Chapter 15: And then there were the Drachma.


 

The Drachma were a relatively recent group that were convinced they had resuscitated an ancient order of assassins. They were constantly in search of new converts, but most of them were uninterested in killing people, more just looking for a club to belong to. They often killed small animals near town, and were organized enough to have a frightening presence to any of the other breeds of vagrants. They, in fact were not homeless, but lived very ordinary lives on the surface. They lived scattered throughout the local towns, and kept few close personal friends. At night, they would travel by foot through the darkness to a pre-disclosed area, and gather, in dark hoods. They would travel quietly in a pack, a lone pale blue light shining the way through the foothills, each shrouded from the rest, but knowing who was there. They did not act for the good of their towns, or for a mutually evil demon, they searched the ground looking for validation of their beliefs.

These people lived throughout the town, but usually did not work. Many seemed to be from distant locations, but had barely distinguishable accents. They had learned to live the minnesotan life well. They ate carrots and oil, avoided the trailer park, drank heavily, and could make passable conversation about the Twins. They managed to keep a social presence, and always had a story about having an office job in a nameless building in the next town, or a thankless factory job doing something so foul that he was legally bound to not talk about the company, and they had a brother in law sued into homelessness because he said the wrong thing when he was drunk at the bar with some Minnesotans. People usually didnt ask questions after that.

They met anonymously, but were anything but homogenous. Many of them had their own mental problems, albeit to a more minor degree. Almost unanimously they had been neglected children of slightly below average intelligence. They had traumatic childhoods, and slight disorders that lead to paranoia. In a few cases, they were of normal mental health, but had spent their lives in the exclusive company of paranoiacs, and had internalized the thought process to be a reasonable similitude of a genuine paranoid. Universally, they had followed conspiracy theories, and the lost knowledge of the old world.

The classic conpiratist would live in the most convenient situation, anything stable and accommodating. Not having the mettle of the other tribes of the insane, they were those with the societal issues, but without unforunate situations.

The most helpless would just sit there, introspective, developing incoherent rants on the state of the worlds anger against their minds, the possibilities open to everyone if they were just capable of listening. The tragedy is that their passion outweighed theier intelligence by more than a marginal sum, and they were completely incapable of understanding the history and science necessary to pursue the only passion they were capable of understanding.

Even more tragic were those who were less crazy, but dedicated to political and social conspiracies. They could spend their time researching media history, attempting aggressively angry interrogation of people who believed in these conspiracies. These were the people who attacked astronauts for claiming they lived on the moon because they had been to the nasa archives. They had compiled a scrapbook of pictures of everyone who had claimed to be a witness to the kennedy assassination that they could locate. The most harmless were fucking trekkies.

In this modern age, such people are well exposed to technology, and are more than comfortable with finding and digging through information that is considered “taboo” by the “mainstream”. Normal people satiate themselves with porn. Paranoiacs find an anonymous community of people who think like them. They no longer need extensive outside research, or obsessive digging of clues. The Paranoiacs can circulate and accumulate their own research, one can do the research and rely on the many for distribution.

But amongs such societies built on contempt of authority, the house ridden, internet addicted conspiracy nuts began to distrust the authority of the conspiracy underground. All the details of the current administration, all of its secrets were posted anonymously, publicly.

Anonymous users began to keep track of each other. The forums became filled with codewords. Websites sprang up with paranoiacs keeping track of words, phrases and sources of information. Smaller groups of the anonymous would build analysis machines to determine the veracity of a piece of information.

Most conspiracy theory lives on speculation and a general distrust of authority or of accepting the blessing of mass communication, but they can usually get their fill chewing on obvious conspiracies: JFK, moons dulling razors, or even the idea that werewolves are just an invention of the media.

The realism of the situation is that people who devote their time to tracking down nonexistent information in a place where it could not be found is that they are often passably technical, but rarely have the skills to effectively create an algorithm that could determine the truth of an arbitrary piece of information. In fact, if they had any kind of background in any of this shit they would know that Godel proved a much stronger theorem in a way that is much more clever than any of this conspiracy bullshit.

But logic and reason will never with with the Paranoiacs, if they have a computer program to tell you if a piece of conspiracy evidence is true or not, they will fucking believe it. Especially if its on the internet and written by a friend of theirs.

The algorithms were, while scrapped together and completely wrong, quite clever. They counted the words, looked for particular phrases. They had even built in common misspellings of people deemed untrusted by a common vote, and tracked relationships between phrases used in pieces of information that had been “confirmed”.

So from the primary, anonymous, public forums that had sprung up on the internet, a small group of people had set up an undernet of “verifiable” information. They immediately became the vanguard of the new conspiracy underground of the internet.

Their powerful relationships based off of “proved” factoids, spread quickly within the Paranoiacs community and became a common portal Well produced pieces of information would bubble up to the common conversations, curious people would stumble upon the undernet, and consider it an interesting filter.

The popularity of the undernet forced them into consolidation, they began to apply their analysis to many more streams of media and became a major conduit of information, and was a trusted indicator of the truth of any piece of media.

And during this transformation, another group split away. They began to publish the truth of the undernet. That it was based on the moderators personal opionions, that there was no truth in the objectivity. The controllers decided who was a trusted source and the veracity of any idividual claim could be changed at will. The truth for the millions who had rebelled was cast beyond them.

Not surprisingly, nothing changed, the reality that the whole new underground was just a simple company trying to cater to what people wanted to hear, but needing to take advertising money to make it happen suddenly became a plain explanation for something with such a morose history. The people who had never followed the undernet did not notice, the people who had came to accept that it was another channel of bullshit.

Not the Drachma.

The Drachma were the most avid and least trusting of the Paranoiacs. Through each iteration of the popularization of the conspiracies, they lost their golden martyrs: mary magdeline, the super kennedy brothers, brothers Malcolm and Martin. They even had to endure a crock of shit ‘da vinci code’ knock off starring Nicholas Cage.

These people thought they knew suffering.

They had lost their sainted faces on mars to better photography, alien autopsies were a hoax, and politics and national affairs were so criminal, it wasnt worth the time it took to concoct conspiracy theories.

Not the Drachma.

They knew the truth. They knew that all of the turbulence was just engineering disasters to make people stop paying attention to the details. They knew that things were passing under their nose.

They knew they werent getting the whole story. They looked down from the world of chaos and in each others company found that they could create and pick at details where no one was looking. They eschewed Hollywood details, and saw politically sponsored events as diversions.

As each Paranoiac moved away from the spotlight of the undernet, they moved away from posting anonymously and began communicating directly, over what they could see as private channel. The developed a caste system of people who were simply aware of their private network, and the people who ran it explicitly. Not only did they have to know a member personally, they were bound by a piece of text and a checkbox on the internet, so it was totally secure. Also, they had to bring a physical piece of proof of the conspiracy, and it couldn’t be any pariticular detail that had been featured on the undernet, because everyone knew that shit wasnt true.

On the new sub-undernet, the inner-circle began to construct the new theories. The theories of the forgotten. They were devoid of politics, culture, celebrity. They were irrelevant to the broken relevance detector. In the secure chatrooms, and conglomerations of dark psyches a new history emerged, a different ethos.

Bereft of reference, each new member brought an incoherent piece of unrecorded history to the meeting. In order t not be accused of being from the government or media, the information had to be unverifiable, but had to explain the arbitrariness of ordinary life.

Shoes are a conspiracy to make us walk to the phone booth.

Supermarkets are “natures little brooms”!

This is dirt from the movie soundstage where Hitler was shot!

The community became inpenetrable, and each member a true believer and so paranoid they would only bring in another anonymous face, if they met someone in passing who was equally passionate with irrlevant information but lacked an anonymous community voice. They could work together, and then cease meeting each other in person because they were on to the big secret: they were piecing together the uncut jigsaw puzzle. If any one of them were identifiable, they could all be at risk, so they could not have contact.

As the circle grew, they only knew one thing. Each one of them had a piece of the puzzle, that they couldnt tell anyone about.

Now when I say “they”, I dont mean that this is some centuries old clan, I mean this is a group of paranoid motherfuckers who got on the internet in the last 10 years (immediately post-AOL, to date this). Following the meltdown of their hallowed ground into the Web 2.0, or whatever the fuck they are calling it these days, this was a small group of disenchanted nerds, who had lived in such a self-absorbed state, of enabling relatives telling them how smart they were, that they were certain they had stumbled onto the secrets of the ages.

The wisdom was finding the knowledge no one knew. Their lives were defined entirely by social relationships on machines and through their opinions, so the fact the that their evidence was just fabrication was meaningless. They were smart, they were smart enough to find their way into the elite underground. They were smart enough to add their piece to the intricate fabrication.

Like all the others, they found acceptance. A narrow, distrusting society formed. The inner circle pieced together each piece of information, and each new member was only given shards of the outer fabrication.

Initiation was a paranoid puzzle. Once the new member presented their piece of information to the council of the inner circle, they conferred the great fabrication, recited a few minor details, and asked the initiate for their interpretation.

Before the Inner Circle had formed, each had met virtually, and naturally discussed the appearance of the inner circle at future initiations for their first meeting. They had decided on a very menacing red-lined black cloak. The prototypes were made of faux-fur, but the newly formed inner-circle had managed menacingly soft satin for their cloaks and found a great deal on custom fantasy wear on the internet.

The inner circle then set their membership policies, and decided that the veracity of claims should be determined by the framework they had set based on initiation rituals and menacing cloaks. Instead of an flawed computer algorithm controlled by biased people, they would be the arbiters of style, grace, and knowledge. They built their own history of modern times, free of the tabloids and political debauchery, based entirely on their own unpopular internet opinion.

In a club where the only way to join is to make up a story and convince them that it fits into their paranoid fantasy without actually knowing what the fantasy is, and bullshitting off of contradictory data, the members tend to be erratic.

Some are just good speakers, they are paranoid and less concerned about the details of the Great Conspiracy, but more interested in convincing other people to believe whatever the fuck he says. These people are obnoxious and ineffective.

Others are virtually mute, on and off-line, they can produce mountains of pictures and text related to the subject, but write minimally and expect that people will read their mountain of evidence without knowing what the fuck they are talking about to begin with.

Some are just schizophrenics with computers.

The inner circle worked constantly, never thinking it strange that they all lived in the same geographic region, or even that they had all met on regional channels.

“Great minds think alike, I guess”

Indeed.

They carefully constructed an intricate theory, like boys in a clubhouse, except they were all total fucking losers living in their moms basement and acting like boys in a clubhouse thinking that they had discovered the secrets of alience, the assassination of the flying kennedy brothers, and if the fucking moon landing actually fucking happened.

This was a seriously hardcore grown mens club about sharing secrets.

Just think of that next time some starts with some da vinci code shit at a party.

Through trial and error initiation, they began to piece together a tapestry of understanding. Their fabrication of the inner circle grew. It spread dimensions and became a sphere of fabrication. Each member who was vierified was in the state of Minnesota. They learned quikly by meeting at service stations who could be trusted. If someone messaged them from out of the state, they knew they could be tried on federal charges.

That level of state trust, combined with the rampant police corruption in Minnesota, drew more people into the Minnesotan sub-internet, and closer to the inner circle.

As their presence grew, the distrustful sensibilities began to take over. They had managed to stake their presence as being firmly in Minnesota, but the inner circle began to track their own trusted members. They looked at each others histories, but got bored because they all had only lived with their moms their whole fucking life.

That could not possibly stop the inner circle of a conspiracy group that insisted on unverifiability. They posed passive aggressive questions, they eyed each other conspicuously. They split into smaller groups of more trusted friends and gossiped amongst each other about the unrest each one was causing. Eventually, it was decided that their differences were small, but their paranoia went right to the fucking bone, and that this is just what the government, media, church, baby boomers, corporate fatcats, politicians, fake hippies and punk rockers want: Compromise.

After much discussion, they realized that “their disdain for each other personally was that they had to see each other in flourescent lights because flourescent lights is all the the energy department has to give us because they are more expensive and they need to burn the cold war energy, so they send it to minnesota, where we they sent each other erroneous internet messages thinking that it was part of the larger culture, but really, the government was running experiments on the midwest in order to test not only their electrical, but computer competancy and also to see if they could grow properly surrounded by electricity, corn, and also the technology that the rebel type technology alliance like the good people of this group, and also the insight of everyone who helped make this thing happen, at least along the lines of us, the inner circle, so we looked at the map and are looking at some place where we should investigate, together we represent the vanguard against the conspiracy, so it only makes sense that the government would stay camped out in this tiny enclave…COURAGE FALLS!”

Yes, Minnesota was the only place the the conspiracy could be happening, because that is where all the members of the inner circle were from, and they had excluded everyone else, so there was no reason why it wouldnt be. They had build the Great Fabrication, but it was long on listless oration, short on local geographic details. They managed to agree with each other that everything should be agreed upon, and once they all realized they were Minnesotan, they had an anonymous survey of their location.

Courage Falls was conspicuously absent from the location map. The inner circle, clothed in their awesome satin robes, looked down at the table with the map, and nodded in silent agreement. The rest of the Minnesota Paranoiacs would join them in searching for the clues of the Great Deception that they could fight with the Great Fabrication.

As the increasingly introspective group tried to keep their protocol, they jerked around in awkward gestures trying to find the way that they should determine their name.

At that moment, the initiation bell rang. Each of the inner circle rose their heads, eyes still leveled with the floor, trying not to look at each other, even though they were in cut-offs and T-shirts when they met at the Minneapolis sci-fi-con, and discussed the robes they would wear at future meetings.

They ushered out into the clearing behind their meeting place. A wild-eyed nervous scruffy man stood there, staring and sweating profusely.

The Inner Circle gathered around their podii, and pulled their hoods down to hide their faces.

The Arbiter spoke: “You know of the Circle of Fabrication?”

The Man responded: “I know of more than that.”

That was the typical response of the internet dork who showed up.

The Arbiter thusly spaketh: “Give it here,”

“Your rituals were calculated. The environments that let each of you fabricate your contributions were merely constructions of the great one to create you all.” thathly splaked the scrufferhuffenhausen.

“And your … knowledge is?”

“The knowledge is that your Fabrication is more convincing than anything I could say, and to call you by name would only make you all act in deception. You are the refuse of the unbelieved, your reality is collectively determined by each others less than sane opinion. I have been following you all for some time. Dont you recognize me? Maybe you will. Maybe I look like you. Do you remember what you look like under those cloaks? Do you even remember what you are doing? You shouldnt.

“You should feel good about that. I can’t say that I planned that, and you have no reason to believe me. All I say is that you have left the deceit of society, and again left the further deciet of that revolution. Now you sit here, within your own creator, with your own Arbiter, deciding the truth, and who is wothy of knowledge of your own Fabrication, yet you still wonder.

“You still wonder, what it is…in Courage Falls, Minnesota.”

The inner circle stood aghast at their podiums, their mommas houses suddenly echoing, miles away. Their purpose and pretense stripped by a stranger and their power and self-importance was shown in its own insignificance. They only had relevance to people that they could convince that they were important, and they had systematically avoided talking to anyone that was too accpting.

They were a bunch of crazy basement internet mamas boys, and this fucker had their number.

“How did you know about Courage Falls?” the Arbiter asked.

“I already said I was watching you. I already said you are the Drachma. Are you unaware of the implications of that?”

The inner circle collectivly raised their heads and uttered a low tone,

“Excellent Petition,” the Arbiter said, “We are the Drachma, welcome aboard.”

“AWESOME!” said the wild-eyed man.

It really was just a stupid fucking club.

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