Story Updates


I’d like to say that I’m making some progress on my story, but it seems for each step I take forward, another curve of the staircase reveals itself…Right now I’ve got the following. I’m currently working on a near-future story about a man using nanotech decades ahead of it’s time for espionage purposes…I’m going to give the story a slightly comedic bent, I think, but given the number of possible scenes I’ve come up with i think I have something workable…If only I could get a cohesive, interesting plot to follow and tack my scenes to, I’ll be set. Though I suspect I’m creating my story in reverse, it’s all I’ve got haha.

This is an opening scene I’ve devised where the main character, whose sort of a homely loser – yet likeable – sort has asked his interrogater, an empath trained in interrogation via the electromagnetic linkage of synaptic implants, his name. The main character doesn’t have the proper linkages to mentally translate the empath’s response, and the empath is not a particularly nice person, so to illustrate his ensuing point:

And that’s what I have so far, taken straight out of my work journal…Thoughts for this intro?

"Pain. Rodderick screamed as skin curled back onto itself; each whorl enveloping an entire universe of agony. Shock forced his eyes open to see motes of color dancing across his field of vision, numerous as the sands of the Sahara. His senses were alight, palpable waves of burning dancing across his sinuses, his nose turned cold as if filled by a winter gale, and he was fairly certain he’d just wet himself. His nostrils flared, then spasmed briefly as the earthy spice of cardamom soaked in, a poor complement to the overpowering taste of garlic. The taste-smell combination set his guts to churning, but in an instant it was already over.

Rodderick gasped with relief, head bowed, and a chill draft brought his eyes to his bare feet. His toenails had acquired crescents of earth, and perhaps traces of the thirty-seven other brands of filth that formed the compacted floor of his cell. Roddy liked that not at all. Centering himself, he inhaled in a controlled fashion and willed a systemwide breakdown of cortisol, shock protocols be damned. Hells if he was going to lose face in front of a Bridger, rapidly cooling crotch or not. He exhaled sharply, feeling his pulse drop by 30 beats per minute, heart machinery forced into a nominal rate. Warning protocols briefly flickered luminescent green across his vision but a subvocal command dismissed the missives before they came into clear focus.

Confident he could now speak without a quaver, Rodderick turned an angry glare to the figure seated in front of him, a compact, powerfully built male, perhaps 34-P. Fair freckled skin, red hair shaved close to the scalp in a rather unremarkable manner, yet his eyes were a penetrating dark gray that locked onto Roddy’s blue orbs and demanded his attention with an unsettling intensity. "What the _____ (need an original curse word to show linguistic drift) was that?!" Roddy demanded aloud. The man raised a single eyebrow. "I answered your question," the Bridger responded in a nonregional, yet precise baritone. "Bridge Specialist Jeff-"…And Rodderick’s brain cramped a second time. A small part of him, the acclaimed scientist part, noted that brain cramps were physiologically impossible. A larger part said "Piss off, Bridger, enough!" By then, however, Jeff- had raised a hand, pointing to a bright metal badge on his chest. A nametag that had been blank before. "Bridge Specialist Jeff-"

"You’re P.S.I.-deaf, so you didn’t get the rest of it," Jeff- said, as much to himself as to Rodderick. "Your hardware lacks the linkages required for mind-to-mind. Which means you pass." Jeff- gave the ghost of a smirk and his eyebrow rose still higher as he briefly considered Roddy’s pants, then found his eyes again. "So to speak." Roddy wasn’t about to let that go. "Pass what? I wasn’t aware I was being detained for groundless tests. Detained for no reason whatsoever, perhaps…That’s what I’ve been told…But not for tests." Good, see I’m not impressed by your P.S.I chest-thumping government lackey, Roddy thought. Jeff- did not seem to note that thought. That bid well. His enhancements must be holding out after all. "Surely a Cog of your talent knows P.S.I.-tech is illegal in non-federal hands. Standard procedure." Rodderick did indeed know that such enhancements were not only illegal, but ultimately fatal for most recipients, though he had yet to work out why that was. Most, he mused as he studied Jeff-‘s blue police uniform with an air of feigned uninterest.

A warm draft pulled Roddy’s gaze downwards once more and there sat a rather sizeable pool of urine at his feet. The puddle continued to grow ever so slowly, though Roddy’s bladder had long since stopped, and despite himself, he lifted his feet off the floor at the lukewarm touch of the "liquid." _____ I.R. Projections…Rodderick was no novice to this game, however, and this knowledge gave him power. He dipped a finger into the puddle and it turned reflective as mercury at his touch. His own expression stared back with a hint of smugness. Thick black eyebrows, dark brown skin a marked contrast to his ice blue eyes…Wavy black hair with a shock of blonde at the front melted at the temples into a perpetual haze of stubble and a thin bar of blonde on the chin. He’d inherited his mother’s eyes, but bought better ones via gene therapy. The thought of the row they’d had over that brought a smile to Rodderick’s face.

"You noted the unreality and broke the Immersion spell. Well done. You’re quite familiar with them, aren’t you?" Jeff- stated in a tone devoid of any real amazement. Roddy briefly entertained giving the oaf a demonstration by willing the droplet on his finger into a firehose of urine at his command, but wisely tabled that idea. Still, it made him smile even wider. Jeff- did not, and the ice in his eyes killed Roddy’s growing confidence like a fire extinguisher. "Ahem…Naturally. I work for Biosyn," Rodderick stated. Jeff-‘s expression betrayed something for just a fraction of an instant, but it was gone just as fast. Smoothing out to apparent disinterest before Rodderick could even classify the expression. "Your file says as much," Jeff- said as he reached behind himself and pulled out a thick, leather-bound tome from thin air. He cracked it open and began leafing through it, eyes darting left to right in a manner eerily similar to an early word processor. He spoke even as he continued his inhuman scan. "Dr. Rodderick Mason, age 42-A, 26-P, D.O.B. 06/24/2053. Citizen of the United States, base height 1.8 meters, base alpha wave function 10-61 (exponent value), retinal-" 

"I know who I am!" Roddy snapped, and instantly regretted the outburst. He’d overcompensated for the Bridger’s mind-games. Jeff- had to have noted that. Such a loss of control was unlike him but the man simply radiated calm complacency…"We do as well," Jeff- responded in a dry monotone. "Glad to see we’re on the same page."  Roddy decided to move things along. "I know what it’s about; the police told me nothing, but my…Escorts…Talk overloud. Bioterrorism-suspect. Illegal clone?! Please. Who would clone a respected-" "Can you blame the feds for caution since Pakistan? Savannah apes with WMD’s…," Jeff- interjected, recalling a popular comparison regarding the evolution of human morality vs. it’s technological prowess. He continued to study the pages. "Mmm…I don’t see "respected" in here but I can append your file if you’d prefer." Roddy narrowed his eyes at that. Jeff- waved a hand and the book dispersed into the aether. Rodderick decided to take the offensive. "My gen-file is up to date and registered. This detainment goes beyond the bounds of decency…And 10 hours in this I.R. hellhole? I WILL be lodging a formal complaint with-"

"Your DNA is Privatized," Jeff- intoned, and Roddy’s breath caught. His genetic code was indeed Privatized. At the heart of the nucleus of every single one of Rodderick’s cells lurked a single prion. Quasi-living protein complexes keyed to snap chromosomes like twigs if the gen-signature was scanned. Privatization was not illegal, but it raised eyebrows and…Complicated matters. But what was truly troubling is that Roddy’s prions are keyed to resist invasive scanning, not the surface-gloss methods used by the police, government, businesses, appliances, and pretty much anything else that requires registration to operate. Which is to say, everything.

A single bead of sweat tickled a path down Roddy’s temple and he swore Jeff-‘s eyes tracked it’s progress. Bridger-games, he reminded himself as he readied the half-truth he reserved for this day. "If you know I work for Biosyn, then you know my area of research. Cognitive epigenetics. I know better than anyone what today’s tech is capable of." Jeff- sounded amused though it hardly showed. "You fear the work which you’ve dedicated your life towards?" Roddy met that tone head-on with confidence. "We live in an age where it’s technologically feasible to dismantle the planet. I respect the powers afforded to the common citizen," and his inner ear cracked like a whip as he swallowed to wet a suddenly dry throat. What was he thinking?! Was that double meaning truly his own intent or did the Bridger draw that forth? Careless…

Jeff- eyed Rodderick cooly, then guided his eyes downwards once more with his stare. The puddle had grown to encompass the floor of the cell. Roddy smirked despite his discomfiture and attempted to evaporate the puddle through a software override. The puddle began to reek even more. Jeff- tsked three times in rapid succession, watching Roddy squirm like a neutrino in a phase-flavor detector. Rodderick checked his biosignatures again. Heart-rate, body temperature, alpha-waves, pupil dilation…All nominal for a nervous, stressed male of his age, but nothing incriminating. The police scans wouldn’t see a thing out of the ordinary. But what did Jeff- see?

A single drop of water leaked in from the ceiling somewhere, breaking the silence with a DRIP….A long moment passed. Then a minute. Jeff- leaned forward, placing his hands together, and continued to stare into Roddy without moving a muscle. Drip…Rodderick forced himself to meet that gaze. If he couldn’t remain as calm as his readings would indicate he was done for. True thought-detection was, of course, entirely illegal without due cause…But alpha-wave scans were but a single step below, as Roddy knew all too well. He’d helped design some of the earlier models, after all…Drip…Rodderick flinched…"So what happens now?" Roddy asked, trying to dispel the awkwardness. Jeff- remained stone-faced…Drip…Roddy recalled the dose of mental scrambling he’d recieved…Was it really just a name?…The DRIP…Of water mocked his efforts at calm, keeping pace with his racing thoughts…No! This is how Bridgers work, he told himself…Standard procedure mind-  

Getting off of his pickle barrel, Jeff- walked towards Rodderick, polished boots clipping against the hard "earth." "You’re being released," Jeff- stated out of the blue, and without permission, placed a hand on each side of Rodderick’s head. "Your explaination checks out with your superiors at Biosyn." Jeff- removed the I.R. inducers from the sides of his head with a soft pop and Roddy felt a brief brush of calloused fingertips against the sides of his head. The dungeon cell melted away, revealing a 10×10 meter room, faceted across it’s entire area with purple octagonal panels; like the inside of a fly’s eye. As Jeff- pulled back, Rodderick noticed a curious scar, like a healed knife-wound, only jagged; messier, spread across the back of Jeff-‘s right ham-hand. Scars are rare, Roddy noted. Most people opted for easy treatment via a variety of means, though some people chose to bear theirs as memoirs of past incidents in their lives. Rodderick spent about 3 picoseconds wondering what would posess someone with access to tech almost as advanced as his own to keep such a blemish, then decided he did not care. He was home free.

 Rodderick stood, and then winced as his back gave him a slight twinge. Jeff- continued to loom over him, well within the comfort DMZ and invading his personal space. He looked shorter sitting…And there it was again! That flicker of…Something…In Jeff-‘s eyes. A pulse of…Intensity? A non-expression both captivating and disquieting…No Bridger, Roddy thought to himself and to Jeff- if he really was listening in. You have no hold over me. And I’m done with this. "If there’s nothing else?"…And Rodderick shouldered past Jeff- without waiting for a response. Jeff- did not stop his progress, did not so much as turn to stare at the back of Roddy’s head as he made for a newly revealed door in the wall. "A good eve to you Dr. Mason. Apologies for the inconvenience." Roddy snorted with contempt and shut the door behind him.

After filling out the appropriate complaint and compensation forms, Rodderick allowed New York’s finest to arrange for a catered transport, then snubbed it for a walk through the city streets. Few people were out and about, but Roddy hardly noticed them at any rate. It was unusually cool, and his breath cast patches of fog, but Roddy focused inwards, playing and replaying in his mind his conversation with Jeff-, searching for a clue. Nothing appeared amiss; it did indeed seem…Seem…That he’d been pulled from his office, and his identity was subjected to verification after the gen-scanner he used to pay for lunch alerted the police to possibly illegal gene-tampering. Thoughtful, Roddy ordered his personal nanotech to sweep his epidermal cells for signs of damage, and tried to put it, and Bridge Specialist Jeff-, out of his mind. If they had any real idea what I could do; what I’ve already done, I wouldn’t be walking free right now, Roddy decided. Still, he would have to lie low, stick to using his personal accounts until he was sure things were copasetic. Too bad…He’d hoped to spend the winter in Kaivalya…Not that the weather’s any better off-world but it would have made for a nice diversion…The diagnostics came back, flashing across his vision. Extensive ultraviolet damage, maintenance protocols compromised. Roddy nodded to himself. In the dark ages, this might have resuled in a melanoma in a decade or two…Or less with today’s ozone. Gene-therapy or not, Gaia would eventually assert herself, and so Roddy made a mental note to personally attend his epidermal nanites.

A chill breeze flattened his shirt against his chest, but Rodderick was quite comfortable in his grey button-down and blue cargo pants. Quite retro, but then he’d never been a trend-setter. A waning crescent moon shone overhead, and Rodderick was reminded of the source of the silken threads woven into the cotton base as he glanced at the dark side of the Moon. New York’s omniprescent night glare almost, but not quite, cancelled out the dew-like sparks of artificial light, of Man, on the Mare Tranquillitatis. The thought of head-sized golden orb weavers, gen-edged in zero-gee and farmed en-masse for their silk made him ill. But then his shirt could stop a point-blank knife thrust and it’s smartfibers were self-cleaning and self-repairing, so in the end, pragmatism won out. Not that he’d so much as played even an I.R. boxing game…The very idea gave Roddy’s back another twinge…I may be 26 physical, but it seems some cells didn’t get the memo…Roddy appended his memory note and his implants saved the changes.

Mood still somewhat sour, Rodderick made his way down East 10th St., and decided he might as well unwind if he was going to be up at 11:30 at night. Work can do without me tomorrow, he decided, and with a thought his supervisor recieved a message he’d composed during his detainment about his delays and release. A turn on Avenue A, and Lucy’s came into view, and with it, the first real smile in hours overcame his features.

The Mist bar was a single story building, ceramic walls of faux-bouldercreek in the old tradition, appearing to be a misplaced chunk of the long history Europe dutifully preserved. But looks were decieving…For one it’s walls and plasteel windows were completely airtight, Roddy knew, otherwise you’d get huffers licking and sucking at any seams in the structure, and that just isn’t good for business. The polarized electromorphic paint on its windows advertized Lucy’s quaint, psychotropic atmosphere and wide selection of drinks; the best in the city. Yeeaaaa…A good soak would do me some good before heading home…

Rodderick stopped at the "wood" door and studied the gen-scanner set to the right of the frame. It was in the form of a brass gargoyle, sculpted into a knocker. He suppressed a chuckle at the sheer incongruity of it all; centuries past, yet preserved for nostalgia’s sake. But then it’s an old business strategy and here he was. The place does have a certain charm. Out of old habit, he mentally projected a string of codewords, then caught himself, banishing the information just as it began to scroll across his sight. Lay low, he chided himself. Use your own gen-code.

Roddy knocked three times, and financial information detailing the transaction flashed briefly across his vision. Then with a click, the door unlocked and Roddy pushed it inwards, stepping into a scene familiar to anyone from the past two centuries. His shoes creaked against oaken planks as he made his way across the floor, all but drowned out by the hum of conversation. As usual, Lucy’s was crowded with all types – businessfolk fresh from the grind, cruising singles, friends up at the bar, music fans hovering over the ancient jukebox…Flickering fluorescents shone over green pool tables, an intermittent bright spot in the otherwise dimly lit bar. And brunette, 4o-P Lucille, the barkeep, ran a rag over the countertop, all but lost in a sea of labels and glass. Softscreens detailing the latest broadcasts were available for rent, and over one, a group of jock-types howled as the Eagles  scored a try against the All Blacks. Lucille scowled at the lot briefly as ____-drink splattered the screen and one of the men bent to lap at the spill, but otherwise said nothing.

A pair of whistles sent a shuddering tickle down his spine. Rodderick turned and there at a cushioned booth sat Jaemas Firth and Elena Wright, both of whom waved like schoolchildren, the burst out laughing at Rodderick’s mask of suprise. Jaemas was a new cog at Biosyn, and Elena was the very supervisor he’d messaged just moments ago. New Cog…A new cog only a pay grade below Roddy, who’d been at Biosyn for 20 years…His ire rose again but he masked it well. Roddy slid in beside Jaemas, and let loose a sigh of relief as the cushions tingled ever so slightly through his clothes like a hot bath, and his annoyance faded to a tiny mote. But not tiny enough. 

Having never properly met Jaemas (nor particularly wishing to), Roddy extended both a hand and a false smile. "Nice to finally meet you Jaemas. Odd that we never bump into each other; you’re only a department over. Read your work; fascinating…" Jaemas nodded then immediately launched into questioning with his lazy Texas accent:  "Everyone at Biosyn’s been talking about what happened to ya…Everything alright Roddy?" Jaemas leaned forward and eyed Rodderick in a conspiratorial manner…"If that’s your real name, of course…" Rodderick gave a belly laugh at that even as he rubbed his fingers together under the table….He couldn’t help it; the tickle of his fingertips made an excellent contrast to the sweet smell of irony in the air; absolutely delicious…Damn Mist. "_____ cops grabbed me at Wally’s. But there’s nothing to worry about. My nanites were getting lazy is all. The UV’s adding up." "Then maybe you should spend more time in the office," Elena drawled, though Mist-heightened amusement glittered in her hazel eyes. A vent over their table softly hissed and the feeling not unlike the relief felt after a well-scratched itch bled into Rodderick’s sensorium. "Tell that to the cops, eh?" Roddy countered and chuckled. And continued to do so as the vibrations sent pleasing waves through his torso. "A moment…" Rodderick turned to wave to Lucille but she was already there beside their table with a glass of Roddy’s favorite; a cider brandy sim-drink. Lucille did not so much as glance at Roddy’s appreciative smile, but instead continued to stare lasers at the rowdy bunch across the way.

"How does Lucille manage that scowl working at a Mist bar, of all places?" Roddy asked, and clouds danced across his tongue with each word. "Don’t change the subject, now…" Elena began. "Your results on the merger are still due next Monday, day off or no, and wah-wah-waaahhh…" Offering placating nods, Roddy hardly heard her, for his drink absolutely demanded his attention on all wavelengths. The piquant, smoky fragrance was as much tactile as it was olfactory…Rodderick swirled his glass once, and the amber liquid seemed to catch the light like a faceted jewel. His nose twitched as the aroma slithered into his sinuses and the silky liquid touching his lips sent a thrill through his entire body. The sweetness blended perfectly with the alcoholic bite, and oooh! The spicy aftertaste is strong this time! Must be a fresh batch of Mist; it’s rarely this sublime…The sim-brandy slid down his throat so smoothly Roddy was hardly aware of swallowing and his Mist-soaked senses registered the warm bloom of "alcohol" in his stomach.

"Well I’m in the dark as to the results after my kidnapping, but here’s what I’ve got. The merger went as Jaemas’ preliminary theorems predicted," Roddy began, giving a nod to his fellow cog. "The sim-consciousness retained 67% of the memories of the original. If we include fragmented memories…83% on average. But what’s truly interesting is that the amount varied at all…Each duplicate should have been identical to every measurable scale…" Jaemas frowned for a brief instant, seemingly looking inwards, then smiled over the rim of his glass. "Something that needs further exploration, for sure, but let’s not forget the main purpose here…Soon true immortality will be a reality! Once human minds become fully downloadable, telomerase treatments will be completely obsolete. And we’ll hold those keys!" Jaemas finished, smiling fully. "Cheers to that," Elena put in and with the clink! of glasses the three shared another drink. Roddy drained his glass and smirked Elena’s way. "What are you so happy for? You’ll be dead before the preliminary results are in." Elena smiled at the barb though Jaemas seemed too displeased with his drink to notice. "So I prefer to work with what Nature provided. It doesn’t mean I hold it against others if they want to stick their minds in hard robot cores, eat lasers and live forever. Me, I think billions of years of evolution gives us as beautiful an outlook on the nature of reality as it gets. Human science gets closer and closer to duplicating it with each decade, and the journey is what drives me, but I don’t think we’ll ever get it just right." Roddy conceded her points with a nod, though he was hardly suprised someone without even implants, let alone nanotech, could comprehend the benefits. Savannah apes, indeed, Roddy couldn’t help but note. Even scientists can be technophobes in our age.

The three of them continued to make small talk but Rodderick found himself increasingly distracted, thoughts spiraling inwards as he considered the possibilities of his newest accquisition. Information flashed across his vision. Privatized. Hah! That weasel! Roddy thought with grudging admiration. Jaemas too had a prion-code to resist invasive scans, which aren’t publically available. He must’ve done it himself. No matter; the skin cell sample Roddy collected with that handshake should prove viable once he gets home. Roddy was confident his skill and his equipment would be up for the task. Jaemas will make number 47 in his personal DNA-library. Roddy almost felt a pang of guilt but long habit quashed it before it even registered. He was ensuring he recieved the slice of the pie he deserved, nothing less. 20 years of labor, countless breakthroughs and enhancements…He MADE Biosyn! And yet a _______ with half his experience in the field can walk in and make supervisor??And yet his pay grade remains unchanged for five years? Five years since the first practical alpha-scanner, designed by him, and stolen by that _____ Ben Murphy?! No, Roddy assured himself. He was disillusioned before. The world is how it is and the smart and the strong prosper. It’s Nature’s way. Economics and industry are little different.

Jaemas rubbed his temples, grimacing slightly. "Guys, I hate to be a drag but I’m feeling pretty off…I’m going to head home, get some sleep." Roddy and Elena nodded. "I think I’m going to head home as well…" Elena began. " Stock material shipments are due in tomorrow morning and I want to inspec…" And Elena trailed off and her eyes began to widen as she focused on Jaemas. Catching the cue, Roddy glanced to his right at Jaemas, then did a double-take. Jaemas’ face was a mask of shock stitched in a web of blackening blood vessels. His open mouth seemed to be straining to birth a scream that remained locked in his chest. "Jae-" Roddy began, and Jaemas responded with a horrifying wail that made hair stand on end and killed the Mist-haze for everyone in the bar.

Roddy and Elena both leapt out of their seats, terrified, as Jaemas began thrashing in the booth, teeth audibly grinding. "Wha…wha…wha…" was all Rodderick could manage, unable to tear his eyes from the spectacle. Elena ran to the bar, shouting for Lucille to call an ambulance. Lucy’s evening crowd began to gather about, though no one got to within seven or eight paces of Jaemas, who continued to scream. A hard shake from someone brought Roddy around. "What happened?!" One of the sports fans from across the bar was shouting his face, though he sounded like he was on the other side of the Lincoln tunnel. "I dont…He was fine just a moment ago!" was all Rodderick could think to say. Did he have a reaction to the scan?? Roddy couldn’t help but wonder. Jaemas was a cog too…What mechanisms might he have secreted in himself? Guilt mingled with fear and settled like a weight in his chest. "Jaemas?" Roddy managed though his voice cracked slightly, and placed a hand on one of his flailing legs. Jaemas jerked away with a shout, then, even through his agony, managed an incredulous look at Rodderick. Brown eyes pink with blood, trembling hands clutched at his temples, Jaemas began to speak. "You-" And promptly bit down on his tongue. Hard. With a wince, every pair of eyes in Lucy’s averted but the sounds of Jaemas’ writhing continued. A glass fell from the table, shattering loudly, and a subdued moan came from Jaemas’ direction. Roddy kept his eyes closed, wishing it would all end…His fists were clenched, he was sweating profusely, his head was pounding- And Rodderick realized with a start that it was near silent in Lucy’s. A single softscreen continued to hum a newsbroadcast, but no one was listening. Jaemas had stopped thrashing and lay face down in the booth, legs dangling awkwardly to the side and under the table. Roddy started forward and reached out a hand to turn him over. A chorus of muttered, non-committal "no’s" and "don’ts" wafted over him, but he found himself unwilling, in any case. One look at the bloody froth surrounding Jaemas’ head had him shying back with the rest. He couldn’t tell if Jaemas was breathing or not but dared not move him to see. And, he admitted to himself, he was scared shitless by the entire scene. That wasn’t…I just took a…What…What did I do to him?! 

Rodderick gave another start as the blare of a siren erupted from the front door. Lucille had opened it to admit a pair of white jumpsuited medics bearing a padded stretcher that hovered at waist-height with a droning hum. The crowd parted, and without even checking for a pulse the medics began to flip Jaemas over and maneuver him onto the stretcher. Rodderick stood by, waiting for one of the medics to ask a witness to accompany them and give an accounting of Jaemas’….Attack. One of them, a man, removed a black can from a pocket of his bodysuit with a biohazard symbol emblazoned in black and yellow on the label. Aiming it at the booth, he depressed a button and with a whoosh, silver dust streamed forth and settled on the bloody mess. The foam began popping and cracking as the dust began visibly eating away at it. Dereplicator, Roddy noted. A mix of charged particles and organic molecules designed to rip apart nanomachines. He often used the very same agent at Biosyn to sterilize equipment for new test procedures.

Meanwhile, the other emergency medic, a woman, typed into a keypad at the foot of Jaemas’ stretcher and a translucent blue dome slid into place around Jaemas, sealing itself airtight with a slight hiss. Holographic sims of Jaemas’ brain, heart and lungs with green biosignature information winked into existence above his stretcher. It looked like a high-tech coffin, an uncomfortable notion Roddy found hard to shake. The medic studied the brain diagram, frowning, and depressed a series of keys. Jaemas immediately drew a shuddering breath within his cocoon, drawing Rodderick’s gaze. His eyes opened, then locked onto Roddy’s almost immediately. Roddy saw accusation in those eyes and tore his gaze away. The male medic nodded to his partner and the two of them began to walk Jaemas’ stretcher outside to the waiting transport. "Wait!" Roddy said suddenly. "I saw it all! Don’t you need…" And he cut himself off as the two medics stopped to eye him coldly. "We know," the one on front, the woman, responded. But his own intellect processed that a fraction of a second before she said it. 

They did indeed know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The young man studied the recording device with a palpable aura of trepidation. A questing tongue moistened dry lips, a stark betrayal of nervousness. Words scrolled across the bottom of the image: Volunteer subject 417, Gregory Douglas, male, 25-A, nanoware issue #41A239B, standard implants. Agent Psibond test: begin.

The image remained immobile, displaying a sterile, sourcelessly lit white room, the young man sitting in a simple plasic chair with absolutely nothing of character about it. Simple, ergonomic, efficient. A ribbed tube snaked from the ground in front of him to face level, where a cupped clear mask awaited. Gregory nodded his shaved head to someone or something off-screen, then with steady hands, took the mask with only a moment’s hesistation. Greg strapped it to his face and inhaled deeply, eyes closed. Softly hissing, the mask fogged slightly before the condensation faded to nothing. 

The camera panned in, Greg’s face taking up the entirety of the image. His eyelids twitched, eyes darting back and forth through closed lids. A long moment passed as he seemed to sink into himself, his mouth beginning to work, though no sound issued forth. Then suddenly, "It…I can HEAR them…In the other room." The shadows of his angular features seemed to lengthen despite the lighting in the room as Greg sank further into his trance. "What are they saying?" an off-screen male voice inquired. "I hear-" And Greg’s eyes snapped open, a thousand emotions playing across his shocked expression. "Greg?" the voice asked, in a tone that suggested concern but not suprise. "Greg…" The camera panned in again, past Greg’s trembling eyes, focusing on a single bead of red tracing it’s way down his jawline from an ear that began to blacken with cell death.

End Feed.

Rodderick forced himself to keep a steady pace, though every instinct screamed at him to run, and fast. Images flashed through his mind, pieces of a puzzle he should have realized he was still playing. And losing. Mist-mood completely obliterated, Lucy’s evening crowd had dispersed into the cold night. Elena announced her intention to head to St. Vincent Hospital, to check up on Jaemas. Roddy informed her he was still a bit shaken and was heading back home, which was mostly true. Roddy was indeed shaken, and almost asked her to accompany him home, but realized home would offer him no safety. No, he needed to get to Biosyn. Needed to get to his lab and gouge out his implants via any means possible. 

Invasive scan. They weren’t checking my identity…Not at all, Roddy realized. They…He tweaked my implants somehow! Rodderick nodded to himself, expression grim. And Jaemas’ attack had nothing to do with me…At least nothing to do with my scan. Psibond, pumped into the Mist vent over our table. Elena’s lack of implants saved- Rodderick’s heart lurched in his throat as reality intruded once again. He did not bring up the data feed of Gregory. He had considered Jaemas’ symptoms, then…There it was. A bead of sweat worked a glacial path down Roddy’s temple. Distantly, he noted it felt like a drop of acid, reeked of garlic. Some sort of contingent memory?! Remote broadcast? Hallucination?? All impossible! Roddy suddenly remembered his odd sweat but belatedly realized he’d wiped it away without thinking. No…No! Rodderick called forth the collected scientist. Cold sweat, accelerated pulse, phantom pains…Acute panic attack. Breathe. Roddy inhaled deeply, then covered his mouth as coughs sent shudders through him. He brought the hand back. It was speckled red.

Rodderick forced himself to slow down and wiped his hand on the brick wall in front of him. And snatched it back, crying out as his head spun with alien sensations. Every imperfection in the wall had screamed out at him through his skin. The sound of his own breathing dominated his hearing as he tried to take stock of himself once again. He’d made it halfway to Biosyn. He told himself to ignore the pulse thrumming through his moist palm, the palpable heat emanating from behind his ears, and willed his implants to give him a biosignature readout. Nothing. Breathing faster, Roddy ordered a hard nanotech cerebral scan at the cellular level and almost cried with relief as an affirmative icon winked in then out of his sight. 

Though his implants were malfunctioning and he couldn’t therefore check the time, Rodderick realized he’d been standing around for too long. Rodderick began to turn and continue down 1st Ave when a conversation caught his ear. Judging by the timbre it was a woman; though Roddy couldn’t hear to whom she was speaking to, something about the words gave him pause. "I don’t know…The green looked much better, though chlorophyll itches from what Dina says…Perhaps I should get them; who doesn’t want a no-cal dietary supplement?! The tech to balance the biology is ridiculous though, but green is so in these days…" Distantly, Rodderick noted that the conversation was paced incredibly quick but he had no trouble at all picking it apart. The speaker rounded the corner and almost bumped into Rodderick. Slitted reptilian eyes widened with suprise, braided blue hair bounced at her shoulders. Round face a mask of suprise, pocked with piercings both mundane and quasi-organic. Exuberant. Problem teen who knows the world doesn’t understand her, parents who truly don’t and make it all better by throwing money at the problem. The teen gasped with suprise…And faded from sight. Rodderick reached out a hand, feeling for the invisible speaker, and realized suddenly that the conversation, which was still going, wasn’t aloud. He was still hearing it. But wasn’t either…And a young woman rounded the corner and gave a start as Roddy’s outstretched hand planted itself on her right breast. Slitted reptilian pupils…Braided blue hair…Shrapnel face. Standing alone. Rodderick wanted to speak, to shout, to move his hand somewhere more appropriate, but no response would come. Marlena – When did I get her name?! – Seemed too shocked to respond.The nanotech scan results came back just then.

Abnormal Neuronal Configuration. Unauthorized – And the information disappeared almost instantaneously, though not fast enough for Rodderick’s subconscious to realize he’d seen a similar readout once before that evening but failed to register it consciously. During his meeting with Jeff- when he’d dismissed the warnings about "cortisol shock." Another puzzle piece belatedly floated into place. 

Marlena backed up a step and Rodderick caught traces of thoughts…Something about a concealed weapon. "I…I heard you!" Rodderick began. "But-" And a blinding white spike of agony knifed through his skull. The world crumpled around him. Black.

 

 


Story notes:

– need to research English terms and words to make it more "believeably European"…I’m not entirely sure it’s even a good idea to set it in London since I’ve never been and I’m concerned it will sound too "Yank" with the occasional Euro-word thrown in for flavor.
– writing in the old-fashioned matter is ridiculous haha…My notes are barely ledgible. Makes me appreciate a home PC all the more…
– damn it’s hard to write about the good tastes of a drink I despise…
– plot-wise things will get exciting again soon, I promise…I’m setting up necessary story elements so that the ending makes sense. But if its dragging its feet a bit much tell me and I’ll have aliens kidnap him on his way to the bar or something.
– the stoy is losing the humor aspect and beginning to become far more serious as I work towards the conclusion…Is that a bad or a good thing? I think the scene with Jaemas would definitely lose it’s impact if I’d kept the humor I’d started to spin at the beginning though…
– I remain slightly troubled about the references to "spice." It was completely unintentional, but avid scifi readers might note that both Dune and Star Wars often feature a "psychic spice." My intent was to place sensory markers to the Psibond agent to hint that it was taking effect and spiciness just fit perfectly. Still, I think associating it with garlic as well takes some of the "is he plagarizing" impact out of it…Thoughts?
– wrapping things up now…I’m hoping the ending explainations aren’t too tedious but I remain unsure.

 

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3 comments

  1. I’d gladly read the whole thing, judging from the intro. I don’t say that lightly; I’ve had friends ask me to read their books, and had to refuse after reading the first page or so; they were just that bad.

    This has my interest.

    • Thanks for that Miah; I’d especially hoped to get some opinions from you as I’ve read your own writing style (the short story you posted months back) and found it abolutely enjoyable…

      I’ll be updating in a day or two…These library computers are absolutely terrible and I have to go and pick the monk up from town haha.

      • I’ll read the new stuff asap. Things are a bit busy here with the puppies and class ending soon, but I’ll do everything I can. 🙂

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