Immersion V1 Strata 7 Jarome and the Scritters (Trade and Barter)


Welcome to Immersion, you have reached Strata 7

Critter from the Book of Immersion V1 Strata 7

Humans have developed uniqueness from animals through a process of cognitive evolution. 
They are exceptional cultural learners and can read situations. 

These skills have enabled them to develop complex trading tools. They rely heavily on these skills to create abstract cerebral and linguistic representations when placing themselves in various situations.

The cultural and socio-political environment in which humans have evolved has led them to acquire the cognitive skills, particularly mathematical, to support a sophisticated disposition along with a capacity for reciprocal cooperation. Humans understand conceptual ideas of property and exchange value. 

Humans are savvy, humans broker deals.



Outside there was an optimistic sun and the people bussied around the market unaware of any of the commotion that had occurred in the bank.

The POS informed Renyke that he had lost negligible battery power and there was no damage to his mechanical or bionic structures.

The robot-dog and the cat had waited patiently outside the bank and now trotted diligently at their owners' sides.

Maybeline returned to Renyke's pocket for a nap.

'You got my *bits?' asked the woman

'For nearly getting us killed?' Asked Renyke contemplating the difference between, irony,  sarcasm and humour. POS began to explain but Renyke shut her out. He really did not want to know at this juncture.

'Listen Mr. whoever you are, there's many a hiccup ahead. You are in the *zones now, you need to get used to the hiccups. 'Sides, I gotta feed my cat. She aint no robot like that mutt.'

The robo-dog gave a little yelp and lowered its head in shame.
Queenie's cat moved closer to Renyke and sniffed the air for any scent of lunch.

Renyke took something from the bag, the smallest nugget he could find, and handed it to Queenie. 

'That is very generous of you,' she said, taking the payment and subtly raising an eyebrow with the tiniest of smiles. The payment was excessive and the cat would eat for a month. Renyke was none the wiser. 

Then Queenie was gone, running into the crowds as lithe as the cat behind her. A blue feather shimmied to the ground. For some reason Renyke was compelled to pick it up and put it in his pocket where Maybeline wrapped it around herself. 

Back on the main street Flex approached smiling and jaunty. Renyke was reassured to see him.

'I need a vehicle Flex, something to get me to where I am going,' said Renyke.

'Yes, yes, yes Mr. Leather Man, where you goin' is where I'm goin'. Let's find a veee-hicle. Jerome, he is the car man, he got cars, and bikes and scoots..... and copters, and airships so they say.'

'Take me to Jerome,' said Renyke.


****

Flex took Renyke into a disused concrete building as the robo-dog curled up and waited outside.

There are the echoes of voices, activity and motor engines being revved from another part of the building. There is a smell of fuel and mumbled communications. Somewhere too there is music.

Flex beckoned Renyke to Jerome's office, a ramshackle room filled with books. More books than Renyke had ever seen. Books were no longer used in most homes or schools and the paper shortages after the warmings had meant that they were no longer being produced commercially. Paper had become heavily taxed and there were also problems with scritters. 

Scritters were large crawling insects that had been genetically modified in a laboratory by the Russian military. They were a fusion of a cockroach and a wasp but there wings had become almost defunct in the process. They could get a few feet above the ground but not for very long. Scritters were highly protective and thus easily trained.

They looked deformed with big insect heads and metal body parts. At birth scritters are born with a soft back. They seek protection from any material that offers a hard shell. Because of the huge landfill areas all around the world, the rubbish of hundred's of years had provided the perfect materials for protection. Plastics and metals were abundant in the *fills and the Urchs and Scritters were generally seen sifting through the piles of discarded trash looking for their personal treasures.

During the Russia China wars scritters had been used to carry tiny incendiary divides on their backs as they were not affected by the nerve gases. But after the wars, the scritters had bred like wildfire, devouring paper and trees and nesting in book spines where the glue offered a perfect cocoon for pupae. Whole libraries had been mutilated by them. They were a scourge on the planet and another reason so many houses were built on stilts in the *Midcast Projects as scritters were terrified of heights.

The more paper they ate, the more they reproduced. Books and paper matter that had not been digitally copied had been devastated and lost forever.

'A car you say?' asked Jerome. 'I got plenty, but the fuel....we got no fuel. We are working on some alternatives, but all prototypes so far. They cut off our fuel after the riots. And the food supplies. I have been missing gummies, I loved those.'

Renyke nodded as Jerome continued....

'Transport is a big problem. You'll be better off walking, my friend, if you can get through the tunnels. But there are booby traps all around the perimeters here in the zones.'

Renyke checks the POS for details but the tunnels are unchartered. 

The POS seemed to be struggling with connection and was operating intermittently.

'I have a hybrid cart,' continued Jerome. 'It runs on solar but only for about 3 hours per full charge if you do under 40km. And if it is a cloudy day, an hour. I can let you take it for 3000 G-bits. It won't get off the ground without jet fuel but it can drive on flat ground well enough. It doesn't hold the road so well, but if you are a good driver, it won't be an issue.'

Renyke asks POS how to drive it but it is glitching again.

'Can you drive?' Renyke asked Flex.

Flex laughed... 'Of course I can. But how far we going, might be better to get a horse'.

Renyke couldn't tell if Flex was joking or not but either way, the prospect of travelling on horseback was not something he relished. He was starting to get a sense fatigue after the fight in the bank despite high battery levels.

A scritter crawls across the floor and Jerome stamps on it. A black tar oozes from under his foot.

Jerome sees Renyke might be changing his mind about the deal. 

'I will take TELL You got some TELL?"

The POS gets a signal......

...TELL: abbreviation of Tellurium, found in copper ore. Used in mobile phones, especially older versions where it was added to other metals improving their strength and hardness and reducing corrosion. Rare due to demise of traditional copper mines. 


Renyke, feeling confused about whether to get the vehicle and how much the exchange was worth, asks POS for advice.

I am not programmed to have opinions and am unable to make a useful prediction using probability. I do not have access to data about the vehicle, it has no computerised system. The seller seems to be shield protected and I cannot assess his reliability. But Redact is within easy walking and running distance for a Mark 3 such as yourself. 

Renyke looks at Flex and then at Jerome. A scritter is crawling up his boot and he throws it off with a kick. He feels a rising panic and a thumping in his chest which he does not recognise. Why was it so important that he not make a mistake? Why was he not able to understand the virtue or danger of the exchange? 

Finally Renyke says, 'I will run.'

Jerome shrugged his shoulders and stamped on another scritter mumbling, 'time waster,' under his breath.

Flex, looking aghast at the prospect of a run, sighed, 'Man, that is not a good idea, *wheelin is safer my friend. It's a good deal!'
Renyke turns to leave the enclosure becoming irritated by the pestering and standing his ground.

Flex mutters in disgust, 'Brightside fucksyfool....'


To be continued
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