The Hobby Shop

Digbee knew the message was from the real Hector and not a copy because he used his name at the start of the e-note. Technically in the Goo, there was no need for e-anything. They were living in “e-“, and as such should be able to just touch each other at a moment’s notice.  However having moved half a civilization into organic data banks you learn some lessons. Privacy for the most part needed to be continued along the lines of current day thinking. Which blew out the “Nest Theory”. People demanded that individuality was maintained. Thus you needed some form of message buffering or you could still burn out even in the Goo. Hector Ford was smarter than any AI Digbee knew, after all these years Digbee didn’t really know what Hector was exactly. AI’s monitored Digbee constantly but they missed blunt affronts to their intelligence. It was one of the many reasons Digbee argued relentlessly about flawed AI logic, the world just wasn’t as perfect and straightforward as the Central Governments made it out to be. Frankly if things we’re as straight forward, Digbee wanted let off on the nearest asteroid to erode quickly in space vacuum. 
The note read:
“Digbee, please come to a store, I need to speak with you urgently”
He was sleeping in his home space in “Grid Four”. G4, which as far as he knew was the closest a black ops member of the military could get to the government Grids, without making the people who were supposed to have forgotten about you nervous about remembering you. He put in a level “nothing” confidential request to make sure the Hobby Shop was still where it always had been. Digbee had rarely been in residence in G4, he spent so much time on missions within the data grids or rebirthed to the Ships that made up the core of Another Destiny. If he wasn’t on ships, he was babysitting some away team investigating planets, asteroids or any lump of rock that might sustain human life. He had an assigned AI within the Goo, which also go re-birthed with him when he was re-birthed. He didn’t trust AI and he didn’t trust Sally. But she’d been with him for as long as he remembered and he remembered a long way back. Hector had told him she didn’t monitor his personal routines or thoughts. She responded to when asked and was an advanced Military AI makeup. At least that’s what he had it installed for. To run the various Android’s he was rebirthed into. She had probably advanced well beyond that now. If there was a piece of computer he trusted more than any other it was probably her. When earth finally gave up sustaining life he had chosen to go with Another Destiny because he distrusted AI so much. Another Destiny was run by AI or subsumed humans into AI nests. His alternate and preferred option was to side with New Earth where AI were treated well but under the new rules were subservient to humans. 
With all the time on the go he had almost forgotten the inside of his home space. The military, if that’s who he really worked for, was arguably the most paranoid organization there was these days and they had good reason to be. He pinged a standard pre agreed reply to Hector that only he would know was an affirmative he was on his way and then got up from his bed. Sleeping was irrelevant in the Data Grids but a lot of people did it, he stretched what felt like a real stretch and looked around his bedroom. When they had first been allocated the space, he and Kimberly had still sometimes had time to meet in person, rebirthed using the Hostile Environment Rebirth (HER) machines, which were so critical to Another Destiny’s central cause. But then earth finally succumbed to the radiation of the sun with no artificial atmosphere strong enough to fend it off. After the atmosphere died there were no more earth side re-births as the sun finally claimed earth as inhabitable. He was the last person to be encoded from earth as he was responsible for the encoding program which back in those days was a very gritty, dirty and unbalanced life. But that would have to wait, he decided to strip his home space back to a blank canvas with nothing but his chair in it, a digital reminder of something he had created himself once while on medical rehab having body parts regrown.  Kimberly had hired one of the AI design programs that had been provided to untechnical people to help carve out their online space for the journey they were about to embark on. A journey still to this day no one could see an end too. He had no links with Kimberly anymore. Since they went inside the goo permanently, she had taken to some of the weirder practices and was jealous that he got to get rebirthed for his job every now and then. He asked Sally to perform the wipe and the silent reply was simply that everything bar his chair had gone. Content with the blank space and his chair he code locked it, and tapped the Grid Coordinates for the local Hobby Shop that had arrived in his neural arrays, then clicked a transit icon in his retina display. 
Digbee was working for Another Destiny, not just so he was closer to AI, he also felt he could do what was needed to help keep humanity together here. New Earth was going to work it was just a matter of time. Here things still had the possibility of getting out of hand really quickly. He searched and searched every night for a reason why he was doing this. He believed in New Earth and the demotion of AI. He believed in the Terra Forming that was happening on New Earth and the chance for a new beginning. The split had forced him to side with Another Destiny, and Hector had a big role to play in that. Hector came to him on the day of earth’s final encoding and convinced him he was needed on team “Another Destiny”. Complacency and all the mistakes of science fictions central societies would be made here. So in the end he had agreed to come, essentially he felt he wasn’t the settling down growing plants and a new home type. So he left his soul behind and pledged to Another Destiny not New Earth. Currently Data Earth, (Dearth) as the people of New Earth too were all locked up in Goo Banks while their new planet was built. 
He took a fake shower and made ready to leave, dressed in the same clothes he had for centuries and zipped up his signature black leather jacket. He bridled at the AI efficiency lofting him into an executive data tube that ran the length of the whole of G4, branching off symmetrically like an old fashioned fire hydrant system in an office ceiling. He hadn’t asked for the assistance and didn’t need it. But snooping AI’s had assumed that as he was going to see Hector he would want to travel in executive class. Actually he wanted to walk the main Grid Tunnels so he could see what was happening on the ground. Limited Manipulation of the Grids connecting systems was allowed in real man’s land (RML). Local areas could customize the look and feel of a section if they all agreed, but a data tunnel when you stripped away peoples imagination looked the same on every ship and every goo bank now heading away from earth as fast as their Grav F-Drives (GFD’s) could carry them. The one advantage of executive travel was you got to stop and peer into people’s private home-spaces at will. He, personally could do this whenever he wanted anyway due to an unasked for gift from the Dream Guardians, but he didn’t exercise the right very often. After the apparent defeat of the Atromee on earth way back when, AI’s had been exulted to even higher status. Against their will obviously they were now practically Demi-Gods. Every time Digbee looked at this equation he saw the same thing. Human’s as pets to the AI’s who controlled everything with Hard Logic, sometimes letting people know there was still chance and spontaneity in their lives by introducing a fake versions of it. 
“Why the limo service?” He grunted at Sally. 
“Actually I think Hector sent it. Time seems to be pressed” Sally responded as cordially as ever no matter how grumpy he was with her. 
He was deposited outside a shop front. It had a single large pane of glass on the left that had Hobby Shop, stenciled in an arch through the center of the window in faded aqua blue which fitted with the antique glass. The window was clear and inside you caught a glimpse of all your favorite old time hobbies from when you were a child. Digbee had challenged Hector on this once, asking if the view was the same for everyone. Having never knowingly lied to Digbee Hector answered in truth that there were different draws for every agent. Views based on age, gender, and century born or adolescent records of activity. The list of filters and outputs was quite dazzling. Sadly Digbee’s main attractions were diamond diggers, heavy advanced weaponry and some advanced flying model space drops or inter system spy ships that uncannily resembled the ships still darting about in systems today.  He pushed the door to the sound of a manual brass bell dampened by a cloth hanging over it, although this is where ordinary stopped. Hector was supposed to look up from the counter of the shop and beckon him in to the back where they would sit down in a benign room and drink tea before things got started. But today no Hector. He instinctively went for his gun, but felt the futility in the gesture immediately. His gun was Hector, in the goo it didn’t mean anything if there was no controlling hierarchy to do something when he pulled the trigger. The very thought that hierarchy controlled his ability to kill someone infuriated him every day. After all it was and always had been his primary job.

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