"It is Opportune to look back upon old times, and contemplate our forefathers. Great examples grow thin, and to be fetched from the passed world. Simplicity flies away, and iniquity comes at long strides upon us."
Overgrown with gordian knotvines and bayonnette-thorns, shaded from the hot sun of summer by the red-tinged leaves of Libertytrees, the Maze of Patriots forms a twisting, turning battelfield of rampant hedgerows, memorial-topiaries, clandestine cenotaphs and mostly buried shrines scattered about and ensconced within fortified niches across the width, breadth, dizzying heights, and labyrinthine depths of this self-perpetuating, eternal monument to those who shed the blood of their enemies and themselves in the pursuit of their various causes, factions, nations and regimes.
It began its existence as a simple park set aside to commemorate those who had served gallantly in the First Revolution. An Eternal Flame was lit within a central grove of majestic oaks derived only three generations removed from Old Earth stocks that had been smuggled into the citystate of Devukarsha amidst the final nights of the Winter Rebellion and were thus set aside for a truly memorable and important occasion. Five Memory Pools were arranged at the five cardinal points of a Traditional Martian Pentagram where a fallen hero in the full battledress of the Red Guard hangs to this day in stasis, awaiting a call to action that will (hopefully) never come.
The memory gardens have long since grown into lush micro-wildernesses, serving as habitats to a wide variety of relict species seeded here by melancholy genartists who in their youth honored these hallowed superheroes and noble dead. The broad self-grooming paths with their carefully arranged arborial arches have become tangled forests walled-in by impenetrable thickets hung with climbing poppies and splotches of orangeblight. Feral phytographs and drifting patches of dermoactive sacuole-mists recount the last moments of uncounted freedom fighters, observers, advisors, agitators, and others who gave their all for their respective causes. TrueSuicides are given special plaques that float untarnished and hard-closed for hundreds of planar layers in every direction and depth so that their deaths remain unspoilt messages for the ages, which their recovery would diminish or render as meaningless as they have proven pointless.
Panoply Cysts of the Sleeping Patriots
Sealed, warded and often guarded by things best left alone, there are numerous lozenge-shaped dais-gates found amongst the lesser pathways of the Patriot's Maze. Each of these is a repository of the personal effects, private templates, and recovered nanoplasm of ancient heroes, legendary leaders and mythic revolutionaries. Some Panoply Cysts also serve as a platform for legacy-constructs, egomorphs and idealized robotic personae who await the call of their followers, their cause, their people...which almost never comes. Strange weapons, peculiar records and datasets, bizarre secrets and blackmail-scripts--amongst other less obvious artifacts and relics--are stored within these structures, locked outside time and keyed to recognize, awaken, and serve those who fit the criteria established by each Sleeping Patriot. Doctrinal fitness, political acumen, appropriate ideological development, and other factors all play a part in whether the Sleeping Patriot's sub-systems vaporize you, indoctrinate/recruit you (as in colonize your nervous system), or accept you as a legitimate fellow traveler or comrade in arms. Adolescent daredevils from the Academy sometimes egg one another on to approach one or another of these Cysts in order to prove their worthiness to carry on the old, discredited philosophies or to take up one of the forgotten ideomorphic banners of a faction long thought extinct. As it is said in the militant litany of Jalbarm: "Old soldiers never die and with strange orders even death proves to be a lie."
River of Old Soldiers (Sailors)
The days of glory and passion have passed on by, these valiant leaders, stalwart defenders, radicals and provocateurs, all have been mostly forgotten. Some have been excised from the Common Record, others were designated nonpersons in their own times, others have just been forgotten, while still others have merely been misplaced--sometimes maliciously, other times willfully, but rarely ever by accident. There are deep-cover famtrad-cultists who visit the Patriot's Maze at regular intervals that they might, in good time and when no one is the wiser, covertly dis-interr the bones of their ancestral enemies or deface the monuments of rival factions. One such cult was responsible for the redirection of a minor municipal waterway gate from a nearby canal to the inner precincts of the Patriot's Maze where it has now formed a small but respectable river that exits the gardens via another re-purposed gate set into place by a fraternal organization of veterans of the third psychic war. Each year another, different group has added a new gate at the far end of the river so that it is slowly extending outwards to form a small river gate network dedicated to the floating caskets and memorial buoys set afloat by those who were sailors either upon the waters or the cold, empty wastes of outermost space. Bands of feral childsoldiers patrol the nascent river network, each one cloned and cultivated from the remains of one of the fallen whom they guard from the depradations of anarchoghouls, retroprotesters, grave-vandals or the agents of disrespectful necrosophics. They also hunt the few necropacifists foolish enough to come within range of their weapons for sport.
There are dozens of cache-copses of every kind of tree, each one maintained by automatons and servitors configured to resemble the various battalions, underground cells, or affinity-cadres who have claimed each copse. Each cache-copse holds sealed within its root-systems the genes, blood and memories of those who were sampled prior to their suicide, execution, assassination or death in battle. Each one waits silently, patiently for the day when they can be reborn, either after a full cessation of hostilities, the inevitable victory of their morally superior cause, or whenever the sentence lapses on their record and the cache-copse is cleared to remit their remains to whatever form of recovery or rebirth was designated by their cause, insurance policy, or compatriots. Many of these forgotten and overlooked operatives, whether they were Revolutionists or Republicans, Contraradicals or Extremists, Gotterdammerungians or agents of any other faction, most linger on here in the cache-copses for lack of any provision for their release. Being dead, unregistered, delisted, redacted or deliberately mislabeled by their own colleagues, they have few, if any rights and almost no one to take up their cause. Besides; it is dangerous to dig around in such matters. Old wounds have a habit of reopening, and stirring up attention around such matters can have violent repercussions as sleeper-agents awaken, secret weapons activate, or worse.
Cenotaphs, Obelisks and Cryptorialisques
Cryptorialisques, marble-textured cenotaphs and obelisks that guard the entrances to those solemnly reserved synthecosms dedicated to one or another faction or rebel-dynasty, dot the tortuously winding false hills and once manicured mounds of the central grounds. The sphaeri of warcriminals, deposed warlords and former tyrants flit about the darker recesses of the grim woods that have grown up along the ponderous outerwalls. They congregate like feral will-o-the-wisps and whisper mad obscenities and terrible schemes betwixt themselves for they are unrepentant and their memories of past misdeeds only fill them with the longing to do it all over again, only the next time will be better. Microtombs, holotaphs and datacameos hover and flicker about the edges of the self-grooming paths, each one waiting in the weather for someone, anyone to take notice of them, to remember the old days, the old regimes, the deleted battles and sanitized or excised incidents that only they recall clearly any longer. Time marches ever onward and She is especially unkind to the vanities of the ruthless and unscrupulous.
“Man is a noble animal, splendid in ashes and pompous in the grave.”Urns and other containers hold the ashes of specific documented individuals or the mingled remains of whole units, families or organizations who were wiped-out in one of the various pogroms, retaliations, counter-revolutions or coups that have taken place in the past. If you know where to look, there are series of ash-sculptures crafted by necromantic artists who erected their incredibly moving, yet no less macabre, memorials in secret back in the perilous days of the Theosyndicalist Terror when many of their fellows were forcibly cast into the atomic furnaces of the still infamous White Vans. Many more such historically inconvenient and politically potentially-toxic things reside below the cheerful green facade. For all that is out in the open, there is a great deal more that is hidden in this place of unwanted memories, suppressed datacaches, burdensome recollections and volatile truths. Only a few rogue historians or vagrant dataminers wander the deeply encrypted and much-venerated and even more doubly-cursed grounds of this harrowed, hallowed and haunted place. The dull peace that hangs over the sunlit gardens, shimmering pools and clusters of classical statuary is a shallow and a false thing, a necessary fiction cultivated and maintained by the myriad factions interred below as the one thing that they all must accept, even those who do not believe that they have died or who deny that they were ever a member of any specific party, group or cabal. Denial means nothing below the level of the gardens and their tame flocks of snow-white doves.
Beneath the Garden-Level
It is unwise in the extreme for anyone to venture below the Patriot's Maze without an Honorguard or at the very least a Guide. The old wars are not over, not here, not deep in this place where the restless dead fight and re-fight every past battle over and over again for eternity. The Eternal Revolution is very much alive in these deep, cacophonous caverns which extend--bleed is more appropriate--across hundreds of dead, barren and sterile planar layers and blasted worlds that have never harbored the least glimmer of life in a thousand parallel timelines. Every faction, ideological group, political party, and all other collective of radicals, rebels or reformists is represented in this vast and ruinous wasteland-battlefield where each one continues the struggle that they undertook in life. It takes a deliberate act to enter into the Catacomb-Maze of Battlefields beneath the gardens. One must commit themself to a life of violence and voluntarily descend unot the darkly splendid network of worlds below the green hills, tangled trees and gently splashing pools above. It is a descent into darkness, madness and violence that can give even a Rager cause to pause.
One does not become a Committed Patriot by accident. There are too many safeguards, challenges, trials and forms to fill out in triplicate by direct psychometric imprinting. Those who submit their hearts, minds and genetic materials, their personality recordings, clone cell-lines--their personal blood and treasure--to the care and keeping of the Patriot's Maze do so in support of a Cause that they fervently believe in, support at great personal cost, and serve with a dedication that precludes all other legal obligations including any chance of recovery or rebirth outside the Maze until such time as they are released and separated from service. Each faction and cause has it's own requirements and restrictions regarding advancement, merit, demerits or separation. Once you're Committed, you're in for the duration. There's no going back.
Decades, centuries or longer--the Committed Patriots who serve in the ceaseless, senseless conflict down below the Maze remain caught-up in this madness for howsoever long as they choose to remain, to fight, to wage war on thier rivals, enemies or opponents. Of course the term 'choose' is defined differently inside the Maze, but that is something best discussed only amongst those who have formerly served, not those with no conception of what it all means In There.
Most enlistees who seek Committment are those who have died already. They were often fanatics in their lifetime, and having taken up a Cause, they remain fanatics after their physical death, fanatics who eschew or are barred from physical rebirth or who now elect to inhabit mechanized warmachines and deathconstructs, necrotechnologically enhanced bodies or ideologically reconstructed nanoforms the like of which would never be allowed within the confines of a citystate or inhabited planet by the Deep Infrastructure, irregardless and irrespective of any laws made by States or anyone else.
Originally the Softborn were excluded from the Patriot's Maze unless and until they experienced one full lifetime in the flesh. It was during the brief, but intensely bitter Brainpuppet Coup that the ruling junta made it legal for the Softborn to enlist in the Maze as Advisors Only. Three hundred years later the last restriction was finally lifted and Softborn could enter the Maze, but they can never leave once they do so, at least not legally, rendering the option a form of dramatic act on a par with TrueSuicide amongst the living. Even with the changes in the law, there are no Recruiters amongst the various gamer-factions, nor are they allowed or tolerated within any of the Casino-Arenas, though there are a few former champions who've left the games for the Maze. Very few of them are ever heard from again. None ever return to the Casino-Arenas. None.
The environment within the Maze is intrinsically extremely hostile to dataforms, softborn and other abstract forms of consciousness and identity. It's hostile enough for the Committed, but it's far worse for those who've never drawn a livebreath or known any sort of fleshy existence. No one has ever officially explained why this is; it's just a Mystery and another bit of useless trivia that's one more fact of life within the Maze that you either accept or not. The Warlords do not care about your questions and they do not answer to you or anyone else. It's best to just forget about it and move on. There's a war on after all. But maybe not the one you signed up for...
The Naked and The Dead
Necrosophic lawyers have been waging a complicated and esoteric legal battle for centuries in the courts of every citystate and municipality that accesses the Patriot's Maze. They claim jurisdiction over the Maze as those Committed unto it have been declared formally dead before enlistment, ipso facto all enlistees into the Maze by virtue of their having died previously are defacto undead and thus subject to the claimed ownership, guardianship and possession of the Necrosophics. A similar claim is simultaneously being made by every other amortal, unliving and undead faction on record. There are rumors that there are illicit cadres of undead troops infiltrating the Maze in an effort to subvert it from within, however these stories are always discredited and dismissed by the Warlords and other concerned authorities.
War is Hell
Existence within the Maze is a horrible, hellish existence--make no mistake about it. Reborn anew after every ambush, re-awakened into a fresh body after every failed mission, sent out again and again and again in a never-ending series of patrols, attacks or interminable marches. Few last for very long before they succumb to relentless madness, stress of constant combat and the deep despair that arises from confronting the most brutal aspects of humanity--and inhumanity--deep within each person, including themselves. Many elect to have their memories edited, revised or erased as the case may be--depending on their crimes, their record, the sheer depth of their dysfunctionality, persistence of their war-fetish, or the sublimnity of their Violence.
Some few souls manage to crawl and fight their way out of this place. One such person was Daniel J. Ristfax. His story remains a legend amongst the Committed and the fallen alike, at least amongst those still capable of remembering or recognizing his name.