Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Every Silver Lining has a Cloud

Crickett Hutchinson gave me: ostrich, June, purple, octopus, cellular, daffodil, banner

Given that collection, I naturally thought cyberpunk. No? Well, I did. I may also still be in a bit of an apocalyptic mood from yesterday. As such, the bright and shiny world of 2045 suffered The June Events.

In the late 1980's, an interesting new player appeared on the public utility scene. Daffodil Corp was buying up worthless desert land and covering it with solar panels and windmills. In 1987, it began construction on a number of enormous tower complexes (now referred to as "ostriches" due to an odd resemblance to the bird). In 1989, these tower complexes all went online simultaneously.

The dream of Nikola Tesla had been made manifest. Everywhere in the world, all a person had to do was stick a copper rod in the earth to get free electricity right out of the air. And all of that electricity was generated through clean, renewable means.

Over the course of the next decade, engineers at Daffodil discovered a new and unique principle. By generating complex oscillating waves in the electrical energy from each of the ostriches, information could be transferred. By 1995, we had a global internet, with little infrastructure required. By 2001, the technology properly supported voice communication. By 2007, every television in the world streamed content through its power cable. The world was connected by a single cellular network.

Unlike the power, though, Daffodil did not give away this access for free. Users had to pay a fee for access. This fee was never much individually. Multiplied by 6 billion users, though, sent Daffodil from a bizarre non-profit case study to the most powerful economic force in the world very quickly.

Naturally, other telecommunications industries objected. Anti-trust laws were invoked. But, for reasons that were never particularly clear, the governments never tried to shut Daffodil down. They seemed to be quite happy for a private enterprise that had no apparent political ambitions, required no eminent domain land be ceded to them, and never looked to gouge constituents to function as a massive utility.

Things began to shift in 2033. A small 'zine known as The Banner published a series of articles on Daffodil. The articles were not exactly hard-hitting journalism, and at first hardly stood out at all against a background noise of conspiracy theories. Daffodil kept copies of every piece of information that flowed across their networks. Daffodil had massive server farms that kept tabs on the GPS chips in every cell phone around the world. Daffodil got all of its start-up funds from The Illuminati. Daffodil had bent the governments of the world to their will by threatening to turn off the power. It was oddly coherent and referenced a number of actual documents, but that was the only thing that distinguished it.

Until Daffodil killed it.

Daffodil had never gotten involved in the actual content game. It was strictly a pipeline, and people were free to host whatever they wanted. In the history of the internet, Daffodil had only taken down a handful of sites, and those had been hosts to serious viruses. This was the first site they had ever taken exception to based on what it was saying. This was enough to make a number of people sit up and take notice.

A copy of the Banner articles started floating around the hacker sites. It was eventually revealed that the author had, at one time, been a senior engineer at Daffodil. The author had died very shortly after the first article had been published. Hackers, journalists, and conspiracy nuts all started pulling at the threads exposed by The Banner.

They discovered that it was all true.

Daffodil started a desperate campaign to shut it all down, to discredit it, and to make it go away. A group of hackers formed a group that would come to be known as Octopus. They were intent on exposing the truth for all to see. They also became terrorists, striking at Daffodil facilities and personnel. Daffodil began striking back, with increasingly violent means. The truth was out there, though, and people were unhappy with being deceived. Shops, houses, and even some government facilities began adding purple to their signs to indicate that they stood with Octopus, and would give shelter and assistance to any Octopus freedom fighter.

Then came 2045. Seven leaders of Octopus were arrested and executed in March. There was outrage, but also great fear. On June 1, Octopus began their campaign of vengeance. DDoS attacks targeted key Daffodil servers. Viruses were unleashed on their networks. Banks that held their money were hacked, and billions of dollars simply vanished. The television networks became overrun with pirate signals broadcasting nothing but purple screens, making them nearly unusable. This all culminated on June 24th with the bombing of over thirty ostriches, seventeen of which were taken completely offline.

The power grid collapsed. The internet collapsed. The phone network collapsed. The financial systems collapsed. Everything collapsed.

It's now September of 2045. Daffodil is trying to bring the power system back online. But many people, including governmental leaders, are questioning if we should allow them to. Perhaps this is exactly what the world needs. A year or so of chaos, but then rising again free of the yoke of Daffodil. Can humanity as we know it survive a year of utter chaos? Which is more important, freedom or civilization? And what can a few highly motivated individuals do to shape the future, or at least secure a comfortable place in it?


  1. OMG! It's all true! Take it down before they come for you!

    I mean...ah I don't know you or what you're talking about. Prank caller! Prank Caller!

  2. Get to a purple site, immediately!