RogerW

The Aristotle Reaction Chronicles

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Roger, the conversation between the Maker and Tori is strangely familiar; it reminds me of a dialog I had with my own daughter. Am I on to something here? I think there's a typo in"...you could simply take want you wanted, and no one could argue that you methods were wrong"

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The Aristotle Reaction Chronicles, Episode 17.

Henry and Brian, thanks again for the continued feedback and patronage, it’s much appreciated. Regarding daughters, it took some nudging to get mine to read this far, but from this point there was no stopping her. I'll try to turn up the drama another notch.

Chapter 49.

Agent Steve Myers, burst through the door of the Oakland Headquarters of the Bureau of Anti-Terrorism, better know at the B.A.T. or just "the bat" for those on the inside. Following close behind were the five agents who led the raid on the college apartment. The dramatic entrance drew the attention of the room of desk bound investigators. With an easy air of command, he announced, "I want all investigative team leaders in the conference room in three minutes. Look alive people, it's time to get to work." The room exploded with a flurry of activity.

Steve Myers looked like a Marine with his short brown hair, large physique and disciplined mannerisms. In fact, for twelve years he served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corp, with combat experience fighting Islamic terrorists on three continents. His military training made him ideal for his new job, head of the west coast BAT response unit.

The Bureau of Antiterrorism had been created thirteen months prior in the midst of the political frenzy following a train bombing in Chicago with an alleged terrorist connection. A bill emerged suddenly in the House, and finding support in both parties it was quickly pushed to the Senate then signed by the President. It quelled public sentiment that the government had done too little to prevent domestic terrorism. Only in the months after it was passed did a few radical groups question the constitutionality, but their cause found little public support.

Myers was serving out of the country at the time and had little awareness of the public sentiment or politics that created the new agency. He was appointed for his unique qualifications and distinguished service record by the Director, Bruce McPherson. The director was a political appointee, with little military experience. He was politically astute and was considered sufficiently uncontroversial at his appointment hearings.

The BAT was unlike any federal bureau that existed prior because it combined military strike forces with an investigative bureau. Advocates claimed it provided the right combination of skills and authority to hunt down and eliminate any threat of terrorism within America's borders. Myers was keenly aware of the great power trusted to the bureau and took his position very seriously, as did every member of his team.

In no less than three minutes a team of fifteen people were standing in the conference room; nobody sat at a meeting of Agent Myers. Several boxes and a computer removed from Tori's apartment were stacked before them.

"I am pleased to report the success of this agency's first operational mission. For those who did not attend or missed it on TV, we infiltrated the apartment of a suspected terrorist cell, subdued the occupants, and seized the materials specified in the warrant."

An analyst in the back of the room chimed in "Yah, The entire office watched it on TV, it look like a text book maneuver!"

"Cut the TV crap," said Myers shaking his head, "the fact is, we broke into a college apartment and found a couple of scared kids. There was no evidence of weapons or any device that posed a threat to the public. However, we did find a computer and information that may advance our investigation.

"You all know the rumors and TV reports of a domestic terrorist group in the area. Let me remind you, this unit works with facts, not rumors. I need solid information to assess the public danger, and to formulate a response plan. Until we have the facts, we are just guessing."

Myers scanned his staff. "Sally, I want complete background checks on Tori Anderson and the two students found in her apartment. Stan, have your team analyze the computer. I want every relevant file reviewed, including anything that's been deleted. Most of all, I want access to her account for this online game. I need to understand how it works. Have someone figure out how it's played. Get the psychological profiling department to determine the impact. Jane, go over the draft thesis top to bottom. I want to know what kind of ideology we are dealing with. Bob, follow up on the leads generated in the news reports. Obtain the photograph of the subject getting into the get away car. Determine if it's real, and find the identity of the man in the photo."

"We have limited time so I expect complete reports within six hours. If you find something critical, don't wait, see me immediately. Remember, I don't need your hunches or speculations, just the facts. Get to work."

The leaders knew Myers' expectations. They gathered their evidence and returned to their teams for analysis.

The investigation stakes were high for the BAT. This new threat had emerged very quickly with little background intelligence. Politicians in Washington were expecting results and in an election year they needed happy constituents. Fortunately his boss, Deputy Director Bruce McPherson, shielded him from dealing with the politicians. The Director had made his position clear, get resolution quickly, and all he needed was enough information to draw a firm conclusion.

Myers entered the glass door to his office to find his aide reporting that the Director was waiting on the phone. Myers knew the Director was eager for a progress report. He answered the phone with an aggressive presentation of the best he had.

"Good news, Sir. We have acquired the computer and papers from the girl and my teams are analyzing the information. We hope to have something definitive soon. We are running backgrounds on all the parties."

"Damn it Myers, I don't want analysis, I want the problem solved," roared the Director. "Do you know the pressure I am under? The President wants a debriefing and the Congressional Sub Committee on Terrorism has called repeatedly. I need not remind you they control our funding."

"Yes sir, I understand the urgency. I have the best teams working double time to get the facts for your debriefing."

"I don't need facts," snarled the Director, "I need results. Your televised college raid has done nothing but illustrate our puny efforts in the face of a mounting national crisis."

"With all due respect Sir, we still have no evidence of terrorist activity by any definition in our charter. We cannot confirm a public threat either now or in the future. We can't conclude there is a crisis."

"To hell we can't Meyers. We've got every television station in the country reporting possible domestic terrorism, the public is alarmed, and your elected leaders want to know what we are doing to protect the citizens. If that is not a crisis, then I don't know what is."

"That is a media crisis sir, not a terrorist threat. I'm certain we will soon find enough information to make an informed decision on our next course of action."

"It's too late for that," bellowed the Director, "we need to show our responsiveness. I want ground troops deployed at key locations in the vicinity, and I want visible air support. Let's get our people on the ground and in the air, ready to respond. That will solve both our terrorist and media crises."

"But sir, I don't have the facts to warrant such a mobilization."

"Damn it Myers, enough with the facts, sometimes you just need to trust your intuition, and mine tells me we are facing a legitimate threat."

"Sir, I can't draw conclusions with your intuition. I must rely on mine, and it tells me we don't know anything at this time."

"Listen Meyers, until you can prove we won't have an attack, I want to see your troops on the ground and choppers in the air."

"Will Congress approve the budget to cover the expense of this deployment?" asked Myers.

"Congress is approving emergency measures to ensure the public is protected. I'll worry about the politics; you just make the public feel safe."

The phone clicked and the Director was gone.

Outside Myers office, his team discreetly watched him on the phone through the glass office walls. They could not hear the conversation, but all guessed the director was looking for results. During the thirteen months of working for Myers they had all developed a strong loyalty to the man. They knew the pressure he was under and wanted to see him succeed.

Myers stepped out of his office and addressed the staff. "I know it's only been fifteen minutes, but has anyone uncovered evidence of a real threat?"

As much as everyone wanted to please the boss, no one could. The room was silent.

"Very well then, I am initiating a training exercise for the university area. That will put our people on the ground and in a position to respond in the event you uncover something. In the meantime, I'll leave you to your work."

Myers stepped back into his office and picked up the phone. "Hello Zack, it's Steve, get your troops ready to roll; it looks like we are putting on a show. I am issuing a Code Blue defensive posture for a potential stage three terrorist attack on the university campus. Put a couple of birds in the sky, but skip the stealth and infrared, I want them lit up like a Broadway marquee."

Chapter 50.

The Maker carefully considered the driver's warning and the implications. The events of the last few days unfolded much faster than his simulations predicted. This latest escalation, however, was outside the model. Clearly there were factors driving events that he had not accounted for.

"Call a cab to return Miss Anderson to the university. Then arrange alternate transportation for me. We had best hide the limo at once."

The Maker turned, "Tori, please take the cab back to the university and present yourself to the authorities. They are interested in you. You have done nothing wrong, and they will not hold you for long before they realize you are not affiliated with terrorists. You may tell them whatever you like about this meeting. I recommend the truth. I have told you nothing that will jeopardize our cause. I have enjoyed our chat, and hope you will find it helpful for your thesis."

"But wait, you can't leave now," pleaded Tori. "You have implied that the country is collapsing into a totalitarian state, but you have not revealed who is behind it or what I can do about it."

"I am sorry; there is no time for that now. You have enough information to solve your thesis. Run the simulations and you will see that even though we are losing our freedoms daily, it may still be one or two generations before they are gone."

"So my children or grandchildren can expect a life regulated in every aspect; a country where they are not free? Is that all I can hope for?" demanded Tori.

"There is still hope that things can change. We have freedom of speech and therefore a chance to inspire people to choose a different path."

"But what can I do?"

"You can continue to speak out as you have. Learn from the game, draw your own conclusions and don't be silent."

"But I have been expelled! Even if I finish my thesis no one will read it. How can I speak out without a venue?"

"I am sure you will find a way. I must leave now."

Tori felt utterly alone and just at the moment she was finding answers. She struggled to accept that expulsion was more than a terrible misunderstanding. She struggled to grasp that the game was more than just an academic tool, and was as relevant to the present as to the past. The Maker's message was starting to focus into a cohesive picture. Some force wanted an end to America's freedom and they were promoting the same ideas in the population that she needed to end freedom in her game. Yet this force clearly understood the ideas far better than she. The game, the Maker, her thesis, and her character were all attacked because they spoke out. A flood of outrage welled up at the thought of this, and she wanted to fight back.

The Maker's education in the last hour was better than she'd received in three years of college. She recalled his earlier offer. "What about your offer to go to your facilities? Can I still come?"

"Things have changed. I can't risk having you now."

"Why not?" asked Tori.

"To join with me is a commitment to a life fighting for individual liberty. You have not had time to consider the consequences of such a choice."

"I can help. I want to fight back, I just don't know how."

Time was running out for Marcus and each passing moment brought increased risk of discovery. He was torn between risking his operation and accepting the help his cause desperately needed. He had other reasons for wanting Tori, but could not be sure they were sufficient. He paused, reflecting on his own path to the organization, and then made his decision.

Chapter 51.

Within minutes the tinted windows of a white van drew alongside the Maker's limousine. The driver opened the door and ushered Tori into the back seat.

The Maker turned to the van's driver, a slender woman with graying hair who appeared to be in her mid 50s, "Elizabeth, please take Miss Anderson back to our campus and arrange for her accommodations on site. Do not return to her apartment, but insure she has the necessary comfort items for her stay. In the morning she is to begin her training. You can skip the preliminaries and go directly to 'Identity Induction.' Take as much time as needed for her to integrate the base axioms, everything that follows will rely on this."

"Will you be joining us?" asked Elizabeth,

"Not right away. Several events have occurred that were not predicted. I need to confirm my suspicion. When I return tomorrow, I'll meet with the staff and fill in the details. In the mean time, please use extreme caution escorting Miss Anderson to the facility.

The maker then turned to Tori. "Please give Elizabeth your complete confidence. I know it is soon to ask for such a thing, but trust that you are in good hands. Time is running short, and we can talk more when I return tomorrow. You have much to learn in a very short time. Good bye and good luck with your studies." He started to close the door.

"Wait," insisted Tori, "What is your name?"

The Maker glanced at Elizabeth, then back at Tori. "My name is 'Marcus.'"

Tori's hundred other questions were shut off by the closing door.

The car whisked out of the parking garage. They were on the freeway heading towards San Francisco before Elizabeth spoke. "We are glad to have you join us Miss Anderson."

"Please, call me Tori."

"Welcome Tori," Elizabeth said politely.

"What is this training I'm supposed to start tomorrow?"

"I am going to train you to think," replied Elizabeth.

"I know how to think," insisted Tori insulted, by the innuendo.

"I have seen your game, Tori. You are a level two thinker. I will train you to think at level four."

"Why are you going to all this effort for one game player?"

"The game is just the beginning; we need level four thinkers to support the events to follow."

"The beginning of what?" asked Tori.

Across the freeway a convoy of military vehicles snaked back towards the university.

"You should save your questions until we are on site," said Elizabeth, politely brushing aside the question.

"Where are we going?" ask Tori.

"To our San Francisco headquarters."

"The headquarters of what?"

Elizabeth looked into the rear view mirror, directly into Tori's reflected eyes. "Tori, you must trust me. Until you are safe within our facilities, I cannot divulge more. Please lie low, and I promise to answer all of your questions."

'Lying low' was out of character for Tori and she fought the desire to jump and run; the doors were unlocked and nothing but curiosity was stopping her. The entire nation was seeking the maker's identity, and she was about to find out. Yet she remained unsure if the knowledge was worth the risk. She remained in the car, alert and ready to flee at the first sign of trouble.

Sitting pensively in the back of the van, Tori cataloged every detail of where they were headed. She looked for land marks and street names. They traveled into the South of Market district. Traffic hampered their progress, but gave her time to mark their path.

Eventually they came to a nondescript grey building with no windows. At first glance it looked to be a factory or warehouse, but closer inspection revealed the building was built like a fortress with massive cement walls and with thick rectangular columns that protruded every ten feet and rose with a slight inward taper to the top, two stories above the street.

As they drove past, Tori could see no visible entrance, but they turned down an alley way, between the building and a neighboring high-rise. A driveway dipped below the street level and at the base was a huge steel door that rose as they approached. Open entering the dark cave, the door closed with a clunk and bright lights high in the ceiling flicked on. Tori could see they were in a large industrial loading bay with several cars and trucks. Two men who had been standing in the dark on either side of the door hurried over.

Elizabeth stepped out to greet the men.

The first man was a distinguished gentleman in his late 50s with black hair peppered with white, common to Italians. He wore a tweed sport coat. He opened the door for Tori, and said "You must be Miss Anderson. We feared you might not make it."

Elizabeth made the introduction. "Tori, this is Allen, he manages our facilities here in the city. He will see to it that you are comfortable during your stay." The second man looked to be of Japanese ancestry and about the same age as Allen and Elizabeth, "This is Todd, my husband, he oversees our security measures."

Tori shook hands, quietly noting their pleasure with her arrival.

Todd spoke, "Things are developing much faster than expected. The smear campaign was not anticipated for months, and the presence of armed troops is beyond anything we imagined."

"We passed several convoys on the way in," noted Elizabeth, "they were setting up stations to guard the bridge, and more were heading for the campus."

"Where is the Director?" asked Allen.

"He is following up on his suspicions about the rapid build up of opposition," said Elizabeth. "I suspect he may also go to the north coast for a final look. He should be back late tonight. He will debrief us when he returns. In the mean time, let's get Tori some dinner and a private room. She is going to start her education in the morning, and she needs her rest."

They started toward a large entry door. Above the door was a large circular bronze plaque with an equilateral triangle inscribed in the middle, like a mystical symbol of some religious cult. Tori looked at the door, the strange emblem, and then at people she was expected to follow.

A spasm of apprehension washed over her. "Is anyone going to tell me what is going on here? You've got the FBI or whatever hunting you and your offices are in some kind of a fortified bunker. This is not normal."

"You're right Tori," said Elizabeth, this is not normal, nor should it be necessary, but I'm afraid it is. You have a lot to learn before any of this will make sense."

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The Aristotle Reaction Chronicles, Episode 18.

You might want to light a warm fire and put on your most comfy philosophy pants for this Episode. I hope you will enjoy…

Chapter 52.

Tori finished the last of the dinner that Allen brought to her room. The large steak and baked potato went a long way to relieve the empty feeling that nagged in the pit of her stomach.

Looking around, she observed her room's elegant décor. The simple lines of the furniture accentuated the quality materials and craftsmanship. There were no windows, but this was scarcely evident given the masterful paintings that hung on the walls. One in particular hung over a small dresser. It depicted a young woman reaching to the sky in triumph after having ascended a great jagged mountain peek far above a tranquil valley. Tori was instantly drawn to the picture. At first she mistook it for a photograph, but the pose and composition were too perfect for a mere photo. Tori inspected the painting, surprised to see the individual brush strokes that revealed it was an original.

The lavish interior of her room was a stark contrast to the fortress-like exterior of the building. She thought, whoever these people are, they have money and taste.

Tori felt a growing apprehension about her "training." Marcus said she would receive an "Identity Indoctrination" or something that sounded very unappealing. He said to take as much time as needed to insure she accepted the ideas. As Tori replayed the conversation it was sounding increasingly like brainwashing. She did not need to be indoctrinated with a new identity, she was happy with the one she had. The windowless walls of the room began to feel oppressive.

Tori checked the door to see if it was locked. She turned the handle, and it clicked open. She contemplated escape. She glanced over at the painting, and drew strength from the image of the girl, and then she stepped into the hallway.

She entered at the precise moment that the lights flickered on and a moment later Elizabeth appeared at one end of the hall. "Ah Tori, I was just coming to get you. I thought we might get started with your education. There is a lot of ground to cover in a short time. If you're not too tired we can start now."

Unnerved by Elizabeth's uncanny appearance, Tori simply nodded.

"Great, follow me."

The hallway décor was like the room, richly and tastefully adorned with statues and paintings unlike any she had seen before. These were not the blob like human figures she called "modern art"; rather they were stylistically reminiscent of the renaissance masters; except the subjects were not religious. The pieces were stunning portrayals of men and women captured in moments of personal triumph. Tori wished she had time to study each and every one. She asked, "Where did this art come from? I've never seen any quite like it."

"Most were painted by our members, and over the years we have acquired an extensive collection."

"These must be worth a fortune."

"Not really, outside these walls, there is little demand for such art. It is considered too naïve, superficial, and worldly. But to us, these works are priceless. This building was constructed specifically to house and protect these pieces from the worst of man or nature. It will withstand a 9.7 earthquake, and it has many special security features. Even the lighting is designed to protect the paintings from UV, and only turn on when needed."

"How long have you been collecting these?"

"A very long time," answered Elizabeth.

Tori was put off by yet another vague answer. "Why can't I get a straight answer from you?" She demanded. "You have evaded even the simplest questions. I am not sure I want to continue like this."

"Tori, I sympathize, and you are free to leave at any time, but there are bigger concerns here. Men and women have died to protect this institution, and we don't risk that without carefully considering with whom we associate. You are the first new person in over twenty years that we have admitted. Normally these relationships unfold over years and I am sorry that our urgency has forced us to rush introductions"

"But I don't even know who you are or what you stand for," insisted Tori.

"It is not that simple. I can't just tell you who we are because the words would have no meaning to you. We are not Conservatives, Liberals, or Libertarian. We are totally outside the scope of conventional understanding."

"But who are you?" insisted Tori.

Elizabeth looked at Tori, and contemplated how to answer. Finally she said, "We are called the 'Stewards of the Identity Axiom.' Have you ever heard of us?"

"No."

"Did you ever hear of the 'identity axiom'?"

"No."

"Well then," said Elizabeth, "you can see why knowing our name is meaningless. If you don't even know the identity axiom, how can you appreciate an organization dedicated to spreading its influence?"

"So what is the identity axiom?"

"I can't just tell you. I can only show you."

"When are you going to show me?" insisted Tori.

"Right now."

Chapter 53.

Tori followed Elizabeth to a doorway; behind which was an odd round room with a black domed ceiling and a shiny black floor, like a private planetarium. They entered and walked toward the center. The immense blackness gave the sensation of floating towards a black cubed table with black leather chairs on either side. Elizabeth motioned for Tori to sit in one and she took the other. Tori settled back into the soft chair, noting that Elizabeth's chair had a remote control embedded on one armrest. Her chair simply had a cup holder with a glass of cold water as if she'd been expected.

"What is this room?" asked Tori.

"We call this the 'Induction Tank.' It helps focus your attention by eliminating distractions."

"Focus on what?"

"Reality," answered Elizabeth.

"But why do we need an "Indoctrination Tank" to focus on reality?"

"It is 'induction,'" corrected Elizabeth. "Induction is a method of learning that starts with observations of specific things and then builds to broader generalizations or abstractions. It is the way babies learn. They start by touching, banging, and tasting everything within their grasp, and slowly they understand how things work. They form generalizations from one experience that they can apply to others."

"For adults, induction helps tie abstractions back to observations of reality. Experiencing specific things leads to generalizations about the commonality. Today we intend to find the broadest commonality among all things. Once you grasp this, it will be your foundation for building higher level abstractions, always insuring that your understanding is tied back to your observations of reality."

"What does this have to do with the "identity axiom?" asked Tori.

"Do you know what an axiom is?"

"It is a mathematics term; I think it refers to a statement that is accepted without proof."

"'Axiom' is a term used in both mathematics and philosophy. In philosophy an axiom is a self-evident truth that can be known only by direct observation. Its truth cannot be 'proven' because any proof presupposes the axiom's truth, and so you merely end up with a circular argument. Axioms are the widest abstractions; the truth common to all things and all knowledge and that is what we must discover."

"I'm not sure I follow you," said Tori skeptically.

"That is OK," said Elizabeth. "You will. We won't leave until you do."

"How long will this take?"

"That depends on you." Elizabeth punched a button on her chair, and the door to the room slid shut with a quiet 'swish.' "Are you comfortable?" She asked.

"Yes," Tori replied settling back in the chair, half expecting metal shackles to spring forth and clamp her hands and feet.

Elizabeth pushed another button to dim the lights.

The room faded from bright, to dim, to black, and finally to absolute pitch black. Tori held her hand before her face, but could not see it. She blinked and waited for her eyes to adjust, but they did not.

Tori waited, and time passed until she lost all sense of it. Her chair felt as if it was slowly drifting through the void. The room was absolutely quiet. She assumed Elizabeth was still across the cube, but she was unsure.

Finally Elizabeth spoke, asking a single question, "What is it that you are aware of?"

The sound of a voice startled Tori. She thought about the question and after a moment she said. "I am aware of the dark. I am aware of your voice. And I am aware of me. But I am not aware of any of your axioms."

"You should be; there were three axioms contained in what you just said."

Tori thought about what she had just said repeating it to herself, 'I am aware of the Dark. I am aware of your voice. And I am aware of me.' Three axioms were contained in these statements. What was the broader conclusion to be extracted from these examples?

Tori tried to think of broader examples. I am aware of my voice, I am aware of an itch on my finger, I am aware that I am thinking about my itchy finger. What did all these things have in common? Other than being a list of things she was aware of, she could think of nothing. Frustration sank in as she sat there repeating the list over and over.

Then it hit her. I am aware that I am aware. She said it out loud, "I am aware."

"What is it that you are aware of?" asked Elizabeth.

"That I am aware. No matter what I am aware of, I am aware of it," said Tori trying to articulate her discovery without sounding redundant.

"Go on" said Elizabeth, encouraging Tori.

"I am aware or conscious of things. I have consciousness. Everything I know is depended on me being conscious to know it. Everything anybody knows is dependent on consciousness. Consciousness must be a self-evident fact underlying all knowledge. If there was no consciousness, there would be no knowledge. That must be one of the axioms."

"Very good." praised Elizabeth, "It typically takes much longer to reach that discovery. 'Consciousness exists.' But, let me ask you, can you prove it?"

Tori considered this question. She thought of several ways that she might try to prove it, but then she remembered Elizabeth's earlier comment that axioms can't be proven.

"No," Tori said in the darkness, "I can't prove it. Any proof would be dependent on me being conscious to give it, and you being conscious to hear it. Can you prove it?

"No, I can't prove it either. I accept it because I have experienced it, first hand," said Elizabeth,

"So is that the identity axiom? Is that what your organization is all about, consciousness?"

"No," said Elizabeth, "that is just the first axiom, the one so clearly self evident that every philosopher who ever existed has recognized it and incorporated it into their view of reality. No matter what a man's view, the existence of consciousness cannot be evaded."

"I guess that would be hard to argue against," confirmed Tori.

"Yes, and once you have discovered it; you are close to identifying the second Axiom. It too is contained in everything you have said. Let me ask you the first question again."

"What is it that you are aware of?"

This was the same question as before, but with a difference. The first time Elizabeth asked she emphasized the word "aware" and she focused on that. Now the emphasis was on the word "What." She was supposed to now focus on the subjects that she was aware of.

Tori sat in the utter pitch black and again pondered on what she was aware without the benefit of sight. She made a mental list. When she could not think of any more, she said. "I am aware of: me, the chair, and this glass of water."

"Can you be more general?"

"I am aware of stuff," replied Tori sarcastically.

"Good," said Elizabeth, "that is a start, what can you conclude from that?"

"There is stuff in the room," said Tori after a pause.

"Can you say that another way?"

"Stuff exists in this room."

"Ok, if stuff exists in this room, then what can you say about stuff in general?"

"Well, I guess stuff exists."

"Yes, and if stuff exists, what can you conclude about existence."

"It exists!"

"What exists?" asked Elizabeth.

"Well I exist for starters" said Tori.

"And if you exist, then existence must…."

"Exist?" asked Tori,

"Yes" said Elizabeth, "Existence exists. This is the second axiom. It is the recognition of the fundamental fact that something exists, something as opposed to nothing. Whatever it is that you are aware of, it exists and you knowing it confirms your existence."

"I always knew I existed," laughed Tori. "But if it is so simple then why do philosophers keep insisting that we can't prove existence exists?"

"Can you prove you exist?" asked Elizabeth.

"No," said Tori without hesitation, "I can't. I'd have to exist to give any proof, so existence is presupposed in any attempt to prove it."

"Good," said Elizabeth, "you are catching on. A philosophy must include consciousness; however, many have attempted to formulate one that denies existence. They insist that we start with nothing to prove something. This is a more modern trend, one that requires the most fantastically complex rationalizations to explain why the appearance of physical things is merely a figment of consciousness, but I am getting ahead of myself; we can consider that later.

"The vast majority of man's philosophic thought has started with the acknowledgement that something exists. Consciousness and Existence have been the axiomatic foundations at the root of their view of man and reality. However, there is a third axiom, without which men have been unable to build a complete view of existence."

"Is it a new discovery?" asked Tori.

"No," replied Elizabeth. "It predates Christianity, but it has remained hidden. Bits and pieces of its implications have been acknowledged and incorporated into nearly all philosophies, but as an axiomatic foundation of a complete system of thought, it is unknown outside these walls."

"Why?" asked Tori.

"That is a history lesson for another time, but it will do you no good if you cannot discover the third axiom, so let's get back to work.

"The third axiom is much harder to identify than the other two, but again, it has been present in everything you said about the first two. I'll ask the question a third time, "What is it that you are aware of?"

This time the emphasis was on "it" thought Tori, and she again, ran through the list of everything that she was immediately aware of, but it did not help. "I don't understand what you are asking."

"I'll help you focus," replied Elizabeth from the black void in front of her. Tori heard the wine of a motor and then she was faintly aware of something piercing the darkness. A dim circle of light appeared on the table and an object was in the center. Tori strained her eyes and the light grew slowly brighter until she could see a faint gray blob.

"It's a rock!" exclaimed Tori with exasperation. She had expected something more profound.

"Yes Tori, it is a rock. So let me ask you again. What is it that you are aware of existing?"

"I am aware of a Rock," said Tori sarcastically.

"How do you know it is a rock?"

"It looks like a rock; it is gray with white marbling, and it looks smooth and...May I touch it?"

"Go ahead."

Tori reached out and picked up the rock. It was heavy, the size of a small apple. It was rounded with a smooth surface that felt as if was polished. Tori plopped the rock on the table with a loud thud, again the distinctive sound confirming that this was a rock. Tori continued her description, "It is smooth, and round, and heavy. It looks like granite with veins of marble, but I am no geologist."

Elizabeth interrupted, "You are describing the properties of the rock. Can you tell me something about the rock aside from its properties?"

Tori tried to figure out what she could say about the rock that was not listing some feature or attribute. She finally said the only thing she could think of. "It looks like it came from a river bed."

"How do you know that?"

"Well, it is round and smooth."

"That is a conclusion you have made from looking at the properties: 'round,' 'smooth.' What do you know, aside from its properties?"

"I don't know!" insisted Tori with evident frustration.

"Think Tori," prompted Elizabeth sternly, "You are struggling to grasp the heart of the identity axiom. You must probe deeper. What exists about that rock apart from the attributes that make it a rock? If you cannot make that distinction, you cannot move forward. Now concentrate!"

Elizabeth flicked off the light and again Tori was immersed in darkness. She reached forward blindly probing the dark until she found the stone. She picked it up and rolled it over and over in her hands trying to find what she knew about a rock that was not a part of the rock. But she could not find the answer, "I don't know," she insisted again. "Please, won't you just tell me?"

"I cannot tell you. You must discover it for yourself, but we will stay here until you do, no matter how long it takes."

Chapter 54.

Steve Myers stood before his team after a long night. One by one his staff presented their findings. They started with the profile of Tori Anderson.

"Tori is the youngest of four children in a middle class family. She has a competitive drive fostered by her three older brothers. She has a history of involvement in politics, including student government, and volunteering for the presidential election.

"Her academic work shows strong-will and independence. She has been red-flagged several times by professors for papers that fit the guidelines set for Anti-American activities, but a reading of the papers did not reveal anything that my team considered threatening."

"The draft of her thesis stands in contrasts to the briefing he received at the mission start. Rather than an extremist Nazi sympathizer he found the opposite. The purpose of her paper was to find the root values of the Nazis so they could be condemned, not glorified."

The team's leader summarized his conclusions, "nothing in her background indicates an association with terrorists.

Next the team reported on Jake, his was a different story.

"Jake Smith was an only child of an upper middle class family. He went to private Catholic school and received mediocre grades. He had little involvement in school activities with the exception of the debating team. A review of transcripts showed he could argue both sides with equal enthusiasm. He appeared to like the process of debate more than the ideas he was defending.

"One incident in his record stands out. In his junior year he was arrested for a religious hate crime that involved the use of explosives. Both are huge red flags, and our team is re-evaluating the case.

"The incident occurred during a homecoming football game. The visiting rival team, 'The Fighting Saints,' had entered the stadium behind a ten foot statue of their mascot, a sword-wielding friar in a brown tunic. Just as the mascot passed the home team bench, the head exploded, sprinkling confetti and startling the entire stadium, and forcing an evacuation. When the game finally resumed, the favored Saints lost.

"Because the incident involved an IED, improvised explosive device, it was investigated by the FBI. They traced the detonators to Jake through his science teacher who gave him the old radio controlled servos. The head of the rival school insisted on pressing charges, demanding it be tried as a religious hate crime because it involved, "defacing an icon of religious significance for the purpose of inciting fear." Jake insisted he acted alone, and despite considerable pressure, and the threat of criminal prosecution, he never revealed any accomplices.

"In the end, Jakes own admission of guilt and eloquent testimony convinced a lenient judge that the incident was just a juvenile prank. He was let off with just 50 hours of community service work after a sincere promise to 'behave.'"

Myers' inclination was to burst out laughing, and he recalled stories of much worse pranks at his own high school, but those were different times, and he held his composure before the team.

Next his team turned to the man in the picture with Tori.

"The man in the photo is a white Caucasian male, about six foot tall, age between 65 and 75. Extensive scanning of databases for passport photos and state driver's licensees had not produced a match. That is all we have so far, but we are continuing to search and cross reference with the limousine. We are also running statistical analysis on every phone call Tori ever made in the hopes of establishing a connection."

Myers reviewed the facts. Tori Anderson and Jake Smith both appeared to be dead ends, and the man in the photo remained unknown. This left him with nothing but the unpleasant task of informing the Director that his investigation had no substantial leads.

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The Aristotle Reaction Chronicles, Episode 19. (Take 2)

What can you know about a rock aside from its properties?

I don't suppose this question stumped many here. Did you get it right? Did I get it right?

Chapter 55.

Tori held the rock tightly in her hand, rolling it over and over as she had for the last hour. Sitting in the eerie black, she was cut off from all experience, and the rock was her one link to reality. The rock was real, it existed apart from her; it was no figment of her mind. But now she could not discover what she could know about a rock aside from its properties. What could one know aside from what was knowable?

'Alex would know the answer,' she thought, 'he was good at such problems.' She pushed this pointless thought aside and kept trying. At last tired, hungry, and frustrated, she gave up. "Nothing" she shouted. "I know nothing about that rock, except for the properties I can see, touch, hear, smell and taste. That is all there is." Tori slammed the rock onto the table with a thunderous bang that echoed through the room.

"Exactly," said Elizabeth as the light flicked on illuminating the rock.

Tori was blinded and startled, "What to you mean 'Exactly.'" I want to know what can be known aside from the properties."

"Nothing" said Elizabeth. "The rock is the rock. There is nothing else to it. The properties are just selective focus of different aspects of the whole, but there is nothing aside from the whole rock. That is all there is to that rock, or anything. A thing is itself, nothing more, nothing less."

Tori was dumbfounded by the obviousness of the answer.

"So once again," continued Elizabeth, "what is it that you are aware of?"

At last she understood. "I am aware of the properties of the rock. The 'it' that I am really aware of are the properties. I should have said I am aware of a rounded, hard, heavy, grayish thing. I guess I just call it a rock because that is the word I used for things with that collection of properties."

"Excellent, you are already making connections and beginning to comprehend the third axiom."

"Isn't that the third axiom; that I am aware of properties?" asked Tori.

"No, that is just one consequence of it. There is much more to it. Let's continue." Elizabeth flicked a switch turning off the light. Once again the room was completely black. "The rock is still sitting on the table, but you can no longer see it. Are you certain that was a rock?"

This sounded like a trick question and Tori did not want to be fooled again, "I am certain it was hard, round, heavy, smooth, grayish, etc. It may have been some man made simulation of a rock. If I tripped over it on the street, I would not hesitate to say, 'I tripped over a rock.'"

"Ok, fair enough," said Elizabeth. "In a moment, I will turn the light back on. Are you certain the rock will still be a rock when the light comes on?"

"I cannot be certain sitting here in the dark that you will not have switched the rock with something else. You may turn on the light to show me a butterfly, and if you do, I will not think that the rock turned into a butterfly"

Elizabeth turned on the light; again illuminating the same rock. "Can you be certain that rock will still be a rock in one minute?"

Tori hesitated long enough to consider if this was a trick question, but by now she had come to trust that Elizabeth was not trying to fool her, only to force her to see deeper meanings. Elizabeth's questions had all been honest, only she had tricked herself by not identifying the real essence.

"Yes, I am certain that the rock will remain a rock as long as some force does not come along to make it into something else."

"Will you bet your life that the rock will remain a rock?"

Tori considered this, would she bet her life on it. "Are you asking if that rock will remain a rock, or that any rock will remain a rock until some force changes it?"

"Both," said Elizabeth.

Tori had bet her life that rocks remain rocks. She had been rock climbing with friends on several occasions. Each grueling move up the 200 foot rock face required an unquestioning belief that the rock would support her. Twice she fell, and each time, she had made a mistake; lost her grip and dropped until caught by the lead rope. Dangling below the anchor she recalled her relief that the anchors were secure. She had taken it for granted that the rocks would remain rocks and her rope a rope. If there were a possibility that rocks might suddenly turn to butter or her rope into spaghetti, she never would have started the climb.

"Yes, I am certain that rocks will remain rocks. I will, and I have bet my life on it."

"Can you think of any other times that you have bet your life that things will remain what they are?"

Tori pondered this, trying to think of things less obvious than dangling from a rope 200 feet over the floor of Yosemite Valley. Suddenly she got it. She counted on things to remain what they are every day in a thousand little ways.

"Yes, when I drive my car at 65 miles per hour I trust that everything will work as designed: tires, brakes, roads, bridges etc. Right this second I trust that the building will remain suspended. Things will remain what they are, that they will behave consistent with what they are; I not only bet my life on it, my life depends on it."

"Very well put Tori, I think you are grasping the essentials of the Third Axiom. It is called 'Identity'; it is a statement of what it means to exist. To exist is to have identity; to be something specific; it is to have specific properties that make a thing what it is.

"To put it another way, a thing is itself, the rock is the rock. It is it's collection of properties, and nothing else. There is no existence of the rock outside of its properties."

"OK." Said Tori hesitantly, "I think I'm following you, but what about all the properties of the rock that I'm not aware of, things that a geologist would know."

"The rock exists independent of your ability to identify its properties. In fact what we call a property is just our own selective focus on one aspect of the rock's identity. The rock has a single identity but we are able to selectively identify aspects. The rock may have many other aspects that we have not identified.

"The behavior of a thing is determined by its identity. Its actions or reactions are simply an aspect of its identity. The law of cause and effect is simply the law of identity applied to action.

"The law of identity constrains existence. It allows things that exist to be only what they are, and behave only according to what they are. This is what makes the world consistent and knowable. When we identify a new fact, we can be confident that it will not magically become something else. This is not to say that we don't make mistakes. Sometime things behave different than we expected, but this simply means we have failed to properly identify all the properties and behaviors, it does not mean that identity is invalid.

"The law of identity is what makes certainty possible. We can be certain that a thing will be itself, we can be certain it will behave according to what it is.

"The law of identity allows us to know that contradictions do not exist in nature. A thing can only be what it is; it can only behave according to what it is. This is what makes the concept of 'truth' possible. If things could magically behave as something other than what it is, then we could never say something is true.

"Logic is the method of applying the law of identity to our thinking. It helps to identify when we have made a mistake. Because of the law of identity we know that contradictions cannot exist; therefore, if we find one we can conclude we have made an error in our assumption. Symbolic logic expresses the law of identity in the formula 'A is A' - a thing is itself. If ever you arrive at an expression 'A is non A' - you know you have made a mistake, because while man can speak a contradiction, in reality it cannot exist.

"Are you following me Tori?" asked Elizabeth.

"Yes, I think so. On the one hand it seems obvious, on the other it is a different perspective than I have considered."

"Let me give you two tests to see if you are grasping the idea. The first is the same as the other two; can you prove the law of identity?"

Tori expected this question. Elizabeth had asked for proof of the other axioms. She could not prove them because proof was already dependent on them. Was identity the same, and if so, how? How could she prove that things are what they are, that they have specific properties, and those properties don't suddenly and magically change. It occurred to her that here was the true meaning of the word 'magic.' Magic is when something behaves in a way that contradicts its identity; a rock appears out of nothingness, the rock turns into a bird, a bird disappears. All are contradictions of identity, but magic does not exist. How could she prove that things cannot contradict their identity? After several long minutes of pondering she arrived at an answer.

"No, I cannot prove identity. In order to prove something you must know that things that are true will remain true, a rock is rock. In order to prove things, you must first accept that contradictions do not exist. Identity is what makes 'proof' possible, without it, you cannot prove anything."

"Excellent answer, you are grasping the identity axiom."

"I am starting to," Tori agreed. "I am sure it will take time for it to sink in."

"Yes, it takes work to integrate this idea into all your thinking. There is one simple question that we have found to be the best test of how well someone understands identity. Those that can provide the answer are ready to move on; those that can't need more time. I'll give you the question as a homework assignment."

"What is it?" inquired Tori.

"Where did the universe come from?"

"That is not a simple question," insisted Tori. "That is the big question. I have to explain God and the big bang and everything. How am I supposed to figure all of that out?"

"You know the three axioms; you have seen how you use induction to tie our knowledge back to observed reality. You should be able to figure out whether or not God exists, what happens when you die, and where the universe came from."

"How long do I have to figure all this out?" Asked Tori, like a student complaining about an assignment.

"You should be able to have it sorted out by morning."

"Do you want an essay?"

"No; just tell me what you have learned."

"OK," said Tori skeptically.

Elizabeth looked at the puzzled expression on Tori's face. "Don't worry; you have done well tonight. I'll give you a final bit of help before we go. I have been asking you one question tonight. You have given me three different answers, each correct but focused on a narrow aspect. I am going to ask you a final time, and I would like you to incorporate all three Axioms into a single statement: 'Consciousness,' 'Existence' and 'Identity.' Take your time. What is it that you are aware of?"

Tori carefully thought through everything she had learned, trying to select her words to convey her meaning in as few as possible. Finally she said, "I am aware of the identity of things. From this I can conclude three things. First, I am conscious of something and therefore consciousness exists. Second the thing exists and therefore existence must exist. Finally the identity of the thing is its existence, and it can have no existence apart from its identity."

"Four sentences," said Elizabeth with amazement, "Good work, most require much more. However, the concise formulation of the three axioms is this:

'Existence is Identity. Consciousness is Identification.2'"

Tori repeated the simple formula, 'Existence is Identity. Consciousness is Identification.' It seemed too simple. "Why didn't you just tell me that at the beginning?" She asked.

"Because it would have been a meaningless formula disconnected from reality. Now you know what the words mean. You have figured it out for yourself, from your own observations. I have just helped abbreviate the wording. Think about it tonight when you are trying to resolve your homework. It will help."

The lights slowly came on, giving their eyes time to adjust. The rock was still sitting on the table. Tori picked it up to study it one more time. "It looks like this stone has been used before." said Tori look at its smooth well worn surface.

"Yes," said Elizabeth, "It has become a tradition. Many great men have pondered that stone."

Tori gently placed the rock back on the table with the care befitting a sacred relic.

"We have covered enough for one day," said Elizabeth. "Get some rest; tomorrow you'll need it.

Chapter 56.

Tori was startled from her sleep by a knock at the door. Thinking she was at home in bed, she reached for the light, but it was not there. Her confusion quickly faded as she recalled the strange events of the night before.

A second knock returned Tori to her senses. The darkness of her windowless room gave no indication of morning. She called out, "One Moment" and fumbled out of bed, groping for the light switch. Quickly she put on a pair of jeans and the shirt from the day before and then opened the door. It was Elizabeth.

"Good morning, Tori. Did you sleep well?"

"Yes," said Tori, a small lie. She had in fact slept little as the events of the prior day ran over and over in her fitful dreams.

"Good," replied Elizabeth; "we have a long day ahead of us."

"Are you going to explain how the game works today?"

"No."

"But I understand the identity axiom now."

"Do you really?" asked Elizabeth.

"Yes."

"So you have completed your homework?"

"Yes."

"Ok, tell me your answer?" requested Elizabeth.

"The universe came from the Big Bang," stated Tori with satisfaction.

"Wrong," said Elizabeth, "The Big Bang theory tells how the universe came to its present form, but not where the substance came from."

Tori's face showed her dismay. "But I am not a physicist, how am I supposed to know the answer?"

"You don't need to be a physicist; all you need is the law of identity. The founder of our order knew the answer long before the Big Bang theory or even that the earth was round."

Tori looked astonished. "Your organization can't be that old. Men have known the world was round for at least 500 years."

"We are much older than that."

"How old?" insisted Tori, "And I want a real number, not a vague answer."

"2400 years."

Tori was irate. "That is impossible. No organization is that old, not even the Catholic Church."

"We are older than the Church."

"You people are nuts if you expect me, or anyone else, to believe that your secret cult has been lurking on the fringe of history for twenty four hundred years."

"You don't have to take my word for it," said Elizabeth.

"Good, because I won't. Your claim is ludicrous."

"Would you believe it if you saw the proof?"

"It would have to be very convincing proof."

"Ok," said Elizabeth, "follow me then."

Tori followed Elizabeth to a stairway, then down three flights of stairs that ended in a small chamber with a massive door, like the entrance to a bank vault. On the massive steel door was the triangle emblem she saw at the building entrance.

"What is this?" asked Tori.

"Proof; very convincing proof," said Elizabeth as she entered a long string of numbers into a key pad beside the door. She inserted her palm on a pad. A light began to flash, and the door made several deep clicking sounds before it swung slowly open.

Tori stood wide eyed, skeptically awaiting the proof.

The massive vault door slowly swung open to reveal an immense black vault. The light flickered on and illuminated row upon row of book shelves, each extending twelve feet high with its contents sealed behind glass doors.

Tori shivered as a blast of cool air rushed from the vault. "What is this?" she asked in amazement.

"This is the archive where we house the collective works of our members dating back to our founding."

"So you are claiming to have documents here that are over 2000 years old?"

"Yes. During our existence we have devoted our efforts to study and education. This library is the culmination of that work. Most of these book's authors are unknown outside our organization."

Tori skepticism was beginning to give way to the hope that Elizabeth might actually be telling the truth. "This is incredible. How could you keep this a secret? This would be bigger than the Dead Sea Scrolls; invaluable to historians everywhere."

"Like who?" asked Elizabeth with a raised eyebrow, "Jane Walty perhaps? I doubt she would like the contents of these books."

"She never liked the contents of my papers either," laughed Tori.

"Exactly, that is why you are here and she is not. This historical record is utterly unique. It exists only because we have jealously guarded it from those who could not appreciate its value, or worse, would consider it a threat. Had its existence been known, it would have been destroyed many times over, just like the other great libraries of antiquity."

Tori was in awe. "I could spend a lifetime in here and not begin to scratch the surface."

"I thought you would like it."

They walked down a short flight of steps onto a marble floor. Tori strolled deeper into the library, marveling at the sheer volume.

A long corridor extended down the middle of the great hall, with rows of shelves extending out on either side. She approached one and looked at the books behind the glass. They were all bound in leather, with gold lettering for the title, an emblem, and then a coding system.

"These were all bound in the last century," Tori observed.

"The entire library was last rebound in 1923, just prior to moving the collection to this building from its prior home in Europe where the library was housed for almost five hundred years."

"Where was it before that?"

"The first library was in a small building in the Lyceum in Athens, Greece. Eventually it made its way to Alexandria in North Africa along the Mediterranean. There the documents were part of a secret collection of the most valued items in the Royal Library. When the library was burned in 46 AD, this collection was saved and moved to a hidden location in the Middle East where the dry air helped preserved scrolls and parchments. In the early part of the renaissance it was moved to Italy, where it remained until it was brought here."

Tori had spent many hours doing historical research in the school library. She examined the codes at the bottom of each book, but they were unfamiliar. "What cataloging system is this?"

"It is unique to our library. The first three digits is the generation in which the book was created. We organize information by 20 year time spans. The library and its stewards are now in the 115th generation."

"The next four characters are codes for the general subject matter starting with the branch of philosophy that it originates from. The main categories are Metaphysics, Epistemology, Ethics, Politics and Art. For example a document on Biology would be labeled at MP-BIO.

"The final six characters identify the origins of the material on a philosophy map. There are three coordinates that always total 100, for example 052075, is the coordinates 05, 20, 75. The little diagram of a triangle with a dot shows the visual indicator of the position on the map.

"The triangle looks like the emblem I saw above the door when I entered the building."

"Yes, they are related" said Elizabeth, and then quickly changed the subject. "Follow me; I want to show you something else."

Tori followed Elizabeth down the long corridor with rows of book shelves jutting off at perpendicular angles. She was still disbelieving of the spectacle. She felt like an archeologist who had unearthed an ancient tomb and her mind reeled with the possibilities for new historical research.

As she walked, Tori saw the numbers that labeled each sections slowly declining from 115. Each was like a journey back in time. Her anticipation grew for what she would find when she reached generation zero.

At row one, the book shelves ended, and there was a long glass display case, like one might see in a jewelry store. Just below the glass were the tattered remains of a long scroll. A few small pieces were missing, and others were unreadable, but most was visible and Tori could clearly see hand written words in the Greek alphabet.

"Oh my God!" exclaimed Tori, "Is this what I think?"

"Yes, these are the last tattered remnants of the original manuscripts from the man who, above all others, is responsible for shaping the progress of western civilization."

"These are the actual remnants of Plato's writing?" asked Tori in disbelief.

"No!" said Elizabeth, trying to hide her disappointment. "These are the writings of Aristotle; he was the man who altered the course of mankind with his discovery."

"But I thought Aristotle was a disgruntled student of Plato, and his system of logic retarded broad-minded thinking."

"Where did you learn that?"

"From my philosophy classes," answered Tori sheepishly.

Elizabeth looked livid, but spoke in a controlled voice. "That view is the propaganda of a 2400 year old smear campaign. This library and all the modern progress of man is a testament to the falsehood of that lie."

"I was taught that was the view commonly accepted by historians," said Tori with a shrug.

"Just because the view is popular does not make it right, but again, you don't have to take my word for it. The proof is contained in these books."

Tori felt foolish. "I am sorry; philosophy was my least favorite subject."

"You don't have to apologize; I blame your teachers. The fact you disliked the subject is a credit to you. But to hear those words in this place is a painful reminder of how much influence we have lost."

"I don't understand how one person could be so important. He did not invent anything, he was just a philosopher. How can he be so important as to justify all of this?" ask Tori looking around the room.

"Tori, haven't you figured it out by now?"

"Figured what out?"

"Aristotle discovered identity - the third axiom. Identity is the missing piece that provides the answers to every fundamental question man has ever asked - from the origin of the universe, to the meaning of life - identity is the key."

"Our entire organization has been devoted to understanding identity and all its implication so that we can share that knowledge with the world."

"Well, why don't you just share what you have?" asked Tori, "Why do you hide?

"Our organization was forced underground because the truth that identity exposed was beyond what most were willing to accept. It is a truth that is so profound a man must alter every aspect of his world view in order to accept it. Most are unwilling."

"I don't understand, why 'Existence is identity. Consciousness is identification' is such a threat.

"Tori, you have just learned what identity is, but you have not integrated this fact with all its implications. Only then will you know what it really means for mankind."

"I guess I don't see why it is so important."

"Identity means there is no God and no afterlife. It means there is no devil to blame for the worlds troubles. It means faith is meaningless and prayers cannot alter the world. It means that just wanting something to be true cannot make it so. It means the universe exists independent of anyone's view, it was not created, and it will not end. It undermines the divine authority of governments, and obliterates any claim of religion to speak for morality and ethics. It means that the purpose of life is not to sacrifice for others, but the selfish embracing of this life as a glorious end in itself. It means all this, and much more."

"Does it really mean all that?" asked Tori.

"Yes, the identity axiom is such a threat to the establishment that it has been under constant attack from the moment it was first discovered. There are those with a vested interest in seeing that the axiom is never known."

"Like who?" insisted Tori.

"To answer that question, you need a Philosophy Map."

"Do you mean that triangle thing?" ask Tori.

"Yes, you must learn to read the map if you are to understand more. Follow me I'll take you to the map room."

Tori look disappointed, "Do we have to go so soon? I was hoping to look at a book or two before we go."

"The books are no longer available for handling. They are hermetically sealed into these cases. However, the entire contents of the library have been scanned into a database. We now do all of our research online."

"That is too bad." said Tori, clearly disappointed.

"No. It is a tremendous improvement. The system was completed four years ago. The entire library is cross referenced by subject matter and coordinates on a Philosophy Map. The history section is incredible. You can trace the flow of events and ideas across recorded history. You can cross reference periods of stagnation and prosperity and identify the dominant philosophies of the culture. It is a remarkable system."

"It sounds fantastic," observed Tori with lament, "I would have loved to use it for my Thesis."

"You did," said Elizabeth. "The entire contents of the library are tied to the simulator and drive the incredible historical depth and richness of the game."

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Roger, what wonderful writing to come back to after being out of town for a few days. Thanks for a great lesson on axioms. The last three chapters are very inspiring; fuel for the soul.

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The Aristotle Reaction Chronicles, Episode 20.

This is a short episode in preparation for the long and controversial one to follow. Henry, Tito, and Phil, thanks for the input; there is more to come, including the instructions for a library card. I hope you enjoy…

Chapter 57.

Jake bolted upright and looked at his watch, it was already past noon. He looked over the contents of Tori's apartment from where he slept on the lumpy couch.

After the raid, Jennie insisted he stay until her mother and father could take her home. The media and the raid were more than she could take. She withdrew from her classes, and called her parents.

Stretching and rubbing his sore back, he stood up and peeked out the window, it was cold and grey, but the media remained.

With no desire to face the reporters, he plopped back on the couch and turned on the TV to check for news about Tori. Shortly, Jenny came out.

"What's new?" she asked joining him on the couch.

"The Bureau of Anti-Terrorism has deployed troops around the campus. Look at these news shots of University Square with armed troops, I can't believe it."

They stared at shots of solders patrolling the campus and listened to the reporter's comments on the live footage.

"Today Americans face the hard reality of life in the twenty-first century. These images are a startling reminder of the real terrorist threats we face. In a statement released by the Bureau of Anti-Terrorism, Director Bruce McPherson said, 'The duty to protect our children and streets falls to each one of us, and just as our solders are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, so the public must bravely accept the smaller sacrifices needed to ensure our safety. Effective immediately a sunset curfew is in effect on the greater San Francisco Bay Area. We are counting on each citizen to do their duty to help stop the intellectual terrorist insurgence."

"A curfew?" asked Jake. "How do they expect to enforce a curfew of the entire Bay Area?"

"I'm glad I am leaving. I can't take any more of this."

"I just wonder why Tori has not called or come back," asked Jake. "I don't believe she has been abducted. Are you sure you don't have any idea who was in that limo?"

"I thought about it last night," said Jennie. "Maybe her old boy friend sent the limo. That is just the kind of thing he would do. The man in the photo might have been the chauffeur."

Jake froze. Tori had never mentioned a boyfriend, but suddenly it explained everything: why she kept her distance, and why she did not want his help. He planted himself deeper into the couch while a miserable feeling grew in the pit of his stomach.

"How long ago did she have this boyfriend?" he asked curiously.

"He dumped her about two years ago. She was totally in love with the guy and took it really hard. It was weird that she was so devastated because they hardly ever saw each other. Mostly they just wrote emails. At least he had the decency to dump her face to face, not like Jerome Hanson, who just never called me back."

"Why did they break up?"

"I don't know; she won't talk about it. He just dumped her for no reason, but I think it was because he had another girl friend. I don't think Tori ever really got over it. She tried to bury herself in school work, and still pretends it dose not affect her, but it does. Maybe he wants Tori back now."

"Would Tori go back?"

"Why do you care? Do you have a thing for Tori?" ask Jennie.

Jake suddenly felt very uncomfortable, and his face flushed red. "Yeah, I like Tori," he answered.

"Why haven't you asked her out?"

"Well, if she has hooked up with her old boyfriend, what is the point?" said Jake, perturbed. "Can we not talk about this anymore?"

Jake felt embarrassed and miserable. He slumped back on the couch and stared at the TV.

The news droned on with the business report and the dreary economic news matched his mood. Unemployment was rising in the high tech sectors where the cost of complying with environmental laws was keeping new products off the market. Companies delayed new models to get more out of existing products rather then risk millions to comply. Jake, who seldom watched the news, was realizing his prospects for a job at graduation were bleak. He felt even worse.

Like his prospects for the future, the stock market was in a steady decline. Companies reduced earning projections in conjunction with delayed product releases. Environmentalist hailed the laws as a great success. They pointed to new products kept off the market as proof the laws were preventing harm to the environment. They cheered the diminished profits of big companies, claiming a victory against the gouging of the population.

Jenny seemed pleased with the news. "I bet the CEO's won't be getting their mega million dollar bonuses this year," she exclaimed with satisfaction.

Jake simply ignored the comment, allowing the grim news to feed his jealousy. Bad economic news continued as human rights groups heralded the closing of third world manufacturing plants as an end to exploitation and an opportunity for people to return to their indigenous ways of life.

"That will put an end to child labor," declared Jennie.

"Do you know why kids in the third world work all day for 10 cents an hour?" asked Jake.

"No," replied Jennie.

"Because it is better than starving to death," snapped Jake. "Now I guess they won't have a choice."

After that, Jennie stopped commenting on the news, and Jake stopped caring.

It was after 6:00 PM when Jennie's parents finally arrived, over four hours late. "What took you so long?" demanded Jennie of her parents when they came through the door.

"We will talk about it later," said Jennie's mom.

Jake introduced himself, and both thanked him for staying with Jennie. They apologized for being so late, but claimed a family emergency had delayed their departure from Fresno.

"What emergency?" insisted Jennie.

Looking annoyed at having to review family business in front of a stranger, Jennie's mom said, "Your father's company is closing the Fresno plant."

"Does that mean we will be moving to the new plant?" ask Jennie.

An awkward moment passed and finally Mrs. Solinski said, "We will talk about it in the car, dear."

Jake carried her bags down to the waiting car, past the glare of bright camera lights. "Please call me if you hear from Tori?" requested Jake as Jennie's family hurried to get out of the limelight.

Already dark in the short days of November, Jake trudged off on the mile long walk to his dorm absorbed in his depression. He was only vaguely aware of a helicopter circling overhead, and he gave little thought to walking past soldiers in a vehicle several blocks away. Despite these signs, his heart stopped when a brilliant light suddenly illuminated him from behind and a loudspeaker voice shouted, "Halt! You are in violation of the curfew per ordnance 926b. Put your hands over your head and turn around slowly."

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The Aristotle Reaction Chronicles, Episode 21.

Henry, you get extra credit for making the avatar connection. In this episode we will learn the exact meaning of S, M, and O in an equilateral triangle. This will prove pivotal to all that came before, and all that will follow. I hope you enjoy…

Chapter 58.

Elizabeth brought Tori to a classroom and gave her a seat in the front row. The room had seating for 20 or more. So far Tori had only seen Elizabeth, Allen and Todd, but their facilities clearly supported many more and she wondered if others would be joining them.

The room, like the other interiors was reminiscent of a different era, beautifully maintained, yet old. The walls were paneled in dark wood and the desks were of a rich oak. The front was a slate chalk board of deep black. Permanently etched into the board was the equilateral triangle she'd seen repeatedly. The corners were labeled with the letters S, M, and O.

"Does this look familiar," asked Elizabeth pointing to the triangle.

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"That looks like the emblem seen all over your building."

"Do you know what it means?"

"No," insisted Tori.

"On a graph of three axis's S, M and O, this is the plain formed by the equation S + M + O = 1. If you took a perfect cube, and cut off one corner, this triangle would be formed at the cut."

"Why is that significant?" asked Tori.

"That plain forms a Philosophy Map, a tool allowing you to chart and navigate the landscape of philosophy as a sailor would plot the oceans. It is the key to discovering the meaning behind everything we have done. It is at the root of the library, and the foundation of the game. If you can read the map, you will unlock the secrets of life, man, and history."

"Did Aristotle invent it?" asked Tori, now mesmerized with the idea of charting ideas, and a step closer to understanding the game.

"No. The map was invented nearly 1400 years after his death. It proved critical for our organization, providing a way to educate the illiterate to the benefit of the identity axiom. It made Aristotle's great abstract discovery concrete and physical so that it could be communicated and comprehended. Its invention launched a great expansion of our numbers and influence, but it also ignited the fury of those whose ideas it displaced."

"Who did it displace?"

"You must understand how to read the map before you can begin to comprehend its incredible impact on history."

Tori was utterly captivated, "How does it work?" she asked eager to soak in its meaning and discover its history.

"The Philosophy Map is a means to visualize the relationships between philosophic ideas similar to the way a chemist uses the periodic table to graphically see the relationship between elements."

"A chemist knows the complex behavior of all matter result from the interactions between three particles: protons, electrons, and neutrons. In philosophy, the complex behavior of man results from the interaction between the three axioms: consciousness, existence and identity."

"Using the map, one can take any idea of philosophy and identify its axiomatic foundations, and see graphically how it relates to other ideas. The method works because the concepts of philosophy are hierarchical. Higher concepts are founded on more fundamental observations that can ultimately be traced back to the axioms."

"So each axiom is a corner of the Map?" asked Tori.

"No," answered Elizabeth. "The corners are known as 'primary' philosophies. The primaries can be combined to form blended hybrids, like the way primary colors are blended to make all other colors. The primaries are defined by how they incorporate the three axioms, Consciousness, Existence and Identity.

"The first primary incorporates only the consciousness axiom. It is the philosophy that would follow if one held that only consciousness exists. In this view all reality is a product of consciousness, like the images of a dream. This is called the 'Subjective' primary because reality is subjective in the mind of the beholder."

"The second primary incorporates both the consciousness and existence axioms. It is the philosophy that follows from recognizing the existence of an external reality, but not the identity axiom. This is called the 'Mystic' primary because it requires supposing a supernatural being or realm to control the nature of existence.

"The third primary incorporates all three axioms of consciousness, existence and identity. This view holds that existence is independent of any consciousness or supernatural realm, and is governed by the law of identity. This is called the 'Objective' primary because it upholds a single objective reality that exists independent of any consciousness.

Pointing to the etched map, she said, "By convention we orientate the Subjective (S) on the bottom left, Mystic (M) on the bottom right, and Objective (O) on the top.

"Every idea or concept of philosophy can be plotted within the triangle because all knowledge is hierarchical and ultimately rests on one or more of these axioms. Lower level ideas are typically based directly on the primaries, but as complete high level philosophies are formed multiple primaries can be merged into blended views, as we shall see."

"I'm confused," said Tori, "Last night you convinced me that all three axioms are contained in all knowledge. How can you have a philosophy that does not include all three?"

"Good Question. The map does not chart true reality, only man's view of it. If a person fails to recognize all three axioms, they can form a view that omits one or two. For example, I am sure you have heard the philosophy, 'life is a dream'? This view omits existence and identity. It is an expression of the Subjective Primary."

Elizabeth continued, "Let's look at a hypothetical view of how one's philosophy might evolve."

"Say you start with the philosophy that 'life is just a dream.' Like in a dream, you are the creator of reality. Given this starting point, what could you conclude about how you should act?'

"I guess you could do whatever you wanted," answered Tori; "whatever made you happy."

"Right," said Elizabeth, and she drew a small circle in the 'S' corner on the lower left. "This circle describes that view. Not just your view of reality, but the other consistent consequences as well. It says that you are your own source of truth, and that ethically you can do whatever makes you happy, without regard for consequences."

"If you held this view and were not insane or permanently drugged, you would immediately find problems. You would realize that things did not always conform to your desires. Wishing would not fill your empty stomach or shelter you from the cold. Inevitably you would be forced to accept an existence outside of your control."

"At this point, you might evolve your philosophy. You might conclude that reality exists outside of you, but your mind has no way to comprehend it. You might decide, as some have, that your senses distort information about the world leaving you cut off from existence. Unable to know the true reality, you would be left with your own personal view, which could be no truer or better than anyone else's. This is still a subjective view, but it has shifted towards the Mystic primary." Elizabeth drew a circle between the S and M corners. "At this spot, you would hold a subjective ethic; doing whatever made you happy and no one could say your actions were right or wrong. Your own consciousness remains the creator of your personal truth."

Elizabeth drew an arrow to the Mystic corner. "Continuing, let's say you realized there is an independent existence that you experience but cannot control. What question would you have to answer?"

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"I suppose you would need to understand what did control it," said Tori.

"Yes, when man's earliest ancestors asked what controlled reality, they supposed that powerful beings controlled the world. This answered some questions but created many others: why did the gods create man; for what purpose? As man hypothesized answers they had the beginnings of a religion."

Elizabeth pointed to the arrow. "This arrow shows the progression of your changing philosophy as you migrated from Subjective to Mystic. In the mystic corner religion defines existence. The details, rituals and practices vary considerably; however, common aspects are the consistent consequence. If the gods or God controls existence to suit its purpose then knowledge comes not from a systematic study of nature but rather from divining God's intentions. Faith is the source of truth, and knowledge."

Elizabeth asked, "What would be the conclusion about how one could act if they started with the Mystic premise?"

"Your actions should be in accordance with God's will and purpose," said Tori.

"Correct," confirmed Elizabeth, "but how would a natural man know the intentions of a super-natural god?"

"I guess he would rely on books, priests or just faith."

"True, but what is the one conclusion common to all religions about determining the will of the gods?"

"I don't know," said Tori.

"The consistent conclusion of every religion is: 'God's will is not your will.'" Elizabeth circled the Mystic corner on the lower right. "The mystic corner is governed by the virtue of sacrifice. If an action consists of sacrificing your own interest, it is 'good,' regardless of the outcome, because it involves subjugating your own interests. Evil by this standard comes from putting your own interests first. This is the ethics of altruism that dominates the mystic corner."

post-4197-1209178384.png

"Continuing with our hypothetical progression, if you held a fully mystical view, such as I have circled here, you would attribute every feature of nature to your God or gods. However, you would soon find that things behaved in consistent and predictable ways. If you explored these behaviors, your observations become the rudiments of science. For these discoveries you no longer need prayer and faith, only your knowledge. Over time, and with the benefit of observations from many others, you would find that nearly everything that you once thought to be a function of the gods is in fact governed by natural laws. You would have less and less need for a mystical explanation for the world."

"That is true with man's increasing scientific discoveries," observed Tori.

"That is right," said Elizabeth and she drew an arrow that moved from the Mystic corner, upward toward the Objective. "As you discovered that the world was predictable, and knowable through reason, you would begin to implicitly grasp the law of identity, and your view of existence would include more of the objective."

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"In time, you would find a scientific explanation for nearly everything, yet a few questions would linger for which physical science offered no satisfactory explanation. Can you guess these questions?"

"Sure," said Tori, "I have heard them debated enough: Where did the universe come from? What happens when I die? What is the purpose of life? What is right and wrong?"

"Precisely. Like many, you would hold a rational scientific view of most natural phenomena, yet preserve your mystic explanation for life's must fundamental questions." Elizabeth drew a circle on the board, two thirds of they way up between the Mystic corner on the lower right and the Objective corner at the top.

"I guess that is my spot on the map," said Tori. "I am not very religious, but I assume the answer to those questions is found in religion."

"You are like most in the western world," said Elizabeth. "Your philosophy is much closer to the Objective than the Mystic, but you still hold the idea of a God. This fact is clear when comparing America to the Middle East. We seek the pursuit of happiness; Islam seeks submission. The difference is more than religion; the West implicitly upholds the identity axiom while the Middle East rejects it. Identity is the essence of so called 'Western Civilization.'"

"America is closer to the Objective Corner, but the population still has not discovered the law of identity, as you did last night. Not simply that it describes some phenomena of nature, but that it is the fundamental law that governs what it means to exist, i.e. existence is identity."

"I am still not sure why you can't believe in both God and Identity?"

"To hold the idea of a God, one must suspend the law of identity. The concept of God requires a loophole in the law, but identity permits no such loopholes. It does not allow the world to be created from nothing. It does not permit man to have a soul that exists apart from his physical body. It does not permit miracles and it does not permit any contradiction. Identity ensures that the world is consistent, rational, and knowable.

"The question is not whether or not one believes in God, but weather or not one upholds the law of identity. To say you believe in God is to say identity does not apply in all cases. Once one has permitted this exception the entire point of one's philosophy must be to rationalize when and to what degree the exceptions are permitted. The Objective corner permits no such exceptions."

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Elizabeth circled the objective corner. "The leap to explicitly discover the identity axiom is the biggest. Aristotle's genius was to discover this alone. All others learned it from him. And in doing so enabled them to answer all the lingering questions and form a complete rational philosophy."

What lingering questions." Asked Tori?

"The question from your homework," stated Elizabeth. "You should be able to answer them all now. Are you ready to try?"

"Yes," said Tori confidently.

"Where did the universe come from?"

Tori thought for a moment then responded, "From the law of identity, something cannot come from nothing. Nor can something become nothing. Therefore the universe was not created, and it will not end. The matter and energy of the universe have always existed, and always will. Its form will change, but it will not come into or go out of existence."

"Well put," said Elizabeth, "tell me, what happens when you die?"

"The law of identity says there is no existence of 'you' apart from your mind and body. When your body and mind cease to function, your consciousness and 'you' cease to exist. You can be neither happy nor sad because you will not exist to have those emotions."

"Well done," congratulated Elizabeth. "Now for the final question; what is the purpose of life?"

Tori paused; this question was not so clear. "I'm still sorting that out," She said finally.

"I'll help," offered Elizabeth. "Man, like the rock, is governed by the law of identity. From the law you know that your life is a physical process, sustained by your physical action. Without action it will cease. Therefore, life is an end in itself; its purpose is to sustain itself. This is true for you and every other living thing."

"Unlike the animals, man has no instinctive knowledge for survival. He must continue his life by action, but not any action will do. He must apply his reason to reality and identify those actions that will sustain him. In the words of Aristotle man is a 'rational animal,' his life depends on reason. Sustaining life is the purpose of a man's actions and therefore, his own life is the proper standard by which he judges good and bad. He must always act according to his best interest, taking into account the full rational consequences of his actions."

Tori interrupted, "You are saying the objective view supports the same selfish ethics as the subjective."

"No," said Elizabeth emphatically, "They are completely different. The Subjective holds their immediate happiness as the standard of value. They ask 'Will this action make me happy now?' If the answer is yes, they choose the action without regards for the consequence and whether it truly is in their long term best interest. Selfishness in this context is short-sighted and comes at the expense of one's self and others; it is not truly 'self-interested.'

"By contrast, the objective holds life as the standard, and happiness is the result of a successful state of living. This perspective is self interested, but never short-sighted. The Objective view takes into account the rational long term consequence of one's actions across the full spectrum of one's life including all the things and people they value. If the action is contradictory to these values, then they do not choose it. To the Objective, selfishness is a virtue that takes great discipline to achieve in its full context."

"I'll have to ponder how selfishness can be a virtue," said Tori, "It goes against everything I've been taught."

"We have all been taught that selfishness is bad because we equate it with the shortsightedness of the Subjective."

"I guess you're right," said Tori.

"You see," said Elizabeth in conclusion, "We have explored the perimeter of the map and seen how the application of the core axiom results in man's view of reality, and correspondingly to his means of choosing his actions."

Tori examined the map with Elizabeth's circles and arrows optimistic, but skeptically, searching for a flaw, a condition not accounted for by the map. Then she found it. "You claim that only the objective view is rational, but everyone claims to be 'rational.'"

"True," said Elizabeth, "every position on the map considers its view as 'rational,' but this is a matter of definition. The differentiation is defining what reason is tied to."

"In the Subjective view, reason is tied only to the abstractions of one's own consciousness. Concepts are manipulated independent of a connection to a physical reality in a process called rationalism. If a premise contradicts physical reality, the contradiction is upheld as evidence for the uncertain nature of reality."

"The Mystic view uses reason to validate revelation. Revelation is accepted as immutable fact, whereas physical reality is not. If a contradiction is found between faith and reality, the reality is rejected and the contradiction is upheld as a miracle and evidence of God's power and mastery of the physical world."

"In the Objective view, reason is tied to the facts of reality, and bound by the law of identity. If one finds a contradiction between his premises and physical reality, he must go back and check his premises, but under no circumstances can he hold a contradiction."

Tori asked, "How do you know for sure the map includes all possible philosophies?"

"The Map describes the complete spectrum of philosophy from 'everything is nothing' to 'everything is something' and all points in between. There is no philosophy that cannot be expressed on the map. Granted, some views are complex and require plotting different points across metaphysics, epistemology and ethics, but ultimately the map provides the framework to make the distinctions."

"Don't you think it over-simplifies things?" Tori asked. "You seem to have explained all philosophies in just a couple of hours. If it is so simple, why are philosophy classes so complicated?"

"If you approach philosophy from its fundamentals, like a science, then it is simple. However, if you approach it, as most do, by reading every philosopher, then it is mind numbingly complex, and yields little truth. The map simplifies things by allowing you to view how the ideas relate. It still takes great discipline to integrate them into one's life, but understanding them is not so hard. Just as piloting a ship is much simpler with navigation charts, so philosophy is much simpler when it can be visualized on a map."

Elizabeth marked a point in the middle of the map. "Let's suppose this represents a person with a mixed view. They are influenced by ideas from each corner. We call these forces 'attractions' and 'repulsions.' They influence an individual's philosophy just as positive and negative forces might effect atomic particles. Consider how our person in the middle is affected."

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"The attraction of the subjective is freedom from responsibility and action. It is wishful thinking, a blind hope that everything will turn out as desired despite evidence to the contrary. Each time a person evades reality and wants results without the effort to think, they are pulled in the Subjective direction."

"The mystic corner attracts with the comfort and freedom from choice. The Mystic provides freedom from critical thinking or making one's own judgments; they need merely obediently follow a prescribed course. If a man's life and fate are prescribed by the Gods then one need not consider the alternatives. It offers an easy set of answers to all questions - 'the will of God.' This desire for easy comforting answers is the attraction of the Mystic."

"The attraction of the Objective is the desire for a world that is consistent, reliable and knowable. Those that want certainty, that want to discover how nature works and apply that to their life, are attracted to the Objective."

"The unsuspecting person in the middle is pulled in all directions by their emotions, peers, family, desires, and requirements for life. Each corner exerts its attractions, but at the same time there is a repelling force. Each corner philosophy views the other two as not simply as wrong, but as evil. Consider the following:

"The defining feature of the Subjective corner is a rejection of any absolutes, both in reality and in morality. It views both the Objective and Mystic as evil for being close-minded and dogmatic; The Objective for their absolute insistence on the law of identity, and the Mystic for their absolute insistence on the law of God.

"The defining feature of the Mystic Corner is that truth comes not from this world, and the morality comes not for thy self. It views both the Objective and Subjective as evil for being self interested. It makes no distinction between the rational self interest of the Objective and the capricious self interest of the Subjective; both are evil for failing to sacrifice.

"The defining attribute of the Objective is an absolute insistence that there is only one reality that is bound by identity and does not contradict itself. Morality follows from identifying reality through reason and acting accordingly. It views both the Subjective and Mystic as evil for evading reality and accepting contradictions."

Tori looked at Elizabeth's map now covered in markings with the exception of one space. A thin bar ran along the left side from the Objective corner down to the Subjective. "What is the space on the left?" she asked, "How can you be part Objective and part Subjective at the same time?"

"That region is occupied by those who recognize some part of the objective, but fail to integrate the ideas into action. They are men who compartmentalize wanting liberty but not the hard choices required to achieve it. They try to obtain their ideal by wishful thinking rather than diligent action. Inevitably they are drawn to politics seeking to legislate their ideal. They are like the secular game players who try politics without first supporting fundamental moral changes."

"So these are like Libertarians." observed Tori.

"Exactly," confirmed Elizabeth.

"Why can't you stay in the middle and merge all three views as it suits your needs?" asked Tori.

Elizabeth shook her head, "Most try this. They pick and choose whatever advice seems appropriate for the moment. They try to take the 'practical' position in the middle, viewing the corners as 'extremist.'"

"Practitioners in this space are call pragmatist, and they are in a constant tug of war between the push and pull of the corners. The necessities of identity draw them towards the Objective while the comfort of the Mystic and evasions of the Subjective hold them down. They use the Subjective argument that nothing is certain to undermine the Objective, while neutralizing the Subjective by claiming that they need to remain practical. They accept the moral code of the Mystic, yet claim it is human nature to be selfish. They make no distinction between capricious and rational self interest."

"Unfortunately the pragmatic center dominates America; tugged in all directions they have no solid principles to guide them. It disables the masses making them powerless to stop the slow take-over."

"The take-over by what," asked Tori, "religion?"

"No," said Elizabeth in a hushed voice, "something far worse."

"What?" insisted Tori.

"Think of your thesis Tori, you were closer to the truth then you know."

"But that was just a theoretical hypothesis; I don't believe it could really happen in America." Said Tori, desperately wanting Elizabeth to confirm she was right.

"When you fully understand the game, you learn that not only can it happen, but that it has already begun."

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Roger, this chapter has the power to leave a strong impression on people not familiar with A.Rand.

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Hello Roger,

I spent the past three nights reading through your story and am now up to speed. I'm enjoying it a great deal. I look forward to the next installment!

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The Aristotle Reaction Chronicles, Episode 22.

Brian and Henry, as always, the input is much appreciated. Scott welcome, I'm glad you’re onboard and up to speed.

Our story now returns to Jake, who was just stopped by the armed forces of the Bureau of Anti-Terrorism as part of a region wide curfew.

Chapter 59.

Jakes heart pounded furiously as he raised his hands and turned towards a blinding light. The silhouettes of two men emerged from the headlights of a jeep. For the second time in two days, he was subjected to a search and interrogation.

When the soldiers were convinced of Jake's story, he was unceremoniously loaded into the back of an army Hummer, driven to his dorm and escorted to the front door. He was sent inside with a curt warning, "Next time you will be arrested for a curfew violation."

Jake headed upstairs for the end of the worst two days in his life. Tori was gone, his career prospects were bleak, he'd nearly been arrested twice, and he was late for several class assignments. All he wanted was to sleep in his own bed.

He opened the door to his room and stepped inside. His bad day was suddenly worse. Paint fumes filled the air and a banner across the back wall read, "Students for a Green Tomorrow, World Headquarters." Lying on the beds and pinned to the walls were freshly painted signs that read, "Keep America Free - Support our Troops."

Edward and three members of his group stood crowded around a computer screen on a desk moved to the middle of the room. Edward looked up and said "Oh, I didn't think you were coming back tonight."

Jake was livid. "Of course I'm coming back. This is my room. What the hell are you doing?

"This is my room too," said Edward defensively. "I have a right to be here. Besides, we needed a place to prepare for tomorrow's rally and we could not leave the campus."

"Rally? What are you protesting now?"

"We are not protesting; we are showing our support for the troops that are protecting our city from terrorist attacks. I thought you might want to help, I know you are a big supporter of the military."

"I thought you hated the military," said Jake.

"I hate the military when it is being used by arrogant politicians to push America's imperialist agenda on the rest of the world. But I support them if they are used to stop the evil in our own country. Don't you?"

"No, I don't support it. I have just been harassed by them just for trying to get home after dark."

"We all have to make sacrifices during these troubled times. Our campus and country are under attack from within and we must defend it. We have spent billions training the best terrorist fighting troops in the world and it is about time we stop the terrorism in our homeland."

"What terrorist? There are no terrorists. This whole thing is a politically motivated show to pacify an over-hyped population."

"Haven't you heard the news?" asked Edward.

"What news?"

"The president is planning to sign an emergency bill that makes acts of psychological and intellectual terrorism subject to the same defensive measures used on physical terrorism. According to the new laws your precious AR game makers are violators unless they tell us who they are and get a free speech permit."

Jake had listened to the news all day, and only heard brief mention of something under consideration. Edward was always much better informed. "That is crazy," insisted Jake. "The president won't sign such a law. How can they ban 'intellectual terrorism,' it does not mean anything."

"The new law will not ban anything. It will just require all organizations to openly declare their ideological agenda's so that the public can freely decide for themselves if the group's propaganda is hateful or anti-American."

"But that is a violation of free speech."

"No, it's not! The groups can still say whatever they want, so long as they have declared their intentions to the government, and they receive their free speech permit. This law rightly protects listeners and readers from being hoodwinked by sneaky anti American groups with racial agendas like the AR game maker."

"Yah," said a girl with stringy brown hair, "It is about time that we stopped the terrorist from using our own rights against us."

"How can anyone possibly declare every new idea to the government before they can speak or publish it?" asked Jake.

"It is really easy," said a tall dark skinned boy, "There is a web site, and you just post your statement right along with your personal and group identification number. You can print your Free Speech Permit ID number right from the site. It is all there online and you can just look up the true ideological intentions of anyone who is writing or speaking to a public audience. There is even a place where you can report any violators, and you can also pay your violation fines with a credit card right online, assuming it is only a minor infraction."

"And what if you don't declare your ideological intentions?" asked Jake.

Edward responded, "If you don't post, or if you make a misleading post, you obviously have something to hide. You could be reported as a suspected intellectual terrorist, and you can be fined or investigated."

"I don't see how everyone in the country can possibly comply with this law."

"Don't worry so much, Jake," consoled Edward. "I'm sure the Bureau of Anti-Terrorism will exercise discretion. They don't want to harass everyone; just the terrorists."

The brown haired girl spoke up, "We have already complied to the law so we will be ready for the rally with our own free speech permit. We just submitted our declaration. Do you want to hear it?"

Edward shot the girl a disapproving look. "I'm the leader and I'll read the manifesto, besides I did most of the work."

We, the members of Students for a Green Tomorrow (Group ID# 000-01-033), in accordance with the listeners rights act - section b: paragraph 135, do hereby proudly and openly submit the following declaration of our noble ideals.

In so being that all men are children of our common mother earth, we do declare and advocate for the recognition of the duty owed by each man/woman to our maternal giver of life. There is no priority more important than the preservation of our earth, and no sacrifice too great to insure her pristine beauty for all future generations. We call upon all the world citizens to stop engaging in the depletion of world resources and to end the emission of green house gases. We call for an end to companies who rape our mother for profit. We call for governments worldwide to recognize earth's plight and enforce the laws that will protect our planet from the greed and selfishness of the uncaring.

In so being that all men are descendent from once indigenous cultures of distant homelands, we call for an end of destruction of humanity's precious cultural diversity. We call for people everywhere to return to the rich traditions of their forefathers who once lived in harmony with earth, treading lightly in accordance with the minimum necessity of their lives.

It is in the name of these sacred ideals, common to all men of all nations that we speak. It is in the name of these ideas that we publicly cry out for an end to terrorism - the terrorism of pollution, the terrorism of mechanized gouging of earth, and above all, an end to the terrorist ideologies that place personal interest above our earth's interests.

Edward looked up, beaming with pride at his creation.

Jake sneered, "That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard, and that is saying a lot after four months of living with you."

"I would not expect you to understand our higher ideals. At least we are not afraid to state who we are and what we believe in. I'm sure the terrorist that kidnapped your girl friend are too afraid to comply with the law."

"Just because I don't know where Tori is, doesn't mean she has been abducted by terrorists," asserted Jake.

"Oh, so you still don't know where she is?" probed Edward discreetly.

"No I don't, but I am not about to call out the Marines."

"I don't blame you, Jake. It's not like she is really worth it."

"Would you shut up, Edward, and get all this crap out of here now! I'm going to bed."

"Ah, what's the matter?" jeered Edward, "Are you mad because your girl friend hasn't called you yet?"

"She is not my girlfriend, now get the hell out of here," demanded Jake.

Edward took a perverse pleasure in seeing Jake so upset. "Are you sad because your girlfriend dumped you for a limo sugar daddy?"

"Shut up, Edward!" yelled Jake feeling the jealous sting of imagining Tori in the arms of an ex-boyfriend.

"I guess you were not radical enough for her," pressed Edward. "She wanted a real man, someone willing to fight for what he believed in. She was tired of nice 'debates' and she wanted real 'action.' Now, it looks like she is getting some 'action.'"

"Get out!" roared Jake. "All of you get out now!" He grabbed freshly painted signs and threw them into the hallway.

Edward grabbed his coat, "Come on guys; let's go to Paul's room. My roommate is having a bad day." He then turned to Jake and said "I guess reality hurts some times, doesn't it?"

"Get out!" demanded Jake a final time. He slammed the door as the last of the lackeys left his room. Furious, he flopped onto his bed, but instantly felt something cold and sticky trickling down his back. He jumped up. He and his bed were covered in the earth green paint that oozed from an overturned can. Things could not get any worse.

Chapter 60.

Tori remained in the small elegant classroom with Elizabeth. They continued their discussion of the map, until at long last Elizabeth was convinced Tori knew enough to understand the Game. The explanation did not take long to complete.

"That's it? That is all there is to the game?" asked Tori when Elizabeth finished explaining.

"Yes," said Elizabeth. "It is a game of life; life does not require a P.H.D. in philosophy."

"But why don't more people figure it out?"

"Some have, but most are not consistent. Contradictions in one area undermine progress in another, so they remain stuck. Some will eventually figure it out or get help if they play long enough."

Tori was flustered by the underlying simplicity, "But why not just tell the players?"

Elizabeth shrugged, "Who would play? Would you? Would you have wanted to hear this is a game about philosophy? It is better to say nothing, and let the player's natural curiosity drive them to learn more."

"I guess you are right," conceded Tori.

"Besides, technically the game is not a game. The simulator just provides an environment and simulated population. Each player must decide what constitutes winning. Fortunately, most choose a prosperous happy population as their goal. We just need to help them figure out how to achieve it."

"Can't you give them a clue?"

Elizabeth explained, "It is like any puzzle, once you know the secret the mystery is gone. If someone tells you the secret; they have deprived you the pleasure of figuring it out for yourself. The lessons are less likely to take hold."

"Besides, theoretically knowing the answers is not enough to win the game. The questions come so fast that the principles must be fully integrated into your personal philosophy. The responses have to be near automatic. You don't have time to work out the correct answer on the fly. It takes a lot of play to become integrated. Although the parts are simple, the interactions can be very complex. With enough play however, you become trained to see the underlying principles and respond. Otherwise the politics will distract you from seeing the essential connections."

"Still," said Tori, "you could make it easier to figure out. If players saw the map, they could make the connections."

Elizabeth started to respond but was interrupted by a knock at the classroom door. Todd entered and announced, "Marcus has returned. He is holding a meeting in the Great Hall in fifteen minutes. He has an announcement for everyone. Elizabeth, he would like to see you first."

Chapter 61.

Tori and Elizabeth hurried down a long hallway past stunning paintings and entered an enormous room with a large table and seating for fifty. The room, like the others, was richly and tactfully decorated with art deco style wooden inlays that adorned the wall, table and chairs.

Large portraits of men and women hung on the walls and Tori assumed these were leaders or distinguished members of the Stewards past. At the far end of the room hung the triangular insignia, which now held new meaning for Tori.

"What is this room?" she asked.

"This is the Grand Hall where the Steward's Council meets. You can wait here until the others arrive, I must see Marcus."

Elizabeth entered an office adjacent to the Grand Hall eager to tell of her phenomenal success with Tori.

Marcus sat on a brown leather couch furiously scribbling notes on a pad of paper. He wore the same dark suit as when she last saw him. He looked tired.

Without stopping, Marcus raised a hand indicating Elizabeth should wait while he finished his thoughts. He made a few final notes, underlining key lines of text. At last he turned his full attention to Elizabeth. "There has been a change of plans. The girl must leave at once."

Elizabeth was stunned, "We can't send her back now; her training is not complete."

Marcus shook his head. "She must go; she is jeopardizing our entire organization. Her presence is drawing scrutiny that we cannot afford. The reaction to our game is beyond anything we modeled. It is too risky for her to remain."

Elizabeth, already fond of Tori, was not ready to see her leave. "We can't let her go now, she knows too much. It's too risky."

Marcus shook his head. "She's only been here for a day, she has not learned enough to threaten our operations."

"But she knows where we are located, that alone is a risk."

"That won't matter after we have closed this facility and gone into hiding."

Elizabeth stood in disbelief. Hiding would mean an end to the game; an end to the first actions in a generation with an impact. "How can you?" she pleaded, "It's too soon. What would your son say?"

The mention of his son brought immediate strain to Marcus's face. The thought of his son was never far from his mind.

"We must accept that he has left the Stewards, he could not live up to his oath and chose to leave. It pains me night and day, but I must accept it, and move forward."

"But how can you give up so easily?"

"Elizabeth, believe me, I have tried to locate him and bring him back. I have spent the last thirty-six hours looking for him, hoping to convince him to change his mind. I have visited the cabin, and any other place I could think of, but he does not want to be found. There is no trace, and without him, there is little hope for our future."

"But, what about Tori?"

"Bringing her here was a mistake. It has only made things worse. The threat from our enemies is growing, and we have no choice but to shut down."

"But it is too soon!" insisted Elizabeth, "The game is working just as he predicted. We can't stop until we see if he was right."

"Elizabeth," said Marcus sympathetically, "I know your dedication to the Reaction project, but continuing will expose the Stewards. I cannot risk our legacy on a dream that cannot succeed. We are stretched too thin and the only way to insure survival is for Tori to leave and the facility to close before we are discovered."

"But I don't understand, what has changed since you left?" asked Elizabeth, her voice strained.

"There are some facts that even you do not know, and I am sure that when you have heard them you will agree. I'll explain it to you and the entire staff shortly. But first, Tori must go. I have Kevin ready with a car to remove her without drawing further attention."

"Tori can't leave," said Elizabeth suddenly. "She has seen the library and the map."

"That is impossible," said Marcus, "She's only been here one day; not enough time to learn the map."

"It's true," she replied resolutely. "Tori completed identity training in less than two hours, and the map took just over three."

Marcus's strained face stared back. "No one has completed induction training in under two hours."

Elizabeth continued, "It is exactly as he predicted, the game accelerates the learning curve. The hours of play provided a full range of concrete examples from which to understand both the axioms and the map. I only needed to help point out the connections. It was faster than even I hoped for."

Marcus recalled the bold predictions of rapid learning and the naive insistence that the map be exposed in the game - an idea that only Elizabeth had endorsed.

Marcus took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, collecting his thoughts. "If she has seen the Map and the scrolls then she cannot go."

Elizabeth's relief was visible, she was proud of Tori as if she alone had been responsible for the results, and wished only that, Marcus's son, the true 'Maker' could see his success. But her relief was short lived as she could see the burden this complication placed on Marcus.

"I will find another way to deflect the scrutiny," said Marcus, "But her staying does not change my plan. The game and this building must be shut down."

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Roger, I like that overturned paint can; a nice touch.

The anti-terrorist laws are right on! I hope you're not righting a history book!

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The Aristotle Reaction Chronicles, Episode 23.

I am posting tonight after returning from seeing Yaron Brook speak at Berkeley on the subject of Islamic totalitarianism. One of his themes was how multiculturalism has weakened America’s ability to defend its values. The topic was a nice lead in to tonight’s episode. I hope you will enjoy.

Chapter 62.

Jake awoke to the sound of pounding on his door. He lay in his bed, content to ignore the door. He did not want to talk to anyone.

The door pounded again and this time a voice with a familiar accent called out, "Jake I am wanting to talk to you urgently. You must wake and answer this door."

The voice had a distinct Indian accent; one least expected but most welcomed. He opened the door.

"Vinod," said Jake wearily, "What are you doing here?"

"I am so happy to see you, Jake," announced Vinod as he stepped into the dorm room and looked at his friend. "What has happened to you, you look so very tired?"

"I did not sleep well." said Jake dismissively, "What is so urgent?"

"Soldiers are marching through the campus and students are cheering for them."

"Yes," said Jake indifferently, "Students for a Green Tomorrow are holding a rally to support the troops."

"They are doing more then supporting troops; they are waving signs and chanting "Stop Intellectual Terrorism" and 'Keep America Free, Support Readers Rights.'"

"I know," said Jake without concern. "My roommate is their leader and they are all crazy."

"But they are wrong and we must do something to show our disagreement," insisted Vinod.

"I cannot argue with everyone with whom I disagree."

"But this is intolerable," pleaded Vinod, "No one is voicing an objection. We must do it."

"What do you want me to do, make a sign?" asked Jake sarcastically.

"Great idea!" exclaimed Vinod, "We can make signs and show that some object to the new laws."

"You can do it without me," said Jake flatly. "I don't really care what they do."

"But you must care Jake, this is your country. We can't let armed troops walk through campus without a single voice of protest."

"What good is protesting?"

"Jake, haven't you learned anything from the game? As long as ideas are supported they can have influence, but when all are silent, the opposition has won by default. This is your chance to discourage the bad, and encourage the good. Do not ignore this."

"The game has only taught me to look out for myself. You're the one who convinced me to adopt a moral code of self interest and that is what I am doing. Those troops, and their supporters can all be damned, I'm taking care of me."

Vinod was shocked at his friend's new ambivalence.

"Sitting in your room while your freedoms are trampled is not self-interest; it is foolish and short sighted."

"I don't care," said Jake

"But you must care. I have seen the effects in my own country. Our leaders wanted so much for equality of income, that they made it impossible for anyone to be a success. The government required permission to engage in any type of business. The best and brightest were squashed while mediocrity and graft were rewarded. Only when they stopped trying to regulate our lives and livelihoods did India begin to rise from poverty. We cannot allow America to be regulated into ruin. We must protect the freedom to choose our own actions and that starts with the freedom of speech."

Jake was unmoved by the passionate plea. "I'm sorry Vinod; we can debate this another time. Right now I have to study while it is quiet."

"So you are just going to sit back while your roommate encourages ideas you oppose?"

"I am tired of debating Edward and his type, they don't listen."

"Convincing Edward is not the point; we need to show those on the fence that Edward's is not the only view. Perhaps if we stand up, others will join us, and the tide of opinion will shift in our favor."

"Maybe another day," said Jake without care.

"I wish you would reconsider," said Vinod "but I don't have any more time to waste. Will you join me?"

"No," said Jake listlessly

"America will not remain the land of freedom and opportunity if not a single American will defend it. Someday, Jake, you will regret that you did nothing when you needed to act."

Vinod turned and left the room.

Jake closed the door and immediately had regret. A voice in his head started with a steady stream of dialog. You should have gone with Vinod.

He tried to console himself with a monologue of re-assurance that he had done the right thing. I can't let myself be run by emotions, and 'should haves.' I need to be practical. I need to look out for me. I came to school to get a degree, not to fight every protester who comes along. I need to study.

Jake picked up his text book on advanced database design. It took him an hour to read just two pages, and he did not recall a word. The dialog raged inside his head leaving no room for text. He was debating himself. On the one side a steady stream of 'should haves' and regrets, on the other rapid fire 'rationalization' for his actions. It was a stalemate; neither side would budge.

At last Jake decided to eat, but hunger was only a convenient excuse to go out and see if Vinod was really protesting against the rally. In a momentary concession he admitted that he did care, and with that thought he grabbed his jacket and hurried out.

Chapter 63.

Tori waited for Elizabeth in the great hall, her uneasiness growing with the passing minutes. When Elizabeth finally emerged from the side door, she took a seat beside Tori and gave her hand a reassuring squeeze, an action which only added to Tori's apprehension.

Moments later, three others entered the room and sat at the elegant table. Tori had met two upon arriving, Allen and Todd. The other she recognized as the limo driver, he was introduced as Kevin; he, like the others, appeared to be in his late fifties.

Tori glanced up and down at the sleek empty chairs and she asked, "When do the others arrive?"

Elizabeth responded, "there aren't any others, this is the entire council."

Tori raised an eyebrow puzzling over such a huge room for so few. "Why so many chairs?"

"At one time the council filled the room, now we are all that remain."

"You five are the entire council?" questioned Tori skeptically.

"We five are all that remain of the Stewards."

"What happened to everyone?" asked Tori.

"Some were killed, many passed after a lifetime of work," said Elizabeth taking deep breath. "A few have just disappeared leavening us to guess what may have happened."

"But where are the new members?" asked Tori.

Just then Marcus walked into the room and took his seat at the head of the table. Looking over at Tori he said, "I understand you have been busy while I was away. Elizabeth says you have made exceptional progress in understanding our game."

Tori's face flushed pink, "It makes sense, and I would think most students would get it."

Marcus nodded and smiled kindly. "I see you have met the rest of our staff."

"Yes" replied Tori feeling more at ease in Marcus's presence. "I was just asking why there are so few new members."

"That is regrettable."

"But why have no new members joined?" persisted Tori.

"That question is the root of our present predicament. To understand our plight you must know something of our history. If my colleagues will permit, I'll share it with you."

As you must know by now, for one hundred and fifteen generations our order has been the Stewards of the Identity Axiom. In the beginning, our members were simply pupils of Aristotle struggling to understand his identity axiom and its implications. Despite Aristotle's great genius and voluminous writings he was just one man with one lifetime and he left much to be examined and resolved. His students undertook the task to carry his work forward to its logical conclusions in every field of study. They organized to retain a common library with access to Aristotle's work, and a place to share their own. This was our humble beginning.

Our members were teachers trained to think, teach, and inspire. We were not a religion and we did not seek followers, rather we wanted strong minded individuals who would see our proofs and accept our ideas because they were rational, logical. We had only one requirement, that identity be the standard by which we judged the truth of any idea or action.

Our mission was to spread the knowledge of the Identity Axiom and its philosophy of objective reality. Members devoted time to education, writing and spreading the ideas to all those willing and able to accept them.

The order became a haven for thinkers able to grasp the significance of the identity axiom. This was a great accomplishment at the time because we lacked the deep body of scientific knowledge to support our premises. There was much that we simply could not explain, but we persevered and continued to expand a foundation of science.

Ancient Greece was the ideal climate for our ideas to flourish. The Greeks were only mildly religious, viewing their gods with an amused indifference. They valued reason and debate and thrived in a stable political environment. But even as we began to flourish, the golden age of Greece was coming to an end as war and invaders took their toll.

Originally located in Athens, we eventually moved our central library across the Mediterranean to Alexandria. The city was founded by Alexander the Great, a pupil of Aristotle. He constructed a great library, and we were welcome guests, with a special room devoted to our most important scrolls, those written by Aristotle himself. For a time we flourished.

During the rise of the Roman Empire Alexandra was invaded. The Great Library as sacked and all the scrolls were burned, however, with great effort our scrolls were saved deep within a hidden enclave. This event marked the beginning of a long decline for the Stewards. Our ideas were considered treasonous. Our explicit rejection of any God was beyond what most simple farmers and fishermen of the time could comprehend. We were forced to conceal our member's identities.

We continued our work in secret with diminished numbers, and our careful ways paid off. We escaped detection, preserved the writings and passed the knowledge to new generations who patiently waited the time for our return to prominence. It was a long wait.

As Rome faded Christianity grew with a message that was simple for the uneducated masses - suffering, obedience, and sacrifice are great virtues whose reward is eternal comfort and happiness in the afterlife. To men whose lives were already suffering and sacrifice, this was a welcome message. Christianity provided clear answers - God made the earth, God controls all things, and God provides for the afterlife. Meanwhile our order struggled to offer an alternative view, one that simple men could comprehend. We knew that the world was not created nor governed by supernatural powers, but without the backing of scientific facts, we could provide few clear answers, there was just too much that we did not know.

At one time Christianity was as obscure an underground movement as ours is today, but unlike our philosophy of reality and reason, its vision of God and faith grew to become entrenched in the culture and politics. It closed the door on reason, science, pride, achievement - all the things we offered as an alterative to suffering and obedience. We watched as the western world suffered the consequences of its ideas and drifted into the dark ages.

The dark ages were a bleak time for the order as the mystic corner ruled. All elements of the objective were nearly extinct, but always we found brave men and women who carried forward the knowledge of the identity axiom. Our discoveries and library grew in the far corners of the known world. Some flourished in the Middle East; others struggled under threat of death in the Christian world where many were executed as witches and heretics.

The year 1025 AD marked a turning point. One of our members first created the Philosophy Map that Elizabeth has shown you. It provided a simple means to communicate our ideas and showed how our views differed from that of the Church. It allowed us to show not only that our vision for man was different but that it is a logical and rational extension of the most fundamental law of nature - identity. The impact on the Stewards was profound. We began to recruit students like never before. We developed the induction room to demonstrate identity and we walked students through the conclusive proofs that God does not and cannot exist. Like an exorcism we freed the subconscious mind from God and faith and made way for induction, logic and reason - the thinking methods of the identity axiom.

Experience led to the axioms; axioms to the map; and the map to a clear choice between God and Identity. Given the choice many chose identity, and our numbers grew until over 200 teachers were quietly spreading our view. We did not expect the population to fully understand our philosophy but we wanted to break the strangle hold of faith and make room for logic and reason.

Our great success did not go unnoticed. Soon we invoked the attention and wrath of the Church. Knowledge of the map had reached the Vatican who set out on a relentless crusade to stamp out the Stewards and all knowledge of our existence. We were hunted and many were killed; most burned or tortured to a slow hideous death. Those who survived retreated to ensure our membership and our library would not be destroyed.

The efforts of the church were too little too late. Our ideas had taken seed in the population. The Generations that followed saw increasing change as the effects of our slow steady efforts began to take hold. Our big break came in the thirteenth century when Thomas Aquinas merged a small part of the Identity Axiom with Christian theology. By incorporating Aristotle's Logic with Christian theology he created a tiny toe hold for reason within religion. He made the first attempts to bridge the mystic and objective corners with a place for God and a place for Identity. It was a monumental shift upwards, from the Mystic to the Objective Corner.

The actions of Aquinas ushered in the Renaissance where the influence of the Mystic corner was under constant assault from the Objective. Education, science and technology began to flourish as the benefits of the identity axiom were slowly revealed to the world. Our order saw only optimism and hope for the future.

In the generations that followed, we made steady progress but always in secret. We found subtle ways to get our ideas out. Knowledge of the identity axiom found its way to the mathematicians, scientists, and artists where it influenced their work. Few knew it explicitly, but implicitly it came forward in ideas like natural law, cause and effect, reason, logic, rights and liberty.

Changing the world is a slow process. It takes place not in years or decades, but in generations. By the eighteenth century we achieved our crowning glory with the founding of America, a country unlike any in the history of man. It was a country based on the Objective, not the Mystic. It was the identity axiom applied to man's life and society that the US constitution enshrined. Although the founding fathers still exhibited the last vestiges of the Mystic corner, their most sacred ideas came from the Objective: individual rights and the pursuit of happiness. It was the influence of religion that enabled the abomination of slavery to persist as an ugly cancer in an otherwise glorious achievement.

By the signing of the constitution in 1776, we were over 1000 members throughout the world, helping to spread the freedom and progress we achieved in America. The ideas of Aristotle were spreading, and we were its agent; silently, stealthily working to change the world. Monarchies were crumbling; the church was in turmoil and decline. We were at the height of our influence and again we prepared to reveal ourselves and our map to the public. This time we could see nothing that could stop us. We were wrong.

In Germany a philosopher by the name of Immanuel Kant set out to defeat the objective influence and return the west to the dominance of the mystic morality of self-sacrifice.

To achieve his goal, it was necessary to undermine the advancement of reason into moral issues and return faith to the forefront. He knew a direct attack on reason was pointless, so he set out to destroy it by posing as the defender of what we called "pure reason."

Kant observed that mans senses work in a particular way using particular processes to send information to our brain, which is true. However, he claimed that information from the senses is 'processed' by our brains and therefore is not true 'knowledge of reality,' only an interpreted knowledge. His false argument attempted to exempt man's senses from the law of identity, leaving man cut off from the physical world and unable to claim as true anything he had seen, heard or experienced. Kant's philosophy conceded reason for science in the Objective corner to preserve the Mystic ethics of self sacrifice.

Kant's attack on reason was published in a 1030 page book titled, "A Critique of Pure Reason," and its impact was profound. While the Stewards struggled to unravel and refute his complex arguments, the ideas were quickly adopted by a new generation of philosophers who sought to preserve the morality of self sacrifice.

Throughout the 19th century America saw an unprecedented rise in the standard of living while Europe's struggle for freedom became bogged in the ideas of Kant. The attack on reason was extrapolated by philosophers such as Marx and Hegel who dropped the emphasis on God and asserted sacrifice was necessary for the "common good" of one's own collective group; be it race or class. These ideas, as you know reached their bloody climax with the rise of Communism, Fascism, and Socialism which were the inevitable result of Kant's philosophy. In the span of 80 years over 180 million people were murdered as communists tried to enforce Kant's fundamentals.

Through the twentieth century the Stewards poured its resources in to the wars that were the great physical manifestation of a battle of ideas - individual freedom and happiness against collective sacrifice. It was a battle for the supremacy of the Identity axiom and it did not end with World War II, it merely shifted to the cold war's battle against communism.

In the late 1920's we moved our library to San Francisco, in the belief that America was safely under the influence of the objective corner. We turned our focus to battles abroad, confident that our progress in America could not be undone. Again we were wrong.

While the Stewards were distracted overseas, our ideological enemies crept into America through the universities. Slowly "progressive" thinkers educated in the European Philosophies of Kant came back to America and took up tenure in the schools. Slowly they altered the curriculums to replace Aristotle ideals with a new American philosophy known as Pragmatism, and it quickly took hold.

By the time the order returned its attention to the declining state of affairs in America, we found ourselves cut out of the universities, and any forum where we might have influence. Our aging members were retiring and few new members could be found to replace them. Then things went from bad to worse. The focus of our battle suddenly changed as a new threat arose from the Subjective corner.

At face value, the subjective has little appeal as a philosophy to live by. It had always expressed itself in the form of cynicism - the rejection of anything real or absolute. It has merely played the role of spoiler, stepping in to undermine the objective by challenging if anything is knowable or any value is real. For centuries it was little more than an annoyance, but in the wake of the pragmatist's erosion of the Objective corner a new form of the subjective emerged, one that was a far greater threat then any we faced by religion.

The mystics hold that values are possible; the subjective reject the idea of any value. The mystics upheld truth as obtainable through faith; the subjective reject any claim to truth. Religion upheld that men should sacrifice now for a benefit at death. The subjective want others to sacrifice without any benefit. It is a complete rejection of every value.

American's have always been too rooted in reality to give much credence to the ideas of the subjective, However, this new strand of subjectivism was introduced disguised in the form of 'egalitarianism,' or more commonly 'multiculturalism.' Rather than claim that 'no values are possible,' as the old school cynics had; the multiculturalists claimed that "every value is equal." They proclaim that every culture, every religion, every species, every idea is to be valued equally. While posing as the defenders of values, the multiculturalists are destroying them. If every thing is of equal value, then in fact nothing is of value. This view quietly destroys the very thing it claims to uphold, just as Kant destroyed reason by claiming to defend it.

The old cynics would say we couldn't make value judgments because values don't exist. The Multiculturalists say we can't make judgments because everything has equal value. The constant message is that we must not judge; we must be tolerant of every view. To call one view bad is hateful, to declare another good is arrogance. From preschool through college, this idea is infused in every curriculum. Environmentalism in the sciences to multiculturalism in the humanities, every subject reinforces this code - do not judge, subordinate your interest to others.

And this brings us to where we are today. The influence of the identity axiom is disappearing, and the freedom and prosperity of America is being sacrificed. The Steward's spheres of influence have diminished to nothing. The people in this room are all that is left of the true defenders of Aristotle and the Identity Axiom."

The huge hall was quiet. Tori had soaked in Marcus's words connecting the dots with her knowledge of history and confirming that ideas shaped history, not wars.

After a long pause, Marcus spoke again. "Tori, I brought you here with the intention of rebuilding. I hoped you would be the first of a new generation of thinkers and teachers able to return Aristotle and the identity axiom to the forefront of science, ethics and culture. You have been an outstanding pupil and it is of no fault of yours, but I am afraid I can no longer extend the offer."

"As I told you when we met, we are an unpopular organization. The game has rallied our enemies. They are hunting for us and it is only a matter of time before we are discovered."

"We hoped the game would give us years to quietly recruit the best and brightest players, but we no longer have the luxury of time. My decision to bring you here has had unexpected consequences. The forces looking for you and those who seek our destruction have merged. As long as you are here and the project is online, we are at risk."

"But what about the game?" asked Tori?

"It was a radical departure from our traditional ways of inspiring and influencing, and our gamble has failed. The experiment must end."

Marcus's statement startled the table and only Elizabeth remained stoic.

"I realize this is not the outcome we had hoped." Marcus continued, "Someday the game may be revived, but for now we must insure our own survival. We must protect the Aristotle scrolls and ensure our technology is secure from our enemies."

"But sir," interjected Allen, "how can we survive into the next generation when there is no one to carry forward?"

"We will worry about that later, now we need to follow our predecessors' lead and hide in times of peril. We must erase the evidence of our existence and wait to fight another day. We will seal our possessions into the vault, disconnect the Game, and vacate these premises. In time this controversy will blow over, and we can undertake the task of recruiting and training members as we have always done."

"But you can't turn the Game off now," Tori interjected. "There are thousands of players, all struggling to uncover the game's secret, they know there is a solution, but, like me, they just don't know how to find it. If you shut down the game, you will leave them with nothing."

Marcus was unmoved, "Tori, I invited you to this meeting to understand our history and the methods that have insured our progress and survival for generations. Now my council and I have private affairs. I would like for you to wait in my office. When I am done we can talk about what our closing means for you." Marcus motioned towards the door at the end of the room and Tori was dismissed.

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The Aristotle Reaction Chronicles, Episode 24.

Henry, I wish I had some good news, but it appears that professor Milford and his ilk have won the day. With no one willing or able to speak out for the Objective corner, the world will slowly sink into the mystic and subjective corners, and the light of western civilization will fade into the bleak eternal night of a new dark age.

Chapter 64.

Jake stepped out of his room and immediately sensed something was different. The normally busy halls were empty. Outside he saw only two armed soldiers quietly patrolling the dorms. The sounds of commotion emanated from the university square and drew him in that direction.

He rounded the administration building and saw the largest campus rally he had ever seen, thousands of students gathered around a platform in the middle of the square.

News cameras were stationed for the best vantage of the platform. Edward's banner, "Keep America Free - Support our Troops" was strategically placed for maximum exposure. Several impressive military vehicles with the initials B.A.T. were also positioned in line of the cameras.

Alongside Students for A Green Tomorrow, other groups were present with signs supporting their causes.

End Hate. End AR.

Intolerance is Terrorism.

AR is Terrorism.

A group of parents stood with a sign reading, "Stop Terrorizing our Children!"

Most students were merely spectators, listening to the speakers, and taking in the spectacle. They had seen the news reports and came to be a part of history.

Speakers from many groups were energizing the crowd from the podium.

As Jake approached, a woman in a tie-dyed shirt was speaking. "…And I am so proud of you for coming out to support the troops who are bravely defending us against the threat of terrorism at home. It takes real courage to look terrorism in the eye and say, 'We will not be intimidated! We will not back down! We will win the war on terror, and we are starting right here at home!'"

Thunderous applause roared. An older man in a red beret got up to take the stand.

"I am Jim Tuttle, representing the Workers United for Peace, free speech permit number 53. I am proud to represent the 53rd group to post our Readers Rights statement and obtain a free speech permit. Nothing is more important because each day millions of American workers are subject to the terrorism of Big business. They go to bed with the terrifying reality that they could lose their job. They live in constant fear that their families and futures rely on the discretion of a few fat-cat executives. Please join us in supporting a new resolution in congress that will further expand the definition of terrorism to include the outsourcing of US jobs overseas."

Again, a thunderous round of applause exploded.

A woman with very short blond hair stepped up to the microphone. "The Students for Gender Studies, free speech permit number 23,232, are here to draw your attention to the issue of Gender Terrorism. Around the world women face the quiet terrorism of gender discrimination. Be it the honor killings in the Middle East or the unequal pay in the corporate world, women everywhere face the terror of a male dominated world. We ask you all to join our fight against gender terrorism."

This speech brought shouts of support from the women in the audience and a polite clap from confused males.

Next a man with a long black pony tail stood before the crowd. "My name is Kawacatoose and I speak for the Association of Native Americans, permit number 5349. We of the Native American community are glad to see America finally bring attention to the issue of domestic terrorism. No group, race or culture has suffered more terrorism than the tribes of the American Indians. We support these efforts to end the kind of hate propagated by these AR Terrorists. Their game fosters discrimination and hatred for the American Indian. It is time to end the culture of intolerance that this game has rekindled in America."

More applause ensued.

Jake was startled when the next person to take the podium was Vinod. "My Name is Vinod Patel of Poona, India. I am very honored for the privilege to study in your country as I have long admired your freedom. Today is a very sad day for me. I am witness to the end of free speech in your country. What you have labeled as 'intellectual terrorism' is nothing more than free speech. To present your ideas, in any form, is free speech. To register with the government for permission to speak is not! The AR game is not Terrorism, it is free speech. People are not forced to play."

A student from the back of the crowd with a laptop computer called out "Hey, what is your free speech permit number? I can't find you on the registry."

Vinod did not acknowledge the man, but continued on with his point. "You have equated the concept of 'terrorism,' with political correctness, and you have made it a crime to express any idea with which another might disagree."

There was a general murmuring in the crowd, as people looked around uncomfortably. On stage a cell phone rang, and Jake spotted Edward answering and then disappearing behind the podium.

Vinod continued to address the anxious crowd. "I have played this AR game to the highest levels. I can attest that it does not undermine American values. It shows the tremendous life-improving consequences of true freedom and it shows the disastrous life condemning results of ending freedom, as you are doing here today."

Behind Vinod there was a sudden commotion as two uniformed police officers and Edward appeared from behind. Vinod turned, as the officers said something that could not be heard, but Vinod's reply was clear. "No, I will not step down, not until I have finished speaking."

The officers reacted swiftly, one pushed Vinod's head forward against the podium while the other twisted his arms behind his back. Over the microphone you heard the muffled voices of the officers, "You are under arrest for public speaking without a proper permit. You have not made a declaration of intent and ideological affiliation. You are violating the listener's rights of every member of this audience."

Vinod realizing he could still speak into the microphone started to address the crowd, "Is this really what you want, an end to free speech in Ameri…"

The microphone was suddenly cut off. The officers finished cuffing Vinod and carried him away through the stunned crowd. Students stood looking at each other, not sure what to do next.

Jake pushed his way through the crowd and intercepted the police men carrying Vinod as he refused to walk or cooperate in any way. The look on his face startled Jake. It was his usual broad grin.

"What can I do?" shouted Jake as he neared.

"Don't worry about me, I'll be fine. These police have helped make my point much better than any speech." Vinod's last words trailed off as he was carried away through the murmuring crowd.

Edward, seeing the confusion in the audience, jumped forward to the microphone, to fill the silence.

"Don't be fooled ladies and gentlemen. That man had the same opportunity as everyone else to declare his ideology. Clearly he has something to hide. Let's hear a big round of applause for the brave men in blue who have just protected all of our listener's rights."

There was a smattering of applause, but most onlookers were unsettled by the event.

Jake was horrified at applause offered for the forcible restraint of free speech. He felt compelled to take action, to do something to voice his objection, but he was paralyzed with indecision. He knew that he should get to the microphone and add his voice to Vinod's, but his legs refused to move.

The chance had finally come for him to make a persuasive argument at a time when it really mattered but his mind was blank, paralyzed by the thought that he too might be arrested. I should not sacrifice myself. He thought, trying to justify his lack of action. I must be rational, and look out for my own self interest, that was the lesson he'd taken to heart these past weeks.

Seconds turned to minutes and Jake stood frozen while his self esteem melted. He had followed the moral code that Vinod had encouraged, yet had not followed himself. The result for Jake was self loathing rather than happiness. He'd been practical and preserved himself, yet he felt miserable.

Slowly the crowd began to thin, but still Jake stood enveloped in self doubt. "I've been a fool," he thought, 'and everyone else has paid the price.' He remained free and unharmed, but his new ethic of self interest had brought only self loathing. His quest for answers was mired in confusion.

In the back of his mind he heard Milford's voice, 'The point, young man, is to spare idealistic dreamers from wasting their time looking for definitive answers where there are none to be found.' Milford was right.

Suddenly he felt the desire to be far away from the university and the madness of the rally. With no destination in mind, he started to walk. He needed to move, to be doing something, anything other than just standing there regretting his inactions. Vinod's words hours earlier kept running through his mind "Someday you may regret that when action was needed, you did nothing." That someday had already come.

Chapter 65.

Tori stepped into Marcus's large office. A small couch and sitting area caught her eye and drew it back to a large desk. Behind the desk was a massive stylized painting of the Greek god Apollo riding his golden chariot across a brilliant sky towing the blazing sun. The furnishings, like the chariot, were rounded, aerodynamic and flowing in the distinctive art deco style common to the building.

She settled into the soft couch, to wait for the Director. In this quiet moment her thoughts turned to her family and the pain their lack of support caused her. She had not contacted them, and despite her feelings, she thought it cruel not to let them know she was safe. She vowed to call.

She thought of Jake, and wanted to call and share her incredible discovery, but knew it was impossible. The secrets of the Stewards were a heavy burden and they would not allow her to confide in Jake or another soul outside the Order. She quietly steeled her emotions to this fate, knowing that her decision to stay would extract a heavy price in years ahead. She could not allow herself to have deeper feelings for Jake. It would be a mistake for her and unfair to him; they could have no future together.

With a strange sense of déjà vu and growing impatience, she stood to explore the room. Wooden shelves lined the walls with old books and artifacts. One item in particular caught her eye, a two foot tall statue of a girl dancing. It was a frozen moment of joy and motion. The artist captured every subtle curve in white marble, giving life to a single instant of pure pleasure.

She was startled, when a voice behind her said, "Do you like it?"

"It is exquisite."

"Yes, it is special," said Marcus in a tone that implied its great personal value. "It really belongs in the vault, but I like it here, close to me."

Tori considered probing deeper, but chose a different question, "How did you become a Steward?"

"They found me much like we found you," he said. "I was a biologist pushing the boundaries of human knowledge and applying it to improving lives. But the population was not ready. I was denounced as a criminal and my creation declared an abomination. It was then that the Stewards retrieved me. When I completed my training I realized that, despite all man's progress, he has not risen far enough from the dark ages to embrace my discoveries. I then set aside the physical sciences and took up the cause of moving mankind to the objective corner in the hopes that a future scientist could revive my work for the benefit of a culture that would embrace it."

Tori was confused. She too had been renounced, and she too was ready to fight, but Marcus was retreating. She asked, "Why are you shutting down the game. There are thousands of players eager to learn more. You're making progress, why stop now?"

Marcus's faced turned from kindly mentor to stern leader. "Tori, if we continue we will be discovered and shut down before we are prepared. Even if the game allows us to recruit the students, it would take years to teach the ideas needed to reverse the momentum of America's decaying culture. I know you have learned a lot and you feel empowered, but it is more complicated than you realize. We need to re-group. It is the game's very success that has caused this problem."

"Is the game's only purpose to recruit players?"

"Yes, the game allows us to find those sympathetic to our view. We have used similar methods for years. We undertake scholastic projects that allow us to find the very brightest. In the past we scanned thousands of essays looking for those with potential. We didn't reveal our true purpose until we were sure the student has the strength and independence to join us, we are looking for leaders not followers. The process takes years."

"You did not spend years to recruit me," pressed Tori.

Marcus paused, then said, "I made an exception with you; time did not permit the normal course. Was I wrong to select you?"

"No, I am willing to join the fight," said Tori firmly, "but if you end the game, there will be nothing to join."

"Tori, I understand your disappointment. We all had great expectations."

"I can't understand why you won't stand and fight now. Who cares if your organization is discovered? What harm could it do? You have incredible resources here. Why keep them hidden?"

"We only have these incredible resources because we have kept them hidden. Had they been found, they would have been burned or destroyed. Our secret ways have kept these ideas alive in the face of a hostile culture."

"What good are the resources locked in your basement? Let your ideas out, let people see your documents and study the map. It would help so many people understand things better. I only wish I had seen it when I studied philosophy, it would have spared me a lot of grief."

Marcus stood fully upright; Tori could see him struggle to retain his composure. "The map cannot be released to the public. Some would understand it, but others, like your professor Milford, would twist the meaning, water down the message, and use it to serve their ends, not ours."

"But if Aristotle's ideas are so beneficial, why wouldn't everyone, including the professors, accept them, once they understand them? Why wouldn't everyone want to improve their lives? "

"As a history major you should understand that those with a vested interest in the status quo don't want change. Some men have always sought a short cut to success by seeking the power to rule other men. Such a man wants others to obey his commands, not agree with his ideas. They want the power to control others; the power to be above the constraints of reality. Do you know the best way to gain power over others?"

"Threaten them," replied Tori.

"No, fear and force are the second choice even for the most ardent dictator. Think of the Map and history, the answer is there."

Tori visualized the triangular map, seeing each corner and recalling the attributes that followed from the axioms. "Well, I guess it would be much simpler if men voluntarily agreed to follow you. Like what I was trying in my thesis. That would result from the Mystic corner."

"Exactly!" he exclaimed while marveling at how quickly Tori merged the game lessons with the map concepts.

Marcus continued, "There is a simple four part formula for tyranny that has been administered by every high priest, dictator and petty bureaucrat. First frighten men into believing the world is cruel, random, and uncertain. Second claim blind faith is the path to peace and truth; faith in God, or society, or government, it does not matter, so long as men reject their own reason and judgment. Next convince men that their highest moral virtue is sacrifice; sacrifice for heaven, or neighbors, or nature, or anything but their own gain. Finally institutionalize this sacrifice in the form of a government with the power to extract it from anyone unwilling to give it.

"Men are easily ruled when they accept that the world is unknowable and they are helpless. First they sacrifice their judgment, then their happiness, and finally the lives of all who disagree. From Communist purging to Nazi death camps; from the Catholic Inquisitions to the Islamic Jihad, this same insidious poison, in its many forms has been the root cause.

"Aristotle's philosophy is the antidote. It shows men a world governed by natural laws that is consistent and knowable. It shows that life is an end in itself and man should pursue his own happiness, guided by his own rational judgment. It shows that honesty, integrity, pride, and independence are the essential virtues of a successful life. Finally it shows that men wishing to live such a life need to enact a system of government with the sole purpose of protecting each man's right to his life and property.

"Aristotle is a threat to those men who seek power over others. Freedom, reason, pride, independence, and the law of identity are all threats. To them, the dark ages are preferable to the enlightenment. They longingly seek the power of dictatorship, the power to rule others, and would drive their countries into ruin to have it.

"We cannot reveal ourselves openly until we have the strength to ensure our ideas are taught as they were intended. In a way that will stand up to the countless attacks they will endure from the political and academic elite."

"But this is America," implored Tori, "Surely, you are not going to be hunted down and killed just because you have an idea 'they' don't like."

"It is true that death or physical persecution is not a great threat in America, but there are other ways to squelch an intellectual movement."

"Like what?" She insisted.

"You of all people should know. Look at how your thesis and reputation were attacked because you came too close to the truth."

Dumbstruck, she opened her mouth to respond, but the words did not come. Marcus was right. The entire course of events was not an innocent misunderstanding, but a deliberate attack by her professors to discredit her and her thesis. She was livid and her skin crawled with a desire to lash out at the perpetrators. She clenched her fists and took a deep breath trying to hold her composure, but at last she erupted in the only way she could.

"If that is the worst they have, let them bring it on. I would rather have them drag my name through the mud a thousand times than to let them get away with it. Let's show the map and fight them in the open."

"I admire your courage, Tori. You were wronged, and it is proper that you should seek justice. But without a clear plan for success it would be futile. You are not alone in thinking that we should reveal ourselves and the map. It is an issue we have debated in every generation. In fact we once did reveal ourselves. It is an important lesson, which you should learn."

"What happened?" asked Tori.

"Alexander Alvertius created the map in the eleventh century. He decided it would finally tip the balance and allow us to break the grip of fear, superstition and faith that held the population fixed to the church. We were over two hundred strong, and began to openly teach our ideas to all who would listen. Our goal was to start 'the Aristotle reaction;' the effect that Aristotle's ideas would have on mankind if enough people were to embrace them. The ideas would reach a tipping point within the population and then spill onto the mainstream. The result would be an unprecedented standard of living as economic freedom spread and men created ever expanding technology to improve their lives."

"Indeed our teaching had some impact on the youth, but we underestimated the time it would take to bring change, and we did not consider the response of the church."

"The map was a direct threat to church authority and equally to the kings and feudal lords who claimed their thrones by divine right. They all had a vested interest in seeing that all knowledge of Aristotle, identity, and the map were wiped from the earth. Our movement that entirely dispensed with God was a far greater threat than any schism in church theology."

"The churches response was swift and harsh. They infiltrated our simple schools and branded our teachers and students as heretics. Most were killed when they refused to recant their beliefs. Many were martyred, in horrible deaths inflicted by the church. Their suffering rivals any endured by the Church's Saints."

"Alvertius himself endured horrendous torture as the inquisitors insisted he denounce the very thing he had created. When he would not recant and declare allegiance to God he was sentenced to burn, not in a raging fire of swift death but on a slow burning bed of hot coals. He lived three agonizing days, and just before he died, he shouted out a call for the Stewards to avenge his death. He swore that the map would be revealed to bring an end to the church."

"The few Stewards that survived set out to preserve what remained of the library and keep it safe from the church. From that moment we began to rebuild, planning for the day when we would reveal ourselves again. Alexander's last words became a battle cry. 'The Aristotle reaction will not die with me. The map will prevail.'"

Tori had been listening in silence but suddenly looked up. "I have heard of the Aristotle Reaction," she said, with a faint recollection.

"That is not possible," confirmed Marcus calmly, "that saying is known only to the Stewards."

"I am certain I heard it a few weeks ago as part of a campus rumor. Something like that was shouted by a man just before he fell to his death from the Golden Gate Bridge. I was told he said, 'The Aristotle reaction will not die with me. The Map will prevail. You are cursed, but your progeny may be spared from your evasion.'"

Marcus was dumbfounded. The last part of this quote was exactly as Alvertius had stated. "Who told you this?" he asked sharply.

"I heard it from a student who claimed he witnessed it. During the Trade Summit last June an extremist fanatic supposedly attacked the demonstrators, and they killed him in self defense. They figured the police would not believe them, so rather than report it; they decided to throw the body off the bridge. But just as they were heaving him over, he regained consciousness, and before he fell, he shouted those words. Nobody knew exactly what it meant, but those involved came to believe they were cursed."

Tori watched Marcus suddenly take a deep breath and close his eyes tightly. After a moment they reopened, sad, misty, and familiar.

Suddenly Tori connected the words 'Aristotle,' and the 'Map.' The complete picture emerged. "He was The Maker, wasn't he?" She asked.

"Yes," said Marcus quietly, "he was my son."

Tori was shocked but had to ask, "His final plea was a call to reveal the philosophy map, wasn't it?"

"He and I had a heated argument on the subject just before he left a few days before the summit. He insisted it was the only way to make a sustained impact. He believed the game in conjunction with the map would be enough to start the reaction. I disagreed. He left the room and never returned. I could only assume our argument had caused him to leave me and the Stewards. I never imagined that he was murdered."

Marcus put his hands in his pockets and stared at the floor, collecting his thoughts. Tori sensed the she was imposing on his private grief and she turned to leave.

"Wait," said Marcus fighting to remain composed. "It is a risk we all take. He was fighting for a better world; it was something he was willing to die for."

Marcus placed his hand firmly on Tori's shoulder, "Tori, I must apologize for putting you in this predicament. I had no idea it would come to this. I am going to ask of you something I have no right to. I must request that when you leave us, you do not mention a word of what you have seen or heard. Our lives and the future of our ideas depend on it."

"You're sending me away?" ask Tori anxiously.

"Yes," confirmed Marcus, "But I promise, when the time is right we will find you and start again."

"But your son's dying request was that the map be released. How can you ignore that? He is the one most responsible for giving you a fighting chance to have an influence. You cannot simply let that chance slip now."

"I have no choice, I have pledged to be a Steward of the Identity Axiom and it is my duty to protect our twenty-four centuries of accumulated knowledge, so it can be shared with future generations."

"What about this generation - your son's generation? Your knowledge is not doing the world any good sitting in your basement. Your son gave his life fighting for a better world. If this game has taught me anything, it's that we must encourage the ideas we value. The game still gives you some influence, you cannot lose it."

Marcus strained to maintain his poise against a mounting internal conflict. Tori was using his own son to argue for the very things he reviewed in his own mind a thousand times. Was he giving up too easily? Would they be better off letting their existence be known and fighting for their ideas in public. Thousands of years of tradition warned him to keep the map secret and to wait for a better time. His son, however, whose efforts gave them their last hope, said otherwise.

"It's too late" said Marcus, now arguing more against himself than Tori. "We don't have the resources to release the map. It would take hundreds of trained teachers and an audience willing to learn. Now there are just six of us."

"Why don't you just expose the Map in the game? Let the players learn it as a means to advance. Players eagerly soak up useful information. They have emptied the library of history and philosophy books in the hope of finding some clues. They pay for lessons from the best players. You may not have an audience willing to study philosophy, but legions of players, like me, are eager to learn how to advance in your game."

"The game was not intended for training." said Marcus, "It is a recruiting tool. But even if we wanted to take that approach it is impossible. My son was the only person with the technical skills to make changes; no one else knows the code. "

"But Todd and Elizabeth understand the game. They can do it!"

"They can support the network and database, but they are not programmers."

"Why don't you find new programmers to expose the map? Many others could do this."

"Out of the question," said Marcus hastily.

"But I know people who could help," pleaded Tori.

"No, we have already broken every tradition by allowing you here, and it threatens our future."

"Your tradition and history are a bigger liability than an asset. You are so focused on preserving your past that you are missing the future. You are too timid in your moves to have any success."

Tori's words struck Marcus like a thunder clap; he had heard them before, his son had argued for this time and again. In that moment Marcus realized that his son, Alex, was not coming back, and Tori needed to know the full truth. Marcus searched for the words to tell her the most difficult thing he had ever had to say.

Tori watched an internal struggle play out on Marcus's face. Suddenly she felt horribly embarrassed to be pressing so hard on a man who just learned of his son's death. She could imagine nothing worse. "I am sorry," she said, "I had no right. I guess I don't understand. I should leave."

Marcus looked at her, like a father to a daughter. "Tori, I have something to tell you, something I should have said sooner, but I just could not be sure the time was right …"

Marcus's words were abruptly interrupted by a knock at the door. Elizabeth burst into the room. "Come quick, there is breaking news that you must see now."

Chapter 66.

Tori and Marcus rushed down the hall following Elizabeth. She turned and entered a sophisticated media room were the small staff was fixated on a wall of TV monitors, each tuned to a different news program. The center screen flashed the headline, "A Blow to Intellectual Terrorists." Allen turned up the volume.

In a surprise move, the President signed two new bills extending America's arsenal in the war on terror.

The first bill protects Americans from the threat of intellectual terrorism by creating the Bureau of Free Speech charged with protecting listeners by issuing free speech permits to registered individuals and organizations who wish to exercise their first amendment rights.

The second bill gives the Bureau of Anti-Terrorism new powers to fight intellectual terrorist. The law expands the definition of terrorism to include over thirty new acts and gives the bureau authority to investigate and seize the property of suspects without warrant. The bill will further expedite prosecution of terrorists by classifying them as 'illegal combatants' to be tried in a military tribunal.

Before signing the bills into law, the President said, "Terrorism has made our world fearful and uncertain for our children, but the public has shown their willingness to sacrifice for our safety. Their faith in our government's ability to protect the common good will lead to a better, safer America, and these laws will assure we capture and prosecute all terrorists who seek to undermine our values."

Senator Jim Taylor of Nebraska was quoted as saying, "The two bureaus, one of free speech and one of anti-terrorism, will work hand in hand to keep America safe. The first protects our right to not be deceived and the second prosecutes the violators. Together these new laws bring unprecedented security to our country."

Democrats and Republicans in both houses applauded the bill as a non-partisan step to ensure a safer America. Around the country political and faith based organizations scrambled to register their ideologies with the new Bureau of Free Speech.

However, not all support this new law. A newly formed advocacy group called 'Citizens for American Freedom' claimed the law is unconstitutional and vowed to fight it all the way to the Supreme Court. In response to this claim Bruce McPherson, Deputy Director of the B.A.T said "the advocacy group had every right to express their views so long as they are consistent with their registered ideology, and in compliance with the new disclosure laws." The director went on to say that, 'opposing the law was un-patriotic, and only benefited terrorists.' He questioned the motives of the groups behind Citizens for American Freedom and he promised to investigate any 'irregularities.'"

In a show of support for the laws, a rally was held at the California University at the center of the intellectual terrorism crises. Many newly registered organizations exercised their free speech permits to declare support for the new laws and the Bureau of Anti-Terrorism."

Tori was surprised to see the familiar university square on the screen with thousands of students gathered around a podium.

"The rally ended abruptly when an independent and un-registered speaker attempted to violate the listener's rights of the crowd. He was quickly apprehended and admitted ties to a suspected intellectual terrorist organization."

The screen showed the speaker being carried away, and Tori recognized him at once. At that moment, she made the connection between an Indian student rumored to have the highest scores on campus and Jake's friend, the one who said 'philosophy was more practical than computer programming.'

The commentator continued speaking before a still image of the handcuffed speaker being forcibly carried away by the police.

Marcus turned off the TV and looked up at his colleagues, "Free speech has ended. This changes everything."

End of PART II

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This chapter can best be summarized by a quote from Anthem.

"So you think that you have found a new power," said Collective 0-0009.

"Do all your brothers think that?"

"No," we answered.

" What is not thought by all men cannot be true," said Collective 0-0009.

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Tito, Yep, that is it. Oleksandr built the simulator after reading the book. Someday I hope to have a version you can play. It is very cool!

The project originated from the thread below.

brainstorming

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