Friday, November 5, 2010

Spanner Chapter 1: Spanner in the Works

Now that the Intro’s out of the way and the reset button has been pressed, the story of Chaos Angel Spanner begins here.

This marks the official début of a character whose story I originally started writing back in 1992 using a different handle (which, interestingly enough, I’ve brought back for the same character). Back then, the storyline was completely different. I was a recently converted otaku and an aspiring cartoonist back then; I had no training in either art or storytelling. All I had was ideas. It took me nearly two decades to turn the ideas into an actual story. In the meantime, I amassed a library’s worth of books on how to write and trained myself how to write. Over the years, I wrote scripts for several scenes I intended to publish in manga form; I’m putting most of these scenes into the novel. The central scene of Chapter 1 is one of them.

An early version of this chapter was originally posted on the JulNoWriMo forums earlier this year; the “Interlude” at the end of this chapter first appeared on the AugNoWriMo forums (now closed), without what is now its opening section, and appears here otherwise unchanged. This is the official 1.0 version.

And now, let’s meet Spanner as he makes his Spectacular Entrance!

Special Guest Star: Steve Jobs’ ego!
Not Appearing: President Sarah Palin!

...from previous

Chaos Angel Spanner — Book 1: Rock City Blues
Chapter 1: Spanner in the Works

spanner: Brit for monkeywrench

Posted by LocaFantoma99 to MyTube on 24 August 2014:
[The cheerful face of a beautiful dark-skinned redhead appears on screen. The green eyes, large sharp nose, and wild hair identify her clearly as Shira Thomas. She is fourteen years old but has the maturity of someone several years older. She speaks in a strong, deep, almost boyish voice.]

Hi again! [waves] It’s me, Shira, back to bother you yet again. Some of you are wondering why I still get to shoot off my big mouth when so many other people are getting shut down and even disappearing. Well, like they say, it’s a dirty job, and somebody’s gotta do it. [winks] O my ever-faithful fans, I won’t shut up till They shut me up. But They know what I can do to them, so They’re leaving me alone. At least for now, anyway.

I know you’re worried about me. We’ve all been living on the edge for the past two years. It’s been hard times for almost everybody since the war came home. Yeah, I’ve made a lot of enemies. But I had a lot of enemies before I started, and I inherited some of ’em from my Evil Stepmother.

Everybody knows how these things are supposed to go. Pretty girl starts a video blog on YouTube and Facebook, gets involved with secretive cult and sinister conspiracy, gets whacked in mid-vlog a year later, vlog gets outed as fiction. Well, I’m real, and I’ve been here for over five years now, and I’m still here.

I hear some people are saying I’m the last hope for the Reality-Based Community. Noooo — YOU are. Me, I just pass on the word.

On a parting note, I’ve just found out that the new rich old toy boy collected by my Evil Stepmother, the Great and Holy Prophet Drusilla Becket, Incorporated, is a dirty old dog. Evil Stepmother had better keep her Mr. Albert J. Pernell on a tight leash if she doesn’t want yet another embarrassing scandal to explode in the tabloids. Oh yeah, and knight B4 to D5. Checkmate. [winks]

Hang in there, everybody. [waves] See ya!

25 August 2014
morning in America.
The vision starts unambiguously, almost clearly: the meeting, the assembled Corporates in the arena, the figure of United Corporations Chairman Richard Becket on the platform beneath the huge screen to the thunderous unified applause of his people, preparing to welcome one of their own into the ranks of the Chosen. This man is greater than most of the Corporate aristocrats in the arena for the ceremony of Acceptance, for all Corporates know that he is no mere man: his true body is a Corporation, the first of the tech companies to join the Cartel. He shall be called...

But then the vision dissolves into chaos. Men die and live and die again. The arena is destroyed and reassembles into bizarre expressionist antiforms. Angels and demons cut each other to ribbons overhead. A shoggoth attacks one of the precogs, and she screams. Suddenly the shattered vision goes black —

The alarm klaxon screams; the monitor room goes red. Doctor 56 cries out into his microphone, onto the PA: “Emergency! Precog 18C has gone mad! I repeat! Precog 18C has gone mad!” Two white-clad interns drag the screaming, writhing Precog 18C, a gaunt middle-aged woman, out of the lab and past the security monitors. The FBI Crime Prevention Division’s New York field office erupts into chaos.

Doctor 42 slips in behind Doctor 56. Doctor 42 is the head of the Crime Prevention Division’s Psychic Detection Lab. Under his breath he quietly emits the un-Scientistic epithet: “Damn...” To the Doctors watching the security monitors in front of him: “Untank all the precogs! We can’t lose any more of them! Hurry!” He runs out of the monitor room into the Deputy Director’s office, making sure to close the door tight. He lets his eyes adjust to the darkness so he can avoid tripping over the chess pieces and table fragments scattered across the floor.

The Division’s founding Director himself, Dr. C. Henry Becket, Incorporated, sits grimly behind the Deputy Director’s huge desk. The office is dark because a war wound he suffered in Vietnam ruined his eyesight and made him painfully light-sensitive. He insists on personally commanding this specific Crime Prevention operation. He only does this if he judges it crucial. This Acceptance ceremony is too important for him to leave it to anyone else, for it promises to shift the balance of power massively toward the Cartel. Even in near total darkness, Director Becket is as huge and intimidating as the super soldier he once was. Darkly he growls: “You know what this means, do you not, Doctor 42?”

Doctor 42 trembles. “Yes.” He takes a deep breath to regain his courage. “Chaos is coming.” Even his fear of the Director cannot mask his terror of Chaos.

He is coming.”


Director Becket picks up his com receiver. To the security chief he hand-picked for this operation, he barks: “Double the guard! No, triple it!”

Agent 6 can’t disguise his alarm. “You can’t be serious, Chief. He isn’t coming. Isn’t he?”

“He is,” says the Director grimly. “You have no choice but to stop him. He’ll ruin everything.”

“Yes sir!” The signal disconnects.

To Doctor 42, the Director commands: “Dis-missed!

Doctor 42 salutes. “Yes sir!” He runs out the door and closes it.

Director Becket sits silently at his huge desk for a seemingly endless moment, trying to assimilate the fact that the dreaded Angel of Chaos has targeted this particular event.

“Spanner,” he finally says. Then, in an un-Corporate moment of uncontrol, he slams his mighty fist down on the desk. “Damn!”

twilight. From the roof of the abandoned warehouse on the Jersey Shore that serves as his hideout, the mystery man known as Spanner stares at the darkened Manhattan skyline. Behind the black trench coat and motorcycle helmet, no one can recognize him. The eyes of Echelon up in the sky are supposed to be all-seeing, but they do not notice him as long as the military prototype cloaking device he stole from Dictel Research remains working.

He watches the black helicopters hover over the abandoned city like starving carrion birds. The empty island is completely surrounded by warships like alligators infesting a castle moat. Today, the duke of this castle is Richard Astor Becket, Incorporated. The United Corporations chairman evacuated the entire city of New York merely to initiate one man into the inner circle of the Cartel, one who is not even from here. The disastrous evacuation has already begun to backfire: fearing Chairman Becket’s caprice, citizens in every city in the Western world has already started to revolt, straining the the Imperial Confederate government’s police and military resources and the Cartel’s corporate security machine to the breaking point. Now the sewers and subways that serve as home to the outcast Mole People will prove the perfect hideout for an invisible man.

A window appears on the helmet’s HUD, in it a woman’s pretty face ringed by a spiked platinum halo. More than just a Neo-Rave DJ, Alex Plus is a legend in the hacker underground. She says, “They’re almost ready now. They’ve just established the comlink to San Fran.”

“Gotcha. I’d rather rickroll ’em, but this is war.”

“Rock ’em for me. Rock ’em hard.”

“Brought out the heavy metal just for tonight.” He picks up the large pipe wrench at the foot of his tricked-out homebrew hoverboard, making sure to catch it on camera so that Alex catches his meaning.

Alex laughs. “I don’t think Steve’s ego can stand up to that.” She winks. “Good luck!” The window closes, leaving the view of Manhattan clear.

Spanner grips his wrench like a sword and rests it over his shoulder. His target hides behind the empty skyscrapers of Midtown. Behind the helmet, he smiles. He steps onto the hoverboard and switches on the ignition.

earlier... Before Spanner left Seattle, in the basement Alex uses as her war room, she told him: “It’s not official yet, but it’s obvious to everybody he’s joining the Cartel.”

Spanner turned his head to Alex. “Why him?

“Why not? That way, he gets an enforceable monopoly on computers, phones, and set-top boxes.”

“So when did you figure this out?”

“When they disappeared Fake Steve.”

Spanner holds the wrench up like a samurai wielding his katana. He thrusts it forward, spins it to form a virtual shield, then sheaths it into the holster hanging from the left side of his belt. This one’s for you, my love. Shielded from view by his cloaking device, he takes off on his hoverboard toward the captive city.

night. Spanner views the scene from the top of a nearby skyscraper as the armoured hordes swarm around Madison Square Garden. They are heavily armed with the latest antipersonnel tech. All of midtown Manhattan has been evacuated and security-locked for the ceremony. One can’t sneak in at ground level. Infiltration has to be from the air, and fast.

The swarm allows only approved stretch Hummers and Strykers inside. Those militarized armoured limos contain the top executives of entire sectors of the Cartel, particularly the tightly locked telecom sector into which the new initiate is being assimilated. Its legendary chairman isn’t among them. For security reasons (read: to keep Spanner away from him), he’s staying in his executive office at the core of his new Arcology, under construction in a secret location in the mountains outside the Bay Area and its socialist regulations. Still, despite his physical absence, he remains Spanner’s prime target. He will appear on the giant plasma screen inside. Spanner wants to wipe that arrogant expression off his face in front of the world.

Alex asked, “Why did they pick an urban location? Doesn’t the Cartel hate cities? And why Manhattan, of all places?”

Spanner replied: “To show us city people who’s boss.”

“Part of the Moravec Plan?” Alex sighs in frustration.

Spanner shrugs. “Who knows? But first, the Moses Plan.”

Inside the arena, one entire side of seats has been removed and replaced with a platform dominated by the giant screen behind it. Seats fill the basketball court and the floor constructed in front of the platform. Each seat contains a black-suited Corporate aristocrat wearing a mask with the All-Seeing Eye emblem of the Cartel. The catwalks above are manned by Delta Force snipers, prepared for the expected terrorist invasion. Outside, Spanner cocks his flaregun.

Spanner said, “So what happens if they pull off this Acceptance?”

Alex stared at the screen before her. “The Cartel will assimilate the Technosphere.”

“Then nothing will be able to stop the Moravec Plan.”

“Unless we stop it.”

The arena lights go down. Spanner fires up his hoverboard.

Spanner sat down before Alex’s computer and Bluetooth-linked it to his helmet. He wanted to see the Technosphere from within; it might be the last time anyone could before its assimilation. Right now a beautiful kaleidoscope of lines and nodes of data surrounded him. Small companies, crowds of independent and team users, and a few huge international corporations holding out from the Cartel and shielding the Technosphere. If he failed, all this would be quickly reduced to perfect stasis, the all-consuming iLogo subjecting it to the totalitarian icelock of Corporatism.

The countdown flashed on his HUD. Time was running out. He broke the link and left Alex to plan the support operation. The hacker was so much better at that than he could ever be. Together they made the perfect team: foresight and action.

Before he left, he went to the guest room at opposite side of the basement, where his mentor Lya Cassir once slept. He picked up the framed photograph of the beautiful dark face ringed by snow-white hair and the little twin sisters with their fuzzy red manes whom she had so adored, and stared at it as if this were the last time they would ever meet. This one’s for you, teach. And for Kira. This was not really about some insanely ambitious Corporate aristocrat at all. The intention was to send a message to President Palin and the Becket brothers. Spanner put down the photograph and left to send the message in person.

Spotlights light up the platform. The United Corporate Anthem begins playing. Spanner switches his cloaking device to full power.

Before Spanner left for the opposite coast, he summoned the notorious Skeleton Krewe to a vacant house on the far western edge of Bremerton for a ceremony of their own. Six years ago, Lya and Alex assembled the Krewe in order to stop Dictel Corporation, the world’s largest military conglomerate, from destroying America.

First, the libation in honor of their fallen leader. All the hackers and monkeywrenchers held their bottles of Mexican cerveza high. Spanner cried out: “For Lya!” In unison the entire Krewe shouted out the name of their fallen leader: “For Lya!” They poured out the cerveza onto the overgrown grass.

“Now for the sacrifice!” Every Krewe member took out an iPhone and raised it. Jailbroken or otherwise, these iPhones had to be sacrificed to Eris, goddess of discord and strife. All of them were on, for Eris demanded a live sacrifice. The Krewe took their sacrifices to the clearing they made in the center of the backyard, in the middle of which they built a mound of compressed dirt. They embedded the phones into the mound, kicking them into the hard dirt if necessary. They reached for their holsters and pulled out their pistols. These pistols were illegal: they all had oversized magazines and were all silenced so the sacrifice wouldn’t bother the neighbors.

“Ready!” The Krewe surrounded the mound.

“Aim!” They aimed their guns at their intended victims.

“Fire!” They unleashed a hailstorm of bullets. Screens shattered, chips flew, cases bent and distorted spasmodically. The iPhones were quickly destroyed. Soon the guns ran out of bullets and started clicking. The sacrifice was complete.

Spanner raised his pistol. “Hail Eris!”

The Krewe raised their guns in exultation. “All hail Discordia!”

Richard Astor Becket, Incorporated, all-powerful President of the World Bank and Secretary General of the United Corporations Cartel, walks onto the platform. All the Corporate princes rise. Chairman Becket raises his arms barely above his shoulders (why he can’t raise them higher: war wound). The Corporates raise their hands into a V-for-victory above their heads and emit a collective howl of affirmation.

Discordia’s chosen launches his hoverboard and swoops down toward the service entrance.

Chairman Becket solemnly intones into the microphone, “O my brothers, we are gathered here today...”

The guards and workers in the cargo bay are suddenly hit by an unexpected strong gust. One guard says to another, “What was that?” One worker says to the worker next to him, “Was it Superman?” The other answers, “I hope to Jesus America it ain’t!”

Chairman Becket exults: “Soon the Technosphere will be ours!” The Corporates rise in unison and cheer loudly.

Why 2014 is not like “1984”: if the runner from the original Macintosh commercial had tried to destroy the image of Big Brother today, she would have quickly been neutralized by the sonic boom from the latest top-of-the-line Yoyodyne Sonic Disruptor. Then power-armoured guards armed with machine guns would have immediately surrounded the fallen runner and blasted her into bite-size bits. Thirty years make all the difference in the world. Then, Steve Jobs fancied himself the liberator. Who would have guessed thirty years ago that he would become Big Brother?

Two years ago, such a runner tried to save the life of Barack Obama, last President of the old Union. Lya Cassir failed: no one could have survived inside the blast radius. Along with the President, his Secret Service detail, and several hundred other people, Lya was obliterated. The American Republic was overthrown, the American Empire saved, the New Confederacy established, and Sarah Palin enthroned as President-for-Life. If Spanner succeeds in his mission, President Palin will not get the pleasure of make her epiphany on the big screen to seal the new initiate into the brotherhood of the archons.

Chairman Becket looks up at the screen. The spotlights shut off, restoring darkness to the Garden. The screen turns on. The assembled Corporates stand up in unison and let out a deafening cheer as their newest initiate appears on the screen. The face of Steven P. Jobs, Incorporated, gaunt and ravaged by age and illness, and yet with the arrogance he earned from two decades of absolute power, looks down on them like the epiphany of a god. Some claim his ego has become a god, with Apple as its body. The evidence on the screen tempts Spanner to believe.

The giant face is visible from the hallway. When Spanner sees it, he fires a battery of foul-smelling smoke bombs out of the hall and into the arena. The Corporates duck and try to cover their noses. Cloaked by cloak and smoke, he whips out his flaregun and fires exploding rounds at the catwalks to knock them down. Counterterrorist snipers fire wildly at the whirlwind as they fall to the floor. Their team commander, Lt. Cmdr. William Becket (a Navy SEAL, and Henry Becket’s son) watches in horror. “Spanner?

His father watches the scene unfold from the safety of the CPD field office, protected from the light by wraparound sunglasses. He pounds the table in front of him in rage. “Spanner!

The last word Agent 5 can manage to squeeze out before the falling debris crushes him is: “Spanner—”

The Chairman stares at the chaos in front of him, watching as a dead man emerges from the swirling cloud of black smoke. He thought he had slain the Monkeywrench two years earlier during the coup, and yet here he is, standing before him in mid-air.

The Angel of Chaos himself. In terror and rage, Richard Becket gasps: “Spanner...

Spanner unsheathes his monkeywrench and holds it high. He spins and spins to build velocity, then throws the wrench directly at the screen above the Chairman. Time slows down: the Chairman tries to run away from the screen, the Corporates below panic and run and trample each other to death, the catwalks crash and bring death and injury to Corporate and counterterrorist alike. The giant face watches impassively, unable to look through the screen at the chaos below or the projectile coming toward him.

And then it hits. The wrench hits the giant screen at the exact spot of Jobs’ third eye. The reinforced glass cracks and splinters as the wrench enters its body. The superhot plasma escapes through the cracks in hot flares of light. The screen explodes in a burst of blinding light and splintered glass that shoots into the crowd. And the face of Big Brother vanishes in a supernova that consumes the entire inside of Madison Square Garden.

Taking advantage of the chaos he has created, Spanner vanishes as if he were never there.

“Find that goddamn terrorist! Now!” screams Chairman Becket, his face contorted with burning rage. “Put him out of my misery! Kill him!

The surviving Corporates and counterterrorists are being evacuated. Soon all the hospitals in Manhattan will be overcrowded with them, and they will take priority over everybody else because they are the System. Police and military helicopters, personally commanded by Will Becket under his uncle the Chairman’s direct command, search and scour the city for signs of Spanner. Chairman Becket orders the entire metro area put under martial-law lockdown and total surveillance, even the outer parts of the city that were not evacuated; but still there is no trace of Spanner.

The story explodes all over the news channels. The name of Spanner is on the lips and tongues of every talking head, every reporter, every anchor, every expert analyst. Millions of blogs and news sites post Spanner rumors, Spanner sightings, Spanner conspiracy theories, Spanner national security threats, Spanner the savior of the world, Spanner the enemy of all that is good, all Spanner, Spanner, Spanner. But no one can get close to the heart of the mystery, not yet. And no one outside the Skeleton Krewe has any idea who he is. But that will not stop all the world from guessing...

Interlude: Rocket Ready
You are dreaming. You watch three crazy beautiful teenage girls prepare to launch a model rocket.

One is copper-haired and bronze-skinned; she wears a trendy black-and-pink-striped tennis dress and black lace-up boots. She is Shira Thomas, and she is directing the operation.

The tallest girl has long blond hair and pale skin. She looks like a supermodel who could rule Pretty City, but she has the brilliant mind of a scientist. She wears pragmatic clothing: faded blue jeans, salmon pink “Science Girls” T-shirt, and old tennis shoes. Over her rimless round glasses, she wears laboratory safety goggles. She is Shira’s cousin and BFF, Jennifer Richter-Thomas, and this rocket is her creation.

The short girl sports short, tousled brown hair and a blue schoolgirl sailor fuku. She is cute, Japanese, and genki genki genki. She is an exchange student, and her name is Harumi Tachibana.

The rocket stands erect, ready to launch. Jennifer checks her mission control computer to make sure everything’s A-OK. Harumi slips in behind her. When the genki girl sees the big red button blink temptingly, she gleefully prances over to it and pounds it hard with her fist. When Jennifer sees the rocket start spewing exhaust, she turns around is shocked to see the interloper.

At the top of her lungs, Harumi yells out, “LAUNCH!”

The mission control computer announces, “LAUNCH SEQUENCE ACTIVATED.”

Jennifer throws her safety goggles to the ground in frustration. “Haru-chan, stop it at once!”

Harumi sticks out her tongue and says “Bleeeeehhh!”

With a mighty thrust and a cloud of exhaust, the rocket launches into the air. It makes several loop-de-loops before it finally decides on a stable course, pointed straight toward you. “TARGET ACQUIRED,” it says. It gets bigger and bigger as it rockets toward you. It reaches its destination and lodges itself in your brain. You are annoyed. You mumble.

The rocket takes up the entire center of your field of vision. Jennifer appears to the left. She inspects the rocket and your head. Then she crosses her arms, looks up at an angle, and says “Mumble.” To the right, Harumi jumps up and down and squeals “Yatta!” Shira enters your field of vision in closeup. She inspects the rocket from the left. Then she inspects your head from the right. She flashes you a mischievous cockeyed grin that tells you that she’s not about to pull the rocket out of your brain. Instead, she digs in her jacket pocket, pulls out a bomb timer, sticks it to the rocket, and starts it ticking.

Jennifer frowns at Shira. Shira grins back at her naughtily. Harumi giggles. Annoyed, you grumble.

on to the next...

Copyright © 2010 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
Creative Commons License

Back to Chaos Angel Spanner table of contents...
Back to Spanner’s World...

[Revision 1.0.1, 11/22/10: Corrected Shira’s MyTube username.]
[Revision 1.1, 11/23/10: Corrected typos and continuity errors; made text revisions; updated styles.]
[Revision 1.2, 11/27/10: New layout for the entire series; also, one format correction, several text corrections, and two huge plot corrections.]
[Revision 1.3, 11/29/10: One format change (i.e., revision history now after the post), some text corrections, and one important plot correction.]
[Revision 1.3.1, 12/2/10: Revisions in text and wording.]

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