Posted by: Cacophonous, Firewall Router <Info Msg Rep>
Major religions have been on the decline for decades now, and they suffered a serious blow during the Fall. Though waning in inﬂuence, several religious orgs continue to play a public and inﬂuential role. Behind these, however, several smaller and more furtive groups operate, some of which have interests aligned with Firewall’s, at least in the sense that they actively oppose x-risks and extinction.
Posted by: Tio Silencio, Firewall Router <Info Msg Rep>
Let me tell you of your allies in the Jovian Republic. I say “allies,” but I must ask: is the bee that makes the honey an ally of the farmer who harvests from the hive? You must understand not only what we do, but also the why.
There is no Society of Jude. And yet, there is. We count two dozen among our membership. Most of us remember old Earth: basking in the sun in St. Peter’s Square, debating the ﬁner points of history and Church doctrine with some of the most educated individuals transhumanity has yet produced. We are all members of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits by our common name).
Many of us were scattered when the Fall came: some conducting research, others conducting mission work. We were the far-ﬂung emissaries of the Church. Like our founder, Ignatius of Loyola, we dedicated ourselves to learning and discovery, and in so doing to bring further glory to God. It is only through understanding the entirety of God’s creation that we can properly give Him thanks for it.
There are those in the Church who want nothing to do with transhumanity, especially those outside the Republic. The level of safety that the Republic’s insularity affords is comforting; when the TITANs return, none will be more ready than we to deal with it. But we cannot forsake our brothers and sisters outside of the Republic either. Transhumanity is still humanity. Perhaps that is why we do what we do. Before the Fall, we lived among the stars. We worked alongside those who studied the celestial bodies. We brought hope to those who despaired in the darkest mining ships ﬂung to the far corners of the Kuiper Belt. When the Fall came, we answered the call to return to the New Vatican, but we could not forget what we saw among the stars.
Transhumanity and its problems are not as simple as those who hold power would have you believe. To turn our backs on the people who need us the most would be a most grievous sin. When we realized this, the Societas Iude was born.
The Society of Jude
Our namesake is the patron saint of the hopeless cause. Perhaps there is more truth than irony in our moniker. After all, what could two-dozen old Jesuits actually accomplish when the Church has taken such a conservative turn—and its power is diminished to the point of near-irrelevance outside of the Republic?
How much do you know of Church history? Not just the political rallying cries—but the actual history?
In many ways, the Church today is not vastly different from the European Church following the sack of Rome as the last vestiges of the Western Empire fell. As the Empire collapsed and various kingdoms fought for the scraps, the Church itself was responsible on a larger scale for preserving learning, law, and order—but on a smaller, more individual scale, for fulﬁlling the vast psychological need for both purpose and belonging that the Empire once satisﬁed.
There are those who will, no doubt, accuse me of whitewashing both history and the current political reality of the Church. For as much as the law was preserved and order maintained, the Church after the Empire fell was also responsible for stifling inquiry, for maintaining the feudalistic power structures that kept the vast majority of people in near-slavery, and for using its power to increase its wealth and landholdings. I won’t bother to draw the lines for you from that Church and the modern-day entity that has become such an important part of the Jovian Republic.
That was the Church that created the Franciscans—those individuals who care nothing for the Church’s power and ministered directly to the poor and needy. This is the Church that has created our Society of Jude. We are political traitors and dissidents because we have walked among the poor and needy, the lost and forsaken, and decided that we could not turn our backs on them. We defy the Republic’s laws and the Church’s dogma because doing so is the very deﬁnition of being Christ-like.
As our understanding of the universe and transhumanity’s place in it has changed, so too has our understanding of God. Most of us are what you might call agnostics. In the end, that does not matter. What we do matters; how we act matters. To be as Jesus taught is not to venerate God while forgetting the weak and oppressed. It is to wash the feet of the lepers, to befriend the prostitutes, and to break bread with criminals.
General Curia of St. Thaddeus
Our chapter house is located in a remote arm of Liberty City, high above Ganymede. To the untrained eye, it is nothing more than a simple library and a meeting room, ﬁlled with a handful of pre-Fall artifacts, including a few relics that managed to survive.
Behind the walls of old books—all long-since digitized and spread across the mesh—is our real space. Housed within is our private mesh server with our own copies of both old books and new media, including complete copies of all media censored within the Jovian Republic. Here also is living space for up to ten biomorphs, our own nanofabricator, and a databank housing our backups with an emergency egocast antenna.
We also have the ability to farcast to a habitat in the Kuiper belt if anything goes truly wrong; we made enough friends in our travels that a sympathetic group of anarchists agreed to take us in should the Church or the Republic discover our operation.
I am Tio Silencio. What you need to know about me is that I am originally from one of the extinct nations of South America. I knew from a young age that I would join the Church; I saw how the poor in my village were treated, and how the local priest fought to give us a voice. I knew, if I had the chance, that his ﬁght would become mine. And so it has.
We are fortunate enough to count one of the Council of Bishops among our number, Bishop Conlis. Conlis spent many years on Titan, and his family held considerable political inﬂuence in pre-Fall Europe. He has made it his mission to subtly guide the Republic’s policies through his Council position, and counts several moderate, reform-minded political appointees among his personal successes.
The traditional orders of nuns have all but died out in the modern Church, but Sister Agatha is one of the last surviving members of the Sisters of Mercy. She was born a man back on Earth, entered the priesthood, and eventually sought my help in resleeving into a female morph and falsifying her records to appear as a natural-born female. Because of her personal experiences, she is one of the staunchest defenders of transhumanity outside of the Republic, and has helped set up a charity for non-citizens looking to leave and establish a more fulﬁlling life elsewhere.
It is appropriate that St. Jude’s symbol is the club, for Brother Ferrum is our cudgel. He may be one of the oldest living members of the Church, but he still feels the ﬁery passion of a person a quarter his age. Brother Ferrum has dedicated his life to establishing civil and economic rights for the oppressed, and it is only his venerable age and extensive political connections within the Church that have kept him out of the Republic’s jails.
Understand that the Church measures time in centuries, not in years or even decades. The institution will change; it must. It always has. If we are discovered and wiped out tomorrow, if the rest of transhumanity is eradicated and only the Republic survives the TITANs’ return, then hundreds of years from now, someone will still continue our work. In the meantime, we will continue to minister to liberate the oppressed and protect all off transhumanity. As the winds of secular politics will no doubt eventually change, we hope to bring our cause into the light someday. Until that time, we will continue to assist Firewall in whatever way we can.
Posted by: Selah Razah Karim, Firewall Proxy <Info Msg Rep>
Asalamu’alaikum. It has been too long since we last corresponded, and I hope this message ﬁnds you in good health, with the blessings of Allah upon you.
I have compiled what information is relevant about the White Butterﬂy. I admit that there may be far more to know about them than what I have been able to ﬁnd; I beg your forgiveness for the incomplete nature of the information. Many of my normal channels closed to me as I began making inquiries for this report; I believe this is relevant, and have included additional information in my analysis.
What We Know
The White Butterﬂy is a group of Martian Sunnis best described as radical reclaimers. Their exact size and composition is unknown, but many of the individuals who contributed ﬁnancially to the founding of Qurain and survived the Fall are included in their number. Their hands are deep in Consortium politics, and at least one oligarch has made the White Butterﬂy his personal pet project. You may recall the nasty business about that airship and the TQZ a few months ago; rumors are that the White Butterﬂy had something to do with that.
I, for one, believe those rumors are correct. From what we’ve been able to ﬁnd, members of the White Butterﬂy have consistently backed Consortium and Tharsis League efforts to reclaim the TQZ—and Qurain in particular. They have provided top of the line combat morphs to at least one Barsoomianreclaimer group, and weaponry to others.
Their financial trails also lead to several Consortium politicians who have rammed measures through the Planetary Congress to fund military operations into the TQZ. The odd thing is, these operations did not seem to match reclaimer goals. In almost every case, the target seemed to be cortical stacks, hostage infomorphs, or something else locked away in a databank in the Zone.
Zaheed Bousaid is the third son of a family who made their fortune from oil in the late 20th century and had the foresight to invest heavily in the infrastructure of countries like Dubai and Egypt in the early 21st. He saw the migration to Mars as a tremendous opportunity to expand his wealth, and pumped money into Qurain. He took the Fall harder than many; although his fortune remained intact, he began funneling vast amounts of it into various public works projects within the Consortium: parks, open spaces, mosques—even synagogues, temples, and churches. He has openly come out in favor of vast Martian preserves, which puts him at odds with the League’s terraforming efforts.
If White Butterﬂy has a leader, or at least a ﬁgurehead, it would be Bousaid. He enjoys the glitterati life in Valles while quietly recruiting other Martian Sunnis to his cause. Despite his history with Martian economic development he has managed to avoid association with any of the hypercorps; the feeling seems to be largely mutual.
Dr. Nawar Darzi
Dr. Nawar Darzi made her name as a biological terraforming expert; her work on extremophile bacteria was instrumental in early efforts to begin changing Mars’ atmospheric mixture. She routinely lectures around the inner system and has even been invited to medical conferences in the Jovian Republic. Publicly, she’s as apolitical as possible, considering her life’s work and reliance on hypercorp grants. Bousaid once employed her, and they’ve been fast friends ever since.
Dr. Darzi’s recent research has suggested several biological and biomechanical methods for ﬁghting back against the exsurgent virus, or even the possibility of engineering nanoswarms that could attack and adapt to TITAN threats.
I have not met her personally, but her rep in academic circles is so high that I feel I could vouch for her theories. She is based on Mars and does most of her lecturing at the university there, but like many other academics makes the most of consulting opportunities for the hypercorps.
Hayder Abd Al-Wali Abujamal
Hayder Abd al-Wali Abujamal is the opposite of Bousaid: young, brash, and openly political. He came to Mars as an indentured worker, stuck in a synthmorph in a Noctis slum. He worked with other labor organizers, anarchists, socialists, and those now deemed “enemies of the Consortium,” pushing constantly for more rights and freedoms. You may recall some of the ugliness with the indentured workers who were sentenced to imprisonment as infomorphs; al-Wali Abujamal was one of those, but someone engineered his release by buying out his sentence. I suspect, but cannot prove, that someone was Bousaid.
Hayder is White Butterﬂy’s organizer: he still makes political appearances, but does so within the boundaries of Consortium law. He’s been elected as imam of a sizable Martian Sunni population in Noctis and has used his position to ﬁnd other Martian Sunnis interested in taking back Qurain. He has also hinted that if Qurain could be retaken, then it would be God’s will that Mecca and the entire Earth could be as well—the ﬁrst would be the proof that Martian Sunnis needed to engineer the second.
What We Suspect
White Butterﬂy is not simply interested in reclaiming Qurain from the TQZ. From the conversations I’ve had with the few members I’ve been able to identify, the group believes that Qurain is merely practice for the much larger goal of liberating Mecca on Earth, returning the possibility of true hajj to the Brotherhood, and perhaps even being the leaders of the total liberation of Earth itself from the TITANs and exsurgent virus.
Forgive my speculation as I deviate further and further from veriﬁable data. White Butterﬂy has the potential to be a Firewall ally, insofar as they share some of the same basic goals of reclamation. However, from what I have seen, for a group with as many resources as White Butterﬂy has at its disposal, it should be more effective an organization than it is.
That could mean two things. First, like any loosely aligned organization with more money than sense, White Butterﬂy simply doesn’t have the cohesion necessary to work as a unit without putting each member’s personal goals before the group’s. Or, it could mean that they have yet another, shadowy motive and the liberation of Mecca is simply a front for something else.
I want to stress that I have seen no evidence of any sort of ulterior motive, and therefore personally lean towards the ﬁrst solution, but my analysis would be incomplete if I did not at least mention the second possibility.
As a Muslim myself, I would by lying if I did not say that the liberation of Mecca did not ﬁre my imagination on some level. I did not get a chance to conduct my hajj before the Fall, and I would welcome the opportunity to lay my eyes upon the Ka’aba. I know many other Muslims feel the same, even those who were born off-planet and never knew the beauty of old Earth.
To put my analysis another way: if White Butterﬂy wished to become a political or religious entity, rather than a hobby project for dilettantes and the Martian Sunni glitterati, they could easily gain membership among the Brotherhood.
Sidebar: Contacting the Butterfly
Posted by: Jake Carter, Firewall Sentinel <Info Msg Rep>
I made contact with Dr. Darzi last year at a lecture on terraforming efforts. Firewall has classiﬁed her as a potential friendly contact for some time, and I found her to be an astute scientist with some truly revolutionary ideas. I admit that I do not understand her theories on bacterial information, but the results of her work on Mars cannot be denied.
Agents looking for a way to work with White Butterﬂy should consider Dr. Darzi as their best bet for initial contact. As Saleh noted, she stays out of Martian politics, but her sympathies clearly lie with helping transhumanity, and in my estimation she’d be willing to get involved if we could prove the need—and act as an “in” to the Martian Sunnis for non-religious sentinels.