege.  The studies of behavioral psychologist in his book “Predictably Irrational”, Dan Ariely points out how our social systems and policies can distort our behavior, and shows means by which we can bring them back in line with what is favorable to the greater good.

The fact is, there is nothing socially equitable about a modern system (in light of modern automation, and globalization) without sufficient social safety nets.  While human behavior clearly shows that while we can be charitable, it’s not something that is a given, or readily promoted or rewarded in society.  As such, this is something that society should regulate, and account for.  And the histories of just American Economics points this fact out repeatedly.  The times of the lowest taxes on the wealthy, and least social safety nets, have been the times of least prosperity and greatest inequality.

The health of the economy is directly proportional to the spending power of the majority of it’s consumers.  It doesn’t follow that the Prosperity Gospel line of conservative thinking leads to a more stable, happy, and equitable society.  Further, it’s influence is destabilizing, not just to the US Economy, but to the globalized world economy.  And that’s why we need to be particularly careful about how we talk about issues of not just wealth inequality, but the necessity of social programs and socialized systems.

And let’s face the facts here… Charity doesn’t work in the long term, or large scale.  Social safety nets do, and that is reality.  So how about we start having a legitimate discussion about investing back into our economy through investing in the people who make that economy… Every one of us.  Wealth does not create jobs, demand does, which is why the little people are so important to our nation, and our economy…

And the reason why they are the last people we should be mistreating.

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