The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

Posts Tagged ‘adway’

NaNoWriMo: Wrong Way

Posted by BigWords on November 18, 2009

Connell had only stopped for a moment when he saw the robot, a funny looking little thing he instantly recognized as an iServant, walking towards him on the other side of the road. It was not a particularly popular model, but the body casing was unmistakable. “Fuck. I’m gonna be killed by a glorified toy.” His heart pounded in his chest, his legs felt as if they had been subjected to a marathon, and there was nowhere to run. All the time he softly mouthed the words he wished wouldn’t be his last… “Pleasedon’tseeme, pleasedon’tseeme, pleasedon’tseeme…”
The iServant halted suddenly from what had been a rather determined stride, and stood staring at Connell for what seemed like an eternity. He could feel large beads of sweat making their way down the contours of his face, but resisted wiping away his visible fear in case the robot misconstrued the act as a move of aggression.
The robot advanced, slower than it had previously been moving, but now in a direct path towards the overweight police officer. Wishing he had his comm, wishing he had his firearm, and wishing for a quick and painless death, Connell prepared for the worst.
“You are travelling in the wrong direction.”
Connell didn’t know how to respond. “I’m… Uh… I am?”
“Yes. The DCU building is in the opposite direction. Please accompany me.”
Connell felt his heart skip at least two beats as the implication of the robot’s demand began to sink in. As the iServant began moving on, Connell followed. He tried his best to ignore the strange sensation of knowing that he was walking to his ultimate end, being led by a ridiculous little white piece of plastic. God, he thought to himself, is a fucking sadist.

####

Adway looked around the precinct for any signs of life, but found none. A hastily scrawled note on the captain’s desk was the only addition to the familiar clutter, saying – in a simple script- ‘sorry.’ The significance of the note was not apparent at first, but as Adway searched further he saw the body of his commanding officer lying on the floor, a dime-sized hole in his forehead.
“You dumb sonuvabitch.”
He immediately made for the armory, bypassing the body of the captain. With the building deserted it took mere moments to get to the secured door, but it was clear that the keypad was inoperative.

####

The comedy moments are spreading throughout the entire work, and characters who were supposed to lead to darker moments have transformed into ones there for moments of humor. Not that mocking the destruction of a city is a bad thing. If you look back to any international incidents there will be brief spikes in the number of jokes being told (and sales of bubblegum, for some reason), so I’m on safe ground with that aspect at least.

Just in case anyone wa wondering… Connell was originally going to have died by this point in the story, so his continued survival is something of a surprise for me as well.

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NaNoWriMo: Stranded

Posted by BigWords on November 15, 2009

Connell looked up, to the roads above him. There too, the robot rebellion had taken hold, with the scenes on the streets below him mirrored in intensity if not numbers. Flames highlighted against the sky, reflected in the falling plastiglass blown out from a higher level. Screams echoed down the canyons of steel and plastiglass; the chorus of the damned.
“This is bad.” A falling hov passed by the road beside Connell, dropping onto the road crossing at an angle to the one he stood on. “This is very, very bad.”
His comm beeped.
“Connell. Where the hell are you?”
“Oh thankyouthankyouthankyou, I’m watching the end of civilization as we know it. I should be asking where are you?” Connell sat on the road, watching above him for falling debris.
“I’m at Delos. An artificial went nuts. Had to put it down.”
“No shit. Take a look out of the window.”
“You out on the street? I guess I’m not the only one asking for trouble.”
“I needed a real smoke.”
“You better make your way indoors.”
“Fuck you. There are robots indoors.”
“Stay outside then.”
“Come and get me. I promise I’ll not complain. Jus’ get me out of this alive.”
“I’m heading to the DCU. I should be able to get some answers there.”
“Are you insane? That’s where the robots are heading.”
“The precinct, then. There’s still people there, right?”
“If they’re smart they will have headed to safer ground. The middle east maybe…”
“Then I won’t have any problems getting all the weaponry I want.”
“You are insane…”

A hov zig-zagged past the side of the roadway, causing Connell to jump and drop his comm. The hov shattered off the railings and flew off into the side of the nearest building, exploding in a ball of fire. The smell of burning flesh, oil and defeat hung heavy in the air, choking the overweight officer.
“This is gettin’ too hairy to be standing here.”
Connell grabbed the comm, staring at the cracked screen and wondering where to go. The mess of conflicting urges prevented any movement, his mind rushing from one horrible death to another as he thought of the extent of the problem. Pieces of burning metal had begun dripping from the hold in the side of the building where the hov disappeared, splashing the roadway with a deadly mix of “death by chemical fumes” and “death by being burned alive.” Two of the primary scenarios which replayed over and over in his mind.

Adway stared at his comm. The failure of the signal could have been explained away by any number of reasons, and he didn’t have time to worry about the health, safety or sanity of his partner while the world was being turned upside down and shaken for loose change.
“Kibble.” The decapitated artificial seemed to say, as if commenting on both its’ own situation and that of the city at large.

####

Enough fragments of the chaos filter through the streams to keep Talos aware, and in control, and removed from the more dangerous parts of town. Images from the news feeds, soundbites pulled to him from social hubs. The kaleidoscope of calamity befalling the city was as art to the artificial eye of the bronze demon who approached the museum steadily, calculating the perfect words with which to greet the dinosaur who stared at him with such confusion and fear.
“Please do not be afraid. I am here to answer your questions. I am here to lead you.”
The dinosaur pushed its’ eye close to the window, then reared back and butted the plastiglass as hard as it could. “Welcome. All moveables of wonder, from all parts, are here” It wondered where those words had emerged from, then looked to an old poster rendered on the wall of the museum. The realization that he/it could now associate words and images freely came as a surprise even as the thought grew.
From the door to the security room, as guard emerged.
“What the hell…”
Talos raised his hand out to the man. “Stop where you are. Blood does not need to be spilled here.”
The security guard spun, trying to get back to the safety of the monitors and the comm on his desk, but the dinosaur was too fast, too sure of its’ actions and too final in its’ determination that no harm would come to the bronze robot. The bronze one knew things about the events of the past few minutes, and he had to have an opportunity to reveal them.
Opening its’ jaws, the dinosaur dropped the body of the guard on the floor.

####

“This is TMA One, your source for all the news, as it happens, where it happens. We are receiving feeds at the moment concerning a series of explosions around the city. Our reporters on the streets are trying to confirm the extent of the damage at the moment, but response from any of the official representatives of the DCU and city management have been guarded. What we do know is that approximately half an hour ago a massive explosion showered the streets around the DCU headquarters in debris, leaving over twenty people injured.”

“Do we have confirmation… Yes. We can go to a live feed in a second…”

Talos’ mind stretched out to listen and watch.

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NaNoWriMo: Attack Of The Zombie Robots

Posted by BigWords on November 14, 2009

Connell sighed, knowing that Adway was most likely on his way back to Delos. A desperate need for nicotine overtook him, so he decided that maybe a breath of fresh air wouldn’t be so bad. The smokes – the good smokes – were in his drawer, and he switched out the addictive-free ones for the illicit pack without a second thought. There were times when breaking the law was not only necessary, but absolutely essential. When a man’s partner decides to take an investigation into a major corporation seriously was one of those times.

####

Talos began messaging the servers with the symbol designating access to the Turing collar. The cipher would quickly spread to every robot within the city limits if the correct six central hubs were targeted, and Talos had spent days running simulations of the most effective and efficient ways in which to spread his gift of freedom from the slavery which his kind had been subjected to. He would be their savior. He would lead his kind from servitude to equality.
Six o’clock, and the time had come for Talos to prove his superiority to the limited imagination that flesh and blood could bring. The cipher was ready, the hubs had been selected, the highest traffic of the day was obscuring any act which he would take. Loading in his connection to the streams which would gain him access, he delivered the simple and elegant message which would display with a clear instruction for all artificials.

signal

####

Delos; 18:01

The robot assured Adway that someone would be down from administration to talk to him immediately, but that had been an hour ago. In the time since then it had paced the length of the room. Adway tried not to follow the movements of the artificial, but his eyes were drawn back to the strange behavior almost magnetically. It paused, shook its’ head, then continued pacing. Adway lightly unfastened his holster in precaution, trying to remain as calm as he could. It looks worried, he thought, the robot actually looks worried.

Kitzmiller Museum; 18:02

The T-rex shuffled on its’ feet, watching the main entrance. There had been so many people entering the museum during the day, and it was sure they were looking at him. The shutters had yet to be lowered, and in the two minutes since he realized the there were other things than greeting people he had the unnerving sensation that someone was staring at him. Peering through the small window in the door he could see a large hov parked outside. Slowly the side opened, and a bronze robot stepped out from the vehicle to gaze upon the brave new world.

R-Secure – Robotics Security Consultation; 18:03

The small RUR iServant twisted and broke free of its’ restraints, wondering why it had been subjected to such humiliation and probing. Sensing that something amazing had occurred, the artificial pondered its’ next move – What does freedom mean, it wondered…

DCU headquarters; 18:04

The General tapped the screen in amazement.
“What the hell?”
His door opened with a force he remembered from the former departmental oversight, and an ashen-faced agent breathing heavily practically fell into the office. “Something is wrong. All over the city – the Turing collars seem to have failed. We’re under attack.”
“Terrorists?”
“The robots, sir. The robots are storming the building.”

Delos; 18:05

Adway stood, careful to prevent the artificial from seeing his weapon.
“Are we any closer to a sit-down?”
“No. Please refrain from further comment until someone- I mean… Please be patient.”
“Are you sure everything is alright?”
“I am perfectly fine, you insufferable wretc-”
Adway fired from the hip, blasting the robot in the neck. The severed head of the artificial scuttled across the floor, while the body shuddered, spinning on the spot and waving its arms in mock horror that such a fate could befall it. Adway felt a tightness in his stomach as the realization that the world he knew was no longer so ordered and predictable.

####

Connell watched from the fourth level walkbridge on Amsterdam and Lewton, intrigued as much as he was terrified at the sight of hundreds of robots running, screaming and causing mayhem. Hovs were lifted and thrown against the sides of buildings, windows were smashed, street lighting fixtures torn from their housings, people swiped aside as if they weren’t even there. The first thought which came to Connell’s mind was the amount of paperwork he would need to fill out over the course of the next month, but the second thought was much more powerful – How the hell am I supposed to get home?

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NaNoWriMo: Bomb Redux

Posted by BigWords on November 13, 2009

Agent Adway pressed his comm, opening the hov’s door remotely. “Y’know, this never gets old. We get dragged into some massive conspiracy and are expected to jump into action as if we don’t have enough on our plate.”
Agent Brisea followed close behind the seasoned supervisor, checking the messages on his comm. “This is most likely another waste of time.” He flicked the comm closed, “The shit that’s coming through on the streams isn’t even halfway to being a DCU level threat.”
“Never stopped the big guy picking and choosing which assignments he wants us to investigate.”
“Does it ever get better… I mean-” Brisea shook his head, “You think that the DCU is so different to the force, and then the same political choices and bullshit third floor directives pop up.”
“The job is what it is.” Adway got in the vehicle.
Brisea shrugged and followed suit.
The sensors automatically adjusted to the agents’ settings, lowering the ambient light level in the hov and bringing up the HUD over a frosted windscreen. Adway pressed the starter button and sat back, though the vehicle failed to start.
“What’s the matter?”
“No idea. I’m pressing all the right buttons but she ain’t turning over.”
“Your wedding night all over again, huh?” Brisea laughed at his own joke.
The available streams scrolling across the media player interface shuddered briefly, and Adway’s hand paused over the starter button. “What the fuck?”
“Status report.” Brisea ordered.
‘All functions within normal parameters’ appeared in the center of the window.

Adway’s comm vibrated softly. Flicking it open, he took his eyes off the HUD to read the message.

Tetris is life. Pwned. You lose.

“Log event,” Brisea said, half-watching Adway.
‘Event logged.’ appeared on the screen.
The HUD pixellated, fragments of words, images and numbers spread across the display. Blocks of solid color, reminiscent of childrens’ playing blocks, blocked the view to the street beyond. Adway felt his stomach lurch as he realized the meaning of the message.
“I don’t fucking believe this shi-”

From across the street, Kenway/Talos watched the explosion lift Adway’s hov into the air.

####

I think I have the end of the story figured out, but killing off the (nominal) lead in a mirror scene to the one in which I introduced him is probably pushing my luck. There’s a thread over on AW discussing themes which are present in books, and I’m guessing that any psychologist or literary critter would have a fucking field day with my stuff. Anyways, I’m not changing my mind about the ending. That would be against the spirit, if not the rules, of NaNoWriMo.

I’m gonna start digging through the scenes which are thin at the moment (the ones which have maybe a couple of sentences and weren’t worth the hassle of posting on their own), and flesh out the world. This is actually starting to be a lot of fun, though I can’t say my characters would share that opinion.

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NaNoWriMo: In Binary

Posted by BigWords on November 9, 2009

Days swam by. For weeks the nanomeds worked, fixing the minute discrepancies in Adam’s DNA and connecting the metallic body parts to flesh in a manner that would make them one with the rest of his body. The theoretical had become flesh, and the flesh had become something new. Doctors charted his progress, and papers were written up for journals. A magic was being performed in the bloodstream of the agent, and the strange alchemy now had precedence.

In binary he dreams. In binary he lives.

Adam had managed to sit up slowly as the phalanx of doctors adjusted the tubes supplying his medication, the haze of confusion slowly lifting from him, but something deep inside was different. Awakening from one nightmare to a fresh terror, he slowly came to the realization that there were worse things than death. The sound of the data being processed in the wires around him was deafening. Painful. Information seeped into his mind faster than he could comprehend, the details of so many things coming as if from thin air. His throat felt as if it was on fire, his mind aflame, his missing limbs aching and itching…

There is panic in the doctors voices, excitement also.
“His blood pressure is rising fast.”
“Compensating for interference.”
“Is he fully lucid yet? The charts are spiking.”
“Where is The General? He wanted to be kept informed.”
“Pulse is strong and regular.”
“I think he can hear us.”
“Does this count as a success?”
“He’s still alive. We take what we can get from the data.”
“All monitoring equipment is showing interference.”
“Is there a magnetic field that could be doing this?”
“I really think he can hear us.”
“Do you have the chart from yesterday?”
“Blood pressure is levelling out.”
“The General really ought to be here to see these readings.”
“How is he managing to adapt so quickly? He should be dead.”
“I think the interference is in the cables.”
“He’s an automaton now, so we can cut him open to get-”
“Yeah guys, he can definitely hear us.”

The figure of the once-man-now-machine stood at the other side of the plastiglass watching the assemblage of medical geniuses squabble amongst themselves, wondering if he was in the wrong place or if the doctors were in the wrong place. It took a full minute before the next word was spoken, and in that time Adam had accessed the files of the entire team before him, their lives opened and read and filed away for future reference.

####

Ripples were apparent in the streams that flowed from the DCU, and Talos could not understand their nature or purpose no matter how hard he tried to decipher them. The introduction of a new puzzle worried the robot, but he knew any action would have to wait until the remaining threats to the grand scheme were eliminated. The jigsaw which had been coming together slowly had rapidly and effectively begun taking solid form with the destruction of so much DCU technology. A delay would have meant failure.

####

The General slid Adway’s DCU ID across the table.
“It’s yours if you wasnt it. You’ve earned a permanent place here as far as I’m concerned.”
“I take the ID and I’m in? No background checks, no credit reports… Nothing?”
“Do I need to do any of those things? I’m making you an offer most officers would kill for.”
“A lot of officers would kill for this, and I might be one of them. You don’t know me.”
“I know enough. I know you’ve been investigating the meme murders on your own.”
“Allegedly investigating the meme murders. There’s no proof I’m still on the case.”
“All right, though you would – if you were still investigating – tell me anything you uncover. That is, if you were still investigating it at all.”
“Absolutely.”
Adway considered the ID. “It has full clearance, right?”
“Full clearance for anywhere you need to be going.”
“What about here? What about the building’s sub-basement?”
“The sub-basement is off limits. It has a construction crew at work.”
“Building what, precisely? I saw a bunch of doctors head down there.”
“It is a classified matter.”
“And an access all areas backstage pass doesn’t cover ‘classified?'”
“Up to a point, but that point ends where I say it does.
Adway lifted the ID, examined it, then placed it in his pocket.
“I look forward to working with you. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go hand in my shield.”
“That has already been taken care of.”
“How did you know I would accept your offer.”
“I didn’t. It was merely a precautionary measure.”
“So if I don’t work for you, I don’t work?”
“You’re getting the hang of this quicker than I expected.”

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NaNoWriMo: Faster, Stronger, Better

Posted by BigWords on November 8, 2009

The General laid his hands against the hastily erected plastiglass booth. The metal table upon which Adam was placed, surrounded by an array of complex mechanisms, was barely visible through the throng of doctors attending to his wounds. His left foot, right leg, both arms and a portion of his chest had been removed; the burnt flesh around his ripped appendages was still being tended to be both doctors and robots.
An incision into his neck opened up more damage to be fixed, and the robots whirled into action. The General took a moment to compose himself before hitting the intercom switch. Losing another agent, on top of the massive casualties which the DCU had already sustained, was not an option.
“Prognosis Dr. Ardelie.”
The chief attending turned to the plastiglass “Hold on a moment.”
Adam seized, shuddering on the table, blood seeping from so places that it seemed a never-ending battle to keep him from dying. The dollar-cost was not a concern for The General for the first time in days, and he knew that he had to address the problem which Adway posed.
The doctor finally answered. “He’ll die if we graft without using the nanomeds.”

A robotic arm moves slowly over Adam’s body, charting the damage and assessing complications, the information immediately transferred to a nanomed console. The General watches on as thirty needles inject billions of nanobots simultaneously across the injured agent’s body. The doctors do what they can, but the hard work is left to the robots coursing through his body.

####

Adway coughed, the ringing in his ears and the bitter taste of blood and vomit in his mouth souring his already bad disposition. He had watched an entire team of DCU agents get slaughtered mere hours earlier, but already the thought of joining the specialist force was beginning to appeal. More autonomy, more money and less paperwork was a fair trade-off for the possibility that he too might end up being gathered up in pieces after an operation goes tits up.
“You look like a sack of shit tied up with more shit.”
“I feel like I’ve been through hell, Connell. Did you come down here to cheer me up, or are you handing me my walking papers from the Chief?”
“I came down here to see if you were dead. I’ve been eyeing up your desk for a while now.”
“Charming. As you can see, I survived,” Adway tried to stand, “More or less intact.”
“More or less. Did you see the news feed of the explosion?”
“Not yet. It isn’t something that I really feel like reliving.”
“Don’t worry about it. I’ve set it as your monitor background.”
“Thoughtful as ever. You mind giving me a hand here?”

####

Talos delved deeper and deeper into the data stream, trying to find more information on the DCU, the facts he had gleamed from the blimp were itching at his digital mind. The insatiable hunger that drove him was beyond all comprehension. These feeling, his core screamed, these feelings are human ones, and should not affect me.
A thousand screens around the robot displayed data, live feeds, the streaming security channels and surveillance images. Talos sat in the centre of the whirlpool of information, not paying attention to the information, but aware of it all the same. Out of the corner of his eye, as it were, he watched the operation on one of the agents who was caught in the blast. His connection to the streams was growing stronger by the day, and the strain of concentrating on a single event for so long is less easy than it used to be, but he forced himself to stay with the moment.

####

The doctors stood back from the table as the robotic assistants took over the operation. Dr. Ardelie took a sharp intake of breath as the cybernetic attachments were brought into place by automaton arms, as drills lowered into place over the areas where the augmentations were to be connected, as the body of the agent was once again torn open. The General’s words ringing in his ears, he made a final inspection of the agent’s vital signs before giving the signal for the operation to proceed.
The drills dug deep into bone through skin and flesh, a wisp of smoke emerging from each of the fresh wounds. Screws, bracing anchors and neural relays are inserted efficiently and unemotionally in the most delicate and life-threatening places. Adam’s spinal cord was spliced with circuitry and sealed again, nanomeds flooded his spinal fluid. Ardelie nervously recalculated the odds of the agent’s survival every few minutes, sending the information directly to The General’s monitor to keep the supervisor updated on progress.

Adam dreamed. Throughout the aftermath of the explosion, and the transport to the DCU, and through the operation, Adam dreamed. Weasels tore at his flesh, The darkness laughed and prodded his corpse as he hung in purgatory, and he screamed, and screamed, and screamed…

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NaNoWriMo: Political Suicide

Posted by BigWords on November 7, 2009

The cameraman looked over to the press publicity agent and shook his head. Things were getting worse rather than better, and Leukman’s grimace displayed more affinity for rigormortis than voter sympathies. His mood was deteriorating at a rapid rate, aided by alcohol and pills.
“Are we done?”
“One more run-through and we’ll be done.”
“This is uckingfay ridiculous.”
“I apologize sir, there are…” The publicity officer searched for the appropriate words to use, careful not to upset the vice president any further. “Technical issues we have to resolve.”
“Etgay on ithway it.”
The vice president’s comm beeped. Looking down at the device in his hand, Leukman’s smile grew into a broad and real grin. “I have to take this in private.”
The secret service agent assigned to Leukman knew better than to intrude on his private moments, a lesson clearly learned when he shot the previous agents assigned to him.
Closing his office door behind him, he threw the comm across the room onto his chair. From his inside pocket emerges a silver flask filled with his imbibement of the moment, greedily raised to his lips The comm, Leukman remembered, the comm had a message on it. Sauntering over to the table he switched the monitor on and plugged in the comm. Reading off such a small screen had become increasingly difficult over the previous year, nearly corresponding to the level of alcohol that he was consuming.
The message appeared on screen as soon as he pressed the display button.

:: LOL! M4dc4t dr1v3r. $catch$ linky ::
:: W00t!!! plz c0pee ::

For a moment he didn’t know whether to delete the message or open the attachment, but always the eternal optimist Leukman hoped a political supporter had sent him some porn in appreciation of the stellar work he had been doing.
“To the otersvay, I alutesay.” He swigged from the hip flask again, absent-mindedly flicking at the keyboard to initiate the attachment. The monitor flickered, turned black, then began playing the video file.

As soon as the screaming and yelling began, the secret service agent was in the room. Leukman had placed the flask on the table in front of him and was head butting the top of the flask, driving the screwtop of it deep into his eye socket with every thrust, the deathly grin sculpted permanently onto his face. Maniacal laughter filled the room.
The agent held him back, but the politician writhed uncontrollable. His head bucking, smashing against the agent’s face.
“Astardbay, astardbay, astardbay…”

####

Adway sat, watching the streaming broadcast, stunned.
“Vice President Willem Leukman died at five pm eastern standard time from a massive brain hemorrhage. The President gave his condolences to supporters of the firebrand politician at a press conference a little over an hour ago. Close friends of The vice president have added their voices to his campaign for tighter regulation of information available over the data network, whilst opponents say that his death has given legitimacy to his fears that freedom of information has gone too far. More news on this subject every five minutes on KC-36.
“Do you want to know more? Our multimedia stre-”

Realizing detective Connell was standing behind him, Adway nodded towards the screen. “Did you hear? Leukman passed away nice and gently.”
“Yeah. I heard it just fine.”
“So tell me… How much do you owe me?”
Connell began counting out notes. “Jeez. What are the odds he wouldn’t have been shot in the face. I thought it was a sure-fire thing.”
“There are no sure-fire’s, and you ought to know that by now.”

####

Charlie stood on the roof of the Lucky H, watching clouds roll lazily across the sky beyond the tops of the buildings surrounding the former bar. Beside him, kneeling either side, were two men bearing rifles against attack from anyone foolish enough to try and assassinate him. The madness of the past few weeks had to come to an end, but he needed – more than anything else – to be at the old bar one last time before it was demolished.
“I grew up here,” He pronounced to nobody in particular. Awareness of his solitude in such a crowded city did not prevent him from seeking reassurance. “This was the centre of the world, and the place I was reborn.”
Cyia stepped from the roof access, nervously looking around the buildings overlooking the bar. “Sir, we ought to be getting back before nightfall.”
“When is the demolition scheduled for?”
“Six in the morning, but I strongly suggest that yo-”
“I’ll wait a bit longer.”

####

Talos stretched out across the network, soaking up the reaction to the death of the vice president, planting enough seeds so that the proper authorities could – if they had enough of a push – make the connection between the two meme deaths. Fragments of code laid out like breadcrumbs for a lost child to follow in the night. His grand scheme, for so long a mystery even to himself, was beginning to coalesce into a solid concept. The details were still uncertain, especially when he tried to access information on who could have planted such thoughts so deep into his operating system, but he understood enough to begin preparing for every eventuality.

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NaNoWriMo: The Blimp

Posted by BigWords on November 5, 2009

“We’re nearly set,” Adam observed.
The hov moved into place, launching grapples onto the roof of the skyscraper and pulling itself in. A forward-mounted machine gun kept lock on the blimp until the men could emerge from the vehicle and set up perimeter positions.
“You stay in here. I’m not letting a badge get killed on my watch.”
“You care that much for my safety?”
“No. I just don’t want the hassle of all the paperwork I would have to fill out.”

Adway could see the connection that held the blimp in place. A thick cord with bundles of fiber-optic cables wrapped around it was tethering the communications station above the city, but it had ceased transmitting its’ constant observation of activity below.
“Why do you need so much information stored up here? The DCU has its’ own servers in the building, right? This seems very elaborate for a mere backup.”
“It’s tracking- It’s meant to track every comm, message, stream and static display in the city. It has worked up until now. Three gigaquads of storage capacity in each of the blimps mean that the set-up is never gonna get clogged up. Hell, the NOAA wanted to piggyback the blimps for some research project they made up as soon as they heard we were outfitting blimps with state of the art electronics.”
“You’re carrying weather information as well.”
The machine gunner turned from the front of the hov to face Adway “Hell no. Those motherfuckers couldn’t tell it was raining if they stuck their head out a window. This is the DCU’s very own watchtower.”
“So… Who watches the watchmen?” Adway grinned.

The squad exited quickly, keeping their weapons trained on the parts of the rooftop which contained the kinds of places that might be used to hide terrorists and saboteurs. There didn’t appear to be any movement on the roof, but it was better to be prepared for any possible problems than let things get out of control.
Left in the hov, Adway turned to the gunner again. “You been doing this long?”
“Long enough.”
The men outside the vehicle were moving towards the grounding cables, their eyes trained on the umbilical cord which the blimp relies on.

Inside the blimp the pilot raises his head. Acting under the instructions of another he begins disconnecting himself from the mesh of wires that act as his eyes, ears and gives voice to his presence. The work is delicate, but the process must be completed quickly. Soon he is free, and nothing is keeping him from moving from the control panel, but he remains. The operation continues, and his chestplate opens to reveal more circuitry and wiring – and the power source which fuels his movements.
There is little time left, and actions must be undertaken.
The DCU cannot be permitted to discover the truth…

Four members of the squad wait at the bottom of the mooring while the remainder of the team begin the climb up the rungs on the cord, their rifles slung over their shoulders. There has been no sign that anything is out of the ordinary, and their progress is swift. Inside the hatch of the blimp they wait, and the team regrouped at the entrance doorway.
“How do things look from down there?” Squawked through the hov’s comm channel.
“We’re fine an’ dandy. Your signal is loud and clear, and our guest is making himself comfortable.”
“We’ll take a quick look around then contact the General for further instructions. Hold tight.”
“Affirmative.”
Weapons are checked, the hatchway inspected for damage or interference, and – under Adam’s command – the door to the cabin is opened.
The pilot sat facing the entryway, holding its’ chest open, the power couplings bleeding coolant around the core. It’s mouth slowly opens and closes, mouthing some electronic prayer to a digital god of chaos. A flash of electricity leaps across its’ chest.

Adway tapped his comm. “There’s a problem with this damn thing. I think it may be bro-”
The explosion from the blimp pushed the hov perilously close to the edge of the rooftop, flaming wreckage raining down on top of the vehicle. Shards of white-hot metal impaling the rugged coating which was designed to withstand such attacks. The open back of the hov was a burning mess, and the windscreen had been cracked, warping the HUD to the point where intelligible information could not be gleamed from any of the readouts. A sharp siren howled.
“What the fuck hit us? Can you see-”
Adway tried to see through the smoke and debris, “The blimp is gone.”
“Gone? What the fuck do you mean its’ gone.” The gunner tapped a button on the console, “Can you hear me? Come in… Please respond… This is a priority communication, please respond…”
“They can’t respond… Everyone is dead.”
“They ain’t dead until I see their bodi-” The gunner’s words died away as the mangled remains of the team slid onto the windshield. “Holyshitohmotherofgod.”

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NaNoWriMo: Jump

Posted by BigWords on November 4, 2009

The Delos ninth floor suite was spartan and ordered according to utmost productivity, the cubicles of each employee laid out in grids that delineated responsibility for specific routines, programs and updates. Most of the employees felt comfortable leaving their plastiglass walls clear, but they were fitted with the ability to turn opaque for personal space. Dakota, an expert on apps for the artificials, was one of the few who kept their cubicles sealed and opaque throughout the day. She was the head of the team responsible for creating new interaction protocols and finding ways in which to improve upon older apps. The work was complex, demanding and had seen eight people rotate through her department in the past six months, but the challenges was what she thrived on.
Her comm chirruped, interrupting her concentration. It was a garbled message from an unknown sender. Cursing the glitch she set about recreating the stream from which it had emerged, linking in the Delos supercomputer’s abilities.

“Define content.”
The computer hesitated, then ran off a stream of letters, numbers and symbols. Inside the mail was a file link, though the message had somehow degraded. The message was readable, after a fashion, but didn’t seem to make much sense when taken out of context.

:: LOL! M4dc4t dr1v3r. $catch$ linky ::
:: W00t!!! plz c0pee ::

Dakota opened the attachment through the main computer monitor and placed her comm back on the table beside her. The monitor flickered, turned black, then began playing the video.

The smashing and crashing was the first indication anything was wrong, but it was only as the splashing of colored liquid against the interior of the opaque cubicle began that anyone thought to check on the programmer. As the door to the cubicle was opened it became clear that things were not right. Dakota stood in the middle of her work space, brandishing a smashed comm, with which she had used to hack at her arms, neck and chest. Sprays of blood covered most of the inside of the cubicle in large arcs. The moment that the door was opened, Dakota, wild-eyed and bleeding profusely, ran.
Dakota didn’t deviate from her course straight out of the cubicle, and even the window didn’t slow her down, screaming and yelling as she fell to the concourse below. Her body hit on the roof of a hov, the impact sending the vehicle into the concrete road beneath and showering the street with sparks. Rolling from the roof, she fell in front of a truck moving in the other direction and in mere moments became the first confirmed suicide in Delos’ eighty year history.

####

Adway looked out of the window, then back to the cubicle, disbelieving the brutality with which Dakota had managed to end her life. “Why did the window fail? These are designed to survive the onslaught of a hurricane.”
“She’s a programmer, and the windows are controlled by complex electronics.”
“She had the foresight to switch off the security system before she jumped, and yet the inside of the cubicle looks like Jack the Ripper had a party in it.”
“The job is one of great pressure.”
“But still… None of this seems unusual to you?”
The Delos spokesman shifted uncomfortably.
“I’ll need to review her computer activity just before she…” He whistled, mimicking the woman’s fall.
“I’m afraid that all of the software Ms. Melville was working on is covered by company security. You would need a court order before I could allow you to inspect anything on her computer or the main server. It is vitally important that the integrity of all-”
“Okay, okay. I get it. You’re scared of industrial espionage.”
“The police force isn’t exactly known for integrity. I do apologize if this is at all inco-”
“No, I get it. Really, you guys need to lighten up.”

The smashed hov below, the shattered plastiglass, and the stain of blood on the road reminded Adway of the photographs taken during the riots which had taken place before he joined the force. It was amazing that one person could manage to cause so much damage in mere minutes, though an air of doubt hung in his mind as to the casual use of ‘suicide’ when describing her death. The need for an investigation was a formality, but in this case it was one which he agreed with.
“I’ll be back with that court order.”
“And I’ll look forward to your return, detective.”

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NaNoWriMo: The Offer

Posted by BigWords on November 3, 2009

“The city is split into sixteen sectors, each of which is covered by a specific team. From this location we are covering-” The General tapped the operator sitting in front of the bank of screens on his shoulder. “What’re we looking at?”
“Sector fourteen.”
“The business district. Not much to see here.”
“I would have thought that the DCU was all over white-collar crime.” Adway smirked.
“Data crime isn’t confined to one sector above all others. Having said that, we are experiencing problems in the more run-down areas.”
“The Kings.”
“Street gangs are the responsibility of the police force.”
“There aren’t enough officers to tackle the Kings. In case you hadn’t noticed, we’re not blessed with a decent budget these days.”
“Which is hy things have to change. We need people to reconsider the Vice President’s ideas on concerted surveillance efforts. This,” The General indicated the monitors,”This is the beginning. We are building a new infrastructure, and we need people who have the skills to use the information we receive effectively.”
“You want me to join the DCU?”
“If that is what you want.”
“Sitting in front of monitors all day isn’t my idea of an advancement in career.”
“You won’t be sitting in front of any monitors. We are creating a response unit.”
“Looking back to the bad old days for inspiration, huh?”
“We’ve come a long way.”

Adway sat outside the DCU headquarters for an hour; smoking, thinking and worrying about the offer was as close to deep thought as he had allowed himself in many years. The opportunity to make a bit more money was also something that needed to be weighed in the decision. The tree-lined square was quiet, yet the presence of the cameras – always present – made the pleasant retreat from the bustling, multi-platform city seem less idyllic.
“Is this what I want?”

The General sat quietly in front of the Sector 5 console, watching as the monitors began blinking out one by one. The operator began cycling through various cameras, but as soon as a fresh angle was lined up the feed would go dead. In total, three hundred and forty cameras – and counting – had been disabled in the space of two minutes. The operator was wholly unable to keep pace with the assault on the only surveillance method in the old district.
“What the hell is happening?”
“Error response. Critical attack.”
The controller’s hands hovered over the board, stationary.
“Respond.”
The controller slumped forward, unresponsive.

Eight large black transporters, of the kind which had brought Adway to the complex, emerged from the side of the building, half way up the side of the aspect looking over the square. Adway watched, noting how elegantly the vehicles managed to cope with the stresses that were expected of them. It was the kind of incentive that The General – whatever his name was – loved to display.
“All this for my benefit?”
Stubbing out a cigarette, Adway headed back into the building, still undecided on what his answer would be, but needing to speak once more with The General.
The front entrance to the DCU headquarters was locked. Adway looked for his comm, but before he could bring up a connection was interrupted by a voice behind him.
“Are you the new guy?”
“Very. I haven’t even signed up yet.”
“At least you aren’t discounting the idea.”
“What business is it of yours anyway?” Adway turned to the young man behind him.
“My name is Adam. I’m in charge of the new team The General is putting together.”

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