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They retired to the library. It looked like the set of My Fair Lady, and sure enough there was a Galatea statue in the corner, looking a little like Julie Andrews. A set of armchairs were arranged around a fireplace, one of them so gigantic and ornate it might as well have been a throne. Elias sat in it as if it were his due.
There was a pool table at one end of the library and as soon as the gold miners realized that Elias and Garland were going to have a 'serious discussion', they slid off one by one to the other side of the room. Before long, there was a quiet discussion around the fireplace and a not so quiet pool game in the background.
Garland took a chair across from Elias. Freedy didn't know what to do, but finally took one of the smaller chairs a short distance away. Garland looked over at Freedy and nodded, as if approving that he was
listening to the conversation instead of joining the fun at the pool
Sheila sat at the great man's feet. Literally. Freedy felt a stab of jealousy when Elias briefly patted her on head with a fond look. The other interns were also sprawled on the floor, so it wasn't like she was singled out, he told himself. It wasn't like he had any call to be jealous. He barely knew her!
She smiled at him, and he gulped.
"Are you going forward with your plans?" Elias said, swirling a snifter of brandy.
"Yes," Garland said firmly. "Unless you've managed to change the records from here."
"No," Elias said. "HE has closed off his system, physically. There is no way from me to get in there."
"What is HE up to?"
"Good question!" Elias sound adamant and annoyed. "That's why you need to quit wasting your time on these little escapades of yours, Garland. They are a distraction."
"Perhaps...but they are also the whole point. If the Cybermancer manages to close down the system, then he can control things. We need to keep throwing wrenches into the gears of his plans. The point is to distract HIM."
Elias didn't seem convinced.
"There is also the little matter of justice," Garland continued. "If we let small injustices go uncorrected, then the larger injustice will take hold without objection. Besides, I sense that this little Lorn Mountain goldmine is part of HIS plans, though I'm not sure how..."
"I've been counting votes," Elias said. "I don't understand how the Cybermancer thinks he's going to win -- unless He's bought some of the politicians who're saying one thing and planning to do another."
"I've been traveling the country taking the temperature -- and I can tell you there is absolutely no way that the public will allow the Internet to go private."
"Then, again I ask, what is HE up to?"
They sat in silence for a few minutes.
One of the interns spoke up. "Why would the Dark Lord want to take it private? He's made billions from the Internet the way it is."
"Please don't call HIM that," Elias spoke quietly, and the intern flinched as if he'd been struck.
"You're right," Garland laughed. "Let's call him by his real name. Secore. There -- I said it. Big deal."
Elias looked troubled but finally nodded. "You're right. We give the Cybermancer too much power by our unwillingness to name him. He's just a man, after all. Josiah Secore. Whatever...phfff."
There was an uneasy silence as if by speaking his name, they had invited to Cybermancer to their presence. Elias turned to Jeffrey. "You took our guest's digital instruments, right?'
Elias addressed his interns. "There has been a struggle from the beginning between open source and private ownership. We've always maintained an uneasy equilibrium. The government's instinct is to control it. The business instinct is to monetize it. Those of us who were there at the start also split into two camps. I, along with most of the others, fought for a free and open Internet. But Josiah Secore always wanted to own it -- everything."
"He's a trillionaire already!" the other female intern, Judith, said.
Garland said. "It's not about the money -- it's about the power. Imagine the Cybermancer being able to charge for every word, every blog, every tweet. Erasing what he doesn't like, picking who and what and how much the Internet does..."
"But the governments would never allow it."
"Exactly," Garland said. "Once again bringing to the question to the fore -- what is Josiah Secore up to?"
Freedy saw Sheila stir. Somehow he knew she wanted to speak, and he stared at her. Garland caught his look and also looked down at her.
"You have something to ask, Sheila?"
"Well, yes. I guess. But I was just wondering -- if he can't get approval, and none of the other Internet giants want it to happen, and the public would object -- then it won't happen, right?"
"Unless..." she said.
"Unless what...?"Elias asked.
"Unless he takes it over by force..."
1 week ago