It was a disgusting night. Rain was common, but only in light showers and mists. True rain piled up on the streets, filling gutters until the things that had clogged them floated to the surface and filled the streets. Unhappy though he was to be soaked, Alex had to respect the torrent. Two relics of an age past.

At once point, computers were used to control machines, separate machines. Now, everything was connected, every little system speaking its part, tensors resonating over fibre as the great organism of the city kept its stasis. By every metric the city was doing better than ever, but metrics weren't everything. Some thought the system was perfect, they almost worshipped it, but computers had never been perfect, and there were millions of them. There would always be a need for someone outside the system. This was where Alex came in.

When a rich and powerful oligarch needed something yesterday, the system's carefully tuned checks and balances were no obstacle. Escaping the system was easy, just stop using it. Walk in any direction until the buildings vanish, and don't look back. Somehow that never happened. The wealthy wanted to have their cake and eat it too, so they would keep a ghost. Even the cheapest bolt could be worth thousands to the right people, but Alex didn't use money.

He was paid in food, shelter, and favours; he bought nothing and sold nothing. To the artificial intelligences, he was incorporeal, long dead and rotted in a ditch. The rain fell on him all the same, utterly indifferent to the machinations of humanity. Alex pulled up his hood and swung a leg over his motorcycle, one of the few true perks of his job: electric bikes just didn't have the same crowd-parting roar. He carefully checked the sigils on the bike, making sure that the bright rainbow patches were unscratched and visible from every angle. How exactly they worked was beyond him, all Alex knew was that to the system, his motorcycle looked significantly more like a person than a real person, so he could drive his unregistered vehicle as much as he wanted.

The crowed scattered pleasingly as he thumbed the ignition, feeling the rumble of the powerful machine beneath him. One figure remained in front of him, staring. Why was it always the furries? She was a rich one too, the projector was small enough to be completely invisible from the short distance away. Usually a heavy metal collar would conceal the hard-light projectors that kept her real face hidden beneath the foxlike features.

"Never seen a real bike before?" he called out, crawling past her as he gently thumbed the throttle. She just stared, craning her neck as he rode by. Didn't even turn her shoulders with her head. Weirdo.

Alex sped off into the rain.

Pub: 26 Apr 2022 03:24 UTC
Views: 1575