People’s New Republic
Herbert opens their eyes.
The bright light coming from the window reminds them that this is not their usual coffin or bed. The fact that they are waking up from sleep is strange because they don’t even remember that they fell asleep. The last thing they experienced before losing consciousness was that they were stopping Robin from starting a new war and spreading out a new disease. Herbert was standing on the grass not far from the lake, watching the swans. They remember that Ludwiga was trying to persuade her not to mess up the world again. And then there was chaos. Some vampires started to shout to her, and then there was more chaos including more screamings, silverware, and a swan. They were trying to figure out what had happened when walking towards Cassius, and someone pushed them into the lake. The last thing before waking up was the cold water.
Where am I now? Can vampires die because of cold water? Herbert frowns. They look around the room and become more confused. The room is not as large as his room in the castle or in Ludwiga’s farm. Among the four walls of the room, three of them are completely clear and seem like having a similar texture as the windows in the castle–only without the paintings on it. Sunlight coming through these walls shines in every corner of this room except the bed they are laying on. The only wall that is not transparent is painted light blue. Besides that, there are a pair of chairs, a desk, and a closet.
Is this Robin’s secret coffin? Because this is definitely not Cassius’s castle or Ludwiga’s farm. Herbert looks around again and denies themselves. No, the room is too strange even for Robin or any other vampires. Who the hell puts so many glasses in the room? Do they want to suicide?
Herbert looks up. The ceiling is high and doesn’t seem moveable. They stand on the bed, and can barely touch the ceiling. They knock it with their fingers and scratch it for a while. After several attempts, Herbert finally concludes that it is a real ceiling instead of a coffin lid.
What if I was captured by Robin and this is her prison? Herbert sits back on the bed. If they were captured, what would happen to Ludwiga and Cassius? Herbert thinks about so many possibilities in a second. Cassius would be fine because he and Robin were both the strongest vampires, and they couldn’t hurt each other at all. But Ludwiga would be so mad if Robin captured them. Herbert still remembers how mad Ludwiga was when some vampires hired priests to kill Camille.
But Herbert doesn’t believe that Robin would be this kind to put them on a human bed. And they are still wearing the same cape during the fight–the cape made of cotton, silk, swan fur, glass fiber, and sequins. With a mix of natural ingredients and human intelligence, the cape can absorb almost all kinds of sunlight except the purple light.
Herbert suddenly remembers the endless dream which Cassius told him centuries ago. Cassius suspected that it was a collective dream of all the vampires, but he never figured out why it suddenly disappeared after hearing Herbert’s calling in the forest. What if the dream comes back? They know that it doesn’t sound really scientific for a collective dream to happen, not to mention that the dream is able to appear and disappear by itself.
Herbert laughs at themselves in the head for their thoughts. After all, aren’t they themselves the most unscientific thing in the world?
They get up from the bed and notice that there is an envelope on the desk. It’s a standard white envelope made with a strange texture that Herbert has never seen before. There is a short line in the middle of the envelope.
Is this some kind of treasure hunt? Herbert can’t think of anyone who would be this boring. Ludwiga is too busy protecting her land, and Camille is still on the battlefield.
They open the envelope. There is a thin copper-like mechanical component attached to a parish card.
Adhere This On The Back Of Your Neck
Adhere? How? With glue? Herbert frowns hard. Why does it require them to stick a mechanical component on his neck? They suspect that this is some Marxists’ art, trying to prove that humans are not machines.
Whatever. I’m a vampire anyway. Herbert doesn’t mind having some fun. Cassius can’t sense time, but they can. For all those years in the castle, Herbert had not much to do. Sometimes Cassius fell asleep for days or months, and there’s no creature Herbert can talk with until a century ago. They did try to blend in with the humans and make some friends, but they had to leave everything behind after a couple of years because they didn’t age. And it was not easy for someone who looks like a 10-year-old child to travel alone even after the ships for long-distance traveling were invented. And after they grew up a bit, thanks to coffee beans, the whole Robin and Cassius thing happened. And, boom, they are here without having a chance to live in their brand-new coffin for their grown-up body.
Herbert takes the component off from the cardboard. Strangely, they don’t see any glue on the surface of the component or on the cardboard. They flip the cardboard. Not surprisingly, there is a small line of words.
WELCOME TO THE GREAT PEOPLE’S NEW REPUBLIC
People’s what? Herbert almost shouts out Camille’s name. Among all the creatures around them, only Camille would put ‘people’ and ‘republic’ together in one sentence, not to mention ‘the great’.
Herbert shakes their head slightly with a smile. Now they are sure that this has nothing to do with Robin. Let’s see what surprise she prepared. Herbert puts the component on the back of their neck. It sticks on their skin immediately.
????? How does that work? Hebert takes it off with confusion. They put it in their hand and look at it carefully. But Herbert has never seen something like this before. And they know Camille is not able to make something like this.
Herbert puts the component on the back of their neck again. After it sticks on, Herbert sees something immediately occur in front of them. They quickly step back.
“Ouch!!” Herbert’s back hits on the bed corner behind them.
“Do you need any medical assistance?” The thing in front of them suddenly talks, while the same words show on it.
“What are you? What is this? Where am I?” Ignoring the pain in the back, Herbert asks.
“Welcome to the great People’s New Republic. We are the people. This is an introduction to all humanity,” It says. “Nothing has a price here. Please enjoy your life in this world, but do remember: it’s all for a better human world.”
????? Hebert continues to watch it with confusion.
“This is your home. Please carefully read the rest of the information in this chip. And please follow the instructions.”
The voice sounds not like a human at all. Herbert doesn’t hide their sarcasm on the face. And what is the ‘chip’?
The strange thing in front of them keeps changing contents exactly the same time when they finish reading the last page. However, that seems like the least strangest thing now.
From the chip, Herbert knows that it’s 2303 right now, almost a century after the establishment of the People’s New Republic. After reading some basic introductions, they quickly understand the basic situation here.
Basically, from their understanding, the human race figures out the way to maximize the usage of resources and value each human being at the same time with the exponentially increasing information and technology each year. No more social Darwinism, competition, or war. Without resource competitions and ideology conflicts, all the governments are either disintegrated or overthrown by the people. After that, the people on earth, with a unanimous vote, established the People’s New Republic, the only sovereignty on earth with the purpose that everything is for the prosperity of the whole human race. Since then, the People’s Committee of the Republic, completely randomly selected every three years, is the only administrative agency on earth.
After several minutes, Herbert quickly accepts the reality. After all, since humans can become vampires and vampires’ probability can be killed by coffee, time-traveling is not that shocking to them. At least not as shocking as woke up one day and found themselves becoming a vampire. And the privilege of being a vampire is that Herbert can enjoy whatever they want because they have endless time. Herbert decides to forget about how they came here but to enjoy this world.
After reading the instructions, Herbert learns that the chip is like a data collector. It transmits human thoughts to the Central Archive, the collective database, and also provides all kinds of information and convenience to humans. The thing in front of them is a ‘nano screen’. These screens are formed by nanoparticles and electrons in the air and are directly linked to the chips behind people’s necks. They are 100 percent environmentally friendly, reusable and can be formed and disintegrated in a nanosecond, and are only visible to whoever opens them. The way to open it is to think in the mind.
“But looking at the brighter side, these screens can form exactly what one is thinking or whatever one wants to do. Isn’t it brilliant to serve people on individual needs instead of viewing them as collectives or data? Everyone knows that human life is not a number but something valuable and matters, which is why no one opposes the usage of custom screens, news, clothes, food…well, everything. And all for free. Completely free. So there was no surprise at all when no one voted against the usage of this technology decades ago. After all, no one would want to vote against the development of humanity and the realization of one’s life-long purpose. ” The introduction says.
Camille would love this place. Herbert wishes she were here too. Camille, since the French Revolution, has spent almost all her time in all kinds of revolutions. Recently, she is obsessed with ‘communism’. Herbert once laughed at her after reading the small book she waved all day. It seemed so naive and impossible to achieve those ‘communism’ and ‘internationalism’. But this society shows that the human race succeed. If the component, oh, the chip, is not joking with them, then this world looks like what Camille was fighting for.
Herbert continues to read the introduction and frowns when they see the next page.
“Everyone’s life has already been written before birth. Not by any mysterious figures like the people before the divided age believed, but by humans. Of course, people have the freedom to reproduce whenever they want. But as soon as the embryos are taken out of the wombs at the beginning stage of pregnancy, the reproduction agency shows the parents a list of the careers the republic will need after twenty years by the analysis of the Central Archive. The parents have to choose one from the list, then the agency recodes the gene. They delete some unnecessary fragments like genetic illnesses and unstable emotions along with other outstanding fragments that are not related to this career. When the embryo develops into a human body, they put the chip behind the newborn’s neck, which is directly linked to the brain.” The introduction continues.
Thank Cassius that Ludwiga is not here. Herbert takes a deep breath. They can imagine Ludwiga’s anger if she were here. Ludwiga had spent a hundred years teaching Cassius about the complexity of the human race, and now the people just reduce themselves into simple creatures?
Herbert stares at the general introduction. The tone doesn’t sound right to them. The introduction seems more like an analysis or reflection to them. They give the instruction ‘open personal introduction’ in their mind. The screen changes into another page, and the information on it confirms their guess.
The introduction shows that Herbert’s identity here is a member of the rebel group. The name of the group is just ‘The Rebels”. After reading it twice, Herbert understands the general history of The Rebels. —just like those groups Camille led before. Herbert rolls their eyes.
The group was founded in the middle of the Material Age when Artificial Intelligence was invented. The Rebels were established to resist the abuse of technology because they were afraid that humans would lose the thinking process if humans only receive information that AI selected for them. And they were right because the Divided Age was followed by the Material Age. At that time, The Rebels was just some people voluntarily speaking out against AI. But in the Divided Age, the governments started to use technology to change human life forms. The Rebels became a more systematic organization when many governments started to trace them down and eliminated those who didn’t want to be transformed. The Rebels wanted to overthrow the governments because they thought that people are not fully humans anymore. But they failed. Although they tried to resist the environment, the Divided Age ultimately influenced their cognitive ability. After the establishment of the People’s New Republic, the central archive has become more and more powerful, and The Rebels has spent most of its time trying to survive.
The Divided age? The Material age? Herbert feels like a fake vampire. For something which has lived for almost two thousand years, Herbert never heard of those terms. Can’t they just use which year it was? What the hell happened after they dropped into the lake?
“Members of The Rebels are not born with the chip. Their chips are made by scientists in The Rebels and do not have proactive access to their brains. The only way The Rebels can use the chips is to give an order to the chips in their mind. But be careful, please give logical orders. Otherwise, The Rebels will be found by the Central Archive.”
The introduction of The Rebels ends. The screen turns completely blank.
Herbert gives the order ‘the history of humanity’ in their mind as the introduction describes. After quickly browsing it, Herbert starts to suspect whether this world still is the Earth. The history of humans is even less complete than Camille’s steam machine. Not until 2248, the year the People’s New Republic was established, did the date start to occur in historical records. Before that, human history wasn’t classified in specific years but only in five ages: the Barbaric Age, the Modernization Age, the Industrial Age, the Material Age, the Divided Age.
Herbert takes a step back and sits on the bed. They need to take a breath and process the information. For a start, how did part of human history just disappear? Herbert remembers that he fell into the lake in 1921, and now it’s 2303, which means that almost 400 years passed. But why is there no date record in human history in the past five ages? Herbert gives the order ‘search the French Revolution’ in their mind, and the result shows that it was the end of the Modernization Age and the beginning of the Industrial Age.
After contradistinguishing several historical events, Herbert reckons that the Barbaric Age ended at the end of the Roman Empire, and the Modernization Age ended around the French Revolution. They speculate that 1921 was still in the Industrial Age. But they have no idea about what happened in the 382 years after they fell into the lake.
If this is 2303 on Earth, are the other vampires still here? Herbert is anxious about the 382 years of blankness. The Central Archive database doesn’t provide much information about the last two ages other than the chaos and unfamiliar technology terms such as ‘Internet’ and ‘social media’. 382 years are nothing to a vampire. Herbert remembers that once Cassius had slept for 230 years. And if Herbert can find the castle in 2303, nothing will be a blur because Ludwiga and Camille are basically walking human history.
Herbert gives the order ‘search for Cassius’ in the chip, and finds that he is in the database. But he only existed in one vampire research project. The author claims that he was the first vampire in the world. That’s bull. Herbert closes the research paper. There is no way that Cassius was the first vampire in the world because Cassius once told them that Robin and Eve had already lived the dream world way before he entered it. Herbert then searches for Ludwiga, and finds her in fiction.
Herbert lays back on the bed and closes their eyes. This can’t be right. Doesn’t the Central Archive claim to have every information in each person’s mind in this republic and all open to everyone? Even if it doesn’t have the thoughts of the absolute minority group, The Rebels, there are still billions of humans. Then how can no one ever think about Cassius or Ludwiga?
They get up again, and give the order ‘open the research paper about Cassius’.
The report was written by Professor Mad–that’s a wild name– after doing field research in archaeological remains in State 21. The author concluded that vampires do not exist anymore because no one believes in vampires now.
That’s totally bullshit. Hebert closes the report again. They are an authentic vampire and they are living well.
Herbert sighs after the immediate anger. Camille used to have a book under her pillow called On Liberty. And she was passionate about recommending that book to everyone. Herbert remembers that she even sent one copy to Robin. It talked about the necessity of being open to the opposite and accepting their ideas. So each time when they refused to hear about Camille’s new ideologies, she slapped them with this book. After being slapped thousands of times, Herbert can’t just ignore the possibility that they are the only vampire left at this time.
Before Herbert searches for more things on the screen, the screen changes.
Your mission: Get to the base of The Rebels in state 20 section 8, and join in Professor Mad’s next field research in state 21.
Seriously??? A mission? Herbert sighs again and gets off the bed. Professor Mad? The author of that bullshit study? Herbert is suddenly excited about the upcoming mission. They don’t mind having adventures that don’t seem to make any sense at all after all those years in the castle. And they can’t wait to argue with that vampire researcher.
Herbert looks around. There must be a way out. They try to give the order ‘open the door’, and the wall in front of them just disappears in a second.
Herbert is shocked once again. They walk out of the door and watch the wall form in less than a second.
After having the map to the base in mind, Herbert walks out of the gate of the building. They almost scream when seeing the road in front of them. Under the glass-like road, Herbert can see the buildings under buildings. Looking up, there are many railroad tracks floating on them. They carefully move their right leg for a small step, and the road feels like any normal road on the ground. Herbert pulls out the general information of this city in their mind and learns that they are at the Air-4 level right now.
Very efficient. Very creative. Herbert nods slightly. Ludwiga was right. Humans always want to reach for the stars.
They walk around the street corner and wait for the traffic light to turn green. The iron street sign says ‘Illud St.’, but the introduction tells Herbert that there are just a bunch of dots on the sign. More than a century ago, the chip which is behind each and every person’s neck was already progressive enough to provide all kinds of geographical data so that no one would ever get lost again. The iron street signs now serve as checkpoints to scan the chips. When people walk close to the signs, they can automatically read the chips, add this position in each person’s database in the central archive, and show the sign in the language one is most familiar with, providing convenience to the whole human race. That’s what the People’s Committee of the Republic claimed.
Herbert doesn’t hide the sarcastic smile on their face at all. Because from their understanding, the existence of real street signs is merely nostalgia and to make the world look more like a human world instead of some giant machine. Alienation. That’s the world Camille told them to describe a place like this.
Herbert notices that everyone waiting for the traffic light has a nano screen in front of them. The introduction describes this as ‘the best way to spend those time fragments and make the human world run more efficiently,’ claimed by the People’s Committee of the Republic. “After all the daily work is done, one is free to enjoy the rest of the day doing whatever they want which no longer alienates people with their purposes,” it said.
Herbert feels such an inconsistency. Sometimes the introduction sounds like the critique of the current society, which fits in the rebel identity the chip gave to them. But sometimes it sounds like the current administration. This world is also very inconsistent to them because almost everyone is doing everything to not be alienated, but they are, from Herbert’s perspective, still alienated.
The traffic light turns green. Herbert gets on the elevator and gives the instruction ‘Air-5 level’ in their mind. That’s the platform of the express shuttle.
The door disintegrates, and Herbert walks on the platform.
Herbert looks through the glass under their feet. They feel a little dizzy. The buildings and railroads under the glass platform seem to have a pattern.
“ Welcome to the promised land.”