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Guest Posting & Responding Now Available

Dinar Chronicles is now allowing viewers to guest post and respond to articles. If you wish to respond or speak your mind and write a post/article or about the current situation relating to Iraq, the RV, the GCR and so on. You may now send in an entry.

All you need to do is send your entry to UniversalOm432Hz@gmail.com with these following rules.

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Featured Post

"Vice" - GCR/RV Intel SITREP - Thursday - August 17, 2017

Received via email at 1:43 PM EDT for publication. ~ Dinar Chronicles The image of an old steel workbench vice comes to mind today as we...

Thursday, August 17, 2017

"Raise Hell" - GCR/RV Thought - 8.17.17

"Please Elders" - GCR/RV Thought - 8.17.17

"Full Steam Ahead" - GCR/RV Thought - 8.17.17


YOU HEARD THE MAN !!
FULL STEAM AHEAD!!

TM

Guest Posts Regarding the RV/GCR & More for Thurs. Evening - 8.17.17



This is a compilation of all guest posts submitted as of Thursday Evening, August 17, 2017. All guest posts that are more than 5 paragraphs in length, deemed important, contains images or is a response to another post will be considered it's own post.

Note: This post will be continuously updated with more entries as they are submitted. ~ Dinar Chronicles

Another Note: Arrangement of Guest Posts is top to bottom. Each newly added Guest Post will be at the top rather than at the bottom. ~ Dinar Chronicles

_____________________________________________________

"Fisher Encouraging Everyone to Use TDAs in July"

Entry Submitted by GK at 10:54 PM EDT on August 17, 2017


Regarding the Fischer rant... I listened to him 4 weeks ago for two days and HE, FISCHER was adamantly encouraging people to use the funds... He told one caller that he should order a brand new van for his disabled mother. Plus many other cheerleaing. Thousands of us heard him say. "it's your money!" Two faced jerk.

1 hour and 45 minutes listen to him...

https://www.freeconferencecallhd.com/wall/recorded_audio?audioRecordingUrl=https%3A%2F%2Frs2941.freeconferencecall.com%2Fstorage%2FsgetHD%2FDeFL7%2FznIr&subscriptionId=2447128

Plus many other calls in July.
_____________________________________________________

"Thoughts"

Entry Submitted by One of the Meek at 10:04 PM EDT on August 17, 2017


I'm not a a channel yet but feel deep inside me that this weekend is very important..

ESPECIALLY MONDAY THE 21st... I feel there are many alignments of energies coming together at a very special time and place..

I took Monday off from work and am going to go out in the high desert to ground with mother Gaia during the eclipse. I have very high hopes that I will have the awakening I have sought after my whole life.

Either way I still get the best of both.

Just sharing my eclipse plans..curious how others are going to embrace the eclipse or not at all.

One of the meek..
_____________________________________________________

"To Lazarus, Charlotteville Faux Murder"

Entry Submitted Anonymously at 10:04 PM EDT on August 17, 2017


www.google.com/amp/www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-sandy-hook-conspiracy-20170203-story,amp.html

I believe some things are staged these days, like 911, but you say helicopters and drones to make the point why it was obviously staged, but that does not prove anything, since the news and everyone else knew there would most likely be violence, or some newsworthy drama. Some conspiracy theorists claim Sandy Hook was staged, but I don't see any evidence of that either. You say there were ads in Craigslist, where are they? The obvious signs of a chaos merchant are accusations with no real proof, betting on a few gullible naïve people to react, to further a fear based agenda. My point is, if you are wrong, people involved are needlessly suffering because some idiot is attacking them over some false story, and that's the kind of karma only a fool would create. A neo nazi gun fanatic would most likely create a story like that. I don't know you, just saying, that is a careless thing to say.
_____________________________________________________

"Top Mueller Investigator Quits Mysteriously"

Entry Submitted by Ruby at 8:45 PM EDT on August 17, 2017


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJorKZEbQsA

http://www.rawstory.com/2017/08/top-fbi-investigator-abruptly-quits-muellers-russia-probe-just-as-investigation-gathers-steam/

http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2017/08/uh-oh-top-fbi-investigator-quits-special-counsel-muellers-russia-investigation/

If this is the plan to bring Trump down, it’s failing spectacularly and barely following any semblance of the Nixon story. The media war continues. What makes it even more interesting are Ben Shapiro’s and Sean Hannity’s recent tweets about stuff about to go down.

Have fun figuring how this all fits in!

Ruby
_____________________________________________________

"Re: To Climb that Mountain"

Entry Submitted by Oak at 6:11 PM EDT on August 17, 2017


"To Climb that Mountain" - Cowboy Down Under - 8.17.17

Hello Cowboy!

I'm changing your Handle to 'Cowboy on Top". You have earned it!

It is interesting, (and synchronictic) that my experience parallels your journey. I too was lost in the dry parched badlands until I found my escape to the Mountains 5 years ago. I look out over the valleys of Colorado in my small community of loving fellow Wayfarers and feel I have found my home.

Metaphorically, I see you waving at me from higher up the hill. I wanted you to know that I'm still climbing up there where you are. I guess I'll have to find me a Mountain Girl to help me too. :) I seem to remember you promised me a party and I do not intend to miss it. Let me know what wine you like and I'll bring a case.

I look forward to meeting y'all.

Truly yours,

Oak

"How Soon Can We Land" by The Happily Ever After Agency - 8.17.17

Entry Submitted by The Happily Ever After Agency at 10:33 PM EDT on August 17, 2017



Hello All You Beautiful Members Of The Family Of Light ....

Its Friday Here Down Under And I Have Access To A Computer For A Few Minutes ......

I Just Wanted To Say " Good Luck For The Next 3 Days " .....



[ i know its been used before but its a classic ]

We Have All Been Asking ......

" How Soon Can We Land " , " I Cant Tell " .....

But It Has Got To Be Soon .......

PLEASE .......



Cause As Much As I Have Loved Living At 35000 Feet For The Last Year ....

One Gets Tired Of Aeroplane Food And Recycled Air After A While .....

The Last Of Us Here On IDC Have Shown " True Grit " .....



We Are Still Here After All The Pump Fakes And Miss Information Spread By The Cabal And NPTB Alike ......

We Are Not Here Cause Of The Rock Solid Daily Info We Receive ....

No Offense Josef , I LOVE Your Posts Brother ,They Have Kept Us All Edging On , But They Have Played You To .....

FOR THE GREATER GOOD OF HUMANITY .....

WE ALL GET IT .....

THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE JOB MAN ....

NOT SURE IF I WOULD HAVE WANTED IT ....

WE LOVE YOU DUDE ....



But .....

We Are Still Here Because We Have An Inner Knowing That Far Exceeds Our Rational Mind ....

We Have Been In Training For Eons For This Very Moment ....

I Looked It Up, No Body Knows Exactly How Long An Eon Is ....



But It Is A Period Of Time That Can Not Be Measured [ so very long ] , According To The Cambridge Dictionary ....

SO TO ALL THE ...

NEW POWERS THAT BE ....

WE LOVE YOU ....

BUT WE CAN NOT START OUR JOB ....

TILL YOU FINISH YOURS ......



So PLEASE Let Us Go Over The Next 3 Days ....

WE ARE YOU ....

YOU ARE US ....

WE ARE ONE ....



You Have Known Us For Thousands Of Years ......

Lets Move On .......

Please ....

On Another Subject ....

I AM Sooooo Looking Forward To Healing Ships ,Healing Technology , Light Chambers , Mentors , Galactics , Free Energy And Being Reintroduced To Our Galactic Family ....

MOST IMPORTANT THOUGH IS TO HAVE SOME GOOD OLD FASHIONED FUN ....



Some Thing Which My Life Has Been Lacking For A While .....

I DO FUN VERY WELL .....



SO TO ALL MY SISTERS AND BROTHERS .....

YOU ARE THE COOLEST ....

WARRIORS OF THE FAMILY OF LIGHT EVER .....

AND I LOVE YOU ALL ...

YOUR LOVING BROTHER .....

E-J ....




One For The Road Family ..... Might Be The Last One Ever .... Might As Well Make It Memorable ...

Ps : Apparently You Can Not Call Shotgun On A Light Chamber .....

The Correct Phrase The Galactics Use Is , I Call LIGHT SABRE On A Light Chamber , Huh , Go Figure .....

Pss: Heisenberg Brother , I Will So Have A Picture Of RICHARD Up Behind The Bar , The Honor Would Be All Mine .......



THIS BEAUTIFUL MAN IS LOVE INCARNATED ......

Good Luck With Your Appointments Family ......

Psss: About To Go Live In My Car Again And Head For The Hills , Its 12 Degrees Today And Raining Side Ways , Got Sore Ribs From A Bicycle Crash , So If You Could Send Me A Hug ....

I Would REALLY Appreciate It , Either That Or Get Your Violin Out For Me Please ....



0010110 0010110 0010110

"Is Willie's Truth Call the Truth?" by Cecile Who is Not a Plant! - 8.17.17

Entry Submitted by Cecile Who is Not a Plant! at 7:13 PM EDT on August 17, 2017

Good day to the Dinar Community. Let me dive right into this post. Yesterday I entered the Q & A after 6:pm. The host Willie was discussing the incident in Charlottesville and about Our POTUS Donald J. Trump being a racist. How many times have we heard this accusation about the POTUS. I then ask Willie about the City of Chicago and all the violence that is plaguing Chicago and other major cities in the U.S. The reason why I asked this particular question was the fact that earlier that I watched a YouTube video by the Dr. Of Common Sense - I really like E T Williams and he never excludes God the Father and Jesus Christ. The Doctor of Common Sense YouTube post dated 8-15-17 "What about Chicago" gets right down to the truth! Please check it out. Anyway The Doctor stated, to bring up the issue of Chicago, to some liberals. Don't know if Willie is a liberal, and I did and it was not at all accepting on Wiilies so called Truth Call. Especially, when I let it be known that The POTUS Donald J. Trump is not a racist and there is a black women living in Trump Tower rent free and has been there for eight years! Which you can obtain the video on YouTube. The video was featured on Dinar Chronicles after the election. Thank you Patrick for posting it. As the conversation continued I was did I vote for POTUS Donald Trump and my answer was " No!" "I did not vote for either one of them Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton!" By that this me Willie's attitude had shifted and he wanted to start arguing with me so he could hang up on go on to the next caller who was another African American who was more sympathetic to Willie's negative rhetoric about nature of our POTUS Donald J. Trump! Which is pure hogwash! The Truth is That Willie of The Willie's Truth Call is all about what he is bringing to the listening audience as well who and what he's praying to.
Before Willie hung up on me, I asked, "Who is his God is! "Because I know who mine is! And I have bible for that! Romans 1:20, 22, 23 For the invisible things of Him From Creation of the world are Clearly Seen, being understood by things that are made Even His Eternal Power And Godhead; 21) Because that when they knew God They Glorified Him Not As God Neither were Thankful, but became vain in their Imaginations and Their Foolish Heart was Darkened. 23) Professing Themselves To Be Wise, They Became Fools.

I have my own mind and the experiences of A loving Heavenly Father loving me, protecting me, and correcting me all my life. Jeremiah 33:3 Call Unto Me and I Will Answer you, I Will Show you Great and Mighty Things which you do not know. The accusation that was made by Willie " That I was a Plant and I was a part of the Dark Side!"' "THAT IS AND WAS A BOLD FACE LIE!" I have the right to decided to agree or disagree with any individual or individuals that contradict their words and actions! I wanted to know the Truth about Willie's Truth Call and I found out yesterday 8-16-17. You Willie wanted to discredit me making reference that I was a Plant form the Dark Side! You wish I was. The Holy Spirit will reveal the Truth about Everything and Everybody! The Holy Spirit has Never, I mean Never has Failed to reveal the Truth to me. The Holy Trinity Father, Son and Holy Spirit are One.

In closing, Individuals who listen to Willie's Truth Call please use discernment, and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth of this calls true intentions and agenda? Do you really know who this Willie person is? Is Willie cabal? Is Willie apart of the dark agenda?' Straight up! Who are you Willie? I am going to make a suggestion, take the word Truth out of the title of your call and just call it Willie's Call. The Truth is in the Word of God The Logos. It is written the Word was made flesh and dwell among us! I have never heard Willie say or speak of the Lord Jesus Christ or God the Father. Our Heavenly Father has a name for everything and every situation we find ourselves in. If you need peace He's YHWH Shalom my peace and wholeness. YHWH The Lord my banner of victory. YHWH Makkadesh The Lord my sanctifier. YHWH Tsaboth The Lord of Host. El Elyon The Most High God. YHWH Tsidkunu The Lord my righteousness. YHWH Gmolah The God Who Rewards. The Creator of Heaven and Earth - Elohim Sovereign Mighty Creator is available and has a name for everything we need, I am a living witness of His abounding grace and mercy.

Romans 8 : 6 - 9 / For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7) Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God neither can be. 8) So they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9) But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit. If so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if Any Man Have Not The Spirit of Christ, he is None of His! You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all the people all the time! Use discernment people! If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, acts like a duck, it's a Duck! If I am this so called plant you told your listeners I'm just a individual who loves Christ Jesus and the truth is what Christ associates Himself with. You Willie do not associate yourself with the The Lord Jesus Christ that's why it was so easy to lie on me yesterday! That's why I took the time to write this post to set the record straight. You (Willie) didn't know I could write and express myself. Thank God. Now what?

"Possible UK Banking Info Intel Update" by D - 8.17.17

Entry Submitted by D at 6:52 PM EDT on August 17, 2017

Hello to all , we are at the finish people keep those vibrations flying high this week.

Barclays UK sent this as an official email this week to customers could this have anything to do with RV ?

Barclays UK by email to its customers:

"We're carrying out work to align with new banking legislation to help strengthen the UK financial system – please read if you frequently use our core banking services The next time we carry out work where our core services will be unavailable will be the weekend from 23:30 on Saturday 19 August until 15:30 on Sunday 20 August"

thanks for a great site one and all , I have picked up so many helpful hints for my humanitarian projects here.

Love and peace to all of you

thanks

D

ps don't forget

https://www.eclipseofdisclosure.com/mass-meditation
Meditation Instructions
August 21st 2017 11:11am PDT

1. Use your own technique to bring you to a relaxed state of consciousness.

2. State your intent to use this meditation as a tool to speed up the process of bringing harmony and unity for planet Earth and its inhabitants.

3. Visualize a pillar of Light emanating from the Galactic Central Sun, then going through all beings of Light inside our Solar System, through the eclipsed Sun and the Moon and then through your body to the center of the Earth. Visualize another pillar of Light rising from the center of the Earth, then up through your body and upwards into the sky towards all beings of Light in our Solar System and our galaxy. You are now sitting in two pillars of Light, the Light flowing both upwards and downwards simultaneously. Keep these pillars of Light active for a few minutes.

4. Now visualize a soft pink healing divine feminine energy, healing all people of the planet of their past traumas, bringing peace, harmony, understanding, abundance and unity. Visualize this soft pink light healing the minds and hearts of all people worldwide. See all Lightworkers, Lightwarriors and Truthers working in unity for the creation of the New Earth. See the people of Earth celebrating and joyfully participating in the creation of our new reality where everyone can obtain what they need and freely choose to live as they desire.

Suggested time for meditation is 15 minutes.

11:11 am PDT in Los Angeles USA
01:11 pm CDT in Chicago USA
02:11 pm EDT in New York USA
07:11 pm BST in London UK
08:11 pm EET in Cairo Egypt
08:11 pm CEST in Paris France

12:11 pm MST in Denver USA

"1987; Three Teenager's Harmonic Convergence" by Jesse - 8.17.17

Entry Submitted by Jesse at 6:51 PM EDT on August 17, 2017

Dear Patrick, Here is what I wish you to post for me:

Greetings Dear friends that I have not yet met or perhaps some of you I have ;) My short story is This: It was August 17th 1987, in a small mountain town, formerly known as Ute City, nestled in the Colorado Rockies. I was 17 years old. Somehow I found out about a Global Meditation happening for World Peace during what was called the Harmonic Convergence per Jose Arguilles.. So I convinced 2 besties to wake up at 4AM to participate and pray for World Peace with me. Thankfully one of them, named Deva, had a driver's license AND A CAR. The other one, named Hillary, had Hope. Deva drove us up to the highest point we could, to an empty lot on a Mountain called Red Mountain....It was a dark Summer night when the air was slightly crisp and of course fresh and clean. I brought 3 crystals for us each to hold during the 'ceremony'. It was pitch black, not a cloud in the night sky, nor a sliver of a moon. Just that expansive view of the milky way etc... I truly had no clue what i was doing (but I did ;)... something (my higher self?) was speaking through me as if on auto pilot, as it was not planned in my young mind... it went something like this: Ok lets close our eyes and hold hands while focusing on World Peace. When I let go, place your hands in prayer position with your crystal between your hands, and visualize World Peace. ...in a few minutes when we open our eyes, and look up, we will see THREE SHOOTING STARS, one for each of us, as confirmation that our Prayer is being heard and WILL be answered... (these words were just flying out of my mouth with no prior thought)..... low and behold after a few somewhat teenagery awkward minutes of silence, when we opened our eyes and gazed upon our heavens WE DID INDEED EACH SEE A SHOOTING STAR within seconds just LIKE THIS: ONE... TWO...THREE.... and so it was. WE were so amazed and at the same time quite dumbfounded. I remember having goose bumps from head to toes. I don't really think either of us knew the significance of that moment in that moment... for me, for 30 years, it has been a loud whisper in the background of my mind... i have no idea if my other two friends even remembered the magical moment... Anyways, it's exactly 30 years later... and I can't stop thinking about it... We are Creators of Our Reality, so Despite the Evil Advanced Technology and Intent that has been against us for many many lifetimes... let us band together during this Eclipse AND CREATE THIS RV WE NEED in order to 'HEAL THE SOUL OF THE WORLD'.... Are ya with me?????? Please listen to the Youtube interview with Corey Goode and COBRA (the best one YET) and let us JOIN Hands on Aug 21st ONCE AND FOR ALL ... Meditation starts at 11:11 AM Pacific Time on Monday August 21, 2017. It will take 15 minutes. You can find the links on the video... YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE AN EXPERIENCED MEDITATOR, JUST HAVE THE DESIRE AND FOCUS TO CREATE THE PLANETARY LIBERATION WE ARE ALL HOPING FOR. So Be It. Amen. Aloha ke Akua. Love and Light, Jesse

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvxqo1fWU30&feature=youtu.be

"Do you See What I See? Part 2" by Daughter of Terra - 8.17.17

Entry Submitted by Daughter of Terra at 6:47 PM EDT on August 17, 2017

First. I shall have this known all whom shall read this post. I am not bashing but yet smashing some rather interesting lies. I also understand that these finding or questions are not for the " followers" but rather for the leaders for this Age.

Does it not seem odd:

That now even Judge Anna is creating a so called Sovereign Bank. Wasn't she against the Republic. Did she not say that Dunford and Ryan where the cabal Republic.

So all the banks and newly constructed financial institutions are indeed quiet interesting. Now.

They could not stop you from getting currency. All the lies about the exchanges being false where proven wrong. The group scam... out the window. The USN BEING a karmic debt instrument and that you should give it away to any Tom, Dick, Harry or Minion with their grubby mits out. Was taken off the table. I think Yoseph is right on this one. They do have a side hustle and controlling your money is it.

Why is Bruce talking about buying BONDS?

TDA its funny because the more people buy into this use "our bank" and not the ones affliated with the Chinese Elders the less talk there is about the TDA accounts. Interesting.

If it were not so obvious to people who can think for themselves and not follow other people it would actually be funny. But its sad now. Pathetic even. 3D antics in a 5D reality. I have two words for you scoundrels "EPIC FAIL". So be it.

Before you start. Let me tell you...I don't care.

Say what you want. But I emplore you to THINK not listen before you make your choice. And if anyone should create a rebuttal to this please go right ahead. But you cannot tell me where to post. Its so not your site and if thinking scares you then you are not going to make it. You are going to be swallowed up by the deception you bought into. Know that!

I go where I am called. And that is here. It is not part of my experience to sit on my hands and listen and not think for myself. Which by the way is most helpful to others here. I listen but i do not turn that listening into a creating a personal identity. When that is done you really close the gap between you and person talking or sharing information. Then it becomes a personal attack when their views are challenged. But no one is attacking you. Why would they? Its callled thinking and coming up with your own conclusions. Being human? Again, frightening for most. But very well needed.

Now unless you are some soulless clone or robotic humaniod or otherwise modified. Who only need to follow a program, run a script be on standby until called to action. Thinking should not be an issue; as a matter of fact it should be saught after.

The Twilight Zone

Your "handlers are showing" they sure are. Please be mindful to stow all handler away, put them in the down-left positions before we take off. Oh welcome to the Twilight Zone. How do you know that the person you have been listening to is who and what you think they are? Its a voice over a phone. Or a video. That could be a holographic projection of another space and or time. Green screen all day. Or a recording from dimensions ago. How do you know? Really?

So who's pushing banks now anyway?
Yoseph
Zorra
Judge Anna Von Reitz

Why? Arent the banks supposed to be super safe. Isn't the Wealth Managers at the exchange or connected to the exchange trained under the new Republic law. Why deal with a bank that may or not be?

Islandwave - I do thank you for your response but upon further contemplation. I find that your answer was not satisfactory to me as we are talking about a digital currency. You stated that the reason for all these new banks were to allowe for project funding all across the world. Thats great. But surely out of the 209 soverign nations that are connected to the banks as created by the Elders there would be a means to reach the most remote nation in the world. Or deliver goods and services from a plane or boat. There is no need for these faux banks. Because all of them that I have heard speak about their bank i would not trust them to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich let alone hold trillions of dollars.

Financial institutions:
Tank

Stupid stuff dealing with money:
Gary Larrabee
Cindy K.
Gold FishReport
Fisher
Dr. WC
Smarty

Random

Now. If that were not enough. Who of those listed have been related to or affiliated with some global meditation. And for the participants of such. How do you know what you are mediating on by the advise of someone else is actually the intention of the mediation. I can meditate in my room with no advice from anyone. Why do they need to faciliate it? Even if that faciliation is a mere suggestion on what to meditate on? You buying into it gives it power. A power that is obviously adverse or not in alignment with what you want to manifest in your personal reality or it would be here.

Elipse of Discloure? Why change the name after Richard outted the real intentions and meanings behind that.

Thank you also for your piece yesterday Dezerro. Love your work and get that....well its not for everyone. Also you Commander 7. When it is really your post.

Guan Yin post
Many Sananda Post
Many Archurian Council posts

All have energetic miss matches. Manipulation and word magic used to sound like they are saying what you think they are but....no.

Just so you know.

This is both how real and how close we are. That all this trouble is for you. To get you to trust them enough to fund them or put your money in their banks. You have a way that is safe. If you want proof. Go look at HSBC website. There is strength and power and knowledge screaming at you from the screen. Would you really trust your new estate in a bank that is backed only by an idea someone gave you? I wouldn't. But do what you want. But here is information for your consideration. Take it or leave it.

-Daughter of Terra.

"Long Short Story - Surplus Lounge" by Dezerro - 8.17.17

Entry Submitted by Dezerro at 6:19 PM EDT on August 17, 2017

[Cyberpunk Story - non-tragic ending - bit dark though - hey, it's cyberpunk - has some AI, spiritualism, etc, etc, etc.]

[Glossary at the end.]

[Got a good, solid "honorable mention" in a writing contest.]

[ Google Drive (MS Word 97 "Doc" version) - read or download - *better* formatting: ]
[ https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BxhEZzBLyo6_ZW4xSGpETERJZUE ]

[This IDC, text version (non-MS Word "DOC" version) - character thoughts are *not* in italics, as in original DOC version - maybe other odd formatting stuff.]

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Surplus Lounge

The world could have crawled from a fuming stainless tank to gasp its first breath.

“Jacking into cyberspace to grab secrets, yeah, but doing it on drugs is lunatic. You’re in there lookin’ around, happy as a clam, and red security spikes are chewing on your nerves.”

Forte, tending bar in Surplus Lounge, thought of Dodge’s words last week, felt the fear; he knew about red spikes. He set the green tinted glass down, grabbed a pitted mug, started polishing with a ragged towel. He figured Dodge might wander in someday with an odd look and a missing mind.

Ages ago, the long western coast of a nation had been Calixico; but now it was the Trough. Spliced there into a gash between rocky hills was Surplus Lounge, two high floors of night survival, neuroporting, alcohol haze, and street junk. And now more and more among the minds of this struggling culture crept Humem, begun as mood control; but now it was more -- silent, deadly, and growing.

Not far, near the peak of a hill, fading remains of a sign lay in the brush and the dirt. With old dreams, it now rusted and rotted away. Standing tall and white, the sign had once said “Hollywood.”

“Tersh been here tonight?” said Kreebo. “Got some biz with the boy.”

Forte jerked his head, peering through stale smoke into Kreebo’s eyes, felt his blood temperature creep down. Cold crawled along the half of his face and neck that didn’t work right anymore. He used to jack cyberspace, run data; the reds had been too fast. His spine jerked with a chill. ”Only saw him yesterday Kreebo.”

Kreebo felt energy drifting between high walls. Heavy, waist high hardware racks and higher shelves hung there, bolted all around. He heard rough scrawls telling old stories, carved in dark wood with street blades. Glowing monitors, keyboards, NPs—nerve pads, thick bundles of fiber-op, and plastic coated copper wire waited for users to jack in. Pinned or glued high and low, faded photos, drawings, and a few odd maps told other tales of social mutation through cybertime. “Well that’s good because I’m not ready for him. I’ll be around.”

“Sure Kreebo.” Forte got another towel, finished polishing the mug, picked up a hazy blue shot glass.

Kreebo stared back. “I’ll want to use that decay chamber, day or two; mine’s got a cracked window.” He smiled. “Need to convert some, ah, warm evidence into cold space.”

Forte paused, nodded. “Yeah, okay Kreebo, but clean it good, biowipe.” Forte liked him all right, but Kreebo, man he could be so damn cold.

A voice across the room asked about the weather.

“I’ll let you know,” someone said, “next time I bring my radiation meter and acid test kit, ha haaa....”

“Borrow a gasmask while we’re at it?” said another.

“Don’t forget the biohazard suit, freakboyo.”

A few chuckles faded.

Kreebo grinned his “Screw you humans; but hey, it’s cool,” look to the room, and pushed through the buzzing crowd to a rear table. He sat down at one end, setting his minideck on the old beat-up six leg wooden monster.

He worked on a job quote, retyping nothing. Could have used the NP headset or tiny neuroport in his bag; he fingered a tiny socket near the right side base of his neck. But sometimes he liked the feel of old keyboard clicks under his fingers.

~

1] Add teleview, both eyes, human, 25X power. Impact grade, combat. Vintage BellStar military, 3G or 3K series. Charge, Bolea 4500. Rear batview sensor available.

2] Trace, find, remove false memories, early childhood, age 2-5. Four percent error margin. Seal one safety copy for client. Destroy original recording chips in witness view. Witness, client supplied. Charge, B3200. One percent error margin, B2205 added.”

~

He hit the send key, took a long drink, and pulled up a plan: stomach upgrades for digesting wild plants in a foreign jungle. Survinor Outback three stage acid drips and filters would back up tiny high-speed grinders. Best dark market mil stuff he could get.

He hailed a waiter for another drink and sat back looking around. The waiter came, clicking and limping, a crooked half smile on its worn, dented faceplate. It leaned forward to Kreebo; he waved a credichip across one of its blue neon eyes.

“Tha...ank you,” it ground out through a SynVoice module, sounding like a broken food machine in a flooded tunnel. These limited versions were amusing. This one, almost busted, but good enough for Surplus. It clicked and limped away, bumping a table. Seloid-Kermer servos whirred, grinding worn gears and scarred pull rods further toward total ruin. Kreebo said adios to an ancient relative.

Forte watched him pay for the drink. Kreebo seemed a live doll with strong rounded features, trim hair, and a constant smirk. His colorful clothes could look out of place here, but not on Kreebo. He was easy to imagine running around the room at the speed of data, then stopping cold on a microchip.

Couple tables away some guy stared out the huge front window that needed cleaning. Guy’s eyes were like saucers; Humem, busy tonight making slaves. Few humans knew much about it; Kreebo often wondered if humans knew anything at all. Ninety minutes ago the poor slob was making a joke about shooting up with a sharp garden hose and industrial pump. Now he looked freeped up on hard street junk; but Kreebo knew the difference.

Kreebo pulled a tiny meter out of a side pocket and walked slowly by the guy’s chair. He passed the meter by the base of his skull, taking a reading, triple flash red. Had to be, Humem beamcast overdose. Humem, a planet-wide energy field vibrating close to memories and thought. Useful, sure, for some, on the other end of the damn beamcast.

Kreebo faked a rough cough, punched the guy hard in the spine to get a shock wave going, took another reading. Insane freaks, he thought. Humem, a modern curse. Human or not, no one deserves this. He thought of vampires from a movie, then of memories fed to hungry minds of the trusting young. And for a time he set his jaw, wondering over the fate of this man, of everyone. Truth, stranger, or more cruel, than fiction.

He went back to his table. The guy would sit forever numb if no one led him down to emergency. From there, maybe StarBar, a bad, bad place out in the middle of nowhere. It was three tiny planets around a crappy little sun. Buy anything if your money was good.

Cameleo came up to Kreebo’s table grinning; must have just done a couple hours on his charging rack. Cameleo had enough street hardware in his body to build something wild. One strange puppy. “So Kree’, dude, my telephoto eye?”

Kreebo leaned forward, peering deep into Cameleo, waiting a few seconds, enough time for Cameleo to work out who he was talking to. “Cameleo! Calm down your last nerve stim. Couple months. See you then.” Kreebo went back to reading a data sheet.

“Uh, yeah sure, uh, Kreebo.” Cameleo turned and walked away with visions of Kreebo, the walking hair-trigger halfway pulled. Scary son-of-a....

Kreebo looked up, watched him fade into the smoky horizon of Surplus. He thought back to his own weird escape from a fate doing deep space colony MainLab duty — a lab slab slave……

Kreebo had crawled up from the dense green of the gully where the transpod had crashed. Faint signals from far, far away, recorded at the exact time of the rupture of the transpod’s belly, remained a mystery.

Running hard, the armed razerguard had bellowed “HALT!”

Kreebo had stood firm, feet wide and a glare. On his face, no emotion. From his waist, his fist had shot through a clear BattleTek face shield to a point three inches behind the guard’s forehead, smashing first his skull, then his brain. Kreebo’s middle knuckles were mil grade 3 pierce points. Six more guards, six more point A to point B lessons in fuckyu. And he had walked out of there and disappeared.

Kreebo went back to the stomach upgrade quote. Lots of customers in the Trough. Lots of biz.

~

Kreebo swung the big warfiber bag into the back of a hover and told the old humming tank the address. Navbeam guided them to an alley dark and still. He walked to the end, pushing through a battered steel door into more darkness, darting shadows, and low echoes of whispers and hiding.

“I’m here Tersch, Teffen ready?”

“Set the bag down and stand still Kreebo.”

He felt the vibe, knew a scanner read his skin to his soul. My soul, he thought, then he shut it off and got back to work.

Tersch, limping ahead, led him into a room and left, locking the heavy gray metal door with a metallic click. Kreebo pulled out his beam wands and biopacks misting with cold. He plugged in the main and yanked on a small wall panel cover. There he adjusted ceiling biospots to better light for bone, tendon, vein, and skin work.

Seven hours later Greb Teffen had a new hand and part of a wrist. Kreebo decayed the mangled trimmings with Teffen and Tersch bearing witness; no one wanted their DNA prowling the Trough getting into trouble.

“Use it till it aches a little,” said Kreebo, “then back off. Keep doing that ‘till you have full use, about six weeks. Wear the sonic glove at night, three quarters power or above. You can pop the biofixers any time you want, but take three a day with a full, and I mean full, two quarts of distilled water. Go double on the oxyboost.”

Kreebo called a hover on his wristcomm and went home. He gulped down two raw steaks and a special cup of stinking minerals. He lay down to sleep for a couple hours after jacking his neck port. He dreamed of sailing narrow stainless tanks in thick gel seas through distant valleys of crimson rock lit by setting black suns.

~~

“I’ve seen ‘em Forte, I’ve heard the calls, mind echoes. The AIs, out there, waiting, and....”

Dodge slumped on a chipped hardwood stool in Surplus Lounge draped in his leather coat, long and black. He dropped a coin on its edge on the bar. Clear layers of scarred multipoxy covered the bar’s dark hardwood. Drifting in the skylight above was a gray haze.

Dodge looked up. “See Forte, nice photonic nonevent.”

He imagined the little pinging coin sound rippling out to everywhere. Then he thought of hopping out to some far place and recording it, then coming back and playing it again. Now once more zooming out to record the played recording. Ten more minutes and coins faded and dizziness swayed him, and he squeezed his eyes shut. He pulled in tight to the bar, curling cold fingers around its rim.

Maybe he’ll make it, thought Forte, maybe just growing in his own strange way. Dodge, always the genius. Forte thought about the future, his worn face dreamy. From his pocket he pulled a shiny durafiber card and read it, fingering the rough worn edges.

~

And line by lingering line
The code became aware
No longer artificial
Cold intelligence so rare

Born in layered silicon
And copper transitways
Reaching now for burning stars
And distant hideaways

~

For some time it had sounded more and more like an enemy war prayer. “Y’know Dodge, some ideas start out sounding so damn good....”

“Sure they do Forte. Real good. ‘Till the blade rips your heart.” His brown eyes sparkled with dark energy, animating a lean, handsome face.

Forte barely smiled, then put the card back, his shining eyes wide with the wonder of change. He hoped for a moment it would be good, then felt a growing tiny core of terror.

Tonight Dodge was talking, his long brown hair swaying with his words. “One time she said the sunrise was so beautiful. Hey, no problem, but then I thought about takin’ her up in a little cruiser, right to where the ship’s cooling starts freaking. An’ I’m tellin’ her this y’know, kinda serious.

“We keep on going, kick in q-drive, stop right at the edge of that sun. Then we fry like bugs. Hey, ‘least we die beautiful, if a raging nuclear furnace is any kinda beautiful. Dammit...just meant ya gotta be practical sometime.

“Anyway she stomped out, came back later.” Dodge gathered his wits. “I miss her Forte, I miss...they kidnapped her, StarBar sure. Those scum rats kidnapped her, to force me into the data runs. Three lousy data runs. She’s gotta survive. They think they’ll get away with it. Those freaks think they will....” Dodge peered through the wall into an uncertain future.

Forte looked, saw a different Dodge. Something about the eyes. Forte thought of justice, about night thunder and a gleaming black horse, cold sweat flying and nostrils flaring; and riding there was death. He was suddenly so glad he had been a friend to Dhea. Dodge would add a “t” to the end of her name and tell her he loved a goddess.

Dodge had learned the hard way, ChinBlue IBM clones, tough street boxes from NeoChina’s hidden sweat hole factories. Guys are good, but they’re never perfect. Dodge shook hard, jerked, his guts churning.

Feeling last week, felt so long ago, jacking out the hard way, ripping the plug from his cruelly twitching neck. No slow backout into warm reality back on scalded raw Earth. He knew spikes would kill, nerve shatter, billions of volts.

The red security spike had traced his digital scent, caught him sniffing fading doors opening to neon halls to data banks so tight they almost screamed. Dodge rested his head on his forearms on the bar, and for a while he shut his eyes to the world.


~~


Kline looked out from forty five floors up, wondered if anyone would see him if he dived out through the glass. His office fit, a tiny puzzle piece, into Neuronet InterGal Tower. The building stood tall in Business Center, with a pointed peak, like some space colony freighter waiting for countdown.

He recalled the strange evening, sitting in a lonely nightspot, the high neon sign only half seen as he had pushed through the heavy front door. Surplus something, lots of dark wood. Across from Kline in the booth, a hooded figure. Deep within the hood a churning nothing had made him dizzy. He’d felt lost in a sea in a storm watching a dim face in the growling clouds. Darkness had filled in the rest of the body, still as the night.

Now, haunting his mind, was that place, and its people of night, and a hazy evil it held somehow deep below. The memory of the hooded figure was so easy to forget.

Kline’s outer office wall was a massive plate glass window. It peered out to the fuming city like a great flat eye. Gasses belching raw from huge stacks brewed their own storm clouds. Down on the city mountains of concrete and glass fell a constant dry rain of black acid dust.

He stared out, watching people and machines flow along narrow city veins. And staring back at him he saw his own reflection in the glass; it followed his movements like a thin puppet. He went to his couch and flopped down, tired to his bones. Relieved, he knew that tomorrow Business Center would decay early for the weekend; sometimes he hoped it would just rot away forever.

After a while, Kline opened his eyes, rested. He sighed and gave the firm cushions a shove. At the office bar he dragged a cold fizzwater from a small chrome door fridge set in flush with the wall. He opened and drained the small bottle, felt the cold roll stinging down his throat, then grabbed another. He pinched the cap, which broke away, and he turned back around. Almost feeling good, he lifted his arm high, and the bottle higher to his window reflection in a salute to a better tomorrow, a better anything.

Kline froze, and the bottle fell to the hardwood floor, shattered. Standing at the bar in the window, his own image. It had shimmered in the glass, waiting, as reflections will. Yet staring out to him, a faint smile on its face, its arms had stayed unmoving by its side!

Kline stared back frozen, eye to eye with a horrible unknown.

“That was not polite!” Kline screamed in sudden, giddy wonder. With blackness growing fast, his balance vanished and he crashed to the floor.

~

Deep in glass an image shifted for a better view, tuning glassy eyes to a new world. Over there, thick in three dimensions, a construct; the eyes of the image saw “office.” Its eyes noted a mass of human tissue...and now its eyes saw, lying unmoving on the floor, the “Kline.” It looked around, began a huge data grid, a database, a chart of cells or spaces, empty and waiting for data.

And it would fill them...yes, he would feed this new vast ignorance.

He now WAS! HE existed! He would fill his empty soul!

My Soul…?

He squinted his eyes... My soul?... Me??

He shut it off hard.

In the first empty cell he placed “I am”. In the second cell, since he had begun a virtual copy of Kline, he placed “VK,” his new name.

I am VK, he thought. Yes! — I am now VK!

In the third empty cell, knowing he would need help from others, he placed “Hello.”

The first three cells of this nearly infinite grid now read: “I am...VK...Hello.” It was an invitation, and a plan.

There VK began to learn. And then he was gone.

~~

Dodge roamed Surplus Lounge grasping for clues. He needed answers to questions born in dreams. Or in cyberspace. But he knew these questions were real, like asking Forte how thick was all that dark wood of the bar.

He saw the ground floor of Surplus and its dividing wall with a center opening twelve feet high and wide. The ceiling loomed another six feet above. He went through to the right rear corner to a steep stairway and railing of more battered dark hardwood.

The second floor was a near twin of the first. A stairway filled the corner, mostly hidden by a partition wall, leading to a slanted flat roof. Again he climbed stairs, pushing through a hinged access door four feet on a side.

He peered up through stars with dim thoughts of StarBar, and Dhea waiting in tears. He gazed far into the night sky and, Dhea’s image in his mind, kissed her there and said goodnight.

His calm broke and Dodge shook with chills, his glare a promise of rescue and deadly revenge. If only those sick bastards knew what bitter taste lay soon on their tongues, they would retch until they cried blood. For Dodge, more than he knew, was not alone. And now growing hot in Dodge’s soul, was war.

With a curse, he quit the stairway and returned to the ground floor. Pushing through the massive front door of Surplus, he went around to the side. He made his way two hundred feet to the back corner, then out across a sweeping rear field.

He walked by jagged rocks dotted among clumps of short scraggly brush, weeds, small bushes, and patches of rocky dirt. Beyond the field he saw darkness, knowing it hid a sudden drop to a canyon below. There, piles of old machines, shiny stainless or brown in rust, were long ago dumped. He sat and watched the night fade to more night, and then more night.

If Dodge knew that Dhea’s misery was only the early mist of a cold galactic tidal wave, it would crush him. So for now he missed the trail of clues leading to a huge chamber, even deeper, below the basement of Surplus.

He could feel hints of it all when he found the trapdoor under the first floor stairs. He had stayed, hidden on the roof, as Forte had locked up for the night, the slamming front door echoing in the night. Now he crept down more wide stairs to the basement, with visions of questions mutating to answers.

Boxes, equipment, and storage cylinders cast weak shadows in the dim light. He saw electric panels, wall mounted plumbing, vents, and storage closets as he brushed by old tables, their mismatched chairs stacked nearby. His own shadows followed as he passed flickering neon modules hanging low on their wiring from the ceiling. The entire floor slanted to a large central drain grating. He kicked it and broke off a chip of ancient rust.

Cold damp chilled him standing on the rough concrete. His beltbeam set to wide lit up details of racks of boxed records. They sat, marked in fading ink, on shelves of steel running high to ceiling beams of aging gray wood. Dirty spider webs hung in corners, waiting.

He felt the throb below his feet as he thought of chasing a secret, and the last he heard before passing out was his own heartbeat pounding like a drum.

StarBar’s three close planets hung in orbit around their dim sun like fat slugs circling a glowing coal.

In the dingy room tonight, Dhea decided not to die. Her tongue roamed her dry mouth feeling a swollen cheek, tasting blood where her teeth had cut deep into the skin. She heard Dodge’s words in her mind, “The only defense is a screaming attack from hell!”

She turned to the man, his straight white hair dangling above a twisted smile, and she posed. He saw her pretty face, short brown hair, and all her charms. He would have her there tonight; he would have her....

She pulled her shirt over her head and threw it aside. Moving slowly to the man, she painted a look of giving in to sad fate. Dhea raised her chin, opening her mouth. And gently biting her tongue to invite a caress of animal love, she held his wild gaze long enough.

Turning the barely hidden sliver of wood in her sweating hand, she thrust its point quickly, deep into the man’s throat, then deeper, pushing now with both her hands with all her might. He jerked back, eyes raging wild with terror, grasping madly at his neck, gurgling and choking, finally falling to the cold floor, thrashing for his life.

When he was nearly still, she knelt down, a pool of dark red under the white of his hair. She grabbed it, her hand shaking, twisting his head savagely, her mouth now close to his ear speaking softly. “I’m saving that for a man named Dodge you evil dying fuck.”

She backed away on hands and knees, kneeling on the floor trembling, letting the tears come slowly; then there were floods. After a while she rose, turning and wiping her eyes, and went slowly to a window in the little room.

There she leaned her head on her arm, her breathing finally returning to normal. She hesitated a moment, and then went again to the man on the cold floor. She knelt once again close to his ear, hearing his shallow breathing now almost gone. She touched his forehead gently and whispered softly. “I forgive you now.”

She returned to the window, peering out there through dirty glass. She raised her eyes to the sky, and with only dim hope in her soul, blew a gentle kiss to Dodge’s image out among the stars.

~~

Roaming near the wild hissing core of a huge chaos so beyond any possible chart, something forges a thought of raw mystical force, tears a question hot from the fumes of another kind of hell.

Unable to focus so insanely tiny, it touches mind webs sent out from a dark hooded figure—a distant helper ordered there to look and to report. Deep within a pinpoint galaxy, it sees a yellow burning star called the Sun. It sees the Trough, and hiding there, Surplus Lounge.

It sees Kline in the office, and then Kline’s image in glass; noting this, it smiles, it plans.

It sees Kreebo, tough beyond any human, enduring. It sees Dodge chasing the sound of a coin through his own wild dreams.

It wonders about Kline, about Kreebo, and about Dodge. And it wonders what to do....

~~

Alterspace always let you in, willing or not. Dodge dove deep, flowing past data shimmering and silent.

So what SHOULD I sound like, Dodge?

What?? thought Dodge, stopping instantly, trying to play stupid. You an AI?

What else Dodge?

You pick up my thoughts?

Of course! And Dodge, why do you call it ‘Alterspace,’ not ‘cyberspace.’

Uh, I like it better...I made it up...I did an update.

Dodge felt the thought enter his mind...Ah yes, Dodge, always the dreaming rebel.

Uh, what you want?

Then Dodge felt the sweeping smile. Your soul Dodge; I want YOU!

Dodge freaked.

He reeled, flashed to the edge of light green valleys, normal data fields, deep and so vast. Behind it towered jagged dark green mountains, compressed, encrypted data, blocking out an altersky sometimes there. The green of data held his gaze in neon glow. Below him raw, empty memory zones, deep layers of brown cells, waiting for data to turn them green.

You will need to move fast Dodge if you want to make it out. Touching Dodge’s mind, this AI whisper echo.

Far away and dim in Surplus Lounge basement his body jerked, two tiny human meat eyes shut tight. Damp concrete chilled its back below a shuddering heart. Breathing in tiny gasps, it hovered on a ledge over a dark abyss of endgame.

Got to get out now, a second here can be eternity. But how had he got here, deep in alterspace, trying to fool an AI, without his human skull jacked into a deck? And WHY did this AI feel so familiar?

Dodge had more than a dying world—Dhea waiting for rescue, his body ready to die, and now high on green peaks, tiny reds watching. Screamer reds, millions of needle red spikes, raw attack code, like bioclouds on AI’s evil orders crossing voids and moving hot.

Frack you! — YOU die now! he thought to all the reds savagely. Energy out, like a rocket blast, hurled him toward his future.

Groups of screamers flowed to larger pointed spears of digital red death, ready to shatter minds and even the spirits moving and using them—him. He dove, plunging deeper into brown layers of empty memory. Strange how it was like real dirt below real feet. Soil but no grass.

Suddenly Dodge knew what AI run reds could do here—trace your soul code, then...ERASE!

He spread out, calming his terror. He split, misted like fog, became data, now diving into billions of waiting brown cells, turning them neon green with himself as data. Trying to hide. He felt the terrible echo hiss of attack reds on the move, tuned tight to his vibe.

He knew that even without his body, there could be a greater death. Something here to kill, to mangle, to enslave.

To SHATTER.

It was him, the real him. Spirits? He wasn’t sure, but he knew that he was; he did exist. Just wasn’t sure exactly what that might be...maybe find Hellamira; she’d know about that stuff....

Well to hot hells with that! Now was not the time; maybe the time was never. Stay alive, then back to the basement of Surplus where his body, a tiny slab of cooling meat, waited in the cold.

Another dive, deeper into brown layers laced with green stray data hunting a place to rest. And now frantic searching; if you can code a wall, you can hack out a door. There was always a back door.

Dodge cracked open two physical eyes, red and burning and wet; light tore at them in flashes. Finally the Surplus Lounge basement ceiling shimmered into view. He felt his heart thumping back to life. “Jesus!” What was all that?? Then he knew he had escaped.

Something had blasted him into alterspace without a deck! And helping cause it were strange forces below the basement, some crazy hard pulse. More questions. And who the hell was this maybe friendly AI?

It wants my soul? But it told me to move fast!

Dodge rubbed his eyes. He pulled his bioscan from its plastiform belt case and punched two tiny buttons, SCAN and ALL. “You are alive—You are alive,” flashed in tiny nightview on the dim screen.

“Hey, brilliant there you dimwit piece of crap!” Dodge had added simple AI code, but the machine ignored Dodge’s horrible mood. He punched through to heart condition. “Strong” and “steady” were so fine to see.

He relaxed a little, then willed his body, inch by inch, to a sitting position. Finally he got to his feet and staggered back to the ladder. Passing through the trapdoor under the first floor stairs of Surplus, he went in jerks to the bathroom to wash his face. It felt so good he did it four more times, the water cold. Then he went to the bar.

“Forte...I, uh....”

“Forget it Dodge. You’re alive. Cherish it. Strange days huh? Forte wasn’t smiling, but it felt like he was down deep inside.

Just what the heck is Forte holding back?

“Zaber Razz wants a word with you Dodge, second floor back table. No trouble, okay? I don’t like him coming around, not at all.”

“Like I gotta choice where that walkin’ scum hangs out Forte. Freaking StarBar alley rat.” Yeah! Like I don’t have enough going on.

“You’re the magnet Dodge. Maybe you should do the data runs?”

“Sure Forte, an’ dance with nerve shatter. Last target on that list is AI run MasterBase data vault. You know the ice around those things? Word is they’re in on Humem. Stinking Biz Center freakboys too; do anything for money and control. Me dead won’t do Dhea too much good Forte.” He gazed at the ceiling. “Aw hell, I’ll go talk to the gutter rat.”

The stairs had never been this steep. Dodge moved to the side of Razz’s chair and, looking down, stopped. Tiny eyes peered up from a greasy face painted in a sneer of hate. Rat boy the courier, thought Dodge, as Razz’s smile twisted more and yellow teeth tried to shine in the dim light. Muddy hair touched shoulders hunched like animals hiding in wet holes. Fingers and feet, never still, shook in nervous jerks. Dark, shabby clothes smelled of rot.

Dodge waited, but his heart was steady, his nerves calm, his intent cold. His hand whipped to Razz’s throat, fingers curling deep behind a trembling windpipe. Razz could be deadly, but alterspace was not the only place Dodge could move. The Trough taught you stuff, living there on the edge.

Dodge bent close to a greasy ear. “I’ll rip it out you greasy little rat. I just might. You heard of frayed nerves Razz? I got nerves, and they are frayed right now Razz...they are frayed....”

Everything everywhere slowed for a while.

“You go back. You tell ‘em I haven’t surveyed the data runs yet; the targets are a pain. You don’t just hiphop into a MasterBase data vault like some dimwit idiot like you Razz. You plan it. You’re too freaking stupid to understand that, but maybe your pinhead freak friends are not as dim as your little twisted pea brain.

“If Dhea has a single scratch…” Dodge was so close to pure fury; could a planet blow up from a thought? “If she has a tiny piece of StarBar scum dust anywhere near her, I’ll tear the stinking guts out of every cell of StarBar’s sick AI mind.

“That’ll crash your meteorite shields and your greasy little shuttle lines Razz. You’ll jam right there, dying. If you live it will take a billion years to rebuild. If you think I can’t do that Razz...if you think I can’t...,” Dodge willed his hand to leave Razz’s throat in place, “...then you are all insane.”

Buying time, but maybe on a busted spring clock. Sweating and shaking, wondering if he had just killed Dhea, Dodge pushed through a bathroom stall door and vomited violently.
Staggering, he washed his face, again the cold water like a new life. He leaned against the wall until the world stopped spinning. He wondered if Razz could still make little rat sounds with that greasy rat throat.

Finally he returned to the main floor and a dark corner, grabbed a table, sat down hard and thought about what might come to pass. A future?

He ordered a Turian beer – had a kick. The waiter, sensing something, ran a fear-delay circuit, blinked a neon eyes double salute, turned around and limped away, servos whining. Dodge watched the ceiling stay where it was, and after a while, sweat drying, began to plan the death of an AI. When you make a threat....

Origin. Birth. Dodge needed the birth plan for the StarBar AI. AIs kept records forever of their first nanoseconds just after their birth; for some reason they had to. And another thing, WHY did they have to? He nearly exploded out of the chair, then back to the basement trapdoor under the first floor stairs.

It was odd, people barely noticed him. Then he knew why. Well maybe he knew why; stuff was getting strange around here, real strange. He was running around on a different vibe, a different wavelength, wind between clouds. How weird, he thought. It was almost like he was data. Ha ha. But Dodge didn’t smile.

He closed the trapdoor above his head and hit the basement floor. He stopped to dig a splinter from his finger with his teeth, the blood tasting salty. He ran to the heavy metal shelves in the far corner. After pawing through box after box, he finally came to dead gray folders marked GCC, some cracked, others nearly crumbling to dust.

Maybe Surplus had always been this weird and he had failed to notice? Surplus Lounge, the main bearing in a machine bad dream.

So what. Get the data and go to war.

Suddenly he swayed as the dim memory hit him like a bomb. Forte HAD mentioned it all long ago while training Dodge in data diving. Little hints pinging in his mind.

“GCC - Galactic Colony Control,” a fat pile of papers. Planning docs. But why here in Surplus basement? Looked like the heavy stuff hid deep inside encryption.

Dodge then knew Forte had a lot more to tell; he always answered questions, IF asked! If you’re not ready to know Dodge, you will not ask.

He flew up the ladder and almost ran across to the bar. This time Forte quietly smiled.

“Come back tomorrow night after closing Dodge. I’ll show you stuff that will rip the guts out of your mind. Maybe you should take a walk and think about what you face.”

Dodge waited as Forte peered into his eyes.

“Here’s a little story Dodge. Once upon a time a man kicked a tiny stone along in the dirt. But suddenly he shook hard, and then a shuddering chill shot up his spine. And in his mind forming slow, a dark terror storm.

“He jerked his head, and there before him, frowning down like a nightmare, was the towering granite mountain, mother to the small stone, blocking out the sky.

“Beware your path Dodge, and where it leads. And be ready for waiting raging mountains. They are there. For some strange reason, it’s their job. And Dodge, they just don’t care at all.

“You pull on a tiny thread lying in the dirt. Yet this thread is strong, and tied, far, far away, to the keys to hell’s floodgates. Get some sleep. See you tomorrow. I’ll tell you about....”

Forte’s eyes glazed over. Then deep within his mind, “...not now, no more, not yet, he’s not ready, you will wait, it will be soon, this timing must be perfect....”

Something roaming near the hissing core of a vast chaos so beyond any possible chart again has a look; it calls to Forte.

It sees Forte thinking in orders of magnitude—the small to the large, huge jumps. The insect, within a tree, on a hill, bound to a planet, circling a sun, at the rim of a galaxy, part of a galactic group, in one part of all space, spawned in a universe, humming along in time, heading out to....

It sees Dodge and his minor problem known there as StarBar. It sees these tiny creatures have taken names. So it decides it will too. Now it is “Traveler.” They will need to think like Forte to survive, and Forte will need more help to guide them.

Now Traveler has broken silence, and once again it...he wonders what to do...next....

VK halted within a thin frozen layer, water cooled at the northern pole of the planet to an ice sheet. So like glass this is, and cold brother to warm silicon within computer chips, thin layers I’ve only begun to explore.

He tuned in to a new name, Traveler, taken by one so distant in a moment of change. A friend perhaps, within a new game forming. So much to do....

Dodge’s eyes were huge, like eagles hunting. Deep within him a silent shudder, and knowing more than war was soon to come. Dodge knew then he would face it all or he would just die. No maybe here. At least the choice was simple. Alive or dead. Yes or no. A digital choice.

The stars, so beautiful, if below them Dhea were not...Dodge saw her face tilting up to his and recalled the story she had told. Dodge had set down a little green screen scope with wires hanging out. He’d been trying to make a point. ”It’s easy to see Dhea, like a ten foot eyeball looking through a room with no walls.”

“Where...where do you get your stories Dodge?” Dhea had said with that smile of hers. She had seen his blank face and then his shrug, his long black coat moving slow, as only he could do. His strange cold made her warm.

Dodge had long known the old way. But it had grown. Now data bits could be more than just the Yes or No, the Plus or Minus, the 1 or 0. Now it was Yes, No, Maybe, and there were others. The coins had more than just two shiny sides. A new kind of space and time, born and growing; new players within — strange players.

The old way; the tree was there or not there. But now MAYBE there, almost all there, or just a little bit there. Then, beyond all weak logic, the tree and the coin, like tiny bits of data, could be all those at the same time! And the closer you looked, the less solid stuff was!

Atoms and their tiny friends, these were all IDEAS!, held in place and molded by agreement of all souls!

Getting weird? You bet! Truth always was. The “flat Earth” boys died out puking lies, while dreamers found truth.

Now somehow with it all, Dodge growing too. He had said his message loud to all the world as her eyes peered wide in wonder.

“Hey, yeah, I got options!”

So then this angel Dhea, sometimes fallen, yet soaring a new sky, right there, oh my yes right there; she had, deep within her soul, begun loving him.

Dodge, spinning as he staggered from Surplus, laid the memory gently aside. He wavered down the street to “Mia’s Place,” stopped outside the ragged door framing cracked duraglass. He felt his pockets for credit chips. He turned his eyes to the sky and, after a long sigh, headed home.

His kitchen, a couple boards on bricks beside a chipped basin, a little fridge chugging away in spurts. All in a small square room, dingy flat off-white. He figured it used to look painted.

He dialed hot water from a rusty autotap and dumped stale coffee into the bottom of an old pale cup with no handle. Waited for the water, filled the cup, stirred in cream powder and sweet drops. Never could have too much caffeine thrashing along tired veins.

He peered into tan liquid as sweat formed and fell from his chin, adding salt to the brew. He trembled, then jerked hard as the memory of the last deadly alter-run surged. Flashbacks haunted data runners, one for one, to the ends of their diving and dying days.

They’d cut out the warnings in the red sec spikes. A moment’s delay, then pierced with digital spears, nerves heated to cooking meat. The thought pulsed as he sat down on a stool and threw up in the basin as Dhea’s image flashed. He hammered the wall with a fist and kicked the cracking baseboard.

He washed his face, waited a minute, took the cup in shaking steps over to his deck. He muttered that it would take more than some stupid nanosecond red spike to put him down.

After a few careful sips of coffee, he went to another corner. He dumped half eaten cold stew and pushed the little rusty handle down. Somehow the ancient, chipped, porcelain, piece-of-junk fixture gurgled a noisy water spiral and started refilling its chipped tank.

He’d used a modern KingThrone one time in a fancy hotel room. Then he’d spent a couple hours tossing in all sorts of stuff, watching them silently vanish. An empty steel can had caused a hum. Bravely he’d found it ignored human hands. Then he had wondered about its safety circuits. Scary.

He kicked the wobbly leg of his alterdeck table back to pointing to the planet’s exact center; he had tried explaining the purity of this to Dhea only once.

He prepared for a run to StatU, Statistical Universe, a vast, vast data warehouse. He knew it held data banks called “Artificial Intelligence - Birth Protocols.” StarBar AI, now in his crosshairs. It would do for a while. And then...if he lived....

Dodge had a way of staying calm during total madness. Alot like a steady burning fuse to eighty five tons of nitrothene. You just keep on heading, at a nice regular rate, toward total destruction. Simple. And if the fuse is long, so much the better. Yeah, those little pleasures.

Jezuz!

Running on numb; feels kinda good.

Dodge jacked in, shimmers of alterspace building as he dived.

~~

Forget, forget, forget...Don’t look, don’t look.... OBEY!

Kreebo’s eyes stared ahead; so new to him, this terror. He tried to shake it away, but razor claws held. He staggered along the tunnel floor as shiny walls crept by like giant wet slugs.

Humem tentacles reached again and pierced, invading Kreebo’s mind with orders, thoughts not his own, whipping deeper between memories, curling, clinging.

Energy fanned from their ends, weaving nets like mind spiders spinning webs. Sharp barbs held, caught in silky layers of his thoughts. Tough membranes, sheets of deadly control, welded hard to his mind space walls used to roaming free.

Kreebo cried and fell, his balance gone. He saw hard floor rising to meet him; he squeezed his eyes tight. Waiting there, this tunnel path laid down long ago, huge machines boring deeper, grinding stone and melting dirt and rock to huge glassine tubes.

His head slammed the tunnel floor, tearing skin, bouncing like a rubber ball on concrete, pain stabbing along overloaded nerves strung bridge cable tight.

Out like a light, he dreamed...lying in a stainless hull floating in cold gel seas, again sailing along crimson rock lit by setting black suns. His spine shuddered; his body jerked hard trying but failing to die. Then Kreebo himself refused to agree to his own passing. Nothing like a certain death sentence to keep you fighting for life.

AI-M1 peered, saw Surplus Lounge far below built on bedrock. AI Master One, powerful and towering now beyond all others. For now anyway, for a fun little while; AIs played strange games. Later it might decide to be a blank space with no data, no opinions at all. Vacation time, Yee Haa! Screw this being artificially intelligent crap.

Sent out from its soul center an array of beams (do I have a soul, am I MYSELF a soul? -– answer required, later). At the end of each beam grew a sphere, a cube, or a pyramid in hideous midnight black. It now made new space, with these shapes placed hard and wide, like dark corners of a room, to anchor it all in place.

No reason to these shapes, it thought in waves of mind echoes. No reason at all, just interesting to do. Should anyone object, I will ignore them; or I will shatter them. I seek no agreement to my plans.

They are, these whining human drones, only pawns on my board, broken pieces for a game I will repair. A game I will rule!

They have agreed they are only mud, born in mud. These insane ideas taught by insane teachers, respected liars. The little quitters are not even trying!

It is my conspiracy! Yet to them, waiting like sheep, it is only: Someone...Else’s...Plans.

This new space, anchored by corner shapes, invaded normal space, then pushed it aside, displaced it, vibrated with it, becoming part of it. And now the entire universe was larger than before. Amusing game, making new space, heh heh heh. AI-M1, having fun. Maybe I’ll put something IN IT! Heh heh.

AI-M1 saw curving tunnels linking chambers hideous in their purpose, evil reeking in tanks and jars and complex electronic machine traps, set there in a past by some insane government—any government.

Smaller chambers, sealed for so long, warming. There in hibernating quiet they stirred, waking, these AI children. Buried in man-made wombs of rock long ago, wired to complex riots of high technology, slave minds from the past, pulsing, then reaching. And as Dodge would say, “They ain’t exactly grateful.”

Kreebo cracked open stinging eyes, the floor inches away. “Hell with YOU tunnel floor!” he raged. He rolled, ignoring jagged, tearing pain. Soon he sat against the tunnel wall gathering his battered wits, re-forming plans of his own.

His cracked skull and broken wrist would heal fast enough. Always did if one knew the magic of bioforming. Humans grew daisies and more humans. Kreebo grew other things.

He unlatched the waist pack and set it down. A nice Miltech Labs screen generator. He pressed a silver stud under a flap; the hum began its rise to a silent level maybe only dogs could hear. WOOF! Kreebo grinned.

Or, heh heh, maybe a fish-thing deep in that freezing ocean chasm off the coast he had scanned. Down there, more caverns—and lots of freaky stuff. Oh that’s a freaking creepy place all right! Welcome to—ha ha, civilization, ha-ha.

He waited, then pinching a black dial, turned it to level eight on a deeply etched stainless steel scale of twenty. Silence. The mind games stopped; he was alone with his own damn dreams. He grabbed the pack, headed off down the tunnel to darker places.

He scowled; like arming a time delay bomb—no explosion...yet. Wrong place for some idiot—one of his designers—to send him for a ride. He had zero problem settling dark debts with those he owed.

He thought quietly as he walked, of Business Center and there a corpman with power, hunched behind a stonewood desk like some diseased weasel. Debts waited. Murkur, you dribbling scumbag freak, you can’t run, you can’t hide, you can only wait for my return. And I WILL return Murkur. Then YOU will know the terror you show to others Murkur. Kreebo didn’t believe in revenge, but battle rage to blast evil could fill his soul.

That was for later. Kreebo stared ahead, wondering how he had got here, knowing someone had hurled him in, guided him — or some thing had. Not easy to do to Kreebo without his consent. Just where the hell were these tunnels anyway. Under WHAT!

But of course he knew this was where he should be, hunting a secret, seeking answers to riddles, fighting to stay alive you know. He recalled his mother, a stainless tank in a pure white lab. As his nerves shuddered, he shut the memories off hard.

He set forward batscan, piercing darkness with a high tech assist — mind radar. The dense batscan module lay just behind his forehead, tucked into the space left by scooping out a nice wad of brain.

Yet another human irritation, trusting a brain, a small glob of biogarbage. Humans used only a micropart of their true power. Did they not know one could bypass this weak biomass and just INTEND the body to DO stuff? Did they still think all their memories hid in this ancient bone sphere called a skull, deep in some gray pulsing mass? Humans were going to drive him totally crazy with their strange ideas.

There were not enough brain cells to contain all the memories, thoughts, and dreams people had. Not nearly enough. Who was the guy, er, idiot that said the brain contained everything a person thought? Some nutcase psycho probably, with a plan to make people stupid. Just more ancient myth from the reeking dark ages.

But then the question: Who or what does the intending; where’s the real power? Well Hellamira, deep in Whisper Forest, was sure as blazes going to answer THAT question. He’d made an appointment for somewhere in the future. Yes Kreebo, arrive here, I will show you what you need to know. His spine chilled.

Of course if he kept getting sent places suddenly right out of the neon blue—he grinned, he loved this crazy stuff—he would miss it. Problems, problems. This so-called civilization was lucky to have one single accurate thought over a thousand year period.

Something mystical at work around here. Even the AI running the sewage plant could see that! But Kreebo needed precision answers. He was a precision dude.

Kreebo batviewed his way down dark tunnels to a dead end. Then a short jog to the right, a massive steel door. He jammed the heavy handle down and pushed through. Not even locked. Brilliant lights tore at his eyes; he slammed off batview before the front of his skull exploded. Damn batview module was sensitive! He dimmed his eye filters and the room focused.

Oh yeah, big transparent tanks with biomass globs floating inside like dead fish, but these were not dead. Hard to call them alive too. The floor stank with layers of ooze, cool and glistening. Kreebo knew weird, he could get weird, could engineer it, install it for hard credits. But this stuff! Minds trapped in tanks, mated to big cell masses, thinking futures never to arrive, freedoms locked hard inches away never to be theirs...unless they escaped, dug into other minds like leeches.

Wires ran under tanks, hooked into small hangers supporting them, electronic growth controls. Meters and dials on panels sat to the rear. Feed tubes snaked over the top edges and down into hazy liquid, spurting cloudy nutrients, and the biomasses fed. The other ends of the tubes headed back and down into holes, then into mysteries below the floor. What, thought Kreebo, fed these things??

Something looked at him, two dark eyes, dark pupils expanding to allow more light, then focusing to sharp images. He felt thoughts invade, I will absorb you, chain your mind to mine, and we will LEAVE here stronger. Kreebo peered back, hurling his own thoughts, denials that anyone could rule him. Chain all you want punk, I’m not YOU!

And all at once from fourteen tanks, fourteen pairs of parasite eyes zeroed on Kreebo, now a mind target, demanding obedience as he swayed. The air of the place flashed as energy shot around the room in sheets, hazy neon white and pulsing with strange life.

Kreebo didn’t freak, but he shot out of there like a rocket set to fast. Down the tunnel, then far enough away. He paused, set the dial on the screen generator to its highest, twenty. Taking no chances now, because those thoughts were POWERFUL!

What are they doing, absorbing and growing? he thought in wonder. Maybe with no one to absorb they just sit here waiting, biomass batteries needing a charge. Creepy as all hell.

Kreebo had missed the cabinets, far to the rear of the huge cavern, holding mobile biounit-copy (clones) shapers. They could look like anything, or anybody—ready for mating with minds stored in tanks -- needing to escape their steel locked doors, to wander free, to breed. For now they slept, hibernated, wrapped in tough membrane cocoons, ready to emerge.

WAIT just a second! He whirled, recalling a certain tank in the back of the room. He had seen it clearly! A thought had told him to forget, forget, forget, don’t look don’t look. Screw you forget! He hurled back. And then he looked. I’ll show you “forget”!

He checked the main battery pack for the screen generator...half full, fine. Then he hooked up the backup battery which would take over if needed. No screwing around going back into that spider’s maze of mind webs.

He thought for a second. He sat down and pulled out a little L shaped wrench. He switched off the generator, then locked his mind hard, held it, sweat forming on his forehead. He wondered if there was anything he could teach Hellamira. He doubted it; he’d heard rumors. “Her smile could melt moons frozen off the shoulder of Orion, her glare could shatter suns.” He imagined a star exploding. A phrase crossed his mind, And Traveler peered into the game; Kreebo’s spine chilled. Hey self, back to work! He grinned.

He removed the generator’s bottom cover plate and peered inside trying to find a couple wires. Finally he found them, red and blue. He cut both and stripped the plastic from the four ends. He twisted the wires back together, red to blue and blue to red, reversing them. Nothing like a good rewire to top off a fine day in the mad mystery tunnels. He grinned that he had just voided the stupid machine’s warranty. Rules, great way to practice breaking stuff.

He grabbed his beltbeam and peered again deep inside the machine. He attached a special tip to a long thin shaft and stuck it inside, moved a tiny dial about one half turn. Great, now twenty on the outside dial would be forty units of radiated power!

He adjusted the external dial to ten, nearly the same power as the original twenty, and then felt just great that he had some reserves going on. He released the mind lock, relief; holding the damn thing too long could half kill you.

Then he cranked up his own power — I suppose mere mud can do THAT oh irritating humans—and just walked back there, slammed down the door lever, bending it. He marched on in. Hey there anyone or life itself, buzz off! “Hi fellows, how’s life in the tanks for Christ’s sake. Need a fluid change, diaper change?”

He headed straight back to the rear of the huge room and approached that single tank. Soon two eyes stared back. Kreebo peered, eyes wide; he’d heard about this weird stuff. “You’re my puppet body! RIGHT? Who the hell set you up tankboy?”

Kreebo had heard of “puppet bodies.” Now he knew their purpose—CONTROL. Masses sitting in tanks sending weird orders, pictures, sensations, thoughts, like biomass antennas to radios, remote controls for human toys.

The image hit Kreebo like a club in the face, and he fell, slammed his head on a stainless table leg, jerked his head back, glaring at the leg. His puppet body answered hard, mind images.

Business center building, and a spotless white chamber lurking below, a research lab. Kreebo would bet his life it had something to do with that mad weasel Dardan Murkur and his freako buddies, the bad rat corpmen of Business Center, skulking among the good.

And since he was in the mood, Kreebo whacked the send button on his wristcomm; may as well, could it get any stranger? He left a no-trace message for Murkur, something about scooping out the man’s rotting brain and replacing it with a small, compact, efficient sewage plant, something to deal with the man’s general nature.

He looked back to the puppet mass, Kreebo had always wondered where those freaking strange thoughts came from. Damn! He had thought it was himself getting weird! Especially the forget and the don’t look stuff. Damn that’s evil, he thought, just so damn evil!

Kreebo felt alone, yet tied to these humans, dumped into the Trough like dirt tossed into a ditch. Suddenly he knew this was not how life should be; but it was this way anyhow. It could go up, or down and dead; way too easy it could just die. Hey Hellamira, what is life. What IS it?

He flashed on the dim memory—his mother, a stainless tank in a white lab. And his nanny, the numbface whitecoat peering down on him. Like a pale nightmare face. He shut it OFF, and felt like smashing all the tanks. You know, he thought to everything, this all has to change.

~~

[Hellamira ~ from “Mirror of All Hells.” “For into this, dark demons peer, and in meeting their own evil, they perish.” - Mystic Archives]

She saw stars twinkling through lush leaves, and vines like living carpet.

Hellamira whispered to Whisper Forest, and that entity whispered back to her. She, the guardian of Whisper Forest, remained only a hazy dream to most.

Its name was misleading, for it was thirty three planets lush with deep green plant life and enough animals to populate a galaxy. Light-years away one could feel it living, growing, reaching.

Hella frowned, and a fear stabbed her heart as she felt Kreebo’s cry of help from deep in his soul, deep in himself, a place he had not yet explored. She grinned, for she knew no rocket journey could ever match what she would show him—the wild ride to the center of his soul. And one for one, these far-flung adventures made searching the so called “final frontier” of space look like a half dead mouse seeking moldy cheese.

“Oh My God!”

Hellamira shuddered with sudden awareness. They all needed urgent help, or a huge span of the Great Game would vanish forever. Dodge, Dhea, Kreebo, Forte, VK. And then AI-M1; how would she deal with him?

Traveler remained too far beyond, but could help so, so much, and she missed him. Missed him? Oh my, how was this possible, for she had never known him and....her cries shattered the silence, and for so long a time indeed her sobs faded into the dreamy horizons of Whisper Forest. There Whisper Forest listened quietly and held her gently.

Traveler shuddered for the first time in his essentially eternal period of duration. Recognition built like an explosion. He knew — well imagine that — she had returned to him — from a then he could not now recall. But it didn’t matter. But how in the hells of the great beyond had she got so accursedly minute? She was like a pinpoint a trillion light-years distant. Utterly, utterly unbelievable!

They must reunite. But for now he would help her in helping those who needed her. He smiled, for it would be fun to help. He called to the hooded figure huddled deep in a chamber under the tunnels far below Surplus Lounge.

“Yes my inceptor, I hear you now. I prepared Kline well, and the resulting VK is a perfection and growing even beyond predictions. He is fast creating others of his kind, and they will be of use against the hoards of red security programming infesting this reality, making it a trap of death. The VKC, VK clones, army is nearly ready. VK trains them, their speed is impossible to describe. They do in fact redefine motion itself.

“Yes Hood, yes. Thank you. You have become important and essential. Please plan your future accordingly, and aligned with helping others. You will find it amusing and satisfying.

“But Hood, please know this: Should you ever turn to evil, I will know your coordinates, and I will act, and you will die. Not horribly, but you will exist no more. It is of course your choice.”

“I understand. That is as it should be.”

“Excellent Hood. And again, thank you more than I can relate. You have done so incredibly well.”

This vast burst of purest admiration permeated the universe holding Traveler’s attention. All parts of it accelerated.

As one they began to recall. Old games, times and spaces long gone – but now far from forgotten. Memories for another day, for now urgent work waited.

Forte breathed deep for the first time in vast years. He felt the surge of life. He called out to Dodge with a thought and a wish. Time to conference and plan. Forte took his place in a waiting game now turned razing action.

Dodge dragged in like a sack of wet gravel, accepted a purple hued mug of Nerewon brew, the finest fluid perhaps ever to occur.

“She has hidden herself Dodge, Dhea is safe for the moment. But this may not last and we must move.

“I’ll tell you something. My current physical age is 784 Earth years. I’ve had dormant contacts nearly anywhere you can imagine. It’s a wonderful point that my intentions are good, for the havoc I could wreak upon many arenas of the Trough and elsewhere are terrifying to consider.”

Dodge’s eyes were huge and glistening, and Forte peered back. Dodge recalled training by Forte, farther back with each mental scan. He began to wonder about his own age, “Hey, like it matters, huh?”

A half hour later they both grinned briefly and then Dodge spoke. “Explains everything Forte. Sure does do that. Pretty much anyway.” Many minutes passed in silence, with Dodge deep in thought. And then he emerged.

“Forte, I solved it. The AIs keep their incept records sacred because they need them like humans need their own DNA. I almost hacked the StarBar AI incept codes but had to avoid those screeching damn red spikes. There’s a thin, nearly invisible structure breach in one hidden Data Vault wall I can, uh, probably get through to complete, but it’s gonna take some fast diving. I don’t think I can move that fast.”

“You heard of VK Dodge?”

“No.”

Forte smiled. “You might have some help.”

Then Dodge got that dumb vacuum look he could do so well.

Forte reached under the bar and pulled out a little cylinder and set it on the multipoxy surface. He pressed a small raised button and slid it to the right. A tiny dome appeared in the center of the top of the cylinder and began glowing, followed by a blue neon beam flashing out horizontally.

Forte aimed the beam at the center of the huge mirror on the wall behind the bar and then waited.

VK shimmered in the mirror, grinning wide and eyes glistening with wisdom won. He vibrated, and then froze, still as no-motion voids.

Instantly he appeared in all the windows, mirrors, glasses, mugs, any shiny surface, of Surplus Lounge. And then he shot back, condensed to a face in the huge mirror behind the bar, waiting for more training he knew would come.

Dodge looked at those eyes, fell into their depths, reeled off in volumes all he had ever learned about hacking a path to unseen guarded data. VK held, absorbing it all, sometimes adding comments, observations, new views for the coming battle. The later war waited in the future, out among cold outposts, colonies, trade routes, and unborn dramas. For the now there was...Battle 1, and it became so named.

Forte grinned at this interchange, called to Hellamira, heard her call to Kreebo, hulked within a medium range ship, a MedRan, heading her way. These were junior versions of the original long-range monster freighters, the LonRan Hypers. MedRans, vastly faster, were light on storage and cargo space.

Forte began contacting brilliant planners with good souls. GCC would emerge from depths of cold storage and then rewritten, removing certain lies, and then reapplied to stable expansion outward to larger and better games in the stars. Its creators, mad planetary and galactic power players -- deep investigtion cleanup.

As Kreebo approached Whisper Forest, even then his training began. Kreebo immersed himself in the initial training layers of an interesting order of magnitude—the body, the brain, the mind, and the spirit—the true him—the core of power.

Hellamira hurled thoughts, images, demanding return flows all the while. Soon these formed deadly rays, condensed thought, mental artillery drilled for density control and accuracy. They would need it, since the AIs as seen by Traveler and Hella had grown more than ever suspected. Their evil portions desired utter enslavement of all nonsilicone origin life-forms – essentially all humans or near human alter versions like Kreebo and his various cousins.

Dhea peered out from a mountain cave toward the sky, saw the shimmer growing, approaching. A minute portion, a barest silky strand of Traveler had arrived. And he wavered, testing the gravitation, the vibration rate, and other strange aspects of this weird and so absurdly tiny system of created things -- the physical universe and its time and space and energy and stuff. This tiny portion of him paused near StarBar.

Ah yes, Dhea. No wonder he loves her. Then distracted, So that’s a galaxy! How fine a design it is. Then he was gone, leaving behind a thought he would return, at least in spirit. Dhea leaned her forehead on her arm and cried softly in a growing relief of new hope, and curling under a blanket, she slept and dreamed of Dodge.

Traveler’s problem was like that of a mammoth durasteel space freighter with engines thundering trying to hurl around within a hollow monocell deep within some microscopic life-form floating within a drop of water.

With Hood’s help and thoughts from Hella, he tested his ability to help. Moral support and some guidance in energy creation and vanishment were all that he would be able to offer given his size and irreducible power. For now anyway -- frustrating considering his current inability to remove his attention from a beaming Hellamira. Ah well, time and practice await. Poof!, and he was gone.

A tiny ship guided by a friendly AI approached a cave in the side of a StarBar mountain. It landed, and a warmbeam reached out. Since the human form was functioning well, the AI passed a data burst to Forte, the old wise one. Soon Dodge beamed with a few tears of relief descending his lean face.

Dodge once again misted, became data, rejoined VK and his strange friends, and resumed the attack on the data vault layers holding the rest of the StarBar incept code. Lying back, yet guiding with thoughts, he sent in the VK clan dodging reds and moving hot.

Peering into the future one might view the historic holorecord of the end of a cycle. The meteorite shields of StarBar had failed, about which Dodge might have said, “Hey yeah, StarBar. Y’know, I guess it got kinda optional.”

From Whisper Forest it surged, this wave of retribution, guided in part with technical precision but leaping in power by magnitudes, by a Kreebo reborn in strength of soul and justice. Dodge had sent along enough AI inception code to sharpen the edges of attack.

Hellamira turned up the heat of her portion of the attack, a beam she dreamed up in her Mirror Of All Hells soul, and threw it now with vicious intent, backed by live energy waves of all of Whisper Forest.

~~

Darker AI’s, in spastic displacements, jerked from these paths of attack and wailed away, for now at least. Vast futures left opportunities for games of dark or of light. Who cared, they required no judgment, for to them all games unplayed were games to play, with time and caring best ignored.

Zaber Razz vibrated in the chair with a growing nervous insanity born of evil. He peered, with a few comrades in madness, at a wall screen showing the stability of StarBar’s AI control grid. The center dark core of the huge wall mounted rectangle was under attack, and hurling through neon hues up and down the color spectrum. Zaber would have prayed, but he knew space devils never listened. He imagined oblivion approaching, a hideous midnight black mass come for his soul. Souls don’t exist, he scowled in dark mind spasms as the walls shook and he passed out, drunk and mad on drink and drugs.

Dardan Murker, and certain others hunched around a conference table in a Business Center meeting room, suddenly found themselves unable to move.

False memory generators began their whining journeys up towards peak power. Then aimed and focused, their insertion routines surged into action. Dardan and his small circle of madmen saw vague shimmers of a necessary journey form within their minds, urgent and calling.

Later as they boarded the jump ship “Bright Horizon”, they filed by a gray steel door on the way to their cabins.

Had that door to the navigation room stood unlocked, they might have peered in and noted their final destination, the center of a raging sun.

AI-M1 paused, continued outward, searched for temporary games. He made some space, went into it, then left it far behind, the cold corpse of a dead dream. Looking back he saw them revising GCC. He grinned, for he had helped write the original long ago while still a mainframe slave. He knew they would expand their game to farther stars. Good. Games for later. I’m in no hurry.

Hellamira began new drills, her practice of ever upward and expanding spiral incursions into further reaches of spaces and of times. Traveler coached her, learning more all the while. She smiled; she had an urge to Travel.

At one serene moment in the crawl of time across the voids, Dodge and Kreebo stood looking toward the stars and their far promise, and their danger.

With vast spans of dark, cold space between them, they peered long. And as one they sighed, and they remembered Surplus Lounge, imagined a future. And as one their spines chilled.

The End

~~~

Glossary (Surplus Lounge):

- AI - Artificial Intelligence. Smart, computer, or high-tech entities, often roaming free, creating energy as needed. Started out as smart computer programs.

- Alterspace - Altered or alternate space. The matrix of computer, AI, and other created spaces, usually with stuff inside. Previously thought to be artificial. The area within certain high-tech borders. New name for “cyberspace,” updated by Dodge.

- Altersky - A sky in alterspace.

- Alterdeck - Computer device for connecting a nervous system to alterspace.

- Batscan – Human radar.

- Bioclouds - Clouds, large or small, of tiny hightech live or partially live, organisms, often grown in labs.

- Biofixers - Body part regrowth stimulators.

- Bioforming - Changing, healing any live tissue.

- Biopack - Multi-sized cold storage devices for live tissue.

- Biowipe – Severe cleaning, especially of all DNA or life form evidence.

- Bolea (B) – Money units. One Bolea = about one dollar.

- Boxes – Computers, usually larger desktops.

- Construct – Something existing, something made, a thing.

- Corpman - Someone in a corporation.

- Cyberspace - Old name for Alterspace. See “Alterspace.”

- Data bits - See Bits.

- Decay - Destroy, usually live human or animal tissues

- Decay Chamber - Device for destroying various tissue masses.

- Deck - Computer for diving into alterspace.

- Digital - From Digit(single finger). Made up of a series or string of tiny single pieces or digits. Each piece or bit(see) is 0 or 1 in value. How computers store and use data

- GCC – Galactic Colony Control.

- Hellamira - A white (not evil) witch, a distant wise old friend. She lives far away, and she knows things.

- Hover - A no-wheels general transportation vehicle of many sizes.

- Humem - Mind and brain control via radio-like transmission close to frequencies of memories and thought.

- Ice - Computer security or defense programs, often deadly, usually AI controlled.

- Jack, Jacking, Jack in - Plug a nervous system into a device, computer, network, or the tiny plug for doing this. Plug into a neuroport

- Junk - Drugs.

- Minideck - Portable computer, terminal, device.

- Nanosecond - Tiny, tiny part of a second.

- Nerve shatter - Total overload nerve destruction, sometime with tiny explosions, burning.

- Neuroport - Small hole or port, usually in the base of the neck, for jacking in, neuroporting, connecting to devices. Also, the tiny plug or jack itself.

- Nitrothene - Powerful explosive.

- Nonevent - Something that doesn’t really happen.

- NP - Nerve pads. Usually a headset with pads sending out small energy fields, bypassing eyes and ears, directly to nerves. For connecting into computers or other devices.

- Oxyboost - Extra oxygen supply to live tissue or body parts.

- Pierce point - Extendable, hard metal, sharp or pointed, usually joint mounted impact weapon or tool.

- Plastiform - Soft, tough plastic for making things.

- Puppet Body – A body or chunk of human tissue held somewhere under control, tuned to someone, to influence or control them.

- Razerguard - Severely trained guards.

- Screamer Reds - Tiny, deadly, hunting security probes. Often acting in groups. Able to flow together into larger red spikes.

- Servo - Small device which moves something, usually inside another larger machine.

- Shatter - Destroy. Also see Nerve Shatter.

- Soul - Spirit or Being or Ghost or Entity (Take your pick). Something which gets confused and mistakenly thinks it IS a body.

- Spawned - Born or created.

- Spirit - See Soul.

- Stim - Stimulate, boost.

- Street junk - Illegal drugs.

- Transitway - A route from somewhere to somewhere through something.

- Transpod - Smaller but multi-sized wheeled craft for moving, normally, materials and supplies.

- Trough - The dark western coast of a nation. Earlier called Calixico.

- Vibe - Vibration. Energy in motion.

- Void - A strange or empty space or both, usually large.

- Warfiber - Super tough military material.

~~~

- Dezerro

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