I hate crime scenes - the technicians' excited intensity, the clutches of jaded cops telling in-jokes in hushed voices, the gawkers pressing hungrily at the yellow cordon. Mostly, though, I hate the fact that I can’t forget that the mess on the floor was once a human being.
This time the mess was the security guard at the MicroWet Production Lab #7. Pobre bastard. A shotgun blast in the mug at close quarters. As I stood in the entrance hall and glanced uneasily at the ruined face, a familiar voice, absurdly jovial, roared out: “Hey Rojo, looks like he really lost face, huh?” It was Lieutenant Winchell Kruller, a forty-something, once athletic guy, now the fattest cop on the force; “If you like him, you’ll love what’s in the lab.”
He led me through the airlock into the lab; seven people were lying face down on the floor, still wearing lab coats, bullet holes in the backs of their heads, holes carved in their necks. The air was awash with the metallic smell of human blood - the floor slippery with it.
“Here’s why they died,” Kruller led me through a forest of chemical tubing and wires to an array of empty tanks, “the wetgates are all missing.”
Wetgates are the half biological, half computer devices that allow humans to interface directly to the web, to WetNet. That is what they did at this lab; they manufactured, or grew, wetgates.
“Looks like another professional hit, Teniente. Your technicians have anyone in mind?”
“You tell me, that’s why we hired you.”
Guess I’d better introduce myself: Rufus Herrington, Rojo to most everyone; I’m an IfH, an Investigator for Hire. In the old days, before the term fell out of favour, I would have been called a “Private” Eye. Semi-private, anyway; today I’m on retainer with the San DiJuana police. They needed someone who specializes in webcrime, and I am one of the best. I’ve been at it since before the web went wet, back in 2020.
“Well,”drawled I drawled, as I picked gingerly around the room, careful not to disturb anything, “could be Jackoffs, but they’re usually not this thorough. Jackoffs usually go for the quick grab; whoever did this took the time to cut the PDRs out of the victims’ necks.”
PDR: Personal Data Recorder. A biochip implanted at birth, it grows into the nervous system and monitors a person’s experiences and life signs, and stores them in a 48-hour looping memory that can be read with a bio-scanner. Everything a person sees, hears, smells; their blood pressure, heart rate; a hundred different parameters, all there for the scanning. To mask, disable, or remove a PDR is a high privacy-crime. However, it also acted as the bio-I/O for a wetgate.
“I would have to say that this was a bLudd job. Or maybe Cryps. Too pro and too violent for Jackoffs.”
“NO,” Kruller said emphatically. The crime scene techs had moved into the lab, so he drew me aside and informed me in hushed and earnest tones that “Orders from on high is no wild goose chases. You concentrate on Jackoffs, claro?”
No, it wasn’t clear, but I kept my mouth shut and let him continue.
“I want you to sniff around, Rojo. You’ll know it when you smell it; not the usual small-time deal, there’s somethin’ big in the air. You look for the missing gates. You look for big money.”
“We already have a contact for you, a snitch trying to plea-bargain down a nasty rap. He’s ready to rat out his fellow Jackoffs. Nice little tipo. You’ll like him”. He fished in his pocket and produced a placa with a name and address. I took it and split.
Got into my car slipped the placa into the card-reader in the dash. The car mapped the most expeditious route to the address on the card, checked it for jams and accidents, and wheeled out into traffic.
Cruising along the boulevard, past the bodmod parlours, drug clubs, prosthetutes, and the ubiquitous red-and-yellow striped taco joints, I pondered the job back at MicroWet. It would have taken a goodly amount of organization and sophistication to pull it off. It just didn’t feel like Jackoffs to me. I had watched the crime scene techs canvass the place with their gene-sniffers, but I would have bet millón dólares that they would find nothing - that the ladróns had worn plastiskins. Whoever it was had also made off with the surveillance globes. Again: too pro for Jackoffs. But why did the police wave me off the bLudds and the Cryps? True, they are muy difficult to track down; some even say that they are just a cybermyth. But how else to explain all the robberies like the one at MicroWet, and the recent web attacks?
The bLudds and the Encrypted Ones (aka Cryps) are fanatical neo-Luddite cyber-terrorists, intent upon the corruption, if not the destruction, of WetNet. They are putatively responsible for the Kamakazinski attacks, Trojan-Whores and other sabotage and insurgency actions inside the web. Not officially acknowledged by the police, they are nonetheless under on-going informal investigation.
The car pulled up at an apartment bloque in an upscale barrio. This puto must be doing okay if he can afford an above-ground dwelling. I went to the address on the card and announced myself to the doorward. The doorward scanned me for weapons and viruses, then summoned the occupant, one Axon Jaxon. “Fuck you want?” he yelled through the door.
“It’s Herrington - Kruller sent me.” The door inched open cautiously. Axon was twenty-something, pale, underfed, eyes red and swollen. Probably wearing a fet pump. Probably on his way to going atro. He introduced himself as “Axon, but you can call me Ax”, and extended a phthisic mano; I could see his gang logo branded into his forearm. I declined the invitation to shake. “Let’s cut the niceties. Cops said you have some info on the recent spate of gate heists.”
By the flash of annoyance on his face, it was obvious that he didn’t care for such a plain statement of the situation, but I didn’t feel like making nice. The crime scene was still on my mind: something about looking at dead people first thing in the morning puts me in a bad mood. “Yeah, I got información”, he sneered, and motioned me to the couch; he sat opposite in a highback.
Jaxon is a Jackoff: a nanosurgeon who specializes in the unlawful alteration of the long-chain polypeptide serial code secreted by wetgates. With a modded gate, persons with reason to do so can enter and move about WetNet anonymously - highly illegal.
“So let’s get down to it,” I said, “what d’ya got for me?”
“This’ll buy me out of my beef, right? I mean, this’ll fix things for me with la policía, si?” I nodded assent. “Okay, then. I have a client, Amanita Pantera. Bitch is into fencing modded wetgates. She let slip that a couple of her contacts, Jackoffs name of Boone and Jocko, have a large shipment of hijacked gates in their possession. I can give you her ID, but that’s all I can do. She says that these guys are trying to do a big deal with the bLudds. If the bLudds find out I’m pointin’ the finger, well, I wouldn’t want to be me, amigacho. He laughed nervously, but we both knew that it was no joke.
I said nothing. I made no sign. I just sat back and watched him. He soon started to squirm, glancing sidelong at his terminal. I knew what he wanted. He wanted to get back into WetNet.
“Look”, he said, “you don’t have to hang around or anything, right? I give you what you want…” He tossed a placa at me; I slipped it into my porta-reader and it came up with the name and address of Ms Pantera. La poli must really have his cojónes in the vise if he was ready to rat out one of his clients.
“What does Kruller have on you, anyway?”
“Got caught wearin’ a collar.” To avoid having their biochips scanned, people sometimes wear an aluminum foil collar, a privacy-crime with severe consequences. Ironic that the paranoids used to make aluminum foil hats in an attempt to shield their thoughts. Doubly ironic since paranoia itself is now a crime.
I saw myself out. I wasn’t even out the door yet before Axon was logging back onto WetNet.
Time to head home before following up on Axon’s lead. Wanted to get a bite to eat, and do a little on-line search.
I live down in le sur de San DiJuana, Old TJ, off Avenida Revolución, Cueva Central. I took the escalator down to my level, stopping first at the Grand Mall to pick up a little comidas rapida to munch on back at the pad.
At home, gulping down a truly foul tofu burrito, I told my computer to log me onto the net.
“Do you want me to read you your mail first? You have five unread letters.”
“No”, I replied, “just go to Records and look this up”. I slipped the placa given me by Axon into the computer’s card reader.
“Amanita Pantera,” the computer stated in a matter-of-fact tone, “31, 5’8”, 120 lbs. No outstanding wants or warrants; police record of minor traffic and privacy infractions, and one conviction for smuggling tobacco, sentence suspended. Geoaddress is 27 Ave de Magonistas, Cueva Oeste, level three, domicilio 32. Webaddress is DeathAngel. Works part-time at a MicroWet Distribution Facility…,” as the computer droned on, I turned my attention to her picture gallery: que bonita.
The computer noticed that my attention was flagging, “Do you want me to continue reading her stats, or what?”
“No” I said as I slapped on my wetgate, “log me onto WetNet and take me to the DeathAngel webpage.” Webpage is a term left over from the days before the web was wet. Not a “page”, rather, it is a multi-dimensional piece of surrealestate, bounded only by the imagination of the Node to whom it belongs.
As I logged on, I was assailed by the usual spam and velveeta. First, a cheesy public service announcement known as velveeta: a dour government official appeared and gravely pronounced that “Privacy is a crime. The honest citizen has nothing to hide”, pointing his finger at me, “Only you can prevent privacy.” And then dissolved.
Next, a sincere woman with large wet eyes materialized, “Take care of yourself, Webster - don’t go atro”, she warned, and morphed into a scene of some feeble, atrophied bloke sitting at his computer. Her voice-over continued, “If you or someone you know is having problems with atro, go to the AtroCity website. Further assistance can be…”
But she was interrupted; a vigorous spam muscled its way through my filter, a skinny homeboy with a tattoo face and an expensive bodmod goatee of platinum wire. “Hey Loco, you know you don’t want to miss a microsecond of action in WetNet. Come to me, Speedy Gonzales, the Manic Hispanic. Let me fix you up with the latest and greatest fet-pump. My staff of factory-trained surgeons will implant a drug pump, fill it with the amphetamine of your choice, and it will meter drug directly into your cerebrospinal fluid. First refill is free…” before he could go on any further, I shouldered my way out of his advert and added him to my reject filter.
I am going to have to get a better filter. My current one, Import-Tune, claimed: “Tired of inadvertently importing annoying spam and velveeta? Tune your filters to reject all unwanted files. Remember: don’t be importuned, use Import-Tune!” - but it just doesn’t seem up to the task lately.
The computer routed me to the DeathAngel website. I announced myself as TheDredPriest - that is how I am known in WetNet. It’s an old college joke that stuck – a reference to my hairstyle and color, and to the fact that I dropped out of divinity school in UCWN. In retaliation, I had composed a reggae version of Juditha Triumphans.
Her doorward informed me that she was not online right now, but that I was welcome to tour the public area of her website. After a thorough scan, I was admitted to her foyer. It was a simple site, just some furniture, and a few animations on the walls. I sat down and picked up her scrapbook that was floating nearby. It told me that DeathAngel enjoyed reading, gaming, websports, blah, blah, blah…” the usual foyer drivel. I signed her guestbook and took my leave.
I considered going to a webmovie, but I was feeling pretty sleepy. I don’t like falling asleep online. Karl Jung would have loved it, but I find dreaming strange enough without putting up with interactive dreams, one of the unforeseen consequences of WetNet. When a Node falls asleep online, his dreams become participants in the Net. But it became too bizarre and chaotic for the run-of-the-mill Webster to deal with. Now, when the Net senses a Node’s delta rhythms reach dreaming threshold, according to the Node’s preference, it either knocks him offline, or shunts him to a dreamroom to share dreams with other sleeping Nodes. It gets muy freaky in there, yo.
Another unforeseen by-product of WetNet is the Freebird phenomenon. Freebird is what happens to a Node when he dies while online. His consciousness still has virtual existence within the Net, even though his body has ceased to function. But without a homenode, the Freebird becomes increasingly diffuse, and after four or five days, evaporates. I have encountered Freebirds several times. Very pathetic. They are usually frantic, flitting about, trying to hang on. Sad. But what can ya do?
Outside Amanita’s site, I told my computer to log me out. Back in my room, I did off my wetgate, put it in its mousehouse, and plugged a feeding tube into its umbilicus. I petted it for a minute; it rippled with pleasure under my hand, then it drifted off to sleep. ‘bout time for me to catch some sueño, too. After half a bottle of mezcal, I did just that.
I rose early next morning, and after a breakfast of menudo and coffee, I went to pay a visit to Miss Pantera. I staked out her domocilio, and when she left, I tailed her. I could have just barged in on her, but I wanted to catch her off her home turf - safer that way. She took the metro over to the Caliente racetrack. Looks like she’s a betting chica.
Amid the clamour of the track, I sidled up to her. “Buenos dias Señorita, my name is Herrington, Rufus Herrington. You may call me Rojo.”
She looked up from her racing form, gave me the once over, a perfunctory “Mucho gusto”, and went back to her form. Probably used to hombres trying to pick up on her.
A voice over the loudspeaker announced the beginning of the next race, and the starting gates flew open, releasing the greyhounds. Although Amanita seemed to be ignoring me, I went on. “We have a mutual friend, you and I. Well, to be truthful, I don’t really think that Ax considers me a friend.”
With that I had her total attention. She turned her back on the dog race and faced me, arms akimbo, “Hokay man, just what do you want?”
She was wearing a bouncy sundress, full of color, with a healthy display of cleavage. Her brown tresses spilled about her shoulders. A face a man could fall in love with. “Well, it’s what you want, I should think. I mean, do you want your freedom, or do you want to take up residence in El Pueblito?” El Pueblito, or “Little Village”, was the nickname for the notorious La Mesa Prison. Not a nice place. A wealthy prisionero could afford above ground accommodations, good food and drinking water, visitors, drugs and booze; even cigarettes. The less well off sank into the hell of the lower levels. The thought of what would happen to a pretty young girl like Amanita… But the threat was real. If she did not cooperate, Kruller would have no compunction against throwing her in there. I have known him many years; he can be single-mindedly ruthless when it comes to getting the job done.
I indicated that we should continue our conversation in a more private venue, and we quit the racetrack for a small cantina a few blocks away. I ordered a couple of tequilas. I tossed mine back, and as she sipped at hers and stared at the table, I began. “Look, I know what you are into. You can help us, or not - you’ve got that choice. But either way, your gate fencing days are over.”
“What kind of help?” her sullen tone said that she knew she was had.
“Kruller is looking for a large shipment of gates. Not the usual small quantities the Jackoffs handle, this is something special. There should be some big ripples in the inframundo. He refuses to admit it, but I believe the bLudds or the Cryps may be involved.” She winced at their mention. “I know that you have a line on a couple of gente del hampa named Boone and Jocko. I also know that there is intelligence that indicates that they may be involved in something big that’s set to go down soon,” I said, inflating my slim lead. “I want you to get me in with these guys. Introduce me as a high roller that wants to make a big purchase, and I’ll take it from there. Then you can go and sin no more. I’ll fix you with Kruller.”
She agreed reluctantly, and we made an appointment to meet the next day, by which time she would have arranged a meet with the two Jackoffs.
Back at my crib, I poured myself a cerveza and logged into WetNet. I was in the mood for a little mindless entertainment.
Once inside, I went to one of the popular game rooms. This one was called “Hunter-Splatterer”. I was in a jungle hunting other Nodes. My only weapon was a gamma-ray laser pulse rifle with infrared imaging, fore and aft firing capability, anticipatory targeting algorhythms, and a multiple independent warhead launcher. I blew away three Websters before I got caught in someone’s sights and found myself on the dead bench. Good thing my avatar wasn't set to feel pain.
Well that was enough of that. I left, and as I wandered aimlessly about the net, I was approached by a couple of solemn looking youngsters. “The Beginning is Near”, they intoned. Mutationists. Harmless, really. The Mutationists preach that WetNet is the next step in human evolution, and that all Websters must prepare themselves for the moment when the net becomes sentient: The Beginning. Kooks. I had heard it all before; I sidestepped them and continued on my way.
I noticed a throng of Nodes up ahead, watching something in a public cube. A group of ParaTroupers was at the focus of their attention. A ParaTroupe is a parallel processing team; a network of experts in a particular discipline who link their knowledge, expertise, and talent, along with the power of their computers, to work on a particular problem, to explore, experiment, create. The ParaTroupe before us now was a small amalgam of musicians and graphic artists who were materializing musical forms to the awe and delight of the assembled Nodes.
As the music soared and plunged, volutes of ever changing color and texture swept over the audience. Geometrical forms of ungraspable complexity blossomed in counterpoint to the main theme of the piece, to collapse and resolve into new structures of emotion and beauty.
I gazed, rapt, but a movement in the periphery of my vision caught my attention. Axon was hurrying past. He had apparently not seen me, so just for the hell of it I broke away and followed him.
He led me out of respectable neighbourhoods into the seamier areas of the net. I usually don’t come down here, unless business leads me. Here there is purveyed such sexual and spiritual perversion that the ordinary Webster would recoil in disgust and horror. Why was Axon heading this way? Perhaps he had tastes of a “refined” unnature.
He stopped in front of a PUI, a PornoGraphical User Interface, and logged onto it. He manipulated it expertly, inserting various parts of his body into various parts of its. Soon, his contact materialized. It was Amanita. I listened from a discrete distance. “I hate it when you call me like this Jaxon,” Amanita said, “you cabrón, why can’t you just ring me on the telephono?”
“One must get one’s pleasures while one may,” Axon sniggered. “So did Kruller’s errand boy find you yet?”
“Yeah, he found me, thanks to you. Muchísimas gracias for ratting me out.”
“Sorry, chiquita, survival of the rattest. But as compensation I will give you a little piece of consejo: if you see Kruller coming, run the other way.”
“What the hell does that...”
“Just a word to the wise,” Jaxon broke in, “He may have more than an official interest in this matter. Looks like he wants to go into business for hisself. If you want to stay vivito y coleando, stay outa his way.”
Jaxon abruptly terminated the call, so I quickly logged off WetNet to avoid his spotting me.
Back in my flat I lay in bed staring at the ceiling. Kruller. Is he dirty? Why would he be interested in a shitload of hijacked wetgates? He stands to make more in commission if he recovers them than if he were to try to market them. And the penalty if he were caught would be horrific.
As I drifted into sleep with these questions circling in my thoughts, Amanita’s face appeared in my mind. With a sudden flash of realization I understood why I found her so attractive. Of course: she had no facial tattoos, no brands, no cicatrix, no ironmongery, no bodmods; none of the elective mutilation that passes for beauty these days. Oh well I guess I am just old fashioned…
Next day I left for my appointment with Amanita. We had arranged to meet in the Rio Tijuana District under the statue of Bill Gates, the patron saint of old TJ. Back in the old days, there was a company called MicroSoft. It was a highly successful software company. The government coveted the wealth of MicroSoft, and tried many times (unsuccessfully) to assimilate it through legal and quasi-legal means. Frustrated, the government finally sent in armed troops to storm the MicroSoft complex in Seattle, occupied it, and nationalized it.
Gates and his inner circle, who had had advance word of the invasion, fled to Mexico, and regrouped in Tijuana. There they founded a new company, MicroWet, based on new wetware technology that Gates and his engineers had been able to take with them before they were raided. MicroWet grew at an astonishing rate, and to the impotent rage of the US government, Gates’ fortune grew to incalculable proportions. He bought TJ from Mexico and rebuilt it, constructing homes, revamping the community infrastructure, improving public transportation. He built several factories for the production of wetgates, and offered jobs to all that wanted them.
TJ flourished, and its people prospered. However, envious politicians en el Estados Unidos leveled accusations that Bill was a slavemaster, an evil Patrón, the people of TJ his personal esclavo labor force. So in a surprise move, Bill gifted TJ to the state of California, which appended it to the city of San Diego. What did he care? With his fabulous personal wealth he could buy it back if he chose. Besides, he knew that it would be a white elephant for the US; that they wouldn’t be able to support TJ in the style to which it was accustomed. It was just his way of thumbing his nose at the forces of governmental greed. As it turned out, Bill passed away not too long afterwards. All of old TJ shut down and mourned him for a solid month, in the way that only Mexicanos can mourn.
As a kimchee vendor trundled her cart under the shadow of Señor Bill, Amanita appeared. “Hola”, she said, “let’s get this over with. I will take you to the house of Jocko. He and his partner are expecting you. I have told them that you are a buyer for a big-time Jackoff en el norte. They believe this because they trust me. This could get me fucken killed.”
“Do not fear”, I assured her, “Kruller will fix you up with a new ID, a new life.” Feeling a little sorry for her, and perhaps a little in love with her, I added, “I will take a personal hand in seeing to it that you are well taken care of.” What am I thinking? Am I thinking? I am old enough to be her padre, for Christos sake.
We took the trolley up to Balboa Park, and took the elevator down to a palatial domocilio under the bell tower. Amanita made the introductions “Boone, Jocko, this is Rufus, the tipo I was telling you about.”
“Call me Rojo”, I said as I shook hands with the two Jackoffs, “So you have some gates you want to move. I’ve got money to spend. Let’s do some business.”
They produced a tray with twenty or so gates submerged in a nutrient bath. Hardly the big score that Kruller had led me to expect.
“Is this all? I thought you guys were supposed to be big time...”
Just then the doorward started screaming, “Unauthorized Entry –Unauthorized Entry – Unauthor…”, and a muffled explosion blew the door off its hinges. It hurled it into the room, smashing into the hapless Jocko, killing him instantly. In through the smoke, his boots crunching in the rubble, strode Kruller. He was brandishing a nasty looking machine pistol. With it he motioned us into the corner, then put a slug into Jocko, just to make sure.
“Good work Rufus, but I’ll take over from here”, Kruller said. Putting the gun up to Boone’s forehead, he growled“where’s the gates?”
“Sorry, Kruller, they’ve only got one tray full”, I laughed bitterly, “hardly worth all this. ” A pistol butt to the side of my head shut me up.
“You know what I’m talking about, Boone; not the gates, THE Gates. Where is it?”
“In there”, Boone nodded towards the back room.
Kruller herded us through the door into the next room. There, sitting at a computer, logged onto WetNet was an odd looking creature. His face was round and bland, with blank, protuberant eyes, giving him a somewhat frog-like appearance. His cranium sloped away severely towards the back of his head.
“Mierda”, whispered Amanita.
“Who the hell is that?” I gasped.
“What the hell is that, you shouldask,” said Kruller. That thing is a NoBrainer - a specially bred anencephalic lump of meat - a body purposely engineered to have no brain. Oh, it has a cerebellum and certain mid-brain structures - just enough stuff to support life: respiration, body temp, that kinda stuff, but no higher brain functions.
Amanita approached it and gingerly placed her hand on its arm. The thing appeared totally insensate.
“Turns out that when Bill Gates died, he was online at the time. He went Freebird. His cronies at MicroWet realized what had happened, and combed hospitals looking for brain-dead patients. When they found one, they bought it and hooked it up to Bill’s personal wetgate. Since there was no one at home in the body, Gates was able to use it as his Homenode, and was able to forestall evaporating as a Freebird”
With a shudder, Amanita backed away from the abomination, put her arms around me, and buried her face in my chest.
“Over the years, several replacements had to be procured because the bodies are hard to keep alive. So now MicroWet grows their own. They have a short shelf life, so they just keep growing new ones, and replacing them as necessary. If they keep this up, Bill could live forever. As a matter of fact, anyone who can afford a NoBrainer subscription could.”
“So what is Bill’s NoBrainer doing here?” I asked.
“A rogue MicroWet employee took exception to the company’s plan to begin marketing NoBrainers, so she contacted the bLudds and told them where they could find Gates. He was being warehoused in the wetgate factory where I met with you the other day.”
“The bLudds contracted with Boone and the late Jocko to steal him. They wanted to use him as a bargaining chip with which to blackmail MicroWet. I figured that I could grab Gates myself; I am certain that MicroWet will want to express to me in substantive terms their gratitude for his return.
I’m sure that Kruller would like to have explained further, but just then his head exploded, making that rather difficult. Behind him stood a pissed-off looking guy with a smoking gun.
“Si”, he hissed, the bLudds wanted Gates, and now we got him.” Several bLudd soldados walked into the room behind him and stationed themselves strategically. “Saludo”, he said with a sarcastic tone, “allow me to introduce myself: Ezekiel Hyall, a sus órdenes”, he bowed in mock courtesy. “Well Boone, looks like you and your associate have managed fuck this up pretty good. Why don’ you join him…”, and put one between his eyes.
Amanita started sobbing, so he belted her in the jaw. I saw red, and heedless of the consequences, launched myself at his face. I got in a few quick licks, and tore out his bodmod implant (a horn growing out of his forehead), before a rifle butt knocked me sprawling.
I woke up tied to a chair, sitting next to Gates’ NoBrainer and to Amanita, who was also bound. The bLudd commandos were applying wetgates to our necks.
The bLudd leader stood over me, his face still bloody from my attack. “My friends and I are arranging a little thank you for interfering in our plans. We are going to log you and the girl into WetNet, Freebird you, and route you into our online hideout where you will be infected with mind-viruses, and tortured until you evaporate. Gates, too. I’ve lost interest in him.”
The bLudds connected our wetgates into the computer terminal, and put us online. I then watched in horror as a bLudd soldier cut the throat of Gates’ NoBrainer, then my beautiful Amanita.
“Alto”, commanded Hyall, “give to me the knife. This I will do myself.”
He stood behind me, and I felt with shock the pain of the knife cutting through my throat, the life rushing out of my body, and terror as my consciousness fled into WetNet.
I was a Freebird – a mind without a body, adrift within WetNet. In a panic, I looked around. There I found Gates and Amanita, frantic, lost.
The bLudds' computer grabbed us and started routing us down into their chamber of torture, but as we picked up speed, a strange light broke upon us. I looked up and saw a moving river of golden light. It was beautiful. It seemed to pull us out of the computer’s grip, and we drifted up into it. As my mind joined with it, I felt a quiet joy washing away the terror of my murder. I reached out and found Amanita’s hand, and we melded with the molten river of living thought. Well it looks like the Mutationists were right: WetNet was waking up, becoming sentient.
Humanity had taken the next step in evolution.
by Mark Buckles
copyright 2007 - ad aeturnum