Short Story: The Babel Problem

Some things, you can never really expect; car accidents, terminal disease, mental collapse. Usually, too, the most innocuous offenses have the greatest effect; Little Timmy Traydor’s flu, disguised as seasonal allergies, spreads. A week later, coroners are rolling Grannie Hestor down the driveway in a vinyl bag, dead at 83 from pneumococcal complications.

Again, some things, you can’t expect. You can, however, anticipate others. Sometimes. If you’re careful. Most aren’t. Not enough time, really.

However, no-one ever expects or anticipates a radically-public return from the dead.

Even the corps knew that feat was unattainable, reserved for Heroes of myth, religious icons, soaps with revolving writers and no budget.

But she came back. And it changed everything.

Few wars had the effect of this one. The 20th century had shown Humanity war could be profitable. Only decades later did they learn the terrible truth; only true war could be profitable. And true war couldn’t be manufactured.

World War II had spurred Humanity toward a global golden-age for nearly a half-century before its momentum thoroughly exhausted. Therein were born profiteers of every booming sect of society and economics. Some unions, their politics. Some military arms.Others, medicines or technology.Most saw no connection between any of the afore- or un-mentioned.

Then again, how could they? History’d proven itself repetitious, why would that change? History, after all, was a force. As unstopped and inviolable as Nature. Right?

Wrong. She came back and it rallied a part of every. Living. Human. Not just Corp or Reb, or Aug. And not just a few, but every. one; Corp-execs, loyalist jack-boots, the lowest boot-licks— and obviously everyone else. They all had some stake in her side’s fairing, because she’d done the impossible and come back.

Admissible or not, every Human knew it; through those first hints of collective-conscience forming. Like any social group in need of leadership, its source required rigid morality, lest group survival fail. But what could be that source? Politics were a joke.Peace-keepers corruptible. Courts slap-dash, ancient systems from more-ancient eras. Its descended system and components, too,were relics; museum pieces long before even the pre-digital world existed.

Humanity was now living post-digital though. Everything a 0 or 1 within layered levels of parameters and reference. The only differences were subject, context. Even if mostly-blind to it, Humans recognized their need for decentralized guidance.

Like everything of that time, it formed of collective will and need, through sentinels. Guardians physical and digital.Neither doers nor teachers, players nor coaches, but referees and watchers. The same side-liners never bothering to de-bench but still wishing to contribute.

So, they became the ones drawing and tracking lines and rules. Rather than consciously though, it occurred randomly via the same happenstance as all life’s attributes; Black. White. Gay. Straight. Old. Young. All parameters and references, layered or not. In the end, their system was what mattered; systems were malleable. Allowing the watchers to be fed simply ensured the systems continued functioning and improving.

It just so happened, most of those watchers– the Guardians, also happened to be Au-teurs. Creative-visionary, post-humans specializing in thoughts, ideas, and treading the footsteps of Verne, Da Vinci, Tchaikovsky; their descendants Asimov, Van Gogh, and Zappa; so-on, until webs of influence formed from their own immersion and intimacy withing their worlds.

They were stop-bits. All of them, each a facet of Human culture or the apex of a generation’s feelings on a matter. Bird was the word and it stopped with them;filtered from the insanity of the postdigital age into footnotes, referential layers,choices; 0s and 1s.

When she came back though, every watcher– every stop-bit flipped to 1. Together.

Every Human to ever live was with them.

That moment was immortality; fleeting as it seemed, it was. A moment outside time so powerful it would reverberate forever. It was a moment of adaptation that made for Humanity’s first, true evolution since its origination; its first and last. From Human to post-Human. A shift that would remain ’til the end of existence, because the species in question had beaten back something always existing before.

Her return broke new ground in reality,existence. Without so deep and primal a fearas death,even the most meager existence could become enlightenment. Her return, that moment, made it possible. Immortality,resurrection, radically shifted human existence.

Even if more tech and chrome than not, she remained Human. Especially after the Incident, that was important. While no-one saw it that way then, as they too busy fleeing for cover, it was no less accurate. The war that came with her was Brutal. Atavistic. Devastating. Though Few died relatively speaking, each was felt intimately; the resulting turmoil, total.

Every Human alive felt each death stronger simply for being alive. The truth appeared then:

Humanity was experiencing a total mental-awakening amid a self-inflicted violence so shameful and harmful, a counter-balance was not only impossible to avoid, but inevitable and necessary. What that came to be was an idea, simple yet immeasurable in its effect; competition for resources was no longer necessary for survival.

Resources were finite, certainly, but properly divided were more than enough. It was time to stop, think, then act; all the while recognizing that what set us apart from animals wasn’t clothing, organization, or even intelligence. Rather, it was the grasping and manifestation of concepts so abstract they could only arise from one source; imagination.

An animal knew only it’s immediate point in space-time. It could be conditioned through binary emotion– warm or cold feelings– to react as per instinct and reflex. Ultimately though, it could not think long-term, nor plan its future beyond a few, select moments.

But Humans were different now.

For the first time, they were forced to pause and engage what they’d created via collective will. In that came the obviousness that the struggles underlining society were pointless, because they were solvable. Certain parties simply weren’t doing there part to solve them.Her return, the war that came with it, made one thing clear: it was time for that to end.

Far bigger concerns existed. Thus, so could things to fulfill even the wildest dreams of the most wild dreamers. Humanity simply required a slight extension of patience, one considered unobtainable from life’s demands.

But that belief was dictated by elderly ideas and systems of even older ideas. Ones formed with hope of a so-called “perfect” world.However, the world needn’t be perfect, only that Humans have a goal to keep them striving, reaching, and staving off stagnation.

Pre-digital gave way to postdigital, the actual digital age merely the transition between; a Human process of realization, that of not only their place, but perfection’s. The latter as an abstract construct meant as a guide-wire to be always expanding, growing. In effect, an info-virus seeking to rectify a Babel problem that wasn’t a problem, but a consequence of nature and human existence.

If allowed and harnessed, that same consequence was its own force to be reckoned with.

She returned, and everything changed. The stop-bits flipped. Alarms went up. And all hell broke loose. The rest is history. The resurrection. The second coming. It was there, but only because Humanity willed it. It– she was salvation, because Humanity needed one, willed it possible. She just happened to be convenient.

On one level or another, people suddenly agreed with her revolution; all people.Immortality was a living being’s concern, and she’d defied it. In doing so, she sealed the Corporations’ fall.

No-one wanted ’em anymore. They weren’t good enough, purpose aside. They were the first, rough-draft systems of a newly foresighted species; learning-software output of child-students of the universe learning to multitask any goal, aligned or otherwise.

It was only after things truly began for Humanity, its progeny, their affected. Now that they knew how to do it right, it could be magnificent. And it was.

Short Story: Middle-Class Do-Gooders

Time and again the question’s come up, yet no satisfying answer’s ever given:

After the Paris Incident, where were the governments? Where were those elderly systems of altruism and virtue-true; justice, law and order?

Everyone has theories, but no-one quite yet comprehends their reality on a grand scale. The few that do offer only that, “it’s a long story.” In the end though, something must go on the record. Otherwise, the posthumous sigh of countless, government-workers’ fates might form a singularity. With the last collective breath before Humanity is collectively molded and compressed into one strand of spaghetti, we would all know the irony of being lost to poor record-keeping as they were.

So, for the record, where were the governments? Those gracefully aged systems of redundant, bureaucratic interconnectivity, flowing data, and utter nonsense?

They were on life-support and fading fast.

They’d held on for years; stubborn-vegetables that just wouldn’t go. The only time they were of any use was when the really-SOL-but-not-quite-criminally-so folks needed financial assistance. Usually, it was the last of the well-meaning middle-class kids that wanted to grow up, go to college, and fight the system from the inside, man.

What a crock of shit.

That’s the shit-ended stick those poor kids never knew they were grabbing. They grew up, training to fight for what was right, the way that was right. Then, just ended up chewed up and spit out anyway.

Not because you couldn’t fight the system from the inside, mind you. On the contrary, in fact. The system was meant to be fought from the inside. Or rather, manipulated. And really, only from a level of control such as afforded to those highest within that system.

And the middle-kids weren’t getting in. The system was hard-coded against them a millennium before their birth. While they’d played the game well, it wasn’t their game and they didn’t know how not to be cheated at every turn. After all, how could they? Government education made them and the game.

No-one ever said that, but they needn’t either.

Governments and corporations did the same thing. One merely did it better. Nothing about governments was ever created with “customer service” in mind. Nothing could match the corps’ “quality” hand sticking it to you. It wasn’t possible. Government wasn’t formed with quality in mind. It was patch-worked into a scrap-hull to keep the whole ship of humanity from sinking.

Governments had been built to function. Nothing more. At that, only inside the parameters of a specific set of tasks. Usually, ones revolving around maintaining order and occasionally defense or public safety.

It was all very theoretical in nature… until it wasn’t.

That “wasn’t” ended up hellish. A constant battle for ground against bureaucratic bullshit red-tape that as much strangle one as made one want to strangle themselves. The cause was that very say scrap-work. Its constant scattering of debris into ancient gears formed of things like Aristotle’s Constitution and popular assembly. Things ancient even before modern government.

Intent aside, governments were ramshackle systems thrown together from need and desperation. Often, in times of unconscionable chaos. They were astronomically-distant from the well-planned, well-executed, multi-tiered and multi-leveled corporate platform.

It was the difference between a home and a skyscraper; both housed humans but one went beyond the simple ideas of shelter to incorporate the reality of human society. Both had their place.

But in an age where even government complexity, was far below the simplicity of one’s own alarm clock, it was a wonder they held on at all. People were surrounded by state-of-the-art, egghead-designed greatness, but were letting ancient peoples unaware of toilets dictate their reality?

Give ‘em a break.

In retrospect, it is more amazing governments existed and held on so long. By the time they fizzled to nothing, they were laboriousbrutes. Their own, monstrous size would’ve killed them were they not gracious enough to die-off themselves.

Their timing sucked though.

The last “official” government organization dissolved a mere 72 hours before Paris was retaken. The explanation was simple, they’d finally run out of money. Governments were presented a choice; close up shop by night-fall or start cutting into everyone’s pay-outs with every moment longer they ran.

Rather than soil what remained of their legacy, the governments closed up shop and paid off their people.

Flooding the streets with their unemployed, hopeless, and disenfranchised world-wide.

In other words, the exact kind of folk gearing up to purge the corps from Parisian and French borders. Without realizing it, the last slight between government and corp caused The Fall. That once-fruitfully perverted relationship, now reduced to an old wound. One each former-employee now felt a right to in some, thirsting way.

The resulting chaos, at any other moment in history, might’ve been tamable. The recovery possible, if painful.

Oops.

Resistance numbers tripled. New-recruits became fueled with hints of righteous fury. The newly-terrified-and-unemployed saw the corps (rightfully) to blame for the dissolution. Their shifting, tumultuous worlds. That this truth went unrecognized to the general public for decades is hindsight-admission to then-present knowledge of the damage being done.

The evidence of it was clear enough in the generation of soldiers eventually forming corp-sec. They hadn’t cared for their country’s sovereignty. Otherwise, they’d never have left. They cared for action. Adrenaline. They’d been trained that way over generations of stewed and stoked violence. Mostly, so they’d compromise into working for a system older than time rather than fight for something better to begin with.

Remember; their game, their rules. Play by ‘em or fuck off.

Once more it was the remnant middle-class do-gooders that had gotten involved. The same generation of kids watching their peers get cut down around the board, in one way or another– figurative or literal, depending on creed, orientation, color, geography or belief. The middle-kids knew they weren’t doing any good at all, were actively hurting themselves and their people.

So, their aim shifted. Though their priority remained the same; Need. Real need, and the offering of aid.

Do-gooding and all they joined the fight. The landscape of concrete parasites now flattened to dust is evidence enough; they joined the fight with fresh motivation and turned the tables. Were it not for the governmental dissolution, corps would’ve won. Or, they’d have had an easier fight for a while; better recover from the sudden landslide that eventually buried them.

If the Paris Incident taught anyone anything, rash action more seriously upset the game’s balance than just letting shit blow over. Then again, were corps not inundated by resistance fighters from the dissolution, it’s possible they’d have rallied. Even allowing Paris its reign while denying further territory might have eventually worked out– the powers that be might have lulled LeMaire’s people into complacency, before launching a sweeping offensive eliminating problem once and for all.

Short of something catastrophic though, their actual plan never would’ve worked.

In that case, the corps would already be something they weren’t, dictators rather than systems. Their reign would have gone from one of subtlety to one of utter flagrance. In that roundabout way, perhaps then, they were always doomed.

Whatever the answer, those middle-class do-gooders actually did what they meant; they changed the world. If only after being forced out into it, their very presence the change it needed when it needed it.

A valid victory nonetheless. And in the spirit of Humanity, that same sort of back-assward, self-fulfilling prophecy that gave everyone exactly what they wanted in the end no matter how absurd.

No matter the case, it made for one helluva story for the record-books.

Short Story: Citizen’s Memorial

If those rat-bastards had known what they were starting, would they still have started it?

That’s the question that can’t help being asked. Fact is, the Paris Incident wasn’t the start of it. The start of it was those pansy-ass ultra-liberal extremists masquerading as good, decent-minded folk. That they’d managed not only to succeed, but also manipulated others into believing their bullshit was more astounding than the cluster-fucked war-zone or its aftermath.

That war-zone, of course, was Earth. Who doesn’t know by now? Those cheap-shit Clinkers and their aluminum guts. It was a wonder anyone ever wasted time or money on them in the first place. Who knew what we were setting in motion when that Cameron-bitch did her thing.

Cameron Mobility my ass. It was the black market that really did it.

Course… we did sort of fund that one too, so maybe we’re to blame there. Then again, no-one blames us anyhow, so it’s moot.

Problem was, those pansy-asses had gotten their tits in a twist over something. Again. Like they did, the media arms of Info-corp, GNN, and the other Big Five went into gear, spinning and spinning. Until they’d formed another of the threads woven day and night into the masses’ fates.

That thread was one, unbroken stream-of-consciousness for an entire global culture. It had stretched on, completely unprepared for Cameron’s sudden revelation to be added to the mix.

Augs appeared and it was like every extremist’s wet-dream; an army of disenfranchised for the picking. Right place. Right time. Funny two wrongs never make a right, but two rights can make a wrong.

Pricks.

Everyone, corp and not, knew the protesters were never there as Augs or sympathizers. Augged or not, they only cared to use the situation to their advantage, forward their agenda. Whatever it was, it was all that mattered. A new arm to jerk at a thousand-Gs was just a bonus.

And why not? Never know when you might need to.

People’d been trained too well in that case. Each one had been turned into scheming bastards. Corps spent decades being scheming shits. Why couldn’t people be too? In the end, that was why the Corps fell; shadow games couldn’t be run if the shadows were full to brimming with wannabes.

The Big 13 had unwittingly spent decades teaching their enemy to play their game. It is always inevitable that the student become the master. It is the natural march of time. The only reason corporate culture’s thrived so well on those Eastern philosophies.

Castes and cliques make system incorporation easiest to limit. Controlling what is already self-limited and self-controlled is inherently easier.

On a human level, what delineated those organizations was culture.

Corps didn’t understand their own culture well enough to maintain control in a crisis, how could they ever become eternal, as they were wont to do?

Culture is a concept that adds social redundancy to various levels of a system. In the case of corporations, it’s the sense of Corporate security. Ensuring Corps maintained morale and proft-margins was the first level of corp-sec before men were ever involved. It was inherent and intuitively established in the concept’s existence.

Corporate safety and sovereignty could be assured simply by understanding that, so long as the actuators in the system were allowed their leeway to work, they would. The actuators further up, in this avaricious executives blood-thirsty for money, were thus supposed to allow that leeway.

But the shit hit the fan, and they ran. Instead of stepping up and getting splattered.

As they should have.

That was what the Execs never understood; Eastern philosophies and, thus Corporate culture, dictated all fuck-ups be accounted for. In effect, some entity was required as sacrificial lamb.

Until the Fall, not one of them knew that.

By then Execs were third and fourth-gen buy-ins. Their qualifications were theoretical, more or less guaranteed by their great grandfather’s skill in their field, rather than their own proficiency. The Fall’s seemingly unendingness was necessary.

However long-coming, it was the result of corporate and true-realities clashing.

Reality was, Corps were as much living things as any multi-celled organism. As capable of corruption as anything, but moreso inclinded toward it because of their great propensity for effect.

Corporations were human-body cell divisions; each level a title. Each marking some region along the body. Cells were grouped within and by them. Mostly, for the purposes of efficient division of labor and resources to meet demand, but each individual was therein motivated differently.

Each level of cells had its own inner divisions too. If only in two lines of actuators– or people, shuffling boxes in unending Conga lines. The trick was keeping that going for ever without any, one conga-er being without its every need and reasonable desire.

It was a delicate balance that required occasional sacrifices for the same reasons all sacrifice is required; because it was fucking required. Sure, CEOs were least likely but so long as no-one was immune to the purge, it was no more or less fair. So long as heads still rolled at every level, no-one was the wiser to the actual statistics.

Besides, numbers didn’t matter. Not really. Only preservation of the system. The resistance succeeded for the same reason. Especially in the beginning, their leadership was entirely nonexistent. Then, entirely fluid. Whomever had the best ideas rode lead. If someone failed to produce after a while, they rode backseat again.

Revolution made people feel useful again; as individuals, in addition to a disenfranchised group.

The individual was what really fucked Corporations. They didn’t have time for it. Patience did not exist in corp-culture. Only two things did: time and money.

The goal was achieving the perfect fusion of the two. The cold-fusion, if you will, of time-money synergy with the least interference between A and B.

Only what was necessary was allowed there. It was an attempt at statistical harmony, to be maintained indefinitely. True Fusion would be perfected harmony between the forces of labor, cost, and output allowing for total, eternally sustained growth. That was the “nirvana” of the Corporate entity.

And it would absolutely never have room for the individual.

Impartiality aside, those fucking liberals knew that. Maybe not all of ’em, but the ones stirring the shit and priming the fan, so to speak. They knew the system for what it was; that just waiting a few more generations might sort the last bugs out as intended. And they weren’t satisfied with that.

In the end what’d we get? LeMaire’s future? The resistance? Still living in fucking shit and squalor decades later; some places worse than if we’d left well enough alone? For what? No corps

Yeah, and a fucking barter economy, too. Turns out when you surgically remove the largest– and only– Global producers of services, goods, and employment, things don’t just balance out. If they’d just shut their mouths, the eventual cock-up cascade might never have occurred. At least, if it had, it wouldn’t have rivaled the damage even World Wars couldn’t top.

In time, things might’ve worked out. Little by little. Shit always shakes out. Eventually. Our species’ survival’s taught us as much.

Usually, without nearly destroying us in the process.

After The Fall, most people began seeing that but the screaming wasn’t applause. It was the fucking bloodbath going around everyone. Everyone’s agreed on that; the Two Week War, was war. The Revolution, was a revolution and it did occur globally.

Global war. Plain and simple infighting. Not a sovereignty war. Not even a civil war. It was a Corporate war. A real one. Not the kind run in boardrooms and through ad-campaigns, for figures on paper. It was a war for ground, for bodies, for hearts and minds.

That was the one thing the resistance got wrong– not that it mattered in the end. They were fighting a war on two fronts they could’ve easily won on one alone, if they’d been smart enough.

The sheer strength of the message that rallied their people attested to that.

Instead, they waged a bloodbath of corporate war for nearly a decade. All that time, conditions worsened for corp and wage-slave alike. The cities turned to ruins from constant exodus of war and attrition shrinking borders and collapsing what remained of the economy.

By the end, no-one really cared that the last corp exec was tried or executed. We’d lapsed back to normality. A new normality, but a normality nonetheless.

The only real, net differences were for those on the sidelines, counting the losses sustained. Bits are still cash. Folks still earn ‘it, with or without the sweat off their back and brow, but everyone needs ’em when suddenly no-one’s got ’em.

People though… they don’t grow back. You can’t take on an extra helping just to get back some that were lost. A lot of people learned a lot the hard way from that war. Some learned of their own mortality, some learned of others’… but I’m not bitter.