Vol. 1 No. 01 : Quorum

Vol. 1 No. 02 : Prine's Metropolitan

Vol. 1 No. 03 : US3R Of The Darknet

Vol. 1 No. 05 : Weaving Spiders

Vol. 1 No. 06 : Heng

Vol. 1 No. 07 : Like Love Hate Hate

Vol. 1 No. 08 : Year Zero

Vol. 1 No. 09 : Rishek

Vol. 1 No. 10 : The Zura Contract

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2034 - Key 5: Birmingham.

The operators had an overlay of symbols on the screen, including a regular strip of playback controls, a jog wheel and lines of sound represented in waveform. Down one side of the screen ran the familiar twin columns of computer code and mathematical representations of the dabs and strokes that a technician was making to the symbols. Dovetree felt the need to explain.

“We've honed the footage to maximise the carrier impact, bearing in mind that we're limited on delivery time. There are three layers, the picture data, the accompanying sound and the carrier. We can alter the picture data very rapidly without the viewer even being aware - adding or removing colours from the palette using compression, that sort of thing. It can be subtle, doesn't have to be rapid cutting. It produces small bursts of electromagnetic output to the projector that puts together the screen. That's the barcode if you like. It might need several takes if the subject's mind is too busy, but that's down to how boring the director can make the preceding seconds of footage. Once the viewer is captured, we can start to feed the carrier signals into the soundtrack. We have to remix the supplied sound so that the frequency of the carrier is removed to give it space on its own layer, and we can then duck any loud noises that might mask it. Of course, it's so quiet that normal hearing won't pick it up, but thanks to placement of sound in 3D broadcasts we can bring it to the front of the mix.”

Trevelyan watched the techs cupping an ear as they jogged the picture back and forth to cue the start of transmission.

“Ingenious. What is the message today?”

“Well, this section is all about sending out good vibrations after the decision to put cyber-terrorists straight into Aftercare. We want them to be nodding along in the workplace tomorrow when the subject comes up and more importantly when the crackdown starts to winkle out some of their relatives. It needs to be a group decision that it's a good thing. Just the very mention of Aftercare is always accompanied by a trigger to release the feelgood factor.”

“It doesn't do anything for me.”

“It's not supposed to. Your implants are classified like the rest of us. It's the proles who have an NHS account that have no medical control over what the implant can do. These carrier signals trip the account back at the surgery and request whatever it needs the brain to produce. Happy thoughts come from chemicals like endorphin, oxytocin or serotonin and dopamine. If we need to sponsor a little shock and awe, then it's cortisol.”

Trevelyan was tiring of the lesson.

“Yes, I'm aware of the chemistry.”

Dovetree was too proud of his current project to be stopped.

“Yes, it's a pretty exact science to match the signals to the right conditioned response. Some people are naturally psycho and fight it. They almost like to be in pain. That's when we have to take them out of the system and work on them one to one.”

“The scum we have working now are riddled with malcontents.”

“Then it's a good job that we know who they are. While they're watching the television, the television is watching them. With face recognition and ID scanning through the screen, we can drill down into the data on any individual of interest pretty much in real time. They never know anything about it.”

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Random Skies: The Whispers On Carrier X is the fourth episode in a series of speculative fiction set in a parallel world where the surely unthinkable has already started to happen.