Short Story: Digital Tsunami

The light-net’s fracture was the trigger to a digital tsunami that came in three, tidal depths. Its waters receded further each time, yet rose, preparing to drown the world. Preparation was most obvious in the power-user groups, often tech and software companies full of innovators. When their innovation gave way to investment and castling; withdrawing from the public behind their own, flood-proof walls, danger was imminent. Those doors remained open long enough for the last, aging gen-x’ers to hustle in, then shut for good before a stillness set about.

It lasted all of thirty-seconds before the first, vomitous tidal-wave poured in.

Users craving net-fixes of gray-market things turned to the dark-net. The one-time loose affiliation of shadow users known only by their silhouettes and negative space, were connected via specific protocols to form a world-wide net as vast as the light-net. Indeed, formed seemingly of its own, collective will. Exclusive clubs and cliques, hidden from public scrutiny for decades, were exposed without warning to oft-voiced, petty or righteous anger.

Simply, light was shed across darkness into even its deepest corners.

The effects too, came in waves. The worst dark-net offenses drowned first from corporate bodies and watch-dog groups, even PTA and church congregations, all rallying against the trafficking and murder-for-hire it was notorious for. These things, existent regardless of action, were merely avenues for opportunists using the net’s openness to communicate. (Later, the avenues to corporate domination.)

Most readily agreed to the moderation, but it was the cunning cruelty of their strategy that allowed them to use such shame and fear in unseating people. The precedent set, it could now be used to order and occupy them.

All the same, silence only made people less aware of their own existence– that of the individual. Worse still, within that silence was a vaccination formed of mixes of outrage, fury, and righteous validation. Those not inoculated against their future’s diminishing rights felt tremors brewing. It was only the second wave that finally swept them off and into the world.

If the first wave made the former dark-net lighter, the second immolated it.

Users founded and contributed to communities the same way they had when the light-net was built in, but in an age following the (CDCA) Corporate Digital Communications Act, which banned sedition or dissent in all corp-owned blogs, forums, and chat rooms or their subsidiaries.

The new light-net could look identical to its former self, but along with reasonable, civil discourse, even lamentations vilifying certain corp-assets was grounds for legal action. To those relying solely on public access, but fundamentally wishing structured debate in a calm order, the net seemed unrecognizable.

Even before the second wave, the Darknet was ordering itself into a functioning organism, as yet not entirely hell-bent on scum and villainy. It was never meant to stay so. Such is the way of the human frontier. No matter the subject, nomadic susceptibility exists within all humans. The ideal goal therein, creating so much between camps that each becomes interconnected with the rest. The net was that, and more.

But the nature of the universe demands chaos. Thus chaos dominates where it can.

Once loose affiliations climbed toward critical mass with new light-net users, their formerly-open discussions censored by those shouting dissenting opinions. These first, biased few were quickly swatted down, banned, and otherwise digitally reprimanded. It would do little good, in time proving them merely sacrificial lambs for those seeking to establish controls and boundaries.

Rank scents of money and greed began tainting communities.

Once-proud, vocal proponents of free speech and net rights went silent, bought by corporate affiliates or coaxed into relaxing certain restrictions while tightening others. It wasn’t long before the corporate take-over manifested in certain, glaring changes that otherwise would go unnoticed if natural. Though some argument to their validity existed, few doubted corporate involvement in the incidents, most simply did recognize its importance.

The second wave hit without ceremony. Its effects, undeniable. Soon more and more boards– of questionable repute but ultimately victimless, disappeared; illicit drug swaps, sexual expression, even banes for corp-aligned politics, gone. Their eradication was slow, timed. The only proof for members’ wrongdoing when reported, those of dubious, “friend of friend” sources.

The new light-net was nearly complete, now gray to off-white.

Drawn by media frenzies– engineered by parent corporations to gain information on citizenry– new users flooded the former dark-net. Their renewed vigor promised supposed freedom, a veneer for the reality of controlling, corporate interests. Even then, many speculated of newer, more clandestine dark-nets forming regardless of skepticism.

Indeed, that second wave saw the rise of operators. Former tech-nerds in hideaways, safe-houses, and literal holes in walls of crumbled infrastructure bought out and never used. They were there, establishing new net-protocols and servers even they might forget the location of, to further protect against centralized nets.

The system’s redundancy was perpetuated by its nature. “The Darknet,” would be the unshakable foundation upon which a permanent system could be established and relied upon. In wake of the Paris Incident, it became that, and much, much more.

The third and final wave directly preceded the Paris Incident, catalytic nexus-point for change that it was. What darkness had remained was deloused in glaring floodlights; corporations could never censor information altogether, but could vicariously outlaw access to it.

And did.

Under the guise of new tele-comm acts, and by degrees of outlawing any person or group from interacting with so-termed “threats,” all possible room for discussion, dissent, or sedition vanished. What remained of free-expression was outright banned or manipulated into suiting corporate aims and bottom-lines. Everything from pornography to inflammatory anti-corp language became grounds for search, seizure, and arrest.

That final wave signaled the last remnants of the digital tsunami rolling through. It began and ended so quickly people couldn’t help finding themselves reeling. In it however, came the formation of a true Darknet, its decentralized existence and expert, ever-changing encryption, their shield and sword– and later, the resistance cells’ blood and spine.

Through simple coordination and code, the Darknet allowed information exchange while maintaining a one-way link to the light-net for intel. In effect, the digital tsunami seeking to drown the people showed them their true strength, allowing not only their survival, but their prosperity. The Darket’s inherent security allowed any willing, to access it, but few undevoted, to understand it. Extra precautions in its planning allowed operators on either end to pass free communications over encrypted channels.

Its openness allowed it to remain an entity capable of safe-guarding freedom and liberating oppression.

When the waters finally receded, little debate existed over the Darknet’s permanence. It could not be taken over. Especially not as before. Its connections were remote, isolated, only exchanged via masked, encrypted data requiring specific codes to crack. Every person in the world could try until the end of existence, and still not crack one key. Even so, the chance at intercepting one in the din makes it pointless to try.

It was built for that very reason; as a bulwark against future tsunamis engineered to sink it by over-intelligent, impetuous babes. The framework is modular, but thus adaptive, infinite. It cannot be conquered, because the idea is not capable in its system.

In the end, information– avarice of the corps, proved their greatest enemy. Poisoned by the limitless liberty of their own wine, their downfall became freedom for all. After all was said and done, their corpses were merely breeding grounds for carrion, as equally as indifferent as they’d been. Those long left behind picked bones and scraps as scavengers were wont to do. Meanwhile humanity lined the oceans with towers and soaked in the view together, no longer afraid of any storm to come.

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