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(EP)PRELUDES: "Phantom"


Craig ST
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The central promenade of Shackle was bustling with activity, but then as a major pilgrimage site for the various Hindu faiths, it was always busy. Hindus (as wall a Sikhs and Jains) from all over the solar system traveled here to pray at the various temples, the flowing waters of the canal systems having become as symbolically important to them as the Ganges River on Earth once was.

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The Hacker best known as Phantom sat in a café not far from one of the central temples/parks; he could hear the trumpet of one of the Indian Elephants kept at the park and imagined the squeals of delight from the tourists and their children. He had just finished a light lunch and the mechanical server had just silently cleared away the remains which depositing a fresh beverage on the table. Phantom wasn’t sure if it was purely robotic or if some hapless Infogee was sleeved into it but in the end it didn’t really matter to him. He’d just complete a transaction with the notoriously difficult to please Singh Brothers and they had left smiling. It was a good day.

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The voice of his muse cut into Phantom’s reverie. “Sir I have an urgent message for you. It’s Devona,” Phantom frowned. Getting a call from Firewatch meant trouble, and while he was normally up for trouble, he knew whatever it was; it was going to kill his buzz.

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“Put her through.”

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Devona’s image, that of a plain, frumpy woman with mousy brown hair down to her shoulders and little to no make-up materialized in the chair across from him. Phantom was never quite sure if this was really what she looked like or some sort of off putting AR disguise but he had trouble believing anyone would really choose to look that way. “Pack your bags boy, you are needed on Mars,” She said in her usual abrupt manner.

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Yeah, Devona couldn't really be that. It was just a smokescreen. Yeah. Of course, the total dumpy old lady mother vibe invited his classic retort. "Yes, MOM." He leaned back in his chair, keeping the mesh connections monitored and his mind aware of any threats or eavesdroppers, as he went along this line of flavoring his words. "Look, I'm a grown man. I should know more details about this family vacation, geez."

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Helped disguise in plain view well, Phantom figured. "When, where?"

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  • 2 weeks later...

Devona smiled but didn't call him out on his overacting. "We are sending you to Valles-New Shanghai where you will be assisting some 'relatves' with a liitle project. I know this will be the first time you'll be meeting any of your extended relative but we think you are ready to broaden your horizons a little."

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Phantom didn't notice anything out of the ordinary on the mesh, the usual buzz of activity didn't suggest any hacking or spying was taking place. "you will have to leave within the next 24 hours. We have a farcast and Morph waiting for you at your destination."

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"Those cousins." Phantom observed. "Glad to see you're in the family spirit of kindness." Meant he could save his cred as usual, which was always good. Less outlay of money the better. "Right. Anything else I ought to know? Or do I have to wait to get the juicy stuff?"

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  • 3 weeks later...

"Go secure," Devona said. Phantom knew that meant the call was about to be scrambled and that he was to go "silent" on his end. Talking out loud really wasn't necessary when making connections over the net any more yet most people still did it to one degree or another. Hearing your own voice seems to help organize and orient most people. Still 'mental' conversations were just as easy.

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Four people have been murdered on Mars. She let that sink in for a moment. Normally that wouldn't draw Firewall's attention but considering their shared interest in Earth artifacts and the manner in which each of them died it has come to our attention and concern.

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*Manner? You mean as in cause of death or something different? And anything from Earth is an artifact about now. Is this something specific or just a general nostalgia business?*

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Phantom put that out to Devona. After all, why not go out with as much information as transhumanly possible if that could be done?

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