Got a recording of peeper frogs at my house in Tennessee.
Got a recording of peeper frogs at my house in Tennessee.
Got a recording of peeper frogs at my house in Tennessee.
WebGL has turned out to be awesome. While it does have its limits, I love the fact that I can make something awesome that will work on most any computer without having to think about installing, library version linking, getting past peoples’ anti-virus, etc.
I’ve gotten point and emissive lighting working. Since ambient light is just an effect of the environment you test for, that when passed in as a uniform is the same as emissive, I can say I’ve gotten that working to.
Click below to see this program.
You can use the arrow keys to rotate the model, a and z to zoom in and out. The controller on the left is a little hinky and hard to understand, seeing as I just put it in for debugging. The first set of sliders adjust the X (left and right), Y (up and down), and Z(front to back) position of the point light source. (The fourth slider adjusts the “skew” of the light source, if such a thing could exist… It doesn’t do anything useful, you can ignore it) The next set adjust the emissive color (I’ve called it ambient but they’re essentially the same thing). (Don’t touch the third one, it sets the alpha transparency… It doesn’t make sense for a light source to make something see-through unless it’s some kind of weird radiation you don’t want to be exposed to) The last set adjusts the point light source’s color. You can get some cool effects– try turning the ambient RGB to zero and setting the RGB of the point light at less than half. Creepy.
You’ll need a late version of Firefox or Chrome to view it. Internet Explorer 11 is supposed to have WebGL support, but it’s so new that I haven’t had a chance to test it yet. Someday soon, most people will be running on the latest software such that I’ll never have to think about who can and can’t see it. At least that’s the promise.
I want to set up shadow maps next, but it doesn’t really make sense to do that until I’ve gotten an environment for my characters to cast shadows in. I guess I’ll be working on environmental tilesets or terrain maps next… Or maybe I’ll just skip that and make a nice skybox so I can see Rourke flying around. Or, I could import the rig so I could do some skeletal animation.
…because I haven’t worked much on programming while I was also paying attention to my blog since 2006.
I’m working on adapting WebGL to my purposes, and it’s actually going extremely well. My last attempt at using WebGL was with heroic dead (EDIT: Just remembered, I also fixed heroic dead to use the animated sprite system I invented. I cringe at the quality of the hair animation I made back then) two years ago, and that was before a lot of WebGL frameworks existed. I’m using TDL as my framework, with Create.js to handle preloading and audio. It makes the experience of programming fantastic; I basically don’t have to think about program logic, and I can focus on the art of shaders.
Say what you will about using frameworks, I don’t have the patience to code OpenGL by hand anymore. I proved I could do it with heroic dead (despite its bugs) and I don’t feel I have anything left to prove here. I just want to pass my data in via a dictionary! Is that so wrong?!
I love to program, but when I’m doing anything that requires multiple talents, I have to simplify things on the backend so I have the time (and motivation) to work on the presentation. I could do it for sure if I was being paid, and I have done it in the past, but I’m just not interested in it. I want to see characters bouncing around the screen, a blur of activity, the gravity of shifting depth, all bursting in glorious RGBA. That’s what gives me motivation. I do not want to engineer a perfect architecture that reduces every instruction to O(n) complexity but explodes whenever you introduce something unexpected to the mix.
So far, I have animated sprites, a basic 2D particle system, and I can read models from .obj format (with some wonkiness I’m sure is a result of my export settings from Maya).
What am I going to do with this? Well… That’s kind of obscure. I might focus on Trilobite or something else, possibly involving hyperkinetic website layouts.
If anyone in the world cares about it, trilobite is going to be a ripoff of the milieu and motifs of hellsinker. I honestly don’t want to do anything else cyberpunk right now other than that; I know I’m completely imitating tonnor, but I consider it a learning experience. Hellsinker represented so many of the things I love, from the craftwork of the game flow to its nuke’em-from-orbit sense of restraint to the hope-against-hopelessness of the setting. If I don’t do this I’m going to become a shriveled up uncreative husk. I can feel it.
Every author has more than a few failed stories in his or her repertoire. This story, which I posted in six installments on my blog, is one of them. Writing is one of those things which you enjoy immensely, but don’t actually get around to doing nearly enough. This story has fallen victim to time pressures forcing it out of my consciousness long enough that I can’t pick up the threads again.
I sure picked a great place to end it, too. I look at the situation I’ve left my characters in, and it’s downright dickish. They’re disembodied spirits, a thought of a machine, their lives literally ticking away with each second, until poof. Nonexistence. Tough luck, eh?
I always was a sadist with my characters. It’s not that I enjoy writing about suffering, or that the idea of it appeals to me at all. I don’t know why every character I write either ends up dying, having someone they love dying, or ending up in some inescapable predicament with no hope of extrication. I’d like to think that if I ever got around to writing my novel, I’d give some of them a semblance of a happy ending, but for now I’m just not interested.
I think Vonnegut had the right idea:
[on his advice to "be a sadist" to your characters] Again, the idea of the creator, I am creating a person to which an audience will follow. But, one way of making that possible, is to making this character’s life a living hell: to which every sentence should be important to advancing the story or revealing character, which sounds pretty fun. That means each sadistic action, must be important, so if I choose to have my guy get stuck in a toilet for 3 days and ironically walk out with a defiled piece of toilet paper on his feet, hey, I’ll just have to make it relevent. All these fun sadistic acts will be incorporated into an ever changing story where, in the end, I get to choose whether the character gets the bone or not.
I’d like to think I torture my characters just to make their lives meaningful. Or maybe I can only relate to people who have to earn happiness.
These hardships aside, I’m pretty happy with the story’s structure. While there’s much early on that needs to be developed, a lot of retroactive foreshadowing I could instill, I think it has a passable mystery, some suspense, and a pretty good surprise ending. The early plot is almost entirely a McGuffin, an excuse to have our soldiers-turned-spies infiltrating a dark cove for every perverted concept of liberty. I think that the characters are nice… with some touching-up they could turn into genuine Likable Persons®.
I wanted the setting to be the kind of place even Vice Magazine wouldn’t send a correspondent… at least not without a generous supply of illegal substances. Fuel. I wanted it to represent every bit of cheerful, casual destruction our society wreaks on itself, reduced to a concentrated parody of itself. While my characters will have consciences, their milieu deals with such things as a weakness to be exploited. I also wish I’d spent a lot more time with the Cyberpunk Libertarians. They would be a perfect vehicle for hilarious social commentary. A melange of every school of western idealism, from Objectivism to New Age.
As for the technology I’ve written about so far… eh, I could take it or leave it. I do like the idea of redefining how people interact with their sensory apparati, seeing sounds, hearing images, but I worry that explaining such a thing (everything’s data, and can be interpreted in any possible way) may try the reader’s patience.
Cyberpunk as a genre has been around for over thirty years now. It’s amazing that it hasn’t penetrated into the public consciousness more. Many books of this genre are written every year, but they don’t seem to sell well. Besides some of the more modern speculative fiction, I don’t think any other genre comes close to encapsulating all the problems we deal with today, be it mass surveillance, the haves and have-nots in an increasingly complicated society, or even the realities of urban life, where social trust disintegrates to the point that the next guy could just as easily help you off the sidewalk smash your head in. But people generally aren’t that interested in important things, living as they are in escapist fantasies.
To close, I am very happy I wrote this, if only so I can look back and see what a knob I was way back when.
who gave up everything
for fucking nothing
Today I will talk about lunatics and paranoids in a tech support context.
Dealing with paranoid people is to be expected. It’s a big part of the job. If I bothered to list all the times I dealt with crazies it would get repetitive really fast, so I’ll just describe these people in general.
A typical paranoid person is either a youngish woman (20-35) or an old man (45-dead). Paranoid women tend to think that their aggressors are ex spouses and illusionary villains, rich or skilled men who have nothing better in their lives than to troll them. Paranoid old men tend to fear a government or other authority figure is trying to subdue them because they are a threat to the status quo.
Their concerns mostly take the form of abject, uncomprehended, wizardry. They may think someone is hacking their website accounts, bugging their cars to track where they’re going, or that their enemies have transferred their consciousnesses into the very networks to spy on them. Modems and routers are objects of great power, such that not even unplugging them from the wall is enough to fully neutralize them once tainted by a skilled practitioner. A good hacker can leave a virus on an digital camera, an Ethernet cord, really any metal object can become a relay for complete malevolence.
When faced with such black magic, people do as they did in ancient times. They seek out wise men (and women, I guess. There were probably more female shamans than techies.) to guide them in matters of the arcane. A shaman’s job is mostly in the dream world, a world of psychological dragons and monstrous engrams, where smoke and mirrors trump real solutions, and deaf-and-dumb comfort is the coin of the realm. Techies, being of analytic mind, aren’t very apt or happy to dance around in such inanity. It doesn’t help that most of us are pretty anti-social to start with.
Crazy people are even less inclined to accept rational explanations than techies are to entertain to irrational ones. You can’t indulge their bullshit for a second, or else they’ll try to drag you over the deep end with them. They’re about the worst kind of customer to deal with. They’re impossible to keep on task. You have to be polite, but you aren’t paid to spend time going over the same stupid shit over and over again. You run up against tons of conflicting goals… You can’t be too harsh with them or they’ll give you poor customer feedback. You can’t spend time gently agreeing because they won’t shut up long enough to let you change the subject. And you damn sure can’t convince them with real talk. You just can’t. Their sense of self-importance tells them the universe must bend its laws to accommodate their delusion.
So what do you do? Hard to say. My solution is to get them off the phone ASAP. Do some bullshit thing and say you fixed the problem. Refuse to help them until they gather enough evidence. Give THEM a task to do before you can help them. It not only gives them some sense of agency, helps their helplessness, but might just keep them off the phone with us for the rest of the day. (Though I’ve seen this go awry on more than one occasion when a customer went poking somewhere on their computer they shouldn’t have.)
If all else fails, just hang up on them. It’s not worth your self respect to keep them as customers. If your management has any sense at all, they’ll condone your decision. Surely there are people with real issues you could be helping.
Going ahead and posting what I’ve got because I’m not going to finish this story. Basically, in this, Bali for some reason comes in and saves the soldier’s memories to reconstitute them into artificial bodies. Not sure where I was going with this. Oh yeah, also Fox was reluctant to accept Bali’s offer to return to the waking world. She’s burned out on life and is pretty much sure that such a gift will come with at least equal debts. She’s suicidal anyway. She eventually does decide to leave after Bali leaves the door open, and saves everyone through hacking.
The last thing I could remember was feeling like my brain was being sucked through a drinking straw. Then a flash of heat, and an abrupt cutoff. Like hitting a wall.
Even back then, I was no dope. I knew what was happening. I had died in combat. All my memories were uploaded to the satellite, and then my implants were destroyed along with my brain to prevent any “intelligence” from falling into the wrong hands.
Being recompiled from memories isn’t like waking up in the morning. It’s nothing so smooth. Nothing so easy. It was metaphorcally like being squeezed out of a toothpaste tube; each block of memories had to be applied one at a time. Like being butchered in reverse. The official word was you had to be conscious while your mind was being recompiled in order for your personality to link properly. I thought then that the truth was that they wanted us phantoms to be 100% sure of the fact that we were dead.
Without a doubt. I was utterly and totally dead.
There was absolutely no sensory. It’s hard to imagine being conscious without any input at all… In a human body, you can hear the sound of silence, see the darkness. As a disembodied spirit in some mainframe, there’s just nothing. It’s maddening.
We were probably being reactivated for only a few minutes… just enough time to take a statement, then we’d be switched off forever. Cleared away with the push of a button to make room for something else. Business essentials. Important spreadsheets. Vital porn for the CEO.
>”Fox? Fox? Are you there? Is anyone there?”
It was Parker.
>”I read you Parker.”
>”Oh god damn… Curtis do you have any idea what’s going on?”
>”What? Are you sure about that?”
>”Yes. I felt it when I was being uploaded. Then my implants blew up.”
>”Oh… Ok…” Parker said. “I guess I should have seen this coming. So what now?”
>”I expect they’ll want a statement. Then they’ll switch us off.”
>”Damnit.” Parker said. “So this is it then? Isn’t there anything we can do?”
>”I don’t think so.” I said.
>”C’mon… Seriously. We were pretty good soldiers. I mean they’ll give us artificial bodies, right? They can’t afford to lose an awesome engineer like me.”
>”Bodies are expensive.” I said. “Probably ten times the amount of my loan. Well… That’s one bright spot in all this. I won’t have to repay it anymore.”
>”I don’t see how you can be so calm,” Parker said. “Damnit! I want answers! C’mon and face me you assholes!” He cursed angrily at the void.
>”It may take a while before they get around to interviewing us,” I said. “We’re probably going a lot faster than real-time here.”
>”So they’re just going to let us stew here?” Parker said, “like a death row inmate? No, even less than that… Like a dog waiting to be put to sleep.”
>”Parker,” I said, “There’s nothing we can do.”
>”But it isn’t right! They’re going to just let me sit here, scared shitless?” Even in RFM his voice was quavering, quantizing. He couldn’t even stick to a base protocol in his panic. “I don’t want to die man!”
>”Damnit,” I said, “calm the fuck down man!”
>”If only we’d taken Brady instead of YOU.” Parker said. “He wouldn’t have fallen for such an obvious trap.”
>”Shut up Parker.”
>”Well it’s true! You caused all of this! You’re the one who led them to our six. You’re the one who couldn’t block such a basic virus!”
>”Don’t give me that shit! You’ve been a liability since the beginning, Parker! You’re the one who couldn’t code a fucking two-state parser.”
>”I didn’t have a fucking Ivy-league education. I came up on the streets. I went through dumpsters to make things to sell. You couldn’t make it where I come from.”
>”Shut up, both of you.” Fox said. “I can’t stand your bitching and moaning.”
>”Oh damn. They got you too?” I asked.
>”Yeah. I took a bullet in the back from a druggie.” Fox said. “Nobody could come back for me so I bled out. Now shut up. You could scream a million years here and all you’d do is waste a cent of electricity.”
>”Easy for you to say,” Parker said, “you’ll probably get another body. They fucking love you. Which executive did you sleep with?”
>”My personal life aside,” Fox said, “do you really WANT to go back there? Do you really WANT to end up a permanent servant of the military?”
>”When we were alive,” Fox said, “Nobody complained more than you. You hated your job. You hated your life. You used to joke about shooting yourself in the head. I saw you stare down your shotgun on at least three different occasions. You didn’t know I was watching. I knew you’d always be too chickenshit to do it. Now you’re dead and you can’t think about anything but getting to come back to life. Back to that life you hated.”
>”It’s just…” Parker started.
>”I won’t be revived this time,” Fox said. “I know I won’t. I’ve worn out my usefulness. They’ve been looking for an easy way to dispose of me for a long time.”
>”I’m scared, Fox,” Parker said.
>”Yeah. We all are.” Fox said.
>”Hey, wait a minute” I said “Where’s Rourke?”
>”She made it out,” Fox said, “blasted her way through a horde of druggies and rendezvoused in the back alleys with fire team alpha.”
>”Holy shit,” I said, “She’s a little badass.”
>”Well… She always was a scrapper.” Parker said. “Of all of us, she probably deserved it most.”
We were silent for a while. There was nothing left that needed to be said.
“Hello…. Hello?” A voice, slowed down so that it sounded like a roar jolted us to awareness. “I’m sorry I don’t see anything. Is this thing even on?” The intelligence analyst tapped the mic a few times.
>”Good god we can hear you!” Fox yelled, “Turn that thing down! Agh… He can’t hear us.”
We adjusted our sleep interval so we could exist on the same time scale as the analyst. This made the voices sound, if not normal, at least human. It was bizarre, after hearing only our squadmates’ voices in our head for so long, to hear someone else’s. It was jarring and uncomfortable. Like schizophrenia.
“Yeah this thing is busted.” The analyst said. “Are you sure you downloaded them correctly?”
“Totally,” A familiar voice said, further away from the mic. “All the lights were green before I blew them up.” It was Jay. “Oh here’s the problem. You ain’t got the monitor turned on.”
Suddenly, we were aware of a video feed. Like a disembodied square floating in abstractness. It was coming in on an alternate register from our eyes, one not meant for visuals, so it felt like the image was being burned into our skin.
“Oh nice! I see them now,” the analyst said. “That’ll be all for now, Jillian. You can go back to your station.”
“Nuh unh!” Jay said, “I’m at my end of shift.”
“Oh, ok.” The older man said. “Then make sure you clock out. And I need your transfer list from last month before this week is up.”
“Got it George. See you Tuesday!” Jay said.
“Goodbye Jillian!” The man said, and struggled and tapped at his console for a couple of minutes in excruciating slow time. I was tempted to set my wait time to speed him up, but that ran the risk of a fatal desync.
George was a middle-aged man, graying salt and pepper hair and a gentle, friendly demeanor. If you had to put his personality on a scale with cat at one end and dog on another, he was a dog. Finally, he turned around to face us, screwed on his gravest and most sympathetic expression, and addressed us.
“Hello there. My name is George Latkos. This part is never easy, but…”
>”We’re dead. We know.” Fox said.
“Oh good,” He said with some relief. He wasn’t going to have to do any grief counselling. “So, um… I’ll need to ask you some questions.”
George looked to the side, at another screen we couldn’t see.
“During your employment with the government, did you notice any coworker and/or squadmate stealing, damaging, or otherwise defacing or appropriating government or Angel Intelligence property? Please keep in mind you are granted full immunity by answering these questions.”
>”Are you serious?” Parker said.
“I’m sorry, I have to ask these questions before we let you go.” George said.
>”Ergh… I didn’t. Did anyone else here?” Fox asked.
We answered in the negative.
“Ok, good.” George said, now slowly tapping our answers, slow even in normal speed into his panel. “Next question. Did you observe any coworker and/or squadmate illegitimaely transfering property, assets, or information to any outside individual or organization during your employment?”
We answered in the negative again, now more aggravated.
“Listen, I have to do this. I’m not happy about it either,” George said. “Last question. Did you notice any malfeasance of any kind during your employment with the government?”
>”Look, buddy,” Parker said, “We’re dead. Me and Fox got shot. Curtis got burned out by aging teenybopper bitch so he wouldn’t reveal any government secrets. We gave everything to you. Is going after embezzlers really your top priority?”
“I just do what I have to,” George said. “Just like you used to.”
>”Fuck it. Curtis do you think you could hack this guy?” Parker asked.
>”He heard you you idiot. We can’t whisper here,” I answered.
“Oh please don’t do try anything,” George said. “It just makes it harder for all of us.”
>”We can’t break out anyway,” Fox said. “Even if we were the best in the world. We’ve been irreversibly encrypted, and this terminal has a key that will only be vaild for a short time. I estimate we have less than fifteen real-time minutes left to live. Now, if you don’t mind, George, I’d like to get this over with. No, I didn’t see any malfeasance that I can remember. I’m sure Curtis and Parker didn’t either.”
We answered the affirmative.
>”Now,” Fox said. “Just give us our last fifteen minutes without looking at your disgusting face.”
“OK then.” George said. “I’ll send your answers off. I’ll let you know if I need anything else.” He switched off his monitor, and we lost sight of his face.
>”I’ve never seen you this agitated, Fox” Parker said. “You’re usually the calm one.”
>”I know,” Fox said. “I’m just so tired.”
The noise was unbearable. Constant pulsing music playing from every stall, dissonant and out-of-phase, like a hammer to your head. Under the obnoxious neon, the incomplete spectrum of LEDs, and ambient cloud-fluorescent illumination our short shadows scattered a rainbow of disarray. Sleazy hawkers, captains of industry in rags, and well-dressed “representatives” peddled everything from the latest chemical innovations to illegal code-breaking FPGAs to sex slaves. Even large corporations weren’t above staking a presence here, I wouldn’t have been surprised if one of the ritzier secure stalls bore the logo of our own patron LLC, AngInt (formerly the Sol system internal governance). I made the mistake of enabling my sense of smell for an instant, and immediately shut it back off. On closer inspection, the floor was a melange of unspeakable waste and ancient rust. There was a reason cholera was making a comeback in the squats.
We were quite the sight. Four kids covered in tech being led through the alleyways by a scared-looking guy in a tattered business suit. Anywhere else we would have stood out like a purple multi-gendered trans-centaur in a mormon church. Here, though, we fit right in.
I’d borrowed Bali’s free will, used him to introduce us to all the contacts he had made during his stay there, and subtly manipulated their memories in turn so that we didn’t catch anyone’s attention. Being new faces in a place like this puts people on their guard, makes it hard to blend in. If we could easily skip that step, we’d be much better off.
>”So many hotsy darbs!” Jay said, “I gotta get out to the planets! These guys are delicious!”
>”Jay you little cunt,” Rourke said, “Think about what you’re saying. You wouldn’t last an hour out here. Someone would kill you just for fun.”
>”Oh shut up you dora,” Jay said. “I know people in the underworld. I can handle myself.”
>”Yeah,” Rourke said, “You buy Bull from a kid in the cafeteria and you think you have mob connections.”
>”Really.” Jay said, now incensed “Is that what you think? Alright that’s just plucky. You’re just jealous of people who know how to have fun! You’re a stupid bitch!”
>”Jay,” Fox said. “That’s enough.”
>”You’ll never find a darb, whore,” Jay said, “You’re going to spend the rest of your life sucking crackhead pud in alleyways wishing for a real gangster to dump a fuck in you!”
Rourke was now visibly shaking.
>”Rourke,” Fox said, “You have my permission to go deaf.”
>”Hey!” Jay was screaming now, really screaming into her physical mic, “I order you to listen to me you little whore!”
>”She can’t hear you,” Fox said. “She can’t obey.”
What followed was the most blood curdling screech you’ve ever heard. We got a double dose; she was screaming into her mic, and we were also hearing a direct sensory feed as well. I can’t tell which was worse… the way she intended to sound through sensory, or how she actually sounded on her mic.
Jay went quiet and I felt her presence shrink. I found myself hoping she’d sulk for the rest of the operation.
Fox pulled me aside and whispered, “I think we’re good on meet and greet for now. Got a bead on our target?”
“Let me check,” I said, and listened to the radio noise. It was supposedly encrypted, but AngInt was good… I could see most of it without trouble.
You never really know a people until you see their network traffic… things they think are kept out of sight. Personal fantasies. True desires. Things they don’t want others to know about. Illicit deals, plots by one cartel or other to attain dominance, these are the kind of things you definitely expect. Even a couple of murder and rape simulations come as no surprise. However, they were the minority, and the truth was far more shocking. That child seller? Her guilty pleasure is learning to paint from an ancient 2D recording. The contract killer? While he’s discussing the elaborate ways he’ll disembowel a target for an extra fee, in the back of his mind he’s indulging a fantasy of being a child praised by his mother. Even a local cartel boss who orders the deaths of hundreds with the wave of a hand, becomes an office lady sitting in an urban cafe during an especially relaxing antediluvian lunch break. Every kind of treacle, idealized versions of days gone by made up the majority of data. I suppose it should have come as no surprise to me; in my suburban neighborhood at home the traffic was almost entirely sick shit. In a place where atrocities happen every day, benignity is pornographic.
“Curtis are you paying attention?” Fox growled.
“Oh Shit,” I chirped, startled awake from the reveries of monsters. “on it sir.” I didn’t know how long I was out of it.
I found the signal I was looking for.
Jay – Jay is a conscientiousness advocate. I’ve explained in the narrative what this is, but basically she’s supposed to keep the soldiers from committing atrocities in the name of the nation she represents. If this sounds like a stupid idea, that’s because it is. I put her in there because I wanted to use her as a window into the life of the average person in the world, and to show how little regard this society has for its soldiers by making them accountable to someone who is utterly naive, or doesn’t always have their best interests at heart. Most CAs are lazy, and just sit back and do nothing. Jay, however, has the right mix of bitchiness and know-it-allness to constantly involve herself.
She’s a completely average girl for her milleau. She has lived a completely sheltered life. She has bought into every notion of “coolness” every ad agency has ever shoved in her face. She’s been conditioned to be rebellious to those who have her best interests at heart, and to conform to the expectations of every authority figure that wants to exploit her. She’s very materialistic, and very status conscious. Her main interest in life is to find a “darb” (conceptually similar in modern parlance to the word “gangsta”) boyfriend. However, no man she’s ever met in her sheltered life is “darb” enough.
She’s fundamentally very unhappy, and her upbringing has left her utterly unequipped to figure out why. If I stretched this story out any farther, I’d like to have her undergo some kind of transformation.
Economically, she’s a trust fund baby, a group of people called “Beckers.”
Beckers – Beckers are the middle class of the society, and their surnames are almost all “Becker.” Centuries ago, the richest handful of families in Sol set up trust funds that would support their progeny for as long as the civilization lasted. People like this now make up about half of the population, descended from less than ten original families – the one which, through attrition, majority surname was Becker. They keep themselves walled off from everyone else. Through financial manipulation, these people have become the new royalty, living in opulent splendor never having to work or do anything in their lives.
They’re basically chattel. In theory, they should be extremely powerful, but they’re raised from birth to be extremely stupid. They are manipulated to employ financial advisers who manage their fortune, and make their decisions on matters of the governance of Sol. The Beckers give legitimacy to the government of Sol, and they are necessary as long as the old cryptographic management systems that only recognize them as the leaders are in place.
They are mostly olive-complected with straight, dark hair. They are very fashion-conscious, and their trends change almost daily. You can always tell when one of them is nearby, because of the cocktail of colognes they wear, some of which have mild hallucinogenic properties.
They are extremely inbred, and many Beckers are handicapped. This is just fine for the bankers, who often find themselves the executor of an estate run by a vegetable who can’t veto their decisions. They float a weak theory that more inbreeding will eventually filter out all the harmful mutations, so they don’t seek new blood. However, the population is just big enough so that new harmful mutations are arising fast enough to overcome any such natural filtration. (I doubt the science here… basically thematically what I’m doing is saying they’re manipulated even on the genetic level to be pliant).
They are ignorant of the rest of the universe. While not much is needed to keep them in this state– curiosity has practically been bred out of them– real news is usually kept from them. Nobody wants a panic.
The underclass is the group to whom our protagonists belong. They’re descended from Mormons who left Earth to found their paradise in space. They reproduced faster than their industry could construct new habitat for them, and this weakened their overall strength. The Becker’s ancestors bequeathed their nation to their less-favored children. The name of the nation is not well remembered.
In which our heroes get into a firefight with the syndicate. Things go badly. When Curtis finds himself hacked by Bali is revealed to be something much more than a random lowlife.
I’m actually not going to write this because it wouldn’t be that interesting.
Bali turns out to be a laughin-man level hacker who manipulated the government that the four soldiers represent from the start to obtain some intelligence or something. Then he gets them all killed.
The syndicate was either a mostly irrelevant goal, or was employed by Bali.
At the end, Bali has every drug addicted lowlife jump them at once. Parker and Fox are shot, Curtis gets tackled, and is about to hack his assialants to make them docile when the Jay decides that he’s basically done for and sends a kill signal to his implants, ending his life. Only Rourke manages to escape.
If I ever wrote this as a real story, I’d change Rourke’s name. She’s a different character now I just liked the name before.