A single, sweet tear slid from my closed left eye ...


DMan dropped like a sack of rotten potatoes. It was too easy, really ... these kids with their auto-noders and web-crawlers. Poor bastards. Half of them haven't even seen over the bleak horizon of sixth level. The attention to my next task is momentarily diverted as I watch jessicapierce slit pukesick's home node, ear to ear.

Most of them never even knew what hit 'em. The next time CaptainSpam tries to log in he'll be auto-forwarded to a Fed address and will find the I.R.S. has suddenly decided to audit his past five tax returns. Sarcasmo's password is  "I'M A DICK" and it is case sensitive. Furthermore he has to really feel that way or E2 won't let him use the chatterbox.

I send fez into the sql server to take a look at the numbers. A low, steady whistle and dbrown takes up a cursory position at the base of moJoe's home node.

I wait until first light - 0400 utc - when most noders are asleep. I lay the perl script gently into place on a restricted superdoc I'd made months earlier for just such an occasion. It lay there quietly. I think I saw it smile.

I carefully slip on the backpack full of syringes and spliff's I'd found in a Herbman writeup with a rep of -14. He won't be needing them anymore. Maybe Disco can find use for them back in the M*A*S*H unit. Suicide is Painless. Indeed.

"The object of the game is find your adversary. Your adversary's game plan is to persuade you he does not exist."

One click of the mouse and I persuade General_Wesc that he doesn't exist. Kids. You let them put on a Burger King crown and the next thing you know they think they're generals. I quietly remove his "star-trekkin-kommando #1743" badge and "phaser". His mother will want these.

Zot-fot-piq is making his own gravy, blubbering about "brotherhood" and "family." I place my left boot tight against his windpipe and apply myself. His whining winds down.

I see Nate and Clampe just ahead. Knifegirl and Pingouin are the only ones left unaccounted for ...

An icon begins flashing in my Epicenter. Looks like the easter egg hatched. I climb to the top of News for Noders to get a better view. Pseudo_Intellectual's node string sliced clean through Everything New Nodes and collapsed to the dusty floor of the FAQ. I can just make out Pingouin and KG through the rubble and debris. They're a little beat up ... but who isn't? Everything is a goddamned mess.

I find Kit Lo sleeping in the EDB stalls. He's draped himself in what looks like the velvet ropes ushers use to close off theater balconies. He seems to be having a nightmare - twisting and tangling in the ropes and mumbling something about his "kooky leper rifle." I finish his dream for him.

"Damn this damn, dirty war." I mutter, staring off into the ashen sky.

"You know ... someday this damn, dirty war is gonna end." Cowboyneal breathes, wistfully.

"Shut up, dude."


bones beat me to this, but here's my take...

bup bup bup bup bup bup bup bup

The high whine of the huey's rotors breaks through my sleep. Another shipment of noders. Time to get to work.

I throw on my lucky apron and ready some sterilized gloves. As I run out, I see that the huey's already being unloaded; seven new noders. Seven new patients. Time to get to work.

They don't even have names anymore. Just wounds. In the corner sits a young man whose leg was severed below the knee, but the blood was staunched by a quick-thinking soldier with a flamethrower. This will only hurt for a second. The wound was cauterized. He's much better off than the rest. Gangrene. Gangrene haunts the rest of them. Gangrene haunts me.

Name a body part - I've amputated it. Legs, arms, fingers, toes, cutting off someone's nose to save their face. All because of gangrene. It's painful, painful to experience, painful to watch, painful to do. Out here in the field, do we get any medical equipment? No. Supplies are too low, ammunition is needed at the front. But I was able to mod a circular saw to fit our needs. That's what we use. That and morphine. The patient gets most of the M, but I get my cut - payment for services rendered.

What happened? It was so simple in the beginning. Just a family fight - a few bruises, that's all. Rabbit punches all around. But then, the first few waves of deleted nodes came through. Sides were taken, strategies plotted. Nodespace divvied up along lines of demarcation. The weapons got ugly. Things really got to a head when CowboyNeal split for one side, Hemos to another... both used Slashdot to net a constant stream of new blood. Those new to the scene were immediately conscripted, thrown in the back of a truck and driven off for 're-education'. Then they're sent to the front lines, and then shipped back here, minus some flesh, minus some humanity.

nate tried his best, but the server was moved in the dead of night. Access codes were changed. No one would end this war with a flick of a power switch.

I don't even know who's side I'm on. Just doing the Lord's work, just doing the Lord's work, healing, living for that next dose of M. Patients fly in, and then patients fly out, either returned to the front or buried out back. I still remember when they brought knifegirl in. I had a drink in her honor.

The whine of the buzz-saw starts up. I brace for the screams.

After crawling in and out of the jungle of nodes that is Everything2, I've found the right place to get myself ready. I'm wearing my ghillie suit, covered in vines of soft links. Thick, but soft, links all over myself...

The only thing I can think about right now is where the hell is Jhrulith? I always pass him by, but I never get to ask him how's it like to be a sniper. Maybe he knows. Well, may God watch over him...

I've always wanted to be a sniper. To me, it's not just a job, it's a philosophy lesson. I've worked alone alot in my life. This time, it's serious. It's not training. I have to push my way into enemy territory, to make sure the rest of the unit is ready to march in...

Anyways, I loaded a round into my rifle. It's an M40A1 sniper rifle. Last night, I have given it a name. I named it "Ute" because of Ute Lemper. It was late at night, and I did a few things that I don't usually do at home, like praying to God, naming my rifle, and so on.

Well, well, well... I see an enemy noder in my sights... He's planning to vote down a few nodes he can find... It's my time. He knows it's his time too. I can see it in his face... I see the dot pointing to his forehead...


Ute kissed the poor bastard good night.

I have to go.

Grim. Torn.

How was I to know, as a boy?

Laying in the prickly grass watching a blue and white world drift overhead coerced by the gentle sounds of summer. Climbing though the tangle of branches skyward as they scratched and clawed my bare knees towards the higher rocking view of the world. Running over ties, matching the pace perfectly to the steel next to me as it glided along those rails with the force of everything, finally grabbing on and heaving up to feel the world in the wind rushing by. Can I really have known what was further down that path?

How is it fair and just for my life to have served as preparation for this? So eager and impressive before me, willing and ideal it breaks my heart deep inside to bend them to such malignance. Looking to them bright eyed and accepting I see my own self reflected not long ago, the harsh reality will slowly creep up from the bottom of thier soul to meet the truth once it is too late to turn back. We will not win, we knew too long ago, though to give up in our dreams all we have died for is too much to ask. Onwards. Thiers will be an acrid victory, when the last heart has taken its whisper of freedom away there will be no cause for cheer. Generations lost to the future will formulate a bitter resentment, for these eager eyes before me will soon sneak out to ruin and lay death in waiting to that which we cannot at this point hope to claim as our own.

And so in some manner we shall continue on in the future, if only as a sour memory and shocking unexpected heartbreak at random for those who inherit this all. And though I once felt noble and just for times I conspired sure evil, I do not think now that my spirit was truly decieved. It must suffer perpetual unrest and wander this cold land for it once had wings which are now wilted and blackened. To deliver this to those who once we matched in step, I do not think it can be reconciled. For it is many times fold a wrong to knowingly impress this path of despair which I have traveresed myself onto that which is yet pure and young.

I ask not for forgiveness, nor even peace in the end.
In the distance I hear rumbling. I am watching the plain from my mountaintop and I consider the war.

I wish I were a braver man, like Bertrand da Born, I wish I had the understanding of Machiavelli.
Lacking the force and the penetration, my only hope lies in staying here, in the middle of my particular nodescape, surrounded by nodes about Mexico, Italy and certain personal obsessions.
The nature of things is indeed very very complex, and to understand this particular story it woud have to be told many times, at least three (I hear there are three factions, not that I want to know more or with more certainty), possibly four.

Even praying to Eris does not help very much now. I still follow the Pentabarf, but the hot dog buns are running low. I am even running low on swap, and the scullions, them of low sanguage, are clamoring for more slops. They could have tortilla soup, but they want slops.

... the other day EDB said I looked tasty. And then absolutely nothing happens. Still, the gnaw-worm of gnawing gnaws at me. Bound as I am to the Wheel of Oppression., a hopeless cybernetic hamster, I run to my most protective nodes, flitting from Tlalpan to Xochimilco on a pesero - can't afford a taxi.
Still I realize that it is all paper, possibly electronic, nonetheless paper (in a higher sense).

I hear a knocking at the door. The Nova police has come for me. I must go.

This is getting too ugly too quickly. Datagirl and I are the only remaining happy voters. I have a horrible feeling of guilt for the destruction which ensued around my foolish resistance.

You will be assimilated. Resistance is an indication that you missed the point.

I'm a fool, and datagirl thinks she's fat. What's more, she has been driven off for a while. She says she'll come back. Will it be too late? What a team. Sarcasmo might ally himself with us, but he doesn't know.

No telling what will happen, even though I already apologized. Why, oh why couldn't this war be an inverted XP war?

Can you ever forgive me? Do I need to be forgiven?

"Lemme tell ya, a lot of these guys will spin all kinds 'a horror stories about the Everything 2 Civil War, but for the record? I gotta say that it was the best goddamn time 'a my life.

"See that hill over there? That's where they dropped theonomist. (laughs) When he hit, he went off like a goddamn atom bomb - those punks sure weren't expecting that! Death from above, ya know? Lit up the database like the friggin' Fourth of July.

"'Course, lotta those Everything guys were Canadian - wouldn't know the Fourth if it bit 'em on the ass. I don't hold their nation of origin against 'em, though - when it came down to fighting hand-to-hand, down in the trenches, those Canucks were some of the toughest, meanest bastards I ever seen. Fought like wildcats, they did.

"Music? Sure, we had music. Lotta Neal Young and Bob Dylan being noded in those days; knifegirl liked t'listen to Barry White while the bombs were goin' off. Get all liquored up, start a fistfight. Strange girl. A real scrapper, though."

In the months following, the fighting gradually died down as the "getting to know you" faction lost the support, but mostly the interest, of the civilian populations. Generals nate and dem bones reaffirmed their grasps of power upon the populations. However, while the thunderhead had passed, the storm was far from over.

Fearful of again losing control over "their" dominion, nate and dem bones allocated massive funding to dbrown laboratories to complete the "doomsday project". Meanwhile, dem bones had begun his own massive economic rehabilitation project to revive Everything2's torn economy and infrastructure. Everything Quests proved, however, to be a double edged sword. Node production shot up to record levels. The Everything government handed out XP like it was water. Many people grew wealthy off the quests program. The sharp and brutal drawback was the mosterous inflation experienced in Everything. People were leveling 2, 3, 4 times a week.

About this time, nate decided to take drastic action to crub the downward spiral of XP value. The everything coders had finished the mandatory writeups for levels. Then, one day without warning, it was implement on Everything. Massive riots erupted throughout the Everything Manifold. In a short few second noders loss 2,3,4 levels. Critics warned of an impending doom of a million crappy node for a million crappy XP. Again, violent protests threatened to mature into factions, and tear Everything apart into a second civil war. Faced with the grim reality, nate folded, and grandfathered the discontents' to their previous levels.

Things quited down for several months. A third threat would loom on the horizon, however, the rise of the radical conservative rebellion. Most historians agree the fighting first became significant following the "don't force your gay philosophy on me" incident. DMan, a high ranking noder, began a rapid campaign to purify Everything of all pinko commie liberals. Faction lines were drawn, General DMan vs. High Commander MoJoe. Small but intense skirmishes periodically erupted in verious regions. As the fighting grew more and more frequent, citizens again feared a second civil war. With the development of rooms, the fighting was mostly contained to specific provinces. The threat of war no longer looms so large, but still slightly hangs in the air, like a ghost.

What happened here?

I can barely tell that war once ravaged this pristine landscape. Every so often I come across a crater, a stray shard of incongruous metal, a bone, bleached and half buried. Something terrible and unfathomable happened here, not too long ago, but for the life of me, I can't say what. The sun shines, the flowers are in full bloom. Small birds bathe themselves in shallow pools of water in the pockmarked plains, oblivious to the lingering aftertaste of past horrors that hangs in the air.

I don't claim to understand the half-formed tales of those who fought here. They don't make much sense anymore, clouded as they are by memory and stale terror. Perhaps I don't even want to know what transpired here. Perhaps it's better that I don't.

All the better to enjoy the serenity that surrounds me.

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