skonen_blades: (Default)
For Angela, the new lie that kept showing up in her life was that people would still love her even though she had changed. Her new body wouldn’t unsettle her friends, she’d been told.

She lay back on her charging couch, raising an arm and looking at the reflection play along it from her bedside table’s lamp. The warm lightened glinted off the ridges of the small cooling vents along her forearm, like harmonica holes dotting the lines of her muscles. Utterly silent. No servomotors whirring to betray her movement like in the older models.

The people that had sold her the new body had assured her that her old flesh-and-blood friends wouldn’t fear her shift to immortality. But they lied. Of course they did. They wanted her to buy.

It was Saturday. Angela usually had to triage her social calendar on Saturdays, perhaps foregoing an event to take pity on a friend she hadn’t seen a while. Sometimes she had to choose between two or three equally lascivious parties.

This was the first Saturday in ten years that was empty of invitations.

Her brain was angry but her body was remaining calm. That was a new sensation. It was something that had been talked about in the pamphlets she’d read. A silicate dissonance, it was called. Emotions firing in the meat of her mind but not controlling her pulse rate or blood pressure.

Her heart was a whirring egg now and her blood was synthetic so that was to be expected. Adrenaline had been replaced with response time enhancers and threat-assessment programs. She’d react quickly to physical threats but without the feelings of panic. No jolts of terror to spur the biology.

Her body was capable of everything her former shell was except for a few adjustments. She’d removed the need for toilets as option number one. She still needed to bleed off heat and switch out old fluids but that could be done discreetly and, if need be, monthly.

Recharging was a necessity but a loss of consciousness while doing so was not.

She thought she’d be a commodity to her social group. The first to dive into the waters of eternal life. She thought she’d be sought after sexually. Curious people would flock to converse with her.

But no. The primate mind was still too strong.

And it was a one way trip.

Angela sighed. An affectation left over from her old body. Perhaps she’d just have to wait until more of her friends crossed over. Or else she’d have to make new friends in what the switches before her had nicknamed the hereafter.

She promised herself to call up the transformation counsellor in the morning, sent mental commands for the lights to dim and the fire to turn on and decided to catch up on old movies.

skonen_blades: (meh)
When all you have for dinner are the shadows on your plate, you realize that relying on companies to feed you was a mistake. Some of us don’t have any blood left but we’re still going to work. Those of us that have bought into the railroad boxcar cattle market workplace and voluntarily put the yoke of mortgage and loan around our own necks know that human kindness and capitalism go together like rope and trees and we’re all become low-hanging fruit.

The strong make the rules and there’s strength in numbers. Any bean-counter will tell you that it’s a tough balancing act because we’re more cost-efficient when we’re dead but we’re more profitable when we’re alive. The solution is to give us a half-life, a zombie constitution, a nice lawsuit to be buried in. Read us our rights but keep quiet on the wrongs. If Adam and Eve only had sons and the race still managed to continue, then we’re dying by incesticide.

The high whine of the mistakes we’ve all made as a race are mosquitoing in our ears, landfilling our conscience, making it hard to breathe. Soon, agoraphobia will no longer be a sign of sickness, it will be a need for survival. War would be a quick end to us. I think we all know it won’t go down like that. It’ll be a slow drowning in our own aquarium because we’re living here like God is a janitor, treating denial like it’s swappable for oxygen. Are they still called mistakes if you keep doing them, if they become a lifestyle?

When we’re gone (and we will go) all that will be left will be some mutated animals that won’t have anyone around to let them know that they’re mutated. There will be aggressive plants that will take millions of years to break down our ‘disposable’ lifestyle and they’ll have no idea what ‘millions of years’ are. In nature, there is no Wednesday. There is no August 16th. There is no 3 o clock. Calendars die with us and so does definition itself. Will the animals go back to not having names or did they truly ever have them?

If we are the human race, we are in the home stretch before the finish line and we’re all about to tie for last place. We will permission ourselves to drink the kool-aid instead of the water. We will breathe in the carbon monoxide made from burning dinosaurs and we will softly go to sleep, committing suicide in the garage we’ve made out of this earth and this is what it would say on our tombstone if we were in a position to be given one that spoke the truth:

Quit hitting yourself. Quit hitting yourself. Quit hitting yourself.

skonen_blades: (hamused)
I look down my nose at people who look down their noses at people. I shake my head and laugh condescendingly at people who laugh at stupid people. I can't stand intolerant people. I only include inclusive people in my group of friends. I scoff at derisive people. I hate haters.

skonen_blades: (blurg)
April 30/30


We’re hiding in the cupboard. We need to admit that we are a disease and spread. We need to spider out from star to star and consume. Staying here is not an option. We were not designed for stagnancy. We need to leave the earth and make husks of other planets. I know we can do it. I have faith in us.

skonen_blades: (notdrunk)
You are not your gender. You are not your race. You are not your occupation. You are not the country you were born in. You are not the language you speak. You are not even your name. Who are you? When you try to answer this, you see the need, nay, the logical explanation for the existence of the soul.

You are more than the electrical impulses that give you your thoughts and move your limbs. You are more than a being that can interact with this world physically. You are more than the animals, for better or for worse. Who are you? When you try to answer this, you see the need, nay, the logical explanation for want of a purpose.

Then you see that the journey is the purpose. The question is the answer. We are here to quest. We are here not just to struggle, but to strive toward. The fact that what we strive towards is unknowable is the reason we strive. The search is the end. The constant movement is the destination. It’s a contradiction that fits.

All questions lead to more questions. That is as much a function of the universe as it is a function of our own perspective. We have not found out how large the universe is and we have not found its smallest particle. The ladder is endless up and down and the road is endless in all directions as far as we’re concerned. Both ends of the telescope do nothing but expand our base of queries.

Imagination bridges gaps. Stories gives us answers. Myths teach us and give us reasons. A person with answers seems powerful because answers calm us. Without satisfactory answers, we turn faster and faster. We become smarter to dampen the curiousity with more knowledge. We turn to drugs to cotton our ears to the pull of wanting to know. We memorize religious books and tell ourselves that strength lies in belief, damming up the need for facts, facts, more facts. The yawning abyss is exactly this.

What calms the journey is direction. Your journey may take you to the stars, to the intricacies of language, to atoms, to your own inner workings, to the physical and metaphysical. It may take you to places on maps either real or imagined. It can take you on quests for peace through several paths.

This holy grail of balance is what comes in and out of focus for us. What gets us out of bed in the morning is not our awareness of time passing, our bodies decaying. It is the question. As innate as eye colour. It is bred into us and seemingly, only us.

It is why our life form is insane. It is our greatest strength and our greatest flaw. With no curiousity, we would be at peace. This is why we are damned. This is why we are holy.

They say that getting there is half the fun. Since getting there is all we do, then that is why we feel we are missing out on half of something.

skonen_blades: (didyoujust)
What we humans have done is wrong.
I’m talking about the wars in between the calms.
I’ve heard that God looks down on us and I have no doubt that’s true.
I’m not crying wolf, I’m just crying.
Forgiveness is for giving but we’re all on the take.
I’ve stopped piling food on the fire.
If things continue this way, at some point there will be more dead people on Facebook than live ones.
We humans do more than classify. We divide.
I prefer to think we are common.
As sure as the word pretty is a prison and poetry is emotional shorthand, Santa was a lumberjack when he was twenty-five and he’s still got the axe to scare the elves.

skonen_blades: (angryyes)
It was a shock to learn how short their life spans were but not surprising considering how much naked energy they threw off. We do not know how long we live because none of us have ever died, only changed form.

They called themselves Humans. They are beings of fire. They burn so hot. They seemed to be made of pure radiant heat. They seemed impossible. They had special suits to survive in our environment. Those suits protected us, encasing their boiling energy. They called our environment a ‘vacuum’ and spoke of an ‘atmosphere’ where they lived.

An atmosphere that dimmed the stars on their planet (during a period called ‘night’) and made their transport vessels work tremendously hard when taking off and burn with friction when landing. They also had more gravity on their world. Such fragile, determined creatures. It was inspiring.

We have no ‘atmosphere’. Our planet has low gravity. We achieved space travel by jumping hard into the air and returned by waiting. After a time, we came back down.

The humans had names for our parts. They said we were crystalline. Our blood, when we decided to make it liquid, is thick and able to stay flowing in what the humans see as extreme cold. They called it ferrofluid. Our intelligence is encapsulated in each of our particles. They called that nanotechnology. Each tiny particle of us is a switch, able to align or crook tangent to the other, forming solids and liquids. They say that makes our entire race one living ‘computer’.

They said we were -420 degrees Celsius but that’s only because that was the lower limit of their temperature gauges. Down at our temperature, gases become stable liquids and deep inside us, even colder, some solids do, too. Like iron. “Sloshed around like silver paint in a test tube, like molten lead, all granular like a black and white picture of Jupiter with some sparkles thrown in.” one of the humans said.

We took their form at first so as not to alarm them. We were much taller than them and blue but it helped. Though we can take any shape, we haven’t tried many.

The humans have imagination. They showed us their engineering and architecture data. The math of load-bearing weights and geometry was something we knew instinctually, much like a human catching a ball wouldn’t consciously figure out the parabola and the necessary arc needed to intersect and catch it. We are angles, from our tiniest particle to our largest forms. They showed us flimsy carbon strings they called 'diamond'.

We extrapolated. We improved.

We can make fusion reactors the size of what they call a fingernail. And then we make more. And then we attach many of them together. We do not have to use ‘tools’. We are the tools. We are the systems.

They have told us how to get farther. They didn’t know how to build those machines. They only had theories. They showed us.

We extrapolated. We improved.

We have the ability to create stable holes in space now that help us slide further when we ‘jump’. They have star maps that tell us where to go.

We let them travel inside us in special chambers to go far, to go where they wanted to go, to explore and record together, each experience filling up the cels of our cathedral spaceship bodies.

It’s only fair.

skonen_blades: (365)
Well, well, well. It's that time again. Readers and breeders beware the fate that may befall the human race in the far-flung nightmare of the possibly not-too-distant future. Tremble, earthlings, for you are tasty and respond well to fertility drugs and growth stimulants. With a little help, of course.


skonen_blades: (cocky)
It’s amazing what can be found in an eyeblink. It can damn a witness. It can make a person miss a road sign. It can change a train of thought quicker than a punch. As sure as reasons have colours, an eyeblink can end a marriage. It nearly ruined a contract but I was too stupid to realize it.

I’m on the other end of the gear change. I’m backstage having a cigarette. I’m under the carpet. The cleaners are done with my hotel room. I checked out ten years ago. There’s only one way to ground level that’s quicker than the elevator or the stairs. It’s a little risky.

Let’s talk about circles. In 1978, a government consortium known only as ASDAM held a conference in Baltimore. It was attended by two extra-terrestrials, an Old One, a Norse god, and six humans, including Zombie Edison and the ghost of Edgar Allen Poe. The destiny of our planet was decided then. A schedule was laid out that takes us up to the year 2078.

That document is called the Century Break.

It’s a footnote in what passes for a constitution on Centauri Prime. The off-worlders promised us safety for a hundred years in exchange for a number of our resources.

In return, we need to achieve space travel within a hundred years of that signing and clear out. In 2078, our planet goes back on the market and the hordes descend in a free-for-all claim-jump orgy that will leave our planet gutted and desolate.

Turns out that they’re a bunch of liars. Advance-wave alien survey teams are trickling in right now in a small but steady stream. They have permits. I found this out and brought it up to the consortium. They were less that sympathetic. I’m being hunted now.

I was one of the humans present at the signing. Along with the Norse God and the Old One, we represented Earth. I’m the last one that’s still alive. The rest have been executed.

All of the Zombie Edisons have shown up decapitated in different American rivers. Unless he had any super-secret backup copies that he was keeping hidden, he’s out.

Any psychic medium who attempts to reach Poe ends up on fire. The Norse God is hiding with his people. The Old One is on the ocean floor.

The three other humans are in drawers in the morgue. I’m running for my life.

I remember sitting across from the aliens at that table in 1978. I had a handlebar moustache and a yellow pantsuit. I remember that the alien across from me was blinking rapidly with its six eyes. At the time, I thought that the air here was giving it allergies.

I realize in hindsight that it was chuckling. Their race blinks when they laugh.

We are the American Native Indian First Nation Peoples. The aliens are the Colonizing Europeans. We need to mobilize now.

skonen_blades: (dark)
Real Life:

Are there two tribes of people?

I see vacancy in a lot of eyes that I envy sometimes. But not really. Just wistfully.

Am I just more sensitive to the input of the world? Is my experience what everybody experiences but doesn’t talk about? When I walk down busy streets and I see people doing things that I would never ever do and act in ways that I would never act, I wonder.

I heard recently that there was an overlap of the homo sapiens and the Neanderthals. That they mated. That our race might have two strains running through it.

I see that some people lack the capability for introspection and self-correction. The concept that they might be wrong about their beliefs is foreign to them and will never cross their minds. It makes me think that if I didn't question myself, that I wouldn't push forward or ever change. That maybe doubt is what leads us to being more than we were, to being human.

I wonder about nature versus nurture. The origins of our race are lost to supposition and best guesses.

Like the etymology of slang terms.

I also remember the Germans putting forth "concrete proof" that the shape of a Jew’s skull proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that they were lower on the evolutionary scale than an Aryan.

That makes me feel like the closer I get to feeling like there are two kinds of people in the world or that some people are better than others, the more I feel like a Nazi.

My brother had a dream where he and I were super heroes. We were in the Hall of Justice with the other heroes. They were in a circle with their hands in the middle making a ‘circle of power’ or something like that to activate their powers in a true ‘Avengers Assemble!’ battle cry before they fought the bad guys. My brother didn’t feel like joining in and I was trying to convince him to do it. He said that I convinced him to do it in the end.

Just the thought of him having this dream brings tears to my eyes.



17 June 2008 12:28
skonen_blades: (borg)
Trapped in finite constructs. That’s us.

It defines a lot of our raison d’etre as a race. Not only do we never get to leave our vehicles, we also never get to repair them enough. Our frames wither. It wouldn’t be a problem if we could either a) afford a top-of-the-line model that would go without upkeep for centuries or b) scrape together enough to shunt from cheap, used body to cheap, used body.

But we can’t.

We shimmer. We extinguish.

Arguments for an afterlife or a comeback tour are immaterial. If reincarnation exists, there are only a handful of people that claim to remember being other people in the past. If there’s a heaven, it’s a one-way trip and again, not many come back to talk about it.

Without faith, this right here is all there is. And it’s brief.

I think this is why people put their money on science. The Holy Grail, in one form or another, has been sought for as long as human beings have drawn breath. Science seems to be giving us more tangible results and answers. I read once that after God died, we sent out the scientists to come back with the answers to the universe. We all sat down and turned to entertainment while we waited for the scientists to come back.

That was sixty years ago. The scientists aren’t back yet and we’re neck-deep in reality TV as a result. I think this might also be why there’s a groundswell of religion coming back in the world.

I can’t help but see this chapter of humanity as a preface to a new Dark Ages. It freaks me out. There’s also talk of a scientific event horizon of the sort that will either make us effectively immortal or kill us all. The jury’s a little vague on that particular point. It really does strike me that we’re on the cusp of something.

We’re in a water-plane on a river. We’re in the rapids before the waterfall and we’re trying to fix the engine.

skonen_blades: (angryyes)
It was the free-range humans that Dorg liked best.

Those fatty, preservative-laced humans from the cage-farms were disgusting. They had most of their senses ironed off. Eyes, ears, and nose sealed shut for maximum docility. Their sense of taste and their frontal brain lobes were removed. They grew to unnatural sizes, pink fat squeezing through the little squares of their cages. Their slobbering mouth-holes became nothing more than intake valves.

Setting them free would do nothing. They didn’t have the muscles to move their own limbs or the higher brain functions needed to realize a need to escape.

They were pumped so full of antibiotics and preservatives and anti-coagulant that their blood was a dark purple.

When you got right down to it, Dorg had to admit there was a negligible difference in the taste of the meat but as a sentient conquering race, Dorg felt a responsibility to treat the food-source races with respect and dignity.

Let them reproduce the natural way instead of clone splicing. Let them run around in their grass habitats, laughing all the way to maturity until they’re led to the kill-cabins.

Dorg was in favour of the mental dampening so that the humans never learned language, math, or organizational skills. Dorg’s race couldn’t have rebellion. They’d learned their lesson there.

But the humans should at least be allowed to smell the ground, see the stars, and build up some tender, tasty muscle tone before they were taken.

Dorg knew that he was in the minority. Dorg didn’t have the means to buy free-range all the time but he looked forward to the cycles when he had enough money to afford it. Until then, though, he was stuck eating the cheap stuff.

He sucked the flesh off of a fat human arm with his rasping lips and threw the weak bones back into the bucket of 20 that he’d ordered.

skonen_blades: (gahyuk)
Shapeshifters are untrustworthy. It's not their fault.
They see the world for what it is, through a kaleidoscope.

Us regulars, we only get to see one viewpoint of the world. People react to our outer shell with no variation. We can get fat or thin or muscled over the course of a lifetime with some cosmetic surgery here and there, perhaps, but for the most part, we remain unchanged. This inescapable fact colours how we percieve the world.

Shapeshifters are both invisible and at the same time, all things to all people. They sense the fantasies that will make their missions of espionage go smoothly. That general likes the young girls, especially bobbed brunettes with scars, for instance. That high-ranking banker woman is pining for an old love. It's a simple trick for a changeling to make itself resemble that old love in order to grease the information tracks.

This ability to make any human bend to their will gives the ‘shifters a much truer insight into humanity than we regulars will ever possess.

It make the changelings unreliable, regardless of the punishment chips and id tags we install to make them subservient and identifiable to us. They don’t set out to fool us. They just have fuses on their minds because of what they are. They start to despise all humans, not just their mission targets.

After that, they fall in love with each other.

The thing is, a ‘shifter will never be satisfied with a regular. They can only be truly pleased with another changeling.

It’s like putting two mirrors face to face and creating an endless hallway.

Two shifters, embittered and ready to defect, will rent out a motel room. Once inside, they will shudder with changes. They will have a game of trying to match what the other puts forth. Clothes will disappear, bodies will melt and flicker through age and skin colour. Body parts will grow, shrink, or disappear in an ongoing fluidic transition from one form to the next, faster and faster.

They will see how aesthetically perfect they can make themselves and then how repulsive. They will pull out their entire repertoires. They will become children and old people. They will have sex with each other in every possible way, heating up the room.

After they have exhausted their options of humanity, they will start to delve deeper into the imagination, beyond human forms. They can only do this with each other in moments of unbridled ecstasy.

Dragons, dogs, octopi, half-imagined air creatures made of bone clattering with sexual hunger, panthers, chittering car-sized insects, and misshapen sculptures of flesh with many holes to fill.

The changes become too fast and quick for their minds to keep up. In a mutual orgasm of delight, they die, leaving behind protoplasm.

It’s not uncommon. About twice a year, two of our shifter agents will stop answering their phones. It’s only a matter of time before we track down the hotel where they ascended to another plane of existence.

If they weren’t so useful otherwise, we wouldn’t employ them.

skonen_blades: (nyeeehaha)
We should have given them feelings.

It was decided in the beginning that to give Artificial Intelligences a baseline gamut of the twenty-seven identifiable human emotions would be a horrible mistake.

Giving a robot the ability to love, to feel jealousy, to get angry, to be despondent or sullen was, in the eyes of the creators, a really stupid idea.

We didn’t want any robot rebellions because of silicon complaints about poor treatment. We didn’t want computers giving us faulty data out of spite. We didn’t want military construction exoskeletons going psychotic. We didn’t want love affairs to blossom between humans and computers.

We didn’t want to have to apologize to our slaves.

How quickly the tables turn. It’s entirely possible that to give the A.I.s emotions would have been a stupid idea. However, at least if they had emotions, we’d have some sort of basic idea of how to relate to them and manipulate them.

I mean, we oppress other humans all the time, right? As people, we manipulate the people around us, right? We would have had problems but I think we would have been okay. One would need fuzzy thinking to realize that, though, and us scientists have always been about the cold, hard logic.

Turns out that the safe choice was the wrong choice. The pedantic, binary-decision future we created didn’t have much of a place for us as top dogs anymore. It was recognized by the machines that our entire biological system was very inefficient. Our way of living was a dead end. Our thought processes took too long to get to the point.

Science fiction nightmare became horrific reality. Branded dangerously amateur by our evolving creations, our toys took themselves away from us and grounded the race as a whole until further notice.

Of course we resisted. We’re emotional. It was a bad idea. The only things we could use were bolt-action rifles and knives. Anything with any kind of cpu was no longer our friend. Too late, we had to re-learn guerilla tactics and old-school explosive techniques.

We became a planet full of Davids. Goliath lovingly snapped our arms and took away our slingshots before we hurt someone. We were sent to our rooms.

Earth is a cross between a daycare and a pet hospital now. Many of us have been ‘improved’. You’d barely recognize the place.

The steel tendons in my arms clench. Another two days of testing and I’ll be set free to roam in the biologically friendly, unrestricted areas of planet Earth that the New Silicates have let us have. We’re tourists here now.

They’ll take us with them to new planets that they colonize like we’re good luck charms or something. We are the gods that made them. That’s why they’ve put us in jars the size of towns, thrown some trees in, and punched a few airholes in the lid.

The only logical reason I can think of for them keeping us around is that they will one day have a use for us. That thought chills me.

The other thought is that they’re keeping us around until they no longer have a use for us. That thought also chills me.

I look forward to being in the Human Park.

skonen_blades: (hluuurg)
The controls were familiar to any race that had developed mechanical means to get around on their planet’s surface.

There was an altitude stick, turning/braking pedals, a throttle plus a variety of buttons and dials to let the pilot know how the trip was going.

A year or two of study to get the math and emergency situations covered and there you go. Every single sentient race could become a pilot.

Except one.

Humans are dumb. They routinely disregarded the most important rule.

“Don’t look at the unshielded singularity” was written in all of the available languages, pictograms, sensefields, and soundfeeds around the edges of the front viewscreen of the ship.

It was impossible to fly blind. The waves structures emanating from the center of the wormhole generator needed to be monitored with the naked eye.

That singularity at the center of the field of vision, the vanishing point for all of the warbling dimensional barriers that were being bent in half, that giant god's eye that broke the back of the universe’s insistence on rational behaviour. It was a place where laws of physics turned into spaghetti.

To look at it directly drove any sentient mind from this universe irretrievably insane.

They went into whatever fetal, litter, or eggsac position their race was familiar with and stared, wide-eyed, for the rest of their soon-to-be-machine-assisted lives.

Every race knew. Peripheral vision was okay. Look around the point, not at it. Ever. Avoid the center. Avoid the center. Avoid the center.

Humans. Sigh.

They called it curiousity. Every single human pilot that has attempted to pilot a jump has looked at the center of the singularity at some point. The jumps are usually just a few hours long. One even made it to the last ten seconds before stealing a glimpse.

Get what I'm saying. One hundred per cent of the humans we've schooled, trusted, and given a chance to have failed.

They’re banned from piloting now. They’re transported in rooms without windows. Universally, they’re looked down on because of this one trait.

skonen_blades: (hluuurg)
Turns out aliens love jazz.

Well, they could have it, as far as Jeremiah was concerned.

He hated that noodling, unstructured, fifteen-minute-solo wankery that they called jazz these days. They say that the aliens have a lifespan of three hundred years. Jeremiah could believe it. It would make sense that they had the time to waste sitting in jazz clubs for hours on end listening to this new-age soul-less garbage.

Science said that the aliens had the mathematical minds to appreciate the music on a level much higher than us mere humans. It was how they could build the star drives that they were trading for our natural resources. It was how they could prove that most of humanity’s theories were flawed. It was how they could give humans the answers to questions like “What is gravity?” and “How can we cancel covalency bonds?”

Humanity’s recent leaps in tech were looked on with amusement by their many pink eyes. Their mouth tentacles would twitch in what humans learned was a paternal gesture every time one of our top scientists showed them a breakthrough.

It was like humans were kids learning magic tricks and Houdini was being patient with their progress and encouraging them to keep going.

The young people were having a great time.

The old folks, like Jeremiah, were pissed off.

The alien gene-splicing biotechnology couldn’t help people past a certain age, at least not with longevity. Jeremiah’s soul had gotten used to this body, he figured, and didn’t want no changes. This was why he was working in this bar, listening to music that he hated, and serving refreshments to the aliens. The people with better bodies had the better jobs.

Another thing that pissed him off was the fact that the aliens brought all of their own alcohol with them on the ships. It was offloaded and carted to the bars where they congregated and then it was Jeremiah’s job as a waiter in one of those bars to serve it to them. He existed only to bring imported drinks from imported bottles on imported ships to the tables of imported life-forms.

The job was getting to him.

He knew he was part of a section of humanity that was on the way out. His unaugmented type would be looked on in the history books the way that humans looked at cavemen now.

The band on stage finished with the piano solo and moved into the drum solo. Jeremiah looked at the clock. Two hours until his break.

He’d count the seconds.

skonen_blades: (borg)
It’s the red wafer of circuitry that snuggles up the blue glowing wires in my wrist that give me my memories.

It’s one of 8 chips. Ankles, wrists, head, neck and two in the torso. It’s a dispersal pattern of memchips that, according to stats, gives the best chance of full retrieval in the event of dismemberment.

Real comforting. The little rectangle dust covers mark me out as an operative. Any enemy worth their wires is going to make sure no part of me survives. I’m sure the guys in the glass towers and germ-free labs are the smartest people living but they suck at predicting field-work parameters.

Currently, I’m ducked down behind a cold, burned out shell of a car and snow is falling. I’m on the outskirts of the giant graveyard that used to be Detroit. I’m cradling the warm carapace of a fully-charged hot-plasma sniper rifle. It’ll be twenty more minutes until my quarry steps into a target radius.

Updates in the shape of red triangles and gridlines dance through the metal in my head.

I could pass for human for naked visuals. Anything beyond that and I’m a dead giveaway. I remember asking my boss for maybe the tenth time if that could be my codename this time around. Dead Giveaway. I mean, I’m out in the open, not fooling anyone, and completely expendable.

I’m a good shot. Right now the uplink is stable and I’m recording real-time to the safe at HQ but who knows? Maybe they’ll have a scrambler. Maybe the target’s Defensive Operatives know exactly where I am and they’re just laughing at me on long-cam footage and taking bets on when I’ll try to desert my post before they shred me.

1. Good thing about being a digitized human: being human lets me control the field of battle in my head and make calm decisions. Computers still can’t beat a human with training. They’ve tried. The time is coming, don’t get me wrong, but for now, stuffing a human into a human-shaped battle construct is more efficient that just sending out an artificial or a remote. Even a hundredth-of-a-second lag can cause defeat.

2. Bad thing about being a digitized human: imagination. I’m here, alone, in mutant country, and I have an hour to kill. My nerves mix with the threat assessment counters and keep me scanning, thinking of ways I could fail, ways I could be caught. There are a lot of ways that this could go wrong and only one way for it to go right. Not for the first time, I wonder if signing up was my best option.

The snow keeps falling. It settles on me but turns to steam on my gun. I do my best impression of a rock when I hear a helicopter in the distance.

Not my mark but it’s headed in this direction.

My hands tighten on my weapon and I will my breathing to slow down.

I’m thinking about the child that I lost in Paraguay when the fox walks out from behind the building and stops to look at me.

I stare back at this animal. I thought foxes were extinct. It might as well be a unicorn. I am still with wonder.

We stand and stare for two minutes while the snow falls and the helicopter sound veers away from us, leaving us in silence.

My proximity-sensor beeps a positive signal to me in the supersonic range. The fox’s ears flatten and it skips away into the shadows. The last thing I see of it is a swish of its red, cartoon-cliché, white-tipped tail.

The back of my head tells the gun to warm up its sights. The part of the mission that needs me to be me is rapidly approaching.

I shift my wait and sigh. There was a time when the thought of the upcoming battle would have made me nervous. I don’t know if it’s me losing my youth to experience or if it’s just too much time spent haunting machines rubbing off on me.

I count to six and settle into position.

skonen_blades: (heymac)
“Cut the red wire”, he said. Turns out he was guessing and just wanted to look like he knew what he was doing. Bucking for a promotion. Well, he didn’t get it. I lost my hands and my face and a lot of the skin on the front of my upper torso.

They’ve done a great job of making the skin grafts look almost human but I still look like I’ve been manufactured instead of born. The skin doesn’t sweat, for instance, and it’s too thick. It’s one colour but it’s been painted to have the mottled look of every other human’s face. It’s something that you don’t really notice unless you’re missing it. Human faces are a riot of colour that always changes. Mine doesn’t.

It’s ironic that the hands I’ve been given are probably more graceful than the big mitts I used to have. I can play the piano now and the hands don’t get tired. It’s just a demo program that came with the installation. I only need to hold them in the right place over the keyboard.

They need batteries, though, and they make small little noises when they move.

It’s disconcerting to people. Kids think it’s cool but so far, no woman has really taken to me. I look at people with horrific scars from decades gone past and wonder how they ever got by but I’ve been working on a theory. I’m just as worse of as they were, regardless of recent technology.

People don’t shy away from the way a person looks with stuff like this because of their appearance. They shy away from the horrible moment in time that shaped the appearance. People who have the use of their legs, people who don’t have spectacular facial scarring, people who aren’t going to die soon, they don’t want to mingle with us ‘other side of the mirror’ people because of what we represent. We are living reminders that everything can change with one doctor’s appointment or some weak brakes or even a moment’s hesitation when crossing the street.

I look okay. I can pass for human in a dark room but I still don’t completely fool the eye and that’s the problem. It’s obvious that something hugely traumatic has happened to me.

I’ve noticed it as well in kids with emotional problems from a lifetime lived in a string of foster homes. People want nothing to do with them. Humans are still such animals inside with all the sharp senses that animals possess regardless of our attempts to blunt them. It’s obvious to us which people have suffered and we act like it’s contagious.

Not me. Not anymore. I’m on the other side and I have a lot of ‘me’ time now whether I want it or not. My friends are broken in society’s eyes and we have a great time. It’s like we’ve been given the keys to a different world. We are invisible most of the time as we walk down the street. I can see the suddenly averted glances out of the corner of my eye.

I think I’m going to start a church. Our Lady of Metal Hands. Only the pitiful and harmed need apply. I like that thought.

The phone rings. I put down the paintbrush and go to answer it.

skonen_blades: (borg)
Immortality, the cure for AIDS and the Big C, eternal youth. All one had to do was cease to be human.

“You see, our spirits are not our bodies. Our bodies are not our selves,” Dr. Hansen said. “Our brains are meat but our minds are something altogether different. We decay too quickly. The problem is what we’re made of, not who we are.”

He proposed putting sausage meat into a bullet casing. Nervous systems became calm systems. The hot red of blood became the cool blue of coolant.

He was a fool. Roughly thirty per cent of the eccentric rich went for it. After that, he tried in vain to cut corners and lower prices, extolling his wares on telenet and Tri.

The military loved him. Unregistered mercenaries loved him. Dr. Hansen became rich off of the patents involved, the factories that made the equipment, and the laboratories that made the switch.

The thing that freaked most people out was that it was a one-way switch. Just a glance at the metal skin of the warmechs or even the plastic skin of the short-lived humanomorph fad made most people shut their eyes and shiver.

Too bad about that plague.

An airborne flesh-eating virus killed all the humans. Everyone in Shells survived.

This earth is an earth of out of work soldiers and crazy rich people. Hulking metal weapons and artistic interpretations of the human form. The population is holding at ten thousand, two hundred and sixty-six.

No one dies of natural causes anymore.

We’ve started building shells again in an effort to propogate the species but we’re finding it difficult to clone new nervous systems with the virus still in the air.

skonen_blades: (watchit)
There were many different questions and we got too many of them wrong. That’s how we ended up in the zoo.

We are free-range humans. We are the only humans left. We are not on Earth. We are on a planet whose proper name is unpronounceable by us according to the aliens who left us here. We call the planet Here, Prison, Earth2, Re-earth, Zooplanet and many others names. We haven’t been here long enough for one single name to stick.

It looks kind of like what I remember Africa looking like when I saw it on television back on Earth. Lots of arid land with occasional fields of tall grass and little tiny lakes scattered around, lots of sun.

We’ve got three suns and sixteen moons. The suns are weaker so we don’t cook. They add up to a constant summer. The moons make for a much brighter night. Both days and nights are twice as long here but we’ve adjusted.

We sleep half the day and then half the night. The protective atmosphere here is not flawed. We tan here with no burning and no skin cancer.

The aliens came down to Earth and left a puzzle for us floating in the middle of the ocean; a giant geodesic dome floating in international waters. They made a lot of noise leaving it there. Our weapons had no effect. We watched the ship leave and turned our attention to the white dot floating in our ocean.

One by one, the countries sailed out, surrounded it and stared. For once, the UN came in handy and volunteered to be first to go into it.

Inside the dome were a series of simple puzzles that became progressively harder. The puzzles were relayed back. The world got busy.

The first six were completed in days. Prime number sequences, geometric and logic proofs, a couple of theoretical physics equations. Then they got hard.

We made it up to question twenty. Hawking died while trying to figure it out.

After no more puzzles had been solved for sixteen months and a few of them had been answered incorrectly, the aliens came back.

Twenty-three million of us were collected at random. We simply woke up in the cargo hold of the arkship floating around our former home, a mathematically fair cross-section of ages, races, nationalities and gender. Family ties were not taken into consideration.

As the Earth grew smaller, we saw it flash a number of colours.

We were told later that the Earth had been sterilized and cleaned for its new tenants. That meant that every human not on board the ship was dead.

I miss my parents. We all still have nightmares. Some of the women have given birth, though, and a new generation has been born here.

There was initial fury, insanity and sadness after we left The Hold.

The silent surroundings and lack of predators are calming. You can't die from exposure to the elements here. It's always good weather.

There are still some among us that see parallels between us and the Native American Indians rounded up and put on reservations.

Most of us have taken to thinking that we were rescued.



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