Power 2 the Peepz
by D. A. Madigan
part 1 of 2
Streaming video from heroesoftheunderground.com, 11/23/37:
VISUAL: Close up on Nikki Danger, dressed in gray synsilk. She looks tired, her eyes lined, her hair mussed. Her voice is scratchy. She’s sitting in a bleak, shabbily furnished room somewhere. There is a window behind her; the blinds are drawn. An old fashioned holo keyboard and holo-cube, drawn in lines of bright green light, are hovering in the air to the side of her, most likely over a data-pod, which must be out of sight beneath the cam-frame.
HOTU.COM: Cameron Crane here, with... FIVE QUESTIONS FOR NIKKI DANGER! First, Maz Danger, thnkz for taking the time...
DANGER: Hold on, let me... okay, I’ve got ten-four-five-by-five on the scramble from my end, our signal is totally jitterbugged. I have no idea where you’re calling me from.
HOTU.COM: No idea where you are, either, and no-way-Jose the Figs can break a Nikki Danger crypto. Wherev U R, though, it looks like the place should be condemned... noffense.
DANGER: Notake. This place should be condemned. So should nearly every place that people like U-n-me gotta live. It’s the way things are for 90% of the global pop right now... the 90% that isn’t rich. We live in slums that still need hardwires to get power, most of us working 60-hour weeks to pay the electricity bill so we can stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
Why? Because we can’t afford antenna to pick up broadcast power... But that’s point five lies. We shouldn’t need antennas when a Power Cube the size of a vid player can produce enough zap for free to run an entire city block.
HOTU.COM: Power Cubes are dangerous, though, right? They can leak hard radiation... go critical while being assembled, like in the High Orbit Blowout of 2016... That’s why they only assemble ’em in space, right? And only install ’em in places like offshore islands, deserts, mountain tops... kak like that, right?
DANGER: The High Orbit Blowout of ’16 was faked by the Powers That Be... What did anyone really see? Big light in the sky. “Oh nooooo Mr. Bill a Power Cube blew up in orbit! They’re too DANGEROUSSSSS for youuuuuuu!” Fuggin’ kak.
Here’s the resta-the-story: PowerCubes are put together on assembly lines by slave labor in China, Unified Korea, and the UAR and shipped in the hundreds of thousands throughout the industrialized world.
Every heavy-duty Armored Assault Vehicle in the world has its own Power Cube in it, as does every aircraft and ocean liner. What do you think runs the satellites and the rocket sleds that service them? What do you think they use for power in the Moon bases? Every United Federal Shipping Service has a roomful of Power Cubes; they wouldn’t be able to transmat freight if they didn’t.
HOTU.COM: Huh. Yet all that skludge... military vehicles, United Federal Shipping Service, satellites, rocket sleds, Moon bases, aircraft, ocean liners... That’s all government, or things only rich people can afford. Maybe PowerCubes are just really expensive...?
DANGER: Kak and kak again. It’s like going from tape-n-vinyl to disc, back in Old Twenty. When the disc format came onto the market, it was priced 120% higher than the same content on any other recording format, although its manufacturing cost was only about 6% of tape or vinyl.
Why? It was a more portable format, more easily accessed, and everyone wanted it. The media companies could charge more for the product, so they did. Cost had nothing to do with it, it was all about profits.
Same thing with PowerCubes. They must be easy to make and the components must be inexpensive, otherwise you wouldn’t have political prisoners and eco-slaves doing it. And they gotta be pretty safe to operate; the only major meltdown we’ve ever heard of never really happened.
HOTU. COM: Yeah, mebbe. But if they so safe why don’t every richie-rich in America have one or two in their basement? They get their power broadcast. We could do that too, if we had the money for the antenna...
DANGER: But if the powers that be sold Power Cubes on the open market at a fair price, everyone could buy them, and chances are, you’d only need to buy maybe half a dozen over the course of your life. What happens to Big Energy’s profits then?
So they tell everyone Power Cubes are complex and dangerous and they require licenses to own and operate them and charge a fortune for them. So utilities get their power broadcast to them from offshore Cube installations and sell it to us over the wire, same as it always was.
And richie-rich buys a broadcast antenna, cuz it’s cheaper than getting a Cube license... But again, Cubes perfectly safe n cheap to make! Licensing is just a way for Powers That Be to keep their thumbs on us.
HOTU.COM: Huh. Interesting. Okay. There are a lot of rumors about your background out on the inters. Can you tell me anything truthful about where you came from?
DANGER: I was born in a Nola relocation camp... My parents got scooped early by Homeland Security and never came back again, so I got sent to a State home in Michigan.
The Big Flash in ‘17 knocked out the whole northwest power grid and fried nearly every bit of local data, so now nobody knows who my real parents were. Took my name from a comedy disc this one kid used to play over and over again at the home.
HOTU.COM: And you’re no friend to the Figs?
DANGER: Nobody who isn’t rich is a friend to the Figs... You know where that comes from, right? ‘Federal pigs’. It’s obsolete. Goes back to a time when there were different kinds of security troopers... city, county, state. Now all we got are Homeland troops, but it wasn’t always that way.
HOTU.COM: Okay, last question. You’re credited with monkeywrenching several major Fig moves. There are Fig warrants out for you for eighteen different crimes, most of them data-related, but an impressive number of actual real-world violations. Is there an endgame, or are you content to just throw sand in the gears when you can?
DANGER: There’s an endgame. The Figs keep us down by controlling our access to energy. If we work hard for them and don’t give them atty, they keep us juiced... Unless there’s a rolling brown-out, of course, which they throw at us a few times a month to keep us scared.
But they limit our access to real energy through bogus licensing laws for PowerCubes. The Figs don’t want people to have Cubes, because if we had Cubes, we’d have infinite energy, forever... And with infinite energy forever, you get all kinds of other chocolatey goodness... antigrav, transmute, force throwing, even tee-pop. Give every citizen their own Power Cube and we’d be free... really free... for the first time in human history.
HOTU.COM: Huh. So how do you give every citizen a Power Cube? Seems like they’re pretty well guarded.
DANGER: Sorrycharlie. Outta time.
* * *
Streaming in the air three inches above an open cellphone lying on the ground several feet away from the burning wreckage of a 2036 Hummer Alpha hovercraft:
VISUAL: A youngish man wearing fullview specs and the kind of halfie haircut popular in ‘31 and early ‘32 is speaking earnestly into cam. Only his head and shoulders are visible in the cubical view area. His voice is unprofessional, agitated:
“...cut off, after Westinghouse famously asked Tesla, ‘Where do I put the meter?’ and Tesla just shrugged. Free power was discovered again in 1989 by the chemists Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann at the University of Utah, although said discovery was almost instantly discredited by a campaign of misinformation erroneously claiming that the effect could not be duplicated. In actuality, the Pons-Fleischmann apparatus was confiscated and a non-functional simulacrum was put in its place.
With the sweeping black-outs of ‘15 and ‘16 spreading around the planet, cutting disastrously into global production of every sort, the powers behind the powers finally admitted publicly to the existence of free, limitless energy... but claimed that the Power Cubes were too difficult to manufacture, and too hazardous to operate, to be allowed into private hands.
Governments set up Power Cube stations on satellites, mountaintops, and in the middle of deserts and licensed existing public utility corporations to receive broadcast power from those Cubes through expensive antenna installations few private citizens could afford.
The utilities resold the power over the wire to the vast majority of the people, and life went on much as it always had, with most citizens paying for the electricity they consumed on a month-to-month basis. Those who decide such things for all of the rest of us had indeed figured out where to put the meter...”
* * *
Graffiti written in glo-paint on the side of an abandoned former bakery in Wappingers Falls, New York:
POWER 2 THE PEEPZ
NIKKI DANGER GIVES GOOD ZAP
* * *
United Nations Treaty Organization Missile Command Log Entry for 03 23 2039, 04:23:36 hours:
Unidentified craft detected entering atmosphere in UNTO airspace at (coordinates classified). No response to hails. Craft employing stealth technology, which prevents full radar lock but does not prevent tracking. Hailing craft.
No response to hail. Repeating hail.
No response to hail. Repeating hail. Final warning.
No response to hail. Comm of Watch issues WEAPONS FREE, SPLASH INTRUDER order.
T-ROC missile cluster fired at unidentified craft.
UI craft taking evasive maneuvers.
UI craft destroyed by T-ROC missile.
* * *
Footage from a Hydra-Co security hover-cam, specific location classified:
VISUAL: Two people, moving down a mountain road. They are moving single file; one is several paces behind the other, and has a gun in hand, pointed at the leader’s back.
In the valley below, heavy grey oblongs rumble between, and sometimes over, primitive stone, mud, straw, and wattle buildings, many of which are in flames. Screams can be heard, distantly, like a thumb repeatedly rubbing against a glass beaker.
The lead figure is female, tall, slender, with short red hair, garbed in a singed Wetherproof outdoor coverall and PakPak memory foam boots.
The trailing person, holding a gun on the lead female, is male, has blond hair expensively cut in a long bangs/short crop reverse mullet, heavyset, and has ice-eyes — mirror like ocular inserts that work like fullview glasses and that don’t require recharging, but are usually more uncomfortable.
The gun in the male figure’s hand is a Taurus Magnetic, which holds 60 metal pellets capable of being accelerated through the gauss-turbine in the weapon’s base and driven at barely subsonic velocities down the short barrel. Its accuracy is fair out to ten meters and poor beyond that, but any living biological hit by it will generally fly to pieces.
Over each figure letters flicker, obviously the results of a visual data-search for meta-information.
Superimposed over the male: JASON VAN der WITTEN, EXECUTIVE TRAINER/SENIOR FIELD ADJUSTER — HYDRA-CO.
Over the female: NICHOLE DANGER (pseud?), ECO-GUERILLA/HYPERCORPS SABOTEUR. Scrawling along the bottom of the picture: EXACT LOCATION UNKNOWN, PROBABLY EAST/CENTRAL EUROPEAN MOUNTAIN PASS: 03/23/2039.
VAN der WITTEN: Amazing you even survived that crash, Nikki. I would not have thought, scanning the wreckage from a distance, anyone could come out of it alive.
DANGER: Well, don’t feel bad or anything. You did manage to kill Jerry.
VAN der WITTEN: Jerald Landers? The Canadian? I had no idea he was in the vehicle. Were you sleeping with him?
DANGER: Not when the missiles hit, no. Although, if I’d thought of it... Probably would have been more fun than evasive maneuvers...
VAN der WITTEN: You will not make me angry, Nikki. You will not goad me into a foolish mistake.
DANGER: No, huh? Did you authorize this op?
VAN der WITTEN: Op?
DANGER: The dozen Velociraptors down in the valley smashing everything into rubble. Your idea?
VAN der WITTEN: Of course. After intercepting your teleconference, I —
DANGER: There’s no gold, Jay.
VAN der WITTEN: No gold...?
DANGER: Yuh huh. Also, all those screams? Fex. I had a girl in here a week ago warn all the natives. They’re all up another mountain hiding out in caves right now.
VAN der WITTEN: Fex?
DANGER: F.X., special effects, fugg, Jason, did you ever study anything besides HyperCorps Rape & Pillage? The screaming is all sound effects. It’s fake. Udig?
VAN der WITTEN: Oh, I see. So I’m supposed to believe that this is all one of your famous jokes...? Very humorous, but, no, Nikki. Fool me once, shame on you. You will not fool me again.
DANGER: You are one sad silly little loogie, Jason. It’s not a joke. I figured you’d send in AAVs. You sent in AAVs. Now my people just need to knock one out long enough to grab its Power Cube.
VAN der WITTEN: That is... no. That is inconceivable.
DANGER: Heh. Don’t tempt me with PRINCESS BRIDE dialogue. Also, I’m about to escape you and leave you totally SUTYE.
Danger steps casually over towards the cliff edge of the road.
VAN der WITTEN: Sut-yee?
DANGER: Shit Up To Your Eyebrows. Dumbass.
Danger takes another step towards the edge.
VAN der WITTEN: Stop it, Nikki. I remember you very well, and since we parted ways I have followed your exploits closely. You cannot possibly surprise me —
At this point, Danger steps off the sheer cliff side overlooking the mountain valley. From the security-cam’s POV, which is obviously hovering somewhat above the two, it can clearly be seen that she catches herself on an outjutting tree, swinging around it acrobatically. Van der Witten would not be able to see this from his POV on the road behind Danger.
VAN der WITTEN: Gott im Gimmel!!!
Van der Witten rushes over to the point Danger stepped off from. Danger’s legs, at full extension, swing up from below, one foot striking his wrist, the other the gun in his hand. The gun flies into the gorge.
Danger’s legs scissor around Van der Witten’s neck. Danger twists on the branch like a gymnast doing a 180 on a parallel bar. There is an audible crackling sound, like a wooden branch snapping, and Van der Witten’s body is yanked off the road.
Danger swings around the branch again, opening her legs. Van der Witten, his head visibly at an unnatural angle on his neck, follows his gun into the gorge.
Danger swings around the branch four more times before kipping upward at full extension and rolling back onto the roadway. She reaches into a pocket and takes out a cellphone.
DANGER: Connie... I know, I know, very late, yeah... okay, listen, Jerry’s dead... yeah, sux, I know, but I don’t have time for it now. Look, I can hack the security grid from here now that I have a couple of minutes...
Vector everybody else into the village proper... Try to get everyone set up with a good shot on an AAV for when the force fields go down. Uh-huh. Okay, see you down there.
Danger disconnects, then thumbs a code in on her cell phone.
In a burst of static, the security footage goes blank.
* * *
Copyright © 2009 by D. A. Madigan