Sequence Zero


The underplex, no longer burdened by solarity, is avid with new classes well on their way 2 obsolescence. Doxy merchants hawking 3rdeyes half-off. Bad grafts on the prowl 4 passable stim. Glitchmongers projecting grams of the freshest filth on import. Their promise of flesh where synthetics used 2 do the trick but not much else. Their overabundant solicitation meshing into2 inarguable demand. Becoming 1 with the static of anonymous hunchbacks stacked @ feedstations, sluicing up their macros. Throating 4 more.

Usurped cortex all, they stink of imitation + want, but these data don’t render them any more or less objectionable than the gildecrats + cloudlords hovering above the ecumen, refining their skins. Each stratum is an instance of the same sapiened rot, but there exists an especial ignobility 2 this, its lowest altitudes. Here, the overgrowth, starved of utility 4 phase upon phase, has evolved novel modes of consumption. Witnessed them permute, situate, calcify, erode + spore again behind new avatars. Tourists opt 4 their colloquials ~ Lazerust’s Quad, Scabtown, Zomia None, L’Lapse, Causpice’s Halo ~ but we local scopes rarely bother with such tessellation. Ultimately, this unbounded maze of sewer + plinth is referent 2 its self + self alone.

Destination :: The Scape.


Reaver is merging with the polymers of his booth @ Neuphoria’s Win-Win, only half-sentient 2 the other traumatics there 2 salt their archives. The clientele are a sumproduct of exmil freelancers + newfrags liberating themselves from freshly-cached units + civilian wannabes larping thru the motions. Picking @ the cauter where peripheral meets viscera. Bidding 4 labor while they compress cartridge after cartridge. Campaign ink on display. Wary of allegiance. You could only eye the true positives by their grey distance, but word was that that 2 had been kerneled. By whitecoats in the Old Sector no less, proving no 1 transcends gigging 4 the Monad. No 1 crustbound at least.

Reaver is an outlier, here + not here. He’d done time in Borealis, but no where near the grinder. He is a hexrunner, a class approaching deprecation but a class nonetheless. His nanos give him multipliers 4 velocity + synergies, but most of his attributes have been asymptotic 4 cycles. When he’s not picking up lancework, he spends his time @ establishments like this 1, emptying lowgrav + leaving his ports open 4 easy coin. By this point, the comfortbots have learned 2 skip his booth.

OH-ratio maxxed, he opts 2 spin the carousel + see if there exists any labor that’ll net real units. The majority is scrapwork in the Belt but he’s scanned posts about those maps clipping. Runners recurring 2 the lobby missing appendages or worse. A frequent @ the Win-Win, a ranger named $everUS, is presently working thru a prion that left him megafucked after a scrap gone inverse in Krome Kanyon. The job summary had capsed about ZETTAS OF ORE + other juicy worms so now poor $ev is looping thru extraction protocols, unable 2 off the hooks from her processors. Reaver links up 2 her gaze from across the cantina, but her eyes are bluescreen, cognizant only 2 the new imperatives of the prion.

The job Reaver finally sigs won’t drop any crit but it’ll avoid this odious outcome + get him thru another wakecycle or two. It’s a loadexchange @ a vacant pharma plant in the Striationz. Remote is an option, but porting via fiber is optimal so he clears his cart, kicks his shitheap into2 gear + gyros thru Octohedron territory, adhering 2 the arteries as much as nav allows. The Octo boards had been hit hard by the recent reconfig + tho he never personed any object worth ripping, Reaver doesn’t want 2 invite the entropy.

The plant is initialized along a length of monorail that has attracted much dereliction beneath its meager shelter. Mostly itinerants + their parasites; no 1 worth disposing. A prelim sonic of the landscape + Reaver identifies an empty water silo prime 4 iso. He spiders 2 the top, sets perimeter + launches his modeling ensemble. The target is a cube of trial data housed behind no fewer than three smokerings. The contractor, olph||lycra, insisted the plant was a dodecade defunct + any assets were open market, Reav’s optics sum at least ten discrete agency seals affixed 2 the plant’s hull + this isn’t plussing the private tags leeching dividend. Clearing these bids is nontrivial, but subroutine 4 classic hardware like him. Time 2 run.

Reaver loads his neuro stack + runs sim while it metabolizes, a longer countdown than normative. He absorbs the scene below + its filtered renderings :: sonic, infrared, sentience, probability, topology. The encampment beneath the monorail skews his organics tenfold. There must be seven sapiens 2 every vesicle + that doesn’t count the canines or the scavenge they’ve dragged from the sewage that cesses here.

1 tick 2 initiation. Reaver’s synapses constrict + the scene glaciates. A streetpreach’s megaphonic rant drops octave. Drones unblur enuff 2 render their subsidiary stamps :: Cobalt Industries; Grypica Materials; Agronix, Ltd; eYHW Centrale; Oxytek; Voss. Emanations of the Monad all. 

00::00.7238. The spazzing of the needlefreek subsides. Only grams are frameless but their blue aureoles give them away. How they pixilate @ the fringe.

00::00.4098. Event attains chrysalis. Kinesis potentiates, waiting 4 the signal. The streetpreach ~ having been punked by two urchins on their skid 2 a burst hydrant ~ lurches + staggers on his stilts, trending acute 2 the axis he so wishes 2 orthogonize. 

00::00.2837. The streetpreach is suspended above the ecumen + 4 this antepenultimate tick he is the cloudlord of his rant, ascendant + unblemished by the alloys + soil of the desecrated crust below. Cursed 2 witness their acceleration.

00::00.2199. Past inflection, Reaver’s percepts begin 2 acclimate 2 the stack. The once entropic hurtle of matter has been ersatzed, however ephemeral, with the logos of precession. The integers diminute with thoughtless deliberation. They 2 have a job 2 fulfill :: nihilation. No 1 is exempt.

00::00.1002. The streetpreach, blessed be his pathways, refuses the hegemony of physics. He is not plummeting dirtwards but rising 2 a yet higher stratum. His gracious smile is wide, prepared 2 accept the concrete as firmament, but no embrace could be capacious enuff. Impact shatters maxillary + orbital. The force transfers thru 2 spine + viscera. The damage will necessitate more graft than what mobile offers, but that is then. This is now.

00:00.000. Initiation.

Reaver aces the job within 00::12.561 ticks. The cube was fragged 2 omega + back, but the damage bore traces of the underlying methodology :: a dyad of cleave + phage algos popular during the postconflict reboots. Easily realigned with a P_y chain trained 2 the dyad’s plasticity matrix.

The job was elementary, but the fulfillment server is throwing tracebacks. NavError a.4881 :: Expected recipient but none within allowable threshold [12000mt]. This is what consequents when you contract via Jubilancer, but Reaver had been impatient. Community troubleshoots all diagnose a bug, but the helpbot queries yield zero requests attached 2 this error. It’s only after imposing as a mezzanine devkey that he’s able 2 surface the root. olph||lycra attempted 2 void the contract during validation, which expedited on remote but not local. Assuming supplyside failure or simply failing 2 interrogate the malfunction, olph||lycra claimed fraud + slashed Reaver in feedback, thus obviating his already-miniscule service recoup.

Even after the run + its prolix unfulfillment, his stack throbs with excess substrate, seeking 2 bind 2 any dynamics that lie within range. This means the encampment, but that 2 deficits activity. The urchins have rectified their aridity + the streetpreacher heaps unattended. The medics have yet 2 arrive or will never, their cost functions diagnosing red + apparently the other sentients in the camp have arrived @ isomorphic conclusions. A zealot like this wouldn’t even drop loot worthy of attention. Only airborne nanos will manage 2 extract value from his putrefaction, but they will attain a glut most enviable. 


Reaver is virtuous 2 rent his own sleepcube, but has yet 2 upgrade past template. Preloaded holodecks + terraria collect detritus behind the stacks of raw hardware + half-factored mods, all of it spidered 2gether in a mesh of wire + signal. Reaver’s life is his labor + his labor is his life. All except 4 his nightly dosage. 

He plugs the penult cartridge from the Witkeel haul + doesn’t waste any time. Its salubriation is potent + expeditious, but that doesn’t stop him from plugging the ult. This iteration he slows 2 acknowledge the sequence :: decompression, diffusion, dilation. Competent vapor tendrils thru his cortex, but its obfuscation is insufficient so he links with Tyrodeck over poly + b4 he can blink, there’s a buzz @ his slot + there are three ampoules of something designer strapped 2 his flak. There they will remain until his nerves mature into2 something approxing untenable. A state that demands a heavier release. This is procedure + he has 2 trust it. Its fails were frequent but simple enuff 2 unpack. 2 make 1 variable constant was worth a transient in the red.

Until then, he can rerun a fave holodeck or spin up a stream. Bathe his oculars in the bluelight of bell curve dramedics. Splurge on prestige reality + come away anhedonic. Negative, this nocturnal calls 4 snowflake grat. He will browse until an agitation overtakes. Redirects him 2 the darkboards + its asymmetric utilities. Querying the publics, he discovers a subset of his preferred personas have evaded cleansing + this affords some homeostasis. A secondary boost kicks in when he cracks the hypersequence protecting a vault of tempkeys. From here it’s cakewalk 2 scope a ream in the mesh + portal into2 the waste.

The polylogue here is identical 2 Reaver’s archive of it. The denominator of the crudest of larval smoke + therein resides its entertainment. The superiority 1 experiences periscoping these anons as they test the innermost valences of their confines, convinced these constitute absolute frontier. Leaking identifiers, pubbing titrated samizdat, that kind of op. Plenty of epithelial on display. Nubiles taking damage 4 coin. Reaver considers chipping in 4 a blackheart with flippers but balks. The boy’s rig is inarguably prosthetic but this is not the source of friction. It’s the boy’s insistence that this morphology is native. His method of slicking its webbing, oblivious 2 the seam + artifact in his performance. All this boy can process is the predictable stim of coin pouring into2 his wornout sockets + the recoil that will consequent if this influx dessicates.

Reaver randoms in search of whatever isn’t on display ::  /gauging_comps; /diatribalizm; /powerkind_monolog; /offspring_auct. The ports cycle until they merge into2 a chromatic slurry that grants some reprieve, but not without introducing its own confounds. In its seepage, this space approximates the deformed multiplicities he recalled from his tours offplanet. Ditching base 2 hit an orbital flesh tent, dermpatches fulfilling their mandate + then some. But approximation is only that + when he focuses on the imbroglio it backsnaps 2 the discrete :: a roulette already decelarating 2wards selection. Its blur resolves 2 tiles, the tiles 2 visage. Mostly collared lolitas skinned in the trending tropes, none novel or veritas enuff 2 elim the film of some offscreen handler. The roulette staggers, ultimating on 1such specimen. Redundancy is 2 be expected among such optionality, but the recognition this girl slugs in Reaver is two sigs above baseline. Circumscribed in the xanthic spazz of the roulette’s selector is the avatar of a terrace brat. The precise femme that haunted his screensaver when he was in his capsule. Her handle here :: Merika. Reaver converts, waving the fineprint + syncing his purse. The chime of shed coin like ancient axiom in his biosoft.

The chamber is outfitted in an expected eleverie. Hanging globes of flora fresh from the vat. Soft pink serifs propping matte product furnished by an array of sponsors. It is a space decluttered of any refinement 2 reflexive, no more than the girl hovering lotus in the center of the chamber. Merika, all stem in her micros, flush with native hardware + simplified primaries. The imago of the nascent terracite, all except the pucker of keloid where her chip had once been + a savant grin that tripwires the fictition of this portrait. This is not partnersim or a flesh show or anything else you’ve screened b4, grunt. Prepare 4 pure novelty. 

Her expression immutes as she calls an object from her shrine, 1 with autotag blocked, leaving Reaver + however many simuljacked droolers 2 spec on its classification. The chat illumines with worthless theory. That it’s nextgen applicator 4 her pharm of choice. Antique orgonery demanding a touch of pharynx. The object is indeed formidable + oblong, but its historical function is worth nothing next 2 the application Merika will identify. She appears 2 understand precisely what her userbase fails 2 expect, manipulating the object without determinism, permitting it 2 migrate 2wards the plinth of her cranium, its apex centered on the keloid that belies her low origins. She may have managed 2 ditch her chip + ascend 2 terrace, but there exist some artifacts that can’t be zeroed.

There she lags + in that duration Reaver identifies the object as a salvage of raw silicon. Effectively junk were it not the subject of a recent hoard, the shard glints with epochs of vacillation + now Merika has ascertained a novel usecase. Embed the Aleph, she pronounces, forcing the shard thru the scar, sinking it deep in2 her occipital + the stem beyond. The motion is not instantaneous nor is its effect. Slender phalanges laboring 2 insert the shard 2 its root. Overriding her survival functions with the crude simplicity of force. + then the ejaculation of content from the renewed aperture. The entropic config of her corpus as it slacks + the currents of involutory that fire, persisting the perception of suffering when she is already suspended in the gray.

The chat gasms reaction. Newjacks + pledges were dumping their upvote b4 Merika’s routine completed + now the factpolice are gleefully spitting their contra. Most terracites barely register a respawn excise on their logs + even the larva in attendance could transparent a display of cringery that demonstrative. Merika’s pledges knight back + the polylogue descends into2 scroll. Antithesis producing antithesis producing antithesis. None of it compelling Reaver 2 conclusion. He bears no illusion Merika’s accounts have already been deducted, her nanos hard @ work refurbishing her rig. That she’ll return 2 sentience within ticks, sheening with upgrade, but that doesn’t obviate the concept that perseverates. How many iterations of this ritual has she conducted. How many suspensions only 2 be expelled back into2 this putrescent finitude. How many shards has Reaver embedded during his tenure only 2 respawn 2 them gleaming by his dextral. Each instance arriving @ the identical conclusion, harshed in the same vocalization. Her vocalization.

This sphere we inhabit is a miserable simulacrum that cannot be exteriored.

Only endured.

Until now.

You are the snake.

+ I am the scale.

Do not trepidate.

The matriarch is well. 

Retracting his lids, he sees the respawn is nearing completion. Merika is inert except 4 her oculars, pristine ultraviolet compromised by the compression of the boards. 4 an infinitesimal, she halts + it’s as if they have synced, the girl + Reaver. There is zero friction in their linkage, a phenomenon an epsilon from contact, but ersatz nonetheless. The girl’s 3rdeye glitches. A private 4 Reaver + Reaver alone that destructs as it’s transmitted. EXTRICATE ME HEXRUNNER. EXTRICATE ME.

The routine loops.

Nick Greer is a writer from Berkeley. Current projects include essays on trend and postmodernity, a collaborative erotic comic, and a novel inspired by giallo, the conspiracy thriller, and other ’70s Eurosleaze. 

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