Image from Bernd Helfert
By Damien Grace/ 'Ernst Stavro Blofelt'

First Published in Voices Future Tense (2008)

"What's the matter Mr Fleischmann?"
"Ahh, it's this new quantum compiler I just bought -it's a goddam pile of shit!"
"Lemmie see... why no wonder! That's not an ArgotekTM Quantum Compiler!"
"Argotek, who are they?"
"Why they're the industry standard for complete commercial and domestic quantum solutions! -Here look!"
"WOW! -That's neat!"
"And fast too! Plus its power requirements are a billion times more economical than other leading brand's quantum compilers. Here, why don't you use mine!"
"Gee thanks Bill!"

Argotek- because everything else is a Pile of Shit.

This is regarded as the earliest example of the Liberadvert movement that appeared during the genesis of hyper-syndication. No hu, su, not even a po, indeed no biological would have the metaphorical guts to sanction such adverse advertising policy. But to the bizbot that came up with the slogan, it made perfect sense. And made emself, and eir masters an insurmountable fortune. Of course, it also completely revolutionised the legal world, vast arrays of legal expert systems hogged the bandwidth with their spirited chattering. A marketing renaissance was on the cards. The rules were being rewritten. And as for Argotek themselves, they had already assembled an extensive and exhaustive team of AI subroutines, their purpose? To draft a declaration of what the company's officially vague and timid definition of a "pile of shit" really meant so as to protect them from an inevitable reprisal. And embedded in the advert there was a long-winded legal document to this effect.
The original Argotek board of directors (who were all human of course) initially wanted to copyright the term "piece of shit", but this was considered to be a foolish move, since anyone conducting an old-style Boolean netscan with that term would receive a long, endless list of documentation concerning the name Argotek. And it would make the company look like idiots.

It is now widely accepted that the Liberadvert movement was one of the major factors that contributed to the formation of a once-small freezone federation known as the No Coercion Zone, now known universally as the NoCoZo. Some historians still argue that the name is in fact related to old Terran organised crime syndicates, ran on ethnic lines. Most notably the Cosa Nostra and the Yakusa, who did indeed share similar values and trade similar items to the early NoCoZo, however, despite the loss of much historical data in the advent of the Great Nannoswarm, a similarity of pronunciation does not carry much weight in the eyes of respected historian systems.
Indeed NoCoZo's sentiment towards organised crime could be summed up thus;
If one indeed possessed adequate organisational skills, then they would never, in a million years, be considered criminals. Rather entrepreneurs, pioneering new market niches.

Today the NoCoZo is without a doubt one of the biggest, most widespread and most powerful polities in the known galaxy. And it's no exaggeration to say their rate of expansion can be measured in light-years-per-second. They terraform sleepy solar systems and turn them into theme-globes, they turn religious beliefs into super-franchised revenue-rakers. Likewise they also turn corporate mascots into deities. Some see the NoCoZo as a threat, others as a memetic virus, some like the way they do business, and others, like Brey Manton, saw his neighbouring NoCoZo region as a safari of psychotics.

"This place creeps me out hu!"
"Why?!" Brey pointed at a far-distant figure on a LevboardTM; "Look at dat crazy dread mudda fukka! Looks like he's gottan octapus grafted to his head."
"You dumb fuck, you tryin' to tell me you ain't seen wunna dem before? -Sheet!"
"No -obviously not!"
"Why there's billions of 'em around here", Laney sneered, "they're called The Octapus Hedz."
"Why the fuck would you want an octapus grafted to your head?"
"Hah! Why wouldn't you want an octapus grafted to your head?!" Laney gave Brey that special type of grin he always gave to Brey to piss him off, "that's what they'd be askin' you."
"So you can get ink on your face every time you sneeze...?"
"Or you could attach your face to a cruiser every time one goes past..."
"Yeah right! Why didn't I think of that!"
"Whatcha mean hu? I'm fuckin' serious!"
"Fuck, f'reel?"
"Fuck! Cozzers huh?"
"Yep, fucking Cozzers! You try fuckin' livin' wid 'em!"

They stood silently for a moment, and the fractal rabble of the tube's assorted commuters washed over their senses in a sea of harmonic delirium.
A nearby foglet, like a nebulous marshmallow took this opportunity to wibble up towards Brey.
It whisked itself, like a tiny tornado, until it finally detonated into a puffy ball of fuzz.
It hovered there, and gently cooed at him in a dainty voice as two gaping cartoon eyes winked at him with long feminine lashes.
"Hey handsome, lookin' for a date?"
Laney started screeching with laughter once more.
"Hey, c'mon there Brey, be nice -I think she likes you!"
Brey looked up at the thing again, tiny red cartoon love-hearts drifted a few centimetres from its head and burst with sappy, popping sounds. The eyelashes flapped again, its wide-eyed stare was locked upon him -it was sighing to itself dreamily.
"You fucking asshole! Stop that fucking routine now!"
"I can't Brey, sorry, once initiated it'll run for four days, and no more. But 'till that time your gonna break a lotta hearts- you dirdee dawg!"
It was a relatively harmless trojan that Laney had installed on Brey's companion system (as snored loudly in a dozy drunken oblivion.) It done no damage whatsoever to the systems integrity. However Brey's integrity, that which could be argued over, was not so lucky. Now his companion system emitted a stream of virtual pheromones, the result of which made every NoCoZo NannopetTM of the female variety stalk him with sexual propositions. And there's was nothing no more comical, and strangely saddening to watch than a horney nannopet fawning over you.
The thing had sidled up to Brey's cheek now, rubbing off it, purring like a rosy little kitten.
"I'll get you for this Laney..."
Laney had doubled over from laughter, and all around the crowd were now looking on, murmuring, giggling, jeering and whispering witty remarks.
"Mark my words Laney! I'm 'a gonna fucking get you for this!"
"Mmmm, you skin so soooooft!"
"Gedda fuck off me!!"
"Oh you kids!"
Brey reached for it and plucked it from his face. As his fingers touched it squeaked a little, and the sound was one of unmistakable orgasmic excitement. Brey fanned the air franticly but still it clung to his hand like glue. Laney just about managed to catch his breath and gasp;
"Hehehe -looks like you just found her G-spot Brey!"
Eventually he shook the thing loose and pulled out a gun.
It was a mean looking gun, but it was one already scanned by the 'Cozo Angelnet.
When he pulled the trigger the muzzle bubbled forth with a giant blob of shit-coloured ooze.
The ooze took the form of a bloated imp, mostly belly, with tiny, undersized wings. These wings flapped furiously to keep the imp airborne, and every so often it would duck and the imp would pound its wings harder to stop from plummeting to the station's floor.
As it drew up to the nannopet it reached behind its back and magically produced a giant cartoon mallet five times its size. It struck the flustered pink ball with an almighty wallop. There was a resonant clang, and a tiny hurt shriek. And when the nannopet's eyes once again looked upon Brey there were large globulous tears in there. Bright azure, flooding the floor below it, and the sound of the stricken creatures pained whimpering bore into his soul.
The creature was evidently broken-hearted, and perhaps it was even dying. And foolishly, he thought, he felt like a total jerk. Even more pathetic still, he thought Laney's antics were completely insensitive. Especially when the sound of the pet's owner began to wail alongside it.

MacromartTM.^ was quite possibly one of the NoCoZo's largest orbital structures. Which pretty much puts it high on the list of largest orbital structures in the known galaxy. This list includes many of the more colossal Galactic Wonders; the most impressive of the curious orbital artefacts that had been created by alien civilisations millions of years before Terran fish developed a desire to live off the land. But Macromart^.TM was a special type of galactic wonder without equal, and without any rivals.
It's draughts-system, the illustrious SYSTENE, had, some 370 years previous, designed and engineered it in accordance to its current aesthetic fetish. That of post-modern Industrial Age Terran architecture.

At such a time, during the middle of the 20th Century, shortly after the planet's biggest war, humankind had only but begun to realise the awesome power of the atom. The debate raged as to the correct utilisation of this frightening new energy source. Some saw this allegedly clean, safe and renewable source of energy in a utopian light, something which would profoundly benefit mankind. Meanwhile others, in a frantic race for global martial supremacy, continued to explore its potential for weapons of mass destruction in order to safeguard their memetic ideology.
In this strange and politically unsure time, a Terran architect known as Van Neck and an engineer named Andre Waterkeyn wished to commemorate the scientific progress of mankind by building a structure designed to resemble a molecular model. Inside would be a foyer, which would serve as an educational centre advocating the safe and peaceful use of nuclear energy. This structure they named The Atomium.
The Atomium consisted of numerous globes, connected to a central globe by branchlike corridors to form a cube. The cube stood on one corner, upon the bottom sphere. It was comprised of the crude masonry and primitive metallic alloys of the time. And for that time its full height, some 102 meters, was considered a rather interesting and amazing engineering feat. It was, at that time, considered one of the most profound statements of the Futurist art movement.

MacromartTM -the structure that SYSTENE built- was comprised mostly of diamonoid. Each individual sphere has a volume comparable to a small moon. These moonlets revolved rapidly to a maintain stable gravity within. And were connected by the Tube system, these representing the branches.
Inside the diamondoid walls of these tubes enormous photonic conductors zapped information from sphere to sphere and back to the central hub. Other traffic travelled inside these on the main Tube system. This consisted of a vacuum, wherein a high-speed shuttle system ferried thousands of passengers inside on invisible magnetic rails. These traveled, one atop and alongside the other, in their respective honeycomb compartments. And docked with the spheres thanks to the automatic assistance of the MacromartTM AI known as BIGBUX.
It had taken little under 102 years to complete. Ironically enough, this was exactly the same figure as the Atomium's metric height. And, it too, was built, much like its Terran inspiration, as a tangible celebration of scientific achievement- in this case, that of the NoCoZo.

The main hub of MacromartTM was a vast starport, where billions of sentients would arrive and depart between the calm confines of the Xanadu 4 wormhole network. The surrounding space around Xanadu 4 was forever besieged by a torrent of traffic as, from all over the galaxy, strange and glamorous merchant craft and tawdry tourist shuttles impatiently awaited their docking clearance as the customs expert systems meticulously validated their immigration certificates and any or all documentation they wished to access. Other systems performed an exhaustive security sweep, a systems scan, a profile scan, and, most importantly, the Auditors done extensive credit rating checks.
For deadbeats were certainly not welcome in the NoCoZo.

Of course it was quite possible to ensure that one got inside quicker than others. Indeed the MacromartTM expert systems were quite a finicky bunch. And, were someone to employ proper protocol, it indeed served to grease the bureaucratic axles somewhat. Helped to induce inexplicable cache-memory erasure malfunctions on the part of the sundry expert systems. Thus ensuring quick and anonymous entry to the area.
This, far from being frowned upon by the NoCoZo, was considered as a vital courtesy to many of its more exotic patrons. Otherwise, it was reasoned, proper business could never be done.
And it was for this very reason that, right at that moment, two very scraggly human types were now standing, squashed, inside the claustrophobic confines of a Tube. Their destination was K Globe. Specifically Level 18, Sector M14 of K Globe. This area was known to most, or most of those who knew of its existence, as Da Jungle.

Da Jungle was a lush tropical bazaar, much of its surface covered in steamy lukewarm water. The place was mainly inhabited by a jabbering mob of miscellaneous Zoeifan emigrants. Whose characteristically sedate outlook had stamped their opinion on the region, hence they advertised it with the customary juvenile verse;
Virch and vices, freaks and splices, herbs and spices, all sorts of nices! Citizens from the Zoeific Biopolity are certainly biologically diverse. Everything from humans, splices, provolves and assorted crazy things. They are very much an ecologically-minded power. And, from a diplomatic viewpoint, were startlingly progressive and fiendishly clever.
To some they're seen as a utopian power, to others as the most bastard sell-out in existence. This was because they had blended big industry and rallied corporate sponsorship to help spread their green message. Two apparently conflicting ideals, which they had blended seamlessly.
Indeed the Biopolity had its friends and its enemies, but mostly it had its economic allies. And here, within the NoCoZo, their traders began to thrive. In fact, many done so well that they never got around to going home. Therefore countless generations of species began to flourish in the Zoeific area of MacromartTM.

Laney and Brey were both glad to alight the Level 18 Tube at Congo-Bongo Alpha station.
And Brey was not in the least bit surprised to see an Octopus Hed slam his LevboardTM upon the platform and whisk past him with a cheeky grin.
The surrounding area was undoubtedly the most bizarre terrain Brey had ever seen. Unlike Laney, who was a remarkably well-traveled individual, Brey had never been on Zoeific Biopolity territory.
Not that Da Jungle was officially that, but then the NoCoZo was accepting to all types of peoples- so long as they had 'nuff creds.

Tall, towering super-structures dominated the skyline. Inside thousands of bionts lived, worked and engaged in leisurely pursuits. (Many of which some of the more conservative clades considered grossly immoral.) These structures were fashioned from some radiant emerald polymer. Streets like streamers were fastened to them. And on them people strolled amidst lumbering beasts and noiseless hydrogen-powered ground vehicles.
Directly below the platform, a verdant vista sprawled as far as the eye could see. A bountiful garden of pleasures wherein the workers would go to meditate amidst the rich and vibrantly coloured flora and fauna that thrived within the thick and muggy clime.
And right at the top, far, far above it all, the hammock-like skyscape tapered off into a mangled mesh of chalky stonework. It was here where Laney pointed with a sullen expression;
"It's a long hike up there, I hope you know that. Folk round here don't want much to do with the Goyles. But still, they won't care much if we do. That's the beauty of these dudes, nobody cares much about what anyone does 'round here. They're too busy living lives of unadulterated bliss."
"Yeah hu, I heard aaawl about their, y'know, meditation techniques? Think I'd like to try summa dat. And their whatsit, their Karma Hooka?"
"You wanna get stoned, and you wanna get laid", Laney replied, "yeah, I hear you hu -all in good time, bro, all in good time. Bud first, first we have to take care 'o business. An' since no one round here's gonna wanna help us get up there, we gotta do it the hard way."
"What? You mean?!"
"Uh-huh. We gotta climb!"
"AAAAWWW- fuck maaaan!"
"Sorry bro, bud we gotta meet this fukker in 3 hours from now. 'Fact we made good time. If it weren't for Cola, I don't think we'd have made it at all. We'd still be sitting in the ship awaiting docking clearance."
"And what a damn shame that would be!"

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