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Imagine if you think you can imagine what we were like back then, before the day, when the worlds were falling apart and the more apart they fell the darker it came. You were hanging on to what you had with all four desires, and the want for tomorrow and the want for today were so strong that nobody had time for anything more than that. And breathing was enough. But you wanted refuge from the streets of the world. And you wanted no one to know you.

So the scrofulous city was full of itinerant madmen and madwomen, festooned with squads of paranoid collectives. The night and day were so alike in the gloom and dirty air that no one of us could live long in it without our drab.

But Fleet had a crash in the down world, and the pad he had was a bright refuge. He had a panasony comfort spa and his light was good. He had ultracozy situpons, multipentia, and his inside drab was spiff. The whole groove was held together by wise and good deals with the Conglom.

And Fleet wrote/read/ran code. And he knew there was a limit to the drab scene. He knew that one day or night he would switch deals and find some air. He had paid off a collective with a half a thou of pure water, and the collective passed him to a clanspy who gave him a bone.

He was cooling out in the spa on the long cushion with Lamina when he decided to show her the bone. She knew totem when she saw it and she was scared. The Conglom net was death of anything that mammal. It was risky to be caught with a plant, but a bone? A bone could get you mono’d. So Lamina wanted the hype right now. So Fleet let her have the hype.

Fleet was a smoothmind survivor, level 19. He’d been cool so long that he felt like electric. He’d been greasing wu for the Big Boys since leveling...But he had his style and he had his pad and he had Lamina by the smoothest reality she knew. Best was, Lamina had a way with kino. She could move air in their space, make it all electric. Lamina and Fleet were a holo’d item.

And Fleet showed the bone. There were scratches all along, a GP trail to the source of what Fleet knew where a lot of green. The hype took charge and Fleet sighed and let her be.

So he put on his drab and buckled on the chokepack and turnikeyed the pedsuit and opened the seal.

Outside the tertiary the street was the same: dark and thick with dust; befogged; a scrolling game of xp snipers, collectives in formation, the occasional wyrd flitting from deal to deal. The News were seldom patrolled anymore; the Conglom just swept them up once in a while when they wanted to run a load of slaves to a delete.

Fleet pedded down the clutter and pedded a lot more till he came to the fallen star that lay against the old cine facade. He waited like he always did, watching the goonworld, re-aligning a few Rats with his stunner time to time.

His meet wore major drab. Fleet let him flash behind him, then turned with the bone in his hand so the clan would know his drift rightaway.

________________

It was the first rig Fleet had ever been in. Nobody ran petroz anymore. The Conglom had gunships, but wheels were pretty much gone. The man in the drab stood on the exhil and the dirty city fell away.

Once past the arterials they had to sequest the rig and ped. Patrols had the ways cinched so they moved through the rocks and stayed low.

At last they were up in the Big and the clanspy shucked drab, motioned to Fleet to do the same. But Fleet had never been sansdrab outside his domi and freaked maximal at dropping support. But the man peeled it off him and the breathing was rishi.

So they kept on their trip.

In three days they hit Seraph. Fleet had never seen so much clan. There were hundreds of buckminsters and the scene was green, the netest place in the Big.

They came to a dome and Sleet went in with the bone. And there was King Neil.

King was lying on a pile of coyoteskins, frontlegs crossed, listening to a playback. He stood and scratched behind an ear as Fleet entered. After a while, cool, he sniffed out Fleet with his All and his Pretty Friend tiptoed around him too, and they all knew this was a dark visit. Pretty Friend slid away and King motioned: sit and core fast.

Which is how Fleet returned the bone and prommed to trade for a dump of anything green, cause the Conglom was beginning to jones. But before they cut the deal Fleet had to ask: what made King so loose?

And King took Fleet out to the Pinnacles of Light under the full moon and showed him the longago shape of the World. Fleet saw the Turtle Stone and the warriors stained into the cliffs. King Neil sang Reality inside Nature and it was sixtyshare.

But Fleet had a lot of those old acetates and business was on and the point was he’d come for airmakers, and what was it exactly that King could use? King left a while, made medicine with the clan, and came back with the gig: they wanted his coyote time, nothing less. Seraph was on the edge of a big energy bush. It would be the last bush in the Big and they wanted the schedule. For the schedule they would deliver some life.

So the deal went and Fleet delivered by quickhack etheric, simple really. Deal.

Fleet Ithaca’d and King Neil and his squad hit the bush combine. They hoarded honey for two days and then lurped down the trail and caught the rim. They looked over the rim down on the plant and King sent in two clan with the honey and they sweetened all the tanks. At the last click they were spotted and the guards were stoned, the turbines were fucked, and the place was wasted. But now it was capital and the gunships came and there was a wasteup.

The clan and King’s squad outlasted the gunships, which needed goo, but the clash continued on the ground. King was chased by a humvee but counted as he lammed, and at twelve the vee copped to honey and smoked itself into a dinosaur, which was good.

It looked like King was goodgone, though his squad was nowhere to be found, but just as he’d worked his way back to the rim a stealth ship dropped him with a net.

____________________

The Supreme nailed him for Eco and gave him choice: O Zone or Inject. King chose the zone. At least there’d be a chance.

In those days each Zone could decide. Some chose cannibal and did not flourish. Others tried to work out whatever scene the weird dominant there could manage. The conglom had O Zone supplied with a coffinfull of powd and the load was copped by the Off- Broadway Zeppelins, a freaksquad who laid down the style.

King was dropped in the zone with a geezer from the Snow. The head Zeppelin was a mastur who dug theatre and he groomed King for a role.

No one had drab there. They sat around or copped in their factories as they ran ratwheels, because there was no energy in O Zone and you were either a cat or a rat. The cats were zeppelined and they were law. So King was a starlet for the next freakproof, which is what they called the act that proved the Zeppelins had death on their side.

They got right away that King was energy source and he became a closely-watched thing, for thinking on his feet, since their mindmove was dwarf. They kept him surrounded by a wheelcrowd of Zepps, and he practiced his script until it was Showtime.

He only had a small part and after it he’d be snuffed. He had a co-star now, the Geezer from the Snow, who was also going to die. The night they played the two of them broke lines and he and the Geezer brawled their way offstage and out into the Zone.

They pedded through alleys that were so far away from his green that the king was fright. In truth there was no way out. The Zone was an injection, and the old Geezer gave him the straight—if they stepped across they’d hit O2 deprive and die in a 60.

The bush had the big needle and control and King was trapped in his own chemistry in the fallendown artifice of the Conglom. Nothing organic. That low.

As he was about to suicide, a ratty dependent hag waved them towards.

She was a typical nethag with the glow of sily in her eyes, skin like dried white glue. King went for the chance of it but the hag flashed a stungun out of her fatpants and herded both of them downstairs.

Stairs, stairs, and hatches. Down. Down. Down. Down under the Zone into a leftover blastchamber from the old days before the atmosphere went globalnuclear and there was no threat to terminating nations anymore.

They spiraled down in the subterranean homesick oldtime of that Era and the lock opened finally on a scene that was way non-Gaia to the King, a hip coyote who thought he’d checked out everything below the Greenhouse rim.

And then the nethag peeled. She scraped off her face and her hag threads and became translucent light. She was Pleiades consciousness from the outer deep, like Angel light from the back fantasy of what every human ever imagined was life.

They were in a deep-focus lab. A Gaia lab. There were four in the Pleiades group, all light-bodied anthropomorphos, all moving very tai-chi-like in rhythm. They were pure-focus, sent to make Earth sweet again. They saw Earth like a lapis bauble hung pretty, here in the Milky Way, and they watched a color shift on the planet, and came on a three light-year gig to see.

They sought the darkness place, and the Zone of the Conglom net was the blackest hole of consciousness outside pure nothing. They sat the King down and laid hands. They channeled him light and he stood in their rhythm and he Realized. When he saw, even the Geezer went for it too. The nethag had become pure Muse. She was a laser of delight and Geezer and the King were in instant sync.

So it was the energy source of the Conglom they sought. The Pleiadeans were consciousness scanners; they could read massmind like a splashscreen. And they sought a scam to virus the earthumans. They wanted the intraspecies key to lock into the human beings. They wanted the Blue Planet clear. And they had a need for a shapeshifter like the King. They knew his ego was transformative and they needed a Hero--a man who could play Mahatma Gandhi or Albert Einstein or Bob Dylan. King Neil was the ancient Trickster. They recognized his style. And he danced when they saw him.

So they told him to hijack the drugload and switch it with their chemical. But the King was wary. He didn’t want to sell out the Bee Goddess for a load of shit. He wanted the map. The map was white powder too, but its formula was pure life, plant juice, vitamin life. There was a way to make organic style addictive.

It was an easy sell. King knew how strange the human had become, how synthesis had become boss and anything natural was threat to the Conglom net, even though deep in their head there were coders who knew they must be headed for air or the whole show was over. Just packing green was capital. The distance between real and natural belonged to the Conglom.

King saw how the Space Surgeons were after the artificial. He belonged to Angels. He was their tool.

So they laid him their plan: Hijack the month’s supply and switch it for their concentrated greenjuice. Life was the special energy of mammals. They had split from the need eons ago, found light more efficient and dropped ego in favor of aura existence. They were High and Clear and With Purpose. They had found a Greenman to rip off the Zone and they would free consciousness on the gone Earth after oxygenlove had been exploited by the Conglom net, that fading virus hanging on in collective dismay and shame.

So King used his street smarts which were too near Dark for these lightbodies, and he sneaked into the Zone and rigged a dupeset of wheels and cloned the delivery system. But the hassle with the load was that the Zone mob were so tuned to its dose that they could detect it from a mile away. The load had a vibe, and any drabworn alleyrat with a jones could cop a high just leaning on the load. But the King and the Geezer and the Nethag went for it.

She drove the rig while the King beat off the load vets with tai-chi and just plain speed. The Geezer knew the way and they rocketed down the Zone streets chased by Zeppelins, switched the load, and there was now New Goods.

They caught the King, but being King Neil, the Shape Shifter, he jumped bail by devious transformation: Brer Rabbit in film noir drab.

The New Goods seemed dynamite and its jones was profound. And the Zepps grooved on it, though there were changes. Things slowed down. Folks on the drab began to connect. Some began to pick up trash. When the next month’s Stuff arrived, they sniffed and vomited. They were hooked on another Item. But what was it?

It was new and it was all-out and it like-religious. It was organic and the entire Zone thirsted for pure energy. The Space Surgeons once again sent King Neil before the Supreme, like the High King he was, and the Supreme prostrated themselves to him, in the name of whatever he was hiding that made them high.

And King showed them how it was simple Green, pure plant matter and nothing else. As his words flew around the Zone, clones tore up cement for dirt. The King went home and the Pleiadeans databased the change.

They told the King if he got his balance and became clean he could step out of the zone and run free. They knew that the Conglom was net-constructed, man-made, and explained the centuries of away from atmosphere. The Zone was almost a greenhouse, as the Zeppelins regressed to serfdom as fast as they could turn up ground.

So the Final Run was set. The King had to deliver a load to the Conglom and his connect was none other than Fleet, who had been trying to reverse-engineer the whole thing through way-heavy lenses of mere code.

And the King delivered the Last Load to Fleet and he dealt clean, and things on Love Me Avenue went radical. Drab became an accessory and it looked like homo sapiens was going to make it out of the electropaleolithic cave culture and back into air.

The Space Surgeons dissolved and left the plane to the ecologues, knowing that it would take a long time to correct the bush and return to green, but confident that what lives whole is high.

King Neil came home with another long-time tale, glad that the flight of Mother Nature’s Silver Seed had been postponed. He got back to enjoying the grand hotel of his body, basically hanging out in the mountains, an ecstatic dog with being for his bank account.


props to David Bowie, Phillip Daughtry, and Neil Young

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