Thursday, December 15, 2011

Human Black Box: Devil's Advocate, Part 7

Alright, here's Part 7 in the continuing saga of Chloe and Zira.

Last time around Zira concocted a scheme that would either get them killed or get them into New Hope Colony. And by "them" I mean Chloe, and by "killed or get into the colony" I likely mean both. Today picks up with Zira following a few leads, and answering a few questions while Chloe infiltrates the New Hope Colony.

Zira sat outside, watching the lights flicker on the street signs. Chloe was by herself, left to babysit two forks inside of a hidden fundamentalist compound. While she did that, Zira, half a world way, had managed to track down information relating to Cameron; a ping back on one of the dozen or so cameras scattered throughout the city of Noctis-Qiangjiao. He apparently wasn’t one for changing the bodies of his flats; he had a particular morph that he liked and he kept it.
                The fact that he could be so intelligent and so stupid at the same time was staggering for her.
                She waited by the door, looking out through the window of the car. Earlier in the day she’d made her rounds among the pleasure pods to see if they knew anything about that particular pod, but they didn’t. She didn’t expect them too, but it never hurt to check. In fact, it felt rather good.
                Zira rubbed her temple, waiting for him. He wasn’t far from here; a flat in this neighborhood stood out. Especially considering most of the inhabitants of this neighborhood were synths and pods. She sat back, closing her eyes, when out of the corner of her eye, she spotted a familiar flat.
                Drawing her gun, she stepped out from the vehicle, walking after him. He was confident, walking like a peacock with his chest and chin stuck out. At least, until he looked behind him and realized that she was following him.
                He wheeled around and made a break for it. She followed, racing after him. In an attempt to shake he, Cameron jumped into a dense crowd of people, shoving them aside as Zira followed, the two pushing their way into the densely populate downtown region of the city.
                She didn’t attempt to take a shot yet. She kept behind him, though, having painted him in her AR. There wasn’t much of a chance of her losing him, but that didn’t keep her from worrying about it anyway. He made a leap of faith and plowed into a dense crowd, Zira stopping on the other side. Frowning, she brought up a map and accessed all of the individual cameras and real-time feeds from the different surveillance and sousveillance points in the city and ducked around the crowd, keeping her eye on Cameron as he continued to run.
                She would catch him when he came out through a nearby alleyway.
                Or so she thought, anyway.
                She almost stumbled to a stop; however, when she noticed several transhumans she didn’t recognize drawing guns instead and following him.
                Apparently, she wasn’t the only one who wanted him.
                She ducked into the alleyway – hopefully they couldn’t see her. She wasn’t exactly chasing after him, but she knew that if she4 could see them, it was likely that they could see her. And if they could see her, then they could figure out what it was she was doing.
                Cameron bolted into the open alleyway, looking over his shoulder at the men chasing after him. He ran right up to Zira, who grabbed him as she walked forward, and then pulled him into a nearby doorway, slamming the door shut behind him.
                His yells were muffled by her hand over his mouth.
                “Shut it. You saw the men in black behind you. If you don’t want them following us, then you’d best keep your mouth shut.”
                Zira pulled him into a nearby room, and threw him against the ground, training a gun on him.
                “Fork or real thing?”
                “Like you’d know,” he sputtered angrily.
                She held her gun up and put a bullet through his brain.
                “We’ll find out. Oh. And Chloe sends her regards.”

                Simulspace was something that she hadn’t quite grown accustomed to. Sure, she had some dealings in it – that was ultimately how she and Chloe managed to find the flats – but any kind of serious exploration of simulspace was something she wasn’t familiar with.
                She sat in a chair with one leg cross over the other. She had a few simulspace avatars, one of which was an uplifted gorilla, but she preferred instead the purple and blue avatar that looked closest to her in real life. She waited for a few seconds, and then she was joined by someone else.
                It was hazy, gray, and asexual.
                Cameron: [Am… am I dead?]
                Zira: [Sorta. Consider it something like limbo. We’re here for a little question and answer session, Bucko.]
                Cameron: [It’s just Buck.]
                Zira: [Uh huh. In case you didn’t realize, you’re not in any position to bargain. Now, tell me a little about yourself. First, are you a fork?]
                Cameron: [No.]
                He started to scream.
                Zira: [See, I forgot to tell you about that. Psychosurgery is a wonderful tool for helping people excise unwanted parts of their personality, develop new parts, and heal psychological scars as well as broken memories. They also serve a rather less admirable purpose of being a tool for me getting what I want out of you.]
                Cameron: [I… I…]
                Zira: [Try syllables and words. I’ll do this one more time – are you a fork?]
                Cameron: [Yes! Yes I am!]
                Zira nodded, making mental notes on an imaginary pad.
                Zira: [Okay. Next question: who created you?]
                Cameron: [Wouldn’t you lik…]
                He was cut off by his own screaming.
                Zira: [Wrong answer.]
                Cameron’s gray fork was quivering. In the deep recesses of her mind, Zira knew that this wasn’t going to get the answer that she was looking for. It never did. But she was hoping that perhaps she could intimidate him into giving something else up. In the meantime, she would continue her line of questioning, hoping that any signatures and signals that might be given by the fork could be picked up by any of the multitude of sensors that she had arrayed to detect them.
                Cameron: [He did. Cameron did.]
                There wasn’t a response. He must’ve been telling the truth.
                Zira: [So the ego that you belong too is named Cameron.]
                Cameron: [Yes.]
                Zira: [And is Cameron in New Hope Village?]
                Cameron: [Yes.]
                Zira: [Who else is there with him?]
                Cameron: [Everyone.]
                Zira frowned.
                Zira: [And who is ‘everyone’?]
                Cameron was hesitant.
                Zira: [And who is ‘everyone’?]
                He’d stubbed up. The scans were revealing that this was a heavily pruned copy; she strongly suspected that this was a delta fork. And if that was the case, then this interrogation session would do much good. Delta forks could have their memories removed, and other memories edited, so anything she got from him might be a lie. Part of her didn’t want to continue the line of questioning, because she knew now this was fruitless. Part of her did, because even fake names could be useful.
                The part that did won out, but her conscious managed to talk some sense into it. She caused Cameron’s fork to black out, excised the memory of the previous questioning with help from her Muse and the psychosurgery skillware, and then set about actually creating a background for her simulspace domain.
                She closed her eyes, and in a split second, there was a beautiful garden surrounding them. Perhaps it was time for a different approach. As she did so, she faded out and switched avatars to one she made on the spot, recoloring her current avatar and stripping it nude, with a bright light surrounding it. She made it bland; no sexual characteristics at all, just a massive silver shape with flowing robes that seemed to grow from the skin – the last thing she added was a halo and a pair of wings made of light. Cameron’s ego took on some color as well; silver and gold robes, with a face that resembled his own. He opened his eyes and looked around the garden, and then up at Zira as she stood there.
                Here was the new approach.
                Zira (appearing as ‘God’): [Stand up, Cameron.]
                She extended her hand. Cameron shielded his eyes, his hands quivering as he shook his head.
                Cameron: [You… you’re not god.]
                ‘God’: [I am what I am. Stand up. I have spoken.]
                The red mesh text was there for flavor, but it helped add emphasis: that and the fact that, as she spoke, the words appeared in giant letters red letters behind her. She increased her size almost 200x, until she towered well above him. Perhaps there was something to this simulspace business after all.
                With a wave of her hand, the garden shuddered, and towering trees ripped from the surface, climbing into the sky. A flight of jungle birds took to the air, vanishing in the distance.
                It was very realistic. She could smell the dew, and feel the warm caress of the sun. She could hear the hum of the insects and the buzz of activity. It was so peaceful.
                He looked up in shock.
                Cameron: [I… I am dead.]
                ‘God’: [No, you are not. Your body may be defunct, but you’ve served me will in life; your faith and your perseverance in the face of such transhumanity travesties of My will has earned you an everlasting life beside My throne in Heaven; from here to the Millennial to beyond.]
                Cameron’s fork started to cry. It started to sob uncontrollably, and broke down into heaving sobs. Zira kneeled down and shrunk back to normal size, put an arm around him, as he looked up at her.
                Cameron: [I… I didn’t know… I didn’t think that… I was hoping…]
                ‘God’: [Don’t hope, My child. You’re here now. Welcome home.]
                Cameron hugged her. She smiled faintly – there were better ways than torture to get what she wanted.
                Cameron: [I’m so… so happy]
                ‘God’: [I, however, have one to thing to ask of you, My son.]
                Cameron looked up at her, as he stumbled to his feet.
                Cameron: [What… what is it?]
                ‘God’: [Where is My Son? You were sent to retrieve him before you were senselessly murdered.]
                Cameron stared in blank surprise.
                Cameron: [Your son?]
                ‘God’: [Jesus Christ is My Son.]
                Cameron sat down on a flower-covered log.
                Cameron: [We saved him. Those monsters would have killed him. We… we lost so many during the Rapture… and when… and when you didn’t… he didn’t…]
                ‘God’: [Rest well, My son. You have done well in life. Your goal of retrieving My son and taking him New Hope Village where he could be saved will be the one thing that saves humanity from the hideous monstrosities that they have become in My eyes. He will be saved, and so will Humanity.]
                Cameron: [He… he’ll be able to save people from a different world?]
                Zira stopped. The next statement would have to be worded very carefully to make this work, providing the fork even knew at all.
                ‘God’: [Very; and from that forgotten world, they will spread My message to the universe. Thus, when I return, after the Tribulation has passed, I will have all of My children with me to ascend to heaven. And the non-believers and sinners will burn in Hell for eternity.]
                Cameron: [Forgotten world? Is that why they needed me to find the Doctor?]
                ‘God’: [Verily.]
                Cameron: [But… it’s just one world. And Tsion said that we’d only be able to get through one gate at a time.]
                World? Gate?
                Pandora gate. Extrasolar colony.
                Bingo. Bingo, bingo, bingo. She felt a surge of excitement almost rip her out of her seat.
                This was huge.
                From here, it became a matter of swallowing the excitement and working through to the end. It was a huge find. One that made her tremble with excitement outside of simulspace.
                ‘God’: [And that is how I designed them – but as I designed, I can change. Trust in Me, My child. You have done well in life – now it is time for you to enjoy the fruits of your labor.]
                She gestured out towards the garden.
                Cameron: [It’s… it’s all for me?]
                ‘God’: [All for you, my child. Soon, during my Millennial, it will be for those like you. You were right in your faith. Now enjoy the fruits of your effort.]
                Cameron’s fork stumbled upright, lit up in shock, and looked over at her. With a broad smile, he bolted into the paradise jungle, vanishing as she watched. As the fork raced into the jungle, smiling with tears streaming down his face, he began to slow down, and there was a white light, and then everything went blank.

                Zira sat in the room, her eyes half closed. They’d – her and two others that she’d corralled into helping her – ditched the dead flat and uploaded the mind into an ego bridge that they’d attached to a mainframe ecto. Cameron was locked away inside of the hard-drive of the ecto; trapped until it ran out of memory in the simulspace heaven that Zira constructed. Or until someone accidentally deleted the memory, whichever came first.
                They were taking the Christ-bot through the gates, and onto an extrasolar world. This meant they owned an extra-solar colony somewhere in the galaxy, and that they must’ve been brinkers. While Cameron had never outright said it, Zira was able to piece together that the reason they selected that Christ-bot at that time was because it had the gate coordinates necessary to open the gate and take them to that extrasolar colony that…
                She stopped.
                This wasn’t making any sense.
                She leaned back. This wasn’t making any sense at all.
                Why would they need a Christ-bot that knew coordinates to an extrasolar colony they knew existed?
                Maybe they lost the coordinates?
                Why would a Christ-bot know those coordinates anyway?
                Is that why Dr. Mahmoud-Martinique wanted that particular ego – because it had coordinates to an extrasolar colony?
                So many questions. So few answers.
                She hated how trite that sounded, but as she stood up and walked towards the shower, she found she couldn’t think of a better way to put it.


  1. attempt to shake he


    shoving them aside as Zira followed

    Remove the "as" and start a new sentence there instead.

    the densely populate downtown


    if she4 could see them

    Finger slipped and hit a number key?

    She sat in a chair with one leg cross over the other.

    "She sat in a chair, one of her legs crossed over the other."

    (Needs a past tense, plus chairs have legs too.)

    It was hazy, gray, and asexual.

    Technically correct, but confusing in practice. Androgynous, perhaps?

    the ego that you belong too


    interrogation session would do much good


    her conscious managed to talk some sense


    [You… you’re not god.]

    He'd capitalise it.

    giant letters red letters

    Should only have the second "letters".

    served me will in life

    Served Me well.

    such transhumanity travesties


    Cameron’s fork started to cry. It started to sob uncontrollably, and broke down into heaving sobs.

    Both the "starting to" and the "sob" are repetitive.

    [I’m so… so happy]

    Missing a period.

    taking him New Hope Village

    Taking him to New Hope Village.


    Verily, I think.

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