I think it is appropriate that an account of this city's history reside in the Library. BZ-Koro has a long and glorious record of artistry that captures the soul and thoughts that sharpen the mind. We are not without times of turbulence, but could we expect anything less? There is a price for our freedom here, because paradise does not come without expense. I walk the streets of this city each morning, a metropolis built atop the grand Invision Power Board - the grid that sustains us and protects us as best it can. At times, we have had to protect her as well. The leaders of our society impose and enforce their laws with a tenacity that is ultimately impossible to combat. They have received their complaints, but they have the advantage of playing a game on their own field. I have watched the disgruntled and the exiled dare to wage personal wars against the administration, each attempt ending in defeat or surrender. BZ-Koro has never experienced a great degree of issues from those who came into conflict with the laws of the land, but once more, we have not been without times of turbulence.
Cycle 009, Phase 09 [April, 2011]
"She's dying," I whispered.
Far beneath the city, I stood among the administrators and global moderators in a massive, circular chamber. Dim blue lights pulsed on the walls, slowly, weakly carrying on. In the center of the room was a hovering cerulean sphere of energy. She was older than me, but never spoke to me in a condescending tone, never hinting that she was stronger. Invi (the board's name of choice) was a modest entity, assisting me in my endless task of defending BZ-Koro and keeping it operational and clean.
Dimensioneer looked up at me. "You mean…she's…dying. Is there anything we can do?"
"Possibly," I replied. "There may be hope for her still. Her health has been deteriorating for some time, but it would be best not to alarm the citizens prematurely. Perhaps Binkmeister and I can find a solution."
"Invi was supposed to be an unlimited source of power," Hahli Husky said, giving me a look of urgency. "What could cause her to die?"
"I suspect one of the hackers is behind this," Than the Moa spoke up. "In our efforts to banish the lawbreakers, there's a chance someone planted a seed of poison in our city before we had a chance to act." He then turned his attention my way. "What do you think?"
The room went silent and the staff members were all eyeing me. They were right to assume I had a response. The board was a particular existence, one that sometimes chose silence when a staff member demanded she speak. I was the only entity she would always answer, likely finding me a source of kindred, or the closest option she had.
"Invi sustained a terrible wound during the war," I explained. "We thought she had the capacity to overcome its influence. We were wrong."
The war. The individuals standing in the chamber with me had each spent time fighting for the city, at one time or another. We were all responsible for quelling hackings and would-be anarchists that wished to see us deposed. Still, only some of the administration served during the great war that nearly destroyed our entire city.
"What will happen to us if Invi should perish?" Black Six asked, staring hard into the sphere's light. "What will happen to the veil?"
"I think you know the answers to both of those questions, Andrew," Invi said quietly. "Without my life force, BZ-Koro cannot remain active. This will be a city trapped in darkness…powerless to stop your enemies. As for the veil that Jon helped to design, it will fade with my death."
The veil had been designed into Invi's programming when BZ-Koro was established. To enter the city, one had to pass through the veil, at which point the veil would request you create or identify an existing shell. Without choosing one of the two options, the veil would send in guests as phantoms, unable to interact with anyone or anything in the city. Like Invi, the veil is alive, and only chooses to speak to administrators and myself.
We departed the core that night as a somber group, uncertain of our next move. I decided it best to make my way out to the Library, taking a seat among some of the young short story writers. Up on the second floor, I happened to notice a staff member named Velox accepting a request for his critiquing group. The writers on the main floor were hard at work though, either reading or writing, though never too busy to address someone in my position of power.
"Good evening," one of them greeted, giving me a polite smile. He was a fairly new member, his heartlight devoid of any hologram that represented his cycles in the city. More telling of his youth was the glowing white communication number beneath his heartlight, counting the times he had publicly interacted with others in BZ-Koro. The number sat at 31. Like most new members, this writer had yet to make any serious contributions. That said, the silvery ring that wrapped around the outside of his heartlight was only filled on the left side, as it was with all new citizens.
"Hello, young writer. Please, carry on," I replied, standing up and heading on my way.
The short story writers were an easy-going collective, and I think it had always been that way. The epic writers took themselves a tad too seriously at times, while the comedy writers weren't serious enough. I think that was the point, but the polarity of their ideals never appealed to me much. Upon leaving the Library, I was back on the streets of the only home I had ever known. The city meant so much to so many that losing it would be a catastrophic loss. I couldn't let that happen, resolving to speak with Binkmeister as soon as possible to find any alternative to letting Invi just die. Unlike the younger members of the administration, Kelly knew what we sacrificed once to protect BZ-Koro…he remembered our darkest hour just as I did.
Cycle 002, Phase 09 [April, 2004]
The city was in chaos. BZ-Koro's regulations have always been strong enough to create dissent among some of the members and we were prepared for that from the start. What we didn't prepare for was the possibility that the conditions were optimal for manifesting something far worse. The second Invi knew what had occurred, she notified me and the upper administration at once. It was already too late. A negative double of the city was phasing in and out of local space-time, forcing us to confront a new enemy.
The entity that led the charge of shadowy monsters was beyond powerful; he was a seemingly unstoppable nightmare. The glossy white of his insectoid head and the intense blue of his eyes stared down at me from the skyscraper that had housed countless theories earlier in the morning. He leapt from the building, tearing his energy scythe through the structure's side along the way. It left a trail of bright emerald energies and brought the tower down. Once the entity landed, he wasted no time lunging at me with that scythe, forcing me to defend with my own golden blade, holding him at bay as best I could.
"What are you?" I growled, struggling to maintain my ground.
"I am the end of this city's suffering," he hissed, withdrawing his scythe before spinning at me.
I countered with my sword, taking my opening and punching my enemy in the jaw. He did a couple back flips, spinning the scythe around as he stared up at the sky. All around BZ-Koro, the sounds of the citizens could be heard as they battled the horde of armies our enemy had summoned.
"I am Hapori Dume, and I will eradicate you and your so-called order enforcers," he continued, running at me with the scythe.
I stood ready for his attack, but just when I thought he was going to strike, he took to the sky and flew off. A few more of his soldiers were headed my way, negative duplicates of the administration. They were nothing I couldn't handle. Our war with Hapori Dume's forces had begun at sunrise that morning. By the time night fell, much of the city was in ruins. Everywhere I went to defend the citizens, signs of Dume's work were present. He set fire to the Marketplace, razed much of the Creative Outlet district, and the usual mess that was Completely Off Topic had been reduced to rubble. Even with the assistance of Crystal Matrix and his squadrons helping to battle Dume's forces, we were outmatched. Once I considered the solution to winning the war, it was well past midnight and the enemy was beginning to conquer entire districts of BZ-Koro from us.
My theory took me to Invi's core, moments too late. When I arrived in her chamber, she was flickering between her typical bright blue and a dark red color. She was not without a negative, it seemed. Dume approached her, his scythe glowing with power. I crept near to Invi and Dume, trying my best to keep quiet.
Dume laughed. "It wasn't easy coming down here, my dear. Your armies fought to the last, but they had no idea what they were standing against."
"How were you able to do this?" Invi asked. In the time I had known Invi and in the years that followed, Invi never asked another question. I thought she had all the answers, and to those things she lacked answers for, she was unconcerned.
"I didn't do this," Dume replied. "You did. I am the personified result of all the animosity that others have toward you and will ever have toward you. I am the jealousy of every slighted and banned citizen and I am the rage of every hacker that will ever attempt to shut you down. I exist now to fulfill a purpose."
"If you can detect the presence of others that will attempt to bring me harm in the future, you must be aware that you will die," Invi said calmly.
"I am not destined to assist every renegade that wishes you dead, I am only a temporary answer to your demise. Now hold still, my dear. This will hurt."
I launched a burst of brilliant gold energies from my blade, immediately sending Dume across the room. He stood back up and I could tell he was impressed that I thought to come down to save Invi.
"I should've known I would see you again," Dume said with a smirk, firing a blast of the emerald energy out of his scythe.
I defended against it as he came closer, repelling the waves of power with relative ease. Without warning, he ran closer to the center of the room, redirecting the beam at Invi and slicing his scythe into her.
"No!" I screamed, blasting Dume again.
The scythe was vaporized within moments of touching Invi's surface, but I knew the damage had been done. Hapori Dume was flung backwards by my attack, but this time when he tried to stand, he saw we had more company.
"It would seem I have reached my destiny," he said in defeat.
I glanced over my shoulder and watched the BZ-Koro administration come to my side. As I pointed my blade at Dume, they drew their own weapons and followed my lead, striking him with everything we had. A few moments later, Hapori Dume was no more. We heard a rumble rip through the city then, a tremor that almost felt as though Invi's chamber would collapse on us.
"Hapori Dume's armies have vanished with his life force," Invi declared. "The city is at peace."
"Are you hurt?" I asked her.
"Dume's attack caused minimal damage. Recovery time is estimated at a few days," Invi replied.
"This still doesn't make sense," Bionicle Rex said. "How did Dume get his forces inside the city to begin with? The veil was designed to prevent any and all undesired entities from entering BZ-Koro!"
"Hapori Dume told me that I did this. Upon further analysis of comment, I have discovered that he was correct," Invi revealed.
"Why would you do this?" Binkmeister wondered, somewhat hurt by what he was hearing.
"We all did, indirectly," Invi continued. "Within each of us exists a positive and negative energy, constantly at odds. Those energies allow the citizens and your administration to take form here in BZ-Koro. Those energies were an unintended side effect of creating me in the first place, and so a piece of light and dark exists within us. Though we had no idea, Hapori Dume exists in the heartlights of all BZ-Koro members."
"At least we put an end to his VahkiPower regime," Bionicle Rex replied. "I wasn't just going to sit around and wait for him to take this city from us."
"It would certainly be out of character if you did, Rich." Invi's voice was even, though I could tell she was making an attempt at humor.
"Dume came too close to annihilating this city," I said. "Are you sure the damage will be repaired within the next few days, Invi?"
"My systems are continually recalibrating the estimated repair time, but this is likely due to an error from damage sustained by Dume's attack. I am advanced enough to heal from something as crude and physical as a scythe."
"What's to say a physical wound was Dume's only intention?" Dimensioneer asked.
"I assure you, Jon, there is nothing Hapori Dume was capable of that I cannot repair in myself. I was designed as such."
Cycle 009, Phase 09 [April, 2011]
"I'm ready, Kelly," Invi whispered.
Binkmeister and I found our solution by looking to the past. If the Invision Power Board could be split into light and dark, it was also entirely possible that we could split her light into smaller sections. The light damaged by Dume would remain in the old BZ-Koro while a new city would be constructed and house most of her power beneath it. In order to do this without any outside interruptions, Invi would have to turn the veil's power up, to the point that only administrators and myself could enter the city.
"When we separate the damaged light, the current BZ-Koro will be damaged as well. Citizens will still be able to enter the city, but they will be as the phantom guests when they do. This metropolis will be a glorified archive. Also, Invi, when I shut you down…there's nothing saying we'll be able to activate you again," Binkmeister warned her.
"I am prepared for that, Kelly," Invi replied. "The sleep mode protocol is necessary if my damaged light is to be separated. If the process is done while I am active, the results could be even more disastrous for the city."
The entire BZ-Koro staff stood in the room, waiting patiently for my order. We had all said our goodbyes earlier in the week and now we were ready to let her go. I glanced at Binkmeister and nodded. "Put her into recovery sleep."
Kelly connected a repair device into Invi's mainframe through the floor, typing a couple commands onto the holographic panel. A low rumble shook the city and we watched as Invi's sphere grew smaller, turning darker shades of blue as it did. This was the only way we could save a city that meant the world to me. BZ-Koro served a fine purpose, and though we had no guarantee of being able to reactivate Invi when our work was done, she was ready to take the risk, because BZ-Koro was her city too.
"Good night, Invi," I said quietly.
"Good," she replied, her voice failing at this point, "night."
Binkmeister turned to Dimensioneer and frowned. "I'll bring her back when we're ready…somehow. In the meantime, start evacuating the city. BZ-Koro must be undisturbed by the populous while we remove part of the AI core."
"I founded this city because I believed in what it would stand for," Dimensioneer replied. "I know this isn't the end. Not after everything we've done to come this far."
There was grave emotion in his tone. The city's establishment predated my existence, but I knew what I had been told. I knew that like every city, BZ-Koro had an origin.
Cycle 000, Phase 01 [July, 2002]
Jon and Mike stood on the outskirts of an empty white plane, a colossal portal built nearby. Before them was a sphere, a world, hovering in wait. It was populated already, but for what today's plan would be, it would never be the same world it had been. Deep within the spherical city-world, Kelly was waiting to activate the artificial intelligence that would maintain their new planet, a new Invision Power Board unit that could keep up with the extra load.
"This is a momentous day," Mike said with a smile.
"How simple will the process be?" Jon wondered. "I only ask because you have experience on the matter."
Mike chuckled. "Yes, changing your name because you have a few more citizens arrive is much less complicated than merging with an entirely separate world. All I can say is that once Kelly activates the board, the AI unit can trigger the portal for him and commence the fusion of our worlds."
Jon took a deep breath. "Okay, let's get to it." He pushed a button on his communication device and said, "Are you there, Kelly? We're ready to begin the merger."
"Ready on this end," Kelly replied. "Beginning activation momentarily…you should be able to see the veil for a second when I start."
Jon and Mike waited, catching a glimpse of the semi-transparent, violet wall that encased the sphere for only a brief moment. Jon pressed a separate button on his device and said, "Get ready, Rich. The gateway will be opening momentarily."
"I read you loud and clear," Rich said excitedly. "I'm in position atop the Administration Tower, watching the portal now. As soon as I see activity in there, I'll trigger the switch to begin expanding the city."
The gateway exploded to life, currents of energy rippling through the portal as the merger began. Jon and Mike stood aside, watching as the citizens of Kanohi-Power flooded out like a tidal wave. They had been prepped on what would be happening, but no one expected how violently their initial entry to the new world would be. Rich activated the city's built-in expansion protocol, watching as entire streets were shifted about and the sphere began to grow. All the while, more and more phantom-like Kanohi-Power members were shot into the veil, indentifying themselves to the new AI unit and awaiting approval for entrance to the city.
"We're entirely operational down here," Kelly said, laughing happily. "The merger was a success."
"Looks like your BZCommunity just got a little bigger," Mike said, grinning at Jon.
"It's not BZCommunity anymore," Jon replied. "You told me your hope for our new city was to hold on to the belief that we are a close-knit village, despite our vast size. It's BZ-Koro now, thanks to you."
"And who will serve as the protector of this new, BZ-Koro?" Mike questioned. "We are creating a paradise here, and there is no doubt in my mind someone will want to take it or destroy it."
"I can design a defender that works with the AI, a sword to accompany the heart of our city's shield. A guardian and an advisor in times of crisis, he will be our avatar."
"Our avatar?" Mike repeated. "Then we'd better make sure he's the best machine this city has ever seen. I think with time, we should also examine some of the new AI's special subroutines, the Premier one in particular. The ability to grant enhancements to members and allow them to go beyond standard limitations sounds quite interesting."
"All in due time," Kelly replied. "I want to learn everything I can about this new AI as well."
Cycle 010, Phase 04 [October, 2011]
After a short eternity, Invi's poisoned light was extracted through the efforts of Kelly and the other administrators, as well as my own. We placed the greater portion of her into a new world, handling the processes in relative darkness for the most part. Without an active AI, the new world was cold and empty. We could only construct the shell and the buildings, the rest would have to be filled by the members with time. Everything else was left behind, historical memories to be seen or read.
"She's online," Kelly said happily. "The veil is being turned down to allow citizens to return."
When Kelly activated Invi once more, none of us knew what to expect. As the city's designated elite sentinel, I chose to approach her first. I extended a hand and gave her a smile.
"Hello, Invi. Can you hear me?"
Her cerulean light began to glow brighter and brighter, abandoning the dark azure we feared she may retain forever. At last, Invi was awake, ready to greet the new world and the members we had kept out for so long.
"Hello, Hapori Tohu," she replied. "I can hear you."