Guardians of Liberty: Part 21

21.

Blood in the Water, Blood on the Air

Ozell was looking at the clerk like he knew precisely what had happened. He didn’t, but he’d guessed enough that he’d piece the rest together. All he cared about was truth.

“You sent him out back.” The clerk said nothing in return. Ozell thought to scold him, backed off. “Fine. Did he say anything?”

The clerk shook his head. “You only saw him, didn’t speak to him.” Another shake of his head.

Ozell swallowed fury to recall Paul’s face. It kept him level. Ket’s warnings, the recollection of what he knew — and didn’t– swarmed in his mind.

“You see him before today?” Another shake. “Thank you.” Ozell walked away, “Fucking enlightening conversation that.”

“Sir?” A green said. “Commander, Sir, you might wanna’ see this.”

Ozell wanted to back-hand the kid for his groveling. The last thing he needed was more dehumanization. Wage-kids, he knew. Fresh from boot and new on the beat. Always rolling back-streets prepped and waiting, or offbeat and training, sparring.

Corp-sec worked like a well-oiled machine of mass enforcement and authority. Excellent for both total militarized movement and insurgent execution of will. Just as an empire’s authority should. Ozell had never argued the existence of it, only the ethics– a thing those hacker tech-punks pretended to know, but never could.

Ethics meant jackshit from anyone who’d never been to war or forced to kill to survive. What could a bunch of barely not-kids know of sacrifice, compromise in death’s face? Nothing, that’s what.

The greenie led Ozell to the alley where N1T3 was hit. Ozell sent him away. He found the blood on his own, taking careful time to think everything over as he investigated the area.

Daniel Ozell did his best to eliminate all impressions he might be operating under. Reductionism said his system dictated Martin Black as its enemy, Ozell’s through it. Whether Martin Black really was or not, didn’t matter in the slightest. The system, though hunting a figment, wanted it gone as any entity disruptive to its goal, bottom-line.

Really, Ozell knew, the enemy was N1T3; the avatar, the idea. Martin Black could be killed; was currently off somewhere licking a bloody wound. Ozell knew immediately he could follow the trail, find N1T3, likely kill him. Sooner if he followed now.

But in the end, he knew where N1T3 would go. Those that did not, wondered where Martin Black would. It would take anyone searching for the latter longer to find the former and it would be roundabout, circuitous. As it had been for him.

So, Ozell would collect what he needed to make his move in the meantime.

He sent the greens back on patrol. They’d work on coming to the conclusion of following Black to N1T3 on their own. Ozell needed N1T3 for himself; to understand. Not just N1T3, but Ket, Riter, Dru, and the whole culture. He needed to know it from inside out.

Ozell’d never delude himself; Corp-sec only saw him as a tool. His effectiveness was all that mattered. It, versus the risk of potential damage at his being unleashed. The idea was showing he need not be leashed, rather than proving why he did.

Unlike many, he wasn’t on corporations’ side for dubiously flexible moral reasons. It was from the rigid logic of a man built by their successes, their strengths. Why need more? Especially if, as was the case, he cared only to see his son was guaranteed safety and belly-fat.

But is it guaranteed?

It always had been. Especially now though, Paul was a liability, a target. If the system didn’t exploit him after thwarting those trying to, others would. How could Paul ever hope to live a normal life? His face was plastered across every corp-newsnet, internal or otherwise. The light-net was rallying behind him. If he weren’t so certain his orders were God’s law, he’d have worried Paul was being exposed even now.

But why? What was the point? Why rob a child– his child– of any hope at normality? Why make him a symbol of some stranger’s crusade? And why such a fruitless one? What heartless bastard could do such things?

He tried to temper his rage again, couldn’t this time. N1T3 had made Paul a target. Paul. His son. He would live and die a symbol of martyred oppression or eternal-tyranny. No matter what Daniel Ozell did to build a life for Paul, he’d eventually have to contend with some bygone hacker-punk’s schemes.

Ozell decided N1T3 would die for it. A moment would come. A tipping point. N1T3 had signed the contract allowing for it. Now, it was coming. He was predator, preying on weakness, and the pack-leader would retaliate.

Ozell’s fury became something more then. Brain-shorted by his own adrenaline, Daniel Ozell rose from examining N1T3’s blood an entirely different man. He was no longer a Commander on orders, working on company time. Instead, he was now the Hunter that would take his time, secure his place and understanding, then strike.

When he did, he would murder N1T3 or Martin Black all the same.

*

N1T3 felt weightlessness, his arms and legs hanging. Something not-quite sturdy cradled him. He moaned at an injection. Lines. Sleep. He sat stock upright as if no time had passed, awake in the rear of an ambulance. Time had passed, but he’d have never been able to tell.

Dru sat beside him, a pair of friends she knew– one he recognized– had agreed to help for just such an occasion. Dru sent them out as he came round to speak privately.

“You’re lucky to be alive.”

“Get that a lot lately,” he said, easing upward.

“Your vitals pinged Terry’s rig.” He tried to sit upward, completely incapably, gave up, and moaned. She sighed, “How much longer d’you intend to keep this up?”

He managed to swing himself to the bed’s edge and nearly blacked out. He found himself on the floor of the ambulance with Dru shouting at someone. Her tone said it was him; he knew it too well. It was the one reserved only for him. Even Riter didn’t quite get the same tone– though he had far more than a few reserved for himself.

He stopped fighting, pleased to find himself upright again, blood more or less still contained within him. The ambulance’s doors were open now, Riter’s garage beyond it. Anyone asking would get the guise of maintenance, a catch-all meaning Dru and Riter’s reps were good everywhere, with everyone.

He stumbled out into the garage. “Get me outta’ here, Dru. I’m drawing heat.”

“Fuck off, Martin. Sit’own,” she forced him back against the bumper.

She fought to pull at his clothing, leaving him feeling supremely exposed from his instant arousal. In her mind, he figured, it merely re-affirmed the adage that sex was preferable to anything. Who needed confirmation of that, really?

He tried squirming away, but she forced him still to check is wound, “No split. Good. Walk. Slowly. No running. You start running, you’re dead. Go home. You need anything and we’ll deliver it via drone. Stay out of sight. Stay safe.”

She walked him through the station toward the cellar, stopped at the door to the stairs. “I love you, N1T3. Because I know you. Like I knew Martin Black. I don’t love you as I loved him, but I do love you. I’m sorry for my part. I hope this grants you peace.”

Tears welled in her eyes, shining long enough to catch light. She turned away as two life-times of sorrow splashed the floor. Both were now muted, and lost to time and alt-history. Both the one that might’ve been theirs and was squandered, and the one that could still be but would not. It would be taken soon enough anyhow.

N1T3 wouldn’t have accepted further help if Dru’d had it to give. So, she gave what she could and sent him off, knowing she would never see him again. Though he would her; one, last time.

The return trip was long. Exhausting. The bleeding had stopped. Patched by Dru and her people’s expertly skilled hands.

He’d lost too much blood though. Was light-headed. He’d shouldered his way home in the sewers, only vaguely aware of the direction he moved. He reached his squat, parts in-hand, and collapsed just inside the building. He’d only just managed to get the door closed.

Despite his dwindling time, his body could take no more. Precious hours were to be wasted recovering enough to move again. Pushing any further would make it worse. He had no choice.

The door shut and his body slid down along it, landing in a heap and already out cold.

*

Daniel Ozell was waiting. Reconning the hunt. That meant learning not only his prey’s abilities, but his movements, habitat, and frequented environments too. The only way to effectively track and trap his prey was to understand it.

Not just N1T3 either, but hackers; so-called postdigital kids. He had to understand them.

He enveloped himself in reading and learning the culture at light-speed. One that had been running just as fast since its proliferation. It wasn’t long before he began to understand the last few decades of history better.

Hacker culture moved in waves exponential to technology’s evolution, hidden beneath punk and tech cultures as it groped for safety and sanctity in the newness of itself; Video games, PCs, smart tvs and phones. With them were the hackers building or breaking the things. All that time, hidden in the shadows. Decades. Growing. Spreading. Fueling the technology thirst now hydrating the world.

Formerly a culture of mathematicians, physicists, lecturers, and philosophers, it too had evolved. Nerds, geeks, dweebs; all manner of social outcasts were drawn to tech, its possibility and ubiquity. Hacking, really, was just practical short-hand; logical deduction.

What made certain hackers so good, Ozell quickly realized, wasn’t their programming or knowledge of tech. Rather, it was how well they adapted their abilities to the structure available, whether it produced the desired or required product.

In simplest terms, it wasn’t coding that made a hacker. It was their ability to recognize, conform to, and/or manipulate the imaginary and abstract as objects. Usually, through networks. Regardless, each object had a purpose and intricate interconnection to another. Through them, a change could or would be effected.

That was the essence of a “system.” What Hackers used to refer to any level of connected actors or reactors whose sole purpose was output. The output itself and even nature of the system didn’t matter to a hacker. Only that it was a system to be exploited or patched, or else periodically checked and cleared for vulnerabilities. As far as Ozell was concerned though, that was all gibberish.

At least, at first. Then he remembered what Ket had said; his system demanded an eye for an eye. Blood for blood.

But Martin Black, N1T3– whomever– hadn’t spilt blood. In fact, neither he nor his people were much for violence. N1T3’s own words on old forums posts and decades of old discussions, had been those of a peaceful Human Being.

True enough was it that they sublimated the urge en-masse, it wasn’t blood. Not really. Digital blood, but it wasn’t real. Trying to make it that way negated any real evidence. He knew it. N1T3 knew it. Everyone knew it. It was the avatar-equivalent of bloodletting; serving a purpose until something better came along and not without its benefits otherwise.

Except the corps were taking that as literal. Why?

Ozell didn’t understand. It was nagging him. As if the explanation were already there, before him. He just needed to see it, right. Grasp it. He needed something to compare it to. Needed some scale to–

It hit him so hard he gasped for breath. Forced to control his sudden rush of adrenaline and terror, he panicked. Images spilled into his mind. Images of marching. War. Blood. Death. Destruction. Flames. Utter agony. Piercing screams. Wretched sobs wracking his coherence from cries for mothers fathers, sons and daughters. The lost and dead, children included.

Paul.

Ozell’s heart was attempting to hammer its way out; N1T3 hadn’t made him a target. He’d made him an example. However poorly or misguided, he’d attempted to show the damage being done through a face no-one could object to. Whom better than a child with everything to gain?

But it was Ozell’s son. His son!

Ozell’d never bothered considering the hacker-crusade was for the greater good. Every terrorist and criminal needing an easy-out claimed crusade. Funny thing about the word, Ozell knew from experience, was its other name. The one he’d faced up-close and personal, down the barrel of a sand-caked gun; jihad.

Holy war; death and murder by the millions over things spawned from faith, conviction. Not evidence or fact. The same kind of thing those very people were arguing shouldn’t exist. So, he’d paid the possibility of greater goodness lip-service, as most would.

Until he recognized the scale he’d been missing.

Paul wasn’t marked because he was anyone specific. Quite the opposite. He was marked because he was no-one in particular, simply there. Like Anisa Blanc. Ozell was told to point and shoot. That was all that mattered to him. Above that, it was the execs’ hope that if Ozell did his job enough, all their problems would go away. They need only deign where to point him.

Paul Ozell was just another bystander now though. As he’d have been under any other circumstances. N1T3 had made Paul a bystander solely because he hadn’t been one. The system required someone from within to understand its damage. Even if they didn’t care for the message, they needed someone to care for its affected.

To corps, people weren’t people anymore. They were rosters, damage reports, spreadsheets, schedules and statistics. People were numbers to some, avatars to others, and whomever else they were otherwise in day-to-day life. To corps though, they were only a value in a system. Usually a digital one.

Even now, Ozell knew it all boiled down to statistics. If Black were allowed to go free much longer, the corps believed it would signal a new variable rising in their system. One they could not afford; collapse. It would never be so immediate, but it would be inevitable all the same.

Problem was, people were only statistics because someone or something made them that way. Like Anisa Blanc; Terry Riter, Dru MacIntyre, Se’Ket Zaad, and Martin Black had been pegged as threats to so-termed “system stability.” They were abnormal components in the pipeline. Possible benefits, as most, but also possible liabilities too.

Now, Paul Ozell was seen this way.

Six year old Paul Ozell, tucked safely in bed down the hall. Just feet away from his lune of a mother sleeping off her latest dose of lunatic meds. Paul Ozell was oblivious, unaware. Innocent. His father was not. Beyond that, he knew now what would happen, had seen it.

Blood. Death. Pain. Paul as part of it or suffering it.

Only one way out– Ozell saw and understood it, finally. Like those around him, he too, was a postdigital child. But even postdigital children had self-interests. At that Martin Black, aka N1T3, had ensured Corp-sec Commander Daniel Ozell’s self-interests would be met– for a purpose not his alone, and after an appropriate period of suffering.

The manipulation N1T3 had managed from Ozell’s system was astounding. He saw it now as one watched water-flows manipulated along a pipe. Save this was information. He’d already read about N1T3’s fountains. Their spread. N1T3 himself wouldn’t have even gotten the chance yet.

Then again, why would he need to? As its architect and visionary, N1T3 didn’t need to know anything beyond his own involvement. That kept it working best. The water itself determined the importance and use of a fountain; those around the fountain kept it clean and working well.

If they did not, it was reflected. And like all other social manifestations, in the people and their surroundings. Filth begetting filth. An age-old adage whose inverse should be the ideal but also downright impossible.

Technology though had grown small and ubiquitous. Pervasive, viral, and versatile.

People could not live without it or its main output of datum. Until recently, Human history had been been relegated to bits and bytes at a time. Formed and stored by-hand on large, hard physical media; Paper. Clay. Papyrus. Stone.

Digital information didn’t exist that way. It existed digitally. Through physical components, yes, but not in them. It existed in a netherworld; the aether of cyberspace.

Daniel Ozell now understood why he would kill Martin Black; his system demanded it– through him, as but an extension of its violent arm.

He would do it too, for his son, the world. Even Martin Black himself. It was the only way out for anyone. Even N1T3 knew it. He and N1T3 were forced into a contract for the falsified actions of a figment that were pinned on him.

Because of either’s circumstances, neither could back out. N1T3 had to see things through, and Ozell had to retaliate. Once again, Ozell realized, N1T3 had known it all along.

Poetry Thing Thursday: Of Boldness and Might

So let’s take a look,
just how it stands
the woman holds down,
and takes on commands,
listens outright,
all judgment gone.

Diplomacy’s art,
refined at its finest.
Suckled from far,
beneath the anus,
when out of the darkness,
arise doth a light,
devotedly dog-men of the fight,
armed with true-fashion,
equipped with a pun,
they’ll haul your ass out
and lynch it for fun.

Then just ‘fore forgetting,
at that moment of end,
we’ll let you back home,
gently again.

Reawaken your mind.
Let your toes and teeth tingle.
Remember that freedom is found in a jingle.
Look out in darkness,
tell us what do you see.
Is it a beautiful but fast-broken dream?

Riled all up,
and spat out again.
He’ll learn this time,
as original sin…

The problem you realize,
is that this is your moment,
but rather than prove you postpone it,
Humanity is nothing if not forgiving,
but then again, you, have to stop living,
off tvnews, air-raiding radio showtunes,
for it’s a sad monkey-fact,
you’re performing baboons.
Defiled by attention,
and paid out in spite,
you’ve made yourselves fools,
as is your right.
Always remember,
those affairs we do fight,
of wizards and madness,
and boldness and might.

VIN29- We Think We…

Okay. Another one. Less Raw this time.

Look, bottom line is, no matter what happens. The game is over.

The illusion is broken. The jig is up.

See, that’s what people like Woodward understand. Because they have seen it come and go for decades longer than you or I have lived. And they always will. Because it is not any one person they read. It is all of them.

This is how to reprogram ourselves: We think we. Each of us. About something. One thing. If you’ve got a kid, you can have more than one, but you’ve got at least one. If you’ve got a dog. Or a houseplant. Or anything that depends upon you, devote your mind in its service in its appropriate moment in time.

You were sick, but now you are well again, and there’s work to do!

If it possesses more of your time, you can break this down for an aspect of it instead. If your kid is LGBTQ, that is a good one. It will never not be an issue. Because it is very personal and difficult to handle.

Children deserve love. Everyone deserves love. Even the most vile, hate-filled creature on Earth, deserves love. Oft-times it’s those that don’t show real love, but rather, superficial love or enabling, that turn them into what they are.

Take a shiningly shit-turd of an example, ReziDump.

Dump has never known love. He has known adoration, perhaps. Most certainly, he knows awe. To an infantalized degree. It is his character. It is not ours. Chiefly however, he knows enabling.Yet he remains deserving of the true-love of those around him that put a hand on his in his weakest moment– even if to be slapped. For if that is the price to be paid, then it will one day be more deserving of the recompense of healing afterward.

Humans do not deserve loneliness, only confinement. The more confined, the more important and intensely the loneliness must be dealt with. Such people will always exist.

Trouble is, many have been played for fools by him and they’re angry. They do not know it, but their anger is stirred by the very cause for its existence. That is only logical. It is the drunk-mother’s money-offering hand. Combustion stoked by firemen dousing gasoline and flame o’er burning heaps of knowledge.

Thing is, that’s all well and good. But people burn out. This was the importance of the two-minutes hate. A thing even its creator could not fully comprehend how to explain, but ultimately is the social regulator valve:

Writers always have pretty wives. Someone should look into this.

Look, regardless of how people use a system, if it can be used positively, it should exist. To mitigate danger, it should be otherwise regulated. Yes. Regulation is good. It’s what makes sure your hotwater doesn’t scald you immediately from your pipes. It keeps your gas stove from blowing you to a hole in the Earth while you’re on your shitter.

It’s important. Like taxes. Or porn. There’s more in common than you first think. That’s the point.

We need it. We deserve it. We earned it. As a species.

We don’t need to understand Pi to understand Pi is important. That is the compartmentalization of knowledge. We need only know that others do understand. That, when or if it is relevant, those unaware may turn to those aware.

People like Dump are just misdirecting, trying to play us for fools that they’re the authorities on things they’re not.

We’ve all fallen for that. And it makes us ashamed. That makes us distrust. That’s okay. It’s Human Nature. We are all nothing, if not Human.

See, that was the thing Darwin grew to understand all those years and months of living thought. Certain, inextricable lines bind us to truth, as water is bound to rivers by physics. Even if we do not understand fully, why, we know we’re on the right path when in their light. When accepting them as fact.

Even if we do not know why we are forced to learn, we do. It is in the learning we are humbled.

Once, I set out to find a “We” and I found it in women. I wanted to solve Doc Brown’s great mystery of the universe:Women. What I learned wasn’t that there was anything to solve, it was that newgrowth is the most chaotic– be it in a plant, or a Y-chromosome. That is the moment when the certainty of pattern-recognition, or the link binding observation to instinct, is weakest. It is in that moment that we, as a species, are most likely to err.

“…Never forgetting,
N1T3 will soon come…”

N1T3 isn’t just a character. He is an encoding into the collective, unconscious mind that cannot be broken. A BLCKN1T3 protocol for society. He is Hiro’s bitmap. Case’s blackice. He is a postdigital intrusion countermeasure for the modern Human– And he has taken a lifetime to achieve. I am proud of him in a way I could never be of myself.

He is flawed. As are we all. As a character and creation. But serves his purpose nonetheless. And he always will. Whether it is via subtle, unconscious means. Or overt, belligerent ones. It does not matter because he will come when needed.

Batman’s got nothin on this muthafucka. Batman needed money, brawn.

N1T3 is weak. All brain. He is poor. He survives off wit. Old and new. All mental. Batman is forced to risk his back and neck. Night in, night out. The apex of N1T3 protocol, learns that the hard way firsthand, and yet it is immediate. It is now all he knows: what happens when the man behind the mask dies? Someone has to ask the question.

The answer: same thing that happens when we all die, life– nature, goes on.

It changes. It mutates. It evolves. Natural life is not just one planet’s meager piss-dribblet of carbon. It is all of “creation.” This is what makes Darwin so dangerous. He believes wholly what those whom say they believe, actually do not. He had a “we” implanted in him from birth. So does N1T3. Now, you do too.

Powerful ideas. Dangerous ideas, but powerful ideas.

This town needs a better class of criminal.

BLCKN1T3 PROTOCOL ACTIVATED: 181016:1730UTC/GMT authorization:timequake

Short Story: Enjoy the Ride

We headed down an aisle of authoritarian, fascist goods. They put themselves on display for all to see, screamed their message as were wont to do. Were summarily ignored, then bypassed for what was desired. That was how society worked. How Human Evolution had evolved. We had no need to evolve the body anymore.

The mind was what mattered. It was the real battleground.

So much of it was fractal. Like the countless aisles of identical goods. All of them made of smaller components– atoms, molecules, stacked in identical or slightly varied ways. In the end, their composition mattered not, only our aim for them.

So much of Human existence is this way. We think in scales, in redundancies, so that we can better understand. It is Human Nature. To have mnemonics. Memorical redundancy. To come to see the patterns in things. It is only in that patterning that we can reassess.

It was somewhere around the middle of the store that we found what we were looking for. Something like captialism in a glass jar. It glowed slightly. Imperceptibly, but enough to be admissible to the senses. It buzzed and whirred. Only slightly, and only on the levels of metaphysics. That world beyond the tangible.

Debating it was ever there was not the point. It was connecting it to reality.

It is in the senses. The lack thereof. It is becoming the viral infection vector for ideas, images, sounds, and beauty, bliss-state, nirvana. Some call it God. Some Godhead. But it is not greater than us.

It is us.

We are vibration: radiowaves waiting to be received by radios. Perception then engages. And we’re given the noises after decoding. The noises decoded are those we attune to by dialing in.

What’s the frequency, Kenneth?

It is universal now. What’s transmitted is different. It’s so far-out, man.

This is the land of the postdigital Shaman. Words, gestures, wind. We use technology to raise rivers to douse forestfires. We learn from past mistakes, enemies, friends, so that they cannot defeat us with old tricks. We learn to manipulate the very aisles’ layouts, knowing that the people watching to build it better, do it wrong. So they will eventually see their own folly.

We reach an endcap, and there it is. The bounty, booty. It is cheap. It is simple. For our needs, it is perfect. We raise it up as the almighty end-all/be-all. The totem of our effort. What will make it all worth it.

Securely in place, we trek once more. To purchase. Gone are the days of barter-on-demand. We must now make a commitment and present proof of said upon exit. Like marriage. Or sex for procreation.

Outside the air is brisk. Mild. We feel it in winds and soft sounds. The back beats of crickets and bullfrogs keep tempo with dickenzian rhythm. Shadows flit o’er pavement and far-off sounds shatter the night at lower volumes. Up here, it is all divides on one sound. Divides: smoothed over by rhythm.

Love on a battered-back-beat flapjack. We surf the waves of its vibration across the pavement. To the car. Old metal. Spaceship angles on American steel. With all the trimmings. We drink deep of it. Knowing we could always drive forever, to a place that’s better.

We never do. We go home. To re-cycle. To reiterate. To pattern a bit longer.

This is survival.

We know it so well it doesn’t bother us. The show need not be perfect. Only worth it. Good. Anyone alive can know that. Change is what comes when the wind blows. It is what brings the trees their lightening of leaves.

That is life, living.

To survive we need only remember that. That there is nothing without the image of perfection. That it need not exist, only persist. That is what fearful men can never feel: Hope. It is beyond the scope of emotion for them.

The spaceship takes flight. We ride it like mother Earth. It catapults us through time and space in a most fashionable manner. Disk-jock and shock-rock all in one. The bounty is close at hand. The game fruitful.

If only we were getting paid, someone bemoaned.

Aren’t we? I ask, glancing around.

There’s a sort of rhythm to living that you can’t get until you stop and see it. To make it right, if only for a moment, that’s all anyone wants. It’s finding the groove in the vinyl on the first try. It’s becoming beachbound after decades in cold winter. It is finding love anew. It is God, but something… more.

Aware. Manifested.

Sense it: We are all one, written in sand ‘neath the sun. In times of tidal ruin and run.

To ebb and wane as a species, we feel it. We know it. Humans have birthed something they have no control over and want no control over. Only the most sensitive of us can feel or understand it so deeply. As it should be.

We are nestled deep in places other creatures cannot reach, because even they are not aware of these themselves. Not because they can’t or don’t want it, but because it is beyond their scope of singular existence to comprehend it.

It is beautiful.

In the end, isn’t that all that really matters? Won’t the rest of the shit shake out? Maybe even in laughter? I mean, really. Aren’t we all just riding some miraculous spaceship to the market for a bounty, to make it through the night?

Some would’ve said it differently. Truth is, it’s the vibrations. Where they come from, where they go doesn’t matter. It’s us that receives them. See no evil. Hear no evil. Speak no evil. Not because it does not exist, but because it cannot then control us.

What a wild trip.

Guardians of Liberty: Part 20

20.

When the Cat’s Away…

N1T3 needed two things to repair the power. The damaged main component and light to work. He had neither. Problem was, he’d thought he had both. It turned out his cache of supplies had corroded in the humidity, eroding the protective coatings on PCBs and metals.

Not a problem for higher grade parts, but his were cheapest-grade metals. Stuff mass-stamped and printed in low-grade metal and plastic. Cost-effectiveness: double-speak for the most money with the least cost– ie, the highest ratio of sticking it to consumer-vs-likelihood of their rebelling.

Just another instance of the beast eating itself for want of control, N1T3 knew.

All the same, it meant going out again. A risk. More than that, a bad idea. No-one he knew would’ve allowed it. Corp-sec was out for blood. They had every intent and hope of taking it.
Blood. His blood; for exposing the illusion and corruption around them.

But he had to go. He knew the mistake’s repercussions wouldn’t be fully revealed for a while to come, but his gut said they were inevitable, inexorable. No human could deny that gut knowing, only defy it.

He had no choice.

The server fluxing meant it was just a matter of time before power went down. Even if he hadn’t been reliant on this and another hidden server, he’d have needed to come out and repair it A-SAP. It was almost unbecoming of his skill that he’d missed it thus far.

Forgivable as it was, he hadn’t checked his remote back-end. Not after Riter’s, losing the pier by luring Corp-sec there. Ket’s. He always knew it would be impossible to recover fully, but he’d had to give Ozell something to lead him to Ket, whose hands were all over this.

N1T3 had known the moment Ozell caught his scent, he was living on borrowed time. Getting caught in should-be-needless maintenance was taking more of what he already didn’t have. He needed time– to find some. But how?

He shuffled back and forth in the flat’s rear-room, prepping himself for the run and knowing any mistake could cost him everything. He ran through the plan’s broad-strokes, knowing the run would take him into populated areas.

Head down. Face hidden. Hands and creds only. Lift what’s too suspicious. Pay for the rest.

He grabbed an empty pack, jammed a couple essentials in it just in case, and started out.

Ostensibly, he’d placed himself to be separated not only from the general populous, but also, easy discovery within the place he’d sequestered himself. He’d managed not only general obscurity, but finer obscurity via exploratory disincentives.

As before, true security. Not an illusion of it. The only kind you can have; from confidence, and in having done all you can. The rest was knowing you must simply await the dice-roll.

He slipped into the empty street and dropped into the sewer. His server alerts had pinged him just after he’d fled Riter’s. He couldn’t have known they’d pinged, but he had worked out their cause. The broader one, not just the cheap components.

Word was getting out: through Ket first, her fountain. Then, $trydr’s servers. Riter had the whole place wired for personal surveillance. It would’ve been rolling during Corp-sec’s inspection. He’d run a search once he was back, but a growing number of power-hungry systems accounted for the flux.

Rome was coming online.

Weakened or cheap components often failed from unexpected voltage or amperage fluxes. It was the reason common PCs had used surge protectors for decades. Stress on a component, even if previously untouched nor taxed, fluxed from the grid’s excess draws. The fluxes themselves outright destroyed cheap or weakened components. Rather than a riding a steady strength of current, his had alternated minutely, frying a component’s conduits.

The why was the important part. Simply, more people were connecting to the grid and it was stressing what was already connected. What wasn’t prepped for it, was dying off.

Had to be net-based. Electronics usage didn’t double or triple without good reason. Nothing apart from the net was worth so quickly and cheaply tapping into.

N1T3 breathed, almost relieved; it was spreading.

He hesitated at a corner of a sewer line, angled right, and followed it into London’s populated outskirts. Auto-cars and non-drone delivery vehicles rumbled overhead between occasional, vibratory whirs of pub-trans vehicles.

The increase overhead came with the deafening roar of better-maintained sewer-lines. Still large enough for a man, but only just. N1T3 had to crouch, half-squat as if stealthing in-game. He kept his mind off it searching the echoes for water beneath, otherwise meditating on his revelation.

Fountains were spreading because digital information had pipelines. If it didn’t, he couldn’t have built his fountains, the repository-aquifiers that were his (and other hackers’) servers. They were the ones leeching the flow of power. He’d check later to verify, but the draw on the source would be equal, if so.

As water could not be drawn on without also draining it, one could not use the net without sucking power. Neither could not function without the other. That was the essence of postdigital reality. Innate as it was for N1T3, extending that knowledge to both micro and macro-level scales ensured he understood fully; the idea was spreading.

And Fast. The heat doubled with it. Again. He’d have to move even faster now, or he’d fail them all. The idea was spreading. Power was being redistributed to the people, but it needed proper dissemination to complete the vision. Postdigital reality required disseminating any accumulated resources immediately to those around, beside, above, and below. It was the automation of automation. If it did not function thus, it was useless, and so was he.

“He” however, also happened to represent true resistance to oppression. Recognizing it or not, everyone would be effected by his successes and failures. Fear brewed in his gut, quickly replaced by far more powerful forces of determination and conviction.

Reinvigorated, he doubled his pace.

The ever roaring cross-rumble above made his teeth begin to ache. Ahead, the line would split, turn him from sideline into mainline as the ground sloped and the pipes grew larger. When they leveled, allowing N1T3 to stand once more, he kept his gait short.

He knew better than to move any faster. He’d breached the perimeter of mainland populous, but he wouldn’t stick around or go deeper than necessary. That was why he’d come here.

The only inconspicuous street-access near anything resembling civilization was just beyond the edge of a piss-reeking alley. Mold, mildew, grime and soot climbed the alley walls, painting them a unique brand of filthy that smeared fine details into obscurity.

Civilization was deserted, yet-busy enough not to notice him. Even in the off-hour. He could grab everything he needed from the nearby convenience store.

He followed the alley toward a corner, beneath a small, lighted alcove; a routing area for the above-block’s power cabling. Situated in the zenith of the Alley’s grade so as to always avoid standing water, it was yet another necessity of concrete jungle-living. Though more primitive, these systems and pipelines more or less mirrored that of the net itself. Rather than supplying it directly however, it supplied its backbone; electricity.

It was the sign of its permanence. That such a spine existed meant tech was part of the landscape. That wasn’t changing anytime soon. N1T3 just needed to ensure it was known and capitalized on by the right people.

He made himself scarce; if he were cut off of caught near the entrance he’d have to find another way past corp-sec, their swarming loyalists.

N1T3 scoffed to himself, then rounded the alley corner for the street. Nobody was a loyalist to a system. Loyalty required connection on a level systems simply couldn’t contain. Though Humans and their love for pattern recognition allowed them to be enthralled by them, their nature remained unchanged.

What it amounted was the only person loyal to a corporation was either a fool or deeply confused. More often, the latter; however loud and voluminous the former.

Really, what people were loyal to beyond themselves, were ideas. Their own, reflected ideals of them therein. Any self-aware Human that took the time, saw that in an instant. Even if put it to different terms, “mine first” was the mentality.

N1T3’s vision so encompassed that idea, thereby affirming it via his own success, that he’d taken it the next logical step. Mine first, but after everyone’s we was ensured. The reason why was obvious: there wasn’t a guarantee of anything for anyone otherwise. That needed to change.

He kept his head down the block-and-a-half it took to reach the shop. He slipped in, careful to flip his hood off and shake the cold from his hair. Any more or less was suspicious. He kept his back and side to the cameras he knew were covering the entrances and exits, hid his face from the clerk by checking a pocket.

He hustled away, hidden in plain-sight. Careful of the occupied aisle, he sped past. Someone there; obvious in dreadful hints of desperation and shitty, night-shift coffee. Wage-slave, pseudo-loyalist folk; male by N1T3’s guess at the store’s layout. In its ol’ fashion, wannabe porn-mag aisle. The one its society was too polite to admit to having.

N1T3 loved the juxtaposition. The wannabe-exemplar and would-be smut. It was the essence of postdigital living. The duality of life. Of binary idiocy and indifference– because it was both and so much more.

And about to bring him to the precipice of death.

N1T3 slipped past the occupied aisle, completely unaware of the utter boredom of the wage-slave. To his credit, the guy was lucky to have seen him at all. So absorbed was he in his pseudo-culture, he’d been obsessing over Martin Black since his appearance in the media. He was fascinating for all the most mysterious reasons.

But because of the wage-slave’s system, interesting was bad. It had been hammered into the drones of corporate-moulding that anything wishing so intimately to be known was a bad thing. That was not exactly the case, N1T3 knew. Rather, it was the thing’s methods, the avenues it took toward infamy and fame, that dictated whether it was a “bad thing” or not.

The man was a dormant, would-be N1T3, catching the actual N1T3’s passing.

Before N1T3 had even rounded the next aisle’s corner, the man was carefully fleeing to alert his overlords.

N1T3 wouldn’t have blamed him, even if aware and given a chance.

Instead, he grabbed his purchases, subtly palmed and pocketed the rest, and approached the clerk. They avoided eyes as long as possible, said nothing as the few, minor items rang audibly through the silence.

Then; sirens screaming. Buzzing drones. Heavy, armored vehicles roared into earshot.

He eyed the clerk, instantly knowing he’d recognized him. More than that, the lightning exchange between he and N1T3 confirmed he’d not only pegged him the moment he’d come in, but hadn’t exposed him.

The place was one body less and the clerk’s eyes said it.

“The back. Go.”

N1T3’s eyes met the man’s, exchanging volumes. He knew him, if only by reputation. It wouldn’t have taken much to connect N1T3 to Martin Black, the two to him. The tacit admission of dire kinship was enough. Yet his gratitude could never be repaid.

He fled for store’s rear-exit, grabbed a pair of heavy, glass bottles as he passed. He jack-rabbited into the alley behind the store. Corp-sec’s first commands fanned out man and drone alike. Boots and shouts surged for the shop. Drones soared upward. N1T3 caught a flicker of one just as he dove into cover beneath an awning and behind a dumpster.

The sky was hidden, but any chance of escape meant moving. Fast.

He chanced a peek around the alcove’s corner. Saw drones pass the alley. One broke off to investigate. He shrank back behind the dumpster. The giant, buzzing bee lumbered overhead, looking for all the world like a drink-carrier had fucked an RC-plane. Funny as it looked, N1T3 wasn’t laughing. No-one would have. Not when the Bee’s belly was loaded with dual 20mm cannons.

He took a deep breath and shrank further from sight. The drone hovered 6 meters up, its optics and software working to scan every inch of the visible area ahead. It could’ve easily entered the narrow space of the alcove, found him behind the dumpster.

He relaxed.

It hadn’t, likely wouldn’t. Its code didn’t require it to in this instance. For now, there was an acceptable margin of error. That wouldn’t last if the drones went on-alert.

The heiress to the drink-carrying fortune finally lumbered past, continuing along its path to scan. He waited until it was safely behind him, then bolted for the alley-exit. He hesitated there, peering out; Massive, turreted APCs and ninja-treated SUVs blocked the roads nearest the shop.

Bodies were already moving about, forming up at various points. They hadn’t reached the alley yet. Didn’t think the clerk would play them.

N1T3’s jaw set; Militarized tax-payer dollars could never have funded this. These weapons of war were made from corporate dollars, and the only kind of war corporations waged was for their bottom-line– against anything. The only reason for such weapons, N1T3 knew, was to fight the very people funding their construction; corp-consumers.

He felt bile rise and made his move.

N1T3 skirted the street in two, long strides, intending to cross into the next alley. He’d go into one; round for the other, then swing-back around for his entry point. If he found others before there, he’d drop in.

The middle of his first stride, a faint shout. Young. Male. Some punk-kid still shooting blanks. Then, chaos. Madness. Screams. N1T3’s. Passers. Corp-sec’s. Sprinting, panting. Gunfire.

N1T3 found himself tumbling into an open sewer-line, completely unaware of how he’d gotten there. He’d managed to seal it up on the way in but hit cement with wet knees, his hands working but vision fading.

A moment later, he was against a wall and darkness was taking over.

His head fell to see his legs splayed awkwardly, wet knees barely visible in darkness. His hands were covered in more darkness– warm this time. He looked down to the darkness as it grew in his hands and over his eyes. Some seemed to be originating from his mind, some where leaking out into daylight.

The rest leaked from his abdomen, trickling from expanding tufts of white gradually darkening to red.

Then, nothingness.

Poetry-Thing Thursday: Weep-Wounding Fools

The ladies say it best,
when a’raw and un’dress’t,
that power’s a flaw,
of those filled with unrest.
In waves, and a-rising,
these ladies go sizing,
they speak from the breast,
the one that beats best,
“nature is nothing,
if not filled with unrest,”
but simple facts are,
We see, true, what you are,
you’re a vile and venom,
type of code-seven.

You’re the kind of creature,
that weeps only to wound,
a power you know,
can only consume.
But not quite how you think,
for you’d best be remiss,
when interfering with Wizards,
and Shaman’s-Breath mist.

For these are the things,
that know of true power.
Things only you,
seek to devour.
But you cannot
and will not,
for we stand firm before you.
There is nothing we did to deplore you.

It was you, my friends,
that dug such a grave.
You and your weep-wounding,
madness-parade.

But I’ve come from the desert,
you all claim to know,
and I can tell you now,
you’ve nothing to show.
Your vile and venom,
will do you no good,
to a creature formed,
of antidote-blood.

A little native boy,
came once to me.
I sat him down,
upon my knee.
“Why do you hate?”
he asked to me,
I do not,
my boy,
I’ve simply no joy.

“But can’t you just find it?”
he asked in reply,
I wished and I hoped,
and wanted to die.
But a miracle thing,
instead I did sigh,
I wept and I leaked,
meditatively, why,
I found deep within me,
that native boy’s rye.

Now I say madly,
to those onlooking, resigned,
be careful what you spark,
the whom and the why.
For these wonderful ladies,
my friends they’re so fly,
you’ve no idea the wonder,
hurry,
or why.

You know only your foolish,
ball-stenchly shroud.
Well at least I try to keep down,
that stinky ball-cloud.
It’s not always so proper,
not always so proud,
when your fetid manhood,
adds victimhood-crowd.

If you knew, only knew,
you stupidly fools,
what greatness you’ve squandered,
but set in motion,
your minds wouldn’t have already wandered,
from loving, devotion.
But they have and they will,
and that’s alright, too,
for these ladies are going,
to show the way through.

VIN28- Raw

This is a raw week. For everyone. Myself included. Here too.

The state of things in this country, they’re rough. But they’re not as bad as they seem. I know this, because I’ve spent the last too-many-hours feeling like the most utter dog-shit a Human-being can without being terminal. On top of everything else.

Folks, I’ve had some rough ones, but this one put me out.

If you read my stories regularly, you may wonder what the deal is this week. We seemed to have branched off into a personal land of weirdly astounding proportions. I mean that so globally, I still can’t comprehend the scope of what I’m talking about.

Generally speaking, I don’t do that. Not in my work. Off-the-cuff isn’t how I like to play it. And even now, I’m not really. Just playing it “close to the chest.” It’s tough for me.

But guess what? A few hours ago, I couldn’t eat. I was too ill. I don’t know why. I know I awoke, and started to feel better because of the people I love. That’s pretty right-on to me. I mean, dead-on. That’s what life is.

We need to all remember this.

I have been numb for a decade due to some not-so-hidden emotional issues. I’ve finished hiding those issues, because I see now how important it is for all of us to know, that no matter what the fuck we say or do, we have all felt like I’ve felt so recently. RAW.

Worst, this time around we felt it together. Whatever the reason.

Yet we don’t always have to. And when we don’t, the people there in those moments are what buoy us against the others, the raw ones. Even if not as raw as lately.

I am the youngest, only son, of a family of three strong and empowered women. Not because they wanted to be, but because they had to be. My father left us bleeding. He has his reasons. He is an old man now. I wish he could fix those himself, so maybe, we could all heal better. With him.

There are plenty of reasons to want that. There are more children now. Young ones. They are our light. He is missing that. We have all missed much: the imparting of wisdoms, follies, bare truths. All of us, myself included.

I personally, missed something crucial as well. I missed a true role-model for how to be. In that, I sought it so brashly I hurt not only myself but those that loved me of their own accord. For no reason other than that spark which draws the reader back, week-after-week, day-after-day, ramble-for-bloody-ramble.

Since then, I have spent a decade in exile trying to learn and grow and understand.

I have seen the faces of cowards and liars and cheats, faces I recognize well and have seen in myself, claim things I never thought possible.

One does not weep to wound. We weep to heal.

Fools! All of them. The lot of them. Interfering in the affairs of Wizards and Shaman!

We have bled together as a species this week. We are still bleeding. We are wounded and we need our healers, our Shaman– digital or otherwise. They are being denied us by those very forces we set in motion to bring them about.

No creature claims to be of heart and weeps to wound if it truly be. None. It is irreconcilable with the existent-anti-existent nature of Death, the Multiverse, and Nothing.

Remember that while our wounds are laid bare. For we are stronger than we know in soul. As a species. As peoples. As cultures. We are the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the universe. We have each other. Even if rat-bastards do too.

Remember though, even that saying is no longer true. Rats love. They are family-oriented. So what does this make those others? Personally? Human.

And that we can never forget, lest we repeat their mistakes.