How did it come to this?

How did it come to this?

Date: 6th October, 2177

Weather: Rainy

Mood: Inconsolable. One day I will be powerful enough to come out from under these shadows, and destroy the people who have made me beg and cower. When that day comes the list of people I have to shoot will be long and detailed, and I am going to need a lot of ammunition. I am stocking up.

Outfit: I guess every cloud has a silver lining, and today I’m wearing this beautiful silk gown that the Dubious Mr. Smith gave me. It’s this beautiful pale shell colour with simple geometric patterns crushed into the fabric, I think it may have cost him more money than I have ever seen or owned, but he just tossed it to me so I wouldn’t drip on the carpet. I guess before I kill him I should thank him for the gift…

There’s something oddly calming about reading the Falcon’s war diaries. It’s not just the detailed and intelligent tactics she uses, or her clear thinking under pressure; unlike the other Dialectical Ephemeralists, who spend a lot of time talking about irrelevant philosophical and political stuff that no modern girl cares about, the Falcon burns with this white-hot and pure anger that reaches straight into the heart of any girl who has had to fight her way up. Like me. I don’t know what happened to the Falcon, though I guess like most heavily-armed chicks she died in a messy puddle, but somehow her writing reaches out to me across two oceans and some untold distance in time, and I feel like she’s sitting next to me in this bath, whispering sweet nothings in my ear. Now when I’m exhausted from the crab-bucket politics of this petty world, I find it strangely relaxing to read one of her war diaries, as if she had come alive from the chip and straight into my head to tell me it’s all gonna be okay, just like her I can rampage across a continent getting even with anyone who pushed me down, and being cool while I do it.

For example, after today’s chaos, being pushed around like a pawn in a game of Battleship (whatever that is), I needed a really long bath to let all this exhaustion seep out of me, but it’s no longer enough – I’m wired on my anger at the way I’m being pushed around by these great powers. So I open my little reading screen and pick up one of her war diaries, and like magic she has this to say about the powers she was up against over there in the Andes:

They are what we once dreamed of as gods, mythical agents of destiny, as inescapable as Death, that poor old peasant labourer, bent over his scythe, no longer is. Poor Death, no match for the mighty altered carbon technologies of data storage and retrieval arrayed against him. Once we lived in terror of his arrival. Now we flirt outrageously with his sombre dignity, and beings like these won’t even let him in the tradesman’s entrance.

Did she know I was here in this bath, close to tears because of the sheer stupid challenge of bouncing around between these people who can crush me with a word? How is it that every time I read something the Falcon has written, I feel she is speaking directly to me? I guess that’s why she’s a revolutionary hero, and I’m a battered girl in the bathtub of a repair shop in New Horizon.

That’s going to change one day, dear diary, and the events of today and going to be replayed in excruciating, painful detail on the flesh of every person who was part of them.

So today our epic fail continued. Ghost came up from his hack long enough to tell us he’d been followed by a Goliath security system and a Goliath SWAT team was inbound, then dived back into the Husk to try to lay a false trail that would give the impression we had been used as a relay for some other hacker, and were just victims of an unfortunate hack. With Goliath inbound Pops had to make himself scarce because his short temper had, as usual, pissed off some dude somewhere who can do stuff, plus we had this whole array of highly illegal weaponry that we needed to get out stat, so me and Coyote ran upstairs to pack it all into the AV while Pops set fire to all the remnants of Lima’s search that we had painstakingly laid out in one of our container rooms. Good thing we took photos. I dragged Rice with us, and my armour, and me and Coyote started packing all our illegal guns, explosives, drugs and ammunition into the van. Ragut was trying to push this enormous crate in front of the doors to ensure we could get out, while his wife was waiting outside on an AV bike, ready to go. I told Tail to shut off all power to the door and ordered Ragut to leave – why waste time on that stuff? He left in a hurry and for once Tail did his job. Then I realized things would go a lot faster if Rice helped Ghost, so I turned on his cyberdeck and let him loose with the warning that I’d blow his brains out if he betrayed us (and Goliath would probably do it first).

Of course Ghost couldn’t tell us till later, but he was in a massive Husk dive on our behalf, trying to make up for his mistake. Rice tried to help him but got promptly fried by ICE, and went unconscious on me, so I threw him in the van with the other contraband.  First Ghost laid a track to Rice’s hideout, trying to make it look like someone had used us as a relay. Unfortunately the Goliath ICE was on his tail fast, so he had to go further afield, and he decided to hit a convenience store associated with Arasaka. He got in but there was nothing there, so from there he went deeper, towards some servers. Here he alerted Arasaka ICE (he’s a real light-footed guy, our hacker), but by now Goliath had got in and so the two ICE programs started fighting each other. Ghost slipped out and broadcast the news that Goliath and Arasaka were going to war digitally, using the same bulletin board where he previously posted up his own address (why he did that I don’t know). Then he disconnected.

While all that was going on me and Coyote finished packing the van. He jumped in the van and off it went, out the door and into space before Goliath arrived, leaving me up top. Then Pops came up, covered in soot from setting fire to the Lima-relics, and moments later the building sprinkler system started spraying water all over us. I saw a chance here and called Goliath fire services, confirmed we had a valid contract with them (Ragut is a sensible man) and got them to send a unit. While I was doing this Pops revealed that he had not put his highly illegal new assault rifle in the van, and definitely could not be around when Goliath arrived.

Great. Dementia? Maybe. I put Pops on my AV bike and told him to get gone, I’ll handle it. I made sure my bike helmet was programmed to the girliest, floralist style I have before I gave it to him (Pops always insists on wearing a helmet, the old grump!) Off he went, leaving me and Ghost, who had just emerged soaking wet from down below. My plan was to do the innocent truthful thing, which would probably not work since Ghost will likely mess it up[1], but we don’t have much choice here and I am not abandoning our hideout to Goliath. Sometimes a girl has to draw a line, and the loss of my full wardrobe is where I put that line.

After a few minutes we heard the first thrum of AVs. At this point Ghost decided to jump in the whaler and strip off, though why I’m not sure. I went outside to meet the AVs, and of course it wasn’t the fire unit but a whole team of heavily armed SWAT dudes (quelle surprise, as the yanks would say). They had 3 miniguns on me instantly and I was down on my belly like a civilian protester in no time, waiting to be cuffed. Shock. Once the armoured dudes were down and onto me I managed to point out that they weren’t the fire brigade, but they weren’t listening. They soon found Ghost and dragged him out too (naked, for some reason). Then the fire brigade turned up, sowing confusion through the ranks. Everything would have worked out here, with the Goliath guys deciding it was a false alarm and just a genuine fire, except that one of them recognized me.

“Is that … the DRUID?” he asked, and two of his mates poo-pooed him but another checked me out and realized it was me.

Typical. Some thuggish trooper in the Indo zone with a rep less than mine uses it to get laid for free in every bar from here to Sao Paulo. My rep gets me entangled with Goliath. I swear, one day …

Quite reasonably, this idiot cop said “What’s the Dedicated Retribution Unit doing working as a mechanic in a repair shop down here?” They dragged us in. Waited a few minutes to call in a secure prison AV, then threw me and Ghost in the back and headed off for downtown Goliath.

We all know what waits for me in Goliath Security. Either they hand me over to Arasaka and cash in my contract (15k now!) or, more likely, they take one look at my history of cyberpsychosis and send me to one of their shadow cyberpsychosis treatment units, where I will be remade into a full body replacement, to spend the rest of my life on the verge of cyberpsychosis while I stomp around in a clumsy mecha body that’s straight out of some Oil Age Japanese nightmare.

At this point I started thinking of ways to go down hard, but also wondering if I could still talk my way out of this. But it turned out not to matter, because we were stopped en route. The back of the van opens and these dudes in suits check us out. Some forms are swapped, hands are shaken, dudish words exchanged, and then we are uncuffed and put in the back of this big expensive AV. And off we go, no words of explanation proferred. Me and Ghost are just going along with it, because what else can you do when the powers above decide that your time has come? They took us to some kind of super-expensive hotel, and then there was a long, long elevator ride, and then we were let out into this exquisite hotel suite. There were a couple of guys waiting for us here, some man who introduced himself as Mr. Smith, and then a hacker and some super-slick corporate executive. I know when my number’s up, but I’m not going down in a set of wet coveralls: when Mr. Smith asked if I wanted anything that’s when I said I wanted dry clothes and got this splendid robe. Ghost of course just flopped down and got oily water all over their amazing couch. Men!

Conversation with the Dubious Mr. Smith was short and irritable. Basically it turns out Alt wanted us out from that Goliath trap, and these guys were the only ones who could organize it in short order. But they want something in return of course, and that something is a tough challenge. Apparently some guy called Elvis was the true head of the Church of Exalta, and he was last seen in the Crash Zone with a thing called ANITA. ANITA is a computer of some kind that is powerful enough to host a shard of the lost Exalta, which makes it an enormously valuable find. Unfortunately the Crash Zone is an irradiated hell hole, and they don’t want to send their guys there on such a fickle lead. Enter Expendable Drew, stage left. They liberated me from cyberpsychosis so that I can go die of radiation poisoning.

Sounds like a deal. I checked some specifics, thanked them, and hit the street. A car took us back to Rastafari, where Pops and Coyote were waiting for us. It turns out that they had been following the Goliath AVs, and Pops was considering a straight-out raid, kill the drivers and steal the girl type stuff, but Coyote convinced him to back down and put in a call to Alt. She agreed to liberate us but wanted to do it at arm’s length, hence the involvement of the Dubious Mr. Smith.

Over beers, while we were cooling down and Ghost was telling us about his hack, he also revealed that Alt had contacted him while we were in the Goliath prison van, but he told her to call him back later.

That’s when I decided to take my bath and read some Falcon. Sometimes you have to know when to withdraw and nurse your wounds.

Dialectical ephemeralism, you can take it or leave it, it’s nonsense. The Falcon though, she speaks to me. We’re separated by time and space, and she doesn’t know mandarin or Russian, but it doesn’t matter, we speak the same language: the language of angry outsiders. These people are going to pay.

The Falcon is right about many things, but sometimes she is too fatalistic. She once wrote:

The enemy you cannot kill. You can only drive it back damaged into the depths and teach your children to watch the waves for its return.

But about this she is wrong: she never met the DRUID. When the time is right, I’m going to let Death back in through the tradesman’s door, and me and Death, we’re going to get real close, we’re going to go on a little dance through the mansions of the rich and famous, righting wrongs and repaying old debts. Then these people will know why I’m called the DRUID: Dedicated Retribution Unit (Involuntarily Demobilized).

They should have demobilized me properly when they had the chance.

fn1: Sure it’ll be Ghost who messes it up, not Drew who has Persuasion and fast talk 2, Empathy 3…

Sometimes Drew has difficulty remembering where she keeps the coffee

Sometimes Drew has difficulty remembering where she keeps the coffee

Date: 5th October, 2177 [will this day never end?]

Weather: Rainy

Mood: Disappointed. Does our hacker really have to be this incompetent?

Outfit: Today I wore my maid outfit, because we were torturing this Rice dude and Pops wanted me to get coffees. I don’t know why this hunk of existentially doomed meat needs coffee, but Pops had his Earnest Conversation face on, so I had to be the coffee wench. I figured if you’re going to do it you should do it properly, but apparently Rice gets all freaked out being served coffee by a girl in a maid outfit who wants to cut his fingers off. And he thinks he has it tough! Now I’m gonna have to flee across town in my maid’s outfit, and everyone is going to think I escaped from a love hotel with a man twice my age, which is like gross.

News: There is no news. We are in deep trouble is all that matters.

So in between killing people I’ve been reading some more of the Dialectical Ephemeralism that Lima was into before we iced him. They have this bunch of crazy visionaries who have all these sayings about life and love and killing people, because they seem to care about a bunch of unimportant stuff like passion and politics, not just the big things like killing people and fashion. One of them, this chick called the Falcon, was mostly responsible for some sort of military tactics that combined guerilla warfare and mobile hacking teams, and it looks like she laid some of the theoretical groundwork for the transsubstantiation shtick that Lima and his hyper-incestuous family got their kicks from. After one particularly nasty fubar in the Andes she had this to say about the difference between machine life and reality:

The difference between virtuality and life is very simple. In a construct you know everything is being run by an all-powerful machine. Reality doesn’t offer this assurance, so it’s very easy to develop the mistaken impression that you’re in control.

Until today I never really understood why people listen to the ranting of crazy visionaries, but today I got it a bit, because this Falcon chick was completely right about getting the idea you’re in control when you’re not. Case in point: everything that went wrong today.

We raided this rundown apartment block in Little Boston looking for this dumb hacker called Rice for reasons I don’t really understand or care about, but which Pops thinks are worth killing people for (so probably not very important). That raid went completely south because there was a riot going on and Americans are so stupid that when they see a heavily armed team of wet-workers come to ice a dude they think running into the gunfire is a good way to get rich. Once the smoke and nunchakus cleared we found out Rice had managed to do a runner in an AV because our hacker got ambushed by some homeless guys who stole his gun. We all had, as the Falcon would say, the mistaken idea we were in control, and didn’t employ bodyguards for our van, and in the chaos Rice got away.

When your enemy goes to ground ...

When your enemy goes to ground …

But our hacker isn’t stupid so he managed to get a fix on that AV, and we chased them across town. Unfortunately they dropped out of sight and we lost them, but Coyote guessed they were heading for the docks so we ran a shortcut down there and managed to find at least roughly the area where we thought they might have gone to ground. There was this huge area of slums and ruined houses clustered around some kind of monster building the size of a city, and all these shacks and shanties clustered everywhere we could see. We tried asking the natives about the AV but nobody was talking, because maybe they think we look scary in full body armour or something, so after a bit we gave up. Then Ghost remembered he had had a run in with some goldfish hunters down here, and maybe they could help him. He put in the call and after a bit they rocked up, pretty casual and all happy to see us. When we explained the situation they agreed to help, and after a bit of asking around they found out that our target had gone inside that huge building, which is like a beehive if a beehive were made out of interlocking multi-storey carparks. We took our AV in and demounted, leaving Tail to run the AV in a holding pattern while we went looking for our kill. The goldfish hunters asked around a bit and we found out that the AV belonged to a small mercenary corp that based itself at the bottom of the beehive, and everyone told us they were nasty and not to be messed with. But Rice had left them behind and gone up to the top of the beehive with a couple of guards, and we thought maybe he had hired some mercs to help him out. That meant if we avoided the mercenary base and just went to get him we’d probably not piss them off too much, provided their relationship with Rice was purely business. What could go wrong?

It was dark in there and there were more people living in jumbled-up wreckage down here, and they were also scared of us and moved out of our way when we passed them. Pretty soon everywhere we went was deserted before we got there, but I guess no one knew what we were looking for because when we got to the top of the beehive to where we thought Rice was hiding out we found that he didn’t know we were coming. There was this kind of murky stairwell with spiral stairs leading up to a couple of apartments that we thought he was in, so up we went. Pops and Coyote took point, and I hung back one spiral down on the stairs to give them cover as they went. Just as well I did…

Unfortunately the steps halfway up were booby-trapped, and Pops’s eyes are too old and blind to notice something like that so he triggered it. A whole section of stairs fell apart and down he went, landing on the stairs one level down right next to me with one of his grand-daddy grunts like the ones he makes when he has to plug the tv cord in because it “accidentally” came out while he was watching one of his boring news shows. Only louder, I guess, and kind of angrier. Pops’s Angry Voice is like da Vinci’s paint palette or something, when you first discover him it’s all sepia shades of tasteful and subtle anger but then once you know him a bit better and start exploring his work you discover that he has this lurid technicolor range that he’s quite capable of painting the ceiling with. And at this point he hit the brighter tones of red from that palette. As he was cursing and pulling his cyberleg out of the woodwork and trying to remember not to swear in front of a girl and then telling me not to repeat these words he was using even though he knows I spent years in hit squads with a Scottish munitions expert who had forgotten every civilized word in more languages than Pops has ever learnt this little squad of goons came to the top of the stairwell and started shooting at Coyote and Ghost so I had to kill them. So then battle was joined, as the Falcon would say, and we started working our way up the stairwell with me shooting carefully at anyone who popped their heads over the balcony and Pops yelling and inventing new ways of being a grumpy old man and Coyote getting shotgun pellets in the face. Eventually we got to the bit where the stairs end and the balcony starts, and we were crouched there looking at a couple of groaning dying mercs and getting ready to blast our way over the top when this dude hiding behind an indestructible concrete column yells “Wait!”

So we wait and suddenly Pops isn’t grumpy anymore and is ready to be reasonable and says “What?” in his best Friendly Officer Voice. And this dude grunts and then slings a body out from behind the column and says “you can have this guy if you leave us alone and go away,” which is like the most reasonable thing I have heard anyone say in weeks (except maybe last week when Ghost finally agreed to lower the seat on the shared toilet after he uses it, after I told him I’d shoot off the only limb he has never used if he kept leaving it up, which Pops told me was unreasonable! But this is no time for venting about Pops’s poor negotiation skills and Ghost’s bad hygiene habits).  So then we get into this little negotiation thing, where the dude reveals he has a grenade launcher with every chamber full (wow!) and then Pops has to go forward and get that body and we don’t know if it’s actually the dude we’re looking for but we’re all frankly sick of this scene so it’s time to move on and then Coyote makes everything extra tense by asking the dude if he’s willing to sell the grenade launcher which is like a Charlton Heston question, “my cold dead hands” Coyote, “my cold dead hands” and then we start backing away down the stairs under the watchful eye of that grenade launcher, dragging the Man Who Would be Rice with us.

Which is where I had to put on my maid outfit. We got out okay, paid off the goldfish hunters with a bit of nuyen by way of thanks, and got our AV out of their as fast as we could. Once we got back to our base we tied Rice up in one of our rooms, and woke him up, and then Pops put on his Insane-but-Reasonable Voice and started asking Rice simple questions. The first of which was “would you like some coffee?” and so then I had to make coffees because apparently I’m not very good at asking people questions and Rice kept losing his equilibrium when I asked chirpy questions about how we were going to kill him. Which is apparently even more disturbing if you’re wearing a maid outfit when you ask. Boys are so wimpy! Anyway we came to an agreement and Rice told us everything we wanted to know and agreed to do everything we told him to do if we didn’t kill him, so today was really turning into like the Annual Festival of Reasonable People or something.

So Rice told us he used to work for this dude called Blacklist but now he’s all into moonlighting for this religious nut-job called Blue, who runs the church of the children of Exalta or something down in the Docks and has started attracting some of Blacklist’s better and less reliable cadres because of ghostchalk and money. Blue is dealing ghost chalk on Blacklist’s turf which is messing stuff up in the social order, and Blacklist wants Blue taken down because of this and other things. In exchange for this Blacklist might be able to make us some fake IDs to get topside, which we need because we need to start killing cyber psychiatrists. So Rice told us all about Blue’s defenses and hideout, and in exchange for not dying horribly (or at all!) he agreed to help us set up a trap for Blue, though he said it would take a few days to be sure Blue thought Rice was still on the run and in hiding and not suspicious. So we agreed to keep Rice for a few days and then set up a meeting.

And this is where everything went wrong. All flushed with our success we decided to start investigating the link to Alt and the cyber-psychiatrists. We have to liberate some dude called Hog from a top security cyber-psycho facility because he might know something about where Alt’s lost crazy sister is hiding or something, but to get to him we need to trace his records. He was being seen by some small-scale psychiatrist for a while, so we decided to get Ghost to hack that psychiatrist and get some records and information about Hog. Unfortunately, Ghost completely messed up the hack. He got the info we wanted, but then he tripped the security systems of the company, and managed to get traced back to our hideout for bonus points. Now we have a Goliath security team coming down on us, and we’re all in our base surrounded by a captive hacker and a bunch of illegal weapons … and I’m in my maid outfit.

I guess that Falcon chick was right about things going wrong if you get the mistaken idea you’re in control. Now we have to run or fight or find some trick to get out of trouble with New Horizon’s biggest security company. I hope that we don’t get to test out another one of the Falcon’s sayings before I can finish this diary:

When they ask how I died, tell them: still angry.

I guess we’ll find out in a few minutes …

The prophet of the interstices...?

The prophet of the interstices…?

The difference between virtuality and life is very simple. In a construct you know everything is being run by an all-powerful machine. Reality doesn’t offer this assurance, so it’s very easy to develop the mistaken impression that you’re in control.

Credited to an Ephemeralist prophet

Date: 1st October, 2177

Weather: Rainy

Mood: Confused and bored. DIY home repairs are not what I signed up for, and all this study is making my head swim!

Outfit: Recently we’ve been redecorating the bottom level of Ragut’s warehouse, which is gonna be our new base, so I’m in these overalls I picked up cheap at J Lo, which is some fashion brand started by a z-list Oil Age starlet. No one knows how her brand lasted a hundred years but if you wanna hazard a guess I’d say it’s because her clothes have lots of arse space, which was a big thing back when sugar was still cheap and genetic modification was illegal (can you imagine!?) When you’re lugging crates and bossing the boys around and making claims to the spare toilet, you need to be wearing pants and they need a big arse. So there I a in my oversized overalls, crop top, skin dusked down to hide the dust, and more than enough oil to clean my entire arsenal. It’s dirty work down here in Ragut’s basement, but once it’s carved out we get our own rooms and a bit of breathing space. So it’s worth getting dirty for!

News: I’ve been in hospital for a week watching talent shows through one eye, and Pops has been in hospital for three weeks watching reruns of his life flashing before his eyes, which has gotta be even more boring than the news he hasn’t been watching, so for once I’ve been spared his lectures about corporate power and injustice and all manner of other old-fashioned ideas. So I don’t know what’s been happening outside our little nest. Yay!

Dear Diary! Pops came out of hospital a few days ago after a couple of weeks of convalescence, with a shiny new cyberleg in place of that tattered old fleshy thing he had hanging off there, which I guess means we will get half as many complaints about his flakey knees, and straight away he was bossing everyone around again with orders about how to set up our new hideout and what we’re gonna do about Alt and Lima and stuff. I guess we paid for a slightly cheaper intensive care unit so they must have had him dosed up on old-fashioned narcotics, because I could swear most of his behavior is classic narcotic withdrawal. But then, he’s such a grumpy old beast that it’s kind of hard to tell whether he’s in withdrawal or just being an old man. He got us all studying this old-fashioned thing called “Dialectical Materialism” because he says it’s the idea that grumpy old men like him had before the funky young scientist chicks of the solar age invented cyberware and we all stopped worrying about justice and equality and stuff. Can you believe that there were once beardy old men like Pops – who, to his credit (and I only credit him very rarely, not even when he buys me a drink, which I’m usually really strict about repaying because boys always get the impression I’m gonna put out just because they bought me some fizzy stuff I don’t even like, which is so ick, but that’s not a problem with Pops because he’s about 2 centuries too old to think about gross things like that, and that’s one of the reasons I really trust him) doesn’t have a beard – who wrote whole books about the political consequences of different classes of people disagreeing with each other about who should be richer and who should own the spanners? Weird, right? But the beardiest of them all, this European dude called Marx, had this idea that all human societies are progressing through stages towards utopia. Of course because he was an Oil Age beardy dude he thought that utopia would be some kind of weird world where all the men worked in factories with big oil-powered machines and were bossed around by old beardy men, and he didn’t realize that utopia would actually be a world where young chicks with boosted adrenal systems could do whatever they wanted because they had big guns and digital targeting systems in their retina. Case in point: most of those beardy guys seem to have ended up getting themselves shot, except one less beardy one who got ice-picked to death. But points for trying, I guess.

But it looks like Lima and whatever crew he was rolling with over in the Inca mountains had some kind of new theory that was like a reboot of this dumb beardy materialism, which they call “Dialectical Ephemeralism” (the e-word means not really being here or something, which I guess applies to Lima since he was off in the clouds cyber-psychotic before we got to him, and now he’s dead). This “Dialectical Ephemeralism” is like the same idea of society going through stages to a utopia, but the utopia is some kind of transhumanist transsubstantiation (that’s more trans than a bar in District 65!) where people leave their bodies behind and live in the net, and their minds are all merged together, except for a few crazies like Lima who managed to get to be in charge. Which is like plus ca meme plus ce change, or however you would say that in French. And that’s what we killed back there in D70, and we don’t know for sure but Ghost says there were huge amounts of information going in and out of the hospital when we raided it, and maybe this was something to do with transsubstantiated minds. But we don’t know.

We only worked this stuff out this week though, because we’ve been busy. Coyote has been busy shifting guns and drugs and bits of cyberware; Ghost has been helping him. Pops has been busy not dying, because he was so wrecked from the siege while we waited for Alt that he had to get emergency trauma surgery. Two weeks in ICU, then a week in my bed (I had to sleep on the couch! Gross!) and now he’s up and grumbling again like he always used to, though his new leg is very shiny and chrome, and he feels violated or something but at least one of his knees works now. I spent a week in recovery too, and got a new eye, and some boosterware that they put in while I was under. Alt dropped the 15k nuyen for the job and we used most of that to patch up me and Pops, and to pay some dodgy dude in D69 to run a set of nanoscanners over all the books we lifted from Lima’s lair. That’s how we found out about Lima’s weird political gig. Some of the books were diaries, some were history books, and because the diaries were in Spanish only Pops could read them. So the rest of the books were divided up between me and Ghost to read and research, so now I’m like New Horizon’s greatest living expert on this kooky communist liberation ideology of transsubstantiation, CLIT for short! I call it CLITorism. Pops doesn’t like me calling it that for some reason.

I’m also now like the world’s biggest expert on recycling beer bottles, because we’ve spent the evenings of this last week eating pizza and drinking beer and talking about what it all means. I’ve never got hooked into the narrative of my wetwork before, but there’s something about everything going on in Lima’s past that really gets you in, like a crime movie. Maybe it’s that video of the girl saying she found it, on a loop, looking at us like she’s really there, you know? Or maybe it’s because Lima was crazy enough to write his story in actual books, not on a digital diary like this one, that gives it this extra weight. But it’s a really crazy story and we seem to have become a part of it, and we want to figure out what Lima meant to Alt and what Alt’s looking for, because we’re worried she’s gonna try and rub us out for even glancing sideways at that girl in the video, or maybe she is gonna want us to help her with future jobs, and if she does we need to know what we’re up against.

So the way we figure it, based on the diaries we read and the books, Lima and Alt and this girl Samantha were in some kind of experimental research institute in south America somewhere, from when they were kids, and they had some kind of experiments in transubstantiation. Samantha found the technique of getting out of her body first, but Alt and Lima got it too and Lima thought he was stronger than Alt, and somehow they all got away from that institute (I guess you can do that when you aren’t tied to your body). Alt came to New Horizon to get famous in her 22nd century Scarlet Pimpernel gig, and Lima went on some CLIToralist rampage through the mountains of south America. Once he’d got his mob of CLIT fanatics up to steam he came to New Horizon to find Alt, because they’ve got some kind of hate on for each other that we don’t know why. And he set himself up in that ruined hospital with the kids and everything while he was hunting Alt. But we aren’t sure if that was his whole purpose, and we think maybe he was doing experiments on the kids or actually taking their minds out of their bodies – transubstantiating them – and using them as tools for his hacking.

And his hacking was good. The chip that I took from his head had some secret videos of him hacking Alt, and he could beat her down in microseconds and get complete control of her. She regularly attacked him in the Husk and he beat her every time. We are keeping that info secret, diary, because of Alt knew we’d even seen those videos we’d be more extinct than the polar bears. But we have seen what Lima can do. Also we think maybe he’s not dead, but trapped inside his hacking equipment, which is why Alt didn’t want us touching his stuff and didn’t care about him dying, and wanted us to call it in quickly – because she can extract him from his hacking gear without needing his body. These CLITorites are weird and scary.

Was this in Pops' knee?

Was this in Pops’ knee?

So we decided that we’ll give all the diaries back to Alt, not mention that we have the chip with the video of her getting digitally pwned, and see if we can swing more work from her – seems like a good idea to be on her good side. In the meantime, during the day when we weren’t gorging on pizza and yelling dumb plans over beer, we had a lot of redecorating work to do. Ragut joined our team as a member, and gave us a whole level of this decrepit warehouse that he works from for us to live in. It’s basically 5 aparments in size, so we get an apartment each and one spare that we can use for guests. We had to clean all of Ragut’s mechanical crap out, repaint, and all that stuff. It’s a decent place, except for the small problem that it’s all made out of shipping crates – the warehouse was just one big open space and he made the rooms out of crates. So it feels a bit temporary. But it’s as good a place as any, and we get to stay here and get Ragut’s services cheap and his protection of our stuff when we’re on jobs. I like it. Gotta work out how to lay out my room though, but I haven’t had time because we’ve been so busy cleaning and repairing and dealing drugs and guns and stuff. But now we have a home!

Dreams of a better world

Dreams of a better world

Coyote also got us some better gear, he tried to buy me a sniper rifle but they’re still illegal and he couldn’t get one easily – he promised he’d keep trying so long as we have the money. I tried pointing out to him that maybe if we spend some of our loot on making him look a little less like a monster from hell and a bit more like a fixer we might actually be able to buy gear from decent people, but he just frowned and muttered something about being a psycho. I didn’t realize he was a psycho too! But it stands to reason, no balanced mind would pay to have that garish glow in the dark tattoo on their actual face. It explains a lot. Sometimes I think I’m the only sane person in this team, which I guess is why I’m the only one who actually enjoys shooting people, and understands the CLITorists.

What, dear diary, would they do without me?

We did spend a lot of time (and beer!) talking about what to do next, and this whole week has just been consumed with shopping and repairing and talking, talking, talking about what to do with Alt and the information we’ve got. We all have this feeling of trouble coming, and we had to make plans and contingencies. Everyone seems satisfied with our direction now, but I am not so convinced. So I thought I’d finish this diary entry with a quote from one of the Ephemeralists’ spiritual leaders, some latin American chick who was full of sage advice for maniacs. She said

If you want to lose a fight, talk about it first

And I think that’s what we just did. But I promised myself I’m not gonna lose anymore fights, and since Pops found me in that motel room and we started fighting together I haven’t lost anything or anyone. I’m not gonna start losing now. So, Dear Diary, let’s look forward to the next fight, and prove that Ephemeralist chick and all her CLITorites wrong.

We spent a lot of time talking, now it’s time to start fighting.

 


Editor’s note: all the quotes here are taken from Quellchrist Falconer, the angry marxist leninist prophet in the Altered Carbon books by Richard Morgan.