I opened up the guide. At first I saw the familiar stuff- living room, dining room, pool, movie theater, information room, all that stuff in floor plan format. I turned past all the familiar rooms and found a section giving me all the details to the fifth floor down.
There's only one problem. This house has no fifth floor. There's no stairs leading down from the fourth floor, which is directly connected to an undersea cave. There is an elevator that I rarely use, but it only has the 1 to 4 floor buttons on it.. or does it now? They used similar instant-remodeling techniques when I was eight, and I'll never get over it- the viewscreen was changed in basic structure literally overnight.. but I don't think they even need to do it themselves for things like this. It was always here, they just had to press a button and open it up. The elevator, I decided, was definitely inviting me down.
Billy was looking at me completely perplexed. "You need a guide to your own house?", he said with some amusement behind his voice. I nodded. Since he couldn't laugh at me anymore, he just sighed and shook his head. Sarah, too, seemed a little confused.
They followed me into the elevator where, sure enough, there was a button marked 5. I pressed it, and I felt the low gravity of downward acceleration (around .9 g's, give or take a little) for five full seconds after we passed the fourth floor, then waited ten seconds before feeling the elevator push back up on me, and finally come to a stop. I did some physics in my head and realized that we were way, way, way down here, maybe 90 meters down, probably more. Nice and deep, so it will never be found- some of the items the guide said were on this floor were NOT to be seen by the masses in a really long time- or ever. In other words, this is Asskicking Stuff Central, one customer served. I love having power.
When the doors opened, Billy drew in his breath and Sarah went "Wooaah!". I, too, reacted to the vast sight of goodies, information, and assorted recreational shit galore. "It's a fucking underground mall....", continued Sarah. Basically, she was right. I walked from the elevator out onto the walkway, and looked down onto the sixth floor and out onto the floor where I was. It does look like a mall, filled with assorted tools, weapons, and games, but everything in it's free (the last Illuminatus to really need personal money died in 1850). Also, there's a few things you simply don't find in most malls, like the Disinformation Room, a full-scale library filled with The Secrets and more mundane information, and some Illuminated shit that would wreak serious havoc if given to the masses.
Billy had his mouth open real wide and looked like he was about to piss his pants. I'm not sure what it was- looking at this subterranean mall with all this kickass stuff in it, or just believing that it all belongs to one person. I think it's the latter- the public does know that most of the wealth is held in the hands of a few, and they do know that things like this are possible with enough cash, but very few have seen anything like this, Billy not being an exception. And he probably already figured I'd have a lot of kickass shit anyway.
I looked at the guide again to see what wasn't being shown at first glance. Underground pool, geothermal power plant (Of course, I thought- every island is at least somewhat volcanic.), Island Defense System (hope I don't need to use that any time soon...), and the Unreleased Technology room, which holds all the stuff we're not giving the masses until the future, when we're more ready for them to handle it. All of this stuff, of course, is going to be used by the next Inheritor, and the one after that, and I'm going to have to put even more stuff down here for their use. That's the only true obligation of the Dominator- to make sure the line continues in power as it always has. And it can't continue unless I keep order with the toughest bunch in the world, and so I'm obligated to make sure Illuminati don't start killing each other. By killing them, if need be.
Today, however, is my birthday, the day when most American boys and girls try to forget all obligations, and their school permitting, enjoy themselves. There is a video arcade down here- even though I've got all the games I ever wanted, I've never been to an actual arcade. That's mostly because Illuminati can't afford to get killed, and the Grand Inheritor is definitely sheltered. It's great in some ways, sucks big dick in others. Oh well. Now that I'm 10 and gaining power, I won't have to worry so much about that shelter shit. I do what I want now. I decided to check the place out, why the hell not? Besides, Billy's here, and I gotta see if he's as quick as I am for myself.
We walked twenty meters or so to the entrance into the place. It, of course, is designed to be as "real" as possible- just like the regular people have. separating an Illuminatus's environs completely from exterior reality has proved a fatal mistake in the past, and the effect is obvious: to get the player's mind off things, to surround and discombobulate with loud noises and flashing screens, and possibly to jar thinking a bit and get a mind out of whatever temporary rut it tell into- shock therapy for the senses. The sensory overload is complete- this place even smells funny. I wandered the aisles, looking for something familiar. Ahh, there we go- Mortal Kombat, a purveyor of hate, a reinforcement of violent-gratification philosophy, a subject of meaningless debate, a parent's worst nightmare (If they only knew!), a worthwhile entertainment for the masses, and a good way for bored young Illuminati with nothing better to do to spend their time. Pretty old, and sure I've got the sequels, but so what?
Of course I rule the console version completely- vastly superior genetics make sure of that. And of course it gets boring when you utterly stomp upon the corpse of 'SUPER HARD MODE' of damn near every game made. At least Billy's here, and maybe he can at least hit my guy- this is the first time I've actually played a second person at this too. Billy was staring at the panel just below the controls on it. Now what could he be.. ah, that's right, the coin slot. I don't need any coins, so why have slots for them? I needed only to touch the controls to familiarize myself with them.
"Billy," I said in my cockiest voice, "play your hardest. Win." He looked at me briefly, a bit surprised by the command. He of course would try like nothing else in the world mattered- that's one of the things about the implants. Maybe he'll even give me a challenge. I slammed the 1 and 2 player start buttons. He immediately chose Sub-Zero, for the most "even" fight possible I did too. I quickly launched into a series of hard-to-stop combos.
He was dodging and blocking them all. The computer, even in Very Hard mode, can't do that. I went after him a bit more aggressively... and then my guy fell down to the ground, blood spurting out of his face. I don't believe it. He actually hit me. I got a little frustrated just then, and.. a series of cheesy combos from him turned my guy into lunch meat. I stood there in shock. No one, but no one, beats the Grand Inheritor in anything, especially if he utterly and totally kicks a lot of ass in it. Billy, too, looked a little surprised at his luck, and really scared again for some reason.
The next round was disgraceful. I got a touch frustrated and aggressive and walked into several roundhouse kicks and a few ice balls, and the next thing I knew his color of Sub-Zero was ripping the spine out of mine, the head dangling from the top and little drops of blood plopping from it. I had lost. To normal people, that's no big deal- to me, who hasn't lost at this ever, period, it was a disaster. Looks like my question about identical speed and reflexes is answered. I swore and kicked the machine. That's one thing about being in my position- you sure as hell aren't used to losing. I guess it's the implants- when you tell the servants to do something, they are going to do it. Oh well. I don't believe in omens. Getting your ass kicked by your clone: bad juju. But I learned one important thing- he is like me, if he has any advantage in any setting anywhere, he's going to press it. Good. That'll come in handy if I ever have to delegate something large to him sometime in the future.
Right next to the arcade was something labeled by the guide as Weapons Center. We went in, and inside, on layers of thick metal racks, it looked as if at least one of every type of modern hand-held weapon known to man (and some unknown!) were in here, including what seemed to be mini-nukes and something that looked like a laser weapon labeled Micro-2025. I recognized some of the more mundane stuff, the AK-47s and the bazookas, more easily- I watch as many good movies as any normal. To hold as much as it did it was absolutely enormous, spanning both floors and a very large volume, almost as large as the central part of the underground area. It was amazing, even to me- if I ever wanted to blow something up, this would be a great place to get the stuff to do it with. Considering the obvious danger in having something like this down here, I'm not sure why they put it in. I could hear Billy breathing hard again. I looked back at him and his mouth was wide open, like he was going to swallow a cow. "Jesus fucking christ..." he whispered. Sarah had her eyes wide open and wasn't breathing much at all, looking at the implements with their vast destructive potential, considering how to use them, imagining her fingers in the trigger slots. They were powerful indeed- the racks looked like Saddam Hussein's dream basement. And one of the things Daddy told me when I was much, much younger was that Illuminati never keep a gun anything other than fully loaded. I realized that one of these days, I'm going to have to learn how to use these things- all Illuminati are supposed to be able to learn even the trivial- and people will fear me much more when I have a powerful weapon in my hand. It's a bitch, of course, but you get used to it. But not today. Today, I relax and play with Billy.
I walked out of there, and showed them the other stuff. The pool was, to my understanding, like the ones the masses have- only mine is made from 100% pure water, with nothing else in it whatsoever- just a 15x15x10 meter volume of H2O. The future technology room, of course, is only a small sample. The stuff in there was obviously merely the final product- it takes labor, resources, and time to make anything, and when you're making futuristic stuff in the utmost secrecy, it adds another small problem. But in the end, all that cool stuff gets to me anyway- I am, after all, the Grand Inheritor. Diagrams for a car to come out in 2025 (collision detection and reaction systems? Somebody should lower the government's emphasis on safe driving a bit before this came out- wouldn't want it to appear as heavy-handed as it really is...), laid out on the front table, were one of the first things that caught my eye. Another book was laid out on the table. "Personal solar-based power system- 2035", it read, giving details of people wearing solar panels on their person. This was accompanied by diagrams for houses and (ordinary, gas-burning) cars having similar features, slanted for release dates in the next ten and fifteen years. I thought of the potential problems this might cause, the first concern being the color- all solar panels are black, and in normal land, black clothing is usually associated with darkness, Satan, evil, heavy metal, etc. To make this technology as widely used as we'd like and prevent reactions, I'd need to pull some strings to dissolve that association. Of course, we'd get a big kick out of that- in Illuminated organization, only servants wear black. Yeesh. My first day as a true Illuminatus, and I'm already thinking about this stuff like Daddy said I'd have to. Sure, I've solved problems before, but they were laid out for me in advance, and Daddy's biggest problem with them was me knowing I had a problem to begin with- instead of just figuring out that I did. Well, now the problems are going to come to me. Let them.
Billy was gawking over something else, and I went over to look. "Control Devices", the cover read. He had opened it up, and it contained details for subliminal message devices (along with semi-explicit instructions on their use), implanted homing beacons, chemical balance checkers and a whole lot of other shit, some of which even I didn't understand the purpose of until I read carefully. Sarah was looking around the room with a blank expression on her face. She's seen similar, and used such items before. And all of the stuff in here is just the paper copies, the hard stuff of the information more easily available by computer.
Billy suddenly turned around and pointed at me, his right first finger vibrating slightly with the rest of his hand. "You're the one who's behind this?! Barney, the Power Rangers, the fake-ass morals, the schools, the lies, the controlling.... it's YOU, isn't it?!", he shouted in an accusatory voice. It appears he was already somewhat Illuminated before he got here, although he wasn't sure who was controlling what, and he definitely didn't understand what the purpose was. It happens with the smarter people- they are able to grasp some parts of the way things really are, and many have ideas that a group is behind it, some of them even knowing us by name. And this Inheritor clone has recognized two of the major child mind control programs in his country of origin, with a dim understanding as to what they are. Since he's one of us now, he'll eventually get to learn just what's going on with them.
"Not quite.", I told him. "I'm just starting to get complete control today. All of that crap you talked about was, yeah, produced by the Illuminati and fed to the masses to keep them sated and complacent. I wasn't the one doing it." He looked shocked but not for long- he's had more real surprises today than he's probably had in his entire life, and he looked to be getting used to it.
We went into the library, in which every old book (again on giant metallic shelves) was completely laminated- but the books' information, and so many other things, were on the enormous mainframe (more like a hard drive cluster with a terminal on it) at the center of the room. Billy's expression and thought processes changed from total fear to sheer wonder; he obviously has some idea of how much a modern computer of that size can hold. Finally. Scared people are almost impossible to impart with information- they instinctively reject it. And even with implants, it's not possible to tell someone not to be scared and expect them to listen- especially when, in this case, their entire previous life, belief sets, and general assumptions were turned upside down.
I took Billy and Sarah back up the long elevator, to the couch; it was time to tell Billy a little more than the basics, preferably without blowing his rationale or panicking his emotions.
Billy might have been filled with wonder, but he was still confused as fuck. Good. Now he can actually listen to what he's going to have to know; the gritty details, the ugly parts, the stuff he doesn't want to hear. I can empathize with him; it comes with the job. No Illuminatus has gotten anywhere not understanding his people. I sat down and told him to sit down next to me again. When he did, he looked into my eyes and he was breathing somewhat deeply, not shallow and quick anymore.
One big problem with being an Illuminatus is you really, totally, absolutely need to watch what you say, especially with implanted servants- one slip and you're dead meat. Hash browns. Kaput. The seeming idyllicism of Illuminated life can be turned into flame-cored anarchy in a fraction of a second, such are the wonders of technology. Even if you're not giving direct commands, giving anyone the wrong idea about what you want can produce nasty results. Although I've never actually made that mistake, it still looms as the top threat to my health and safety.
"Billy," I asked him, "where do you think you are?" Best to start with a question. Besides, I'm not sure if he still thinks he's dreaming. And I'm damn glad he has to tell me the truth.
He thought on the subject, unsure how to answer. Finally he said what he did know; he was in a big mansion on an island somewhere. Specific enough- planetary position means very, very little to Illuminati of the twentieth century. He didn't say anything at all after that. His brain was obviously burning with signals, wondering what to do. Sarah watched us silently- I didn't want to have to tell her to remain silent, because that would pump up Billy's already overexerted mental blocks, fear, and total denial of his environment in general when he figured I was going to try to affect his cerebral center once more. Even after years of development, fucking implants still can't do that without causing insanity. Sarah's smart, though. She knows what I'm doing, sometimes what I'm thinking.
Now, how do I put this in terms of maximum tolerability without resorting to double-talk? Oh, fuck it- he's as smart as I am, and he'll translate it back to what it really means anyway. "Billy, you realize you're going to be my servant, if you didn't understand it the first time."
"Yeah, oh shit." was all he said, in a completely neutral tone, devoid of thought or emotion.
I felt powerful right about then. I don't mean my usual state of confidence and nobility- I mean sheer, utter, unadulterated power. Which is, after all, what I have. For all practical purposes, I am God. Anyone attempting to oppose me is eliminated. I tried to do my job and put this in some perspective, prevent total egomania (and thus a nasty, hard fall which Daddy's given me examples of), but when I did that, I got even higher on authority, more drunk with power. It's like having a genie who gives infinite wishes- not like I have too much to wish for. Immortality? Check. Total world domination? Check. The ability, both personal and with my forces, to kick anyone's ass I want to get kicked? Check. It's the thrill of knowing that literally billions of people would gladly have all their limbs cut off if they could only bask in this power, give the commands, feel the pleasure. They'd do the job themselves, with a hacksaw in their teeth, if they could recognize it for what it is and were sure they'd get it. I grinned at the prospect of sending out mail-order Illumination at the cost of a few measly body parts- something I wouldn't actually do, of course, but an entertaining idea nonetheless.
Of course, power doesn't really exist anyway. Usually, it's just mental manipulation, mind games of a sort. Pavlovian control mechanisms almost always work. Give the people a god and they'll fear Him; an idol and they'll worship it; a king, a pope, a president, and they will revere him and call him sacred. Of course, it all starts in the home. Skilled manipulators can and do start patriarchal chains of control, which each successive generation trying to reach the "level" their parents had, or higher. (They try this through servility and bowing down to some godhead or another. Ironic, isn't it? Dance you puppets.)
But this isn't the usual. Science has conquered the functions of the brain, once mysterious, now understood. Technology has finally found a way to exploit it all, in our interests of course. The entire concept of self-determination has been effectively scrapped. The only problem is implementing it on the general population without causing alarm- this nasty little item usually proves to be a real bitch for most Illuminated maneuvers. Of course, implanted servants are available to everyone who knows the real secrets, who, despite huge amounts of bullshit published on us, are very few. (Surprise, surprise.) Enter Billy. I had almost emerged from my powertrip back into the real world when my well-developed sense of objectivity spoke up. I hate that particular voice- "normal" ten year olds aren't supposed to have it (then again, normal ten year olds can't speak with an echo effect)- but it's saved my ass from fucking up several times.
'Hey, Howie!', it said in a grating voice reminiscent of 1920's detective stories, which I think is definitely appropriate- nasty, cutting, and to the point. 'Smooth move, buddy! You get him here, his brain is hamburger, then you throw on the super-shock insanity treatment! No fucking wonder he's near-catatonic!!' He was, too. He was looking at me with a combination of fear and wonder that put even me at some unease. 'Look, How. I don't know what the hell you were thinking, doing all that shit before you did this- I mean, it is your birthday and all, but he's realllllly fucked up. At least you cracked his brain open for a bit.' I don't hate this voice because of its tone or inflection, I hate it because it's usually right. I'd been a fool. This isn't the first time I've gotten ahead of myself (in more ways than one, ooohh mighty Inheritor), and most certainly not the last. I was expecting him to be more like Sarah, shocked and somewhat worried at first, but then quickly adjusting to his new life. Sarah's a born servant, very literally. I'd totally forgotten about what his DNA entailed. It's precisely the same as that used to create the controller of the world. I was in the presence of something I've never had- a genetic and intellectual equal. The thought chilled my blood about twenty degrees and flung me right off my powertrip mood. My anxiety and brain electricity turned to cold, calculated Illuminated plotting.
It had taken me about five seconds to think all that. Billy was still looking up at me, confused, his mind blank, open, and receptive from the insta-stress he's been given, the super fast change in lifestyle, and the fantastic wonders which I casually showed him. 'Start with the POSITIVES, Howard!", said the voice of objectivity. First impressions don't mean everything all the time, but they do mean a hell of a lot, on the personal or societal level. Not like it's absolutely fatal or reduces their efficiency, but having servants who hate your guts and would gladly rip them out makes the razor edge of 'the wrong words' ten times thinner. And when you don't grow old, dying young is a sick joke.
I spent a second meditating on the subject before all sorts of happy things filled my mind. Mentioning parents... he'll flip, he still thinks they were his... immortality... he wouldn't believe it... being close to the Grand Inheritor- definitely happy and nice, but he'll freak... aha!
"Billy," I told him smiling, "you'll never have to go to school again, ever!"
"YAYYYYYYYYYY!!", he shouted with glee, grinning like a village idiot. Apparently I found the right button. He then started to mumble to himself, bend over a bit, and shake his head somewhat. Clearing his thoughts, probably. He's almost certainly going to be doing a lot of that.
"Billy, you must realize I didn't bring you here to hurt you.", I told him in the most reassuring voice I could muster. Of course, I didn't bring him here caring about any pain or pleasure on his part, just his usefulness- I'm not willing to sacrifice something as high-priced and rare as an implanted servant, but if he really needs to bite it for some reason, he's gone. Of course, I left that tacit. His freedom illusion will be broken soon enough, but his security should seem to him (and is) pretty much stable.
He just looked at me blankly like that topped the list of the most blatant lies in the world. Like a true Illuminatus should, I was seeing this from every point of view at once, and I got the idea. He'd been brought up in America, a place where false freedom is the national religion and pretending to be free of external obligations is the order of the day. Any attack so face-forward and obvious would most certainly lay waste to his sensibilities and worldview cohesion, which it did. "Turning his world upside-down" was a poor understatement. It would have been less hard on him had he been less intelligent- but he's as smart as I am and almost certainly able to consider all of the ramifications of his implantation at once. Ack. To put it in layman's terms, he better get used to it or he's mindfucked (he's already mindfucked... I just gotta make sure the whole damn thing doesn't go to pot). And I'll need that mind of his. Even America's military admits that stupid people are useless nowadays.
Just then, the central viewscreen buzzed for the second time today. What does Daddy want now? Oh well, it's my tenth birthday- it's probably something good.