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Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 19: Hackers of Reality
Part 5: Live Zombies
Part 5: Live Zombies
19 october 2014.
technosphere. The Fearsome Foursome hold an emergency video conference. R.G. Litton is the man on the spot. Brinkman says, “That young lady is going too far, Mr Litton. Why aren’t you
Litton frowns. “You guys realize you’re on hostile territory, don’t you.”
Jack Becket snaps, “What the hell are you talking about, Litton?”
“You’re on the West Coast. Big cities full of liberal socialists with no religion who call the Church of America a cult. If we weren’t here to hold ’em back, they’d be going round naked and fucking in the streets. You’re in Ecotopia, not America.”
Everson snarls, “You forget, Mr Litton, that God owns the world, and America is God.”
“To them, this is a colony and you’re a foreign company. Ecotopia ain’t no more America than Japan, Germany, or Egypt.”
Fleer shouts, “Then we do what God tells us to do! We make it American! By force!”
“Let’s not talk about us,” says Brinkman. “Let’s talk about this Shira Thomas and how she is, as they say, owning you.”
“You want it, you got it.” Litton explains, “Y’see, Shira Thomas has home field advantage and all the big-city liberals are her twelfth man. She’s their outlaw folk hero, the Calamity Jane of the airwaves. They’ll protect her just like the Sicilians hid Lucky Luciano from the FBI. You can’t win ’em over with publicity or warnings. Scandal won’t work; she cultivates her bad reputation. Killing her’ll only make her a martyr, and we don’t want any more martyrs against the revolution.”
“What about force?”
“You tried that. Twice. Both times, she used her sock puppet the Monkeywrench against you. Now she’s out in the open saying nyah, nyah, nyah right in your faces, and the slobs’re eatin’ it up.”
“Then what the hell do we do?”
“First, you activate your sleepers. Second, you hire the Molotov twins.”
The shocked Foursome cry out in unison: “What?!
techGothic. Sparks drives Shira to Seattle’s Underground City. As they make their way in, she notices for the first time something disturbingly wrong about the naked go-go dancers in their shiny white high-heeled leather boots. She runs up to one, a dead-looking goth girl covered in black flame tattoos, in order to inspect her. “Skin’s gray, all right. So it’s not a trick of the light.”
He sniffs at the dancer, then looks at Shira. “Formaldehyde?”
“These go-go dancers are computer-animated corpses.”
His mouth drops open; he points at the dancer. “Jesus H. fuck — I recognize this one!”
“You actually knew this woman?”
“Serial killer fangirl Ollie whacked right in front of me couple o’ days after the Spanner Incident. See the knife marks?”
She notices multiple sutures on and between its breasts, one across the slashed throat, and one all the way across her forehead indicating that the top of its skull was removed. “Wow. I wonder if this was what she actually wanted to be.”
“Funny, I never noticed at first, but then these girls don’t move like they’re dead at all.”
Supple muscles contract and breasts bounce as if the body were still living. “Must have converted her while she was still freshly dead.” She climbs up onto the platform, into the spotlight, right in front of the dancer. She looks carefully at the blank dead face. She waves her hand in front of its eyes; it doesn”t notice her. She gazes intently into them for a minute. “Those lovely eyes are glass,” she says to him, “like blind people use.” She jumps back down with a huge grin on her face. “Our girl’s a silicon-brained dance machine. SRL, eat your hearts out. I wonder if she does sex.”
Sparks wobbles, nauseous. He says nothing.
The club’s owner, a middle-aged and Greek-accented Leather Primitive named Hassan, strides up to them. “Her name is Ebony Dementia, and yes, as soon as she saw our other dead dancers, she was overcome by the desire to become one herself. Isn’t she amazing?”
Shira turns her head and flashes him a mischievous cockeyed grin. “She’s absolutely decadent. How’d you make her?”
“One of our regulars invented the process of turning dead people into robots using a special chemical treatment best applied to a fresh corpse before it goes into rigor mortis. If you want, you can ask him to explain it in detail.”
“I bet that’s how your club got your name... Does your inventor have a name?”
“He prefers to be called the Toymaker.”
Shira’s mouth drops; she stares at Sparks. “That must be how he got his handle.” She smiles again at Hassan. “Where do you find your, uh, volunteers?”
“Some of our more lethal regulars are surrounded by female... admirers.”
“Worshippers, more like. Who die eagerly at the hands of their idols so they can be turned into dancing corpses.”
“There is no accounting for human perversity.” Hassan shrugs.
“Have anybody recognizable asked your guy to turn their bodies into dancing deadbots?”
Hassan laughs. “If they were, they would be highly coveted indeed.”
Shira taps her phone to show him Colette’s school photograph. “Is this part of her collection?”
“Why, we just collected her last month. Does she have a name?”
“Colette. She’s a friend of mine. I wanna acquire her. How much do you want?”
“Are you buying her for the sentimental value?”
“No, I’m buying it for her.” She winks.
Sparks says, “I thought you were trying to stop this kind of shit, Shira.”
Hearing her name, Hassan puts his hands on her cheeks and looks at her closely. “Shira? Say, you’re the Loca Fantoma from MyTube!”
Shira grins. “He wins the Cheezy Prize™.”
“You’re playing a deadly game, Miss Shira Thomas.”
“I always play to win. Their strong points are money, guns, and religion. Where are they weak? Scandal, corruption, and especially sex.”
“Shira my darling, you are but one person. There’s no way you can bring these people down by yourself.”
“I don’t need to. The System’s falling down by itself. Me, I’m just getting people out of the way so they don’t get crushed by the debris.”
Announcer:20 october 2014.
Recent events prove the perversity of humanity. Police agents succumbing to the temptation of corruption, subversive forces trying to tear down the barriers that protect you from crime. COPCO has your public security solution.
Introducing the new generation of automatic agents, now equipped with the latest hardware and software antivirus and antihacker solutions. Trust COPCO to put the bite on crime.
Shira’s apartment. As soon as they wake up, Shira and Leila make love with fierce desperation. After they’re done in bed, they get into the shower and make love some more while they wash each other’s bodies. They eat breakfast with Hope and Ayla, then brush and floss their teeth together at the bathroom sink. Shira throws herself onto the living room couch; Leila lies on her back on top of her, and Shira puts her hands on her beautiful soft breasts.
“Do we have to go to school today?” asks Leila.
“Why not? Technically, we rule it now.”
“Two Student Councils and one angry fight club say we don’t, at least not yet.”
“I said, technically, love. They’re still in denial, so we’ll still have to fight.”
“I just wanna rest for a while.”
“You can always sleep in class.”
“The teachers’ll only yell at me.”
“Tell ’em, ‘Don’t bother me.’ Or just take a nap in one of the study rooms. Me, I’m sticking around. There’s some crazy shit goin’ down today, and I gotta be in on it.”
ferry terminal. The members of Team Bremelo limit themselves to friendly hugs and pecks on the cheek while Jack Becket’s copbots watch on. A Caliphate suicider causes a commotion. Leila looks questioningly at Shira. Shira winks. Leila smiles.
Suddenly Shira appears in the terrorist’s face and stares hypnotically into his eyes. His expression of absolute hatred fades behind the beard. She says, “You are totally unable to kill. Say it.”
“I am totally unable to kill,” he says wanly in a New Israelite accent. Great, she thinks. Another prison-gang convert.
bus. Charmian smiles weakly at Shira. She winks back. Leila flashes her lover a jealous look. Shira’s smile tells her, She’s no threat anymore. Trust me.
AEGIS appears only to Shira. She asks, How’s the trojan penetrating?
You only need to infect a few units, it replies.
There’s only one unit in a botnet. Capture the assimilant, and its zombies are yours.
school. Polly marvels at the cruel-looking androids scattered throughout the school. “How come all those copbots are here” Did we do anything wrong?”
Shira chuckles. “We were born not rich, that’s what. Everybody knows Jesus America only loves the rich.”
“Who said that?”
“Drusilla Becket herself.”
“God must especially love princesses,” says Polly sarcastically.
“Hey, they inherited the family jewels.”
noon. It begins within the sacred precincts of the Holy City arcology itself. In the towers filled with bureaucrats, in the halls of the police and spy agency headquarters, in the very courts of President Goldman Sachs & Co., Vice President Sarah AMERICA!, and the late King Patriot, millions of identical security androids rip their heads off their bodies and hold them high.
“It’s him!” scream several agents.
“Trace him!” commands Secretary Radisson.
The wave of robot suicides sweeps down into Texas and across the nation in a radar arc. Millions upon millions of copbots decapitate themselves in Dallas and Houston; Atlanta and Miami; Charleston and Charlotte; the long megalopolitan corridor from Norfolk, Virginia to Portland, Maine; through the ruined cities of the Rust Belt and the urban oases of the Midwest and into the mountains; into Cascadia and down the West Coast into California; and finally coming back through the Minuteman-ruled desert ruins of the Southwest.
Radisson stands before the king’s giant televised image. “See” I warned about this possibility, Your Majesty.”
“This Spanner is resourceful,” says the ghost. “He is an extremely dangerous man. You must find him and destroy him before he can work his way to Us, and to Our people.”
lunch. Several dozen robots stand motionless, holding their heads high above their bodies, useless. Some of them have already fallen to the floor. Students and teachers stare at them in horror or laugh at their impotence. The Fleer sisters, forgetting their enmity, hold each other protectively. Shira, Jennifer, and Steve look at the dead machines far more skeptically.
“So what’s the verdict?” asks Steve.
“Not a Single Point of Vulnarability this time,” Jennifer replies, “unless you consider their OS to be one. Knowing how much bureaucrats love their ‘one size fits all’ solutions, that probably comes with the territory.”
“Easy for you to say!” cries Charmian.
Dorian hugs her sister from the side. “Aw, calm down, Charms.” She kisses her on the cheek. Charmian sighs.
Jennifer does not bother to look at them. “Well, you’re nontechnical, so I guess you wouldn’t understand.”
“I doubt the weapons techs at Dictel Research understand any better,” says Steve.
“That’s what we’re counting on. Who knows what their robot agents could end up doing?”
“Or what might happen if an enemy botnet jacks ’em.”
Pan slowly along a row of COPCO security robots, all dead, all holding their heads high above them, the heads they tore off their own bodies.library. After school, Team Bremelo hold a strategy meeting at the central table. All three librarians join them: Sally Hatfield, Kitty Carlisle, and Christine Jordan.
Trust COPCO to put the bite on freedom in the name of freedom. Their freedom is the freedom to commit any crime with no consequences. Your freedom is the freedom from crime. That means: freedom from the criminals who rule you. The purpose of crime is to destroy freedom. Its target: you.
Freedom, or crime? Make your choice. You don’t have much time.
“Now that nobody’s listening,” says Shira, “let’s plan for the inevitable big fight.”
“Which ones?” asks Polly.
“First the election, then Valiant Team’s attempt to prevent it.”
“We can’t just take over and rule the school like the old Student Council did and Valiant Team are trying to,” Jennifer adds. “We have to find some way to prove we’re better than them.”
“Yeah!” echoes Cory.
Karen stands up. “I know exactly what we need to do.”
“What’s that?” asks Shira skeptically.
“For those who don’t know, the Student Union voted to hold a rally against bullying on Halloween. Whoever shows up to try to break it up, whether it’s COPCO or Valiant Team, we’ll show the world we’re ready to stand together.”
“Yeah, and attract all the gangsters in Cascadia,” says Cory.
“And their bought and paid-for cops, too,” adds Kio.
Shira stands up and leans on the table to look strategic. “We’re keeping our strategy nonviolent.”
“Like how?” say Cory and Kio.
“Cory, you’re right that just holding a rally against bullying will just attract bullies like flies; they’ll take it as a Challenge, and then we’re back to fighting. If we wanna hold a rally, we gotta distract our enemies so their attention’s on each other and not us.”
Karen crosses her arms. “Shira and Cory, I love you to pieces, but I don’t believe we’ll be attracting all the gangs in the area.”
“Then you don’t know gangs, cousin. Word on the street says they’re taking this as a personal attack on their manhood. Since we girls are in charge, it feels like castration to their wounded egos. The Party doesn’t want to waste precious cops and radicals if they can manipulate the gangs into doing their dirty work for them. So we need to get the gangs to insult each other’s manhood so they pour their wrath on each other instead of us. That means disinformation and misdirection.”
Polly asks, “But what if somebody tries to stop us before then?”
“They’ll regret it. And they won’t know what hit ’em.” Shira winks.
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Copyright © 2011 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
[Revision 2, 9/29/11: First two scenes, COPCO commercial, and Spanner piratecast are new material; techGothic scene then revised to add a second continuity nod. Shira/Leila love scene/dialogue originally from Chapter 18. Everything else heavily modified from Chapter 19 first draft.]