What they don’t tell you about biometrics

What they don’t tell you about biometrics

My boss was lying on the floor.

That wasn’t a problem in and of itself; given the layers of security on this station, it should be reasonably unlikely that anyone who didn’t know her would be in a position to report her to the powers that be.

The pool of blood and the missing hand, on the other hand, were definitely problems, and unfortunately those were all mine.

I rechecked my helmet display, admiring the clueless series of green reads. Whatever or whoever was in here collecting body parts was apparently something completely outside our security program’s experience. It seemed over-optimistic to expect that my heads-up display wouldn’t be equally clueless if my mystery guest decided to add my head to their collection.

Happily, unlike my very ex-boss, neither my head, my hands, or anything else I need to do my job are vital to getting into anything important. I’m a firm believer in the first rule of biometrics: never use a body part for identification you can’t do without.

I slid out of my boss’s office, carrying the largest bit of my own personal collection out, loaded, and ready for use.

My name is Shayanna Willow Anstrim, because three of my parental units were dancers. I chose the Special Forces, instead.

Mary Jane, gateway to the galaxy

Mary Jane, gateway to the galaxy

Gateway to the Galaxy

“It damaged the gateway drive.”

That much was obvious. If the chair being completely dark didn’t give it away, the curl of smoke rising from it might’ve been a clue.

“You think?” Ir-a-tuan’s weight leaving it didn’t bring the gadget back to life, although it did clarify that it wasn’t the chair smoking. “Shit! My ass is on fire!”

Kind of a shame. Ir-a-tuan’s species runs to fur, and the smell was more than the enviro filters wanted to cope with. Hard to blame them on that. While he put out his fire, it seemed like time to find out where we were about to land. Gravity’s nasty shit. That thought was too good not to share.

“Hey, gravity gets everyone down.”

Ir-a-tuan stared at me, the morose expression bifurcated by a single curl of smoke. Apparently his sense of humour was suffering from the stress. “Do they have gateway?”

“G-A-T-E-W-A-Y.” Amazingly, the computer displayed a lot of entries. “Ir-a-tuan! They do!” The computer was doing its thing, picking up information from local sources, and a picture of the globe zoomed in. “We need to land here. They use something for gateways called Mary Jane. The best Mary Jane on the planet comes from a place called Texada.”

“Calculating,” the computer said. “Destination: Texada, locality: British Columbia.”

The landing was smooth, and then the ship shuddered.

“They are shooting us up!” Ir-a-tuan’s language skills were letting him down. The computer clearly showed a welcome wagon, jammed up against the landing gear. Its nose was an interesting fractal shape. It didn’t look very threatening.

“It’s just the locals, welcoming us.” At least they hadn’t blocked the ramp, and unlike the gateway drive, that still worked. Ir-a-tuan looked doubtful, but I was too desperate to get away from the singed ass-fur.

“Greetings! We need Mary Jane!”

The two males at the end of the ramp were staring. They were also unnecessarily tall. The computer angle hadn’t been quite accurate.

“Dude,” one of them finally said. “Dude, did the UFO-guy just ask us for Mary Jane? Aren’t they supposed to, I dunno, probe us, or ask to see our leader, or something?”

The computer fed a suggestion to my headset, and I spread my arms. “Dudes! Take me to your dealer!”

Dreaming of reality

Dreaming of reality

It’s cute how people try to break everything down into manageable chunks. It’s like watching a five-year-old doing a jigsaw, and turning that last piece of sky around five times to get it to fit in a four-sided hole.

I especially love listening to them on the science of dreaming. ‘Dreaming is a mental filing system.’ ‘They’re metaphors for your repressed sexuality.’ ‘Did you know that every face you see in a dream is the face of someone you’ve seen, at some point in your life?’ Actually, by sheer dumb luck, that last might be the one point they aren’t wrong about.

I suppose everyone has to get lucky sometime…there’s a thought I’d’ve lived happily without.

Anyway, thank the Consciousness, dreaming isn’t a mental filing system, so I won’t have to face the images that calls up some night.

Dreaming is what the conscious mind remembers when you travel between realities. There you go. The big secret, Guide for Dummies style.

Because the human mind is basically a thin skim of intelligence (very, very, very thin in most cases) wrapped around a consciousness that started out remarkably recently as a kind of slime with ambitions (you’ve heard this story, yes?) – essentially, it can’t contain and process what it experiences. When you fall asleep, you travel between realities. It happens to everyone. Your only solution is never to sleep again, and we know what the experts say about that.

Ever had to deal with people who can’t remember to how to tie their shoes or that they had an appointment scheduled? Chances are good those people are falling through this reality, have no idea why they’re here or what they’re supposed to be doing, and consequently aren’t coping well. (Don’t worry, they’ll wake up – with some odd memories about odder dreams.)

On the flip side, if you’re one of those people who has dreams like immersive films, complete with sound, smell and every other sensation, and you can actually remember them once you wake up…well, you’re wasting your life at whatever you think you’re doing. Give me a call, we’ll do dinner. If you’re one of those rarities, you have the ability to travel realities intentionally. Seriously, give me a call. We need you.

Immortality doesn’t mean you’ll live forever…

Immortality doesn’t mean you’ll live forever…

The peaches of immortality ripen only once in every three thousand years. If you find and eat one, you’re guaranteed near-immortality. Not unnaturally, the business interests whom I represent would like the opportunity to acquire some. Imagine Hollywood able to buy everlasting good looks? Hell, we could buy some more property. Mars, maybe.

I took another look through my scope, and sighed. Why do people always imagine that immortality means that they’re invulnerable as well? Of course, I would never threaten to shoot the Jade Emperor, but this guy wasn’t him. Not the Heavenly Grandfather, and most definitely not one of the Three Pure Ones. If he were, the apparent age of the scantily-dressed schoolgirl in his lap would’ve disqualified him on the spot. This guy, I wouldn’t have any qualms about threatening, although not actually carrying through might be tough.

I spent a moment meditating. Fine. I spent a moment remembering how much I stood to make by not shooting the old pervert. Ancient pervert, if the rumours I’d spent the last few years chasing were slightly more accurate than the last ten or twenty times. About 2,983 years old, to be precise. My little pep talk motivated me to fold up my shooting perch and drop down to street-level like a good girl, rather than leaving brain particles ingrained in the wall behind him that someone would have to clean up.

After all, if the guy temporarily still in possession of his brain matter wanted another 3,000 years of fondling teenagers, he was going to have to pick up some supplies soon. When he did, perhaps I could persuade him to take me along. Persuasion is my business. Being part-siren helps. Carrying enough metal on my person to never be able to fly commercial often helps more.

I’ll take Death over the Tower

I’ll take Death over the Tower

I’ll take Death over the Tower any day

My living room windows blew in, less than a second after I hit the deck under my table. Sadly, this kind of thing happens often enough that my reaction is reflexive. The howling and the light show, those were new.

I should stop reading the Tarot. I tell myself this often – almost as often as I read the damn things. The problem is, I have to wonder, if I didn’t read the cards…who’s to say the same crap wouldn’t still happen, but without any warning?

I’m Maurice Ferland. I read the Tarot. I also listen to the dead (try and get a word in edgeways and you’ll see why I put it that way), know enough about herbs to sound convincing, and can draw really cool shit with coloured chalk. Because I’m…who I am, these things are a little more effective for me than the other gris-gris totin’, rum-drinkin’, chicken-frightenin’ types you can find taking easy money off tourists.

They say my grandmother sold her soul to the Devil, but frankly, I doubt it. A devil, maybe. The Devil has nearly as many layers of flunkies between him and the public as the President, and I doubt grand-mère would have had the patience. Still. I wish the old bastard a good morning every time I turn over his card…just in case.

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