Echo Lunaris looking into the Mirror Screen, equipping her deactivated Synth Suit.
I had wanted to include a drawing of Echo getting dressed in the first episode, so that the reader could get a clear idea of what the Synth Suits are like when they aren’t powered on; to see how slimy and strange the dead softwear looks. Unfortunately, I ran out of time and couldn’t include an illustration; but I ended up describing the event like this:
… I squeeze the last few drops of the stimulant into my mouth and grab the hanging Synth Suit, yanking the long power cord out of the wall socket. The rubbery crinkling of the translucent fabric makes my skin crawl as I push and pull my limbs further into the impossibly tight suit. To higher profile users unacquainted with the ways of the slums, this routine would seem pitiful and ridiculous. I know because I used to think that way, too. Up in the relatively glamorous Private Partition, we wear high tech Digital Space-integrated filters to appear as whatever we want to be, limited only by our connection speed and memory budget. But things just don’t work like that down here, as I very quickly found out. Without that stable Private Partition Digital Space connection, a high level Persona Filter Suit is nothing but a flimsy plastech garbage bag.
After a brief and familiar struggle, I’m dressed and pounding the sensor on my shoulder; switching the suit into Auto-Response Mode. I focus on my filtered reflection in the Mirror Screen, and the Synth Suit’s emotion engine scans my raw personal preferences. It takes a moment, but then a weak electric current spreads through the suit, the clear material constricting even tighter to form a second skin. As it darkens into an opaque black shade, I turn back and forth in front of the mirror to make sure my restricted areas are fully covered. Looks good enough. I take a step towards my console and the engine whirs again, elevating my heels off the floor; the suit forming dagger-sharp stilettos. Why? As if to answer to my question, neon accents spiral around my breasts and rain down my stomach in glitchy strings, highlighting the curves of my hips. So I really want to go back to the adult chat clubs, this late, or early in the morning? That’s crazy. I don’t think I feel like doing any of this kinda bitshit, but I’m not gonna stand here and argue with softwear AI.
I think that prose captured the idea, but I’m happy to finally have some art to accompany the text, even if it is months late! I think when I release the print version of 404Ever, I will include a harsh black and white contrasted version of this art.
Echo treasures her Mirror Screen, even if it is ultimately just an empty, expensive vanity booster. You can use it to infinitely customize the way your reflection looks, but the beauty filters can’t travel outside of the screen. Echo has very low self-esteem these days, and imagines herself to look much worse than she actually does. So, the Mirror Screen basically just provides her with a fantasy that cancels out her delusion. What a mess.
The idea behind her Synth Suit, is that it is able to access and respond to her ever-shifting personal preferences; altering its general appearance to suit her whims. It’s imperfect, buggy, and prone to failure; but it’s the most reliable friend Echo has down in the slums. Typically, she uses it as an unlimited outfit generator, so she can log-into various sites without having to backspace home to change her clothes. But sometimes, it seems like the suit has a will of its own. Or maybe it just knows Echo better than she knows herself. Or perhaps, it knows when Echo is in denial, and makes decisions based on the truth she is willfully ignoring.
Her specific suit is obsolete, with an out-of-date operating system that’s been cut-off from the main Moxis Multiwear Network. Which, in this case, is a good thing. You see, Echo has illegally modded the suit several times, allowing her to use it for combat. It can harden its exterior for extra defense, and if she gets angry enough, it can bulk up to add synthetic muscle mass to her wispy frame. She did this back in Episode 1.0, to the scammer Nu-Bus driver:
I grit my teeth and wrap my arm around the vertical safety pole, squeezing it tight against my ribs. I focus on his smug expression, letting it piss me off long enough for my Synth Suit to pick up on it. When the corners of his mouth uncontrollably curl into a self-satisfied grin, it pushes my softwear and I over the benchmark. Rippling cords of synthetic muscle explode out of my shoulder and slither down my bicep, almost doubling the size of my left arm. With my now-massive hand, I grip the pole and wrench it loose from the ceiling with ease, its cracked outer coating spewing chips of rust and lacquer into the driver’s lap.
That’s it for now! There will be a short bonus episode coming up soon, with some new art. Echo is alone at the table in Hotlink waiting on Halo to return with the stim-chems (right where the last episode ended). She falls into the narrow space between reality and dreams, and relives a good night with a very bad girl. If you’re a member, you know the girl I’m referring to.
Thanks everyone! I hope you enjoy this piece of art and the musings on the world of Geo-City One.