waldopaper

In The Year 2070

Posted in Answers, Cool shit, Uncategorized by waldopaper on August 28, 2011

All along the watchtower

Say when now and then...

  Babylon is fallen, is fallen, and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground.   –Isaiah 21:9

writer’s note:  let the text run by like a trout stream around your waders….  words are deliberately misspelled and the context is compostmodern… cast your line and enjoy your catch buy the book.

Often technology defines the times.  How many people in the Bronze Age know how bronze was made?   Did people in the Stone Age know how stones were made?  Events and people can define the times as well; The Year of Our Lord, the Elizabethan Era, or when the Bear went Over the Mountain.  Likewise, not many at the time knew the Lord,Elizabethor the Bear personally, nor do historians in retrospect.  These are the days of the high-temperature superconductor, with 300 horsepower electric motors that weigh a kilogram, supercomputers the size of a pin and other magical devices that surpass the power of gadgets in what was once called “the past.”  Biplanes, for example.

“Therk,” a common word for a crystalline material that is grown with highly specialized equipment over time at great expense, describes these times like stone describes the Stone Age.  The word does not capture the transition in culture and human consciousness.  All Hits (or High Temperature Superconductor) devices thus far contain Therk; rare as gold in the olden times, sought-after, prized and dangerous, but manufactured… not mined from the earth.  The handling of therk illustrates the difference between the Industrial Age and these times.  Imagine the alchemists had been successful in finding the “philosopher’s stone” turning iron into gold without exploration or transport.

The “Industrial Age” thought it performed the alchemists’ trick on labor, turning manpower into horsepower engines.  The ability to understand complex and specialized tasks made humans different from horses, and had some value even though the horse seemed stronger and more obedient.  The development of new-energy-powered (such as the steam engine) machines further cheapened the “value” of human muscle.  Likewise, the development of the electric computer appeared to cheapen the value of the human brain.  Mass production cheapened the very idea of value.  Like a puppet coming to life, “money” became the value it was supposed to represent.

Thermaloy™ could have saved the world, but it did not.  It may have arrived too late anyway, because at the close of the Money Age, most of the world’s people had gone stark raving mad.  Not the gibbering, drooling, bite-holes-in-the-carpet kind of crazy, but a madness that grew like a fungus on the soul.  The Thermaloy™ process was suppressed to secure patents and intellectual property rights.  Production was delayed for cost control reasons.  Application never started until investors had minimum risk and maximum profit carved in spreadsheets.  By then, petroleum had peaked, economies collapsed, resource wars began and civilization collapsed.  Then came famine, draught, disease and death.

Had the alchemists of old succeeded in turning dross into gold, the kings would keep them in the dungeon deep, otherwise the treasure houses would be scrap yards and beggars would have gold spoons.  Technology became the fork handle of wealth and power.  “Profit” mythology held sacred, but “economy of scale” entombed itself in ruins and graveyards.  The blade of force sliced the resource flesh from bone of useless eaters.  In the year 2070, it makes little sense to produce anything of value in quantity to be cheapened in the hands of peasants and unknowns.  Food is distributed as necessary, therk-tech guarded, hoarded, coveted and kept as rare as possible.

Purported:  from Eli he did come.

There are no countries, there are no governments, and there are no laws… none on the entire planet… except perhaps among the “unknown people” who in the bioregion of Forborg are called “unks.”  There are only corporations now.  After the last “terror” attack in theUSAover two hundred and forty seasons ago, martial law was declared, elections were suspended and the government as such ceased to exist.  All functions were “outsourced” or “privatized.”  The same pattern quickly spread over the entire planet with the Executives in Europe and theAmericas, Oligarchs in Asia, Chieftains inAfrica.  Many of these lords remember the old times, and most of the kings do.

Forborg… the “forest bioregion” evolved whereMichiganandSouthern Ontarioused to be.  It evolved from the paper companies, lumber and pulp industries.  The rival borg, Threem evolved from mining and manufacturing in what used to beMinnesota,Illinois, andNorthern Indiana.  They are not truly independent borgs, or bioregional corporations, anyway.  The only ones of consequence in what was North America are GEborg, which controls most of what was east of what was once theMississippi River, and Defborg, everything to the west.  The bioregions were illusions by Gee and Def to keep the subsidiaries feeling “empowered” and “independent”

It is the middle ages, and the population is scarcely a tenth of what it was in the old times.  There are less than a thousand Executives and Bodis (or lords and kings) on the entire planet, less than one hundred in the Nortamborg.  Most of the human population is peasant, or “pez.”  They live in huts built to company specifications; they cook the food the company sells them on open fires made with fuel also supplied by the company.  They wear shapeless company tunics of their company colors, wear flimsy company shoes, and seldom see their hundredth season.  Few of them “die.”  They simply “catch the last bus,” and if they are fortunate, they “katchla” at home.

The pez must kabuss before sunrise when the busses come and take them to labor.  With their labor they pay for the huts, food, tunic, shoes… everything they need to live.  The pez are illiterate and superstitious, brutes trained as equipment operators at labo.  Suncome, kabuss labo.  Their dialect is strange, and managers (manga) must learn to speak it, for it is they who train and ration the pez.  Most manga were born pez, and if mon labo gud.. lun gud… be manga.  Manga all mean, mek pez katchla menny.  The pez chopped speech comes out with stinking breath from toothless heads with sullen red eyes.  Pez fraida sojas… soldiers… manga wit gun.

The soldiers are not knights.  They are manga labo.  They wear the kill-ring about their necks, engraved with the chicken-scratch.  Only an Executive… a Zek… has the equipment to activate, disable, or operate the kill-rings.  Disobedient or hostile soldiers die instantly.  Soldiers are simply trusted with weapons as the pez are with their laboring machines…da labochine.  Soldiers are usually the sons of managers… mangaboyz.  They learn to speak correctly and they learn to use their labochines with cruel and lethal efficiency.  If your where-chip- worship- goes undetected in the presence of a soldier, you die.  It is Policy that all must have an active worship implant.

Zeks usually wear their worship as jewelry… heavy gold rings… diamond crystal ornaments.  The worship tells exactly where you are at all times… and all worships can hear.  Many Zek worships can see as well, and a Zek’s ship will have other abilities depending on the Zek’s status and power.  The pez are implanted shortly after birth… in a part of the body random and unknown.  Those without plants are unks, and soldiers kill them, and are even allowed to hunt unks for sport on special occasions.  There is worship as well, another kind of implant that is invisible and requires no technology.

Policy and Procedure is that all must attend Church on Sabbath.  In some borgs, Sabbath Days rotate with separate days for soldiers and managers.  The Executives have skyboxes above the pez with armored class and conditioned air to isolate the Zeks from the pez-stench… which can be quite foul in enclosed areas.  In a subsidiary borgs like Forborg, the soldiers and better-groomed managers may worship in the rear of the Zek skybox, for the Zeks must be seen by the pez red-eyed upturned craggy faces before the Handmaiden begins the service at the Forborg Church of the Invisible Hand.  It is the Hand of God’ who casts you in life, be you Bodi or pez, the God of Markets and Competition.

Soldiers are a very religious lot, since their access to cleaner quarters and medical care allows them to live as many as two hundred seasons if they do not meet other sojas gudder at dey labo.  Soldiers know there are few greater business enterprises than theirs, for profit is life and loss is death.  When Mergers or Acquisitions fail to materialize, it is the soldiers who are agents for the Hostile Takeover, and there are rumors of a Hostile Takeover between Forborg and Threem.  Their soldiers had skirmished among border pezages for labor, and their Zeks bickered in crystal conference rooms high above the bases.  Soldiers fear an equipment downgrade more than death.

The bush is vast and hostile, unless it is tended for growing as in the Agborgs.  Every company has an Agborg by now, for food and labor are connected.  The peasants breed fast enough to make medical care costly and unnecessary… but starvation means a labor shortage and generally a loss of production.  But woe to the soldier who meets a better-equipped counterpart in the bush, and only the pez and the unks know the bush better than the soldiers.  The pez and the unk live in the bush; the soldier only mounts operations in it.  The bush; the canvas; the pez; the paint; and soldiers are pallet and brush the Bodi use for power masterpieces.

The Church teaches that Profit is Holy, a sign of God’s favor.  Did God’s own Son not say, “What is the soul of a man if he loses his profit?”  There were pious Zeks who walked unmasked among the pez at labor, saying it was the sweet and holy smell of Profit.  The well-fed well-groomed Zeks have the inoculations to resist disease.  For a soldier, sickness meant lost time and an equipment downgrade.  Soldiers do not fear the Zeks in spite of the kill-ring, and avoid the humiliation of their fawning fathers.  A good soldier uses his weapon faster than a Zek touches therk, so they say.

With a mind that multiplied
The smallest matter

The stars were sharp and clear, the Old Ones were present, and Zee closed his eyes and listened to the wind and the water, the hushed whisper of the great sky and the singing chanting waves of theGreatLake. Superiorwas quiet this night, and against the deep stars Zee could see the black parafoil land silently on the beach with its motionless passenger.  Things are in motion now; work and fate and spirit.  No signs from the tower, no messages from the forest, all seem to indicate so far that only Zee knows of the arrival.  He walks straight toward the passenger. There is no point in stealth because such a visitor would detect him in spite of darkness or silence.

As the loon on the water begins its warble to greet rosy dawn, the hard little soldier’s eyes open and close again, taking a snapshot in amber light.  On a mat, inside a pez hut that somehow did not stink.  The pez has his back turned, either a thin man or a very muscular woman, with blond hair tied back.  Wiggle the fingers, wiggle toes, move head slightly.  Terrible pain in the left leg, sidearm is gone… even the stealth dagger missing.  The biolimbs had been removed, except for the left leg, where it was locked and rigid.  Even so, the soldier is confident of closing distance and taking pez to the floor before he could turn.

“You wake now, sojer.”

“Gimme stuff.  You gimme stuff, I no…”

“What,” laughed the pez without turning, “you won’t kill me?  You couldn’t do that if you wanted to… which you don’t… because then you might not be able to find your equipment.  Not even this.”  The pez flick out right hand, back still turned, holding the stealth dagger by point above right shoulder.  In one motion, fast as a lizard, the pez turns tai-sabaki fluid and stealth dagger thock in floor within easy reach of soldier right hand.  The soldier know dagger, but lock eyes with pez r first time, breathing deeply, the soldier is ready for spring.

“First of all,” say the pez, “you no soldier you girl.”

“I am a woman, sir.  I am Strike Pilot Anastasia Shepherd… Forborg Soldier, grade three.”  She lift wrist.

“You will contact my company and confirm my well-being and location.  There is a reward… and a penalty if you do not.”

“They know hear you,” say pez.  “You chips disabled, and I know do it.  I was going to… but it was inert.  I had trouble even finding it, in your left scapular joint.”

“And you know peasant, sir.  Know smell like pez.  Know look like pez.  No talk like a pez.  Now… give me togs or I will kill you,” she say firm, mean every word.

Zee sense r sincerity, and turn again.  He reach for something, hesitate, and still she knot strike.  Zee turn again toss clean Gee-blue peasant tunic over blanket.

“I am a soldier,” she snapped.  “I wear no pez-rags.  And I work Forborg: brown.  It is a minor Policy violation to wear Gee-blue.  I don’t want the equipment downgrade.”

“You wear what I give you, soldier.”

“Call me Ann.”

“You donut come at me with stealth dagger,” smile Zee.  “Donut try your charm.”

Anastasia, soldier and strike-veek pilot, never considered herself “charming.”  She is small enough to move comfortably in the cockpit of a strike-veek, trained enough to handle it well.  Her head shaved, like all soldiers, and she can easily press twice her own 50-kilo weight.  She knows the circular fighting arts well enough to easily kill opposing pez-soldier of lesser-grade three times her own weight without using any kind of weapon.  She has the diplomatic skills to neutralize a Zek-soldier of her own rank or higher.  She never encountered a Bodi soldier, and is not sure they exist… because, they could form a company on their own and Compete for the greatest Profit among companies if the lower-soldiers would follow.

Zee is a picket.  He is the eyes and ears of many, with company tower and own hut on the shore of what used to be calledLake Superior, watching the water-borne traffic in front and the unks behind, especially the unks over water… who could be anybody.  He is slightly taller than Ann, blonde and blue.  Zee’s entire life is false friends, true friends, and at what point or price the false will turn true… the true turn false… a trick within a trick within a trick.  He ridess on ancient and new wisdom… a science and art not yet quantified or taught except perhaps among the unks.  He has never known a woman, and confronts a woman who has never known a man.  Each one has learned since birth to be more concerned with the relationship between Profit and survival.

“Turn your back,” says Ann, “and I will wear this.”

“No,” says Zee sadly.  “If I turn my back, you will try to strike.  Then I will kill you.  I know care about seeing you naked.  I know kill you because you will be my friend and pilot…if I do not turn my back now.  Much as I want to trust you… I can not.  Put on the Gee-blue pez-rag and stand naked before me or die.  It is that simple.”  Ann weighs Zee’s words.  She senses he speaks the truth.  She doubts he can kill her in naked combat, but he has her sidearm.  He wears his own Gee-blue pez tunic, and he could have an armload of death underneath.  He knows how to use weapons.  He knows how to deliver death.  She stands with difficulty.  She puts on the pez-rag.

“Something is wrong with your leg,” Zee sighed as he sits down on the mat.  He no longer fears her strike, nor did Ann consider doing so, although she did not know why.  “Immobilized it.  The biolimb makes a good splint.  I won’t give you all your biolimbs back yet, because you’ll have ten times my speed and strength.  You are obviously a high-level soldier; otherwise your company would not let you have stuff like that.  Do you understand?  Do you trust me?”  Zee is not yet sure that words like “understand” or “trust” mean anything to a soldier, one who is trained since birth to take life for Profit… and received the benefits of such Profit as higher-grade equipment… like plate-armor in the middle ages.  Zee is not sure she knows about any of this; history… abstractions… anything.

“Fool,” Ann snorts.  “Do you not think a 3 soldier would have some medical skills?  Get my med kit, if you can recognize it, boy.  And stop looking at me like that.”

Zee is in the tower, carefully budgeting tasks in his allotted hour because the company limited his time.  He could blind the tower, sometimes did so, and he knows that they know that.  He also knows that they know that he knows that they know.  Who watches the ones who are watching the ones who are watching?  The riddle within a trick within a mystery is the model of Zee’s life, a watcher of watchers who watched the watchers watching.  The air is cool and clear, and the wind is brisk.  A few gulls loop and dive, playing their usual tricks with the currents, the waves are three to five feet.  There were no aircraft detected, and Zee is on the top outer deck, twenty meters above the dune, just above the tops of some of the tallest pines not yet harvested by Forborg.

There was a single ship, 2703.6574 meters away, plowing down-bound in the lake… a Threem freighter with minerals bound for the GEborg alloy processors below, probably near whereClevelandused to be.  The tower detects rapid movement on the beach, and Zee turns his viewer in the indicated direction.  It is Ann… bounding at the edge of the waves, making ten-meter strides in her biolimb frame when she turns toward the tower, making shorter and higher strides into the air.  With a leap and a grappling line, she swings and banks off the base. The grapple snaps on to the railing right next to Zee, Ann wheels in the air and lands on her feet next to him, hardly making a sound.  “You want to tell them you here,” Zee says without looking at her.

“They know me here.  I want they know I know,” Ann answers, looking at the lake and reeling in her grapple line, clicking line and reel onto bio-frame.  She turns to look into what is probably a tower-eye.  “I know they know back-forth ten times deep,” she scowled at the eye.  “Anastasia Shepherd, Forborg 3soldier, strikeveek pilot and dupe assassin for YOU,” she spits at the eye.

“By now,” Zee says softly, “GEE is screening this from the Forborg subs.  But we have no idea how smooth the seam before your arrival.

“This one now, Ann mocked the eye, “or last one when I blew up with my veek? You hear it all when GEborg spyveeks drop ears and eyes all over the forest?  Can Forborg leapers blind them all?  Can we lie to them all?”

“We must get down from the tower now, Ann.  My time is up.”

“You bring veek here NOW,” shouts Ann as they descend using Anns grapple line.  Using the elevator would be foolish.  They could be dropped like a basket of eggs.  “Big one!  Ten-thousand klik veek!  NOW!  To Crypto-hut!  Can you find it?”  No?  Crypto-hut can find YOU!”  Like a turtle with a bomb!  Like a thief in the night!”

“Ann… that’s enough.  They get the point.”  Zee and Ann walk down the trail to old crypto-hut where they first met.  Zee turns up his jammer so they can speak aloud.  “You had to mention the crypto-hut.  You had to tell them you were here.  You bring them down on us.  Why?”  The sun smiles amber light in the forest, sink into theGreatLake’s upper corner.  “I not sure this jammer do it,” says Zee.  “So many eyes and ears drop… they look hard… listen big time.”

“Blind!  Deaf,” Ann shouted.  “Otherwise strikevee come- smack us FLAT!  I KNOW…”

“Aye… hear it many times… shhh… shhh…”  Zee was trying to pacify a soldier.  “You strikeveek pilot.  I know.  There is no sound at all.  Zee speaks to Ann’s brain.

The season has turned, she dips down and picks Zee up on her shoulders… easy with the biolimbs, and Ann begins to lope down moonlit forest path in chill night air.  She has all her stuff now, sidearm, flight suit… and all the kits and bags that were attached when she bailed out of the crippled strikeveek that just did not… feel right… smell right.

As her parafoil deployed, the exploding strikeveek’s shock and blunt-force knocked her unconscious… a mile aboveLake Superior.  Ann woke up in Zee’s crypto-hut… and nearly tried to kill him because he seemed like a pez… an outsider… a predator who would try to trade her stuff.

She begins to lope down a forest path they have traveled together so many times before… at first on foot at walk-speed that took days… ducking into crypto-huts and hiding under crypto-canopies.  That was when she began to hear Zee talking inside her head.  “Can you hear me, girl?  Will you answer me, girl?”  Ann would shout, YES, and Zee would act as if he did not understand… until Ann shouted inside her brain, “YES I HEAR!”

“Very good,” said Zee’s voice inside her brain.  “ listen… learn..  Can you do this?”

“I can do anything YOU can do, boy, “Ann shouted across the clearing as they were picking blueberries.  “I can do it cheaper, faster and better!”  Zee smiled, held his hands out and shook his head, as if he did not understand the reason for such an outburst.  Ann smiles as she remembers how she learn silent speech.

girl are you there…

boy i hear…

girl can you see me not look…

boy i turn my head…

girl you have no head.  you are ears and eyes.  see and hear.  soon you will know.. not see… not hear.

you feet stink boy

god nose fun girl.

Where the sand is deep and the corners are dark, Ann slows her pace.  Where the path is straight and bright, Ann bounds longer and faster.  The biolimbs took all the creds she held from knowing secrets… from smacking-flat things far from base with her strikeveek, saying and knowing nothing… from engaging Hostile Takeover strikeveeks in her own darkness… sending them to dance like meteors on Green Bay.  The biolimb kit took more creds than a gaggle of weapons that could reduce a mountain.  Ann wore the thin alloy rods, the nano-motors, the energy pods like a bride’s underwear.  She was forbidden to wear it beneath her flightgear that night when she flattened the group inNorth Ontario.  She wore it just the same, disabling any sensors that could detect the biolimbs.  Most who had the creds for the rare technology used it as an arm or a hand.  Ann was the only person (except, perhaps, for the Bodi… whose creds were almost limitless) who had ever commissioned the biolimb technicians for arms, legs, charger and batts.  In return, Ann had probably sent a thousand individuals… from pez to Zek… into oblivion.

ride good, boy  way fast, girl.  geeks here soon… crypto mirror… love you girl.  love you boy.

Good food cooking… good songs sung… good stories and laughter and beautiful things… all in the glowing light ahead.  Ann and Zee arrive at the Cryptie.

Even if the Cryptie had no blinded their eyes, the Zeks and the pez, the soldiers and the mangers of Forborg sent into the forests to mine the trees would have turned a blind eye to the Cryptie.  In the conscious and methodical returning of the world to the neo-medieval times, the Corporates had not foreseen how much more expensive technology was going to be.  They had anticipated a rise in technology costs with the decrease in population and the elimination of “consumers,” but assumed that by reducing “labor” to subsistence-level slavery of the peasants, they could “compete” with each Corporate Fiefdom’s own specialists, materials and “knowledge” or information.  The Corporates had grossly underestimated the nature of “technicians,” and seriously miscalculated corporate ability to suppress information, even by the most brutal force.

Science and technology had advanced, that was true, especially nanotechnology.  What was unforeseen by the Corporates was the technician’s desire to invent for the sake of inventing… not for “profit.”  If the Corporates’ bedrock faith in greed as the ruling force of evolution and their total rejection of altruism as inefficiency caused a weak vision of invention, it caused a total blindness to Art.  Worse than the earlier medieval times, Art was still regarded as a “status symbol,” but held to be totally useless, even for “propaganda” or “ideological” purposes.  To be sure, the “churches” that all were required to attend by Policy were gilded showplaces of the age’s Kitsch, without even realizing, the Corporates rendered “ideology” totally useless by thinking brute force was cheaper and more efficient.

The Corporates’ keenest thinking for over a hundred years was in the mixture of technology and brute force.  Even before the age of gunpowder, the science of force indicated that whoever could produce the most fighters at the point of conflict would win.  As Napoleon had said, “A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon,” speculating that with enough colored ribbons he could rule the world… and Bonaparte did so within his own sphere.  The important lesson the Corporates learned was that “ideology” could trump “technology” in the area of brute force, making egalitarianism necessary, which is most repugnant to elitists, despots and Corporates.  They somehow had to reinvent the days when knights in plate armor could subdue the peasants without conceding costly benefits to the knights.

The Corporate answer was the “police force,” brutal laborers who were content with their access to forceful technology and their limited ability to use it in exchange for their own security and relative autonomy; the thin blue brotherhood, where corruption was manageable and relatively inexpensive.  Given superior weaponry, this class would defend the interests of their employers with lethal force, not for the prospect of increasing gain… which their employers held sacred… but simply for security, of which they (the police) were the sole producers as long as the illusion of “Corporate order” was intact.  There was no need to get the peasant labor to agree with enriching their betters, and no need to give the warriors the expensive cut… or even the special status they had been given in the past.  But here in the Cryptie the artists met the inventors.

There is one more component soon to arrive; bolts of Stoth… stealth-cloth… made of therk energy-fibers that performed just as the earlier core material that built the crypto-huts, material that could either absorb or reflect energy… heat or light in any detectable spectrum… even sound.  The material came from across the Lake… in the oldCanadian Shieldand forests where distance and weather provided isolation in the early days. Now the isolation is by human design, a mysterious combination of talent and technology that migrates north to escape the companies’ serfdom, slavery and brutality.  The labs, dwellings and people gathering in the Agawa avoid the prying eyes and ears of the spyveeks, and the few veeks that return from such a journey have little to report.

Much of the traffic crosses within range of the tower’s eyes and ears that Zee maintained most of his adult life.  As a child, Zee’s old uncle Ezekiel had taught the boy to read English.  By diode light in the crypto-hut, the soldier woman and the picket man told each other their stories while Ann’s leg mended and Zee attended the tower, hoping the downed pilot was unknown and undiscovered.  While it was a Forbor picket tower to watch theLakeand the forest, Zee had learned to blind it to certain lake crossings, to particular events reaching the sensors in the woods.  Zee accurately guessed that GEborg, the parent company, was blinding events to its subsidiary as well.  Whether the GEborg technicians could override Zee’s patches was a dangerous guess.

Ann’s grandparents on both sides were pez who caught the last bus long before Ann was born.  Ann’s father was a manga, her mother was labo.  They told Ann that her great-grandparents had once been rich and that they could read.  The Liberals took over the government and her great-grandparents lost their jobs.  The Liberals let all the terrorists into the country, and that’s how they planted the bomb inAtlanta.  After the bomb, the government said it was rounding up all the Liberals and terrorists, but they were really rounding up everybody who believed in Church and God and Competition.  Ann’s parents met at the camp and worked hard so company let them stay together.  Ann’s parents taught her that she had to do whatever it took to win.  God does not like losers.

When Ann was a little girl in the pezage, one of he big boys tried to win by pulling up her tunic.  Ann won instead, because she had been filing metal hut stakes.  She won by pushing the sharp end into the big boy’s eye and moving it around until he stopped kicking and grabbing.  After that, she learned to run faster than all the big boys who tried to get even.  She learned where every tool was on the pezage, the hammers, the files, the scythes, the cutters and knives. She could run to a tool and use it before any of the big boys caught her.  When the soldiers came to put her on the labor bus, she smashed a soldier’s foot and ran away.  Ann hid in the bush for an entire season, learning to steal and eat with the animals.  When the soldiers finally caught her, she was one of their own.

When Zee told Ann that he learned to read the signs from Mother Amelia, Ann laughed.  She heard the pez and the unks talk about Mother Amelia like she was a real person.  Zee told Ann that Mother Amelia was not just a real person; she was Zee’s real mother.  Mother Amelia taught him all the stories from the old days and even more stories from the animals and the trees, how to read the signs and develop “the sight.”  One winter day, Uncle Ezekiel came to Zee’s parents’ cabin on a great black horse.  Zee’s father put Zee behind Uncle Ezekiel while Mother Amelia cried.  “We will see each other again one day,” she told Zee, “but you must go with Uncle Zeke now.  He will teach you the arts and the sciences.  He will make you a Wizard.”  That was how it happened.

Zee learned about books and languages, computers and stealth, how to patch into the company networks and how to blind the sensors with ciphers and encryption.  Zee taught himself how to read Cyrillic and Mandarin, Russian and Chinese.  Ann was surprised to learn that the chicken-scratching on her bands and tags weren’t computer code at all… but either Russian or Chinese that only born Zeks could read without an authorized scanner.  Zee’s old uncle moved like a shadow among the unks, the pez, and even the company techs in the remote mills, mines, labs, labor camps, railheads and sub-bases in northern Forborg.  When Zee applied for the tower, he was given the usual probationary period in which all previous tower techs had vanished without a trace.

Zee had known the unks, the pez and the invisible culture that surrounded the high picket tower for most of his life.  With its veekpads and snoop-gear, the tower had been a fester for dozens of seasons, even with the soja pods attached to protect it.  Eventually, the sojas either melted into the trees or end up hanging from them.  Only strikeveeks prevented the tower from being destroyed.  When routine seasons passed with Zee maintaining the tower alone, the company saw cost efficiency.  If some of the information was corrupted, it was an acceptable risk.  Enough competitive shipping had been spotted, enough rival deals had been broken by tower telemetry.  To the Forborg Zeks, the tower maintained by a lone technician had clearly passed the Holy cost-benefit analysis.

Zee had asked the spirits for a pilot, but they knew he really wanted a woman and a friend.  The spirits had sent him all.  Ann bounds up to the edge of the Cryptie, dips to allow Zee to stand on ground and looks squarely at Tanga.  Tanga laughed.

“You get here quicker when you ride yer girl,” Tanga laughed.

Ann steps quietly toward Tanga who grins broadly, glistening with sweat.  He has been dancing.  Fast as a snake’s tongue, Ann snatches Tanga by the tunic and flicks him above her head.  Tanga is nearly twice Ann’s height and almost three times her weight, but she holds him above her head.  The biolimbs, in spite of the energy drain from the trail run and extra weight, are performing flawlessly.  Equally as fast, Tanga bucks, twists, wrenches, attempts martial grips to free himself.  The little woman soldier holds him high above her head like an empty barrel.  For a few seconds, Tanga is limp, motionless.  Then like lightning; he twists, grips, pulls.  Ann spins him horizontally, vertically, about all axes.  When Tanga’s fingers find a soft spot to inflict pain, the fingers of Ann’s stone-crushing biolimbs return the favor.  Tanga releases.  Ann releases.  Tanga taps submission.

“Tanga,” Ann looks at the ground, but is clearly addressing the huge black warrior she holds above her head.  “This last time I EVER will hear, ‘ride your girl.’ Understood?”

“Understood.”

“No Zees fault my biolimb kit too small to fit.  He not care to wear.  Understood?”

“Understood.”

“Tanga.  You brother.  Set you down.  No fight.  Understood?”

“Understood.”

Ann swungs Tanga down and put him gently on his feet.

“Biolimbs got me again girl,” Tanga sighed.  “Can’t do nothing bout you biolimbs.”  By now, Zee was talking to the children… since the bolts of Stoth are here; many children come out of the woods.  Ann was already unfastening the biolimbs, letting them drop to the floor of the Crypty.  Clatter, blap, the biolimbs fall to the ground.  She gives them to Tanga to keep safe, and steps toward the children.

“Little piece of candy if you touch Annie!”  The children laughed with joy and begin to chase Ann around the Cryptie, thrusting little hands out into empty air as Ann steps, crouches and turns, vaults and wheels over their heads… more effort now, without the biolimbs, and Ann begins to breathe hard.

One child is not-so-happy; a little girl, at the edge of the larger children, running on short legs, falling down, trying to press through the giggling mob.  Ann notices the small scowl, the tears on the little girl’s face.  Step, wheel, turn, vault, Ann comes down beside the little girl who lunges and grips the woman’s leg.  “I catch Annie!  I catch Annie!”

Ann scoops the little girl into her arms.  “You did!  You did catch Annie!”

“Put me down.  I am not afraid of you.”  Ann gently motions the other children away, and they drift, in ones and threes, back to the circle of Zee’s and trees.  Ann walks to the edge of the light, puts the little girl on the ground, and kneels beside her.

“What you name, girl?”  Ann was still breathing hard.

“I call Dora.  Not girl.  I am new people.”

“New people Dora,” pants Ann, “here is a chocolate.  Will you let Annie be your friend?”

“If my brother Deen can be your friend,” says Dora.

“Dora, Deen and Annie,” Ann whispers, “friends forever.”

“There is no forever,” says Dora, biting off half the chocolate and toddling away.

Outside the Cryptie, the technicians are stretching the Stoth on frames; inside teks, ents and dezies alike are examining the cutters and recorders, coding the progboxes… progging the cubes.  Nerd manages to get Zee away from the children.  Nerd is taller than Zee, thin as a reed, his black hair close-cut like a pez.  He wears a pez tunic, now made of Stoth that Nerd progged himself.  Nerd’s goggles are raised to his high forehead, so he can look into Zees blue eyes; the Nerd is hoping his own naked brown eyes will tell his mystic friend what Nerd cannot say.

“There is a great crossing north,” say Nerd.  “Do you need help proggin the tower?”

“I can manage,” answers Zee.  “If they detect different patches, they’ll know something big is happening.  Let them think we are trading books and tech as usual.”

“You think they know?”

“I know they know.  But who is “they?”  The GEborg bosses?  Their Forborg lackeys?  Most of the telem is in Forborg code… but that means nothing.  Now I am getting pings from somewhere else… not Gee… not Forb… not even Threemes-probe.  Don’t know what it is.”

“Maybe I better look at it.”  Zee hands Nerd a cube, Nerd pulls down his gogs and snaps the cube in.  “Gods bark…” murmurs Nerd, “never seen anything like this.  No just pings, man.  Three-dimensional… almost… alien.”  Nerd is moving his fingers and hands, prodding the prog… inducing visions in his gogs.  “Maybe others here.”

“Others been here long time, man,” says Zee.  “Started getting this when Ann came down.”

“Does she know about it?”

“We talked about it.  She wasn’t supposed to make it.  But Forborg too cheap to blow one of their strikeveeks and a pilot like Ann for some kind of big board mumbo.  They cut trees.  They dig holes.  They sell slaves.  They run rails and count beans.  All their big tech burns creds.  Ann could dink with her chips enough to know the strike order came from GE.  Big tech-cred transfer before the flight… the soldiers were all abuzz.  Thought they might get more toys.  Methink she thumped a Bodi… a Defborg Bodi.

“What is a Defborg Bodi doing up there?”

“What do you mean, ‘up there,’ Nerd?”

Nerd raises his gogs and looks squarely at Zee.  “K-man.  Square business.  Some of those pings are mine.  Not from Forb.  Not from Gee.  I can ping your tower myself, K?  But I swear on my lasbus… these pings not mine.  Dip me in the water if you want… but I no got the tech to ping like this.  Nobody does.  Heavy mojo here, Zee.  You still trust the Nerd?”

“You my birdie, Nerdy.  But keep old Zee out of the dark, K?  All we got is each other.”

“Word Zee… true dat.  They be on us like bugs when they peep on Stoth.”

“They already hip to Stoth, methink.”

“This ping no bout Stoth- yo.  Ping no look or listen.  Pingjust is.  Not prog.  Not illusion.  Keep this cube, man?”

“You own it, Nerdy.”  The little dark spot on Nerd is gone now, and Zee is happy.  When Ann came down, she was almost totally dark.  Zee had never seen anyone brighten faster than Ann.  The Sight is a blessing and a curse.

As if summoned by Nerd and Zee’s conversation,Pingcomes running.  He is just a boy, but few things happen in the Cryptie or the forest that escapePing’s notice. Ping’s father and mother are original to the land, and had been for generations.  It is said that in the old days during the terrorist hunts and the die-off,Ping’s great-grandfather had burned all his identification and his wife did the same.  From that day on, he changed his name to “nine,” she would only answer to “six.”  No one inPing’s family had carried identification or worn chips for three generations.  Ping and Zee both are thirty nine this day, but while it is Zee’s real age, it isPing’s real name. Ping’s father was killed six seasons ago by Forborg soldiers in an unk-hunt, but they say he took many soldiers with him.  Now… if the Forb-sojas hunt unks for sport, they do it down below, where the unks are easier to find and not nearly as dangerous.

“Uncle Zee! Uncle Zee!  Annie is talking with the fighters! Bad things!” The boy buries his face in Zee’s tunic and begins to sob.  “Bad bad things!”

“Find your center, Thirty Nine… and tell me what is wrong,” but Zee knows.

“G-bark,” mutters Nerd to Zee.  “If it freaksPing, it freak me truly!”

“Ground pounders!  They are coming for the new cloth!  They are coming to get Annie!  I saw fear, Uncle Zee!  I saw fear inside our fighters!  I heard…”

Zee put his hand onPing,s dark head.  Zee spoke insidePing’s head, listen to me boy…you have the sight…see things and hear things…too young to understand yet…ground-pounders… uncle zee… ground-pounders …for the stoth… for Annie…

Zee speaks out loud, “They are just soldiers, Ping.  You know how to hide from soldiers.”

“Soldiers killkill my dad, man.”

Zee driesPing’s tears and embraces the boy.  “Go tell Annie I am ready when she is.  Go now.  And do not be afraid.”  The boy and Zee give their secret sign, two fingers touch the eye, andPingruns into the darkness.

Nerd waits until the boy is gone.  “Ground-pounders scare me.  They better in the woods.  They got all the tech too.  Sniff us out like wolves do buns. Pingis usually right when he hears something.”  Bird Legions not scare you?”

“Not this time, Nerd.  Dunno why… but not this time.  Some kind of board mumbo going on maybe.  Something in the wind.  The signs are quiet.”

“Wish I could read your signs.  I stick to code.  Got to look over your cube, man, bet it got something to do with spooky ping.  Got to read it.”  Nerd adjusts his gogs, looks off toward the Cryptie.  “Traffic on the comm… about the stoth.  Clothing and shelter… same material.  Techs going crazy.  Stoth can block all scans we know… like it makes you invisible to the Corporates, man.  Total bullet-proof… plasma goes back to its source.  You think they not put a Bird Legion on that?  Send in the ground-pounders?  Geeborg had Ann thump somebody… but the Canucks can take almost anything out of the air.  And why use a pilot?”

“She used a tac-nuke.  Thought it was thermite… but it went off like a tac-nuke.  She stayed in the shadow until she got over theLake.  Started pulling altitude and it all went bad.  Without her biolimbs, she wouldn’t have made it.  Had to knock the canopy off.

“Well… here she comes, Zee.  And she looks about to knock your canopy off.  I believe I have some pods to fig.  Good luck, brother.”

“Go with the Spirit, birdy.”

Oh, the leaves began to fallin’
And the seas began to part
And the people that confronted him were many…

–RZ Dylan

At precisely sunrise, Jason DuPont’s charging pod rotated to the nearly vertical, and Lord Jason emerged through its clamshell doors, feeling every day of his eighty-seven years, looking not a day over thirty.  Jason did not actually sleep in the charpod. He had not known natural sleep for twenty years.  The drugs and biofields within the chamber enabled brain reassembly, while his fluids were recycled and cleaned, diagnostics run on all implants for any possible repair or calibration.  There had been a slight pigmentation and texture problem with the new skin, making Lord Jason look like a bronze statue.  The strange color and texture were offending the Lord’s vanity, which was planet-class.

Only the Lord’s senior Ambassador, Callisto, and Tucker, the huge Praetorian Guard were to be present on the top and private floor to meet the CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors for Forborg.  The charger pod arrived by maglev from one of its many possible places in the hardened bunkers beneath Forborg Base Prime.  Tucker had been the closest soldier to Lord Jason for nearly four years (those who lived among the elite counted time in years), he had the very best close-range equipment, and armor nearly as strong as the Lord Himself.  Tucker could even joke at times with Lord Jason, and did so this morning as the Lord’s skin looked especially bright and metallic in the morning light.  “Going to polish you and put you on a pedestal, Boss.”  Jason activated the kill-ring, and Tucker fell in a heap, stone dead before his head hit the floor.

“Protocol,” said Lord Jason simply, reaching down and flinging the 120 kilos of dead weight across the room like a bag of laundry.  Jason’s biolimbs were implanted, taking the place of his own bones long ago.  Jason had a bulletproof skull, as his own had been replaced by a careful mosaic of the most advanced lightweight armor.  Most internal organs had been replaced whenever improvement was possible.  The Lord could see in the dark as well as telescopic distances and microscopic close-vision.  The artificial goggles were implanted into the artificial skull, giving Jason the appearance of a Babylonian deity, and his own personal Protocol forbade underlings to look directly into his visual orbs.  In the Nortamborg, most Bodi were addressed as “Boss.”

Jason had phased out much of the common Protocul, and his five Ambassadors, each named after one of the classic Galilean moons of Jupiter, briefed visitors on Jason’s personal Protocol, depending on the visitor’s rank and power.  Do not look directly at my Lord’s eyes.  He is addressed directly as “My Lord,” not as “Boss” or “Bodi.”  Jason was on the Board of Directors with GEborg and Defborg, as well as the “rival” corporate bioregion, Freem, and several others across the planet.  Jason seldom met with other Board Members, usually sending his Ambassadors with suitable implants which were usually detected but seldom mentioned.  Jason remained in his own Forborg domain; seldom meeting any peer in person, for many of them regarded his Roman Emperor costumes as “strange” and “eccentric.”

Lord Jason moved toward the Northern observation blister.  “Have the body removed, and see that the creds for the armor and equipment go to the household account.

“Yes, My Lord.”

“Bring the skin surgeons immediately.  Their kill-rings must be active and the surgical guards present.  I will address them in the holo-room in one hour.  Good morning.”

“Yes, My Lord.  Good morning, My Lord.”  Callisto had the body removed, contacted the surgeons, stepped outside, and coded the armored door quietly closed before speaking with the surgeons, for Callisto learned that it was wise to leave Jason undisturbed in his private thoughts.  Much of Lord Jason’s time was spent in surgery, and none on Earth had a body as powerful or highly-modified.  The creds for the tech and maintenance of Lord Jason’s magnificent physical frame were fully to the credit sum of a middle-sized base anywhere in the Nortamborg, depending on labor and exchange.

The creds flowed between the borgs in milliseconds; and although the “value” of a cred unit remained stable within a bioregion, the artificial measurement was still volatile depending on what was called classical “supply and demand,” a myth maintained by the Church.  Creds were highly subject to the manipulation and diplomacy of large numbers.  Labor creds were the most stable of all, and between one and two creds could “purchase” what a peasant family needed to survive for an entire season; food, fuel, clothing and shelter.  A peasant received credit in “cents,” one hundredth of a cred unit and was “paid” between one and two cents per day of labor, encoded into his plant daily or weekly… sometimes not at all.  “Sees labo.  Sees need.  Boggin deed.”  Bargain, indeed.

Technology was the most expensive commodity, followed by brute force that relied heavily on technology.  Techs and soldiers had their “stipend” coded into their plant as well, usually in “decs,” one tenth of a cred.  “Deca day, soja pay.  Be gud tec, get two dec.”  That’s what a pez got in her ship for twenty days “labo” for the company.  The executives, the Zeks, counted creds as creds.  A good weapon or tool of moderate tech would be forty cred, more than enough to sustain five large pez breeding groups for nearly a year.  A century ago, Lord Jason’s body would have been the space program with all its knowledge and equipment, a million creds of tech in his bones alone.

The red sun scowls over layers of haze and smoke, bathing Lord Jason’s fresh young face in filtered light, the cap turret of Forborg Prime turns to the East as Jason emerges from the charpod.  The brush fires burn unchecked to the horizon and the maglev busses follow the old roads to mine the graves.  Jason remembers when they were cities and towns, before the great die-off, but the pez call them graves now and are afraid to go near them without an extra cred per season and threats of starvation and chip-blanking.  There are minerals to be salvaged, data to be mined… and there are bones.  The unks who hide in the graves are terrible and carry disease.  Sojas clean them out with flame throwers.

A cloud of gnats or mosquitoes swarms above the horizon line. The swarm moves into the rising sun.  The fresh-faced eighty-seven-year-old Lord Jason sees them almost before the radar detects them, but there is no warning through his telemetry.  As Jason gazes into the sun, the gold filters activate over his visual orbs, casting a Midas touch on his puncture-proof baby-smooth model-toned skin.  “Magpie,” he thinks to himself.  By now, they look like a flock of ravens.  “Magpie,” he whispers, “Magpie.” There is still no movement in the telemetry.  The Geem aircraft hover about the cap turret of Forborg Prime as Lord Jason screams.  “Magpie!”  “Callisto!”  “Doorway!”

Nothing responds.  A large Geem-blue shuttlepod descends from a huge black TK-square like a robin’s-egg spider.  There is a rattle in the airlock, and Jason attempts to open it for the uninvited guest, a weak gesture of submission.  Even the manual controls will not respond.  The clamshell doors hiss apart and the blue pod intrudes, shield slowly rising.  Lana Gould ducks under the shield and steps into Jason’s cap turret, the Chief Executive Officer of Geborg in person.  She steps smartly past Jason to the North port.  “You can let that one up,” she says to her ship, and far below a hidden Forborg anti-aircraft turret rises from the ground, lowering its weapons quickly as the crew sees the Geborg veeks.

“Must you humiliate me in front of my subordinates?” Jason pouts.

“You mean your subjects,” returns Lana without turning around, “they know nothing.”  She turns and approaches Jason.  Her black hair is pulled back, and she still has her goggles down, a droll half-smile beneath opaque lenses.  She shows her teeth in a sunny smile, but Jason sees the wolf with an unseen pack.  Even with his far-superior physical frame, Lana smells his fear and circles her prey, data streaming through her millions of progs, cunning and deadly, she is toying with the petulant old man in the athlete shell and emperor costume.  Jason turns to the side and tries to look regal.

“Hunt needs a procedure,” Lana interrupts, “and your med-tech is the best.”  Hunter Harriman, Geborg Board Chairman, technically Jason’s only immediate superior, is nearly Lord Jason’s age… and he looks it.

“What sort of…”

“No you business, Jay.  Dunna probe the med-techs, hey.  We see.  We act.”

“You block my sensors.  You override all systems.  You come with weapons, violate my protocol.  Point taken.  Gesture of submission?  You have no authority…”

“Shup Jay.  It was easy.  Your crypto is a joke.  Best med-tech on the planet.  Good mining and transport.  You know the farm and food creds.  All good.  You have the most heavily-armed and brutal soldiers.  Without our Therk-tech, even Geborg might fear you,” she smiled sweetly, “but we do not.”

“Then why do you come by air and override my defenses… with no advance notice?  Allow me to contact Hunt.  I demand to know…”

“You demand nothing,” snaps Lana.  Looking Lord Jason directly in the eye, she sweeps a few micro instruments from the top of a telemetry cabinet with one hand, boosts herself onto its top and dangles her legs.  She snarls like a panther in a tree.  “Geborg is acquiring your med-tech.  Your people and equipment…”

“That is an outrage!” Jason’s artificially young-sounding voice breaks, as he is quite unaccustomed to shouting.  “I will not permit it!”

“You have no choice,” snarls Lana.  “After your clumsy strike…”

“Strike?  You make no sense!  I have never…”

“You lie.”

Lord Jason had enough.  Cornered like a rat, his most valuable asset robbed, his imperial person assaulted and insulted, cold rage pours into him like liquid nitrogen.  Micro-vision zooms in on Lana Gould’s brain stem location.  Right hand, easily capable of crushing a steel I-beam, targets with micron accuracy.  Selection of target and preparation of strike take place in nanoseconds.  The right hand flicks toward its target faster than a bullet, and just as quickly stops cold exactly 40 centimeters from the intended crush zone.  The rapid acceleration and deceleration of the appendage cause Jason’s emergency shock systems to activate, yet he is frozen like a kitch brass bookend.

Lana drops from her perch, unwraps her Stoth-scarf and hangs it over Jason’s outstretched hand like an elementary-school coat-hook.  She begins to explain how Hunt called this move exactly and had the intrusion progged into Jason’s internal telemetry.  She circles his frozen frame, delivering her narrative.  Jason understands, but it is background-buzz as his systems jerk and twist like a trapped animal to override the intrusion.  All useless… Jason’s most secure system– his own body—cracked like a pez chowpak.  Lana has faith in Geem hackers; loyalty to Hunter’s prescience, and secure because Jason shows her loyalty and Jason’s treachery.

“That was your second clumsy strike.”  Then the characters freeze-frame.  Therctech no controlling no, not now not all probability game.  Much faster than a human prog, nutrino memes unnamed.  Neither mass nor energy, not the leader, not the lead, It lives in another dimension and it lives inside your head.

Why one God one say no name no time tree fruit is not is.  That is why in ancient rhymes madmen in the wilderness… can break the physics of their times.  Cry alone in wilderness, She is part of the chorus.

Hunter sense Paladins in forest.

Red light, dimmed for darkness, dances in the trees, in and out of dimension with the shadows, crisp air and the fireflies.  There is Luckwun in the group, but who?  Most think it is Zee, but Dora and Deen say male Luckwun are very rare.  There is also a Paladin among them they can not sense, further than any light can reach them.  A chorus unheard settles on the group, just ahead in time with roots back to the dragon age.  It comes from another dimension and it lives inside your head.  Zee is likely to tell a story.

“So what is It, that’s the question.  Not to be or not to be.  It just is, and that enough.  Understand you can be tough.

Tech can help you see.  Truth set you free,”  Zee tells the children.

Ann is impatient.  She demands they leave in silentspeak, whenPinginterrupts.

“What is Truth unka Zee?  The growns, especially the ents, howled with laughter.  The entertainers… the artists.  The dezz… the designers… begin to laugh because the ents are laughing.  The techs… the technicians… frown and search for information on why such a question causes laughter.  Some grown singers groan childhood song widely known.

Say when now and then.

Say what eyes shut.

Say who maybe you.

Say where take care.

Say why soon die.

It sounds like an ancient slave lament combined with sea chantey and a little girl singing to her doll a hundred years ago.  Different instruments join invisible, and the children stir… because the growns leave traditional gaps for them.

“Say when… say what… say who… say where… say why…”

Before the new people can respond, a grown mock-vaudeville crooner brings in another response line, “What is ‘Truth,’ Uncle Zee.  Zee claps hands and does the James Brown, falls on ground, kicks arms and legs in the air.  Ann is furious and the thoughtspeech starts to fly, Zee like turtle, Annie like a candle.

he is my Judas

now and then he is vulnerable when

he knows i was to be a Paladin

and has eyes shut to the forces that know

that’s why they let me through

maybe you and Nerd were both bewitched to

the demons took the beginning of my glide-path.  Why…

take care of a threat that way

they could not detect the possession  we all got on the lorry…

i tell a story

when defection turns to attack…

listen to the story…

Zee holds his hands in the air and it grows quieter.  “K-K” says Zee, “one short story and then we go.”  Zee leaps and crouches, striking a pose like a lamp-lighter or a canon near.  “Do you know about the Paladin?”  His voice is very low… the group is glass water still.  “Yes!  You do!  But here is something you do not know.  How words are born… how fractals grow…” Zee speaks closer to the new people, Dora and Deen.  “…a story from an ancient book… a long, long time ago.”

Zee never mentions the Paladin.  There are twelve at any given time.  They say the Paladin live in Agawa cross theLake, but they can be anywhere they want.  Some fear the Paladin and say they are skin-walkers, others say they are wendigo.  As in all pezmyths, there is some truth to this.  The Paladin art is coercion… ways to make you do things you do not want to do… or stop doing things you want to do.  The Paladin do not trade.  They take what they need and give what they have.

People in the Agawa say they rarely notice the Paladin.  They are not secret, they are simply unknown.  So instead, Zee is telling another story, a story of the Luckwun, Mother Amelia.  There are several Luckwun, and unlike Paladin, everybody knows who Luckwun are.  Often seen, beloved by all, the Luckwun art is life.  Zee is speaking about his story.  Dora and Dean hear both stories.  Here is the story now. Zee beginning so:

“Drought was upon the land, and stinging wind scoured the tundra and eyes of all creatures trying to gimlet weak vision through soiled amber light, seeking reward or predicting peril.  “Lukwun,” the pez would whisper and try to protect their eyes.  “Lukwun,” another would answer, in hope their comrade would find sustenance or safety.  It means, “luck to one,” or, “luck turns,” but there’s more to it than that (there usually is).  You may hear the entire story now.  This is how speech grows; of words and children.

Years ago, there was a speaker and a scholar who has long since gone to the reward or oblivion that awaits us all on the other side of this life.  She told stories, she knew theOld Ways.  She taught that a good story did not need to be true, yes she did!  A good story only needed to tell the truth… and that is the difference between what is remembered or forgotten.  Of course, nothing is forgotten… and nobody dies… but that is another story for another time.  This is the story of Luke chapter one, verse forty six:  The Magnificat.

She read the story (yes! She could read in ink!) from the oldest of books.  Luke One Four Six is where you can find The Magnificat in the old book when you can read ink!  The Magnificat was the song of a woman who gave birth to a child who saved the whole world.  Yes, all the world!  And from what did the child save us?  Why, from Luck!  Some call it fortune… or fate… it is what happens to us.  Some call it “good” or “bad,” but that is not so!  What happens is what happens… fortune is fortune; luck is luck all the same!

The people would come to speaker-scholar woman and say, “my luck is so bad!”

She would answer, “Good luck, bad luck, who knows?”  She would tell them of the mother’s song, and what does Luck do?  “He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.”  She would warn those proud of their good fortune or luck; finding the most acorns or catching a fat deer.  What does Luck do?  “…he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.”  He is that he is.

The streams will return and the corn will grow.  The rain will come and the wind will whisper gentle and warm.  All things are a gift, even those turned (wun) by our own hand.  Or a curse, who knows?  Luck turns things that pass through our hands, and when we no longer hold them, does that mean they do not exist?  Of course not!  Some say Luck is Light because speaker-scholar woman would say, “light one for six.”  Everyone knows to wun a good fire is much work, but then it can easily start six others.

One candle can wun another six, and that original candle will burn no more or less bright than before… and this is why children can be the greatest wun of all.  Speaker-scholar woman’s mother and father passed on, as did the name they gave her.  She became known by another.  Can you guess the name?  Why, “Luckwun,” of course!  What of the four parents and their two children in the ancient story?  Can a wise woman who lived long ago in the future stick a force in your memory to help you endure?

Luckwun force sticks!”

“That was a terrible ending. “  Annie dips quickly, and Zee is atop her shoulders.  Zee grins over his shoulder toward the group.

“I guess you had to be there.”

In three strides, Annie is down the trail further than any light can reach them.

Deep into the trees and darkness along the trail lurches and careens.

too fast girl

too slow boy

to escape what ahead

2 come up behind

Paladin

Now

A wide blow-out in the trail, thin moonlight shines on the ribbon of sand cut by some wheels, tracks and many footsteps.  Another light like polished bronze casts weak shadows among the long-fallen timber and brush at edges of the clearing.  There stood the visage of Lord Jason.  Annie flicks Zee from her shoulders toward a soft spot, bounds one more ten-meter stride ahead and plants her feet, sidearm extended.  Lord Jason fidgets.

“He does not like being ridden,” mumbles Lord Jason.

“No Lord Jason!”  Zee shouts while gasping for more of the wind knocked out of him.  “Not him. Skinwalker,” Zee gasps, struggling to stand.  Soldier Anastasia is in a different world.

“I have only seen pictures,” snarls Annie, beginning to circle her prey.  Annie guesses rightly the sidearm will have little effect on the armor skin.  Her martial skills and biolimbs may compensate for Jason’s superior bionics, but the advantage is his.

“Nonono girl,” gasps Zee, both aloud and inside Annie’s brain.  “Lana Gould.  Paladin.  Skinwalker!”

“Yessss…” says Lana with difficulty, using Lord Jason’s voice.  “He be horrified I control him.”  Lana’s body was in deep meditation, resting in the Agawa, leagues across theLake.  “I project and use cripto-progs as well.  Still not easy.”  Lord Jason fights hard to resist speaking Lana Gould’s words, progs and projection too strong.

Zee could read, but not project as yet—and this is what he hopes the Paladin can teach him.  But this is not to be.  Zee is indeed the Luckwun.  Annie must take the place of Lana Gould among the Paladin with six Luckwun and twelve Generals.  General Gould had to lay hands on Jason to project into his mind and buy time for Geborg crypto to override security in Jason’s body, his i-moon™ system.  Only the Paladin progs are able to control Jason, and not for much time.  Lana became a Geborg High-Zek and prevails on Hunter’s better nature.  Now Lana accomplishes her vision-path and retires to meditate deep in the Agawa labyrinth.

Lana is losing her hold on Lord Jason, but delivers deep instructions for Annie and Zee.  There is a holoveek ahead, and Lord Jason is left to go another direction.  Jason is set free with his body and limited and monitored creds in his prog.  He will leave his empire and all associates.  He may organize another base, if he feels so inclined, but must refrain from retribution and revenge.  If he does not, a Paladin will come for him sure, and with more than enough to pierce his invincible skin.  Jason knows there is one nearby who will maintain the skin and the progs… for a price.  Annie and Zee make their way to the holoveek, levitating quietly just above the ground, waiting for a good pilot.

It is configured like Annie’s old strikeveek for now.  She negotiates the controls well enough to fly back to the Tower.  There she lands in the high grass between two dunes just off theLake.  The two sit in silence, knowing what they know.  Annie moves the controls absently, sets the instruments to their routines, and clicks in her biolimb frame for maximum speed and sensitivity.  They know what they know.  Zee closes his eyes and squints down the dim tunnel of time.  Instead of opening clamshell as customary for passengers, Annie quietly slides the canopy down into the sides, favored by strikeveek pilots.  The air is cold.  The stars are sharp and clear.  They know what they know.

Zee stand on the beach and watch Annie hover over water orange juice sun set.  Annie remembers first Slipcraft.  It was a replicaGreat Lakesbiplane she flew as a girl.  “Slipcraft” write on the sides.  Sojas give it to her when she keep stealing velo chase make them crash.  Better electric motor two and she slipped in clouds and Ground Clutter.  Annie thinks now this veek way advanced ahead one she demand.  You can sense it thinking.  “Speed is life,” said the pilots in the oldGreat Lakes’ time.  But they were flying fighters and knot slipcraft.  Annie rotates her and point nose at wishing star, shoot out of atmosphere bank toward the moon.  Annie is now Paladin Bodi Soldier.

Jason is trapped deep belowChicagorubble entombed when the New Madrid thing cut loose.  He knows Annie will see the Paladin terra-forming the Moon.  Zee step in to Stoth wigwam and blink it tower peak like old time Star Trek Holodeck.  Say they/ we’re about to encounter a port-side bulkhead reality in the scenario.  They abandon the treadmill and in a blink transport to starboard at their backs.  They could not oscillate fast enough and the horsemen did come as programmed in the scenario.  But it was an illusion they brought on themselves.  The Paladin come to make an offer you can not refuse.  The Paladin must be as far above corruption as they get from the Earth.

Luckwun Force Six- LF6- was not about force at all.  A Tradition begun by Saint Rachael gave them Grandmother’s voice.  The great Paladin hostile takeover of the old Coercion industry gave Paladin a Luckwun energy for transforming Capital into enterprise tempered with justice and mercy.  All studied the Slipcraft Manifesto so the Neue Reformation took hold.  Compostmodernism was taught in free Universities, not as Theory but as History.  No one knew how long it took for the Hard Times to pass after such a long and strange winter.  The winter is Past.  We are Here.

Air is clear, water is pure and earth is happy and free. 

And he was told but these few words
Which opened up his heart
“If ye cannot bring good news, then don’t bring any”
.   –RZD
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3 Responses

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  1. Hole Up « waldopaper said, on February 28, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    […] -30- Share this:StumbleUponDiggLinkedInTwitterPrintEmailFacebookRedditLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Tagged with: gonna fly, heavy weather, pilot mom, pitch dark, sunup, total darkness […]

  2. Slipcraft « waldopaper said, on October 17, 2011 at 2:54 am

    […] The sequel is easy to read.  Share this:StumbleUponDiggLinkedInTwitterPrintEmailFacebookRedditLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

  3. […] In The Year 2070…  the “sinkability skeptics” will be a footnote in “history” noted by readers (those who can read) of old texts (where they exist) as a signifier of human hubris.  When the iceberg was afloat and the paint was fresh, we the living were preoccupied with fishing bodies out of the deep Arctic waters and crackling wireless news and printed pulp of the event itself. […]


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