Smartly Dressed Violence (part xi)

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Karen Winkoski never went by Dr. Winkoski. She didn’t like the airs and graces that came with the title. She wasn’t one to blend into any background either, she liked for her work to do the talking. She had studied synthetic biology for the best part of her career, finding it hard to tread the fine line of ethics and morality in a corporate capitalist system. She had gone off the radar in the past few years, taking her work away from the mainstream to focus on understating S.I.N and finding a reversal. She had established ‘The Order’ as part of her approach to undo the changes that had occurred in her lifetime, and how the corporate and class system had evolved around S.I.N; relegating many to its crippling societal discrimination.

Having come across resistance and unforeseen battles against agencies and individuals; her work was forced underground. This is where it may have slowly died if it wasn’t for a mystical discovery that was brought to her attention by way of a strange visitor. Unlocking parts of the secret had forwarded both her quest for a cure, and to move the benefits of this magic for all; beyond that of disease. A great equaliser.

Karen led them both around the room, showing them the sequencing and extraction machines and impressive hologram units which broke through codes and displayed eerie glowing vignettes of things that Jess could not make sense of.

“The vault is really the heart of our operation. I’m not sure how much you know Jess, or how much you should know; but The Order is no longer working on the solely on reversal of S.I.N in afflicted individuals, but the elevation of all human cells. We’re looking at what S.I.N does to the body, and moving things to the other end of the spectrum; creating cells and tissues resistance to cancer strains, diseases or immune disintegration.”

“Making everyone a superhero, right Bishop?” Levon said, nudging Karen in the side playfully.

“Kind of. While it’s true Jess that we have only selectively reversed certain people, this is not through any discriminatory process. We found that we can only use our reversal pathogen in certain gene types. The virulence is not stable on all cases.” Karen said.

Jess remained silent.

“I won’t go into the stages of success we’ve had over the years, or failures for that matter as I’m sure you can imagine what results we would’ve come across. It wasn’t a pretty process. But we have made huge advances in understanding S.I.N and its makeup, and reversing certain types and halting the mutation.”

“But you have a cure right?” Jess asked, watching Levon pick up a glowing test tube and shaking it, seeing the colours inside change.

Karen sighed.

“It’s not that simple I’m afraid.” She said, taking the test tube from Levon and putting it back in its holder.

“It’s not simple at all, but get to the magic part….that’s the bit everyone is always interested in.” Levon said.

Karen had walked around to the other side of the large metal table. She looked at them both, placing her hands on the bench before her.

“You know of The Altered, you know what this world has offered us. It has brought about a way of slicing through the darkness in our science, and has shone a light into that void. We call those within the order Saints, Bishops, Teachers and Priests; invoking a religious space and veil of mysticism. And in a way, it is. But the magic is ruled by its own decrees and laws. There are limitations to it and things we don’t understand. With the help of The Order, and the work we do here in the vault, we are marrying the two worlds together to understand the science behind the mutation for those suffering, and moving it to a space where we aren’t all just equal; but better than before. Our vow is to right a terrible wrong, not just for some; but for all. Our work is leading towards one great event to cure everyone.” She breathed out noisily, as if completing an affirmation.

She stared at both of them, letting the gravity of what she said hit each of them. Karen knew Levon’s circumstance, and she knew too of the likes of Jess. Soldiers in a war fighting with only have of the picture. She was brave and an idealist, but making moves with only part of the information.

“So what can we do?” Jess asked, looking Karen squarely in the eyes.

“The first thing is to be baptised.” Karen replied.

Jess scoffed slightly, a look of satisfaction coming over her.

“I’ve already been baptised, for nearly six months now.” Jess replied, cockily. Karen looked over to Levon, he looked away smiling.

“You can read the incantations, and I imagine you can generate the mind projections. Right?” Karen asked her.

Jess took a moment, knowing now where this was heading.

“Yeah.” She said.

“Which is a good start, I bet it wasn’t easy as it can be painful when you first begin.” Karen took out small book from her lab coat pocket, followed by a small viral; its contents glowing blue. “But you have yet to be baptised using anything from the altered I would assume?”

Jess was quiet.

“Levon here is a mystery to us still, what he can do and how his body reacts with the magic is still beyond our understanding. But there are some of us who do react more with the powers and the magic this mystic world offers. We have found ways to enhance ourselves to it, and as a result; can aid our efforts towards our goal. Initial steps, baptism for example, shows a commitment and entry to this world that we must keep secret and safe for now. But it also has physical and practical changes to our bodies.” Karen said, shaking the little vial.

“I want to help, I want to change what this world has come to.” Jess said, watching the vial hypnotically.

“Then you’re in the right place.” Karen replied, smiling. “Are you ready?” She asked.

Jess nodded. She was knowledgeable about much of the Order, having been eager to enter and do her part. She had met Levon this way, the strange cleanser who knew more than her would ever tell. She longed to help, and have a function.

She tipped her head forward and slowly removed both of her eyes.


 

Smartly dressed violence (part x)

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It was just a short trip by air to the processing site near the west port. Flying over the city, you could see a sense of order and refinement. The skyscrapers gleamed, and the roads were angular and planned out. The public transport operated on a level never before seen in the world. This wasn’t dirty congested tubes that racketed around on tracks, here the elegant transit sparkled like the buildings, ferrying commuters in style and luxury to their destinations using the latest magnetised technology.

Aiko looked now over the cityscape, pondering over the order and the harmony below. He saw his own technology zip through the streets, part of his ever growing empire of business and wealthy assets. His fingerprints lay over much of what he saw and he smiled at the dominance that stretched out before him. There was order and cleanliness, structure and control; gifts he believed he had given the city. And the city had rewarded him, never knowing his true identity or intentions.

His transport landed on atop of the processing plant which churned and heaved below him. Steam and smog bellowed noisily into refinery pipes and containment vacuums. Though the plant was sleek and modern, its processes’ were old and dirty, expelling the residues and filth into areas of the west side that he paid a lot of money hide. Oh course, those who lived there made their own uses for the by-products, and cottage industries had risen up around the site that took advantage of the unwanted.

He made his way swiftly inside, eventually entering a vast circular meeting room that hung with nervous people, eager to see what the visit was all about. Many were smartly dressed, but a few wore clothes tailored to factory floors more than board rooms. Almost forty people filled the room, silently waiting for Aiko to speak. He entered through the circular desks and stopped in the centre of the room, the lights illuminating from below giving him an almost angelic appearance.

“Thank you all for coming to this hastily arranged meeting. I am very pleased with how the plant has functioned recently due to certain demands made, and your overall contribution to Atone-industries. As you are aware, this is only the first phase in our outlined projections for the city and surrounding suburbs. Phase II will begin shortly, and as expressed previously, this will require a relocation to sites in facilities Het and Bet underneath the city. Many of you will be familiar with these sites, but those who are not; you are soon to be amazed by these sites.”

A few pocketed whispers began around the room, reassurance began to seep in and some smiled.

“The timeline has been accelerated due to your success here and I would like to thank you for your efforts. Each department will have a briefing following this meeting, and relocation A.I’s will be on hand to transport and reconfigure all for the next stage. Those of you who have requested additional family cleansing and assessment, this has been approved by myself and will also begin immediately.”

Applause and smiles now filled the room.

“I needn’t remind anyone here that this is a delicate situation and technically takes place outside of the realms of legality. As such, I will remind you all of your legal bonding to the NDA’s and contractual stipulations you have all signed.”

The applause faded, but the smiles remained. Many in the room had been waiting all their lives for this to happen.

“Wonderful. Then let me thank you again for your effort, and here’s to Phase II.”

Applause broke out again, and Aiko bowed respectfully before making his way out of the room. Those who remained quickly dissolved into chatter, and the room filled with the sound of hurried cheerful voices creeping up the walls like happy lizards.

Aiko made his way down a corridor followed by Stefan, he entered an office with a large glass window which looked out over the port.  Stefan came to a stop one side of the desk while Aiko looked out over the sea.

“What is the timeline we are now looking at?” Aiko asked him calmly.

“I would say just under a week. If we are to process everyone and their families. The AI’s are in place so we only need to do a systems check.” Stefan replied, checking a hologram tablet in front of him.

“Good. And the system failure scenario, I have access to that now?” Aiko asked, his gaze locked on the horizon out at sea.

“Yes, your access codes are here.” Stefan said, sending something over to him remotely using the hologram. “The staff relocation….” He began.

“Should be of the highest importance, and secrecy. Building 70 is complete and is ready for the intake. The views are fantastic there, they’ll have a better vista than either you or I.” Aiko said. Stefan smiled and ticked something off a list.

“There are some things that I’m not quite sure of still….” He began, but Aiko cut in.

“Then you are not to know of it yet I would presume. Everything in time.” Aiko replied.

“But the source….” Stefan tried again, confidentially. At this Aiko turned to face him, slipping out a small book from his inside pocket. He held it down in front of him like precious hymn book.

“Is not your concern.” Aiko said. And with than, Stefan nodded and turned to depart, leaving Aiko alone in the room which began to glow a faint blue behind him.


Smartly Dressed Violence (part ix)

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The blue and green lights seemed to call them onward encouragingly, radiating from the walls like a welcoming glow. Jess and Levon descended lower with each step, feeling a warmer air greet them as they went. Jess could hear a pulsating sonic sound coming from the walls, as if large computer systems were speaking to each other through the stone or mutterings of the dead from the graves.

“Is it always this elaborate, going to see him?” Jess asked, minding her head as they came to a low beam section.

“I thought you might like the clandestine way.” Levon said. He had been here before, naturally; but they also seemed to change the systems of entry frequently. “And who said anything about a him?”

Jess looked at him for a moment, confusion and understanding swimming around each other.

“The Bishop is a she?” She asked, hoping to sound less surprised than she was. Levon smiled at her.

“Change anything?” He asked her.

“Not a damn bit.” She replied, lying slightly.

They carried on down the stairs until they came to a less formal but equally solid door. A blue strip of light bathed the space outside the door and Levon stopped just before it.

“You first.” He said, nudging her forward towards the light. Jess stepped into it and suddenly changed to a deeper blue.

“It checks for contaminants, among other things.” Levon said, watching as the light hummed and pulsed over her.

“Let me guess what the other things are, S.I.N markers perhaps?” She said, irksomely.

“You be surprised what they check for.” He replied, noticing the light switch to green; followed by a successful ‘tink’ sound, like the finishing of a coffee machine.

“Looks like you’re good.” He said as she stood back and he stood forth into the light.

“Hmmph.” Came from Jess as she stood back and watched Levon go through the same process. It took longer, but he too received the same acceptance, and once complete the doors before them opened and they could see inside the room.

Before them a laboratory had been made up around the stone coffins, clearly down deep in a crypt under the church. About four people peppered the room, working at stations and swirling strange coloured liquids in tubes under lights. Computers and machines clicked and hummed and the same blue and green lights gently lit the space; washing the walls with a calm and sanctuary like illumination. Coming towards them suddenly came a woman dressed in a lab coat. A red face mask covered her mouth, but Jess could see she had kind gentle eyes. She pulled the mask down as she approached them both.

“Nice to see you Levon, a treat indeed for you to come down into the vault and see us.” She extended her hand towards Jess who noticed the red gloves that extended up to her elbow. “And you must be Jess, so nice to meet you. I’m Karen.” Jess extended her own hands and shook them.

“Nice to meet you too.” Jess said, looking around the room.

“Not many get to see the vault, so please excuse the mess.” Karen said. Jess noticed little mess, but large extraction machines, screens scrolling through vast amounts of data and blueprint plans tacked up on a board on the other side of the room. The effigy of a saint looked down upon them from above.

“Jess doesn’t know anything, I thought it best to leave it to you to explain what goes on.” Levon said, with a smirk across his face. Karen sighed, leading them in further to the room.

“I hope you don’t have the same disdain as Levon does for what we do here then, his attitudes become quite tiresome sometimes.” Karen said, smiling.

“Not just his attitude, he’s quite a pain most of the time.” Jess said, returning the smile to her.

“Siding with the Bishop already, who’d have thought?” Levon cut back to her. Jess looked surprised.

“Oh Levon, you and your names for people. Should I call you The Cleanser then, or do you prefer your usual name devoid of the implications or grandiose expectations?” She asked him coyly. Levon smiled back, enjoying the teasing.

“You…you’re the bishop then?” Jess asked, folding her arms both defensively and from an anger.

“I’m afraid I am, for all my faults.” Karen said, he face remaining warm and open.

“And you’re not ashamed for what you’ve caused people, what your system of selection has done. Playing god the way you do?” Jess was angry, but she was trying her best to stay calm.

“I understand you have a personal qualm with me and what we do then?” Karen replied.

“Not just me, many. When you can help the all and yet only choose the few.” Jess spat back. “You have the means to cure everyone, but you limit to whom you feel are warrant of changing. How are you any different from the others, or the likes of Akio?”

Karen let her speak, understanding of her compliant. She then calmly took off her gloves, revealing a blackness that stained its way up her arms.

“I will show you how.” She said, her eyes flaring with an excitement.


 

Smartly Dressed Violence (part viii)

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Jess was by the front door of Levon’s apartment, she seemed eager to go.

“Come on then, I assume you’re ready?” She asked.

Levon stood and watched her a moment, his mind navigating through what he had seen and trying to work out if it was achievable.

“You think that will work?” Levon asked, his face subduing tiny flickers of hope.

“You got a better plan?” Jess asked before adding. “Unless you want to just hide away and let this unfold without you?”

“Don’t make out you don’t need me for this.” Levon cut back.

Jess rolled her eyes, expecting this type of reply.

“Come on, we can get there before they shut.” Jess said with urgency. Levon walked towards the door, taking a biker jacket off a hook and putting it on. He stopped in front of Jess.

“Fine, but we’re not going there. You want my help, then I need make sure I can give it.” Levon said.

“What do you mean?” Jess asked, surprised.

“You’re coming to see the Bishop.” Levon said, intrigued to see her reaction. Jess took a moment, looking away as if looking for the right words over on the wall. She turned back to him, her eyes wide.

“About time.” She said, hiding the feeling he knew she had. And with that they both set off out the door, each holding their own little books tightly to them as they made their way down in the elevator.

They sped down the twenty eight floors quickly, not talking as they went. The exited out into a small lobby and then to the street which was moving with a bustle of city life. Well-dressed men and women crowded the sidewalk, each going off to their own little space and place to be. Levon and Jess attracted a few stares, their clothing did not fit and their overall look of rough and readiness did not blend in well. They moved on through the crowd, making their way to the tram stop.

As the tram came to a stop, more people exited, brushing past them both; the two of them together seemed to double the disgust of the others. Some of them tutted as they passed, while others barged into them purposefully. One woman stopped and jabbed her umbrella into Levon’s side.

“You two should fuck off the streets while decent people are about. Shouldn’t you be driving the tram, not riding in it?” She said, scornfully addressing them and looking them both up and down. Others smiled and nodded in agreement as they went on by.

Jess made a move forward, but Levon pulled her back.

“It’s not worth it.” He said, quietly to her. He then spoke to the woman who had jabbed at him.

“We’re sorry, it’s an emergency. We wouldn’t be travelling now if we didn’t have to.” He said, noticing how busy it was. The rush hour was always the worse for this type of thing. Levon could pass sometimes, he would blend in with his outfits and manner. But Jess stood out like a sore thumb, dressed in casual combat gear and dyed hair. Conformity was not something Jess subscribed to.

“I should think not. We don’t want to see your lot, I thought that was clear by now. Get out of my way.” The lady said, pushing past them with her umbrella. Jess mumbled something under her breath, but then made her way onto the tram; followed by Levon.

They stayed at the back while it snaked its way across the city, emptying and refilling as it went. They received more unwelcomed looks, but no one else approached them. Finally they reached the stop they wanted, exiting out by some gardens that sprawled off into the distance. They waited for the tram to move on and quickly crossed the road on the other side. More gardens greeted them as the huge black church loomed above. They turned left, making their way down a side street that looped around the back of the church. Here they found a small building opposite the left transept. It had a large ornate wooden door with a knocker in the shape of a cross.

Jess and Levon looked around. The sky was getting dark, but they could still see the street from the doorway. A few heads bobbed along, but no-one was really watching. Ignoring the knocker, Levon put his fist into a small alcove at the side of the door as a little blue light appeared and scanned his hand. A click and a whirl, and a chain dropped for him to pull, which he did and then stepped back. The door opened before them as the ground also dropped away, revealing a staircase down into a blue and green lit corridor.

“How cool is that.” Jess said, noticing the marks on Levon’s hand; tattoos she’d always thought meant nothing.

“You ain’t seen nothing yet.” Levon replied, stepping forward down onto the stairs. Jess followed him as the door quickly closed behind them and they descended.

Weeds got there first

The walls ached with their knowledge.
While the eyes of the portraits licked across the skin.
Of all those souls who dwelled within.
And even this was barely acknowledged.
For life climbed up to the ceiling.
Wrapped around each feeling.
And slithered and slunk under skin.
But the sun had its day, and blistered the wallpaper.
Bringing tears to the eyes of the young.
Who wished to bury the sun.
In the deep soil of their souls.
The petal parts and the pith.
Of the flowers and the myth.
Of which we cannot control.
And the house still stands, and the grounds still shudder.
Promising a life, unlike no other.
That blooms and ebbs like the stretching seasons.
And climbs to heaven, for most godly reasons.
To meet the maker, and the cultivator.
Basking like the wheat in the field.
Forgetting the devil, and his own dry thirst.
Ignoring that the weeds got there first.

Bloom

Creak and crack around the edges.
Let the dust and lust fall into the sky.
I spread my skin, hiding the unsightful scars.
Dazzling instead with my peacock stance.
These petals of purity, grown forth from a rugged soil.
Dance into the sunlight, coaxing ruby and daffodil stares.
Split open this mouth and allow words to flow.
Sweet like a mountain stream.
Coursed through volcanic changes of thought.
Letting you kiss my lava lips that sting your tranquil waters.
Turn my tale towards the sun, picked like photosynthesis on evolution’s hide.
What grows there they will chatter.
The borning out of terror-former.
Shocked out of a system that was impaled in the past.
Growing new delights to tantalise and snap.
Around this Venus.
Be on your guard and handle with gloves.
This thorny rose delivered from Eden.