|Dreams of Purple
Author: ChaseOfSpades PM
In the dystopian future, singularity is within reach, more than half of the population is addicted to a new designer drug, and transhumans outnumber humans. Erik Rohner is a private detective hired to find a computer hacker with plans of taking down the entire government with one virus. With the help of his AI, can Erik stop the Hacker known as Thinker? Review Please! CompleteRated: Fiction T - English - Sci-Fi/Mystery - Chapters: 27 - Words: 54,363 - Reviews: 50 - Favs: 13 - Follows: 9 - Updated: 08-04-12 - Published: 07-05-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3039163
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"Fly?" I said out loud.
My eyes turned upward, towards the sky above the mountain.
I looked back to Paige, and met her worrisome eyes. The look on her face was true emotion, and it was fear.
Sometimes it was easy for me to forget that simulated realities were the only worlds that she knew, and the task of flight would probably feel the same to her in a dream room as it would to me in the real world.
He psyche was built around mine, and she more than likely felt my fears as well. In the real world, I was terrified of wide open heights. In here, I was fine. I was not scared because I knew that it was fake, but this was as real as any world that Paige had ever felt.
I took a baby step towards her, afraid that I would walk right passed her if I didn't control my stride. I reached out and took both of her hands into mine, and really feeling what her touch was like, leaned in to rest my forehead on hers.
"We have to go up there. I need you to stick with me on this. I'll do all the work, and I just need to you ride along with me." I said. I knew that she would follow me, because she was programmed to keep with my orders.
Paige looked up at me, her emotions fading away into that computer gaze.
My focus then turned towards the unbelievable sky, and I realized that I hadn't a clue on how to perform such a feat.
I looked back to the dancing trio and asked, "How exactly do I fly?" They were too busy with their party to pay me any mind.
"Okay," I said "I got this."
Looking up, I squatted down and thought the word 'fly'. I jumped with every bit of energy I could muscle, and it was more than I had ever known.
Even my artificial leg didn't possess the power that I used in that jump. At the apex of my leap, just as I should have started falling back to the fake Earth, I kept going. The wind pushed my hair back and my eyes wanted to close.
I was flying.
The sped that I was moving was unlike anything that I had ever experienced. The mountains were coming at me like a bullet, and it was exhilarating.
Paige? I thought to myself.
I looked to my right and saw that she was with me. Flying in the air, her red hair flowed behind her and her white dress moved like water in a storm. Her eyes were straight forward, and it didn't look like she'd noticed me.
I forced my body towards her with mere thought, and took her hand in midair. Her eyes finally found me, but her expression wasn't what expected.
She was neither fearful nor apathetic, she was happy. Her tiny lips were curved at the edges into the slightest smile. I had never seen her provide such a beautiful and true emotion before.
I turned my eyes back to the mountain, but decided that a little fun was in order. I took liberties with the flight, and did a couple flips.
There was a moment that I heard Paige giggle, albeit was probably my imagination.
The mountain came and went, and I had to turn us back around to the proper direction.
Paige, take us to the peak of the mountain. I had to use our normal way of communicating due to the realistic wind that was nearly deafening.
Paige obliged me. My flight direction turned to the left, and Paige took us to the highest point of the mountain.
I wasn't sure how landing was going to happen. This was my first flight, and I'd done it by willing it so with my mind. Hopefully landing would be the same.
I could where Paige was taking us, and from where we were, it looked to be the correct location. There was a small hut at the very top of the mountain. Luckily for us, and the inhabitant of the hut, these mountains did not have the snow caps from the real world.
I picked my spot, ten feet from the entrance of the hut, and thought 'land'.
That's exactly what happened.
My feet landed, hard enough that it would have broken both of my legs and my spine in the real world. I stood at the top of the mountain, and looking just beyond the small hut, I could see the city below.
It was larger than I had first given it credit. The faux city was huge, with many streets and buildings and surreal structures that could not exist in my world.
"Who comes to my home? I have never met you before. Go away." A booming voice from inside the hut spoke out with an echo.
For a simulated world known as 'The Social Circle', Zero was incredibly antisocial.
"My name is Carlos", I said as I kept up with my fake identity. I'm looking for Zero." I shouted back at the booming voice.
My eyes drifted back towards Paige, but her eyes were looking up at the sky. I reached over and put a gentle hand on her shoulder, which brought her attention back to me.
"Why don't you go fly a bit more? I'll be fine here." I said.
She looked at me with a combination of confusion and pain. She had never been away from me for any period of time since I'd bought her, and I should have thought of that before encouraging her to go out on her own.
I let the whole notion fall away, and started down a rock led path towards the Asian influenced hut that sat at the peak.
My feet were stopped short by an even heavier voice that bellowed out of the hut.
"How do you know Zero?" The voice asked. "Zero does not know you."
I tried to look into the darkness of the hut, but could make out nothing. In this simulated world, I couldn't even be sure that the voice was coming from where I thought it was.
"My name is Carlos Spencer." I said. "I need to ask Zero a few questions."
"Zero the Great", the voice corrected me.
Immediately, I was worried about the ego of a person that would name himself 'Anything the Great'. Considering the power that would come along with living in a simulated world like the Social Circle, I tried to let it go.
"So you know Zero the Great?" I asked, trying to let how ridiculous it sounded.
There was a long pause, and I could feel Paige's anticipation grow.
Finally, after a pause that grew to be completely uncomfortable, the voice sounded out again.
"Enter." It said.
I still couldn't be sure that I had found the right place, but I knew that the clock was ticking. I didn't have an eternity to find the information that I was looking for, so I started towards the shack.
I'd made it a few steps before I realized that I didn't hear any behind me. I looked back to see that Paige was frozen.
Once again, her emotions were shinning through in a way that I had never truly seen before. Perhaps it was how real this place felt, or maybe it was the fact that it was a strange and new place for her. Regardless, I needed answers and I didn't have time for fear.
I took my gaze away from her, albeit difficult, and made my way to the mountaintop hovel.
There were a set of curtains that acted as a makeshift door to the simulated home, and beyond that was only darkness. I pulled the sheets apart to make my way inside, and got my first look at Zero.
His avatar was incredibly muscular, but I knew that was more than likely a façade. His head was completely shaved, and he wore nothing more than a pair of black, boxing shorts.
Mr. Zero the Great sat in a style that made me think he was meditating just before I'd bothered him. He was crossed-legged sitting on a small pillow, and his entire joint had burning candle around him.
"Zero?" I asked.
"I am Zero the Great." He responded. "You seek me for what?" He asked.
This whole thing started to feel ridiculous. I wondered why I had followed a person's referral to a person's referral to this guy, and felt like I'd been duped into paying for information from a geek that lived in a simulated world.
I was ready to give up the stupid notion, wait for Herman's information, and do a couple lines of boost, but I decided to give the nerd one last chance. I would throw it all on the line and see if I got a bite from the perch that acted like a catfish.
"Are you familiar with Thinker?"
I was ready to turn and walk out when I saw the bald man's eyes show a genuine surprise. I had his attention, and that let me know that he knew something about the man I was looking for.
"Thinker?" He asked without truly asking a question. "What could you know about Thinker?" This was a true question. It was a question that exhibited an authority on the subject.
Zero started to float, keeping his legs crossed. He slowly brought his limbs away from one another and sat them on the ground. I couldn't lie that the movement was impressive and eerie.
He took a few steps towards me in a threatening manner, and the thought suddenly occurred to me. If I could feel the pleasure of Paige's touch, could I feel the pain of a superior dreamer's punch?
I tried to avoid the thought.
He walked up to me until he was only a few inches from touching my nose with his.
"Thinker, the computer hacker, are you aware of him?" I asked.
I tried to use my 'outside' strength to intimidate his 'inside' strength.
If there was one thing that I knew about the inside world, it was that it was completely dictated by the mind. The mind of a coward was still the mind of a coward, even if he wore a strong body inside the new world.
He, like every animal that figured itself an alpha, kept eye contact. He stared me in the eye, without blinking, for a little while. His bald head and godlike figure started to sweat, though. Even in this unnatural world, stress was real.
"Of course I am. Anyone that considers himself a hacker and doesn't know of Thinker…" He trailed off before breaking his stare. "…isn't a hacker at all."
Zero turned and headed back to his single pillow.
"So you are a hacker?" I asked.
He never turned around, but his candles started to take flight. The floating flames, a few inches above their resting spots, tried to take attention away from their owner.
"I was. But that was once upon a time." He said. "Why do you care?"
"I have business that requires a good hacker. One that can match Thinker." I said.
He laughed, and it was a real laugh. It was the sound of true, childish pleasure.
"A hacker that can match Thinker?" He asked. "You must be joking."
I kept my eyes on him, even as he crossed his imaginary legs and took his floating seat above the pillow.
"If not, I will take the location of Thinker instead. Do you know where I can find him?" I was fishing, but it was all that I could do. He obviously knew about Edward, so I had to try to find out everything that I could.
He laughed at me again.
"Thinker died over a year ago." He said between chuckles. "Surely your Intel told you that."
He thought I was Authority. This was a running theme, and I was getting tired of it.
"And if he wasn't?" I asked.
Zero's face became serious. He shook away any humor that he'd felt only moment before, and his body started towards my own. Within seconds, his floating body was eye to eye with me.
"Thinker is dead, and it would do you a whole lot of good to remember that." He said. His irises began to turn a slight shade of red.
"As much as I would like to do that, I am in a position that I can't. Believe me when I say that I would like to, but that just simply cannot happen. So if Thinker were alive, where would he be?"
It was obvious that he wanted to rip me into shreds, and I realized that there must have been some physical rules against violence, or he would have. It gave me some comfort to know that he could do no harm to me so long as I was in this room.
"He is dead, so I would look for him in the gutters that you came from. Get it, asshole?"
Realizing that I wouldn't get any more information following this route, I decided to run a new play. Granted, it was an all-or-nothing move, but I had nothing left to lose.
"Alright, I'm Authority. My partner is standing over your over-weight body as we speak." It was a guess, but it was a safe one. "We are investigating a homicide that is linked to the hacker known as Thinker. We have search warrant that gives us every right to unplug you from this haven, but we were hoping to get the information in a less invasive way."
By the look in his eyes, my bluff was working. In this simulated world, Zero was a god. In the real world, he was just a scared human trying to make it in the slums.
He wanted to hide his fear, but every floating candle's flame diminished as he lost his thought over them. Instead he was thinking about his outside body, and what the Authority could do to it.
"Listen man, I don't really know anything about him." He said.
"You've admitted to hacking, which is a felony." I guessed.
"Look—" I cut him off
"You have two options. You can tell me everything you know about Thinker, or you can tell me everything that you know about the Thinker outside in a much less pleasant atmosphere. Make you decision, and make it quick.
I was suddenly glad that Paige wasn't here to see my deceit. There was a good chance that she would have given me a glance of disapproval, and that would have ruined the whole thing.
"Okay." He said as he looked down in shame. "Thinker did die about a year ago, or so they say. There are rumors of him coming back from the dead." He looked back up at me now. There was something about him that told me that he was scared of two entities; Authority and Thinker. He decided that the former was more terrifying in the moment.
"There is a religion, a cult rather, that has been built around his return. I promise you that I have never been a part of it."
I nodded as if I cared about his involvement in the said cult.
This was good information though, and it might have even been enough to answer one of my questions.
Why had a hacker as sophisticated as Thinker left a clue behind? Answer: It was not Thinker, but a copy cat that was a member of a cult inspired by the man.
"Where can I find this cult?" I asked.
His eyes still looked worrisome at the idea of talking about Thinker.
"I don't—" I stopped him again.
"We will provide you with protection from any retaliation. No one will ever know that I was here." I said over his words. My bluff stayed strong, and it was working.
Zero paused for a long moment, not wanting to look at me. At last, he returned my gaze and gave me the last of his info.
"There is an underground club." He said. "A jazz bar in the middle of the slums called 'La Hacienda Republic'."
Now I was upset. I had given Zero my best bluff, and just when I thought it was working, he decided to lie to me.
"We have people in every underground joint in Kansas, and there is no such place. I suppose you truly want to see the inside of an Authority office." I kept up the charade in the hopes the he would evade the pain and tell the truth.
"Wait!" He shouted with fear that dropped the floating candles to the ground. "Underground!"
I was lost at that moment.
"Not 'underground' like hip and cool. I mean underground like it is beneath the ground!" The panic in his voice was real, and I knew that he was telling the truth.
The shout that he gave made the whole situation incredibly real. I was posing as Authority, and I was almost guaranteed a death sentence for such a crime. If they found out, that was.
"Address?" I tried to stay calm.