Friday, June 3, 2011

Spanner 1.4: Enter the Monkeywrench

The original Chapter 1 written during JulNoWriMo 2010, on July 16, and first posted on November 1, 2010, for NaNoWriMo, now revised to fit the second edition’s new and stronger continuity. Third Revision Update: Nothing further needed to be changed — except for one thing. Instead, the rest of the chapter was largely rewritten to fit its continuity much more strongly with this section.

...from previous

Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 1: Spanner in the Works
Part 4: Enter the Monkeywrench (Revision 3)

19 august 2014.
From the roof of the abandoned warehouse on the Jersey Shore that serves as his hideout, standing tall in the unceasing heavy rain, the mystery man known as Spanner gazes through the darkening night at the dead lightless towers of the Manhattan skyline. Behind the black trench coat and motorcycle helmet, no one can see his true face. Echelon’s compound eyes stare down from the sky above and stare unblinking in all directions from mounted spycams and swarms of hovering camdrones, but they do not notice him as long as his stolen Dictel Research prototype cloak stays working. Mother Nature herself helps him by blurring the Eye’s vision with hard rain.

He watches the predatory flocks of 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. Its Corporate owner, Donald Trump, Incorporated, had bought New York City after the coup and renamed it after himself. Tonight Prince Richard Astor Becket of Dictel, Incorporated, is his guest of honor. The United Corporations chairman evacuated the entire TrumpCity® Administrative Zone merely to initiate one god into the inner circle of the Cartel, a Corporation based on the opposite coast from here. The disastrous evacuation has already begun to backfire: enraged at Chairman Becket’s boundless hubris, his disenfranchised subjects have already started to revolt in every city throughout the American Empire, straining the imperial government’s police and military contractors 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.

What is Spanner: man or monster? man or woman? terrorist or hero? a real person, or just a figment of the collective imagination? Whatever, or whoever, he is, no one will be able to forget him after tonight.

Before he came, he heard that during the evacuation of Manhattan a veteran archaeologist disappeared outside the mainstream media’s constricted field of vision. He carried some ancient scrolls he’d stolen during the chaos of the Egyptian revolution back in 2011, and attempted to sell them to a downtown antiquities dealer. He never expected the dealer to double-cross him. He is presumed dead.

The antiquities dealer had no intention of paying for the scrolls. He intended to make a fortune, and no one else was getting a cut. The man he intended to sell the scrolls to was Richard Becket, a collector of ancient Gnostic scriptures known to pay eight figures in euros. He didn’t know till it was almost too late that the Chairman had no intention of paying, either. He took the armoured valise containing the scrolls with him down into the sewer tunnels. By now the Mole People have taken care of him. Spanner’s virtual agent has put a trace on it; he will retrieve it on his way out of New York.

Alex Plus’ head appears without a window on the helmet’s HUD. Her pale and pretty face is ringed by a laminate-spiked platinum halo. “They’re almost ready now. They’ve just established the comlink to San Fran.”

Shira appears next to her, grinning. “Looks like he really is crashin’ the big shindig tonight.”

Next to her, Jennifer winks. “Notice anything about the activity pattern?”

“Anybody with eyes can see Dick Becket’s signature all over the place,” replies Spanner. ”He’s almost too easy to read.”

“Memorized the schedule yet?”

“Chapter and verse. AEGIS?”

The steampunk owl head pops in next to Shira. “Yes?”

“Can you shift Echelon’s attention away from us?”

Shira says, “Hey, let’s pretend there’s terrorists trashin’ Trump property away from the island and nothing’s going on here. Can you do it?”

“I believe I have enough processor power to pull it off,” AEGIS answers.

“Gotcha,” says Spanner. “I’d rather rickroll the bastards, but this is war.”

“Rock ’em for me, monkeywrench,” says Jennifer, “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 and tosses it spinning high, making sure to catch it on camera so that Alex catches his meaning. He brings the business end of the wrench close to the helmet’s stereoscopic twin cameras: in its mouth, locked tightly in place, is a black device with a blinking LED.

Alex asks, “Plastic explosive?” asks Alex.

“No. Plasma disruptor to break the monitor from inside and turn the bulletproof screen into hot plastic rain.”

Shira laughs. “I don’t think the ghost man’s ego can stand up to that.” She winks.

Together the women say, “Good luck!” All the faces disappear, leaving the view of Manhattan clear.

Spanner grips his wrench like a sword and rests it over his shoulder. His target hides behind the darkness the Archons created among the empty skyscrapers of Midtown. Behind the mirrored faceplate, he smiles. He steps onto his hoverboard and switches on the ignition. A thunderbolt strikes the Empire State Building’s lightning rod to light the way.

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

Shira cocked her head. “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 Strykettes 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 spaceship-shaped Arcology 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?”

“To show us city people who’s boss,” said Jennifer sourly.

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

Jennifer shrugged. “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 man in gray flannel suit and black hood, a Corporate aristocrat masked with the golden double-barred dollar-sign insignia of Corporatism. Fully armoured COPCO agents posted throughout the arena look over them warily. The catwalks above are manned by Delta Force snipers, prepared for the expected terrorist invasion. Outside, Spanner cocks his flaregun.

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

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

“Then nothing, but nothing,” lamented Jennifer, “will be able to stop the Moravec Plan.”

Shira stared Jennifer in the eye. “Not unless we stop it.”

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

Alex’s laptop sat in the center of her circular kitchen table. She, Shira, Jennifer, J.T., and the Skeleton Krewe hacker called Deth Pussy sat around it wearing Bluetooth-linked augmented-reality goggles. They all wanted to see the Technosphere from within in case the Cartel defeated Spanner and succeeded in destroying it. Right now a beautiful kaleidoscope of lines and nodes of data surrounded them in the virtual space. Small companies, crowds of independent and team users, and a few huge international corporations holding out from the Cartel and shielding the Technosphere. If Spanner 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 their monitors. Time was running out. They broke the link. They would have to plan the operation as fast as possible. The plan needed to be virtually foolproof. But whatever they lacked in rational foresight, Spanner would make up in chaotic action.

Shira said, “We need to do one last thing before we take off.” She went to the guest room at opposite side of the basement, where Krewe cofounder Lya Cassir once slept, and the others followed. She picked up the framed photograph of the beautiful dark face ringed by snow-white hair, flanked by five-year-old Shira and her twin sister Kira, their red hair framing their faces like halos of fire. They stared at it as if this were the last time they would ever meet them. “This one’s for you, teach,” said Shira. “And for you too, Kira.” She kissed the picture.

This was not really about some insanely ambitious Corporate aristocrat at all. Their intention was to send a message to President Goldman Sachs and the Becket brothers. Shira put the photograph back down on the end table. Together, they left the room to go upstairs. Spanner would soon send their message in person.

Spotlights light up the platform. The anthem of the United Corporations begins playing. Spanner switches his cloaking device to full power.

The Skeleton Krewe, a legendary team in the hacker underground, secretly met at 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. This time they were joined by the masked vigilante known only as Spanner, wearing his air-pirate helmet emblazoned with his crossed-wrenches emblem.

First, the libation in honor of their fallen leader. All the hackers and monkeywrenchers held their bottles of Mexican cerveza high. Amplified by the helmet’s speaker, 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!”

Prince Richard Astor Becket of Dictel, Incorporated, all-powerful President of the World Bank and Chairman of the Board of the United Corporations, 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 as he gestures the sacred Sign of the Dollar.

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

Chairman Becket solemnly intones into the microphone, “Brothers! we are gathered here today to celebrate the final changing of the game!” The men in the gray flannel suits rise up and applaud thunderously. At his signal, they cease and sit at once. “Today, on the second anniversary of Capitalism’s triumph over the mooching masses, we possess at last the opportunity to eliminate the final contradiction standing between us and the establishment of a new order!” The Corporates stand up again and add their roars of approval to their thunder.

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!”

“...that nothing shall ever again contradict the eternal truth of Free Enterprise.” Chairman Becket exults: “Soon the Technosphere will be ours!” Once again the Corporates rise in unison, cheer to the limits of their lungs, and thunder their applause loud enough to raise the roof.
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 sonic booms from Yoyodyne’s newest Sonic Disruptors. 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 himself 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 tyranny of corporate socialism established under the rule of the Conservative Revolutionary Party, and Goldman Sachs & Co. enthroned as President-for-Life. If Spanner succeeds in his mission, President Goldman Sachs will not get to make its epiphany on the big screen and seal the new initiate into the Synarchy of the Archons.
Chairman Becket looks up at the screen. The spotlights shut off, restoring darkness to the Garden. The screen turns on, the Beatles song “Revolution” begins to play. The assembled Corporates stand up in unison and let out a deafening cheer as their newest initiate appears on the screen. The face, that of the young idealist; the expression on it, the contempt and ruthlessness of the Corporate despot. Steven P. Jobs, Incorporated, looks down on them, the epiphany of a god: his discarnate ego become god, Apple its body; through it he lives. The evidence on the screen tempts Spanner to believe. And the first words the ghost speaks:
Contradiction is truth. The evolution of the free market advances through contradiction and creative destruction...
Back in Seattle, Alex Plus leans forward on her couch and stares at the face on her big widescreen monitor. “There’s something wrong with his reality distortion field. I think it’s consumed him.”

Her partner, Nick Cyphers, replies, “You mean he’s starting to believe his own lies, right?”

“No. Even worse. It’s scrambled his brain completely.”

Behind them, a deep voice booms: “It’s what happens when you walk on the dark side.” Alex and Cyphers turn around to see the long-bearded old master hacker Paul Wellspring enter the living room, cerveza in hand. “When you allow yourself to be seduced by power, your power will devour you and eventually destroy you. This explains Steve Jobs.”

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. Delta Force snipers fire wildly at the whirlwind as they fall to the floor. Their team commander, the Navy SEAL, LCDR William Becket, watches in horror. “Spanner?

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

The last word Agent 6 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 to threaten another. 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. Its plasma disruptor hits the giant screen at the exact spot of the apparition’s third eye. The armourplastic-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 rage and burning humiliation. “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 TrumpCity Administrative Zone 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.

on to the next...

Back to Chapter 1 index...
Back to Chaos Angel Spanner table of contents...

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

[Revision 2.1, 6/14/11: Text and continuity corrections. Major corrections in the “seeing the Technosphere” flashback to bring it into the revised continuity.]
[Revision 2.2, 6/23/11: One continuity revision involving Jennifer’s backstory.]
[Revision 3.0, 9/8/11: Same as previous version except for a few text corrections.]
[Revision 3.1, 9/28/11: Corrected one continuity error.]
[Revision 3.2, 10/5/11: Changed the appearance (or apparition) of Steve Jobs after his death today, added soundtrack, plus symbolism of the dashed hopes of the Sixties generation.]
[Revision 3 Final, 10/7/11: Gave the ghost of Steve Jobs a line, contradicting that of the face of Big Brother in the 1984 Macintosh commercial. Changed Richard Becket’s line to match Big Brother’s in the commercial (which FYI is: “Today, we celebrate the first glorious anniversary of the Information Purification Directives. We have created, for the first time in all history, a garden of pure ideology — where each worker may bloom, secure from the pests purveying contradictory truths.”). Final version.]

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