Saturday Storytime: Sunlight Society

Margaret Ronald is the author of the Evie Scelan urban fantasy novels. This short story is nothing like those. It’s also not your average superhero story.

He’s entirely serious, and of all the members of the shadow orgs, he embodies those values the most. And yet I can’t help myself. “‘To protect the weak, the innocent, and the defenseless from the indignities, wrongs and outrages of the lawless, the violent and the brutal,'” I quote. Glendower shoots me a sharp look.

Maxentius, though, hasn’t noticed. “Yes! Exactly.” He shakes my hand a second time, beaming, and nods to Glendower. “I must be off. Good luck — I hope we’ll see you here again.”

I watch him go. He rescues kittens; that much is a matter of record. It’s part of why there’s now a cleanup detail assigned solely to him. The shadow orgs may prize their secrecy, but Maxentius does make a useful distraction. And, after all, they are all on the same side.

I shouldn’t have made fun of him. It’s not his fault he’s an innocent.

Glendower’s watching me, but unless he’s a nethead — and I know he’s not — he can’t see everything I’m doing. “I’ve set up a contact terminal for you,” he says. “We’d been meaning to change out our security, but good netheads with clearance are few and far between, and I’m afraid we were caught with our trousers down. The virus doesn’t seem to be actively hostile, but my projections show it stopping work outright if it overloads any more of our systems. At the moment it’s benign, just irritating.”

“I can imagine.” Twenty years ago, we’d have been fine with a microsecond lag; forty years, and a five-second lag was nothing. But technology spoils us — I should know, I’ve got a few dozen terabytes’ worth of it in my head. I switch from wireless to node work, and put my hands on either side of the contact terminal, relying on the points wired into my fingertips to carry me in. “I can upgrade some of your security while I’m here, but it’ll just be a patch-up job till I can come back, and I don’t yet have clearance for a second visit. You sure you couldn’t fix it yourself?”

Glendower shakes his head. “It’s rapidshift. I just don’t have the speed to keep it from mutating as I’m working on it. That’s nethead work.”

Of course it is; I created the damn virus.

Keep reading.

Saturday Storytime: Sunlight Society

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