Lev.DN......Index.....Lev.UP, page 1.....(c) 1996 Lee Skidmore.....Lev.UP

Chapter 1.0

"Good Morning! It's Thursday, seven-twenty-nine, and it's still a crime, to be off-line," sang his phone.

The rich, glitter-sparkle of the Corporate Center's platinum channel faded fast as Eller ran out into the neon glare aud-vid chaos of the public streetnet. Private adnets hacked at his public.persona looking for a way past his SellerRepeller ware. The hypnotically pulsed beckoning of the public streetnet's storefront aud-vids unnoticed as he sprinted for the public rampways.

The stiff blue suit of Eller's corp-rep persona was drawing too much attention to his reckless pace. Even if Eller had been dressed for a track meet, anyone, however un-athletic, could tell Eller was running for his life. Good and scared, he hit the pedestrian rampway entry going as fast as his well-trained young legs could accelerate the rest of his lean, wide-shouldered, six foot, four inch tall well-tapered body.

Suddenly, violet eyes wide with white, he was stumbling across the moving walkways of the local pedestrian rampway. He cut diagonally across the slower moving pedestrian rampways with giant leaping strides. In five giant steps, Eller literally jumped from just under twenty kilometers an hour while running in the crowded streetnet to a bit more than fifty kilometers an hour as he made it to the fastest pedestrian rampway. Without waiting for the entryway in the lane divider between the pedestrian snailway ramps and the car-only expressway ramps to catch up with him, Eller pulled off a perfect 'Jackie', because there wasn't going to be a car waiting for him. And, because in any event, his momentum was so great only a very tall wall would stop his forward motion. Catlike, he scrambled cat-like, up the three meter high divider, finding foot and handholds where none would be found by less than a true devotee of old Twen'Cen martial arts movies. Up the barely slanting side of the three meter tall divider he went, where for a heartbeat, his forward momentum drained by gravity, Eller hovered at the top of the rampway divider, then as suddenly as it appeared to leave, the momentum returned and he was across and over the divider's three meter diving down onto the fast-moving car-only rampway below.

As he touched down, even as reactive as Eller's storm boarding body was, he slipped, skidded, syn-soles of his Con-Nikes burning his feet. There was no impact-sensing soft-steel here, just very tightly stretched, diamond fiber-reinforced synRubber car-only rampway. With a yell, he fell then, tossed onto his back, legs yanked out from under him by the speeding rampway. Kev-armored jacket beheath him he surfed the hardened, spinning-tire, glazed surface of the rampway's synRubber to a stop. Every since Eller had started running from the Corp Comp center, he had been in danger of damaging his sprayed-on temporary skin cover. Even though Eller was surrounded by soft-steel if hit something or someone while running he knew he was sure to scrape off some of the invisible, dry and itchy feeling skin coat that was literally gluing any loose skin cells and hair follicles to his body. If Eller left a even a very few cell's DNA behind he might as well stop and wait for the copnet to scoop him up instead of wasting his energy running.

His chest heaved, as he lay there. It ached a sharp, pointy ache, as he tried to suck up enough of the hot, chemical stench of the ramp's tortured synRubber smell-laden air to fill his gasping lungs. With teeth crushed together, head bobbing to help tired lungs pull air through wildly flared nostrils, as if the extra, but futile effort to try and clean that air with his nose was worth it, he continued his run. The machine-like strides of his running served to brought him back from the wild flare of the last few minutes. In a few dozen strides Eller was jogging along, regaining his strength, yet nearly flying with each puny pace, as the car-only ramp he was running on rocketed along at exactly one hundred kilometers an hour.

For about a minute, and two kilometers, he keep it up, when the strange no-streetnet-aud-vid calm of the rampway tunnel allowed his intellect to escape its adrenaline-barred cage. Eller fumbled a fat zippy from a deep pocket in his tornado-gray colored jacket. A pinch on its top edge snapped the zippy open. A polished platinum phone so thin it could almost cut you like a knife, wrapped with a ragged strip of, translucent, color-less, fiber-cloth, along with a similarly ragged strip of what was very rare satin blue-colored real-cloth, fell out of the zippy. Corp-Reps could afford to actually wear what they projected as their public.persona.

In a blur of motion, Eller swept up the phone as it bounced off the tightly strung surface of the fast moving rampway. He threw it away with a great effort as if with it he could also throw away this day.

He didn't wonder if the copnet would find the phone, they would find it, and if Eller had left evidence on the phone they'd find it, and with it, Eller. He didn't like stealing from the incredibly drunk Asian Corp-Rep this morning, and considering how he felt now, this second theft in his one-day career as a thief was definitely the last one.

Eller needed the phone to gain entry to the Corp Center. The strips of the Corp-Rep's phone pocket were, along with help from Govy's army of software agents in the Corp Center's net, supposed to be enough to fool the Corp Center's identity ware long enough for Eller to get in, and most importantly, back out.

Eller's biz-persona private.stock.holder-look of the expensive super high-resolution satin blue suit flickered, instantly stripping itself from Eller. The deep, deep shimmering blue of the business suit flew away, distorted and smeared, disappearing like smoke in a tornado as the deep blue of public.net projection followed its phone.

The hologram-logo emblazoned blue suit of the Corp-Rep's public.persona Eller had been wearing thanks to the Corp-Rep's phone had, indeed, while on Eller also been hiding a rare bit of real-cloth. It was a well-worn, battleship gray colored, kev-armored, jacket that hung open to show nothing more than the flesh-colored translucence of a skin-tight fibersuit over well-framed, lean, meat.

Eller watched with relief as the phone and persona that had given him the identity codes needed to gain entrance to the Corp Comp Center disappeared. Merely possessing a stolen phone, which was the same as a stolen identity as all identification came from a phone's nose, and stealing ID was worth a lifetime of 911net re-hab downtime. Much longer than the tiny, limited edition, comp-unit he had stolen just a few minutes before would have gotten him. It didn't matter a nano-gnat's itty-bitty butt that this particular comp-unit was worth several million phones or that it was one of only a very few massively parallel, quantum bio-optical, penta-flopper comps on the planet. All packed into a case the size of a package of twenty safe-smoke vaporsticks.

Lev.DN.....Index.....Lev.UP, page 1.....(c) 1996 Lee Skidmore.....Lev.UP