Trex World, Part 39
Itty elbowed Baby sharply in his side.
“Kidding,” he said, rubbing the insult. “I can see by the look on your face you still have some questions, Paulie, and we’ve got some time before arrival. “What’s grindin’ on ya?”
“Yes, that just so happens that is true. What’s the flooring made of again?”
The three of them just stared at him. “Oh,” said Baby. “Yer serious. Alright. It’s called plastiform, right? That’s common enough knowledge. It’s extremely malleable when exposed to the right combination of electromagnetic frequencies, which are scrambled on a daily basis by Tubewerx Central in what I can only believe to be some sort of attempt at keeping people from doing what we’re doing now. Plastiform’s the stuff that let’s buildings grow and take shape in the biz district, right? You saw how big Taste! is now, correct? Well, it just doesn’t stop there. The whole of the tubewerx is malleable as well. Partitions of the plastiform slowly move into position, allowing tube capsules to zip through in peristaltic motion.”
“Peristaltic? like, when you swallow food?”
“That’s right. ‘cept it does it really quick, dig? Pretty slick system. Paulie, why haven’t’ you ever asked about this before?”
“I well, I dunno. It just never occurred to me. Why is that so strange to you?”
“Well, it’s our business, and now your bizness, to take all of those ‘it never occurred to me’ moments in time and expunge them. Those looks we gave you is because we’ve done our homework Paulie. You need to start keeping that in mind from this moment on. Seriously.”
“Alright. Seriously, then, so, I’m going to take it that you’ve got an angle on the tubewerx cryptography.”
“But of course, my man, of course. The how’s you’ll learn later. It’s some of Manda’s finest work, let me tell you.”
Paul looked over at her and she beamed back at him. “That’s what you meant by propulsion, huh,” he asked.
“Yuppers. Guilty as charged.”
“So,” said Paul, “Taking this in, how deep does the Flooring go?”
“Now that’s a great question, Paulie. Itty and I and others have made expeditions and it seems there is in fact a limit to how deep we can travel. At about the 70 meter mark, the plastiform starts getting noticeably un-pliable. Denser. It just won’t move, won’t budge for nothing. We ping it and it just sits there, dumb. It’s incredibly infuriating.”
“And I’m reckoning that’s going to be another of Taste!’s projects? Getting past the, ah, dumb plastiform?”
“yer learning tagger man, yer learning,” said Baby as Amanda_adnamA’s trex dinged.
“We’re coming up on the bank drop off,” she said, looking into the omnitrex’s screen, “Two minutes.”
“Where are we going to land, and why don’t we just go back to Taste!?”
“Why, no real reason, ‘ceptin we got stuff to shows ya. Fleebus, Paulie when I told you to ask more questions about life, I didn’t mean right here and now. What’s wrong with you?”
“Sorry. Why aren’t we going back to Taste! again? I mean, we could just walk.”
“‘We could just walk’” Baby mocked. “Where would be the fun in that? You’ve been a pedestrian for far too long, my man. ‘Sides, it’s good practice for us to linking up with the Tubewerx. Can’t just be popping up under a treetek on the Expanse, now, can we? Be a might unseemly, wouldn’t it?”
“Well, no, I guess that’s true.”
“We’ve got to punch up though the Tubewerx in a carefully timed manner, Paul,” said Amanda_adnamA, hunched over her trex, a severe look of concentration on her face. “Hush now. The both of you.”
“Hey, said Paul, “He started--”
“SHHH,” said Itty.
“Hey what about the capsule Amanda_adnamA and I came in?” Paul whispered. “Isn’t it kind of lumpy?”
“The tubewerx will adapt now quiet!” Itty whisper-yelled back
“WILL YOU ALL SHUT UP OR WHAT?” yelled Amanda_adnamA, her thumbs thapping madly at her omnitrex’s screen. “Hang on!”
Paul grabbed the material of his seat and felt the same shuddering sensation as when the capsule he and Amanda_adnamA had hooked up in had first connected with Taste!’s HR department. But this time was much less violent than before. The shuddering stopped almost immediately.
“Whew!” said Amanda_adnamA, looking up from the screen, visibly tired but still smiling. “I thought those subroutines were going to bunch up on us all the sudden like. And then she flashed a smile at Paul. “He’s right you know, Baby.”
“Right about what?”
“We need to stop moving oddball shapes through the Tubewerx mainlines. Some bored nut is eventually going to notice odd variations in the piezo currents in the system. Different shapes, different fields. I think we’ve been lucky so far.”
“Fine,” said Itty. “We do the bank, we walk back to Taste!. Manda, can you send HR on it’s way back Home, like, on a preprogrammed flight?”
“I think so, the orbits should already be set, essentially.”
“Good. And let’s not go right to the Twelfth and Dutiful Branch of Amalgamated Financial Assets. Don’t want anybody eventually connecting Paul’s miracle financial turnaround with odd currents in the Tubewerx.”
“That’s a little more than paranoid,” said Baby.
“We’re being watched, Baby, and you know it. You wouldn’t have amped yourself so much if you thought Paul was friendly to begin with, right?”
“Way to give it away, Itty. Shight. Now Paulie is going to think I don’t trust him or somethin’.”
“Haha,” mocked Paul. “Too late.”
Baby grunted and shook his head. “How often has that mouth run away with your arse?”
“More times then you’ve gotten laid, I can assure you.”
“Shight, you mutherfarkin--”
“Not now, boys!” yelled Amanda_adnamA. “We’re here and it’s time for the silly suits.” Amanda_adnamA trexed on Itty, and Itty trexed her back, the grey-purple beams compositing a thin film of material around them both. It was a shimmering kind of translucent material, the only space left open was the face.
“Assume the position,” said Baby, and he pointed his trex at Paul, who quickly found himself enveloped in similar fashion. Itty then performed the service for Baby.
“This suit will actively cling to any skin cells and hair we might shed while in there. Don’t need to drop any calling cards, do we?”
“I don’t understand. “
“DNA, mainline, DNA. We’ve all got trex’s, right? They’re linked to our DNA, right? We’re going to be mischievous, right? 2 and 2 making 4 sez that silly suits are the best option for not leaving DNA behind.”
“But won’t people, um, notice, the, ah, style of these things?”
“Oh, probably. But will they care enough to make a bother about it, that’s the question. Stride with purpose and they’ll just think we’re freaky folk. Stranger things have happened.”
“yeah, But I bet not in the bank’s actual offices...”
“Hahaha...Wait and see mainline.”
“Step lively, now,” said Amanda_adnamA. “And Baby, make sure nobody tries to step into HR as we leave, k?” and she made for a portal that was forming in the wall, opposite of the gash that had brought her and Paul here.
“I know my job, sweetie,” Baby called after her, “You keep an eye on yours. And you,” the hulking mass said, turning toward Paul, “Get goin’, will ya already?”
Paul stepped on out the portal to find himself in the Tubewerx hook up of non other than the Twelfth and Dutiful Branch of Amalgamated Financial Assets.
Cavernous. Full of dynamic billboards advertising gaudy needs and securities and the latest meme dreams. Strangely enough, it wasn’t nearly as sophisticated at Taste!’s dioramas. There used to be a time when Daemon Joe’s wallpaper spoke to Paul of riches beyond all measure, but in the here and now of experience after Taste!, they were merely annoying. The foursome walked up the steps leading from the Tube connections, flowing once more into the innumerables of drifting humanity.
“I’ve never seen Joe’s office before,” Paul said.
“Why’s that? And who’s Joe,” said Baby, bored.
“No reason to,” Paul said, reminiscing on his first experience of talking to Joe on his trex. My banker, Daemon Joe.”
“Why would a construct have an office?”
“What’s a construct?”
“Great, and I suppose you have an interesting and personal relationship with your banker, then, Baby?”
“Nope. don’t have a banker.”
“Don’t. have... a banker...let me guess that none of you have a banker, then?
Amanda_adnamA giggled and nodded, Itty simply shrugged and smirked and affirmative.
“this doesn’t make sense. said Paul. “How do you do business?”
“Oh Taste! itself is incorporated and all that. “Pays it’s taxes, has a daemon construct just like yours.”
“So do you have a banker or don’t you?” asked Paul, getting annoyed.
They were walking through the large atrium of the bank’s entry level, heading to a cluster of tubes towards the rear of the space. Everything was shiny. Paul could see their reflection in the floor as they walked, they were ghosts in the world of cred. People gladly stepped aside of Baby’s stride or just stopped completely, staring at the quattro, wondering just what such folk would have the clout to have business here, in person. It was vaguely unnerving. Paul felt strongly like he was being watched by something unseen from a distance.
“Construct. Imaginary,” said itty. “Daemon joe is a figment.”
“Oh, common. I know his avatar is a bit on the flamboyant side, but still...how do you know this?”
“Stuff and things we figgered out, mainline. I’d tell you now, but we’re being watched. And there are people in this world who can read lips.”
They stepped into one of the tubes leading to the upper levels. To counterpoint the plushness of the Taste! HR, this building was chromed to the max, it’s cylindrical walls making odd reflections with everything. It also was ornery enough to ask for ID. Or, Paul assumed, there was someone on the other end asking for identification. Itty asked for Paul’s public addy and he zapped it over to her. She did some brief manipulations and then parsed her trex at the provided receptacle and they had a green light for entrance.
“As one of the financial officer’s of Taste!, I enjoy a certain amount of speed when it comes to processing restricted requests. Especially when I deign grace the financial institution charged with promoting my interests with my presence.”
“Da dang dang do, Itty. you really know how to turn a fellow on.”
“Stow it, Baby. We’re here, Paul. Time to meet your meatless banker.”
They were at a portal with an enormous gold pulsating star on it. From time to time, the pulsations would krinkle into a J and then and O and then an E and then JOE all together and then it would spin out of control into a krinkly mishmash. Paul felt his stomach doing a bit of a somersault. Would the kids from taste be able to pull off what he had no power to himself?
Another parse of trex ID and the door irised open, the star integrating itself with the mechanical structure. They strode in and there was a fat little man in a power coverall ensemble behind a large chrome desk, who was face down, staring at the desk’s top which was strobing information at him; he gave off the appearance of being frightfully busy.
“Paul, my friend,” said the puffy man, “I really and truly didn’t expect to ever meet you in person.”
“The feelings mutual, Joe.”
“What can I do for you and your friends.”
“We’re here, interjected Itty, to take over Paul’s debt.”
“Oh really, and who might you be?” Joe waved his hand towards a spot on his desktop.
For a second it looked as if Itty was going to ping her trex at his desk but she shifted quickly and aimed it instead at Joe’s head. “Freeze, Joe,” she said.
And Joe froze.
“Just like pushing ‘pause’ on a vid, right, Paulie?” asked Baby.
“Oh. My. Gawd. Oh my Gawd. What did you do to Joe?”
“We locked him up in a very clever subroutine exploit, Amanda_adnamA chimed in, while Itty went behind his desk and started thumbing her trex really quickly. “This was a massive collab, Paul, let me tell you. Joe’s not frozen per se, but he’s in a state where he thinks he’s doing work. Couldn’t freeze him totally because there’d be a massive amount of time on the bank clocks and eventually they’d start investigating. This way we can fix the discrepancy when we’re done.”
“Holy shight. Holy shight. You’ve frozen Joe,” said Paul, staring in disbelief. After a moment, he said, “Jeebus, he’s ugly. No wonder the star avatar.”
“Not a ‘he’, mainline, an ‘it’,” said Baby. “C’mon, snap out of it and figger it out. Joe’s a construction. same with St. Sallie. All those constant public figures.”
“Not real, so...what is this? He’s just a projection of some kind? But that doesn’t make any sense.”
“Paulie, yer going to have to understand. All the personalities you see on the feeds are, for the most part, fakes. Simulations. They’re composites of things people like and respond to.”
“But they’ve had careers and they’ve come and gone! I mean, before St. Sallie was Melodious Mindy and--”
“--And before her was Beautiful Betty, yeah yeah yeah. And there’s been a few more in your lifetime that you prolly don’t remember, but I’m telling you, Paulie, they’re all contrived. They do not exist in flesh or blood.”
“That’s a good question,” said Amanda_adnamA. “We think it might be something to do with Authority and the Biz president trying to keep things in control. banking is a system that’s particularly vulnerable to public opinion. When you’ve got over a million customers like your particular branch does, you don’t let variables pile up in the form of human error. Don’t feel too bad Paul. Look,” and she prodded Joe gently on the side. “See? In a way, he’s real. But just guess what he’s made of, Paul. I dare you.”
Paul’s eyes went wide as a realization smacked in on him. “Ohmigawd ohmigawd. Plastiform?”
Itty and Baby nodded their heads, impressed. “You’re taking this in pretty good form, mainline. Now, here’s another for yah. There’s more then one Joe. S million customers, and how big is this branch? Does it have a million people in it? No way. It’s not nearly as big as panPro, is it. Ten to one gets you if you were to dial up Joe right now, you’d get the same star avatar you were talking about before and he will not, I repeat, will not know you’re in his office right now, am I right, Itty?”
“Correct on that, Baby. I’ve got the office surveillance hopped into the modder program. It’ll be like we were never here and Joe was just doing his thing, talking to us on a private channel, running a professional conference call, all nice and proper like.”
“Fantastic. Have we convinced the bank that Taste!’s interests are pure of heart?”
“Yes, they are. I think we’re good to go, here. Paul, get ready to tell Joe a hearty thank you, ‘k?”
“And congratulations again, Paul, on being so diligent and finding these magnificent people to take you under their wing" gushed forth out of a suddenly extremely animated Joe, smiling in a fashion that made his nose and eyes bunch up into furrows.
“Well, thank, you, Joe, this wouldn’t have gone so easily without your, um. Diligence.”
“Anytime my boy, anytime! It’s my job, naturally. Now, unless there’s anything else I can do for you, I really must be getting back to my other clients. Busy busy busy!
“Of course, Joe. Let’s go, guys.”
“Sure thing, chief. Bye Joe, nice meeting you. Stop by Taste! sometime, will ya?”
“But of course, of course! Signing off!” and Joe waved them out of the office.
They were walking back to the tubes when Paul asked, “So. What just happened in there again?”
“Several things, Paul,” said Itty. “First and foremost, you just got exposed to some pretty hefty tech that is obviously not in the public meme. Second, Taste! now owns your pad. Third, you are no longer in debt to your bank, but you are pretty much forever in Taste!’s debt. But we’re the good guys in this drama, so don’t you worry about that too much.”
“Whatever,” said Baby as the elevator doors closed. “Let’s check out our brand new extension office.”
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.