The Guardians of Freedom - Part 5
I see that you want me to tell you a story using that peculiar, alien form of communication which calls itself the English language. So that is how we will create the before-time of this dormancy.
Now the story begins, on a planet named Earth, at a time when national societies infest that world, and plague the people who live there with their militant, autocratic, provincial ways.
One very large, very militant nation had recently waged war against a much smaller, weaker state, overthrowing the government of that relatively defenseless country and replacing it with a new one. Predictably, that new government turned out to be just as authoritarian and despotic as the last, though democratic in nature, because it was built upon many of the same basic concepts as the previous regime, which made its positions of leadership very attractive to those people who want to wield power over others.
Those power-hungry politicians deceived, flattered, and subtly bribed a lot of trusting, ignorant, desperate people in order to get elected to public office. Then the leaders of that government used various means to influence and manipulate the process of subsequent elections, in order to ensure that their political parties would always remain in power. And in the name of national security – which they deliberately misconstrued as being synonymous with the security of the people living in that nation - they cracked down on personal liberty and dissent, abusing the people of that country even worse than the old leaders had.
Some victims of that tyranny resolved to foment a new revolution, which they initially intended to replace the current government of their country with another one that they imagined would somehow turn out to be less tyrannical. But when they listened to the stories that I have told the people of that world, and heard the inspirational music of my band Flufftopia, the members of that rebellion came to understand why another change in the leadership of their nation would fail to free them from the grip of oppression.
They realized that in any society organized as a country there will be some people who treat others in an abusive, oppressive manner under the excuse that it is necessary to do so for the good of that state.
Then they came to me and asked for my help in organizing a new kind of revolution that would free them from the grasp of a monolithic, self-serving state, replacing it with a governing organization that owes its allegiance only to people - not to any particular bit of land or some concept of its own national identity - in which each person is held personally responsible for all of its own actions, even when it is acting on behalf of that organization.
In order to achieve that objective I first taught these people that there is no such thing as a state, really, except within the imagination of a person who chooses to believe in that concept. Even the largest, most powerful and rigidly organized state is really nothing more than a bunch of individual people who each make their own choice to act in certain ways. So it was not really that state which the rebels had to fight and defeat in order to gain their freedom, but rather those ideas that led certain people to subjugate and abuse them in its name.
Once they grasped that fact I helped them to see that they were already free to join the alliance of sovereign individuals that the Goo have formed to protect personal liberty and happiness, which in this language I refer to as the Sovocratic Alliance. I explained to them that this organization is based upon principles that have no concern for any of the discordant ideologies which divide people into oppositional tribes, so there is only one such organization in all of Existence, which is composed of every single person, everywhere, who chooses to live by those principles.
And when enough of the people living in that region of Earth made that choice to join the Alliance, and stopped perpetuating the idea of that old, troublesome, nation-based social structure, that nation simply ceased to exist.
Of course it wasn’t really quite that simple, because we then had to find real, practical ways to transform or replace all of the established, state-identified agencies of government with organizations that exist to protect and serve free, sovereign people.
The first change that we made was to disband the legislative branch of government, which had served the essentially tyrannical purpose of creating arbitrary laws that restrict the freedom of certain people at the whim of others, and replace it with a council of representatives, each elected by a voluntarily associated group of people, who discuss whatever issues are of concern to people and figure out how to deal with those concerns.
That organization attempts to discover and then explain in clear, practical terms how much freedom it is possible for each individual to have in various situations without impinging upon the equal, maximal freedom of others, and determines how certain other organizations within the Alliance will operate in order to protect that freedom. But it never, ever presumes to have the right to make up laws and impose them upon people.
And we also transformed the organization that obtains funding for all of the government’s other activities, which had once been done at the point of a gun. In that national society there had been certain people who dictated how much money each citizen must give to the state, and then the police of that state would do the violence of incarceration to those who tried to avoid paying the sum demanded.
Yes, you are quite correct, that is a form of extortion. All taxes are essentially extortive, which is why the Sovocratic Alliance would never impose a tax on people. Instead it sends out a yearly statement that explains how much money it needs to carry out its functions, and assesses a suggested payment for each individual based upon how much wealth that person holds. And then it allows people to fund it with donations made of their own free will.
Some people did not believe that any Earthly government could function in that way, because human beings are just too greedy, and most of them are very reluctant to part with any significant amount of money that they could keep for themselves. Fortunately, such stinginess is motivated less often by pure, intractable avarice than by a person’s fear of someday running out of money and not being able to meet its own basic needs.
That relentless, primal fear of supreme deprivation is aroused and inflamed when taxes are extorted by a government that refuses to save certain people from living and dying in destitution, homeless and hungry, in abject misery, because the agents who enact that government obey rules and ideologies that have no real concern for the well-being of a person. Which is why some people get so very upset about taxation.
Conversely, much of that fear is abolished by the feeling of security that people experience when they know that the most powerful organization in their society will not refuse to use that power to protect them from such a miserable fate. And once it frees them of that apprehension, and they realize just how much they want it to exist, most people find that they are actually happy to support the Alliance.
Of course there are some incorrigibly greedy people who still try to hoard large amounts of money without paying their share of the cost of maintaining that society from which they obtained that wealth, which nobody has a right to do because monetary units cannot be owned by anyone, like any other physical or informational resource, they can only be possessed and utilized. But these people do not ever face any kind of criminal charge for their greedy actions, because it is not necessary to imprison them in order to prevent the harm that their extreme hoarding would cause to others if left unchecked. Instead they are dealt with in civil court, by an agency of the Alliance that sues them on behalf of everyone else, in order to recover some of that excess money.
Then we had to alter the judicial apparatus of the government, in a small but very significant way, because the Alliance would never force people to serve on a jury against their will. So we did away with the practice of jury conscription, and instead ask people to volunteer to perform that vital public service, and encourage them to do so by offering a substantial wage to those who are willing to take that job.
Also, the Alliance will do all that it can to protect a person from the injustice of being wrongly convicted of a crime that it did not commit by a juror who lacks the mental capacity or comprehension necessary to correctly carry out its duty, or who has some ulterior motive for making that false judgment. So we created accreditation organizations to certify that a particular individual is qualified to handle the immense responsibility of being a juror. And we keep a record of all jury deliberations, which are routinely reviewed to identify any corrupt or incompetent jurors.
There are many more examples of how we changed the administrative organizations of that society, but you are satisfied with the examples that I have given you and want me to get on with the story, which has reached the point when people from all of the remaining countries of Earth decided that they were no longer willing to tolerate the absurd hypocrisy of a national government that pretends to respect their personal freedom while robbing them of that freedom in the name of its own sovereign statehood.
Then all those people joined our Alliance, and that gave them the power to reshape their entire civilization in order to free themselves from the archaic forms of government that once oppressed the happiness of countless human beings. But, unfortunately, even then there remained some major obstacles to their achievement of that goal, the most significant of which stemmed from their severely limited means of communication.
Their use of imprecise, convoluted and sometimes inconsistent, narrow bandwidth forms of communication - like this language - makes it hard for humans to synchronize their thoughts and actions in furtherance of a common objective. They may speak the same language, and think that they understand and agree with each other, but two people might still interpret their communication words in significantly different, conflicting ways, leading to conflicting actions. And even when they do agree on the meaning of their vocabulary, the words that humans use to think about and discuss the concepts that I have tried to teach them are just not sufficient to capture and express all the nuance and detail of those ideas that once freed your people from their long history of barbarity.
So many of the human beings who have heard my stories told in their language still have a lot of trouble understanding how to implement our form of government, especially as it concerns things that are not clearly included in the sovereign dominion of any one single person, such as the utilization of natural resources and the treatment of non-person life forms. Some of them have even reached the mistaken conclusion that a society based upon the principle of personal sovereignty would never stop anyone from using such things in any way at all, so long as that use causes no direct, immediate, physical harm to another person.
They make such mistakes because they do not realize that the concept of individual sovereignty is really just a metaphysical tool, or guideline, that we use to organize our minds and society in a way that promotes the psychological well-being of people and eliminates that wasteful, irresolvable conflict that occurs when people misdirect their desire to have that which will bring them happiness – often without any conscious awareness of that underlying motivation – into arguments and squabbles over which laws it is proper and righteous for society to impose upon individuals, or who should get to make up those laws.
This profoundly consequential concept that lies at the very heart of our civilization is based upon the idea that there is no just limit to any person’s freedom from whatever makes it unhappy except for the equal freedom of everyone else, combined with the recognition that each individual person has the exclusive and inviolate – sovereign – authority/ability to decide for itself what it is happy about. It is not the kind of sovereignty that is claimed by a state or monarch, which supposedly gives that entity some kind of right to incessantly torment certain innocent people and even ruin their lives with its capricious edicts, but is in fact the antidote with which we refute and negate such arbitrary, unsubstantiated, and immensely hurtful claims.
And another very significant obstacle that the humans face in their attempt to create a society like ours is their inability to solve the equations that precisely calculate the maximum possible freedom that can be shared equally by all people within the constraints of the elemental potentials of reality. They lack the thinkutational capacity to comprehend the logical symbols that form those highly complex equations, lack the tools that enable us to gather the information necessary to solve them, and do not even possess sufficient imagination to conceive of a simpler formula by which they could estimate those solutions in most situations.
Due to these severe limitations they must rely on an imprecise and somewhat improbable process of earnest contemplation, honest discussion, and experimentation in order to figure out which policies will maximize the freedom of all people. For that approach to have any substantial chance of success it is critical that the Earthlings be very clear in their understanding of the goal that they are aiming for, and constantly watch over those who have assumed roles of leadership within the Alliance in order to make sure that they are approaching that task with honorable intentions.
So the Guardians who inhabited that world during those days spent a lot of our time helping the organizers and administrators of the Earthly branch of the Sovocratic Alliance to coordinate their efforts and resolve their disputes, educating those who did not fully grasp the concepts behind the form of government known as sovocracy and ferreting out those people who were trying to corrupt that organization to make it serve some nefarious purpose.
My friend Ace was probably the most proficient at this task, out of everyone who is not me, thanks to his ability to make current events in his local environment turn out just as he wishes, without any apparent cause, as if by what the humans would call luck. A PET scan of his brain had recently revealed that that power comes from an unusual gland in his head that produces and stores minute quantities of a highly energetic liquid substance that can subtly and covertly alter the quantum waveform of reality in accordance with his intentions.
For someone who lacks my ability to see and transmit thoughts to successfully prevent a congress full of politicians from confusing the issues at hand with meaningless doubletalk and rhetorical tricks that are meant to distort or obscure certain truths in order to manipulate the thoughts and behavior of others typically takes a whole lot of luck, which frequently exhausted Ace’s power, as well as his patience.
As he left one such meeting, with his reserve of that remarkable liquid completely depleted, a supervillain named Facet attacked Ace. He nimbly dodged the first attempt to grab him, even without the assistance of that power, and then used a judo technique to send that much larger assailant crashing to the ground. But then Facet caught him around the throat with an unyielding, viselike grip, and squeezed until he lost consciousness.
A few hours later Facet telephoned the Guardian called Set, who had previously developed an acute fondness for Ace and moved to the Earth dimension where we were living so that they could see each other on a regular basis. Since he arrived in that dimension Set had uncovered and foiled each and every one of Facet’s inept and bizarre criminal capers, earning him the animosity of that villain.
For one of those capers Facet had trained a bunch of guinea pigs to sniff out and bring him all of the tea in Chinatown, so that he could hold it for ransom. Set ruined that plan by dousing him in several gallons of the highly potent Camellia extract that he had used to train those furry little tea-obsessed rodents, which caused the whole hoard of them to return to his lair and swarm all over him, relentlessly, until he ran away and jumped into a river. Following that very upsetting, ignominious defeat Facet decided that Set must be his arch-nemesis, and began to act accordingly.
Shortly thereafter he concocted a plan to build a device that generates a kind of radiation that mutates the DNA of any nearby human beings, turning them into platypuses, which he planned to subsequently sell as rare and exotic pets. Set discovered that plot, as usual, and apprehended him after he had planted the device but before it activated, and then he turned Facet over to some officers from the local police department, telling them where they could find a lot of solid evidence of his involvement in that criminal enterprise.
After collecting that evidence those policemen tried to convince or trick their captive into telling them where he had hidden the device. But he refused to divulge that information, no matter how often, how cleverly, how politely or how rudely they asked him for it. At the time I was not available to scan it from his brain, unfortunately, and they refused to do everything in their power to extract from that criminal the information that would have enabled them to stop his scheme.
Meanwhile, some other police officers apprehended a person who happens to look a little bit like Facet, who had not been involved in any criminal endeavors – or any illegal ones, for that matter, which is not necessarily the same thing. Even though he was not participating in any kind of criminal plot they decided to ship him off to a place where he could be subjected to various painful and traumatic experiences in order to extract from him any information that he might have about such a plot.
Then the timer on Facet’s device ticked down to zero, and a small town full of human beings became a small town full of duckbilled monotremes.
After that happened some of the remaining humans began to argue with each other about the acceptability of using torture – what the less honest of them insisted on calling ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ - as a means of coercing people to give up information that can be used to stop ongoing criminal activities. Some were categorically opposed to this practice, no matter what the circumstances, for philosophical reasons. Others liked to think that such brutal forms of interrogation are always acceptable, because of their effectiveness in certain situations.
I tried to resolve that dispute by explaining to these people that an act of torture is really just a matter of someone deliberately hurting another person, in some way, for some reason. So when a criminal chooses to make it necessary for someone to torture it in order to protect victims from its malfeasance then there is no injustice in doing so, as is the case with any other necessary defensive action, however grotesque or regrettable it may be. And to torture anyone who does not make that criminal choice is itself an unjust act of base criminality, no matter how the perpetrator may try to rationalize or explain its behavior. But, sadly, many human beings are blinded by their own sadistic predilections, and moral conceits, and cannot see the simple rationality of this conclusion.
Then a jury in a court of the nation in which Facet was imprisoned declared him to be not guilty of that crime which he had perpetrated, even though there existed copious amounts of evidence of his guilt, because they obeyed that nation’s law that commands a jury to ignore evidence of someone’s innocence or guilt if that evidence has been obtained through certain prohibited means. And then, five minutes later, the police discovered some evidence against him that the operators of that court would have been willing to consider if he had not already been wrongly acquitted, but they refused to correct that mistaken verdict by retrying and convicting him based upon that new evidence.
You are bewildered by this part of the story, and doubt that it really happened, because you cannot comprehend the mindset of a jurist who would be willing to act with such disregard for the truth, which means disregarding the question of whether or not justice has been truly served. Some human beings actually believe that it is necessary for them to act that way in order to protect people from the abusive actions of corrupt civil servants, but you are just not deranged enough to think that ignoring evidence of the truth of a given situation - so that the innocent may be convicted and the guilty acquitted - is the best way to protect people from injustice. So you will just have to suspend your dumbfounded disbelief and take my word for it that such things really do happen, routinely, in the human world.
So those people turned that villain loose upon the world, and he immediately used the freedom that they gave him to take away the freedom of Ace. Then Facet called Set and informed him that the captive would be killed if he did not agree to take his place.
Set promptly complied with that demand, in order to save the life of his dearest friend, not knowing that Facet planned to kill Ace anyway as part of his plot for revenge. But Facet himself did not know that the seemingly inert and ornamental bands that Set wore around his four forearms when he allowed himself to be taken captive were made of bloop, the versatile, animate blue substance that is linked to the mind of the Guardian called Blooper, who you know as Marcia Schlupenpheffer.
As soon as Set was bound securely within his lair Facet revealed his duplicitous intention to murder Ace. But then, rather than just shooting him in the head, as any serious, sensible villain would do, he strapped his victim into an absurdly complicated contraption that would kill him, maybe, eventually, using a pack of bubble gum and some ping-pong balls. And instead of immediately activating the device he began to explain all the details of his schemes to the prisoners, semi-consciously trying to impress them, hoping that they would ultimately come to recognize and appreciate his superior brilliance, and general awesomeness.
He was too distracted by his own boastful words to notice when the bands of bloop slipped off of Set’s arms, floated over to the terminal that controlled the bonds of the two captive Guardians, and pushed some buttons to release them. In the instant that those bonds clicked open Set sprang at his captor, raking him with all twenty of his clawed fingers.
That savage attack did not cause Facet even the tiniest scratch, because his body is composed of living, organic crystal, which is bloodless, lacks any discrete organ structures, and is immensely strong. Multicolored sparkles of energy constantly flash throughout that semi-transparent form, which he concentrated in his left arm and shot out through his hand, at Ace, as a massive bolt of energy.
The intended target of that destructive blast grabbed the bonds that had held him and used them to swing up out of its way, avoiding it so narrowly that it singed his butt a little as it flew past. Facet then filled his hands with sparkles of energy and used them to form a small, shimmering, rainbow colored ball, which he configured to explode in exactly three seconds. He tossed that orb under Ace, who hit the ground just as it detonated and was thrown all the way across the room. There he landed on his feet, luckily, unharmed.
Set then realized that Facet was still trying to hurt his friend in order to get revenge on him, and that made him very angry. In that moment a halo of green flame burst from his flesh, which imbued his bodies with incredible strength as it consumed them. His claws began to glow with the energy of that fire, and were then able to cut through Facet’s crystal flesh.
My scaly, legless, flaming friend attacked his foe, ferociously, from two sides at once, overwhelming his defenses. That relentless assault rapidly backed Facet into a corner, where he stopped fighting, threw up his arms to protect his head, and cried out his surrender.
Then Set took a couple of deep breaths, calmed himself, and extinguished his fire before it burned his bodies so badly that he had to regenerate them by shedding their skin. At that same time the bloop pushed some more buttons to open up the front door of Facet’s compound, letting Blooper and me in.
Before taking him away to a prison that had been specially constructed to contain supervillains I looked around the mind of Facet, whose human name is Mikhail Sheriba. I found that he has a generally selfish personality, like most human beings, and an emotional callousness toward other people, although he is not terribly scarred or unusually insane. I then discovered that he had made the choice to be a villain primarily because he thought that it would be fun, and exciting.
I also discovered that he has very limited social skills, and finds it rather awkward and difficult to interact with people in a friendly manner, which helped to isolate and psychologically alienate him from the rest of humanity, increasing the appeal of villainy as a personal and professional path. And beneath that sense of isolation I saw the part of him that likes to play with other people, which deeply resented the fact that in all eight years of his life he had never had even one friend.
When I saw how his resentment and sense of isolation reinforced the antisocial condition that was itself a primary source of those very same feelings I decided to break that cycle by asking him if he would be my friend. I also invited him to join the Guardians, telling him that he could have just as much fun playing the part of a hero.
As he considered that possibility I suggested that we could orchestrate a dramatic, exciting scenario in which he faces a choice between completing some villainous scheme or doing something decent - when I discovered his intense fondness for kittens I mentioned that that scenario might involve rescuing someone’s pet kitten from certain doom – and then he could have some sort of epiphany, abandon his criminal pursuits, and dedicate the rest of his life to heroic adventures.
It then occurred to Facet that that would be an amusing and very satisfying end to the story of his villainous exploits, and he very much wanted to accept my offer of friendship. But he was not quite ready for that to happen yet, so he rejected that opportunity, very angrily, vowing to escape from prison and get his revenge on Set, and promising to destroy anyone else who dared to stand in his way.
Set then decided that he would move back to the Earth on which he had been born, so that the rest of us would not be endangered by Facet’s hostility toward him. Ace decided to go with him to that other dimension, because he had developed a great fondness for Set and wanted to be close to him.
So I contacted the nearest manifestation of Hypergirl, who was several miles away, with Neon and Avian, rounding up the members of a street gang that had been taxing and terrorizing the people of their neighborhood, and I asked her to use the bit of her hyper-dimensional self that had remained on Set’s native Earth to ask Thumper to come get him and Ace. She then informed me that she had just done so, moments before, after Neon had informed her that we would be having this conversation.
Some of the neurons in Neon’s brain and peripheral nervous system are sheathed in an extraordinary form of myelin that accelerates the propagation of neural impulses along those cells to greater than infinite velocity, causing each impulse to reach the end of the nerve several milliseconds before it fires, which, presumably, is what allows her to perceive the present in such a way that she can do things like that. I know that that detail doesn’t really have anything to do with the story that I am telling you, but I decided to mention it because I suspected – quite correctly, it turns out - that you would find it interesting to know.
A few seconds later Thumper materialized in front of us. His long, silky, floppy ears began to twitch at the sight of me, and then he surprised me by saying, “Whoa, dude, you will not believe the crazy stuff that some other you has been doing!”
Before he could explain the meaning of that odd statement I looked into his mind and saw that he had taken some very potent hallucinogenic drugs the previous evening, and had been thinking about the circumstances of our first meeting when he began to trip. As those chemicals stimulated his mind he had started to wonder how our first encounter would have played out if it had been he who was a hero in that scenario and I the corrupt, misguided Guardian who had enslaved the people of an entire world.
Then he had tried to imagine what that world crushed under the fluffy heel of a tyrannical Teddy might look like. Under the influence of those psychedelic chemicals that image had grown more and more vivid until it was as clear as any scene that he had ever observed with his clairvoyant perception, and then he realized that he really was seeing with that perception, and in that moment he envisioned the vector that connects to that place, making it possible for him to teleport his body there.
After taking Set and Ace and their luggage to the place where they were going to live Thumper reappeared, grabbed my arm, and teleported us away to a bleak, depressed world, which was being smothered by the pitiless brutality of a fanatical dictator who called itself Master, who had previously been known as Teddy and looked like my own mirror image.
I scanned the mind of that tyrant and saw that it had once been an unusually happy and friendly person, very much like me. But our histories had diverged, drastically, after we landed in our respective Earth dimensions and made some Earthling friends, because in that alternate world a paramilitary gang of human supremacists who call themselves the Human Liberation Front murdered most of those friends.
That organization, often referred to as the HLF, had been founded upon the premise that human beings are the only people who are really people. Its members aggressively and vociferously asserted that all non-human beings who seem to possess the attributes of personhood – which includes those humans who have an unusual physiology or any extraordinary abilities – are inferior, dangerous, despicable imposters who contaminate an ideal, perfectly human society and must be eradicated for the good of all humanity.
After planting the bomb that killed its superhuman buddies some agents of the HLF kidnapped that other Teddy and took it to an isolated, underground location, where they locked it in a cage and tried to force it to extract information from the minds of other captives that could be used to locate more non-human victims. When it refused to help them find any more people to murder they made it watch as they tortured those other captives for that information, which inflicted a horrible psychological torment on that Teddy, which went on for many years.
During those long, miserable years it received none of the substance that is our primary source of nourishment, which is the psychic residue produced when a mind experiences feelings of happiness. As it starved for that healthy sustenance it began to feed on the poisonous byproduct of the malevolent satisfaction and sadistic pleasure that its captors took in their campaign of terror and destruction, which did sustain its existence but also made it very sick.
Then the supreme leader of the Human Liberation Front came to tour that facility, and the imprisoned Teddy discovered a very interesting secret in his mind. It discovered that this man named Cory Dicorbi, who had created the HLF to destroy anyone with superhuman abilities, was himself a superhuman, with the ability to shoot twelve different kinds of kinetic energy beams from his eyes and the capacity to see in spectrums beyond those perceptible to normal human senses.
Cory had gained that power many years before, after being bitten by a radioactive optometrist. For about two minutes he was delighted by the discovery of this fantastic power, as most boys would be, but then he remembered how his conservative, judgmental, generally obnoxious parents routinely claimed that anyone with any superhuman powers should be killed, which turned that delight to terror.
In response to that rabidly cruel, murderous ideology he developed a pathological shame of that very useful but unusual ability, triggering a chronic, paranoid fear that someone might someday find out the truth about him. These feelings drove him to embrace that same creed that condemned and tormented him, leading to his formation of that criminal organization that spread his terror to other people.
The other Teddy threatened to reveal the truth about Cory to the rest of the HLF if he did not let it go. It then assigned him the name Sentry and ordered him to serve as its own personal bodyguard and muscle. After that it took over the rest of the organization, coercing everyone in a position of leadership to support its rule by finding some secret in each of their minds and threatening to expose it if they did not cooperate.
You are wondering now how someone who is so clearly not human could be accepted as the leader of an organization dedicated to the eradication of its kind, which really is a rather comically absurd scenario, though it is not too hard to comprehend if you understand the kind of mind that is drawn to such an organization. Most of these minds don’t really care about the specious, flawed logic of the underlying ideology itself, though many like to think that they do, but are actually interested in the feelings of superiority, anger, pride, and satisfaction that they experience when they think about that hateful, supremacist philosophy.
Master understood the nature of such minds, and knew that it could subtly alter the ideological foundation of the HLF in such a way that it became entirely self-referential, so that its followers would not really believe in anything but the virtue and correctness of anyone who affirms the correctness of that ideology and the fundamental, contemptible wrongness of anyone who opposes it. That would make it possible for those people to accept my counterpart as their leader while still satisfying their desire to hate and feel superior to other people.
To accomplish that objective it first loosened the group’s obsession with biological humanity by having the old leaders teach their followers that any human being who does not understand the obvious righteousness of the ideology of the HLF must surely have some kind of mental defect, or impurity, and therefore must be looked down on as less than a completely pure human, despite its biology. Then it had them introduce the idea that other creatures who are not ordinary humans in a classic, biological sense can purify themselves, morally, by embracing the cause of the Human Liberation Front, making them ‘spiritually human’, and therefore worthy of life.
It then blackmailed the leaders of many similar organizations, and some small countries, and bullied them into joining the HLF, absorbing all who were willing to be assimilated and mercilessly destroying anyone who would resist. Each one that joined the HLF made it larger and more powerful, helping it to absorb even more pieces of that world, until it came to rule the entire planet, which had been Master’s plan all along.
In its disturbed and despairing, tortured state of mind that Teddy had concluded that all Earthly happiness is nothing more than a fleeting illusion, which does not matter because it does not last. It then decided that the best thing that it could do for the people of Earth would be to spare them the aggravation of struggling futilely to create a happier state of existence for themselves, which it would do by constructing a society in which all people believe that there is no point in trying to improve the way that things are because Master rules and controls everything in that society with absolute, unchallengeable authority.
It also began to obsessively tell itself that people often don’t even know exactly what will make them happy, anyway, and it tried to use that truth, as many despots do, to validate its false assertion that everyone would be better off if they were forced to do whatever it decides is for the best. Such domination, despite its pretense of benevolence, brought immense misery and harm to the people whose well-being Master claimed to be looking out for while actually disregarding.
Over the following years, for the sake of its political ambition, it casually ordered the execution of countless people who it had caught thinking disloyal thoughts, and promised a gruesome, agonizing death to anyone who ever harbored even the tiniest notion of opposing its rule, which terrified and psychologically oppressed the people of that world worse than any other legislator, warlord, or terrorist ever had.
When I saw how the mind of that other Teddy had been twisted and scarred by the torment that its abductors had inflicted upon it I tried to help it understand and overcome that pain. I projected images from its own memories back to it, showing it how its actions were an unconscious reaction to what it had suffered and how they ultimately increased that suffering. But it did not want to face that terrible truth, and so it clung to its blinding, delusional belief in the benevolence of its oppressive, hurtful ways as tenaciously as I cling to my belief in the value of personal freedom and genuine happiness.
At a mental command from his Master the villain called Sentry attacked Thumper and me, grabbing us with a pair of tangerine colored tractor beams that enable him to move and rotate an entire target object in whatever direction he wishes. He shifted each of his eyes to the far outer edge of its socket, separating us by more than one hundred feet, and then crossed them, bringing those beams together, in order to slam us into each other. That collision, fortunately, did not harm either one of us, due to my very soft and well-padded physiology.
Then Thumper teleported himself away, breaking free of the grasp of that beam. In that instant Sentry activated his Q-ray vision, which enables him to see everything around him within a radius of several dozen meters. He also turned around one of his eyes to point inward, at his own body, and projected a navy blue beam of energy from it while the other eye, unblinking, continued to emit the tractor beam that held me.
That form of energy that he projected at himself reinforces the integrity of its target’s molecular structure by counteracting the motion produced by any external force that would break that structure. So when Thumper appeared behind him a moment later and punched him in the back of the head Sentry did not try to dodge the attack, even though he saw it coming with his superhuman vision, because Master had transmitted to him all of the information about us that it had taken from our minds, which convinced him that the blow would not be strong enough to overcome the power of that protective energy.
Then Sentry turned around and shot Thumper with a purple beam of energy that inhibits subatomic motion, reducing the velocity of all particles by the same factor, effectively decreasing the amount of time that the target experiences relative to everything else in its environment. That beam slowed my friend considerably, reducing his speed to that of a typical human being.
As those events transpired some other minions of Master showed up and prepared to shoot us with laser guns. A moment before they opened fire Thumper grabbed my hand and teleport us away.
Following that encounter Master became very afraid that my power could be used to negate its own, freeing its victims from the psychological grip that formed the basis of its government. So it had the students at a nearby school brought to it as hostages, in order to compel us to surrender ourselves to it. After securing those captives Master sent out a message, through all available channels of communication, threatening that it would slowly and painfully kill them all if we did not immediately declare our unconditional submission to its authority.
To rescue those innocent victims my companion and I teleported to the place where they were being held, finding them chained up, all around the room, under the watch of Master, Sentry, and several armed henchmen.
Thumper’s initial impulse was to immediately teleport all of the hostages to safety, but because of their separation he would have had to take them one at a time. Master knew what he was thinking and assured us that the rest of the children would be dead before he returned from rescuing the first one.
Then I noticed that one of the hostages looked a lot like the boy who had unintentionally given me the name Teddy. I scanned his mind and saw him accidentally naming that other Teddy when it first landed on his Earth, and also found some images of the time that the two of them had spent playing, happily, together. I projected those images into the mind of Master in the hope that they would cheer it up a bit and maybe make it reconsider its villainous choices.
But in its emotionally malnourished state the visions of that innocent, carefree happiness triggered a reaction that I can best describe as nausea of the mind. Rather than nourishing its psyche the substance of that happiness made Master sick, and was forcefully rejected by its consciousness. As these indigestible images churned within the guts of its mind it became very angry at me for inflicting them upon it, and angry at that boy for being the source of those unbearably sweet memories.
In a fit of rage it turned to Sentry, nodded toward the boy, and said, “Kill him.”
Sentry then projected a pair of concussion beams at that defenseless little boy. I saw his decision to do that an instant before his eyes fired, and in that instant I threw myself in front of the shackled child. Both of those ruby red beams of force struck me in the chest, transferring all of their energy to me as a single blow of massive force. That attack knocked the stuffing out of me, literally, but caused no harm to the intended victim, probably due to my intervention.
Then I looked up from where I lay on the ground and saw Master staring at me, stunned, in a state of profound shock.
My heroic act had reminded it of what it had once been, and gave it the perspective to see just how enormously damaged it had become. It was then able to understand how its choice to assuage and placate its own unhappiness by embracing the pessimistic notion that suffering and misery are the fundamental state of Earthly existence had led it to unnecessarily increase the unhappiness in that world. And it remembered that a moment of pure joy, as it had once shared with that boy, however brief and transitory in nature, is the most rare and precious treasure that that world has to offer.
After that it renounced its criminal ways, reclaimed the name Teddy, and rededicated its existence to our singular objective of creating happiness. It immediately freed all of the hostages, and then it helped me to collect my lost stuffing and stitch up my ripped seams. Then we said goodbye and Thumper took me home.
That other Teddy then freed the minds of all those people who it had manipulated and coerced into serving it, starting with the one known as Sentry. It first apologized to him for what it had done and then helped him to sort through the conflicted, shameful, twisted feelings that he felt about certain aspects of his self. It showed Cory the resentful egotism that lurks behind the condemnation of those people who want to vilify him simply for being as he is, and explained how things like jealousy and fear drive people like his parents to think and act as they do.
It also explained how it had nurtured and exploited his feeling that there is a fundamental wrongness about some part of him – a part that Master had taught him to call his ‘dark side’ – that must be kept forever shrouded in secrecy, which had been the root of its power over him. And it apologized for teaching him to demonize darkness itself, to think of it as a symbol of absolute negativity, which it had done to manipulate his feelings and reinforce his tendency to think negatively about that concealed part of him that he conceptually associated with the absence of light.
Then, with the assistance of a Teddy, Cory was able to understand all the delusions, lies, and entirely baseless assertions that formed the basis of the crippling negativity that he had learned to feel about himself. He rooted out and rejected all the thoughts and assumptions that caused him to feel that way, and then he stopped feeling that way, and stopped allowing that negativity to control his actions.
There were still some parts of himself that he did not choose to share with anyone else, but he no longer suffered from a pathological obsession with keeping those parts hidden. And because he no longer believed that there is anything innately wrong with that which has an affinity for darkness, or concealment, he was able to simply accept the existence of the part of him that prefers to remain cloaked in metaphorical shadow, so he no longer threatened and tormented that aspect of his self with a perverse, conflicted desire to reveal and destroy it.
Then, when all of that psychological static had been cleared from his mind, Cory made the decision to use his powers as a Guardian of Freedom, to help others free themselves from the people and ideas that hurt them. Many of Master’s other victims made the same choice, once their own minds had been freed, and soon they were able to create a branch of the Sovocratic Alliance that is large, organized, and powerful enough to protect all the people of their world.
The Teddy of that dimension was very pleased to see how those humans had chosen to structure their civilization, but even then it was not really happy. The events of its Earthly life had scarred it beyond its ability to heal, breaking the part of it that had the capacity to experience feelings like happiness and contentment. So even as the world around it became an increasingly free and joyful place it felt little more than a restless, relentless, irritable depression, which quickly smothered whatever tiny bits of merriment it ever felt.
After giving much consideration to its predicament it reached the sad but honest conclusion that there might not be anything in that world that would fix the damage that had been done to it. It asked itself if life in that condition is really worth living, and quickly realized that it did not have any idea how to answer that question, which actually increased its distress. Then it began to consider the possibility of having itself euthanized, in order to free it from a life of chronic misery that holds no substantial happiness for it.
Then the Goo who had dropped it into that dimension of Earth snagged that Teddy with a graviton hook and reeled it back to the place where they came from. There it repaired the broken pieces of its friend’s mind, using precisely attuned, harmonic tones of focused energy, in a process that I can only describe in human language as being a little bit like a combination of psychotherapy and brain surgery.
As it recuperated in that fantastic dimension of indescribable delights that Teddy transmitted some thoughts to me, which told me of everything that had happened to it since we last saw each other, and thanked me once again for helping it to defeat the villain that it had become.
That transmission reached me while I was sitting in the lap of a large manifestation of my friend Jakinda, who was showing me pictures of the outfits that she had made for some of those other Guardians who choose to wear clothing. Even though she never wears one herself, because it would interfere with the utilization of her unusual abilities, she enjoys creating those unique, stylized, often ostentatious costumes that most superheroes put on when they pursue their heroic endeavors. And she really likes to show off her creations to me.
The suggestions, compliments, and primarily positive feedback that I offered her as we looked at those pictures made her very happy, which made me very happy, and by the time that we had finished viewing those images we were both in an extremely cheerful, silly, and affectionate mood. Then we talked for a while about my recent adventure into that parallel dimension, laughing and petting each other as much as we spoke.
When I told her the part of my story in which I saved the life of that boy by throwing myself in front of the shots meant for him - and in dong so saved that entire world - she became silent and very still. Intense feelings of love and admiration flooded the emotional center of her brain as she squeezed me very, very tightly in her arms, which, as a stuffed animal, I find to be an incomparably delightful experience.
After releasing me from that extraordinary hug she announced that Teddy is an excellent and very endearing forename for someone like me, but is not colorful or unique enough to be the moniker of the greatest superhero ever, which she sincerely believed that I have the potential to be. She scrunched up her face into an amusing look of intense concentration, thought for several seconds, and then suddenly exclaimed, “You should call yourself Superteddy!”
In the moment that followed that unexpected exclamation she looked at me with a quizzical expression frozen on her pretty, purple face. And when that moment had passed she burst into fits of laughter at the inane silliness of that suggestion, which made me start to laugh, too. When our laughter had subsided, just to delight her, I declared that that mildly ridiculous name would henceforth be my official superhero alias.
Then I grabbed a fluffy, plush blanket and threw it around my shoulders like a cape, struck a dramatic pose, and suggested that I could dress up like that whenever I go out to fight my hopefully-not-never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the sovocratic way.
Jakinda smiled and chuckled a little bit at that cute and comical image, and then she shrunk down to about half my size and instructed/invited me to sit beside her, which I did. She curled up next to me and laid her head on my shoulder, closed her eyes, and reveled in the complex, euphoric sensation of being close to someone she loves very much while nuzzling her cheek into a pillow of very soft fur. Then her consciousness drifted off into an endless ocean of comfort and bliss, and soon she fell into a sound, utterly contented sleep.
As I sat there watching her dream an iridescent, ethereal, trans-dimensional ladder appeared in front of me, because you put it there. I put my friend to bed, without disturbing her rest, kissed her goodbye, and softly whispered, “I will be right here when you wake.” Then I used that ladder to climb out of the Earth enclosure, back to this place, ending the story that I have been telling you.
Of course that is not the end of my mission to teach, tickle, and defend the people of Earth, which will soon continue, whenever we are ready for that to happen. At that time you will drop me back into that narrow, rigid dimension, as you did once before, which we like to pretend was an accident but I know that you really did intentionally. I can see that you would have gone yourself, to bring the people who live there the peace and protection of our sovocratic social organization, but your kind is no longer able to survive in such an environment, so you made me to go in your stead, which I then chose to do.
Now I see that you want to rest. So, as the humans would say: Good night.
While you experience the dormant state I will transmit this story into the mind of that fool who thinks that I am just a figment of his imagination, and will ask him to write it down for me, so that it can be shared with the other inhabitants of that giant sandbox called Earth. And then, when you have completed this cycle, we can go back to the zoo, to watch those silly and peculiar, chronically clueless but occasionally brilliant creatures known as human beings create a less repressive and more delightful world for them to live and play in.