Name: The Boardmembers Age: 26 IQ: 190 Blood Type: O- Fighting Style: Bājíquán Destined Profession: Trillionaire (99.9997% certainty) Rising Tarot: Chance Cowboy Falling Tarot: Change VII Famous Quote: “What am I seeing??” THE BOARDMEMBERS looked deep into the Crystal of Dollarcrime. Tomorrow they were going to announce that Bear Stearns would miss fourth quarter revenue projections by 1.3%. Geoffrey put his palms on his lap and spoke: "Doleful Crystal of Dollarcrime, Seer of Future Futures, with knowledge thereof, we seek knowledge therein of Money overwhelming and Cash neverending. We humble Trillionaires, finite of body and greed, cry out in pain at our lack of resources, at our dismal revenue. Can we hammer it out? Will you, Great Crystal, Undisputed King of Cash, jump on a quick call so we can get on the same page?” The Boardmembers sat, and waited. The Crystal began to issue a dull sound, increasing over time, but never getting less dull. Finally, the sound ceased, and the Crystal, looking back at the Boardmembers, spoke: "The sky talks to the earth, when it rains. The earth listens, opening up to the water and introducing it to aqueducts, reservoirs. The buildings talk to the city, when they ‘power-up’ in the morning. The city listens, supplying electricity, through wires. The city calms the buildings, the buildings are the children of the city. The desert talks to the mountains, slowly. It says, You will be Me, one day. The desert hears an echo from the rocky peaks. I am sorry, I forgot what you asked. It was about money, right?” Geoffrey looked to Geoffrey and Geoffrey and, seeing no one else enthusiastic at the prospect of talking to the Crystal, spoke up: "Yes. Yeah. We’re really fucked up at the moment, trying to get more money. We’re going to miss our fourth quarter projection. We’re confused because, we’re supposed to be making a ton of money? It’s 2006 by the way, I don’t remember the last time we summoned you, and I know you’re all-knowing or like, really close to all-knowing, but I know that sometimes it helps to know the context of something, you know?” But it was too late, the Crystal was asleep.

Name: The Boardmembers 
Age: 26 
IQ: 190 
Blood Type: O- 
Fighting Style: Bājíquán 
Destined Profession: Trillionaire (99.9997% certainty) 
Rising Tarot: Chance Cowboy 
Falling Tarot: Change VII 
Famous Quote: “What am I seeing??” 

THE BOARDMEMBERS looked deep into the Crystal of Dollarcrime. Tomorrow they were going to announce that Bear Stearns would miss fourth quarter revenue projections by 1.3%. Geoffrey put his palms on his lap and spoke: 

"Doleful Crystal of Dollarcrime, 
Seer of Future Futures, 
with knowledge thereof, we seek knowledge therein 
of Money overwhelming and Cash neverending. 

We humble Trillionaires, 
finite of body and greed, cry out in pain 
at our lack of resources, 
at our dismal revenue. 

Can we hammer it out? Will you, Great Crystal, 
Undisputed King of Cash, 
jump on a quick call so we can get 
on the same page?” 

The Boardmembers sat, and waited. The Crystal began to issue a dull sound, increasing over time, but never getting less dull. Finally, the sound ceased, and the Crystal, looking back at the Boardmembers, spoke: 

"The sky talks to the earth, when it rains. 
The earth listens, opening up to the water 
and introducing it to aqueducts, reservoirs. 

The buildings talk to the city, when they ‘power-up’ in the morning. 
The city listens, supplying electricity, through wires. 
The city calms the buildings, the buildings are the children of the city. 

The desert talks to the mountains, slowly. 
It says, You will be Me, one day. The desert hears an echo 
from the rocky peaks. 

I am sorry, I forgot what you asked. It was about money, right?” 

Geoffrey looked to Geoffrey and Geoffrey and, seeing no one else enthusiastic at the prospect of talking to the Crystal, spoke up: 

"Yes. Yeah. We’re really fucked up at the moment, 
trying to get more money. We’re going to miss 
our fourth quarter projection. 

We’re confused because, we’re supposed 
to be making a ton of money? 
It’s 2006 by the way, I don’t remember the last time we summoned you, 
and I know you’re all-knowing or 
like, really close to all-knowing, 
but I know that sometimes it helps to know the context of something, 
you know?” 

But it was too late, the Crystal was asleep.

Name: Billie Diamond Age: 39 (Human) 0.25 (Dark Netrider) IQ: Distributed Blood Type: Distributed Fighting Style: “The Lonely Rainstorm” Data-Approach Destined Profession: Dark Netrider (? ? ?% certainty) Rising Tarot: Challenge I Falling Tarot: Change Chef Famous Quote: (unintelligible scolding and complaining) BILLIE DIAMOND is yelling. Billie Diamond, yelling into a telephone, is angry at the person or persons on the other end of the line. Billie Diamond is angry because the promise, of a delivery, has been broken. The replacement laminate plastic stock, .18 gauge, “Celulon Blue/Clear” color type, ordered 28 days ago, and then confirmed 25 days ago, and then re-confirmed 22, 18, 12, 6, 3, 2, 1, and 1 days ago, has not yet arrived from the plastics depot. If it does not arrive this morning, the scheduled intense permanent relamination of the employee identification badges will have to be rescheduled. Every employee has already turned in his or her badge, as they had to arrive early this morning, 7:00 AM sharp, for a mandatory team-building outing on a series of tour buses that can also turn into tour boats. Employees flew in from Europe, from the tips of every continent. No one is exempt, no one is saved, everyone would have a great time. All 15,004 employees placed their badges in the giant wicker dump bins near the main entrance, including Billie. Each contains a biometric data-system that profiles the employee. These badges cannot be replaced. These badges are unique, and incredibly expensive, and due to a design flaw, have very, very serrated edges. The wicker dump bins are incredibly heavy, and for some reason, wet. The wetness does not affect the biometric mechanics of the badges. The wetness, regardless, contributes to Billie’s anger. A multinational corporate powerhouse does not just “run itself.” The fiction of the self-sustaining business is dire and pervasive. You need people to work the machines. You need people to wipe the grit out of the keyboards used by other people. When food arrives in the sub-Canteen 4, and it’s “submarine” sandwiches again, turkey and peanut, in spite of multiple demands to avoid that particular shape and style of sandwich, it is not the business itself, but a human representation thereof who calls the representative of the catering service and curses full-mouthed the catering representative’s mother to the dirtiest pits of the smelliest hell. It takes human touch, the velvet fingers of a bureaucrat, to relaiminate an employee identification badge. And sometimes Billie feels that she is the only person who understands this. Compounding, the representatives of the company that makes the machine-systems that read and process the identification badges has already completed their work for the day. The new machine-systems are powerful and reliable. Hulking gleaming gateways surround every entrance to the skyscraper, including the multiple helipad entrances, the fire escapes, and the windows on every floor that an employee or interloper could reasonably be expected to try to exit (during an emergency) or enter (during an emergency). Each gateway has been fused to the structure, and presents a single slot for insertion of the identification badge. Attempts to enter without inserting a badge triggers a 110 dB alarm that cannot be turned off. Additionally, due to the robust workings of the machinery, badges with less than .15 gauge laminate stock will “jam” the intricate conveyor/extraction system for the input and return of the badge, melting the biometric machinery and melting shut the slot with inferior gauge laminate. In 8 to 10 hours, 15,004 employees will return on 344 boat busses after a long day of team-building and site-seeing. They will smell like river, and cheap team-building pizza, and intra-departmental flirting. Women who have graduate degrees in applied mathematics will have been forced to blindfold themselves and fall backward into the arms of coworkers, to establish Trust. Men who make 90 million dollars a month will have been forced to blindfold themselves and reach their hands into bowls of cold spaghetti, to establish what Monster Brains would, if Monsters existed, feel like. But there are no Monsters on corporate get-aways, only the promise of more cheap pizza, unforthcoming vodka snuck out of dixie cups toward the backs of the busses, where the careful eyes of supervisors cannot see, where skirts ride up and pants unzip. They are gluttonous creatures, her coworkers. And their attempts to enter the building, if their badges are not relaminated, will be noisy. And she has tried to explain this to the idiot on the other end of the phone. She has tried so hard. She screams like a hawk crying out as it dives from on high to attack prey, like a ground rodent, or a rabbit, or a plastics delivery person, tardy due to weather, or a hangover, or the imperceptible movements of a larger system. It is 9:52 in the morning. Billie screams. Billie screams. Billie, taking a breath, realizes that no one is on the other end of the line, and promptly hits redial. They will not get away so easily.

Name: Billie Diamond 
Age: 39 (Human) 0.25 (Dark Netrider) 
IQ: Distributed 
Blood Type: Distributed 
Fighting Style: “The Lonely Rainstorm” Data-Approach 
Destined Profession: Dark Netrider (? ? ?% certainty) 
Rising Tarot: Challenge I 
Falling Tarot: Change Chef 
Famous Quote: (unintelligible scolding and complaining) 

BILLIE DIAMOND is yelling. Billie Diamond, yelling into a telephone, is angry at the person or persons on the other end of the line. Billie Diamond is angry because the promise, of a delivery, has been broken. The replacement laminate plastic stock, .18 gauge, “Celulon Blue/Clear” color type, ordered 28 days ago, and then confirmed 25 days ago, and then re-confirmed 22, 18, 12, 6, 3, 2, 1, and 1 days ago, has not yet arrived from the plastics depot. If it does not arrive this morning, the scheduled intense permanent relamination of the employee identification badges will have to be rescheduled. Every employee has already turned in his or her badge, as they had to arrive early this morning, 7:00 AM sharp, for a mandatory team-building outing on a series of tour buses that can also turn into tour boats. Employees flew in from Europe, from the tips of every continent. No one is exempt, no one is saved, everyone would have a great time. All 15,004 employees placed their badges in the giant wicker dump bins near the main entrance, including Billie. Each contains a biometric data-system that profiles the employee. These badges cannot be replaced. These badges are unique, and incredibly expensive, and due to a design flaw, have very, very serrated edges. The wicker dump bins are incredibly heavy, and for some reason, wet. The wetness does not affect the biometric mechanics of the badges. The wetness, regardless, contributes to Billie’s anger. 

A multinational corporate powerhouse does not just “run itself.” The fiction of the self-sustaining business is dire and pervasive. You need people to work the machines. You need people to wipe the grit out of the keyboards used by other people. When food arrives in the sub-Canteen 4, and it’s “submarine” sandwiches again, turkey and peanut, in spite of multiple demands to avoid that particular shape and style of sandwich, it is not the business itself, but a human representation thereof who calls the representative of the catering service and curses full-mouthed the catering representative’s mother to the dirtiest pits of the smelliest hell. It takes human touch, the velvet fingers of a bureaucrat, to relaiminate an employee identification badge. And sometimes Billie feels that she is the only person who understands this. 

Compounding, the representatives of the company that makes the machine-systems that read and process the identification badges has already completed their work for the day. The new machine-systems are powerful and reliable. Hulking gleaming gateways surround every entrance to the skyscraper, including the multiple helipad entrances, the fire escapes, and the windows on every floor that an employee or interloper could reasonably be expected to try to exit (during an emergency) or enter (during an emergency). Each gateway has been fused to the structure, and presents a single slot for insertion of the identification badge. Attempts to enter without inserting a badge triggers a 110 dB alarm that cannot be turned off. Additionally, due to the robust workings of the machinery, badges with less than .15 gauge laminate stock will “jam” the intricate conveyor/extraction system for the input and return of the badge, melting the biometric machinery and melting shut the slot with inferior gauge laminate. 

In 8 to 10 hours, 15,004 employees will return on 344 boat busses after a long day of team-building and site-seeing. They will smell like river, and cheap team-building pizza, and intra-departmental flirting. Women who have graduate degrees in applied mathematics will have been forced to blindfold themselves and fall backward into the arms of coworkers, to establish Trust. Men who make 90 million dollars a month will have been forced to blindfold themselves and reach their hands into bowls of cold spaghetti, to establish what Monster Brains would, if Monsters existed, feel like. But there are no Monsters on corporate get-aways, only the promise of more cheap pizza, unforthcoming vodka snuck out of dixie cups toward the backs of the busses, where the careful eyes of supervisors cannot see, where skirts ride up and pants unzip. They are gluttonous creatures, her coworkers. 

And their attempts to enter the building, if their badges are not relaminated, will be noisy. And she has tried to explain this to the idiot on the other end of the phone. She has tried so hard. She screams like a hawk crying out as it dives from on high to attack prey, like a ground rodent, or a rabbit, or a plastics delivery person, tardy due to weather, or a hangover, or the imperceptible movements of a larger system. It is 9:52 in the morning. Billie screams. Billie screams. Billie, taking a breath, realizes that no one is on the other end of the line, and promptly hits redial. They will not get away so easily.

Name: Pegasus System Age: .2CY (Chipset) 9CY (Structure) IQ: IA-100-100 Triple Blood Type: None Fighting Style: Brazilian Street Knowelgia Destined Profession: Data System (94% certainty) Rising Tarot: Change VII Falling Tarot: The Twins Famous Quote: “Quench your knowledge with a refreshing drink of book.” Pegasus System rolls through a Finance + Conflict sub-floor. Wheels squeak on spindly legs, a geriatric machine? No! His processor has recently been upgraded! He’s faster than ever! He catalogues the rows, then doublechecks. He makes a note of five misplaced books. A volunteer is dispatched. He regards the patrons: the usual crowd, silent, reading, posing thoughtfully, unfolding their arms and gazing off. Most of the patrons dress well. Some of the patrons dress unusually, but that’s OK. The atrium stretches up, floor after floor, higher each day, polished and white, glowing. The joy of a clean functioning zone is a humble sensation. The promise of order offers security, and predictability, and allows the mind to direct itself, inward or outward. To achieve such high quality is not easy: cultural change demands time. But Pegasus is patient as a river. When he first became the guardian of the LA Public Library Main Branch, the stacks were disordered, and the patrons were dangerous. There was noise and displeasure and trash hung from the balconies, clogged the stairs, overflowed onto the reference materials, and there was no light anywhere. Reading was impossible. The most dangerous library gang was the Snakecharmers. They were difficult to bargain with. Their leader was a very thin and vicious lady named Jane Snakecharmer. When they would attack, they would attack first with thrown metal weaponry, knives or steel balls or chains. These weapons would confuse. These weapons were frightening! Pegasus knew that direct combat with the Snakecharmers would lead to nothing good. As a late-period model of the Electronic Genius-Array System family, his focus was the collection and arrangement of information. For a battle plan, Pegasus turned to a great master of literature, Byron. His attempts to seduce Jane were successful, leading to a seven-week affair of lust and dollarcrime that collapsed under the weight of their differing socioeconomic backgrounds and views on the environmental responsibility of governments. She broke it off and broke his heart with a surprise chain throw attack! Pegasus escaped using luck and tricks. His second plan to reclaim the disputed borders of the library was more diplomatic: reviewing the New York political tracts of the 1800s for inspiration, Pegasus offered free membership cards for everyone in the Free Trade Zone, thinking that if the library had enough members, it would dilute the number of active gang criminals to a lower parts per million concentration. Unfortunately, Jane scorned was an adroit campaigner for crime, and nearly all of the new patrons enrolled with the prominent gangs immediately. With more criminals than ever roaming the innumerable floors of the 24-hour house of education, Pegasus meditated on the teachings of the Greek wrestler-philosophers. Of course! He constructed a giant wooden horse and, when the gang members of all stripes approached the statue in cautious awe, shot them with incredible beams of light! The gang members, unaffected and unimpressed by Pegasus’ flashlight array, proceeded to open the giant wooden horse. Therein was the second part of the master plan: a horde of angry Tampa Bears inside, a notorious breed of ursine known for vicious hunger that can be agitated into a fury by incredible beams of light! In a land of bears blinded with rage and their well-known vicious hunger, the data system with one flashlight is king! The bears ate all the gang members, and all of the patrons, then ate each other until they all disappeared, leaving Pegasus with a broken wooden statue and a lot of cleaning to do.

Name: Pegasus System 
Age: .2CY (Chipset) 9CY (Structure) 
IQ: IA-100-100 Triple 
Blood Type: None 
Fighting Style: Brazilian Street Knowelgia 
Destined Profession: Data System (94% certainty) 
Rising Tarot: Change VII 
Falling Tarot: The Twins 
Famous Quote: “Quench your knowledge with a refreshing drink of book.” 

Pegasus System rolls through a Finance + Conflict sub-floor. Wheels squeak on spindly legs, a geriatric machine? No! His processor has recently been upgraded! He’s faster than ever! He catalogues the rows, then doublechecks. He makes a note of five misplaced books. A volunteer is dispatched. He regards the patrons: the usual crowd, silent, reading, posing thoughtfully, unfolding their arms and gazing off. Most of the patrons dress well. Some of the patrons dress unusually, but that’s OK. The atrium stretches up, floor after floor, higher each day, polished and white, glowing. 

The joy of a clean functioning zone is a humble sensation. The promise of order offers security, and predictability, and allows the mind to direct itself, inward or outward. To achieve such high quality is not easy: cultural change demands time. But Pegasus is patient as a river. When he first became the guardian of the LA Public Library Main Branch, the stacks were disordered, and the patrons were dangerous. There was noise and displeasure and trash hung from the balconies, clogged the stairs, overflowed onto the reference materials, and there was no light anywhere. Reading was impossible. The most dangerous library gang was the Snakecharmers. They were difficult to bargain with. Their leader was a very thin and vicious lady named Jane Snakecharmer. When they would attack, they would attack first with thrown metal weaponry, knives or steel balls or chains. These weapons would confuse. These weapons were frightening! 

Pegasus knew that direct combat with the Snakecharmers would lead to nothing good. As a late-period model of the Electronic Genius-Array System family, his focus was the collection and arrangement of information. For a battle plan, Pegasus turned to a great master of literature, Byron. His attempts to seduce Jane were successful, leading to a seven-week affair of lust and dollarcrime that collapsed under the weight of their differing socioeconomic backgrounds and views on the environmental responsibility of governments. She broke it off and broke his heart with a surprise chain throw attack! Pegasus escaped using luck and tricks. His second plan to reclaim the disputed borders of the library was more diplomatic: reviewing the New York political tracts of the 1800s for inspiration, Pegasus offered free membership cards for everyone in the Free Trade Zone, thinking that if the library had enough members, it would dilute the number of active gang criminals to a lower parts per million concentration. Unfortunately, Jane scorned was an adroit campaigner for crime, and nearly all of the new patrons enrolled with the prominent gangs immediately. With more criminals than ever roaming the innumerable floors of the 24-hour house of education, Pegasus meditated on the teachings of the Greek wrestler-philosophers. Of course! He constructed a giant wooden horse and, when the gang members of all stripes approached the statue in cautious awe, shot them with incredible beams of light! The gang members, unaffected and unimpressed by Pegasus’ flashlight array, proceeded to open the giant wooden horse. Therein was the second part of the master plan: a horde of angry Tampa Bears inside, a notorious breed of ursine known for vicious hunger that can be agitated into a fury by incredible beams of light! In a land of bears blinded with rage and their well-known vicious hunger, the data system with one flashlight is king! The bears ate all the gang members, and all of the patrons, then ate each other until they all disappeared, leaving Pegasus with a broken wooden statue and a lot of cleaning to do.

Name: Dr. Enron Lafayette Age: 45 IQ: 189 Blood Type: B+ Fighting Style: Career Science (Medical, Theoretical) Destined Profession: Career Scientist (85% certainty) Rising Tarot: High Brow Falling Tarot: Charm IV Famous Quote: “I have never told anyone the results of that massage. DR. LAFAYETTE is never late, the patient and his surgical team are just early. He kicks in to the Department of Labor’s St. Glorious Career Science Trauma Center around 11, post-swells and pre-tourists, wearing his favorite casual scrubs, bleached from light blue to almost white, tell-tale saltwater drip from his nose. His tan emanates more than radiates, an internal brightness. He’s in the best shape of his life every day. “How was the beach biome this morning, Doc?” says his sidekick Dr. Shalini Crosby, a second-year resident with the lucky ability to get close to the mercurial career specialist without ever crossing him. “Gnarly, Shal, and nothing but locals. Gotta little,” pausing a breath as he swallows and shakes his head along axis, “water stuck in my left ear though, so switch positions today! And stay on my right.” Dr. L opens up his desk drawer and in goes his pager, a new Motorola model from that year, as he shamelessly empties his pockets of sand and a handful of ironic scratch-offs, a fulfillment of the desperate greed and hope for a better tomorrow that he shoved into suspended animation when he was a lower-class lowerclassman, drifting majors, elbowdeep in dishes four nights a week for a few semesters until he switched over to the Hard Sciences and got a scholarship and recruitment offers from the Senate and the Five Banks. Getting ready to make the Dramatic Walk into the operating theater, he turns back and quickly tosses on a backward antiseptic Vandals snapback that doubles as a surgical bouffant. “So who are we fixing up today? Some Malibu-3 type that had to chose between this or a nosejob?” He wades through a dossier as Shalini gives him the précis: careerpexy, unbalanced humors, focus on the bile organs, oh and try not to leave your Time Champion in the patient this time. Folderol, really. He flips a few more pages. “First things first: what the hell kind of a name is Glyph?” Enquiring minds want to know, Italian, maybe? East Indies? New Age Crystal-centric? Dr. L can’t get a juicy quote because the party in question has already been interrogated by Propofol. “Oh well, let’s open him up. Mortgage blade, Shal.” Balancing humors isn’t something just anyone can do, but it’s a half-step down from the usual high-risk experimental cutting and pasting Dr. L has become known for. Must be a rich kid. A bit of yellow and black sprays upward. One of the attending nurses swoops in and cleans while Shal takes care of the leak with clamps and a loops. “What’s the patient’s background?” “The patient had been complaining about irate moods and unbecoming temperament.” “Into my good ear, Shal.” “Sorry. He’d been complaining about irate moods and unbecoming temperament.” “He’s so young. What’s his line of work?” “Low-rung Solicitor.” A goofy grin you can see through the surgical mask. “I’d think a Solicitor could use a little extra bile!” “That’s just it. He’s trying to transition to the private sector.” “Oh, is he?” Dr. L leans over Glyph’s unawake face. “You’ll make a good living, kid, but the vacations are horrible! Stick with government work.” The actual process is tricky: opening up the extant bile ducts, adding a few more, balancing the liver’s humor output with the respiratory system, then degalvonating the small intestine, since why not, it hasn’t been 3,000 Miles yet but better take care of it now than later. Dr. L only loses track of the clock when he’s in the middle of an operation, or surfing, or raving on a headful of good ecstasy, and that’s why he does all three: to escape time, to luxuriate in the simple pleasures of action that absorbs. He is thirsty, but he’ll be drinking water, later. He sees, but does not see, the yellow+red+black+blue of the living business. Hands, his hands and other hands, move, glide deftly around the cavity, across the topology. He is a deaf conductor as the theater is occupied by the babble of sounds that he conducts, everyone tuning, the pitch of repair: clicks of tools, steel cuts velvet tissue, a body breathing, organs function and heal. The pulse of electricity through machines. Unadjustably smelling artificially clean surfaces. Clothes ruffle on nurse skin as they hover and anticipate. Shal keeps a close eye on vitals and tarot projections. Does the brain make noise as it thinks? Later, in post-op, Dr. L is filling out a few forms, when Shal comes up, urgent, but not so urgent that it suggests anything might be wrong with the patient. “There’s a man who insists on talking to you. He won’t tell me anything, but I think it’s about Glyph.” “Family, lover, crazy or powerful?” “As far as I can tell, at least two of those.” “Dangerous?” Shal’s eyes float up and to the left and she pauses. “OK, I’ll go talk to him.” The interested individual is staring at the door as Dr. L walks through it. He’s small. His cufflinks are ancient and beyond value. His suit is so beautiful you could cry if his face wasn’t so calmly stern. “Doctor Lafayette,” not a question, and he doesn’t even have his embroidered hawaiian medical coat on, “my name is Cisco Philippé. I need to talk to you privately.” Dr. L doesn’t break stride as he continues past the small man, but he allows him to talk as they march toward the next theater of operation. “The banker?” “Yes, Doctor. I have a car waiting outside, please. I only need 30 minutes of your time.” “Mr. Cisco-” “Philippé, please.” “Philippé, I just got out of a 7-hour operation, and I’m scheduled for another in 20 minutes. I need a taco and a refreshing Pepsi cola.” “Doctor, you recognized my name.” “Yes, I do. I did.” “Doctor, I am one-half of the world’s largest financial institution. I would not be here if this were not a pressing matter. Now,” placing his hand on Dr. L’s shoulder, “please come-” Dr. L picks off his hand and lets it fall. Not today. No one will ruin a day with gnarly waves. He clears his throat aggressively. “I appreciate that you are very, very rich, but I am very, very busy saving lives and building careers.” He scribbles his pager number on a prescription pad and tears off the sheet. “Page me, we’ll get lunch sometime soon,” and Dr. L restarts his stride forward, onward, up, up and away. Philippé is stunned, standing in the hall as doctors and nurses and the sick and the healthy walk past, too busy to pay attention to the trillionaire. He is sincerely shocked for the first time since ‘93 and what will be the last time until ‘99. But money is never stymied for long, so he shuts his mouth, and presses a small button on his diamond bracelet.

Name: Dr. Enron Lafayette 
Age: 45 
IQ: 189 
Blood Type: B+ 
Fighting Style: Career Science (Medical, Theoretical) 
Destined Profession: Career Scientist (85% certainty) 
Rising Tarot: High Brow 
Falling Tarot: Charm IV 
Famous Quote: “I have never told anyone the results of that massage. 

DR. LAFAYETTE is never late, the patient and his surgical team are just early. He kicks in to the Department of Labor’s St. Glorious Career Science Trauma Center around 11, post-swells and pre-tourists, wearing his favorite casual scrubs, bleached from light blue to almost white, tell-tale saltwater drip from his nose. His tan emanates more than radiates, an internal brightness. He’s in the best shape of his life every day. “How was the beach biome this morning, Doc?” says his sidekick Dr. Shalini Crosby, a second-year resident with the lucky ability to get close to the mercurial career specialist without ever crossing him. 
“Gnarly, Shal, and nothing but locals. Gotta little,” pausing a breath as he swallows and shakes his head along axis, “water stuck in my left ear though, so switch positions today! And stay on my right.” Dr. L opens up his desk drawer and in goes his pager, a new Motorola model from that year, as he shamelessly empties his pockets of sand and a handful of ironic scratch-offs, a fulfillment of the desperate greed and hope for a better tomorrow that he shoved into suspended animation when he was a lower-class lowerclassman, drifting majors, elbowdeep in dishes four nights a week for a few semesters until he switched over to the Hard Sciences and got a scholarship and recruitment offers from the Senate and the Five Banks. Getting ready to make the Dramatic Walk into the operating theater, he turns back and quickly tosses on a backward antiseptic Vandals snapback that doubles as a surgical bouffant. “So who are we fixing up today? Some Malibu-3 type that had to chose between this or a nosejob?” He wades through a dossier as Shalini gives him the précis: careerpexy, unbalanced humors, focus on the bile organs, oh and try not to leave your Time Champion in the patient this time. Folderol, really. He flips a few more pages. 
“First things first: what the hell kind of a name is Glyph?” Enquiring minds want to know, 
Italian, maybe? East Indies? New Age Crystal-centric? Dr. L can’t get a juicy quote because the party in question has already been interrogated by Propofol. “Oh well, let’s open him up. Mortgage blade, Shal.” 
Balancing humors isn’t something just anyone can do, but it’s a half-step down from the usual high-risk experimental cutting and pasting Dr. L has become known for. Must be a rich kid. A bit of yellow and black sprays upward. One of the attending nurses swoops in and cleans while Shal takes care of the leak with clamps and a loops. 
“What’s the patient’s background?” 
“The patient had been complaining about irate moods and unbecoming temperament.” 
“Into my good ear, Shal.” 
“Sorry. He’d been complaining about irate moods and unbecoming temperament.” 
“He’s so young. What’s his line of work?” 
“Low-rung Solicitor.” 
A goofy grin you can see through the surgical mask. “I’d think a Solicitor could use a little extra bile!” 
“That’s just it. He’s trying to transition to the private sector.” 
“Oh, is he?” Dr. L leans over Glyph’s unawake face. “You’ll make a good living, kid, but the vacations are horrible! Stick with government work.” 
The actual process is tricky: opening up the extant bile ducts, adding a few more, balancing the liver’s humor output with the respiratory system, then degalvonating the small intestine, since why not, it hasn’t been 3,000 Miles yet but better take care of it now than later. 
Dr. L only loses track of the clock when he’s in the middle of an operation, or surfing, or raving on a headful of good ecstasy, and that’s why he does all three: to escape time, to luxuriate in the simple pleasures of action that absorbs. He is thirsty, but he’ll be drinking water, later. He sees, but does not see, the yellow+red+black+blue of the living business. Hands, his hands and other hands, move, glide deftly around the cavity, across the topology. He is a deaf conductor as the theater is occupied by the babble of sounds that he conducts, everyone tuning, the pitch of repair: clicks of tools, steel cuts velvet tissue, a body breathing, organs function and heal. The pulse of electricity through machines. Unadjustably smelling artificially clean surfaces. Clothes ruffle on nurse skin as they hover and anticipate. Shal keeps a close eye on vitals and tarot projections. Does the brain make noise as it thinks? 
Later, in post-op, Dr. L is filling out a few forms, when Shal comes up, urgent, but not so urgent that it suggests anything might be wrong with the patient. 
“There’s a man who insists on talking to you. He won’t tell me anything, but I think it’s about Glyph.” 
“Family, lover, crazy or powerful?” 
“As far as I can tell, at least two of those.” 
“Dangerous?” 
Shal’s eyes float up and to the left and she pauses. “OK, I’ll go talk to him.” 
The interested individual is staring at the door as Dr. L walks through it. He’s small. His cufflinks are ancient and beyond value. His suit is so beautiful you could cry if his face wasn’t so calmly stern. 
“Doctor Lafayette,” not a question, and he doesn’t even have his embroidered hawaiian medical coat on, “my name is Cisco Philippé. I need to talk to you privately.” Dr. L doesn’t break stride as he continues past the small man, but he allows him to talk as they march toward the next theater of operation. 
“The banker?” 
“Yes, Doctor. I have a car waiting outside, please. I only need 30 minutes of your time.” 
“Mr. Cisco-” 
“Philippé, please.” 
“Philippé, I just got out of a 7-hour operation, and I’m scheduled for another in 20 minutes. I need a taco and a refreshing Pepsi cola.” 
“Doctor, you recognized my name.” 
“Yes, I do. I did.” 
“Doctor, I am one-half of the world’s largest financial institution. I would not be here if this were not a pressing matter. Now,” placing his hand on Dr. L’s shoulder, “please come-” 
Dr. L picks off his hand and lets it fall. Not today. No one will ruin a day with gnarly waves. He clears his throat aggressively. 
“I appreciate that you are very, very rich, but I am very, very busy saving lives and building careers.” He scribbles his pager number on a prescription pad and tears off the sheet. “Page me, we’ll get lunch sometime soon,” and Dr. L restarts his stride forward, onward, up, up and away. 
Philippé is stunned, standing in the hall as doctors and nurses and the sick and the healthy walk past, too busy to pay attention to the trillionaire. He is sincerely shocked for the first time since ‘93 and what will be the last time until ‘99. But money is never stymied for long, so he shuts his mouth, and presses a small button on his diamond bracelet.

Name: Franca Elsie Franco Age: 28 IQ: 153 Blood Type: O- Fighting Style: Regulatory Arts (Okinawan Chainmortgage) Destined Profession: Regulator (? ? ?% certainty) Rising Tarot: Ocean Genesis Falling Tarot: The King Is Dreaming Famous Quote: “It’s time to stop thinking … and start dancing!” FRANCO, being one of those types that likes to read at bars and lesser restaurants, anywhere that’ll give her a table or counterspace and be reasonably prompt with refills, tends to dine alone. Even when she’s on the job, she’ll duck away from Henri, or the group at large, just for 30 minutes, even, anything to clear her head. For her, mealtimes are pleasant, solitary experiences, quiet rituals, the opposite of a social gathering. She can clink glasses and avoid politics with a crowd when duty calls, or if she’s particular ebullient, or someone else is paying, but she tries to keep solitary meals a constant when she has the option. Part of the reason is that she just likes to unwind. But she’s also, quietly, a nervous person when eating … nothing she can’t handle, but every now and then, she’s suddenly struck by the awareness that a dining partner is chewing. Not even rudely, open-mouthed or lip-smacking or whatever, but an unmistakeable knowing that “This person has food in his mouth, food that he is chewing”, the thought descending from the clouds of her internal monologue unexpectedly, like a flash twister lowering from the sky, and her thought funnels downward in kind, returning to introspection that “I, too, am currently chewing food” then back to her partner, then returning to her, over and over around and around, leaving Franco unable to focus on anything else, no conversation, no texture of plating, no mood lighting, and a ruined appetite. So maybe it’s a little neurotic, makes first dates hard. But, to compensate, she never has to worry about what the other person is ordering, or tipping. And after a few years of these dinners for one, Franco has realized that she does some of her best thinking when she’s not thinking, relaxing instead with a glass of wine, or a coffee, or a milkshake, depending on the location’s liquor license status and her prevailing mood and the potential pairings. For some people genius strikes when they’re showering, or maybe they wake up in the middle of the night, trying to capture the glow of REM intuition before it fades into dream-memories. But Franco, invariably, has her great breakthroughs when chowing down by herself, usually during off-hours, to avoid crowds. No surprise, then, that Saturday morning finds her at Pie & Salad, a little brunch haunt championed by savory pastry workers, vegans, and the weird armistice between the two. Plus, they do an all-you-can-drink deal that lures in brunch traditionalists, which Franco, this morning, is avoiding in favor of cup after cup of coffee. She’s over by the street side of the restaurant, table by the wall of windows that curves out like a greenhouse, picking at a slice of Cowboy and a bowl of mostly kale, walking through a long-winded magazine piece on that fall’s television lineup and what it Says About Us, As A Society, when her normally silent subconscious pipes up. “He can’t be President” she says, completely unaware she’s talking, and only half-aware that she’s thinking. A passing waiter looks at her, eyebrows raised, gesturing with a coffee pot. He doesn’t get her attention, though, and continues onward. Franco, hurriedly, shoveling down a bite, dives into her Patch and prods Henri. He’s been newly introduced to the technology, and hates it, says it bothers him, so it takes him a minute or two to respond. His projection gradually appears in view. “Franco. I hate this thing.” “I just had a thought about Jackie. How much do you know about his lineage?” “Nothing. Why? Almost nothing. Self-made billionaire. Single mother. Midwest.” “I’m sending you our dossier on him, can you see it on your Patch?” “No.” “What are you seeing?” “Actually, it’s your face still, but there’s a menu overlay that I can’t get rid of.” “Is it the blue one?” “No, it’s just normal color.” “What’s normal color?” “On the menu? It’s just the gray menu.” “Wait, I think the colors are adjustable, for the menus. Does the menu say anything about connections?” “I can’t tell, it’s transparent, or translucent I guess, is the word I’m looking for. So it’s blurred with your projection and I can’t read it.” “Can you try moving the menu? Just focus on the upper-corner for a moment. It’ll come loose, the menu will be moveable I mean, and then move it, the menu, with your eyes, by looking elsewhere.” Silence, for a very long 5 seconds. “It’s not working. Maybe you can just tell me the” “OK, OK. Jackie wants to take over LA, but he can’t take over President City.” “Sure.” “Right, and without that, he can’t do anything really good.” “Sure.” Unexpectedly ruining Franco’s train of thought is the clatter of a dropped armful of dishes, and the resulting applause from a sectionful of patrons three vegan Bloody Marys in. Simultaneously, Henri says “FUCK” “Hey, what’s wrong?” “Shit. Franco, gonna have to Patch you back, this waiter just dropped dishes all over me.” “Wait. Are you at brunch?” “Yeah, fuck, I’m at that salad place with the pies.” “Stand up.” “What?” “Stand up.” “OK.” “Are you standing?” “Franco, what the hell?” “Are you standing up?” “Yes, I’m standing up.” “Wait, is this a joke?” Henri, losing his patience. “Is what a joke? I just got three plates dropped on my hip and now you’re telling me to stand.” “I’m at the same restaurant, and I just heard that waiter drop all the plates, and I don’t see you.” “Well, I’m standing, and there’s only one big room.” “Hold on.” Franco stands up, too, and pivots around. “Do you see me? I’m by the windows.” “No.” “This is ridiculous.” “Are there two Pie & Salads?” “Pies & Salad, Henri, and I don’t know. What neighborhood are you in?” “I’m in Vine Hill.” “Oh, that explains it, there must be two, because I’m in 3District.” “No shit? There’s a Pie & Salad there?” “Yeah, right by my house.” “And a waiter dropped plates at your Pie & Salad at the same time?” “Yes, freaky.” “Franco.” She can see Henri’s projection walking. “Hold on.” Walking a little more. “Go to the bathroom.” “I don’t have to.” “Just go IN the bathroom.” Franco obliges. A dim but immaculate tile-floored single-occupancy, eggplant walls, brass fixtures, effective pro-pastry sloganeering stenciled on the door. “OK. I’m in the bathroom.” “Go over to the hand dryer, is there a hand dryer?” “Yes, it’s near the door.” “Stand in front of it and don’t press anything.” Franco does. After a moment, the machine purrs to life and starts blowing hot, or at least warm, current. “Did the hand dryer start?” “Oh my god, yes, it did.” “Wow! Pretty weird. Anyway, what were we talking about?”

Name: Franca Elsie Franco 
Age: 28 
IQ: 153 
Blood Type: O- 
Fighting Style: Regulatory Arts (Okinawan Chainmortgage) 
Destined Profession: Regulator (? ? ?% certainty) 
Rising Tarot: Ocean Genesis 
Falling Tarot: The King Is Dreaming 
Famous Quote: “It’s time to stop thinking … and start dancing!” 

FRANCO, being one of those types that likes to read at bars and lesser restaurants, anywhere that’ll give her a table or counterspace and be reasonably prompt with refills, tends to dine alone. Even when she’s on the job, she’ll duck away from Henri, or the group at large, just for 30 minutes, even, anything to clear her head. For her, mealtimes are pleasant, solitary experiences, quiet rituals, the opposite of a social gathering. She can clink glasses and avoid politics with a crowd when duty calls, or if she’s particular ebullient, or someone else is paying, but she tries to keep solitary meals a constant when she has the option. Part of the reason is that she just likes to unwind. But she’s also, quietly, a nervous person when eating … nothing she can’t handle, but every now and then, she’s suddenly struck by the awareness that a dining partner is chewing. Not even rudely, open-mouthed or lip-smacking or whatever, but an unmistakeable knowing that “This person has food in his mouth, food that he is chewing”, the thought descending from the clouds of her internal monologue unexpectedly, like a flash twister lowering from the sky, and her thought funnels downward in kind, returning to introspection that “I, too, am currently chewing food” then back to her partner, then returning to her, over and over around and around, leaving Franco unable to focus on anything else, no conversation, no texture of plating, no mood lighting, and a ruined appetite. So maybe it’s a little neurotic, makes first dates hard. But, to compensate, she never has to worry about what the other person is ordering, or tipping. And after a few years of these dinners for one, Franco has realized that she does some of her best thinking when she’s not thinking, relaxing instead with a glass of wine, or a coffee, or a milkshake, depending on the location’s liquor license status and her prevailing mood and the potential pairings. For some people genius strikes when they’re showering, or maybe they wake up in the middle of the night, trying to capture the glow of REM intuition before it fades into dream-memories. But Franco, invariably, has her great breakthroughs when chowing down by herself, usually during off-hours, to avoid crowds. 
No surprise, then, that Saturday morning finds her at Pie & Salad, a little brunch haunt championed by savory pastry workers, vegans, and the weird armistice between the two. Plus, they do an all-you-can-drink deal that lures in brunch traditionalists, which Franco, this morning, is avoiding in favor of cup after cup of coffee. She’s over by the street side of the restaurant, table by the wall of windows that curves out like a greenhouse, picking at a slice of Cowboy and a bowl of mostly kale, walking through a long-winded magazine piece on that fall’s television lineup and what it Says About Us, As A Society, when her normally silent subconscious pipes up. 
“He can’t be President” she says, completely unaware she’s talking, and only half-aware that she’s thinking. A passing waiter looks at her, eyebrows raised, gesturing with a coffee pot. He doesn’t get her attention, though, and continues onward. Franco, hurriedly, shoveling down a bite, dives into her Patch and prods Henri. He’s been newly introduced to the technology, and hates it, says it bothers him, so it takes him a minute or two to respond. 
His projection gradually appears in view. “Franco. I hate this thing.” 
“I just had a thought about Jackie. How much do you know about his lineage?” 
“Nothing. Why? Almost nothing. Self-made billionaire. Single mother. Midwest.” 
“I’m sending you our dossier on him, can you see it on your Patch?” 
“No.” 
“What are you seeing?” 
“Actually, it’s your face still, but there’s a menu overlay that I can’t get rid of.” 
“Is it the blue one?” 
“No, it’s just normal color.” 
“What’s normal color?” 
“On the menu? It’s just the gray menu.” 
“Wait, I think the colors are adjustable, for the menus. Does the menu say anything about connections?” 
“I can’t tell, it’s transparent, or translucent I guess, is the word I’m looking for. So it’s blurred with your projection and I can’t read it.” 
“Can you try moving the menu? Just focus on the upper-corner for a moment. It’ll come loose, the menu will be moveable I mean, and then move it, the menu, with your eyes, by looking elsewhere.” 
Silence, for a very long 5 seconds. “It’s not working. Maybe you can just tell me the” 
“OK, OK. Jackie wants to take over LA, but he can’t take over President City.” 
“Sure.” 
“Right, and without that, he can’t do anything really good.” 
“Sure.” 
Unexpectedly ruining Franco’s train of thought is the clatter of a dropped armful of dishes, and the resulting applause from a sectionful of patrons three vegan Bloody Marys in. 
Simultaneously, Henri says “FUCK” 
“Hey, what’s wrong?” 
“Shit. Franco, gonna have to Patch you back, this waiter just dropped dishes all over me.” 
“Wait. Are you at brunch?” 
“Yeah, fuck, I’m at that salad place with the pies.” 
“Stand up.” 
“What?” 
“Stand up.” 
“OK.” 
“Are you standing?” 
“Franco, what the hell?” 
“Are you standing up?” 
“Yes, I’m standing up.” 
“Wait, is this a joke?” 
Henri, losing his patience. “Is what a joke? I just got three plates dropped on my hip and now you’re telling me to stand.” 
“I’m at the same restaurant, and I just heard that waiter drop all the plates, and I don’t see you.” 
“Well, I’m standing, and there’s only one big room.” 
“Hold on.” Franco stands up, too, and pivots around. “Do you see me? I’m by the windows.” 
“No.” 
“This is ridiculous.” 
“Are there two Pie & Salads?” 
“Pies & Salad, Henri, and I don’t know. What neighborhood are you in?” 
“I’m in Vine Hill.” 
“Oh, that explains it, there must be two, because I’m in 3District.” 
“No shit? There’s a Pie & Salad there?” 
“Yeah, right by my house.” 
“And a waiter dropped plates at your Pie & Salad at the same time?” 
“Yes, freaky.” 
“Franco.” She can see Henri’s projection walking. “Hold on.” Walking a little more. “Go to the bathroom.” 
“I don’t have to.” 
“Just go IN the bathroom.” 
Franco obliges. A dim but immaculate tile-floored single-occupancy, eggplant walls, brass fixtures, effective pro-pastry sloganeering stenciled on the door. 
“OK. I’m in the bathroom.” 
“Go over to the hand dryer, is there a hand dryer?” 
“Yes, it’s near the door.” 
“Stand in front of it and don’t press anything.” 
Franco does. After a moment, the machine purrs to life and starts blowing hot, or at least warm, current. 
“Did the hand dryer start?” 
“Oh my god, yes, it did.” 
“Wow! Pretty weird. Anyway, what were we talking about?”

Name: ? ? ? Age: ? ? IQ: ? ? ? Blood Type: A+ Fighting Style: Hacking Destined Profession: Bit Jockey (87% certainty) Rising Tarot: Chance 1 Falling Tarot: Fog Of War Famous Quote: “Get your bytes outta my face!” HE runs through the Systems at will, tireless, calculating, and it has to feel empowering, we think: to be him, to wear his clothes unafraid, calculating no future collapse. He’s invested in nothing, has with great will and morality bifurcated in ways government men or idealized bankers or even the banner exemplars—a family doc, hair like a late-year snowshoe rabbit, who remembers names, faces she delivered decades ago, or a professor, yielding and patient and curious enough to keep his singular knowledge invested in its own pursuit, not vested, not lent-out to simple desires for waste—can’t hope to manage, a branching of private and professional. The ethics of a caliper. East is east and west is west and it’s Nothing Personal, you understand. A concourse full of compartmentalized executives is envious and each reaches for a quick-fix pop-sci newsstand paperback, or ebook I suppose, if flights are grounded for the night & they’ve already scattered for the evening, to wait it out in hotels and clubs, back at it at sunrise. But each morning is a new failure: they think about food or fucking while presenting estimates, they remember salaries and traumas and birthdays and seasons, they tip well to impress, they always Take It Personal. How else could you take it? They do everything to forget, and the best of them forget quickly and forever, but history isn’t a koan (or IS it). No—time past leads to time future. Singed hair as a child makes a man a staunch advocate of microwave technology if you give him a couple decades. And this bias, settled deep below mantles of thought and desire, makes for Bad Business, creates inefficiency. No matter the pedigree, the House, the bloodline, the education, the promise and hope, they are irredeemable, wheezing, sweat and miles built up on skin and joints, destined to tumble and not get up, a mile or a foot short of the finish line, because they can’t be anything but a single affected person. But his split life, which affords him clarity, has resulted in a split personality, too. Water doesn’t disappear when you build a dam. While others integrate those damn computers into their greater narrative, use handles as extensions, or even reinventions of the idealized self, he uses it to start again. The screen serves as a great wall, a wonderful way to keep the head separate from the heart, and he’s able to snap into either reality in an instant, never dazed, finishing up sentences left hanging for hours without a dilation or skipped beat. He’s famous in both before long, his talents being serviceable in both realities, but soon there’s the familiar concern of every city professional: not enough hours, much too much to do even working through the weekends, too many drinks to serve, so to speak. He tries to squeeze out every minute from the day, switches to surface routes where there’s coverage, lives away from the screens faster, sucking dry the meaning from every minute of life, and eventually, realizes that sleep takes up a third of BOTH of his lives. Some cousin! He has a small breakthrough when eating a cantaloupe slice late one night: he’s so detached, so impersonal, that switching from screen to sky rejuvenates him, like he’s got two separate candles, and he doesn’t have to worry about burning from both ends. For months, this returns him to the head of the class—if he schedules carefully, he can stay awake twice as long, with no noticeable effects on his performance, his guile, his appearance—but like any resource, once exploitation becomes the normal, you’ve got to find more corners to cut, more forests to slash. His redemption comes in the form of a further separation. One half of the mind sleeps while the other half works. Crazy enough to at least try, he already knows he’s an outlier, and it’s not a perfect fit, but history is always sloppy when its present. So he’s become sleepless. A 24 hour party person. Or is it people? Days pass without notice, REM sleep becomes an opaque overlay. He has to doublecheck his work now, never something he had to do, but with 8 extra hours, he certainly has the time. One day his boss compliments a presentation he doesn’t remember giving. He looks at pictures from the event, and it’s in Tampa. Tampa? Logs from his computer, checking that evening, or that afternoon, or at some time and place, show days of jobs he doesn’t remember, languages he doesn’t know, code written and debugged that doesn’t look like anything he’d write, not exactly, but a great impersonation of how he’d solve a problem, if problems can be solved. Is he switching back and forth any more, he thinks, with dawning heat? Is it willful? Or has he split entirely in two, eternally present in both worlds, even when sleeping, a second self out there, or in here? He finds a draft email, to himself, nothing but a title. “Everything.”

Name: ? ? ? 
Age: ? ? 
IQ: ? ? ? 
Blood Type: A+ 
Fighting Style: Hacking 
Destined Profession: Bit Jockey (87% certainty) 
Rising Tarot: Chance 1 
Falling Tarot: Fog Of War 
Famous Quote: “Get your bytes outta my face!” 

HE runs through the Systems at will, tireless, calculating, and it has to feel empowering, we think: to be him, to wear his clothes unafraid, calculating no future collapse. He’s invested in nothing, has with great will and morality bifurcated in ways government men or idealized bankers or even the banner exemplars—a family doc, hair like a late-year snowshoe rabbit, who remembers names, faces she delivered decades ago, or a professor, yielding and patient and curious enough to keep his singular knowledge invested in its own pursuit, not vested, not lent-out to simple desires for waste—can’t hope to manage, a branching of private and professional. The ethics of a caliper. East is east and west is west and it’s Nothing Personal, you understand. A concourse full of compartmentalized executives is envious and each reaches for a quick-fix pop-sci newsstand paperback, or ebook I suppose, if flights are grounded for the night & they’ve already scattered for the evening, to wait it out in hotels and clubs, back at it at sunrise. But each morning is a new failure: they think about food or fucking while presenting estimates, they remember salaries and traumas and birthdays and seasons, they tip well to impress, they always Take It Personal. How else could you take it? They do everything to forget, and the best of them forget quickly and forever, but history isn’t a koan (or IS it). No—time past leads to time future. Singed hair as a child makes a man a staunch advocate of microwave technology if you give him a couple decades. And this bias, settled deep below mantles of thought and desire, makes for Bad Business, creates inefficiency. No matter the pedigree, the House, the bloodline, the education, the promise and hope, they are irredeemable, wheezing, sweat and miles built up on skin and joints, destined to tumble and not get up, a mile or a foot short of the finish line, because they can’t be anything but a single affected person. 
But his split life, which affords him clarity, has resulted in a split personality, too. Water doesn’t disappear when you build a dam. While others integrate those damn computers into their greater narrative, use handles as extensions, or even reinventions of the idealized self, he uses it to start again. The screen serves as a great wall, a wonderful way to keep the head separate from the heart, and he’s able to snap into either reality in an instant, never dazed, finishing up sentences left hanging for hours without a dilation or skipped beat. He’s famous in both before long, his talents being serviceable in both realities, but soon there’s the familiar concern of every city professional: not enough hours, much too much to do even working through the weekends, too many drinks to serve, so to speak. He tries to squeeze out every minute from the day, switches to surface routes where there’s coverage, lives away from the screens faster, sucking dry the meaning from every minute of life, and eventually, realizes that sleep takes up a third of BOTH of his lives. Some cousin! He has a small breakthrough when eating a cantaloupe slice late one night: he’s so detached, so impersonal, that switching from screen to sky rejuvenates him, like he’s got two separate candles, and he doesn’t have to worry about burning from both ends. For months, this returns him to the head of the class—if he schedules carefully, he can stay awake twice as long, with no noticeable effects on his performance, his guile, his appearance—but like any resource, once exploitation becomes the normal, you’ve got to find more corners to cut, more forests to slash. His redemption comes in the form of a further separation. One half of the mind sleeps while the other half works. Crazy enough to at least try, he already knows he’s an outlier, and it’s not a perfect fit, but history is always sloppy when its present. So he’s become sleepless. A 24 hour party person. Or is it people? Days pass without notice, REM sleep becomes an opaque overlay. He has to doublecheck his work now, never something he had to do, but with 8 extra hours, he certainly has the time. One day his boss compliments a presentation he doesn’t remember giving. He looks at pictures from the event, and it’s in Tampa. Tampa? Logs from his computer, checking that evening, or that afternoon, or at some time and place, show days of jobs he doesn’t remember, languages he doesn’t know, code written and debugged that doesn’t look like anything he’d write, not exactly, but a great impersonation of how he’d solve a problem, if problems can be solved. Is he switching back and forth any more, he thinks, with dawning heat? Is it willful? Or has he split entirely in two, eternally present in both worlds, even when sleeping, a second self out there, or in here? 
He finds a draft email, to himself, nothing but a title. “Everything.”

Name: Blanche and Louise Age: 28 IQ: 171 Blood Type: AB- Fighting Style: Accumulative Arts Destined Profession: Low Royalty (99.99994% certainty) Rising Tarot: Challenge Corsair Falling Tarot: Challenge III Famous Quote: “See you!” BLANCHE AND LOUISE were friends at birth and weren’t given say in the matter, as their particular preordination went into effect the moment their mothers, Lucia and Elizabeth-Anne, met a few years earlier at some sticky pre-Glyndebourne charity shindig. Lucia drank when she was bored, and as the two would later tell it, that night had its first moment of genuine surprise when a very bored Lucia accidentally spilled a glass of Bollinger on some flaky American financier who didn’t know that “How interesting” was Old Money for “I’m married, leave me alone.” She was in search of another glass to accidentally spill on him when Elizabeth-Anne sidled up to her. “Good form and explosive follow-through,” said Liz, offering Lucia a fresh drink from a passing tray. “People don’t move like that without some prior training. Tennis?” “Catholic actually,” said Lucia, trying to focus over the inner and outer din, “But thank you!” Liz snatched back the flute and got her new chum some water instead, not out of a cultured or motherly instinct so much as a desire to give herself a round to catch up. They were arm in arm before long, galavanting, circling the perimeter of the party in great looping trails, again and again, talking like they’d known each other since preparatory school and happy to give back the disapproving glances they were receiving from those inside the circle. Their fusion was instant, and the simple rare joy of meeting a new friend in adult life was blessed and buttressed once they started making connections here and there, realizing quickly that they seemed to have missed meeting on a dozen previous occasions, a summer in Nice, shared friends at international school in Switzerland, always sailing under the same colors but never on the same watch. “You know, I almost didn’t go to that damn party,” Liz, months later, picking at some quiche at her studio in London, “not even for a grand reason, just simple mood.” “It’s the paths one doesn’t take that are the most interesting, because we’re simply victims of our own ambitions, and quite imaginative, everyone is of course, not just you and me,” Lucia, picking up her tea, gesturing, and putting it back down, too talkative to break for a sip, too much to say to reflect on Liz’s point too long before sharing her own, “But our whole damned character, and I’d imagine it’s a whole human race thing, too, so spread around the blame, I guess, that character forces us to appraise our actions and doubt our choices. In any situation, it’s easy to try to imagine how things could have been better. Or at least different, which to most people is the same thing. Time past and time future and all that.” “Right.” More quiche. “But what if we’d not met that night? You’d be bored.” “I’d be bored. I’d be sloshed.” “And I’d be eating quiche all by myself, right here, right now, no one watching me chew. Exactly. It’s chance.” Another mouthful. “It’s chance,” again, as if she just realized it herself. “Sure, but what if you’d met someone else? What if you made some new best friend instead, just as reliable? Then it’s chance, but to you? The same, maybe. It’s not like we’re some perfect cosmic pairing. Some other bored girl that let you share all this,” gesturing with her finger around her head that, in other contexts, might mean crazy, but here was high praise, “instead of just keeping it hidden, great.” “Oh, you’re not giving yourself enough credit.” “Who else might have been at that party, though really, Liz? There might have been someone incredible that you missed out on.” “No one else was there. We’re the ones we were meant to find, we’re the ones who we each constantly kept missing for years.” “You don’t ever, you don’t ever get the feeling that there’s someone,” a sip of tea at last, fumbling the point, “That there’s someone on the periphery? I mean, someone really special?” “Like someone watching?” “Oh no, not watching. But just,” waving rotationally, again, but this time at nothing, or everything, “out there, someone, that’s the real thing. That the next great leader of mankind shared a lift with you one day and you missed her.” “Gee. No. I mostly just think about myself. I’m going to heat up the rest of this quiche, would you care for any?” And they had introduced their husbands to each other, of course, but in a strictly limited way, with the practiced greed of adulthood, doling out careful half-spoons of intangible happiness, because this wasn’t meant to be a comfortable double-date, you pigs, this is our friendship, just the girls, thanks much, no boys allowed. And they were close, very close, so maybe it was synchrony, or just Lightning Striking Twice, when they both announced to the other over fruit cocktails for lunch what each already suspected, unveiling their respective Big Newses at the same time and immediately laughing and crying, delighted for the other and delighted to share this moment, and share in the good fortune, happy they’d each picked the other as the first to share their secret, before husbands and obstetricians and family household staffs. They toasted with mineral water, swapped info on changes in mood, on dos and don’ts of pregnancy diets, and on their due dates which wouldn’t you know it were about a week apart? And when Blanche came out a little early, and Louise kept Liz waiting, the times of birth ended up separate by only hours, but technically, a calendar divide. “If Liz had flown to LA to have me, we’d share a birthday.” “It’s weird to me, a little, that you call your mother by her first name.” They were in Milan, like every autumn, reading in a cafe, Blanche a newspaper, Louise a fine arts magazine called Bravo!, a gossip tabloid disguised as a critical digest that read like a catalog. But like all secret spillers, the dirtiest folks usually have the juiciest data: hot chatter among buyers and dealers on the Continent was that the LA market was destined for a collapse, or maybe just a downturn, or at least a very aggressive correction. The whole coastal economy looked like it was on the brink, and nothing goes faster than culture during a firesale, so the sisters thought as soon as the earthquake hit, maybe they’d strike out for California, grab some new pieces, absorb some of the local culture, catch a movie. They knew a soft-spoken curator who owed them one, so they’d get factory prices, and he’d throw in the six disc changer and the power steering for free.

Name: Blanche and Louise 
Age: 28 
IQ: 171 
Blood Type: AB- 
Fighting Style: Accumulative Arts 
Destined Profession: Low Royalty (99.99994% certainty) 
Rising Tarot: Challenge Corsair 
Falling Tarot: Challenge III 
Famous Quote: “See you!” 

BLANCHE AND LOUISE were friends at birth and weren’t given say in the matter, as their particular preordination went into effect the moment their mothers, Lucia and Elizabeth-Anne, met a few years earlier at some sticky pre-Glyndebourne charity shindig. Lucia drank when she was bored, and as the two would later tell it, that night had its first moment of genuine surprise when a very bored Lucia accidentally spilled a glass of Bollinger on some flaky American financier who didn’t know that “How interesting” was Old Money for “I’m married, leave me alone.” She was in search of another glass to accidentally spill on him when Elizabeth-Anne sidled up to her. 
“Good form and explosive follow-through,” said Liz, offering Lucia a fresh drink from a passing tray. “People don’t move like that without some prior training. Tennis?” 
“Catholic actually,” said Lucia, trying to focus over the inner and outer din, “But thank you!” 
Liz snatched back the flute and got her new chum some water instead, not out of a cultured or motherly instinct so much as a desire to give herself a round to catch up. They were arm in arm before long, galavanting, circling the perimeter of the party in great looping trails, again and again, talking like they’d known each other since preparatory school and happy to give back the disapproving glances they were receiving from those inside the circle. Their fusion was instant, and the simple rare joy of meeting a new friend in adult life was blessed and buttressed once they started making connections here and there, realizing quickly that they seemed to have missed meeting on a dozen previous occasions, a summer in Nice, shared friends at international school in Switzerland, always sailing under the same colors but never on the same watch. 
“You know, I almost didn’t go to that damn party,” Liz, months later, picking at some quiche at her studio in London, “not even for a grand reason, just simple mood.” 
“It’s the paths one doesn’t take that are the most interesting, because we’re simply victims of our own ambitions, and quite imaginative, everyone is of course, not just you and me,” Lucia, picking up her tea, gesturing, and putting it back down, too talkative to break for a sip, too much to say to reflect on Liz’s point too long before sharing her own, “But our whole damned character, and I’d imagine it’s a whole human race thing, too, so spread around the blame, I guess, that character forces us to appraise our actions and doubt our choices. In any situation, it’s easy to try to imagine how things could have been better. Or at least different, which to most people is the same thing. Time past and time future and all that.” 
“Right.” More quiche. “But what if we’d not met that night? You’d be bored.” 
“I’d be bored. I’d be sloshed.” 
“And I’d be eating quiche all by myself, right here, right now, no one watching me chew. Exactly. It’s chance.” Another mouthful. “It’s chance,” again, as if she just realized it herself. 
“Sure, but what if you’d met someone else? What if you made some new best friend instead, just as reliable? Then it’s chance, but to you? The same, maybe. It’s not like we’re some perfect cosmic pairing. Some other bored girl that let you share all this,” gesturing with her finger around her head that, in other contexts, might mean crazy, but here was high praise, “instead of just keeping it hidden, great.” 
“Oh, you’re not giving yourself enough credit.” 
“Who else might have been at that party, though really, Liz? There might have been someone incredible that you missed out on.” 
“No one else was there. We’re the ones we were meant to find, we’re the ones who we each constantly kept missing for years.” 
“You don’t ever, you don’t ever get the feeling that there’s someone,” a sip of tea at last, fumbling the point, “That there’s someone on the periphery? I mean, someone really special?” 
“Like someone watching?” 
“Oh no, not watching. But just,” waving rotationally, again, but this time at nothing, or everything, “out there, someone, that’s the real thing. That the next great leader of mankind shared a lift with you one day and you missed her.” 
“Gee. No. I mostly just think about myself. I’m going to heat up the rest of this quiche, would you care for any?” 
And they had introduced their husbands to each other, of course, but in a strictly limited way, with the practiced greed of adulthood, doling out careful half-spoons of intangible happiness, because this wasn’t meant to be a comfortable double-date, you pigs, this is our friendship, just the girls, thanks much, no boys allowed. And they were close, very close, so maybe it was synchrony, or just Lightning Striking Twice, when they both announced to the other over fruit cocktails for lunch what each already suspected, unveiling their respective Big Newses at the same time and immediately laughing and crying, delighted for the other and delighted to share this moment, and share in the good fortune, happy they’d each picked the other as the first to share their secret, before husbands and obstetricians and family household staffs. They toasted with mineral water, swapped info on changes in mood, on dos and don’ts of pregnancy diets, and on their due dates which wouldn’t you know it were about a week apart? And when Blanche came out a little early, and Louise kept Liz waiting, the times of birth ended up separate by only hours, but technically, a calendar divide. 
“If Liz had flown to LA to have me, we’d share a birthday.” 
“It’s weird to me, a little, that you call your mother by her first name.” 
They were in Milan, like every autumn, reading in a cafe, Blanche a newspaper, Louise a fine arts magazine called Bravo!, a gossip tabloid disguised as a critical digest that read like a catalog. But like all secret spillers, the dirtiest folks usually have the juiciest data: hot chatter among buyers and dealers on the Continent was that the LA market was destined for a collapse, or maybe just a downturn, or at least a very aggressive correction. The whole coastal economy looked like it was on the brink, and nothing goes faster than culture during a firesale, so the sisters thought as soon as the earthquake hit, maybe they’d strike out for California, grab some new pieces, absorb some of the local culture, catch a movie. They knew a soft-spoken curator who owed them one, so they’d get factory prices, and he’d throw in the six disc changer and the power steering for free.

Name: Secretary Age: 28 IQ: 149 Blood Type: B+ Fighting Style: Gymnastic Fireplay Destined Profession: Horticulturalist (40% certainty) Rising Tarot: Challenge I Falling Tarot: Construction Famous Quote: “Look into your heart, do you see an innocence?” SECRETARY put on her boots with great difficulty. They felt tighter than normal, much tighter, so tight that she felt worried, momentarily, and wondered if she had taken someone else’s boots, or gained weight. But she was in a makeshift camp in the forests of south Venezuela, on a diet of MREs and the odd fruit for dessert, nothing to drink and nothing to smoke, and no women’s boots but her own. She hadn’t slept in two days, or slept soundly and meaningfully in at least a week, so while she was still fine for field missions, when adrenaline died down during off-hours, like during paper work, or planning, or radio reconnaissance, she found her thoughts coming slower, and leaving reluctantly, a slow parade for a cause that didn’t ask for one and couldn’t wait to be back at home, showering. She sat down on her high cot, and swung a leg onto the bed, to stare at the boot, at her body, just stare, hoping that an answer would present itself. "I got you some new boots" said Jackie, and Secretary pitched forward, almost falling off her cot, shocked out of thought by his shitty siege Howitzer of a voice, realizing "Of course these boots are new" a few synapse gaps too slow. "You’re welcome. I got the tightest ones I could find. Marched right into the boot store and wouldn’t leave until I had the tightest goddamn boots in this godforsaken country. I threw your old boots into a river where a crocodile ate them, and then I wrestled the crocodile to death and threw him off a cliff. You’re welcome. What the hell were you doing, stomping around the jungle with loose boots? These miserable acres are filled with every type of bad bug and weird stinging biting creature in the world. You might as well have a pair of funnels taped around your legs. Anyway, you’re welcome. Grab your flamethrower and let’s go burn down the local magistrate’s office to let him know that we mean business."

Name: Secretary 
Age: 28 
IQ: 149 
Blood Type: B+ 
Fighting Style: Gymnastic Fireplay 
Destined Profession: Horticulturalist (40% certainty) 
Rising Tarot: Challenge I 
Falling Tarot: Construction 
Famous Quote: “Look into your heart, do you see an innocence?” 

SECRETARY put on her boots with great difficulty. They felt tighter than normal, much tighter, so tight that she felt worried, momentarily, and wondered if she had taken someone else’s boots, or gained weight. But she was in a makeshift camp in the forests of south Venezuela, on a diet of MREs and the odd fruit for dessert, nothing to drink and nothing to smoke, and no women’s boots but her own. She hadn’t slept in two days, or slept soundly and meaningfully in at least a week, so while she was still fine for field missions, when adrenaline died down during off-hours, like during paper work, or planning, or radio reconnaissance, she found her thoughts coming slower, and leaving reluctantly, a slow parade for a cause that didn’t ask for one and couldn’t wait to be back at home, showering. She sat down on her high cot, and swung a leg onto the bed, to stare at the boot, at her body, just stare, hoping that an answer would present itself. 

"I got you some new boots" said Jackie, and Secretary pitched forward, almost falling off her cot, shocked out of thought by his shitty siege Howitzer of a voice, realizing "Of course these boots are new" a few synapse gaps too slow. "You’re welcome. I got the tightest ones I could find. Marched right into the boot store and wouldn’t leave until I had the tightest goddamn boots in this godforsaken country. I threw your old boots into a river where a crocodile ate them, and then I wrestled the crocodile to death and threw him off a cliff. You’re welcome. What the hell were you doing, stomping around the jungle with loose boots? These miserable acres are filled with every type of bad bug and weird stinging biting creature in the world. You might as well have a pair of funnels taped around your legs. Anyway, you’re welcome. Grab your flamethrower and let’s go burn down the local magistrate’s office to let him know that we mean business."