Confessions of a Partially-Reformed D-MISE Agent 10/18/17

I recognize that some of the arrogance I held was dangerous to my own well-being. It was comfortable, and being comfortable meant being vulnerable. I recognized my arrogance soon after I had been fully indoctrinated into D-MISE and when I realized how high in the ranks I had traveled in so short a time. Envy from my estranged peers set my heart glowing. Against the paleness of the usual citizens of Prism City, I felt enlightened. When I walked down the street, I watched the people pass by. Young students, professionals, struggling families – I watched through the lens of an android their daily lives, and I felt superior.

I don’t mean to say that it was right. It was just how it happened to be. I knew something they didn’t – something they could never know. I knew where Prism City was headed, and I knew what it would look like in After. Because I was superior, I would get to see it. That’s where my arrogance became dangerous – it made me think that I was destined for it, and I became comfortable. I stopped being on edge. I started to miss things. Assignments fell through the cracks, and missions went incomplete. I was lucky. Not every agent was given so much lenience.

It was after what happened to Laney traveled through the grapevine of lesser agents that I started to get back on track. I realized that everything I wanted – my newfound status and immeasurable wealth, could all evaporate in a moment of carelessness. I wouldn’t let that happen to me. I cared about my new life in a way I had never cared about my old one. I’m just sorry that Laney had to lose hers to see it.

Perhaps that was why I sought out Langston. I felt that my redemption laid in him, and I would follow him all over the city to achieve it. My new hopes were invested in him. If I could help him succeed, it might come back around to me. At least, that’s how it started. I never meant to interfere so much. That became dangerous as well, even if not for me.

Maybe I felt that he was a kindred spirit – thrust into something huge and insurmountable, but like me, he still felt that need to succeed in the eye of impossible odds. I still don’t know where he’s going to end up. Just because he and his demonic pet take down one horrific monster doesn’t mean that the next one won’t get him. Every day is a new day, and anything can happen. They’re not dealing with machines. They’re dealing with unpredictable predators, and any momentary slip can end a life.

I’ll be in the shadows, watching and waiting. If I interfere too much, it could be the end for me too. As much as I want to help more than I do, Langston is going to have to sink or swim with only the help of his own canine partner, as unhinged as that lab accident is.

Unhinged is perhaps too kind a description.

Confessions of a Partially-Reformed D-MISE Agent 10/11/17

Of all the destined eye sores in the city, that dreadful domed amusement park was the worst, in my opinion. I don’t know what they meant to accomplish, but it was a mess from the start. If Langston hadn’t been keen on using it as a controlled area to test out Star Dog’s autonomy in his own little playground, I doubt it would have secured any funding.

The biggest problem is that there was no direction. I watched as it began construction on a leveled area where a huge firm had just gone under. The demolition caused a perpetual dust cloud hanging on the horizon of the city. I watched as the equipment filed through the streets like a militia on that sweltering hot day. It was a rare day off for me, and I watched from the outdoor cafe of a tiny bistro off Main Street. It had been packed inside, and I just wanted a lemonade, so I settled for one of the few metal chairs that had been in the shade and thus not super-heated by the relentless sun that reflected off every ivory glassed surface. (A part of me wondered if the original constructors of Prism City had once conspired to bake their citizens with their layout and choice materials.)

As I watched the dust cloud rise as the building collapsed under the control of mega machinery, everyone else joined in, turning from their newspapers, tablets and other devices, to shield their eyes as they watched the onslaught of our atmosphere. I mused, looking at it, wondering if that was how the dinosaurs had felt.

I don’t know who was in charge of designing the amusement park, but I have to say I understand why it was never given a formal name. It was never truly opened to the full public, getting only so far as invited guests before it became derelict and forgotten. It was a mashup of eras ranging from medieval to Victorian England, from the buildings to the shops, and even to the actors who had to dress and talk the part. Bless them and their bottomless patience. Apparently, they didn’t have much choice. Last I saw, many had taken up residence there. I imagined many of them had lived in housing complexes that were zoned for the new luxury apartments, and that was the beginning of the end.

I stopped going over there. The laughingstock had been eclipsed by the poverty and desperation, and I felt sorry for everyone who called it home. I wished I could have helped. I wish I could have introduced them to the doctrine that D-MISE carries, and give them a new lease on life like I had been given, but After was getting closer, and the Ark was getting fuller.

I couldn’t risk it, so I looked away.

Confessions of a Partially-Reformed D-MISE Agent 10/4/17

Not every confession has to be mine, does it? I can offer you someone else’s confessions, right? Prism City has a lot of candidates with juicy confessions. Sins pave the pristine streets, and the banners of debauchery wave in the broken ghettos. Most of all, those who live in the ivory towers, otherwise known as those who helm the corporate ships that war across the urban lands – those CEOs have plenty of skeletons to line their closets. Some keep them hidden better than others.

The hologram technology that quickly inundated our city, from waiters to bank tellers to entertainment, didn’t happen by accident or overnight. It didn’t even happen for many of the professions it came to utilize. It had a darker, deeper ulterior motive that spread like wildfire until it was all-consuming, and the corporate titans were in charge of that catalyst. They say that technology doubles every two years, but the technology that produced viable, almost invisible holograms in everyday life was more than a leap. It crossed a chasm of our societal development.

People like Langston Romaijn and Deirdre Bader, people who were the visible one percent of the city that warred over its fate from behind a desk in a boardroom, they were the reason that the hologram technology was expedited and given the funds needed to make that leap. This was before the Star Dog technology became center stage, but those who knew how to move their pawns across the urban board knew the steps needed to take the queen. Then it was only a matter of time until they reached the king. One of the pawns was the hologram technology.

They knew it had to be good. They knew the holograms had to be imperceptible, especially to those who were trained to be fooled by it. There wasn’t room for any mistakes, and they had limited time to perfect it in. It was just a side effect that the entire city would adopt holograms into their routines and lives. Its first purpose had a long calculated history tied up in the corporate giants that ruled Prism City. Its devastating denouement wasn’t obvious until after the Star Dog technology went into motion, at least to me. I watched from afar as they built the house that would act like a puppet show. I saw the machinery brought in and hard-wired into the very walls to make it as elaborate and fulfilling as they could.

I might have been fooled, if I didn’t know any better. He had just left behind the veil of a computer-induced fog and leapt into his own being, and I may never know what that’s like. The closest I can relate is the prior version of myself that was unenlightened to D-MISE’s main plan. I don’t know how I would have reacted, had I been on that side of things. I feel a little remorse, but I knew it was necessary. It made him stronger. Early on, I thought his strength would be instrumental in propelling us to After, but fate intervened – the one he chose – and the cards played out differently. We were left alone in Prism City, and I still don’t blame him.

Not one single iota.

Confessions of a Partially-Reformed D-MISE Agent 9/27/17

I’ve only been a D-MISE agent for less than two years, but I learned a lot in that amount of time. The personal growth is exponential when your life is on the line. I’ve done some amazing things with amazing technology, but I’ve also seen the darkest depths of the city, and I don’t mean a physical place. I’m referring to the place in the hearts of mankind, and what they’re willing to do to their peers. I’m going to share much of that with you, even with the bleak hope I have now of it reaching somebody.

One thing I can say about myself with any level of certainty is that I spent a majority of my life from childhood and adolescence to just before my prison sentence without any discernible direction. I had vague ideas of maybe one day leaving the city I had grown up in, but I didn’t know the true meaning of work or discipline. I do now, thanks to D-MISE. I imagine many of us were like that, especially youth that grew up on the cusp of the Post-Modern Era. It was a new time for our world, and it struck at the heart of the city. Just like it will again soon. As an agent in higher-than-normal standing, which I can only ascertain with the conferment of my android counterpart, I’m well on the way to After.

But I can’t start slacking now. If those that control the direction of the organization have proven anything, it’s that no one is guaranteed a ticket to the Ark. One thing that I did have aptitude in was math, and not the kind that dealt strictly with numbers. My math is a kind of logic. For example, if my brother was going to beat me home on our bikes, then he would have first dibs on the snacks on the way in, and I would only have access to the crumbs. I “did the math”, as it was called. I did the same with my situation now. Even D-MISE has limited resources, somewhere up the line. What percentage of Prism City could be expected to survive? Fifty? Twenty-five? Ten? Even ten percent was still a lot of people, and it was going to get crowded.

From my peeks behind the curtain, I have a rough idea how many people had been absorbed into D-MISE’s population, and I can tell you right now that there’s not enough room for all us. Only some other agents have suspicions regarding that revelation, and that’s why competition keeps getting elevated. We’re pushing each other just as much as ourselves, and we are seething at the confines of our infrastructure. The people are boiling, and something within D-MISE is about to crack. I’ll be the first one through it, reaching for After, as our only salvation.

That’s why I’m only “partially-reformed”. I’m willing to concede that we’ve done terrible things. I’ve done terrible things, all on my own as well as a part of D-MISE. But I’m still going to After. I worked too hard and sacrificed too much to get there. I still believe in the vision, and I believe in my own aptitude to achieve it.

Maybe I’ll see you on the other side.

It’s more likely that I won’t.

Confessions of a Partially-Reformed D-MISE Agent 9/20/17

I wasn’t much before I became a D-MISE agent. Perhaps that was the point. As agents, our lives are built on a foundation of unknown factors that manipulated our reality every day. We had to be flexible, and trusting. I was neither of those things – at least not to start. I would be biased to say I’ve adapted.

I don’t know if this is divine intuition, or utter paranoia at this point, but I wouldn’t put it past the upper rungs of the hierarchy to have had something to do with my wrongly convicted status, and my subsequent “sentence” that led me into the grips of D-MISE. I was a nobody that wouldn’t be missed, and I have a feeling that a bulk of their population was made up of people just like me in that regard. That requirement could lead to a steady stream of new agents.

Some turned out to be good agents. Some were terminated to minimize their liability. I’m surprised I made it this far, but whatever I’m doing, despite the snark and backtalk, someone must like it. I’ve gotten too lucky too many times to not have a friend in the shadows, and I quietly thank them.

Some of you might think that odd, that I could suspect something of that magnitude, and not search out who it is. Especially how lonely the life of an agent is – how isolated, and how desolate. If my experiences had been different, I might have reacted differently to the realization, and not with serenity and grace.

I would have been driven to find out all the little secrets that worked like glue in our infrastructure. It would have driven me mad to not know who my ethereal champion was – if I hadn’t just done the exact same thing. Now I can appreciate the distance.

I didn’t particularly know much about Prism City’s Justice Department before my incarceration – I hadn’t needed to do so. From my own experience, I would say it’s a mess. Perhaps that’s why my case had been so flimsily supported, and poorly notated. Maybe it was all set up at that point, and my court-appointed lawyers were just screaming into the void for all the good my defense did. I remember the powerless feeling I had in the defendant’s chair, a feeling I no longer contend with, for I am enlightened among the rabble in the city now. It’s nice to be nostalgic though.

I also remember when the judge told me my date for surrendering, and I would have only forty-eight hours to tell my loved ones goodbye. I remember the hollow feeling that echoed inside me at the realization that I had no one to tell. I could surrender that afternoon and no one would miss me.

If only it had been a week earlier.

Confessions of a Partially-Reformed D-MISE Agent 9/13/17

I don’t know what drew me to Langston in the beginning. Perhaps it was my morbid curiosity, or perhaps it was the charm he claimed to have. He did so well in the arms of D-MISE when he was first captured. Even in chains, his spirit didn’t break. I watched from a secure place. Even if I were able to do anything about it, I don’t think I would have. I never claimed to be a saint. I couldn’t hear what they were asking him, but question after question, I could tell by the crawl of his smirk that it wasn’t going well for them.

Maybe they were asking him about Star Dog, or maybe D-MISE didn’t even care about Star Dog at this point. I soon found out that they had their own project in the works, and Langston was soon the captain of it, unwittingly. Many of us grinned at the irony of his new task – once a CEO, he was now the janitor for D-MISE, cleaning up the mess that littered the streets. Except this mess was dangerous. This mess had teeth, and claws, and in some cases, wings. This mess wouldn’t go down easily.

I suppose that’s in the best interest for Langston now that he was given the anonymous donation by D-MISE. Well, perhaps if he remained in the dark about his new partner’s origins. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I would have assumed it was still just a part of the mythos created by D-MISE agents who longed for more excitement. I wouldn’t have willfully believed that D-MISE was capable of what they had accomplished, and I say that in spite of everything they did.

There is a dark tale that resides in the heart of D-MISE, and that is of our intention to recreate the Star Dog formula. We succeeded, but it came at a price. Everyone’s twist is different, when it comes to how things went wrong. Some would say that contaminants got into the tank, and poisoned the pup, which amounted to all of its peculiarities. Another will say that the pup was born from a rotten embryo that was left out too long, and that’s one of the reasons it had the perpetual crazy look in its eye. The rumor that the pup was a hybrid fostered more unrest between the agents, and heightened the fear that pervaded the lower rungs of the organization. Others contend that the temperature in the tank was off, and all of its brain cells were fried during incubation. Or maybe it was that the tank had cracked under seismic pressure, and an emergency team had to save the developing pup from a premature hatch.

I do know this, however. That pup made it to maturation, and Langston has no idea what he’s dealing with. I’ve seen that pup grow, and it never lost that crazy look, or that unstable personality. It was reckless, and cruel, and proud of it. Now, its Langston’s new partner in trying to sweep up every monster that D-MISE has ever lost, and that is a longer list than the citizens of Prism City will ever know.

Confessions of a Partially-Reformed D-MISE Agent 9/6/17

I wouldn’t say that I’m a favorite of the powers that be. As a matter of fact, I’ve rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. I never pretended otherwise. That’s another thing to talk about later. What I will talk about is the mundane feeling that occurs day-to-day, when you’re craning your neck for your next mission. I’ve probably looked the furthest behind the curtain, but I can’t tell any rhyme or reason behind who gets what mission, or who gets promoted first, or how they distribute the androids between their minions, I mean, agents. Sometimes you can go weeks or months without any sign of a mission, and then you start wondering if it was all real in the first place as you trod along in the civilian life you lead as a cover.

They take your name, your time, your spirit, and they give you a flimsy promise. It’s something you hold close to your heart, because it’s really all you have once you sign up for that legendary ark that will boat the chosen ones over to After. There was one agent who I came to know, who kept looking for her golden ticket. Most agents can pass by one another on the street and never realize it, but I spotted her a mile away. I saw the furtive glances, the look of despair, and the thirst of desperation that guided her jerky movements as she walked through Prism City. Newbies often looked like that, but I didn’t know it at the time. At that point, I didn’t even realize how rare it was to be given an android right off the bat. Whoever had confidence in me, I had no idea why.

This particular newbie I later found out was Laney, a personification of her divinely-bestowed codename. I noticed that most of her missions revolved around reconnaissance, but her technique left something to be desired, like discretion. I understand why she was nervous. She didn’t yet know whether to trust if she would be given the gift that would lead us to After, just like the rest of us. Trust goes both ways, and those at the top of the D-MISE hierarchy weren’t exactly transparent. Perhaps that was why only a select few chose to truly believe with all their hearts, enough to dedicate their mortal lives to the cause. These were the ones that truly had nothing.

It was too late when I realized just how little Laney truly had – what drove her to compliance to an unbending titan. If I were Laney, I would be scared too. Especially if I were the one that had to take the blame for what happened to the Star Dog clan that night when the ship pulled out of the dock, taking Laney’s hope for redemption very far away.