Wednesday, January 05, 2005

M5.5mith in "Wynt3r W0nderL4nd"

The sedan slid through the snow like a black shark. It drove down the street all black and sheen. Its engine purred electric glory. It oozed menace. It oozed authority. It was a Union car. Everyone knew, even if nobody said. You didn't invoke the Union out loud. Not unless you had the Edge.

In the back sat M5.5mith with legs crossed. Black suit and Mirror shades. Black hair back in a tail. Thin black gloves, and a barely noticed bulge under each arm. M5.5mith was on the bleeding edge, a sleek deadly servant of the Union. The Devil in a black suit. A turncoat in mirror shades.

The subvocal tranceiver hummed, and M5.5mith answered. "Smith." She nodded to a voice no one but M5.5mith could hear. "Yes. Of course. Yes, sir." She tapped on the window separating her from the driver. "Omega Squared. Now."

The car spun at a corner, tires gripping the snow. The white air became whiter. No color, just blur. All electric engine purr, menace beneath its black shark hood. A chariot carrying M5.5mith to Omega-Squared.

The scene was still fresh when they arrived. Two black sedans, twins of the black shark, sat outside. Empty except for the smell of circuits. The doors to Omega-Squared flooded people onto the streets. Screaming masses, those who had been Elite transformed into the Scared. There might never be a way back, and there was no salvaging the image now. The sedan's door opened for M5.5mith without her raising a finger. She stepped out, immune to the snow and the screams. Red lips on a white face, dead pan, eyes like black pearls behind the shades.

She walked that calm, precise Union walk. Her shoes crunched the snow, but came up dry. The crowds flowed around her. At the door she was met by three of the Brothers Black. Each one identical, and not a hair out of place, not a button undone. The Brothers Black, failed attempts to clone the Edge. The perfect soldiers. The clone servants of the Union.

Brother Black-One put away his gun. He holstered it like a samurai sheathing a sword: with rote honor and deadly precision. "Miss Smith. We had not predicted your arrival."

"No backup is required," continued Brother Black-Two, "We have this investigation well under way."

"This is not a job for the Eye," added Brother Black-Three.

"This is a job for the New Order," finished Brother Black-One.

"Really?" sighed M5.5mith. "That is not what it looks like."

"And what does it look like, Miss Smith?" asked Brother Black-Two.

"It looks like the New Order sent the Brothers Black in to be a hammer when the Eye recommended subtle action. The Bank will not be happy about a machine of this high profile. You will have trouble clearing the use of ammunition in your expense reports," M5.5mith replied. She stepped past the Brothers Black and into Omega-Squared.

No holograms danced up the walls and no neon lights shone. Omega-Squared, haven of the Elite, dark as a tomb. Bodies strewn on tables, and bodies strewn on floors. Bullet casings crunched underfoot, side by side with broken glass. M5.5mith walked her precise walk, her Union walk. Behind her shades the world was lit in green. Mirrored shades and blank face looked to the ceiling. "A bullet to the power node. Very good, Trademark. Very tricky."

M5.5mith turned to the Brothers Black. "You three are dismissed. Collect your siblings' corpses and leave. The Eye is taking over this investigation."

"We will lodge a complaint," said Brother Black-One, slinging the body of Brother Black-Five over his shoulder. Brother Black-Five, victim of 7r4d3m4rk. Sent to death by the man in whom the Information Rebellion was made flesh.

"Do so. That is your right. I am sure that Control will happily recieve it. But for now, you are dismissed." With the Brothers Black gone, M5.5mith got to work. A small case came from a pocket. A case with lights, a case with a screen. A Trinity-series computer. The Maybe Machine. The weapon of the Union. It was deadlier than a gun, sharper than a sword, faster than a car. The blade of the Union's best and brightest. The weapon for a woman with the Edge.

It strapped to her wrist with black straps, fixing firm and tight, the moldings perfect. Fitted to M5.5mith, and no other. Boxes of data flashed code faster than the eye could see. Patterns formed in the code, while variables were included and processed. Futures revealed and disproved. The fate of the world swirled into the box on the wrist of M5.5mith. M5.5mith, alone in Omega-Squared except for the corpses.

M5.5mith walked to the door to the alley behind Omega-Squared. She plotted a path up the wall. 7r4d3m4rk had jumped it, twenty feet to the ladder. An impossible jump, unless you had the Edge. "Very tricky indeed, Trademark," said M5.5mith just before she tapped her throat.

Subvocals reached the driver, who sat in the sedan in electric envy. He was a fish out of water; even the Brothers Black were above him. "Of course, Miss Smith. Yes, ma'am. Right away, ma'am." And so he drove to the side of the alley, drove to meet M5.5mith. She got in the back and told him to keep moving. Her computer still calculated, still pulsed. In the green electron glow, the Truth unfolded before her eyes. The Truth made manifest.

And so the driver drove at M5.5mith's bidding. Drove all the way to the Hotspot Cafe on the advice of the Maybe Machine upon her arm. The great computer that told all and knew all. That cut through lies like a sword. That swept away uncertainty. That killed falsehoods and left only the Truth standing. And that was M5.5mith. Before she served the Union, before she killed for the Eye. Before any of this, she served the Truth.

So M5.5mith walked through the doors of the Hotspot Cafe to find 7r4d3m4rk. To find the scion of the Truth, the man who would save her from the Union, and save her from herself. The one, thin, fine hope that went beyond the lies of the Union, and the lies of the Council. The grain of Truth that would set her free.


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