The flooded section of town was a slum in the worst sense. The combination of earthquakes undermining the streets and the sea level rise almost three meters at this point, and projected to go further had resulted in most of the population either migrating inland, up into the mountains, or behind the dykes. Some madmen, criminals, and disenfranchised youth still lived out here in the lagoons that had been lower LA.

Some people we're all three, and they tended to be worse than the sum of their parts. When the aging GMs had released the results of the Human Totality Project, they didn't know what they we're doing: Their children had suddenly learned treatments to increase the intelligence of their progeny past the two hundred mark, up five sigmas on the scale.

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And when those children came of age, many tried to push it further.

We didn't think it should go further, honestly. It was in our charter: The Armitage Ludocorporation had been established to limit human cognitive enhancement after the first so-called rampancy.

I remember one operation, in late October. It was boiling hot, almost forty degrees out, maybe over. A record-setter, even in that benighted climate.

We had been tracking changes in power consumption.

This wassix, seven years?after the introduction of wireless power, so the stations just radiated their power out above the height of all the buildings, and anyone who wanted could just throw up an aerial. Played he'll on the birds every now and then a roast seagull who had flown too high would drop out of the air and go plunk into the lagoons, or carve a gouge into the Earth. Some people outside the dikes took to catching those that dropped with nets and eating them, many caught staphylococcus or worse things.

And good luck getting antibiotics. On the off chance that worked, you we're likely to kill your gut bugs and end up dying of malnutrition. Better to just hope you don't die from the infection and remember to cook your meat better the next time.

But you could easily track power use by charting complaints about low signal strength. Every time someone threw up a new aerial it played havoc with the system and everything had to be recalibrated.

A few days of weakly glowing lights and a few dead seagulls later, and everything was good as new.

One day everyone on Santa Catalina and other places out south complained of low signal. Some even took skiffs in to complain in person, a trip that no doubt thinned the hull of their boats a significant amount, eaten away by the acid.

So the local net lit up with a request for help, determining where things went wrong. Armitage got a call, and we launched some drones, maybe a half-dozen. Collected a few terrabytes of data before they we're inevitably hacked and pirated.

But we triangulated the problem the first three established the big area, the second three tightened it, and we we're planning to continue on down but we lost the drones.

No one's going to just let hardware like that sit up in the sky. Not when you can use it to spy on your neighbor, maybe catch her climbing out of the shower through the window.

We checked the local coverage of that area established the target through visualization, the latency on the routers in the area. All the bandwidth in that spot was eaten up. We lost one of the drones to that it's encryption busted in the blink of an eye.

We figured that the combination of major power drain and a bandwidth drought meant that something bad was going on, probably something that needed our intervention.

We took some ACVs down into the old warehouse district that the problem was in if the roofs we're low enough, we could skid right over them, but enough breached the sea level that we couldn't do much.

I'd only been on three or four god-bothering expeditions, and it was always terrifying. No one ever achieved it in the same way, but it was always a sight.

We cut through the walls on the second story in three places, some ex-military types coming through first. Old hands who knew how to clear a room thanks to the troubles at the tail of the last century. Then came the specialists. A few IT people, a surgeon, and me, the shrink.

He was just a kid.

Fourteen if he was a day. He'd set up a clean room, and the whole outside of it was crawling with waldo arms and drones. Inside, he had wired himself into a computer. And I mean wired, raw and bleeding.

The top of his head I assume he did it, but who knows was sawed open, and he had this clear plastic over his dome. You could see where he had sutured wires into the folds of his brain. The dome leaked blood and cerebrospinal fluid. It lit up from inside with sparks, flashing and strobing.

His eyes we're wide and glassy, his body emaciated. But all around him and outside we're these cameras, they flexed and focused and watched us.

I can still see it when I close my eyes. This lost little kid, a one-man singularity show.

The drones turned on us, and our security detail opened fire, took out the crawling and clanking threat.

He screamed when we opened the chamber, told us to get out. The surgeons and IT people disconnected him slowly, but we didn't understand what he had done to himself. He died of shock on the way to the hospital.

They say you can do anything to a human you can do to a rat, and we can do a lot to rats. But the real question is should we?

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Posted in Pets Post Date 02/19/2021






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