040. Forge Netting

Berry was buried. Pinkerton was investigating. Fielding was fielding questions. Eustace was following fruitful lines of enquiry. Teschner was making a package to carry them all forward into the future with.

Colin was counting all this as a victory of the people. All his years of following Ruebeau had paid off.

What’s in a name?

James Ruebeau – deceitful regretter of good. Tennant’s final iteration, and the name that meant more to anyone than any of the other identities stacked in piles throughout his life. Ruebeau was about to be undone – was about to be cast out into oblivion.

Ledwait – a lead weight, or a led wait; he holds you down and puts you into a state of waiting. This was the man who had put those other agents to sleep, and some small part of Ruebeau in this personality had put the world into a holding pattern.

Jerome Barrow – sacred burial place; where the truth had been buried of the whole mission. Barrow was the lock-box inside Ruebeau, the interface that only Housekeeping had any contact with – an encrypted hard drive.

Terence Ensign – smooth flag. The top level badge under which all of the cover personalities and the sectioned off personas gained cohesion and were fashioned into the best agent ever in the field.

Tennant – occupies a property. Tennant was as far back or as close to a base personality as they could trace, but the suspicion was that there wasn’t anything deeper than that.

Why the LE and the the?  The Last Exit. A personality death program developed alongside such programs as The Smooth Exit.

All these things had come to light, and Ruebeau kept telling them that he wanted to know nothing  of it. He allowed them to take from him what they needed in order to effect a cure, and then he asked that they blank him out and then lose him.

The discussions went on for days, but finally they agreed to grant him his wish.

Forge Netting 39: Spade Marks

He was a cockroach – he always had been. He could, he was sure, if put to the test, survive without his head for a few days. Dropping him in the middle of a desert … what the fuck was that supposed to do? he had survived way worse shitstorms than these pre-programmed fucktards were capable of dreaming up. It pissed him off that they were not more imaginative and it also pissed him off that they thought someone like him could be gotten rid of quite so easily.

How were they to know that he had a repeating signal antidote push built out of gene-hack flesh where the spleen used to be? Sure, he had forgotten everything for a very short period of time, but then the antidote had kicked in and the whole shebang was resurrected.

Funny, they still didn’t actually know who or what he was. This had been a fruitful exercise for him … his disease had worked. This thing that he had engineered to destroy memory had worked.

‘I didn’t trust it,’ said Berry. ‘I never trust these things. A bullet through the head is always the most effective end to a conversation.’

‘Funny, I always thought of you as the logical one – but the one incapacitated by wings as swift as meditation.’

‘Ah, well therein is the thing to catch the king, eh?’

‘I am no king, and you are saying your whole thing was a ruse to fool me? Interesting idea, but I wasn’t watching you.’

‘A giant that cannot see its own feet I see.’

‘Can you stop being cryptic and get this over with? I think I have mentioned my intolerance for long-winded bullshit before.’

‘There’s a localspace distortion field put out by the LEthe, and we found a way to hack it. We found a way to disrupt your spatiotemporal index and disconnect the causal blockchain of your central reality.’

‘OK, and you couldn’t do this remotely? You had to come here and bore me to death before you press the button?’

‘No no, I had to be in close proximity. I volunteered. My Callsign is Bury. Like Bury St Edmunds. There is something of the martyr about me.’

‘So you are going to be killed by this too?’

‘Neither of us will be killed, but we are going to be scattered out through time.’

‘All these dead-ends, it must be tiring. You can’t destroy me – there are safeguards in place to prevent that.’

‘Sure, if the back-up systems can find you.’

‘Your spatio-temporal disruptor? Go ahead, let’s see it in action.’

‘Oh, it already is in action – have you failed to notice the distortion already creeping in? Have you not noticed the reversal of the rejuve job? Haven’t you noticed your irregular heartbeat? You’ve been castrated, Mr Spay.’

-*-

The localspace crumpled, Berry felt like his ribcage had collapsed and his lungs were collapsing into suffocation. He watched the confusion wash across Spay’s face. How had they found him out? How had they outplayed him? Where had this game of chess gone south? Berry’s awareness shredded, and he tumbled out through the Dissociation Gates that dissembled all travellers; out into the reverberating echoes that the hallways of time were built from.

Spay clung to the notion of himself, latched onto some sense of himself as a cipher for something greater; his was a super-positional life; his destination was to leap into the mirror at the heart of The Metaphor House.

Would For The Trees

He looked at the bonsai that he had been growing and pruning into shape. The picture on the wall matched it exactly. It had been a long project. Here he had crafted his first time machine – through the fractal line, down through the rings of age he would travel, deep into the heartwood.

He had heard that many trees had been falling in The Woulds. Many of his contemporaries had taken their Leave, and were in The Wind. They had dug in hard, long ago, and found the underpinning undercurrent of ideational actuation that drove the super-positional data drive that reality was constructed from, and their metaphorical machines represented complex engines running off the deepest substrate of existence.

It was a lost art – the pruning of these vehicles into something usable, and Hent had been studying for a very long time, and he was now the sole expert left. Why had it taken him so long? Why was no one else interested?

They said it began with the Turn Of The Leaf, that that presaged The Fall, and then the rot set in. People were so apathetic, and the world was literally falling down around them.

He stuck his hands into the dirt, and he grabbed the roots of that little tree, all the time holding the image of the larger tree in his mind – The Yggdrasil. It was said that one saw the Hesperidean Apples falling like golden suns before one, when one had snagged a branchline and was being pulled into the subtext. A moment – an endless moment – he was a still center beneath a tree … apples falling … cherry blossom falling … small children scrumping for gold falling.

And he was falling, out through the boundaries of the room, his body and the small tree folding out through a bright point of light, a tear in the fabric of spacetime, through the twisting throat of a tesseract stint, into the smooth tube of a wormhole, and wham, out through one of the ancient Singularity Gates, and there you are – escaped into something other, something larger.

Hent stands and he looks around him, and he sees no Woulds. He sees dun brown of all the dones, no longer dunderheads … they got here: here to the promised landing zone. Refugees from a Reality Collapse. Hent grabbed something from his pocket – he walked out past the boundaries of the settlement – a long walk (a good sign), and he did as tradition demanded: he scattered the handful of seeds he had brought with him.

Strangespace

Strangespace – some kind of exotic byproduct dimension made of stuff that started to foam around the drives which tore apart dimensional properties to get from A to B. The first time it blipped on anyone’s radar was when someone picked up a distortion clambering through the SOS frequencies that mirrored something they had been using in their distress beacons, but with something extra layered under it; almost like it was backmasked into there.

Calumn Storing was the man who named it – Strangespace. More incidents started to get reported, and suddenly you had someone pushing out a communication on a neutrino stream that claimed to be coming from the other side of a dimensional tear.

Calumn moneyed up and funded an expedition into the territory – the territory fought back – it was almost as if an intentional push into the space was antithetical to its very nature, and it therefore pushed back. Calumn coined the term spatio-temporal pollution, and from there came supra-dimensional fragmentation, and a whole philosophy built around the idea of not travelling in the way they were travelling.

Bearer Quinton came up with the notion that the space was being manipulated by a person, rather than any kind of interference from the destructive engines they used. He fingered Calumn as the kind of patient zero that had somehow infected the materials of the localspace he had been studying with destructive intentionality … it worked remotely too … apparently. Fingers were pointed.

When asked what had happened to Calumn Storing in the years after his disappearance, Bearer Quinton was said to have coyly remarked that perhaps his expedition into Strangespace had finally been successful.

Was it that people stopped reporting it thereafter, or is it that it actually dissipated as the engine designs improved. Or was Calumn Storing’s absent intention the reason it vanished?

A New Eden

Weedbed – he’d hacked in deep and left all the routes lying around. We’d bed down as the sun boiled the horizon orange, looking at half written scripts that unspooled into abstract matter. This was supposed to be a place for sunflowers – an abstraction bed, a metaphor chassis for running some larger system on.

Hackspace dug into the reality riptides, and hack-objects provided concrete interfaces through which one could manipulate the world. Some days after a hard day of trying to configure the space, ocular migraines misting at the edge of his perception, he’d activate the hack-plugs embedded in his own flesh, and he’d mess around with himself like he was a chemistry set.

Dandelions and ragwort, little seeds dusting the place, scent strangely strong, and for  moment he couldn’t remember the larger function they’d been assigned. Carlos was named as Chief Gardener, and he liked the littoral territory his job allowed him to occupy. A strange job for a strange man – all quantum entangled deep-ware – move it and write it on a larger scale. He could think with a garden; it was sometimes harder to think of a closely linked ideational space that would fructify with seeds for real world terraforming. It was like being God in denial.

The weeds tested the larger machinery for flaws, and as each diagnostic procedure was carried out, they had to be removed. Flowers were kept, separated off, and passed on to various diagnostic teams – this was harvest three, and with some of the tweaks and experiments he had been able to carry out, he was convinced that they had been able to build a very effective universal engine that they were going to be able to ship out to the edge of scripted space, and plug it in and start generating some deep beds for reality to grow in.

Carlos pressed the end cycle button on the mini-vironment, and watched on his screen as a reality was zipped down, and what physical matter couldn’t be zipped was ported out through the tesseract translation engines. It all looked so simple – building universes. Eden was a crucible – he believed that now; believed that they had developed something analogous to it. He was proud to be part of it.

School Of Hard Knox

Johnno zipped up in his school-suit – he’d just been fitted for it. Kindergarten started tomorrow. The suit utilised nanotech to strengthen the kevlar base of the skin and it should stop most rounds, and even work to slow down anything specialised. Taser, pepper spray, all packed. The school encouraged defensive measures for everyone now – it was accepted that they couldn’t hope to control the issues around guns and psychiatric patients who wanted to kill children, so rather than feel hopeless they decided to do something. His mum had spared no expense with this thing – she wanted him to be safe. He hated wearing the hood and the face-plate but so many killers were just going for the headshot rather than the body because they wanted to kill and not injure.

All teachers had to be weapons-trained now. Doors were only ident-lockable by teachers. School secretaries had executive hack orders at their disposal – there was no kind of security that they couldn’t penetrate through. School caretakers were equipped with mind-linked puppet drones to dispose of bombs. It was hard-core working for the education system these days, but it paid well … it was equivalent to signing up for the army; most schools were warzones.

Johnno spent the first two weeks of school with no idea what anyone looked like. Until they had done extensive background checks on everyone, including full medical work-ups to make sure that they weren’t bio-bonded to any kind of weaponised disease or anything like that – only then could they have a lesson where they weren’t suited up. Freedom came at a high price, but it was a price tht most parents were willing to pay.

In his first three years of school nothing happened, but the self-replicating machinery in his suit meant that it kept pace with his rapid rate of growth. The suit looked as new as it had on the first day that he had put it on. It had been through several upgrades, and the school had intensified it’s security many times in the intervening years. That third year though someone, skirting the bleeding edge of technology, disgruntled because of lack of recognition of his genius, and gifted with endless supplies of money by his guilt-purchase parents, had got through the security system, and had come gunning for Johnno and his class.

The bullets that hit Johnno were painful, and he would need medical attention afterwards, but that was acceptable given that he survived the attack.

The attacker wasn’t so lucky. Whereas Johnno’s suit was defensive, it was perfectly acceptable, and backed by law, for someone to have an offensive suit, and that is what took care of the man. He was painted red with a laser and a whole series of bullets entered that point and opened a crater up in his back.

Outrage filled the airwaves for a while, but that died down like it always did. Apathy loaded every chamber and squeezed every trigger, and apathy kept that chamber spinning like it was rigged to the wheel of samsara and wanted to keep people rotating like Sisyphus, so fast that they might achieve some kind of escape velocity just by doing the sameold shit. It was madness.

the fourth of julie

Were the fireworks misplaced?

She liked to think not. What was a more fitting reason than the fourth reboot of her life? To be unfolded from the wreckage her body had been – a bloody car-crash, at her age? It seemed ridiculous, pointless … all those things one said when they were in disbelief. And all the protocols that were supposed to be in place to make sure that an agent intervened before her body was shipped from the morgue to the graveyard had failed, what did that say about the state of the organisation?

She looked over at Walker and he was sweating bullets.

‘Yeah,’ she said ‘You know you fucked up, and how.’

‘Sorry, ma’am.’

‘Ah, save that shit for someone who cares. Answer me a question.’

‘Sure, I mean, affirmative, ma’am.’

‘Did you get a trace on Betty?’

‘Betty?’

‘The bitch who just totalled my car. OK, well, from your dumbfounded expression I am going to guess not.’

She checked the read out as it booted up in her newly recovered left eye. Time to move on and close this operation down. Walker was a liability – one quick shot to the head with a metaboliser and he was twitching on the floor like an epileptic as his body broke down into its constituent parts.

Where had she been going in her car? Ah, yes – her Independence Date – the day her body mods  were paid off and she became a free woman … who would fuck with that? Someone funded Betty because she was a cheap bitch otherwise.

Hack the bank – trace it back, and there she was … her new job: Bruce The Robot. Jealousy wasn’t good – Bruce’s freedom was a way off. She was sure that the satellite she had just tasked from a weapons array she paid for a back door into last year was going to put a crimp in his day when it dropped that superheated carbon rod through the center of his villa and reduced him and it to molten slag. Try coming back from that one bitch.