22:58:30 http://www.demise.tv/?game=721&clip=82800205&res=hdv [Ariel shots of massive explosions, buildings turning into clouds of debris, streets filled with dust, debris, bodies. Sound track is fast heavy music, mix of trance, metal salsa, ragga. Zoom in on crowds running through streets, close up shots of people running, shouting, screaming.]
I've found a safe place behind the garbage trolleys in the alley. God, what a day! The smell is almost too much for me but I barely breathe. Wait. Wait. The yellows have spread out and are searching the alley, I can hear them throwing over boxes, calling "come out, we know you're here." I am in a small long alcove, the garbage pulled in front of me. The garbage trolley in front of me moves, I stop breathing, frozen. My black jacket makes me almost invisible in the dark recess. "He's not here, we're wasting our time," shouts one. "Come on, come on, let's go". Footsteps move away from me. And then, silence.
I don't trust it. Yellows can be tricky. I wait, counting. But the silence remains. I hear the sounds of the larger chaos, but the yellows have gone. I slowly come out of my hiding place and look around. The alley is empty, dark walls supporting the dark orange of the city sky. I check the clock. One hour left.
23:01:20 http://www.demise.tv/?game=721&clip=82877723&res=hdv "Hi, Sally Sin here, reporting live from DD721 in São Paulo. [hand-held camera view shows young woman reporter, mike in hand, behind her a nighttime cityscape] One hour of play left and we're following Taki, youngest ever Demiser, at just eighteen and… [checks watch] twenty-three hours and almost two minutes! Full name Takishi Fukui, from Tokyo, but you all know that… I'm here at Praça de Republica [camera pans down from a high viewpoint to show masses of people in the square]. Rumor has it that Taki is somewhere in the neighborhood. [loud explosion] Oh my GOD! [people running in all directions] There's been a bomb. Another bomb has gone off! There are a lot of people down."
When I was twelve, I did a full-day simulation on www.demise.tv and got a first time score of over a thousand. The app classified me as "Dangerously Resourceful", and five minutes later a rep had pinged me and we were chatting. So it's been about six years of training and planning, though I guess I started much earlier. Twelve is just the official age of consent. The blacks are my Taki Chan buddies, mostly guys my age, some older, from all over the world. I don't know most of them by face or name, we do exploits. I guess the core Taki Chan group has two hundred members. Beyond core, several million Taki Channers, in every country and city, organized into regional and national subchans, untrusted groups, trusted groups, national cores, and so on. Building Taki Chan has been a lot of work but that's how to win Demise. Not to mention everything else.
The yellows are everyone else. Like the Taki Chan slogan, "Who is We? We is everyone except you". Lots of people join sides but since it's just a matter of changing t-shirts, the only rule in Demise is "don't trust no-one". Suffice it to say that anyone wearing a black or a yellow t-shirt on Demise Day is fair game. As am I, of course. And my face is well known, I was a celebrity from the day I signed up, even before my various world tours.
Problem is that it is very hard to hide for long. A demiser needs to move. Move, move, move. We have plans for every city of a million or more, according to the Demise rules. When I was dropped in SP first thing I did was get to the safe house. Thing is, you need to be paranoid. So there's a safe house, and then a real safe house. Only I know where the real safe house is, bought and run through non-Chan chans through a series of legal one-way trapdoor firewalls. No way for anyone along the chain to go upstream. Change of clothes, basic gear, scrambler and weapons, food packs, water, and for emergencies, comms. It's generally stupid to start calling people but in an emergency a wide area alarm call can work, if there are blacks around.
But yellows tend to move fast, and they take the game very seriously. The yellow who scores gets massive karma. So, the rule is move, move, move. If I need to push that red button, it's too late. I'd much rather confront and act.
23:12:59 http://www.demise.tv/?game=721&clip=82879821&res=hdv "Hi, Sally Sin here, reporting live from DD721 in São Paulo. I can report that Praça de Republica was a false alert, that bomb we saw left thirty dead and something like a hundred wounded, mostly civs and yellows. We've had a call from a group calling themselves the Yellow Righteous Faction Army." [cut to video of animated Bugs Bunny] "Eh, what's up doc? Sure, we set that bomb, we hate dem mainstream yellows. Bye now!" [rabbit disappears down rabbit hole] [Sally:] "We're seeing record numbers of casualties this D-Day." [computer generated graphic shows "Black: 252, Yellow: 1,582 Civ: 15,231"] Still no sign of Taki. We're above the city [camera shows ariel view, presumably from a helicopter] and the crowds have dispersed, looking for our Demiser, who's already set the endurance record for his age category." [computer graphics show profile of Takishi Fukui, and five second pop concert clip titled "Taki Chan World Tour"]
Someone calculated that Taki Chan on its way up had more assets than Microsoft Corporation on its way down. Anyhow, the two lines crossed somewhere around my sixteenth birthday. How does a Chan make money? Mostly, from fees and exploits. Members pay to belong, and get karma from taking part in exploits, but all the money goes to the Chan, which sits in a tax free zone. I set up Taki Chan in Croatia, using a new legal AI built by another Chan specializing in fiscal exploits. We got something like fifty million in subsidies just for installing in Zagreb, and flat 1% tax for twenty years. Our M&A activities, leveraging property derivatives, has become big in the last couple of years, mainly thanks to Demise. Our most lucrative exploit was bringing down NYSE through a distributed DoS on their settlement platform, for which Tokyo paid us three percent of gross for ten years. Realignment of the Western Financial System, they called it, a silent thanks to Taki Chan. Also, my dad was on the board of TSE which helped make that deal happen. He told me, "dangerously resourceful is in the genes, Taki".
Technically, advanced electronics are illegal in Demise. But it's not possible to stop it, so it's Tolerated. Obviously the yellows use every satellite, street cam, and low flying spy-eye they can, but at the same time cameras and satellites are useless unless the networks work, and Taki Chan runs most of them, whether or not their owners know it. The yellows are less organized than the blacks, by definition. Karma can't be shared, so they fight over it like dogs over a bone. I got the all clear about an hour after I landed, then I left the safe house.
It was just one o'clock in the morning, and I went down to the old city. I've done plenty of simulations, know São Paulo by heart even though it was my first time there. And my visor augments everything. Even faces from several hundred meters, if it gets a good scan: under a second and I've got a full name and bio. My own face is pretty hard to scan under the thick beard. Just in case someone is watching me. It itches like hell.
23:20:17 http://www.demise.tv/?game=721&clip=82883900&res=hdv "Hi, Sally Sin here again, reporting live from DD721 in São Paulo. We're talking to some yellows here. [camera shows group of young men, maybe eighteen to twenty, none in yellow] [camera swings back to Sally] You're live on Demise TV, what's your name and what are you up to? [swing back to first youth]" "My name is Joa, I'm a Paulistano [cheers from the other young men], we're looking for yellows, we gonna take them down! Taki Chan! Taki Chan!" [more cheers, beer cans open, everyone now cheering and yelling]" [swing back to Sally] "So, something like forty minutes left, let's see if the yellows can find Taki… HEY, WATCH IT!" [camera shakes, obviously a scuffle has broken out behind]
Like any post-carbon megapolis, São Paulo has millions of homeless, mostly men too old and kids to young to do manual work. The kids are feral, they prey on the older homeless, sometimes, more dangerous than the yellows, because they live on the streets and hunt every day, not just D-Day. I've already seen several packs, luckily avoided them. But they're looking for yellows, not me. They love their city, it's their jungle.
Some of the yellows are really good, hunters, who live only for Demise. They'll fly across the world to get to a game, if they can. Taki Chan keeps tabs on everyone who trains online, and our usual rule is, if you're not with us, you're against us. I'm not the first, we've sent something like thirty into the game already. None have won, so far, but each time we learn more about strategies and tactics. The last player, who trained with me for years, made it to twenty-two hours.
When a yellow gets too good, we either recruit them, or take them out. Once a yellow, always fair game, we say. The game never ends, it just goes underground for two months until the next D-Day.
My visor is warning me that there is a group of people a block away, so I turn left to avoid them. Suddenly the red proximity signal flashes. SHIT! Someone has moved in close, and they're not responding to the friend-or-foe. Foe, thus. I up the volume on my ear piece, listen for the movement. Footsteps moving towards me, around the corner. Soft steps, someone walking carefully. I press myself against the wall, squat low, like a drunken homeless man waiting for the dawn. The footsteps round the corner and stop. I look up, see the white face above a yellow shirt. He looks at me, tries to decode the disguise. My silenced 9mm barks, and his head jerks back, and he falls, his visor clattering on the ground. I break it underfoot. That will bring his friends. I take a Semtex puck, a flat black cookie, press the recessed button and place it under his shoulders. When they pick him up, it'll go off. Fair game. I run down the street, and hack an abandoned car. Black, of course.
23:36:02 http://www.demise.tv/?game=721&clip=82902001&res=hdv "Hi, Sally Sin here, reporting live at DD721 in São Paulo. [Sally is outside, surrounded by cheering youths wearing colored shirts] Watch this exclusive action from a street cam in the old industrial area" [cut to CCTV footage of body lying in street then group of dozen or so people approach, run towards the body, handle it, then white light of explosion and end of transmission] "Thirteen more points for Taki Chan, the blacks are really scoring high tonight. I just asked Steve Stevens, spokesman of Demise.TV, what he thinks of the current situation." [video cuts to older man in suit, in TV studio] "Sally, nice to speak to you, I hear it's getting quite hot in São Paulo" [cut to Sally] "Been hot as hell all day, Steve, but tell us what's special about this Demise Day" [cut to studio] "Well Sally, you know that this is every teenager's chance at fame and glory. What's special today is that our Demiser is of course one of the richest and most powerful men on earth." [cut to Sally] "And he's just eighteen!" [studio] [Steve Stevens laughs] "Well, I said, one of, not the. But seriously, the yellows have been fighting each other more than the blacks. And the Paulistanos are giving as good as they're getting. I would not like to be a yellow in this city, tonight." [Sally:] "Thanks Steven for that update. Now, back to SWEET MOTHER OF GOD WHAT WAS THAT?" [huge explosion off screen, camera shakes and suddenly there is screaming and people running everywhere]
We developed and tested endless strategies for Demise. Conventional game play requires making friends with locals really quickly, then waiting it out. It's called "duck and cover". This worked in the early days, before people got clued in about just what it meant to wear the winning yellow shirt. Pretty soon, scores went down to a few hours, and then sometimes as low as a few minutes. No-one has won Demise for over five years now.
Demise is, of course, covered under international treaty, players are immune from any kind of prosecution, even if the - fairly skimpy - rulebook is ignored. Cities don't always like the chaos but it's like making a movie: clear out the city center, bring in the cameras and actors, let it all rip. And a fifty-fifty share of the ad revenue from Demise.TV can fund a city government for a year. Plus, of course the disaster tourists love the mess it leaves behind.
So our strategy, over the years, has been escalation. We don't just try to keep our guy safe, we do as much damage to the location as we can. It's not so much about asking the locals for help as shocking them into a state of violent panic. Of course the bombs are always in the name of some yellow group or other. We call this a "joe job", the angry and violent reaction from locals bounces back on yellows, so as the yellows try to hunt the demiser, the locals hunt them.
Since there are yellow computer networks trying to decode the patterns of violence, we use atomic decay randomization to orchestrate it. There are no patterns, the bombs and fires are unpredictable. This also means more people get hurt but that's fair game. Our lawyers and lobbyists have successfully extended the D-Day zone from its original 5 km radius to as much as 100 km around the drop zone. It's Good for Business. I'd guess nearly a billion people are following this D-Day, most deep in online simulations so realistic they can cause heart attacks in extreme cases.
My clock shows fifteen minutes left. I've driven through mostly empty streets back to near the Praça de Republica, where clean-up crews have taken out the dead and injured, but left everything else. Far too dangerous right now for non-players. There is no-one here yet, but the action is moving back in, and right around midnight everyone should be here.
23:57:50 http://www.demise.tv/?game=721&clip=82981962&res=hdv "Hi, Sally Sin here, reporting live from DD721 in São Paulo where Taki is still up and running. We're following the running fights, it's really incredible. [camera shows ariel view of groups chasing individuals through deserted streets] Paulistano groups are now working with black groups to sweep the streets clean of yellows. If I was a yellow I'd have swapped my colors by now! My god, this is an unheard of level of violence! We've lost count, no-one knows how many deaths there have been by now. [camera zooms in on two yellow-shirted bodies, prone, bleeding] [zoom back out, show Praça de Republica up ahead]
I am sitting at the fountain, and I wait. I peel off my beard, and take off my smelly old street man clothes. Underneath I'm wearing a skin tight in the Taki Chan colors, the ornate dragon logo on my back. There's nothing else to do now. I can hear the shouts and screams, the helicopters, as the street fights converge on the large square. One minute left, then we've won. Winning Demise is what I was made for. It is… victory.
23:59:30 http://www.demise.tv/?game=721&clip=82987001&res=hdv "Hi, Sally Sin here, almost at the end of this amazing DD721 in São Paulo! It looks like Taki's done it, just thirty seconds more and we'll have a winner, for the first time in over five years! [zoom in on fountain in center of the square, augmented camera zoom on face] IT'S TAKI! WE FOUND HIM! HE'S WON! WE HAVE A WINNER!"
Helicopters are buzzing down the avenidas towards the square. In the streets, broken gangs of yellows are being hounded and chased towards me. I stand in the epicenter of the violence. An explosion in a building at the left sends material flying up in a huge cloud that catches one of the news copters. At my right, another huge bang and a cloud of debris rains on the gathering crowds. Still more people are running into the square. Midnight has passed, I've won. I raise my arms and behind me, massive banks of floodlights switch on, and banks of loudspeakers start to play my latest hit.