Crisis of Idealism: A Space Opera

The World is destroy. Nearly a thousand years later a sinister plot that could destroy all faith in a transcendental power is revealed. Will Good prevail, or will Evil gain power?

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Chapter Thirty: Echoes of the 21st Century

Jonathan was left alone in his cell for days. He had nothing to do but think. He kept on pondering the conversation he had had with Septimus Jones. Often, though, he wondered what had become of Marcelle and his other companions. Jonathan also though about how he could escape. Every few hours, he would look over his entire cell and try and find something he missed, but he never could.
Three times a day food was delivered to him to the two gaurds. Jonathan saw no point in refusing the food, and ate it everytime it came. There was never anything useful to be found on the flimsy plastic tray that might aid his escape.
Jonathan spent the days wondering what might become of him. It was genuinely a surprise when the armed guard walked up to the door and said "Your presence is requested by Mr. Jones in the conference lounge."
Jonathan wasn't sure he wanted to go, but he saw it as an opportunity to perhaps get some information. He stood up and walked to the door. the guard outside gave a signal down the hall and stepped aside as the door swung open.
Jonathan was no manhandled this time, but rather just led by the one guard to the same room he had been in when last speaking with Septimus Jones. He walked inside and found the old man once again sitting on the far side of the rotten table. He looked up from the same pad he had been holding the last time when Jonathan walked in the room. "Ah, welcome back Mr. Brooke. Do take a seat."
Jonathan saw no need to refuse, and sat down in the old chair opposite of Septimus.
"Looks like you're willing to be a bit more civil today, Mr. Brooke. Your friends certainly were on their subsiqeunt interviews."
"I suppose I can talk to you. After all, how else am I going to learn anything new?"
"A man of logic, I see. Well, as a matter of fact Jonathan, I did bring you here to talk today. First and foremost, I wanted to know about that strange creature that seems to have come with you. I disected it myself, and the physiology was really quite fascinating. It appeared to have the right traits for an intellegent species."
Jonthan's jaw clenched tight. His eyes went cold. "You treated him like an animal. He was a rational communicative being. He didn't deserve to be killed."
"You talk about it like it was a person... the fact is, your small alien companion was an animal. As for killing it, well, I'm sorry I did. It looked to be a such fascinating creature. I would have liked to study it when it was living. But you understand, I was just devending myself from it. It did attack me after all."
Jonathan was having tourble keeping himself in check. "He had a name. It was Norman," he hissed through clentched teeth.
"Surely you gave him that name? But that is beside the point. I realise that your pet was rather special to you. I understand it... he was your only companion when you were stranded on a world otherwise along for quite some time. I did want to apologise for incuring such extra emotional strain on you by being the progenitor of Norman's death. It was Norman, correct?"
Jonathan just stared at the impossible man.
"You know Mr. Brooke that your philosophy is as much flawed as mine is?"
This caught Jonathan's attention. "What do you mean?"
"I read your companions Andy's book. It seems you are exhaulted as the saviour sent from Earth. The one that allowed the realists to learn my true nature. Of course, that isn't the point I want to discuss. I was wondering, what makes you think that I am the one that is described as a," here Septimus consulted his note pad, "oh yes, a 'corrupted evil from a confused millenium'? Who is to say that I represent this concept of evil, Mr. Brooke? It says in this book that my descendants, I'm sure he meant the colonists and not my children directly, had forgotten the true transcendental power and replaced it with the Mind. Who says that is true? What Idealist truthefully believes that The Mind is a god of sorts?"
Jonathan could not answer the question. He thought back to his discussions with Captain Fortworth, but thought of nothing that was relevant to this argument.
"I see that you cannot answer. I would like to read you something, Mr. Brooke." Septimus flipped through a number of pages on his pad untill he found what he was looking for. "Ah, here we are. This is something that was written by an anymous philosopher sometime around the dawn of the 21st century.
"'Space Invaders is just a game, but it has to be one of the largest symbols of hopelessness I've ever come across. In most video games you overcome the great evil and defeat it, everybody's happy in the end and such on and so forth. In short, you save the world. That’s the point, you're supposed to go through trials and much difficulty, and in the end you are left with a feeling of accomplishment - that is what makes video games entertaining. Not so in Space Invaders.' You do know what the philosopher was speaking about, right?"
Jonathan thought about it. "I can't say I do, no."
"Back before the destruction, computers were used as much for entertainment as they were for tools. I remember those days. The game that the philosopher is lost on me, I don't really know what it is, but he does describe it as he goes on. Basically, the premise is that the people of that century used computers to be their opponent in when they played a game. Do you understand this concept?"
Jonathan nodded.
"Excellent, then I shall continue. 'Space Invaders is different. You shoot all of the weird flying jellyfish that feel that the best manoeuvre they can make is to march on your little green vehicle at the bottom of the screen in a stepwise, geometric pattern downwards.
"'You can line the aliens up in your sights and shoot them all, you can even blast that red mother ship at the top of the screen and get four question marks worth of bonus points, but you can never really defeat them.
You whittle them down, and you take refuge behind your shields, and then, once you think victory is at hand, you shoot the last alien out of the sky and there suddenly appears, as if out of nowhere, a new hoard of invaders. Only this time, they started just a little closer to the surface of Earth. You work fervently to destroy this wave of aliens as well, and if you do, it buys enough time to get an extra vehicle to defend Earth with. But this is just a kind of false hope. Every wave you destroy, there's one new vehicle for you, but there are hoards of aliens, and each time you defeat them they get a little bit closer to the ground.
"'The premise behind the game is that it's supposed to get more difficult with each subsequent wave, so each one starts closer to the ground, is a bit faster than the last and returns more fire. The way the game is programmed, however, dictates that if you should continue to quickly defeat the aliens, another wave will always follow - Literally, there is no end to the invasion.
"'The fight you put on, pushing the joystick back and forth and desperately mashing the fire button after you miss that last alien in hopes that you will somehow coax another shot out of your guns before your first one reaches the top of the screen, it's all in vain. It's like trying to read Hemmingway with only your teeth. You can't do; in Space Invaders, you cannot save Earth. It's hopeless.
You can hide behind your sheilds, but as time passes the fire from the alien ships will wear them away. There is no hope. Space Invaders is a tragic symbol of inevitable defeat. '"
Septimus pasued for a moment. He let the short essay hang in the air. Jonthan looked at the old man and asked "Why did you read me this?"
"I found it to be oddly prophetic." Septimus replied. "I've had a thousand years to read the library on this vessel and of all the things I've read, this particular peice stuck out to me. It's such a tragic description. You can tell by the narrative that the author, whomever he or she may have been, had spent time with this game. It's almost like a confession. They fell enteirly hopeless to stop the aliens, and yet they always go back to try again. Now, Mr Brooke, I want you to apply this to yuo life. You are the defender down on Earth, the realists are your sheild. Who do you suppose are the aliens in the sky?"
Jonathan knew well what the answer should be. "The idealists" he spit out bitterly.
"Of course, Mr. Brooke, you are correct. I knew you could work it out, you are an intellegent man. The question I want you to think about, really, however is this: would you rather fight a futile losing battle against the ever closer aliens, or would you rather come out from behind your sheild and keep it from being destroyed?
"That will be all for today Mr. Brooke, there is a guard outside waiting for you. He will take you back to your cell." With that, Septimus Jones turned back to his pad of paper and began to scribble in the strange figures that Jonathan did not recognise.
Jonathan left the room and was taken back to his cell, where his thoughts again followed the conversation he had just had with Septimus. Jonathan was left to try and figure out what Septimus had meant coming out form beuind the sheild.
In his cell, Jonathan found a data pad with the short essay and Andy's book saved in the data file.


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