CW: sex work, sexualization, religious speculation, magical thinking, stalking, conspiracy theory, imageboard culture, suicide baiting, guns, combat

the moon shone on the rivers of the wired whose waves caught the glints of the users in this café server, communications shot off of their rays until their nets could form polygonal fabrics and in my mind, i reach towards them, thinking these veils of signals like flowing robes, letting each grain of nodes sift through my fingers until they could too, with their nerves coursing within my limbs could scatter into the particles of this dream, the axis of these conversations that flung me towards unending blue as they melted into light that sheened across sky, that vast expanse that only flitted between us in the real world, something like a the real, our cells burned up under its constant heat and it was only just us there, dying slow with each palpitation, our breaths faint in these passages of time where nothing happens but the unseen fluctuations that tremored within faceless high rises that only stood still, our movements past them only lapsed the sunlight into black, this momentary death that precedes the flashes of life.

kunakida sat on a cloud of iron wisps that weaved themselves into a chair as she spun different glimpses into forests and ancient streets from old eras to sketch a new avatar design, sculpting the wireframe, pulling edges of collars from delinquent formalities to the clean flutters of dresses off the knees, this table a particle within her mind that branched out into these boughs where we saw these displaced cities pool into the wired. through the static, the different users at the tables surround a woman avatar of reonuxala, a personality of sorts who makes interactive café servers where her several avatars work as hostesses, her dusky voice that got her audience to lean a little closer but always stopping themselves, bashful only nodding as she asks about another drink or at another table she was in a race-girl outfit with tight leather whose creases that stretched itself smooth across her silken body as she laughed haughtily while her audience also joined in the frivolities in snickers, or she sat with a single user in tank-top looking a little shy but only speaking with only the lightest intonation that falls into a soft breath, each of these avatars flickering within the glow of the tables like spotlights of on these sketches of a daily life with. reonuxala, this person who could appear to others, beckoning them into some spectacular intimacy within their eyes of even these fragments of a person that pulled us away from the empty streets whose inhabitants haunted the wired with their anxious whispers that juddered in static the flow of signals, until the hem of her robe of that being flickered in the electricity of those heavenly beings . reonuxala herself was never present, or rather her psyche flitted half-interestedly through each avatar, almost in the way of an apparition, a momentary lapse that people who saw her often claimed to have felt her presence brush past the avatar’s movements or voice but she herself must have always found exit, perhaps observing all this commotion as a user herself strolling between the ornate columns or sitting on the fountain, the pouring of falls licking the blue surface of the water in this pool of azure days that maybe the place she often stayed. i remember something about a v-idol having a similar story, but then, these stories always reproduced themselves whether in the imperfect retelling of rumours like a vague haze that softened their contours of it, the images becoming bleary or just being these little narratives that each of the conversations led embroidered her conversations, one of the avatars imparting a lesson about living life or another seeking a conclusion with a kind of lover’s tryst scenario. kunakida flicked her hand down a wireframe model, carving the tails of a dress before slicing the air upward with one finger to slit the middle.

‘niayaniaya, foxtel’ kunakida said


‘how’s the look for this dress-coat?’ she said showing me the model on the table, a long jacket slit at the side where the zipper was, curving under the sleeve into spiked lapels, the collar notched behind the neck. kunakida only leaned on her arm, almost a bit bored after all that. ‘it’s mobile and it looks kinda nice’

‘it’s a’ight’ i said, rotating the model as the tails flutter and it looks more as if the jacket coils around them with the curved side zipper where i enable the shaders, the model’s body changes into different hues like a soft light glowing within them as i see the back, the slightest jut of the spine from the gap at the back of the collar. ‘showing a bit of neck tho’

‘that’s hot, niaya’

‘glad to see your eroticism still plays into your design’

‘you gotta be kind of a pervert for this ya know’ she said and i wondered if the nakedness of a body seemed to her near apocalyptic with its stark figure whose areolae swirled into dun blankness but only within these clothes, the instance of a sleeve sliding down to the wrist like a stem, knobbed before the hands, could these bodies be more than mere statues and poses but imbued with a kind of movement that allowed users to flow through these servers that as she glimpsed her model walking around the table, turning to the side as if some unseen person had called to them, she could imagine through a moment , that these users did not merely pass each other in the thousands of connections that surrounded them.

‘what does viper say about it’

‘he won’t try anything i make, he just stands there like,’ she says before putting on a dour expression. ‘‘oh that’s nice i guess’ and then shies away’

‘well, he’s not one for looking extravagant or anything’

‘i’m a regular versay-tze’ she laughed, mispronouncing the cantonese .

‘you could do something with this. there’s a lot of pmc units who probably want formal design’

‘i don’t want to run it through pmc’s or anything. i just like having it. it’s nice just having it here’

‘you might be right about that.’ i said., this life that seemed so simple, as easy as even the pedestrian fantasies that took place here, unfolding in such a predictable measure, the whispers or hesitations their own mechanics, the life this supposedly emitted seeming all too rare. in my own internal-os, i enter schemata, vision soars upward before looking at the café server from above, seeing the contours of the space dotted where the tables were, the fountain its own rippled circle and all the users present became their own starlight, rays shot off them forming entire constellations of different latencies that could then compile into market data, this amalgamation of images from the user interested in baseball servers or another’s frequenting of the seductive lover scenario often that would alter them into a kind of serene plaza or street that elapsed between us, and maybe users would call that life.

knowing parts of narrative design, this server was no exception, reonuxala insisted on a relaxed environment akin to the maid cafes in japan built like imitation castles and chateau hotels. these were enough to construct a composite environment, highlighting concentration points within the space such as people seating near the fountain or wanting to be near the balconies, something of an ancient high life with hidden debaucheries that pulled at the stiff manners, scantily clad maidens under arches and nude statue fountains, stones carved into chiseled bodies with decorative vines laced around the doors for 18+ sections. we would enter the server’s data and models before our eyes swooped into an empty silhouette wandering the pinstriped columns while testing thousands of scenarios from reonuxala’s different personalities to the different situations that can be encountered., these parameters hovered in the air , within the reonuxala avatar’s steps, the flick of her tongue on her teeth, her breath, her manners before fulfilling them in this soft sequence that didn’t rush from one set to the next, unless it was requested of course. through test interactions, we sat at tables with the avatars or strolled through the space, light shone crosses on the amethyst tiled floor before flying out of the silhouette avatar before launching up to see it from above, the 18+ rooms looked like blocky paws of this creature that must have been the limbs that seemingly extended themselves out of the shy user, sensing their touch that was so unlike the pleasant yet distant affairs now muted into their palms reaching for that figure, calling for the real reonuxala within the wired who seemed to be there in front of them, stroking the avatar’s back yet she merely glanced the proceedings somewhere within the faint light, rippling just a moment. i remember hearing that avatar calibration to replicate heightened senses required intense concentration to align mental activity into the shaping of these avatars.

schemata was prominent in the american frontier midwest states to improve police response by mapping the rooms in their ui emitted by their limited bandwidth on each unit or if they have a TOC, they could guide through the operation, making predictions based on the room sizes and even seeing unguarded suspects who didn’t enable any kind of psychic silhouette to obscure them from schemata which didn’t render complex figures. it was particularly made famous when they hunted a gang leader named goldman who was a part of the old silk road trades trafficking weapons, drugs and even people in the real world and the wired, someone from the southern states claimed the other city state servers such as new atlanta harbored him but it was mostly conjectural disputes. i suppose reonuxala’s lick of her lips or smile, goldman’s movement of goods all sewed these connections in the wired somewhere, creating the narratives elapsing before us.

‘hey,’ kunakida said.

‘what’s up’

‘have you ever thought of god here in the wired?’

‘what brought this up?’

‘oh no, i just thought…that before people thought of god or miracles like this sudden alignment in everything, like the world had a spasm that righted itself but now on the wired, it’s like, everything’s connected already, in the same way some people thought of god that all life was together and things happens for a reason, of some kind anyway. so do you think god’s watching from the outside or do they still sow some miracles even in electric signals.’

perhaps god was like the user on the computer in the previous century who glimpsed these happenings that both watched and was part of these several connections that could still exist in this plane that seemed entirely separate but it seemed more like an old idea of an overseeing god that would be evoked in old-age surveillance that saw good citizens in its lens only passing by. maybe god was a stranger on the wired and that the heavens crashed through the sky until their light eroded all of the earth that appeared in brief unreal flashes. just then, i leaned back and someone bumped into me and with a flick of my head towards them, black lines sketched at the contours of a middle eastern girl with wavy mid-length hair and flannelled scarf, a cape housed body armour with a crest, the lines that scribbled around her arm spiked at this disturbance, the shape of her psycho-silhouette.

‘yo, watch it’ she said

‘you first, why’d you walk so close to these chairs anyway?’ i asked, a little annoyed i didn’t get one of those signal conductor apparatuses that extracted information from touch but even then, she didn’t move and through her graffiti shadow, her hands raised themselves curling into a light fist underneath a concealed holster under her arm, more a formality that outlined the situation as follows: the situation will escalate if any tension is applied. given this space’s clearanceware, no users were supposed to be able to bring any weapons so she must’ve been some kind of security personnel. although i was surprised it wasn’t someone inconspicuous in a suit although maybe the gallant cape fit the aesthetic.

‘hmph, just checking you out. you don’t look like you’re here for the café services. you’re not with any of the avatars’

‘not particularly, i’m just here on the part of a friend. i was on the production team’

‘really now,’ she said, her eyes jittered in place as i imagine her internal os scrolled through several dossiers

‘woaah that crest!’ kunakida exclaimed and i noticed on the girl’s body armour wrapped in a half shawl cape, an emblem of thin leaves beaded with fruit upon a sun. ‘what kind is it?’

‘it’s my own.’ she replied not taking her eyes off the unseen data.

‘wooow…it’s neat. about time someone did these utilitarian looks with some style’

‘mhm’ the middle eastern girl cleared her throat, ‘well i just need to keep an eye on things here as all. there’s the occasional user who acts up around here. besides there’s no better way to check than to disturb them a little. isn’t that how life can be sometimes’ she said. did it seem that the real was always this reluctant plane that we had to return to in the same way that children groaned about going home or maybe it was this chaotic realm that always found ways to jar us from our own machinations, appearing in the form of climate disasters from the previous centuries until the wired gave us this endless everyday of streets and fields that made the real all the more this primordial realm that dusted our fingers, dampened our heated limbs.

‘funny way of putting it. so we ‘re cool now?’ i ask her.

‘for now…’ she narrowed her eyes before turning away but then one of the reonuxalas appeared to us dressed in a formal suit but beamed upon seeing us.

‘marsa!’ she said. ‘things are looking good!’

‘i see,’

‘didn’t expect to see you here little fox’ she snickered and i only roll my head to the side as she remembered that when she tried one of the sultry scenarios, i mostly said nothing, looking away as the avatar made attempts to get close to me assuring me we could be the same if we wanted to here, stroking my knee as i scooted away before returning onto schemata, assuring reonuxala herself that it works although in my confirmations, she only stared a moment before agreeing, that momentary silence between that must have confirmed something else entirely.

‘right…well. kunakida wanted to show as all’

‘awwh, well kun-kun think you can design something sometime, i’d like to try more midriff wear sometime.’

‘niaya, that could be something. i’d like to do all kinds of things for design with you and the other gendered avatars you have’

‘ahhh you fujoshis. i’m still working on voice training for those without relying so much on pitch tuners’

‘you do voice rendering too?’

‘yeah, gotta make it all real somehow. so you can hear my voice’

‘all in the needed time’ i replied.

‘shall we get going?’ marsa offered.

‘yes, well…i’ll see you later!’ she waved, blowing a kiss to kunakida.

they both leave and wonder what all that was about. while i heard of some users breaking server guidelines, i didn’t think she’d call actual security operators. however my thoughts are interrupted upon kunakida putting her head beside my shoulder looking at them.

‘i think they might be together’

‘are you waiting for them to hold hands? what if that’s just an avatar’

‘oooh that’s so interesting. like maybe marsa’s in love with reonuxala but everytime they touch she only feels the palms of the avatar, not sensing the real her…’ she went on about her fanfiction but i continue to look at marsa who walked between the different tables, perhaps concealed even when looking at each of them through schemata or the default viewer that let one watch any of the tables before sending a request to join a table or create a new one with their own parameters, their conversations darted around in laughter and confirmations or mock denials, these different poses glimpsed in each moment. several users wandered and i wondered if marsa was actively searching through one of them and perhaps there is something going on and i get up from my seat as well.

‘i’m gonna check something out.’

‘niayayniaya, just don’t break anything’

users flit around me, some stand near the tables watching in near meditative silence as those with reonuxala’s avatars moved within their eyes and i walk past, others dawdle in the slightest fidgets, thinking which table to enter or if they should just go alone, thinking of it like its own ritual of appearing before another person, whereas in groups, there was the slightest bit of invisibility they could afford amidst the chatter. however, one user walks past, their contours serrate, face and chest waver in the light before settling back again as if a reflection disturbed from a raindrop but soon they emerged again walking to another table using some concealer to avoid being detected right away from the entry/exit systems, yet they were completely unaware even as i walked towards them, a single step and in an exhale, flowing across the signals that darkened around me, a spasm from the user threw off their concealer, their amok hands let me seize them by the wrist pinning it to their back while activating a lock-out procedure which prevents anything or anyone within the user’s psycho-silhouette or grasp to log out but it doesn’t activate and in that lapse i realize the café had turned into until purple surrounded us almost as if within a bruise and below us, the tiled floor spilled across the ground like blood while a few of the columns remained. marsa approaches, or more precisely, she arrived on inline skates whose wheels rolled over the floor in a sound like babbles of water where she stood and paused at a distance, placing us at effective firing range should she draw her weapon.

‘well, i’d rather have done this elegantly, i suppose you must be punished for your disturbance’

‘what do you mean? i work here too you know?’

‘it would have been best not to disturb our clients here’

‘well, this is rather surreal, isn’t it? i guess maybe for those of us who fire guns on the wired, this old world seems nothing more than what it is’

‘do not associate me nor reonuxala’s work so casually with such.’ she spat before she gestured to hand over the user. doing so with a push, he stumbles and shadows rushed from the ground, revealing themselves in the light as flesh sucked themselves onto the user’s feet and bound their arms behind them, signals blunted around them, unable to move or use their internal os. marsa then asked. ‘what were you doing jumping in and out of the servers’

‘what? it’s not uncharacteristic behaviour’

‘this is a place of sociality. you could’ve made your own room but the fact you were doing what you were doing seems too deliberate of an act’

‘you know nothing…’ they seethed. ‘do you know the truth huh huh huh that put you and that woman together in the first place that’s so conspiratorial?’

‘the only conspiracy i’m seeing is whatever shady nonsense you’re spouting.’

‘yeah, yeah, you always say that kind of trite phrase of yours whenever coming up on something that seems like the truth all these naysayers deny deny deny and you think things are normal as they should well i tell you what‘

we waited in silence as his rant cut abruptly, his lips tremble waiting to start again before other security teams appeared with marsa. the nature of his words were very common among the conspiratorial circles that wore the word truth so threadbare that its proclamations became little more than whispers within the wired, the century old paintings marked up in red marker little shapes that seemed to be common among all of them, making signs towards secret societies that directly controlled everything but even with what I’d seen, such things sounded like it was straight out of a horror game server narrative as these so called monsters dispelled across the smooth floors and did not so much control things rather than just watch them, perhaps in the same way we did looking at people or users in the same space and associating them together like kunakida’s fanfiction. although even as producer involved me with tai shu kwong, crineberg, or even the moon protégé triads, it seemed everything seemed so casual as none of them involved any kind of secret dungeons and it merely seemed like business, an incidental connection that moved data or products that was its own kind of latticed vestibule that oversaw these conspiracies. if anything, the briefest interruptions of these flows, invited talks of conspiracy so maybe they secretly wanted a world that moved so perfectly.

marsa locked access privileges while i received an after action report, as if to retain the formality that i was still a consultant and that security matters are also part of my concern. i soon returned to the café with the sound of chatter swelled up broken by the footsteps of wandering users, the water splashing in the fountain and it made that earlier ordeal seem like a small mental disturbance that brought a pause to one’s thoughts, even stopping their pacing to follow that pool of forgetting down until that memory flickers again clear like an ember. soon i return to my room, a weak pulse of fluorescence upon the sensations of my hands going through some notes and eating before returning to the wired on a server, modelled after a north american old plaza, the walls stretches of pale pink paint, chipped slightly with blue cornices, walls with little gardens at the top surrounded a court of tables frosted in fluoresence while neon blushes on alabaster faces of the occasional statue of nude sitting figures, the tragic figure whose chiseled expressions were the only thing that differentiated them from the smooth stone faces, white light beamed from a monitor until its rays dimly illuminated the walls of a dark room. users post their messages in conversations on a bbs open on my os retaining the old scroll of topic threads from paranormal sightings to conspiracies, thinking these old ways were best to retain some level of anonymity, threads whisper like ghosts within the empty plaza, these ebbs within the neon whose waves washed up across glass panes as my os projected the current topic onto it.

‘there’s this audio file floating around. don’t know where its recorded and it doesn’t even have a signal origin’

‘goobers getting fooled again’

posts that said ‘die’ flickered between these amidst other replies.

‘this number sequence might have occult significance but idk man’

‘isn’t this reader of this sound kinda hot?’

‘isn’t this poster in need of some bitches. fuck these anons here are always coming here with this shit. go wipe your fucking mouth of spittle and cum and go the fuck outside’

‘isn’t this poster in need of some bitches. fuck these anons here are always coming here with this shit. go wipe your fucking mouth of spittle and cum and go the fuck outside’

‘isn’t this poster in need of some bitches. fuck these anons here are always coming here with this shit. go wipe your fucking mouth of spittle and cum and go the fuck outside’

‘isn’t this poster in need of some bitches. fuck these anons here are always coming here with this shit. go wipe your fucking mouth of spittle and cum and go the fuck outside’

‘isn’t this poster in need of some bitches. fuck these anons here are always coming here with this shit. go wipe your fucking mouth of spittle and cum and go the fuck outside’



amidst this, someone claimed the following:

‘the personality reonuxala posted an image of her new sports jersey outfit with the number 41 on the 22nd day. found number of clients were 35043 and 46922. Will investigate.’

‘re: reonuxala. posting fap material? send 18+?’

at the op’s post, i play the audio file and within a distorted guttural croak of some ancient radio, the static composes itself into a voice that read a number sequence in a metronomic rhythm.

22 33 4 23 17

41 28 48 12 41

43 11 25 4 25

46 29 14 12 21

32 39 12 50 22

42 49 47 10 38

36 23 21 45 22

3 17 43 21 20

33 34 9 38 34

48 38 7 11 31

i then post.

‘man where all the users at that would just threaten to straight up kill you on these posts. don’t see that anymore’

‘what do you think this is the ghetto’ another user going by exxxon_serpico replied, others posting image macros or rappers from the previous centuries.

‘killing is stupid’

‘says the people outta the wild west. you know those john wayne types probably fucked cows and had a dirty ass right?’ i said.

‘are you from the ghetto’

‘get on a chair and uh hang yourself’ i post

‘off topic’ another intervened

‘we got a ghetto-mog in here. get the forks boys’ exxxon_serpico posted

‘gonna swat me? tough luck on that shit, come shoot me yourself’ and then i follow with: ‘wait, fork? you wanna eat me? man, you revealing yourself ass out right now. too much’

‘you into vore?’ one of the posters replied to the ‘get the forks post’

‘post your address right now’

‘what and deprive you of the work? what happened to hard work?’

and it went on, the posts from this "conversation" made a riot that thrumming through my mind in a similar way to using the rhythm from ghosts of the fingers that once touched upon keyboards before hurtling epithets to them until even the frames of each post throbbed with the flood of incoming messages. entering my own os, i unpack the contents of the audio file with only the waveforms scribbled along the playback time measure line of 1:03 minute. tethering any line or association together, the nodes only flashed an antenna protruding out from a wall whose surfaces spiked out suggesting insufficient data. the only lead was marsa who will probably remain tight-lipped on any details from earlier but also concerned about reonuxala’s own confidentiality. looking at the after action report, the table servers the user appeared in were as follows:





i stared at the number tags for a moment almost in disbelief such a lineup of numbers even existed for that user to pursue. but such a string must have been enough to draw them in. just how immaculate these numbers were to conjure such a sequence and so they followed, as if to unfold a certain narrative. a kind of storybook that people told themselves that even things like the massive amounts of currencies would even prop up.

secrets, large and small always drew people in and did reonuxala appear to be in the center of it, those shrouding her hoping to get at her, this real her through the thousands of avatars seated in her cafes every day.

transferring out to the café server, i use the limited privileges to request an inquiry with marsa. upon processing it, i’m put into the café server where marsa waited for me, eyes flickering towards the other users before i sit beside her, the space melted around us in purple until only this fountain remained on a shred of tiles, the closed space she formed.

‘don’t worry about our avatars in the café. they’ll just be on idle. think of this like thinking other thoughts while going about daily life.’


‘what is the nature of your inquiry’

‘it’s about reonuxala. do you know anyone that’s targeting her?’

‘if it’s about that forum post, that’s irrelevant. It’s merely bad actors.’

‘i think the stage has more than bad actors.’

‘not our concern’

‘are you sure it’s nothing that could be related to anything about those number patterns whose sequence might i add have correlations? it’s imperative that one has full awareness of a situation even if it’s with mere security which is something an operator such as yourself should already know and enact especially if it’s to protect the integrity, safety and confidentiality of reonuxala.’

‘and what evidence do you have to suggest that they’re involved?’

‘on the time that user was following the tables they were following a set of tables with number codes exactly the same as the sequence posted on the bbs. don’t you think that might be more of a security vulnerability if you just dismiss it’

she said nothing but it set a precipice, an impenetrable ground that will only let passage across it but she would let nothing injure reonuxala or any business related to her. security vulnerabilities were only a matter she would handle, leaving the affairs of the café blurred around her, the sketches across her limbs grow more aggressive almost as if scribbling to weave a thousand lines spinning potential threats but seeing her unmoved expression gave no indication of concern.

‘well, i just need information.’

‘i have a report that i’ll give access too but that’s it. anything else will be ill-advised.’

‘ro-ger.’ i said before returning to the café space, the chatter bloomed with one of the reonuxala’s at my periphery moving as if a ghost just outside of these gatherings of tables. ‘she here today?’

marsa didn’t answer but i merely smile, establishing this silence as the imports and exports of our professional affairs before i settle down, logging out back into my room where my weight sinks at the table, opening the interface, checking various hallway feeds and motion detectors at each part of the hall. while being hunted in the real was rare, it was still a possibility to consider even if it seemed remote as what happened on the wired, this one more of a lurid fantasy that could intercut the strobe of the fluorescent light. returning to the plaza forum, i string together the numbers again, thinking of reonuxala but in the little island of ruins, only glimpses of her appeared within the cloud, unable to localize, neither circular to indicate a zone or a triangulation or even the boxed dimensions. however, someone did leave a message on the forum.

‘i’m waiting at palo shabba server.’ it said in reply to my previous message. given everyone were anons, finding them would take some work. palo shabba was a server of an old inner city with stairways to the entrances of apartments where people always loitered out front, basements rocked with parties that shook the first floor fading into the mumbles and throbs throughout the street that brought together the activities across them. other anons replied to the post, although seeming more like the remaining murmurs until the forum would cease action for a brief moment.

‘now kiss’

‘are we gonna film this?’

‘what does this have to do with the code?’

loading into the server, the place seems barren yet the music pulsed somewhere within american apartment blocks with windows decked in brick designs and slight arches. peering into them were empty offices bathed in white light almost like the salvations of a normal life whose machinations and thrums grazed upon calendars of beaches reserved some other vacation, models of cities that might rid of the city outside the office like it was the last chance of a future that could stare contemptuously or even just nostalgically at these apartments around it, crumbling slightly with vituperations occurring outside with only the creak from a swing at an empty playground shone under a parklamp of all these abandoned games that once played here as i turn my head, looking at the lone user that stood on the pavement with a greased up shirt bulged slightly by some kind of body armour, legs apart with some kind of revolver strapped to a rectangular pad also containing an unknown 9mm pistol wrapped in a velcro x . exxxon_serpico looked at me from the light, blushed a little before clearing their throat and that kind of look must have looked at some supple part of me even within this jacket.

‘s-so…i see you’ve arrived’ exxxon_serpico said

‘did you really have to pick a server like this? you really must be on some other shit to do this in an impoverished area’

‘well, it’s befitting of a killer such as yourself. to die in a place such as this’

‘that’s rather disgusting. pervertedly so, actually…’

‘you see, why fight it? we are the same actually. why did you come here in the first place?’

‘let me ask, what’ll happen if i shoot you right now’

‘enough of this,’ he said before picking up a can off the ground. ‘we start once the can hits the ground’ he said and lobs it up, the can leaves his hand slow, the inky night air thick with signals that sculpted the stride of our legs as the server disabled use of anything like step-transfer but with just a throw of my hand, the vp70 emerged out like a polymer shuttle launched across the air as he was between the ramps of the front sight, in a stumble yet it concealed his stance as his wrist flicked a revolver, its long barrel peeled at the rim into a front sight which he did not use, the pull of the revolver’s trigger enabled the hammer to strike the .357 magnum round in the cylinder knowing that anything before him would be instantly obliterated in the damnation of that shot its recoil stunted them still but they had no need to move as he saw the body before him falter into the darkness as if a bad dream. yet the silence cleaved did not offer peace as he turned toward his side as i emerge, electric signals coiled around my arms, reaching him yet entering in his radius, he swung his arm against his stomach where his revolver was right before me and as he pulled the trigger, the muzzle flash glazed across his beady eyes picqued upon his revolver suddenly pushed up as i use the recoil’s force to move it upwards, merely continuing the trajectory of the barrel as i plant the vp70m to their chest, the throbs of 9mm rounds tore through their shirt but their impact dulled against a steel plate carrier. before i could move any further, exxxon_serpico clenched their teeth and sensing a rift in their intention, i throw myself behind a parked car as a pulse rung out from him, little flakes fell into the air as the signals fell dead against his steps, unaffected by any modifiers from the wired as it was only us and our weapons until the cessation in the floes of signals sewed themselves again. on the defensive, he drew his 9mm pistol in his other hand and fired in my direction, letting its light envelop him as he moved almost like a ghost within its gold as he moved by the stairway flanked by a wall, using the extra step to mount his revolver before letting its shot punch into the splitting the fence around a tree until they seemed like stalks of iron growing out of the grate. out of the soil, the branches writhed from the veins within it, or rather the flow of the signals and wire frames bent into the leafless boughs as we exchanged gunfire that left us tangled, as recoil seized us out of the electric air as our nerves coursed flashes of sensation, the pavement under our steps trying to unwind ourselves, rotations of each passing round trying to draw us into the mortality that lay within our silhouettes that lagged behind us.

haze smothers the street until the bulbs of parklamps seemed like seeds in pools of orange as i try to echolocate, the halo on the ground ripples over the parked car and apartment but senses some disturbances in the middle of the street and i move across the tarmac . exxxon_serpico at least had the decency to conceal themselves but i leap forth, a step transfer takes me to a crouch behind the wall of a stairway, checking around me for any presence but the an approaching motor swallows up the calm as a large muscle car threw itself onto the street from around the corner, crystal headlights tipped like a blade off a long broad sabre , a large grille glimmered in the light that threw white river across the windshield until the occupants stepped out to pop smoke as a canister spun on the ground comsuming us in cloud-drift, as our figures sketched into the grey. one individual in a jacket plastered with logos moved away, diving towards the ground upon hearing, before scrambling forward from the tremor off exxxon_serpico’s revolver, magnum rounds punched the open door of the muscle car closed. the other occupant crouched looking towards my direction trying to discern something from the roof of the parked cars as the smoke thins out, the iron halo of the g3a3 already surrounds its target, its single spire risen before their crouched form and from here, just waiting for the final action.

a 7.62x51mm round speared through them, their hands opened involuntarily throwing a tmp machine pistol on the ground. while it did not hit a vital area, it was enough to incapacitate them. death meant little on the wired, only being these sudden blackouts that severed the pulses of blue but it almost seemed there was something pure about an unbroken life that somehow became this constant lingering. so, kill-farmers would show almost like these little reapers that’d inflict death upon other users, forcefully cutting them from their loops until they awoke back in their rooms, uncradled by signals where they faced the thin darkness of a room, even if they reached up towards the ceiling, the ache within their arm perhaps knowing their fingers would only skim across the surface, relieved only by the smallest of decays upon it. sliding to the rear quarter of the muscle car, the user in the tagged jacket focused the fire of their fmg-9 submachine gun, its length fanged at the sides, aiming through the sights between the handle while exxxon serpico continued to fall back towards the end of the street where a 1990s sedan with a hood dipped in a gentle curve towards long headlights approached to cut them off. exxxon serpico fell back but their open hands suddenly held spawned a long rifle in them, an edge pivoted out from the receiver where i perceived high calibre rounds within the short magazine. also seeing this, all the occupants got out, each pull of the trigger tore at metal as if an invisible mouth had sunken its teeth into the car door as all of the concrete rended into stillness from each round shot, and our steps seemed so limp within this calamity as i aimed for the car, crevices splattered out the broken windows but the car rocked to the side perhaps from exxxon serpico ducking to the side but soon the car drives off but oddly enough, the former occupants didn’t shoot back and as i watch, i try to find a way sneak out but the log-out failed, a psycho-silhouette pressed down on me until i couldn’t concentrate watching figures surround my position as if falling into darkness.

upon opening my eyes, a man sat on a couch, lounging in it, looking down, ornate lamps cast golden pools around us, sculpted in shadows. rather, their light sewed together these masses of static like the glow within the wired could invert into dark brackish algae. the man wore bandages wrapped around their neck all the way down to their arm while a ripped black jacket adorned his other arm but his sneer was apparent , the same kind that always avoided capture and every time someone attempted, he was always far away, watching it happen.


‘you read the papers?’

‘someone with a name like goldman is pretty well known. gold hasn’t lost its lustre’

‘and i can say i heard a lot about you too with your works with the megacorps and server consultations. If only you brought yourself a resume.’

‘should’ve known that those guys appearing weren’t just kill-farmers’

‘hm, well, everyone wants to play the big hero don’t they? conquering others…killing them…murder without consequence…but you don’t seem like that…you’re not appalled by it nor are you particularly moved by it…’

‘you’re rather sentimental, aren’t you, goldman.’

‘right, well there are only a few things that matter both on the real and the wired. goods and movement. only now, goods can be anything, makes the organ trade look tame and archaic…so where shall we move you’

‘if you’re arranging something, i can give you a practical measure and hunt down this user, exxxon serpico for you. your boys didn’t fire when he took that car, so obviously something’s in it.’

‘you quite observant’

‘well gotta know things when i see em’

‘that server you boys were in, palo shabba is my server. i use it as a little off the books party space. a little similar to new atlanta but without high corps on it. but it does get a bit grating when people want to play go postal on there for some reason’

‘well, there goes the excess of crime’

‘excess is almost archaic now. data is data and even the supposed numbers it contains no longer have any fixed value, so we have to at least keep something worthwhile’

‘that car is one of those, and exxxon serpico’s now a target. i get one, i get both. let me track them and the car is yours.’

‘no actually, i will. my two operatives have a deal with someone in the southern villas who might be related to your target. you have your target and my business. plus, i am aware of your work as a tai shu affiliate’

‘you’re very astute. your business connections could rival the likes of victor from new atlanta’

‘we just make connections. deroca and lestrani will meet you’

‘so how do you plan to find him?’

‘how do you think we found and know about you’

blinking, the lock-out releases and i log out, landing back in the dark recesses in my room, single fluorescent light shrouds around me as i open the interface at the security cameras, detecting no movements apart from the shadows that scurry out of view, these images of empty corridors flippeding through my mind, seeking that one figure to approach, seeming itself no more than a picture and the disconnected signals from my own tensed nerves, prickling on my skin from the static, conducted.

tiles of posts ask about the shootout in palo shabba with some party goers saying they heard some loud bangs while other posted shaky video footage in this mosaic of views patched together in a kind of kaleidoscope mirror, each vector of the post bends the street within the video, the figures in them until they fold or recur around me. looking into the numbers came long posts about how users found the numbers in innocuous ways like rolling 12 rare items and then encountering 50 second loads through dungeons in a mmorpg. no sign of exxxon serpico’s post or even someone posting the way he does. closing the os, fluorescence glazes the countertops and shelves with figurines and worktable where the vp70m machine pistol and g3a3 battle rifle sat but even then, no amount of light changed the heft of this room that i would always find myself crashing down into, the dioramas of character unmoved in their little islands, my return to this room to eat meals between entering the wired, or sleeping, almost like this tether and did one think that only in the wired, did things happen, did things change, somehow freed from the mundanities that churned within our innards, our hungers that somehow someone would still try to point to, the ghost of organs that’d cause us to have to return to its primordial systems. i had heard things such as organ traffickers attempting to augment the feeling of being on the wired by having direct body parts as reference points for virtual spaces but it sounded more like just a mere story, the tragic body that clutched at itself from the flashes of synapses where their nerves showed these irradiated fields that in their hands, the static had suddenly planed into blades of grass, and the truth of the convulsions within their innards became distant, no longer this solemn little death only noticed by the slightest ebb within the endless light.