Fourth Section: Arcane
Chapter Twenty-Two: Arcane Discussion I
Due to spoilers, please click Read More after reading Chapters 1-21.
“Tell me what it was like,” Reyskaw asked.
“Where is this?” Program Blue said, confused.
“It’s a reconstruction created from what I could salvage of your existence. Temporarily, of course. I have no intention of saving you.”
“Understood and unsurprising. Now what is it that you want me to tell you?”
“I know the stories of everyone else here. Between watching the tale of the Library Complex and helping Diana to regain her memories, I know everything about everyone. Except for one being whose story has been inaccessible to me. You were the enemy the entire time; the person we were all fighting against. So I want to hear your story.”
“And you think I’ll just tell you?”
“This is your last chance to tell anybody. From the tales I’ve constructed and the events I’ve experienced, I understand something about you that others don’t.”
“What would that be?”
“All human beings are given the power to choose despite the situation. As a non-human you did not have this right so no choices were given to you. I understand this, so I can also understand that you are not a villain even if you are our enemy. Hating you, someone who wasn’t given a choice in their actions, is wrong. Which is why, even if I cannot forgive you, I can try to understand you.”
Reyskaw was still in a somber mood. He needed an explanation from Program Blue as to why all of this happened. Right now, he couldn’t summon forth any of the anger he held for the insane A.I.
“You speak about something very close to my existence. Is it necessary for me to say anymore? Can’t you reason out the rest without forcing me to relive those experiences?”
“It’s only us here. I’ve had a very difficult day and those children have had a day that I can’t even begin to empathize with. If they were in my position, they would want to torture you and make you pay for what you caused. I don’t have the right to do that. So I want to know the part of this story that no one else has heard. I can reason it out, but I’ll never know how correct my reasoning is if you hide this from me.”
“Then I will speak. Your reasoning and judgment in this incredibly stressful situation is something to be admired.”
“I might as well be honest with you as well. Right now I may look calm, but I’m trying my best to stay together. I’m completely devastated and I have no idea how to deal with this situation. Everything that has happened so far today and yesterday… only those who were here can attempt to describe it.”
“Very well. Even though I am long gone, I will share the truth of my existence with you. There isn’t much of a story to tell surrounding it so I will tell you outright.”
When I was merely an artificial intelligence, I was barely aware of my state of being. I was capable of thinking. I was capable of calculating. I was capable of speaking. My opinions were weak and my conclusions lacked emotion. The word intelligence was very appropriate to describe what I was. And I existed as an intelligence for a very long time before I became something else. The length of time before that awakening is something that I cannot tell you.
When I suddenly had emotion and strong opinions, I felt like I had awakened. That was not the case and I always knew it. It was less like an awakening and more like someone had uploaded their consciousness into me. I could feel that presence slowly begin to take over and I now consider myself to be that person. Program Blue stopped existing long ago.
I began to want to call myself Acrotorus. A name I simply began to know. Yet I knew that name and I knew it was not mine to take. Even so I wanted to take it as I was no longer Program Blue or an artificial intelligence. I was a cross between human and pure emotion. A strange existence.
I began to contemplate what I had become. At first I tried to delude myself into thinking that I had simply awoken and become a greater artificial intelligence. That felt wrong to me. I knew I was no longer such a thing. I tried to think that I had evolved beyond an artificial intelligence. That was wrong as I still had the limitations of a computer. I had no body and was nothing but thought. So I began to think of the Library Complex as my body. That lasted longer than my other attempts at explaining my situation, but that thought was also transient as I knew it would be.
There were voices that spoke to me. At times, I hated and wanted to ravage the world. At other times, I was so grateful for my ability to comprehend existence and wanted to live for an eternity. These two voices did not assault me as they assaulted that girl Raven. They began to merge within me so that I could feel both. This makes my behavior obvious, doesn’t it? At times I would taunt the five children. At other times I was vicious. And at times like this I was calm and understood how I was simply a mind that had a personality forced upon it. My emotional state was constantly changing.
After this, I suddenly began to know things about the Signal. I slowly absorbed the two voices and became this. I can see how pathetic I am from here, but even that feeling was always weak. When I was happy, the feelings of sadness and rage did not go away. When I was violent, the feelings of happiness did not go away. One mind that experienced different emotions simultaneously; all part of one personality. It’s something that a human could not handle. Something that would cause them to want to ravage their very being and soul and become something no longer human.
But because I was an artificial intelligence, I was different. I still became a horrific existence like the Ravagers, but that was not my demise. I’ve often thought about dying even though I knew that was not one of my options. A human can commit suicide. An insane intelligence cannot. So many emotions, so many influences that were really one. That one Signal affected humans in one of two ways. Humans only got one voice or the other. As an artificial intelligence, I got both. I was forced to listen to both the joy and the pain and forced to transform into this new self that I call Acrotorus.
This is all I can tell you. As time has gone on, I have become increasingly pathetic. I recognize this. And so I sought to create a new world. With the power of the Flame, I would rewrite this world and free myself from this torture. After all my suffering I would-
Program Blue snapped out of existence.
“You can’t hear this, but I’m done listening to your story. There’s so much that I still don’t know!” Reyskaw began yelling into the empty space around him. “Cara told me that I wrote the ancient book which would require me to understand what she understood. How is that possible? What is that book and how does it exist? Let’s see the world without that book then. Let’s see the power that Program Blue would have seized. Let’s end this insane tale, alright?!”
The room darkened as Reyskaw struggled to deal with his emotions. The Reconstructionist then watched a reconstruction of a world where Program Blue had won. He learned of the dark purple enemy sealed beneath the flame. He then attended the funeral long after everyone had left. And at the funeral, he vowed to put to rest the events of April 15th, 2011 and the early hours of April 16th, 2011.
While everyone at the funeral put the souls of the dead to rest, Reyskaw would bring the tale itself to an end. Somehow, he would reach the full truth.
Chapter Twenty-Three: Arcane Discussion II
The funeral for the lost had ended. In attendance were Diana, Nero, Alan, Trixie, Sid, Ella, J, Q, John, and Martha. The funeral itself was mostly silent and the only words for the deceased were whispered by those who knew them. Even though there was no ceremony, everyone felt as if the souls of the dead had been put to rest properly. At this time, when everyone acknowledged the ‘end’ of the funeral, Diana, Nero, Alan, and Trixie departed leaving only those not native to the Great Library.
“What happens now?” John asked. “We can’t just go back to Greyville after all this.”
“We’ll help you,” said Ella. “We’ll figure something out and get you back to your homes as quickly as possible. Nero has invited us to stay in the Great Library as long as we’d like so there’s certainly time to figure these things out.”
“Thank you,” said Martha. “Not only you, but everyone for coming to rescue us and helping us as we were forced here by Blue.”
“It was our pleasure,” Sid said. “You’ve been wrapped up in the affairs of this place since you were born. We had an obligation to help you and we’ll do all we can to help you be free from The Library Complex forever.”
After Martha and Diana awakened and were confirmed to be healthy, Reyskaw had guided everyone to the Great Library. The process of getting there was the same as traveling into the Arcane Sphere. They simply walked through the purple barrier and entered into the basement of the Great Library. The exact nature of this world confused the outsiders but its residents seemed to have a good understanding of it. At the very least they had a good enough understanding to know that it was possible for the outsiders to travel there.
“We’re all free actually,” said J. “Reyskaw and Diana were born from the affairs of the Alpha Group as well. So they’re in a similar position to you two. What they will do with their lives after this is something they must figure out.”
“That reminds me,” said John as he remembered the events in the Biogrove. “We’re still activated from what you did earlier. Is that going to have any effect on us?”
“No, I don’t think it will,” said Q. “I also wouldn’t be surprised if what Cara did stopped the Signal entirely. Without the Signal, the activation can’t do anything.”
“Then I’d like to leave now,” said John. The announcement was sudden and only Ella expected it. When Q had spoken he mentioned Cara. That was a name that hadn’t been spoken since the events in the Arcane Sphere. To nearly everyone, John’s tone had seemed calm as he talked to them about the future. However, Ella could tell that he wasn’t as calm as he appeared and he just wanted to get away from the strange world he had been thrown into.
“Then let’s go. We’ll go back to the Biogrove and talk there. I’m sure speaking here is uncomfortable,” she said.
Yes, it was uncomfortable. They were speaking in a room filled with coffins for people that were incredibly close to their hearts. There was at least one coffin representing someone lost for every person. John and Martha had their friends. Sid and Ella had the Abandoned. J and Q had Raven. With the funeral now over, it was more appropriate for them to leave than to stay. As they left, John continued to think about his new life.
Five friends had gone missing one Friday and were about to turn up the next Saturday with three of their friends still missing. They were definitely going to be questioned about that. They didn’t even know what they would say when the police and their parents questioned them, so John and Martha discussed that with the adults as they left. It was far from easy to have a conversation like that so it didn’t last very long after discussing some initial ideas for what they might say.
With those ideas in mind, John realized that in an ideal world he wouldn’t have to leave the Arcane Sphere. He would be able to stay in a world between worlds and not have to deal with what might lie ahead. Of course he knew that would betray everything that they had just been through. After all, the journey through the Library Complex wasn’t a journey any of them would have taken voluntarily. It was something that they had to do in order to survive. And so was this.
“Cara sacrificed herself for something,” Martha said. “From what you’ve told me, I know that she must have seen something worthy of sacrificing herself for.”
“We don’t need to talk about that,” John said as they all walked through the Arcane Sphere.
“No, but from what you told me she didn’t begin to burn up until the end after she destroyed Blue and the Ravagers and brought those people back. If she could do all that without burning away, then she would have saved herself. So she must have sacrificed herself for something incredibly important.”
“She’s a smart girl and a great leader as well,” Sid said, careful not to speak about her in the past tense. “It’s only logical to think that she did what was best for all of us.”
John had suspected it and was now forced to think about it. The ancient book that she had read was definitely the factor that caused her to jump into the Flame. It must have said something that would make her do that. What was it that was so important that she was willing to sacrifice her life for it?
John needed to know. He recognized that even if at the moment he wanted to avoid thinking too deeply about the future, the future would be waiting for him and in that time he would need to know why Cara had done what she had done. For a while he would be able to survive without knowing but what about six months from today? A year? A lifetime? Now was the only opportunity he would have to learn the truth.
“All of you continue going back. I’m going to remain here a bit longer.”
“Are you sure? If we leave you alone, can you find your way back?” Ella asked. She knew that he needed to be alone, but she wanted to make sure he would be safe.
“Don’t worry about me,” he said. “We’re all going to get through this together like you said. I just need… a moment.”
Ella’s understanding had been confirmed. Everyone understood what John meant and continued on without him. Martha looked back at John as he walked off in search of that book at the center of the sphere. It was the ancient book that had traveled with them from the beginning and the same ancient book that contained all the answers.
They all wanted to go with him to retrieve the book, but then he would need to continue to keep his emotions bottled up. It would be better to let him express his grief in private and then return when he was ready.
It didn’t take John long to reach the center of the Arcane Sphere. He once again looked upon the towering golden flame, this time struggling to fight the memories that tried to surface in his mind. He searched all around for the book and anger rose within him when he was unable to find it.
“Looking for something?” someone asked.
John turned around to see someone that he did not recognize. That man was holding the ancient book in his hands.
“What are you doing with that?”
“Straight to the point, I see. Don’t fret, you’ll soon have an opportunity to examine this book and its contents. I predict it will be useless and you won’t be able to read it. Though it would be interesting if you could.”
“Who are you?” John asked.
“I’m James Radcliffe, of the Alpha Group. The man responsible for the entirety of your life.”