In the land that knows no pardon.

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The Purge: Prologue

Imperial Palace, Venezuela

The sun had fully risen. Its warm glow filled the sky out the window that ran the entire length of the conference room. Ivana entered the room and set at the head of the table.

To her left, far down the lengthy table set Arrachtach. Laptops and scribbled notes covered the mahogany table in front of him in a half moon of clutter. His white labcoat was stained with chemicals and ink. The blue furred mutant looked up, smiled and pushed his round glasses up on the end of his nose with a sapphire claw.

At her right set a tall, broad shouldered man. A thick mustache covered his upper lip and he was almost completely bald. The solid, thick bones of his face framed stern brown eyes. His broad shoulders squared as he stood at attention and saluted.

"No need for that." Ivana tapped the edge of her brow in a casual return salute, brushing aside the formalities. "Begin when you're ready Charles."

No Caption Provided

"Yes ma'am." He stood and drew a presentation clicker from the breast pocket of his navy blue dress uniform. Click. A projector splashed an image on the far wall.

"Shawn Savage. We've had him under level six surveillance for eighteen months now because of the weaponization potential of his scientific work. Breakthroughs could accelerate the Ghost Rider protocol and project Apollo."

"During a routine psychic snapscan we noticed something unusual on the epsilon markers."

Ivana spoke. "And what did you find?"

"Readings that indicate thought generation in planck time."

The Shogun's brow furrowed and Arrachtach leaned forward.

"If that is true.." The blue mutant said.

"Yessir. Its quantum neural activity. A quantum brain."

"Goddamn." Ivana snapped. "Full spectrum?"

"Yes ma'am. He never deviated. He's thinking faster than the speed of light, all the time. We can't measure how fast without a deeper scan. Obviously-"

"Suicide for the telepath." Ivana said.

"When they filed their findings it triggered an automated high threat alarm. So here I am, giving you this briefing. If I might ask ma'am, why? What is so important about this information? Does it have anything to do with Ghost Rider or Apollo?"

"No." Ivana waved an armored hand. "Nothing to do with Ghost Rider. Apollo either." She paused, contemplating. "Arrachtach, go ahead and fill him in."

The sapphire fur of the mutant rippled as he leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table and asking. "Have you ever heard of a philosophical zombie, per chance?"

"No sir." Charles returned to his seat, unscrewing a bottle of water and sipping while Arrachtach talked.

"It is quite simple really. A philosophical zombie is a being that is essentially a being that lacks qualla or consciousness but is indistinguishable from a living being in every other fashion."

"They have no interior lives. They do not feel pain. They do not feel fear. Or love. Or hope or joy or any other emotion or experience whatsoever. They are machines, the same as a laptop or a cellphone is a machine."

"They imitate a human or mutant being with absolute perfection. When they are burned they cry out in pain. When they are wounded in matters of love they morn. When they lose loved ones they grieve. When their children are born they celebrate. But they feel nothing. They only imitate the behavior that stems from a feeling. They do not even think; they calculate."

"Alright. But what does that have to do with his quantum brain?"

"Everything commander, everything. Your brain, my brain, Ivana's brain, they are all made out of the same physical elements. Neurotransmitters. Synapses. Chemical and electrical impulses. These physical processes constitute qualla, or the experience of things. The 'blueness' of blue or the 'coldness' of cold. For example dopamine and serotonin are virtually entirely responsible for the feeling of happiness. If those two chemicals were to be removed from your mind you would literally never experience sensations of happiness, joy, satisfaction or pleasure."

"The same is true of other experiences. The sensation of, say, this table, is physically located inside your brain. If I were to surgically remove the portions of your brain that 'governed' the sensation of this table then that qualla, that experience would be forever gone from your mind. The physical and the mental are inextricably linked commander. The mind and the brain are one and the same."

"Now take this 'Shawn Savage'. His mind is constructed of particles held in superposition. From the superposition of these particles he calculates, solving formula and algorithms. But he does not experience. He does not feel. He cannot. The physical elements are simply not there. He can no more feel than a fish can fly or a bird can breath under the ocean. He does not even think, not really. He can no more think than can your cell phone. Performing mathematical operations at a great speed is not, and never can be, thought."

"Instead he calculates. He calculates some unfathomably vast social formula and from it he derives reactions that seem human to even the closest observer."

"Its a cruel joke, I'll give you that. But why is it our problem?"

Ivana said. "Because its a mutation. One the Strigidae have encountered before. There is every chance this 'Shawn Savage' will pass the mutation on to its children. And its children will have children themselves and pass it on again. They will reproduce at a greater rate that mutant kind because their social algorithms are perfect. They will attract more romantic partners and are likely to have more children with said partners. And again and again and again, slowly spreading through the mutant population until real mutants are completely replaced by these automatons."

"The last mutant alive won't even know it. We'll be wiped out from within. Replaced by biological machines wearing our faces."

"Quite right. It is not a mutant. It is a retrovirus inside the body of the mutant species, slowly replacing the DNA of the host species with its own until the host becomes the parasite." Arrachtach said.

"That is why Q-brains are classified as Extinction II threats. The extermination of the species is slow but inevitable unless detected and eliminated."

Ivana stood. "Draw up a purge order commander. Shawn Savage has to die."