Tomorrow starts my next semester in school, and I feel like I have to ramp myself back up into scholastic mode. I'm basically getting a math credit with the easiest class I possibly could, and taking a short story literature class. It would be more fun if it was a writing class, but apparently writing stories is only in workshop classes. So, I'm going to be spending more time reading for class than reading for enjoyment, which seems to be a thing that I only do on the bus or on my breaks at work anymore.
I'm about a third into Kim Stanley Robinson's second part of the Mars Trilogy, Green Mars, and it's been slow going. Those books are dense as hell, and an awful lot of reading scientific approximations of terraforming Mars, but they're fun and engaging adventures with a strong humanistic bend to it. I really should spend a day and just read, but there's so many other things to do and experience. And I easily get distracted by pretty pictures and petty arguments.
My week hasn't been very exciting. Finished Mass Effect 1 and am just past disc 1 on Mass Effect 2.
I've also been playing DOOM 2016, and enjoying brutalizing the legions of hell with chainsaws and shotguns.
I've upgraded to videos over screen shots since for some reason my Xbox isn't cooperating with OneDrive on screens. At least I hope I have. We'll find out when this posts if the embedding works. I could just preview this entry, but I prefer the suspense, don't you? No? Well too bad!
I've also been back to playing Civ. I still haven't bought 6, since I don't feel like buying another game to lose myself in at the moment. I just got Final Fantasy XV, and while I'm beyond excited to finally play a new Final Fantasy title, I'm holding it off until I finish the last chapter in To Slice The Sky. Why am I replaying Mass Effect, stomping through DOOM, and pretending to be the British Empire if they started out in Alaska/West Canada (which is going rather poorly)? Because I like making excuses to stop myself from doing things I want to in the face of what I should do.
Also, I'm kinda scared to crack into XV, despite everywhere I've read saying it's a keen piece of work. I was mixed on FFXIII (the combat was great, but everything else sucked), and missed out on XIV: A Realm Reborn since I don't do MMORPG's anymore, so I'm anxious as well as guarded for diving back into the series. I haven't had any issues with the main entries into the series outside of XIII, and X-2 was... well, it was a game with a lot of ideas that were better utilized elsewhere, but those were enough to give me pause, but Square-Enix has been going out of their way to publish excellent games so I'm still quite excited to play XV. I don't imagine that it'll outmaneuver VI as my favorite in the series, but I'm looking forward to playing around with Chocobos and spamming Ultima.
But speaking of To Slice The Sky, today's post is part 1/4 for our final heist. Trip's solo adventure back in Ocean City to shut down Roplaxive-Pharrel's east coast servers. I don't have much to set this up with, and it was well received so far. Welcome to the beginning of the end.
Dog Pic 2: Electric Boogaloo
|"We're going on an adventure!"|
12/31/2099 - 06:00 OST
Sun spilled into the bedroom as the shaded windows grew transparent. A shrill ‘ENG ENG ENG’ pounded through the room. Trip’s eyes snapped open on springs. He put his head between the pillows and groaned.
“I’m sorry, Trevor, but I’m afraid I can’t do that without the override code.” The alarm blared on.
Trip sat up, rubbed his eyes and yawed. “Frag.”
“Incorrect, please say override code.” ENG ENG ENG.
“Shut up, please,” he swung his beanstalk legs over the bedside.
ENG ENG ENG
Fingers through oily hair. “Not today.”
“Incorrect. Please say override code.”
Trip covered his ears. It did no good. “I forget!”
“Good morning, Mr. Dawson. The time is six-oh-four and your next custom alarm marker is in eleven minutes.” The sultry contra-alto switched to Trip’s mock chipper tone.
“Don’t forget to take your Roplaxive brand performance maximizing breakfast cocktail.” The recording session was as painful as this moment.
12/31/2099 - 06:15 OST
Trip swallowed the trait tablet then went about his morning ritual.
He ended up in the shower. midway, things didn’t feel as if they were being cleaned in the right places. During dry cycle, a blast of air shot him in the face. His skin prickled hot with the euphoric waves of a dopamine rush. Somewhere in the middle of his head, something was growing.
He stumbled to the mirror. Beneath wiped away condensation lay a checkpoint between Trevor Dawson and a maintenance caste face. Panic over someone stealing his life passed in a moment. Thoughts about weekend tempers growing fur, or gills for underwater breathing, crashed about in between thoughts of the other night, when he caught The Bird wearing peacock feathers at The Cathedral.
Trip locked eyes with the reflection. A light brown iris hung in the place of his usual cool blue. He waved to himself, tracking body movements with detached novelty. He wondered if all of them felt this same out of body experience, or maybe that was the whole point.
Opening the vanity drawer, he fished out his ID tag for the day. Decker promised it would grant full access throughout the Roplaxive HQ, with assurances that the security system was in fact his bitch.
When convincing Trip this was a good idea, Decker and he brainstormed who would have the lowest profile job with the most access. They arrived at either janitor or maintenance. Trip was more worried about ending up in a trash compactor with some research discard, so maintenance it was.
They pored over Decker’s intimate knowledge of Roplaxive HQ’s gaps in surveillance while Trip tinkered with keeping up appearances. Beating chemical distress alarms was never an angle he planned to account for when creating traits. In his brain chemistry, receptor gates suppressed cortisol approaching unacceptable PPM. Completely blocking out stress sweat was impossible from all the simulations they ran, but Trip was willing to push for that third standard deviation.
The endorphin flood was to ease the transition period. Adrenal suppression kept him from panicking at the feeling of the Biodroid chip growing itself from his medulla oblongata.
With his ID card in hand, the clearing bathroom glass went fuzzy. A trickle of blood seeped from Trip’s nose. He looked at it with a distant curiosity as the world faded to black.
12/31/2099 - 08:47 OST
Trip blinked till his eyes focused. Flakes of dried blood crumbled from his nose and lips as he worked his face. He pulled himself up by the vanity counter. His new face was blank as he washed away old blood, enjoying the novelty of a changed perspective. A nagging feeling of him being late grew inside his mind alongside something hard at its center. Lingering effects of adrenal suppression and dopamine flooding kept Trip from responding, how he believed was, properly to the situation.
12/31/2099 - 09:16 OST
He finished getting ready and was out the front door. In the lobby, a pair of sentinel class Biodroids didn’t roust at his presence. Trip felt as much as knew he appeared as one of them. Disregarding his physical presence for digital verification with Roplaxive-Pharrel’s servers that they’re observing a Biodroid. Proof of concept that Decker’s gamble with Trip’s biology paid off.
“Great, now I owe him twenty creds,” he grumbled outside.
Gray slush piled at the corners of Foundation Island’s streets. Johnny Cabs splashed more onto the sidewalks to meet the gross sleet raining from the sky. Trip swore under his breath as he futzed with his rain shield and attaché. He caught a glimpse of his well-polished loafers beneath his favorite suit pants, leading to a stylish jacket. He wished he wouldn’t have chosen this get up to blend in. Gawking commuters strengthened his suspicion that castebreaking clones were not welcome across ‘The Wail Zone’.
His attaché held the coveralls he’d be wearing later. He pulled AR shades from his suit pocket and pushed them further up the bridge of his nose. The HUD went live and he set a GPS marker for Cortlandt Street Station. Chosen for being ranked lowest in foot traffic and active security as of Late Q4 statements. And because it was walking distance.
With head down and rain shield up, Trip slogged off into the freezing rain.
12/31/2099 - 09:55 OST
Trip got off the train at TMZSQR Station. He ducked into the pay toilets lining the wall before the platform stairs.
A way too chipper hologram hovered above the locked toilet seat. “Thank you for choosing SaniTime. Please accept charges in your favorite currency before using our facilities. Failure to comply will release a chemical irritant and security will be called. Five seconds remaining.”
Trip tapped his creds, popped open the attaché, then disrobed. It didn’t take long to slide into his jumpsuit.
He dropped his to-the-eights suit into the chemical toilet. It floated amongst waste and blue water. He popped an acid tab and shook the powdery contents into the bowl, dissolving the suit on contact.
He packed up to go and took a final nostalgic glance at his vanishing favorite suit before the seat slid shut and sealed.
His lacrimal gland swelled up. A torrent of jerking sobs over the loss of anything and everything fled from his eyes.
He paid for and used another seven minutes before his crying stopped. He washed his face and laughed out of reflex while blotting bloodshot eyes.
“I think something’s fragged up in the trait.”
Looking at his new face in the mirror he grunted and hawked till he felt he was back in control of his new body.
12/31/2099 – 10:17
Trip left the bathroom. He shuffled with the crowd out of the concourse into TMZSQR.
Through the security checkpoint of Roplaxive’s global headquarters. He tapped his new ID at the entrance. No alarms sounded. Trip breathed a sigh of relief. Gloved hands came down on each shoulder. Security escorted him to the side, off to Employee Relations.
12/31/2099 - 11:14 OST
Tripclone sat in the corrections lobby, flanked by security, waiting his turn from a thinning crowd of clones. Each one fidgeted in their seat as Trip maintained an exterior of blank acceptance. Inside his core where all his true feelings were being stored, a sustained silent scream was going strong.
Security 'helped' Trip onto his feet. After a march of sullen faces, they deposited him at the desk of Silas Gardner: Employee Relations Correction Officer. Silas looked like he swallowed something unpleasant.
"Ugh, I always hate having to say your things ID number. CS4380011,” Trip’s fake record sprung up on holodisplay, “It appears we have a problem with getting to work on time. The third time, is it?”
Trip said, “Are you sure this isn’t the first?”
Silas replied, “It’s the last.”
Silas leaned forward on his elbows, “I see an interesting location tagged on your ID this morning. Don’t we have your address at a pod hotel in Clonetown?”
“At nine thirty-eight this morning, the credchip belonging to one of our top employees was scanned at an out of the ordinary train station. Per our location data, your ID passed through the scanners at the same time as the transaction.” Silas breathed out with a throaty chuckle, “Of course-”
His sentence was cut short by Trip crying his eyes out in a hysterical manner. Silas was used to this sort of behavior by now. Legions of clones that marched through the office would release waterworks at the mere threat of being recycled. However, this was the first time someone started crying before he warmed up.
Trip wailed and rolled about the desk like his child died. Inside himself he wanted to throw up with tension. The door slid open behind them and an attendant looked within.
“Is everything okay in here?”
A dozen each of four different faces peeked around her. Trip hyperventilated and went back to wailing on the floor.
Not knowing what else to do, Silas Gardner: Employee Relations Corrections Officer, leaned over the desk. He sucked air through his teeth and clucked, staring at the continued wailing. Security was turning to look beside the agape attendant.
Silas said, “Uh, there, there now. That’s enough wouldn’t you say? No need to keep carrying on and all.”
Trip responded by moving in spastic fits and turning red. Silas waved the assistant furiously away from the door.
As it slid shut she said, “I’m so posting this.”
Trip stopped holding his breath.
Silas said, “That’s a good clone, now. Maybe this time was the first time you were late. And this cred card business, you could have taken the wrong jacket at your night job. We’d of course have to dock your pay for violating company policy, but that’s something we can hash out later.”
Trip pulled himself back into the chair. He straightened himself out, wiped slick hands on his coveralls and snorted a few more times.
Silas continued, “Yes, well, let’s not take up any more of your work day. I know you have so much to do.” He was about to extend a hand but thought better of it. “You can see yourself out.”
12/31/2099 - 11:27 OST
Trip shuffled into the lower level break room. Every face looked up at him as he entered. Deja vu passed and everyone returned to their business. Trip moved to a cluster of clones on break.
“Uh, hey, you guys know where the, uuuh, like-”
“Ain’t yous that guy blubberin down in corrections?” said a clone with HV/AC printed on his coveralls.
“Eh, that’s you?” A clone of Fixer scoffed. Trip wondered if all his caste were deadpan.
Another member, tagged maintenance superintendent on his open coveralls, blew out some vapor from his ecig. “You’re fraggin’ late. What’re you doing in the break room?”
“Yeah,” Trip swallowed, “I was on my way to the, maintenance, supplies?”
“You mean the closet?” The super screwed his face.
“Yes, the closet.” Trip ticked his finger about, “Where was that again?”
HV/AC laughed out loud. The room snuck looks at their corner. “Did you cry your brains out?”
Trip’s internal workings wanted to sneer, it translated into a disarming smile. “Yeah, I think I must of.”
The super grumbled to himself. “Put on your shades and I’ll mark it on your tasks. It’s the door next to the elevator.” The super scratched his beer gut, “And make it snappy, Lil’ Billy Boo-Hoo, we got a blocked air duct in level oh-one-eight’s southern bathroom.”
Geared up with an auto map and a tool bucket, Trip moved towards the central elevator. From there, it was down to the subbasement to link up with Decker and shut down the hivemind servers that governed the Biodroids.
Elevator doors opened to reveal the Al(l)ans staring like they know something they needed just happened, yet can’t figure out what. Their eyes locked. Tripclone’s guts sank. Alan and Allan smiled fluorescent white.
12/31/2099 - 13:02 OST
"Awe, fraggin' eights, bud! That's all we had to do?" Eyes glazed in a super dilated state, belying some form of hallucinogen working its magic, Alan's mind had been officially blown.
"I told you we just had to find some copypaste to do it for us," Allan gave Trip a 'good job, sport,' pat.
Trip was held captive for an hour inside his old cubicle by his work buddies. Their condescending idiocy led to a jammed MR, which Trip had already explained how to fix ad nauseum in his usual form. Dressed up in cloneface, getting Alan and Allan to grasp the process fell into uncharted depths of impossible. The two of them DeMoed out of their minds didn't help matters either.
"So, uh, you helped. You can leave now," Alan turned Trip around and pushed him through the cubical entrance.
Trip never dreamed of being a recipient of that move, no matter how many times he’d seen it done. Back in the glass-walled ant farm, he breathed a sigh of relief and replaced his shades. He pulled up the automap, double checking which elevator would lead to his destination.
Avoiding eye contact, Trip bee-lined for the end of the cubicle farm. Head down, he dismissed calls after for more technical support. Time was a commodity, and the stakes of running out were as present in Trip’s mind as the biochip stuck inside it. Elevator doors opened to envelop Trip in a lover's embrace with a ding like The Liberty Bell. A blinding white grin—screaming, 'guess what I just ate,'—cut off the path to freedom.
Trip halted in his tracks. From his gingerfro to his rosacea, everything surrounding those fluorescent teeth was somehow redder about Gerald.
"So pleased I ran into one of you," Gerald spoke as if each word was a mouthful of candy. Trips guts flipped over themselves. Gerald crooked an arm over Tripclone's shoulders.
"We've been having restroom troubles all morning."
The elevator dinged away to another floor.
"I was wondering when maintenance was going to send someone." They stood outside the floor's men's room. Gerald opened the door.
"Please, after you," he beckoned for Trip to enter.
Trip moved with flat-footed grace. Not willing to wait, Gerald shoved him the rest of the way. The door lock clicked with a confirmation tone from a supervisor key.
Trip tracked Gerald’s movements, as he hung his jacket over a stall.
“So, that the john with the problem?” Trip sputtered out a laugh. Sweat beaded in his hairline, cortisone gates barely holding back hormonal floods.
Gerald rolled up his sleeves and dropped cufflinks into his pocket. “Just you, Johnny-boy.”
“Look, Gerald,” Trip put his hands up in peace.
Gerald spat in his face, “You dare say my name, copypaste? On my floor?” He shook an angry finger under Trip’s nose. “It should be nothing but sir and mister coming outta your hole.”
“If you listen a sec, I’m not a clone. It’s me, Trevor. Trevor Daw-” Trip’s sentence was knocked out of him with the wind.
Gerald’s left fist was firm in Trip’s midsection. The right jarred some of his molars loose. “Ger-” jab to the nose “-ald,” another, “stop.” Trip gasped for air to have it knocked out again.
12/31/2099 - 13:31 OST
After Gerald was done with Tripclone’s body, he tossed him onto a toilet. Trip’s consciousness faded in and out. Gerry and his forever bathroom breaks flashed through in moments of clarity.
Gerald had taken out his slag and was trying to urinate on Trip. Nothing came out, though he made a rather big show of it. Frustrated at himself, he gave Trip one last kick, right into the flusher. Pants done up, he took his jacket off the stall door and slammed it shut. He whistled while he made himself presentable on the other side. The whistling stopped after the air dryer’s hum, followed by a beep of an unlocked door.
Pain blossomed in horrid flowers whenever Trip moved. His body grew weary of feeling agony and he still had to use the bathroom after getting the skag beaten out of him. Against better reason, and a potential concussion, he wanted to give in to the urge to shut down to repair. A lunge for the privacy shield was the last move Trip made before he blacked out.