Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 19: Hackers of Reality
Part 4: The Memetic Terrorists
Part 4: The Memetic Terrorists
19 october 2014.
restaurant. He said pick one at random. She said Italian. Now J.T. Sparks and Amanda Currie share an after-midnight Italian dinner together just one block from the Seabeck ferry. They’ll have a romantic road trip back home in the dark, and it gets them away from Bremerton.
A man plays romantic violin. Their wine is deep red. They touch their glasses together. Amanda says, “I was wondering if you still have any reasons to hate me.”
“Same reasons why I’d hate myself.”
“Do you still hate yourself?”
He shrugs. “I figured, why bother.”
She smiles. Her smile fades away. “Do you still have any feelings for her?”
He touches his face involuntarily. “Nothing positive. I hope.”
“If you do, can I kill her?”
“You wouldn’t be able to live with yourself if you did. Me, I don’t even wanna see her again. Let’s sic Desiree on her. On second thought, maybe I ought to stick around just to watch her torture the psycho bitch to death.”
She laughs, but stops herself. “I’m sorry.” She studies his face carefully. “She the reason you picked a different face?”
“There’s Dad, and there’s the bad guys, but other than that, yeah. I hope she’s disappointed.”
This time she lets herself laugh. “Have you been watching the duel on TV?”
“Shira had better be careful. You do not want to slip up against the Rat Bastard.”
“If you tell her that, you know what she’ll say.”
“‘Don’t worry about me, I’ll find his weak point.’”
“I want you to know I’m working on a story right now.”
“What if she finds out we’re together again?”
“I’d like to see her face. And if she’s connected, I’ll follow her all the way to Holy City.”
Shira’s apartment. Leila Shelley in a little black dress matching her elegantly bobbed hair. Fashionable black woollen cap tilted atop her hair. Black leather pumps, legs wrapped in sheer black hose. A thing of beauty.
Shira embraces her from behind. She gently pulls the strap off Leila’s left shoulder, down all the way to expose the beautiful firm breast, finger touching its soft pink cone. The nipple hardens beneath her fingertip. She plays with the right strap. “Please don’t do this,” Leila softly protests.
She gently kisses Leila’s pale shoulder. “You’re too beautiful for clothes. The mask only hides your beauty.”
“Not outside. They’ll crucify us if they see us like this.”
“Let them try and die.” Shira covers the white breast, puts the straps back in place, spins Leila around and catches her in her arms, pulls her close to kiss her — then stops halfway to gaze into her violet eyes.
“What are you doing?”
“Gazing into your eyes. I can never get enough of the sight of those beautiful deep orbs framed by soft silken cilia black as darkest night, those shimmering starlike spheres like vivaciously vivid velvet violets, purple as the ponderously pretentious prose I’m romantically spewing just for you, my sweet black rose.” Leila collapses onto her shoulder, laughing helplessly. Shira holds her tighter. Once Leila catches her breath, Shira gives her a long deep kiss.
This is the Emergency Alert System. [school picture of Shira appears on screen] Be on the lookout for Shira Thomas. She is suspected of subversive activities and possible child pornography. The Cascadia Public Management Corporation is putting out a reward— [the picture distorts]Shira’s apartment. Sunday morning. Two weeks ago, King Patriot’s attempt to seize dominion over the city of Seattle from its infidel majority led to his destruction in his own trap. One week ago, his grief-maddened followers attempted to destroy the city in revenge. The new day dawns to peace and no violence. The synarchs of Cascadia have retreated to their lairs to avoid the city and each other.
Chesty Morgan is smothering John Holmes to death with her gigantic bare breasts. Shira slips in front of the scene.
A price on my head? Moi? [laughs contemptuously] That’s right, Wally Brinkman’s putting yet another contract out on me. Rumor tells me this time I subverted a marriage he arranged. I stole the girl.
Attention hitmen: last time he put out a contract, the Slasher he hired met his happy end between the sweet cheeks of my beautiful brown ass. [turns around, slaps her short-skirted buttocks with both hands] Word to the wise guy.
Shira slips out of the picture. Chesty Morgan lets go of John Holmes. He falls backward, out of the picture, dead. Cut to the naked corpse. Freeze frame.
Hope lies back in her recliner. Ayla rests naked atop her body. The girl no longer feels shame at being nude in the house, not even in front of its normally naked inhabitants. Shira has taught her well.
The phone’s “emergency hotline” ringtone sounds: an extremely important video call. Hope sits up so that Ayla sits on her lap. “Please go to my room and read a book. This is an extremely dangerous man, and I need to talk to him alone.”
Ayla falls limp into her arms. “Aww...” Hope kisses her sweetly on the temple. She slinks off to the master bedroom. Hope puts on a robe, goes to the phone, and switches on the monitor. The face on the screen belongs to Richard Becket.
“Good evening, Miss Reston,” says the Chairman. “We have heard that your little election thing is going on, and we insist you people cease.”
“What? You’re firing the shareholders you said you fired already?”
“It is a well-known fact that one enlightened professional can manage far better than an infinite number of amateurs.”
“That’s just an assumption. The fact is that one man, no matter how enlightened, is even more capable of running the company into the ground. Your nephew’s running this state into the ground. Its shareholders are revolting for a reason.”
“Our most advanced management theories make shareholders unnecessary anymore. Management is sufficient.”
“Get out of your castle in the clouds, Chairman. Theory and practice are two completely different things. If the theory doesn’t work, no amount of forcing it will make it work.
“Miss Reston, I’m afraid your pie-in-the-sky socialist illusions are over.”
“My illusions? What about yours? Your System is already bankrupt, and you’ll keep denying it till the repo man comes for you. Goodbye, Mr Chairman.”
“Your funeral,” the Chairman snarls, “not mine.” He disappears from the screen to end the call.
“We’ll see about that,” says Hope anyway, in the exact words he expects.
Yoyodyne Arcology. Jack Becket goes directly to the Yoyodyne Defense Robotics Division’s main factory just outside Colorado Springs to make his order. Yoyodyne chairman George Cantrell personally gives him the grand tour. “We’ve improved our manufacturing processes to make it faster and easier to manufacture more of the robots you need, Mr Becket.”
“I think it’s more important to pay better attention to your software, Mr. Chairman. The problem isn’t the hardware. We need better security right in the operating system to foil the hackers who have been hijacking our systems.”
“I’m afraid you’ll have to speak with Apple or Microsoft about that. We just buy their operating systems and run our control programs over that. Better yet, I’d suggest you go to Symantec and Network Associates. They specialize in software security systems.”
“We need better than that. We need hardware security. At Agency headquarters, our central system uses dedicated hardware firewalls that keep all but the most insanely dedicated criminal hackers out.”
“Well then, I’m afraid you’re dealing with the most insanely dedicated criminal hackers. Our on-board security is among the best in the business, good enough to win several industry awards.”
“Remember the name of Spanner, then. You’ll be hearing a lot more of it.”
admiral’s house. Vivian and Christian stare down their less ruthless sisters Dorian, Charmian, and Julian. Lillian hides from the increasingly violent conflicts in the basement. In the living room, Eden Becket Fleer screams at her husband the Admiral over his raging adulterous affair with Honey Sue Falconer.
Dorian and Charmian swallow all the love and admiration they once had for their eldest sister. “I hope you’re not defending Father’s affair with the Major,” says Charmian coldly.
“Forget about the Major,” Dorian says. “That’s a foolish passion they’ll both recover from once they regain their reason. But you, Vivian, were always Father’s favorite. If that video is true—”
Vivian snaps back, “That’s a lie, Dorian, and you know it. Don’t believe a terrorist.”
“Spanner has no idea what your body looks like, but I do. That was your body.”
Christian tries to punch Dorian, but Dorian parries. Christian screams in her face, “That’s impossible! Vivian wouldn’t do such a thing to Father!”
Charmian puts her arm around Christian. “Christie darling, everybody already knows about Father’s adultery with the Major, and that’s bad enough. But he can still atone for that. But his own daughter?”
“If the terrorist’s tape is real,” Dorian adds, ”then Father is out of both the Party and the Navy, and we’re finished. We might as well be... what’s the word?”
“Muggles,” Julian replies.
“So, dearest eldest sister mine, let us hope the terrorist forged that video, for your sake and ours.”
Vivian sneers, “You three are out of line. Forget everything and just do what Father and I tell you to do.”
“Very well.” Dorian turns away, walks to the door, turns back to face Vivian. “I don’t want to say I told you so.” She leaves, and Charmian and Julian follow her, into the living room where their parents are threatening to kill each other.
A line of identical female sexbots with oversized breasts, naked except for high-heeled go-go boots, dance together in mechanical lockstep. Shira steps in front of them. Zoom slowly onto her face.Washington Avenue. Shira notices the streets are suspiciously empty even for a Sunday night. No one is there. She looks down Second, even Burwell (there is no Third Street): not a single person, though the Harborside Commons is still supposed to be open. No one walking the length of Fourth Street to get to or from the movie theatre two long blocks away on Park.
Did I hear all those politically correct people say there’s supposed to be a free market? My small-business friends beg to differ. They all say they’re the victims of crony capitalism. To which I say: crony? More like phony capitalism. The real reason for the Conservative Revolution is that the banksters and corporatists want government to pick the winners. [waves] Bye-bye, market freedom!
It’s not just the fact that nuclear power’s all the rage in America even though it’s too overpriced for the free market. It’s not just privatizing the police and giving some politically connected company called COPCO a no-bid monopoly at extra cost to non-rich taxpayers. It’s not just COPCO giving Biotron a no-bid contract for security robots at a similarly inflated price. It’s not just the head of CPMC selling his granddaughter to the head of Biotron so I’s have to defile her in order to save her. It’s this:
Cut to grainy digital video of COPCO Seattle chief John Cameron Becket, completely naked and having sex with a series of bizarrely shaped custom sexbots. Shira speaks in voice-over.
That’s right, Mr and Mrs America. This is the kind of thing your taxes are paying for. Think about that.
She skips and dances down the street, taking a good look at the city parking garage under demolition, relying on memory and intuition to find her way, and spinning back around at her building’s front door only to find R.A. Leggett sticking his Beretta 9mm in her face.
She smiles ironically. “Looking to collect?”
The MIAA punisher’s mirrored Ray-Bans fail to hide his permanent scowl. “I only deliver the penalty.”
She punches his wrist so his shot passes her ear. “Informing me of the Death of the Author?” She elbow smashes upward into his jaw; he staggers backward into the glass door. “Sorry, perfessor, I don’t grok that aporia.”
Leggett picks himself up, rushes back through the door — and finds nothing. Her backfist finds the side of his head from behind. He falls sideways, spins on hand and heels, fires three shots widely. Beauty bark from the nearest planter she throws in his face. Bark fragments infiltrate his mirrorshades. She kicks his knee. It stings. He shakes his shades, fingers his eyes clear, opens them to find three of her dancing in front of him, mocking him.
“I see,” says one. He fires at one phantom. Another says, “Neoliberal market socialism” [fires at second phantom] Another: “deconstructs the nexus” [shoots again; out of nowhere she hits him] “of mass and culture” [shoots again; his feet sweep from under him, and he lands hard; his gun shoots by itself] “reinforcing the structure of power” [shoots at a nothing; another nothing headbutts his skull from behind] “and distorting the narrative” [shoots up but she’s down; she roundhouses his jaw into a wall] “of cultural discourse.”
She lets him regain his footing. He holds the pistol out at her again. He puts the hot barrel to her forehead. She smiles ironically.
He pulls the trigger.
He tries to pistol-whip her. She catches his arm and wrenches it backwards. He feels his elbow bend the wrong way. He bites his tongue to keep himself silent.
“That’s the kind of bullshit excuse they make down in Pretty City, anyway, in academic word-saladese.”
Leggett grimaces, “You won’t get away with this, Thomas.”
“By the way, my fist wants to talk.” She lands a right uppercut on his jaw. He staggers backwards, keeping his feet only by a miracle. “My foot adds its comment.” Slipping behind him, she back-kicks his tailbone, sending him stumbling forward several feet. “End of discussion!”
He rolls on the sidewalk, comes up facing Shira’s direction, points his empty gun. She is gone.
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Copyright © 2011 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
[Revision 2, 9/28/11: Hope Reston/Dick Becket and Yoyodyne scenes modified from first draft; everything else all new material.]