Data Kill: 1. D@ily Gr1nd Liberty Square D@ily Gr1nd Espresso Bar Public Data Hub 12.2.423.5 02:46:34.10, 03/02/2217
The smell of espresso, the hiss of steam and the bustle of the cafe surrounded DAT. This was his idea of hiding in plain sight. Blend in with the Domers, constantly on the move, prowling the streets for action, what was one more sack of meat in the crowd, right? This same philosophy dominated his hacking as well. Blend in with the countless harmless terabytes of data, ghost off of public hubs and portals, run down the encrypted pathways of Darknet, out of sight out of mind his parents used to tell him. It may not have been scientific but it tended to keep the heat off, and had kept him alive this long. Tonight he had been busy, he’d ripped several B class Corps, with C class security before they’d even known he was there, then turned around and sold the paydata to the highest bidder almost as fast. Now he was just monitoring traffic killing time on a Friday night.
He was just about to pull the plug and drop back into the bustling squalor of New Boston when a peculiar algorithm caught his attention. A small green blip of light amongst the data towers, hitting a secure system with multiple low level attacks. Amature night on parade! Finally something worth watching.
The amusement was short lived. There was the briefest recognition that something was wrong before DAT’s stack overflowed and crashed under a bombardment of data noise! Had he not been running a hardened system, his deck would have succumbed to this first wave as if hit by a tsunami. Someone had quietly breached his firewall while his attention was diverted and dumped a shit load of white noise and data corruption into his memory buffers. DAT’s construct was crashing fast! A microsecond longer and his secrets would belong to whomever was pillaging his deck! A moments desperation lent speed to his response. Faster than thought he isolated his construct in a fortified partition then set loose the hornets! Fast moving strings of hunter killer programs and security agents to re-establish system stability. His trace program almost had a lock on the rogue code tendril as it was racing for open cyberspace. The intruder was keeping a port open through his firewall that he could not lock down! His trace was closing in faster and faster as system integrity returned, he almost had him, when just like that...it vanished into the stream before he could lock it up and deal a killing blow!
“Damn!” thought DAT, did that just happen? “Sloppy!” he cursed himself. He’d grown complacent being the big fish in the stream. It had been a long time since anyone had had the guts to try to rip his system. For years now, he had remained invisible to all but the most adept deck jockey’s. He had just experienced a moment of carelessness and gotten caught with his pants down. Reality check! That kind of rookie mistake got chummers fried or worse. Still even as he sent his backtrace bloodhounds into the virtual night, he had to smile, and admired greatly, the finesse and skill with which the would be pirate had just lit up his system.
Data Kill: 2. By a Thread Commonwealth Projects 09:12:42.98, 03/01/2217 The previous day...
“I thought I told you to never show your face in this part of town again you fracking maricón!” Every other word that Trituradora spoke was punctuated with his fist. “You’re lucky I left my chrome knuckles at home cabron!” Trituradora, was typical of the Los Val wanna be’s that this neighborhood bred by the dozen. Khaki shorts worn low, wife beater tank, and a big 85 tatted on his neck. Ever since the Los Valentinos gang took over, the Commonwealth Zone had become one of it’s gladiator academies. The weaker local gangs swore allegiance to LV, but still kicked eachothers asses whenever the opportunity presented itself. Sl1p’s head rocked back, he was vaguely aware of a ringing sound, then heard some muffled voices speaking spanish in the lowrider on the street.
“Yo, some shit’s going down at the park, homes! We need to roll!” one of the gangers called out and banged twice on the door of car with his palm.
Trituradora leaned in close to Sl1ps bleeding nose and growled low, “Your lucky day puta.” He loosened his grip on Sl1ps shirt and brought his fist up hard into his groin then turned and walked briskly toward the lowrider. The gangers whooped and laughed as it’s engine roared to life. Trituradora flashed a sign and yelled, “85th Street Gamberro’s!” as the car began to pull away.
Sl1p was hurting. Bloody spittle dripped in long stringy strands from his mouth. Without thinking he screamed after them, “Frack you! You goddamned bastards! FRAK YOU! FRAK YOU!” and flipped them the bird.
Trituradora laughed and pulled a cheap nickel plated pistol from his waistband and pointed it at him suggestively. “Next time, it’s your ass puta!” and the low rider sped off with a squeal of tires and the smell of burnt rubber.
Sl1p slumped down and lay crumpled on the sidewalk breathing heavy. He stifled a small quiet sob. The beating he could handle. He was no stranger to the way of the fist thanks to his old man. It was the damn humiliation and indignity of it that killed him. Rage burned in his heart as he wiped his eyes. Never again...never again...after tonight he hoped it would be over. One way or another he planned on leaving this shit hole project for good. He slowly gathered himself up and began the long slow journey home.
Sl1p’s 19th birthday was today, not that he much cared or that anyone would really notice. The birthday party’s stopped years ago when mom left the old man. As he made his way past the bums and the trash he thought about tonight. He had been preparing for this night for 4 years now. Sl1p was physically small and not very strong, which made him a natural target for the neighborhood gangers. His entire life now felt like a marathon, running from bullies, running from his old man, and running for his life in the streets. Frankly he was exhausted and felt like he was hanging on by a thread.
It was Sl1ps love of reading that led him to this point today. It began when he was about 8 at the public library where he would spend countless hours in front of the data terms reading books and killing time so that he wouldn’t have to hang around the apartment with the old man. He soon learned how to use the net and the world opened up to him in ways he could scarcely imagine from the prison of the projects. He began to grow conscious that in a world that demanded money, influence or power to move up, that words were free, ideas were free, and if he could just find the right combination of both, they could set him free. If he could harness the power of the data at his fingertips he might just find a way out of the Commonwealth in something other than a body bag.
The matrix was a strange dichotomy, on the one hand you had the corporations trying to lock it down, and filter the public discourse as much as possible, intent on making it a 24 hour shopping mall and entertainment plex. On the other hand you had academics and the many anonymous hacktivists working for a free and open net. The slogan “Data wants to be free!” was their rallying cry. In the years that followed the ecological disasters and the numerous corporate wars which effectively created isolated city states when governments failed. So much knowledge and data was thought to be lost that it was forgotten by much of the general public.
Sl1p had found otherwise. Through his persistence he had found online code base repositories of programming languages and began teaching himself how to code. Locked in his room at night, or hours spent at the library he coded in plain text, line after line after line, until he had coded hundreds of thousands of lines of code. The lack of a compiler did not dissuade him. In a few years he had become a master at theoretical programming. Since the library data terms were locked down he still needed a deck before he could test and run any of his work.
Every cred he could scrounge through odd jobs and petty theft he put aside and piece by piece he built a deck from open source components purchased at the local electronics store. He downloaded an open source OS and code compiler and had his system up and running in terminal mode until he could get a data port. At last he had the basic tools to begin making his dream a reality. The happiest moment he remembered in his childhood was the instant when his first program successfully compiled and he typed the execute prompt into the command line. That moment validated the many years of learning and working with theories only. At last he could see that the fruit of his labor had not been in vain and it was a balm to the wrath of the gang beatings. It was his frequent trips to the electronic store down on 84 St. that had brought him through the 85 Street Gamberro’s territory and eventually across the path of Trituradora, who seemed to harbor a special irrational hatred for him.
He stumbled and nearly fell on a crack in the sidewalk and saw that he had made it to his building. He tried not to look too closely at the bone thin junkies hanging out in halls, drab specters of former lives, as he made his way across the dingy lobby to the elevator. A warbly ding sounded and he boarded the car and pressed 16.
Sl1p was 16 when the old man disappeared on a drinking binge and he had seized the moment to go down to the Tattoo Parlor to get ported. It was a humid night in the Commonwealth and a hazy fog clung to buildings like wool. The dome’s climate control units had been on the fritz all summer and the environmental conditions swung wildly between extreme heat and cold. He made his way down dim hazy streets, neon islands in the soupy fog lighting the way. On the door of the parlor were a pair of red Chinese dragons each holding the world in it's claws. This made him smile, his hand on the door handle, he took deep breath and stepped inside.
The bright fluorescents bathed the place in a cold, blue/white antiseptic light that was much more sterile than the operating room turned out to be. They ran his cred stick, doped him, shaved the back of his head, cut the circular hole in the base of his skull then bolted in a cheap neuroplug that would allow his brain to interface with a data jack directly. The operation took about 15 minutes. When they’d finished, they shoved a bottle of painkillers into his hand and sent him out the door. He felt like a garbage truck had run over his head and he had barely made it home that night. The resulting infection almost killed him, as did the old man when he returned, but it was worth every agonizing minute to be able to slip into the stream, full immersion, free in a manner of speaking, if only temporarily. His psychological construct could now drift in the cool radiance of the net, like a star in the vastness of space, he rejoiced and savored every nanosecond of freedom he could get. It was like heaven.
The elevator doors opened and he shuffled down the hall pausing momentarily at his door. His hand trembled slightly as he slid his key card on the reader and the lock clicked open. He slowly pushed the door and made his way inside the dimly lit apartment. The A.C. was going, and beer cans littered the floor. As he made his way toward his bedroom he hazarded a glance in the direction of the old man’s room. All he could see was his bare leg laying atop a tempur foam mattress. It twitched very slightly and a smile came to Sl1ps face. Mostly the old man had withdrawn this past year, ever since he got his joybox he spent most of his free time plugged in, comatose in electric fantasy lands. While the old man had been at work last night he’d overrode the safety protocols on his joybox and inserted an infinite loop that couldn’t be terminated from within the program. That would ensure he couldn’t wake up in a rage and interfere with his plans tonight.
Sl1p showered and washed the blood and the dirt off, his muscles relaxing in the hot water. He grabbed a snack from the cupboard and headed into his room to prepare for tonight. He got dressed in tight black jeans, black knee high jack boots, and a black t shirt. His spiky mess of black hair shot through with streaks of electric blue stuck out at a thousand different angles. He completed the look with a pair of black headphones, plugged into his deck blaring industrial synth. He sat down at his console, plugged in the data jack, and slipped into the stream.
He had spent the last several years after getting ported piecing together rumors and hints dropped here and there, scattered about the matrix like bread crumbs. Rumors of a secure subnet traveled by hackers, net jockeys, and cyber knights, also known as Darknet. The shadowy underworld of the matrix. These were the paths created by anonymizing servers and programs that shielded user identity from easy detection. Sl1p finally gained access to an entrance node last summer after corresponding with some academics in Hamburg for two years. It was along these dark data corridors that he found the online data museum The Googleheim. A multinational project initiated by scholars who feared a new dark age. A categorized repository of every public search and cached web page from all of the major search engines before the government blackouts and corporate censorship had shut them down. The massive amount of data housed there was moved to Darknet when fascism threatened it’s existence. It was within the electric walls of this temple to technology that the final pieces of puzzle fell into place for Sl1p.
From the underground news feeds of Darknet he learned of incidents of cyber warfare and malfeasance. He read stories that provided the flip side of the coin he never saw from the mainstream corporate media. Stories of high tech heroes and scoundrels, stealing from the almighty corporations and releasing classified data files that exposed their lies and tyranny. Stories from covert news hounds that watch dogged the corps, and risked their lives by publishing their dirty laundry. Writers that were every bit the hero as the hacktivists they wrote about. Sl1p had befriended one such newsie in Darknet and had become a runner of sorts for him on the surface and had met him face to face a couple of times when he did jobs for him. His name was Dodger, and he was the editor of the news blog Freedom Forever! Though Dodger’s server was in Darknet he would flash breaking news to the public hubs in a vain hope of waking up the general populace. His work with Dodger had brought him into contact with several hackers and the forums where they voiced their public statements. He even communicated directly with a few of them over time, yet he was searching for one in particular.
Of all of the shadowy figures that were whispered about in this secretive subculture none were more storied, iconic, and revered, than DAT. His exploits were legendary if even half of them were true. Some said he was a renegade corporate programmer, others a data merc, still others a rogue ai that turned against its corporate masters. The stories just got more outlandish from there. Sl1p had pieced together every single shred of information he had found on DAT and he had held several long discussions with Dodger to try to pin him down. Dodger wanted to pin him down as badly as Sl1p, but for very different reasons, and he was full of ideas and notions that he had never been able to quite put together.
Sl1p was certain, from the accumulation of stories that DAT liked to ghost off of public hubs and was one of the few hackers that spent more time on the surface then he did in Darknet. This last week Sl1p had finished a program that would allow him to seize control of a public server and run a series of subprograms that would analyze packet traffic, sniff IP’s,and more importantly a utility that logically scanned and broke down memory channels and collated all of the data gathered from the other tools to look for anything out of the ordinary. If he could just happen upon the right hub at the right moment he felt certain he could unmask his IP and hit his deck.
Tonight was going to be his programs trial run. His friend Hans, who ran the neighborhood electronic store had rigged a chip modification for him that would approximate a Cyber Knights Quantum Chip but would only provide the barest minimum amount of shielding if he was lucky. Sl1p had no illusions about what would happen to him if a Cyber Knight caught him breaching his deck. Stories of chummers whose brains were fried by cyber attacks floated around like autumn leaves used to. That was why he risked the trip this morning. Hoping to avoid the 85th St. boys by getting an early start. He swallowed hard and struggled a moment but then pushed that thought from his mind! He had to be on his game tonight when nanoseconds counted and he was going to be fishing for the biggest fish in the sea.
Sl1ps discussions with Dodger led him to focus first on Liberty Square tonight. There had been a lot of chatter on the corporate radio bands about strange occurrences and corporate web outages in that area. While a hacker could be anywhere, Dodger thought DAT liked to get close to the action. Whether he was an adrenaline junky or just liked to maximise the extra speed from running on the local network was anyone’s guess, he was an expert at masking his presence and obviously did not fear the public webs. The other thing in his favor was that Liberty Square had a happening nightlife. It had a very crowded public scene and had some of the most crowded public servers in the NBZ. The sheer amount of web traffic in that area put percentages in his favor.
The net appeared to Sl1p as a vast dark void with bright blossoms of light representing users and large neon towers representing systems. Sl1p thought about the parameters of his search and time and space seemed to shift around him as his construct flowed across the network to the public hub nearly instantaneously. He started his night hitting the popular bars and clubs that had data term access. Scan after scan, his software package seemed to be working great but a full scan was time consuming and he wasn’t having much luck. He next focused on the sim lounges and viewing parlors where people chipped in for entertainment. Hours started to pass and he was getting frustrated and a little freaked out about the idea of unplugging the old man in the morning. This had to work, but it was like looking for a byte in a terabyte! He hit up the tea houses and dim sum joints next. Sweat started to dot his brow in the real world as his blood pressure began to rise and fear began to knot his insides. This was taking too long!
It was 02:35:22.48 when he began scanning the D@ily Gr1nd espresso bar. With most of the worlds growing regions reduced to blasted wastelands, coffee had become a rare commodity that only the most affluent partook of. His mind raced and his heart kept pace as he grew more agitated. The memory scan and analysis was the longest part of the process, and he was itching to get to the next hub on his list. As it neared its final cycle he began to shift his mind to the next location when he noticed a dead space or more precisely several blocks of memory glowing red in his minds eye, a memory range that was occupied with no explanation, and no signatures or traffic coming off of it. Every other block of utilized memory in this place as well as every other he’d scanned tonight was pinging it’s credentials and sending/receiving data packets out into the net, but this was altogether different.
His stomach turned and leapt into his throat! He began to pant in his excitement. Could he have done it? Was that really the most famous hacker in the NBZ sitting dark as a black hole in the busiest espresso bar in Liberty Square? He stopped thinking, he paused, and then before the trace could disappear on him, he activated his diversion. A doppelganger program that looked like a green blip of light, like a cursor on the ancient terminals of the 21st century. It was programed to begin low level probe attacks on the nearest secure system and it raced off and began hitting the Liberty Credit Union.
A second maybe two passed before he saw the briefest shimmer of light around a vague construct and drove his intrusion program deep into the heart of a cloaked avatar like it was a vampire. His intrusion was uncanny and left not a trace. His distraction must have worked! It was the only explanation he could come up with for ease of his breach. He passed a liquid tendril of code into the opening and began to sniff around. Immediately he was aware that this was no ordinary chummers deck. Encryption shot through every fiber of this place. In his minds eye he saw a vast hall of black polished marble shot through with white crawling spider veins of encrypted code. A data readout in another vault of his mind was running probability numbers against every byte of known data about DAT and with each microsecond the probability that this was his deck grew. At 80% certainty he unleashed a data dump to destabilize the decks infrastructure and security.
The code tendril grew and swelled profanely to monstrous proportions and disgorged a tidal wave of junk data that washed through the black hall with immeasurable force! The walls collapsed and mercurial liquid filled every inch of the void left behind in the breached partitions. The environment shook and rocked as the decks OS nearly collapsed under the force of his assault as the memory stack was overloaded. Sweat soaked through his shirt. This was a fine line he was playing tonight. If the deck collapsed before he could complete his tasks, this night would be for naught. His mind raced through the corridors opened up by his attack until he found an unguarded port. He locked the port open and began injecting a code string. It would take about 3 microseconds. After the first one passed the system began to stabilize and the data walls began to rise again, slowly at first but they were quickly gaining speed. After two he became aware that a trace program was trying to lock on him. On three he saw the black glimmering, furiously beating wings and shiny obsidian carapace of a hornet that could only be an HK, hunter killer countermeasure rounding the corner at the end of the corridor.
He fled! tracing his steps back through the black maze racing as fast as his mind and his augmented processor could go. A buzzing began to fill his head, was that feedback from his data jack, or was he imagining the roar of the wings of that abhorrent apparition that was closing the distance behind him? His field of vision dimmed to a circular cone as he focused all his attention on the exit port through the firewall. He was almost there! The walls of the hallway began to close on him in the final stretch. A second more and his mind would be pulverized in a vise that would lock up his construct and burn away his cerebral cortex! He shut down all non essential programs, flushed his memory cells, and overclocked his processor to eek out every last ounce of speed he could and then he burst back into the stream! He was out! He raced through the traffic of the public hubs and brought his mind back to his deck as fast as he could go! He did it! He fracking DID IT! He was breathless. Tonight had been the single most terrifying, yet exhilarating night of his entire life!
He let out a shout of triumph that was devoured by the lonely peeling walls. All he could do now was wait. He would see this through to the end before jacking out. He thought about what might happen next and though he was afraid, he was at peace with himself. He thought briefly of the old man dreaming away in his room next door, he thought about his sad little life, and then he thought that he might listen to some music. And then he thought that he might listen to some music.
And then he thought that he might listen to some music...
Data Kill: 3. Blood Sweat and Tears Bay Street Mission Roxbury Crossing 03:03:13.05, 03/02/2217
Dixon maneuvered through darkness, smoke, and screams. Static discharges over his command net implant echoed the staccato bursts from Blazer’s auto pistol, his primary weapon long since exhausted. He was pinned down at a T junction in the halls on the 120th floor of the Oetker-Deutschland building with what was left of his team. “Say again Whiskey Base, over!”
“Whisky 1 if y--’re not at t-- exfil poi-t in - min-t-s yo-r tea- will be l-ft behind! Jammers cu-ti-g tran----sions, fighters inb--nd! Ov--!” A great fit of static nearly burst his ear drum and Whisky Base was silenced. He had to think fast.
Dixon turned to give Johnson, the youngest man in the unit an order only to see his youthful features disintegrate. The boys blood sprayed Dixons eyes with a burning salty tang. Johnsons lifeless body crashed into Dixon, the shock of it and his sudden blindness caused him to slip back, he felt himself falling fast and landed with a jarring jolt onto his bed! Sweat soaked his sheets, he shot bolt upright breathing heavy and clutching spasmodically at his thin blanket.
“Christ!” Dixon panted. He reached a shaking hand out to a bottle of bourbon on the nightstand, the bottle mouth clinked several times on the rim of the small glass as he poured himself a drink. He glanced at the blue hologram crucifix on the wall before he shut his eyes and knocked back the fiery tonic. As the alcohol hit his bloodstream he felt his nerves steady a bit and the tremor in his hand lessen. He hadn’t been sleeping well this last month adrift in the wasteland of his mind, haunted by the ghosts of his past.
He inhaled deeply, slowly, then carefully exhaled. He gathered his mind, and felt himself return to center. He had learned the trick of it as a recruit, and it had served him well in the decade of conflict that would follow.
He reached again for the bottle, his hand steady in the silence and slugged back another shot when in the darkness of his eyelids, a line of small green text appeared.
Inbound call 617-74-121...Connect?
Dixons eyes shot open and glanced around the spartan room.
The green text remained, the question it posed blinked off and on.
The tremor in his fingers returned as he opened his mind.
Data Kill: 4. Hearts in the Darkness The Matrix 02:48:42.42, 03/02/2217
Dat’s bloodhound program returned a hit in just under one minute. He smiled and thought, “You may have some moves, but your stealth is for shit!”
His mind slipped across the current to the IP address at the speed of thought and caught sight of the whisp of smoke that was Sl1p’s avatar. Dat was uneasy about how simple it had been to locate the offending deck. No cyberknight should have been picked up that fast. He was wary, he had no intention of getting caught unawares again. He was fully cloaked, his sys scan was running a constant battery of system checks, and his most lethal programs were primed. Amature night was over and DAT was ready to burn this chummer down.
Invisible and powerful as the fury of the wind DAT moved in and closed the distance with the softly shifting whiff of smoke, the belligerent who had the temerity to intrude upon those more powerful than himself. Though DAT was certain that he could not be detected he was cautious because of the apparent apathy or ignorance or sheer bravado that this decker displayed by just hanging out on an open node as if he were waiting for a crosstown bus. As if he were waiting for...
The puff of smoke swelled suddenly and then violently imploded, collapsing in upon itself at the same moment DAT’s proximity sensor triggered a window that popped open to the right of his vision. Industrial Synth began to play and a multi color spectrogram pulsed up and down visualizing the beat. The window slid open growing in size until it arched over him, completely engulfed his field of view, surrounded him, and became his entire world.
DAT was still aware of the figure before him, the smoke dissipated to a thin filmy serpentine line which raced around a scrawny looking teanager with wild hair. The figure before him thrashed about briefly, a look of terror flickering across his face. Meanwhile the music surrounded DAT until the only thing he could hear and feel was the rhythmic pulsing of a base line in his chest like the beating of his heart.
DAT knew his deck was compromised in some way. DAT knew he should be concerned for his data, and more importantly for his life, but he felt caught up in a strange lethargy that stayed his hand from unleashing any kind of defensive countermeasure.
The volume of the music lowered becoming nearly imperceptible, until all that remained was the pulse of the beat. “Forgive me DAT, most illustrious master of the net, but I knew no other way...”
DAT was then submerged in a roller coaster ride of electronic noise, images, words, and emotion. A reflection in the pupils of the old man of a child fending off blows and covering his ears in a vain effort to drown out the most hate filled and hurtful diatribe. The more casual daily violence and humiliation at the hands of the neighborhood gangers. The elation of the moment his first program ran. All of the fear, pain, hope, and triumph of Sl1ps small life crashed over him in an undeniably compelling and yet unbearable cacophony.
When Sl1p had breached DAT’s deck he had managed to inject a line of rogue code that hid in the system apps of the OS escaping detection. It consisted of a thin client program that used the decks resources and native apps to create a virtual box stimulation simulator. He had learned the trick of it by de-compiling the code in the old mans joybox. Stim simulators created photo real life experiences with accompanying physical and emotional stimulus directly triggered in the brains nerve centers. They were harmless escapes for most people and a dark addiction for others. For Sl1p it was the only way he knew that might get DAT to listen to him.
The recording ended and the window snapped closed shrinking to a tiny circle of white light and disappearing like an ancient television set. Breathless and nearly overcome with emotion DAT was aware of his surroundings and was free once again. The first thing he saw was Sl1ps virtual self laying in the darkness of the net, small convulsions the only movement. Without thinking DAT rushed to him falling to his knees and scooped him up as a father might gather a small child that has fallen off of his bike.
DAT held the image of Sl1p, not the fabricated virtual avatar that everyone used on the web, this was the raw subconscious image of himself. Unable to maintain an avatar due to distress or deck malfunction, the most basic image of himself was naked to the world. A near mirror image of himself outside of the net but made of luminous binary code. Blue binary flowed from his vacant eyes like tears and a red pulsing glow bled ominously from the base of his skull.
DAT reacted with a soldiers instinct when defending a fallen comrade. He gently placed his hand palm down on Sl1p’s chest and used a subtle intrusion program to gain access to his deck. Within the construct of Sl1p’s deck, the walls were glowing red hot like molten steel, this deck was on the verge of collapse. DAT scanned the system and sent out security agents to look for anything out of the ordinary. The CPU was overclocked well over the safe threshold and was running cycles like crazy generating heat and was on the verge of melting down. A fault in the data jack connection was also detected which was overloading the data port in Sl1ps head, generating heat that if left unchecked would fry his brain like an egg. Dat acted fast, gaining SU superuser access in a matter of milliseconds. He underclocked and undervolted the CPU to slow it down and hopefully get it to start cooling off. The main danger being an uncontrolled burn out that could wipe Sl1ps mind with a burst of feedback up the data jack. He killed all active tasks and turned his attention to the data port connection.
The data port hardware showed no fault, the problem must be software. He called up the code and before him a 3d hologram appeared, a shifting code cube that had a second string of code snaking in and out of it. DAT put his hands on either side of the cube and began to pull outward. The cube expanded, began to separate and when he thought it would open up to allow editing, a warning flashed in his mind just in time to alert him to the unexpected strike of the snaking code inside of the box!
Like the lightning fast strike of a death adder, the code coalesced into a virtual snake that lunged at DAT faster than the naked eye could track. He managed to throw up an arm in defence, but the red black monstrosity wrapped up his arm and began to snap at DAT’s head!
Somehow DAT managed to avoid the deadly intrusion agent long enough to counter attack. His avatar ignited and burned with a blue wind swept flame across a muscular humanoid frame and he snatched the head of the snake just below the jaw with his free hand and squeezed the snapping mouth open. His tongue coiled out of his mouth, a blue flaming snake of his own that shot down the throat of the other. Turning and twisting throughout every character of code, deconstructing and reading it as it went. His tongue ripped back into his mouth and the coded snake fell to his feet, brightly burning one’s and zero’s disappearing into the net like sparks.
He raced back to the data port code, once again expanded the box and made several quick adjustments, repaired what he could, then turning his wrists the boxes twisted and fell back into place and disappeared. His security agents came back clean. The intruders foothold for the moment had been destroyed. He quickly locked down all external ports and set his own listeners and surprises should anyone try to gain access. He tapped the wifi address to get a lock on the decks real world location, then slipped through a port back into the net.
Invisible once again he stood above Sl1p’s fallen form and considered, he hoped like hell that he had been able to do enough and that the boy would survive. The convulsions had stopped but the kid could be a vegetable by now for all he knew. This boy reminded him of another young man he had known long ago. He sighed, opened a connection with his mind and dialed out.
Outbound call 617-63-843...Dialing...
DAT prepared a defensive program that allowed multiple attack options as well. His avatar drew a white flaming katana that seemed to melt under it’s own heat as his cloaking program absorbed it into its algorithm. The code he’d tasted in the agent he had destroyed had all the marks of a Yakuza decker.
It was only a guess but DAT wouldn’t be surprised if that agent belonged one of the Syndicate’s counter insurgency deckers assigned to monitor Liberty Square’s grid tonight, and if there was anything he knew about the Yakuza, it was that they didn’t let shit go. He set to scanning all about him and shifted to a combat stance standing above Sl1p in the darkness of the matrix, a guardian angel with soiled wings.
In this brief moment of calm Dat thought he could feel his heart beating in his chest and could almost hear the song of his blood in his ears.