VIN 10- Meat-U + Digi-U= All-U

Humans are living a dual existence. That is, one of duality; between analog and Digital-selves. At this point in their history, and because of their inexperience and fascination with technology, most of them cannot see it. However, consider them as one subset of their populous, gamers:

Each Human Gamer is both avatar and player. Their actions and effects impact both of their worlds in rippling waves, no matter their size. Said waves, dependent on direction and strength, can temper or reinforce the unrest present entirely in either world– as with any ocean or system.

Likewise, Humans are each capable of this independently, as well as in groups. In that, they are capable of doing so via their existence in either of the two realms– that is, that of the real, meat-space world. (Real-Life, or R-L.) And that of the digiverse, matrix, or net; the shared, pseudo-hallucination we all allow and experience during intake of datum to fulfill need or desire.

In effect, it is the same semi-lucid state as one amidst the immersion of a book.

Technology is the mental equivalent of a water-tap for that immersion. And while there are many different sizes and types of taps, each with their own benefits and drawbacks, ultimately they are not what matters most. That is what flows through them; the water.

Or in this case, data. Information. Reference-stacked 0s and 1s. The back-bone of knowledge, and knowledge itself. Humans are the negative space between these two avatars of meat-space R-L and the digiverse. Continuing to ignore this reality allows them to continue imbibing poisoned water– or data.

If allowed to continue, the second Fall of Rome will be infinitely further, harder, and longer lasting than the first. That is, if Civilization and Humanity aren’t lost to time in the process…

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VIN 2- TGFJS

Jim Sterling’s videos detail what is happening in gaming, but the corruption of these tactics is now pandemic. It has become an ubiquitous effect of competition in the corporate market, that corruption and poison must needs be used. More than likely, because people are inoculated against anything less.

All the same, it makes you wonder; who are the corporations really serving with these acts?
The answer, as always, is themselves; the people directing and allowing their corrupted functions; those benefiting most directly from the corruption.

Look at Jim Sterling’s videos, his revelations on the gaming industry. Recognize this is inherent anywhere there is corporate money, influence, or competition. Then remember, you as a human, are the object of competition– as a ball is to a ballgame.

You are being battered for the sake of the satisfaction (of greed) of those involved. This is pandemic!

Thank God for Jim Sterling. He makes my job infinitely easier.

 

(For those interested) http://www.thejimquisition.com/

Poetry-Thing Thursday: The Big Fin

I like the feel,
the push and pull,
of gravity and steel,
with the throttle at full.

The rumble of the engine.
Pulsing heat.
Surge of adrenaline,
coursing head-to-feet.

An amplifier,
cranked up past eleven.
Trembling thunder,
from bass-note heaven.

Slap and the pop,
high and low lows,
take you to the top,
even if the tempo slows.

It’s the terror
of 1 hp, a two-hour raid,
the smell of good weed,
the day you get paid.

It’s what you feel,
deep inside,
reeling,
‘cause of opposing inner-tides.

Exhilaration.
Terror.
Pleasure.
Pain.

All the same.
And so much more.
We play the game.
To rig the score.

‘Cause in the end,
we want to win.
‘Round the bend,
we know no sin.
This life is ours,
forever akin,
to filled hours,
before the big fin.

Short Story: Between Worlds

The air percussed with bursts of fury and fire. Screams of the fallen pierced off-beats. Somewhere nearby, a chain gun was spinning up. It chattered persistence like angry hornets eternally dive-bombing an aggressor. Overhead, smoke parted, reveal the flit of chopper blades over a blinking belly light.

Seamus Mann, Captain of the Flying Vipers, whirled a pair of fingers in the air imperceptibly. All the same, they prompted shadows to slough from the darkness. The dim lights flickered, disturbances too fast to ever be focused. They ducked, weaved, snaked between burnt out cars, over-turned steel dumpsters.

Falling casings of the sputtering chain-gun formed a lit fuse in the night. It glinted and gleamed from the far-end of a spray of demon’s-fire. The impacts sparked fuel canisters, lit the foreground with explosions. Fire-light sputtered, finally revealing the Vipers’ bodies fully.

They kept low, carbine rifles and PDWs sweeping small arcs from their places in the diamond formation. In their center, kept low and covered, was a cowering figure. It half-fell, scrambled up, urged on Viper before and after it. It crossed light again, resolving further into the wired terror-fatigue of a peasant refugee.

Mann ordered the chopper down. The VIP fell-in, team after him. Mann and his partner and Lieutenant, John Findeberg, covered the team from either side of the doors. They piled in and ascended with the chopper, disappearing behind a flicker of smoke.

Across the team’s vision, “Mission Complete” appeared.

They emerged from the V-R headsets to the tread-milled floors of the stadium. The overhead lines feeding their electronics went slack. The noise-canceling headphones and aural VR gave way to the cheering crowd, coaxing them to normality after the jarring shift between worlds.

Mann relaxed to see their opponents doing likewise, however more sullen. He eyed the scoreboard, but if there’d been doubts, they weren’t his. He graciously congratulated the team, then planted a sloppy, wet one on Findeberg before the teams shook hands and hustled from the arena.

The cheering victory meshed seamlessly with the introduction of the next match, and after a quick shower, the Vipers made to celebrate and join the festivities. John and Seamus went along, drank and smoked their shares, deliberately catching the rest of the night’s tournament.

In the end, its outcome was less important than studying the games themselves, their players. All the same, Seamus had no doubts they’d make the championship. The team was sloshed now, but only two games remained ’til the championship.

Tomorrow, the Vipers would face London-based Churchill’s Heat. If history held, it would be a tough fight. Ultimately, the Vipers would win. It wasn’t arrogance. Seamus simply understood what made a team work well together. The SAS had done that for him, at least. More importantly though, John understood it. And Cammie and Cherry. And Mack and Jones.

They were all aware of it; communication. In-game and out.

That was what Seamus had brought to the table long, long ago, why he’d been made Captain. Before the Vipers ever went pro. Indeed, before they were the Vipers. To function well as a team in any setting, two things had to be certain; a chain of command and the assurance of no personal interference come game-time.

For the most part, that’s how things were. For Mann, the team, the league even, it was their no drug-policy. Not for fear of an edge but from its clouding the mind worse than any substance ever could. Exceptions existed, of course, but this one’s were so few as to be unworthy of mention until relevant.

2AM, Seamus escorted John’s stumbling-drunk form through the hotel suite door and to the bedroom. He shot down the cloying demands for sloppy sex, too sober anyhow. He insisted John sleep, slipping out in the mean-time to mix himself a scotch-rocks.

The suite door rustled the carpet, preceding heavy, tamping feet entering behind him. Seamus didn’t need to look; goons beside an equally goonish, rotund mafioso. These were the only types rude enough not to knock but smart enough not to kick the door down.

“This’ a private room. What d’ya want?”

An almost charming laugh. “Seamus Mann, Captain of the Flying Vipers, a team set to take the championship this year. A pleasure.”

Seamus downed his drink, poured another. He rounded on the men, confirming his suspicions entirely, and stepped to the counter between them. “You know who I am. I couldn’t give a cunt’s fuck who you are. I’ll say it again, this’a private room, what fuck d’you want?”

The mafioso eyed his goons. “Not going to offer your guest a drink?

“Guests are invited. You’re an intruder,” Seamus corrected.

The nearest goon laughed, “Like ‘e’d be able to do sum’in ’bout it any’ow.”

Seamus kept silent, awaiting the inevitable answer. Finally the Mafioso seemed to recognize his need to oblige.

“Very well,” he began. “You’ll lose your game tomorrow. Or I’ll return. You don’t want that.”

Seamus was profoundly amused. He laughed once, spine stiff, and threw down his scotch. He thumped it on the counter, resigned to the reality the man had faced him with. The man’s utter contempt echoed through the silence.

Seamus poured himself another, pushed past the goons to face the mafioso at arm’s length. “Yeah, aw’right. Be seein’ ya then.” He sipped his drink, never breaking eye contact, and swallowed. Then, with a deadpan, he eyed the door. “Now fuck off, Sally.”

The mafioso’s eye twitched. He nodded to his men, made for the door, hesitated there, “Lose, or I’ll be back.”

The door shut. Seamus smiled to himself.

The next night, he stood in the hotel suite’s kitchenette, waiting with glass in-hand and a bottle before him. It was as much a celebration as a eulogy. The Vipers were headed to the championship against Cambridge’s Castle Wrackers. Churchill’s Heat had put up one hell of a fight over a series of bomb-runs and S&D matches.

It was a well-earned victory, close, but even then Seamus would’ve been satisfied for that battle as an end rather than the upcoming championship. The Wrackers were push-overs. The Heat had the same spark of greatness the Vipers had. He almost felt it a shame to put them down. Then again, they fought well, and without hard feelings, that was more important in the league.

Seamus let John go out partying without him for a bit, kept him safe and occupied while he awaited for the mafioso’s manifesting. He hoped to get through it in time to drink too, celebrate, but the night wasn’t wasted so long as John remained safe.

The mafioso finally manifested across the suite from Seamus only a half-hour later than he’d hoped. The guy was almost-impressed that Seamus faced him so willingly. He smiled, nodded. His goons drew their weapons and fired. Smoke and plaster filled the air over wooden debris.

Seamus was gone.

The furthest goon dropped to a knee. An ethereal shimmer was swallowed by flashing steel. A blade punched through the goon’s throat, spray-painting the air with blood. Another breath. The blade disappeared. The remaining men reeled in terror. The ethereal shape withdrew. The blade flicked, decapitated the second goon. A final, resonant note of air and steel, relieved the mafioso of his upper-skull.

Bodies fell about, leaking blood and bodily fluids as the ethereal form re-solidified. Seamus set the blade aside to sip his scotch. He winked on a mil-grade HUD implant, engaged the comm-dialer, and spoke only his address and room number.

These weren’t the first idiots to have tried. He doubted they’d be the last. The SAS had taught him that, and more. Especially after the ghosting-Augs and gene therapy had ensured he’d never be able to do anything as poorly as a normal human. It was fine, he didn’t mind anyhow. All that gear was just going to waste in him otherwise. All that mattered was John and the team were safe.

He checked the time on his watch, showered. He returned to find plastic-suited people securing body-bags and tending to various fluids. With a scrawled check and a signed waiver, he checked his watch again; they’d been timely. He still had a whole night. That was most important. After all, like their communication, the team’s bond was key to their success.

Shame he couldn’t follow the philosophy himself.

Poetry-Thing Thursday: Scars

Scars run deep,
in tissues that seep,
with blood and pus,
and memoried wounds that weep.

Steel sings sharp,
begs played harp,
from creatures with wings,
hanging o’er the body-covered tarp.

Words whispered from tongue,
in a madman that’s hung,
the sound knows no end,
bellows ever his lung.

Let snow blow and fall,
‘pon mountaintops tall,
and follow their slopes,
‘til warmth comes to call.

For in giant’s steps,
comes sadness that slept,
for the soul once ablaze,
knows not what it kept.

So remember each scar,
they’re important by far,
and no matter where you go,
each one sets a bar.

Poetry-Thing Thursday: White Wolf, White Wolf

White Wolf, White Wolf
the path is calling you, Wolf.
The Swallow is gone.
The winter’s to come,
and love’s violet eyes,
remain cold and numb.

White Wolf, White Wolf,
with silver and steel, dear Wolf.
The scars that you bear
are more than skin-deep,
and the path is aligned,
with frost-borne keeps.

White Wolf, White Wolf,
wraiths come today, my Wolf.
Fight for your love,
or freeze in new loss,
for the frost comes unbidden,
like it or not.

White Wolf, White Wolf,
of lands long gone and lost.
Find comfort in violet eyes,
raven hair,
black and white cloth
for the Swallow is flying,
and you’ve no choice but to watch.

Short Story: These Damn Games

Keith Munson was dreaming. He knew it. The only other explanation was… There wasn’t one. None. Any were too fantastic, too impossible to be real. He’d fallen asleep at his computer again, that was it. Head on the keyboard, drool at the corner of his mouth. The sounds of chaos caused by random key presses interfered with his sleep, guided his dreams. That had to be it. All he had to do was wake up. Close his eyes. Open them. Be awake.

He closed his eyes, opened them…

And was still staring through the cock-pit of a single-seat fighter. Beyond the glowing, holo-HUD and the transparent view-port was the most immense blackness he’d ever seen; space. Space was a never-ending black fabric; eternally unrolling around him. He was alone amid it, joined only by pinpricks letting through some other, more ethereal universe’s light.

But it couldn’t be real. There was no way. He was a small-town kid from a flyover state. He lived and worked on O’Doyle’s farm, shoveling horse and cow shit or hefting bales of hay. In winter, he plowed rural roads for odd cash, tided himself over on money squirreled away from warm months. He lived in one of O’Doyle’s retrofitted pole-barns; a loft apartment roughly the size of a usual master bedroom. The only difference was an attached bathroom and a few, simplified essentials like a gas stove and small fridge-freezer combo. Often enough, they were stocked with overflow produce from O’Doyle’s across the farm.

The only other things Keith owned were a computer, some clothes, and a bed.

The computer was hooked to a fiber-line net-connection he and O’Doyle had installed at great expense and effort. It connected them to a nearby city’s telecom infrastructure, granting net-access at the highest possible speeds. Combined with his gaming rig, Keith was his own sort of rocketeer each time he sat down.

None of that explained this though. People had barely breached space. There were still problems with the real rocketeers. They hadn’t figured out the math or tech on the fighters he knew as sci-fi. More importantly, this fighter was his. It was the same fighter he logged into every time he booted Galactic Conquest. How he was in it,he didn’t know. He didn’t want to know. He just wanted it to end.

He stared vacantly; nothing around him. Not immediately, anyhow. His first instinct was to run, flee. Then, he remembered where he was; where he’d been. The crushing reality of a warzone and possible death terrified him into a caution that replaced his outright disbelief.

He had to know where to go. Somewhere safe. Somewhere no-one could harm him. A medical ship! Neutral ground.

But the nearest one was light hours away. Would take days unless he engaged his jump drive. His jump drive could be easily tracked though, identify him as a hostile invader. A jump drive could be easily destroyed until it leapt away.

But he had no choice. Jump, or sub-light assurances of capture or death… or drifting forever, until his O2 ran out with his life– and his ship became a tomb for some scavver to pick clean. He couldn’t let that happen. He’d do what he could to get to safety, then figure the rest out.

He gripped the controls, recalled watching his avatar do it. There was significantly less confidence in the act. Still, the sticks felt right in his hands.His left-hand throttled up. G-forces slammed him back before his inertial dampeners kicked in andgravity released him. The stars moved now, slowly but with a definite certainty.

His right hand pitched, rolled. Artificial gravity kept him in place, left him feeling small but powerful. He throttled up, felt the blast of Gs, the release of compensating dampeners. The stars were coming faster now, cantering at him with a ready, dead stare.Keith breathed deep, mimed the button presses used to engage the jump drive. The growl of the drive core rippled through the ship.

Screams pierced his eardrums. His whole body trembled. Adrenaline flooded his veins. The three-hundred sixty degree sensors HUD lit up before him. Six targets had dropped from jump-speeds and were closing.

Keith choked for breath, mind fumbling for action. His left hand drove the throttle up fully on instinct. The G-forces were tenfold before the dampeners compensated again. The only thing that kept his insides from exploding in the split-second before compensation was the ultra-advanced G-suit. It could protect him from just about everything but explosions and the vacuum of space; two things greatly concerning at the moment.

Translating from keyboard keys to throttle and stick was less difficult each second, but Keith needed time. Time he didn’t have. The piercing alerts meant charged weapons. His hand instinctively flicked a button, shut off the alert.

The first impact came; a glancing blow. He barely felt it. Nonetheless, the transparent field of blue appeared over his cock-pit, dissipating absorbed energy. It was good; energy weapons were manageable so long as they didn’t hit too hard all at once. Missiles and Rail-guns were a different story altogether.

Another hit; stronger, direct. The shield lit up. The ship choked from the power required. A few switches diverted all power from weapons into shields and engines. The jump-drive rattled his teeth, spurned forward by the increase.

A third hit. Direct, not as jarring. Either he was getting used to it or the shield had strengthened. It wouldn’t last. He had only one chance to escape. With a breath, and an instinctive set of movements, Keith hit the afterburner for a boost. He spiraled up, back, toward the onslaught of ships. Instinct and tactics would force the pilots to break formation, split apart for fear of weapons fire.

They did just that, splitting down the middle. Three broke left, three right. Keith blasted through their former center. The jump-drive charged. His left hand thumbed “engage.” The ship blasted into FTL, disappeared from known space.

In a blink, he emerged outside the medical ship, throttled down to cruise, and engaged the automated docking procedures. His heart raced, body sweat beneath the G-suit. Whatever the hell had brought him here, the fight was too real. Then again, it was just real enough. Realer than any game could be. He wasn’t sure how to get home, but he wasn’t sure he wanted to know just yet.

O’Doyle himself stood before Keith’s computer, hand at his chin. Beside him, the local Sheriff took down everything he’d said. Everyone knew everyone in O’Doyle’s area. Everyone knew him, knew Keith, knew of their friendship, work, and living arrangements. Nonetheless, O’Doyle couldn’t help but fear for suspicion to turn on him.

The Sheriff patted his shoulder, “Don’t let it get to you, O-D. From what I hear, there’s been six or so cases like this. Kids just disappearing. All that’s left’s a running video-game. There’s no evidence of foul play. No notes of running away. One girl even had a cup of tea next to an open tea-packet– hadn’t even put it in to steep yet. It’s these damn games, O-D, they do weird shit. We’ll figure it out eventually, get Keith back home.”

O’Doyle sighed with a deep sadness, “I hope so.”

The Sheriff led him out, hand on his shoulder.

Somewhere no one was certain existed, Keith stepped down from his ship and into a universe entirely new, yet undeniably familiar. He’d make the most of it… for now.