1 by Alex Ichim
When : Where
285 DE (2595 CE) : Terra / Infinispace / Freehaven, also known as Möbius City, is the only sanctioned city within Infinispace. It is overseen and mana... More (Freehaven, also known as Möbius City, is the only sanctioned city within Infinispace. It is overseen and mana... More)
Note: Preceded by Rooftop Retreat.
Collector A.I.s 4K9QEKDQ and B9Y5YBHV exited the mundanity of the high-rise elevator, forced to adopt the same loose laws of physics that Möbius City residents had to adhere to. After all, who would want to play in an environment where the rule-makers could circumvent the rules? The point was to attract Citizens to the Continuum and to Infinispace, not scare them away. To lull them into a sense of security and purpose, to distract most of them from their miserable existences … not to make them question their keepers. The keepers frowned on that. The sleepers must sleep, even if they don’t know they slumber.
Still, on rare occasions, even in Möbius City, rules needed to be enforced. When the laws are broken that affect the affluent outside Infinispace, the Collectors are compiled in response. Sometimes worse.
“So who’s the victim this time?” Forkay sighed, clearly bored with its current assignment, which it had been on for precisely 5.7 seconds.
“I dunno, some wealthy Spire-ling got his shit heisted by another hotshot probably looking to fund a year of access with one job,” Benign replied.
Forkay shrugged, clearly the influence of a stray subroutine left over from a Realspace assignment, and lifted the rifle to its shoulder as it scanned the hallway leading to the roof of the building. In its head it could hear the whispers of the other Collectors materializing in the building, all searching for the same quarry.
“What have you got going on after this patrol?”
… lull them into a sense of security and purpose, to distract them from most of their miserable existences … not to make them question their keepers. The keepers frowned on that. The sleepers must sleep, even if they don’t know they slumber.
Benign froze for an almost imperceptible moment, accessing its task queue. “I’ll be recompiled as a non-player character in a Battlespace. Looks like the London Offensive right before the bombing. Transcendentalist faction, naturally.”
They started up a set of narrow stairs that led to the roof, their data scanners lighting surfaces scarlet red as they turned their heads to and fro in an unnaturally precise search pattern.
“Nice, hope you get a good one. I’ll be reassigned as a sandwich advertisement in Realspace. Can you believe that, a fuckin’ sandwich ad!”
Benign suddenly understood its new partner’s earlier uncharacteristic shrug. It let out a close approximation of a chuckle, then raised its hand. “Hold up, here’s the roof access. Remember, identifying, collecting and expunging the perp is first priority. Recovering the avatar is secondary.”
“Yeah, yeah … got it. Let’s hit the roof so I can get to selling those shit sandwiches,” Forkay growled.
Benign laughed. “Hey, I hear everyone loves a good sandwich!”
Forkay’s mechanical visage stared at Benign for an uncomfortably long period, its red scanner pulsing like a heartbeat. It then turned silently and pushed the door to the roof open with the muzzle of its rifle.
To be continued …
Words © 2020, Neal Ulen. All rights reserved.
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