As far as Trieste was concerned, it was time to test the limitations of what could be done to her virtual self. The vertigo of dropping into VR still made her head spin and still left her scrabbling for a foothold. For some of their customers, simply being oneself was not enough. They'd worked hard on cybernetics and bionetics, to the point where those logging in could make use of them, so that was what she did. While last trip was all Liszt and fine wine, this trip was [[noembed]url=
]a little more Curve[/url][/noembed] and Cuervo.
First was the enhanced heads up display. Trieste picked up the oculator, holding it up and examining it. Originally someone had programmed in goggles to do this job, but it was found that through some sort of bug that they couldn't track down that the goggles did nothing. So the oculator, which looked something like five-pronged forceps, had been written in its place. The process was quicker and easier than she had thought it would be - a tap, a twist, and a few moments of watering eyes. She could feel a hot, electric tingle running through the back of her eyes, where her optic nerve would be located in her physical body, and then with the next blink the EHUD was there. It was more than a little disorienting to have data streaming across her field of vision, and she nearly fell over. Note to self: require clients to be sitting during the procedure.
Getting her bearings, Trieste stood straight and ran her fingers through her hair. It always seemed to be night in this city that they had created, at least in her area. She preferred it that way most days, and with the EHUD in, she could see everything clear as day anyhow. The lights of the city twinkled below the picture window she liked to spend time near, lighting up her vision like little LED beacons in a sea of green-hazed HUD nightvision. She wondered if this was how the AI saw the world, regardless of whether it was virtual or not. As her eyes flicked back and forth, reading data that only she could see, she was reminded of how his eyes darted when the more synthetic part of him seemed to take over. The thought gave her the faintest of shudders. She wasn't sure whether it was intriguing or disturbing, so she chose not to think about it, instead focusing her attention to the task at, heh, at hand.
She turned from the window and looked down at a small end-table sitting near her. Atop it was a pillow, and atop that was an artificial limb. This was a little more involved than installing the HUD, since she had to install it over the top of her own arm. It was coded to install properly, had been tested on several non-sentient targets before, but it still made her uneasy. She slid her fingers under the cold metal of the wrist and picked it up. The process of installing it over her arm was a little less gruesome than it might have been in realspace. Instead of having to lop off her real arm, all she had to do was lay the artificial one overtop of her own arm, digitized as it was. The metal skeleton sank into her flesh, and it burned exquisitely. She could feel the connections burning up her spine, through the back of her neck and into her brain. Her eyes rolled back in her head for a moment, and she thought briefly that she would end up passing out. Seems like a whole lot of effort to go to...
The sarcastic thought was forgotten as soon as she looked down. The artificial component had installed correctly. The skin written into the program was a lovely shade of silver-grey, neither metallic nor plastic. There was the faintest of mechanical whirs as she bent each finger forward, then back. She made a fist, watching all of the silvery fingers work in concert, then straightened it back out. Everything seemed to be in working order, which was good because Trieste wasn't sure what she would do if her hand stopped working. Probably run down the streets of the city, yelling out in a panic for one of the other engineers. She could see it now - she would never live it down.
Thankfully it was not something she would have to be concerned with. All of her fingers worked, and when she traced the fingers of her left hand across the palm of her right hand, she could feel every touch. It was working. It was working!
She went out on the town. The EHUD was like a cheat code, one that no one else knew about. With a thought, she shifted her view of others so that she saw only their bones. Virtual bones meant little; if only the technology existed in realspace to do such a thing. Probably wouldn't make much money. I know what
would make money
. With a quirk of her lips, Trieste shifted her view to filter out the clothing of everyone on the street. Since they were all programs, there weren't really any of them that Trieste didn't want to see naked. That
would make money off of high school boys, if she had a way to program it out of VR. It was, admittedly, something she had toyed with before.
When she grew bored with playing with the EHUD, the next thing was getting more acquainted with her new right hand. She glanced around her as she paused by a door - she hadn't seen any cops around the city, not tonight or the last trip in, but she didn't exactly want to deal with them. There was no telling what some of the others had programmed into the law enforcement. Once she knew the coast was clear, she caressed the lock on a door. It opened with a satisfying click, and she went in. The marble-floored lobby was dark; it was after business hours. That didn't bother Trieste. Her eyes glowed like a cat's in the nearly-nonexistent lighting, and she crossed to the wall of the lobby without stumbling or hesitating. Laying her glinting palm against the wall, she waited a moment. Waited, waited - there. Her palm sank into the wall as if it were made of putty, and she could feel the surveillance wires under her fingers. A squeeze, and every camera in the museum blinked off. Always wanted to do that.
It was meaningless; there was no need for money in this world, after all. Still, her boots clicked on the marble floor as she perused the collection and made a mental note of what she would take if she had the chance in the real world. There were all sorts of works that she would love to hang on her wall... as long as they were fantasizing, she might as well indulge that particular fantasy.
By the time she woke up, it felt surreal. Her right hand was warm
. She could feel the heat radiating from her palm, and it felt alien. Turning her hand over to look at the palm of it, Trieste touched the tips of her index and her thumb together. Well, good, that one still worked. She went through the rest of the fingers of her right hand, touching thumb to the tips of her middle, ring, and pinky, then did it in backwards order. She felt like there should be a data readout hovering over her field of vision constantly, telling her how her reflexes were doing. The back of her neck tingled.
Hearing the confused voices around and the names flying back and forth, she finally looked up and looked around the room. There was KingBear tweaking his pod. Kythia was looking at something that involved a blender and a billiards ball - Trieste suspected it was porn, in all honesty. There was Aadreal blushing and stammering, and there was Mcsc once more trying to convert Bear to the glue camp. Trieste pursed her lips and hopped off the side of her pod, setting her feet on the floor and hooking her fingers at the waist of her jeans. "I think I'm probably with KingBear most of all. If someone did this it was probably a programmer. So... Yugi006
, I guess." She shrugged her shoulders a little helplessly. "Unless someone has been able to track down what's going on with Biggs' pod and work on getting him back here..."