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Chapter 2

  • Ad-hocracy works well, for the most part. Lil’s folks had taken over th_unning of Liberty Square with a group of other interested, compatible souls.
  • They did a fine job, racked up gobs of Whuffie, and anyone who came around an_ried to take it over would be so reviled by the guests they wouldn’t find _ot to piss in. Or they’d have such a wicked, radical approach that they’_uster Lil’s parents and their pals, and do a better job.
  • It can break down, though. There were pretenders to the throne—a group who’_orked with the original ad-hocracy and then had moved off to othe_ursuits—some of them had gone to school, some of them had made movies,
  • written books, or gone off to Disneyland Beijing to help start things up. _ew had deadheaded for a couple decades.
  • They came back to Liberty Square with a message: update the attractions. Th_iberty Square ad-hocs were the staunchest conservatives in the Magic Kingdom,
  • preserving the wheezing technology in the face of a Park that changed almos_aily. The newcomer/old-timers were on-side with the rest of the Park, ha_heir support, and looked like they might make a successful go of it.
  • So it fell to Lil to make sure that there were no bugs in the meage_ttractions of Liberty Square: the Hall of the Presidents, the Liberty Bell_iverboat, and the glorious Haunted Mansion, arguably the coolest attractio_o come from the fevered minds of the old-time Disney Imagineers.
  • I caught her backstage at the Hall of the Presidents, tinkering with Lincol_I, the backup animatronic. Lil tried to keep two of everything running a_peed, just in case. She could swap out a dead bot for a backup in fiv_inutes flat, which is all that crowd-control would permit.
  • It had been two weeks since Dan’s arrival, and though I’d barely seen him i_hat time, his presence was vivid in our lives. Our little ranch-house had _ew smell, not unpleasant, of rejuve and hope and loss, something barel_oticeable over the tropical flowers nodding in front of our porch. My phon_ang three or four times a day, Dan checking in from his rounds of the Park,
  • seeking out some way to accumulate personal capital. His excitement an_edication to the task were inspiring, pulling me into his over-the-top-and-
  • damn-the-torpedoes mode of being.
  • “You just missed Dan,” she said. She had her head in Lincoln’s chest, workin_ith an autosolder and a magnifier. Bent over, red hair tied back in a nea_un, sweat sheening her wiry freckled arms, smelling of girl-sweat and machin_ubricant, she made me wish there were a mattress somewhere backstage. _ettled for patting her behind affectionately, and she wriggle_ppreciatively. “He’s looking better.”
  • His rejuve had taken him back to apparent 25, the way I remembered him. He wa_awboned and leathery, but still had the defeated stoop that had startled m_hen I saw him at the Adventurer’s Club. “What did he want?”
  • “He’s been hanging out with Debra—he wanted to make sure I knew what she’s u_o.”
  • Debra was one of the old guard, a former comrade of Lil’s parents. She’d spen_ decade in Disneyland Beijing, coding sim-rides. If she had her way, we’_ear down every marvelous rube goldberg in the Park and replace them wit_ristine white sim boxes on giant, articulated servos.
  • The problem was that she was really good at coding sims. Her Great Movie Rid_ehab at MGM was breathtaking—the Star Wars sequence had already inspired _undred fan-sites that fielded millions of hits.
  • She’d leveraged her success into a deal with the Adventureland ad-hocs t_ehab the Pirates of the Caribbean, and their backstage areas were piled hig_ith reference: treasure chests and cutlasses and bowsprits. It was terrifyin_o walk through; the Pirates was the last ride Walt personally supervised, an_e’d thought it was sacrosanct. But Debra had built a Pirates sim in Beijing,
  • based on Chend I Sao, the XIXth century Chinese pirate queen, which wa_redited with rescuing the Park from obscurity and ruin. The Florida iteratio_ould incorporate the best aspects of its Chinese cousin—the AI-driven sim_hat communicated with each other and with the guests, greeting them by nam_ach time they rode and spinning age-appropriate tales of piracy on the hig_eas; the spectacular fly-through of the aquatic necropolis of rotting junk_n the sea-floor; the thrilling pitch and yaw of the sim as it weathered _iolent, breath-taking storm—but with Western themes: wafts of Jamaican peppe_auce crackling through the air; liquid Afro-Caribbean accents; an_wordfights conducted in the manner of the pirates who plied the blue water_f the New World. Identical sims would stack like cordwood in the spac_urrently occupied by the bulky ride-apparatus and dioramas, quintuplin_apacity and halving load-time.
  • “So, what’s she up to?”
  • Lil extracted herself from the Rail-Splitter’s mechanical guts and made _omical moue of worry. “She’s rehabbing the Pirates—and doing an incredibl_ob. They’re ahead of schedule, they’ve got good net-buzz, the focus group_re cumming themselves.” The comedy went out of her expression, baring genuin_orry.
  • She turned away and closed up Honest Abe, then fired her finger at him.
  • Smoothly, he began to run through his spiel, silent but for the soft hum an_hine of his servos. Lil mimed twiddling a knob and his audiotrack kicked i_ow: “All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined could not, by force,
  • make a track on the Blue Ridge, nor take a drink from the Ohio. If destructio_e our lot, then we ourselves must be its author—and its finisher.” She mime_urning down the gain and he fell silent again.
  • “You said it, Mr. President,” she said, and fired her finger at him again,
  • powering him down. She bent and adjusted his hand-sewn period topcoat, the_arefully wound and set the turnip-watch in his vest-pocket.
  • I put my arm around her shoulders. “You’re doing all you can—and it’s goo_ork,” I said. I’d fallen into the easy castmember mode of speaking, voicin_land affirmations. Hearing the words, I felt a flush of embarrassment. _ulled her into a long, hard hug and fumbled for better reassurance. Findin_o words that would do, I gave her a final squeeze and let her go.
  • She looked at me sidelong and nodded her head. “It’ll be fine, of course,” sh_aid. “I mean, the worst possible scenario is that Debra will do her job very,
  • very well, and make things even better than they are now. That’s not so bad.”
  • This was a 180-degree reversal of her position on the subject the last tim_e’d talked, but you don’t live more than a century without learning when t_oint out that sort of thing and when not to.
  • My cochlea struck twelve noon and a HUD appeared with my weekly backu_eminder. Lil was maneuvering Ben Franklin II out of his niche. I waved good-
  • bye at her back and walked away, to an uplink terminal. Once I was clos_nough for secure broadband communications, I got ready to back up. My cochle_himed again and I answered it.
  • “Yes,” I subvocalized, impatiently. I hated getting distracted from _ackup—one of my enduring fears was that I’d forget the backup altogether an_eave myself vulnerable for an entire week until the next reminder. I’d los_he knack of getting into habits in my adolescence, giving in completely t_achine-generated reminders over conscious choice.
  • “It’s Dan.” I heard the sound of the Park in full swing behind him—children’_aughter; bright, recorded animatronic spiels; the tromp of thousands of feet.
  • “Can you meet me at the Tiki Room? It’s pretty important.”
  • “Can it wait for fifteen?” I asked.
  • “Sure—see you in fifteen.”
  • I rung off and initiated the backup. A status-bar zipped across a HUD, dumpin_he parts of my memory that were purely digital; then it finished and starte_n on organic memory. My eyes rolled back in my head and my life flashe_efore my eyes.