Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 16: Don’t Change the Channel
Part 4: Live on Pirate Television KCUF (Final Revision)
Part 4: Live on Pirate Television KCUF (Final Revision)
[The pirate’s-head logo of KCUF appears on your screen to interrupt your television viewing.]kcuf studios. Amanda walks in ahead of the Bremeloes and looks around the converted ministorage unit, observing the frantic activity around stock and makeshift broadcast equipment. “This is a studio?”
Simon Remington: This is Pirate Television KCUF, on the air live, broadcasting worldwide.Spanner: Greetings, Mr. and Mrs. America, and the world. They call me Spanner. This is the news.Amanda Currie: This is | ABCNN | QVCBS | ESPNBC, for all your | official lies | and | lame|stream news|ertainment needs.ESPNBC Announcer: And now, here’s | The Amanda Report|’s greatest hits!Henry Becket: America still needs a Conservative Revolution, the only moral alternative to Communism and jihadism. There is no other alternative.BlipVert: Standard Oil fuel up with Esso there’s no other alternative tiger in your tank Tiger tank smash the chinks Siberia oil chink chonk war war war zik zik zik zikSpanner: Soon your Owners will attempt to tell you who I am. They will make me a superhero, a reality TV celebrity, a messenger of the risen Christ, or the Devil in code. They will use every illusion at their command to make me not me. They have already failed.Henry Becket: Man is cancer! He has spread all over the world and destroyed everything in his path! The worst proliferate at the expense of the best. If we cannot stop this, we do not deserve freedom!Grac|ie | Nance: It is an outrage that | the people | have | freedom!Amanda Currie: My coworker has the night off, | she | was murdered | by chimpanzees!BlipVert: General Electric the world's only nuclear power source all your energy needs uranium plutonium Sahara mines nuke the wogs wig wog war war war zum zum zum zumSpanner: They rule you because they fear you. They exclude you from salvation because you are not phantoms like them. They are not like you. They are the Machine. I am the monkeywrench jammed into its gears.Amanda Currie: ...the rate of | monkeywrench | violence has decreased due to | the removal of the frontal lobe of | my | brain. | On a serious note, | let’s all welcome | our new | robot | zombie | overlords.Henry Becket: Only America can save the world from evil. Only a superhero can save America. Therefore, for the sake of Our Nation, I hereby accept the Chairmanship of the Conservative Revolutionary Party of the United States of America.Martin Becket: Comrades! Let’s hail our new Leader! He’s the game breaker for Team America! Our victory over the world is assured! Next stop, the conquest of space!Conservative Revolutionaries: (marching, chanting) Bring! back! the good old days! Bring! back! the good old days!Spanner: I am not a hero, a villain, or a terrorist. I am Chaos. Where there is disorder, I am there. Where there is chaos, I am there. Where there is evolution, I have done my work.Amanda Currie: Up next: | absolutely nothing! | Mainstream news|ertainment: | nobody’s | watching.Will Becket: martial law | I’m in control | Don’t try anything funny | I’m watching you.Henry Becket: I am in control. Now I command you: | Destroy | the people!BlipVert: Dictel is America’s number one security solution Dictel is America defend lynch the liberal CommuNazi traitor nigger wigger war war war zap zap zap zapSpanner: I am the Angel of Chaos. I am not coming for you. I never left.ESPNBC Announcer: This has been | quite | a | production.Amanda Currie: (in despair, at producer) If I don’t get some time off and soon, I’ll bring you the latest in blood and guts by shooting myself on camera! (looks at camera in horror) Oh, we’re on?
Simon Remington winks. “This is pirate television.”
Jennifer, Connor, and Rob bring Sana, Harumi, Steve, and Akane to meet Sparks, Shira, and the girl with the violet eyes inside the front door with their usual team hugs and kisses. On the wall of monitors, orphaned IP Maxine Headroom illegally shakes her exposed oversize breasts in jerky stop-motion CGI while stuttering her latest underground dancepunk hit; Sana, Harumi, and even Akane giggle uncontrollably. Deth Pussy, El Kabong, Evil The Cat, and the Cockroach Twins work the custom overclocked Raspberry Pis and miniaturized broadcast equipment while robot RC cars with a botnet mind race around them intelligently.
Harumi carefully studies one of the Raspberry Pi units, small as a cable TV box. “Ahhh... so little...”
“Wow,” Akane marvels, “I never saw anything like this at NHK.”
Shira winks. “The hacker underground pride themselves on getting the most out of the least. By the way...” She grabs Steve and drags him over to Deth. “Steve? Steve. Steve, Steve.”
The two Steves shake hands and say together, “Hi, Steve.”
El Kabong has a double take, recognizing Akane. “Hey, ain’t you that monfighting champ?”
“I would be,” Akane replies, “if I didn’t keep getting owned.” He turns his eyes toward Shira.
El and Evil look at her. “Her?” asks Evil. “Why her?”
Akane shrugs. “She’s the ‘newtype’ and I’m not.”
The two hackers stare at each other, then Akane. They grin. “Nooooooo.”
They watch Shira and the nameless girl cuddle, communing as if carrying on a silent parallel conversation while they talk with Simon. Akane says, “Yes.”
Go-Man confronts his nemesis Ms. N in stylized animation. “Problem is, everything’s gotta be all black and white,” Simon complains. “People wanna see Tournament. Hyper City, Pretty City, no diff, innit?”
“Babyfaces and heels,” Shira says, “just like pro wrestling.”
“They could at least add some real human beings,” says the nameless girl.
“Nah. Not black and white enough.”
Steve asks, “How do you manage to get it broadcasted without the IP Defenders retaliating?”
Deth replies, “We stream on the Darknet, and the Darknet does the rest. They can piggyback pirate broadcasts on AT&T, network, and military signals, even Chinese, so not even Echelon can trace us.”
“Easier than you think.”
Moon Roach exclaims, “Dudes! Somebody’s trying to jam us again!”
Simon commands, “Switch carriers!”
telesphere. Your television signal breaks up, pixelizes, jerks and stutters. An official network tries to hijack the channel. The two signals duel to the death, interpenetrating, trying to drown each other out. Suddenly the KCUF signal switches back to full power, restored, and the sweet-voiced Vocaloids sweetly slay each other again.
student council room. The Council meet after class to discuss their conundrum. “Rosewater’s back,” Charmian warns, “and the rabble’s in love with her. That means trouble.”
Bart growls, “We take the bitch out. Kubota too.”
“You know Shira Thomas will spin it on The Amanda Report as ‘Jealous blonde rival kills beloved cheerleader for head position.’”
Lucy glares at Charmian. “I’m wondering why you and Kubota haven’t already been disqualified for cheating.”
“Are you speaking envy against the talented, Wilkinson?”
“No, defending the talented against your ‘newtype’ powers.”
Kelly stares at her jealously. “Charmian, I saw you and Thomas having a newtype ‘recognition’ right before homeroom!”
“Kelly!” blurts Charmian, shocked.
Debbie stands up. “Wilkinson! McLendon! You’re outta line!”
Bart snarls, “They’re right, ‘Deadeye.’”
“Look who’s talking, ‘Mister ’Roid,’” she snarls back.
Charmian pounds her gavel. “Enough!” They all fall silent. “If we’re this divided, then is there nothing that can stop Kubota, Rosewater, Thomas, and Blair from using their Student Union against us?”
Beck yells, “The U.S. Police Force’ll destroy ’em!”
Rex pumps his fist. “Yeah!”
“The U.S. Police Force destroys everything, you idiots!” yells Debbie. “Or do you even remember their agent Bernkastel almost blew up the whole school and everybody in it including us?” The chamber falls silent again.
Eventually Lucy breaks the silence. “You’re only our president, Miss Fleer, ’cuz your daddy bought it for you.”
Offended, Charmian stares her down. “I’m your president ’cuz I outrank you in the hierarchy Our Nation holds sacred. Put that dagger down, Miss Wilkinson. I’m not about to let you put it in my back.”
Again, silence. Tension and hostility oppress the atmosphere. This time, no one dares speak.
kcuf studio. Suddenly the face of R.G. Litton appears on one screen. Shira yells, “Call’s for me! Max the picture and get outta my way!” Litton’s image expands to fill the entire wall of monitors with his smug smirk. Shira narrows her eyes. “What do you want, Rat Bastard?”
“Surprise, surprise,” Litton drawls. “You win some, you lose some. This time you lose.”
Her grin says I accept your Challenge, sucker. “So why do I lose this time, hmm?”
“I’ve got your Spanner.”
Litton grins in triumph. “Your wish is my command.” He replaces his image with an ESPNBC local news report from the Wild Waves amusement park in Federal Way, logical north of Tacoma, Amanda Currie reporting (Shira: “Time delay, huh? Overconfident as ever.”):
Unable to watch herself, Amanda turns away and covers her eyes. Sparks says, “I sense a pseudoevent.”Amanda: Thank you, NewsCentral! We have just witnessed the most amazing scene!
Shira licks her lips lasciviously. “Next time I should spank you on camera.”
“Shira!” protests Amanda.
“Kayfabe, darlin’.” Shira winks.
The KCUF crew stare appalled. Moon wails, "Noooo! He stole your Monkeywrench!"Amanda: A gang of terrorists has attacked the Wild Waves amusement park and taken several dozen children hostage.Masked Gang Leader: If you fascist running dogs don’t give us what we want, we’ll kill one brat an hour. So do it![A black-clad man swings in acrobatically, sporting black motorcycle helmet and black leather jacket, both marked with the skull and crossed wrenches of Spanner; he swings a pipe wrench around on a string and clocks the terrorists with it.]
Shira says calmly, “He’s making it up as he goes along.”
Sparks shakes his head. “Isn’t that what you do?”
“He doesn't do it the way I do.”
[The police come in and rescue the children. Police Chief John Cameron Becket—]Shira puts on her Jim Cornette face. “Oh no, not One-Eye!”
Sparks slaps his forehead. “Did Vince Russo script this?”
Deth laughs. “Shocking swerve!”
Shira grins. “Comin’ right up.”
[—shakes the black-clad man’s hand and congratulates him officially for being a hero. The man then goes over to Amanda for an interview.]Litton’s shocked face replaces the newscast. “How'd you—”
“Spanner”: I was wrong. You were right. From now on, I shall dedicate myself to fighting the terrorists. We can’t let them win!Amanda: Praise Jesus America! I’m Amanda Currie for ESPNBC NewsCenEEEK![Another “Spanner” suddenly appears out of the crowd to punch out the first one right beside her—]
“You should fire Vince Russo, Rat Bastard,” says Shira. “He'll ruin your promotion.” She cuts the call before Litton can protest further. The entire studio erupts in cheers. Shira clasps her hands above her head and shakes them in victory, then bows to the crowd. “Thank you, thank you. No applause, just money.” Amanda throws herself into Shira's waiting arms and lets out a huge sigh of relief.
Deth slaps Shira on the back. “Hot buttered damn, girl, that was pure ownage!”
“Nah, just injecting fact into your reality TV.”
“The bot did come in handy,” Jennifer says.
Sparks shrugs. “We hacked it, we might as well keep it.”
Amanda shoots Shira a hurt look. “How come?”
Shira smiles at her. “Oh, the shill-the-Scrappy part? That’s where we show Spanner’s real power.”
Simon peers at her skeptically. “If this was so ‘newsertainment,’ how come they didn't send their superstar Joey Styles?”
“Not blackmailable enough, and he doesn’t know me.” She points to the big screen. “Now watch.”
One MSM channel on each monitor, spamming the airwaves with the overly exhaustive coverage, explanation, and commentary typically following manufactured events, much of it focusing on hot reporter Amanda Currie, recapping her life story Up Close and Personal heartwarming. Shira says, “They’re saying in code they want you back.”
Sparks rolls his eyes. “Like they couldn’t sledgehammer it subtly enough.” Amanda groans in despair and hides her face in Shira’s shoulder.
The networks follow up with endless testimonials of countless faithful devotees of Jesus America gushing about how the “real” “Spanner’s” redemption changed their lives and bolstered their faith in Jesus America and denouncing the “Spanner” who punched him out as an infidel impostor. The KCUF crew stare at the screen, wide-eyed and slack-jawed. Deth asks, “What in ‘Bob’s’ name is this Faith Broadcast Network crap?”
“The real work of our Bastard Son of Rats,” says Shira. “He can spin his way out of trouble like you wouldn’t believe.”
Sparks marvels, “I’m always amazed at the power of faith to manipulate suckers.”
“Right where I want ’em.” Shira grins. “Hit it!”
telesphere. Don’t change the channel — you only see the same thing: on all channels, the eight-bit image of Spanner appears on his usual Atari rainbow background to speak in a Votrax voice:
He disappears, replaced by Maxine Headroom’s jerkily bouncing CGI breasts, her own voice synthesizer singing her infamous dancepunk hit “Flatline.” You press the channel changing buttons, you mash random buttons in panic and/or rage, but the same video plays until the end, when the hospital oscillator line turns from thumping heartbeat to beeping flatline. The beep keeps sounding while the networks replace the pirate music video with a color test pattern. “We are currently undergoing technical difficulties,” says the announcer on every network, “please stand by.” You switch away and turn on your Xbox instead.Spanner: We interrupt these messages for a very important program.Are those marionettes you’re playing around with, Rat Bastard? You dressed them up as me and had the Conservative Entertainment Complex declare them to be me. The usual suspects who think wishes are horses are fooled. But the people are not.I am laughing at you, Rat Bastard. Ha ha ha ha.
kcuf studio. “We’re starting our own news division,” says Simon. “They’ve got only truthiness, we’ve got the facts. That’s our competitive advantage.”
Amanda sighs in despair. “All the excuse the MSM needs to send out an IP Defender army to destroy you.”
“You’ve never met any daredevil reporters?”
“I watched ’em die.”
“Well, if you can’t handle it, don’t join us.”
Suddenly the entire Bremelo crew goes dead silent and still — Amanda freezes in terror — Moon nervously asks, “Uh, like, what’s the problem?"
Jennifer whispers, “Someone’s here.”
She looks at her smartwatch. Connor checks his. Shira stares ahead. They look up. Shira whispers, “Toymaker?”
Amanda screams in panic, “Everybody get out!”
Simon shouts, “Sound the alarm! Get this place evacuated! We’re under attack!”
El Kabong hammers the alarm. Hackers and fighters stream out of the studio, joining fleeing residents, just in time — the whole western end of the building explodes—
At the edge of the complex, a figure in black stares at them, lithe and female, obviously surprised despite the mask at the sheer number of newtypes protecting the crowd of wailing civilians, sensing her, staring intensely: Jennifer in hard recognition, Leila with a warning, Shira with irony and Challenge, Amanda burning with tears of hot hatred. The figure turns toward the woods, cloaks herself, and vanishes. Simon cries out, “Who the bloody hell was that?”
Jennifer’s cold voice chills their blood. “The Property Liberation Army sent us a newtype.”
Amanda blurts, “That maniac tried to murder innocent people!”
“‘Cost of business,’ they call it.”
Some of the others gasp, “What?”
“Chinese Corporatist Party (Holdings) Limited has just launched a hostile takeover of the MIAA.”
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Copyright © 2013 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
[Revision 4 Final, 2/4/13: Heavily revised for Fourth Revision continuity. Contains material originally from Chapters 13 and 14; opening scene contains material originally intended for 16.1 and 16.2. The character of Toni Wong added for Revision 4 from the Project Notebooks.]