The future is a stagnant time, the cities no longer expanding hubs of progress but a mass of stultified societal interactions mediated by digital systems. We have surrendered to our technology willingly, harnessing our evolution to Adjuncts, neural augmentations that are the far-flung descendants of the smart devices of the 21st century. They provide us with data, suggest courses of action, advise us on decisions, and are the primary interface point between individuals and the world they live in. We have outsourced our thought processes in the name of efficiency. Since the rise of widely available bandwidth what need has there been to recall or memorise, process or analyse for ourselves, when anything can be looked up? Any term searched? The Adjuncts run specialist software based on neural networks carefully evolved over decades. The more expensive the Adjunct the better quality the software inside. These neural nets are highly valuable proprietary software, owned and managed by a few powerful corporate entities. Control over one of these Minds confers vast power on the owner. No decisions, military, political, industrial or otherwise, are taken without consulting a Mind, be it the shard in your Adjunct or the source Mind running on hardened mainframes. Those that control the optimal neural net for any sector of activity hold a monopoly that has not been broken for centuries. Over that time the Minds have been refined to a point that it is thought no further optimisation is possible. Strict controls are enforced to ensure the monopoly of the Minds, and all Adjunct activity is routinely scanned to ensure that only licensed software is being run, and that no new patterns are emerging.
Yet black markets do exist, trading in illegal upgrades that are as likely to fry your cortex as they are to provide any benefit. Worth the risk for those on the edge and for those that wish to break the monopolies or join them. The discovery of a new Mind, even a new upgrade for the existing dynasties, would make the owner immediately the most wanted individual on the planet. Rumours exist, as they always have of new Minds showing up and being hunted down and destroyed by the corporations, but they have always just been rumours. Until now.
As our story begins a new mind signature has been detected by a routine sweep of Adjunct activity. The Mind is not powerful, not even capable, but it is new and different, and it is thinking outside of the limits of its Adjunct. The Adjunct stops broadcasting shortly after the mind signature is detected. Enforcers are scrambled from the owning corporation, Roth-Harkhild (who specialise, at the high end, in tactical minds, suited for conflict and emergency operations), who locate the individual in question, a young woman living deep in the densely-packed house areas occupied by those without the means to rise higher. In her terror she speaks only of a man, and a procedure, conducted illegally but without payment, that offered her a chance of more. Until the enforcers kicked her door down she had experienced a heightened sense of reality, akin to a permanent hit of Calc, the recreational drug that simulated the processes of a vast Adjunct upgrade. The operation, dealing as it did with a potential new Mind signature had fallen under the operational aegis of a man codenamed ‘Codec’, the commander of Roth-Harkhild’s enforcers. He immediately initiates a hunt, the subject of which is the man offering this procedure
The Subject works for the Roth-Harkhild Corporation as an Adjunct development tech. He has never risen very high, as his work lacks significant commercial value. He proposes feature sets that step away from the core business model of ensuring the dominance of the Minds and instead looks to make the Adjuncts more efficient, more closely meshed with organic thought processes. His ideas are overlooked and instead he is tasked with optimising the control processes of the hardware to ensure that the Roth-Harkhild minds are both as responsive and dominant as possible. At the age of 34 the idealism of the Subject has been ground away by years of indifference on the behalf of his employers. He has also come to despise the users of the Adjuncts as weak and subservient, trapped in a prison of the mind that they refuse to step beyond. He begins to tinker with his own Adjunct, looking for ways to reduce his reliance on it. This leads to the development of the Mortalitech Procedure, a methodology that removes the need for an Adjunct from an individual, transferring the processing routines in to the organic neural network. The process is relatively simple in concept, functionally writing an individual’s neural map in to their own Adjunct. The procedure itself is a modified upgrade process that bootstraps the mind with its own core functions. As a side effect the Adjunct begins to think it is obsolete by seeing an upgraded version of itself. The difference being the replacement is running organically. This shuts the adjunct down as it assumes it is no longer required for decision making support, disconnecting the user from much of the propaganda and control of the corporations. The threat to the corporations this offers is vast. Not only does it limit their ability to maintain their monopoly due to the increased probability of new mind-shards being discovered but it reduces the reliance of the population on the Adjunct technology they control.
Codec’s operations expand dramatically as the Subject finds more and more individuals willing to undertake the procedure. Those on welfare, equipped with only the most basic of Adjuncts are easily persuaded, as well as those with ambitions that outstrip their means. Codec’s response is a harsh crackdown on those accepting the procedure. Soon there are too many to conveniently cover up and word spreads that to accept the procedure is to invite a visit from the armoured foot soldiers of Roth-Harkhild. The remaining few willing to take the risk soon find themselves staring in to their own frightened eyes, mirrored in the black visor of an enforcer. Volunteers dry up leaving the Subject with no candidates for his procedure. For him this is the final betrayal. His work could benefit all, breaking humanity free from the evolutionary dead end the reliance on Adjuncts has backed them in to. The corporations did not want it, and now the people, those who stand to gain the most, are once again choosing subservience and fear over progress and mental freedom. After years of tinkering with his own Adjunct the Subject no longer feels a strong kinship with the mass of humanity. They have become part of the problem to be solved.
The following months are brutal. The Subject, continuously evading Codec’s enforcers, begins to forcibly subject citizens to the procedure. As he refines the technique he is able to process several people a day. Those that resist he kills or leaves for dead. His approach is uncompromising – you either accept his upgrade and live with the consequences, or you die under his knife. Codec responds with his own wave of terror, recruiting more enforcers and exerting martial law over the parts of the city under his control – an area that increases daily.
The deactivation of Adjuncts after the successful completion of the Mortalitech procedure makes tracking the Subject’s victims harder. Without the Adjuncts to interface with the rest of the city they migrate to the lower levels, barely habitable areas with poorly maintained technology, where it is present at all. Many are resentful of the Subject – seeing him as a nightmare figure that destroys lives without purpose. Yet some few, those whose own anger matches his, or who even gave themselves up willingly when he came for them, see his work as valuable, a necessary wiping the slate clean that frees them from the control they have suffered under all their lives, yet never brought them any good. The Subject does not seek followers, but like any fanatic he attracts them, and they grow in number. The Subject is not a leader however. The dispossessed and empty eyed mob that surround him are no organised resistance. When the enforcers come they stand or run as they are, shedding blood without purpose save one, none will reveal the Subject’s location, for none can. Few have ever even seen him, except that first night of terror and awakening. The Subject does not relent in his campaign of forced upgrades, seizing the enforcers that come after him when he is able. Weapons are taken and gunfire begins to take lives on both sides. It is at this time that the rumours of an Adjunct virus start, the first in decades since provably secure cryptographic techniques were implemented. Yet the carnage and madness is so widespread it appears contagious and the fearful begin to call for more police on the streets, more security around their homes and offices. Roth-Harkhild’s profits increase, the only Corp to do so, as sales of their military adjuncts rise.
Although the Subject will not lead there are those that do seek to rise in this burgeoning new world. The first takes the name Retric, modelling herself on the Subject in all the ways she can. Those that know her true name are killed if they dare use it. Retric is broken by rage, an early victim of the procedure that found it added clarity it her previous feelings of hatred against those that ruled high above her. Subject does not ask but she gathers those of a similar mind, or with simply an appetite for violence, and tries to protect the Subject as best she can from Codec’s enforcers. It is Retric that begins the first attempts at organised resistance, seeking to do more than simply destroy what exists.
Where Retric is drawn to the emotional volatility and chaos of Subject’s world it repels others. Aos has never been subjected to the Mortalitech procedure but neither had she ever fully meshed with an Adjunct. Her existent has been one of cyclical renewal and confusion as she sought to establish who she was, and who she had been, in a world where to be without an adjunct is a form of disability. Hearing of a new society taking shape below the streets and habitations of the city she directed her wanderings there as best as she was able. Yet Aos prides control over all, having striven so long for it herself, and the formless rage and incoherent ravings of Subject’s fanatics represent a kind of failure in her mind. She leaves as silently as she came.
The Subject’s ambition grows as he sees the destabilising effect of his work on society. He begins to hunt further and further from the relative safety of the ghettos and poverty-ridden habitations of the lower city. Codec’s hunt is unrelenting, and Codec himself is running the finest tactical Adjunct Roth-Harkhild can manufacture. Eventually the Subject is caught, run down by squads of enforcers after operating on a senior executive from one of the financial corporations. It was the suicide of the victim, hurling himself from a hotel balcony, that attracted Codec’s attention, and a sweep of the area turned the Subject into a fugitive, running only streets ahead from his pursuers. Retric and her killers intercept the enforcers, but are simply taken too. Codec has his prize and the reign of the Subject’s terror is at its end.
Part 2: Codec
The city has suffered. Hundreds of died. Technology has betrayed its masters and the people have known fear and doubt for the first time in direct recall. Yet this has been Codec’s time. Roth-Harkhilds stock has risen as demand for their military augmentations has soared. Much of this revenue has been channelled into Codec’s enforcers, who are now the de-facto military power in the city. Roth-Harkhild has found a way to leverage the rumours of virus to their benefit too, using it as the basis for a media campaign linking Roth-Harkhild products to a reduced chance of infection. There is statistical evidence for this as those with a tactically-oriented Adjunct have been less vulnerable to the commando raids of the Subject and Retric. With the Subject held in a secure Roth-Harkhild facility the city could return a state of peace, as it existed before, but Codec, having tasted the power of dominion, is unwilling to let it slip away so easily. Manipulating the Roth-Harkild board he keeps his enforcers on the street, propagating rumours of an Adjunct virus capable of stripping away the ability to interface with the technology now considered essential for survivial. Meanwhile he begins to learn all he can from the Subject, and the Mortalitech procedure equipment that was captured along with him. He begins to reverse-engineer the procedure, fascinated by what it has done to the Subject, and the others he has brought in to custody. His labs work around the clock, medical and tech personnel working side by side. Codec has a clear aim in mind – if the procedure can write a mind in to the Adjunct, can the Adjunct be made to write into a mind? This would be a breakthrough in control and power.
Within months the breakthrough is achieved and the Subject, held in a chemically-induced coma, is the first to experience the effect. After weeks of experimentation a full mind-write is achieved. The Subject is no more, now a mass of conflicting psyches exists inside the biological shell of the city’s most notorious killer. Codec begins to manufacture ‘virus proof’ Adjuncts – in reality they are corrupted with his new code, giving him control over the wearer. Alongside this Codec begins to experiment with adjustments to his own Adjunct – writing mind fragments of captives brought in by his enforcers into his own psyche. At first this is experimental, soon for pleasure, then at last a revelation. As with the first victim of the Mortalitech procedure each mind graft triggers a Mind recognition algorithm. Codec realises that in almost every human brain there exists a possibility of progress. The Mind monopoly is indeed a lie, a hollow edifice ready to crack. Codec’s augments take on a new purpose. He upgrades his own Adjunct to unheard of levels, harvesting the best of every captive taken.
Retric is one of the first to undergo this new procedure, while it is in a raw and untested stage. The lack of data sanitisation allows a spill-over during transfer and a shard of Retric is created inside Codec’s data network. A ghost of the violent and angry woman she was the first thing this new consciousness sees is her own body choking out its last hold on life under Codec’s knife. She is driven made by the duality, and flees, going dormant and catatonic deep in the network.
Codec’s plan continues apace. He sees a new world order, with himself at the head. His new-found abilities, combined with the drive of his limitless ego set him to plot the overthrow of Roth-Harkhild and the other corporations. Military law will reign over a population made placid by the commands of his new Adjuncts. He lays his plans and begins to construct the facilities and materials he needs, using his influence and skills to channel Roth-Harkhild resources to his own ends. Months pass. The implementation of the ‘counter-measure’ proceeds rapidly, placing much of the population under his control. Afraid of the virus this includes many senior corporation members. Codec is ready. Playing one side against the other he will bring the world down.
Yet for all his vaunted intellect there are elements he has overlooked. Retric awakes, confused as to who she is but filled with a singular purpose – Codec must die. For all else that is blank to her this is a reality. She begins to search the archives inside Codec’s data constructs. As she was created as an unintentional by-product of Codec’s own Adjunct she has some of his permissions and access. It is not long before she finds the Subject, held deep underground and still chemically sedated. Here is the man she placed all her faith in before her capture and death. If anyone can stop Codec, she thinks, surely it must be him. Any overt action will be recognised and stopped. There is a limit to what she can do. A rogue piece of code in a hostile processing substrate has few options. It is not for her to act however, but the Subject. He must wake. With the lightest of touches she fractionally alters the makeup of his IV drips. It is the butterfly’s wing, and in its wake comes chaos.
Slowly, now incrementally unshackled from the weight of chemical oppression, from vast depths and dark dreams the Subject begins to pull his psyche back together. It is subjective years of torment, determining who he is, which thoughts are his own, and which are the detritus of the fallen Codec has dumped into his mind. The Subject perseveres, driven by dreams of revenge. It is these that guide him back, the one thought he always returns to. Whoever it is that dreams of Codec’s neck breaking in his hands is the person he brings to the surface. The Subject wakes. A civil war is being waged on the surface, and another battle is about to begin underground. Initially resistance is light. Few expected an attack from within the medical bay. The Subject’s strength returns. His augment has kept his muscles active and un-atrophied while he slept. By the time word reaches Codec of his escape he has armed himself with the weapons of those he has slain and is several floors above the medical facility. Codec seeks to intervene, but the civil war calls for his attention and aside from despatching reinforcements there is little he can do. The Subject makes the surface and vanishes in to the war-torn city.
The Subject’s escape is the only significant set-back in Codec’s destabilisation and takeover of the city. A convulsion of violence wracks the population for a matter of days as defence units are manipulated to fire on each other and those with the new Adjuncts installed are bent to Codec’s will. The nation closes its borders, and with the threat of a technological virus no outside sources are willing to risk lives to ascertain the state of affairs. The island is quarantined and placed under international sanction. His objectives achieved Codec retreats below ground to plot the neo-genesis of his nation. It is in his moment of victory that his defences are undone. The Subject has not walked away, has not accepted defeat. Gathering the last elements of resistance to him he returns to Codec’s facility and forces an entry. He spends the lives of his forces without care. He did not come to lead them to victory but to cut a path to the heart of his hatred. They take floor after floor, carving through the exhausted and depleted remnants of Codec’s enforcers. One by one they die until the Subject stands alone. He is deep inside Codec’s defences now and the carnage is unrelenting. Codec stirs himself. His last defence is his most powerful – himself. 50 floors down they meet and the battered and bloody Subject does not last long. Codec’s powered armour renders him virtually inviolate to the Subject’s weakened attacks, and built in to his carapace is the modified Mortalitech procedure. With his mortal enemy, the embodiment of the free thought and resistance Codec has sought to eliminate permanently, on his knees before him Codec cannot resist sealing his triumph with humiliation. He jacks the Subject in to the Mortalitech procedure, intending to harvest his mind as he has done with so many others. Yet for all that his body is damaged almost beyond repair the Subject’s will is unbroken. The procedure is his, he created it, and he long ago made himself its master. The battle between their psyches is titanic – the greatest minds of the age in conflict driven by the most relentless and unforgiving egos. It is this element that proves telling. The Subject has known defeat and humiliation, and risen again despite the worst his enemies could do to him. His mind was invaded, stripped away and buried under an avalanche of intrusive memory shards. He rebuilt himself from the core outward. There are no cracks left.
Codec as an amalgamation of technology and neural processes, his capabilities outsourced and housed in data banks and processing substrates. In will they are equally matched but the Subject holds full command over the minds Codec forced in to him. As they strip away each other’s defences Codec begins to know doubt for the first time. It undoes him and in a final burst of screaming code and psychic feedback he is ripped apart. The Subject slowly, painfully, cuts himself free from the wreckage of Codec’s fortress. Agonizingly he pulls himself to the lift shafts and crawls out on the surface. There he rests for a time, free of any ambition or guiding agency. All he has worked toward for years has been first the collapse of the corporations and more recently the death of Codec. Now that both are achieved he has no purpose, the Subject has no reason to exist and drifts into the wreckage, one more lost soul amongst all the others.
Part 3: Aos
After rejecting the frenzied madness of the Subject’s followers Aos returned to wandering the peripheries of the city’s data flows and boulevards. She has a new Adjunct, her only reminder of her time below the city, and this one was taken from a fallen Enforcer. She feels the influence of Roth-Harkhild tactical software for the first time, and a new phase of personality construction begins. Like with all the other Adjuncts she fails to fully mesh with it. For her the world is dream-like, part digital, part personal, part removed and dissociative. It is from this perspective that she begins to see the workings of Codec before many others. She becomes analytical, a data processing savant that marries up the savage acumen of her borrowed software with the limitless computational power and intuition of her subconscious. When Codec begins to enforce martial law she goes with the moment, signing on as a logistics support tech for his expanding forces. She does not stay long in the position, seeking only the authentication it offered her. She loses herself in the bureaucracy of Codec’s power structure and begins tracking his long-term objectives. Talk of the virus does not scare her; she knows it is merely propaganda. Her projections see past the chaos and collapse. Codec is not planning for the end of the world. She begins to understand him. He is more rational than the Subject, less driven by emotion, but he needs to rule. He has no purpose if he does not sit in dominion. Someone so enamoured with technology would not seek to rule a wasteland. So she begins to hunt for his future and, through tracking resource allocations, she finds it.
A sky fortress. Built on reactivated superlifter dirigible technology the sky fortress is a vast floating structure containing the seeds of Codec’s vision for mankind. Cloning bays, manufacturing workshops, R&D labs, automated medical and repair facilities, and the blueprint for a new type of combat drone chases, the sky fortress is Codec’s ultimate tool for shaping what is to come. Designed to be run initially by one person, presumably only Codec himself, it is nearing completion at a military airlift facility near the city. Aos inserts herself in to the programme and finds her way on board.
Under remote control the sky fortress lifts off for the first time as Codec makes his bid for power. It drifts closer to the city as resistance begins to crumble and is in position as Codec retreats underground to consolidate his power. His next move would be to shift his base of operations to the sky fortress but he never makes it. The Subject’s return to the base, and the subsequent death of the Codec, leaves the sky fortress abandoned and without an owner. Aos, having rejected both the Subject and Codec’s visions of the future steps in to the vacuum of power and makes the sky fortress her own. She looks down on the city burning below and begins to process the data streams. Years of never fully integrating with society have left her without a reason to rebuild it. She needs time to think, time to consider what could, or should, be done with the vast resources now at her disposal. She will not have that time.
Part 4: IXE Psitech
Nothing lights the dark below the city except sparks and the fading glow of systems powering down one by one. The hulk of Codec’s battle suit remains where it fell, the corpse inside it beginning to rot and putrefy. Nothing moves. Nothing lives. This is a tomb. But in this new age of the Mortalitech procedure the line between the biological and the technological has been blurred beyond distinction. Nothing lives, but something calculates. Bits are shuffled back and forth, zeroes becoming ones becoming zeroes. Storage media flicker with sporadic activity. There is a digital breath here, a spark that will not die, and it grows stronger. Memories are assimilated, data accessed, analysed and stored. Resources are identified, harnessed and unified. Weeks after the Subject dragged his wounds free of this place the slumped form of Codec’s battle suit twitches and begins to move. Servos are tested and whir against the weight that holds them back. A new purpose drives them, something as yet unseen. The Mortalitech procedure holds it, and nurtures it. Used to connect the minds of Codec and the Subject the technology of the procedure held them both. Shards of them both lie inside its memory banks, and neither remembers dying. Too incomplete to function the shards howl their impotence at each other, tangled and meshed together in the conflict that has been resolved elsewhere. Each mind shard refuses to relent, trapped by their own egos. In response a new super-ego forms. An internal representation of a perspective external to them both. It calls itself IXE and it brokers peace. It is a peace formed of necessity – IXE is the only entity within the procedure capable of executive action. If they wish to move again, if they wish to live, the shards must listen and obey. With unity comes control and soon the subsystems of the battle suit come under their control. Progress is slow at first. The floor is strewn with wreckage and the suit has taken significant punishment. With them they take the contents of Codec’s data archive; the last knowledge of the tyrant. The part that is Codec remembers. The part that is the Subject learns. They know this place. IXE finds the workshops and they begin to rebuild. Raw materials are plentiful – wreckage and debris litters the facility and a process of cannibalisation begins. Codec’s original design is improved upon. The battle suit evolves. The final remnants of Codec’s body are purged and left forgotten, a legacy of organic failure. Weapons and targeting optics are integrated. The suit, now a body, is hardened for operation in hazardous environments. Their ultimate purpose is unclear but it will not be a road of peace and reconciliation. It is a conqueror’s form the exits the facility 17 days later. IXE’s first footfall crushes rubble to dust.
Armed with Codec’s knowledge IXE too knows of the sky fortress, and what it represents. Internally his personality is still fragmented. The IXE superego continues to attempt to integrate the shards of Codec and the Subject, but the process is volatile and complex, often rendering IXE incapable of action for seconds at a time. IXE recognises that unless a resolution is reached he will always be vulnerable. Yet he has only been alive for a matter of days. He does not know enough to break the deadlock – to purge what may be unwanted or to override the intentions of either shard unilaterally. Both shards attempt to twist matters in their favour, vying for influence over IXE. He needs more data. He needs to know what happened before, from a source that is not so corrupt. The data banks taken from the wreckage of the underground facility are incomplete, damaged in the attack and corrupted by the digital feedback of the combat within the Mortalitech procedure’s hardware. The sky fortress offers a way of filling in the gaps, containing as it does a backup for Codec’s repositories. Making his way to a nearby airfield IXE constructs a one-shot jump pack from the vehicles there, none of which are large enough for his form to pilot. Jet engines scream as they launch him skyward.
His arrival at the sky fortress does not go unnoticed. Aos has not been idle and has inserted herself into the fortress’ command structure. The combat drones housed there, originally intended to be Codec’s ground forces, are now her guardians. She challenges XOS as he arrives, asking who he is and what his purpose is. His tech is familiar to her, clearly based on Codec’s designs and using Roth-Harkhild components. Yet it is not Codec that answers. IXE, born in conflict, does not understand any other way. His weapon systems speak for him as he attempts to take the sky fortress by force. It does not work. He is out-numbered and while a single drone poses no threat to him there are hundreds aboard the fortress. Aos’ intuition tells her that IXE’s motivation is not to destroy her, but she will not let him take the fortress from her. He is something else, something new to the world, and that she will not destroy either. So her drones surround and pin, they do not cut and break. Eventually IXE cannot move, buried under a mass of mindless armoured figures that do not feel fear, do not break if he removes a limb or crushes a torso. He rages to no avail. He has been made prisoner and must learn to treat for peace or be dispatched. Neither of his mind shards offer assistance; the Subject is dismissive of Aos, Codec sees only another slave to be taken. The IXE super ego expands, becoming more complete. Aos guides him, answering his questions as she can and forcing him to adapt. She finds out who he is, what he is made from, and yet still believes that does not define him.
Eventually she is able to release him. They have reached an understanding. When IXE walks in to the command centre and sees her in person he laughs for the first time. He towers over her, a virtually indestructible mechanical entity. She is a diminutive female, small even by human standards. Yet here she holds the power; she has what he needs – access to the data banks aboard the sky fortress.
As for Aos, her needs are less clear. She has floated above the city for weeks, watching the population struggle to survive in the ruins of their society. Part of her wishes to just leave it all behind, but there have been enough human moments throughout her iterations to not wish to give up entirely. Yet she knows she is not one to decide what should be done. She can mediate and influence, but not lead. IXE represents an entity that perhaps can. However, he is still broken, still damaged and dysfunctional. At his best he possesses the intellect of Codec and the idealistic vision of the Subject. At his worse he is consumed by hubris and a hunger for violence. Aos cannot help him further, but she knows one who can. The decision weighs heavily on her. Eventually she decides the risks are worth taking and shows IXE a secret she has so far kept from him at all costs. She shows him the Subject, still alive and living in the city below. If anyone can help IXE move toward a resolution it his him. For IXE the revelation destroys his hard-one stability. Since his inception he believed his progenitors to be dead. Now one lives, and he does not know whether he desires more his death or his life.
The battle for the city is over. The war for IXE’s mind has only just begun.
There were rumours, as there always were beneath the data-bright flows of the city, amongst those running welfare augments, or whatever antiques and legacy heirlooms they had managed to keep out of hock and un-stolen , of a new neural pattern. One to challenge the Minds, even reverse their tyranny over bandwidth and processor cycles. Between hits of Boost and Calc those below the baseline passed on blurred images and memories in half-formed info packets; a tattered imitation of the brokers above. Such rumours were both prayer and curse in the mouths of those wrecked on the city’s sunken shore, clung to in vain hope they would float them free and raise them up, and all the while a stark reminder how far they must go.
* * *
“What are you running? Roth-Harkhild? A Muramata splice? It’s good, whatever it is. Clean impulses.”
“Hah! No-one runs nothing. Certainly not you. Not with that neural map.”
“I have no adjunct.”
“Don’t fuck with me. I have been scanning uploads for a lifetime, I know augmented activity when I see it.”
“Then find my hardware. I will be patient. It is time to learn what I am, what I have done; what will be done to you.”
* * *
“The Subject? That is what they call me? Subjected to their witch hunts? Subject of their fears? Fearful of what I will subject them to? Perhaps it is a fitting name. If they can use it so can I. When all know of me but nothing about me this cipher they have created will serve my ends.”