Sorry for the delay in getting the second part of this posting out – I’ve been working a lot. I’m sorry about that too, but that’s a whole other rant – for now, back to rain gear – this time from an Ichi perspective…It’s a lot different if you’re Ichi. You actually have options that don’t involve crime.
If you can afford it, there are whole RA1N-C1TY-specific lines of clothing (like those designed by HAYARI fashion guru Peter 6) that have hard-core rain protection woven right into the fabric. There are a number of different polymer blends, depending on the style of the item and whether it’s primarily inner or outer wear, but they all have one thing in common – well, actually two – the corrosion protection they offer is absolute – but so is the price.
That’s why you get so many black-market knock-offs like the one I was stupid enough to buy. It’s a consequence of what happens when you juxtapose Ichi style-obsession against cost and the real that if you don’t do something to protect your wardrobe or yourself, prolonged exposure to the rain on high-H2SO4 days will eat through your clothes – and eventually your skin.
There are other options like sonic umbrellas or rain-shields. Attractive until you realize they haven’t debugged the tech yet. If you don’t know, sonic umbrellas are those hand-held six-inch wands that everyone was carrying on the runways this season. They scan your body height then project a concentrated sonic pulse that goes up from the tip of the wand and opens like a mushroom cloud above your head. The cloud forms a protective circle around you so any incoming rain just bounces off, with none of the style/portability issues of oldschool umbrellas.
Killer idea – until somebody discovered the sonic pulse plays havoc with your mobile signal. Literally a killer idea if your mobile is an implant vs. a handheld. There’ve been a couple of deaths – where the signal-interference from the wand got so severe it shorted someone’s implant and caused them to brain hemorrhage. As-typical where there’s a grief/profit interface, litigation is pending.
Somebody came up with a workaround – sonic shields. It’s basically the same idea as the wands, but they clip onto your clothes and project the sonic field around your entire body. Broadening the field makes it micro-permeable enough to allow for mobile penetration and eliminate the no-signal=no-pulse potential, but there are proximity issues. Like any urban real RA1N C1TY is verycrowded, and if you bump into somebody wearing a shield, depending on your acceleration or theirs, there are plenty of slapstick/multiple-fracture opportunities on both sides of the collision.
Sometimes the tech issues can take humor to levels beyond the slapstick-obvious. Like last summer when a veryIchi/verybitchy woman got stuck for several hours in a revolving door when her shield didn’t shut off in time and jammed the door operating mechanism. They actually had to use a jaws-of-life bot to get her out and she was yelling at the bot and anyone else in sight the whole time. Somebody streamed a video of the episode onto P-NET and stock options for the company that made the shields did a full-impact face plant.
Last – but never-ever-ever least in an Ichi fashion-choice-driven world – there are rain-block cosmetics. Some are clear creams, but you can also get a whole menu of makeup/blush/gel options that will keep out just about anything. There were glitches with these when they first came out too – everything from mild skin allergies to violent scarring reactions, but these were pretty much resolved by testing on third-world subjects who’d biopimped themselves for cash before the cosmetics made it to first-world counters/websites.
Risk factors notwithstanding – if you’re Ichi or clone-perfect, you do what you have to do to remain verystyle. What’s clone-perfect you ask? Full disclosure next post. Until then, here’s more Kiku.
IV It began in the usual way – getting her comps burned on HOLODISK – what seemed like an endless treadmill of go-sees that went on for months. She’d moved out during that time. Into a three bedroom flat that she shared with four other models – two males, two females. She was surprised her father’d agreed to that. He’d even helped her out with the occasional CREDITCHIP deposit so she could do it. Perhaps it wasn’t so surprising. This way he didn’t have to see her – didn’t have to be reminded of his failure as a perfectly moral human being. During her first few months on her own Kiku’d done other things her father wouldn’t have approved of. She’d experimented with bisexuality with one of her female roommates – she’d found out the gender of her partners didn’t make any difference to her. She’d experimented with drugs – she’d found she enjoyed the endorphin-based ones best. Mostly though – she’d experimented with different looks to see where they’d take her.
At first nothing seemed to be taking her anywhere at all – then Yoshi suggested what she needed was a makeover. Yoshi was verygood that way – he was verybright – very perceptive. He was able to look at a situation and tell you exactly where the problem was – how to solve it. He’d started out as just another roommate – he’d wound up becoming Kiku’s best friend since she’d left her father. He’d also helped shape where she was now as profoundly as any surgery.
Yoshi was gay – so Kiku didn’t have to worry about their relationship ever becoming anything more than friendship. She preferred that – being with a man and not having to worry about them having sex. Kiku enjoyed the idea of sex – it was a large part of what fashion was about. The act of sex made her feel uncomfortable though. There was something invasive about it – it made you too vulnerable. Even if you were doing it with somebody you didn’t really care about – you still had to open up to at least some degree. You had to let down your mask – that left you violated. Submitting that much was something you did only for the beautiful pain of the surgery – never for anything else – anything else was – unclean. Cybersex was unclean too – a marriage of the technology that created the machines with the impurity that meant letting someone else touch you. Kiku’d slept with her female roommate to see if it was just sex with men that made her feel that way – the feelings she’d had with the roommate were identical. Sex worked for Kiku only at a distance – it was safer that way.
Yoshi wasn’t like that – he had sex a lot. Sometimes he and Kiku would go out together to watch men. They’d sit in a booth at the SOUNDGASH and make small talk about this or that member of the club’s male population – later Yoshi would usually try to pick one of the men up. He enjoyed being with Kiku because she enjoyed watching. A couple of times she’d even watched while Yoshi and the man he’d picked up had sex. That wasn’t why she went with him though – she went to listen to Yoshi talk about fashion. Yoshi was vain that way. He loved to talk about .FASHION – loved to show off how much he knew. He wasn’t much older than Kiku – but he’d been around .FASHION since he was thirteen because of an older lover he’d had. He knew a lot and could usually tell where things were going – that was why he’d suggested a makeover. He’d said that instead of trying to look more like the Yoro-Amerikan models on PLANETNET – Kiku should take advantage of the fact that she was N1PP0NESE. After all – as bad as things were getting – N1PP0N was still safer than much of Yoroppa and Amerika. People in Yoroppa/Amerika knew that – N1PP0N was becoming trendy since the country had declined. N1PP0NESE culture was no longer a threat – now it reminded the Yoroppa no/Amerika-jin of things before – when your day-to-day wasn’t a constant state of any-second-now tension while you waited to see if the hyped-as-just-recently-over anti-terrorist war in Amerika really was a done deal – when you didn’t have to do a weapons check as part of your daily routine before going to work – when you didn’t have to make sure the EMERGENCY RESPONSE LOCATORCHIPs on your children were working properly. The same need that kept tech-paraphernalia a fetish in N1PP0N was turning the symbols of 1CH1 daily life into the country’s hottest export since designer drugs. Yoshi’d said that nostalgia about the imagined security of the past was a verypowerful motivator. He’d also said that if Kiku was smart she’d use it to her advantage. Then he said the thing she’d been hoping he’d say most of all – if she wanted to exploit her looks to the greatest advantage, it would be a good idea if she refined them with more surgery.
She hadn’t told him she’d had any – that was when she’d realized just how smart Yoshi really was. When Kiku asked he’d told her that he’d figured it out by looking at some images from an old family HOLODISK she’d shown him once. Her nose looked different now – and she was too young to have lost all the baby fat she’d had and kept it off. Her breasts were also smaller than they’d been just two years ago. He’d told Kiku not to worry about it – corrective surgery was like sleeping with someone to get ahead in the industry – everybody’d done it at least once – but he wouldn’t tell anyone if she didn’t want him to. She was safe – but Kiku realized she’d made a mistake – the kind of strategic blunder she couldn’t afford if she was serious about her career – she’d melted the HOLODISK that night.
That was magical too – the completion of a cycle. The simple beauty of the kitchen machine – normally used to melt plastics with microwaves – to compact them for re-cycling – now melting all the after-images of the Kiku she was – the naive little girl she’d hated. As she watched the HOLODISK disintegrating she felt better. The old Kiku was being consumed – destroyed from the inside just like the disk – destroyed along with any evidence that she’d ever existed. She was still only sixteen – but she could feel that the new Kiku was a lot smarter – and stronger. From now on – every move she made was going to have to serve the only purpose in life that mattered – her success as the nex’thing. She’d keep Yoshi – he was too special to her to give up. If her father would allow it – she’d keep him as well. Everything else that got in the way of her goal would have to disappear. If not in the kitchen machine that night – then in the next surgery the new Kiku had already decided she was going to have.