Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Know Circuit - Chapter 8.0

November 2, 2028
7:20 p.m.

It was a full five minutes of uncomfortable silence in the car before anyone would dare to speak. Stonewall was the first to work up the courage. His voice sounded strained. “All right, Bridge, you want to try to explain to me what the fuck that was?”

Bridge focused a stare on the back of the Mexican’s head, absentmindedly examining the tightly curled blonde knots of the footballer’s hair while pondering the question. He finally answered. “I was hoping you could tell me.”

“You sure Angie didn’t do that?”

Aristotle interjected with surprising calm. “I am certainly no hacker, Stonewall, but it seems to me that display would be light years beyond what even a programmer as capable as Angela could achieve. Isn’t that right, Bridge?”

“Goddamn right. Let me ask her about it. Angie, are you ok?”

She had been sitting on the line in silence, and he felt a pang of regret for having left her so long. “Yeah, Artie, just trying to take it all in. That thing… I swear, I’ve seen avatars shaped like dragons in here, you’ve seen ‘em. Dragons, hydras, every mythical beastie you could think of. They all have that shiny, liquid-y mercury look. This thing isn’t like that. It’s solid, I swear, like I could reach out and touch it. It was gold, and glowy. It’s wrapped itself around that cop car’s net node and just crushed it, then reshaped it. It’s not a virus, at least not a remote one. I swear it’s being deliberately controlled, but I can’t even get close enough to see a connection. What happened out there?”

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you, baby. Think robots in disguise. Be careful.” He turned his attention back to the car’s passengers. “Guys, Angie’s never seen nothing like that. Nothing. I’ve never heard of nothing like it in all the time I’ve been dealing with hackers. That wasn’t a virus, and it wasn’t anything she would know how to do.”He could hear her occasionally gasping in appreciation of the digital masterpiece.

Aristotle announced gravely, “I’m not one to believe in coincidences of such startling synchronicity as this but... didn’t the reporter on CNN talk about a dragon flying over Boulder?” Bridge nodded. “So we can safely assume that this has some tenuous if indecipherable connection to our destination, then?

“Logical assumption,” Stonewall affirmed.

“And one wouldn’t be taking too further a leap of logic to say that the incident we just witnessed was a conscious effort on something or someone’s part to ensure that we were not delayed from reaching Boulder. Correct?”

“Maybe a bit more of a leap, but I can’t say the thought hadn’t occurred to me. It could be that whatever’s out there is attacking any authority in the state, but it could have targeted us as well. So the question is who wants us in Boulder and why?” Bridge was reminded of his dream, the words echoing throughout his mind with chilling clarity. The dead eyes of coal-skinned angels made him shudder a little. The interface jack on his neck began to itch again. He chose not to tell the others about it just yet. One bit of craziness per day was his limit.

“More pressing question,” Bridge said, shifting the conversation away from the speculative. “How much information about this car did that cop relay back to HQ before his car got turned into a fucking Transformer?”

Stonewall and Aristotle looked at each other with concern written all over their faces. “That’s a good point, brau. We need to ditch this car, or at least find somewhere to hide it before we pull into the area.” He puzzled over the problem for a moment. “I know the place. I hid out there right after I left LA.”


“Little Naturalist commune up in Boulder Mountain Park.”

“You want to hide us with a bunch of hippies?”

“These hippies are hardcore, brau. Guy that runs the place is a real honest back-to-nature millionaire, negotiated with Legios and the Feds right after the LGL’s to buy up a bunch of the state parks. The Feds didn’t have the money to spend on fixing the place up and Legios was more than happy to take the cash instead of having to maintain it. State parks ain’t profitable or some shit. Bud may practice that hippie live-off-the-land shit, but he most certainly ain’t a pacifist. More like the general of a private army.”

“So we’re going to hide with the hippie army in the mountains of Colorado while investigating the magic dome world of the Net dragons? Fantastic.”

“Hey, that hippie army kept me out of jail, homes. You got a better idea?”

Bridge shrugged. He had no better idea, and was really starting to feel the sinking despair of being disconnected from the local scene. “Let’s go hug some trees.”

Go to Chapter 8.5

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