Read Part 1 here first.
“Of course I believe in her. I know for a fact she’s out there and that she really exists. Hell, she mind-fucked me once when I was 17 and it was the best experience of my life. I’ve spent the last eight years trying to lure her back.” ~user1339i78
Every so often a Dreamer arrives in Merit. Now the Dreamer who doesn’t know who he is goes through their life shifting from place to place, starting fires, leaving trails of chaos in their wake and mostly just being a nuisance. But the Dreamer who comes into his own, who recognizes what he is and what he is capable of, that is the most dangerous Dreamer of all.
We’ve never understood where these Dreamers came from. Are they born into it? Are they trained up? If only we could find their origins, their source, we could put a stop to them once and for all. In the early stages, before they realize who and what their abilities really are, they are always easy to crack. A little bit of dark Code and it’s all over except for a little backdoor clean-up. But as they gain knowledge and experience, it becomes harder and harder to find them, to stop them. To control them. It seems as time goes on they are getting smarter, better, quicker. Of course, we’ve had to adapt. That’s where I come in.
I’m not a natural Dreamer, though, but I can still travel the webs. I’ve been highly augmented to do so. There are times when I feel more machine than man. But it’s just a job, you know? It keeps me out of the slums, away from the junkies and the VR-whores. At least this way I have my own living space, I mean as good of a living space as one can have in this day, even if I do still have a roommate.
So the Dogs are always watching, tasting the pulses that we travel from one Here to there. They are the ones we had created to mimic what the Dreamers could do somehow naturally. Once detected, they are generally pretty easy to catch, if you’re quick enough. It’s a matter of casting your Net and hoping the shadow’s Glare slows them down enough for you or the Dogs to catch them. Because once the Glare touches them, every single one of them does the same thing: retreats back Home. It’s then a simple matter of Tracing their Netted trail and dropping the Code that will Wipe them clean.
Now, I’ve been following the broken trail of one Dreamer in particular for over three years. I don’t know who he is, where he came from, or what his purpose is. I do know that he is strong, tricky, and easily misplaced. I only know him as a deep purple form with a bright green outline which appears masculine. I come across traces of his passing only to lose them again and I recognize his signature in shifting patterns. I’ve trained one Dog in particular just to sniff out this Dreamer, who I have nicknamed the Rabbit because of his ability to step through the Mire without causing ripples, seemingly dropping into unforeseen rabbit holes along the webs. Following leads as best I can, he appears to be a courier of sorts. Delivering messages and darting back out into barren wastes again. Time and time again I have thought I’ve found his point of origin, but every lead has hit a firewall. I know he’s got to be working for someone special. No one can just be that good, can they?
I was a butterfly once. Flitting along the pulsing strands of information, sipping the sweet nectar from the wide-eyed blank-staring completely augmented sorry excuses of so-called humans. Those that had their phone jacks installed in their necks and a stylus for a finger. Those that played against world-wide competitors with their actual life at stake and not just some arbitrary high scores or virtual coins. The VR-junkies and the waste-teens and the Wall Street whores. They all fed me. I swallowed facts and analytics and profiles and vids. I did so without anyone noticing, I had the ability to reach a pulse and tie myself to them, becoming a part of them so that as I traveled, I left not a wisp of my passing. Oh, sure, I saw the Tracer-trained viruses and watchdogs as they rooted around for Dreamers and trespassers. I moved right past them with ease. They never even turned their noses toward me. I was a butterfly riding the breezes and then one day I sipped the honey of a different kind. He tasted good, intoxicating. And as I drank from his mind, he suddenly turned and grabbed a hold of my wings and held me there. I felt pinned to his entomologist’s board. His magnifying glass seeing right into me; I was exposed. Still I wouldn’t look away, couldn’t. We learned everything about one another as it is humanly possible. And I drunkenly fell in love as I simultaneously lost my wings. When I finally broke free of the effortless spell he had woven over me, I closed my Gate to him, and I had no idea it would be years again before he stood there once more, while I intuited a letter in his pocket and that same crooked smile as before.
This is an on-going collaboration series that I’m working on with A.P. over at constant VARIABLE. He’s doing the odd-numbered parts and I’m doing the even-numbered ones. I hope you enjoy!