• 03 - Mirrorshades

    11 – Music Box

    It wasn’t a test. “Go play video games” meant “go play video games”. But at the same time… Stef closed the door that connected her office to the lab. In the beginning, there’d just been the two doors – one to the lab and one to her quarters, but in the last few days, another door had been added, one to a sim room. Curt had been immediately jealous that she had her own holodeck, and had gone through the basics of how to load a program and mess with its attributes to make it easier or harder to complete. Even if it seemed like a bit of a luxury,…

  • 03 - Mirrorshades

    10 – Kindness, Cruelty

    ‘Think you could add seventeen more pages to this?’ Stef looked across to Jones, one hand dedicated to working the constellation of monitors that look up the centre of his desk – usually there were eight, but the number seemed to flex with each task. His left arm lay to the left, where Merlin was doodling on the white fabric of Jones’ lab coat with bright markers. ‘That still wouldn’t make a printed version as tall as you.’ ‘No, but it would make it-’ ‘1337,’ Jones said automatically, ‘aren’t you a bit young for l33t-sp34k?’ ‘It’s the internet, time is malleable. It’s still the best way of doing passwords. Like,…

  • 03 - Mirrorshades

    09 – The First Draft

    It wasn’t that Taylor didn’t talk, but his words seem to take a longer path than most other people she knew. And whatever he was about to tell her, it was going to be difficult. And it was her job to make the difficult things easier. Magnolia set her workbook aside, stood, then took three careful steps down the bleachers, bringing her face to face with her commander. A face she threw a punch at. He automatically grabbed the fist, yanked on her arm, making her twist and follow the movement so that it wasn’t wrenched from her shoulder. ‘Ryan had a recruit.’ He released the fist, and she spun,…

  • 03 - Mirrorshades

    08 – Where Things Started

    A lot of people thought Taylor was irrational, that you couldn’t work with him, that it was impossible for anything involving him to get done with any kind of efficiency. Those people were wrong. Or, at least there was more nuance than what they imagined. That it was easy if you knew him, if you bothered to understand how he worked. Or if they did the sensible step of bringing everything to her, and she’d do the hard work. Not even Grigori could organise Taylor like she could. Grigori could convince him to do things that she’d never dare ask, or cross lines she’d never approached, but Grigori didn’t have…

  • 03 - Mirrorshades

    07 – A Step of her Own

    In truth, taking care of Buttercup had always been an optional thing. He’d been stabled somewhere expensive, where each groom and hand had been experts in keeping each and every horse in perfect, photo-ready condition. But it had been one of the few areas where she’d been allowed to get any kind of dirt on her clothes. Approved dirt. Sanctioned grime. Overlord okay muck. It showed initiative in a way that was allowed. She’d loved Buttercup, but every moment she’d spent caring for him was another moment where she was allowed to be something close to herself. Real Stef, not perfect Stephanie. And then, with some long-forgotten crime or slight,…

  • 03 - Mirrorshades

    06 – Concentration

    ‘Hey, Padawan?’ Immediately Stef shut her mouth as Curt held his hand up. ‘What’s the clock say, Newbie?’ She looked at the oversized stopwatch, currently in the final leg of counting down from twenty minutes, then looked back at him, forcing her expression to be as innocent as possible. ‘Do you think-?’ ‘What does the clock say, Newbie?’ ‘Tick-tock, tick-tock?’ He returned to his paperwork with a pointed look as his only admonishment. So far, the clock system had been somewhat effective. There was a lot of paperwork to be done, stuff both to do directly with the agentification process, as well as what amounted to the most comprehensive cram…

  • 03 - Mirrorshades

    05 – Stories, Secrets

    Screen had described the sim as a haven for discerning frogs, and it wasn’t hard to see why. Magnolia adjusted herself so that her head was propped on folded arms, giving her a view out into the strategically-lit caverns. Water dripped in a manner specifically programmed to relax whoever was listening. The large pool in the centre had a waterfall that ran gently, and despite appearances, none of the surfaces were ever slippery under your feet. And in direct opposition to half of her DNA coming from a bird, there was something calming about being in an enclosed space. The masseuse sim worked on her shoulders, making the occasional scripted…

  • 03 - Mirrorshades

    04 – Softer, Kinder

    It wasn’t weird to look at your own body.  It was really weird to look at your own body from a distance.  Stef reached forward and grabbed the hand of the simulacrum, feeling its weird room temperature texture.  ‘I know I disassociate pretty well,’ she said mildly, ‘but this is another level altogether.’ Andrea snorted, then went back to what she was doing.  The simulacrum, the first step of agentification, stood in the centre of the room like a short, bored shop mannequin. It was her, to down every detail, every pale freckle, every hair on her arm and, under the light hospital gown, every inch of horrible scarring.  ‘I…

  • 03 - Mirrorshades

    03 – Top Secret

    Being top secret was weird. It was like being back in her old life in certain ways – the life where she had no reason to go outside unless there was something she couldn’t get delivered through an app. Outside had been a sometimes thing, and that had been fine. Outside was loud, noisy, overwhelming, and full of people. But not having the choice seemed really limiting. Crawford had allowed certain spaces to be added beyond the walls of her suite and office, like Jane’s estate, but visiting there was still strange, still too much like her bio-family, even if it did come with the beyond wonderful chance to keep…

  • 03 - Mirrorshades

    02 – Breakfast Routine

    ‘I hate you.’ ‘No, you don’t.’ ‘I hate you.’ Curt stared at the coffee tray in his hand, looked at the crumpled mess of blankets that hid Stef, picked a corner of the bed that likely didn’t contain any bits of sleepy hacker, and sat. ‘Graaaaa,’ she protested from somewhere to his left. ‘I got coffee from the pie cart, but if you’re not interested, then I’ll just be extra caffeinated.’ Slowly, a hand emerged from the blankets at the foot of the bed and made grabby motions. ‘Nope,’ he said, ‘you gotta be a full person to get coffee. No disembodied hands.’ The hand stopped making grabby motions. ‘Do…