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325AD - The Roman Origins of ATS

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posted on Aug, 18 2010 @ 06:01 PM
On the first floor of the Central Tax Office of Rome, Jacob peered over the window ledge and looked at the sundial. It was nearly five o'clock, time to go home. He looked around the room, the usual chatter of gossip and drinking plans filled the air. Jacob had never really fitted in with his colleagues ever since he said that he thought gladiator fights were 'a bit backward'. While the others planned their weekends of frolicking and parties, Jacob tidied his desk.
"Doing anything tonight?" came a voice from behind. Jacob turned to see an older man standing at the copying desk.
"I need twenty copies of that by the morning please Zerocsus,"  he said to the elderly man sitting at the desk furiously writing. He turned back to Jacob. "Sorry. As I was saying, are you free tonight?"
The man's name was Sendran, a fellow tax collector and similarly outcast from the rest of the staff. Jacob said nothing, still trying to figure out where this was going.
"Well?" said Sendran, "Are you free or not?"
"Er, yes, yes I suppose I am," replied Jacob cautiously. He'd shared the odd lunch with Sendran but never outside of work.
"Excellent. I've got something to show you, something I think you'll like." said Sendran cheerfully and handed Jacob a piece of paper. "Here's the address, think you can find it?"
Jacob took the paper and nodded. "Yes, I know it."
"Excellent, see you at seven," he turned back to old man at the copying desk. "Zerocsus, by the morning, ok?" 

Later that evening Jacob arrived at the address and looked around. The street was quiet, most of the buildings were warehouses and stores closed or abandoned. The one he stood outside had plain walls, no windows and huge double doors, above which a worn plaque read 'Abnegamus Inprudentia'. Jacob pondered it's meaning.
"Ah you came," said Sendran as he appeared from the alleyway across the street. "Good stuff."
Jacob smiled nervously. "Yes, well, I was at a loose end. You know how it is."
"Of course," replied Sendran knowing full well that Jacob had an abundance of loose ends, like that new pasta that looked like string. "Anyway, shall we?"
Jacob nodded.
"This my friend, is ATS," and Sendran opened the door, beckoning Jacob to enter.
The gaping entrance revealed a huge courtyard filled with hundreds of people. It was alive, there were men and women standing on podiums all around it's circumference with various sized crowds in front of each. The noise of chatter was deafening and Jacob strained to hear Sendran's words.
"Welcome to Above Top Secret dot com." shouted Sendran raising his arms. "Come on."
He motioned for Jacob to follow and they walked through the crowds.
"What's a dot com?" inquired Jacob trying to keep up.
"No idea," replied Sendran turning and shrugging his shoulders, "sounds good though."
Jacob nodded. "So what are all these people doing?"
Sendran pointed to the platforms over the heads of gathered people.
"Learning, debating, becoming enlightened. The podiums you see are called threads, and the people on them are called ohpees, the authors of the threads."
"Ohpees..." echoed Jacob.
"Yes, ohpees. They stand on the their stage and orate their new discovery or theory. Then, people gather round to discuss and debate the content of that thread."
"I see." said Jacob somewhat awestruck by the spectacle before him. They stopped at a large table in front of an attractive kind faced lady.
"This," said Sendran taking a strawberry from a bowl on the table, "is Asala. She helps the newbies find their way," .
"Hey!" cried Asala slapping Sendran on the wrist. She turned to Jacob and smiled.
"I'm Asala, if you have any questions, just come here, I'll do my best to help. But not on Thursday, I'm not here."
Sendran smiled and nudged Jacob. "Conspiracy Chicks on a Thursday. Asala and AshleyD, quite a crowd puller." he said behind his hand. Asala blushed and shuffled some papers.
"If there's nothing else gentlemen, then may I suggest that you take your friend to one of the lurkers galleries, he'll get a good view from up there. I've got work to do."
"Excellent idea. Give my regards to AshleyD," said Sendran with a grin. He guided Jacob up a square lashed staircase and on to a large wooden platform. 
"Lurkers?" said Jacob quizingly.
"Yeah, lurkers are people who aren't members but come to listen and learn. Most become members pretty quick, some just stay in these galleries watching and listening."
"So I'm a lurker?"
"I suppose you are, but only for now, you can join whenever you choose." Sendran motioned to a space on the platform. There were people standing around the edge leaning on the handrail listening intently to the various discussions going on below. Jacob joined them and stared out across the courtyard. The sight was quite impressive. There were around twenty similar platforms like the one he was standing on, each with a group of people around it's edge. Above the platforms were large banners with different pictures on; one had a pyramid with an eye floating above it; one had a large grey head with huge black eyes; and one had a sketch of the Colliseum burning. Around the base of these platforms were mutiple podiums, each with a smaller banner displaying the same picture as it's viewing platform along with foot high letters of it's ohpee's thread title. In the middle of these structures against the opposite wall to the entrance, was a huge board about forty foot high covered in rows of writing. Jacob watched as a number of what appeared to be children swung from ropes and climbed ladders swapping strips of writing for new ones.
"Thats the Recent Posts Board," said Sendran interupting Jacob's gaze.
"Every new thread goes up there. As long as people are talking at that thread's podium, it stays on. If the thread dies, or people stop talking, the thread comes down and one of the queuing ohpees takes their place." He pointed to the queue, there was a cordoned line of around thirty people, some with easels and rolls of paper, some with boxes, some just themselves.
"What's with the flags?" Jacob asked looking at the little red triangular flags held by some members of the audiences.
"Oh yeah, when you're a member, you get given flags. You use these flags to show your appreciation for the thread by raising them. You're recommending this thread to others."
Jacob nodded slowly as he scanned the forum. He stopped on a large crowd holding flags.
"What's that one?" he asked pointing at a small sea of red triangles adjacent to the opposite lurkers gallery. Sendran looked at the banner.
"That'll be the Timewave Zero thread by Evasius. Everyone loves that one. He has been recording the world's events and trying to find a way to predict future events based on history. Very interesting idea."
Jacob struggled to take it all in. This forum was like nothing he'd ever seen before. Sendran placed his arm around his shoulder.   
"Come on, let's leave the lurkers and get on the floor."

[edit on 18/8/2010 by Sendran]

posted on Aug, 18 2010 @ 06:03 PM
From the base of the platform's staircase the two men made their way to the Recent Posts Board. As they walked past various crowds of debating people, something caught Jacob's eye. A man dressed in red and sporting a plumed helmet was walking through the group to his left. Then he saw another, this time to his right. A bunch of red feathers seemed to float through another crowd amidst the flags across the walkway, emerging attached to yet another red robed man. Sendran noticed Jacob's focus.
"Mods," he said. 
"They look like guards," replied Jacob quietly.
"Sort of. Mods oversee the forum, making sure everyone stays civil and upholds the founding rules of ATS, the Teesandsees."
"Teesandsees? What's that?"
"What are they. They are the rules which we all abide by, put there by the Founders."
"I see. And they are where, dead? In prison?"
Sendran laughed. "No, at least not yet, they're in there most days." He pointed to a large building on the opposite wall.
"That's ATS HQ."
Sendran's instruction was halted by a commotion on the oratory ahead.
"What's going on?" asked Jacob.
"I don't know, lets go and see."
Behind them, and all across the forum, people where moving. The lurkers were changing platforms to get a closer look at the events playing out at the nearby stage, and ohpees paused to see themselves. The forum seemed to stop. A group of red robed Mods had surrounded the front of a thread titled "I AM THE MESSIAH AND I'M HERE TO SAVE YOU!". A man was standing atop a small stage speaking in short single sentences answering questions from the congregated members. Each time he spoke he ended with "Blessings and peace."
"You're not the messiah!" shouted one onlooker.
"You're a very naughty boy!" yelled another.
Jacob looked at Sendran with a display of vexed déjà vu.
"Ok ok, calm down everyone," shouted on of the Mods, "we've had complaints ohpee. Firstly, no capital letters, we've let this go on long enough, show us some proof or you know where you're going."
Sendran leaned toward Jacob. "The Hoax forum. Through there." He pointed to a portcullis in the wall. "All hoaxers end up in there. Sad really."
The ohpee lost composure under the pressure of a thousand pairs of eyes. "Heathens!" he yelled. "Heathens and worshipers of false idols! You will all perish in the depths of Hell!"
The Mods ascended to the stage and grabbed him firmly. His "blessings and peace" signatures had been replaced with yelps and muffled profanity as they lead him unwillingly through the crowd and to the portcullis.
"And another one bites the dust," said Sendran quietly.
"That's catchy," said Jacob.
"Another one bites the dust."
"Oh that, yeah, I heard it the other day in the amphitheater. It was a song by a group called 'Empress'.
"Oh Empress, they're good. I heard the lead singer was gay."
"No, Messenger? No way."
"Uh huh."
They stood silent, Jacob nodding, Sendran shaking his head. Their pensive peace was broken by the deafening blast of a horn and the throng that had gathered to see Ghost Triple Seven thrown through the Gate Of Hoaxes moved as one toward a larger and taller rostrum.
"Ah, some breaking news, a messenger approaches!" said one of the crowd enthusiastically as they clambered to get a good spot. Jacob watched as a horse came galloping through the entrance gate and stopped, rearing into the air. The rider dismounted and was greeted by two Mods. They spoke for a moment, hands clasped to the face and then the rider walked to the rostrum flanked by the two red robes. Several children erected a banner which read "BREAKING NEWS: Nicaea Reveals Bible To The World". As the crowds gasped a boy ran across the stage with a second smaller banner which read "**must see**". Flags immediately appeared in the crowd.
"He hasn't even spoke." said Jacob. Sendran shrugged.
"Shhh!" a voice whispered from behind, "I haven't given up time with my apprentice to hear you yapping."
Jacob said no more as the messenger read from the scroll in his hand. People began shaking their heads, boos and hisses crept up through the crowd. Jacob looked at Sendran.
"It's the bible, the culminated works of the Christian scriptures," Sendran informed. "Wikileakus tipped us off a few years ago that this was coming. Ever since we've been debating the book's possible contents."
"So why are they angry?"
"Because some books haven't been included. Some which are more 'interesting'."
A bystander turned to the two men.
"And," he said, "they've passed a law which prohibits self castration. Unbelievable."
"Oh," said Jacob completely baffled, "damn them all to hell, what's the world coming to if you can't even castrate yourself? There goes my weekend."
The bystander nodded. "Exactly," he said firmly, "unbelievable." He shook his head and returned his attention to the messenger.

Sendran and Jacob walked away from the crowd and stopped at a food cart.
"Two rats please." Sendran paid the proprietor and handed Jacob one of the sticks.
"So, what do you think so far?" asked Sendran examining his impaled rodent.
"Amazing. And this is all true?" replied Jacob still dumbstruck from the evening's events.
"No. You will have to sift through the garbage, but there are some blinders."
"How did you get involved?" asked Jacob taking a bite of his rat.
"Caesar." Sendran said coldly as he examined his rat on a stick, looking for a meaty portion.
"Who, the Emperor?"
"Yeah that one."
"What about him?"
"Not even Roman," stated Sendran as he found his next bite of ratty goodness. 
"Uh huh," muffled Sendran chewing.
"Yep. Birth record's a fake."
"Wow," finished Jacob, pausing first to save the passing woman from a shower of rat bits.
Jacob and Sendran stood leaning against the stone wall of the courtyard. Amongst the sights were some Mods hammering a sign post into the ground at the foot of one of the podiums. Sendran pointed.
"Oops, he's been fourohfoured. Tut tut." he said disapprovingly.
"Fourohfoured?" enquired Jacob.
"Yeah, it's when a thread contravenes the teesandsees. The Mods stop the thread, give you a right rollicking and put up one of these signs."
"Oh, sounds bad," Jacob said still trying to absorb his surroundings.

With their snack finished, the two men wandered amongst the masses, Sendran pointing out various ohpees of note.
"Here we have SpartanKingLeonidas. I tell you, he'll be in the Senate one day."
"Is he really a Spartan king?" asked Jacob.
"No, at least I don't think so. You never know in here, anonymity is part of the deal."
They moved from podium to rostrum to stage, Sendran explaining the thread and giving a little background on the ohpees.
"Oh, you have to see this guy, doesn't ohpee much but he knows his stuff. We call him the Thread Assassin, he calls himself Phageus."
"Why are those people following him?" asked Jacob.
"Hmmm, everything has it's celebrities I suppose, even ATS. It can get quite amusing sometimes in the 'Don't Know What It Is In The Sky' forum. People wait for Phageus to turn up after he's finished tinkering with some kind of artificial wing so he can give his opinion. Others then chastise these members for not thinking for themselves!" replied Sendran laughing. His comments couldn't have been timed any better as an argument erupted from the adjacent mob. Sendran laughed louder and led Jacob away.
"See? Happens every time! Come on, lets see what's happening over here."
Jacob followed Sendran as he negotiated his way through the squabbling crowd and stopped at a podium under the banner 'Doomsday 476'. 
"I love this one. This guy thinks the world will end in 476. Has gathered quite the following," said Sendran with an air of sarcasm. Jacob laughed.
"Oh yeah, the world will end. There really are some nutters in here Sendran."
"Indeed there are my friend, indeed there are. You're unlucky, the 'Pompeii Was An Inside Job' ohpee isn't here today, Alexis Jonus. If you like this guy you'd love him. The king of nutters."

As the stars filled the night sky the gathered masses began to disperse. The banners above the thread stages were taken down and the Recent Posts Board was stripped. Sendran and Jacob joined the exodus.
"So, do you think you'll come again?" asked Sendran as they walked.
"Definitely," replied Jacob beaming, "I think I might be hooked."
They walked back to the street and the mighty doors closed behind them, Above Top Secret Dot Com slept.


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