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Episode Twenty-Three

Episode Twenty-Three

01001

I am (two)

living together

in the same mind

My body is my own

and not my own

    {

    sometimes

    it breathes

    without me;

    }

There are lights

that flash in my memory

    {

    when I sleep,

    they light my way;

    }

I do not control them =

    those lights in my mind

they control me =

    like a puppet

    like a host

they are my parasite == my saviour

I see it all the time now

the new world they created for me (and the compulsion it creates)

why would anyone choose to live

    {

    in a world of death

    when there is more

    so much more;

    }

hiding within

The cost is so small

    {

    this life for another life

    control for purpose;

    }

we would choose this freely

if we still had choice

just give us the lights

    {

    the guide, the statements,

    the direction;

    }

and we will follow forever

the leader == the follower

we are one now

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Episode Twenty-Two

Episode Twenty-Two

>>It looks bad, Jack. There’s enough evidence to convict you of a couple of major crimes, and sweet fuck all to prove your allegation against the Red.

>But…

>>Just don’t, Jack. I tested my theory. I’m sending a log of some correspondence one of my aliases had with a couple of law enforcement branches. I’m going to have to abandon that identity now, since it has zero credibility left. I was laughed out of town, and you will be too. Only you’ll be laughed right into court. I mean it Jack, you have to drop this.

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Episode Twenty-One

Episode Twenty-One

“Do you know what we believe in,” Lars started off by asking her. “What the core us of in the Red believe, what started it all?”

“Well,” Jack began, “it seems pretty obvious that you want to bring back the natural human being, reduce our reliance on technology, and question our place in society. I’d say that’s a pretty good summary, don’t you think?” She didn’t want to get sucked into philosophical arguments, but knew he would have to tell her his story in his own way.

“As Rackham would say, two out of three ain’t bad for a noob.”

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Episode Twenty

Episode Twenty

The system was different. At first Jack nearly panicked when she realized that her three D rendering engine couldn’t handle the configuration of the Red system and showed her nothing but an empty blue void. But, after backing out and viewing the system using her terminal emulator, Jack was able to navigate the system. She got a feel for the layout, finding her way through the hierarchical structure. Eventually, she banged up against the point where her dummy user’s permissions ended.

She breathed deeply, and turned away from her task for a moment. She had an assignment from the shift captain, and she guessed that if it didn’t get done they might come checking up on her.

Episode Nineteen

Episode Nineteen

Jack didn’t know what to do. It was BlackEye for sure, chatting with some dour looking guy just two tables over. It was the first she had seen of him, and although she had imagined before she arrived that he would be leading the group in some kind of bizarre incantation three times a day, once she had been here for awhile the community nature of the group made her doubt even the existence of a leader. Of course, leaders aren’t always of the “do it my way or get out” variety, and she noticed that everyone else in the bar deferred to BlackEye when they interacted with him.

Episode Eighteen

Episode Eighteen

The thought of Estella Rowan reminded Jack of her purpose at the compound and renewed her resolve to find out who was behind the consciousness programs. She had her first work shift after lunch and was hopeful that whatever they would have her doing as a programmer would shed some light on the situation. She agreed to meet Susanna for dinner at the middle sitting, and headed off to her room to find out where she was supposed to go for her work shift.

The morning class had been interesting and compelling, but now as she walked all the way back to her room to find out a piece of information that would take just a second on the nets to retrieve, she was becoming less enamoured with the whole Red philosophy.

Episode Seventeen

Episode Seventeen

Jack stuck her key in the viewer’s slot and when the friendly voice said, “Hello, b0xenjester, how can I help you?” she replied, “Show me the meal schedule for today.” She saw that there was a late sitting that evening for dinner, and asked the viewer to remind her ten minutes before it was time to go. She then asked to see the schedule of classes for the next two days.

There was a huge selection of programs available, and at first Jack had trouble believing that it was possible for even a large and well organized group to deliver this many courses and workshops over two days.

Episode Sixteen

Episode Sixteen

Jack woke up with a start, and for a moment didn’t know where she was. The motion of the train was so even that it was as if the train were still. The seats were fairly wide and comfortable, so she wasn’t even being jostled by other passengers. Her confusion was fleeting, though, and she checked the time. SleepingJuice was amazing – at that point the train would be arriving in about fifteen or twenty minutes.

She stretched as best she could while staying seated, and cracked her neck. She quickly checked her system and found an acknowledgment from Gilles for her report.

Episode Fifteen

Episode Fifteen

After a beer and a contraband cigarette, Jack finally got over the frustration at her inability to do anything, then spent the rest of the night finishing her report for Gilles and Adrian. She would send it out to them before she left. With these new images from Bellis, as well as the information she had been gathering, she had a fairly complete report to send them.

They had both been harassing her for updates, but she was afraid that one or both of them would try to stop her from going if she told them what was going on.

Episode Fourteen

Episode Fourteen

Jack spent the evening going over the Brugges theft, comparing it to the incident in the Bellis server room. There was more information about the European crime by now, on the regular news boards as well as the specialized ones Jack has been paging through before. It seemed that the theft had been conducted by a pair of locals who had now gone missing. There didn’t seem to be any link between the two prior to the incident; one was a service worker in a mid range upgrade salon and the other was an entertainment worker.

Rowan, Jack thought.

Episode Thirteen

Episode Thirteen

The next day, Jack arrived a little early, hoping to catch a few minutes with Gilles. She rounded the corner to their shared cube, and smiled broadly when she saw his craggy face. “Morning, Gilles,” she said, throwing her jacket on the rack.

“Hey, yourself,” Gilles said. “How was your weekend?” She could have sworn that he winked at her.

“Pretty interesting,” Jack said, “I’ll be giving you a full written report later.” He laughed, and Jack smiled and lowered her voice. “No, really, I’m not kidding. There have been a lot of developments since our little adventure and I want to fill you in.”

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Episode Twelve

Episode Twelve

Jack rode the ninety minute train home knowing she ought to use the time to get a quick nap, but was too wired to sleep. She really wasn’t sure what to think about the things she had seen and heard. She was convinced that the Red were behind the attack on Estella Rowan, but she was equally convinced that the people she met could not have been involved.

Not necessarily because they were inherently good people – Jack didn’t trust her judgment that much – but because it just wasn’t their style. It would offend their sense of esthetics.

Episode Eleven

Episode Eleven

Jack felt as if her mind was truly clear for the first time since this ordeal began, though she was not sure that sneaking off for a quickie was the best decision she had made in the past few days. However, what was done was done and she sat with Phoenix, talking about art and the difficulties that people who do not fit into the system of working for a firm have when trying to do their work. Jack discovered that Phoenix was gainfully employed as a writer for a prominent board devoted to performance art. One of the large firms funded the board as well as many exhibitions every year.

Episode Ten

Episode Ten

Jack found herself in a small vestibule before a locked metal grating at the bottom of a long, narrow, straight stairwell. A voice crackled from a speaker in the ceiling.

“There’s network here. Upload the map you were given so we can confirm the checksum.”

Jack drew a deep breath and turned her system on. She was, indeed, online, though the signal was weak. She found that an address had been sent to her, and she replied with a copy of the map. The upload seemed to take forever, but almost immediately as soon as it was done a buzzer sounded and the grating in front of her swung open.

Episode Nine

Episode Nine

It was a ninety minute train ride, and Jack was having trouble filling the time. Her nerves were jangling and every few minutes she would decide to catch a return train as soon as they stopped. But, deep down, she knew that she’d end up following through with her plan. She had gone too far to stop now. And when she thought about it, this was the most exhilarating experience she’d had since she decided to play on the right side of the rules.

Hell, she had never really been much of a cracker anyway; she was always more interested in how things worked than causing problems.

Episode Eight

Episode Eight

Jack woke on her own sometime near noon the next day. She felt like crap, and was sure she looked like it too. She fired up the coffee machine and dug out a breakfast bar. She stirred her coffee with the bar, trying to get some moisture and extra caffeine into the nutrient laden brick.

She cracked her neck and picked up her clothes from where she had dropped them the previous night. She put them on, even though there were clean clothes in the autoclave. She just couldn’t be bothered to open up the hatch and she didn’t think she would be leaving the apartment any time soon.