...By the BIOS...?

When Gordon and Slay had abruptly left their short-term job for BrassiereMan, Slay had sort of assumed they were moving on to another location where she could continue to work at building up her chip arsenal. What she had not expected was that Gordon's idea of "more work to get done" was focusing on his professional career, not actually doing more work for the GNA. The mohawked operator had taken to a small bench in the park, now clad in his saggy black jeans but with the benefit of an added gray tank-top and dark black sneakers, making him at least a little more presentable than he had been at the beach. On the other hand, there was no hiding his tattoos, which littered his body and showed all manner of terrible, terrible subjects, some terrible in that they were gruesome but most terrible in that they were poorly thought out.

Gordon had set up a banner, attached to a standing shower rod that he'd embedded in a flower pot, describing free samples of his latest work: BIOS (trade-mark pending). The fact that he, supposedly, had a pending trade-mark on the term "BIOS" was clearly written onto the banner, in his surprisingly elegant handwriting. Of course, while this might look from a distance like a new writer attempting to get exposure in a small market with some innocent free publicity, the truth became evident once one was closer: it was a not-so-new but awful writer attempting to see if the reason no one was accepting his work so far was because he'd only been distributing it to publishing companies and a few close friends so far. Judging by the dazed looks of a few park-goers, the upset looks of mothers, and the laughter (at, not with) of kids, it was pretty apparent that the audience had not been his problem. Still, he was continuing distribution regardless. The starving artist was presently involved trying to explain his story to a mature woman in a black, PET plant jumpsuit, partially unzipped with a white t-shirt beneath. Her vibrant pink hair and studded ear-rings were almost as eye-catching as his tattoos and mullet-mohawk... but not quite.

The man with the slumped shoulders and giant mohawk was speaking slowly about his original script idea. "BIOS: Bio-Integrated Occult Spirits. So there's this future world where everyone is distributed tiny computer chips, planted into their skulls, which act as GPS and what not... it's almost like PETs, except they're right there in your skull and you can't remove them. So anyways, they've got these implants, and the government can track their every movement, but what they don't realize is that the chips also act as homing signals for vengeful ghosts, who want to kill the bearer to, you know, avenge their deaths at the hands of the ancestors. The twist is that this is told by the point of view of the ancestors, who all have PETs linked to the future, through those BIOS, where they can talk to their children in the future... But, you know, like... they want to warn their descendents that ghosts are going to kill them... But, like, they don't know what they did yet to offend the spirits in the first place. And meanwhile, the government is steady working on developing the BIOS, which, it turns out, are powered by the rage of those vengeful ghosts, so they start killing people and framing other people so the ghosts will have a target of revenge and will thus power the chips... And-"

"Stop, stop, stop! I can't take it. I like puzzles but trying to piece together how you're even writing something like this is beyond me!" the woman groaned, dropping the script as if she was now afraid to touch it for fear that she was going to go mad if she read it. "You've got three or four different stories all tangled together. And you say this is slasher genre?! How does that work?! Isn't it a story of government corruption more than anything? So isn't it an action thriller, or a drama, more so?"

"Well see... the mistake you're making there is assuming that it has a happy ending. If it does, it's an action thriller... But if we just take it as a case by case thing... Then, you see, uh, it kinda is a slasher, right? Like how in an old film, if you just look at the part where the bad guy gets a pipe thrown through his chest or his head shot off by a missile, without the rest of the context of the movie, it kinda looks like it's just some slasher... Killing them with pipes or missiles... You know, say, that gives me another idea for a story-"

"Focus on fixing this one first!" the woman snapped. "I swear, this is physically painful."

Slay thought she understood where the woman was coming from, but said nothing. Gordon needed to practice working these things out herself. What did bother her, somewhat, was the banner, proudly proclaiming that Gordon was somehow planning to trade-mark the phrase BIOS. "Do you really need to secure some form of trademark for the phrase 'BIOS?' I mean, not that you'll actually be able to, but I'm, for one, worried that your priority here is wrong, trying to trade-mark a phrase from a script that no one here is even accepting, let alone a publisher... but more importantly, that's got to be a pretty popular term for fiction, let alone branding in general. You don't think you'll run into someone who's got a long term interest in the phrase 'BIOS' if you keep this up?" she asked, keeping her usual gloomy face in the PET screen.

"Maybe. If I do, we'll just have to see whose use of the phrase is more important, y'know? Cause like... I think I might be on to something big, with the Bio-Integrated... Organic..."

"Occult. Bio-Integrated Occult Spirits."

"Right, those. I might be on to something with them," Gordon finished his thought. "Won't it be cool, watching a ghost kill a guy by throwing a missile at him?"


"Well, I've still gotta write in the missile part, I just came up with it. Hey, hand me that, would you?" he asked the woman in pink, who happily surrendered her copy of the BIOS story for Gordon to begin writing notes upon. "Alright... And... Yeah... The missiles can only be touched by ghosts, but they can still detonate on people... Or like... They can't detonate, but they can still destroy people with the force of impact? That might make it easier," he mused, quickly scrawling notes upon the back of the paper-clipped script.
It didn't take Roderick long to approach the scene at the park. After getting some info from Edgar, he vaguely knew what to expect...but even international cyberterrorist leaders weren't above getting a bit unnerved at the appearance that was Gordon. "Egads!"

"Oh come now, it can't be-" LightningMan formed up on his operator's shoulder as a hologram...and his disagreement was suddenly gone. "...Whoa. That is one seriously messed up looking man."

"At any rate, Edgar was right...we need to put a stop to this, before people get the wrong idea about BIOS. I have utter confidence in saying that nothing good will come of this if we let it be!" Now he just needed to approach the man...and, on the off chance he was wrong, grab a copy of the script and check it. Hmm...it took maybe 5 seconds for him to realize it somehow managed to be more horrific and terrible than anything the true BIOS had been responsible for thus far. "Egads! Who thought this was, even as a gag, a remotely good idea to commit to print?!"

"Gag's the right word...if I was capable of throwing up, I would be right now."

"Sir! Your script may well be the worst thing I have ever seen! I suggest gathering every copy you have, and immediately burning it! Perhaps you could roast marshmallows over it, and allow some good to come of it."

The Navi inched closer to Roderick's ear, not wanting to be heard to anyone besides him. "Focus. It's awful, but it's not why we're here."

"...Ah, yes. Ahem." He would've apologized to LightningMan, but he didn't want anything to be construed as apologizing for that outburst...because he wasn't the least bit apologetic for it. "Incidentally, about that title...you are aware that a cyberterrorist organization calls itself BIOS, aren't you? I doubt you'd want to associate yourself with such a group." Vice versa, however, was undoubtedly true.
Gordon's arms hung freely from his slumped shoulders as he watched Roderick arrive, read his script, and offer a valuable suggestion on how he might improve upon his work, namely by re-purposing it is as kindling to roast marshmallows. "Huh. Maybe my stories could make for some sweet marshmallows... Marshmallows are almost as good as stories. Huh... roasting ideas and turning them into marshmallows... I wonder if there's a story there," Gordon wondered out loud, not stopping to introduce himself or really responding to the critique.

"No self-respecting writer should say that marshmallows are nearly equivalent to their stories, Gordon," Slay murmured, taking the opportunity to pop up on a nearby bench in miniature hologram form (although she'd be pretty short even in real size). Perhaps she wasn't as comfortable on her operator's shoulder as LightningMan was? "However, in this case... they may have a point. It's both of our responsibilities to see you write something good enough for people's first reactions not to be to avert their eyes... let alone to burn it."

"Hm. Maybe. Then again, maybe they're just pyromaniacs... Like in that script I wrote last October," Gordon nodded, as if that made everything okay. "Alright. Anyway, you were saying something else, what was it... Oh, right, a cyber-terrorist organization called BIOS. That's good stuff... So I'll make BIOS the same Biological Integral-"

"Bio-Integrated," Slay reminded him.

"Bio-Integrated Operational Specters. Yeah, they'll be the ghosts of cyber-terrorists, so they can not only assault the descendants, but also their navis too. That way it's a one-two punch... Like, even more deaths per minute," Gordon finished, showing the rare trace of a smile.

"Deaths per minute? Just how many people are dying in this script?" his navi asked, still behind him in the curve when it came to adopting the rare smile.

"I mean, considering people will be dying in the past, present, and future... a lot of people. But that aside, you've got a good mind for slasher. All this talk about terrorists and arson and spectres... Yeah, I wanna bounce ideas off of you, for real," Gordon continued, looking Roderick over as though sizing him up, as if trying to determine what aspects of his physical appearance equated to a good mind for slasher fiction. "Your navi too. He kinda looks like a slasher himself... real menacing."

"He means that in a good way," Slay reassured the two of them. "This is Gordon Van Hearst, aspiring writer. He's got a long way to go but... at least he's working at it... very persistently. I'm Slay, actress in a couple of note-worthy horror films and a lot of not-note-worthy ones. I'm sort of in the twilight of my career despite the way I look." The way she looked was very much like someone in the prime of her horror career, considering she was still equipped with her bloody-looking metal-worker's apron, with the horrifically-sculpted mask attached to her face and a knife in one hand. Several children who'd been playing in the park were already reacting with tears, but Slay didn't seem to notice them, perhaps as a limitation of being a hologram cast out of the PET. "As you can see... Gordon needs a lot of help with his scripts. For that he needs inspiration, not distribution of the crappy material he's already writing. I was hoping he'd spend today doing some work for the GNA, or letting me do some, so he might have some good ideas."

"Well, I've got the idea-roasting idea now... that should materialize soon," Gordon added, pressing fingers to each of his temples. "Uh... Nevermind, I should switch back to BIOS..."

"Before that happens, I've got an idea too. Are you two free to help the two of us with GNA work? See, Gordon's really persistent when he has an idea that he's stuck on. The only good way to get him past it is to give him another idea. If you two will help out with a mission, I think we can guide Gordon away from this idea and ensure that he never gets on it again, which'll be good for all the people that would otherwise have to read his script... and um... good for him too, so he won't be associated with the cyber-terrorists. Or the other way around? Anyways, I think we can agree it'd probably be good for both of them," Slay reasoned. "What do you say? I'll see if I can call someone to help clean up all the scripts and that mess too..."

The pink-haired woman had long since taken her opportunity to disappear from the area and leave behind any responsibility of helping Gordon revise his script.
Roderick actually frowned a bit as Slay shot down Gordon's idea. Using the scripts as tinder for roasting marshmallows seemed easily the best possible use for them. And somehow, his warning about BIOS only resulted in him integrating it into his...sigh, 'plot'. This wasn't going at all how he planned. "No, no...I imagine they wouldn't be pleased to know someone was using their name like that. You yourself might find yourself on the receiving end of an attack if they're displeased enough...or your Navi. They're not called cyberterrorists without reason!"

LightningMan, on the other hand, actually smirked as he was discussed. "Like a slasher, eh? I think I kinda like the sound of that!"

"Don't encourage him!" With that, the leader of the discussed cyberterrorist group finally got introduced. "Well, that would explain the appearance, certainly. My name is...Rodney Thorsen, humble businessman! And this is my Navi, BoltMan!"

"Uh...yeah. Nice to meet you, or whatever."

"Don't mind him, he's not the friendliest sort." He listened to Slay's idea...seemed like at least one of that pair was reasonable. "I see...indeed, I believe everyone would benefit from that. And it's true that I have some free time currently. Very well, we shall join you!"

"...We are?" The electrical Navi rolled his eyes, not enthused with the plan. Though, if that Navi was even a fraction as bloodthirsty as she looked...it might be fun. "Eh, sure, why not. I could kill some time."

"Well, there you have it! We'll begin at your leisure!" If this was what it took to ensure that BIOS still struck fear into the hearts of millions, then he was going to do it. Of course, the off the books reward didn't hurt, either.
"That's true as well," Slay agreed, nodding in response to Roderick's warning that BIOS might target Gordon for an attack if he besmirched their credibility. "Then again... I doubt that a bunch of cyber-terrorists care very much what this guy is doing. Anyways, you two, I'll go ahead and get the jump on putting that mission request up. I'll also put out a call and see if one of Gordon's roomies will come clean up this mess in the park. For now, though, we'd better jack in somewhere around here so I can meet them when they show up... and so that the cops don't pick up one of Gordon's scripts and interpret it as something else."

"Right. My writing's so realistic at this point that... like... it can be confused for reality," Gordon agreed, looking at all of the papers that now littered the park, 95% of those from people discarding them and 5% from the wind carrying them off. "Say, not a bad idea for a story, right? A bunch of scripts are left in a park... a lone police officer finds them and realizes that they all match up to real world murders... so like, he has to stake out the spot in the park. Then he realizes the papers are alive and have minds of their own, and they're all committing the killings... or, wait, no, the police officer is writing all of the scripts and then scattering them himself and trying to work out the mysteries himself... or like, the scripts he wrote are coming to life and now he's the only one who can-"

Slay interrupted with a loud sigh and shook her head. "For Rodney and BoltMan's sakes, we need to get some good inspiration flowing into you, ASAP. Let's tell them it's urgent..." she murmured, hopping on to net from where Gordon had her jacked in and disappearing from her hologram form.

This left just Gordon and the other two for now, although LightningMan would likely take the excuse to vamoose as soon as he could. "So uh... Rod... What do you do?" the aspiring writer asked, standing like a zombie even though a perfectly good bench was nearby to sit on. "Mind if I call you Rod?" Gordon had already produced a small notepad and pen (the pen decorated childishly with skulls and bats, as though he'd picked it up from a kid's Halloween party) from one of his deep trouser pockets. It looked worryingly as though he was already planning to use whatever Rodney said for another script...

((Jacking in to make mission request))
"Well, you never know. You don't become a cyberterrorist by being sane and rational." Aside from himself, of course. "...Ah, I just remembered something I must do. It should only take a moment, so if you'll excuse me..." With that, 'Rodney' walked out of earshot, and pulled his PET out. "Seems we have some IDs to cobble up..."

"Way ahead of you. I already contacted one of our hackers to make a couple of additions to the GNA database. It should be all set any minute now."

"Ah, good. You may not be the friendliest Navi, but you're among the most dependable!"

"It's not my job to be friendly."

"I suppose not..." All right, time to rejoin their partners in missioning...for better or worse. "Sorry about that. But now we can mission away without a care in the world!" Unfortunately, this also meant that Gordon could talk without a care in the world, and the pair was subjected to a new 'plot'. That one, however, actually seemed somewhat salvagable. At least, if the writer was actually talented. And that man was increasingly obviously not. Best to just shoot it down, and give it a painless death. "Yes, good inspiration would be lovely!"

"So would a break from this, so I'm heading in. Bye." A beam of light shone forth from Roderick's PET, sending 'BoltMan' into the Net.

"Wait!...Erm..." ...Now he was alone with...this guy. If it was possible to weaponize him, he'd probably have at least Electopia by the end of the week. Maybe Yumland, too. "...Let's reverse that question. What do YOU do? When you're not writing, er, scripts." ...Well, technically, they met all the standards of being scripts. Aside from being readable, anyway.
Gordon remained quiet as Rodney walked away from him, spoke to his navi in private for a moment, then returned. His face was similarly passive as the stranger failed to really identify what he did for a living and instead asked what Gordon did when he wasn't writing scripts. "Uh... I don't do anything besides write scripts. Like... I live in an apartment with a couple of guys... and every now and then they'll ask me to do some stuff but, even then, I'm still writing scripts. I guess I never really thought about it. I mean, I really haven't done anything but write scripts for years now, y'know? I guess GNA missions? I'm doing one of those right now instead of writing one. Actually, I do a couple of other things for inspiration... like watching TV and movies, reading, and that junk. But you know, you asked me 'when I'm not writing scripts, and I normally write scripts even while I'm doing that stuff."

The operator took a moment to look at his PET and see what Slay was up to; it looked as though she was introducing herself to some navis, a few of which looked interesting. He thought about what he'd just answered for a moment, adopting a pensive look, before striking up conversation with his new associate again. "So, Rod, you ever think about being a character in your own story? Like I was just saying, I never do anything but write scripts and junk. That's kind of weird, isn't it? Like, you think maybe I've been 'programmed' by hypnotism or mind-control or something... or maybe I'm a robot. No, wait... okay, I'm not a robot. But one of those other things. Like, what if while I was in college, somebody took over my brain? Then I got out of college and I couldn't stop writing these awesome stories," he continued, crossing his arms and looking into the skies wistfully, despite the frown adorning his long face. "What if they'd programmed me to kill people instead of writing slasher flicks? Like, I would have killed so many people now in so many cool ways... But, I guess I'd either be dead or in jail or something. Not to mention the guys that'd be dead. So it's probably a lucky thing they brainwashed me this way instead."

Gordon gave Rodney some time to let that wisdom sink in before droning out some more conversation. "If you were brain-washed, how would you even know? Is that something you know anything about? Know any hypnotists?" he asked, firing off questions one after another.
The more Gordon continued to talk, the more Roderick pondered whether or not he was stuck in a bad dream. Like that one movie, where the killer existed in the dream world, but more painful. But it was real, and his brain had to do something to counteract all the awful it was being fed. And so it did. The terrorist leader suddenly froze, as if lost in thought...but in actuality, it was just trying to find stimulation. Something that did not bring physical pain for experiencing it.

This continued for quite a while, until his Navi returned to his PET. "Yo. I'm back."

"Eh?!" The sound of someone actually reasonable snapped the man back into reality. "Ah, it's you, Li..." ...Oh shoot, that was right, they were using aliases. "...Little BoltMan! You've returned? That didn't take long."

The electrical Navi raised an eyebrow, but otherwise was visually unresponsive. "...Check your clock. I've been gone for a while."

"Hmm?" One quick check later, it turned out that was true. "...So it has. Well, it seems I zoned out for a while. Sorry about that!" Except that he wasn't.

"So, we've got upcoming business. We should head back to the house, should you be able to pull away from this undoubtedly scintillating conversation."

"Business? ...Ah, yes, indeed we do!" Never before had he been more happy to have created a cyberterrorism organization. "Well, it seems me and my Navi have things to do, er...Gary? Greg? ...Well, your name eludes me at the moment, but we really must be going. Remember, change that script's acronym, we can't have any evil organizations getting agitated on you!" Or at least more than they already were. With that, he turned around and walked as fast as he could away from the situation, back to the base. The further away he was from that man, the better.
"Okay so... the hypnotist realizes that he'd hypnotized himself back when he was fourteen, but forgot all about it, because he hypnotized himself to, so when it comes time to break the hypnosis, it turns out he's hypnotized himself to resist the hypnosis by hypnotizing another hypnotist to hypnotize him when he... hello?" Gordon asked, suddenly looking around and noticing his new writer's aide had mysteriously vanished. "Uuuh... Rod?" he inquired again, kneeling down to check underneath the park bench. "Well... dang."

"Dang is right," Slay responded, speaking up from his PET. "The mission's over and we got paid, but I don't know what to think of the results..."

"Oh, right. Your mission," her operator murmured, suddenly forgetting about Roderick. "It kinda sucks that I didn't see any of it. I can't get any inspiration at all if I can't even watch, and that Rod guy kinda clammed up on me... Probably trying to keep good ideas to himself. Guess I can't blame him... So, what about a story about a guy who murders people, technically, by learning of vital secrets that could save their lives, but he never shares them-"

"This is serious, Gordon," Slay interrupted, tensing her brow and adopting an expression that caused him to shut up. "I'm glad Roderick's gone, cause I don't trust that guy or his navi... For that matter, I sure don't trust CrypticMan... and I don't really even trust the GNA handler who I told about the evil stuff CrypticMan did. Actually, I kind of feel lucky I'm alive after being caught in the middle of all that," she reflected.

"What? What happened? Anything I can write about?" he asked; the answer would probably be yes, although the quality of said writing would be a question mark.

Slay didn't answer the writing question, but did cross her arms and stare downward with a thoughtful frown as she continued. "Well... that BoltMan guy wasn't using his real name... I don't think Roderick and his navi were who they seemed to be. Furthermore, he seemed pretty at ease with everything in the mission, which is, uh, worth remarking on, when you hear what the mission was about... It was like, a trap, where the two of us and the other testers were told to leave whenever, but we were put into an experiment with strict rules... I saw or, uh... thought I saw... a lot of navis die during the experiment. A couple others ran... I just kept going, cause I wanted to maybe avenge the others who died or learn the truth... but I never did either," she sighed, looking downcast. A more on-the-ball operator would probably take this time to reassure her, but that wasn't Gordon; he was writing notes instead, since some ideas were forming. "But here's the weirdest part; after it was all done, I went to the GNA, you know? Cause I figured I ought to warn them that the guy who gave the mission, CrypticMan, wasn't on the up and up... I mean, even if it was all fake, that mission was messed up in a lot of ways. And you know what they said?"

Gordon shook his head slowly, then seemed as if inspiration hit. "'Here's your payment?'" he asked cluelessly.

"... No, I'd already been paid. They told me that he was a regular poster who was trusted... that he gave missions all the time. Honestly, that makes me feel worse than any of this does. It means that either CrypticMan is really good at covering his tracks or, more likely, that he's got friends in high places. I've never heard of the GNA helping out shady types that act against the interest of the temp employees they hire, but... I mean, it could happen, couldn't it?"

"I hope that's not what's going on... Cause I'm totally using that in my next story," Gordon agreed. "And I don't want people to think I ripped it off..."

"But you did kind of rip it off," Slay sighed, back to her usual task of nipping Gordon's terrible jobs in the bud. "Like, I don't want to leave it at that, but if the GNA is against you, that's all you can do... The NP can't help you with this sort of thing, not nowadays. Well, like, they can help you a bit... But they definitely can't solve the problem if the GNA stands in their way."

"All I know is that I'm changing the name of my BIOS story," Gordon resolved. "Cause, like... Rod said so, and that guy is magic... he disappears into thin air. What kind of writer would I be if I didn't take the advice of guys like that, huh?"

"You could stand to take other people's advice more often, too," his navi remarked, shaking her head quietly. "Come on... Let's go spend this zenny."

((Heading to Scilabs))