Terminus Machina: Borders
Time: 06/03 20:15:01 PST
Channel: #WorldClassWar, StormCloud wireless ad-hoc meshnet
(Currently in room: 33)
[20:11] *** Joins: MCLewhan (Mediamassage@145.23.654.990)
[20:11] *** Joins: SilverSpook (Hex18308431@419.11.491.093)
[20:11] PeacenLove: We need to put forward an image to the media at large that says, “Yes we want change. Yes, as you say, it’s endless bailouts for the rich and austerity for the other 90% of the planet that has no job and no hope to better their or their childrens’ lot in life. Yes, we have our resentments. But we come to this global round table in a spirit of love. Our arms are outstretched, we are holding baby lambs and doves of peace. Let us join hands, haves and have-nots, multi-trillionaires and jobless insurgents, hacktivists and multinational oppressors, and sing together in one voice the song of what the native Hawaiians called ‘ho’oponopono’, ‘the rightmaking’.
[20:11] SilverSpook: I understand that we need to be careful and diplomatic when we deal with law enforcement. We don’t want to start the riotbots teargassing us. We’ve got a whole tent-clinic full of anarchists still recovering from third degree burns inflicted by an active denial microwave gun during the Anti-Megabank rally last week. Media workgroup is still in an uphill battle counterspinning the narrative that these brick-throwers were outliers rather than the mainstay of WCW. I’m just saying we don’t want to be actively cooperating with enforcement.
[20:12] 99Point9Percenter: They are not our friends, no matter how chummy the robocops might be programmed to be with protesters. They are not there to ‘protect and serve’: they are not even human police officers with pensions and families to feed. They are simply badgets: engineered humanoid leg-breakers programmed by the Megabanks to crush any and all resistance to their continued rule. After four of us were gunned down in front of the Taj Mahal last week, we learned our lesson, and organized our India Tower flash mob demonstration covertly using the Zeit app through a darknet, out of the view of Echelon and other net traffic monitors. At the same time, we projected in the public social mediasphere (Yapper, Friendbook, etc) that we were going to be having a memorial march at the Taj again. We had upwards of 300,000 WCW protesters there, which the Mumbai government was completely unprepared for, and they were forced to cancel their “Indo-Pacific Economic Conference” for that season. Caco Cola Corp’s stock ticker took a major tumble shortly after, along with a slew of other megaglomerates.
[20:13] Joan45: Nice. You took a short out on them, I assume.
[20:13] 99Point9Percenter: Of course. Never let a good stock market crash go to waste. How do you think JP Morgan rose to power in the aftermath of 1929, or Goldman Sachs with the subprime and sovereign debt crises?
[20:13] SilverSpook: Personally, I think we need to be very careful about what we share with whom even within World Class War itself. I’ve had multiple run-ins with security and soldier drones which were highly suspicious. I mean I know there’s ubiquitous surveillance and all, but we were more than well hidden and still they sussed us out, and always at the worst possible moment. One of our comrades was tasered by a droneswarm, tagged, and shipped off to the forced-labor prisons, and the rest of our cell just barely escaped. We need to be more watchful for moles within our movement, and be more careful about keeping key information under wraps. I mean am I off base here or has anyone noticed anything out of the ordinary, especially with regards to higher-echelon handlers?
[20:13] Neytiri: Ok, the allotted time for discussion of the non-involvement with law enforcement proposal is up.
[20:13] Neytiri: All in favor?
[20:13] in favor: 30 --- absent: 5 --- blocks: 0
[20:13] Neytiri: Very well, consensus has been reached, the motion to maintain a stance of non-involvement with law enforcement as standard World Class War policy is now instated.
[20:13] PeacenLove: I’m not sure I can be one with this change, but for the good of the group...
[20:14] MCLewhan: Change is rarely legislated into existence.
[20:14] Beefheart: No, more often than not it’s force-engineered on us by autistic nerds who are still angry that they never got to go to prom.
[20:14] Neytiri: No off-topic discussion please. All right, on to the next item on the list.
[20:14] Dilluminati: It was all the reptilians, man. 911 was a total inside job, run by the cult of sacred geometry. Think about it, man. Washington D.C. City of London. Vatican City. DC, CL, VC. 666 man, the sign of the beast. It’s all there, it’s all there, I’ve worked it out, just read this link.
[20:14] SilverSpook: Jesus, not this numerological conspiracy shit again. Every goddamn time, dude. Come on.
[20:15] WrathOfMarx: Let’s break out into working groups. We need more time to run through my twelve point theory on the materialist interpretation of history and dialectical views of social change.
[20:14] Neytiri: Not yet. Anyway, on to proposal #3 for tonights GA: The renaming of World Class War.
[20:44] *** Joins: LonyMustDie (email@example.com)
[20:44] LonyMustDie: dud hav u hurd uv dis Josef loni dude?!1
[20:44] LonyMustDie: we’ve got 2 tak him owt now I just saw dis vid on my Friendbook updayts that showed him run over sum poor white South African kid wit a bulldozer.
[20:44] LonyMustDie: and the kidz dad had to stand dere and wach it. dat shit haz got lik 300 million hits already and we need more peepz thinkin about dis stuff, its lik important to te werld.
[20:44] MCLewhan: Ah, excuse me, my good troll, but we were attempting to have a World Class War General Assembly here. We’re in the middle of discussing a specific proposal. You’re welcome to join in if you’d like.
[20:44] LonyMustDie: STFU we need to drop nookz on dis fuking sycho right now before he killz sum mor kids!
[20:45] WrathOfMarx: I’ll take your STFU and raise you a GTFO. Someone ban him plz kthx.
[20:45] LonyMustDie: d00d dun u care abowt innocent lil white kidz in Africa?
[20:46] SilverSpook: Woah, woah woah. First of all, why does it only matter if it’s specifically white kids? Second of all, that whole LonyMustDie campaign is a viral propaganda ploy cooked up by Mediaverse’ Thinktank AIs, rubberstamped by Lord Dada, Taylor Sheen, and Gnossis’ so that the US Government can get popular support behind dumping trillions of dollars into security contractors to launch another unwinnable resource war, whilst simultaneously killing off some more of its ghetto demographic meaning less welfare check payouts and potential World Class War recruits. So, kindly, go fuck yourself with a hydrochloric acid-lacedmace.
[20:47] LonyMustDie: srsly, we need to get him out of there RITE NOWWW!!!!!!!!111111111111111
[20:48] WrathOfMarx: Moderator, paging moderator. A guest requires immediate permaban attention.
[20:48] SilverSpook: >
[20:48] Neytiri: Point of contention? >
[20:48] SilverSpook: Let me handle it.
[20:49] *** mode/#HexBot [+b *|* @LonyMustDie-918342934.gnossis.net] by HexBot
[20:49] *** LonyMustDie was kicked from #WorldClassWar by HexBot [No ‘tards allowed]
[20:50] WrathOfMarx: Thank you god.
[20:50] MCLewhan: I’ll have your man babies.
[20:51] SilverSpook: Fucking sock puppets.
[20:52] Neytiri: Ok, now that that’s over, let’s get back to reaching consensus on the current proposal.
[20:52] Joan45: What was the current proposal again?”
[20:53] M4dM4x: Fuk dis demokrasy shite, lets just do ourr own tihng. Anarchy now, fucker!
[20:54] SilverSpook: I’ve got a pocket full of ban with your name on it. Holster that shit.
[20:54] PeacenLove: Wait, wait, we still haven’t heard from our brothers in Labor Group.”
[20:55] SilverSpook: Labor? They don’t even fucking exist anymore or do you live under a social media rock? The last union in Cali just keeled over and disbanded their org after Gnossis announced full automation of their future construction projects. The Teamsters are dead as newspapers, dude.
[20:56] Neytiri: I’m sensing a lot of verbal aggression in the discourse here. I’d like to put forward a proposal that we all agree to lift our consciousnesses to a higher level and tap into our third eye chakra to really see one another before we use violent language. And I mean not just see with our eyes visually, not just read these snippets of anonymous text on the internet but read between the lines and truly see with our minds, hearts, and spirits the complete and precious lifeforces on the other side of the screens. All in favor?”
[20:56] Naquoiquatsi: Seconded.
[20:57] PeacenLove: Seconded. I am in the seventh circle of tantric nirvana with you, baby.
[20:13] in favor: 8 --- absent: 27 --- blocks: 0
[20:57] Neytiri: The proposal to lift our consciousnesses and refrain from violent language has passed.
[20:57] Neytiri: I’d like to propose that we rename the movement’s General Assembly from World Class War. The language is just too violent and runs counter to the mission we’re trying to accomplish. Ghandi said ‘Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.’ And I think we need to follow the wisdom of our great guru.”
[20:58] PeacenLove: Definitely seconded. Beautifully said.
[20:59] Naquoiquatsi: Seconded.
[21:00] RastaLeary: *finger rubs in agreement* I and I say, one love. De language you speak woman, it is from Jah.
[21:01] 99Point9Percenter: *rolleyes*
[21:02] SilverSpook: Look, I’m sure your Peace and Conflict Resolution doctorate has its time and place, but let’s not get bogged down in the semantics of revolution. We need to maintain our name in order to stay in solidarity with this global movement and maintain escape velocity. We can’t push our visibility and brand awareness of WCW in the public eye if we split up: then we just become many small insignificant drum circles of hippy students and script kiddies playing at revolution in our collective basements, public parks, and internet cafes. It turns the strategy into a simple divide and conquer for the Plutocrats. If we change the name we’ll be watering things down, diluting the movement.”
[21:02] 99Point9Percenter: Yes, let’s keep our eyes on the prize here. We’re trying to dislodge the incumbent tech-military-financial complex that’s killing us with brutal austerity measures, copyrighted food crops, and security drones, enslaving our brothers and sisters by the thousand. We can’t waste time bickering over what color firefighter uniforms to wear while Rome is burning. We need to get in there and start putting out the fire.
[21:03] Neytiri: <>
[21:04] Neytiri: I call a point of contention. We need to follow the consensus format as agreed upon in this general assembly. If you’d like to propose a change to that format, then you are free to do so, and put the motion forward, and we will addend it to the agenda for tomorrow’s General Assembly.”
[21:04] 99Point9Percenter: Christ woman, enough with the angry lesbian thing already, you’re making us look bad.
[21:05] Neytiri: 99Percenter, I think that perhaps you’re not fully opening your third eye and accepting me as a full and complete person regardless of whatever genders or objects I choose to make tsaheylu with, but I will attribute that to the unspoken cultural assumptions you have not yet grown into awareness of.
[21:05] Now taking proposals for the groups new name.”
[21:06] Neytiri: I propose ‘Aquarius Bouquet’ for the new movement name – it’s inviting, gender neutral, and is free of the language of the Oppressor.”
[21:06] Naquoiquatsi: I’d like to propose, ‘Galyoom Dikthal’, it means ‘I See You’ in a lost Celtic dialect I studied in Anthro 512-“
[21:07] SilverSpook: Fuck this noise, let’s get this show on the road and start discussing the real business, like what we’re going to do about the Event. I mean shit, we might as well just give up, we’re back in the same gridlock that plagued Washington DC and got us into this apocalypse to begin with.
[21:07] 99Point9Percenter: QFT
[21:07] PeacenLove: I propose we start a teleconferenced drumcircle, perhaps the calming rhythms of Mother Earth will quiet the stormy minds of our tumultuous brothers here.
[21:06] Naquoiquatsi: Ok, wait, do I plug my digeridoo into the headphone or the microphone jack?
[21:07] *** SilverSpook has left #DefChan4
[21:07] *** 99Point9Percenter has left #DefChan4
[21:08] *** Joan45 has left #DefChan4
[21:09] *** Beefheart has left # DefChan4
[21:09] Neytiri: So, anyway, as we formed a consensus on last night, let’s all take a moment and quiet our minds and multiplexed chat feeds and IMAX video streams for group meditation followed by truth circle…
Time: 06/03 21:43:19 PST
Channel: (private) #DefChan4, StormCloud wireless ad-hoc meshnet
[21:43] *** Joins: PaoloGuevarao (firstname.lastname@example.org)
[21:44] *** Joins: LonyMustDie (email@example.com)
[21:44] *** Nickserv: LonyMustDie has changed their nick to Kuno
[21:44] PaoloGuevarao: Did you get his IP?
[21:44] Kuno: No, unfortunately. He performed the ban through a daisy chain of proxy networks. It was deep encrypted, and I couldn’t trace past one of the lunar nodes due to the time delay and planetary revolution interference.
[21:45] PaoloGuevarao: Utilizing a moon-based server to cover up the packet trail?
[21:45] Kuno: Yes. Shrouded himself in the Dark Side of the Moon. This guy is good. Old-school good. Harkens back to 2700 Club. Nostalgic, really.
[21:45] PaoloGuevarao: And what about his San Francisco cell? Are they en route to Ameribank as expected?”
[21:45] Kuno: We’ve had some minor setbacks with the latest recruits, but they are back on track.
[21:46] PaoloGuevarao:’Minor setbacks.’ My friend, you are a master of understatement. They were nearly captured by the CyberSec cloud drones at Kennedy High.”
[21:46] Kuno: They did manage to hack their way out though, didn’t they? You said you wanted a stress test. Anyway, the key operatives are in place, and it’s nothing they can’t remedy in time for the event.”
[21:46] PaoloGuevarao: Do they suspect anything with regards to their ‘role’ in the later narrative?
[21:47] Kuno: No, nothing yet, so far as we can see. We need to keep a close and Watchful Eye on the leader, however. His underlings are mostly hapless twitwits, but he’s a bright one, old school 2700 club material, and he’s been combing out a few… ‘unusual discrepencies’ in the recent series of unfortunate events.”
[21:47] PaoloGuevarao: You have his BioIP cracked and tracked, I assume.”
[21:47] Kuno: Of course, his Central Nervous Cloud network killswitch is in place as well. He will pose no problem.”
[21:47] PaoloGuevarao: Do not underestimate the ken of the necropolis malcontent. They do not survive so long beneath the iron fist of the Mechanized Police State without developing a special, ancient kind of intelligence.”
[21:48] Kuno: We have his dossier from Gnossis. Absent stock trader father. Close to his mother, an unprepared trophy wife. He believes her to be dead. We can use it, when the time comes.”
[21:48] PaoloGuevarao: Good. I cannot overemphasize the importance of their role in this. It is vital that that particular cog clicks into place at exactly the right moment. We cannot take any chances with this. What does this man call himself again?”
[21:48] Kuno: Silver Spook.”
[21:48] PaoloGuevarao: Yes. This ‘Silver Spook’ will serve as our perfect silver bullet.”
“Spook, what did they say in the chatroom on Storm Cloud?” Leeloo asked, flipping through the Quicksilver’s holographic maps of Ameribank City, pitching and yawing the protean three dimensional geometry, looking for optimal routes once we were inside.
“Nothing much, just the usual directionless wall of sound and fury.” I said.
“Spook! Shit shit shit, I’m so sorry! I- I don’t know what happened-“ Krash blurted out from the back seat of the Quicksilver.
“Leeloo, can you please shut him the fuck up before I throw him into the bay.”
“Spook, we can’t cross this border now, they’ll be looking for someone who fits my profile! I can’t go to-“
“Stop. Just stop. I don’t want to hear your voice,” I flagged a hand up in warning.
Any way I rationalized it, it was bad. This was bad, bad, bad all around. Krash Koarse, our Hex Gen op virgin, had just pulverized the face of a wealthy Ameribank kid into dog food, and for all we knew he was dead, collecting flies and dystopia photojournalists hungry for tragedy pr0n in SoHA. Sure, people kill each other with ginsu knives over a can of Vienna sausage every day in the San Fran Ashlands, and there were no state-run police forces to respond to a 187 if someone wanted to call it in (no one would). But this was a Blue Blood, a top 0.1%er, and the CyberSec private robocops would be going full jihad on our asses once it was reported that the son of a VIP had been frapped.
“We can’t do this now, not with what happened with the kid and everything. It’s all over man!” Krash blurted out hysterically.
“You were all about joining the People’s Fight, doing your Bourne Identity, ‘hack the planet’ thing, right? Well now you’re going to do just that, because there is no one else here to take your place, and because I’m going to finish killing you if you try to leave, or do anything but exactly as I say. Actually, I’m going to finish killing you anyway for that snuff film you made with that little aristocrat back there – jeopardizing Hex Gen’s entire existence by making yourself into a criminal. Seriously, how retarded can you be? -- but that’s beside the point. Absolutely nothing else is going to happen until we fucking finish the fucking mission.” I punctuated the absolutely by punching the car’s speed right up to the brink of the speed limit.
“Spook, won’t there be a CyberSec APB out for this car?” Leeloo interjected.
“For what car? I already hacked the vehicle ID and swapped in new digital license plates. But, yes, we need to play it like monks from here on in. First order of business: everyone get a new anonymous face on, now.”
We each dialed into our Nohface facial biometrics masks a fully randomized profile. A stochastic permutation of cheekbones, nose bridges, occular cavity shapes was spliced together from ten billion Friendbook profiles, stolen from their social media servers. The smart graphene mask arrayed with gigapixel micro-LEDs transformed our faces into these patchwork-identities allowing us to evade face-recognition systems. If any of the streetlight-mounted cameras CyberSec enforcers, or invisible floating CyberSec spydrones caught a glimpse of our true faces, we’d all be deader than dead. Well, let’s just say after the stunts I’ve pulled, they’d more likely eviscerate my body and preserve my brainmeat’s neurological processes long enough to sim-torture my consciousness till it was nothing but a molten sub-human heap. Then they’d soak up all that succulent intel as it spilled out of my wet ware like bacon grease in a frying pan. We definitely had to swap our temp-identities as the faces we were wearing at the scene of the crime ASAP as they would’ve been flagged as wanted by the CyberSec AI. But we also had to be careful not to cycle through face changes too fast or the digital Sherlocks might discern a pattern, catch on to our trick.
“Let’s do a quick visual identity check, while we’re at it,” I said.
“What? Why?” Leeloo objected.
“I’m just- We need to be even more careful now that we’re this close to the Event, and the way we got stormed at Kennedy High, I just think we need to take extra precautions is all.”
“You don’t trust us, is that it? You think someone’s pulled a changeling and we’re undercover for CyberSec?” Leeloo said, scratching at her Hex Slate.
“No, It’s not that, of course I trust you. Look, fine-“
“No, you’re right. Let’s do it. Just to be safe,” Leeloo relented. Krash blinked between us, too numb from his recent near-homicide to do anything but go along. I reached for the toggle switch wired at my hip.
Our current masks squalled with television static as we flipped channels, momentarily leaving us without our artificial identities, confronted by our naked, nature-given faces. It was startling, Krash with his achingly young devil-locked baby face looking fresh out of junior high. Leeloo’s airbrushed, peach-cheeked avatar fading into the weary slumgirl beneath; prettyish face marred by the sag of habitual frown and the dark oblong marks left by the fists of violent and handsome men. I barely recognized my own mug in the Quicksilver’s navscreen; thick, sooty scruff creeping up skin the texture of parchment, like a book with half-burnt pages. My eyes were gunshot wounds, sunken into lightless pits. Lines I didn’t remember had subversively networked their way across the growing expanse of my forehead, encroaching on silvering thickets of hair. Who was this too-old apparition staring back at me?
Given the ever-present surveillance and thus ever-present necessity for identity concealement, we’d just adapted to using IntraVenous Serial Bus DNA verification checks to confirm one another’s identities on a peer to peer basis. We barely even noticed whatever fleeting face the other was wearing at any given time. Like pilots, training themselves to disbelieve their own vision in a storm, relying fully on the electronic meters and gauges which told the real truth behind the whirling chaos of rain, wind, and lightning. It was a survival thing, ultimately, a necessary adaptation to the panopticon environment.
“It’s weird, right?” Krash commented, holding the side of his head as if for the first time.
“Ok. Fine, that’s enough of that. Have we managed to satisfy your misdirected paranoia, Spook?” Leeloo switched her Nohface to project her freshly generated face. A cherubic redhead replaced her grim naked visage, firy, pierced eyebrows knitted at me.
“Leeloo, look, I’m sorry. You’re right. It’s this whole screwed op just fucking with my head. Let’s just finish the mission.”
Then the dead-channel shock again, and my own new, differently anonymous face erased my ghost.
The inside of the Quicksilver was like inhabiting God’s own media center. Every inch of surface area was literally wallpapered with hi-def touch screen. The arm rests yelled my blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels at me like a naggy cardiologist. The cockpit-style nav interface advertised a cornucopia of potential push-button destinations (all pre-determined by Gnossis’ destination-rank filters, of course: the destinations of Gnossis’ competitors and businesses which didn’t pay Gnossis the “toll” for access to consumers were all blacked out from the options). The windows’ co-dependent climate control system was eager to coddle me with my idea of idyllic air temperature and humidity settings. The windshield portayed no road, trees, buildings, outside world, but was instead an eight hundred channel television; all eight hundred channels playing simultaneously and eternally. From every direction blared a continuous full-sensorium bombardment of augmented reality ‘contextual-info’ that was somehow completely context free in its hypermediation. A Baudrillardian nightmare. High-bandwidth Prozac airbrushed over the broken, blemished skin of the real world beyond the crash-resistant nanotube weave of the car doors.
“Jesus, I think I can hear my brain catching ADHD. Somebody needs to call the DoD, let’em know their Syrian rendition teams need to start focus grouping this on Pakistani terrorist suspects, nevermind waterboarding. I mean how many penis enlarger ads and America’s Next Top Fraudster episodes can you sit through before you crack?”
“Huh? I’m just getting abortion clinic recommendations and back seasons of Worlds Worst Boyfriends,” Leeloo fanned her Snooki nails out at the windshield.
Of course, multi-targeting projection screens. Each viewer would be cocooned in a media bubble tailored according to the tech companies’ spy dossiers. Self-fulfilling, incestual echo-chambers that would only ever tell you what you wanted to hear. Or at least what Gnossis wanted you to want to hear. Breathed new meaning into the term “alone in a crowd”.
An incoming, high-priority contact request flared red in the lower right quadrant of my Hex Slate screen. It was Dos Boot, our primary Hex Gen handler for the op. I picked up, completed the VerID handshake confirming either of our identities.
“Evil Knievel, what a pleasant surprise.”
“You’re Campbell’s soup cans, baby. Your little fireworks show at Kennedy High, it’s got more hits on the ghost net than the MPAA’s holographic reincarnation of Michael Jackson performing the Charlie Bit My Finger song. I’m fighting off the mics and cameras of webloids and news aggregators left and right. You’re huge, you stupid fucking impetulant child.” Dos Boot, my Hex Gen handler hadn’t even bothered to encrypt his VoIP transmission in his signature Atari-style bitcrush. That never happened. Something was out of place.
“Hey, back the fuck up. We got blindsided by half the Badget army this side of the Great Wall of Tijuana back at Kennedy High. That wasn’t in the brochure for this mission. We were nearly lassoed, Foxconned for a life sentence, and I had to improvise.”
“Ah, improvise. Well your free jazz is causing some major cacophony for us. You know what’s going down tomorrow, you know what’s at stake. You know we can’t allow loose cannons to shoot plot holes in the story. The show must, and will, go on, with or without the original cast. Remember that”
“That’s the modus operandi up in this new 5th Reich, eh? All the sub-1337 brown eyes are expendable, the price of evolutionary progress. They had kids there, Dos. Fucking twelve year olds with real parents, like cut-the-crusts-off-the-pbnj sandwich parents. You know those don’t exist anymore in D-Town. And she’s gone, Dos. Ripped right out of my hands by the droneswarms, hungry for human slaves. If we’re going to let the least of us fall by the wayside on the rush to revolution, we might as well give up and just let the Plutos carry out the fascism for us.”
“Oh I get it, all that time around that Lily girl has kicked your nesting instinct into overdrive. Well sober the fuck up, because we don’t need your ooey-gooey attachment parenting kick clouding your rational brain during an operation.”
“Look, somebody is leaking to CyberSec. They knew exactly where we were. We were completely incog, zero EM footprint. Nobody could’ve known but someone who’d’ve gotten wind about the run in advance.” Dead air cackled for several seconds. That meant something, though figuring out what would have to go on the backburner.
“You attracted attention to yourself by having your squad member assault Blue County hardware. Wasn’t that part of this particular phase, fearless leader? And you yourself said that your little apprentice is not exactly reliable.”
“I’d prefer real seasoned operatives but you assholes keep tossing me cannon fodder.”
“Understand, SilverSpook, that this isn’t some Ameribank army with unlimited resources that can print out T1000s six dozen at a go on a just-in-time basis; this is a zero-budget revolutionary movement. We’re running on donated assets, and you will learn to deal with it like everyone else. The coordinates for the target are uploading through the shadownet, along with partial biometrics and dossier. You need to be there at that exact time. Not a frame late.”
“Just tell me one thing, Dos.”
“How did you know the squatter girl’s name was Lily?”
“It was in the CyberSec police reports that we had to have doctored with a very risky call to our deep cover op and some fairly high-caliber zero-day hacks. All so they couldn’t trace your little Cretin, KrashKoarse’ unsecured BioIP back through his Friendbook usage and thus back to us. Ok? Happy? Now go nurse your newfound inner Ghandi, take an endorphinol, jack some wyretrodes, do some yoga, demand sexual favors from one of your female subordinates, or whatever you need to do, but Get. Your. Head. In. The. Game.” The voice frayed out into hot static. Something was definitely wrong.
Crossing the Oakland Bay Bridge was always hectic, and not just because the bridge was an obstacle course of collapsed sections of girder and cable left unrepaired for half a decade. A toll bridge, originally conceived as a portal to the gold rush, and then as a way for Oaklanders to access the booming metro-hub of San Francisco. For the next generation, the city became a bohemian Mecca for loose Dorothys blown from their Oklahoma family trees by the tumultuous winds of the 60’s. Later, ground zero for the digital revolution and subsequent nerd rapture. If we built enough servers, put enough transistors on a microchip, sequenced enough genome, They Would Come. The Golden Gate came to represent that high-bandwidth superhighway to the Singularity’s event horizon, beyond which lay a bright back-lit future of uploaded, immortal, mirrorshaded elves and endless curfew-free LAN parties. A realm of pure cyberspace without parents, jocks and republicans, who’d be left to wallow behind in their pre-post-humanity. San Francisco had been the beacon, the rainbow connection, the bridge to the ever-evolving future, since time immemorial.
Now we rattled and clunked along, a super highway shot full of potholes and outright collapse, inconvenient, barbed chasms opened up by the unforgiving hammer of hard socioeconomic reality. The city lights had all gone out, and looking back from halfway across the Bridge, you couldn’t even make out the twinkling spire of the Trans-America Pyramid through the ubiquitous haze of arson and literal class war.
Several million unemployed people ratcaged into an area code had a very Book of Revelations effect on the Golden City. The wealthy fled faster than white people out of Detroit, eager to evade the angry guillotine-wielding mobs, bunkering themselves into bomb-proof, paramilitary drone-guarded, intentional-city-claves. Now the Bay Bridge had become the sole escape route after the great nuclear spill of 2020 rendered San Bruno a Fukushima-class wasteland, and the Golden Gate was fractured during the Austerity Battles between a lost generation of jobless youth-turned-armed-junta and Ameribank paramilitary drones. It was the only way in and out of San Fran, which Ameribank City reluctantly abstained from bombing mostly for PR’s sake, so as not to make the Alcatrazation of the City by the Bay look like a complete rip off of Escape From New York. They just made sure no one with sub-$2,000,000 net-worth could ever exit San Fran by imposing usurous tolls and the catch 22 of requiring e-paperwork which could only be acquired outside of the city.
We didn’t have the money or the legal personhood for that, so we stuck with plan B: Jailbreak.
The traffic was noticeably lighter than usual, with scant few autonomobiles passing us towards the San Francisco necropolis. The majority of the thoroughfare consisted of the bright LED-motorcades of CyberSec robopolice cars. I think I even spotted a team of human Troubleshooters zooming past, a rare species of those last remaining human jobs left on the planet: programmers and debuggers of police, security, and military drones.
“Obviously they are taking Krash Kourse’ little reverse-Rodney King incident quite seriously.
“The Very Important Parents of the victim must have dumped a hefty bonus onto those Troubleshooter’s pensions to get that many of them personally overseeing a case out in the San Fran necropolis.”
“How exactly are we going to get across this border, Spook? I mean this is the entrance to Ameribank City we’re talking about, like a giant exurb-city which is paranoid to fuck about the twenty million unemployed outcasts wanting nothing more than to cut the heads off of the rich bankers and CEOs that laid them off and replaced them with a robot. They will have ten fold the security of any of the inter-district checkpoints. Cerberus sniffers, Beholders, RFID, biometric, DNA scanners dripping from every vertical surface. it’ll be tighter than the White House,” Leeloo vented as the high grey walls of the city border loomed up, swallowing the horizon like a tsunami wave of gunmetal. The barriers of the Walled Garden of Eden.
“There is always a weakness, a bug in the software. Hubris.”
“The border security mainframes and robot artificial intelligences are designed to treat VIP Ameribank personnel with first-class privilege. The highest-tier trillionaire bankers all pay millions in additional monthly citizenship fees to bypass border security screenings, the ball-groping, the x-rays, the DNA IP examinations, and all. They are far too important to be troubled with the petty day-to-day inconvenience of maintaining a secure perimeter. And that hubris is our window of opportunity.”
“I don’t know man, I still think this is a bad idea,” Krash piped up from behind, throwing away a half-hour winning streak of The Silent Game.
“You, keep your head down, don’t talk, don’t blink, don’t think. Don’t breath, while you’re at it.” The always nerve-racking process of crossing a border into a city-state was multiplied by the fact that we were in a stolen car with the murderer of Richie Rich in the back seat.
“Thirty-foot-high walls crowned with anthrax-laced razorwire. A bit much?” Leeloo said as I pulled us into one of the queues at the checkpoint. A group of Cerberus EX341 snifferbots slinked past, their electronic olfactory senses tingling at the smell of fresh vehicles possibly containing lithium contraband or Jobless terrorists. Or even better, gold. Precious metals were the new uranium yellowcake, and the penalty for owning or trading in gold or silver bullion was a lifetime in the big-box prison sweatshops. Because hard coinages were preserves of wealth, breaking the debt-shackles of corrupt centralized financial systems, like garlic against the vampiric megabanks whose power originated from the ability to control currency by printing paper dollar notes at will, draining your lifeblood by annually halving your purchasing power. Which is why we only did biz in silver.
“Ok, here’s our passports.” Leeloo handed me my Ameribank City passcard complete with intaglio mintmarks and holographic engravings featuring vaguely familiar Masonic/Zionist imagery; the all seeing pyramid eye ensconced by the Star of David. Portrait of Alan Greenspan on the obverse.
“Thank Goedel for Pocket-China portable 3D fabricators.” Leeloo slotted hers back into the pocket of her crypto-goth black jeans.
“I love the smell of fresh solder in the morning. Alright, places everyone.” We all dialed in the facial biometrics for our respective stolen identities into our Nohfaces, becoming a family of David Hasselhoffian eugenics experiments. Today I would be playing Walton Koch, CFO of Demetric Biotech, the largest GMO crop monopoly in the world.
The border guard was a camera/mic/speaker/30.06 assault rifle combo tethered to a security kiosk by twenty feet of segmented metal optic nerve.
“Good afternoon Mr. Koch. Reason for entry?” It asked in the customary voice, a flight attendant crossed with a female Waffen-SS officer.
“We’re just returning from jobless Deadweight safari. My wife, she really loves the Killing Fields.”
“We bagged three slumdogs this time. Looks like that rifelry practice is really starting to pay off. My iDoc says the excitement is good for my thyroid,” Leeloo chimed in cheerily, playing up the part with a very Great Gatsby vibe.
The barrel of the guard’s FN SCAR nodded slightly, almost as if in knowing comeraderie.
“Very good, sir. Are you bringing any of these items on this list into Ameribank City today?” A meter-wide touchscreen unfolded from the bottom of the camera. Lithium was at the top of the list, followed by copyrighted intellectual property and gold/silver bullion, as usual. I smiled my million-toothed Hasselhoff smile, shaking my head. The camera’s body linguistics interpreter recognized the negative.
“Do you have any non-citizen passengers with you?”. Nope.
“Mr. Koch, normally the fee for re-entry into Ameribank City is $3,500, however, as you are a Preferred Citizen (tm) of Ameribank City, your fee shall be waived.” It felt good to feel important, even if that importance was a façade. The border-bot whirred to itself for a moment.
“I’m sorry sir, but in light of heightened security due to a suspected Jobless Insurgent terrorist attack within the borders of Ameribank City, we are performing thorough inspections of every other car.” No. No, no, no. I felt my stomach ball up into that cold knot, adrenaline lighting up my nervous system as my brain’s lying module kicked into overdrive, searching for raw info-clay with which to mold an excuse.
“I’ve a meeting at 3:30 with President Vanderlyle and the helicopter is down for repairs. Can we perhaps expedite?”
“I’m very sorry sir, but we cannot allow exceptions to protocol in this case.” A cadre of Cerberus EX341’s began to circle our car like clockwork direwolves. X-ray eyes like smouldering coals burned through the thin intelluminum hull of the Quicksilver, searching for the dark, hard lump of malignancy, for the tell-tale trapezoidal ingots of rare and heavy metal.
“This is an outrage! My exorbitant tier-one Ameribank City citizenship fees are paying your operation costs and you want me to sit out here waiting to be inspected under suspicion of ‘terrorism’? Give me your device number. I’d like to have a word with your programmer.” It’s times like these I really wish humans still had jobs as butchers, bakers, candlestick makers and border patrol officers. I’m sure I would’ve been able to bribe our way out of this with the sudden appearance of a weeks worth of unused vacation time in a low-paid, overworked human cop’s corporate ledger. The uncorruptability of machines is so inconvenient.
If it wasn’t us heading for the gallows, I would’ve laughed at the irony. We spend months preparing for the operation, break our way out of a full-on CyberSec drone assault, successfully grand theft auto a Quicksilver, and now we’re going to get nailed by goddamn run-of-the-mill border security. Our BioIPs and identities are masked well enough for a routine TSA checkup, but the Quicksilver is vulnerable. We’ve modified the e-license plates so they won’t be able to connect the car theft just by doing a run on them, but if the dogs break into the vehicles physical registry black box, they may be able to make us. Then it’s all over. At this point I’m wondering if the myths about the amphibious/avian convertibility of the Quicksilver are true? We could probably fly at least a good three hundred feet before being heat-seekered out of the sky by a patrolling autonomous Killer-Hunter fighter jet.
“Mr. Koch, sir, the inspection is complete. You may procede, and on behalf of all of us at Ameribank, thank you for choosing us as your city-state of citizenship. Have a great day.” The Cerberus suddenly disbanded, peeling off towards other incoming vehicles.
“Right, well. That went well, I’d say,” Leeloo commented as we rolled up out from under the Ameribank City border wall, metal plating thick as the hull of an aircraft carrier.
“Too well.” I noted.
As we exited the Ashlands, emerging from the border purgatory into the polished, arcologically-pristine expanse of Ameribank City with its platonically futurist, overfunded skyline, I peered into the dark cockpit of one of the Troubleshooter vehicles as they entered the same checkpoint. I watched them hammering away furiously at their virtual keyboards, maintaining the automated law-enforcement systems. One of the Troubleshooters glanced up from the cyan glow of his interface just as we passed his Humvee-sized armored autonomobile. Long, pale, haphazardly stubbled face, black AR goggles wired permanently to his eyes like a facehugger. Consumed, digested by his own technology. He looked up, seemed almost to stare at me with a resigned, familiar sadness. Some deep facet of my subconscious knicked at my mind, told me I recognized him, but that was impossible. His spine hunched kyphotically from endlessly working out the bugs and kinks in a perfectly Machinized financial, manufacturing, media and military system of dynasty maintenance. A life devoted entirely to defending the feudal empires of weak, wealthy men, preserving the system that saw the unlucky 80% unemployed people of the world continue to be incinerated so that billionaires could buy another ten mansions they never lived in, making sure that inequality operating system of the world continued to run smoothly without glitches -- fixing both trouble machines and trouble humans like me. I imagined it, having to paper over the terrible truth at the core of my life with the mask of Suburban Success, a 10,000 square foot house like in those 20th century TV shows, with a silly dog and a fridge that would never be empty. I imagined having sex with my wife on my king sized bed in my air-conditioned chambers while the kids slept dreaming of becoming vapid chattering ‘Tubestars, trying to forget all the hundreds of thousands of former firefighters, cops, and nurses my robot soldiers had killed or shackled into slavery so that I could have cappuccino machines and health insurance. I imagined myself questioning my superior’s orders to eradicate a thriving urban village of squatters because reports suggested the mere possibility of jobless terrorists hiding in their building. I imagined being forced to decide whether to continue to live that beautiful fake life of home-from-school hugs, power lunches, and loveless sex, or to leave that bloody Eden for my current life of eternal gritty paranoia, aching hunger, and alienating anonymity, but beneath it all experiencing real meaning, knowing that however futile my attempt was to crash that same machine-run system, that I was doing what I knew was the right thing. I honestly didn’t know what I would choose. Was it easier to sleep in an ugly cardboard box or in an ugly, cardboard existence? We both had to hide, insulate ourselves, secure borders, just in different places. That was me, in that car zooming in the opposite direction, just another OCD computer nerd, suddenly and unwantedly thrust behind the reigns of the world itself as the totality of the world had become computerized. The only difference was we’d been born a few dozen miles apart. The Troubleshooter seemed almost to see right through me, right through the loud cacophony of saccharine media bombardment emanating from both our windshields, through the ash snow blown from a San Francisco burning and no one caring enough to put out the fire, seeing through my artificial face, through my own layers of external and internal façade. And knowing, somehow, exactly who and what I was in this sad world. I cocooned into that thought, and it was, somehow, the most comforting feeling I could ever remember feeling.