Sunday, July 8, 2012

Spanner 1.6: Stalking the Rotten Apple

...from previous

Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 1: Spanner in the Works
Part 6: Stalking the Rotten Apple (Revision 4)

twilight. From the roof of the abandoned warehouse on the Jersey Shore that serves as his hideout, beneath the giant icon of President Goldman Sachs, standing tall in the unceasing heavy rain, the mystery man in the black trench coat and motorcycle helmet gazes through the darkening night at the dead lightless towers of the Manhattan skyline. Behind the opaque faceplate, 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 infinite hubris, the people his Revolution overthrew 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.

He reaches under his coat to hold out the black crystal hanging from a What Would Scooby Do? neckstrap, the hidden key to his plan. Underneath the helmet’s mirrored faceplate, he smiles.

What is this shadow: 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.

Staying behind at the Penguindrome: Willa (handle: Rebel Mudlark), Hope, Angela Coyne, Nick (Space Penguin), Wellspring (op codename: Master Roshi), and the hackers already arriving. Going as support crew: Alex (Alex Plus), Jennifer (Blonde Phantom), and her brother Connor (Daimajinkaiser). Karen (Genki Girl), Steve (Deth Pussy), and Shira (Loca Fantoma) were going to race their hoverboards through dead New York. “Like,” Deth Pussy said to Loca Fantoma, “You were talking reinforcements?”

“We’ll be meeting ’em on the way over.”

“I don’t know about the cosplay names, cuz,” Daimajinkaiser said. Connor looked like a taller male version of his sister. He looked at Genki Girl. “I mean, ‘Lynne Tohsaka’?”

Loca Fantoma glomped her from behind, startling her. “It’s totally her. You shoulda seen her before she went Buddhist. She was almost as tsundere as Leila!”

“Shira!” protested Genki Girl.

“Connor’s right,” said Blonde Phantom. “Why couldn’t we have just stuck to the Random White People Name Generator?”

“The throwaway names are for the TSA,” Space Penguin replied. “By the way, darling Jen-chan, you’re ‘Alicia Testarossa.’“

Deth Pussy laughed. “Awesomesauce! Thing is, what if the TSA sniffs us out and reports us to the secret police?”

Blonde Phantom grinned. “Haven’t you heard? Clones, simulants, resculpts, and body transplants have screwed up the entire national ID system. We can go in as secret police.”

Loca Fantoma smiled enigmatically. “And if the real secret police don’t like it, we’ll just feed ’em some terrorists.”

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 the last surviving Coptic manuscript of an ancient Gnostic apocalypse that he’d stolen during the chaos of the failed Egyptian revolution of 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 millions of dollars. He didn’t know till it was almost too late that the Chairman had no intention of paying for the Gospel of the New Genesis. He took the armoured valise containing the codex with him down into the sewer tunnels. An old homeless man sporting an ankh pendant was too late to save him from being killed by Klownz. The shadow’s virtual agent has put a trace on it; he will retrieve it on his way out of New York.

“Tag MSG in Neron’s face?” asked El Kabong breathlessly.

“That would be legendary ownage!” his boyfriend Evil The Cat enthused.

“And I thought tagbombing every subway car in New York was legendary enough,” Deth Pussy mused.

Blonde Phantom countered, “Not compared to the satisfaction of saying ‘screw you’ to our superhuman overlords, right in their faces.”

Deth Pussy looked her face over skeptically. “Aren’t you a bit superhuman yourself, Jenni?”

Loca Fantoma leaned on his shoulder. “Maybe, maybe not. But unlike them, we got Chaos on our side.”

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.”

Jennifer appears next to her. “Looks like we really are crashing the big shindig tonight.”

Natsumi pops in to the other side. “I just talked to Fuyu-chan. She says Mother and Sei-chan are safe and on their way out. Did you notice anything about the activity pattern?”

“Anybody with eyes can see Doc Becket’s signature all over the place,” the shadow replies. “He’s way too easy to read.”

“Memorized the schedule yet?”

“Chapter and verse. AEGIS?”

The steampunk owl head pops in beneath the row of human heads. “Yes?”

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

“The people may be gone from the city,” AEGIS answers, “but there are enough computers still on that we should be able to use them to manufacture a distraction.”

“Can you randomize it?”

“That would be much the best approach.”

“Personally, I’d rather rickroll the bastards, but this is war.”

“Rock ’em for me, monkeywrench!” says Harumi, appearing below her sister.

“Watch me rock ’em hard.”

Connor appears beneath Alex. “Just to make sure, we’ve equipped all of you with portable cloaks and RDFs.”

“But we gotta keep ’em occupied,” the shadow replies, “if we wanna break outta this prison.” 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 left-handed on camera so that the others catch 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.

“What’s the little black box?” asks Alex. “Plastic explosive?”

“Nope! Plasma disruptor.”

Harumi laughs. “I no think ghost man’s gonna stand up to that.” She winks.

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

The shadow crosses his arms and faces the city in a superhero’s stance. His target hides behind the darkness the Archons created among the empty skyscrapers of Midtown. By now, Secretary Becket has vanquished all the terrorists. The champions of a replacement order have had their chance. Now it’s time for Chaos to show its hand.

He steps onto his hoverboard and switches on the ignition. He puts his hand over his heart to feel the energy from the black crystal. A thunderbolt strikes the Empire State Building’s lightning rod to light the way.

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

“Shouldn’t they have, like, picked a secret location?” his girlfriend Satanette added.

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

“It’s the latest iteration of the old Moses-Corbusier plan,” Blonde Phantom explained, “revived by The Donald himself: wipe out the big-city chaos of Manhattan and replace it with a perfectly controlled Edge City called—surprise!—Trump Arcology.”

Evil The Cat gasped. “Oh, no! Now we gotta save the city too?”

El Kabong growled, “I guess we know who really needs pwning.”

“Backburner that, dudes,” said Loca Fantoma. “We hit our target, the rest comes automagically.”

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Copyright © 2010, 2012 Dennis Jernberg.
Some rights reserved.
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[Revision 4 Final, 7/8/12: Expanded and revised to fit Fourth Revision continuity. Flashbacks have been massively revised.]

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