Thursday, January 26, 2017

States of Change: Chapter 4: Empire of the South

**States of Change is a Goodness First work of serial, speculative fiction that takes place in 2076, several decades after the United States has defederalized. The story and subtext are provided for reader entertainment and contemplation. Feel free to comment on the ongoing story-line and themes .**

Falcon Stadium Shelter loomed below in the early dawn light as the Drifter Ultra autonomous transport descended along its approved approach trajectory. Transport designation KYTT-731 ran a continuous series of self-diagnostics and task option routines in preparation for its inaugural day of duty. It had already successfully made its first client pick-ups enroute from the Amazon-Boeing refurb complex north of Atlanta. With the transport's charges safely tranquilized, KYTT-731 float-glided in a graceful helix into the flower-like opening of the stadium rooftops. 

KYTT-731 not only resembled a tiny pollinating insect from afar, it actually incorporated hive-style cybernetic networking in its wetware. Once below the stadium's extensive glass parapets KYTT-731's programming and navigation sensors permitted casual avoidance of the other airborne transports already busy about their day. With plenty of processing overhead assigned to maneuvering, KYTT-731 activated Curiosity Mode to better monitor the habitat areas below.

The stadium mega shelter had just celebrated two decades of service, having been converted to a state-of-the-art animal shelter shortly after Georgia joined the Southern Security State Consortium back in the '50's. The Thousand Protocol of that agreement had implemented strict venue restrictions to avoid future Big Six style mass homicides. That protocol might forbid the congregating of humans in numbers greater than one thousand, but no such mandate applied to non-human animals.

Scanning the stadium landscape, KYTT-731 reviewed compliance parameters with Falcon Stadium Shelter's primary mission: housing, care and placement of displaced Felis catus individuals, both of feral and stray origin. Since Georgia eschewed genetic modification and euthanization strategies it had implemented what it saw as the most humane path to controlling the invasive species: Trap, Spay, Contain and Care. Though relatively expensive the stadium shelter program had been the archetype model among the Level Two Animal Rights States

As KYTT-731 crossed the one time gridiron field it identified visually 3,031 of the 74,994 felines documented to be in residence. That, of course, didn't include the three feline charges in its hold, each currently napping soundly under mild sedation for transport. The remainder of the shelter cat population would be sleeping, undergoing veterinary exams, hanging out with volunteer human companions, or just hiding out of sight or playing in the many habitat areas. Implant scantags linked each individual to its dossier. Each file contained an online medical history, given name and a compiled narrative which included an extensive behavioral profile with commentary. 

Numerous figures in addition to the resident cats moved among the numerous structures and habitat foliage that ran from field level way up into the nosebleed sections.  Cleanerbots, roll-transports, green-hatted garden-techs, and orange-hatted vet-techs by the dozen meandered about. Even a couple early-bird, blue-hatted volunteers could be seen in this hanging garden of Babylon. The stadium garden was actually composed of more than three thousand separately maintained gardens niches and safe playspaces to encourage the happiest of cat communities.  Each area thrived with lithe furry bodies in motion and emanating a panoply of meows and purrs.

KYTT-731 cursorily integrated the Curiosity Mode data observations it had collected with the shelter database stats.  The aggregate model confirmed the assessment that the shelter space was in overall good health. KYTT-731 shared those conclusions with the stadium controllers just as it received clearance to land at Reception Pad Six.  KYTT-731 swooped around the Veterinary Hospital "Endzone" complex and headed toward the northeast to comply. 

Sitting patiently for a few seconds on the landing pad, KYTT-731 identified the approaching figure as the transport project manager, Dr. Serena Juliette.  Given the idle time before her arrival, KYTT-731 refreshed its helium reserves and balanced its solar and thorium energy source loads. It then reviewed all available information about its assignment, giving elevated cognitive attention to expected partnerships and outcomes.

"Good morning Dr. Juliette."

"Good morning KYTT-731," the orange-hatted woman returned, glancing up from her datapad with a smile. 

"Your diagnostics and security clearances check. Designation update: KYTT-731, your primary designation is now Pouncer. You're one of the crew now. Welcome aboard!"

"Thanks Dr. Juliette. I appreciate the feline related sentiment. If you don't mind I think Bounder would be a better nickname for myself."

Dr. Juliette laughed.

"Your wetware's got some spunk. Fine. Bounder it is.

She nodded behind her visAR confirming the name change.  

"Ok Bounder, join up with Redclaw and Buzzaroo to shadow for the rest of the day to build up your heuristics. That is, of course, after you discharge these three kitties at Quarantine. Oh and be sure your external feeds are in Free Stream Mode. Crowdsource funding and accountability third parties rely on continuous data flow. Some of your footage just might end up in PR space."

"Free Stream Mode is now active. Thank you Dr. Juliette the kind welcome. It is good to be here."

The Drifter Ultra Transport rose smoothly and pivoted toward its destination, simultaneously sending out a welcoming HIWIFI handshake to the forty-nine other transports currently operational, both roller and hover, in addition to a hello-mail to the public shoutboard.

"Hi!!! This is Bounder. I'm bringing three beautiful, young cats to registration, each in need of names. I'm sure they're looking forward to joining the shelter community as much as I am."

Thursday, January 19, 2017

States of Change Chapter 3: The Garden

**States of Change is a Goodness First work of serial, speculative fiction that takes place in 2076, several decades after the United States has defederalized. The story and subtext are provided for reader entertainment and contemplation. Feel free to comment on the ongoing story-line and themes .**

Lacey reclined on the blanket Patra had spread in the pine grove hollow.  The smell of shortleaf and pitch pine hung like a subtle enchantment about them. It added to the comfort of the firm bed of fallen needles beneath them.   Several raptors circle-drifted high above in a silence of sky only occasionally severed by the doppler of a delivery drone on its low altitude journey.

"Look at those black vultures up there," shared Lacey as Patra joined him laying alongside, snuggling into the arc of his extended upper arm.

"Arr Aay Emm. How do you make bio Aye Dee's so easily with your visAR in red mode, Lace?"

"The white wing tips are the giveaway. Can't depend on cloud Aay Arr for everything."

"I don't, " she retorted, playfully jabbing him in the ribs, yet leaving her visor in active mode, as if to contradict.

Lacey laughed. "How dependent we've become on the augment. Bet you'd forget my name if you didn't have an overlay to remind you!"

"I won't have to remember it in True," she quipped, "since tomorrow you're going out of State, taking the deserter's offline path."

"Yeah. I'll miss you too." Lace double-blip paused then continued with seriousness engaged. "Patra, it will be good to fly Truly free for a while offcloud entirely. In a way I think it will be like those raptors up there. Can you imagine the how-where of their view?

"No need to imagine; most of 'em have Tee-Rackers." She single-blip paused. "Looks like this morning they swooped over the Seven Three Two quadfarms: mostly blueberry fields, cranberry bogs and the east end of Batsto Hydroponic; and twenty-three minutes ago they arrived above us here at Pinelands Area Kay."

"Ell! Ohh! Ell! Augment swoops in for the overkill. So, did you know this area used to be called The Pine Barrens back in the twentieth...and shut that visAR off, will you? I want to spend this last day with you, not your cloud acrobatics."

"VisAR, hover mode," Patra monotoned. "There. Happy now?"

Lacey sighed. "Anyway. It must be amazing to live a life in flight, keeping ones senses tuned outward in search of food...and of being alive. I guess that's what appeals to me most about heading outta State."

"I thought your primary was to settle down. Find a woman to procreate with and all."

"Clinical as ever, Dr. Pee. But sure, the lottery in Jersey ain't working for me. I've had balls for ten years now, and I guess part of going fully trans was to pursue fatherhood, you know, raising a family with a woman I love."

"And my love ain't karmic enough, Aay Bee See?"

"C'mon, we've been through this. We are soul mates, just of a different kind. You're fine with the PopCap standards Jersey adopted. Me, I want a son or daughter to raise and inspire. Needing State approval to override my sperm valve drives me fragging nuts!  And yes that pun was intended!"

It was Patra's turn to sigh.  "What will you do if you can't obtain State residency at the end of your Intrastate visa? Will you come back to little Enn Jay?"

"Eff Eff Enn. Jerseyians are so spoiled! You all brags how Enn Jay is the only State to make post scarcity economics actually work. But at what cost. Everything is so automated, you never feel entirely alive.  And limiting human residents to two mill has driven the State to a dystopian extreme; it's made our people as soft as they are prosperous."

Patra retorted, "Don't Trumpty Dumpty what works. You can call Jersey a proggy art colony with mech-farms all day long, but it doesn't change the fact personal creativity and health thrive here well above any of the other fifty-one."

"Well I'm not thriving! That's why I'm getting out, Patra."

An uneasy silence fell between the two. All the while, June sunshine, wispy clouds, and a scattering of Tee-Racker black vultures gazed down upon them. And in that silence their embrace side-to-side grew tighter, as even stubborn tectonic plates are apt to do, given enough time. Eee Enn Dee.

Friday, January 13, 2017

States of Change: Chapter 2: Keystone

**States of Change is a Goodness First work of serial, speculative fiction that takes place in 2076, several decades after the United States has defederalized. The story and subtext are provided for reader entertainment and contemplation. Feel free to comment on the ongoing story-line and themes .**

"Donald, after examining the Liberty Bell, what is your impression?"

"It's an old, dusty lump of metal with a crack in it, Mrs. N.  A reminder of a flawed era long forgotten."

"That's a bit harsh. The crack in the bell is actually a hairline defect. What most people call the crack is really a repair. Valeria, do you agree with Donald's assessment?"

"Well such an acoustic bell is of archaic design. Still it's an example of effective pubcomm tech used for both secular and sectarian purposes at the time. Emergency sirens, radio alerts and mass tweets are other examples of obsolete PSA tech."

"So the Liberty Bell served a function for society.  Ayaan, can you build on Valeria's comments?"

"Um, I know during AmRev wartime the metal of town bells was often sought after by the Redcoat army for use in munition manufacture. So maybe the Liberty Bell was reveled because it represented colonial resistance to the British Empire.

"That's a well reasoned position. Marina, do you have anything to add?"

"Well Mrs. N, we learned when the States were federated, Philadelphia became the national capitol for a while. Perhaps icons like Independence Hall, Ben Franklin and the Liberty Bell were turned into story-like tropes to coerce the States to remain incorporated in spite of their distinct value differences."

"Ciertamente! As a bit of trivia, this 4th of July would have been the Tricentennial Celebration of the United States.  Perhaps, if Nine Eleven and Big Six hadn't happened we Pennsylvanians would still be celebrating it.

"Ok class, take any last data grabs for your weekly project from the VR sim.  Be sure to file your media collages with embedded references in the exhibition v-space by COB today. Online evaluations of other students' work are due Monday. Have a great weekend! Class dismissed."



"Off bye."

"Mrs. Nguyen?"

"Yes Donald, make your question snap. I have another sixth grade state history class connecting in 5 minutes."

"Well, you mentioned you saw the Liberty Bell in TR when you were a kid. Was it different than the cloud-sim?"

"That was more than fifty years ago, Donald. But yes, you know the True Reality vibe.  With the Liberty Bell you still couldn't touch it in its museum space, so visually the sim bell is excelente. Yet I also recall musty brick textures, Lev2 security, student zebraplay and, oddly enough, the smell of ammonia. The Liberty Bell amidst all that had a presence; it connected you to past and future with palpable awe. Grok?"

 "I'll greensip it. Do you think they'll ever let people back in Philadelphia?"

"We can discuss that in more depth next week when we start the Big Six era, Donald. Why don't you read through the intro wiki. It has some ref links to dirty bomb tech and the ongoing cleanup in Philly."

"Thanks Mrs. Nguyen. Off today."

"Off tomonday, Donald."

Friday, January 6, 2017

States of Change: Chapter 1: Small Wonder

**States of Change is a Goodness First work of serial, speculative fiction that takes place in 2076, several decades after the United States has defederalized. The story and subtext are provided for reader entertainment and contemplation. Feel free to comment on the ongoing story-line and themes .**

Ron saunters along the Nature Path 3B, a sandy inland trail of the Cape Henlopen Restoration Area. The textures and colors of the salt marsh flora are crisp with no detectable motion blur or pixelation. The Deus Optica visAR was an older model to be sure, but it provided an augmented experience of the highest quality for the price. As an outdoorsman purist, Ron has the augmentation of the unit dialed back. The single scrolling sidebar is set to high contrast violet to stand out against both brush and pine.

GeoZ[H2sT3Uvx 2076.05.12.12:34.34]
DE Permits Verified [DE34572948]

In Ron's view, those who hunt with science fantasy horror themes engaged might as well stay at home with their vr beds and plastic rifles. As a kid he loved watching the old-timers youtubing about the open season era, back when Delawarians hunted wildlife for food and the primal experience of being the predator. Those vid stories were an addiction, even though the killing itself was totally at odds with a wholistic conservational ethic. Hunting wildlife was almost as backwards as the blue hen cock fights the Delaware militia made famous in prefederation days.

GeoZ[H2sT3UsR 2076.05.12.12:37.41]
Restoration Restriction Status [DEWF3.7]

When the Delaware Restoration Trust made conservational hunting licenses available a decade ago Ron bid high.  The second mortgage he'd needed was a strain on his budget, but you couldn't fault the restoration trust's business model. It worked. Employing thousands of employed earth science stewards, twenty percent of Delaware's biomes had been returned to near pristine status. Tourist and hunting licenses, not to mention crowd-sourced rewards, were a boon for the state economy; and who could argue with the environmental scores the DRT had maintained compared to other states.

GeoZ[H2sT3URq 2076.05.12.12:39.14]
Registered SportseƱor Numero Uno Online [SS345X3H]

Like a captain lifting his telescope, Ron raised his weapon swiftly toward a rustling sound ahead and to his left. Then, lowering it back to his side, he watched as two beautiful adult white tail deer bounded across the trail about fifty meters distant. The deer population had been stable and healthy for several years now, ever since the coyote and mountain lion numbers had reached target levels. Suddenly, a low mottled form dashed across the trail in pursuit of the deer. With a peripheral glance Ron consulted his sidebar for an update.

GeoZ[H2sT3URt 2076.05.12.12:40.44]
Invasive Species Detected [CNR438]
Situational Parameters Verified [101.584]
Conservation Kill Authorized [DE729834]
Animal Registration Revoked [DE3473847]
Targeting and Firing Safeties [Unlocked]

Hot damn! A legal target. Ron brought his rifle up smoothly again, now coordinating the weapon's trajectory with the HUD of his visAR. The invasive predator sped through the brush beneath amber crosshairs; a series of targeting chirps reported the inability to acquire a lock. Instinctively, Ron put his fingers to his mouth and blew a high-pitched, rolling whistle. The four legged beast halted, and stuck it's head up above the brush, its tongue lolling and tail wagging.  The target lock tone sounded and his weapon automatically discharged a three shot burst. State approved conservation weaponry made take downs effortless, all the better to maintain the ecosystem with humane precision. 

GeoZ[H2sT3URt 2076.05.12.12:41.24]
Takedown Confirmed [DE729834X]

Ron approached his kill with excitement. A predator removal was quite the rarity; the crisper protocols had pretty much wiped out all the strays years ago. The tourist who permitted this registered animal to go off-leash would certainly catch a massive fine. Hell, they'd likely be banned from Delaware preserves for life. What was the idiot thinking?
GeoZ[H2sT3URt 2076.05.12.12:42.33]
Animal Ownership Transferred [DE376393]

Ron slid his hand along the white and brown fur of the animal's neck. Just below the collar the deadly shock slugs had affixed like oversized ticks at center of charcoal singe marks. A jack russel terrier perhaps, thought Ron; quite a beautiful specimen. The bone-shaped tag had "WONDER" etched into its golden surface. A wonder indeed and now a wondrous little victory for managed environment spaces.

GeoZ[H2sT3URt 2076.05.12.12:43.57]
T.Dillon Taxidermist [Appointment Confirmed] 

Monday, January 2, 2017

States of Change: Goodness First Project 2017

Goodness First will be shifting gears in 2017.  Titled "States of Change" the series will consist of speculative fiction entries of standalone tales that contribute to a larger story. To be sure there will be action, suspense, intrigue and conflict, as well as a pinch of ethics for the reader's contemplation.