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Archibald Gardener - Chapter 2

Short story By: fearnotbooks
Science fiction



Christian Science Fiction


Submitted:Oct 14, 2011    Reads: 3    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   


CHAPTER 2

"He hears his daughter's voice singing in the village choir" Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Mr. Flink walked at a pace that showed he was in charge, "So-you are the one that came up with the Sullivan ad campaign."

Amy Silverberg kind of smiled for a brief moment-glad to be noticed for her efforts-but when she turned her face to the new client-she was stoic, "I do the best I can for my clients-that is what makes the advertising firm of Harrison, Byrd and Silverberg different from the others."

Mr. Flink's eyes rested hard on her young and pretty face, "I suppose you want me to believe that the other firms don't try hard."

Amy stopped for one moment-and when she did-for one brief second-so did the rest of the business pack they were walking with-including Mr. Flink-she walked on to the lift, "What I meant was that no matter how hard they try and sell your product-and I will admit that there are good firms out there-our firm can reach more potential customers."

Mr. Flink asked as they entered the lift, "Do you know what I'm selling?"

Amy returned as the doors closed-and a sudden feeling of panic came over her-but only for a moment-maybe it was the crowded elevator-the high powered men and women in company-or maybe she just wanted the account so badly-that she didn't want to make any mistakes, "No-but I can sell anything!"

Jodie Byrd jumped in-sensing her friend sinking in her own pride, "What Amy is saying, Mr. Flink is that she's the best. Why-did you know that she sold meat to a colony on Riner that were suppose to be total vegetarians?"

Not the meat account-Amy was trying to stay on track-this client had been known to just get up and walk out on the ad campaign if he didn't like it-she didn't want him walking out of the lift and leaving the building before anyone had a chance to see what he wanted them to sell, "That was a long time ago-and I am well aware that you are a vegetarian-yourself-no disrespect intended."

Mr. Flink left the elevator as it stopped on the six hundredth floor-it poured right into the conference room-where all of the top senior marketers had already gathered-smiles and nods from some-it seemed all had something nice to say to Flink-as he rounded the table and sat before his console-that the company had linked to his corporate office, "Thank you all for coming-as you are aware-I'm looking for the right company to launch a multi-billion shekels advertising campaign. And after careful assessment-I've come to you."

John Harrison uttered, "We are pleased to have your confidence, Mr. Flink"

Mr. Flink smiled-because it wasn't about that-pushing a few buttons-the multimedia show began, "This is what I'm selling-total body transplants-this is the most sophisticated surrogate body ever designed-the human head is removed and grafted onto this machine body-which looks and works just like a human body-better-no sickness, disease-death. People I want you to sell to the public-physical immortality!"

There was a sudden quiet in the conference room-the fact of the matter was that for about ten seconds-no one moved-then Amy glanced out onto the landscape through the window-she got up and went to it-slowly turned around-facing the eyes on her, "This is the ultimate beauty and health product-the campaign will read: Heaven on Earth...now you too can be perfect!"

Flink nodded and smiled-then there was spontaneous applause for the slogan.

The restaurant was modestly crowded-not where they were sitting-John, Jodie and Amy-the three musketeers they liked to think of themselves-friends since college-now taking on the big boys in the corporate world of psychic advertising. They sat around a table and were eating lightly-Jodie had something on her mind.

Jodie finally uttered it, "I know the two of you have been with me since Cindy and I have been trying to get pregnant-well-I'm the one-well I am."

John still had food in his mouth, "Yes-you are the one-what are you the one of?"

Jodie looked up-then her eyes fell on her friends, "I'm pregnant-Cindy and I are going to have a baby."

Amy sat back, "You mean the cross genetic sampling worked-the two of you are going to have a baby from both of your genetic chemistry? Well-that's fantastic."

John smiled, "To think-two lesbians-having a baby from both of their natural genetic makeup. They have finally gotten it right."

Jodie cautioned, "There are still some rough points to overcome. First of all-it's going to be a boy."

John was surprised, "A boy-but the two of you are the parents-both of you are women-how can you have a boy?"

Jodie smiled, "That was the tricky part-inverting one of our genetic chemistry enough so that the egg being implanted could be fertilized by a XY genetic sequence. I don't know-it's all Greek to me. But it seems to have worked."

John looked over at Amy, "What's wrong-no-let me guess-you want a baby too."

Amy smiled, "I used to want one with you-remember-but you had to go off and marry Malissa."

John voiced, "I thought the two of you were best of friends?"

Amy moved her food around, "Your wife and I are friends, John-and don't you go-with your big mouth and tell her anything different. I was just saying-back in our college days-we all thought it was going to be you and me-the baby thing-you know."

Jodie interjected-sensing the heaviness of her friends moods-or maybe she just wanted the attention focused back on her, "A lot can happen after college-and it has. John and Malissa-me and Cindy-Amy and-Amy and..."

Amy finished, "Her robot boy friend-go on and say it! I'm attracted to artificial humans as sexual partners."

Jodie said, "I wasn't going to say that. But Cindy and I do have a little problem-we were going to take a second honeymoon on Mars. But now that the baby has come-well-let's just say that I have a lot of other things going on right now."

John sensed something, "Why-is everything going well with you and Cindy?"

Jodie became jumpy, "I didn't say that they were anything other than great-did I?"

Amy smoothed things out, "Hey-we are here to eat and celebrate the new news of our friend's pregnancy-synthetic-wine, waiter-our friend is drinking and eating for two!"

John put forth, "You can't drink-you are pregnant."

Jodie uttered, "It's okay-synthetic-wine is alcohol free-but it tastes great all the same."

John nodded, "Okay-just looking out for my friend-here."

Jodie smiled at both of them, "And I love you for it-the both of you. Anyway-I want you to have the tickets to Mars, Amy-find yourself a flesh and blood guy-stop the creepy android-sexual thing. You are better than that."

Foster helped Amy as they fixed a salad and picked a nice wine to go with it, "I don't think I fully understand."

Amy stopped what she was doing for a moment-then looked flat on, "No-I suppose that you won't. You couldn't really."

"Why do you say that?"

"Because you are my robot lover-you are only programmed to do the things that I want you to do. Oh, God-maybe she was right..."

"Right about what?"

"All of these years-I've been hiding-I bought you because I was lonely-I wanted the perfect boyfriend-lover-I don't know. But now I've been given a chance to go on a vacation to Mars. I've been given an opportunity to change my life-and not feel like a jerk-for doing it."

"So-you are saying-that you feel like you've wasted your time with me?"

"No-no-that is not what I'm saying-I'm saying that I chose to live my life with a machine-that looked like a man-speaks like a man-even makes love like a man-but lives to please me all the time."

"And this is bad-this is suddenly not what you want?"

"No. You are wonderful, Foster. I guess-in some way that I can't even understand myself-I love you-and you can't help but love me-because that is how you are made."

"Do you remember when you first got me-do you remember what you told me after the first night that we made love?"

"No-refresh my memory."

"You told me that you were happy-that now you had found a man that wouldn't cheat on you-or forget your birthday-or lie to you-or ever grow tired of being with you. You were happy-because-my eyes never wander to another woman-no matter how many-and at parties-my attention is always on you-making you feel special. I've been designed to protect you-both physically and emotionally."

"The perfect man..."

"No-from what you've been trying to tell me all night-I'm the perfect robot substitute for a man. If I didn't know any better-and I don't-because I can't-I'd say that you don't love me anymore."

Amy took the evenly poured glass of wine from Foster and looked into his eyes, "What do you see when you look at me?"

Foster smiled as he traditionally seated her at the table-then he sat across from her-Amy supposed it was some fancy programming that caused him to mimic like he was thinking about what she had asked him-it never donned on her that he might actually have real thought, "I see the love of my life-questioning whether or not to leave me for someone else."

Amy was completely taken aback, "I-er-no, Foster", but she looked at him and began to realize that he was right. Damn-he really can think-not just copy actions-and mimic behavior-did he have a mind?

Foster uttered after taking a sip of wine, "What's wrong?"

Amy finally snapped out of it, "Nothing-I just never considered that you felt that way-that you might have real feelings. I always thought that robot mates-were simply programmed to act like the owner wanted them to act."

Foster responded, "I am acting like my owner wants me to act. I can't tell you to just turn me off-literally-and leave me in the closet until you decide to reactivate me-I want to live."

Amy's mother busied herself preparing dinner-it was rare when she had all of her children over the house for a home cooked meal-she finally let her eyes rest on her oldest daughter, "So-what are you saying-that you are going to take this vacation to Mars-so that you can find yourself?"

Amy felt foolish-when her mother put it that way, "No, mother-I'm okay with who I am. I've already found myself a long time ago. I'm just searching for something..."

Amy's dad came into the kitchen-felt the tension between the two of them-quickly grabbed an import beer and was trying to get out of there when the matriarch of the family cornered him, "No, Charles-you tell your daughter that she isn't going anywhere-specially to Mars of all places!"

Amy's dad smiled at Amy-then seriously looked at his wife-he could clearly see that there was no way out for him, "Honey, don't you think that I'm as proud of Amy as I can be." He seriously hoped that would get him off the hook-but it just sank him in deeper.

Amy said, "See-why can't you be supportive-like did?"

Oh-that was the wrong thing to say-Amy's mom just went at it, "Look what you've done-you do it every time-men! Now I asked you a simple question-it didn't require a lot of thought or fancy wording on your part-all you had to do was agree with me!"

Amy's dad looked at Amy-with the expression-help, "Honey-this really seems like a subject that the two of you have been hashing out. Don't you think that it would be better for the two of you if I just stayed out of it?"

Amy's mother put her hands on her broad hips, "Stay out of it? How can you stay out of it-she's you daughter..."

Amy's dad voiced, "I do have other children-you know-grand kids too."

Amy's mother turned her motherly concerns back to her daughter-pushing her loving husband out of the kitchen, "Men-if I didn't love your father so much-now you-you are going to listen to reason. Running away from your problems has always been your way of coping with them. You can't run away from life!"

Amy was biting on a bread stick, "Run away-mother, I'm not running away from anything-I'm just going on a vacation."

Amy's mother corrected, "A vacation that was designed for your gay friends-I love the two girls grandly-but they don't have anymore sense than you do. Why didn't you come to me or your father?"

Amy waved her hands in the air-some of the little nephews and nieces came in-wanting to hear things that was none of their business-Amy smiled at them-motioned something that made them all laugh-then she turned back to her mom, "Mother-Mars has been colonized for more than a hundred years. There are businesses and corporations and communities-good grief-it was where the first transdoor technology was tested-linking Earth Prime to Mars by means of the transdoor continuum. Now we go to Mars in the blink of an eye-like we travel to hundreds of other off world locations. It's really no big deal."

Amy's mother shook her head, "Yes it is-it's where people go when they want to gamble and act in ways that are unacceptable to decent folks here on Earth Prime."

Amy sat on a stool-looking on as her mother continued to make food for everyone-and more people were coming into the house-the door bell just rang again-and she could hear happy voices floating in from another room in the wonderful old neo-Victorian home, "I love you, mom."

Amy's brother came and sat with her on the swing-the back yard opened up into a wooded ravine-beautiful vista with other houses popping up here and there through the thick-he sat with her for a long moment seeming concerned, "Mom tells me that you have given up on ever finding a guy that you can settle down with."

Amy kind of looked off-then placed her gaze square on him, "Mom is nosy-she means well-but face it-mom's idea of happiness is conventional."

The nieces and nephews ran pass them-playing some game-her brother uttered, "What's wrong with being conventional? That is how we got here-mom and dad had good Christian values-raised us right-or tried to-anyway."

Amy nodded sourly, "No-they raised us right-they did a damn good job of it if you ask me-those two worked together-neither of them had much of anything when they fell in love-but God blessed them. Now-look at them-in the latter age-they are enjoying grand children-us-with our problems-and soon to be-next generation of grand kids-if our sister has anything to say about it."

Her brother squinted, "Okay-let's talk about it-our sister is going to be a grand mother-she got married young-and now-well mom and dad are very happy with her. And that doesn't seem to be the case with you-are you ticked off or just like making mom's life rough?"

Amy stopped swinging in the two seat swing for a moment-then slowly resumed, "Look-I was here first-I came out here to get a little peace and quiet-from the rest of the family. I just wanted to enjoy the gorgeous view that mom and dad have in their back yard-and maybe think a little."

Amy's brother nodded, "Where is your robot boy friend?"

Amy's eyes went up to the sky for a moment, "He's a companion-not my boy friend-and I left him at home."

Her brother voiced, "Most people now days have robot servants-but few decent people have sex with them-they are just machines-appliances."

Amy shrugged, "You ever see a pretty woman and wished that you could be with her?"

Her brother stopped swinging and stood up, "What does that have to do with robot appliances that look like people?"

Amy went on, "Ever think-wow-that girl looked just like I've always wanted a woman to look-but she doesn't even notice you. So-for just one brief moment-your mind moves to-what if I had a robot companion that looked just like her-and don't lie!"

Amy's brother gave in, "Okay-now days-with all sorts of technology available for people to make their lives better-yes-I think everyone has done it. But that doesn't mean that I went out and really did it-pay all of those thousands of shekels to buy a robot that looked like the perfect woman-for me. I mean-there are limits to which a decent person will go in order to be happy."

Amy frowned, "Maybe what you are saying is that you don't think that I'm very decent. But I'll tell you this-he is nice and cares about me-and makes me happy."

Amy's brother said, "Then why the big trip to Mars to try and find true love. The people on Mars are even more consumed by technology-that is how they live and survive on Mars-they rely on technology for the most basic of things. You are never going to escape your fetish until you get rid of that machine that you profess to be in love with."

Amy barked, "What if I decide to take him with me-on a second honeymoon-just me and the robot? What's wrong-that would shame the family too much?"

Her brother shook his head as he walked away, "Real people, Amy-real love."

Mrs. Anderson uttered, "It's been a long time since I saw you, Amy-how have you been?"

Amy didn't respond quickly, "I've been okay-doing just fine."

"I've talked with your mother-she seems worried about you all the time-oh not in an obvious way-but I can tell."

"Why would my mother be worried about me?"

"You know..."

"No I don't-oh-yeah-that."

"Do you still have him?"

"You mean the robot?"

"Yes-the-er-android you live with."

"There is no easy way of saying this-I live with a robot that looks like a man. I'm one of those awful androsexuals."

"Oh-please, dear-I'm not the kind to judge."

"Now that is strange-because everyone else seems to be the kind. Why not add you to the list of others."

"It's just that it's not natural."

"What-to not to want to be lonely-to want someone that won't cheat on you-good Lord! I was involved with someone who would just cheat on me right out in the open. Damn them! That hurt me so much-but they didn't care about my feelings-just there own perverted lusts. Finally I got up the nerve to get rid of them and finally I bought the robot."

"Are you happy with the decision?"

"More happy than the people around me who seem to be constantly upset that I own him. To be honest-I'm very happy with him."

"Don't you care about what people say about you-behind your back?"

"If I were having an affair with a human man-people would talk about me behind my back-and it would probably be that they would be saying that the guy I'm sleeping with is cheating on me. Now-I don't have to worry about that-because he never cheats-he belongs to me."

"What about the fact that he-it-isn't alive?"

"Well-think about it-now days-most people live very long lives-and in order for them to live that long-most of them have had all sorts of organ transplants-a good many of the organs are artificial-and semi-artificial-meaning that part of the replacement organ is synthetic while the other part is organic."

"Some of the people do it that way-but I-myself-I have had multiple organ transplants-that is why I am so old-yet-I'm in great health and look much younger than my age-ever since the A-sphere was invented-that artificial organ that-when implanted into your body-allows you to receive transplants from any species-or any human being-without fear of rejection."

"So then-you are not natural-because natural would mean that you would have died a good century ago."

"It is true-people do live a long time now-centuries. Can you imagine a time when the average life span was less than a hundred years?"

"No-it seems so primitive. But you can't fault me on my decision to live with a robot-because a lot of people do-and for all sorts of reasons."

"I heard you were going to Mars-on vacation-they are more accepting over there."

Heidi just got through ordering another pitcher of imported beer, "So-you are really going to Mars to find whatever it is that you don't want to tell anybody about."

Amy took a sip from her mug, "I'm going to Mars on a vacation-I didn't even plan it-it was suppose to be Jodie's vacation with her wife-but she's pregnant and well-I guess her doctor doesn't think traveling is a good thing right now."

"But I thought you had everything you wanted right her on Earth Prime-Mars is suppose to be really liberal in some places and in other places-really strict-old school-strict!"

"Yeah-I know-I've been reading up on it ever since I decided to accept the tickets and go. You ever been through a transdoor? I mean-I know it is established technology and all-but I've never had to use it."

"Hey-a lot of people on Earth Prime don't like the technology-they think it takes away from them-something that is sacred-or something like that-I don't know. But to answer your question-yes I have-once-it's really no big deal. You just step through the machine and into another world-in an instant-like walking through a door into another room-only the next room happens to be light years-- if not millions of light years away."

"What about those paradoxes-you know-the ones that everybody talks about-the creepy things-there being more than-one you-and after you're dead-you're still alive-in the transdoor continuum. You know the stories-how on some planets-the laws allow people who have lost loved ones to go back in time-through the transdoor-and bring them into the current time."

"Those things are illegal here on Earth Prime-and on most of the civilized worlds-just the Dark Planets do that type of thing."

"I don't know about that-I've heard of worlds with similar laws as ours-giving special permission to people-to bring back the dead."

"It does sound-creepy-doesn't it."

"I guess you have to be born in that culture. Do you believe that you have a soul?"

"A what?"

"You know-a soul..."

"Hey-what type of talk is that-you sound like one of those religious nuts-you know-the ones that defy the government-with talk about ancient books and a guy that was suppose to save the world-but he could save himself!"

"No! I'm not one of them-a Faither! No-I just was wondering if there was something to all that talk-about going through the transdoor and losing something important to you-a vital part of your humanity-or something."

"Your soul? Now I get it-I don't know-science has proven that we are made up of the same things that the world is made of-hell-we can even transplant organs from animals-without fear of rejection-thanks to the invention of the A-Sphere."

"Yeah-the artificial immune organ they implant. That's creepy too."

"Gee-everything is creepy to you-you sound like you do need that vacation-you've

been working too hard. Maybe a nice stay on Mars will change everything for you."

"You think so-because I have been tired lately-maybe I do need to just relax-see the universe from another perspective."

"You are not one of them-are you-because I'm your friend-but you know-if other people heard you talking like you were-they'd think you were a Faither. And you know-a lot of decent people don't like Faithers-because they don't like Technoligion."

"No-don't worry-I'm not one of them-I worship Technoligion just like everyone else."

I live my life in praise of God the Father and his son Jesus Christ

My heart is filled with the Light of God even though I live in a

Dark and sullen time where death is upon us all in the form of

Wars and famine and disease and seemingly everything un-Godly

But God has gathered us all to worship him and it is the just and right

Thing to do because God has created the heavens and the earth and

His divine will goes far beyond our puny ability to understand and

The fools of science that reject God are wise in evil and sin

Let your voice go out to praise God all you people of the earth

For we are called to the flock of Jesus Christ and we are the children

Of the God most High for many are the false believers who pretend

To believe in God but through false speech and actions are revealed

The earth and the sky are the Heavenly Father's for our hands did not

Create the sky nor our feet the earth beneath who has wisdom except

That it comes from God or who can build things except that it comes

From God for the Lord is gracious unto all the children of mankind

When I was young I looked at the world and wondered upon it for

The world seemed very big and full of strange things yet I knew in

My heart that all things were from the Heavenly Father God Almighty

And I sang a song un-singable in my heart that Jesus Christ put there

Lord in my adult years I have been plagued with awful images and

Terrible visions for which I understand very few if any but I know

That you have called your children to serve and do honor to your

Son's Holy Kingdom and I am very happy to know of Jesus Christ

For who are we if we are rich in the earth and have not truly humbled

Ourselves before Jesus Christ for what wealth can there be that God

The Father has not bestowed upon his Holy Son and because of that

Jesus Christ has bestowed upon us as the Holy will of God Almighty

God I thank you for the good in my life and I thank you for the bad

Because I know that in the end you will deliver me form the bad and

In its place shall be only good and it is the will of God to save his

People and to gather his flock for Heaven is wiser than Hell-fire's doom

Holy Jesus Christ life up your glory and glory the work of my hands

That I my do glory unto God in all my days for I admit to being weak

And I have sinned and have fallen but to God is my hope and faith

Placed and I await your Holy Salvation for I love Jesus Christ the King

 

Amy looked over the documents that she needed so that she could get her passport-Andrew happened to notice-so he asked, "Are you going to Mars?"

Amy gazed up at him and she felt a sudden lack of breath for just a second-that second was all she needed to know-she'd felt it a long time ago-there was chemistry, "Why-yes-yes I am and are you taking a vacation-too?"

Andrew smiled, "In a way-business mostly but every time--I try to mix business and pleasure."

"Oh-does it work?"

"Work? My mixing--I'm guessing that you mean-some times-I try and bring my kids along on the really good business trips-that way I can keep an eye on them--at the same time-try and teach them a little about the culture."

"Oh-you are married...."

"No-I am not-I have children-but my wife and I are divorced. We-er-well-let's just say that she wanted her freedom after having three wonderful kids-and talking me into marrying her for over sixteen years. In what would have been our seventeenth year-we got divorced. So-I gave her freedom and she gave me and the kids peace of mind."

"Wow-do women really do things like that-I mean-usually it's the guy that is the bona fide flake-but you are telling me that a mother left her children and husband for-what-some other guy-to be free?"

"You know-to be honest with you-I have never been able to figure out what the problem was. When we met-she begged me to marry her-she was so depressed-talking about killing herself-if I didn't."

"Hmm-she sounds unstable. You shouldn't have married her."

"You think so."

"Look-how did the marriage end-with her running off-leaving you and your three kids-how old are they now?"

"Oh-they are still young. The oldest is twelve-then the middle is ten and the youngest is eight."

"What are they?"

"One boy and two girls-the boy is the oldest."

"Wow-that is just-so not right! You must have been very angry."

"At first I was-really angry-but then I decided to place my feelings and the mess of the fallen marriage-in God's hands."

"God-you mean Technoligion..."

"Oh hell no! That false religion is for nothing more than monetary gain of the very few. No-I'm talking about the one and only really God-Jesus Christ. I put my fate and trust in Jesus Christ's hands-and never looked back."

"So then-you must be a Faither?"

"Yeah-I guess you could say that-ancient Christians-is what they were centuries ago-now because of all the off world travel-thanks largely in part to the invention of the transdoor-people who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ are called Faithers. I belong to one of the local churches. We all worship Jesus Christ."

Amy was amazed, "You are not afraid to confess your God?"

Andrew laughed slightly, "Confession is good for the soul. Besides-Faithers have a majority on the Ruling Council-six planets in the United Planets are Faither dominated."

The man was mysterious in a dangerous kind of way-the little café was dark and the food wasn't that good-a robot waitress came to the table and took their order. Amy sat across from the much older man-he was well groomed and wore expensive clothes-they did not say very much-nothing that would warrant them being together-but business was business-a new client-Amy started, "So-what are you representing-that you want my firm to market for you?"

Mr. Wayclose grinned then let it go, "I'm not a client."

"I don't think I understand," Amy was really confused-why was she eating that really bad food then?

"You were seen talking to a man the other day."

"Okay-so you are some kind of stalker?"

"I'm a government agent. I work for a special branch that keeps an eye on all of the citizens of the world."

"That's a tall order-seeing that there are more of us than you-how do you do that?"

"When you were born-you received a chip-implanted in your hand or forehead."

"Yes-everyone knows about that-it's a banking chip-so that a person's identity can't be stolen-the chip broadcast a unique number-that number can be read by various machines-that are designed to handle money and verify identification."

"We can watch each and every person using that device. You can't go anywhere without someone in the government knowing where you are and what you are doing and who you are doing it with."

"Okay-so we have no privacy."

"Privacy was outlawed a century ago-when it became obvious that the only way to combat criminals was by knowing everything about everyone at all times."

"Technoligion-that was the cry of the machine gods. As kids-we all learn the same thing. Always suspected that those chips were being used for more than just tracking our money. Did anyone happen to remember when I first had sex?"

"Yes. But this is not about you-specifically-this is about a person that you were with-when you were getting your passport certified-so that you can take your vacation to Mars."

"Okay-I know who you are talking about-Andrew."

"Does he have a last name?"

"I thought you knew everything about everybody-the implanted chip-spy chip-peeping-tom device-you tell me what his last name is."

"We can't-you were talking to a person that does not have a chip implanted-we were unable to find any information on him. Yet-he was able to function at all terminals as easily as if he did have an identification chip. We need to know who this man is and why he choose to contact you."

"You are kidding right-no one can have an ID chip removed. It'll kill them. Hell-some chips accidentally kill people who are in certain kinds of accidents-when the chip mistakenly thinks that it is being removed and kills them."

"This man never had a chip-his birth was never recorded-he doesn't exist. Your chip-is a link to a system of machines that monitor yours and everyone else lives. Because of that-no one can commit a violent crime without being detected-fact is-crimes of violence do not exist anymore-because the criminal can't hide."

"This man-has committed a crime-he's violent?"

"This man is unknown-he's a danger to society-we want you to draw him out."

Pastor Daij-eiuh'qok looked at her for a moment-then uttered, "Okay-I'll talk to you about it."

Amy seemed troubled, "What I'm trying to say is-are the Faithers dangerous?"

"Well-Faithers are just like any other group-there are good and bad in all of us. But if you mean-are the Faithers a threat to our society-the answer isn't that simple. They are accused of doing all sorts of things-but most of the things they are accused of-don't turn out to be true."

"So then-which society is good-Technoligion or Christianity-the Faithers-they are called now days."

"Hmm-you've been doing research on ancient Earth cultures and religion."

Amy shook her head, "This isn't academic, Pastor-I was approached by someone from the government-and asked to spy on a man I just met. Apparently-he is a Faither-he doesn't deny it. I'd think-because of all of the political fall out-and the hatred for any religion that conflicts with Technoligion-that most people would be afraid to admit that they are Faithers."

"Most people are-and they hide it-they meet in secret and pray in secret and practice their religion in secret. But if this person has told you that he is a Faither-well then-he's not hiding it."

"Why not?"

"They believe in God Almighty-Jesus Christ. They were forced into the underground-when the false religion Technoligion gained popularity. People wanted a religion that reflected their love of technology-because technology and science has solved all of our problems-modern people began to worship the very technology that they had created-elevated it to the official religion of all the civilized colonized worlds."

"It became the world religion-why?"

"Because mankind was at war with himself-the world was fighting over-religious points of view. Then they created one world religion-called it Technoligion-it worked. Suddenly-people could agree on one thing-progress began to flourish-before anyone knew it-translaser technology began to show promise-to bridge the gap-between the vast distances of the stars-solar systems so far away-that it took hundreds-even thousands of years to reach them. But-with the invention of the transdoor-once a colony reached their destination-they could build a transdoor on the planet-and instantly-link the past to the future. It was as if-you could just walk from one planet to another-in a twinkly of an eye."

"But-it took the explorers who originally colonized the planet-hundreds-maybe thousands of years?"

"Yes-but once they arrived-they could transdoor back--to a few moments-right after their spaceship left-and announce that the expedition was a success. Time and space have no meaning in the transdoor link-and that is what revolutionized space travel. No one had to break the laws of physics-translaser technology bridges the gap-between space and time."

"Should I spy on this man?"

"Do you want to-what has he done to you?"

"Nothing-in fact-he's very nice. The man who wants me to spy on the Faither-now-he bothers me."

"Hmm-then I think it is a matter of moral character."

"Whose moral character?"

"Why-yours of course-do you do harm to someone who hasn't harmed you-or do you blindly follow a government that you don't trust-and question their authority?"

"The only thing I know is-I'm taking a vacation..."





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