Sunday, March 16, 2014

AIndividual 2

2

I was ingesting the data load I took off the scene bots in my place above Charlie’s bot shop in District 8. New Prosity was split into 9 districts. They were like slices of a pie. They were all the same size, but each was unique. District 1, for example, was comprised of mostly white, rounded buildings. There was a subtle hum or chime that resonated all across District 1. It blanketed the district in a type of silence you can’t get without noise. District 2 had business and rich folk. District 5 had the Arena. They all had their pulls, tickling different people’s fancies. In my district it rained all the time. It had things I imagine some Guests would have been interested in, like diners that serve mediocre coffee and solitude. The rain quieted the place, in the same way the golden hum did in 1. I think the real reason people migrated to 8, though, is the general misery the place breathed. It was a district for pessimists, loners, the sad, and the downtrodden. It was a place for the hurt, and the wronged, and a place where vengeance became the hot virus that it can be, seeding deep into the core, and driving the life of the owner in one direction, hard. It was a place where Guests all across New Prosity would go to wallow in self pity. It was a place ripe for a person in my line of work to take up residence. I had their Guest IDs and their names, but I had more than that. I had their recorded history. I could have known them, just as the city itself knew them, if I had the time and attention span. I didn’t though. I had to skim. Oather Simmons, the larger one with what were confirmed as bullets in his body, had lived in New Prosity his whole life. Most Guests then had. He was a resident of 5 that frequented 6. There were records of participation in various official Arena events, though it didn’t seem as if he had ever made it into the Arena itself. Oather was also cited as having participated in a couple different unsanctioned events, but I had to imagine that the few that were recorded didn’t do justice to how active he really was. I didn’t find anything directly linking him to anyone who would be after a package of this sort, but his visits to 6 were enough to convince me he worked for someone. Gerald Piper, the skinny man with red hair, lived in 7 and didn’t seem to travel districts often. He appeared to be a quiet man who kept to his room or the library for the most part. Interestingly he was flagged as being a potential member of the Brown Ash society, but there was no documented investigation. The Brown Ash are a group of people, spread across all the districts, who value knowledge and wisdom, items offered most readily in District 7. According to the organization, however, the majority of the knowledge and wisdom available in District 7 has been falsified. By who? How? I hadn’t the foggiest at the time, and I don’t believe the members of the Brown Ash had entirely settled on an answer either. I queued up the audios Gerald had been consuming. Marine Life in the Glass Sea, Anatomy: The Calen Foot, and Moonrise were the most recent audios played to completion. I couldn’t see any real connection between them, and apart from the murder in Moonrise, I couldn’t see any connection to my case. I pulled up the visuals he had loaded. The Final War, Veles and Dahz, and Prostigrams Then and Now. I thought that Prostigrams came close to the case, but was probably just Gerald’s way of viewing them without ever stepping foot in 6. Sure enough the visual was a frequented item in Mr. Piper’s history. I’m sure he told himself that he was learning each time he requested it. He might have even tried to explain himself to the library Citizen. If he was really a member of the Brown Ash society, he would have been able to read and write. A member was actually the one that had taught me how to. In New Prosity there wasn’t a demand. Everything was voiced to you, and everything understood when you spoke or gestured. There were plenty of recordings, but that’s all you really needed to function in any of the districts. Sure enough he had selected a couple books. That’s probably what got him flagged. The History of New Prosity, Intelligence Artificial, and Lea Daily’s Children. Lea Daily was really the only figure that emerged from the chaos that was the transition from Prosity to New Prosity, and who she really was wasn’t something that was at all clear. She was, though, the centerpiece of New Prosity. An enormous statue of her was found at the point where all districts met. On it was inscribed the words “Lea Daily: The Great Awakener.” Intelligence Artificial was what I was looking for. It wasn’t confirmation that I was dealing with an AIndividual, but hardly anything serves as confirmation when your life is questions. Norman Roughtrauser was the name that belonged to the third dead body. He lived in District 2 but wasn’t listed in any of the trader’s books, nor was he an employee of any company. Not officially anyway. His file was the sparsest. The same food was delivered to his residence weekly, and his transit showed him in districts 2 through 8 regularly and without bias. No visits were presented to District 1, which was odd. Getting hurt and being sick was a regular occurrence, but not one that lasted for long because of District 1. I took the lift downstairs. The stuff that wasn’t data was the stuff I felt would lead me in the right direction. Visiting District 5 and asking for Oather seemed direct, and I guess it was, but direct was all Guests of District 5 new how to be. Fishing for information about Gerald would take a bit more tact, but I knew a few people that could get me into contact with a member of the Brown Ash that would have known Gerald. The Citizen librarians knew the physical place of the library well, but the librarians of the Brown Ash, well, they knew things that it didn’t seem possible to know. “Hey Charlie.” I slapped my hand on one of the tables twice. “How’re the—” I noticed the woman standing across from him. She was blonde, short, and had to have been no older than twenty. I prompted for a recognition scan in New Prosity’s base. She was beautiful, and looked cold. Not unaffectionate, but physically cold to the touch, she looked like winter and had eyes like ice. “Oh, Trace,” Charlie said. I had obviously interrupted a conversation. “This is January. January, this is Trace. He’s in one of the rooms upstairs.” She looked vaguely familiar, like someone I’d seen once a year my entire life. My recognition query nulled out. Question marks. She must be new. “She’s looking to move in with us,” Charlie said. I walked over to the two of them, extending my hand to the girl. “Nice to meet you, miss. Don’t know why you’d wanna live here though.” “Well, hey now,” Charlie protested. “I don’t mean here here, Charlie. I mean in 8. You moving from another district, or did you blow in from outta town completely?” I asked, but I knew. “Uh, yeah. Out of town. I came in from north aways. Nice to meet you.” Her voice sounded like snowfall. “Your room’s good?” “Does the job of livin’ me. I stick around for the company though. Charlie’s a good guy. Helped me out more times ‘n I can count.” “And I’m still not even with him,” Charlie said slapping me on the back. I smiled. She smiled back. “I think I’ll take it then.” “Great!” “Glad to hear it. Well, I’ve got some stuff that needs doin’. I’m sure I’ll see you ‘round.” “Hope so.” “Catch you later, Trace. Oh, and when you get the chance, could you take a look inside the head of one of these things? I’m trying to strip it of its original service node, but it keeps wanting to mix the booze in with ice cream.” “Sounds like it’s working fine to me.”