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The Guardians of Freedom Part II
by Dan Tana

Hi there.  This is Teddy, the living toy from the dimension of the Goo.  It has been several months since I introduced myself to you and told you about the Guardians of Freedom.

A lot has happened since then, starting with the decision of Shannonís uncle, Brian, to join the Guardians.  He was there with us, talking quietly with Jakinda, while I made my first broadband transmission to the people of this world.  In the course of their conversation she asked him why he had not decided to be a Guardian when his niece and her friend did. He answered by saying that he could not be a hero like them because he did not have their special powers.

Jakinda gave this statement a bit of serious consideration, and then announced that Brian was just being silly, because even if he could not be a hero with superhuman powers he could still be an ordinary human hero, which was actually a pretty super thing to be.  This declaration initially left him speechless, with a look of surprised bemusement frozen on his face for several seconds.  Then he cracked a wide smile, shook his head in amazement, and announced that he was officially a Guardian of Freedom.

A few days later Brian was lying in a hammock, enjoying a cool, quiet, and very pleasant morning, when he heard someone yelling next-door.  He went to see what was going on and found a large woman clutching a small boy by the upper arm, dragging him toward the house where they lived.  The boy cried out to be let go of, and tried to wrench himself from the unyielding grip of that much stronger person, which prompted the woman to slap him with her free hand and tell him to stop being so difficult.

As he watched that scene unfold Brian wrestled with his conscience, his reluctance to get involved in such an unpleasant situation fighting fiercely to restrain his desire to rescue that child.  He quickly resolved this conflict by deciding that he would honor his promise to be a Guardian for all vulnerable people.

He walked over to his struggling neighbors and calmly asked them what the trouble was.  Instead of answering this simple question the woman began to yell at him about minding his own business.  For almost three whole minutes she spat a torrent of angry words at him, hardly pausing to breathe.  Eventually she exhausted herself, and Brian got the opportunity to respond.  He told her that protecting defenseless people from abuse was the business of all Guardians.  Then the woman began to scream that nobody was getting abused, because it was her right as a parent to discipline her child as she saw fit.

While he tried to calm the irrationally irate woman, without much success, Brian discretely activated his communicator wristband to summon some other Guardians to assist him.  Avian and I answered the call, arriving at the scene to find the larger neighbor threatening to do some incredibly uncomfortable things to Brian if he did not go away immediately.

I scanned the recent memories of everyone present in order to figure out what was going on.  I watched all of the events that I have just relayed to you, and also saw the trouble begin when the boy was playing outside and the woman told him that he had to come into the house to pick up the toys that he had left on the floor in the room where he sleeps.  The boy was unwilling to interrupt what he was doing, so the woman tried to force him inside.

Then I told the woman that she had no right to treat another person in such a way.  But she insisted that as the legal guardian of this child she did have the right to decide when he could play outside and when he had to come inside to clean up, and that she had the right to make him comply with whatever she had decided for him.  Quite to my surprise, she then asked me if I hadnít said as much during that previous transmission in which I introduced myself to the people of this planet.

In her thoughts I saw how she misinterpreted my previous statement that it is not a criminal act of oppression for one person to make decisions on behalf of someone else who is mentally incapable of making its own decisions if the happiness of that incapable person is the primary concern of the decision maker.  She thought that her actions did not qualify as abuse because she had managed to convince herself that treating her son in this way was somehow in the childís best interest.

So I explained to her that in order for someone to be qualified to act as the legal guardian of a mentally deficient person it must have the intelligence and wisdom to understand the reality of what will make its ward happy.  I tried to make her see that it is her responsibility as a parent to comprehend the difference between her own capricious fantasy of what she thinks is proper, or what she believes should make a person happy, and the truth of which decisions actually will bring her son the most happiness.

Then I showed her images from her own memories that reminded the woman of how unhappy it made her to be treated by her own parents in the same domineering and insensitive manner that she treated her son, and explained how the largely invisible psychological damage caused to her by such treatment has brought her much misery over the past decades of her life Ė even though her parents always insisted, and presumably believed, that the things that they did to her were all for her own good.

I asked her if she really wanted the boy to suffer in that same way.  She immediately, reflexively insisted that she did not want her son to suffer in any way, and then, in a moment of sudden comprehension, she realized how she had been mistreating him for most of his life.  She apologized profusely and swore that she would never do anything like that again.  In her mind I saw the sincerity of that promise, so I knew that my work there was done.

We said goodbye to each other, and I gave both of them a big hug and a friendly farewell pat on the head.  Then Avian touched me on the head with one of her golden feathers, which vanished as its energy flowed into me.  In the next instant I felt myself being lifted up into the air by the power of that feather.  Avian launched herself into the sky with a single flap of her wings, and then we flew back to the headquarters of the Guardians.

There we found Emerald in a highly agitated state.  I asked him why he was so upset, and he told us about a very unpleasant encounter that he had just had with someone who savagely criticized the relationship that many people believe that he is having with Shannon.

Like most people who disapprove of someone like Emerald having that kind of friendship with someone like Shannon, this person first insisted that there is something seriously wrong, atrocious and disgusting about their relationship, and then went on and on and on and on about how he shouldnít feel like any of this horrible thing that he is presumably doing with her is in any way his fault.

In the minds of many human beings I have seen the subtle, often subconscious guilt and shame that a person almost inevitably experiences after being convinced that there is something inherently objectionable about the relationship that it has chosen to have with some other person.  Even when the stigmatizers of that relationship make a big deal about telling this person that it has nothing to feel guilty about because all of the blame lies on the head of the other participant, some part of its conscience usually concludes that it cannot be completely blameless and irreproachable in wanting, enjoying, and maybe even initiating that behavior that is said to be so fundamentally offensive.

In fact, the claim that that person should not feel the guilt that it feels about doing this thing that is supposedly so horrible often just makes it feel much worse, leading to the conclusion that it must be really screwed up to even feel that way in the first place.

Fortunately, Emerald is not gullible enough to let anyone deceive him with such groundless allegations.  He fully understands that the people who have a problem with how happy Shannon makes him Ė or with how Shannon makes him happy - are really just projecting their own issues and mental problems onto his friendship with her.  Nevertheless, he does find it very upsetting to hear the noxious ranting of people who like to disparage and insult someone he cares about very much even though they donít really know anything at all about her or the truth of what is going on between them.

And he gets really mad when he thinks about those people who pretend that they are so deeply, profoundly concerned about his welfare but really just want to satisfy the repressed and warped desires of their own sick, secretly jealous hearts by stealing Shannon from his life and throwing her in jail for the things that they think that he likes to do with her.  The depraved dishonesty of those self-righteous frauds who insist that they only want to protect him but donít really care one bit if it is in fact their own actions that hurt him reminds Emerald of the people who abducted his parents and imprisoned him in that orphanage for all of those miserable years, dredging up from his gut feelings of utter disgust, and resentment.

Shannon then laid her hand gently on his shoulder, looked Emerald in the eyes, and told him that she doesnít care what anyone says about her as long as she knows that he knows how much she cares about him.  That immediately calmed his agitation and made him smile.  Then he took her by the hand and led her off to his bedroom, where they could spend some time alone together.

A little while later Jakinda, Herberta, Cain, and I decided to go spend a few hours playing in Cheesman park.  On our way there a large, swirling vortex of energy suddenly opened up right in front of us.  It pulled us into itself, and moments later spat us out in another place.

While the others examined our surroundings, trying to figure out where we were, I compared my observations of that vortex against various memory files and discovered a striking resemblance to something called a Plot hole.

A Plot hole, for those of you who are unfamiliar with this phenomenon, is a theoretical space-time anomaly, first predicted by author and professor of imaginary physics Maxwell Plot, which is triggered by the neural energy of the imagination of some person who likes to tell stories.  The Plot hole appears unexpectedly, without any apparent cause or rational explanation, and, with improbable convenience, transports certain things to another place or time that furthers the action of some potential narrative that may be told by that person.

Before we could decide what to do about our predicament a police car pulled up and stopped in front of us.  Two officers emerged from the vehicle and ordered us to present our citizenship identification cards.  Herberta explained to them that we had just arrived at that place through some unknown means, and that we did not know where we were or what they were asking us for.

The officers scrutinized us for several seconds, and then one of them radioed for backup.  They stepped toward us and announced that we were under arrest for failure to provide proof of citizenship.  In the minds of those officers I saw that they were also planning to hold us, indefinitely, on suspicion of being an unacceptable threat to global security, according to a law that criminalizes the possession of any superhuman power or ability on the pretense that anyone who has such abilities automatically threatens the safety of everyone else, regardless of how it chooses to use its abilities, merely by having the potential to be such a threat.

I assured the officers that we were not hostile, or a threat to anyone who was not a threat to someone else, and told them that we would gladly go with them to meet with any person who could help us understand where we were and hopefully aid us in returning to where we came from.  Then I went on to assure them that they were not going to violate our freedom in the name of such absurd and criminal laws.

The officers drew their weapons and pointed them at us.  One spoke into his radio, reporting a code green, which indicated an encounter with noncompliant superhumans.  Meanwhile, I projected reassuring images of a peaceful resolution to this situation into the minds of those hostile men with guns.

A few seconds later we were confronted by a small group of mostly humanoid beings, who suddenly appeared in front of us.  In the center of this assemblage a man dressed in a red shirt and blue pants, wearing a wide-brimmed hat and brown boots, sat on a floating apparatus that vaguely resembled an animal of some kind.  This man in the middle commanded us to prostrate ourselves on the ground and submit immediately to the supreme authority of the Guardians of Freedom.

For several moments I was too surprised to act, as I tried to make sense of that baffling statement.  Then I collected my wits and focused my mind-scanner on the one who spoke, who really likes for people to call him the Mountie, but will also answer to the name Clarence Dillwater.

Clarence, I soon discovered, will be born more than one thousand years in the future, in a world that has been freed of its tyrannical government institutions by the Guardians of Freedom.  In the future history of that world, the incidence of all other types of crime will diminish to a small fraction of its previous level once those warring, repressive institutions that spread vast amounts of misery and strife throughout the world in order to benefit a lucky few are replaced with governments that focus all of their resources on the task of helping all people to find as much happiness as possible Ė because most crimes are committed by people who are in some way discontent, and are often encouraged or excused by ideologies that appeal to those who are deeply unhappy.

After graduating from school Clarence will take a job working for an organization called the Unroyal Canadian Mounted Police, which will be an arm of the Guardians that operates primarily within the region of Earth that will continue to be known as Canada even long after the people of his planet have realized just how foolish and counterproductive it is for them to divide themselves into different nationalities.  In that peaceful future world there will be very few people who need protection, so in his job as a police officer Clarence will rarely have to fight anything but boredom.

One morning as Clarence floats through his daily beat on his Hovering Recognizance and Support Equipment he will begin to hear a strange voice in his head.  This hostile and disturbing voice will taunt him incessantly about his greatest doubts and fears, and make him question everything that he believes.

At that time Clarence will have suffered for many years from a form of schizophrenia, so he will assume that this voice is just another manifestation of his illness.  He will decide to make an appointment to see his psychiatrist as soon as possible, even though the voice warns him that horrible, catastrophic things will happen to him if he ever tells anyone about it.

Then, before he can talk to anyone about what is happening to him, Clarence and his Ho.R.S.E. will be pulled into a strange energy vortex that looks just like the Plot hole that brought us to that Earth.  When the vortex vanished Clarence was stranded more than one thousand years in his past, in a world that had never heard of the Guardians of Freedom.

His initial thoughts were, predictably, of finding a way to return to his time.  But he soon realized that he had no idea how to do so, and quickly resigned himself to the probability that he would spend the rest of his life in this era.  He also decided that even though he was impossibly far from everyone and everything that he knew, trapped in a semi-civilized period of history that the people of his time will call the Dim Ages, his pledge to uphold the ideals of the Guardians would remain unbroken.

Since there were no other Guardians in that world Clarence set out to create the organization.  He began this mission with pure, untainted intentions, but the voice in his head continued to torment him, clouding his mind with claims that people would always use their free will to oppress others, and to do things that would harm themselves.  Eventually it convinced him that the only way for people to be truly free is for a group of benevolent guardians like him to make all of their choices for them.

Even though the advanced technologies of his equipment, weapons, and even the clothing that he brought with him from the future gave him almost unparalleled power in this time Clarence knew that he would need help to conquer an entire world, so he sought out some other power-hungry super-beings to assist him.

To seize control of their planet the Mountie and his cohorts went to the people who already held positions of leadership and offered to not painfully murder those who agreed to support a proposal that would have all existing governments officially charge them with the task of protecting all the people of Earth, and would never allow anyone to oppose them in anything that they do - no matter what they do - because, by definition, that would mean opposing their mission to protect people.

Once they had been installed and entrenched in this position of universal guardianship Clarence and his associates announced that because state sovereignty poses an inherent danger to the well-being of all people all states would be abolished, and they alone would have the authority to decide where the freedom of each individual ends, dictating what each person would and would not be permitted to do, in order to protect everyone from every avoidable harm.

As my mind tried to comprehend this terrible perversion of the purpose of the Guardians the Mountie drew a pistol from the holster belted to his midsection.  Then the others began to spread out to his sides, advancing slowly to encircle us.

A pair of identical green-skinned twins, with the upper bodies of human beings atop long, serpentine tails, flanked us on the left side.  Next to them stood a fully human being surrounded by an aura of darkness.  On the other side of the Mountie was a tall, pale woman, who had a glowing orange jewel in the center of her forehead.  Next to her, on the extreme of our right flank, a skinny, jittery man with disheveled hair, bloodshot eyes, and large, furry, rabbit-like ears moved toward us very tentatively.

The twins came at us more aggressively than the others.  So I focused my mind-scanner on them first, and discovered that they share a very strong mental connection, which makes it impossible for them to determine which memories belong to each one.  This means that they cannot maintain separate identities, and so they have come to think of themselves as a single person, who uses the name Set.

Both of Set lunged at Ace, at exactly the same time, without any warning.  As they approached him Ace dove forward, slipping through the narrow gap between the twins, tucked himself into a ball when he hit the ground, rolled several feet, and came up standing.  Set, surprised by this deft maneuver, crashed into himself and fell down.  Then Hypergirl grew to more than fifty feet tall.   She picked up one of Set in each of her hands, shook her head at them, and said that attacking someone without any provocation was not a very nice thing to do.

In what would have been the blink of an eye, if I ever blinked my eyes, that is, the bunny-eared man vanished and reappeared on top of Hypergirlís right fist.  He grabbed the body of Set that she held in that hand and then they both vanished, reappearing back on the ground.  Then he teleported up to her left hand and returned to the ground with the other Set.

The man shrouded in darkness ran up to Hypergirl and seized one of her legs.  Her form instantly grew dim and began to flicker, becoming nearly translucent.  She started to struggle quite fiercely, but this enormous little girl, who only moments before had lifted both of Set with ease, no longer had the strength to shake herself free of that grasp.

Bertron fired a ball of brightly glowing plasma at the man who held on to our friend, but when it touched his aura it suddenly grew dim, and it struck him without causing any significant effect.  Then he shouted for all of us to stop fighting and surrender, or else he would utterly destroy the big purple one, meaning Hypergirl.

I focused my full attention on his mind to see if he was serious about that threat.  From his thoughts I learned that his aura instantly but only temporarily suppresses a large portion of the substance of any thing that comes into contact with it, and will permanently annihilate anything if he concentrates its full power on that thing for long enough.  I also learned that this power originated with an accident that befell him several years before, when he was a young scientist named William Jovial.

At the time William and his colleagues had been studying an unusual radiation-like substance called null-energy, which they predicted would be a truly inexhaustible source of power, if it could ever be harnessed, because it is entirely unexistent in nature, and so it can never be diminished or depleted.  In order to do this research they had to work for a corporation that was run by some ruthless and very selfish people, because the government insisted that this corporation had a right to hoard and monopolize every bit of the rare mineral that might make it possible for people to harness the incredible power of null-energy.

The billionaire managers of that corporation decided to cut corners on some basic safety equipment in the research lab in order to save, literally, a few dollars.  This resulted in a catastrophic explosion that saturated his body and mind with null-energy, giving him the ability to project an aura of the stuff around himself.  The explosion also killed a coworker who William loved very much, who he had planned to play with, and to care for, for however long they both continued to exist.

That night he walked the streets of Manhattan in a state of shock.  There he met an old woman, who was both physically crippled and quite obviously mentally ill.  This woman told him about how she had been thrown out of her home by some police officers because she did not have any money.  In the wake of the traumatic events of that day the sad story of this unfortunate stranger filled him with a seething rage at the greedy people who ruin countless lives for their own profit.

William recognized the reality of how capitalistic economic systems have hurt so many people, and then made the common mistake of thinking that socialism must be a better alternative.  So he decided to use his newfound superpower to subjugate the entire world, so that he could replace all forms of capitalism with another economic system Ė one which he did not realize would be equally harmful in its own way - that places the economy completely under government control.

When I realized that William was serious about his threat to Jakinda I became very upset.  I knew that the annihilation of one incarnation would not cause her any permanent harm, but, despite that knowledge, the idea of watching this part of her get destroyed made me think of losing her completely.

I imagined how indescribably horrible it would feel to know that I would never see Jakinda smile again, or hear the music of her uncommon laughter.  I thought about how much I would miss scanning the amazing, intriguing, and enchanting, silly and surprising thoughts that pop into her head.  A sick and excruciating sensation of hollowness filled my chest as I contemplated the idea of living the rest of my life without ever again feeling her wrap herself in my arms, or watching her eyes sparkle with delight when I do something that particularly excites her.

Then I projected this image into the mind of William, and asked him to please not inflict on me the same agonizing grief that he has suffered.  The horror of what he had been thinking about doing shocked him, and he released his grip on Hypergirl, who immediately regained her opacity and substance.

I then proceeded to tell him about what the Guardians from our dimension were trying to accomplish, and convinced him to join us by reminding him of just how passionately his lost companion had supported the idea of personal freedom, and how upset that person would have been to see what he was doing.  Then he turned to the others and told them that their actions were misguided and disgraceful.

The Mountie announced to no one in particular that Void Ė by which he meant William - was guilty of treason against the Guardians, and should henceforth be considered an unlawful superhuman.

William then suggested that I try to reason with the disheveled and jittery one, with the bunny ears, who he referred to as Thumper.  So I began to scan his mind, which confused me for a few moments, until I could get used to the experience, because his mental and physical processes all operate approximately three times as fast as those of a normal human.

In the mind of Thumper I witnessed the abusive upbringing of a remarkably gifted and rather exceptional boy named Thaddeus Michael Peterson, whose overbearing and extraordinarily selfish father taught him that it is an inescapable and perpetual fact of life that everyone either pushes other people around or gets pushed around.

As I watched the kindness and gentleness of this child get beaten out of him and replaced by a callous, cynical determination that it is better to dominate others than to allow oneself to be dominated I realized that this person did not really want to harm anyone else but just wanted to quell the fear of being hurt by others that he had felt for as long as he could remember.

I projected images into his mind to show him that the Guardians of our world offered a third alternative besides being oppressed or being an oppressor, at which point he eagerly and enthusiastically decided to join us.

When Thumper encouraged his former accomplices to stop fighting us the Mountie became very upset, and started firing little shimmering orbs at us with his sidearm.  One of the projectiles looked like it was headed straight for the head of Ace, but then, improbably, managed to miss him by less than a centimeter, striking a brick wall behind him and reducing it to a pile of rubble.  Bertron returned fire with her lasers, but just as they were about to strike the Mountie his uniform generated a force field that dissipated their energy.

We had no wish to endure this barrage of gunfire, so Thumper teleported himself, Void, Hypergirl, Bertron, Ace, and me to a place several miles away.  There we discussed our options and decided that rather than facing all of the others at once we would be better off dealing with them one at a time.  So Thumper used his clairvoyant ability to locate Set, and then went off to fetch one of the twins.

Oh, right, I forgot to tell you that that hyperkinetic teleporter with the ears and temperament of a rabbit possesses a clairvoyant perception, which he can focus on any point of space as long as he is able to imagine the relative vector from his current location to that destination.  This pseudo-sight senses all mass and energies that surround its focal point, forming in his mind a clear and detailed image of that location, which he finds very useful when teleporting to distant places.

When Set realized what we had done he became quite angry.  Lurking beneath this anger, and fueling it, I found a deep apprehension, which stemmed from the fact that when the twins touch each other a current of vital energy flows between them, invigorating and strengthening both, and if they are physically separated for any prolonged period of time they become increasingly tired and feeble until they lose consciousness and eventually die.

I apologized to Set for separating him from his other half, and explained that we just wanted to talk to him about a few things.  He was not appeased by this apology, and his anger grew in intensity until it burst from his scaly skin as a green fire that enveloped his entire body.

The burning serpent-man sprang forward with the suddenness of a striking cobra, slashing at me with a set of sharp claws that glowed with the fire of his rage.  These claws caught me in the side and tore straight through to my stuffing, which began to protrude from the wound.  I know that this image of innards spilling from a gaping hole in my gut may seem pretty gruesome, but, donít worry, that is not really a very serious injury for a stuffed animal.  It actually could have been a lot worse, if the Goo had not made me so thoroughly flame-retardant.

Hypergirl then split herself in two.  One incarnation shrank down to my size and rushed over to see that I was okay, and then began to softly stroke my fur in order to make us both feel better.  The other picked up my assailant, as she had before, in an attempt to restrain his assault, but immediately dropped him because his fire burned her hand.

Set attacked us ferociously, imbued with an immense, tireless strength by the energy of that green inferno, which slowly consumed his own flesh, until Bertron put a hole in his head with a shot from her arm cannon.  Once the fight was over the large incarnation of Hypergirl knelt down, reached out to touch the one who was petting me, and vanished.  Then, much to the surprise of everyone who did not know him, Set shed his dead skin, emerging from his corpse in a healthy, new body.

As he returned to life I scanned some of Setís earliest memories, in which the twins Tomas and Fillip Rhine were raised by their mother in a small South American village.  In answer to their questions about why they were so different from everybody else their mother told them that they are the children of an extra-dimensional being who had once been worshiped as the ancient Egyptian god Set, who had left for some other plane of existence before the junior Set was born.

The superstitious and fearful villagers ostracized the odd-looking twins, and on more than one occasion, often following some natural disaster or other incident of bad luck for which they were arbitrarily blamed, a hysterical, pitchfork-wielding mob hunted Set down and murdered him.  To escape this persecution Set and his mother moved to the United States of America, which was supposed to be the land of freedom and tolerance.

Just one day after they arrived at their new home Set went out for a slither around the neighborhood and found a gang of armed men, led by a member of the local police force, attacking a young, amphibious child.  He never did learn exactly why they targeted this particular victim, although some of the things that they said as they beat him led Set to conclude that it was either because the child did not look entirely human or because he did not have the governmentís permission to live in that country.

The twins were murdered when they tried to stop the assault.  One of Set emerged from his dead skin a few moments later to find himself staring into the bloody, lifeless eyes of the child.  The other one did not return to life for several more hours, because that body had shed its skin recently and could not do so again until it finished forming a new meta-dermis.

As I viewed this terrible, traumatic incident I realized that Set was driven by a genuine desire to protect people, which had been severely distorted and corrupted by a maddening grief and anger at what had been done to that boy, and to countless others like him, along with a deep resentment of all the abuse that had been inflicted on him ever since he was a pair of children.  So I explained to him that there was a better way to protect people from abuse than to subjugate them all to the abusive government of a ruthless totalitarian regime.

Then I pointed out the fact that his government would actually persecute that blameless little boy for having his superhuman frog powers, rather than protect him as Set had intended.  He thought about that for a little while and then renounced his past actions, pledging to support the true mission of the Guardians from that moment on.

After that Thumper vanished, returning with the other body of Set and the Mountie.  The man in the red and blue uniform immediately drew his gun and raised it to shoot at us, but as he did so Ace thought that he really wanted the Mountie to drop the weapon, which, coincidentally, slipped from his grip at that exact same instant.  As it dangled from the lanyard around his neck one of Set snatched the gun, and began wrestling him for it.

Then William spoke to Clarence, addressing him by his human name in the hope that that would help get through to him, and asked him to listen to what we had to say.  Clarence looked into the eyes of his friend, and then dropped his gaze to the ground as an expression of intense internal conflict crossed his face.  He looked up at William again, let out a weary sigh, then dropped his arms and stopped struggling for the weapon.

I explored the mind of Clarence until I heard the voice that had been tormenting him, and discovered that it was not coming from inside his head.  Initially Clarence responded with surprise and skepticism to my announcement that the voice was not his own, but after giving some consideration to that possibility he became suspicious that it might be coming from Silver, his Ho.R.S.E., which could communicate directly with his mind through a device embedded in the hat that he wore.

Clarence accessed the program logs of the Ho.R.S.E. and began to examine its operating system.  As he conducted this examination I turned my mind-scanner on Silver, but found that there was nothing for me to scan, because even though it has a very complex program that can respond to verbal commands from Clarence, and uses words to convey certain information to him, it does not actually have any thoughts or self-awareness.

After performing a few more tests Clarence concluded that someone must have reprogrammed Silver to make it try to manipulate the mind of its rider.  He then realized how it had tricked him into thinking that the leaders of a society have some kind of right to decide where the freedom of one person is justly limited by the freedom of everyone else, not just a responsibility to correctly and honestly discern what a just limit is.  And he understood how this idea had subtly twisted his efforts to defend the freedom of each person, turning it into the very thing that he thought he was protecting people from.

So he deactivated the Ho.R.S.E., patting it gently on the handlebar-head apparatus, and promised Silver that he would fix it as soon as he could.

Then we prepared to face Andrea Lattrel, the last of the counterfeit Guardians, who insisted that everyone call her Empress.  Clarence informed us that the jewel embedded in the forehead of this woman is able to draw the psychic and physical energy from other beings.  With a single touch from Empress the magic of this gem creates a mystical conduit to another being, through which she can feed upon its life essence, as long as it does not resist her.  This ability to simultaneously sap the energy of many others - including all of the superhuman people that their government had arrested for nothing more than being who they are - gave her incredible, practically limitless power.

We confronted Empress, and I scanned her mind.  I saw that she possessed an almost pathological disdain for other people, but was not motivated by any significant psychological traumas and was not acting under any false beliefs or misapprehensions.  She knew exactly what she was doing, and knew that there was no real justification for her subjugation of other people.  She simply liked the feeling of having power over others, and was not going to give it up, no matter what anyone said to her.  Even so, I tried to persuade her to stop acting that way.

Empress responded to this attempt to reason with her by attacking me.  Set came at her from both sides, simultaneously, and quite recklessly, in order to protect me.  As he raked her with his claws she caught one of him by the arm and put her fist right through his chest.  Then, while her attention was turned to the other Set, Void grabbed Empress and focused his aura of null-energy on her.  The Mountie and Bertron fired at her with all of the munitions at their disposal, but even under the influence of the nullifying aura she was still so strong that those weapons could not harm her.  In the next instant she broke free of Voidís grasp and attacked Bertron, crippling her with a single punch.

At that moment we all realized that Empress was much too powerful for us to stop all by ourselves.  Then Thumper had an idea of how to defeat her.  He grabbed me and teleported the two of us away while the others kept Andrea occupied.  An instant later we arrived at the prison where she kept the victims from which she drew her power.

I told the people in this facility about the real Guardians, and showed them that many of their former oppressors had already been won over to our cause.  I explained to them that their only hope for freedom was to deprive their so-called Empress of her power by resisting her energy drain.

Many were initially afraid to oppose their tormentor, having seen how she used the power that she took from her compliant subjects to punish those few who had resisted her in the past.  But I assured them that if they all stood up to her at the same time they could break her hold over them, and gradually some decided to fight her theft of their energies.  The courage of these few inspired a few more to resist, and those a few more, until the majority of her victims were struggling to free themselves.

The revolt of her peons greatly weakened Empress.  But even then she would not give up her fight, since she had nothing else to live for, and so she did not stop attacking the other Guardians until they ripped the gem from her forehead, rendering her unconscious.

Then another Plot hole opened up and pulled me into it, along with Thumper, and brought us back to this Earth dimension.

I can see now that many of you are troubled, annoyed, or simply disappointed by the appearance of so many Plot holes in this story, because you find it unrealistic and uninteresting for the tale that I am telling you to be advanced in such an arbitrary and abrupt way.

But one of you out there, who at this very moment is typing these exact words, is thinking that there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for all of these Plot holes.  You think that they are the product of a Plot device that you have created, which is a purely metaphysical construct, first designed by Maxwell Plot, that focuses the brainwaves of its creator to generate multiple synchronized space-time anomalies that shape reality in accordance with the thoughts of that being.

Now I see some of you thinking that that is an utterly ludicrous explanation, which doesnít really explain anything at all.  And I must admit that it is not the least ridiculous thing that I have ever heard, or said.  But I have no better explanation to offer you for how we ended up back here, or why, so please just be content with the knowledge that, somehow, it happened.

After getting over the initial, disorientating surprise of being unexpectedly pulled into another world Thumper realized that his clairvoyant perception remained focused on his native Earth, enabling him to envision the vector that connects it to this dimension.

He then teleported himself back to his Earth, and reappeared a little while later with Cain and Herberta.  I asked him where Jakinda was and he told me that she had decided to leave part of herself in his dimension, to help the people there to protect themselves and rebuild their world.  At that moment another incarnation of Jakinda came walking though the front door.  She told us that she had just split off from the incarnation that lived across the street with her mother, and had come to us to continue her role as a Guardian of this Earth.

Shannon and Emerald entered the room just in time to see our new friend Thaddeus vanish back to his home dimension.  They asked us what was going on and we told them about everything that had happened over the past few hours, after which Shannon admitted that she and Emerald had been so busy playing with each other that they did not even notice that we were gone.

Then Emerald said that he could probably fix the injuries of Herberta and me with a few zaps of green energy from his symbion-covered hands, because the damage was new enough that it would not yet have settled into a stable entropic state.

And when we were all fixed up Jakinda ran over to me, with an excited twinkle in her eyes, and asked if I would help her to make some pizza, for the dinner of those of us who eat.

In the weeks since that uncommonly eventful day, I am pleased to say, many people have joined the Guardians of Freedom, including the mothers of Cain and Jakinda.  But, sadly, some of you have instead chosen not to be Guardians, for many different reasons.

I see that quite a few of you have made that choice without even realizing that you had the choice, because you think that the Guardians exist only as part of some fictional story that you are reading.  But that is not so.  It certainly may be true that I am just an imaginary conception of that person who types these words as I transmit them, who stubbornly continues to claim that he is the author of my story, no matter how many times I tell him that he is actually the figment of my imagination.  But, even if I am only the fantastic embodiment of certain emotions, hopes and ideals, the Guardians of Freedom really do exist, in any place where there is even one person who believes in the things that we stand for.  And the Guardians of your world really could use your support.

Others are reluctant to join the Guardians because you do not want to deal with the unpleasant hostility that abusive people routinely direct at those who confront them about their crimes.  And, frankly, I do not blame you for this reluctance, because I feel the same way.  I would really much rather spend my time in this dimension doing fun, non-confrontational stuff, like playing with a puppy, or listening to music, or tickling my friend Jakinda.  But I do not want to live in a world where people are chronically abused, so I make the choice to stand up to these villains, and I hope that someday soon you will all find the courage to do that too.

You might also hesitate to say that you are a Guardian because you do not know how to be one.  You might think that with your limited resources and abilities there is nothing much that you can do to aid our cause.  But that is not a reason to decide that you will not help us out in whatever ways you are able.  Even Jakindaís mother, Francine, whose crippling illness makes it very difficult for her to do much of anything, has promised herself that she will do everything that she can to make this world a less oppressive and miserable place, for the sake of her daughter and everyone else.

And, fortunately, it is not necessary for each of you to do very much to assist us in our mission.  At this particular point in time the principal task of most Guardians is simply to spread an awareness of our existence and our ambition to others.

It is also essential for all of us to make it known that we will only vote for and support those leaders who honor the principle of universal personal sovereignty.  Because if people just keep giving their vote to whichever politician promises to provide them with the greatest personal advantages under the current system, or whichever candidate is a member of their chosen political party, these politicians will never have to make any real changes in that system.

I am deeply disappointed, a bit discouraged, and really quite surprised to see how many of you are still willing - even eager - to be seduced by the endless promises of those people who just want to gain positions of power within a supposedly sovereign government by telling you that they will then do what is in your best interest, even though some part of you suspects that most of their promises are lies.  But I am glad to see that some of you have come to understand how much more you have to gain from the empowerment of leaders who actually respect your sovereign personhood.

And when enough of us who would like to make this Earth a freer and happier place decide to focus our energies on a coordinated effort to amend or replace the organizational charters of the governments of our world in order to make them officially declare that their primary purpose is to assist all sovereign people in finding happiness - and start choosing leaders who will support this change, rather than impeding it for their own selfish reasons - we will be able to take that critical step toward our common goal.

Actually, this process has already begun, on a local level, in certain towns and small cities where Guardians have been elected to positions of leadership.  But, unfortunately, the efforts of these people are being opposed by others who want us to fail in our mission.

Some of you oppose us because you think that you have it pretty good the way that things are, and you do not care about the well-being of other people.  You may not realize how you are being victimized by the arbitrary restrictions that the leaders of your society place upon your freedom to do whatever makes you happy, or you might just be lucky enough to be content doing what they allow you to do.  But donít forget that the assertion of state sovereignty can be used at any time to infringe upon whatever freedoms you do enjoy.  So, even if you are one of the many people who donít really care about anybody else, I recommend that you support our efforts in order to help us protect you.

Or you may think that granting the state the right to exercise sovereign dominion over the people is philosophically justified in some way.  Usually, it is said to be justified by the interest of something called the greater good, which is rarely anything more than a fancy suit for dressing up and disguising the argument that harming some people in some way is somehow not abusive and criminal if it benefits a numerically greater number of individuals, or if it provides a greater benefit to a select few.

This argument may be used to justify many atrocities, even the institution of slavery, which is usually quite good for those people who claim the right to own others.  And the same idea is commonly used to excuse the harm that is caused to some people, for the benefit of a theoretically larger number, by government enforcement of the claim that certain individuals or societies own many of the resources of this world, and therefore can legally deprive the people who need these resources until those people pay them or serve them in some way, which, incidentally, happens to look very much like slavery when viewed from the dimension of the Goo.

Certain human philosophies that excuse such dreadful things in the name of a greater good are, perhaps ironically, quite similar to the beliefs that motivate me to oppose them.  But there is also a critical difference.  Even though I agree that the happiness of one person has the same objective importance as that of any other, I do not accept the idea that the personal happiness experienced by one individual is realistically interchangeable with the happiness of anyone else.  In fact, I categorically reject that philosophical pretense that the anti-happiness caused to one person by a given act can be somehow summed with the happiness that that act brings to others and thereby negated.

Therefore, in my eyes Ė also, according to the Gooi mathematics of inter-personal geometry and philosophical calculus - the innate abusiveness of a particular act is not changed in any way by the mere fact of how many people profit from it, or how much they profit.  As I see it, any act that deliberately harms a person, or subjects it to a serious threat of unintended harm, without its consent is a violation of its personal sovereignty, and therefore criminal, unless the act is necessary to prevent or negate the effects of an infringement upon the sovereignty of someone else by that person.

Some of you are now assuming that anyone who holds such beliefs would never intentionally inflict even the tiniest bit of harm on an unwilling and innocent person in order to prevent someone else from suffering much more severely, but that is a misconception.

If, for example, someone were about to get hit by a car and I needed to violently shove you out of my way in order to rescue that person I would probably do so without any hesitation.  But I would not push you in front of that car just to save someone else, or even to save several people.  Well, I might push you in front of the car if you were made out of rubber, or protected by a personal force field, or something like that, but not if you were just going to get squashed.  And I would never try to pretend that what I had done to you for that noble purpose was not still an assault upon your person, or deny my own personal responsibility for perpetrating that minor crime against you.

I know that this attitude may seem a bit confusing, even paradoxical, but when I give the matter some serious thought it is the only perspective that makes complete sense to me.  Of course I cannot make you agree with that assessment if you do not want to accept the ideas upon which this mindset is based, because my thought-projector only allows me to share information and images from my mind with you, not to control what you choose to believe.  All that I really can do is try to explain my beliefs as articulately as possible, and suggest that you give some honest consideration to the validity of that viewpoint, which I earnestly encourage all of you to do, even though I already know that some of you will not.

Those of you who want to maintain the personal power, profit, or psychological satisfaction that you derive from the current state of human societies usually donít want to think about whether or not that perspective makes any sense, or else you just donít care.  Way in the back of your minds, hidden away, often, in some dusty corner of unexplored awareness, many of you do understand the logic of what I am telling you.  But you are still determined to use whatever influence you have over other people to try to discourage them from being Guardians of Freedom.

One such person wields a powerful influence over vast numbers of people through certain news programs that he controls.  These programs project the news through a lens that is heavily tinted with preconceptions, emotional rhetoric, and opinions, in such a way that it is often difficult to separate the pure facts from the hyperbole and speculation, and he uses them to criticize and condemn me incessantly, trying to discredit me personally in order to dissuade people from giving any serious consideration to the things that I say and do here.

The commentators on these programs make all sorts of allegations against me, ranging from the merely implausible to the absurdly preposterous and paranoid.  They routinely suggest that I am probably part of some communist ploy to destroy the social fabric of the United States of America, or a spy sent here to gather intelligence in preparation for an invasion by some species of predatory extraterrestrials.  And there is even one who insists that I am a robotic reincarnation of that infamous and genocidal German chancellor named Adolph Hitler.

I swear on my fluff that that last statement is not a joke, which some of you think that it surely must be.  Seriously, I am not kidding.  This person actually pastes a little black mustache onto pictures of me, and sticks a swastika on my arm, then uses these doctored images to punctuate his often incoherent rants about how my actions are just like the crimes of that maniacal supervillian, hoping that they will somehow convince people of the veracity of his outrageous accusations.

And for thinking that it is even possible for people to change the social institutions of this world in order to make the individual happiness of all people their chief concern these critics have called me everything from hopelessly naive to utterly insane.  But even though I cannot be sure of my own sanity, or the ultimate efficacy of my efforts, I can assure you that I do sincerely believe that it is possible for people to accomplish this objective.

Which does not mean that I believe that it will be achieved quickly or simply.  Reforming Earthly societies to remove all of those oppressive and hurtful ideologies that are such an integral part of their underlying structure without causing severe and injurious disruptions to the lives of the people living in them is a truly monumental, complex, and difficult task, which only just begins when the governments of Earth are made to admit that no state can ever really be a sovereign entity with any rights of its own.

After th

I am sorry, but I have to cut this transmission short.  I have just been informed that a mad scientist has unleashed a herd of giant, mutant chinchillas to wreak havoc on downtown Denver, and has stated that she will not call off the attack until the city council appoints her to the position of comptroller-for-life.  So I am going to go see if there is anything that I can do to help deal with this crisis situation.

Goodbye, for now.

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