Authors: Marco Santini
Tags: #artificial intelligence, #cyberpunk, #hard scifi, #cyborgs, #transhumanism, #technological singularity, #kurzweil
by Marco Santini
November 23, 2014
Published by Marco Santini at Smashwords
Copyright Marco Santini 2007-2014
Smashwords Edition, License Notes
Standard Copyright License - All right reserved
Cover design by Lilia Morales y Mori
INT. NET RESTAURANT -- NIGHT
Net sites are marked on the screen by a red blinking
A hall crowded with customers in elegant suits.
In a cheerful dance, laser beams are criss-crossing
the gigantic hologram of a Christmas tree with iridescent
On one side, three colored musicians dressed in white
are performing compositions from past times. In the background, are
the LONGING SOLO played by a frenzied trumpet and HOARSE
VICTORIA (soul, apparently mid 20's - a human
digitized after death becomes a soul) is at a table checking her
appearance in a mirror: raven hair, naked shoulders, a blue lace
dress revealing her perfect breasts.
The chair in front is empty. She concentrates on the
clients at the entrance. Elegant overcoats.
There is JAMES (human, 30 years old, handsome). In
dinner-jacket, with a white handkerchief in his breast pocket. A
waiter rushes to him and points to the table.
James hurries towards Victoria. He bends.
This evening will be just for us.
I feared you had forgotten me.
James sits. He looks through the menu. He raises his
What about an epoch dish?
Victoria nods. James places the order touching the
A waiter arrives. Victoria stares in silence at him
pouring a vintage Bordeaux into crystal goblets. Then she rotates
the glass gently. Ruby color, fruity aroma.
A sad smile comes to her lips.
Is there anything wrong?
For you it is easy. You spend your day in the real
world. Instead I'm here waiting for you all day long.
James stretches his harm along the table.
When I met you in Net after my accident, I thought
our love could withstand forever. Not even my death had separated
us! I gave up the dehumanization, to remain the person you
Now I'm not sure anymore.
I realize how difficult is.
I believed I could integrate in the digital world.
But without dehumanization, I am too different from the other
You should return to the real world.
caressing Victoria's hand
You can install inside a gynoid. I'll buy it for
We could sleep together at least!
But what shall we do if the law making dehumanization
touching lightly Victoria's nose with his
I don't think so: the opposition is very strong. But
now let's enjoy this evening. I want to see you smiling!
INT. EARTH SECURITY HEADQUARTERS -- NIGHT
Absorbed expressions, strained faces.
The officers are all turned to the head of the table,
where C573Y (digital being, now installed in an android -
apparently middle-aged) is waiting for the final arrivals.
His words RESOUND in the large space.
We can start. Three hours ago a satellite of ours
intercepted a message encrypted with a secret technology. This
system was destined to replace the one currently in use.
He inspects the ten members while tension becomes
The theft happened in our cryptography center. Just
where we thought it impossible.
This means that the whole security system of the
Confederation is at risk. I have informed the President.
Do you have any idea about the authors?
The message was sent from the Space Agency.
The officers exchange pensive looks.
This technology can be used to build undetectable
viruses. The Agency is involved with the Alpha Centauri project.
According to the last reports, the number of extremists interested
in making fail the transfer of the digital people to the nearest
star system is raising sharply.
The Caravels are sailing in a month.
If we are dealing with terrorists, the countdown has
already begun. We should be prepared for the worst scenarios. I
fear an attack like that against the city of Net Heaven: all the
population's backups erased.
I wonder if they are really terrorists. These
criminals are professionals.
Did you prepare a list?
It will be available soon. We believe they rely on
addressig his assistant
Can you bring us up to date on the
Our agents are already in the Space Agency and in the
cryptography center. Our A.I. programs are making rapid progress:
records and data banks seized, control of the staff started.
He points at the wall. Three faces appear: a man in
his fifties and two young women. The assistant stops for a
Here are the principal suspects. Paul Widman is the
Space Agency deputy manager. We believe the message was sent from
his computer. A very good record of service. The natural successor
to the present director who is retiring within two years. An
irreproachable life till a few months ago, when he got involved in
Linnh Yung, the New Technology manager. An
appointment in information security.
They were all convinced she would be entrusted with
the management of the Alpha Centauri project, but at the last
moment the choice fell on an outsider. She confided to a colleague
about being quite embittered. She is Widman's closest collaborator,
and she has probably an affair with him. During her university
studies, she took part in hacking. This came to our knowledge
during the interrogation of some hackers.
The assistant stops while gazing at the third
Eve Dirac doesn't have any relationship with the
Agency, but she was Linnh Yung's roommate at university and she is
among the few people with the technical expertise of the criminals.
After a short period in the army, she devoted herself to research,
excelling in the artificial intelligence field. She was a member of
the committee for the certification of the soul programs till a
scandal broke. She had favored some software producers. Then her
suicide, about thirty years ago. After entering Net, she
Widman and Yung are under surveillance. But it won't
be easy to find Eve Dirac.
EXT. net street -- EVENING
Victoria is walking briskly along a dimly lit street,
looking around all the time. She stops in front of a maze of
speaking to herself
I didn't have to take that short cut!
She resumes her walk. Around, sidewalks full of
rubbish. In the air, stench of rotten food.
Every now and then shabby people cast menacing
glances at her.
She reaches the middle of the lane, and following a
smelly drain, quickens her steps.
A drunk bumps into her, and, while grumbling,
continues his walk.
She feels uneasy. She buttons up her dustcoat.
Then a WHISTLE, from afar. She doesn't notice it. A
second one, closer.
Victoria stops dead. She looks back out of the corner
of her eye.
Three dark figures are staring at her under a street
lamp, a hundred meters away. Nobody else.
She springs forward, her heart in the mouth.
Neglected warehouses. Doorways boarded up with panels.
She glances right and left. Nothing. Still
SHOUTS from behind.
She stops in front of a wall blocking the road.
Impossible to climb over it. She is BREATHING WITH DIFFICULTY.
She turns her head towards a dark corner. Hidden by a
rubbish heap, there is a small door... Half-closed!
She rushes into and bolts it.
INT. net warehouse -- MOMENTS LATER
Victoria gropes for a switch, then looks around. She
has ended up in a storehouse. Without windows and secondary exits.
She runs up the stairs to an inner balcony.
INTERCUT BETWEEN NET STREET AND WAHREHOUSE
The three reach the entrance. Their chief, a guy with
his face half blue half red, indicates the sides of the building.
SHORT LOUD ORDERS.
Then he reaches the main entrance. He puts his hand
up. Black gloves, cut at the knuckles. Claws as sharp as knives,
able to terminate any program.
A few slashes on the hinges. The door crashes NOISILY
to the ground.
Victoria watches the scene from the balcony. She
springs towards a dark corner. An emergency exit! Her QUICK
She flings open the door, looks down. On the
sidewalk, a large and squat being is waiting for her.
Long folded limbs, like a toad's. On its face,
iridescent scales. A wicked smile.
With a GURGLE, it jumps onto the rungs, covers two of
them at a time, helping itself with the handrail. The stairs
Victoria rushes inside. She flies towards a pile of
goods and curls herself among the sacks.
In the meantime the chief has reached the balcony. He
stops, looks around, smells. LOUD steps. Nearer and nearer.
She holds her breath. SILENCE.
Now he is in front. Bloodshot eyes. His claws by his
Then, just a WHISPER.
Run to your right. I am going to open a tunnel five
Victoria jumps, and even before touching the ground,
the passage closes behind her.
INT. net elects' hideout -- NIGHT
Victoria tumbles down onto a stony surface. With an
aching shoulder, she looks around: a cavern.
EVE (soul, apparently mid 30's, golden hair), is
standing straight in front of her.
Victoria bursts into tears. The other kneels down and
hugs her. She has a SOFT VOICE.
Here you are safe.
Victoria gradually calms down.
My name is Eve. And you?
How did you get into your head to go to that
I took a short cut to home. I lost my way.
Luckily I saw those criminals.
How did you bring me here?
It was a child's play...
Where are we?
Just under the warehouse. I live here with my
friends. Come with me!
They join three people.
I'd like to introduce Victoria to you.
Nice to meet you.
Three tugs attached her. I arrived just in time.
turning towards Victoria
Now relax. What about dining with us?
They set out for a table.
Outside it's dangerous. You can sleep here.
They sit down on benches. Victoria places herself
Other people arrive, now they are about ten.
On the table, bread, fruit and wine.
An unusual dinner for souls!
This evening we are celebrating your rescue. And
then, this is the best way to relive our past.
They chat. A guy with dark complexion reports a funny
fact happened a few hours before. A woman with freckled skin is
laughing heartily while telling a joke. Only a few phrases are
When the participants take their leave, to reach
their rooms, Eve gets near Victoria.
There is a small lake near here, what about going for
INT. net elects' hideout lake -- NIGHT
The two women set out along a tunnel covered with
sharp-cornered stones, leaning from time to time against the
After about ten minutes, they emerge in a large
space. Huge stalactites hang from the vault.
They sit on a boulder, turned towards the waters of
an underground lake ten meters ahead.
An expanse like oil, getting lost in the darkness of
The faint light of a few torches hanging on the
walls, transforms the rocks into ghosts emerging from the