[DVFP] Workin' the Feed (J 5.3)


Project the first:
Leveraging Kikilala's knowledge of Gloriana's frequency to listen in on the Sub-Warden.

• it’s going to mean exposing yourself (plus colleagues) to serious danger; if this is discovered, Fippers will come down hard
• you’re going to have to add a very powerful receiver to your workplace first:
this can be stolen from Gnarly, scrounged from Gigg's Junkyard, or bought outright at Bordertown

Project the second:
Picking at the Parcher Parts and planning a countermeasure to Gloriana's black hole software
• First you’ll have to build your own prototype
• the best you’ll be able to do is a crap version, weak and unreliable
• it’s going to cost you a fuckton of jingle; which means
• you’re going to need The Fat Man's jingle to help you with it

Once you’ve accomplished the necessaries, you can go ahead and accomplish the thing itself, the MC will stat it up, or spill, or whatever it calls for.

UNRELATED - it's been a few weeks, you've got a certain delivery to the wastes to make soon.


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    Since I don't really know how to limit myself when it comes to workin', I frame out both of the projects I have in mind. The first project is the most immediately promisin' - I've already mugged the augury antenna off of Gnarly, so it's a matter of properly reassemblin' it and connectin' it to enough power.

    A necessary side effect of this proddin' and thinkin' is that the rig is more organized than before, and I have other good ideas bubblin' to the surface. I wanna take out this cabinet section and rebuild it into a more dedicated workspace..I think the scrap from that I could make into a little hutch for Bee Bee. A place for her to sleep and engage in whatever industry keeps her happy, gives her a tiny sense of privacy, at least.

    I'll need to give her permission to come down here. Not alone, though. And she needs a replacement for her eyelids. "It just never stops."

    I stretch up from the seat I'm in, worried I'll tap my knuckles on the ceilin'. This rig is generous with space but I can only just fully stand in here. Removin' my hat helps.

    While I plan to have a no smokin' rule in my clinic, it's not my clinic yet. I light up and quietly think. Once I hook up that antenna, all risk sharpens. If I leave traces in Gloriana's signal, I could lose everything. People could die.
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    While you're working, there's a rap on the metal door. It's Missed. She comes in, looking around. " The place looks pretty impressive when it isn't rolling down the highway with people shooting at it." She looks over the antenna and other gwar you've laid out. "What're you working on?"
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    "Why, hello there, Missed. I'm working on this antenna, it's a high-voltage multimodal affair, and I need to calibrate and configure it for a special job. I also need to make sure it's not bugged to high heaven, or else usin' it could really fug up my whole life." I continue to tinker, but indicate a place for Missed to sit with a nod of my head.

    "What's new with you?"
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    Missed quickly sits where indicated and picks up a couple tools to start working on the antenna parts. "Today was a hassle. Fat Man's got recruiters running around grabbing bodies to train up. A couple recognized me and I had to play hide and seek. Seems one can't muster out of the job anymore. Glad to be here and working, June." She disconnects a couple screws, then looks up at you, "What about you?"
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    I take in a drag and let the smoke plume lazily out of my mouth. "I know from some hassle today, to be sure. Fat Man picked me up to do some Feed work. Which means, by the by, that I settled your hock with him. Consider it a thank you for helpin' me acquire this," I indicate our surroundings with the pointy digital meter in my hand, "Wonderful pile o' mess."

    "You might have to keep playin' hide and seek, though, till we're in business proper-like. I was thinkin' about musterin' over to Bordertown soonish. How are you at tearin' down scrounge and buildin' it back up? I was thinkin' tear this section out, put a workbench in there, storage above and below for small parts. Use the wood to make a little hutch thing for Bee Bee. What do you think?"
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    Missed frowns when you mention the hock, curses silently. "Shite, June, I didn't mean for you to get mixed up in that. I took a loan for most of the tech you trained me on. Fattie paid me jack. I won't leave you high and dry again." She accepts the idea of continuing to hide and seek without complaint, it's just a fact of life. "Mind if I crash here the next couple nights?"

    On the subject of remodeling, she takes a keen interest, "That should work. This here's a support strut, but we can angle around it. You think that little kepper would like it in here, yeah?" She hisses a laugh, "Yeah, probably so. Glad you took her up, June. Hey, other'n work, how are you doing?"
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    I shrug over the expense. "I know you're good for it. You can crash here, especially if you're fixin' to fix some things."

    Grunting in soft appraisal of the strut, I nod. "We'll do just that. I'd prefer Bee Bee spend most of her time with me, actually, but KikiLala asked after her and I'm..more or less comfortable with a split of time. There's only so much room at High Rent."

    I consider Missed's question with an appropriate 'hmmm' sound, starin' past her thoughtfully for a moment. "Well, Missed, I'm more than a little defined by my work, but I'm..good. The passin' of the Irons is still on my mind..it's hard to reconcile. Fat Man just pulled Sierra to work for him, after the Palace attack..little worried about that. But here I am, crawlin' my way towards possibility."

    I tack a wire lead against one of my ports and diagnose a part or two that I didn't the first time I had this antenna apart, when Sierra barged in on me.
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    Missed moves over to pat your shoulder, showing camaraderie even if it's in a very soldierly manner. It's what she knows, how she moves. "Sierra's a hard one to read. One minute she's like a babe in the woods. The next, she's got a room full of people wrapped around her finger." Missed moves to her little area and starts working again. "Fat Man treats pretty people real well. I bet she has him eating out of her finely-manicured hand."
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    "Mm, you noticed that, too? I don't know the full story, but I've heard similar.." Missed gets a grateful nod from me.

    It occurs to me that I have enough right now to report at least a couple of things to the palace..but perhaps I want to gather more, or wait to report until a convenient time. For me, I mean.

    "Missed, have you known anybody to handle data for The Fat Man? I understand if that's a question above your pay grade." I twiddle with my screwdriver while I ask this.
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    "It was way above my pay grade, but I knew about Juju. Tum Tum carries data storage, but I don't think he does it like Juju," she taps her temple, "Up here." She clears her throat, "Pretty sure Juju and Tum Tum aren't the only couriers, though. No hard evidence, just seemed like when Juju disappeared, there wasn't that much of a freak out, you know?"
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    "Sure, his delivery was important but him, slightly less so."

    I rest my chin on a hand and pull fire through the last few millimeters of my cig. "I suppose I'm tryin' to figure out what level I've landed on, whether I'm disposable or not. A steady stream of augmented chum feels ridiculous, but beyond commercial wirin'? That's a crime. So I dunno."
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    Missed pries open another part, this time with a bit of effort to break a seal. "That mostly depends on you. You work your way up his ladder. You're already pretty valuable, what you know, what you can do. If he could get that done in-house, he wouldn't have made a deal with you. He's a tyrant," Missed explains, "But he also knows he can't run all this alone. I left because I was too good at soldiering to be worth the effort to train elseways."
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    "Hmm. He'd be hard-pressed to find someone better. We'll see. I do still get to operate the clinic, so long as it gets second-place in my efforts." I end that sentence sourly.

    I suppose the intake of augmented chum, all goes well, is somethin' where I can put my hand on the pump. Rehabbin' implants and people.

    "Me, I watch you work and I see a whole lot of methodical. You're logical and curious and I'm eager to see where you go as a technician. I like watching people meet their potential, see them change."
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    Missed sits up and looks over at you for a moment. "Thanks, June. That means a ton coming from you. Even more since you don't throw out compliments often." She meets your eyes for a moment longer, then nods, turns back to work. "You seem fond of Bee Bee. Ever wanted kids before?"
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    "Imagine how stingy I'd be if you had sixteen weeks in lectures to learn half this shite." I grin back. Honestly, I'm not a huge fan of the lecture format but try pushing for an alternative to that at University, let alone a ramp to the speaking platform.

    "I do like the girl. Not sure I'm a..motherly type, with a motherly interest. I could always take or leave kids before." I help Missed with a particularly devious clasp that force would break, then sort wires outward carefully, like we're guttin' an animal with delicate innards. "Of course, on the outside I'd hear about nothin' but my inadequacy as a parent. Just makes me want to rub people's noses in it. Phew, I could build my own palace on spite alone. But, you know, I also never seriously considered it."
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    "On the outside," Missed says derisively. "So you were a professor of this shite? Some kind of rebellion get you in here, or did you fail the wrong House fledgling?" She's separating wires by color and type, careful work since some of them are tiny.
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    I look up at Missed's derision, realizin' I've been a little too comfortable in this conversation and let somethin' perhaps a little hurtful slip. Ah well, too late now. "Yup, despite all the barriers, I loved the academic life. Taught classes, went to conferences, wrote papers. House Grendel loved my ass. I was very productive."

    I fall into checkin' the wires as Missed sorts them, an easy rhythm. I don't look up at her as I narrate. "There's a whole lot of hash to be made about augmentation, prosthesis and disability, medical need versus personal need, mediated versus immediated connection with devices, commercial implantation and standards, and so on and et cetera..I never pretended I didn't care about that sort of problem in public, and that made me..we'll call it unpopular. But relevant."

    "I ended up runnin' a free clinic. At first people would contact me with their cases and ask me how to run their own devices, root them, take control. Over secure channels, I'd tell them. I'd put the information where other doctors and patients could find it. Fun little hacker's puzzles and trophies, you know? But I always knew it was serious, of course. So it grew, the things I would do, the things I would say, the contraband I would move, the procedures I would perform and facilitate. Especially user-rooted immediated Feed contact implants. Very illegal."

    I pause and reach over to a glass of water I'd snuck into a nook and forgotten about and take a sip. "When you do a big enough crime, or one that's hard to understand, you delay the inevitable. If you're very wealthy, you can delay it permanently. I wasn't."
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    "Well shite," Missed says after few moments. "I think I heard about you! What was your handle, June? I bet I read about you on The Feed. Big time academic, professor turned hacker and cyber-terrorist. House Grendel, yeah. What was your handle?"
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    I snort at the words 'cyber-terrorist' - makes my life then sound more excitin' than tense. I shake my head and have a little more water before puttin' it back.

    "On the Feed I went by SimulacraSpider, mainly. Had a lot of sockpuppet and bounce accounts." I chuckle, shake my head again. "Notoriety is a strange thing."

    I look back up to her. "You read about me on the Feed, huh?"
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    "Read about you?" Missed looks over. "Who on the Outside didn't read about SimulacraSpider when she was active?!?" She pumps a fist, "I fuggin told Hester that it was a woman! Stupid Hester and her "gotta be a guy" theories. I was thrown in here before your inevitable hit, June." She turns to face you, "I'm working with a celebrity. Un. Real."
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    I laugh indulgently with Missed's little victory. "Well, I did have a girlfriend who called me Daddy Long-Legs, it's a very old joke for me..not sure I like bein' a celebrity, but that's how shite works these days, isn't it?"

    "You got to give the people what they want." I point to my 'bad eye' with one finger, continuin' to work on the antenna. "I played into it. If the Houses are what's good I'm fine bein' a villain. Don't spread this stuff around too much, though. I don't really want to deal with it in here."
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    "Aww, well. I'll take it to my grave, then. Still, if it's you and me and I'm drunk... I just might ask for your autograph." Missed chuckles. After a moment, she starts work again, but asks in a conversational manner, like chit chat, "Tell me about this girlfriend."
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    "Tell you what, I'll sign your first piece of chrome, no waitin'." I chuckle with her, then pause quietly.

    "Mm, I don't remember enough about her to tell you much. She liked me. We played rough with each other, verbally, for fun. I liked her back. You tell me about someone." I challenge her, calmly, while we both work.
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    "I bet she had to have a barbed tongue to duel some wits with you," Missed says. She fiddles with stripping a few wires, then you ask about someone, so she stands up, stretching a little. "Someone? Okay, sure." She clears her throat, then, "I trained in with four guys, we all came in as chum as different times, bounced around the DVFP, then ended up in Depot. Signed up to work for The Fat Man. Training was brutal. Those guys may not look it, but there's some serious organization going on there. They aren't a gang, they're soldiers, you know?" She scratches her head, like she's touched into a topic she normally dances around.

    "Anyways, these four guys: Wick, Caller, Wilts, and Mull, we were tight. And it was good, you know? We would stomp around market, bust some heads, watch the wall late at night, whatever. It was like, you know, a family." She trails off.
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    "I dunno, the Depot operation's always looked pretty tight to me, lack of shiny new uniforms notwithstandin'.." I muse aloud in support of her story.

    "It sounds like it was tough, but good. What happened with your quintet?" I get up and take some water from the fridge. Cold water is a real indulgence, and you can bet I'll indulge from time to time, but this one is for Missed.
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    "Ah, shite, June, you know. Families don't last... you know?" She clears her throat, then settles into telling you, "Some sandganger stabbed Wick and he got sepsis. Wilts was caught on the take, and they chopped off a hand and kicked out. We all went in together to try and keep him going, but he drank himself to death. Caller, Mull and me? We kept on keeping on. Got to the Big House, working the palace for a Rotation. When we rolled back out to patrol, I met up with you. Mull's working the wall now... and Mull was mixed up in that attack on the palace. He was called in reserve, and didn't make it." She huffs a breath, more emotion than she expected comes out. "I just found out."
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    "Oh, Missed, I'm sorry. It's just you and Caller now, isn't it?" I press the water into her hand. "I know how hard it is to find level ground to stand on."

    I let her have some space with her feelin's..not compare them to other feelin's or other tragedies. Not out loud at least.
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    Missed nods, you hit the nail on the head. Caller and her, that's it. She takes the water and offers thanks, then drinks a fourth of it, and offers it back, insisting that you take a drink, too. "Good water's best when it's shared with good people, Spider." She cracks a smile at that.
    A few minutes later, there's a scratch at the door, it's Bee Bee and Rothschild. They have bread, it smells fresh.
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    Smilin' back, I wink and take my long pull of the water. I'm sure she's just bein' indulgent and won't call me Spider much of the time.

    When Bee Bee and Roth stop in, that's when I can about see the end of the road on this teardown. I'll be able to rebuild the antenna, configure it, maybe power it via the rig.

    "Bread! Where did you get this? I just wanna stick my face in it." I sniff theatrically as I usher the two inside.
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    Rothschild pulls a hunk of it (it isn't sliced) and holds it by her mouth playfully, "I need more bread, obviously" She pretends the bread can fly, and floats it towards you instead. "We got it at market. Rufe bought it for us, said to send most of it your way."
    Bee Bee heads over to the antenna, and Missed picks her up to set her on the area you've been using as a work bench. She picks through the wires that were stripped or sit unused and fiddles with them.
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    I tuck the loaf under my arm like a football and find a spot to lean on and tear off a hunk for myself. "You ran into Rufe, did you? How's she?" I tear off another and offer it to Bee Bee.

    "How's you, while we're at it?"
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    Bee Bee takes the bread and stares at it with her unblinking compound eyes. She doesn't take a bite until you do, like she's never seen it before, and she chews slowly, confusion and thoughtfulness on her face as she evaluates this new food.
    "Rufe's grand, she's a clever one, using her work at The New Pit to keep a roof over her and her boy's head when she's got lots of jingle to throw around. But she doesn't, except for bread purchases for certain pretty ladies." She looks over to Missed, "That's me and June. But only because she didn't know you were here, Missed." She heads over to the fridge and pulls out a beer, opens it and takes a long draught. "Antenna looks done. What are we listening in on?"
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    Bee Bee gets a pat on the head for her bold sense of discovery. I'm glad her panic seems to be over.

    "The New Pit. That's brand control for you." I smile quixotically; I'm pleased to hear that Rufe's keepin' it close. I tear off a lump of bread for me and give the remainder a soft toss to Missed.

    "Just got to bundle some things back together and attach her to power, really." Now is where, normally, I would light one up, but there's a child in the room. "As to the purpose, I'm all but decided. But I wanna know first. Do you ever think of revenge? Petty, bloody-minded, anything-counts revenge? You ever think of maybe turning this whole place on its ear?"

    I sip at water instead of smokin'. I told Beckett weeks ago what I would do with an antenna like this one. I'm sure if she understood it clearly, she'd be nervous. But wouldn't she be excited, also?
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    Missed catches the bread, tears off some to eat. With her mouth half full, she answers, "When you go looking for revenge, dig two graves. One of 'em's for yourself." She washes down the bread with her water, shrugs like "but it's your call".

    "This whole place," Rothschild repeats, pointing down, "DVFP? Or this whole place," she circles her hand in a wide arc, "The outside? I think revenge on the outside sounds nice. The people in here, they're victims of a broken world."
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    "I am surrounded by wisdom, beauty, goodness and thrift." I finish off my chunk of bread. "Not sure how I deserve it."

    I circle a wide arc with my finger. "In a very practical sense, this place is also the outside. The people who hold up their hands and say 'oh it isn't me, that place isn't my fault' still live in a society that allows it, with values that lead to it. They watch it all unfold, 'oh it's so awful,' without connectin' any of the dots."

    "So I'll be doin' it for them." I settle back at the workbench, grabbin' up a handful of magnetic connection leads and hookin' myself in.
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    End Scene
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