Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 19: Hackers of Reality
Part 3: Read Between the Lies (Final Revision)
Part 3: Read Between the Lies (Final Revision)
16 october 2014.
telesphere. The usual eight-bit Spanner image doesn’t appear in this piratecast. Instead, an image of Pinocchio’s head takes up the right side of the screen.
Spanner: They cannot tell the truth. [the nose grows] It’s against their religion. [it grows some more] If it’s true, they cannot tell you. [even longer] If they did, they wouldn’t be the Chosen Ones. [finally it reaches the left edge of the screen]The bloated head pops like a balloon. The picture goes black.
They hoard truth. [the head expands] They keep you stupid. [it expands to the edges of its half of the screen] It boosts their Egos. [it doesn’t stop expanding until it takes up the entire frame] They don’t do it because it’s right. They do it because they’re meaner than you. Knowledge is power. If ever they let you have some of it, their egos would...
shira’s apartment. The nameless slim Asian woman takes Shira aside. “Say, where’s your pet cop?”
“I wouldn’t trust even him with something this sensitive, so I sent him out on a wild goose chase.” Shira winks; the woman smiles knowingly.
Luna’s jaw drops. “What do you mean you don’t have a name?”
The bright-eyed girl smiles. “Nobody next door has a name except Ayla, including me. Neither does Shira’s girlfriend.”
“We’ve got ways to avoid calling each other ‘hey you,’” the girl with the violet eyes adds. “We’ll teach you as soon as we’re done.” She kisses Luna; a realization dawns on the child’s face.
Seven women and one child sit around the living room coffee table in their usual state of nudity. On the couch side: the twins, the anonymous beauties, and Luna in the bright-eyed girl’s lap; on the chair side: Hope and Jennifer, leading the meeting. Shira says, “This is about SPEC, isn’t it.”
Jennifer shrugs. “They’re getting desperate.”
Hope rolls her eyes. “Completely off the rails is more like it.”
“We’d like to know how we can help you make ’em see reason,” says the bright-eyed girl.
“Destroy ’em is more like it,” says the slim girl. “Remember, ‘irrational exuberance’ is what these people are all about, emphasis on ‘irrational.’”
“Their volunteer guards proved foxes in the henhouse,” Jennifer explains, “so they’re replacing ’em with robots.”
“Very efficient, very stupid,” Kira says. “I’m sure that’ll work out great too.”
The violet-eyed girl says, “Kira, your sister saw you. She knows you’re alive.”
Shira adds, “That means she doesn’t have to avenge you anymore. Which, knowing Bram and Adam, spells big trouble for her.”
Hope glares at her twins. “That means you two had better save her ass.” They grin and wink together.
Jennifer clears her throat to catch their attention. “Anyway, all this shit Ross is doing has one goal, and that’s suppressing the Student Union. What he doesn’t know, of course, is that the harder he cracks down, the more resentment he creates, which only strengthens us.”
“Meanwhile,” Shira adds, ”the Student Council’s cracking up. Debbie’s purged, Charmian and Lucy are on non-speaking terms, and Bart’s declared war, You can bet there’s scheming factions behind it, which’ll blow up in Ross’s face.”
“That opens the perfect window of opportunity for us. If the cards fall right, we might even be able to sweep the Student Council election on Election Day.” The slim girl moans and shakes her head. “What’s wrong?”
“Do you guys really think you can have an election without it getting stolen?” the woman says, “The whole reason for their Revolution, you should remember, is criminalizing politics.”
“We’ve already got people working on it,” Hope declares, “the Wilder Foundation, the Wrecking Krewe, and our very own anonymous reporter.”
“I’m gonna help every way I can,” says the bright-eyed girl enthusiastically.
“We’re gonna hold this election and win it, whatever it takes.”
Announcer: 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.ferry terminal. Shira signals silence and calls for the Bremeloes to huddle. She points out the security androids in the area. “Don’t let anybody say anything as long as those bots are around,” she whispers. “Anything we say, we're saying in front of You Know Who.”
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.
“I’m betting their mics are parabolic so they can hear for miles,” Jennifer replies. “I hope they don’t have remote brain scanners that can detect our thoughts.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised.” Sighs and rolling eyes echo her.
spec headquarters. Ross has an audience with Jack Becket. “I hope you’re right, John, and your androids can keep order better than those glorified gangsters of Colonel Green’s.”
“The virtue of my RoboAgents,” Jack proudly declares, “is that they don’t have human weaknesses like greed, lust, and ambition. They’ll do exactly what you tell ’em to do and nothing more.”
Fleer barges into the office. “What your robots don’t have, John, is religious faith and warrior honor. Furthermore, they can be hacked. And when they are, my warriors shall crush that traitorous Student Union conspiracy with all the force necessary.”
Jack snarls, “Alan, your warriors are even stupider than my robots.”
“We’ll see.” Their murderous staredown unnerves Ross.
telesphere. Fleer appears on all channels. His voice and scowl betray his desire to put his hands around the collective necks of the Cascadian natives whose liberalism makes him vomit. Only the Foursome keep him from indulging his desire.
Fleer: At the request of its management, I am allowing COPCO to carry out its plan to automate the keeping of order in this faithless hellhole. I sincerely wish COPCO to succeed where the Church of America’s revolutionary Patriots failed over the weekend. Their failure will force me to carry out martial law with ultimate force until all Communist treason against America is destroyed. I will give them the rest of this week.bus. Chief Becket has decreed that at least one of his security androids must ride every public transit vehicle. The #11W from the ferry terminal is oppressively silent. The riders are too terrified to even breathe.
Except for the Bremeloes. They are utterly calm.
Shira has changed the trojan’s vector this time: instead of directly infecting robots running Windows or iOS, it turns the many non-brand Wi-Fi devices into carriers. When two smartphones, smartwatches, or tablets come close enough to Shira, she transmits the virus; when they connect over the airwaves, they spread the virus. When the time comes, the copies will leap operating systems and wipe themselves from their original carriers. They will spread via Android devices to iOS and Windows ones, and from there to the robots. Shira and Jennifer hacked it to leave no trace. Not even Henry Becket’s precogs will be able to trace it back to them. To the copbots they project their usual poker face.
bangor. Jack Becket gives the Yoyodyne Defense Robotics Division’s Seattle factory a personal visit. Yoyodyne CEO George Cantrell meets him personally. “As you can see, Mr. Becket, we’ve been making huge improvements in the manufacturing just for you.”
“That’s good, ’cuz what I need is more.”
“Too much is not enough, right?”
“My grandfather’s murderer’s still lurking round these parts.”
“If you can pay for it, I’ll build you enough to take out all of his terrorist friends too. Just watch out for your friend Spanner.”
The Chief stares at Cantrell as if Spanner himself had slapped him.
school. The first thing the students notice is that the trigger-happy volunteer guards are gone. Ross fired them for bringing down a wave of liability suits on him. The Patriots are planning violent revenge, but not now.
The second thing they notice is their replacements: robot guards loaned by COPCO. Their blank inexpressive faces creep everybody out. When Shira, Jennifer, and the girl with the violet eyes see Sylvia and Dave talking with Karen and Colette, they shush them and direct them to the clinic. “What’s all this about?” asks Charlie.
“One-Eye’s bots,” says Jennifer.
“I’ve got just the thing for ’em too,” says Shira.
Charlie crosses her arms. “Like what?”
Shira leans in conspiratorially. “Poison pill.”
“If we don’t,” Jennifer adds, glancing at Karen and Colette, “we may have to resort to violence. Again.”
“Jen,” Karen protests, “we can’t lower ourselves to their level.”
Shira kisses her. “I adore you, sweet cousin, but pacifism just don’t work on these guys. Blunt instrument, meet my stiletto.” She taps her head and smiles knowingly.
Charlie says, “It had better work, or I’m gonna have to zap.”
Not even Ross’ creepy guardbots don’t deter what’s left of the Student Council from trying to shun Debbie. She gets annoyed enough to grab Charmian by the scarf and pull her to the nearest wall. Charmian glares at her coldly. “What do you think you’re doing?”
Debbie leans in uncomfortably close. “I know all about you and Shira, cuz.”
“I have nothing to do with that filthy slut. You’re the one she kissed in front of everybody.”
A malevolent mischievous smirk grows on her face. “The way you look at her, I can tell she touches you in private. Admit it, ‘Charms.’ Don’t slap me or I’ll kiss you myself.”
Charmian hurries away, blushing furiously. Debbie grins evilly.
biotron labs. Billy Bob Skeever, a gangsterish oil speculator with a position in CPMC, meets his gangster sons at the clone tanks. One of them is emerging out of his tank. Eddie bursts out naked, wet, and spewing obscenities.
Johnny, the mean brother, says, “You gotta stop getting your dick handed to you by girls, Eddie.”
“Fuck you, Johnny,” replies Eddie.
Jordie, the big brother, says, “Maybe you oughta lay off the drugs and booze for once.”
“Fuck you, Jordie.”
Tony, the scheming brother, says, “I just think Eddie needs to grow a brain.”
“Fuck you, Tony!”
Billy Bob gets between his sons. “Boys, boys, don’t start fighting each other right away. Y’all got problems we gotta deal with first.”
“Problem’s name is Shira Thomas,” Johnny snarls. “Bitch loves to fuck with us when she ain’t fucking that hot Eurotrash ninja girlfriend of hers.”
“You mean Leila Shelley?” Eddie moans. “That’s the other problem. You see that throwing star she kilt me with? Fuuuck.”
Tony says conspiratorially, “Beck tells me Leila ain’t Leila anymore.”
“What the fuck’s she going by now?”
“Nothing at all, man. Ain’t even got a name no more. All legal and everything.”
“That’s fucked, man.”
Johnny says, “Talk about fucked, you see her slice and dice Pretty Boy Frankie’s devil man into bite size bits?”
“Y’all better deal with Shira Thomas and her no-name girlfriend pronto, boys,” says Billy Bob.
“You mean kill ’em?”
“Those two murdered our king. They gotta go now, or America’s done for.”
The Skeever brothers stare at their father in shock.
hallways. “You are not Men,” says the robot manhandling Steve, Ken, and Seika. “That is a crime against American Manhood. Man up, you girls, or be punished!”
Polly looks on in horror as Shira and Jennifer arrive. “What are they doing? Did we do anything wrong?”
Shira smirks. “Oh, we were born not rich. That’s treason enough for the Party.”
“They may be tools,” says Jennifer, “but they’re Jack Becket’s tools.”
Frank snorts. The girls stare at him. “How like my father to ruin everything he touches.”
Debbie storms up in a huff. “What the hell does he think he can get away with this time?”
“What he thinks,” says Shira, “is not necessarily what is.” Jennifer looks at her; she nods, then stares hard at the robot and its reinforcements. They stop bullying the boys in order to tear off their own heads.
Chief Becket: Our security robots do not pose a threat to those who don’t deserve it. Anybody who falsely claims otherwise is a Communist liberal traitor who hates Our Nation and is out to destroy it.library. The tutors and librarians push the tables together for a meeting. Dave, Sylvia, and Elsie join them; Frank takes advantage of “Adam Treece’s” non-class period, and Debbie cuts class to tag along. “Glad you’re here,” Jennifer tells them, “’cos your dad’s bots make it your problem.”
Dorian says, “I hope you know that the more these disasters pile up in the name of revolutionary purity, the more we’re turning people against the Revolution.”
Frank: “Which means this meeting’s about that Student Union thing.” He looks at Colette.
“I still believe we’re the only thing that can save the schools,” she says.
“Are you willing to bet money on it?”
“We’ve bet our whole lives on it.”
“Y’all are just plain nuts!” yells Debbie, “throwing your lives away for nothing!”
“While our illustrious Student Council tears itself apart?” the girl with the violet eyes replies. “Last time I heard, Debbie darling, you got purged, just ’cos your heart can’t lie.”
Debbie glowers at her. “That’s ridiculous.” The girl smiles affectionately at her; she blushes. The others laugh or smile knowingly.
“For those who don’t know,” Colette continues, “some of us are planning to hold a rally against bullying on Halloween. Even if you personally try to break it up, Debbie, Frank, and Dorian, we’ll show the world we’re ready to stand together.”
Frank looks at her skeptically. “The only thing any Real American sees is mere girls blaspheming their Sacred Manhood.”
“That’s their fatal weakness,” Kio says.
“Remember,” Colette adds, “Team Valiant’s already split from the Council, and [looks at Dorian] Lucy’s already holding her dagger to your sister’s back. Right, Debbie?”
Debbie stands up. “Listen to you, Miss ‘amazing girl’ who all the boys fall in love with at first sight and...” She rests her head on Colette’s shoulder and half-sobs, “Oh god I can’t hate you, you broke my heart when you almost died on me...” Colette stands up to hug her, and the nameless girl hugs her from behind and kisses her; she starts to cry. Kio smiles.
Frank says, “I can see why people love you so much, Colette.”
Shira stands up to declare, “Colette’s right! If enough people with her heart and our mind stick together, we can save this school system yet!”
Cory sighs. “Then what about those bots?”
Frank adds, “You know Father won’t tolerate you defying his sovereign will.”
Shira winks. “He keeps forgetting robots can be hacked.”
“Who’s gonna hack ’em? You?”
“Me? When they’re such perfect Spanner bait?”
Everybody looks at her in astonishment. A smile of admiration slowly emerges on Frank’s face.
technosphere. Posted to LocaFantoma99’s Profile on 16 October 2014:
Announcer: Two years ago, the Conservative Revolution saved America from certain destruction at the hands of its own Communists. But some people refuse to learn the hard lesson of 2012. They want to return us to the liberal lies of old. America needs conservative stability, not democratic chaos. People like Shira Thomas—
[Shira appears, a green pillbox hat perched precariously atop her thick red mane, the lower half of her face hidden behind playing cards she holds like a fan in her left hand beneath her bright green eyes. She lowers the card to expose the mocking smile on her big sensuous lips.]
Shira: So CPMC’s campaigning against moi? I thought they didn’t do elections anymore. Aren’t elections, well, “liberal”?
You’re taking a big gamble, Massa Gub’na. You think you can rig the game ’cuz you own the house. Are you blind? You don’t see that I’m holding all the cards.
[She thrusts her hand into the camera: fifty-two jokers. She flings the cards away and snaps her fingers.]
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Copyright © 2013 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
[Revision 4 Final, 3/18/13: Some scenes are new; everything else is heavily edited to fit Fourth Revision continuity.]