Farley. Charles Ulysses Farley. His creche mothers had given him the middle name because Farley was precocious, and they thought that he was going to go places. He was as precocious as the stats predicted he would be, for that was part of how Farley had been chosen for his role, probabilities. And he was going to go places. Faraway places.
Farley was an augie, an augmented or modified human, and Farley had been designed and realized according to plan. A quite sophisticated relatively long term plan at that, and one which actually did involve his going places. Farley had always been predestined.
Farley only occasionally thought about Earth and the inner system. He had no memories of the songs of distant Earth. In Farley's time there was very little singing. Really, Farley's last personal memory of far away Earth was a moment's glimpse as the transport launched from its orbit to bring him here. How could anything be so blue?
When Farley did think about Earth he usually also had a wonder. How were the FarFlung ships doing on their way to the stars? The first ones had launched just about the same time that Farley was being shipped out and they'd be far far from home by now.
Farley was among a group that marked one of BioMechaGenics' major achievements in the arena of human modification. He was mostly still human; the majority of his augments were neural and sensory. In fact BMG had taken steps to help insure his connection to humanity, they had given him a sort of "memory" of his egg mother. She was an attractive dark blonde haired woman, and the image showed her with an older man who he knew was a major factor in BMG's preeminent success. They were both smiling and apparently happy, but the image was of a place and time that must have been imaginary. Sometimes Farley had a wonder. Did the old man have any realizations of a pseudo immortality through the project? Would he be worthy of ancestor veneration from Farley?
The memory was much less like looking at an old photograph or a viewing device than it was like a memory of actually having been there, of standing on a dock and looking at them before him, with the scent of sea water in his nose and feeling the slightest breeze. And the memory never faded or changed. Likely the most significant aspect of his augmentation was the first fully functional simsen. The nanostructures and wiring of his neural circuit augments and their integration into his neural tissue gave Farley, and his creche mates, the first fully functional realization of the consensual simulated sensorium, or simsen. Farley knew that the memory was artificial, he had never had contact with the real person. Yet it did not seem any less real for that knowledge.
He had some memories of periods with his creche mates, but those memories were darker than the artificial ones. The times were harsh, and Farley felt lucky because at least he always ate, and they were told that many did not, even after the Reset.
"Don't worry. We will protect you."
His creche mothers were always so reassuring, yet he found little comfort in their attempts to soothe him. That first instant, that moment when the air pressure dropped to nothing dot nothing; there was nothing he could do to inhibit that first panic response, that first instinct to gasp.
Of course it was all fine once the autonomics had kicked in and he was on recirc mode. He could survive in a fairly hard vacuum for almost half an hour before the systems went red light. Farley had been designed for survivability.
Farley could see things that were not there, things that existed only because the simsen allowed him to see them. He could hear sounds that were not the physical vibrations of substance or matter but that were instead only impressions and stimuli inserted into his sensorium. And all of it might as well have been real because that was part of BMG's definition of fully functional; what Farley saw had to be indistinguishable from what was actually before his eyes, along with his other sensations and feelings. His memories had also become more accessible, they always seemed fresh and what he "knew" had also been augmented by wetware sliver grafts designed to purpose.
But Farley was more than someone who had been blessed with a new form of sensory immersion entertainment. Farley could jackin to the bioelectric nervous systems of the mechanisms that he used to perform his work, and he could direct them essentially as though they were a part of, or even a replacement for his body. Their limbs and their articulations became his limbs and his articulations. And yet, that did not mean that Farley could not after all participate in sensory immersion entertainment. Nor for that matter in sensory immersion relationships through the simsen. Shared jackedin sensations added a new dimension to many possibilities.
He was on his way to Factory to seek some entertainment, hopefully of a venerable nature. Farley had done three months out in the rocks and now he going to enjoy three weeks in on a fair sized rock. Factory is a partially hollowed out asteroid that is a bit over 220 kilometers in diameter. Factory, like everything else, was owned by ComCore. Farley had a stencil that identified him as being with Tricom, but Tricom was in turn wholly owned by ComCore. In fact Farley was essentially wholly owned by ComCore, but he wasn't going to let any deep philosophy interfere with his present quest. There were more tales of brave Ulysses in the offing.
Farley usually had very little time for reverie. Much of the time survival depended on being involved with the task at hand, and at the moment the task was getting himself and the shuttlecraft landed on Factory. Once upon an eon ago, it had had a different name, but now everyone just called it Factory.
It was rather nondescript as far as rocks in space went. Even with the lights lining the landing crater where the domers lived it was hard to romanticize as beautiful.
The shuttlecraft landing dock wasn't crowded, but there were a few of them in the spaces. As he usually did, Farley ignored the "puttabout" in favor of a reflective walk to his destination.
Factory had a storied history, and one of the artifacts of that history was the long hallway with the three right angle turns that was between the shuttle docks and the interior areas of Factory. Now simsen and holgrapm adverts pandered to the passerby, and of course ComCore wanted to assure you that you were safe in their caring hands, but the tunnel's original purpose was for blast protection.
Once you had entered the interior areas the spaces were more open, especially if you could ignore the everpresent ceiling that shielded Factory's ever enlarging hollow core from hard vacuum. And there certainly were processing and manufacturing activities in huge number. Most were accessible only through designated portals or entryways almost invariably marked with the ComCore logo and guarded by what were called blue eyed sloans.
There didn't seem to be any effort to obscure what went on inside these areas, but one rarely if ever saw anything human, or for that matter even droid, inside the factory areas. But there were rumors about what went on, mostly idle conversation
One thing that seemed to be a long term topic were the hybrids. Supposedly they were going to be part of a new FarFlung project, but there were some who saw their potential to replace the present population as a great concern.
And if you went the right direction within the interior you could find what seemed a never ending effort to hollow Factory's core. It was after all a pretty fair sized rock.
But Farley had a destination as he started up Joy Town Road and his steps had a measured purpose. He was walking with the intention of someone who had a place to go, although he still paused occasionally to enjoy some of the sights along his path.
There were simsen and holographic adverts hanging superimposed on the reality of the structures along Joy Town Road, and they offered everything from fantasy adventure experiences to amazing drugs for the sampling. Or purchase. Joy Town Road was Factory's nouveau freeport, anything and everything, at a price.
One of the interesting concepts on Joy Town Road were office residences, places where housing and work were in the same structure. Most of Factory's inhabitants were not augies and saw only the holographic advertisement projections that were everywhere yet not so dense as to obscure one another. Farley had a wonder if the residents found the adverts entertaining or responded to them.
The simsen adverts that Farley was privy to view, along with virtually all of the holoject adverts, pandered to his physical interests, and some were better productions than others.
The holojects appeared even in commercial areas, but there they were less structure and more gesture. Still, they did convey the idea of their intent.
As commerce thinned the simsen adverts increased in their size and scope and became more direct in displaying what was on offer.
There were a few alleys where the privileged resided. Enclaves where the luxury enjoyed by the inhabitants wasn't overtly displayed. ComCore was after all a class act. Farley chuckled at his own joke.
Factory had some jail cells, but they weren't large in number and those that did exist remained largely empty. It was generally known that any adverse contact with authority virtually always resulted in disappearances. There was little presumption of innocence with a requirement to prove guilt, and what there was of that was class related. Most assumed that the disappeared became organ transplants or the subjects of experiments with high fatality rates, but there were also other much darker destinies for flesh that wasn't vat grown.
A few clicks out on Joy Town Road there was less crowding of the structures and some areas were dark and somehow unpleasant even with the holojects, a number of which seemed to focus on the occult. Farley had a wonder about that. Would humans ever escape the demons or the angels? Or the fear of the dark...
My Convenience was proud of their relationship to ComCore and they displayed it. Farley had stopped at My Convenience market a time or two in past visits; he favored a brand of chewing gum they offered, and gum wasn't a great thing out in the rocks. On one visit he had sampled some other wares as well. But on this occasion he just continued his stroll.
The old woman was still hanging out in front of the tattoo shop where they had admired Farley's TriCom stencil. He noticed the new flash holoject offering tattoos of the Seer. Farley had an idle wonder. Was the old woman part of the tattoo shop's endeavors or were they part of hers? He figured you couldn't really say from an outsider's perspective.
Even in the harsh reality of most life on Factory there were still opportunities for an escape of the imagination, even for the normals, the term with which he classified nonaugies. Adventure heroes and role play games had been popular for more than a century.
One of the more popular games recently was "PewPew", a first person shooter with kinky rewards, one of which was the indulgence of PewPew herself. Farley had an amused wonder, but it wasn't long lived. He had a larger wonder about the old styled flat panel display used for this advert. Rather novel, he thought it was a nice touch of nostalgia.
Finally he arrived at "Ramen and More" where he saw the Wiz lady was still offering samples of the drug. Farley thought it was good because apparently someone was keeping her fed. Most of the "Wiz Kids" soon lost interest in food. Or cleanliness. Fortunately they were nearly always harmless and nonviolent though some could be annoying. Farley nodded his head and kept walking.
As he passed Ramen and More he had a momentary thought about Ciggie. In his memory he saw her ID as it was when he first met her. He enjoyed the memory for the moment it lasted.
But now Farley had arrived at his destination, "Uncle Pervy's Roadhouse". Uncle Pervy was, like many others on Joy Town Road and elsewhere in Factory, proud of his mutually supportive relationship with ComCore. He saw the handmade sign offering ribs hadn't changed and the beer signs were still the same, but now there was an added holoject advert for the Seer. Farley had a wonder about that as he headed for the entrance.