Monthly Archives: June 2018

Space police in space

They say that fifty percent of all humans are trapped in the Matrix. Not trapped in the, they can’t get out, kind of way. Just in the, they don’t want to leave, kind of way.

The Matrix is virtual world, they say it was named from an old movie but it’s really from something even older than that. A sci-fi television show, one of the first, the Matrix was an artificial, alien after-life. Instead of dying and going on, the aliens would be uploaded to the Matrix. Preserved for all of time and could even be returned to life from it.

The Matrix we have is a little like that I think. At some point in at least half of all people’s lives they decide they don’t like the world as it is. So they sell up all of their belongings, get the required augmentation added and have their consciousness uploaded. It’s a slow process converting a human brain to digital, I imagine in the early days the people who didn’t want it could have thought of it as dying.

Dying, but in a way where you could still see your family on weekends. And you always go what you think heaven would be.

Half seems like it would be a lot. It is, but what I mean is, it’s actually not. A rough census of the human inter-planetary empire puts the population at about eight hundred trillion. So that still leaves four hundred trillion people, still using at least one body.

Walking around on the surface of planets, moons and asteroids. Floating through space in orbiting platforms, mining rigs and hyperspace transit rings. Piloting ships to new worlds, holiday planets and into the side of a transit ring.

I yelled at the grey wall of The Crux in front of me. No-one nearby could hear me, I was staying out of the voice lobbies of the common citizen. I’m sure there was another one or two augmented officers in upper orbit who were quite amused by my history of the Matrix but had thought it best to not reply.

From my AR view outside I could see what was unfolding.

The Transit ring itself was big enough to send a small moon across the galaxy but for commercial flights there were a couple hundred smaller ones attached to the side. Each with the ability to connect to similar rings on this side of Sagittarius A* at the center of the Milky Way.

We can squeeze the fabric of space to travel billions of lightyears in seconds, but we couldn’t stop some people from damaging the pinnacle of scientific exploration.

At least a dozen housing units were between me and my designated departure ring. At least one of them had not lined themselves up correctly and had plowed through the ring as it was turned on. My access to the alerts dashboard of the transit system had given me that much information. And I could see the carnage that was left behind.

Debris was blooming out from the impact like a slow bubble of metal and plastic. There were automated clean-up units already floating out from the ring to begin recycling. One of the terms and conditions of a hyperspace ticket was transfer of ownership in the event of accidents like this. Makes it easier than trying to differentiate between items that may or may not have been altered by torn space.

I kind of hope that the person who crashed died on impact. If they want to be brought back they likely won’t remember what happened unless they were using mental relay. But even so, if they were alive to get pulled through a degrading wormhole with the front of the ship torn off…

There were stories about testing human only hyperspace transmission that I hope are untrue. Without a polarized shell would be bad enough, bending and stretching for what feels like eternity. But unfolding space is chaotic in strongest meaning of the word. It can tear and bulge but theoretically it could create separate plains of space-time outside our own, normally with nothing in them except for what was in the wormhole at the time.

Not that this kind of travel was regularly dangerous. A fully engaged wormhole is as safe to move though as any other region of space, especially when there is another ring on the other side anchoring the connection. There’s never been any reports of malfunctions or even incorrect destinations. Just the occasional customer error, like damaged polarizers or crashes like this.

I should have bought a better class of ticket it will take a while for them to repair this ring. But a hundred credits more still wasn’t worth it, even if it did mean I could choose my transit ring, change the departure time, get a tune up, a meal and accommodation on the other side.

Yeah for a hundred credits in the outer planets I could probably buy an asteroid to live on with the robots to make it nice. Plus I hate transit ring food and I do all my own repairs.

The line started to move to another ring. I checked my AR for messages, the transit ring automation had moved my departure ring.

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Not Completely Soulless 3

“Do you normally walk to work like that? You’ll destroy someone’s personality.” Hank asked.

“Just having a sensitive day. It’s not a permanent effect.” Sari looked but did not sound apologetic.

“In most circumstances. But humans have a complex psychology, a single moment of that could irreparably damage someone’s self image.”

“If their image was that fragile then it would do them good to rebuild it.”

 

Hank sighed and swivelled around in his chair, back to filling out some forms. He was still wearing his big woollen coat so Sari assumed he wasn’t staying long.

 

“What are you doing here anyway, you don’t have a shift till later.” Cherise’s voice came from a short haired ginger cat sitting another chair beside Hank.

“I came in to help with the deliveries. You know having animals in here violates health codes.”

 

The cat gave a little shake as though getting a static shock, then swiftly became a woman. After catching up on recent media Sari started to liken shifter transformations to bad CGI. She had remained clothed through the shift with the help of an amulet that Hank had provided. Unlike Sari, Cherise could feel the cold and as such wore a thick dark jacket, black pants and a scarf almost the same colour as her cat hair.

 

“My fur doesn’t shed unless I fully regress into an animal state.” Cherise looked about Sari’s age but that didn’t really mean anything in this room, each of them being at least a hundred years old. She had her hair down, another health code violation, it was shoulder length and dark brown. Her normal brown-green eye colour had come back but her iris was still a feline slit shape instead of the human round. “Imagine what they would say if they knew about you turning into a big mosquito.”

 

Cherise and Sari enjoyed giving each other a gentle ribbing but it was all in good fun. It was hard to take offence when you’ve outlived a civilization or two.

 

“There are no deliveries today. They’re changing the route so we get them Mondays now.” Hank said without looking up.

“Wait… It’s not Monday?”

“How do you not know what day it is?” Cherise asked tilting her head with her remaining feline intent.

“You try being in a box while the rest of the world changes the calendar on you.”

 

There was a knock at the front door of the shop. “See, deliveries.”

“That’s not a delivery.” Hank fluidly got up from his chair, moved around the front counter and went to the door.

“Wait. What is it then?” Sari asked, genuinely confused. Cherise said nothing but knowingly smiled.

 

Hank opened the door for the new arrival and in the same motion cast a small spell dulling Sari’s shimmer. “No, you can’t be.” Sari started to figure it out.

 

“Travis, hello. You’re here for the interview yes?”

“Yes. I-I-I am.” A timid boy just over eighteen stood in the doorway.

“Cherise, Sari, some privacy please.” Hank motioned his head at Cherise indicating that she should take Sari with her by force if needed.

 

Cherise grabbed Sari by the hand and pulled her out into the alley behind the store.

 

“A human! You’re going to hire a human?” Sari put on some anger as the situation seemed to be something she should be angry at.

“No, we’re just interviewing one for a position.” Cherise didn’t respond to the anger, she knew it wasn’t real.

“Are you interviewing anyone like us?”

“Well we’re definitely not interviewing any vampires.”
“You know what I meant. Like you and me, Cain’s brood.”

“Brood? Is that what you call us?”

“Does Cain’s Children sound any better?”

 

“You’re right.”
“That you’re going to hire a human?”

“No, brood does sound better.”

“I will bite you Cherise.”

“If we get any non-human applicants they have a higher priority at the moment but there hasn’t been any.”

“How can there not be? Every supernatural in this town know about us.”

“But they aren’t looking for what will likely be minimum wage work. We’re a pizza place not the Refuge. Maybe we’ll get lucky and hire someone who doesn’t know they’re like us.”

“A Taniwha? That could be interesting actually.”

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Low Dopamine

“What am I doing here?” Charlie asked himself. The driver couldn’t hear him and had stated as much when she picked him up. There was supposed to be a phone call coming through to him that was apparently classified. The driver didn’t appear to be military but something about her demeanor made Charlie both fear and respect her immediately.

 

This experience was planned, so he wasn’t as freaked out as perhaps he should have been. He had received an email and a call a week ago setting up this meeting. A patient he used to treat for an on and off basis had wanted to meet. Gregory Latimer, he had mild anxiety and depression during some time at university. Initially Charlie thought that maybe Greg had relapsed after going into workforce, which was common.

 

Although Charlie had not provided personal details with his patients the University must have provided them. So whatever Gregory needed him for must have been important.

 

It wasn’t until now that he was sitting in the back of a soundproof limousine that he realised he should have asked for more details before agreeing to be involved.

 

The red telephone beside him chirped. Charlie picked up the receiver and held it to his ear.

 

“Hello Charlie.”

“Gregory? How are you?”

“I’m fine actually.”

“Oh, I see.”
“Yes, but I do have need of your services. However not for myself.”

“You are talking to me on behalf of a friend?”

 

Charlie almost rolled his eyes, it was a usual tactic, not wanting to own our problems. However Greg did not have a history for that nor did it sound like he was lying.

 

“I am hiring you on behalf of a friend actually.”

“Right okay. So who is this person and why are they not talking to be directly?”

“That’s the classified bit I’m afraid. I cannot tell you more details about the patient until you agree to see them and be sworn to secrecy yourself.”

“It’s going to be hard to agree to something if I know nothing about it.”

“You will be moved closer to the patient, living and housing costs paid for. Your regular fee for an hour session will be paid for as ten back to back sessions every business day. However your actual session times will be unscheduled and you may have to do some on weekends. Any details of the patient will be kept classified, you will not be able to publish any findings even anonymously.”

 

Charlie did not reply. The idea of a fifty sessions a week as a salary was good enough but living and housing on top of that. But even without the money this was an interesting case he had found himself with, a patient with a classified mental condition. Even without being able to publish anything on this Charlie wanted to know what that condition was.

 

“I’ll take the job.”
“The driver will have you sign a contract and bring you here. It is very imperative that you start as quickly as possible.”

 

*

 

The driver hadn’t said a single word to him since she had told him that the rest of his belongings would be moved to his new abode. Charlie had been trying to quickly pack a suitcase.

 

They were now miles out of the city, coming upon what seemed to be an abandoned airport.

 

He could just make out Gregory through the tinted windows. Charlie had always thought that Greg had the gait and face of a man who knew something, something that burdened him. Therapy didn’t seem to disrupt that effect.

 

The car came to halt and Greg opened the door.

 

“Hello again Gregory.” Charlie greeted him as he shuffled out of the car.

“Yes, hi. Please, follow me.” He spun around and started to move towards the decrepit hanger

“Sure.” Charlie noticed that he still dragged his feet when he walked. Greg hadn’t been working on the physical exercises that Charlie had prescribed him. He shrugged it off, it was only meant to help in theory.

 

The hanger didn’t hold an airplane, instead in the center of it was what seemed to two smaller hangers. Charlie soon realized that they were just two elevator openings when they got closer and Gregory pressed a button on the outside.

 

“This scans a fingerprint but there is an optical scanner at the bottom. We’ll get you in the system before you leave for your new abode.”

“Is that enough security? It seems like this is a bit more than top secret.”

“This is just a precaution, we’re not expecting enemies of the state to infiltrate this place even if they did know about it.”

 

“So what are you keeping down here there?”

“Your patient obviously.”

“I got that much. Can’t you tell me more about them?”

“I was going to leave it as more of a surprise but I guess it’s important if we expect you to do a good job…”
“So who is he? What does he need me for?”

“She… is an artificial intelligence… And as far as we can tell, she has depression.”

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