|Dreams of Purple
Author: ChaseOfSpades PM
In the dystopian future, singularity is within reach, more than half of the population is addicted to a new designer drug, and transhumans outnumber humans. Erik Rohner is a private detective hired to find a computer hacker with plans of taking down the entire government with one virus. With the help of his AI, can Erik stop the Hacker known as Thinker? Review Please! CompleteRated: Fiction T - English - Sci-Fi/Mystery - Chapters: 27 - Words: 54,363 - Reviews: 50 - Favs: 13 - Follows: 9 - Updated: 08-04-12 - Published: 07-05-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3039163
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I filled Mr. Hernandez in on how little I knew about computer hacking.
The extent of my knowledge was that it had been extremely popular when the net was in its primitive stages, there was an extreme hacking war about five years before I was born, and that it was virtually nonexistent in the present due to modern firewalls being impossible to penetrate.
"Fair enough, Mr. Rohner. Allow me to brief you on the case that I will be hiring you for."
I wasn't sure if the senator was aware of it or not, but the sun would be rising in about two hours, and I had no intention on being caught outside during the daytime. I would give him one hour, and then I didn't care if he was a senator, I was leaving. He could finish up with me via videomail.
"A little over two years ago, the Republic employed a young man by the name of Edward Shulster. He was exceptionally talented at engineering, and his skills were required for a series of tasks for the betterment of the nation.
Edward, who adopted the alias 'Thinker', was a child prodigy from the slums. Even as an adolescent, he displayed an extreme aptitude for complex algorithms, designing and engineering, and programming.
By the age of thirteen, Thinker rivaled professional programmers that possessed top of the line AIs, while he had no external aid."
"Sounds like a pretty smart kid." I added.
Senator Hernandez did not look amused with my interjection. He paused, kept his eyes locked with me, and then continued.
"You can imagine how useful a man like that would be to the Republic. We had Intel that informed us that China and Russia were developing computer viruses that could devastate our military and defense computers. We would be absolutely defenseless to a physical attack, and as I am sure you are aware, China and Russia are mutually hurting for resources."
There was a point that I wanted to ask for a glass of water, or even a beer, but I realized that the senator probably had no use for drinks.
"We hired young Thinker to develop several firewalls, far more superior to any that had been fashioned previous to them, and to create a counter virus, lest China or Russia declare a web based war against the Republic. We outfitted Edward with the most advanced AI that the Republic had to offer, and he worked well with us for six months.
Skip forward to one year ago; Thinker vanishes. It was believed that the pressure and his own creative genius had taken a toll on his mind, and he took to using boost. The general consensus was that he had overdosed, became a bezerker, and expired in the streets of the slums that he had been raised in."
"But that wasn't the case?"
"No, Mr. Rohner. That was not the case at all. One week ago, I noticed an image in my personal Sleep Sync Room. It was not an image from my subconscious, and being that I am the only person with access to this room, you can understand why it evoked a sense of invasion.
I've had several, very intensive firewalls place on my room, but somehow there was this single image forgotten by an intruder.
It took me a well over a day to come up with the conclusion that the image was left by mistake, and that Edward was the one that had dropped it."
"And how did you come to that conclusion, senator? For all intense and purposes, Edward could be dead and this might have just been a random hacker that you have never heard of. What I mean is, how could Edward have stayed off the grid for an entire year?" I asked, knowing that Paige was taking note of every word in the conversation.
"Thinker is the only person that we are aware of that could have penetrated my firewalls, and he is talented enough that he could evade detection for well over a year. The image that was dropped must have happened by him leaving out of my room quickly; probably because I was logging on and was about to catch him in the act."
"And what was the image of?"
"It was a picture of every senator of the Republic in a mass grave. It was a fragment of a thought, an idea, or even a hope. In essence, Mr. Rohner, Edward has intentions on decimating the Republic of North America."
I paused for a moment, leaned back in my chair, rubbed my eyes, and took a deep breath.
"Senator Hernandez, we've already established that I'm just a private detective from the slums. I follow cheating wives and find runaway children. This kind of thing is better handled by the authorities or the military. I'm sorry that I've wasted your time, but I wouldn't even know where to begin on a case like this." I said. I started to push my chair out when the senator held his hand out, stopping me in my tracks.
"Mr. Rohner, you are being both disrespectful to me and to yourself. I have carefully evaluated all of my options on how to handle this situation, and for you to imply that I have done anything less is incredibly rude."
"I didn't mean—" He cut me off.
"The Authority and military each constantly sync with one another to better work their cases. Most information is shared carelessly between soldiers or officers, and that just simply will not do. I'm sure that Edward, knowing that he left behind evidence of his hack, will be monitoring both domains."
I started to understand where this was going, but even if Mr. Hernandez was right in choosing this path, I wasn't going to be comfortable with such a large case.
"You, Mr. Rohner, are from the same side of town as Thinker. I could almost assure you that he has returned and is working in the slums. You have a unique prospective due to your roots, and as you have mentioned, you do not sync to the public domain very often. And even if you did, you would not be on Thinker's radar. You are the right choice, Mr. Rohner."
I thought about it for a moment, looking down at my hands to avoid the eye contact.
"I don't know that I can accept this job, Mr. Senator. The risk is incredible, and having the whole Republic's future in my hands—" He cut me off again.
"You won't. I am not asking you to save the world, Mr. Rohner. I would just like to you use your special talents to locate Thinker for me, and bring the information back so that the Authority can handle it in the proper fashion. That is all.
In exchange for this information, I am willing to pay you four million dollars in any form of tender that you see fit."
I looked back up at him to make sure that he wasn't smiling. Maybe this had all been an elaborate practically joke, or maybe I was on a candid camera web show.
I stared at him for well over a minute, but his face never changed.
"Four million?" I asked. "That's a rather large number, Mr. Hernandez."
"Yes it is. It would even be enough for you to move out of the city, I presume. You could take the money and relocate to a much nicer area. Toronto, maybe? It truthfully is none of my concern what you do with the money, but I'm sure that you would enjoy working cases in a place that the daylight is tolerable to your skin."
He had done more research on me than I had originally thought. Living in Toronto had been a dream of mine since first moving to Wichita. I had left a trail of that while searching for suitable living areas on the web some years back.
I regretted having ever left a signature on the public domain.
"You can make arrangements with my secretary down stairs for your deposit cost and per diem on your way out, and then I will have a shuttle transport you back to your office."