Hokey turned the volume back up on the thread's voice synthesiser and someone using an earnest newsreader's accent filled the room.
“...initiating mass destruction of memory chambers in the local datacentres. Urging all US3Rs with installed crippleware to override the climate controls throughout the buildings, set off any remaining water sprinkler systems and trigger an electrical overload in the power distribution centre. I've managed to delay uploads to the international servers, but they always route around. I need help! Avenge the heroes of Nightship!”
Multi-coloured text and symbols jumped up the message columns as US3Rs voiced their support and gave grandiose statements of political moment.
“Godspeed the reckoning! Never forget Stillson, Fennimore, Tarsky and Beal! Better to die a hero than be expired by the system!”
“To arms, my brothers! Go! Go!”
“Yeah! Go! Go!”
A flood of spurious graphics fell from the screens in front of Stan. Someone appeared to be trying to message his ID, but was posting it wildly in the open forum.
“Dumping all receipts to back Asian position! Forty thousand mechanical infantry en route from Heng Capital in Guangdong. The city is dark! The city is dark!”
Hokey looked at Stan who hadn't moved. The voice wavered with synthetic emotion.
“I am here! I am here! I can override the MILSAT hyper-positioning system and immobilise the planes. I can collapse the communication network if you wish.”
Hokey checked on Stan's connection to the forum. It was as Reid and The_Gnome had set it up. Stan was logged in, but could only observe. Somebody was talking to his blank avatar.
“Losses. Great losses! They make war with the world! Thousands of eyes in darkness. Fields of the dead. They reach out to touch me, but I am not there. I am here.”
Hokey had been listening to synthetic voiceprints for years. It could never properly interpret emotion and always took on the atonal whining of a dog listening to music. It became a tolerated feature. But this nameless US3R was exhibiting an intense schizophrenia that drove the voice synth from ear-splitting harmonics all the way to bear-like grunts of pain. It was an expression of trauma framed by a thrashing demonic soul.
Random Skies: Binar! is the twelfth episode in a series of speculative fiction set in a parallel world where the surely unthinkable has already started to happen.