Kickstart: Bibliotek: Chapter One.Four

Posted on 15/07/2011 by

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Earlier that night, they’d taken a train to the hit. High on metamphetamines—on ultra-caff—they sleeked through the tiled wetroom of the London Underground; the non-Euclidean geometry of it. Graham had always believed that it brought cottage industry needle work to mind. Or blue, French pastoral china. He had not thought to laugh as they waited, however.

They watched one train hurtle past, the platform being too lightly occupied for its notice. When the last of their members came by, they sent msgs from their mobiles, all electing to pay the premium charge, so the next train deigned to stop for them.

All very serious, the conspirators were dressed in tightly woven, hardwearing brand-fabrics; Burberry tweed and D&G logos linked like micro-chains. Shades wore a fashionable jumpsuit zipped to her black throat, the others were in their own uniform styles. Graham stood in the mismatched blacks and grays of a community dramatist.

Commuters hung around them from virtual handholds, the straps no one else could see without their propriety glasses, AR interfaces which kept them abreast of the train-sway via haptic-gloves and inner-ear guesswork. Bit gauche, thought Graham, in their wrap around glasses. The rest of us keep the Metatext separate as a parallel world.

Graham was the first to call-up their destination as they shuttled towards their stop. The ‘Atrium Library,’ as they’d come to call it. A collection and its shelves sandwiched precariously between glass, atop the Slate Holdings’ building, a free-standing hothouse 52 stories up. The prize wasn’t just on show behind glass, it was suspended far out of reach upon it.

It wasn’t Graham’s job to get them in, or to get them out. The deal with the bubble-bridge? He don’t know anything of it. It worked. Over from a looming sibling corp, they crawled through an extruded worm of bubble bath, emerging gunked in plastic foam.

Inside. The room was all glass. There were no lights in the library. The bounds soaking hydroponically in canisters, protected within from the elements, while the nu-glass of the house leeched any harsh radiation from the sun beyond. In that light, the bounds were the lost library of the undead. Light, especially sunlight, was poison to all those vampire bounds. That was why their collective kept them entombed in a blanked-out, blitz-like room. Why, in the Atrium, they were under that wyrd glass. They were so fragile.

It also magnified and diffused moon and starlight to show them off at night. It was softly lit, like by a gas flame from around a corner. Stripped of its UV warmth, of IR glow, and in the light of a dying earth the library was both ur-place and utopia: no place at all. Dancing on that glass, there were no rules but those of the bounds.

The magnificat of the starlight and city green phosphor pollution made for an odd effect—like that of a drug—drying Graham’s eyes. It produced a starred ring of refracted flaws in his sight. Flaws which circled round the focus of his gaze. The bounds. He grinned. High.

The works on display were mainly trash romances and self-help prints. Those least likely to be properly bound, and thus the most valuable for it.

Oxygen burned paper—would kill anything it touched. Even our own Human bodies die, oxidising into rust. So some collectors held their bounds in nitrogen jars, but that makes them so hard to handle… The bounds in the Atrium were soaked hydroponically. The collector had his pieces in large, open vases. It was mainly demineralized water they soaked in, clean water bonded to a new nano particle—the water cushioned the bounds and protected them, but could not get them wet.

The group had Graham with gloves, gingerly plucking a copy of a rare, orchid-growing text, holding his breath as he did so, though he had seen its safety certification himself. He’d done his research this time, and pointed out all the most desirable bounds to have. The water had splashed from the tank, hitting the floor, and spinning on the glass as if on a hot griddle.

The heist may have gone differently, if they’d not taken him so seriously. Oh to be so damned…

Graham had looked up, and wondered what they were after, with Shade’s brother squatting covertly, shielding his accomplice Cho—who had eased short pins from her hair. He was busy leaving a frictionless trail of drops when he asked them over his shoulder:

“Guys?” And dropped the bound, again. “Damn it! What is that you’re drilling?”

They had cores of the new plastic nitro, and literally hammered into place like soft iron nails, filling the ill-fitting holes they had drilled into the glass floor. That was when he noticed the others, and their own adhoc security measures.

He’d cautioned them mainly on digital security… on how to best re-write data and identity, the way he’d always wished to speak of data to his students, but he had also quizzed them on DNA. He had said that yes, their gene IDs were known—yes, the police knew who they all were. But that didn’t mean they had to make it easy for to find. They hammered the putty into place, each strike growing crowns of distorted light in the queer gloom. In the drugs.

He meant they should use gloves, of course, and take hard showers with a good scrubbing brush before a hit. That was all.

Instead, they were going to toast the place.

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By Paul McLaughlan

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Posted in: Btek, Hyperwork, Paul