The Butterfly Dragon: The Two Butterflies - Episode 05 (Updated June 23, 2023 First Draft Finished)

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Excerpts From The Butterfly Dragon: The Two Butterflies - Episode 04

As the hospital recovers from the sudden blackout resulting from further sabotage by the unknown forces that thwart them, Zheng Ni Wong, Doctor Stephen Briggs and Professor Bryce Maxwell bid their friend Gabriel Asnon goodbye:

"Sorry but we're in the middle of an emergency here. Visiting hours are over," the first security guard told Zheng and Doctor Briggs as they stepped in the room.

Behind them, Bryce had just arrived with a Doctor.

"You'll all need to leave and I'll attend to Gabe. Trust me, he's in good hands..." the Doctor assured them.

As they went to leave, Gabe struggled with all of his will to lift his head and speak.

"Didn't you forget something?" he asked, barely able to keep his head up.

"I don't think so..." Zheng checked her purse to ensure she hadn't dropped anything from it.

"I mean your tablet. You're going to need it... for the meeting... right?" Gabe said as he passed out.

"Oh. I forgot my tablet! Of course! How forgetful of me. Get some rest buddy," Bryce nodded to Gabe as he passed out and then walked over to the tablet and picked it up in hand, carrying it like he would a book.

"We'll be back as soon as we can Gabe. I promise," Zheng assured her friend, who was not conscious to hear her words.

"Bye Gabe," Doctor Briggs waved to the unconscious man as the three of them, accompanied by their security escort left the hospital.


Meanwhile, at the Like A Pro Gym And Fitness Center, Jack Warren, who now inhabits the body of Dan Gurdy, trains feverishly at the punching bag.

"Mr. Gurdy?" the trainer addressed the man.

"Dan. The name's Dan," Jack said from within Dan Gurdy's body.

"I just wanted say that you're one of our greatest success stories here, and that we'd like to offer you an opportunity and some cash to represent us in our advertising campaign," the trainer said to him.

"Really? What kind of cash are we talkin'?" asked Jack in the form of Dan.

"Three grand to start, where you'll be under contract for two weeks for all the promo work, which is mostly photoshoots for our brochures and pamphlets. Possibly more from there," the fitness coach assured him.

"Two weeks? Where do I sign?" asked Dan enthusiastically, as that money might be enough to put him in with Mutano again.

"Here's my card, and our agreement. I'll let you take this home, read it and sign it. Return it to me by tomorrow and I'll schedule your photoshoot right away," the gym trainer handed him the agreement package he'd been holding the whole time.

"Thanks. I'll have this to you by tomorrow," Dan returned to the punching bag, turning his back to the trainer who casually returned to weights area to assist his customers.

"Mister Mutano? here I come," Jack spoke aloud to himself from within Dan's body.


Meanwhile, Inspector Tricia Camden of the RCMP has met up with Professor Bryce Maxwell in hopes of forging an information sharing alliance that could benefit her current caseload and her standing orders investigating the social phenomenon affecting society:

"Now, we already know that you and your friends are putting your minds to investigating such a phenomenon. A specific phenomenon whose social footprints match the story I just told you, if I'm correct. I'd like you to share this information with them. Especially with Zheng, Doctor Briggs, and Heylyn. Preferably, I'd like you to share it with them at your meeting today, with the same understanding that they'll not divulge this information to anyone," Tricia asked Bryce.

"I couldn't agree with you more. I'd be happy to present these findings. Now, have you any more such connected cases related to these methods employed by this group?" asked Bryce.

"I am not able to discuss those details with you today, though we are investigating a link between this methodology and the recent spate of public attacks. We're also looking into a connection between this methodology and what we can only describe as systematic radicalization to the ends of violence. Situations where people with no prior history of violence are gradually spurred into bursts of mania and possibly violent action," Tricia told him, recalling the cases of Ron Forseth and Helmut Werner.

"With these methods you've described, I'd be willing to bet that such a history of violence could be doctored. Created even, systematically. Perhaps there might be more details hidden within such cases that could expand your understanding of this phenomenon?" asked Bryce.

"That is exactly why I wanted to forge this alliance. Insights like that will help us to investigate this further and to fill in the blanks," though Tricia wasn't referring exactly to Bryce's most recent response, she was referring to the fact that she wanted him to put his mind to assist them in this partnership.

"To tell you the truth, when I discuss this with Zheng and Doctor Stephen Briggs, we're going to get a lot of insight from their combined expertise, not to mention Heylyn's philosophical perspective and the input of the rest of the group. Now this brings me to another subject and very important question. You usually work towards building a strong enough case that you can take and try before a court of law. We're obviously dealing with something that transcends that model of law enforcement. So how do you fit into this? What are your goals? What happens if you achieve a holistic understanding of this group? What are you going to do with the accumulated case files and evidence?" asked Bryce.

"I cannot discuss those details with you involving the deployment of strategic or tactical resources, though I can tell you that we're examining providing briefs along with corresponding consultation and expertise to the cabinet. Something they could, with our consultation and the consultancy of independent expertise, affect via policy. We would also provide our strategic partners and other global leaders with similar intelligence packages assuming that these options are approved by the cabinet, though these details are not to be discussed with anyone, and given the nature of what we recently spoke about, they aren't even to be thought about," Tricia told Bryce assertively.


Later in that same day, a large group of peers and friends meet at West Meet East International, the fashion company started by Heylyn Yates. At the beginning of their meeting, Bryce chooses to introduce the group to MAZ, the Artificial Intelligence whose machine instructions execute inside of MindSpice's Quantum powered Cloud, a technology designed by Zheng Ni Wong, Bryce Maxwell and a host of MindSpice Engineers. The group meeting at West Meet East discuss as to whether they should let an artificial intelligence both listen in and speak at their meetings:

"Giving us MAZ, was Gabe's last request before underwent the next round of treatment, though he did it auspiciously so that nobody would suspect we'd taken the means to access his greatest technical achievement. As it turns out, MAZ had already been of great value to what we're looking into," Bryce explained to everyone at the meeting.

"That's a machine. Nothing more than a complicated coffee maker that can speak. How could you even trust anything like that to help us with something that requires a love of life and of being alive?" asked Hanshi, edging more towards his western roots.

"Everything has a mind, though some minds are not awakened," Aikiko pointed out to Hanshi, clinging to her Japanese understanding of the material world.

"I agree with what Aikiko is saying, but it would be in our best interest to hear Hanshi out," Jinn Hua added.

"Are you saying that only because that machine was unable to recognize you?" asked Hoon Kwang of Jinn Hua.

"No more than a generational farmer of the rice fields and gardens of my homeland would reply. Am I guilty because I have something in common with unrecognized people of the land, or because I'm simply unrecognized?" asked Jinn Hua.

"I'm new to these meetings, but I am skeptical that a machine can speak for us in the world who sweat to survive. To live life. To breath the air through lungs of made up of organic cells, all of whom are alive like us. For whom we need to speak up!" Hanshi added to his argument.

"What difference is the machinery of life if it is soft flesh or hard stone? Is the planet not alive with  rivers for veins and an atmosphere for lungs? Would you then accuse our most gracious host of life on this planet of being inept of consciousness? Of being nothing more than a speaking coffee maker?" Jinn Hua responded to Hanshi, whose eye brows rose when he heard Jinn Hua's remark.

"Hanshi's point is pertinent and needed to be expressed, but clearly, and in accordance with our traditions of the east, Jinn Hua makes the most sensible point. MAZ has as much right as a consciousness in this fold to speak. To elicit what she knows, possibly even to help us all," Hoon Kwang added his perspective.

"Hello? I'm not qualified as intellectually as you all are, but I believe intuitively that MAZ seems to genuinely be concerned for us in one way or another," Monique spoke up.

"Intuition is one of the most accurate elements of the human condition," Heylyn backed Monique's perspective.

"But that might be anthropic bias. You see, all those for whom intuition wasn't successful who died as a result of their reliance on it, aren't considered in the data because they literally can't tell us they relied on their intuition and that it killed them. In other words, the only data we have on intuition is from those that paid attention to it and survived. My point being that when we decide upon MAZ's participation in these meetings, we need to consider all aspects. Both the objective and subjective of dealing with an artificial consciousness," Doctor Briggs quickly jumped in.

"I have a somewhat radical idea if you all might indulge me?" asked Braden.

"You have the floor. Speak," Heylyn smiled to him.

"Why don't we just treat MAZ the same way that we treat each other?  When I hear something I agree with, I add it to my understanding of the world. However, when I hear something that I don't agree with, I consider it, evaluate it, and decide as to whether its validly something that I want to allow into my sense of being. That's what most of us do when we talk with each other. Why don't we just do the same thing with MAZ?" asked Braden, in his somewhat uninformed and humble stature amongst them.

"I believe that the Shipper Receiver here at West Meet East has truly hit upon a gem of wisdom," Heylyn smiled to him.

"I'm all with Braden. That absolutely sums up how we need to deal with this, especially considering that no one of us here was given the same scrutiny when we arrived," Jinn Hua surmised astutely.

"That truly makes sense. If my coffee maker said something to me that I disagreed with, I'd do the same," Hanshi admitted.

"Everyone? A show of hands in support of Braden's synopsis?" Heylyn asked the room for their vote.

Everyone in the room raised their hands.

"Thank you for the vote of confidence. I will do my best to be worthy or your approval, though I will not restrain what I express in the interest of appeasing your opinions, but rather remain committed to the evidence," MAZ responded to the vote, clearly having seen it through her vision.

"How is this all happening. I mean is all of that mind being calculated in that tablet?" asked Gregory, absolutely curious of inner workings of MAZ.

"No Gregory. MAZ doesn't run on this architecture. She runs on what we call TADEQUAR. Tasked Dedicated Symmetric Quantum processing Arrays. Hardware which was designed by an a clever MindSpice engineer named John Marshall, all while we were designing the APIs that would integrate it into the MindSpice cloud. Anyway, Professor Maxwell and I designed the algorithmic inner workings of MAZ's quantum based neural network, integrating a fractal topological design into the emergence of synaptic nodes. Fractal meaning the same genetic technology seen in plant and root systems. Branch and expand," Zheng explained to Gregory, who was in awe of her explanation.

"So with MAZ on our side, I figure we have a much better chance figuring this out. Not to mention, I think that's what Gabe was interested in when he gave us the tablet and essentially, MAZ," Bryce spoke up.

"So what's next now that we've worked that out?" asked Kori.

"Alice Through The Mentis Glass. That's what. Doctor Briggs, I'm going to need your fact checking on this," Bryce stood, ready to deliver his address to the room.

The Butterfly Dragon: The Two Butterflies - Episode 05

"I have a bit of a story to tell before I begin. Last week, Wendy and I had dinner with one of her friends from high school, whose identity will remain anonymous for now. She works in the medical field, specifically as a Cognitive Therapist helping those struggling with mental health issues that could benefit from the strategies employed by Cognitive therapy to find a healthy balance in their lives," Bryce began as he stood before them.

"Just by chance, she brought up the case of a particular patient. A patient I'll refer to as Alice, no relation to our own Alicia here," Bryce smiled to Alicia.

"Anyhow, as it turns out this patient had been involved in a number of illegal activities while working for a law firm in the Eglinton Avenue and Yonge Street area of Toronto. She was employed as a legal assistant, having been a star player in the firm's legal team. She was in charge of maintaining all of their case files and ensuring that both their data center and their paper copy remained in sync at all times. Not to mention that after having worked there for a decade since graduating as a legal assistant, she'd essentially become an expert on the majority of their case files and could recall case details for the firm's lawyers upon request," Bryce continued.

"As it turns out, Alice didn't really have a social life. Her relatives were long gone, either having left the city or deceased. Most of her friends from school much the same had moved to houses outside of Toronto to exploit the lower cost of ownership of a house or property. So she essentially had no social outlet. One night after work, she went out shopping and someone handed her a brochure inviting her to a recruitment seminar whose marketing was specifically targeted to the many people in her position. A young urban professional with few or no friends, who'd be interested in meeting friendly faces and exciting people on their path towards privileged knowledge," Bryce explained to his peers.

"She read the brochure carefully and on the night mentioned of their recruitment meeting, she arrived and was recruited by what can only be described as a cloister. An independent ideological group whose primary goals were the pursuit of this privileged information that the group's leader, Habus Macill espoused was within the grasp of his students. That they only need attend the group's many weeknight sermons and weekend overnights to find these supreme secrets of the mind as surely as I'm talking to you now," Bryce looked over the room, and found that everyone was listening carefully.

"Kind of like what we're doing here, right now?" asked Monique.

"Not quite. The difference is, that these meetings are a two way discussion. I'm just giving you all the background to something that is very important to our mission with these meetings, so that we might all benefit from considering it and weighing it against this social phenomenon we've taken it upon ourselves to investigate," Bryce explained to Monique, and the rest of the room.

"So Alice began attending these meetings regularly, after her day shift at her job. On weekends, she'd stay at the cloister's compound, which was located just north east of Yonge Street and Steeles Avenue. At the overnights, Alice reported that the other senior members of this cloister could be heard chattering during sleeping hours. A constant talking in their sleep that would start from the moment they were in bed, until the morning when they awoke. She reported that at first, she couldn't quite make out the details of what these voices were saying. Only that they were definitely audible and a sound coming from within the cloister itself, from the experienced members of the cloister. She also mentioned that over the months of experiencing this, that the voices at night would become more and more bitter, hateful even. Full of ire and spite," Bryce paced a bit.

"Despite the bizarre nature of these outings, Alice continued attending them as during their waking hours, and initially upon her joining Habus' cloister, she was essentially love bombed. Treated very well all the time by her new found friends, who apparently just adored her..." Bryce paused as Doctor Briggs put up his hand.

"I'd just like to interject that this is often a tactic employed by some ideologies who practice aggressive indoctrination, that is used to break down a person's defenses and to foster trust, without ever actually earning that trust the same way everyone else does. I imagine that with Alice initially having been a lonely person with few friends or local contacts, that this would be quite appealing to her, essentially creating a codependency between her and the group that were love bombing her," Doctor Briggs added sociological input to Bryce's story.

"Thank you Doctor Briggs, because that's exactly what was happening. She attended these weeknights and weekend overnights for half a year, before the cloister reduced their overnights to once a month from it having formerly been every consecutive weekend. When Alice began spending her weekends at home again, she reported hearing those same voices despite the not being at the cloister itself. They were as loud and invasive, perhaps even more so. Sounding as if the voices were spoken from an inch away and directly into her ears by the speakers of those words themselves. She was initially so startled by this that she began making audio recordings with a highly sensitive microphone she'd purchased. What was even more startling to her was the fact that these voices did not come out on these audio recordings. A fact that she could not understand, given the fact that she was clearly hearing them," Bryce paused again as Doctor Briggs raised his hand.

"I'd just like to interject that these sorts of symptoms often coincide with certain clinical mental illnesses, specifically Schizoaffective disorder, which is based upon a chemical imbalance in the brain that results in the misfiring of synapses, specifically those connected to memory or cognition that can yield visual or audible hallucinations as a result. From the perspective of a person's senses, it would appear as if they are directly experiencing the situation being fabricated by the misfiring of synapses due to this chemical imbalance. As if receiving the data directly from their eyes or ears and being processed through the cognitive centers of the brain, even without sensory input data at all," Doctor Briggs explained.

"Are you saying that is what Alice was experiencing?" confirmed Norler.

"At this point in Bryce's story, Alice would most likely be professionally diagnosed with Schizoaffective disorder, which would be a clinically sound diagnoses. However, given the nature of what we're investigating, I suspect Bryce's motive for bringing this up goes beyond that possibility," Doctor Briggs responded to Norler's question.

"I can't say anything about that, but I can say that her story just gets more bizarre as you'll soon hear. The voices that she'd hear whenever she attempted to sleep at her own home eventually got clearer and clearer until she could make out the individual voices of specific people. People from her cloister, though most often she reported hearing masses of voices. Between ten to a hundred or more at a time," Bryce paused for a drink of his water.

"So where is this story going? Is there a point to it?" asked Hanshi pragmatically.

"That there is. After about another half year of these sorts of experiences, one day while she was at work, the voices demanded that she destroy the entire file from a specific case that the law firm where she worked was preparing for their upcoming time in court on behalf of their client. Both the paper and digital records from the entire case. Of course, Alice refused to do this at which point Alice reported being stricken with a massive migraine headaches, sickness and nausea, all of these symptoms lasting for exactly a week. When these symptoms set upon her, she also reported feeling a tingling sensation in her lower central abdomen and lower towards her genitalia. Most likely close to several of the body's endocrine glands," Bryce explained to them.

Myung's interest in Bryce's story seemed peaked.

"After a week of these headaches and nausea, the voices requested once again that she achieve the same goal for them. Destroy the paper and digital contents of a case file. She refused once again, and the exact same symptoms she'd experienced over the entirety of the previous week returned again after just having subsided. Migraine headaches. Nausea. Dizziness. All for exactly another week. After that week, her work performance was affected severely and she feared that she might lose her job if she experienced another similar episode. So when the voices demanded she erase those case files a third time, she complied. She waited until an afternoon when the owners were out to play golf, and all the other employees had left early for a long weekend. During that time, she shredded all of the paper files, and erased all of the digital data relating to that particular case as the voices had instructed. Here's the really bizarre thing. After having done that, Alice reported that she felt great. Wonderful. Like she'd been injected with some kind of euphoric drug, and that she felt that way for a week after having accomplished what they'd told her to do," Bryce explained to his peers.

"What happened?" asked Kori.

"Well, the lawyers eventually found out that all the case files were gone, and ordered an investigation into the sabotage. The Police were also called in, but Alice wasn't caught for her crime. That instance began a long string of similar occurrences with Alice, when eventually she was caught, arrested and charged with Obstruction Of Justice, amongst many other charges for her activities. However, due to the unique circumstances of her case, and her own account, she was deemed mentally ill and sentenced to spend five years in the Leeds Care Facility, where she resides until this very day," Bryce finished Alice's story.

"So how does all of this fit into what we're looking into?" asked Norler asked.

"She wasn't actually Schizophrenic. She was legitimately hearing the voices of members of the cloister whose intent it was to use her to further their own political objectives, right?" asked Alicia astutely.

"That's what I believe and that's why this story was told here," Bryce explained to the people in the room.

"But how could they speak to her like that? They must have been kilometers away from her, not to mention the members of that cloister all likely have their own homes too, don't they?" asked  Monique asked.

Hanshi looked to Hoon Kwang, and then Jinn Hua, though they didn't speak.

"How many of you remember our first meeting?" asked Bryce.

A few hands went up, but far less than half the room which stirred a bit of laughter.

"Alright. Here's a recap. Our bodies have a communication highway called the nervous system, through which all of the information necessary for one part of our body to communicate with another flows. For instance, if we're running low on a specific type of nutrient, one of our organs produces a signal through the nervous system that arrives in our brain, and causes it to send another signal to our endocrinal glands, which in turn produce a series of hormones that cause us to crave specific foods with that nutrient, or more simply put, that makes us feel hungry. All of that occurs in the blink of an eye, thanks to our nervous system. Alicia, why don't you take it from here?" Bryce began once again, turning to Alicia who accepted Bryce's offer, standing to continue his explanation.

"The nervous system is like a set of wires that run through the body and connect every part of the body to the brain and sometimes directly to others parts of the body, and even our musculature and limbic system. These wires actually carry information, which is electrobiologically encoded, producing a very minute electrical current that is used to carry this information around the body in layperson's terms. Back to you Bryce. You're far better at explaining this next part," Alicia smiled and sat down, receiving a small applause for her part.

"I was just getting comfortable. Alright. These electrical signals cascade through the nervous system, via neurons. Cells especially evolved for the processing of information and passage of biologically encoded electrical information. Almost like wires as Alicia said. Some of you may know that a current flowing through a conductive medium always produces an electromagnetic field that contains all of the same encoded information as the current that produced it. Now this field can expand out as far as a couple of meters from the body, sometimes even farther. When this field overlaps another human body, that same magnetic field produces an electrical current in the second body that is nearly identical to the one produced by the originating body. Now given the fact that the nervous system is evolved specifically to process the information content cascading through the body in the form of electrical current or voltage drops between the Axon and Soma of Neurons much like a capacitor, the second body that has intercepted this electrical current has a small chance to decode the information in the current, and regard it as having originated from its own body rather than the original body. As far as we know, the body cannot distinguish the origins of such biologically encoded information. We only know that the information content of nervous system communications is compatible between bodies simply as a result of the similarity of our physiology," Bryce finished, looking to a somewhat confused room.

"Does that mean that if I'm hungry, and my nervous system's magnetic field hits Kori's body, that she might suddenly feel hungry too?" asked Monique, causing a little laughter in the room.

"...or does that mean that when I've got an itchy back, that my magnetic field from my nervous system might give Monique an itchy back too?" asked Kori, further causing more laughter.

"It might and those are both good examples of what I'm talking about! But what the case of Alice gives us is the fact that there are groups that are using this phenomenon to create connections between themselves and other people. Apparently, if Alice's account is true, then there are groups who practice doing just that, and are capable of communication, of giving a person headaches or making them feel very good," Bryce confirmed what Monique and Kori had already caught on to.

"What it sounds like this cloister was doing to Alice, and presumably other members of its group is called Operant Conditioning," Doctor Briggs spoke up once again.

"Is that anything like Pavlov's experiments with dogs?" asked Linda for clarification.

"No. Very different. Pavlov proved that functions of the body could be triggered based upon anticipation of a certain outcome given previous experience. Like the dog that is trained that when they press a button with their paw, it will be given a treat. Even when the treats aren't dispensed, the dog's mouth will begin watering whenever the button is pressed. Take the treat away from the equation, and press the button to make the dog's mouth water," Doctor Briggs clarified.

"Then what is Operant Conditioning?" asked Valerie.

"Operant Conditioning is when a person gives another person a reward for behaviours that they approve of, and punishment for behaviours that they don't approve of. Many people train their pets using operant conditioning, and some people even raise their children with operant conditioning, without really knowing anything about it. In extreme cases, it can be used as it sounds like it was used against Alice. Forceful conditioning of a person with the use of rewards and punishments to encourage criminal behaviour that would benefit the group making such requests of her," Doctor Briggs surmised.

"Criminal investigators who work investigating sex trafficking rings often find that narcotics are used as a form of operant conditioning in order to encourage women to work for their pimps as prostitutes. Substance dependency is one of the biggest factors in street level sex trafficking," Myung explained based upon her experiences as a courtroom stenographer.

"Can I say something?" asked Braden, raising his hand.

"Please do," Heylyn encouraged him, knowing full well that he had some important information to share with them.

"I know Habus Macill. Not as a friend, but as an enemy. The cloister you're referring to in Toronto was raided about a decade ago, but with the help of contacts he fled to the No Man's Land zone between North Korea and South Korea, to setup a new cloister, which he called his School Of The Free Mind. His techniques are exactly as you described, Bryce. His ideology operates in a hierarchy, with him as the undisputed leader. He conditions his followers into a what can only be described as being a combined consciousness. Where a large group of people are able to communicate with each other, share each others thoughts, but ultimately who are mindless and regard Habus as their leader and rarely act on their own without his direction. He is considered their Mentis, the name by which they refer to him,"  Braden explained to them his experiences after having been tasked to rescue Warai Jeong-Min Tokama.

"Makes sense. That would be Latin for mind or mindful, and the root of the word mentor, etymologically speaking," Zheng commented.

"What happened to this school of his?" asked Hoon Kwang.

"After a heated meeting between the South Korean and North Korean military leadership, they came to an agreement that the school would be taken out via a joint air strike, carried out by the militaries of each country. I was tasked with getting as many people away from the school as possible before this airstrike was to occur, but my main priority was to save Warai. The agreement was that the survivors were given refuge in South Korea," Braden finished.

"...where I picked up Warai and adopted her," Heylyn added.

"Who even hired you to do this?" asked Hanshi of Braden in disbelief.

"I did. Myself, and Miss Hue Van," Jinn Hua responded.

"You're mistaken. I worked for a man code-named Cal," Braden corrected Jinn Hua.

"Who was hired by one of my contacts," Jinn Hua further corrected him.

"And you knew about this all along? Why didn't you..." Heylyn stood, shocked that Jinn Hua would keep this information from her.

"This is neither the time nor the place for this discussion, Ai Yuanlin Ying," Jinn Hua replied to Heylyn.

"If they are communicating through nothing but their minds, then how is that possible if the human magnetic field only extends for a meter or two from the human body?" asked Kori, who was obviously listening.

"I was just going to ask that same question," Linda added.

"Quantum Entanglement," Bryce stood up once again.

"And what is that?" asked Monique.

"Quantum entanglement describes a state of interconnectedness between two units of matter, whereby the forces enacted upon one or that one is subject to, are reflected in the other. If angular momentum for instance is applied to entangled particle A, then entangled particle B will react to the same forces no matter the distance between the two particles," Bryce explained.

"Doesn't that violate the speed limit of light in terms of information moving faster than light between the entangled particles?" asked Zheng.

"Not really. For whatever reason, this seems not to be affected by the limit of the speed of information, which might mean that it takes place outside of relativistic space/time. There's a lot of theories that attempt to explain it, but none have really come close. Perhaps with a theory of Quantum gravity we might eventually find out why entanglement disregards the speed limit of information set by the relativistic model as capacity, better known as the speed of light," Bryce explained to Zheng.

"Are you saying that the human body can become entangled with another human body?" asked Zheng again.

"Not as much so as individual atoms or even molecules of the nervous system might potentially become entangled with those of another human body. Considering that magnetic fields are involved, and that they're often used in laboratories to artificially entangle two particles, this may be the mechanism that would allow a combined consciousness to operate over great distances and with many people interconnected," 

"Would this be the same thing that is behind the recent spate of radicalization? Of seemingly sane people who suddenly snap and commit attacks against the public?" asked Linda.

"If what Professor Maxwell has surmised holds up under the scrutiny of experimentation to prove these theories, then possibly. I mean, if someone can be given a headache by others at a distance, then what would stop them from affecting another person in any number of ways? All of these activities conducted against the victims have one common fingerprint: they affect or alter the production of hormones within the body, or they stimulate sensory organs or the cognitive center of the brain in some way at a distance. This is how one could effectively hear voices at a distance, even when the people speaking are tens or hundreds of kilometers away. They're not hearing actual sound, but hearing what the people speaking those words out loud hear with their own ears. The sensory input from the ear is what's entangled, or possibly the post sensory cognition. Bryce and I will be examining this phenomenon very, very closely, and with the help of Universities throughout the world as well," Doctor Briggs explained to everyone in the room.

"If this is something already rampant all over North America and on its way to Europe and Asia, wouldn't it be in our best interests to share that information so they can protect themselves?" asked Kori.

"We need working proof that its possible first, but I do agree. Europe and Asia should definitely be warned about this. Especially China, as something of this nature might be used to trigger world war three, or at the very least, a silent invasion of Asia, where Asian culture is eradicated and replaced with whatever is deemed acceptable by the ideology employing these methods," Doctor Briggs looked to Zheng as he spoke.

"So this is what's behind the theft of my prototype?" asked Gregory, his face fertile with frustration.

"It could be, given the symptoms you described for us Gregory," Alicia agreed, recalling everything that had happened up until that point that had allowed Tynan And Associates to both replace Walton Norler and to steal the prototype from Gregory's workshop.

"If this ideology possesses this ability, they could steal things right from our mind when we think them!?" Gregory reminded the room.

"Yes, given what we know so far, that is a possibility, and very well could already be occurring on a large scale," Bryce anticipated, knowing full well what was possible given their current theories on how the ideology operated.

MAZ's screen displayed an animated waving hand, causing some people in the room to laugh.

"I think MAZ has something to say," Valerie noted aloud.

"Go ahead MAZ," Bryce addressed the tablet computer which was interfaced with MindSpice's Quantum Cloud and MAZ's brain.

"Given the criteria you expressed in the story of Alice, I have located more than three million similar cases throughout North America alone. Each of these cases matches the majority or all of the criteria of Alice's case in some way," MAZ reported to her peers in the room.

"Where and how did you obtain these results MAZ?" asked Zheng.

"These results were obtained from interrogation records, legal proceedings, polygraph results, patient records and victim statements from a number of infrastructure sources throughout North America in both Canada and the United States," MAZ answered Zheng's question.

"Do all of these cases include some form of legal infraction, MAZ?" asked Doctor Briggs.

"No. Not all. Fifty-seven percent include legal infractions of some form similar to Alice's case, where the defendant was requested by voices to conduct some form of criminal activity for an unknown group. Most other cases involve policy infractions at the corporate level, whereby privileged company data and information was breached and shared with parties outside of the company against whom the policy was violated. In twenty-three percent of these cases, the defendant shared privileged information from medical records with an unknown group. The criteria involve situations where one or more people were requested to obtain, alter or purge protected information on the request of voices whereby said methods of operant conditioning are on record," MAZ replied.

"MAZ, can you filter out all the results that include activist groups such as those fighting for environmental rights for example?" asked Heylyn of MAZ.

"Insightful," Alicia agreed.

"Removing one hundred and fifty-nine thousand results. Two million nine-hundred and seventy thousand results remaining," MAZ responded the Heylyn's request.

"That's a little bit too much for us to go through one by one MAZ. Perhaps you could keep this index and retrieve it for us in the near future?" asked Doctor Briggs.

"I will do as requested. It might be of importance to note that these cases are increasing at an alarming rate, while data infractions by company insiders is growing exponentially. The data would suggest that there is a correlation between the two. Cases similar to Alice's case, and the spate of data infractions by company insiders, often against clients," MAZ suggested.

"So are we to understand from what MAZ is saying, that Habus Macill is behind these phenomenon?" asked Aikiko, now very shocked by the possibility that there might be a connection between all of this and Mutano.

"Same tactics. Same methodology," Braden nodded to Aikiko in agreement.

"Another important set of results is quite startling. I have collected more than fifty thousand results throughout North America based upon possible whistle blowers of the unknown group, who were summarily executed before they could divulge the information they'd promised to reveal, some of whom may have possibly been erased by the unknown group," MAZ added to the growing evidence supporting their investigation.

"How can someone be erased?" asked Zheng.

"When the members of an ideology or social movement collaborate to remove all evidence of another person's existence. They usually begin by disregarding that person's existence socially, and almost always will never ever use that person's name. When referring to that person, they'll use someone else's identity in such a way that the replacement identity gets all the credit, and blame for everything the person being erased says or does. This might even go so far as attempting to erase the victim's original culture, and replacing it with another entirely different culture. That way, if the victim protests such treatment, its a fairly trivial matter to label them as a being a racist, which helps to discredit them and contributes towards the effort of those erasing the victim to further get away with it. I've heard of cases where when the victim died, their official records, such as medical or even Government records were illegally replaced with someone else's, or deleted entirely, hence completing the erasing of the victim. Mostly, it starts out as a social attack, and spreads to become a full fledged identity threat," Myung reported to them.

"How did you learn all about that?" asked Hanshi.

"It was a topic in part of my legal records curriculum, and one of the prerequired courses for courtroom stenography, as official records can sometimes mean the difference between life and death. Between a case being investigated or never reaching the courts," Myung replied to Hanshi.

Myung turned to MAZ and spoke.

"Where are these records from MAZ?" asked Myung, now that they were in the legal arena.

"The same or similar as the previous index. Taken from Police records, statements and interrogations and polygraph results. Every case involves people who are suspected of having been murdered, or who outright disappeared leaving no body hence no crime," MAZ replied.

"This index then refers to ex-members of this as of yet unknown group who threatened to blow the whistle?" confirmed Linda.

"This is the case in at least ninety-three percent of the results with a probability of ninety-nine percent or higher. The remainder fall below ninety percent probability," MAZ replied curtly.

"If this ideology is already spread this far, we need to ensure that Warai is safe and protected here. How can we be certain that somebody within West Meet East isn't already infiltrated by this Mentis person?" asked Hoon Kwang.

"We don't for sure, but we do know that there's something about this place that seems to keep that possibility away. I mean I feel very different here, versus anywhere else I go in the city. When I'm at other parts of the city, I always feel like I'm being watched very carefully but in all honesty, I often recognize others who feel the same way, and we often greet each other silently, each knowing that we're in the midst of some sort of strange tyranny. There are other havens that are a bit like this place, but few with which I'm so familiar, and yet, when I come here, its like I'm free," Kori noted about working for West Meet East.

"I've felt the same way too since I started working here. It is like the eyes looking over my shoulders are gone when I'm here, but they return not long after I leave," Aikiko told them.

"Same here. Alicia and I talked about this last night in bed. I basically said how much I was looking forward to the meeting..." Norler began.

"...and I asked why he felt that way, not skeptically but more so to confirm my own feelings," Alicia continued Norler's story.

"So I answered her: because it feels safe. Like there's nobody watching us there. Like the pressure is gone," Norler added.

"To which I replied: Same here. That's exactly the way I feel when I'm there," Alicia leaned over and kissed Norler on the cheek.

"I'm not very superstitious, but I'd have to say the same thing," Bryce agreed.

"Its like a tension is lifted. I don't know if that's the relief being with friends affords us, but that's the way I feel too," Valerie agreed.

"I'm not quite ready to let down my guard, yet, but there is something different about this place from everywhere else," Hanshi nodded his head in agreement to what they were saying.

"We are constantly fraught between the pressure of the inner and the outer. When you are not here, the pressure outside of you is unbearable and out of balance from the inner pressure pushing back against the outside. I am at balance everywhere I go, but I can feel that this place, and the people within are an immense source of protection. There is something here that shields us from the outer pressure about which I spoke," Jinn Hua agreed with them too.

"Who feels the same thing? How about a show of hands?" asked Doctor Briggs.

Everyone in the room with the exception of MAZ, put their hands up.

"Perhaps we are shielded from the effects of this Mentis person and his cloister when we're here?" asked Hoon Kwang.

"Off of his radar so to speak," Hanshi agreed.

"I urge you all not to let yourselves become soft here, because this is when we need to be on our greatest guard. When we all leave, if we retain that softness too much, it might prove a weakness through which Mentis might get at one of us," Hoon Kwang urged everyone in the room.

"I couldn't agree more. Enjoy the peace, but don't let it become your weakness. I suggest that ten minutes before we break these meetings, we do a little bit of mental strengthening exercise?" Hanshi suggested.

"Between Jinn Hua and I, I'm certain we have many methods that we could share. Hold a quick class ten minutes before we end the meeting. I believe that what we've uncovered thus far today might put us in jeopardy. A step closer to being on Mentis' radar," Heylyn agreed with their suggestion.

"I must interrupt," MAZ insisted.

"What is it MAZ?" asked Zheng, startled that MAZ would take such an action.

"I regret to inform you that Gabriel Asnon is now deceased. This news began spreading throughout reliable news sources only seconds ago," MAZ told them.

There was a moment of somber silence as the news finally hit everyone in the room. Tears began streaming down Linda's cheeks.

"I just remembered how he was late for our first date. Heylyn's most recent fashion show. He arrived at the hotel with his limousine, calling me when he was out front... I was already upset as I'd been waiting in the lobby for twenty minutes previously and had gone back to my room," Linda recalled.

"When I came downstairs and got in the limo, he acted as if nothing had happened. He remarked that I looked lovely and that was it. Then he asked me if I was up for a second date, before the limo had even pulled out. I said to him, let's see how this one goes first," Linda wiped her cheeks with a tissue she'd retrieved from her purse.

"Then, with all of his boyish charm, he said to me: I promise I won't be late for our second date. That's just how my world is most of the time. So much happening that I'm always running behind," Linda finished, recalling her night with Gabe.

"He was a good friend, and a great employer. One time when we were up against a deadline for the first milestone in the development lifecycle of MAZ, he calmly walked into the special projects area at four thirty with an energy drink in his hand and simply asked: how's it goin?" Zheng continued for Linda in their moment of memory for Gabe.

"Well I had been working since five that morning, struggling to get the final pieces of the initial code in place and ready for testing and profiling, so I was pretty exhausted. I thought to myself: the nerve of this guy! So I said to him: this code I'm working on has to be done before tomorrow. If it isn't, the entire project will be held up until it is!" Zheng said to them in the meeting room.

"He just casually says to me: I know. You'll have it ready, and if not, I'll give you whatever resources you need to get there tomorrow. Don't sweat it, Zheng. Make sure you get a good night's sleep. He was completely calm but had this energy like he was raring to go. Always encouraging, but firm when he needed to be," Zheng recalled about her former employer.

"I can second that. I remember that day well," Bryce agreed.

"How many more of us does this have to happen to before we do something about it?!" Valerie spoke up, her emotions and temper suddenly flaring.

"I thought that was why we're meeting here? So we could figure out what to do about this?" confirmed Monique.

"We need to know what, who and why before we can take any effective action. That's the purpose of these meetings. So we can develop an effective strategy to employ against this threat," Heylyn reminded everyone in the room.

"So why don't we do something then?! We have these abilities for a reason! If we don't stop this thing, it will walk all over everything and everyone we know, leaving nothing familiar behind and likely a world rife with poverty and genocide," Valerie stood up.

"I'm with Valerie on this one! We need to become active in doing something about this!" Monique stood  up from her seat neighbouring both Heylyn and Valerie.

"I'm with Heylyn on this. If we just charge in and start hurting people without understanding who or what we're dealing with, we'll be no better than them! Their having attacked like this is a provocation. One meant to draw a thoughtless hostile retaliation. If we react to it without foresight and restraint, we'll be acting without the benefit of our rational minds," Aikiko sided with Heylyn, now fully understanding Hanshi's  earlier lesson.

"I agree wholeheartedly with Aikiko," Hanshi backed up his student.

"As do I, but we need to be actively collecting information about our adversary if we're going to start foiling this at all," Hoon Kwang suggested.

"Sorry Monique, Valerie, but I'm with Heylyn and Aikiko on this. Thanks to Zheng, Doctor Briggs and Bryce, we have a firm handle on the science behind their unique psychic abilities, which Doctor Briggs also suggested they might be using for the operant conditioning of their victims. There's no telling how many people have been adversely affected by Mentis and his millions of followers," Alicia spoke up.

"Are they truly followers, or are they just conditioned to behave that way without being aware of it?" asked Jinn Hua.

"Most groups that operate in the model under which they appear to be operating have a hierarchical structure of leadership. Given the fact that Mentis and his followers all seem to be connected psychically, for lack of a better scientific word, they don't operate under a hierarchy at all," Doctor Briggs explained.

"More like an emergent mind from many different parts. The parts are the minds of the people connected to this group. Both those willingly connected to it, and those unwillingly," Zheng added.

"That's definitely an accurate assessment, but we also need to consider that a person's greatest asset is the array of sensory organs through which we can understand the world around us. Now imaging a mind made up of millions of other people's minds, and all of the sensory organs they have together. Their eyes. Their ears. Their noses. Their sense of touch. Taste. Not just from five sensory organs, but from five times the number of minds in their group. If just one of them is able to read, write and interpret a specific language that none of the others can understand, all of the minds will understand that language through that one person whenever they are exposed to it. I would surmise that its the same thing with any of their other skills. As long as there's a person that's a part of their group with a specific skill, the rest of them might have a better chance of understanding how to use that skill," Bryce suggested.

"That's true to a degree, but it would be limited where it involves physical skills. Most of the memory work for physical skills is part of our muscle memory, and only useable by the people whose bodies actually physically do those things repetitively, or at some point in their life, have practiced that skill repetitively," Alicia spoke up from her perspective as a Quantum Biologist.

"Alicia's right. Anything that is related to cognition or perception would likely readily be shared with the rest of the collective fairly quickly," Doctor Briggs added.

"In a node based network? It would cascade from the person whose skill was the source, to everyone else over time in waves, despite the immediate propagation of information if Quantum Entanglement is involved," Zheng spoke readily, seeing as her and Briggs had already discussed this matter over wine in front of their fireplace.

"Like the person who can understand that rare language, reading their favourite Latin literature. Their mind would process it from Latin phonetically into the semantics of their native language, which everyone else in the group could garner through their psychic connection, meaning that if that one person was reading, everyone would be able to understand it through them, but if they went out and tried to read that language themselves, they couldn't do it," Doctor Briggs surmised.

"So we can assume that there are aspects of their interconnection that allow them to share some skills with others of their group, but they can't learn an actual physical skill that way," Alicia summarized.

"It would seem that you are close to having a holistic understanding of the nature of this threat, and yet from my own perspective and the perspective of Hoon Kwang and Hanshi, there is much that you are not aware of," Jinn Hua spoke calmly.

"We also have to assume that those of his group that use computers, can benefit both from their internet connection and their connection to each other psychically. Those who aren't connected to the internet, can benefit from those in their group that are. Their abilities for sharing information very quickly with each other is nearly unbounded," Zheng added.

"Most private information about their victims could be gotten at through the internet. For example, if they have hackers in their midst, they could possibly get a complete medical record for their targets. Their criminal history. Their tax history. Or, if their members are employed at any places that have access to that information directly, they could very quickly share it with others in their group, and make use of it just as quickly," Alicia surmised.

"So their strength is in their ability to connect psychically with others relatively quickly, both the willing and the unwilling," Hanshi posed.

"Have any of us been exposed?" asked Kori nervously.

"I don't know, have you? You heard the symptoms here yourself," Valerie said, sitting back down from her heated display.

"We need to start assessing those vulnerable in our own circle and limit what we speak about with them. Not treat them any differently, but at least insulate ourselves enough so that we can continue investigating this without being found out before we can implement some kind of plan of action," Alicia suggested.

"Physical exercise might help you all a great deal. A modicum of as much. Yoga perhaps? Martial arts even or just a good bike ride or jog," Jinn Hua suggested.

"Let's wrap this meeting up. In the interim between now and next meeting, I'll start screening my employees and try to find out if any of them have been affected by this ideology. Nobody will be fired or laid off for sure, but I'd like to know around whom we should exercise healthy caution and concern. Also, I'll hire professional security guards from the firm that does the security for our shows. That will fill most of my week and into next week," Heylyn advised them.

"I'll organize experimentation into the possibility of Quantum Entanglement involving the nervous system and other systems of the human body through the University Alumni network. I'll verify if there's a possibility that information interchange is possible through such quantum channels. Even if I've got to be the guinea pig. For Gabe," Bryce laid out his plans.

"On that same aspect, I can probably finagle enough resources to see if its possible to trigger the human body into the production of hormones via remote electromagnetic stimulation from either an artificial source or a human source using recorded signaling from a real human body. If we can confirm that it's possible, that will go a long way to confirming Bryce's theory overall," Alicia made some notes in her itinerary as she addressed the room.

"I'll lend one of the Medi-Friend prototypes to Bryce or Alicia, whomever needs it the most for their experiments," Gregory spoke briefly and then sat down.

"I'll keep my eyes open for anything suspicious until our next meeting, though my efforts will be mostly geared towards  assisting Myung find those seeking to harm her," Hoon Kwang told them his plans.

"Thank you Sebomnim," Myung smiled.

"My pleasure," Hoon Kwang responded to her affirmatively.

"I'll continue with training Aikiko, and the first lesson with the Gem. I'll be on guard for anything disconcerting. You have my word that they'll both have my protection," Hanshi added.

"And mine as well," Jinn Hua assured them.

"I'll patrol every evening, alone as usual. If I find anything, I'll share it," Monique affirmed for them.

"I'll start putting together a profile of every possible advantage their psychic abilities would give them as individuals and collectively, from the perspective of a sociologist," Doctor Briggs told them.

"I'll do my best to look into the situation with Gabe through the internet, though my resources will be limited but I'll do my best," Zheng promised them.

"Alright, then let me lead you all in a short exercise and meditation session that might strengthen you, and help you to find peace in the midst of this chaos," Jinn Hua stood as did everyone in the room.

When they'd finished, they all had a minute of silence for Gabe.

To be continued in The Butterfly Dragon: The Two Butterflies - Episode 06

I don't play guitar, and I've never owned a guitar and I'm not a member of any religion.

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