Monday, March 5, 2018

Virtual Worlds in Harmonic Wars

What would technology look like in a highly advanced human civilization? What things would they do for entertainment? Star Trek, the Next Generation, had the Holodeck, and I always thought that was cool. Today there are virtual reality programs that people can visit through the use of an avatar, but it looks like a cartoon character. I think the next obvious evolution of that technology would be holographic, and we are not too far from that today.

In my SciFi series Harmonic Wars, Ana had to protect the descendants of the original thirteen Guardians from Arturo, who was cut off from the Balsarius technologies. His mission in life was to bring the Anti-Grav Suits to the G`Alad-based Warrior Guild. Arturo knew that his own Anti-Grav Suit would someday wear out, and he would be powerless against Ana. In Children of the Guardians, Arturo is hot on the trail of several of the children, so Ana must hide them and train them to survive against Arturo and the Warrior Guild, which is no small task. The soldiers in the Warrior Guild are bred and raised as the ultimate human weapon. They are a fighting force equaled by none.

Ana and her mentor, the Shihan Marcus Kahn, begin a 5-year plan to train six teens in the art of war. They emerse Manny, Ricky, Lynell, Raven, April, and Judd in war tactics. They are joined by Sam and Nasser who have become the apprentices of Shihan. Together, they will use the Mobile Attack Robots (MARs) to fight off the coming assault by the Warrior Guild, but the Science Guild quickly discovers that the teens can destroy their robotic opponents faster than they can be put back together. So they move to the virtual reality of Dimensions.  

In Guardians of the Crystal Skulls, Shihan meets a very embarrassed Pressler Anias in a fantasy world. As Shihan navigates through Dimensions, he is awestruck by its beauty. Now several hundred years have passed, and Dimensions is a much different place than it once was. There is still beauty, but there is now an ugly decadence of sexual promiscuity added, that Ana must protect the Children from. Please enjoy this scene from Chapter 18:

   The next morning, Johan led the youth along with Nasser and Sam to the stasis pods aboard the Atlantis for their first foray into Dimensions. “Now, if you’ll just walk this way?”
   Ricky walked closely behind Johan and tried to mimic his odd shuffle which caused Lynell to giggle and the others to smile.
   Johan turned around to see what was so funny, but only found Ricky with an innocent look on his face. Johan took a deep breath and tried to remember they were just kids after all.
   Moments later they arrived at the stasis pods where Johan addressed them. “These stasis pods are just like the pods in the MARs units, once the door closes it will fill up with the stasis gel, and you must breathe it in to make the neuro-connection. Once there, go through the Dimensions icon on the lower left. It will be a large, blue-colored ‘D’ icon with the swirling world at the center. That’ll take you to the loading room where you’ll see me waiting for you to explain general operations and navigation throughout the Dimensions vWorld. Then we’ll go back to the loading room, and you can customize your look. Then you have a couple of hours of play time.”
   “Fricken awesome!” Ricky exclaimed as he jumped into the closest pod. “Last one to the loading room does my chores this week!”
   The race was on as everyone rushed to the pods. Johan had to hurry and establish his link since he wanted to be there before them. He arrived in the loading room just behind Ricky, Manny, and Raven. Johan called them over to him, as they waited for the others to navigate through the Dimensions portal and into the loading room.
   Raven looked down at the silvery robe that covered her body with distaste, “This is ugly. I wish I was wearing … ,” Raven saw the silver, loose-fitting garment immediately replaced by a pink, short skirt and matching jacket that covered a low-cut, white shirt with small, red roses plunging down across her breasts in the shape of a ‘V’. The streaks of pink in her hair that had long faded out had suddenly returned as her hair fell loosely around her shoulders in soft curls. She wore knee-high, black leather platform boots with fishnet stockings tucked inside.
   Manny looked at the transformation of Raven before him in amazement. “Wow! You really look nice Raven. How’d you do that?”
   Johan interrupted, “Well, it looks as though Raven has already discovered that your thoughts can transform your appearance. Okay then, you have five minutes to think about what you would like to wear, and then we have to finish the orientation. Clear your mind, then visualize how you would like to be seen by others.”
   Manny changed into a blue polo shirt with khaki-colored shorts and brown sandals. Ricky, however, went all out. He wore a pinstriped suit, with a coral-colored shirt complete with a dark gray tie with coral stripes.
   “No shoes?” Manny asked as he looked at Ricky's feet.
   “Oh shit, forgot about shoes,” he replied as a nice pair of country-style boots appeared on his feet.
   Lynell walked over beside Ricky wearing a yellow sundress with red roses that climbed all over the bodice and red sandals. Her hair was pulled back into a thick braid down her back, as it always was these days. Lynell looked at her sister’s hair and was suddenly aware that she had done nothing with hers. Lynell made her hair curl and pin up with tiny red flowers throughout it that held her dark brown curls up.
  “You look beautiful, Lynell,” Ricky said with a smile.
   Lynell looked over at Ricky and smiled approvingly. “Thank you, Ricky. I think you look very handsome in that suit!”
   Ricky winked at Lynell, “Thanks! Nice hair, by the way!”
   “Yes, Lynell. The flowers are a nice touch,” noted Sam with a kind smile on his face.
   Lynell blushed since she was not used to all the attention. “Thanks and you both look very nice as well.”
   Sam wore a very simple pair of blue jeans with a yellow shirt, but Nasser was dressed all in black with a black overcoat and dark shades.
   “Hey there! It’s the man in black!” Ricky said as he smiled at Nasser, who just nodded slyly back. “But that’s taking it to a whole new level!”
   Everyone turned and looked as April appeared in black leather pants and matching shirt, knee-high leather boots, her hair slicked back, and dark shades over her eyes. Then a large, black lion appeared beside her.
   Johan interrupted, “Okay, let’s stay with the human race, Judd.”
   Judd-lion roared loudly before he reappeared with a smile in clothes similar to April’s.
   “Gather round,” Johan signaled to them. “Each time you come into the loading room, you need to check what you're wearing, or in Judd’s case what animal you might become. Thoughts in here can take form, so visualize a mirror, and one will appear in front of you.”
Just then several different mirrors appeared in front of the initiates. The girls all had full-length mirrors, while the boys had what looked like vanity mirrors one would see over a bathroom sink.
   “Wow, that's cool!” Judd said as a well-trimmed goatee appeared on his face. “Oh yeah, I look great!”
   “Yep, nearly as good as me,” Ricky commented.
   “That sounded so conceited,” Manny replied.
   “I’m not conceited. Conceited people have faults, so clearly I’m not conceited!” Ricky replied with a grin.
   “Oh geez,” exclaimed Lynell as she rolled her eyes.
   Johan shook his head and smiled. “Okay, put the mirrors away now, and let’s go into the virtual world of Dimensions. Follow me through the icon and wait for me on the sidewalk!”
Then Johan disappeared through the large, blue-colored “D” icon with the world that spun at the center.
   They all arrived and saw that Johan met them in a cloud that surrounded the whole group. “Now, there’s much to distract you, so I have shielded you till we get through the orientation. Otherwise, you’ll not be able to pay attention. At the lower left of your vision, you can see a door. It leads back to the loading room, and to the right is the Dimensions Icon. Both will always be there so you can easily return to the loading room and save your changes. The Dimensions icon will take you to all the other vWorlds. This is the default, but there are thousands of Dimensions you can visit. Fantasy worlds, water worlds, space adventures, whatever you can imagine, and it’s here. All types of extreme sports, mountain climbing, biking, racing, flying … anything. Flip through the menu with your hand and open the door to a new world. Some dimensions are restricted because they are for adults only. If you attempt to access one, we’ll bring you back to the loading room. If you try doing something you shouldn’t be doing, like stealing or fighting with other people in here, we’ll bring you back to the loading room immediately. If you talk with anyone here about any of our missions ... again, back to the loading room. Any contact of a sexual nature on your part or by someone else will likewise bring you back to the loading room. Once we bring you back for one of these reasons, we’ll review a complete download of the transcript and a full report given to your Abuela and Shihan. This won't be a good thing, at all. Everybody understand?”
   All the students nodded solemnly.
   “Very well. I suggest for now you just check out the default world. Now, check this out,” Johan said as he waved his hand and the cloud disappeared.
   The first thing that became apparent was that they stood on a sidewalk that floated in midair. Musical chimes softly filled the air and the gentle, cool breeze that blew across their faces. The cloudless, blue sky revealed a stunning view of a planet with multiple sets of rings and two darkened and cratered moons that orbited the dark-orange-striped world. They floated high above a sprawling city. Sidewalks floated in-between buildings and moved people through the metropolis. Sleek vehicles of every color and shape floated on beams of light at multiple levels throughout the city. Each level was a different color and represented different speeds, some of which seemed limitless as the vehicles flashed overhead in a blur. Buildings were in all shapes and sizes. Some looked like rose bushes with each flower opening a balcony to a new apartment. Others resembled pinecones. The buildings were all works of art, and none of them sat still. Movement and music filled the air in a symphony of light and music. The effect was breathtaking.
   Several buildings clustered together and rose to great heights. Johan pointed to them and said, “The business district is a good place to go to find a job. You earn credits that you can use to pay for your decorations, apartments, transit vehicles, and other activities. You can choose any job that you want, and there are no limits. The financial district to the left is the way you can become wealthy if you invest your credits.”
   Johan pointed to a fantastic building that looked like a huge, shining silver, muscular man wearing a loincloth. He held a spinning golden globe over his head. The globe had multiple bands of heavy-looking silver and jade support beams sculpted upwards from the man’s hands and spread out halfway up the spinning golden globe nestled inside.
   Nasser nudged Sam who stared in awe. “Overwhelming, huh?”
   Sam nodded, “It’s beautiful!”
   “The amusement park is on the other side of the financial district, or the man with the globe right there,” Johan said as he pointed. “You have each been loaded with 20,000 credits to start. Enjoy yourselves at the amusement park for now. We’ll get you in a couple of hours. Go have fun!”
   With that, the students ran off toward the amusement park with Nasser and Sam trying to keep up with the youngsters. The sights and sounds of civilization filled their senses. Children played with their parents, and adults walked around, and people talked and conversed just like any real city. But, there were stark differences. The clothes and hairstyles were some of the first things noticeable. Some people passed before them as a blur from the neck down and appeared as nothing more than a smudge to the students. Others were bathed in bright colors of light that shimmered and masked themselves modestly. A large gathering of people made their way through the crowd costumed in Renaissance-appropriate dresses and knights in shining armor complete with swords and lances. A group that looked very much like dwarfs found in fantasy stories gathered beside a group of Forest Elves to the right, who suddenly winked out of existence before their eyes.
   “Whoa, that’s cool!” Ricky said.
   “They must be going to fight a dragon!” Manny said.
   Lynell’s eyes widened as an Ogre approached them.
   In a gravelly voice, the Ogre said, “Excuse me! Coming through!”
   “I guess so!” Nasser exclaimed as the group made room for the Ogre who walked another 10 feet then disappeared as the other group had done.
   “Wonder what Dimension they're going to?” Ricky asked as a harem of beautiful women gathered in front of them. They wore flowing, thin veils that clung to their curvaceous bodies and left very little to the imagination.
   Nasser turned to note that Lynell was not amused that Ricky was taking notice of the scantily clad beauties, so he slapped Ricky in the back of the head as he stared. “Come on, put your tongue back in your mouth!”
   Manny stared as well and quickly turned around to see Raven with her head cocked, eyes narrowed and hands on her hips. “Get an eyeful yet, Farm Boy? You’re gawking about, acting as though you had never seen a woman before.”
   “I can't say I’ve never seen one dressed like that,” Manny said as he watched two women walking on the other sidewalk. They too appeared as a smudge from the neck down. One waved and blew a kiss to Manny.
   “Well, if you think the women of that harem were beautiful, wait till you can see past the age inhibitors!” said a gruff voice from behind them.
Manny turned around to see Tanya with another couple beside them. The man had a wry grin on his face, and the short, blonde woman looked irritated at him for his comment.
   Tanya spoke up, “Hi, everybody. Pay no attention to Carsten. He’s got a different sense of humor.”
   Lynell asked, “Hi Tanya. Who are your friends?”
   “These are my crew members from the Atlantis. This is our pilot, Jeff Wright, and our navigator, Carmen Smith.”
   Jeff was 6’ 1” tall with short, light brown hair, brown eyes, and gentle features that made him look young and innocent. His voice had a very manly quality to it that Raven and Lynell both found attractive as they smiled up at him. Carmen was much shorter at 5’2”, curvy and darkly tanned. Her blonde hair fell loosely just at the top of her shoulders. She had a flirtatious quality to her pretty brown eyes.
   Jeff still watched the two women that smiled and waved at Manny. To Manny, they appeared as a smudge, but Jeff saw they wore the latest spray fashion that some young adults had adopted. In reality, they walked around naked with a light coat of plastic paint. He sighed and waved back, “So much for that. Mind if we join you?”
   “Uh, sure thing,” Manny replied. “We’re not really sure where we’re going, much less what to try first.”
   “Try the Space Coaster, trust me!” Jeff said with a grin.
   “Oh, yeah,” chimed in Carmen as she pulled her blonde hair up into a ponytail and beckoned them to follow. “You’ll love that. Come on.”
   The group finally made it to the amusement park without too much harassment by the girls for gawking at the women they passed.
   For the next couple of hours, they rode as many space coasters, and other rides at the amusement park that they could. Much like a roller coaster, the Space Coaster took them into the weightlessness of space, and then plummeted them beneath the ground at tremendous speeds before they continued under water in small shuttles. After they had ridden the first one, they looked for bigger and bigger rides, anything to increase the thrill factor.
   As with all amusement parks and carnivals, they could smell the rich and fatty foods as they walked through the park. They eagerly tried candies, fried meats, and pastries that reminded them of donuts. The drinks were sweet and tasty as well.
   “Kirsten would scream right now if she saw us with all this junk food!” Sam said as he took a big bite out of a dark chocolate cake.
   Carmen shook her head and smiled, “Oh, not at all! This is one of her favorite places. There are no worries here because you're not really eating anything. All the pleasure with none of the guilt!”
   “Here, take a bowl, but wait to try this,” Tanya said as she handed each of them a bowl of a nondescript paste.
   “What’s this? Looks like bad oatmeal,” Judd said with a frown.
   Tanya smiled, “It’s called Goop. Now, I want you to all think about one thing that you have not had since you left home. What’s the one food that you miss the most?”
   Lynell and Ricky yelled out together, “Pizza!”
   “Oh, yeah! Pizza would be so awesome! Deep-dish pepperoni and mushroom,” Manny said as Raven and Lynell both stared up dreamily and sighed as they remembered pizza.
   “Great, sounds like we have a winner,” Carmen said. “Now I want each of you to take a spoonful of Goop, but don’t taste it yet. Now close your eyes and concentrate on the best pizza that you ever ate. Remember the flavor, the heat, the texture of the crust, the spice in the sauce. The cheese melted on top. Hold on to those thoughts and put the spoon in your mouth.”
   “Oh man! That tastes just like pizza!” Ricky exclaimed.
   “You have to really concentrate to do it this way, but this is really how all of the food works here,” Tanya explained. “The candies and cakes all use the power of suggestion, and your mind provides the rest. If you really have control of your thoughts, then you can make this cake taste like a pizza. But that’ll take some practice. This is a good lesson and something you should each try every time you come here. Control your thoughts and experiences inside the vWorld. It’ll be critical in the MARs units later. We can talk more about that later.”
   “It’s about time to be getting back now,” Jeff said. “I think we have time for one last Space Coaster ride if anyone is up for it?”
   “Damn straight!” Ricky said as he ran ahead.

   After they had ridden the Space Coaster one last time, they returned to the loading room together. Excitement filled the air, as they talked eagerly about all the sights, sounds, and things they had been able to do. It was the best day that Manny could remember since they had gotten there. Johan greeted them as they all appeared back in the loading room.
   “So, did you have a good time?” Johan could do nothing more than smile as the eager young adults all talked at once. He let them go for a couple of minutes and waited for them to settle down a bit.
   “Okay, let’s save your settings and return,” Johan said as he turned to the Atlantis crew. “Can you help show them how to save?”
   Everyone saved their settings and then exited Dimensions back to the stasis pods. Manny discovered that every time he exited a stasis pod was easier than the last time. At first, it was painful trying to expel the thick pink fluid from his lungs, but now it was getting easier. The girls, however, still had some difficulties with the process.
   Kirsten rubbed Raven’s back as she violently coughed out the last of the pink fluid. “Don’t worry, Honey. It takes some time, but it gets easier the more you do this.”
   “So, did you have fun?” Ana asked as she and Shihan entered the chamber.
   “Abuela, that was incredible!” Manny said as he hugged her. “Thanks so much.”
   “You’re most welcome,” Ana said as she hugged him back. “Did the rest of you enjoy that as well?”
   Ana was overwhelmed with the sudden rush of excited adolescents who recounted what they saw and did while in Dimensions. Ana listened as they shifted the conversation from the excitement of the amusement park, then they described the different buildings and how there was so much movement and music.
   “The default world in Dimensions is modeled after Jannity Junction, the capital city of New Hope. It was a famous tourist and vacation location on Mother Earth when the original colonists came here,” Johan explained. “It’s said that the music permeated everything there. The natural music calmed people and helped promote clarity. We think it was key to help humans advance in harmonic resonance technology, which is why we have Anti-Grav Suits today.”
   “Well, it’s getting late, so let’s get settled in for the night,” Ana said. It took a long time for the youth to settle in with so much excitement from the visit to Dimensions. Ana watched as the kids talked about all they had seen. Si, it was a good idea! Ana smiled to herself as she settled into bed. It took a long time for them to get to sleep, but finally the sleeping chamber was quiet.

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