From: (girl guitarist libertine)
Newsgroups: talk.bizarre
Subject: FTSD:  1000 words
Date: 1 Dec 1998 11:30:44 -0800
Organization: merde's web empire
Message-ID: <741g54$c9g$>
Lines: 114
X-Trace: 912540649 202 mlt@

Flanagan says it's not so bad being in two places at once,
now that he's gotten used to it.  It took a while, though.
No one really expected him to be able to handle it, but
then, they didn't expect things to turn out the way they
did, either.  Flanagan has a way of arriving at a different 
destination than everyone else, using the same map.

He's lucky to be alive at all after that accident.  When 
they said it would take a year in suspension to regrow the 
missing pieces, the Corps was at a loss for what to do.  
They couldn't afford to lose him; he was the best they had.
(And you have to be someone pretty important for the Corps
to spend what it costs to regenerate half a body.)  They 
couldn't afford to put the mission on hold, but there was 
no one else they could send.  It would be a stretch even 
for Flanagan to handle this mission.  So they put his body 
in suspension and jacked his mind into the ship, and sent 
along another live body to handle whatever the ship couldn't.

It's hard for a non-pilot to understand what it's like to 
actually *be* the ship.  Flanagan says that for him it was
sort of like having powered armor for your brain.  With 
the armor, you make a move and it moves with you, only ten 
times stronger and with lasers and titanium plating.  With 
the ship, your thinking is enhanced by the computer, you 
have a vast array of cameras and sensors telling you everything
that's going on, and it's *you* out there in space, flying at 
light speed.

Now, of course, he says it doesn't feel like anything.  It's
just part of him.

Normally, the pilot just jacks in from the console, but they
can take over manual control any time.  Flanagan was always
a control freak.  He liked to have his hands on the stick,
even when he was jacked and couldn't feel it.  So when he woke 
up and couldn't jack out, he was kind of weirded out at first, 
insisting that they let him back into his body.  Then they 
showed him what was left, and he decided that wasn't such a 
great idea.  And, given the option of spending the year 
unconscious or doing something no one had ever done before -- 
being continuously jacked for months on end *and* carrying 
out a mission no one else could handle anyway -- well, he's a 
pilot.  What else was he going to do?

As it turned out, being jacked for a year was no problem --
for Flanagan, at least.  (They've been running tests with 
other pilots, and most of them started to freak out after a 
couple of weeks.  Flanagan says maybe it's because they know
they have a body to come back to.)  The mission was no 
problem either, by Corps standards, meaning that nobody got 
killed and the ship came back in more or less one piece.  By 
the time he got back, his body was in one piece again too.

The problem was that they couldn't jack Flanagan out.

Well, that's not quite accurate.  They could jack him out 
just fine, but whenever they did, he'd start screaming and 
thrashing.  They couldn't calm him down enough to find out 
what was going on -- they had to jack him back in and ask.  
And he couldn't explain it to them.  Claustrophobia didn't 
even begin to describe it, he says.  It was like being blind, 
deaf, and pithed.  And trapped.  Very, very trapped.  Human 
senses were completely inadequate, compared to what he'd 
gotten used to.

They weren't sure what to do with him at that point.  At 
first they thought he'd adjust with time, so they jacked him 
out and left him that way for a while.  He dislocated both 
his shoulders trying to get out of the restraints.  Next they 
tried to wean him off it.  That didn't work either.  It just 
didn't ever get any better.  And he wanted his body back; no 
way was he willing to spend the rest of his life as a machine.

Giving him a wireless jack point was easy.  The hard part was 
figuring out how to let him have awareness and control of his 
body while he was jacked.  That took a few months.  That was 
when I met him, while he was still just "in" the ship most of 
the time.  They brought me in as a consultant, to solve some 
software problems.

I spent some time onboard, but I never saw his body until he 
was back in it.  Even then, it was a month or so before we 
had enough bugs worked out for him to be able to leave the 
ship.  In the meantime, we got to know each other pretty 
well.  He's an interesting guy, as you might well imagine.

Now he can jack into any ship, or any system that allows for 
it, but he doesn't really like it, especially if the system 
doesn't give him audiovisual input.  It's understandable 
that he's gotten attached to the Tangaroa.  So unless he 
specifically has to jack elsewhere, he's "in" her.  Of 
course, that means he's basically stuck with the Corps for 
life, but where else would he go anyway?  So far, the only 
serious problem was that day the worldwide net went down 
and he was cut off for 12 hours.  That was pretty bad.  

It's a little strange sometimes.  You never have Flanagan's
full attention.  It's hard to get used to the idea that 
while he's in bed with me, he's probably also seeing the 
hangar on base.  At least he can't fly without giving it his 
full attention, and the net doesn't extend offworld, so I 
don't have to deal with the idea of his being literally on 
Mars when I'm trying to talk to him.  That would just be too 

My life is never boring anymore.

one nation, and guitars, and Steves visible,           
with libertine injustice for all