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         They heard the trucks approaching minutes before they appeared. The sound made Chess’s heart race, and made him feel as if his feet were weighted to the pavement. Anxiously, he glanced toward the woods at the side of the road, wondering about Gryff, but he could see nothing there.
         “The Ton Ton Macoute are coming,” Ileana announced. She tightened her grip on Chess’s hand and pulled the hood of her jacket down on her forehead. “Not the one who haunts my dreams, though.”
         Chess glanced at her in surprise. Was she thinking of Razor, now?
         And then, the trucks rounded the last corner and roared to a stop, about twenty meters away from them. Chess stood fast next to Ileana, with Sariel sitting right in front of him.
         Chess’s heart pounded harder, but there was no voice of failure in his head, now, and no white noise. Instead, his brain felt clear. He did not feel the need to whisper any pleas to the goddess. He was not certain if what they were doing was right, but he knew that it was what he wanted to do. He glanced at Ileana and realized, almost chuckling to himself, that there was no way he’d rather die.

         A figure emerged from the first of the two armored trucks and, from somewhere down near his knees, Chess heard Sariel’s laughter wafting softly upward.
         “What the --!” Chess heard the person exclaim. And then the figure walked toward them, quickly resolving into the familiar image of Tez. “Ileana?” Tez gasped, squinting. And then he appeared to laugh in amazement. “Hey, I heard you were out here somewhere! How are you?”
         “Hello, Tez,” Ileana answered flatly.
         From the side of his vision, Chess watched her raise her other hand, ready to signal Gryff at any moment. He took a deep breath.
         Still approaching at a measured pace, Tez looked genuinely glad to see Ileana. “Hey, look at me: leading my own men,” he exclaimed, speaking directly to Ileana and ignoring Chess and Sariel. “Out here on my own mission!” He threw his arms open. “I’m so close to finding the water wizards and their weapon. I’m on my way to taking over the world, just like you always believed that I could!”
         Ileana shook her head. “I still believe that you can, Tez,” she said in a clear voice. “I really do. But you don’t need the wizards to do it. They don’t have a weapon, they only make clean water.”
         Tez stopped, appearing startled at her words. And then he shook his head. “Why are you getting in my way, here? Never did understand you,” he muttered.
         Ileana smiled at that, reminding Chess that these two had recently had a close relationship -- a relationship that both obviously felt was worthwhile enough to risk Razor’s anger.
         “We have what you want, right here: the wizards’ designs and all their notes,” she told Tez. “You don’t need the wizards, themselves. You can take these and go.” She nodded at a thick folder that lay on the ground beside her. “Just turn your trucks around and go.”
         Tez glanced at the folder and then quickly moved his gaze back to Ileana’s face. His expression changed to annoyance. “Ileana, get out of the way!” he shouted impatiently. “I don’t have time for this now. I’ll come back. We’ll talk later.” He waved back to the trucks, which began to roll forward.
         “Tez!” Ileana cried, and Chess heard the waver in her voice. “If you try to chase those people -- if your trucks continue down this road -- then you, and I, and everything in this whole area will blow sky high.” She glanced pointedly at each side of the highway, in turn. “You are not getting through here. Take the notes and go back the way you came. Or come on. It’s your choice.”
         The trucks continued moving slowly forward and Chess felt Ileana’s grip tighten on his hand.
         “I’m not kidding, Tez,” Ileana announced, suddenly dropping her other hand. Something in the woods exploded, spraying debris onto the tires of the closest truck. Tez jumped back in surprise.
         “That was just a demonstration,” Ileana said. “That’s the only explosive that we placed that far off the road. The others are all around your trucks… and right here, around us.”
         Tez signaled the trucks to stop. He stood glaring at Ileana, and moments of tense silence passed.

Continued next page...

So bury fear, for fate draws near, and hide the signs of pain
With noble acts, the bravest souls, endure the heart's remains
Discard regret, that in this debt, a better world is made
That children of a newer day might remember, and avoid our fate
- Winterborn by Crüxshadows

         Still on the subject of utopias, I would like to revisit an idea that has sort of been a running theme throughout my blogs. I guess you could sum it up as idealism and its evil twin: the consequences of humans acting according to an idealistic world view.
         Mythology seems to teach us how to act in order to achieve an ideal world. (Although you could - as I have, in past blogs - interpret an undercurrent in the stories that says there is no such thing as an unchanging ideal world.) Political philosophies are usually founded on some type of idealistic world view, and nation states can usually be categorized as the product of some specific political philosophy. Utopias, at least as writers create them, are also founded on some idealistic philosophies - both political and social. So, then, what would be the ideal sociopolitical structure for a utopia?
         Certainly, we have many examples of the opposite of utopia. Sci fi and fantasy are filled with images of what are commonly referred to as dystopias: someone’s idealistic vision for the world gone horribly wrong. But you don’t need to fantasize about a dystopia. Earth’s history is filled with real-life examples of nation states that have been founded on or run according to a particular political philosophy that eventually went wrong in some way. But each of those political structures had many staunch believers, all of who were presumably mistaken. So how would the next group of people, like those who founded Gaviotas, ever be able to determine what is best or at least better than what exists now?



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