Part 01

Every cell needs a good Wizard.  Theta Twelve has me.

 

I’m not the best they’ve ever seen, but I can usually get the job done.  I don’t know what it is, it’s just that ever since I was a kid, I was good with tech.  One of my earliest memories is of marveling at a phone and having a profound need to understand what was going on inside.  Not the hardware so much, but it was the programming I felt so compelling.  It was like there was a mind inside devices, a mind I could know and learn from.  I learned that it was just code though, code written by people, code that could be penetrated and manipulated.  It’s my job to monitor all of the security and observation systems to make sure no alarms are triggered, and that the surveillance never gets a good look at us.  We’re all prosthetized of course, but still.  Every time a new face is logged in the network we can never use it again.

That’s where Kaitlyn comes in, she’s our Nurse.  She’s always grumpy when we call her Nurse though.  She’s a full doctor as good as they come, trained in the military even, but she always takes it as an insult, like we’re minimizing her training or calling her nurse instead of doctor just because she’s a woman.  All cells (from what I understand, I’ve never actually met anyone from another cell, not that I’d been aware of at the time anyways), have a surgeon just for general doctoring, but specially for installing sophisticated prosthetics, and they’re always called the Nurse.

Every cell needs a good Beast too.  Beasts come in different kinds, from reluctant to enthusiastic, but they all have to be killers.  Beasts do the dirty work.  David is certainly further towards the enthusiastic end of the spectrum, but from what I understand there are far worse in other cells, Beasts who need to be kept on a very tight leash, Beasts who enjoy killing and torturing far too much.  We never have to worry too much about David, but

Every cell also needs a good leader, a Point Man.  We’ve got Rhys.  I fell in love with him not too long after I was recruited, after they trusted me enough to actually talk to me.  I was only fourteen at the time, and he’s well over ten years older.  It was infatuation really, and never reciprocated, but over the time we’ve grown close and he’s become more like a father to me.  Well, probably more like an older brother if I had to nail it down.  An older brother I’m still attracted to?  Well now it’s weird.  I think you get what I’m driving at.

Rhys is our leader, and he carries the weight on his shoulders.  He’s a good Point, but sometimes he cares too much, takes it all too personally, takes too much on his shoulders.  That’s why a part of me still loves him, that’s the part I can’t not love.  It would be so easy to be jaded by the state of the world, to be angry and cold, but he’s not.  He still really cares, still believes in the cause more than anyone else I know, especially when it all seems so impossibly insurmountable, and it’s hard to not be drawn in to that kind of energy.  He’s the reason I’ve stayed with Theta Twelve as long as I have.

So we’re terrorists sure, let’s get that out of the way right off the bat.  Though, that word has certainly lost a lot of its meaning over the last half century, and it’s always been a subjective word meaning a lot of different things.  At worst it’s a label for people who indiscriminately kill as many innocent civilians as possible to create an atmosphere of terror for political ends.  Get it?  At best though, it’s a word used to label noble freedom fighters as the former, to discredit those who stand up to the powerful in any capacity the powerful can’t suppress.

They certainly call us terrorists, but we go out of our way to avoid killing civilians.  Sometimes it’s necessary and we have to, and that’s why I don’t bristle at the label, but yeah, it happens.  If it didn’t, we wouldn’t need a David.  But if it was our primary motive, we’d all need to be Davids. 

Theta Twelve used to have a more significant meaning, from the days when there was a much more organized and interconnected resistance movement, but now it’s a legacy term like a military regiment which has moved and repurposed over centuries but still retains a proud name and a connection to the past.  Theta used to be the North American Northern Western Division, and us being based in southern British Columbia, our cell was Theta Twelve.

Now we operate entirely independently though, in the shadows, never making contact with any other cell, never really being sure how many other cells are out there, what they’re doing, or what their ultimate objective is.  Sometimes we can recognize the actions of another cell though, if some real information slips past the megacorp censors on the newsfeeds.

Megacorps?  How could you now know?  They’re the owners, the aristocracy and royalty, those whom we struggle against.  Apparently there used to be rules against corporations consolidating too much, and it’s now pretty obvious why.  Now there’s only a couple dozen megacorps in the world who own everything.  There are no smaller companies.  Anybody who tries to start a new business (and no one ever bothers to anymore of course) is either prevented from forming in the first place, bought up and subsumed, or undercut out of the market immediately.  Nobody even bothers trying anymore.

We live in a highly stratified society now with four distinct castes.  I originally come from the Employee class, people who are employed by the megacorps and kept in a reasonably comfortable situation.  The idea is to keep us just comfortable enough that we never want to challenge the megacorps and risk losing the privilege we have, while never letting us become well enough off that we start thinking about how we can move up, or have the luxury to think too deeply about the system as a whole, and how trapped we are. 

Below us are the unemployed, the dregs.  Millenia of history have taught the powers that be the danger of real destitution.  Greedy as the aristocracy and royalty are, they are at least smart enough to keep the bottom caste at an economic sweet spot where they are desperate enough that they are terrified to lose what they have, but not so desperate that they are ready to revolt against the owners out of spite regardless of the cost.  So, there is a basic income scheme, and everyone not employed by the megacorps gets a monthly stypen which is barely enough to poorly feed and house themselves, but perpetually desperate enough to never be able to take a moment to stand up and see how badly they’re getting fucked over every single day of their miserable lives.

There are still governments.  Hell, we even still go through the motions of having elections.  But everyone already knows who’s going to win before the first vote is cast.  Surprise, it’s the party or politicians who are going to do whatever the megacorps want them to, and the supposed opposition are paid very well to feign resistance, and lose peacefully.  We do still have a remarkably vibrant politics though, it’s just in the megacorp who actually govern as opposed to the figurehead governments.  The best political drama these days is fighting between the megacorps.  As much as they agree on a united strategy of keeping as much as they can for themselves and as little as possible for the rest of us, they disagree viciously and sometimes violently about how to divide up the spoils amongst themselves.

As such, we find that our best strategy when we can pull it off, is to do things that seem to one megacorp like an attack from another.  Get them fighting with themselves, that’s the most effective way we’ve ever found to destabilize them.  That’s what Theta Twelve was trying to do when I got caught up in all of this. 

They told me a long time ago, but I don’t remember now the details of what they were trying to accomplish that day.  I doubt anyone on the team remembers specifically, it was six years ago after all.  Anyway, it was some kind of cyber security breach they had to be physically at the data centre, something about trying to get one megacorp to think they were being attacked by another. 

It was the middle of the day, and I was on a school tour of the facility.  They’d figured security was easier to penetrate during the day.  The place was pretty well locked down at night, and they weren’t expecting any kind of attack during the day.  Trying to penetrate during business hours also makes it easier for them to assume it’s an attack by another company.  I learned later that the penetration attack was a cover for their true objective.  They were trying to covertly implant a device which would send the cell all of the information going through the data centre.  They were pretty sure it would be discovered pretty quickly, but the data they would collect before it was would be invaluable.  It was a high risk, high reward operation.

Like I said I was there on a school trip, and I got turned around at one point on the tour and wound up stumbling on the team quickly trying to install the surveillance device in one of the massive servers.  I was a witness, and David reflexively moved to kill me, but Rhys stopped him before he could.  As David restrained me, they furiously argued in near silent whispers about what to do about me.  Easy as it would have been to kill me (as distasteful as it would have been to those who were not David, it is sometimes necessary), leaving my dead body would have immediately put the facility into full lockdown search, which would have revealed the surveillance device before any useful intel could be generated. 

Dead or alive they had to take me with them, and they figured it was easier on them if I made it out with them instead of them having to carry my dead body and avoid any kind of mess.  They knew that either way their intel generation would be cut short as my going missing would result in a search anyways, but not as thorough or immediate if I just mysteriously vanished.  So, they made it clear that they would kill me if I didn’t do exactly what they said and follow them out as they’d planned to extricate, leaving out the detail that they may just kill me after I made it out with them anyways.

On the way out everything went to hell anyways.  They were detected, and they got shot up on their way out, just barely making it out and escaping back to their safe house.  They didn’t all make it that day though.  Their Wizard got killed on the way out, and of course their tap was detected immediately.  Their mission was a failure, they lost a critical team member, and they were saddled with me.  It was a bad day for Theta Twelve.

What followed for me was the worst couple months of my life.

Starting a new... universe?

This is a new book I'm writing, the first entirely outside of the New Horizons universe.

I'm not committing to each post being a new chapter because I don't know how long chapters are going to be in this book and I've only just started it so... yeah.  I'll list each post as 'Part XX' whether or not they start with the beginning of a new chapter.

Also this is the first book I'm writing from the first person perspective which so far feels very natural given my years of journaling, so we'll see where this goes...   it's quite experimental writing at this point.

again the usual disclaimer that this is a rough as can be rough draft.  Helpful thoughts on content and story direction welcome, comments on grammar and spelling not necessary.  Thanks!