Monday, February 16, 2015

02-16-15 Writing Warm-up
10:04 AM

02-16-15 Writing Warm-up

2-16-15 Writing Warm-up
Artwork © ????, All Rights Reserved - ???
Story and Characters © John Langley, All Rights Reserved 
Brought to you by Four Fools Press: “Crazy Good Stories”

Five minutes of terror.

This may be the beginning, but it’s really the end. The first step is the final step, because once the beast is unleashed there’s really no turning back. Around the world four dozen hackers, crackers, and script kiddies waited in silence. Like NASA mission control as the first man stepped on mars, all the coders waited together in a virtual room with bated breath. NASA’s seven minutes of terror are the seven minutes it takes for a signal to reach earth from mars. For seven minutes, mission control doesn’t know if the landing was successful or if the bold astronauts met their ultimate demise.

Here, there’s only 5 minutes of terror. Five minutes to link the worldwide botnet. Five minutes to exploit a zero day hack, and five minutes to fundamentally change the code of the guardian AI that would inevitably discover said hack. If, in that five minutes, their bot had done its job, they would receive a message from the guardian AI, and they would become the wealthiest scrubs the world had ever seen. If not… well, Canadian wilderness is supposed to be great this time of year.

In truth they had no idea how long they really had. Statistically five minutes seemed like the longest time. Less useful zero day hacks were used to probe the reaction time of the AI, known as Sun WuKong for the Monkey King of Chinese legend. The had concluded a very liberal estimate of five minutes. If they hadn’t gotten a response in five minutes, it was time to destroy their hard drives and run. They could already have already been discovered.

Their code could already have been cross checked by the massive archives kept deep into the crust that recorded of all internet traffic of the world, then back traced through the low earth orbiting satellites that provided the worlds internet. In minutes they could be found out. In hours they could have police breaking down their doors, and if they managed to escape, they would still have managed to get on the bad side of one of China’s largest corporations.

Min-Jun Go grit his teeth in a PC Bang in South Korea. He had always wanted to be a small time nobody, and owner of local computer lounge, but once his dream was fulfilled he realized how badly he longed for challenge and adventure. Now, the otherwise friendly man wore a wide jawed scowl severe enough to send most of his usual customers far from the front bar and to any of the other multiple computer desks hidden away in the nooks and crannies of his establishment. He stood behind the counter, lock kneed and lock jawed, staring intently at his screen.

Leaning over the bar, and looking over his shoulder was Do-Hyun An. A homeless man by any official reckoning, and definitely looking the part. He was unshaven, disheveled, and a heavy belly from pilfering the snack machine one too many times. He looked more like a basement dweller than a racketeer for a criminal empire. Heavy bags weighed down his eyes, and a slack jawed look was on his face. In reality the man lived at the computer cafe. Despite being brilliant and very capable he despised the idea of becoming a regular salary man. The low hourly rent for a cubicle at the PC bang lead to his living there.

It was fortune that had brought this unlikely duo together. It was fortune that had carried them so far in their cooperation with this illegal enterprise. It was fortune that lead to their becoming two of the chief most members of this endeavor. Now they waited for four minutes to see if that fortune would hold out just a little longer.

Elov Frisk knocked back another hit of Heavy Water. “GAaaahhh. Swedish Vodka’s…” He stated openly in the chatroom to no one in particular. His voice was deep and rolled like the sound of an old diesel engine “Temperance movement’s making it harder to get a hold of.” The man stared into the glass bottle with piercing blue eyes and swirled the clear liquid around. Driven by his heavy hand the bottle clanked back onto to his desk.

Elov was not a small man, but he was very skinny. He had the build of a man who was huge by nature, but gaunt by choice. Such was a life lived exclusively in a cluttered room lined with Swedish flags and a jolly rogers. He offered a physical server, as well as being responsible for the bulk of the operating power for their bot network. Such was the power of torrenting pirated files around the world. If you gain a reputation for reliable, virus free movies or programs, no one gives you a second look when you slip a small innocuous line of code into a pdf, or e-book. He originally started off giving the finger to corporate lobbyists. He delighted in their cries of silly little notions like “intellectual property” and “Terms of Use.” He let out a rolling chuckle at the thought. Humble beginnings to quite an unforeseen end.
“Maybe,” He started, “Maybe I’ll be getting you all some real drinks once we are rich in three minutes.”

“I’ll take you up on that offer once we are rich” retorted Frank Diltzon in a pinched and airy voice. The older man from a bygone era of the internet sat arms crossed in a cracked leather chair in a NewYork apartment. Stacked around him were books, newspapers, a few playboys. Before him was an antique roll top desk, but the beast behind the wooden plated screen was one of the most powerful supercomputers privately owned. Just as unassuming as the desk was the man himself. The brain of this rotund balding man was more computer than human.

He was the awkward sort of man that wore a tie and white collared shirt black socks and whitie tighties with no pants while sitting at his desk, the sort that people distance themselves from when sitting in a cafe or restaurant.  He wasn’t a hostile man, or even unkind, he was just a criminal mastermind responsible for the coding of one of the most dangerous botnets and partnering viruses ever seen in the 22nd century. He creaked back in the high back swiveling chair and whined.

“We should have heard something by now… I know my code… I know my code… I know…”
“Hey!” Ujin Walker interrupted him. “Chill, We all know the estimated response time. We’ve still got two minutes.” With unsteady hands he knocked back a shot of whisky. “Besides I don’t want to hear your whiny mantra as your brain implodes on itself.” Ujin, perhaps, had the most to lose of them all. This failed up and coming video game star already had the ire of his FBI father for his unconventional career choice. His mom was a bit more supportive, she just--

“…wonder when you’ll go back to school. Even if I’m not on the board anymore, I’m still friends with the dean back in Korea… You could go to school and take care of your gram for the family at the same time. You know she only lives a mile from the university.”

Ujin shuddered as the memory played through his mind once again. She had said it so many times there was little doubt his choice in the matter was quickly dwindling. He took a moment to wonder how his strange upbringing had resulted in him orchestrating one of the most complex cyber attacks the world had yet seen. Perhaps his dads work in intelligence community gave him a taste for the clandestine, or his mothers work in education motivated him to do something great. Whatever the case, he now coordinated the work efforts of the most unlikely international team of Experts, shills, and CIS experts all while sitting in a government subsidized apartment in Amarillo Texas, land of open fields, flat horizons, and big hats.

The team watched in silence as the clock continued to tick down with still no response from WuKong… one minute, zero seconds… thirty seconds. If the chatroom could have processed unspoken tension it would have crashed a long time ago. They all watched in silence as the clock rolled down. Five-four-three-two-one-zero. The string of goose eggs sat heavily on their screens.

“Shit…” Ujin stated. “Dad’s gonna kill me.”


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