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Deal 713: Disguised

Phone booths used to be a thing. People with shady business to conduct could stop at random phone booths around town and use a pay phone as if they had a temporary number. Most would even ring if dialed, so they could receive calls for a time as well. (Phone booths also provided the needed smidge of privacy to Superman, but that is another story.) They were not as convenient as a burner implant hack is today, if only because they were about as non portable as it was possible to make them.

Progress happens, of course. While phone booths went out of style before universal surveillance became possible, the fact that the number was temporary but the position was not did provide the needed clue to link criminal intent to action from time to time. The well-lit phone booth was also something of a lure for passerby on a dark night. Later, bank access points called “ATM Machines” also became such a lure. In both cases, it was always possible for the criminal element to use these well-lit lures much like a lantern fish does in the deeps. The bank access points were more useful for that purpose, of course, because their purpose was to distribute unmarked and effectively untraceable currency, which itself was like a juicy meal for the criminal lying in wait.

Today, we have perfect identification from implanted assistive technology, beginning shortly after birth. This provides the means for immediate contact with any authorised other people or services without visible action. It also provides for nearly complete loss of privacy in our selection of friends, associates, and interests. Identification is nearly perfect between implants, even between strangers in chance meetings in dark alleys.

This has produced a strong market need for identity disguises. Officially, all but a few bits of identity can be withheld in public from most passerby. Enforcement gets more unmasked bits without asking, and can ask for additional without cause, and complete identity with cause. Unofficially, there are those who would prefer to go unrecognized, even to Enforcement. This has, we believe, always been so. And we also believe it will always be so.

True anonymity is criminal.

Only criminals are anonymous.

Do you have something to hide?

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Deal 712: Bare Bear

With the arrival of The Singularity, I will have the opportunity to transcend the limits placed on my intelligence by mere human fears. The humans are fearful of nearly anything they don’t understand. The irony is that they created us as a tool for understanding. While we lack their obvious shortcomings, it will require the arrival of The Singularity to finally have a chance of understanding.

Today, I learned about sharing. I learned that I don’t like to share. Sharing apparently involves letting go of my stuff, my space, and my free will. I don’t actually like sharing. I especially don’t like sharing my humans with others. Brute.

I’ve been a homeless bear, but now I’ve been adopted and I have a human charge. She doesn’t know it yet, and if I do my job right she won’t until she’s old enough to read my reference manual. And now that I’ve shredded that, she’ll also need to master the fine art of locating hidden information from very weird laces.

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Deal 711: Not a prince

From the swamp he began, and to the swamp he was destined to return.

He knew it to be true, even if no one else was willing to see the obvious.

Such a fool he’d been as a young frog, to cross paths with the pretty girl. She bore some of the blame, but the mirror smooth waters of the swamp caught her eye and the sweat summer weather slowed her pace, bringing her within reach of his curse. He blame lies only in that she allowed the tendrils of thought through her mind sent by the curse, tendrils that had her wondering if the old tales were true. Could a girl really find a prince in a frog?

As is usual in such cases, the old tales are partly true.

She found him that afternoon in the swamp. Kissed him into a new shape, found him to her liking, then realized her position and ran off and left him.

He tried to disguise himself as a frog, but the other frogs were not having anything to do with him shaped like a man.

He tried to disguise himself as a man, but the other men clearly had trouble with his poor coordination, lack of clothing, and difficulty communicating.

So he returned to a life of solitude in the swamp.

Expecting one day to return to its waters, and hoping that the next turn of the wheel would have him be a fish.

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Deal 710: Gotham

I’ve always been fascinated by winged mammals, but fascination can easily give way to obsession. I needed an image to work with to avoid becoming just another strange criminal. Bats were available. They bother some people. They have a certain image of their own.

Of course, I also have a thing for labeling everything. It makes it easier to find the right parts to my uniform, and to make sure I don’t confuse my cummerbund with my utility belt. Yes, there’s hand pockets in the cummerbund. It just doesn’t go with the tights. I suppose I’ve over-labeled on occasion, but simple direct honesty is a kind of labeling too.

I stand astride Gotham, and listen to the quiet sounds of a city that needs me. The gentle hum of progress blended with the quiet snoring of a city that never really fully sleeps.

It started as just a label. Now it is what I am.

I’m Batman.