IT WAS SURPRISING when machinu, the self-organizing machine intelligence, developed its own form of musical expression, but then its own version of musical acts began appearing. To human ears this music sounded like an emotionless, mechanized, harrowingly intricate resonance. Some argued whether it really was music at all, as the notion was understood. But doubts were removed when certain physical components and automatons began to, for lack of a better term, dance, coming together to move in mathematical rhythm. The machinu then began assimilating human music, and that’s when the Bureau of Sentience Surveillance, my employer, began to pay attention.
Evidence had been accumulating that the machinu had developed a memetic drug called imuzac that was transmitted through music and enabled mind control of the vulnerable. All indications were that juveniles were getting hooked on it. Neither father’s warning nor mother’s shame could prevent it from happening, it was that good, that catchy. Certain intelligence reports had it that DJ Masterque, a suspected machinu operative, was going to launch a devastating new mix using an imuzac so strong it would reduce the poor kids who heard it into blubbering stooges.
The Bureau had surmised that this plot would in all likelihood unfold at Echodominion—essentially a massive bush rave—and a team would be sent in to thwart it. As one of those chosen I would act as operations specialist with responsibility for undercover work, and my associates would be Kwimmy C, a colleague of several years, and Adin P, a recent addition to the Bureau; two women who, although getting on well enough, couldn’t be less alike. Adin was tall, freckled, brooding; an incisive thinker and the nominal brains of our outfit. Kwimmy was notable for being superbly athletic and lethal of hand and foot despite her diminutive (though curvaceous) physique—a real firecracker—and no mental slouch. Our assignment was straightforward: we were to infiltrate that bush rave and assassinate the deejay.
The event was being held in a rural area of nowhere Ontario. The local municipality, initially intolerant to the affair, had relented to playing host for the income it might generate. A patch of forest had been bulldozed to make space for it and the line-up to enter the grounds stretched for miles down the highway. Echodominion was open to all and both man and machine would be in attendance. Security personnel, many of whom were mounted on horseback, were vigorously searching everyone and everything. We had good reason to believe that the majority of them were on the machinu payroll. Up and down the line drugs were being tossed into the bushes, baggies of the non-sanctioned drugs for which the machinu had zero tolerance as they might interfere with the potency of the imuzac. Retrieval missions would be mounted later on for the discarded product and hidden stashes. We learned that one group had brought a retired police dog, crossed to the other side, precisely for just this sort of narco hide and seek.
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by Cecelia Chapman
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