Chapter 10: The Scribes

ALL SCRIBES. ALLEYWAY. DISCUSS POSSIBLE BREACH. URGENT.

As night fell, Magus received an incoming transmission on his comm. He was expecting a gathering to be announced regarding the next phase of the Zenith assault, and although he hadn’t heard back from Bird, he felt like he knew this had something to do with his mission a couple of nights ago.

He merged towards the 101 and headed north into the Valley. The layer of fluorocarbons that made their home here settled themselves nicely between the mountains by dusk and created what looked like a perpetual storm cloud that was toxic and man-made. As he came over the Cahuenga Pass, he activated the ionic implants in his helmet, and began taking in long, controlled breaths. Too much exposure out here could lead to lightheaded-ness, bronchitis, and for a lucky few, smoldering hallucinations.

Magus rumbled off the freeway and descended upon Coldwater Canyon, heading deeper into North Los Angeles Proper, the subdivision of the city sometimes known as barrio noho, a landscape for many of the black and red markets, a seedy tribute to Old Hollywood. The alleyway bisected the areas of commerce in noho, one side laced with strip malls for your latest in fenced hardwares, skin clubs, subversive downloads, and the other corners for selling and using the latest hypnotic that had hit the streets. Running between these two mine fields was a long strip of vacant lots that carpeted the space below a series of large robot-like metal antennae that held the Old City’s power lines. The electro magnetic interference generated by these structures kept the tracer posts from doing their job, snatching up incriminating surveillance. The scribes had built a meeting room out of an underground voltage chamber that was put there by the city several decades ago. The only power running through the lines now were weak signals coming from community generators criss-crossing through the Valley.

Magus arrived to find most of the scribes already seated around the room. There were no formal introductions. Most of the scribes kept things official when they were online, but in close quarters it was a time to connect, tell stories, and share each other’s company. The crowd settled into a low hush, a grouping of about 50-60 scribes from the greater Los Angeles area. There was a group that sat at a long wooden table whom everyone knew to be the elder scribes, their faces drawn and sullen from decades under Zenith’s thumb. Bird sat stoically at the table, and when he spotted Magus in the crowd he gave him a discrete nod.

One of the elders, known to the group as Gomez, stood up from the table. He had a long drawn face, and eyes that seemed weathered by many dark nights like these, his cheekbones angular, the salt-and-pepper stubble framing his mouth and chin with an air of understated authority. Though he softly, he had a commanding presence and it didn’t take long for the other scribes in the room to take notice and quiet down. Gomez was one of the highest ranking elders in the sect, known for many legendary assaults against the forces of Darkstar. His exploits were legendary. He was best known for infiltrating their headquarters posing as a janitor and routing feeds of an age-old video game to the first million jackers. For about 24 hours, the 8 bit masterpiece Donkey Kong, was downloaded to every user in their network….worldwide!! He hit them off with the 8-bit and made high-definition addicted people go nuts. So slick was his style, that they never figured out that it was the lowly janitor who was responsible.

“We’ve called you all together because of a breach in our part of the grid,” Gomez intoned, “It seems that on a recent mission, one of our scribes was somehow accessed,” a hush floated like falling dominoes through the band of scribes and Magus’ heart began to pound.

“Bird has traced this breach to a young man from Zenith named Silas Finnegan. We have reason to believe that he is the son of John Finnegan, the second-in-command of the Zenith council and the head of the Los Angeles wing of Darkstar international,” Gomez paused at that moment and let the information sink in. Bird briefly made eye contact with Magus, and for a second Magus noticed a subtle smirk on his face.

A holoscopic projector was turned on, and imagery emanated into the center of the room. Finnegan’s profile appeared and Magus was struck by the avatar. This was only a kid. Somehow he had found Magus’ profile and was able to uplift to his junction point in stasis, what Bird had referred to as transcendence.

The light green projection shifted cubically to another set of images. Magus recognized this at once as stasis as did the other scribes. The difference was that this manifestation represented a mere snapshot of the virtual space, like a paused recording of that reality. None of the portals and data streams were moving as they normally did.

“This was the junction point, where one of our scribes was accessed. As you can see, everything was done by the read me, properly inserting into a nondescript portal within the network. The likelihood that one be accessed in this moment is about 1 in 400,000. We are talking about a portal that sees very limited traffic. Since it is a fairly rare happening, I would like the scribe to step forward and speak on it at this time,” Gomez turned to Magus and extended his hand, “Magus, please enlighten us.”

Magus looked around at the other scribes, his heart was pounding, not out of fear necessarily but mainly from being seen by others. The anonymity of the web always felt more comfortable than the tangible of a person’s eyes upon him.

“It was a surreal experience. Like Gomez said, everything was done according to plan…I was on the tower making the proper links and had just finished up my adjustments when I was accessed. I saw a brief warning saying I was about to be hit up, and in an instant I found myself in another location entirely. You could say that I was hooked into a feed, but it was like a feed within a feed, and this one seemed strangely lucid. The smells, the solid aspect of the environment. I felt like I had been transported to another location,” Magus paused as a chatter rose amongst the scribes, “I feel that it had been as few have reported prior, a moment of transcendence. This boy, Silas Finnegan…I must have uplifted into his mind during the hookup.”

Gomez looked around at the scribes, he had no reaction or emotion on his face, just a calmness…as if he knew what had to happen at that moment. The other scribes were looking to him for direction, especially Magus, whose fear and worry had risen over the consequences of his perceived mistake.

Gomez spoke softly but in a deliberate manner, “Fellow scribes…Magus, there is a detail here that changes everything,” he looked around at all of them before he proceeded, “this boy….Silas Finnegan…is not just an ordinary citizen of Zenith, he is the son of John Finnegan, the head of the Zenith council. He also sits on the board at Darkstar-West. This moment…this opportunity….will not be taken for granted.”

“What do we do Gomez?” Magus asked earnestly.

“The elders have conferred on this matter Magus, and we have agreed that you must try to find this boy and uplift into him again. We have found his access point ID, and will attempt transcendence in a controlled environment. Once the switch over has occurred, he will essentially be in a scribe safe house, while you jack into the boy’s body on the other side. You will then gain as much access to the sensitive data needed to infiltrate the heart of Zenith as possible. Through this boy, we will make dent in Darkstar’s network.”

“But Gomez, what about the boy? What will happ…”

“Don’t lose sight of the mission Magus! Since Zenith went online, it has brought nothing but pain and suffering for those of us left behind. The only way to move forward is to destroy this city from within, turn their hearts and minds and show that there should be no separation between us and them, that we are all human beings who deserve to live with a certain level of decency and respect,” Gomez had begun to boil a little, his eyes starting to narrow as he kept on, “We all have children who have never known life before Zenith, and they live in the squalid Flatlands accepting defeat, regarding the city in the sky as a fixture as unattainable as the moon. I can’t stand by and let it continue. This is our chance. We cannot…we will not squander it.”

Magus was frozen by Gomez’s emotion, it was unexpected.  He looked him square in the eyes and nodded in agreement.

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~ by artofpeace on August 6, 2008.

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