Saturday, December 31, 2011

Spanner Book 2 Suspended: Book 1 Demands Edited, Hijacked Muse

If you’ll notice, I haven’t been posting new installments of Spanner Book 2 lately. The reason is that my muse can’t multitask. Book 1 so demands to be edited that it even hijacked my muse. Thus my “SpaNoWriYe” – the year and a half during which I was completely obsessed with writing Spanner – is now over, and my latest futile attempt to win NaNoFiMo along with it.

One idea changed everything. While I was still trying to write Chapter 27, I procrastinated by playing Persona 3 on my PlayStation 2. It uses something called “Social Links” as a game mechanic. The strength of your connections with other characters in the game increases the power of your “Personas” during the dungeon battles. Suddenly, during one game session, it suddenly hit me that social links were the idea I omitted from Spanner Book 1. Without social links, the Student Union plotline and the protest and revolution sequences and story arcs are conventionalized and sentimentalized to the point of meaninglessness, and the inevitable failure of individual terrorism to cause meaningful social change except in a reactionary direction cannot be understood. “Substitutionism” is the belief, underlying government and terrorism alike, that command and control hierarchies can do what is possible only through social links among equals. Sociopaths, technocrats, fanatics, and Corporates are incapable of forming social links; conversely, when enough people are idealistic enough to build large enough social links, they can bring down tyrants, as demonstrated in Tunisia and Egypt early in 2011.

Once this idea popped into my head, Book 2 became unwriteable, because Book 1 remains incomplete without it. So now I find myself working on the Fourth Revision of Book 1, starting with the Intro and the first eight chapters. My plan for ebook publication involves releasing Book 1 in three parts, each one the equivalent of a Japanese “light novel”.

And now “SpaNoEdYe” – my year of editing Spanner – begins tonight.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Spanner 26.4: Send in the Klownz

...from previous

Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 26: Youthcrime
Part 4: Send in the Klownz

13 november 2014.
Shira’s apartment.
Shira calls Jennifer on the phone. “Goin’ badside. Somebody there I gotta meet. Wanna come?”

“Come? No bloody way I’m letting you out of my sight!”

“Better knuck up, then. There might just be a wee bit of trouble comin’ our way.”

“I’ll take the blue kit today. Don’t wanna mess up the yellows, after all.”

“Me, I’m stylin’.”

“So who’s taking us?”

“Remember those gorgeous twins we met at the Bangor Jail? They got just what we need.”

over Puget Sound. Jennifer: blue sailor fuku, letter jacket. Leila: black uniform from an unknown school, black tights, black ninja boots, black leather jacket. Shira: tie-dyed dress shirt, pleated tartan skirt, striped absolute-terror stockings, black stomp boots, flight jacket with Spanner-tag insignia emblazoned on the back. Ace Harding flies the aircar. “You’re goin’ badside?

“Yep,” says Shira. “Someone we wanna talk to, and we gotta go through Bludz and Predatorz turf to reach ’em.”

“We’ll get you close,” says Deuce, “but we can’t join you.”

“No prob. Better you stay safe. This kind of danger’s our specialty.”

“Who knows,” Leila adds, “we might cash in a few Slashers.”

“If you say so.”

South Seattle. When a city neighbourhood becomes sufficiently dense, there’s enough people on the streets, or looking down onto them, that it becomes far too risky for any gang to hold. Above a certain critical mass, the city polices itself. But neighbourhoods the density of a small town or a suburb are unsustainable in a large city filled with strangers. They become slums. The worst slums become what Cascadians call “badside.”

Some true urban districts are forming in Seattle’s southeast quadrant, known as South Seattle. Most of them are concentrated around the light rail stations. But most of the quadrant remains suburban. Downtown is Styler country. But badside, the War Tribes rule.

The Harding twins drop the girls off near the Beacon Hill station, close enough to downtown to be fashionable and safely away from the slum districts. As the aircar takes off toward Bremerton, the girls enter the station, descend the elevator to the platform nearly fifty meters below, and buy their tickets. On the train, Shira spots Lefty Lucy sitting alone; she sits next to her and has Jennifer and Leila take the opposite seat. “Well, well, well.”

“Yo, babe, what’s stylin’?” She kisses Shira on the lips.

“You two know each other?” asks Jennifer.

Shira winks at Jennifer. “Style Planet’s a small world. Lefty Lucy, this is my cousin Jennifer Blair.”

“As in the girl from Blake Island? Sweet! Say, what’s it like bein’ the Loca Fantoma’s cousin?”

“It has its perks.” Jennifer winks.

A young man dressed up for courier work pokes his head over the seat. “‘Loca Fantoma’?”

“Oh hi Tad,” says Shira. To Lucy: “Fellow courier back in Bremerton.” To Tad: “Remember the day I first brought my hoverboard? Those two Spic slashers that tried to rob the place? I dared ’em to beat me up? You didn’t see me either. I did mad damage every hit, while all they were punching was air. Anticristo officially dubbed me ‘una fantoma loca.’ I thought that would make a way stylin’ handle, so I’ve been ‘Loca Fantoma’ to the underground ever since.”

“Oh,” says Tad. “Never figured anything like that.”

“Oh, you were too busy trying to get above water to notice.”

Lucy shoots Tad a jealous look. He backs down and returns to his seat. She says to Shira, “So you girls still stuck in Bummertown?”

“Well, you might have heard there’s been trouble going down there lately.”

“Knowin’ you, Shira, I bet you be causin’ trouble right in the middle of all that.”

“Only for the troublemakers. They deserve it.”

“Speakin’ o’ trouble, if you girls goin’ badside, better watch out for Klownz runnin’ loose.”

Shira holds up her fighting-gloved left fist. “Trouble finds us, we’re ready.”

Shira, Leila, and Jennifer get up and grab straps as the train approaches Rainier Beach Station. Lefty Lucy (standing half a foot shorter) grabs Shira and plants a hot kiss on her lips. Jennifer can see Shira visibly blush. She looks back to see Tad blushing even more furiously. When Lucy gets done with Shira, she sees Jennifer silently ask for a kiss of her own. Lucy grins, puts her arms around her, and kisses her too. She turns back to Shira and says, “Your cousin’s a real good kisser.”

“She better be. I’ve been doing her for eleven years.” Shira winks.

As they leave, Lucy calls out the streetcar door, “Hey, don’t get your girlfriends in trouble!”

“You mean the klownz better not get in trouble with us. See ya!”

“Holla back!”

Once the train departs, the girls discuss strategy. Shira says, “I’m familiar enough with this area to say, once we leave the station area, it’s all jungle, so we better prepare to fight.”

Jennifer straps her kubotan to her wrist beneath the coat sleeve so she can slip it out at short notice. “I’m ready.”

Leila has hers holstered to her belt. “Same here.”

Shira pats her yo-yo pouch. “Let’s go.”

On cold late-autumn nights when the sun goes down early, badside streets get eerily deserted. “Nobody here,” Leila observes. “Is this a bad sign?”

“Damn right it is. Too dangerous for civilians.”

Jennifer smiles sideways at Shira. “You know I’m really here to keep trouble off your back, girlfriend.”

Shira winks back. “If trouble’s looking for me, cuz, it’s in for a big surprise, whether you two are here to reinforce me or not.”

Suddenly they are surrounded by a gang of big men and their girl toys in fetishistic leather and spikes. Leila rolls her eyes. “Oh brother.”

Shira smirks. “Well, well, well. Speak of the devil.”

They are the Predatorz. With a “z”. Once they considered themselves Juggalos, part of Insane Clown Posse fandom, a subculture with special appeal to those suburban youth who have always hated middle-class blandness and overcompensate for it with feral wildness. But quickly it attracted bullyboys who formed street gangs that gave it such a bad name that the subculture expelled them even before the coup: the infamous Klownz. The Predatorz are the oldest of the Klown gangs in Seattle, eternally warring with the other gangs of Badside, crusading alongside them against the “fag” city.

They murder. They rape. They’ll even do it for a price, the bigger the better. For they are the Predatorz.

With a “z”.

The Predatorz still speak “gangsta” (Shira says “wanksta”), betraying the ICP origins of the Klown underground. They still paint their faces, though now they prefer the black metal fashion of corpse paint along with their Mad Max fetish gear. They named themselves after evil Hollywood space aliens, so Shira likes to make illegal-alien jokes at their expense. The Stylers reserve their greatest contempt for the kinds of “B4dd d00dZ” who think violent machismo is the essence of cool.

She flashes devil horns at the biggest of the Predatorz. He is Bob Zilla (or Bobbzilla), their leader, whose rep among the Klownz is heavy, but not heavy enough for the Loca Fantoma. He’s currently out of jail on bail while he awaits trial for the murder of a mentally ill homeless man whom Shira had befriended. “Yo Boobzilla! Wuzzuuuuup!”

“Aw fawwwwk! What the fuck you doin’ here, Loca fuckin’ Fantoma?!”

“Oh, I was just doin’ my biz when all y’all decided to go all baka wanksta on me and get in my way. So get out of it.”

Bobbzilla cries out to his crew, “Yo dawgz, scope the smokin’ hot babesicles my hoe Loca Fantoma done brung us!” To Shira: “I mad pimpin’ now!”

Shira holds out her right arm to stop Leila. She looks at her and sees a murderous look on her face. She pulls her into her arms, kisses her lustfully on the lips, smirks sideways at Bobbzilla, and mocks, “Leila Shelley’s my smokin’ hot babesicle, if you wanna know. But she’ll play with you if you want. Just don’t expect to survive. Oh, and the blonde? Remember Blake Island?” She winks evilly.

Several Klownz gasp in fear; some of their molls flee screaming. But Bobbzilla remains unmoved. “You bitches be rapin’ our turf—”

“I’m sure Gub’nor Wally and his COPCO mercenaries are all pleased to know that.” Shira points at Bobbzilla as if surprised to find something new. “Hey! Is it just me, or you all been heavy man juicin’ in my absence? Man, you’ve grown some mighty mighty bitch tits! You’re gettin’ bigger out front than Chesty Morgan, Boobzilla! I bet your balls be shrinkin’ to match!”

“An’ how big’s yo’ pythons, ho?” Zilla flexes a pair of overpumped arms as grotesque as Scott Steiner’s.

“You just ain’t gettin’ it, Boob. If you and your roadkill army don’t get outta my way and let me do what I’m here to do, I’ll be hard stylin’ on your asses like Devil May Cry! So beat it or eat it!”

Double G, Bobbzilla’s second, spits, “Fuck y’all, fuckin’ bitches! Y’all ain’t no Men! We gonna whip y’all into proper submission, yestaday!”

Shira laughs at him. “Well, you better be ace with that whip, ’cuz the way you be juicin’, the only thing keeping y’all Men’s the illegal prescription!”

Double G rushes Shira to tackle her. Shira trip-throws Double G with ridiculous ease. “Wow. I mean, wow. So that’s the kind of candy ass shit y’all call Manly.”

Jennifer ostentatiously yawns with feigned boredom. “This Challenge’s gonna be easy peasy.” Two Predatorz attack her from behind; she unholsters her mini spade and whips it into the side of one’s head, sending him careening into the other, knocking them both down as they speed past her. “Yawn,” she faux yawns.

Bobbzilla runs at Shira. He telegraphs his next move: he intends to power punch her. When he throws his punch, she disappears. He swings wildly at nothing. Nothing hits him on the back of the head and laughs. He takes more wild swings at nothing. Nothing kicks him in the tailbone, then hammers down on his shoulder with her elbow. He screams and roars and swings and claws and continues to hit nothing while Shira dodges and weaves and goes behind him and through his legs and hides right in front of his eyes. Tired and dizzy, he flails until his flails degenerate into arm twitches. Shira hops onto her arms and double kicks his jaw, lifting him up a meter and sending him backwards several. Then what was nothing pops into plain view in the form of Shira’s mocking face staring down into Bobbzilla’s as he lies half-conscious, sprawled supine on the pavement.

After taking out a few more Predatorz, Jennifer yells at Shira, “Watch out for the girls! Don’t let your guard down!”

Shira winks at her. “Don’t worry, love. I hate these boy toy bitches even more than you do.”

Right then one of the female Predatorz jumps Shira and hangs off her back, holding her by the neck. “Stop bangin’ on my man, ya pervo bitch!”

“Hmph!” Shira trips her and falls backward to land on her as she lands hard on her back on the hard pavement. “I love you too, darling.” She snaps her head back to break the gangster girl’s nose, making her yell in pain and break her grip. “Baka.” Shira springs up to see Jennifer kick another gangster girl toward her; she intercepts her for a backdrop. The first one rushes her and speeds right into a roundhouse that sends her flying sideways. The gang girls keep their distance from Leila.

The Predatorz take a rest to pick themselves up and try to figure out some kind of strategy despite their obvious inability to think. Sensibly, they stay away from Leila. Shira and Jennifer take defense position in the center of the circle of Predatorz forming around them. Just then, another gang arrives. This one’s black. They’re also here to rumble. Leila smiles. “And here come the Bludz.”

“Like the cavalry, even,” Jennifer adds.

Shira shouts toward Bobbzilla, “Yo Klownz! Your Niggaz so-called friends are calling y’all girls!”

The Predatorz turn completely around to face the black gang. The Bludz, one of the New African syndicates, are bigger than all the Klownz combined. The Predatorz and Bludz trade an escalating volley of obscenities, then rush each other to fight once the insults have reached the level of “fag.” Each gang throws a Challenge at each other and each gang accepts, so the girls get out of the Predatorz’ way to avoid being run over. Not wanting to be caught in the middle of a Team Challenge, they sneak away from the fight.

The battle quickly becomes dangerous enough that several of the more paranoid slum dwellers call the cops. Sure enough, screaming sirens announce the arrival of the riot police. The girls make sure they’re absent when the real rumble begins.

Shots fired in the background, tear gas in the air. Navigating a warren of shanties and twisted back alleys, Shira says, “Now it gets worse.”

“As if we weren’t running into enough trouble already,” says Jennifer.

“So we make like ninja,” says Leila

“Let’s hope they don’t find us.”

“They didn’t see us leave,” says Shira. “Besides, they’re awful preoccupied right now.”

“I hope you’re right. I had a bad feeling about this even before you called.”

“So where’s this meeting?” asks Leila.

“This way,” Shira says. She points toward Lake Washington.

Jennifer explains, “There’s a New Rave commune camped out in Seward Park.“

Leila says, “I assume this has something to do with the gangsters trying to kill your mother.”

“Wally’s a sore loser,&dquo; says Shira, “so I suspect he’s hiring hitmen. We’ve got friends at the commune we think can help somehow.”

“If you say so.”

Shira grins. “C’mon, let’s go!” She takes both Leila and Jennifer by the hand, and they head together toward Seward Park. No cops or gangsters come around to molest them, though they do beat up a mugger on the way.

to be continued...

Back to Chapter 26 index...
Back to Chaos Angel Spanner table of contents...

Copyright © 2011 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
Creative Commons License

[Revision 1, 12/14/11: edited from the original written for NaNoWriMo 2010.]

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Spanner 26.3: The High Price of Freedom

...from previous

Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 26: Youthcrime
Part 3: The High Price of Freedom

12 november 2014.
Shira’s apartment.
While Ayla and Lucie make passionate love in the guest room, Shira and Leila take a long bubble bath together. “This place is already empty without... your mother,” says Leila.

Shira laughs. “‘Without Hope’ would be a cruel pun. The Foundation had to put her and Charlie up somewhere in downtown Seattle while they’re busy riding that alien invader Scofield out of town on a rail, hopefully tarred and feathered.”

“That man is a complete psycho. What’s that catchphrase he keeps throwing around?”
Freedom is not free!
“That’s your standard conservative boilerplate. What it means is, to be free, you gotta sacrifice all your freedom to the Nation. Which sounds a lot to me like Soviet Democracy, where everybody had the right to vote, but they all had to vote for Stalin if they wanted to live. That’s the spirit of Conservative Freedom in a nutshell right there.”

Leila languidly lies down on top of Shira. “We won’t let ’em be conservative with our freedom. They know what’ll happen to ’em if they get in the way of our love.” She kisses her.

“Funny, it was only a couple months ago you were trying to die.”

“But you wouldn’t let me. Now I’ve never felt more alive in my life. I can never thank you enough...” Tears begin to well up in Leila’s eyes. “...and I’ll love you forever.” They share a long deep kiss.

hospital. Karen and Colette make sure to visit the gangster Shira and Jennifer beat up, and the girlfriend Shira put into the bed beside him. The girl cries, “Why did she have to be so cruel? I thought she was this hero!” Karen holds her and tries to comfort her.

The Punk himself is being interrogated by COPCO antiterror agents. “Don’t be so hard on the guy,” says Sparks. “We don’t want him to clam up.”

Agents Johnson and Thompson barge into his face. He does not flinch. Johnson says, “You think he’s such a good guy, don’t you, kid. Well, think again. He’s wearing colors, which makes him a psycho killer by definition.”

“He wouldn’t be wearing gang colors if he wasn’t already a psycho killer,” adds Thompson.

“Like I said. We gotta be tough on these tough guys.”

“Or being nice to him will unman you? If he’s the real psycho you say he is, stroking his ego’s the way to go. Stroke him enough, and you won’t be able to stop him from bragging about his crimes.”

“Who did you hear this from?”

“John Douglas. The Mindhunter himself. I’ve read all his books.”

“Books don’t mean nothing, Jimmy boy.”

“Well, I tried it on Johnny-Johnny himself, and it worked like a charm. Too bad his daddy was high enough up in the Party hierarchy to buy him sovereign immunity, or he’d be sitting pretty on the electric chair by now. Not that it helped him anyway.”

Thompson chuckles. “Yeah, your hot girlfriend smothered him with her pretty ass. I don’t know about him, but that’s the way I’d like to go.”

Shira says, “You wanna try it now?” Everybody in the hospital room jumps in surprise. Right then, Leila and Jennifer enter the room, Peck and Lansky behind them.

The gangster panics. “Oh no! It’s her!”

Sparks crosses his arms and flashes her a betrayed look. “What in the hell were you thinking, girl?”

Shira sighs. “Well, on the one side, there’s the gang, which says join or die. On the other, there’s the Law, which says leave the gang or die.” She looks to the crippled gangster. “If you aren’t pulling my leg, if you really are serious about leaving the gang, you’re going to have to renounce your gang membership publicly. That includes burning your gang uniform, shaving off your hair, and having all your tattoos removed. Problem is, Anticristo considers you his personal property, and your girlfriend too. In fact, you’re really just a gun to him. A weapon, and not a man. His weapon gives him shit, he throws it away, meaning your corpses fed to the sharks. But you have to do it, or you’ll end up in a suicide squad fighting screaming fanatics to the death on the North African front. Some of those might even be your former Cartel comrades. You know you’re in deep shit. Both of you.”

Karen walks up to Shira. Shira tries to wave, but Karen angrily attempts to slap her. Peck catches her hand before it can hit Shira’s cheek. “Why did you have to hurt her, Shira?” she yells.

Peck answers, “Either she must renounce her boyfriend, or her boyfriend must renounce terrorism. As long as he remains part of the Cartel, he is automatically guilty of aggravated first-degree murder. If she remains with him while he’s still wearing colors, she’s automatically an accessory to serial murder. The Law is utterly inflexible on the matter of terrorism. So your cousins had no choice but to beat them both mercilessly. They earned their reward on behalf of the Slasher Hunters.”

Shira says to the gangster and his girlfriend, “Whether or not we pay off your medical bills with our reward money depends entirely on you.”

“Please do it, Carlos!” the girlfriend begs. “We can finally have our life together!”

“I’m scared, Maria,” sobs Carlos, “more for you than me. I don’t want you getting hurt, and they’ll hurt you.”

Shira says, “I’ll protect you this time. In fact, I think I’ll pay Anticristo a personal call.”

Everyone gasps. “You can’t be serious, Shira,” says Sparks.

“He’ll kill you!” warns Carlos.

Shira grins. “You wanna know the truth? Fact is, he’s afraid of me.”

Several people cry out, “What?!

“Consider his choice of handle. The boy’s superstitious. He absolutely believes in the Devil and all those evil voodoo gods. I can kill him using his own faith as my weapon. Someone that superstitious stands no chance against a Charmer.”

Agents Johnson and Thompson crowd Shira. Johnson says, “You musclin’ in on our jurisdiction?”

“Maybe I should let him humiliate you cop types yet again? He’s got a strategy that works against what he considers that rival gang called COPCO. He can hold his own against any gang. But against someone who can kill him with his own faith? He’s helpless. But if you guys wanna get owned again, I won’t get in your way.”

“Make sure you don’t,” says Thompson. The two agents leave.

Sparks says to the Slasher Hunters, “You guys can go now. Karen and Colette have the fort, and I’ve got their back.”

Shira says, “Just make sure to make it worth forgoing our reward, Jim.” She kisses him.

Peck looks at her. “What did you say?”

“We aren’t that mercenary. At least if we have a conscience, we aren’t.”

Lansky laughs. “She’s right!” He backslaps her. “Shira, I like you.” She winks.

mayor’s office. “You can’t win, Reston,” Brinkman threatens.

Acting Mayor Hope Reston tells the man on the monitor, “You’re just telling yourself you’re not a coward.”

Charlie purrs contemptuously, “You’re in denial, cousin. Admit to yourself and the world that you’re afraid of muggles.”

“You haven’t been informed of my mandate? My job here is to get the government out of the way of the people. The Peter Principle has a corollary you probably haven’t learned about: the longer you stay at or near the top of any hierarchy, with all those layers of bureaucracy insulating you from reality, the greater your incompetence. It’s a form of entropy, and one cause of the notorious phenomenon of groupthink that leads to disastrous collisions with reality, as you should have realized just last week.”

“I. am. the leader,” grunts an increasingly frustrated Brinkman. “Don’t you forget that!” He breaks the call abruptly.

Charlie slaps her forehead and shakes her head. “What a git.”

Suddenly the door shatters into splinters. A psycho killer with chainsaws for arms bursts in.

“Hey! That’s Chainsaw Eddie!”

“Stand back,” says Hope. “I got him.” She whips open her desk drawer, takes out her Colt .45 semiauto, and points it at him. He freezes. “Gun beats saw.”

She shoots him between the eyes. He falls backwards onto the floor. The corpse twitches, the chainsaws spin and flail erratically, before it finally falls still.

The mayoral staff run in accompanied by security guards. Hope says, “That was a gift from Governor Brinkman. Never, ever underestimate him, or Scofield. They will go to any length to take back the power that properly belongs to the people alone. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Now let’s return this unwanted gift and get back to work.”

on to the next...

Back to Chapter 26 index...
Back to Chaos Angel Spanner table of contents...

Copyright © 2011 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
Creative Commons License

[Revision 1, 12/15/11.]

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Spanner 26.2: The Country of Old Men

...from previous

Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 26: Youthcrime
Part 2: The Country of Old Men

11 november 2014.
CPMC headquarters.
“That was a clever stunt, Brendan,” Brinkman growls. “Try and find another way of making the Populists even angrier. Try it again, and it’ll cost us even more in damages.”

“Oh, don’t worry about that, Wally,” says the COPCO CEO on the screen, “the courts’ll dismiss all suits against us with prejudice. The perks of sovereign immunity, you know.”

“You keep underestimating Phil Reston and his spawn, especially our adversary Hope. They keep coming up with ingenious ways to bleed us of money.”

“For great justice, blah blah blah.”

The image of Richard Becket pushes Brendan Sparks’ face to the side of the giant monitor. “Do you men know how the Wilder Foundation managed to defeat you and crash your stock prices?”

Litton says, “Our CEO friends made some idiot moves, and the Foundation took full advantage of ’em.”

“Not so, Mr Litton. The Foundation was able to unite the disgruntled city people against us.”

“Cascadia is a state made up of big cities, Mr Chairman,” says Chairman Sparks, “and cities are notoriously liberal and hard to police. It’s hard to force conservative virtue on five or six Manhattans full of liberal traitors.”

“But this is what human nature aims toward. As social animals, they find themselves strongest when united in crowds. This is the metaphysical secret behind Communism. We must become stronger than them, and to this end we must transcend the human.”

“And what do you mean by that, uncle?” asks Brinkman.

“First, we must transform ourselves into gods.”

“And by that you mean posthuman supermen?”

“Exactly. And as Dragonites, Walter, you and I and our race already have an advantage. But to defeat man, we must not become just supermen. We must make ourselves immortal.”

Downtown Bremerton. As the coffee shop owner arranges a ride for the children, Shira, Jennifer, and the Shelley twins agree to walk with Ariel up Pacific Avenue to the new Bremerton location of her New Age bookstore. Sanitation men and concerned citizens continue to pick up trash and debris left behind by the military marchers and Party faithful. “Looks like the Party don’t believe in keeping city streets clean,” says Leila scornfully.

“They don’t believe in cities, period,” Jennifer replies. “They much prefer small towns and suburban subdivisions. They were designed to be easy to control.”

“Not that it’s doing ’em much good these days,” Rob comments. “People can’t afford to live there anymore, so they’re either stagnating or turning to ghettos. The Party can’t be happy with that.”

Shira smirks. “Like I said, they’ve got a problem with reality.”

“Be glad you have adult accompaniment,” Ariel warns. “The authorities don’t no longer tolerate young people getting together.”

“Hey, we whippersnappers got a nasty habit of thinking for ourselves.”

“Just don’t say it out loud. They might hear you.”

The Sky Dancer Metaphysical Bookstore feels like a separate reality. Incense, meditation music, low lighting, and shimmering crystals combine to induce a trance state in everyone who enters the store. Jennifer says, “Wow! Who needs drugs.”

“Drugs are an artificial way of inducing altered states of consciousness. Hallucinogens especially have been the tool of shamans for millions of years. The danger of drugs is that their abuse can serve as a way of avoiding real spiritual development.”

Jennifer looks through the books and is not at all pleased with what she sees. “Hmm... Astrology, numerology, feng shui... same old claptrap we should have already. Figures.”

Ariel grabs her by the shoulder and leads her to the desk. “If you want something to be skeptical about, I suggest the works of Drusilla Becket and her channelled spirits. I believe they hold the key to the mystery behind the Conservative Revolution itself. Not in what she or her spirits actually say, but in whom they refer to. In fact, maybe you and your cousin should accompany me into the back room, where I’ve collected a not-so-small library of the metaphysical writings that have been the foundation of European conservatism for centuries.”

“I thought Conservative Revolutionaries were all-American conservatives,” says Shira.

“On the exoteric level, yes, their conservatism does derive from Evangelical Christian fundamentalism. But Gnosticism teaches that there is an esoteric meaning to all scripture and doctrine.”

“Like the Sufis?” asks Jennifer.

“Precisely. Sufism is Islamic Gnosticism. But Europe and America are traditionally Christian, and therefore so is their Gnostic tradition. Esoteric Christianity is the rock upon which the Conservative Revolutionaries have built the political system they call Synarchy, and upon which they are trying to rebuild the American Empire.”

“And the form of esoteric Christianity that appeals most to power-hungry Corporates is the Nicolaitanism of the Illuminati, right?”

“That’s what we’re talking about.” Ariel shows them a whole wall of books, some of them old or in languages other than English, particularly French. “Behold! Saint-Martin, Maistre, Saint-Yves, Papus, and many, many others. The Fascist movements that turned the twentieth-century world into a giant battleground were inspired by the ideas of these metaphysicians. And the idea that resonated with them the most was not even Gnostic at all, but Calvinist: the dominion of the elect, as instituted by Calvin himself in the aristocratic form of government he established in Geneva.”

“And in America by the Conservative Revolutionary Party,” says Shira.

“Gnosticism itself has a built-in danger, the self-isolation of a spiritual élite from the outside world. Combine it with Calvinist dominionism, and you get Nicolaitanism and its Synarchist politics, a supremacism of the spiritual élite.”

“Which makes Drusilla Becket the key to the whole Conservative Revolution, right? Gnostic fundamentalism, European conservatism, and the dictatorship of arrogant adepts?”

“Now do you realize what we’re up against?”

Jennifer says, “The Buddhist ten-worlds theory would say that this kind of mentality is lower than the compassion of the bodhisattvas.”

“And the two vehicles, Learning and Realization, are notorious for being prone to arrogance,” adds Shira, “which is why so many sutras claim that voice-hearers can’t become Buddhas.”

“What they mean by ‘Realization,’” Ariel explains, “is pratyekabuddha, which means ‘enlightened for oneself alone.’”

“They sure brag a lot about their ability to stand alone.” In the main store, Leila sighs in disgust.

“The reason why the pratyekabuddha world is lower than the bodhisattva world is that the bodhisattva’s vow is to delay their passing into nirvana until they bring all living beings to enlightenment. The Nicolaitan doctrine is especially pernicious because it teaches that other living beings are māyā, illusion, an obstacle to personal enlightenment. This is the mainspring of the spiritual arrogance that has led them into political tyranny. To them, Corporatist dictatorship is not a means of bringing order to a world without it, but as an absolute spiritual necessity. By this means, they plan to ensure the eternal victory of spirit over matter.”

“No matter how many people they kill.”

“Or how many millions of souls they destroy.”

Shira and Jennifer stand speechless and stunned. Right then, Uma bursts in and pulls at Shira’s skirt. “C’mon, Shira, you need to see this!”

Shira sighs. “Okay, Uma. What is it?”

Uma takes her by the hand and leads her out of the back room to a corner in the back of the store, where the Tibetan tapestry hangs. She points to the nude dancing goddess of the icon. “Look! She looks just like you!”

Leila gasps beside Shira. “Come to think of it, she really does!”

“Her name is Kurukulla,” says Ariel, “and she is a Dākinī, one of the ‘Sky Dancers’ in whose honor I named this store. She was originally the love goddess of a land called Uddiyāna, until the Arabs destroyed it. Since then, she has dedicated herself to the bodhisattva path as a Dharma Dākinī, even though the land where her kingdom once was is now under the tyranny of the Caliphate. Like all Dākinīs, she is nude because she is free of attachments, and her dance is the freedom of emptiness. Her blade cuts away all attachments and karmic debts. Like her mother Kālī, she wears a necklace made from the heads of 108 demons. Like her father Śiva, she dances on the body of a demon representing man’s lower nature, or ‘fundamental darkness’ as your Buddhist friends call it.” She embraces Shira from behind. “You’re almost her living image. You should be more like her.” She kisses Shira’s cheek.

Holy City. They wear hoods with the All-Seeing Eye insignia to hide their identities. But these men are some of the highest-ranking Corporates in the Party hierarchy. They are old men who intend to live forever. They are about to transfer their consciousness into new bodies cloned from them, young and strong. One of them says to Richard Becket, “How come you and your brothers refuse to make yourselves young again?”

The Chairman replies, “We have built up so much power in these bodies over the years, above and beyond our spiritual power, that we are not willing to risk losing it, especially not now. Besides, our father lived nearly a hundred years in his original body. But when he recovered from last month’s Seattle incident, all his power was gone, every bit of it. We can’t risk that now. It’s too urgent.”

Another “Renewer’ says, “There should be a way to transfer your powers into a new body, Mr Chairman.”

“So far, our best scientists have not been able to do it without killing the new body, and potentially the man with it. But right now other scientists are perfecting a way of creating immortality in one’s original body, using nanotechnology.”

A third man says, “But with nanotech, you risk it falling into the hands of our inferiors.”

“That is a risk. But they cannot gain for themselves the superpowers we enjoy without risking madness. Power control needs absolute self-control, and that comes only with decades of intensive spiritual practice. Even so, we must keep strictest control over the means of immortality. If we are to preserve our superiority, we must make sure they remain mortal.”

The first man says, “But what about reincarnation?”

Chairman Becket frowns and strokes his chin. “Hmmm. If our seers’ visions are correct, that may indeed be a problem.” He smiles. “But that is a small problem. Incarnation begins with forgetting of one’s past. The enemy will continue to die young, but we shall live long enough to make Methuselah green with envy. The deserving are those chosen to live forever. To us belongs the universe.”

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Spanner Chapter 26: Youthcrime

Chapter 25

Chaos Angel Spanner — Book 2: Rage of the Prophets
Chapter 26: Youthcrime

Old men rule the world. How do they stop the “virus” of mass revolt from killing the old order? How can they coerce their victims to give back their sanction for good? The standard one-size-fits-all American imperial solution is to bomb the cities. The Becket brothers insist on this: if the Archons are to preserve the old order forever, they must make themselves immortal, and become gods...

Table of Contents:
  1. Dissent Is Treason (December 13, 2011)
  2. The Country of Old Men (December 14, 2011)
  3. The High Price of Freedom (December 15, 2011)
  4. Send in the Klownz (December 16, 2011)
  5. School of Anarchy (December 17, 2011)
  6. Rage for Order (December 18, 2011)
Chapter 27 (coming soon...)

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Spanner 26.1: Dissent Is Treason

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Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 26: Youthcrime
Part 1: Dissent Is Treason

Hypocrisy has its own elegant symmetry.
Julie Metz

11 november 2014.
Bangor Jail.
Every youth and every non-member of the Party are rounded up by COPCO, Dictel, and the Military and unceremoniously crowded in the increasingly massive Bangor Jail complex. “What did we do?” wails Polly.

“We’re guilty of ‘whippersnappery,’” Shira says.

“And what is that?”

“‘Whippersnapper’ is the evil word old people use to mean ‘worthless youngling.’ The heinous alleged crime is like Driving While Black.”

“Silence, infidel!” shrieks the guard, a Party militant. “You fools refuse to surrender your worthless selves to Jesus America! He is all that exists! He created the universe, including y’all, but in your selfishness y’all refuse to believe it! Believe in Jesus America and y’all will be saved! Or else!”

Sparks pats Shira on the back. “Darling, America is a religion, not a nation. All the Beckets have been screaming this in your face for years, especially the mad Doctor. So though they say they’re teaching you a lesson, they really want you out of their hair so they can do their holy American thing without rational people laughing at ’em.”

“Thanks, Jim.” Shira kisses him on the cheek. “What I was getting at when our Party overseer so fervently interrupted us is the fact that the entire Party leadership is not just rich, white, and male, but old. Angry old rich men like the Becket and Koch brothers. They resent our youth. It reminds ’em of their mortality.”

The guard screams, “Shut up! Stop blaspheming the Chosen Ones of Our Nation! You are nothing but undeserving moochers! Without the men God blessed with wealth, you would still be swinging out of trees! They created you! You are nothing without them! You think you’re so strong together? You’re weak! The only ones who are strong are the ones who stand alone!”

Shira smiles contemptuously at him and sashays over to the cell door. “Do you know why I always win against your kind? You rugged individualists are all the same. This is not unintentional; the Holy Prophet Ayn Rand herself said that difference is an illusion and all rational men are the same in essence. You even use the same strategy, the same old technocratic one. You look at me and underestimate me at once; then I do the thing you least expect. I knock you off balance, and then I win.”

“What do you think you are?!”

“Why, I am an independent woman of business. All you people do is government.”

In the warden’s office, the warden’s assistant tells him, “Watch out for this one. She’s got family connections.”

“What kind?” asks the warden.

“The records say here she’s the great-granddaughter of Doc Wilder himself.”

“He was a troublemaker and a half.”

Shira says, “But he made a fortune making trouble. My mama taught me, don’t rely on your old man’s fortune, but make your own way. That way, you don’t become a welfare parasite like most of the rich people I know.”

“Hmph! You think we’re parasites, don’t you. You don’t get it. America is God, and He rewards us for worshipping Him with the blessings of wealth and punishes those—”

“Like I said. Worship the State, and it rewards you with corporate welfare. That’s exactly the way things work in Russia, China, and any number of crony capitalist tinpot dictatorships in Africa and Latin America. And I thought we had a free market. Sure shows me.”

The assistant warden says, “She thinks our Revolution’s gonna fail.”

“It already has. It did the moment you replaced American freedom with Chinese Corporatism. Your decisions made a lot of overseas investors rich, you know.”

The warden demands, “Are you trying to make the Revolution fail? Are you working against us?”

“No, I’m betting money against you. I’m selling you short. Your Party’s already done the rest. All I need to do now is sit back, watch you fail, and cash in. Simple as that.”

“What do you think you are?!”

“I happen to be an Enterpriser. Unlike you Corporates, I produce things people buy. I don’t do weapons or dodgy investments or other economy-destroying stuff. I give the people what they want, and they gladly pay me for it. I make my money honestly.”

“You and your worthless friends will only be making money for us once we get you convicted of insubordination. How do you like them apples?”

“The more labor you conscript, the fewer consumers you got—”

“We don’t need consumers anymore.”

“In other words, you people found the perpetual motion machine that creates infinite wealth for the politically connected, *ahem* I mean you deserving and chosen ones. Namely, corporate welfare through higher taxes on the general public, leading to more crushing debt burdens — in other words, corruption. And then what happens when your big Ponzi scheme collapses? That’s all your Revolution is, a pyramid scheme based on total world domination and screwing the people. That’s why your Corporatism has no more future than Communism. Which was really monopoly Corporatism. Don’t understand me? Then you need to get a new brain.”

“We’ll be glad to refer you to our more, mmm, efficient interrogators.”

“And I’ll be happy to refer you to my lawyer. You and your bosses better hope your balance sheet’s able to afford the damages, ’cuz I have my doubts.”

Back in the cell, Belle Shockley cries for her mother while her second cousin Lucie holds her tight and kisses her to try to comfort her. Shira’s cellmates discuss their predicament. Shira says, “This is what they’re punishing us for. Not being antisocial enough to stab each other in the back for the sake of personal advancement.”

Jennifer says, “They don’t realize that there’s strength in numbers, like the many separate cables that together are strong enough to hold up a bridge.”

“That would be believing in reality, Jen. They don’t believe in reality. They want wishes to be horses.”

Lucie clings to Shira’s arm. “Don’t they even believe in love?”

Leila sighs bitterly and takes Lucie’s hand. “No, Lucie darling, that would be a personal attachment. True Corporates like your father believe that love, friendship, and compassion are obstacles interfering with the only things they value: money, power, and their other ego attachments. So they sneer that love is nothing but sex misspelled. We’re better than that.”

Two pretty boys, twins with long blond hair, nineteen or twenty years old, spot Shira and recognize her. They come up to her. “Say, aren’t you Shira Thomas, the hoverboard racer?”

Shira gasps. “The Harding Twins? Ace and Deuce?”

Polly stumbles over and blurts, “Oh my god, is it really you? You’re even more beautiful than your pictures!”

“I bet you’re in here for alleged youthcrime too. Lemme guess: disturbing the peace? intellectual property infringement? traffic violations?”

“Nah,” says Ace (on Shira’s left), “more like allegedly being too pretty for guys.”

“Those Party people hate it when you’re too good looking,” Deuce adds. “But you girls already know that.”

Leila says, “Only the religious types believe that. Corporates want their beautiful women without brains. Most of us are here for being too smart for our own good.”

Suddenly, once the military parades are over and the Party commissars are satisfied that they have shown the people who’s boss, everyone not officially charged with crimes against property or morality are released, including even Shira. “What happened?” asks Polly.

Shira grins. “My lawyer cousin tells me CPMC, COPCO, and Dictel Corrections were being hit by too many lawsuits, so they decided to cut their losses. But not before they had their big military collective wank for the TV cameras.”

“People aren’t too happy about being held prisoner just for that,” says Ace Harding.

“Clearly the Party are too satisfied with their own authority. They don’t understand human nature, least of all the Corporates with their cult of selfishness.” She whistles to get everybody to stop talking and listen to her, then yells, “Hey, everybody! How about we have a big pizza feed, courtesy of Pizza Mafia! Governor Wally’s paying, so it’s on the house!”

The crowd of former prisoners cheer their approval.

coffee shop. Ariel says, “Do you know why dissent is considered treasonous?” Leila and Rob shake their heads. Belle, Lucie, and Ariel’s daughter Uma are too busy enjoying their BLTs and each other to listen.

“The reason is actually religious,” Shira replies. “Dissident, traitor, terrorist, and other words like that are really synonyms for infidel. They mean merely those who haven’t accepted the United States Federal Government as their personal Lord and Savior. In other words, they’re just duckspeak signifiers for political incorrectness.”

“They kill people for unbelief, you know.”

“Meaning America’s no different from the Caliphate. We fought Communist Russia and became Corporatist. We fight Al-Qaeda and the Caliphate, only to end up under the control of a cult. He who fights monsters, as they say.”

“Do you realize what the Party leadership really believe?”

“I’ve read Ayn Rand, if that’s what you mean.”

“They’re actually Illuminati, as the conspiracy theorists claim. They happen to be paranoid conspiracy theorists themselves. Their religion is not the Rationalism of an Ayn Rand, but the fundamentalist form of Gnosticism called Nicolaitanism. The name signifies ‘victory over the people,’ and the political system they created to secure that victory is what they call ‘synarchy,’ or the rule of an enlightened élite.”

While chewing her sandwich, Leila says, “Synarchy is just the Greek word for junta.”

“So the Party are being hypocritical when they say one who stands alone can stand against everybody else together,” says Shira.

“Is that what they say?” asks Ariel.

“That’s what you learn from Ayn Rand. It’s right there in the Book of America where all the Party faithful can read it.”

“Have you ever heard of Extropy?”

“Oh yeah!” Shira slaps her forehead. “Extropians and other Posthumanists want to turn the rich and powerful into gods who can defeat the entire human race by themselves.”

“They don’t know that there are already gods among us.”

Shira looks at Ariel skeptically. “Explain.”

“Do they realize that gods have become human for the sake of humanity? Or have they in their lust for divine power forgotten this?”

“Hmmm...” A mischievous smirk grows on Shira’s face. “Maybe you ought to introduce me to some of these gods.”

Ariel smiles. “You already know one. You see her in the mirror.”

Shira’s eyes go wide in surprise. Everybody stares at her. “Whether you achieved godhood in ancient times or through the evolution of your soul here on earth,” says Ariel, “if your will is free and you are confident in your power, you can stand alone against them all. Together, we are invincible.”

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Spanner Interlude 13: Six Degrees of Keenan Sasser

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Chaos Angel Spanner
Interlude 13: Six Degrees of Keenan Sasser

“Keenan Sasser in the Tommyverse,” an article by _____:
The husband-and-wife team of writer Keenan Sasser and artist and producer Ada Paulette Wintergreen have a favorite game they love to pull on Hollywood people. Some people like to play a game called “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.” Keenan and Ada have twisted it into “Six Degrees of Tommy Westphall.” They claim that every story that has ever been shown on television is a figment of an eleven-year-old autistic boy’s imagination, within six degrees of crossover with St. Elsewhere, the Kevin Bacon of TV shows. You remember the last scene of that series’ final episode, don’t you (you know, before they killed off Mimsie the MTM Kitten in the credits)? The whole series was just a dream, and the dreamer was one Tommy Westphall. Except “Tommy Westphall” was his name only in the dream (i.e., St. Elsewhere). Characters from that series crossed over into other series, which crossed over into other series, which crossed over into still more series—until the imagination of “Tommy Westphall” took over the entire television universe. When Keenan watched that last episode (imaginatively titled “The Last One,”, by the way), he was merely disappointed at how the show ended, and he was not alone in that. It was Ada who dropped the mind bomb on him. While they were having sex.

Any other series created by Tom Fontana? Tommy’s dream. Anything else put out by MTM Enterprises? Tommy’s dream. Anything by Desilu/Paramount, including I Love Lucy, Mission: Impossible, and Star Trek? Tommy’s dream. Brand and Falsey, or Dick Wolf, or Joss Whedon? Check. Doctor Who? Red Dwarf? Battlestar Galactica (both of them)? The Fresh Prince of Bel Air? Any show with Detective John Munch in the cast? If the show has any connection to any show with a connection to St. Elsewhere, Tommy dreamt it. Even Fontana himself claims that nearly 90 percent of all TV shows, well over 300 and counting, took place in the mind of that autistic child, and he seems determined to bring the entire fictional universe into Tommy’s dream. And if Mr. Spock’s claim to be descended from Sherlock Holmes is correct, then Tommy must have dreamed the entire series of events that began with the landing of a certain meteor in Yorkshire when Holmes’ own ancestor was in the area. But if that’s true, then Keenan never actually lost his virginity to Willa Richter-Thomas five blocks from a certain hospital back in 1992, not long after he started classes at MIT...

Keenan watched a lot of television shows (and a lot of MTV as well) when he himself was an autistic child in the 1980s. He caught that last episode back in 1988. His family remember him crying over MTM kitten Mimsie’s death at the end of the credits. (Strangely enough, Mimsie herself died shortly before that episode aired, though by then she was already an elderly cat of twenty. The Mimsie you know is the adorable kitten she was in 1968.) What he himself remembers is the dream he had that night. He dreamed of Tommy. Tommy was looking at him from the other side of a mirror. It was a magic mirror that allowed one to see other realities. Keenan and Tommy both realized they were dreaming each other. Keenan never forgot this.

But what about Bob Hartley dreaming the entire run of Newhart? “Let’s think of it this way,” Keenan says. “Was Tommy dreaming Bob? Sure he was. But you can argue with equal plausibility that Bob was dreaming Tommy. And it’s possible, even likely, that they were dreaming each other. But remember that a story is a collective dream, so everything both Tommy and Bob ever dreamed was also dreamed by their creators, and by you.” Ada likes to point out that there may be an infinite regress involved: Bob and Buffy dreaming their entire series and all the shows they crossed over with, dreamt in turn by Tommy, who in turn (if you’ve read The Crying of Lot 49, where all this Yoyodyne stuff came from) being dreamt by Oedipa Maas (is Tommy her Tristero?), who was dreamt in turn... It is entirely possible that the last five minutes of St. Elsewhere are the only television show, ever, period. Everything else is a daydream.

Thing is, the end of Newhart was a joke that worked — at the expense of both Dallas and St. Elsewhere. Go figure.

Keenan always had an extremely overactive imagination. He published his first story when he himself was a strange child of eleven. 1988 was also the year he learned how to program a computer, learning BASIC on his beloved Amiga. Eventually he would combine his two interests when he created the story-creating programs that brought him his fame, culminating in his 2009 short story collection Robot Love Stories. For a period of about five years (roughly coinciding with his early thirties), he was a bestselling author, until the coup of 2012, in which he was blacklisted for what he calls political incorrectness. Until recently, he was working on a series of pulp novels—until the increasingly nightmarish stories he was dreaming started seeming too real. The increasingly clueless publishers stole the Civet franchise from him and sicced their increasingly inept hacks on it.

But can you prove his vision is not true? And are you dreaming Tommy dreaming, or is Tommy dreaming you?
“Science Fiction Is Dead, Long Live Science Fiction” an article by Keenan Sasser published in August 2012:
There are two kinds of literature: Literature, and Pulp. Literature is read by Cultured People. Pulp is read by Unwashed Barbarians. A special kind of pulp is Science Fiction, said to be pulp fiction with weak plot and characters written in impenetrable technospeak by absent-minded professors to be read by autistic teenage boys. Now, I’m not knocking autistic teenage boys, since I used to be one myself. But I’ve been told that science fiction is too complicated for lesser minds than mine, and yet also simplistic stuff involving spaceships, rayguns, and jetpacks. If both of these are true, and most people who aren’t geeks and/or “fen” believe it is, then the genre is being defined as a self-contradiction, and therefore science fiction does not exist.

Okay, you tell me, but look at the sci-fi section in the bookstores! They’ve never been so big and well stocked! My answer is, look more carefully and you’ll find that most of the new fiction in that section is urban fantasy. Vampires outnumber scientists ten to one, minimum. All of it is purest Pulp. Besides, Americans were never too fond of scientists anyway. They’re too smart. Being smart in America is like being gay or black; it’s a no-no.

Science fiction is also said to be boring because science itself is said to be boring. That’s exactly wrong, but you wouldn’t know it from the institutions. Nowhere is technocracy so oppressive than in the scientific institutions. My guess is that in America, science is not even primary; it’s considered just a way to generate theoretical principles for engineers to use for designing the superweapons that defend the supremacy of the corporations that make America great.

Which brings us to another roadblock: the publishers. Their corporate owners decide what gets published and promoted. The Establishment once decreed that science fiction be promoted in order to inspire boys to become engineers it could use to create the superweapons that would destroy Communism. But after Communism dropped dead, the Establishment started treating science like some occult knowledge that must be kept away from the general public lest it empower them; so it decreed that science fiction is only for geeks, then promoted big-city vampire lovers and detectives for the rubes.

Science fiction is dead — but only because the media cartel declared it dead. I say it’s comic-book dead, just like comics itself.
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[Revision 1, 12/12/11. The first part originally written during NaNoWriMo 2010.]

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Spanner 25.6: Terrorists vs. Gangsters

...from previous

Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 25: The Public Be Damned
Part 6: Terrorists vs. Gangsters

10 november 2014.
CPMC headquarters.
Brinkman stares at the line of grotesque cyborg mercenaries standing before him. “You paid for this?

Litton grins. “The most dangerous hitmen money can buy. You’re looking at expensive enforcers, Wally. Can’t find any better on the open market.”

“These are grotesque.”

“No more than you are, wolfman.”

Brinkman storms into his face and yells, “At least I’m only a monster part of the time! These are abominations!”

“And that’s exactly what you need to put down this cesspool of commie faggot traitors that persist in denying our God-given dominion over them. They don’t surrender unconditionally, we got them.” Litton gestures toward the mercs. “And if that don’t work, we got drones and nukes. Remember, Wally, we got a revolution to save. The rabble’s our enemy. We gotta put ’em down, starting with their leaders.”

“That would mean the whole Consortium, starting with the Wilder Foundation. That’s a lot of companies, and their unions. We might as well lob nukes.”

“Try nationalizing ’em, Wally. Don’t forget that public management corporations have the legal right to seize any and all property for any or no reason, and that includes entire corporations. If their leaders give us any shit, we’ll send these agents to take ’em out, then COPCO will seize their assets and give ’em to us.”

“Sounds like a clever plan. But we can’t forget the enemy’s got some formidable Players of their own: Thurston Wilder, Philip Reston, Hope Reston, Willa Richter-Thomas, Shira Thomas. They’ve got plans of their own, and we need to make sure we can counter ’em. They beat us on the election. You got that, Litton?”

“I’ll try and keep that in mind. Meanwhile, we got ours.”

11 november 2014.
Bangor squats.
On the border with the subdivisions, there is an abandoned Dictel worker housing complex of seven huge apartment buildings now occupied by warring gangs. Officially, one of the high holy days of the cult of Jesus America, Veterans’s Day, is beginning. But at the stroke of midnight, the Socialist Revolutionary Organization show their contempt for America’s imperial war efforts by declaring war on the gangs. The time bombs mark their gambit.

The entire complex blows up in a massive fireball that can be seen across Hood Canal and even in Seattle.

The timers were disposable cellphones; the detonators were Radio Shack parts; the bombs belonged to the gangs themselves.
Bram Rodchenko:
[The SRO commander, his beard flecked with white, speaks in an obviously Seattle accent.]

Attention, narcoterror syndicates. Your reign of terror is about to end. Everybody knows that Wally Brinkman and his Wall Street owners paid you to massacre the people of the city for rejecting the tyranny of Corporatism. We had to strike first. We will strike again, and again and again until you’re zeroed.

We are not terrorists. We are counterterrorists. The police are corrupt and useless. COPCO has no purpose other than defending the tyranny of the ultra-rich against the people. We are GK.
Harborside Commons. Team Bremelo and a few friends watch the news and Rodchenko’s communiqué on the screens in the food court. Debbie marvels, “How the hell did they take out all those Slashers in one blow?”

Shira sighs. “Maybe I’ll have to give you a lesson in elemental military strategy. Take out the enemy base, and you cripple the enemy. Hackers call it a single point of vulnerability. Here you had seven gangs in an abandoned barracks, seven big buildings arranged around their battlefield, all playing war nonstop. The Army would have used massed drone bombers; the SRO used stealth agents. Same result.”

“But ain’t the Army got bases? Ain’t that the same thing?”

“They also have jet fighters and weapons emplacements to defend ’em. It’s hard to do that when you’ve got seven gangs squatting one abandoned barracks. You’re actually trained to do what my sister, her husband, and their leader just did.”

“You’re saying, the terrorists are soldiers?

“Not entirely. Not all the terrorists are soldiers, but all the elite ones are combat veterans, some of ’em decorated, all of whom feel they got screwed by Jesus America. Bram Rodchenko was even part of the SEAL raid on Abbottabad, helping your Uncle Will sink his fangs into the Evil One’s neck. Their quest for revenge is entirely separate from the Populist movement, though they try to hijack it and twist it to their purposes.”

“The enemy of our enemy, in other words, is not necessarily our friend,” Jennifer adds. “You probably know some Conservative Revolutionary youth leaders who don’t realize that, the ones who put their blind faith in the Party and Jesus America rather than their faction and leaders.”

“My infallible gaydar says you have a longtime unrequited crush on one.” Shira leans seductively toward Debbie, making her blush. “Too bad she’s stuck on me, hmm?”

A banana hits the side of Shira’s head; she catches it as it bounces off, then turns to the direction it came from to see an angry Charmian storm up to her. “Shira Thomas, I’m not your girlfriend!”

Leila drapes herself seductively on Charmian and purrs, “Of course you aren’t. I am.”

“Ew! Get off me!” Charmian struggles to escape Leila’s embrace, then stares at the ironically smiling beauty.

Polly points at the screens. “Uh-oh! Spanner’s on!” The now familiar eight-bit Eight-Man-clone avatar appears on every monitor.
Dear Corpos: Don’t you like the Veterans’ Day gift the terrorists just gave you? Just think: the illegal terrorist corporations that profit by selling the morally unforgivable merchandise you have vowed to prohibit forever are getting smashed by the terrorist factions set up by enraged veterans to get revenge against you. They’re mad as hell and refuse to take your shit anymore, and they’re patriotic enough to show their appreciation for you on this holy day created to honor the lives so many working class warriors sacrificed for the sake of our corporate owners’ infinite profits. How do you like them apples?

On a trivial note, “Tory” is Gaelic for thief. Happy Veterans’ Day, Conservatives.
Will Becket stands intimidatingly over the Team Bremelo table. “Is it true that ‘Tory’ means thief?”

Leila replies, “As a Gaelic speaker, I can confidently tell you that tóire is indeed Gaelic for thief. The labelling of the Conservative Party as tóiridh is indeed accurate, and always has been.”

“I see. Watch out for Rodchenko and his men, ladies. He’s a master of counterterror.”

“I’m afraid counterterror is all he knows,” says Jennifer. “Professional counterterrorists like Rodchenko don’t know people. That’s why they so often alienate the people by turning terrorist against them.”

“How are you so sure there’s any difference among our nation’s enemies?”

“Think of it in Wild West terms, Commander,” says Shira. “The SRO are the posse come to the God-forsaken frontier town of Bangor to purge it of bandits. That’s exactly how Conservative Revolutionaries see themselves. But the Socialist Revolutionaries see the Conservative Revolutionaries as nothing more than bandits themselves, in the employ of Rockefeller, Harriman, and Pinkerton. All too often, the posses turn into bandits or, what’s even worse, tyrants. It’s happened all over the West. The people get caught in the middle and find themselves forced to defend themselves against both sides if they wanna survive. Populism’s always been about the little guys getting justice for themselves when the big guys run roughshod over ’em. In fact, Populism gave Cascadia and its predecessors their democratic constitutions intended to keep the big guys in check. That’s your lesson in civilian politics for today, soldier.”

Will crosses his arms. “I thought the Revolution was intended to do away with politics.”

“All it did was replace democratic politics with archaic court politics. That’s why the factions and syndicates are celebrating this Veterans’ Day with a bang.”

Downtown Bangor. Through the wide streets and vast parking lots of the strip-mall district the city of Bangor’s founders were proud to call a downtown, biker punks rampage unchecked. The remaining businesses are closed, the civilians have fled for their lives, gangsters blaming their rivals for the bombing shoot at each other and kill several.

The SRO militants have not left. As soon as they detonated the gang hangouts, they took positions on the downtown roofs. They emerge at the building edges to lob bombs and fire rockets at the warring gangs. Some gangsters are lucky or well positioned enough to get away; others aren’t.

Sparks and Kowalczyk watch the battle from the protection of their COPCO van hidden at the edge of the battlefield. Kowalczyk marvels, “I never thought I’d see terrorists go vigilante.”

“You keep forgetting this is America. The posse’s come to Dodge to clean out the bandits. Classic Wild West. Better yet, they’re back from fighting Indians, and in this day and age I don’t mean Native Americans.”

Someone taps on the driver’s side window. Sparks turns to find Talia pointing a rifle at him. Kowalczyk whistles. Sparks rolls down the window.

“What are you doing here?” she demands.

“Just watching you soldiers do to the bandidos what we lawmen ain’t. Since lawmen are useless in this situation, we decided we’d just sit back and watch. Who knows, we might even learn something.”

“Just don’t interfere.”

“No problem, soldier.” He rolls his windows back up. Talia takes a few steps back, then turns to run back to the battlefield.

“What’s with her?” asks Kowalczyk.

“You haven’t seen Sergeant Espinoza’s file yet? Her unit just beat the Taliban when the Revolution happened and they found they had to answer to Dictel and the mining cartel. She was just one of many soldiers who got dishonorably discharged for insubordination, right in the middle of the Afghan winter. A lot of ’em turned guerrilla. The SRO explained.”

“They do cyberterror?”

“No, they’re strictly military minded. They got nothing to do with Anonymous, or the Russian and Chinese cyberagents.”

“Nice to know.”

They watch as the SRO crusade against the criminal gangs of the Bangor slums the same way they battled the Islamist guerrillas of Afghanistan. “Watch carefully, Stu,” says Sparks. “This is exactly what the Party, wielding Dictel and COPCO as its weapons, want to do to the people of the state of Cascadia.”

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Spanner 25.5: Hate Disease

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Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 25: The Public Be Damned
Part 5: Hate Disease

10 november 2014.
Bremerton High.
Walking on the way to the college, Shira and Jennifer suddenly notice someone among the portable classrooms. Then smoke starts to rise above one of them. They stare at each other. “Stan,” says Jennifer.

“Shit!” exclaims Shira. They climb onto the fence, leap over it, and run to the source of the fire to confront the Terrorist.

Stan leaps back when he sees the two angry girls suddenly block his way. Jennifer sneers, “I assume this is your way of saying that ignorance is bliss, right, Terrorist?”

Shira says to her, “Stupid is as stupid does, cuz.”

“I always marvel how stupidity gets so militant these days.”

“I thought militancy made people stupid. Just take a look at the creationists trying to lynch scientists.”

Stan rushes them screaming “Shut up!” They cut him off and double-flip him into the air; he lands hard on his back with his head audibly bouncing off the pavement. As he curls into fetal position, holds the back of his head, and groans, reinforcements rush in to help him. Jennifer kicks one Moral Enforcer into another; Shira pulls one into another’s punch and then spin-kicks the other, leaving Vince Corson. But Vince knows he’s still weak from his latest resurrection, in no condition to take on two teenage Amazons who have hardly even broken a sweat. Jennifer punches him out anyway.

Shira whips out her phone, calls the fire department, and shows the fire to them on her phonecam. Soon the sirens get closer as the trucks speed in and the firefighters take over.

Olympic College. Across the street from the high school, the college campus is filled with frustrated students angry that they cannot return to class because of the legal wrangling over the Cascadian public school systems. They silently and not so silently curse Governor Brinkman, his Attorney General son Marshall, and CPMC for ruining their education with their petty legal battles. Jennifer and Shira stop in front of the library entrance. They look inside; none of the lights are on, and neither presumably is the heating system on this cold and drizzly November day. Just to express her frustration, Jennifer grabs a door handle, rattles the door, and growls.

A faceless security guard hurries over to snap at her. “No tresspassing allowed! No one is allowed inside any of the buildings! That’s the Governor’s direct order! Obey his orders, or you’ll be punished!”

Shira and Jennifer trade scornful looks. Jennifer asks, “Why do these rent-a-cops always have to be so touchy?”

Shira replies, “Because that’s the way Governor Wally is. What you did just wounded his ego.”

“Like I said, touchy.” They glare at the guard. He sensibly backs off and returns to the job the Governor hired him to do, harassing students.

Soon enough, Los Punkz bikers swarm in from one side and Moral Enforcers from the other. Students flee the inevitable fight screaming. The cousins plunge into the heart of the chaos: Jennifer to rescue trapped students, Shira to misdirect the assailants.

One Punk flees with his girlfriend. Jennifer knocks him down with a hard left hook. “Leave her alone!”

Shira snarls, “No girl huntin’ on our watch, Slasher!”

“Hey!” the Punk protests. “I only wanted you to help me.”

Shira plants her foot on his head. “As long as you’re in gang colors, you’re beyond help. The definition of ‘gang’ is ‘pack of serial killers,’ meaning you’re still out to get everybody, Slasher.”

Jennifer points down at him. “You’re not a human being, Slasher. You’re a modular biological weapons platform, owned and operated by Anticristo. You’re not a man, you’re a gun.”

His girlfriend pounds futilely on Shira. “Stop it! He’s not what you think—”

Shira and Jennifer beat her up. When she hits the ground, Shira pulls her back up by the hair and glares into her eyes. “Serial killer groupies,” she snarls, “they make me sick.” She jujitsu-throws her — “Grievous harm with a body!” — right onto her boyfriend.

The cousins wipe their hands on their skirts. Jennifer says, “So how do you save one of these hopeless cases that actually want to be saved?”

“The only way is to cripple it. That way you take it out of play.”

They look toward the heart of the campus, where the Moral Enforcers and Los Punkz beat each other to a pulp. Content that the thugs are taking each other out, they walk away.

Harborside Commons. After an exhausting day, they’re back in the food court and decide to take it easy for dinner: Shira, Jennifer, Leila, Polly, Debbie, Schuyler, and Courtney. “Does every day have to be like this?” sighs Polly.

Jennifer puts her arm around Polly’s shoulder and draws her close. “Yes, Polly darling, as long as the people in control remain out of control, every day will have to be like this.”

“I don’t think it does, Jen,” Schuyler says.

“Sky, I clearly said ‘as long as the people in control remain out of control.’ For one thing, school’s out indefinitely due to legal problems, remember?”

“Fine by me,” says Debbie. “They don’t teach nothing at school anyway.”

Charmian storms up to the table. ”Did you girls ever realize that there’s actual human beings inside those gang uniforms?”

Debbie laughs at her. Jennifer stands up and crosses her arms. “Excuse me, Charmian, but no. Legally and strategically, there are no actual human beings inside gang uniforms. It cannot be otherwise. There is only one actual being in the gang, and it is the gang itself, a collectivized ego. All its members are but extensions of it, like the exobodies of a multibot. To assume otherwise is strategic suicide. You above all should know that, Lieutenant.”

Shira stands up. “Charms, you obviously don&rsquo't know how a Player thinks. Gangsters, like all soldiers, aren’t people, they’re gamepieces. Players who truly believe in the Game, such as the men of your family, have only one objective, and that is supremacy, the closest you’ll ever get to victory in the Tournament that never ends. Every other Player is an opponent. His men are gamepieces. One way of defeating other Players is by either eliminating or capturing their gamepieces. Human pieces are equivalent to inanimate pieces in Tournament. Basically, they’re weapons. As for civilians, or mundanes as they’re also called, they too are considered pieces suitable for either capture or elimination. So in Tournament, there’s no such thing as people, only Players and pieces. All gangsters think that way. That’s why you show mercy to a gangster by crippling ’em. It’s the only way to eliminate an active human gamepiece without killing the person.”

Leila adds, “The same thing goes for cults and terrorist groups. Individuals don’t even exist within ’em. There’s only the group and, well, its pieces. Sometimes the holy MacGuffin is more of a person than the cultist. You get such bizarre situations whenever you give up your own power, something I still will never let you do no matter how much you try, Charmian.”

Charmian stares at them in disbelief. “This is insane.”

Everybody at the table nods in enthusiastic agreement. Jennifer says, “It’s the very definition of collective insanity.”

dreamspace. Five lucid dreamers and a shaman take on a dream monster created by Jack Becket out of his own rage and sent to kill Locke Holmes. It got distracted when it saw Shira in her goddess form; because the one-eyed man hates Shira even worse, his monster decides to take her out as well.

Accompanying her are Jennifer, Leila, Polly, and Karen. Behind them, Ariel spreads out her black angel wings and prepares to do battle. Shira looks back and says, “Don’t bother. We’ve got it all taken care of.”

Polly slaps her. “We can’t take on a giant hate monster by ourselves!”

Jennifer shoots a Don’t be stupid look at her. “Pretend we’re in an RPG, where revive spells and phoenix down kill zombies.”

She and Shira look at Karen. “Polly, we’ve got a powerful love mage with us,” says Shira. “Love does to hate monsters what revive dies to zombies. So let’s get our Care Bare Stare on!”

Karen puts a love spell on all the girls just as the hate monster begins its Burning Resentment attack. The girls fix it with a powerful love stare.

The monster screams with pain, attempts its Jihad Explosion suicide attack, fails to hurt them, gradually shrinks until its substance vanishes and then its scream’s final echoes fall silent.

After their victory, Ariel retracts her wings. “I’ve been wondering why so many game players win so easily in dream wars.”

Jennifer replies, “Some skills can be transferred between realities. That’s why both visualization and simulators improve real-world skills so well.”

“Does that mean lucid dreaming skills work in the real world too?” asks Leila.

“They should,” says Ariel. “Most people in the real world are sleepwalkers. Lucidity is freedom.”

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Friday, December 9, 2011

Spanner 25.4: Bogon Flux

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Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 25: The Public Be Damned
Part 4: Bogon Flux

10 november 2014.
Shira’s apartment.
It would have been school lunch time right now had not the district’s legal problems it might as well not exist. So five young women sit together on Shira’s living room couch: Shira and Jennifer on the left, Debbie on the right, and their mutual cousins Courtney and Schuyler between them, eating a Big Boss pizza Shira flew in from Pizza Mafia and watching some anonymous CMPC flack spin the company’s recent disaster into a certain glorious future. To the business press reporters, he says, “The recent disorder is just a glitch. We are implementing ways to bring the social disorder under control, make this state worthy of our great Nation, and bring our stock prices back up to where they were before. We owe it to our investors.”

Jennifer shouts, “Bogon flux is rising, rising!”

“What the—” blurts a confused Debbie.

Schuyler leans over Shira. “What language are you speaking this time, Jen?”

“Oh, just my usual tech speak.” Jennifer peers over the other girls and smiles at Debbie. “Say, Debbie, you know what a ‘shit detector’ is?”

Debbie stares back at her blankly. “Uh, some gadget that detects shit?”

Jennifer narrows her eyes. “I see critical thinking is not an educational priority in the House of Becket. ‘Shit detector’ is the street name for the a notional machine that detects lies. That’s a metaphor for the ability to think critically. We geeks prefer to call it a ‘bogometer.’ How ’bout I teach you how to build one?”

“Uh, okay.”

Jennifer stands up proudly before them, raises her finger, and proclaims, “Introduction to Quantum Bogodynamics!”

Debbie’s jaw drops at the indigestible words. “What?”

“Oh, you’ll understand what I mean once this short lesson is finished.” Jennifer winks. “I’m sure you’ve heard the word ‘bogus.’ Literally it means ‘counterfeit,’ like the funny money printed by the Federal Reserve, and in this case the fake currency is truth and the gang that counterfeits it is the Party. Bogosity is the noun, the bogon is the alleged subatomic particle carrying the force of bogosity the way electrons carry electricity, and bogon flux is the bogosity field emitted by a speaker or institution or their memes. Got it?”

“I guess so.”

“Good! You’ve heard of quantum physics, right?”


“Quantum electrodynamics is the branch of quantum physics that deals with electromagnetism. By analogy, quantum bogodynamics deals with bogosity fields. Politics deals with how people collectively manage their affairs. Corporatism is based on a specific political system called technocracy, in which people are governed from above by a hierarchy of experts, similar to the hierarchy of priests in a religious institution and the hierarchy of officers in an army or navy. The top commanding officer of a hierarchy is generally called a ’ruler.’ Political scientists generally class hierarchical systems under the term ‘authoritarianism.’ Democracy is the opposite, the governed collectively governing themselves, taking the ruler’s place. Naturally, it avoids hierarchy not just like the plague, but as one. Hierarchical power, you see, is built on a pyramid-like structure in which each level of command isolates the levels above from those below. If rulers and bureaucrats are so clueless, this is why. They are isolated from society, some say even from reality. Some people like to say they live in reality bubbles or pocket universes. Quantum bogodynamics says they emit bogosity fields. Bogon flux, or bogosity levels, can be measured by a mental device similar to a Geiger counter called a bogometer.”

“A shit detector.”

“To build this machine, first you need to know a little logic. I can get into the basic mechanics of reasoning when we have more time. First, let’s learn a few fallacies, or types of false arguments. Some of these are doozies. First off, we have the argument from force, whose form is, ‘This is true, or I’ll beat you up.’ Whatever bogus truth requires police or vigilante violence to make one believe falls under this fallacy. Because they take the same form, religious doctrines you are required to believe if you want to avoid going to Hell are bogus in the same way. As an example, how about this: You shall believe that is true that liberals are evil devil-worshipping commie faggot traitors, or you are an evil devil-worhsipping commie faggot traitor. The argument from force. Got it?”

“Wow! Seems pretty obvious to me now that you mention it.”

“Excellent! The next one’s another classic. Its famous Latin name is argumentum ad hominem, meaning argument against the person. Its form is: ‘You suck, therefore your argument is false.’ Whenever you hear the word ‘liberal,’ this fallacy is about to be committed. Other catchwords signifying ad hominem include ‘traitor,’ ‘terrorist,’ ‘homosexual,’ and ‘girl.’ Those last two relate to the official Party doctrine that women, homosexuals, nonwhites, and other Party non-members, like animals, have no souls and are incapable of reason. ‘Materialist’ is another, meaning that people in touch with reality, such as scientists, deny that the real world is false and the imaginary world is real. But the real meaning of all those insult words is ‘you suck,’ and they always take the logical form ‘you suck, therefore you’re wrong,” the argument against the person.”

Debbie’s face lights up with dawning realization. But Jennifer notices that Courtney and Schuyler’s jaws have dropped. Schuyler says, “You mean all the Party truths are based on these fallacies?”

“Just like all those religious doctrines that scientific understanding left in the dust long ago. Speaking of which, one fallacy the American Religion relies on every bit as much as any cult is the appeal to authority: it’s true because God, my guru, the great leader of the nation, or that celebrity spokeswhore on TV said it is. Then there’s the argument from conformity: it’s true because everybody else believes it’s true. Finally, and this ends our first lesson, there’s the circular argument, also known as begging the question: it’s true because it’s true. Is your bogometer working yet, Debbie?”

Debbie frowns. “You mean everything I was taught to believe, everything we’re being said is true, is actually false? How could it be?”

“Because the Party and the House of Becket use all these fallacies for one and only one reason: to increase their power over us by clouding our minds. That’s why critical thinking is so important. The bogometer is a weapon that kills fascists. That’s why the government banned it.”

Shira adds, “They want to deny what you see, that the emperor’s completely naked. If necessary, they’ll use brute force to make you deny the obvious.”

“What we just saw on TV was Uncle Wally’s professional liars emitting a bogosity field so strong it hurts most people. He pinned the gauge on my bogometer. Flacks do that to me. Those without bogometers equipped, better known as the blindly faithful and the gullible, can absorb huge amounts of bogosity, sometimes so much that they can then emit strong bogosity fields themselves. Those whose energy fields are entirely bogus are themselves called ‘bogons,’ like the particles. Bogosity is the Party’s entire source of power. Now do you understand, Debbie? Hmmm?” Jennifer underlines her question with a smile.

Everybody stares at Debbie. Her face goes red, her eyes go wide, terror slowly overcomes her as she realizes Jennifer has just planted a bomb in her mind. She giggles nervously. “Uh, you think they’ll find out?”

“Just think of it this way,” Jennifer replies. “The course of the Conservative Revolution has disappointed a lot of people. The more they justify their doctrines and policies with false reasoning and brute force, that is, the stronger the collective bogosity field they project, the more minds they lose because they see through the lies. The more minds they lose, the stronger the bogosity they feel they have to project to compensate. The result is social entropy, which leads to the decay of hierarchical systems such as the Imperial government. The masters of the Empire are complete bogons themselves because they deny that the Empire is in such an advanced state of decay that it’s on the verge of collapse no matter what they do. The more they deny the reality, the more they rely on lies. Then when the lies fail to work, they resort to force. The psychological mechanism that produces bogosity fields is evasion. You see now?”

Now Debbie stares ahead, torn by a war inside her mind. One voice says, reason is treason; the other says, Denial is suicide. Suddenly she stands up in panic and blurts, “Oh no I gotta go home.”

Schuyler and Courtney, fearing for her, get up and grab her arms. “Please don’t go home,” says Schuyler.

“You can spend the night with us,” says Courtney.

Debbie lets out a huge smile and lets her body go limp in their grasp. “Okay, I guess I don’t really have to go home.”

Her delighted cousins lock her in a double hug. “Great!” says Schuyler. She kisses Debbie on the cheek.

The CPMC flack onscreen continues to evade the business reporters’ questions, no matter how softball.

technosphere. The naked victim struggling helplessly against the ropes tying her to the bed is recognizable by her long wavy blond hair as videogame star Marisa Kirisame. The equally nude brown-skinned woman standing above her and contemplating the horrors she will inflict on the poor adorable witch looks like Shira but with straight hair and pointy ears: Aya Shibata, most depraved of evil dark elves and superstar of fighting games, dance games, and Vocaloid music videos. The super-deformed graffiti-art avatar of the Debaser pops in behind her, arms crossed, staring at her skeptically. “What the hell are you up to this time, Shira?” asks Sparks.

Shira looks over her shoulder to grin at him. “You’re in Aya’s Love Hotel now. I’m just having a little fun while boosting my rep among the yuri otaku. Now sit back and watch like everybody else. Option! Strap on!”

Her all-purpose construct zips over to her and starts forming the virtual version of Shira’s infamous strap-on — but stops halfway. Its mon detector suddenly activates. Now Sparks grins. “Well!”

The door flings open and Option rushes out. Shira and Sparks run out after it. Standing before them is a node of random data. Shira gasps; Sparks blurts out, “What the—”

AEGIS appears on Shira’s shoulder. “It’s a Glitch, the rarest and most coveted of all the mons in the Technosphere!”

Shira says, “I heard about ’em, but I never thought one would seek me out.”

Sparks says, “I heard if you capture one, you can equip it with any power or any combination.”

“But if you do,” AEGIS warns, “you risk erasing everything. At best, you would have to start all over at Level 1. But if you’re connected directly via brain-computer interface, it could kill you.”

“I’ll risk it,” says Shira. “Option! Capture the Glitch!” Option zips over to the Glitch, engulfs it, absorbs it, and files it away in her MonDex.

As they walk back in, Sparks says, “You think you can use that thing?”

“Why not?” says Shira. “I’m the Chaos type. It’s compatible.”

They look at Marisa. She stares at her tormentor in horror. Shira and Sparks look at each other. “I think she knows.”

“Fun’s over, yuri otaku! For now, anyway. Option! Let’s out!” Option forms a hoverboard, Shira hops on and pulls Sparks on behind her, and they fly out the door.

Marisa shakes off her fear paralysis enough to scream, “Tasuketeeeee!

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[Revision 1, 12/9/11. The “Introduction to Quantum Bogodynamics” scene is a scenario from the early-’00s Project Notebooks.]