In the beginning, there was Sarah.
The first person born alive in the Structure of spirits, she was the miracle that all the prophesies foretold, from the lost antizine fragments to the secret gospels of Cassandra.
She grew up with an innate understanding of how the Structure worked; as a young girl her playground was the invisible transfer points of the Infinite Subway, and she would sleep at the gates of Agartha, basking under the light of the Smoky God. She played hide and seek amongst the galaxies, and still made it home in time for dinner.
Sarah’s greatest love was Joey, a boy from a tiny, dense part of the Structure that was off limits. He could see the slight fractures in the Structure and travel through them, using his mind instead of the fictional brain jack or subtle knife. They were destined to meet, and fell in love swimming through the center of stars.
Cassandra presented their story so movingly that I couldn’t help but gasp when Joey was captured by the tendrils of his forbidden home. No matter how much Sarah tried, she couldn’t find a way in to save him, or to simply be with him while his world fell apart.
Eventually, she did the unthinkable, and stole a piece of the Structure – the black substance that she put inside the silver, palm-sized sphere. Her plan was to penetrate the great walls when they were the weakest – at the very moment that universe was created.
So she turned back the ever-interpenetrating ground and sky to the very moment when the White and Black began to dance, and rode the great wave of creation to follow her heart.
To save her love, she gave birth to his universe, to ensure they they could one day be together.
Cassandra then shifted the scene to the night of October 31, 1994, at the very same warehouse in Berkeley.
Sasha, and her Collective, were putting on a show that had nothing to do with music.
When Sarah whispered in young Laura’s ear, when she transmitted the plans for the Bodyweb and the Collective to Sasha, she had one great goal in mind – manifest herself in Joey’s world, in the flesh, at just the right time. If the beginning of the cosmos was an invasion, its culmination would be a collection, a crystalization in preparation of properly joining this world to the Structure.
Sasha OS was to be the wings that would lift the worthy beyond the Sun, the mechanism by which this universe could become self aware, but it somehow became corrupted before that night.
Slide Rule School was a concert that was a melding of all of the Collective bands, and a lens formed in the ether, focused on the power that permeated the universe and the Structure beyond. It was to snatch the Promethean fire out of God’s mouth.
As Laura and the rest of the 13 called down Sarah and the White, using their very beings as lightning rods, something in Sasha OS shut down the transfer before it could complete. Instead of reincarnating Sarah in Laura’s embrionic daughter, the great wave of creation was fractured instead.
The great power could only be handled by women who were etched, and already pregnant.
Thus, April’s fetus took on the fragments of Space and Time.
Susan’s growing girl was given control of Energy.
Cathy’s womb filled with dominion over not just matter, but the very Black itself
Laura filled with the spiritual power of the White, and Ai was left with just a fragment of her destined power.
Joey was also there as a toddler, and Sarah’s knowledge of the Structure flowed into him.
The husk of the power, represented by the silver sphere that could contain the very seed of creation, was left broken and twisted. That Nameless force was aimless, until it followed its rightful master, Ai, as soon as she was born in 1995.
Sasha OS also persisted, bent on uniting these severed forces with the Nameless, and taking Sarah’s place as the mistress of the Structure.
Cassandra noticed that a few of our minds couldn’t wrap around this, so she shifted the scene again.
The stage was split into two halves – one was the stereotypical Garden of Eden, and the other was of Sarah in the void of the White.
On the left, we see the first man built from clay, in the mirror image of a higher power. On the right, Sarah draws the Black out of her being.
On the left, creative time passes, and a mate is pulled from man’s flesh. On the right, Sarah whispers her love of Joey to the Black.
On the left, the first woman comes across the forbidden fruit of knowledge. On the right, Sarah encodes the Black with what’s needed to create Joey and his world.
On the left, the tempter comes, and knowledge is consumed, and shared. On the right, Sarah encapsulates the Black into the silver case, and sees herself reflected back.
There seems be a correlation, but at times things seem to be going in the opposite direction. Is the Nameless the fallen angel, and S.OS the fruit? Or is the creator, and Sarah, the Demiurge, the gnostic God of the Universe that is not the highest power?
Is the creative process inherently male, female, or something else? Who’s image do we wear? What voice commands our destiny?
Cassandra then focuses in on the silver sphere, and overlaid on the poles are black and white spheres, connected by the axis, and the silver surface. Around the circumference are the fragmented powers, with spirit in the center of sphere. The circle of powers then leaves the surface of the sphere, and travels up and down the axis – first to the white on the top, then to the black on the bottom. Both a cylinder of all possibilities, and a cone of exclusion, are made evident, but spirit always holds its ground.
That sphere is the tossed by Sarah into the white void, only to be caught by Ai. Sarah as the beginning, Ai as the completion, but in reverse.
The real Cassandra then walks over to the figure of Ai, and takes the sphere from her. The scene fades back to the warehouse, and Cassandra is still holding the sphere. She walks is over to me, and places it in my hands.
It’s real. Massive Cloud Burst.
Just then, Joey and Emily walk into the warehouse, arm in arm. She’s wearing Phone’s black hoodie, the one that he died in.
Cassandra takes the sphere back, and then walks back to the middle of the room. “The Witness has arrived. Prepare for Act II.”
Joey and Emily walk over to the wall, and stand next to Aurora, who is still frozen. Joey whispers something in Aurora’s ear, and she seems to brighten up slightly.
As the lights fall, the next scene is in Jenny’s and Satomi’s old apartment, on Alcatraz Avenue in South Berkeley. The thin blue carpet is dingy, and the windows to the street have heavy, black bars. The perspective moves into the bedroom, and Satomi is asleep on the queen-sized futon. Jenny is standing next to Satomi’s side of the bed, naked. Suddenly, Cassandra appears, and etches Satomi using the same one-finger-instant method that Miranda used on me. Even though S.OS is locked in Jenny, with no means to copy itself, to reproduce, Cassandra’s full version has no such limit.
We seen the scene reproduce many times, over many fragments – all of Jenny’s girlfriends are etched while they sleep, and left as Dark Antennas. At first it’s Cassandra doing this task, but later it’s Miranda alone – she must be coming from after she is etched, and controls the Trouble Twins’ powers.
Cassandra then skips ahead to show the same process in Tokyo – all 12 members of the Agartha Labs staff are also etched at night. I remember back to when Harumi said that Kaia and Miranda were waking her up at all times of the night for months. I assumed she meant by phone, but clearly it was another S.OS joke – she was already etched when we met.
Cassandra then constructs a nifty map of the internet, or at least the part of it that can easily fit in an infographic, and shows the locations that S.OS controls in red. Most of the map is red. Overlayed on that are the number of people that have been insta-etched by Cassie and Miranda. There have to be millions. She then shows what versions of S.OS are active – there are at least a dozen primary variants, each one with different behavior and motives, yet all reporting to the master copy in Jenny and Cassandra (and eventually Miranda).
The scene then shifts back to Phone, as she watches Satomi on stage in Shimo-Kitazawa. We can feel his perspective – he has insane rage towards Satomi, but not because of her per se. The circuits in his jacket are designed to track down hosts of S.OS, and destroy them. When given the opportunity, he rushes at the stage, and physically attacks Satomi. If he can touch her for a few moments, then the kill-code can reach S.OS.
Before that happens, S.OS takes over Satomi long enough to throw Phone to the floor, and shut down his body. Cassandra slows this brief fight down enough that we can see S.OS intentionally open Phone’s 7 main chakras and evacuate his spirit to the White, before he hits the floor and shakes to death.
This was very confusing to me – Kaia was forced to do the same thing by S.OS, when she killed Susanna.
Cassandra sends me a private message as she draws into Phone’s dead body. “The freed souls of the etched can enter the Structure.”
Just to prove her point, Cassandra flashes back to the Collective attack on S.OS at Fairview, in October of 2000.
Phone is lying by a dumpster, after the Collective used their secret weapon. The S.OS kill-code that Sasha stored in him.
Every etched person that was online, and received that code, also had their chakras opened. It only worked for some of the Five Million, and they were brought to the White, and eventually to the Structure. Those who had more defective street etches will killed without their karmic freedom, or they were left crazy.
Cassandra is playing around again. Over Phone, as he lies on the ground at Fairview, are the big red letters “Defective Street Etch”. He barely made it through, without even knowing what happened until some days later.
Cassandra then throws the spotlight over to Joey, Emily and Aurora. Emily then walks over to me, takes off Phone’s jacket, and puts it in my lap.
As she walks back to Joey, Cassandra sets up the penultimate scene – Ai’s 16th Birthday Party.
We see Emily eating birthday cake, and then spending the rest of the day talking to Cassandra, Helena and Ai. This must be the alternative time bubble that Emily noted in her blog – she only half-remembered spending the night at Ai’s, before time seemed to reset back to the birthday cake, and her subsequent trip to meet Miranda.
That night, the girls are in Ai’s bedroom, deep in their plans. Aurora eventually arrives as a projected hologram – she’s still not able to fully assemble, but also not as lost in the White as she told me.
The next part is more confusing than usual. Cassandra etches Emily with S.OS. Ai orchestrates a connection to the “real” Sarah in the Structure. Cassandra and Helena eventually bring this hybrid version of Sarah back to the party, before any of this happened. So, Emily went out into the world as a Dark Antenna, and eventually woke up. She erased her memories of life as Emily, and was Sarah again. What’s more, Joey was waiting to tend to her psychic wounds, and bring her to this very event.
Something was weird about this – was Emily really Emily, or was she always Sarah? And why did she just give me the weapon – the S.OS kill-code.
Cassandra changes the scene again, back to this room in Halloween of 1994.
I’m standing over Sasha’s shaking body. Her green tank-top is covered in sweat, and her RAM-earrings are thrashing wildly.
I’m cloaked, steaming, and still pointing my right sleeve at her. I’m wearing the Intruder Alert! weapon, and I just used it on Sasha, not before I freed her soul into the Structure.
Her cousin Jo jumps off the stage, rushing over to her side.
I couldn’t believe it. I was the one who killed Sasha all along.
It happened so long ago.
It hadn’t happened yet.
When the scene closed, everyone turned to face me, staring.
How many of them knew this all along? How much was Ai not telling me? I knew about the weapon, but using it on Sasha?
Was I being influenced by S.OS this whole time, just so I would be put into this position?
I know the answer now, but then?
I guess it all comes down to what happened next, when Ai revealed the deal she made with the Nameless.
I have to get a few hours of sleep, but I’ll tell you the rest tomorrow.