A stranger I used to know

Its funny...
The day I saw you on the street, that day I think I remember having had a dream about you.
I dont recall what it was about or why you were in it, but I guess it was somewhat of a warning.

You had not changed at all, still all the same, nothing would change you.

I on the other hand was completely different, I had changed, for better or worse. Maybe that why you did not recognize me, you were, I guess, expecting me to be the exact same as back then, but I had moved on, I had done things, I had shaped my life in the way I wanted it to.

We crossed as any other two strangers cross on the street of a crowded city, but I knew that we were not just any other couple of strangers that pass each other on the daily.

We had known each other, shared memories, good ones, bad ones, but they were ours. They had no meaning now, though.

You passed me, did not even spare a second glance. And I made no effort to correct your mistake, what good would that have brought? It was over for a reason, and nothing would change that.

Before I realized it you were behind me, just like we were, in my past, and I would not dare to look back to get something positive out of it. It was my past and I vowed to leave you and everything else there.

Part of me would have wanted to grab a drink, ask about how you were doing, the better part of me kept me from it.

The duality of what we had been, what we could have been, and what we were still haunts me to this day, to this moment


The Solution

"But at the end of the day, there is not that much crime to be accounted for, people are unlikely to commit crimes"

'And how exactly does one run such a vast complex without much crime, it is a lot of people confined to a relatively small area'

"It was the 4s idea, one of the very first actually"



'Quite, to be frank'

"You see, the development of technology did not only bring with it the advancement of soul surgery, as we like to call it. We were also able to develop simulations so real, that the subjects were in no way able to discern between reality and fiction"

'I am acquainted with the advancements made by the enclave'

"No doubt you are. Anyway, the 4 decided to conduct a little experiment. They based the eventual positive results of their method on the premise that, once the soul has saciated its innermost, darkest desires, the mind is at ease and the individual can carry on with their normal life"

'Enabling their fantasies? That hardly sounds feasible, legal or moral'

"It is if their actions have no repercusion on the real world"

'Simulation of the crime?'

"Precisely. We would abduct the individuals that presented certain patterns of behabior associated with crime proneness and introduce them to a simulation tailored to their personalities in such a way that they would be enabled to act on their impulses without realising that what they were doing was part of a simulation"

'I have to admit that I am quite skeptical of the notion, yet it does seem to bear most satisfactory fruit'

"It is a costly and meticulous process, but I can assure you that it is worth every second and credit spent on it"

'There is one question that comes to mind though: Do you tell the subjects that their actions have had no repercusion in the real world?'

"We tend not to... that way they live in fear of getting caught and judged. They make model citizens after the crime has been commited"




I am the strenght needed to make the decisions that must be made.

I am the force that fights against the injustices in the world.

I am the fortitude against the odds, against the enemies, against ignorance.

I am the resolve necessary to take challenges head on and never waver.

I am the bravery in the moment of truth, the courage that fills you when you need it most, the valor required to take the step to a brighter tomorrow.

I am Fortitudo, one of the four heads of the Enclave.

I enforce the laws dictated by Iustitia, defy Temperantia while heeding the warnings of Prudentia.

I command the police force, the military

I praise those that, through me, achieve their dreams and desires, change the world for the best, fight for what is right. In moments of need, praise my name, summon me to your battlefield, no matter the time, no matter the place, let me aid you in your effort.

No battle shall be resolved without me by your side, no justice can be achieved without me.

For I am Fortitudo, bearer of truth.


Coming Clean

To whom it may concern,

I have done terrible deeds, betrayed, killed, stolen...

Betrayed my loved ones.

Killed my dreams.

Stolen someones heart.

But here I stand before you, with the firm belief that sin can go unpunished as long as there is a will to change and the determination to do it.

With the promise that I wish to make amends and to change my ways, prove useful to the world, prove useful to myself.

With the hope that one day not only justice, but also my loved ones will turn the other cheek and forgive my past mistakes, look forward to my bright future.

With the wish that there is no fate for any one of us, that we can shape both our and others´ future with the blood in our body and the sweat on our brow, the blisters on our hands.

With the plea that my past does not have to determine my future or the judgement thereof, that there is hope even for the hopeless, absolution for the sinner, a heaven for the unbeliever.

To whoever reads this I ask, do not judge me by the actions I took in the past, lest it is in its proper context and with a clear and sound mind free of bias and judgement. Things I did I am not proud of, but I would do again if the situation demanded it.

/ --- /

Four heads nod in agreement after reading the letter.

Judgement has been passed.



"Remember the day we got here?"

*Hard to forget...*

"We made it though, our strugles were worth it"

*Meh, we shall see about that, too much ahead of us, too many amends to make*

"True... True..."

*I had never seen such an intense rain. We were cold, starving, drenched, alone...*

"And yet we found kindness in those around us nevertheless, kindness we did not spare towards our friends..."

*What do you think has become of them?*

"I hope they are alright... The banshees... I dont know, I just hope they are fine, or at least alive. I want to share with them the grief my treachery caused both me and them. I could only hope for their forgiveness, though I certainly can not and will not expect it."

*I think they will forgive us*

"What makes you so sure?"

*She knows us, she has experienced other hardships with us, she knows we did not mean it*

"Not meaning it is not enough, we endagered them needlessly..."

*We have to get stronger*

"But how?"

*That I do not know yet, but I know we will find out together*

"That is certain"

We looked at the crowded street that lay beyond the end of the alley we had been living in for the past week.
We had a long way to go, but at least we had been able to finish this chapter of our lives almost unscathed.

With renewed vigor, hope and determination, we made our way into the new world that lay beyond our alley.


The golden oxen

We made away with the ever vigilant eye when we destituted the golden oxen.

We did not desire to be watched, to be controlled, to be judged at all times.

We wished for freedom, for the abolishment of the chains, for the fall of the giants, for the dawn of the era of man.

Instead we witnessed our efforts fade like sain slides between a childs fingers, evading their grasp.

Religions rose, controlling, contriving, cunning convoluted and chaotic contrivances.

Empires fell, dull, disastrous, despotic leaders torn down from their thrones.

Technologies evolved, teaching, telling, sharing, spelling the words for the future to come.

Ideas took over, better, worse, worst, best, some best kept under lock and key, some best shared with the world.

But in the end, even though we thought the golden oxen to be erradicated from the world, they had been biding their time, from the shadows, from the depths, like a titan waiting for the time of man to come to an end.

And they rose, magnificent, apparently magnanimous, promising freedom we already had, stability we had already achieved, security we had already made for ourselves. They coated, concealed, inscrutably and indeterminately hid it from us, told us it was for the best. It was in our interest. Meanwhile they moved with their maquinations, making the world a maquiavelian nightmare.

And we sat and watched.


Better suited purpose

"Oh, goodness, no, we do not employ the death penalty anymore."

"Then how exactly do you keep your criminals in check? I know that you sell the image of being a crimeless enclave, a safe haven of sorts, but you and I both know that just PR, you can not control everyone at anytime and things are bound to get dirty sometimes"

"Sharp as ever. Yes, we do have a contingency plan for those... unpleasant events. But, as you know, we do not have a prison either. Guess what our secret is"

"I could imagine you booting them out of the enclave. You do not have to worry about them anymore and the creatures outside these walls take care of the rest. It would be quite clever and quite truthfull"

"We did consider that solution in the first phases of the enclave, but in the end we opted for a... better solution. Optimal you could say"

"Please, iluminate me"

"They serve the enclave as its army"

"You surely must be jesting. How would you ever get them to agree to that, even less put their lives on the line for an ideal they have forsaken. How would that even work?"

"Quite easily my dear. The desire to live is both a powerful drive and quite an accesible one."


"Better. We convince them that, if they were to succeed in their tasks, they would get a clean slate. Complete erasure of their criminal record. A new beginning, free of the burden of their Sins"

"Is that even feasable?"

"Obviously not. Any citizen that has concerned themself with the enclave rules knows that their stay here is a priviledge, not a right, and that they are playing a delicate one strike game."

"So you lie to the convicts and play with their feelings in order to have access to the most loyal army this part of the world has?"

"Quite so, quite so..."

"It is as evil as it is brilliant"

"I can not take all the credit for it, we had the help of many external consultants that helped us draft the actual procedure and modus operandi."

"Still, enviable to say the least."

"Oh, and do not think of it as us taking advantage of their situation. Think of it as us giving them a purpose more suited to their skillset and condition."