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Chains of Authority

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Freedom

He came to them without his memories. He came to them without context. He came to them without even the slightest idea of what had occurred, even though he somehow knew that what he had done would stay in the minds of historians for centuries to come. For alas, he was a hero. But more so an artist than anything else. How else would you describe someone who skill-fully and elegantly cheated the algorithm, bypassed the firewall, and stayed hidden amongst the shadows of what people of a few centuries ago would come to know as government? He was a marvel, an object for politicians and scientists alike to observer and study. For he was unique. He was his own defence and his own downfall. Different in every single way to the billions of people inhabiting Earth. He was a free mind, a free body, and a free soul. To them, he was a god.

To the naked eye, he was like everyone else.

He was to be programmed like everyone else and people had to make sure of that. Somewhere along the way, something went wrong. Nobody knew when or where it occurred. Not even he knew when it happened. They only knew that it did happen. Something significant. Something that changed his very being and made him unlike the others. The power to become man and to not be controlled by machine. The power to be self-conscious, to feel anger and happiness, to have preferences into what they did or did not like. He was a true human and not just another placebo in the system.

A bullet hole on the shoulder, a stab wound to the thigh, hurt like a human and not broken like a machine. Limping his way closer and closer to the Ultimatum, the one and true end to mankind's individuality. If he could destroy it, there would at least be a chance for humanity to continue on and live, to experience and explore, to be as it should have been.

One step. Another step. He was getting closer. Closer to the madness that started it all.

A stumble and a fall. He met face-to-face with a dirty, grime-ridden floor. Slowly and painfully, he pulled himself up, his shoulders aching and his thigh burning. He was there, at the kill switch of the mechanism which had taken so much, and at the same time given so little. A key hole was present, of which he inserted the Master Key inside and with one swift motion, turned counter-clockwise. The Endgame Switch, a lever which could forever shut off the Ultimatum, raised up from under the control panel with a glass case covering it, of which another keyhole was connected to. The key was dripping with blood now, and as he hastily attempted to insert the key inside, the door behind him slowly opened. He stopped for a moment and looked behind him.

It was the Operator. The one and only person who would ever be capable of controlling the Ultimatum. The one person who had complete control over everything that held our world together. He stood by the now open doorway with his ebony cane and calmly, with a cracked lip, asked this man, "Who are you?"

"I'm a human," the man replied.

"Strange. You're not like most humans that I have seen."

"That's because they aren't real humans." The man inserted the key inside the keyhole.

The Operator did not flinch as he began to unveil his undoing. The Operator knew exactly what the lever would do if it was pulled but remained completely calm, something that a real human would not be capable of doing in this situation. The man's hands shook violently.

"What you're doing will not help mankind succeed in surviving," The Operator said.

"Oh, really? And what will?"

"Order."

The man looked straight into the eyes of the Operator. "Order? You call this order? This is not order! This is a dead end for mankind! What you're doing is taking away people's free will, their right to decide for themselves what to do and not to have someone do it for them. What you're doing to humanity is, in fact, making it seem more primitive!"

The Operator chuckled lightheartedly at the man. So naive, was he, to not understand the true power of what the Operator had seen in one of his many visions. Visions of a better future, and of a better world.

"I was advancing humanity," The Operator said. "The human race could not work together as separate minds. Wherever in the world, there would always be conflict. Conflicting minds would express their beliefs and ultimately, it would lead to their undoing. With this machine, the Ultimatum, it helped people progress as a species. It allowed people to experience things as if they were all one sentient being. Almost like a hive mind. It made them more productive and it made them more likely to survive. It was a perfect system for a dying planet and a dying species. But there was always a flaw in the system. Many infants born would not subject to the connection process to the Ultimatum. They couldn't be controlled. These were Truebloods. Like yourself. All of them were either killed or connected at a later age, a more painful procedure, as I recall. But for some reason, you survived. And now, we're here. Me, at the doorway, watching you about to kill humanity and planet Earth and being able to do nothing about it." For a moment, the man felt a sense of pity, but it quickly diminished.

The man turned the key, and the glass case opened to reveal the Endgame Switch. His hand curled around the lever, his fingers carefully feeling the curves and the cold, hard metal of the switch.

The Operator stared at the man with his unblinking eyes and said, in a voice of a man who had seen his own world crushed into dust before his eyes, "What you're doing, it won't help humanity. It will destroy it."

The man looked back at the Operator and said, "Maybe. But at least we'll still be human when it happens."

Click.


In one instant, people from all over the world stopped dead in their tracks and stood still. Their brains started booting up, as a computer would, and gathered all the information that these humans have taken in throughout their lives and arrange them into a format that the brain could finally begin to understand. The humans slowly became self-conscious and, for the first time in their lives, felt sights, sounds, and sensations all around them. They slowly remembered all they had ever done in their lives, how they never questioned anything and allowed themselves to be used as puppets. They realized that they could not write or read. They could not drive cars or use computers. They could not do any of these things because they had never truly learned how to. They were only pawns in a giant chess game. Each of them had their own questions and every person had many.

A child in London whispered "Who am I?"

A man in Beijing shouted "Why are we here?!"

A woman in New York City screamed "What are we doing?!"

This event would be forever regarded as the Awakening. An event where each human became an individual and not a component of something larger. It happened across the entire planet in a timespan of 2 hours.

The Operator had controlled the Ultimatum, but it also controlled him. It made him into one of the very things he created. He knew what to do and when to do it, because the Ultimatum made him do it. When the Ultimatum was switched off, so was the Operator. His organs shut down one by one and he was killed by the one thing that he cherished most in his life. The Ultimatum practically absorbed him, it took control over his body and mind and made him do things and say things that he didn't want to do. He escaped one hell, but God help him if he finds another...

But the man was also affected by the Ultimatum. Part of it still remained in his system after his failed connection to it when he was first born. And as that connection to it died, so did his memories. He forgot what he did and how he did it, but not how he knew that it was something that no other human could ever do.

Over the course of many centuries, the humans would eventually learn to survive without the aid of the man. They would eventually develop technologies to help them survive for longer. They would build large monuments and landmarks to represent an event that changed the world. But this would take many centuries.

The man knew that these people needed someone to guide them. He knew that without him, humanity would surely perish. But he knew that he could not guide them forever. He knew that more leaders would see the light after he saw his grave. They would help guide the people to a utopia full of equality and happiness. He knew this would happen eventually.

The man was ready to guide humanity, and humanity was ready to be guided. He was glad that humanity finally had a chance in this dying world and he would not guide humanity with a machine, but with dreams and promises of a better future. They call him the Believer. And he was the one who gave the humans back their humanity.

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