“ No matter where you go, everyone’s connected. ”
– Lain Iwakura, Serial Experiments: Lain
The silent world around him was a dull, cloudy grey. Whatever colour had been present during the initial recording of it had been filtered out. It was hard to focus on any single detail, the inkwelled scene made to be poignant, but not studied too closely. Individuals were no longer blurred, to aid in his assignment, but their blood remained censored, as it was in the media.
St James’ Park was not the tourist filled haven it was usually known for. On this day, it had been the site of a riot. A coming together of protestors who had defiled themselves in front of an empty palace, chanting and screaming as they had cut into themselves.
Stepping through the paused image, Greyson tried not to let his eyes search for her. It was a familiar battle, fought hard and often lost. But today might mark the end of it, should he succeed in identifying the dozen or so final participants.
In the reality of the world beyond his headset, the office was alive with blinking monitors. The control room filled to bursting with information gathered on every single person who had been a part of the riots that day, and who had subsequently fled not long after. The criminals that had sliced open their arms and removed their implants, citing freedom and human rights as an explanation for their criminal activities.
He had not intended to pass by her. She with her narrowed eyes and hateful expression. He did not want to see the sight of that knife in her hand again, the line of pixellated red dripping to the stone below. But it might be the last time he would ever face her now. The betrayal would never be so fresh again. In time it would fade, and his despair at her actions with it.
He needed this, this image of her callous rebellion, her abandonment of everything they had once enjoyed together, to burn bright and hot in his mind. For when she was caught – and they would be, all of them, he would be called to confirm her guilt.
And when that day came, he must stand firm. For disconnecting was a heinous crime. To remove oneself from society, to hide in the shadows which could mask all manner of unspeakable acts – was an insult not just to the state, but morality itself. And everyone should be prepared to battle against this new threat. Civil servants such as himself perhaps most of all.
He swallowed and turned from her. He had duties to perform.