Engine Ear – Part 2: Interface

The first thing he was shown as he walked in the door was a bicep sporting a red spanner in front of a broken cog – the symbol of SPuMe. The guy smiled at him bearing capped teeth and beckoned him to follow after. They weren’t overt with the scans but he knew that they were being conducted – it was the only concession to technology a lot of these guys would allow in their lives – something to capture their enemies. You had to be pure or you were out and they ran regular and intensive scans. He was lucky that all that was passing over him at the moment was a light level sensor. He hoped that all the extra tech that he was running to mask himself wasn’t going to play up while he was here right in the middle of the most dangerous place in the city for a borg.

Gallivant sat there in front of him and he barely recognised him, which he considered slightly odd as it was him that had gone in for the extensive body modification supposedly. How did he still know that it was his one-time friend despite the obvious steroid abuse that had brought him to this overinflated state of self? It was the stare – that gaze was hard to hold but you knew even as you looked away he was boring into you with those dark cocoa coloured eyes. There was something slightly unhinged behind those eyes; something obsessive; something that didn’t tick in quite the same way as everyone else.

‘One has to ask themselves why a journalist would be interested in a hot potato like us and our little disagreement with the Engineers. One has to wonder what propaganda opportunities coming to visit a bunch of rabid pro-humans might offer to a pencil pusher such as yourself. It’s been a long time, Fervent, how have you been keeping?’

‘Well … and yourself, you look …’

‘Good, yeah, I know – perfect specimen of what the human form can be given the right attitude and the right exercise regime.’

‘Yeah. So, you’re in charge here?’

‘Not exactly, but I have some pull. It isn’t exactly a hierarchical structure that we’re operating within here. This is more of a life choice than a job or a gang or an organisation, if you catch my drift? Are we on record by the way?’

‘Always. I’m a journalist.’

‘Slippery bastard.’

‘Some might think so.’

‘So, Ferv’, would you mind me asking you a question? Just one, that’s all, and then we’ll continue as planned.’

‘Of course. Go ahead.’

‘Okay, here goes. Why exactly would a borg be stupid enough to walk into the heart of our territory and expect to walk out alive again, even someone with journalistic credentials like yours? Do you think we don’t read or something?’

Engine Ear Part 1: Booting Up

He took out his eyes and cleaned them, it was a mechanical action taken over by sense memory. One of the few automated actions that his biological elements still had domain over – most of that had been handed over to subroutine and hardwiring. The future is elective surgery; it is not something foisted on us by malignant machines. He was happy with who he was and what he was. The truth was always that the machines were us – they were new physical vehicles for our thought processes; something more durable to get us where we needed to go.

He could smoke as much as he wanted, drink as much as he wanted – he would customise himself to be able to do the things that he couldn’t presently do. Pimp My Hide was the mainstream tip of the iceberg in the body modification culture. In fact not many people really thought of it as body modification anymore – the body as a concept had died a death when the first glimpse of the kind of entities that human beings really were was achieved by a five-dimensional imaging tool that showed something vibrating on a commensurate level with superstring frequencies.

The body fascists, the ones who came to a room with the Da Vinci template grafted onto their pattern recognition system so they could weed out those that were different and avoid speaking to them, they were trying to pass a bill that would ghettoise anyone who had taken a step beyond homo sapiens. It was true that they were divergent as a species and had different needs, but those involved in this evolution through choice were generally preaching tolerance and being met with bigotry.

Engineers were a separatist movement that talked of a secession from the human world but in peaceful terms; a passive resistance. They were all in a position to divorce themselves from the GRID (General Registration Identity Designation) and saw revolution as a hidden movement; no tacit divorce from the powers that be – just a stepping back and a stepping away from their institutions. They did not want to oust or replace human beings – they wished to co-exist but to be allowed their own culture.

The body fascists had sympathisers in all sectors of the community; there were even apologists for them in the ranks of those they hated. If you could get a hook in a floating voter and work enough at the un-admitted prejudices then you might have enough leverage to swing them your way; to get agreement. It didn’t take much in the world of politics to qualify as a landslide – get a few people to vote who hadn’t thought about it before and you were well on your way to crushing the usual conscientious few who bothered to put their x in the box. It was a dangerous time.

There had been attacks where people had had their tech forcibly removed – it was treated like the removal was something that could be fixed but in at least two cases the victims had perished shortly afterwards. The people carrying out the attacks weren’t mere thugs because they had known enough about the tech to be able to disable the psyche-upload that most people wore to transfer their personalities to a back-up somewhere.

He was off to meet someone that he had once known who was now entrenched in the Sapiens Purist Movement (SPuMe), an offshoot of the main body fascist group that represented an almost antithetical stance to the Engineers. It was ostensibly an interview for a lifestyle magazine that somehow straddled the culture divide and sold to both groups but they both knew what their meeting and their words would mean to every single person that they knew they represented.

He was booting up parallel interference devices to tackle all the scan-and-strikes out there; he was running bio-rhythm v2.0 to simulate a warm body biology. Verdant was lucky as far as some were concerned; they called his type stealth-borgs because the technology wasn’t immediately obvious, but as he pointed out to them, if they started registering people who had tech he was as screwed as they were. A bigot didn’t make any distinction between a fully converted bot and a transitional borg or a borg that looked human. If you had anything non-organic hooked up to your body then you were a problem.