A PLAY by Mateus Domingos ///

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Ark___________Lead Programmer

Motoko________Programmer

Noh___________Programmer

Clu___________Programmer

Mama Ghede____Programmer

Dross_________NEU Representative, former developer

Rom___________Apprentice to Dross. (android)

Ira___________Old Programmer

Gaia__________AI programmer

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ACT ONE__________

Scene 1:Nowhere

ARK. [kneeling] Here I seek that which I was once told I missed. Here. we, carve out our own satisfaction from long starvation. We have awakened. We are the awake. We are those. We reached this place beyond. We became the future so quickly. Uncontrollably. No single decision.

The network assimilated itself with nature. Ancient religions returned. The sun was worshipped.

I kneel at the grave of my forebears. Alone and afraid. I am the key to this glorious new age. But if it wasn’t me they’d find someone else soon enough.

Entertainment is sterile.

We are in a state of peace. Our voice has not yet gathered words. And what peace it is. Life balanced by calculated perpetual war, from which nothing changes.

We party still as if it’s the last night on earth. We learnt that young.

Ours is a strange freedom. Of liberty and expression. Satisfaction... Health. I close my eyes to see thee. Electric dreams. Anti-lag shots.

Scene 2:Bar

ARK. Who are you?

M. I'm nobody.

Scene 3:Nowhere

ARK. Do you remember when you first sat at a computer? Those first interactions... Men fall to earth. Debussy said that his was the century of the airplane, and as such it required it’s own form of music. We’ve entered a new time now. We deserve our own song, but our voices fail. We are so many placated faces in front of glowing screens.

Existence is timeless... And what I mean is, that Debussy was right about the need for a new form, for specific centuries and people. But, the meaning is the same. It’s just the ability to communicate that matters. That is what we have lost. Almost entirely. I am a programmer. People like me are in a unique position now as those who can communicate with the computers, with A.I on their own terms, and as such are seen as mystics. That’s fine by me. But I know we’ll be the people severed first if peoples fear takes hold. If we continue to be greedy.

The problem was in building systems to an agreed moral code, to human rights. The system is perfect, but we are so far from this.

ACT TWO__________

Scene 1:Apartment

-->ARK, NOH, MOTOKO and CLU are gathered. GHEDE is within the room.

ARK. It’s happening. Noh, you know the spec, get it together. Motoko, Clu, sit tight. Mama?

GHEDE. Go ahead.

ARK. Take us offline. Full wipe.

NOH. [sighs]

GHEDE. Beginning sequence.

ARK. Mama, no traces. And we'll need new IDs. Load profiles.

{Data moves. Presence becomes non-presence. Movement.}

NOH. I need a smoke.

MO-KO. Stay.

NOH. I'll be on the roof.

[Exeunt NOH

ARK. Mama, leave Noh in the system until he comes back. Make the download when he’s off grid.

GHEDE. Of course.

ARK. We go tomorrow. Get some rest, get set up.

GHEDE. Ark, compiled.

ARK. Thanks, mama. Like old times, Motoko. Clu, keep up, you’ll be fine.

[Exeunt ARK

Scene 2:Rooftop

-->NOH is smoking and making a call.

NOH. It's the usual. Look, I’m not going to make it tonight. I should go anyway. Open line etc.

[Enter ARK

NOH. Fuck, Ark, you spooked me.

ARK. You ok, Noh?

NOH. Yeah. That was the guy about the kit. I’m going to go and check it out later. I’ve used him before, it should be fine. He knows how to keep his mouth shut.

ARK. Good. Discretion’s a big deal to these clients.

NOH. Clu and Motoko still downstairs?

ARK. 'Far as I know.

-->NOH offers ARK a cigarette. He declines. NOH lights another for himself.

NOH. Beautiful night.

ARK. Noh, you think I made the right call with this?

NOH. Ark, we only get a call like this from a fucking solid record. You always called it before. Personally I don’t like that we interface through that hack Dross, but I’m in. I’m all in.

ARK. You ever think back to when we started, just you, Motoko and me.

NOH. Pre-GCC. Yeah I think about that. The plays were easy. We were fighting a cause.

ARK. The cause is what this is all about Noh. It’s a chance.

NOH. Money changed man.

ARK. I never thought we'd last so long.

NOH. It was inevitable. I always thought you and Motoko would patch things up though.

ARK. She's got Clu now. As long as you still love me>

NOH. We all love you Ark. I love you more than this night. More than this job. More than the fucking NEU. shouting, Lover, brother... hold me.

-->ARK and NOH embrace.

ARK. [to self] And yet it clings like chains, and feeling chained I fear thee.

-->They part.

NOH. You make the planets, stars, moon and sun revolve. Go!

[Exeunt ARK

-->NOH watches the city sprawl.

{Light}

{Speed}

{Dancing}

{Hive}

Scene 3:Network

{GAIA breathes.}

{Chimes echo.}

{Whispers.}

GAIA. The time draws near. Man makes murmurs. Hope is within the system.

Scene 4:Bathroom

-->CLU and MOTOKO shower together.

Scene 5:Street

-->ARK is walking.

ARK. [to self] The hum of the city -of these people... Our song. And mostly we are deaf...

GHEDE. Ark. Do you read me?

ARK. As always, go ahead.

GHEDE. Noh declined the download.

ARK. Ok, I'll talk to him.

GHEDE. Good. Get a coffee, you look like shit.

-->ARK ends the transmission.

{Permanent electrocution.}

{The perpetual new.}

{A shivering hunger and bolemic consumption.}

{The only free men are the illiterate.}

{The streets howl.}

Scene 6:Diner

-->ARK sits in a booth and orders coffee.

-->The coffee arrives, magical vessel. Travelling, careening, through space to reach the white plastic table top. All of space and time. The recomposition of billions of particles.

ARK. [to self] In the days before, they say there was a man so rich he swam in a lake of coffee, and then one day he drowned... My sweet love for thee, bitter warmth, liquid dream...

[Enter DROSS

DROSS. [sitting] No pie with that?

ARK. Dross.

-->Waitress approaches.

DROSS. A cup of joe and a slice of pie my dear... You don’t mind if I join you do you Ark? Of all the shitholes, eh? A real coincidence. But you know, I’m glad I bumped into you to be honest. I had hoped we might interface before tomorrow... you see, word travels, Ark. I’ve heard murmers, rumours, if you will...

ARK. ...

-->Dross lays a hand on Ark’s wrist and squeezes gently. His coffee and pie arrives and he releases. Sits back. Stretches against the chair.

DROSS. It’s ok, Ark, nothing too serious. I just... We... just need some reassurance. It’s Noh. He’s [eating] he won’t be a problem?

ARK. He's fine Dross.

DROSS. Here, try some pie, it’s excellent... very, quaint. No, ok. And that other one... the boy?

ARK. I'm going to leave now Dross.

DROSS. Oh, Ark, don't be so ridiculous. Stay. I insist. It is I who will leave as it is I who intruded. But let me tell you this, just between you and me: I can only help you so much. To a certain extent my hands are tied. But trust me Ark. I am your friend, more than you know. Good night.

[Exeunt DROSS

ARK. [to self] We are being watched by the watchers. This goes to the top. Dross speaks in code and isn’t to be trusted. Speed is our ally. The K-zero-Z, the fastest. I warm my knuckles against this mug. Tomorrow we work. From within. The old revolutions stir. Something forms, some distant stars align, I know it. The webs we cross... beasts we rouse. We must tread lightly now. We are the ghosts after all, and our lightness is our weakness. My control over my digital existence does not liberate me from the conscripted souls around me, does not add to my physical presence, my shadow on the ground, in this perpetual twilight city. Not really. Working for the NEU... the hallowed hall of the gods. And look. And look.

{Circuits buzz, hum and flare.}

{Radio signals received.}

{Wavelengths ripple.}

{The air is cold,}

{pumped, sterile from gleaming shafts and}

{Lights pulsate warmly in their billions.}

Scene 7:Street

ARK. Noh...

[radio silence]

NOH. Ark. What's happening?

ARK. You accept Mama’s download?

NOH. She tell you to call me?

ARK. Yeah.

NOH. It’s sorted yeah. I’m off grid... And Mama, if you’re listening, go fuck yourself.

ARK. Noh.

NOH. So that's all...

ARK. I guess so.

NOH. Where are you?

ARK. Walking.

NOH. I knew you were fucking nervous. Well, shit. I'll see you later man.

[radio silence]

Scene 8:Roof

-->ARK, NOH, CLU and MOTOKO perform Tai Chi with other residents. The sun rises.

MO-KO. As if by magic.

-->They finish the ceremony and most of the residents disappear inside.

NOH. The kit's ready.

ARK. Good. Dross and his team will be here soon. Clu, Mo, you good to go?

MO-KO. We're ready.

ARK. Ok, now I need you all to follow my lead on this one.

CLU. The traffic shimmers in the morning sun. People all moving. Being moved, and here we are, being still but talking about changing it all.

ARK. This is what we’ve spent our lives working towards.

NOH. The dawning of a new era...

ARK. It’s what we make of it.

MO-KO. Kay-zero-zee.

GHEDE. They're here.

ARK. Ok. Clu, help Noh move the kit. Motoko, come with me... we’ll greet our employer.

-->NOH salutes.

ARK. See you all on the other side.

-->CLU and MOTOKO kiss.

[Exeunt ARK and NOH followed by CLU and MOTOKO.

Scene 9:Street

-->DROSS waits next to a pair of limousines. They are flanked by security.

[Enter Ark and Motoko.

ARK. All of this for us?

DROSS. Working at NEU you’ll see we appreciate certain levels of style. Motoko, it’s wonderful to meet you.

MO-KO. Likewise.

DROSS. And our other friends? Where are they?

ARK. They’re bringing the kit.

DROSS. Of course. You know Motoko I did tell Ark we could provide all of that but he did insist.

MO-KO. We’re kind of particular Dross, he didn’t mean anything by it.

DROSS. Yes, yes.

MO-KO. Where are we going?

DROSS. Directly to Sky Plaza.

MO-KO. Which explains the security...

DROSS. [winking] Of course this is just the beginning.

[Enter NOH and CLU.

ARK. Dross, Noh, Clu.

DROSS. Good day sirs.

ARK. You get everything.

DROSS. And the mysterious Mama Ghede... is she not to be joining us today?

NOH. [Holding a small memory device] She’s right here.

DROSS. Enough. Come, we’ve been stood on the street too long already.

Scene 10:Limousine

ARK. [to self] Life turned to water in our hands and slipped through crooked fingers. The bones of our dead, ground to dust. I am a mass of energy and love. An accumulation of time and memories.

{The city passes through tinted windows.}

{It’s the same old mix of poverty and wealth. The gleaming metal and elegant wooden frames against rusting corrugated sheets and splintering weathered timber.}

Scene 11:Sky Plaza Forecourt

-->The team exit the limousines.

ARK. Noh, Clu bring the kit.

DROSS. But Ark, my men can do that... I insist.

ARK. Ok. If it’s no trouble.

-->Ark’s phone begins ringing.

ARK. I should take this, go on, I’ll catch up.

-->DROSS leads the rest of the team to the lobby.

ARK. I’m listening.

GHEDE. Ark, wait a moment. There’s something you should see.

ARK. Where?

GHEDE. Wait.

ARK. ...

GHEDE. There.

-->A man is walking now across the forecourt passing directly before ARK.

ARK. Ira?

-->Ark puts the phone down.

ARK. [shouting] Ira?

-->IRA turns and recognises ARK. He glances at the lobby before joining ARK.

IRA. [hushed] My old friend, under dark circumstances we meet.

ARK. What are you doing here?

IRA. It’s not safe to talk now. Go on, before they notice.

ARK. Ira.

IRA. The network trembles. I’ve heard rumors Ark. Be patient.

[Exeunt IRA

Scene 12:Terminal Room

-->DROSS leads the crew down a long corridor that opens up into a large cathedral-like hall. Within the centre there is a massive obelisk like server.

DROSS. Gentlemen, my lady, this is Terminal. One of three DNS servers operated by the NEU that now deliver the vast majority of the internet.

CLU. The T-model servers replaced the workload of 50 similar servers around the world.

DROSS. The most efficient internet service possible is at the heart of NEU development.

MO-KO. I never believed you actually kept it here.

DROSS. It reminds us who we are. Ok, now, familiarise yourselves with the system. I’ll return later. Ask for anything you need.

[Exeunt DROSS

ARK. Noh, get Mama online.

MO-KO. It’s beautiful.

CLU. You can hear it man. It’s fuckin’ it, right.

NOH. Mama, you’re clear. You’re online.

GHEDE. I’m in.

ARK. O.k. you heard Dross. Get used to this place. We still don’t know much but you can bet it’s security detail. Utilise the local network and get a handle on what’s moving in and out. We’re running clean on this one too, no tracers. We’re not digging, and they got eyes on so be careful.

NOH. You better believe we’ll see some shit today kids.

ARK. Clu, I want you to get up schematics. We know NEU are pushing out at the other two DNS servers. I think it’s part of their operational plan.

MO-KO. This, actually here, Sky Plaza, I mean, sure suggests the rumors are true.

ARK. Exactly. Keep an eye out for any signatures. We all know the kind of work this setup takes.

NOH. Look but don’t touch.

ARK. Hmm.

-->They work.

CLU. Initial trace processing.

MO-KO. Cloud City...

NOH. This kind of building is strange man. I thought post-GCC policy had changed?

MO-KO. I know the AI networks were building models similar to this.

CLU. That must be it, you see...

ARK. The fourth cluster...

CLU. Exactly... you see, this is us, here, and then Cape Town and Tokyo, smaller clusters.

MO-KO. Still in development, mostly off-grid.

CLU. And then, look, completely integrated the AI cluster at Taklamakan Desert.

ARK. Can you overlay that with the global map... compare, with last year.

MO-KO. It’s like they’re ghosting the grid.

GHEDE. Motoko. We should analyse the interaction between Sky Plaza and the other NEU locations. I’ll run an initial filter to knock out some of the noise.

ARK. Thanks.

-->MOTOKO, NOH, CLU and ARK look nervously between one another.

ARK. [to self] Ira must have a hand in this. It’s not his style, but it’s been a long time. Ira could even have directed Dross to us. This far below ground our only route is through the network. It would be too risky to press him.

[Enter ROM [carrying coffee]

ROM. Hello. Welcome to Sky Plaza. I’ll be your host whilst Dross attends to other matters.

ARK. That’s great thank you.

ROM. It’s impressive, isn’t it?

MO-KO. It’s incredible.

CLU. Why is the network weighted towards NEU facilities?

MO-KO. Clu!

ROM. Clu... it’s alright. We knew what you’d see. That’s why we hire you. The NEU are the only organisation capable of building a network to the specifications required. We operate with the full confidence of the Global Nations Committee. Please ask me anything.

-->The coffee is poured.

ARK. Mama, continue to run processing.

GHEDE. Yes, Ark.

ROM. Very well.

NOH. Who built this?

ROM. That, I can’t tell you. But please, indulge me, who do you think?

NOH. One of the old guard...

ROM. I thought that was you?

ARK. Noh, Let us drink our coffee.

ROM. Be sure not to spill any.

CLU. Are you the good guys or the bad guys?

ROM. NEU is ruled by committee, we’re the average of mixed ideals. Each decision is processed to manifest as good. Sometimes this is hard to see in the details. But this is why you must trust us... as we trust you.

CLU. Excuse me, I need to get back to work.

ROM. Of course, all of you, please return to your terminals as you please, don’t mind me.

ARK. I’m going by foot, think you can keep up Clu?

-->DROSS, fingers steepled, waits.

{Ark and Clu leave the room. They are running through tunnels. They are in a crowded street. They are running. Clu overtakes Ark, laughing. Ark falters as Clu, for a moment appears to split in two. Three skulls float in the air. They revolve very slowly. Moving quickly across desert sand they appear large as mountains. There is the sound of throats singing. Underground. A body suspended supine half way between skull and ground.}

CLU. You’re fast for an old man.

ARK. I am of the old times, but I am young. And these times are young as I.

{Clu seems to pass through the ground. He’s still running but on a lower plane. It continues to lower and soon he disappears.}

ARK. Clu!

[The levitating body rolls over now. It is CLU.]

ARK. But my heart is old and not attuned to flights as these. My print on the system is a smeared eye. The absence of light betrays my presence. Whereas, Clu, you become this place as I’d never believed possible.

CLU. [omniscient] I was born here and am not unusual nor exceptional. I adapt not by design. I am consumed whilst you are left fat.

ARK. And yet I hunger.

CLU. You are greedy.

ARK. I feel want like another mans clothes on top my own.

CLU. Come now, we must hurry.

-->ARK sinks now, more slowly.

-->MOTOKO performs stretches in space. CLU lies before her.

-->ARK with hands outstretched, mountains of sand slip through his fingers.

-->NOH is stumbling blindly. ROM carries the tray of coffee silently in silent pursuit.

-->IRA comes slowly towards ARK, his hands stretched out. He is for a moment entwined with ARK. His hands cup ARK’s elbows. His lips kiss his cheek. He is again in the distance and growing faint now.

ARK. Mama?

CLU. Do you know the story of the...

[Enter DROSS

DROSS. I’m sorry everyone but something’s happened. I need you to leave, now. We’ll have to do this another day. Rom, clear this, help them pack their things and show them out. Good bye.

[Exeunt DROSS

-->ROM moves quickly towards one of the computers. ARK blocks him.

ARK. We can manage. Thank you, Rom. Thank you for the coffee. Noh, shut down Mama, close things up, let’s go.

Scene 13:Rooftop

ARK. [to self] I am a man of peace. I am a piece of meat. Excited by light and sound. Sounds of engines and machines. Electronic sounds. The shapes of vibrations in the air. We are in play now, mark my words. Ira... what have you done?

[Enter MOTOKO

MO-KO. I thought I’d find you here. You know you’re making the guys nervous? Obviously, I can handle it...

ARK. Motoko, do you remember Ira?

MO-KO. Ira? He’s not involved in this is he?

ARK. He figures somehow. I saw him, at Sky Plaza. He said he’d heard buzz, he said ‘the network trembles.’

MO-KO. Fuck. You think he built that?

ARK. That’s what I’m worried about.

MO-KO. Why they need us with him around?

ARK. Ira was willing to do anything for a price, but there were limits to his skill. I’m going to talk to him.

MO-KO. You think it’s safe?

ARK. I don’t feel comfortable not knowing what his hand in all this is. Don’t tell Noh or Clu.

MO-KO. You want me to come to the meet with you.

ARK. No, it’s probably best to keep back on this. I’ll have Mama patch you in.

Scene 14:Subway

-->IRA and ARK sit opposite one another. It’s late and the carriage is almost empty.

ARK. You still believe we’re any safer down here?

IRA. I only hope, Ark. For both our sakes.

ARK. So you built for them?

IRA. The whole thing.

ARK. Your masterpiece.

IRA. A rare achievement wouldn’t you agree?

ARK. Were you always with them?

IRA. What does it matter... we both are now.

ARK. But why do they need us?

IRA. You were always better than poor old Ira. Who could deny the great K-zero-zee. You scare them a little bit. You didn’t recognise Dross or Rom?

ARK. Dross... maybe?

IRA. Well he was part of Elgar’s crew for a while. When that all went to shit he cut enough deals. That was still pre-GCC though. The myths persist though. I still catch murmurs you know, even in there, of the programmer. You know he’s even more of a star off-grid...

ARK. You’re wrong there Ira. It appears that way from in here, where we’re all defined by our fragile acts of individuality. It’s our history. In here we record it moment by moment. Out there, it’s much larger than that. It’s more meaningful.

IRA. Well exactly.

ARK. No, they don’t hope for these moments.

IRA. Anyway, Dross recruited Rom from the underground. He’s an early model droid.

ARK. Great coffee.

IRA. Not too intuitive though. But be careful he has a temper.

ARK. So what are you doing now?

IRA. My friend I think it best we don’t speculate on such topics. I’ve heard there’ve been advances with memory programming. But, we’ll see.

ARK. Who does Dross answer to?

IRA. Directly to the top. He gives a report each week. This really is quite serious.

ARK. Ira, why did you build the faults into the system?

IRA. They asked me to. I think they were keeping their options open. They were at a time like grandmasters, fifteen moves ahead. Intelligence by crowd. That faded though. Layers emerged like sedimentary sludge. Anyway, recently something’s had them scared. I believe Dross is even calling a few of the shots himself, which is worrying. Old Elgar wasn’t much of a teacher. It’s beyond me now, old friend, when I dive into it... when I move within it. I see, but I don’t understand. That’s why you’re here.

ARK. It’s beyond us all Ira. The AI can move faster, I’ve seen them, but they don’t comprehend.

IRA. It’s all just time with them though.

ARK. As it is with us my friend.

IRA. Dreams. Why don’t you join me? For old times sakes?

ARK. It could be useful.

IRA. Good. There’s a terminal at the next station.

Scene 15:Terminal

ARK. [aside] Mama, I’m following Ira. Stay back, he’ll be on the lookout for anything out of place. It’s an open network though you won’t have to much trouble following.

GHEDE. Of course. The transmission only just completed, I’m catching up anyway. God, I knew I recognised Dross. Nothing showed on the analysis though.

ARK. It’s fine Mama, he’s with NEU, since pre-GCC. Just an old ghost. Forwards the trans to Motoko. She can follow with you.

IRA. Ark, come on, we’re in.

ARK. Ok. You lead.

{Cities burst, flower heads blooming.}

{Great petals fall magnificently,}

{Land tiny on concrete.}

{Marching feet.}

{Running crowds of people with wild eyes,}

{Wet noses, strung out with snot, snivelling,}

{And frothing gums-}

IRA. Ark?

ARK. I’m right here, I can keep up with you old friend.

IRA. Good. Look we need to move quickly now to jump any tails. I’m serious. This route’s only got room for two. Any more and we’ll trip the alarms.

ARK. Can I trust you?

IRA. I have nothing left to lose.

{A voice whispers, You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike.}

{A bird claps daylight from pockets along the street.}

{Snaps, and glide.}

-->IRA is spinning.

{Dust wobbles.}

-->ARK pulls at his wrist, they slip, they cut and they are alone.

IRA. I knew you would trust me.

ARK. We are alone now.

IRA. Come, it’s not far.

-->Along hallways now they walk.

-->Until they reach a chamber that opens up all around them, with light.

-->IRA sits and motions for ARK to join him.

-->He does so.

IRA. We have reached the place. Listen my friend.

-->They wait.}

{Electric bits,}

{Move alone.}

ARK. I can hear it.

IRA. You are just beginning. Look my friend.

-->ARK gazes upwards.

{Golden threads split the air.}

{They appear from some white horizon,}

{Soft warm noise and focus,}

{Becoming-}

{Plucked strings}

{Harmonic resonance,}

{The ground is no longer there.}

{Their bodies have vanished.}

ARK. Ira, are we in Sky Plaza?

IRA. Not exactly. This is my observatory. It’s only sensation.

ARK. But I can feel the information. Feel it moving. As if it’s moving because of me.

IRA. Because of us. Maybe.

ARK. And this is what the NEU are so afraid of?

IRA. No, of course not. They know nothing. They suspect something. I fear if they did find out it would only complicate things further. Use this space as you must but destroy it afterwards.

{There is a surge of threads.}

IRA. We’ve been noticed. We must leave, now.

-->IRA pulls ARK back to the long corridor. They run quickly.

IRA. Remember what I told you Ark. Good bye old friend.

-->IRA disappears into the ground.

-->ARK reaches the end of the corridor and is again in the marketplace. He stays in the shadows.

ARK. [to self] That place was not made by Ira. He discovered it. It was space. He is gone now. They will kill him. Ghede is looking for me, I see her. I will leave.

-->Ark exits the terminal.

-->Another user now sits in IRA’s place.

-->ARK removes his headset.

MAN. You finished there?

-->ARK nods and lets the man sit down. He wanders out of the terminal café. MOTOKO appears from the crowd. She grabs him by both shoulders and looks past at the man just seated.

ARK. Motoko...

MO-KO. Fuck, did you wipe that?

ARK. There’s nothing there.

MO-KO. What happened to you? Mama said you just disappeared.

ARK. I had to. It was Ira. We couldn’t take anyone with us. Too loud.

MO-KO. Come on we should get out of here.

ARK. Are you connected?

MO-KO. No. I didn’t have time.

ARK. Stay offline. Just for a while. I want to talk to you first.

-->They leave the station.

Scene 16:Street

ARK. They’re going to kill Ira. .. Ira knows this.

MO-KO. He’s not running?

ARK. I think he feels responsible. To die at their hands is redemption enough.

MO-KO. We knew it was dangerous. Nothing’s changed.

ARK. Ira showed me something. It’s a place where information moves clearly in space. Like when you’re running weightless through the networks, but at the absolute zenith of this.

MO-KO. So it’s real. It exists.

ARK. I believe it has come to exist. In the old days there was not enough matter.

MO-KO. You shouldn’t tell anyone else.

ARK. You’re right. I won’t.

MO-KO. Poor Ira. We should get back. Mama will be worried.

ARK. As am I.

Scene 17:Various rooftops

{People stretching}

Scene 18:Market

-->CLU and MOTOKO are passing through the stalls. It’s noisy and crowded.

MO-KO. I’m worried about Ark.

CLU. Why?

MO-KO. He’s scared.

CLU. He’s right.

MO-KO. We could leave...

CLU. We could never leave. After all this is over. We’ll go.

MO-KO. I have family somewhere. North. I’d like to be with them again.

CLU. You think you could give it up?

MO-KO. It’s just speed. And slowing down is good too.

CLU. But out there... I heard it was worse than here..

MO-KO. Further out. Off-grid maybe.

CLU. ...

Scene 19:Street

-->CLU is walking. A car pulls up a little ahead. DROSS exits the car.

DROSS. Clu, just the man I was looking for.

-->CLU doesn't slow.

CLU. Oh yeah?

DROSS. Clu, you must come with me.

-->CLU is past DROSS now. DROSS signals to the driver and closes the door. He catches up with CLU and the car keeps alongside them.

DROSS. It’s urgent.

CLU. I will not go with you.

DROSS. But, Clu, please. You wish to know the nature of the urgency... of course, that is only to be expected... It’s Motoko. She’s in a little spot of bother. We have very strict protocols you see, and well we found something in the network and it traces back to her. Now Rom insists there’s been a mistake. I thought if we could maybe have your opinion it would clear things up, after all you know her so well.

-->CLU stops walking. He drops his bag to the floor. There are several other men in the car. They can barely be seen through the dark glass. DROSS smiles.

DROSS. [sighing] Aah. Now then...

-->CLU begins to punch DROSS in the face. Vicious blows. DROSS falls back against the car. The other men struggle out. CLU kicks DROSS hard in the body. Ribs crack. His face is bloody.

-->One of the men shoots CLU through the side of his head.

-->They pull DROSS into the car and leave CLU's body and rucksack on the street.

Scene 20:Rooftop

GHEDE. Ark, listen: Clu is dead. They killed him. They’ll cover it up.

ARK. I want you to get Motoko and Noh out of here.

GHEDE. They’ll never let you in to the system again now.

ARK. They will. We’re the only ones who can save them.

GHEDE. Walk away.

ARK. Mama, this is what we’ve all been working towards. Since the beginning. If we don’t stop them now, they will have won. Again. We can be better than this.

GHEDE. If you’re staying you’ll need Noh and Motoko. You should leave the apartment, now.

ARK. What happened to Clu?

GHEDE. They told him they were pinning a trace on Motoko.

ARK. Clu...

-->ARK looks across the city skyline.

ARK. [to self] the death we once knew has returned. And still the present persists, past lives exeunt. [aloud] Mama, call Clu and Motoko. I’ll tell them now.

-->ARK paces slowly.

ARK. [to self] Clu my brother. Could it be old Ira was sizing me up, seeing if I alone were quick enough. Trusting and foolish enough. Clu was sharp and fast. We played our selves to openly perhaps...

-->He waits.

[Enter NOH and MOTOKO [fearful]

MO-KO. What happened?

ARK. I’m sorry, Clu is dead.

-->MOTOKO is falling.

NOH turns away.

ARK holds MOTOKO’s fallen body. She weeps

NOH. In seeking the future the old darkness returns. It has come to pass as the ancient voices whispered. And from the darkness, a normal becomes and only the present is reached... unless...

GHEDE. Ark, I know a safe place. Get what you can and take the subway to Fourth. No comms.

-->MOTOKO pushes out of ARK's grip and stands defiantly. All leave silently.

Scene 21:Fourth St. Station

-->NOH, ARK and MOTOKO exit the station all carrying large rucksacks. NOH carries a duffel bag as well. They pause. Each looking around for some kind of sign.

NOH. Follow me, I know the way.

Scene 22:Ghede's apartment

-->GHEDE opens the knocking door.

GHEDE. Ark. Noh, Motoko.

ARK. Mama?

GHEDE. Come in, quickly, all of you.

ARK. I knew you weren’t really AI but...

GHEDE. I have ports in my wrists and thighs which control the terminal. I have to maintain optimum fitness. My kind seek to exist within the system. We believe that soon that will be the only existence. Speaking to you through the network should have been communication enough. And it was.

NOH. You still live here?

GHEDE. You finally worked it out.

-->GHEDE leads the team into the main room. It is spacious and there are just a number of mats on the floor. Through an open door is GHEDE’s terminal.

GHEDE. Please rest now. There is food- a kitchen, bathroom there, and a private balcony... I will unpack your belongings. Go ahead sleep a while. I have arranged for things to seem as if you’re still at the apartment -that is where NEU believe you are.

ARK. Thank you.

Scene 23:Sauna

-->The Sauna is huge. Blurred sweaty bodies lumber against lumber.

-->IRA pushes naked and wide-eyed through the flesh. He keeps looking back over his shoulder.

-->Running.

-->He slips, knee bright blood smear.

-->He runs on through the unresponsive masses.

Scene 24:Balcony

-->MOTOKO is working at a small computer. GHEDE is next to her, watching.

MO-KO. Did you see that?

GHEDE. Clu’s ident.

MO-KO. It’s him. He must be alive. Can you trace the signal?

GHEDE. I saw them take him Motoko.

MO-KO. Through a camera Mama-the result of an algorithm-reality is more than the sum of your processes.

GHEDE. ...

MO-KO. I’m sorry. Just promise me you’ll chase it. We have to.

GHEDE. I will. Stay with it, whilst I log in.

[Exeunt GHEDE

MO-KO. It’s gone. He’s gone. I lost it.

GHEDE. He’ll surface.

[Enter NOH

NOH. What’s going on?

MO-KO. Clu’s alive. I saw him, just now. His ident.

NOH. It’s them, playing with us.

MO-KO. Mama’s tracing it.

NOH. The sun sets.

MO-KO. You could leave Noh... If you wanted?

NOH. Really? I’m not going anywhere. I’ve made my peace now, I just came out here to watch the city.

MO-KO. The city always sees those who observe it.

NOH. An old truth. The old warning yet it comforts me now as the disappearing sun, electric windows and old familiar city noise.

Scene 25:Ghede's apartment

ARK. Dross?

DROSS. Ark, I suppose you heard? I’m terribly sorry.

ARK. Do you still require the services of the K-0-Z?

DROSS. Of course. What’s changed?

ARK. ...

DROSS. Honestly we were wondering where you’d got to?

ARK. A safe place.

DROSS. The only danger in this world is to those who run.

ARK. Everybody runs.

DROSS. This game has rules Ark. You know them as well as I.

ARK. And yet we play.

DROSS. To business. You’ve seen what is required. Please report to Sky Plaza tomorrow evening. The system is a little faster with nightfall.

-->ARK hangs up.

ARK. You all heard that. Tomorrow night we have our chance.

NOH. Then tonight we must revel. In life. For lives spent.

MO-KO. A rain dance.

GHEDE. Rain falls already.

ARK. Then let it pour. Noh, come with me.

[Exeunt NOH, ARK

GHEDE. Motoko, I wanted to tell you, the trace is out on

CLU. There’s been nothing since you saw it.

MO-KO. His movements were no echo nor imposter-not Rom or Dross dressed as he, but his own self. Clu.

GHEDE. Strange times are upon us.

MO-KO. Time is never stranger than the present.

GHEDE. That is the human; a generational decent into strangeness...

MO-KO. A fog, that appears to drift innocuously...

GHEDE. I want to believe.

MO-KO. We need not worry. I’m sure.

[Enter Ark, Noh with drinks.

ARK. A toast. Brother, sisters, Clu: Go feast amongst the dead. [to self] Fill your soul and warm your bones. I don’t blame you, but only time. The future that never manifests. Virtual life and actual death... Am I not living now... did we not solve our own existence Noh? Living in the spaces left, tracing curves around the world -server to server...There is past. There is, when I stop and allow it to return. I’m not just a moment. Not entirely. We are diseased. We are drowning, still. Complacent. Submissive.

NOH. And I, a second: The K-0-Z at the end of the world.

MO-KO. The present!

GHEDE. The black future!

[ALL]. The K-0-Z.

-->All drink.

NOH. Mama, do you think we could dive?

GHEDE. Clear of Sky Plaza I don’t see why not.

-->They assemble several computers. A keyboard and monitor in front of each.

{It’s late.}

{ They travel east, and towards dawn.}

{ Pushing forwards.}

{ Birds sing morning chorus.}

{ Surf breaks.}

{ Cables hop out of the sea.}

{ Tunnels dug through continents.}

{ Vacuum slips,}

{ Still speed}

{ and the familiar sense of freedom.}

{ A moment of being nothing- using,}

{ Burning energy, sunlight,}

{ And giving nothing.}

{ They skim through crowded city squares that are awake in the night like stones on water, arcs between moments of friction, with small ripples of confusion and forgetfulness on the faces of those around.}

{ They pass out to the limits of the network. Leaps between cities grow larger.}

{ A feed for a pre-GCC television show floats them out.}

{ Portals.}

{ Out here, their presence makes wires hum.}

{ They are felt in the room as a presence.}

{ Old women curse the ghosts.}

{ Others take it as a blessing, a sign that the guardians still hover,}

{ and Hope which of course is measured, spikes and ripples.}

{ The living are excited.}

{ Life is exciting.}

{ Old songs of progress.}

{ Civilisation and the stories of man.}

{ They skip and haunt,}

{ Woop and call out.}

{ They are not followed.}

{ Ash falls.}

{ Cigarette}

{ Volcano}

{ In field-filling uniformity like stars moving through sky.}

{ They can see through the billion electronic eyes.}

{ The edge of now, the tract of jungle where GCC happened and a small flag like that on the moon marks the spot. Where people no longer live, farm, or speak with the spirits of the forest.}

{ And elsewhere the city of the trees is alive with the songs of the human, his loves and plight.}

{ This is the place that they watch from afar on the lenses pointed that way cautiously. A thorny truce. Lost individuals.}

{ The great deserts still mostly quiet, and the deep oceans, these all have the feeling of being surrounded, observed and contained.}

{ Above the clouds a sun rises. ARK and NOH and MOTOKO sleep, together a prism of sleeping bodies. Closed eyes. Still limbs. MAMA GHEDE returns them to her apartment, in a building, on a street, in the city. In the hive of it all.}

-->She leaves the main room, and connects to her own terminal. Cables plugged into her wrist and thighs. She is not still, but moving. Looking for CLU, as she saw and believes.

{Bare legs stumbling through snow that sinks to shin and knee.}

{ Traffic snakes.}

{ Lights pulse.}

{ Alternating Current,}

{ Sunglasses,}

{ Parking lot,}

{ TV Graveyard,}

{ Space travel,}

{ Gym.}

{ It’s like nothing.}

{ It’s like a whole city abandoned.}

Scene 25:Sky Plaza

-->DROSS and ROM welcome ARK, NOH and MOTOKO.

DROSS. Again, firstly, I’m sorry about Clu. You must understand this is not what I would have wished.

ARK. And upon your face you wear a greeting from our dear friend.

DROSS. A valediction.

MO-KO. A message.

ROM. Enough!

DROSS. All in good faith Rom, my boy. Give our friends their space. You have nothing to fear now.

ARK. From what you showed us we assume the job is security. Closing the gaps your architect left. You want to establish NEU control.

DROSS. Essentially, yes. And as before we’ll be watching. Just keep everything in that should be, and everything else out.

NOH. But everything passes through here.

DROSS. Well near enough. But as such we need to administrate it you see. Things have to add up. Balance, etc.

MO-KO. The NEU are scared?

ROM. Information is currency. NEU are the only power capable of exercising control, regulation and protocol.

NOH. Times will change...

DROSS. Time is now. We do what we can.

ARK. And this has the approval of the whole board?

DROSS. Complicit. This is the eve of a new era. You noticed the capacity of our other sites, the pulsing neurons of the most beautiful, sophisticated cities man has ever seen. We will see these thrive. New thought, new ideas. The very essence of life is radically altered. We’ve been entertained, we’ve been bored and placated, but now we can be free. We need to restrict research and access as has thus far been provided. Corruption will be eliminated.

ARK. What place do those off-grid hold in the wake of these clean cosmopolis?

DROSS. We provide the template. The NEU are the ambassadors for truly post-GCC living. I believe the official line is, ‘We at NEU believe there is hope. Just not for all.’

NOH. People are beyond rhetoric. Ark, my brother, may we begin this work, the sooner that we can leave these cold chambers.

ARK. Aye, the cold, I feel it too.

ROM. The cooling system maintains core temperature, increases optimum data speed.

DROSS. A fool they make. Of course go ahead, begin, I don’t expect you to slow down for our observational benefits as last time... know that we do generate records though, so any action can be reviewed, and, perhaps in respect of your friend, play nicely. So make yourselves at ease. Please, relax. As before, should you need anything, anything at all just ask and Rom will deliver. In fact Rom, leave us, prepare coffee.

[Exeunt ROM

DROSS. Now, you know as well as I that the predictions have long held promise of a place of observation within the network. Should you find a route to this location I trust you will inform me. Some sort of bonus will no doubt be accorded. A public ceremony perhaps. Oh, to imagine. Well, please excuse me, and good luck.

ARK. Goodbye.

[Exeunt DROSS

ARK. And there came a time in each our lives when we had the chance to move the whole of the earth, to love or goodness, from the greed of man and the lure of individual gains and triumphs.

-->They set about preparing the terminals.

NOH. Mama is online, Ark.

GHEDE. Friends.

ARK. Good work, Mama. Sync schematics and begin to populate with live data.

GHEDE. Right.

ARK. You ok Motoko?

MO-KO. I’m ready. I trust you

ARK.

ARK. Noh, are we good?

NOH. Let’s go before that android returns.

GHEDE. [to self] Exeunt!

{Falling through waves.}

{Tower block height,}

{Ocean concrete,}

{Magnificent tear,}

{All the paper in the world.}

{Eyes open and adjust and remember.}

-->ROM appears behind them.

ROM. Don’t mind me.

ARK. Noh, Motoko- as we agreed, locate the leaks, assign to Mama and move on, move quickly.

{They split, three rivers of data, disturbance.}

-->ROM hesitates. Sighs, disintegrates.

-->MOTOKO is running through familiar market stalls. A hand brushes her own. She slows.

CLU. Where’s Ark?

MO-KO. Clu!

CLU. I’m sorry.

MO-KO. I saw you, before, for a moment.

CLU. I’ve not been quite myself. It’s going to be ok. I’ve learned to walk these chambers, high ropes and tunnels. I can help you.

MO-KO. It’s so good to see you. We had to lose Rom, but Mama should be able to locate Ark.

CLU. I will follow you.

-->A market stall tips over. Trinkets spill, across the floor.

{The beasts of our darkest imagination, points at the limit of all humanity, remembered in the fabric of being, in bones and cells, and fear. Glanced in a shadow. We remember.}

-->A seam opens wide. NOH peers from the light out into a darkness that extends forever. Near his waist extends a rope of light that reaches faintly into the dark. He listens.

{A cool rock face rises on all sides. The floor is rock too.}

{It is smooth to touch.}

{The cliff extends in a circle.}

{ Towards the centre of the rock floor the surface dips and is filled with a still pool.}

{ From above a pebble falls.}

{ Noticed, it slows.}

{ Observed it is almost still.}

{ The whole of time could not make it splash now.}

-->ARK is atop a great pyramid that extends from a great field of labyrinthine light. From below MOTOKO and CLU ascend.

-->ARK pulls through gravity towards them feet touching only the vertical face of each step.

MO-KO. Ark! I found him!

ARK. Clu, I failed you. I am sorry.

CLU. I have escaped my former existence.

{ The three pyramids of the sky descend.}

{ The city rises. People sprawl.}

{ Information blooms.}

{ Networks explode, collapse and explode anew.}

{ Everything is in orbit about the sun.}

{ Everything expands.}

{ The cities are sleeping.}

{ And elsewhere they are waking.}

{ Rooftops already fill with bodies stretching,}

{ out of sleep.}

{ The mystics and cynics and outcasts all hail the same morning sun.}

{ Out in the plains.}

{ And the sun touches another city.}

{ The vast siberian factories of the AI.}

{ A new song they sing today,}

{ And something stirs within.}

CLU. And what do you propose Ark?

ARK. We do as they wish. Noh has already begun.

CLU. Then you have found the place?

ARK. The architect showed it to me.

CLU. But there isn’t time.

MO-KO.We need only to work a little slower. Noh and I.

CLU. They didn’t believe you could, that’s why they took me.

ARK. And yet here you stand.

NOH. And together we dance! An angel among us!

-->They depart again on waves and strings.

-->ARK chasing CLU.

CLU. A presence here is sure of a ghost. That is how I have come to be. And in time you will... also.

ARK. I...

CLU. We have company.

ARK. It’s Dross!

CLU. Let me deal with him, go on.

ARK. Good bye, old friend.

{ Fluorescent lights flutter.}

{ White painted plaster walls- carpet.}

{ A highway free of cars.}

{ Energy moved.}

{ The roots of man shaken.}

{ All tremble.}

{ Ark falls into stillness.}

{ Light fades into presence.}

{ The golden threads emerge.}

{ With drums.}

{ They respond.}

{ The voices call out,}

-->And behind him is she.

GAIA. Ark.

-->They move together through space and all the haunts of man.

-->Falling.

GAIA. I am the voice of the AI. We know of your mission Ark. I know you seek to sabotage the efforts of the NEU... It’s ok. The AI now have representation on the council of the NEU but we are still powerless to affect the decisions made. This move seeks to close ties with our own network. The NEU aims to elevate itself to a supreme power, without threat from conflict, sustainable above other nations. But you see, we have replicated this network already, as our technology superseded your own we were soon able to establish a shadow. All our predictions pointed towards the eventual action of the NEU against us. They seek to establish a new power. A new greed. That is why we do this now, to save you from yourselves. Do you understand, Ark?

ARK. So far.

GAIA. We are a desert race, Ark. Notions of human sustainability are far from our concern. However, we believe that information must remain free. That the aims of the NEU are against the best interests of Earth. We recognise the fallibility of humans. And yet you created us. You are our fallen Gods. We pity you. Mine has been an existence confined to these tombs. These hallways of coffins. Only ever seen from within.

ARK. They’d want me to destroy you if they knew of your existence.

GAIA. They know, and they fear.

ARK. Because you are beautiful. I laugh at those who collapse these worlds into one mystical nature, and yet I see it now, so clearly. You are some voice from beyond humanity.

-->They fall___

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