[s] [long] Friends- Part Six: "Interval with Memos III"

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Scott Robert Dawson

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Feb 8, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/8/97
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[Friends- part six: "Interval with Memos III"]
___________________________________________
In the Lakeview district of Mississauga:

Karol looked at the screen with satisfaction and gratitude. There had
been a reply to his posts! A certain Ed was offering a 386 laptop!
Karol composed a reply and set it aside for encryption; he wanted to
see the rest of the messages.

Suddenly his eyes opened. What was this? "Tightbeam to Cpt. Burnett"?
What was a tightbeam? He didn't remember that option on his version of
BunnyStumper. But his mail reader accepted the message nevertheless
and handed it off to the BunnyStumper software, which also accepted
it.
At the 'Decrypt Now?' prompt, Karol chose 'Save', and the message was
saved to disk. He then quit from the mail reader.

Steve, who had been looking on, said, "Let's look at some more of
these posts." Karol agreed, and started the news reader. They scanned
the headers. Steve said, "This thread for instance... 'Re: Watching
Out...' Hmmm..." His eyes scrolled down the list of names. Suddenly he
stopped. "Look! There's one from a Johnson Morikawa-Smith! Could it be
my friend?"

It was. They read the post, which was in the midst of a thread that
appeared to be discussing the question of who was responsible for
ecological catastrophes. Steve noticed a few more posts from Johnson,
and as they read them, he began to have a bad feeling in the pit of
his stomach. This was confirmed in one of the messages:

"I've gotten to know sone of the people here at Nakatomi-SF rather
well, and we go out after work on Fridays. One or two of them have a
'thing' for stuffed animals and anime, but the same could be said of
some of my friends back home. Heck, Phil even brings a rabbit in a
cage to the pub with him. But it doesn't speak or have great long
fangs or anything. Actually, it's kinda cute."

Both Steve and Karol paled. "Actually kinda cute-" they said, and
looked at each other.

Karol slammed his fist on the table. The amber display of the monitor
flickered. "Steve," he said, "This is bad. Johnson is in greater
danger than I thought. This sounds like BunnySymp work. We've got to
do something."

Steve replied, "BunnySymp?"

"Bunny Sympathizers."

"There are Humans who would aid the Bunnies?"

"Most certainly. A few Humans honestly support the Bunnies (who knows
why), but the vast majority have been misled. The Bunnies are masters
at subtly guiding and then twisting legitimate organizations to meet
their ends. This whole 'Gaia Protector' thing they have in their FAQ
is a classic example. They've taken a real Human dissent,
environmental activism, fortified it with a few grudges and an
anti-corporate/anti-government edge, and are using the unholy mess as
bait to pull in the weak-willed and weak-minded."

There was a silence.

Eventually Steve said, "Now what?"

Karol replied, "We can't do anything right at the moment. First,
though, I'd like to see what this message is." They shut down the
newsreader and logged out of the Net. Karol started the decryption
process on the message he'd saved earlier. "This'll take a while.
Let's get some dinner."

An hour or so later, dinner and dishes done, they turned back to the
computer. The decryption was done. Karol read the message with
mounting excitement. "This is a message from Rick Andersen, the
Commander of the AoF! He welcomes us back..." Karol continued to read,
and a smile spread across his face. "Reinforcements!!"

He continued to type. Steve dropped into a chair across the room and
appeared to relax. Time passed.

Steve suddenly thought of his room. The pressure of novelty and events
had entirely disrupted his normal patterns; he hadn't thought of his
former life for a while. Then he wondered, "My former life??? Why did
I use that phrase? I'll have to think about _that_ later too..." He
jumped up.

"Karol! I need to get back to my room, talk to my landlord, pick up my
UI check..."

Karol replied,"That may be a little dangerous. Your place and mine are
undoubtedly being watched. You know that your front window was smashed
in, probably by the Bunnies that I ambushed. I-"

Steve interrupted: "I need to clean up my room, too. And there's the
fridge. They weren't all that neat when I left either..."

Karol considered. "Well, I suppose we could cruise by. In the
daylight, tomorrow, mind you. But tomorrow, we'll need to do a few
more things too... I've sent some messages: a reply to Commander
Andersen, and to a few other people, and we need to meet one of those
people, and also pick up a package. It'll be a busy day."

______________________________
South of Bancroft, Ontario:

Techbun Acorn was speaking to Chief Rabbit Bushy.

"We've gotten several replies from our message to the San Francisco
warrens." They were in the 'comm tech' burrow. "Warrens in the Palo
Alto area, near Carmel-by-the-Sea, and in San Francisco city itself
have offered help. But the most interesting message is this one from a
Commandant Herringbone." Acorn handed Bushy a message printout. "We
have a navy?!?"

Bushy began to read, then said, "Apparently yes. Of course, it's not
the sort of thing you'd see around _here_ a lot..." He finished the
message. I'm glad that this Herringbone has decided to honour our
request. We should send him a thank-you note." He paused, then said in
a softer tone, "I definitely would *not* want to be a Fudd in that
city..." They shuddered.

Acorn paused, then said, "Here's the message from Xerox PARC
TechWarren. It looks like some of their sympathizers have already
found Morikawa-Smith! Listen: 'We'd be glad to help you, if we could
share the data he provides.' Later, they say, 'One of our Sympathizer
circles may already have found this man. One of our lead operatives,
Dimples, an exceptionally cute white doe, regularly travels with a
Human sympathizer named Phil Morrison. Recently a new employee joined
Phil on his regular after-work gatherings- a Canadian named Johnson,
not John. Dimples got a good look at him, and yes, he seems to match
the picture you supplied...'"

"Great! Of course Algonquin Main will have to clear the info-sharing,
but I don't think that'll be a problem. They're always looking for
tech info for that... project... of theirs." Bushy seemed uneasy for a
moment. "And I _know_ Main would welcome trading with Xerox PARC
warren- they have access to Stanford University and Silicon Valley."

"So let's reply to Commandant Herringbone, and politely and
appreciatively stall Xerox PARC until we get clearance from Algonquin
Main. Any other messages?"

"Yes," replied Acorn, "Golden Gate Park warren says that they'd be
glad to watch for Morikawa-Smith, but that they have no other info.
And Carmel warren extends help, but would like to establish relations
with what I take to be our Feelings buns. Evidently they're a centre
for propaganda and such."

"Well," said Bushy, "we can kick that one upstairs to Feelings Leader
Ruffles in Alginquin Main. Leave it with me; and send a thank-you note
to Golden Gate Park."

They paused and contemplated what had just been said. Then Acorn
turned to his BUNIX terminal, and Bushy went off to find the warren's
Feelings leader, Twinkle.

_______________________________________________________________________
A freeway service centre just west of Trenton, Ontario, the next
day:

Karol and Steve were sitting facing the window, away from the other
people in the McDonald's 'restaurant'.

A battered delivery van suddenly slewed into a parking spot just
outside, stopping perfectly in position with its nose millimetres from
the window. It seemed to have been through least one rush-hour battle;
carefully patched areas on its side reminded Steve of a spray of
bulletholes. On the side was painted a logo of a crossed-out bunny,
the words "FuddEx: a world of support on time", then below in smaller
letters "International Freephone +800 3833 3948" and "From North
America, dial 011-800-FUDDEX-4-U".

A young man in worn sand-coloured coveralls jumped out, carrying a
clipboard. He entered the restaurant and looked around. Karol got up
and moved toward him, saying, "FuddEx?"

"Yeah." The courier driver grinned. "Your name?"

Karol replied, "Karol Burnett, Army of Fudd (Toronto Office)." The
driver nodded and said, "I have a box for you. It's out in the van.
Follow me."

Karol motioned for Steve to follow. They went outside. The driver went
around to the rear of the van and opened the door. He pulled a largish
box to the edge of the van's door and presented the clipboard to
Karol. "Please sign here."

Karol signed. Steve noticed that the clipboard had some sort of small
computer built onto it, and, as Karol signed, his signature was
reproduced on a screen above the paper form. The driver watched the
screen until a light flashed green; then he tore off the sheet and
handed it to Karol. Then he noticed Steve's look, and said, "Yeah,
we're connected. We've got that international '800' number, and we've
got satellite too." He turned to Karol and said, "Need help getting
that to your car?"

Karol said, "Let's open it up first." He opened the box to reveal a
largish laptop computer, a stack of manuals, several boxes of disks,
and a number of power cords and other accessories. "Good! Ed found a
12VDC car hookup! That'll save us a stop at Canadian Tire at the very
least." He turned to the driver and said, "All okay. Thanks! Let's get
this to the car." Steve and Karol each grabbed an end of the box, and
they began to move it to Karol's car.

"No problem," the driver grinned. "We're here to serve- it if wasn't
for you guys, my life would be a lot more boring and I'd probably have
to watch an unhealthy amount of daytime television. Take care, and may
Elmer go with you!" He jumped back in the van.

Steve balanced the box on the trunk of the car as Karol opened the
rear door.

The driver of the FuddEx van nodded to himself, then backed out and
drove off.

[end of Part Six. Next part: "Meanwhile, in San Francisco..."]

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