of the techfection I was going downtown with Chris. He'd found
an Aielee show was happening with hundred terabit lines for
both the show and the patrons and he wanted to crash it, old-timey
style. We weren't alone. As we roof-topped our way to the
square where the cops had kettled a bunch of rioters and cleared
the building they'd hid in, there were others ahead of us,
moving fast through the illegal catwalks and rooftop venues
set up for the show.
Chris gestured toward them unnecessarily. They were prancing
sideways like monkeys, likely short-term genehacked to make
the trip easier, but dangerous. Some genes took, or RNAed
themselves in and disrupted normal programming. We were roided
for the agility and some muscle mass in case we had to shoulder
into the invite-only venue, but I would never hack. The waterfront
was littered with people who had hacked, some of them in the
old days when researchers would pay you good money to inject,
and some from more modern times, visibly beating back the
cheap genework with ever more elaborate kits.
you do it?" I asked Chris, for usually he was on the forefront.
plant thing once. Sitting in the sun, soaking up nutrient
in water. That kind of thing."
him at first, let him hack right in, then I saw his lopsided
grin, the one he reserved for friends, or someone in his way.
"That's a mod that'd cost you," I said, playing along even
as we clambered up the side of the temporary staging that
had sprung up for the show. The staging was grown on site,
and by the look of the junctures, I would guess they had spliced
in rapidity, for it was swaying just from the force of our
on." Chris beckoned and then disappeared into one of the lower
floors. It would be a mistake to arrive together. With the
venue over half avatars and the rest careless hacks and opportunists,
we would blend better arriving one at a time. I went across
the top floor, the doubled reed buckling with my weight and
sending some of the avatars scurrying for the safety of more
stable code. They'd given themselves away when the trunklines
faltered trying to keep them solid. The monkey boys were way
ahead of us, making for the centre ring, where code was flying
as the show put itself together.
sound came at us almost physically through the air, and I
settled into a sweet spot on the second to top floor to watch
the fun. Some of the monkeys had pranced too close, and were
being taken apart by the venue operators. There had to be
some rules, they told us, even with an illegal venue, or else
the sightseers would ruin it for the rest. They were right.
I'd seen a show overrun by applets and avatars, weaving themselves
into the code so they became the story, attenuating themselves
even as they weakened the main show.
the monkeys dropped back, burned from the lasers, and one
of them came toward me, walking through three or four avatars-careless-before
settling on a railing that divided the recording floor from
the authorities who kept the peace and made sure they had
a product to sell. "That'll calm the monkeys down," Chris
said right behind me and I jumped.
the hell, man? I thought you were on the downside." I pointed
to the floor below me.
to see down there. You have the rich blood here." Even as
Chris spoke Aielee fired up and hologram scaffolding rose
into the night. The reals moved to see, but the avatars, at
least those new to the business, stood where they were, forgetting
their views from their displays at home didn't represent their
view in the venue. "Amateurs," Chris snorted, and reached
through one of the guests for a drink.
faintly illegal and mostly gauche to admit the avatars weren't
real, that they were nothing more than an artefact of hundred
terabit trunklines and someone's fear of leaving the house,
but more and more people, like the monkey on the opposite
end of the floor, were ignoring propriety and law. The reals
were getting sick of avatars risking nothing and pretending
to take up space.
show swelled around us, coding mixed in the crowd and the
avatars came into their own. They were as much the show as
the swelling balloons of hologram architecture that rose over
the ruins of the old apartment building. Avatars flickered
into different forms, fought mock battles and merged to hog
space, bloated, hanging over the railing's edge and forcing
real physics to bend with their excess, the floor dipping
where the code was thickest, conforming the world to the image.
more interested in Aielee than them, so reluctant to go close
to the edge when the building was so unstable, I peered around
and through some of the guests, while Aielee rebuilt the apartment
block that had been destroyed. Then they filled it with those
avatars who had pre-booked and were willing to corrupt their
own code with old timey imagery and Aielee control. It was
magnificent. There were even belching trucks and cars in the
street, laundry hanging off hemp lines, and people calling
to one another from balconies.
must have had some footage," I called over to Chris, who was
negotiating with staff, trading credits for space so we could
he replied. "They're riding off film space."
know what he was talking about. I'd seen film space and it
always looked a bit hacked in the way it wove from one scene
to another, but I kept my peace. He was the one trading credits
after all, and he'd invited me.
was famous for building a scene and then bringing it to the
crowd, political reruns and cop bait, and tonight was no exception.
We knew what to expect, somewhat, when we saw the building
rear into the sky, so it was no surprise when the building
fell shabbily into disrepair, and the people fell burning
and screaming from their balconies.
that got a few avatars who didn't look through their code,"
I remarked, but Chris was busy with negotiations, this time
for a code entrance.
expectant, knowing Aielee was going to rough its way to the
next scene, and that some of the venues were going to be hit.
Sure enough, cop avatars came through with bulldozers, just
like reals, and when they code-splintered the fragile scaffolding
that held the venues, some avatars at first reeled and then
grinned, confident in their safety. "They don't know Aielee."
Chris was at my ear again.
splintered and shook, and then was under the bulldozers. Avatars,
their code compromised from being on the Aielee trunklines,
fell under the treads and were crushed, realistic blood spewing
from ghostly veins and amongst them, some liquid blood too,
as monkeys and a few other reals were caught in the destruction
that was Aielee's take on the scene. Our building wasn't ripped,
probably because Chris had an in, but it was about then that
everything went to shit.
were popping in and out, worried they'd be taken down next,
and likely some of them were struggling with Aielee code,
for the two that had merged suddenly went on a feeding frenzy
and gobbled up several others around them. Finally, as they
ballooned, the scaffolding under them, coded for the show,
buckled and spilled them to the lower floor where they struggled
as Aielee had them absorb more avatars and then take on those
parts of the building that were show images.
cool." I leaned over to Chris, who was chatting with a monkey
and gesturing towards the avatars. Everyone's coding was compromised
and as the venue filled with cops, springing out of the willowy
walls and from the floors, the floor heaved under the code
weight and we watched those people who thought they were safe
at home duck and run from cops, whose batons were out and
spraying bright streamers of coded mace. Avatars ducked past
us crying out and fell over the edge of the venue to be taken
up by the bulldozers and pushed towards the apartment building
that now filled up with rioters and activists.
I realized the apartment building was stacked. I pointed it
out to Chris and the monkey. "Those are avatars in there,
side coded away from their venues."
They went with cheaper channels and now they're paying the
gibbered a moment and I stared until I realized I was being
brain hacked. Chris had apparently told the monkey what I
thought of modifieds.
fuck you too," I said to his monkey hoots of delight.
was in full swing. Avatars were trying to code back into the
show, and the display was happening all around us when my
watch started to shift. The monkey noticed it first, although
it was on my wrist. It was an old timey watch I'd bought in
the street on the way in. Digital face, grey, plastic all
around instead of printed metal. I thought it kind of said
something about me, although I wasn't sure what that was.
down as it folded open, leaving a slide bar, analogue-style,
and some characters in Japanese. I wasn't about to ask an
avatar to down speed the language so we could tell what it
was, so I followed the only thing I understood on the device
and slid the bar to English. That started something. The watch
folded, unfolded again in another origami like configuration
and then chattered out commands. The coding that held the
venue together responded and our building began to shift on
its temporary supports.
the monkey said as he slid backwards towards the edge. Chris
and I held onto the railing and watched as our venue, made
from code-weaved RNA-hacked fibre, strode towards the bulldozers
and the hapless avatars fighting their hacked substrate. I
was drawing attention. The monkey's exclamation, and the massive
code stream coming from my watch, lured the crowd to me.
Chris was on the ball, for he pulled a knife, and against
my thoughtless protests cut the strap and threw the watch
into the scrum, where it tipped over the edge, falling the
ten floors or so past the programming it was rapidly decoding.
"Time to exit, man. Show's over."
Chris' advice, I heaved through a dozen closing avatars who
were gasping, trying to find the code source before their
data ripped. Wishing I'd monkey hacked, I dropped with Chris
to the next floor, and then leapfrogged from our tottering
building to another only slightly more stable one which was
turning questing floors to the code source that was getting
the hell was that?" I asked Chris when we were sliding down
a stairwell that had no steps, since it was built more for
verisimilitude than human feet.
egg," Chris yelled back triumphantly. "You were the one who
brought in the Easter egg."
about them. Apparently at some of the bigger shows one of
the designers would slip rogue programming into the main scripts,
unwind the whole thing. The effect was supposed to be amazing,
kind of a fractal free-for-all where avatars blended with
background and show structures took on animation. I'd even
heard at one of the Aielee shows the Easter egg had spawned
a whole new code structure and now the block where it happened
was unsafe and shifting, like hacked water. Easter eggs were
hidden in a real device, usually slipped inadvertently into
the show, and they were triggered by an event, or sometimes
they plant that on me?" I yelled back to Chris, for I was
outpacing him now, the roid implants kicking in.
know." Chris grinned and I realized.
me up. You brought me out to be ripped at an Aielee show."
I was touched. It was the best present he could have given
me, and there was no way I could repay him.
me you'd never seen one of their shows. I called in a favour."
Chris caught up to me and we panted against the side of a
building waiting out the cops fanning in from the burbs now
that the call had gone out. "Their stuff's amazing, but now
you have a story to go along with it."
quiet. I owed Chris big time and I had no idea what to say.
on," Chris broke the silence. "Let's head to a connection
and we'll avatar in and see what you did. I think they'll
be a while cleaning up this one."