Archive for June 13th, 2012
By Nojh Livic
The heat was a comfort when Tamato begun his mission. The ice of winter had settled across the city of New Houston It had arrived days before and none had fallen to join it in the last twenty-four hours. The form-fitting suit of armor he wore insulated him from some of the cold and his optical stealth system generated more than enough heat to fight off the rest. However once he had gained entrance to the home of his target the building’s internal heating had made wearing the suit exceptionally uncomfortable. When Tamato had began to perspire he was forced to turn off the optical stealth system. Tamato hated being hot.
Had there been anyone in maintenance access to see, a relatively short humanoid figure swathed from head to toe in black slowly shimmered into existence. In the dim light of the room, he appeared more a master-less shadow than actual person, the gauzy outer most layer of the suit breaking up his silhouette and blurring the edges. It worked well under anything but direct illumination, at which point the wearer looked like they had wandered away from a colorblind theatrical troupe or live action publicity stunt.
Tamato entered through a maintenance hatch on the tenth floor from an adjoining skyscraper by scaling the outside of the skyway. The ice made this difficult and perilous but that was the reason why he chose this entrance. His contacts had assured him that the hatch had been overlooked by maintenance staff for the past week mostly due to the cold weather. Their word had proved as true as the cash he had paid them with. He mentally reminded himself to ping their reputation after the mission.
It was several hours past sun set, when a majority of the daylight workers of Ford Chemical would have retired to the housing units on the upper levels of the corporate building. Being one of the tallest buildings in the New Houston’s metroplex, the Ford building had one of the best views and cleanest air, both of which were highly sought after. It was on the marketing brochure that all full-time and indentured employees received company housing in the 50th and above levels of the Ford building. Tamato had never been as high as level twenty.
That wasn’t to say the lower levels were uninhabited. Companies like Ford always had a night staff, both workers and security. The world never truly slept and multi-world corporations like Ford Chemical couldn’t afford to sleep either. Tamato was sure that if the corporation could replace its workers with machine it would.
The intruder moved quickly and with near silence through the dim hallways, pausing at each hallway intersection as he traversed the mental map of his primary route to his target. The mask he wore projected in his field of vision information of the surrounding area fed to it by the suite of sensors he wore. Sound levels, ambient temperature, infrared spikes, radio waves and more. There were very few parts of the electromagnetic spectrum Tamato was not at least partially aware of. This allowed him to detect the footfalls three seconds before he would have heard them naturally.
Quickly he leapt upwards, running straight up the wall and flattening his palms against the ceiling. The gloves stuck fast and he planted his feet against the top of the wall. With a thought he triggered the optical stealth systems. The heat flooded the tiny space between skin and suit. He remained frozen, silent, and prone on the ceiling while he waited. He felt himself beginning to perspire again and mentally cursed but he held still.
The footsteps belonged to an office worker. A woman in a smart suit, although she walked barefoot and her attention was focused far more on a data pad in the crook of her arm than her surroundings. She walked right underneath Tamato, completely oblivious. He waited three seconds after he could no longer detect her footsteps before turned off his stealth systems and let go of the ceiling, twisting to fall on his hands and feet. Recovering, Tamato began to navigate the hallways again.
The interruption had put him off his time-table by ten seconds. This was not a real issue but Tamato prided himself on efficiency. He was not one of the obsessive compulsion operators whose plan fell apart at the first major delay but he did like competing in the fastest mission time boards. However for a professional like Tamato, the target came first.
He reached the first set of security doors that separated him and his target in under five minutes with no further interruptions. The lack of a security patrol bothered Tamato but it was not enough to second guess his plan yet. A nanohacking tool applied to the door’s security lock had him through the first door in under five seconds. A simple ceiling walk got him past the security sensors in the first room. The second room lacked any security and instead held several terminals and computer equipment. A scan of the room revealed a concealed door behind a shelving unit that was easily accessed.
The third room presented an actual challenge that impressed Tamato. It had a reinforced door with an actual mechanical lock. According to ultrasound scans of the walls around the door, Ford security had even done their homework, reinforcing the room around the heavy metal door. A nanohacking tool would be useless and key slots where obviously smart material key sensors, designed to sense any possible three dimension shape as a solution. There were three slots. Tamato didn’t have the equipment, much less the time, to bypass this type of door.
That left only one real solution. While they had reinforced the walls that held the door they were still the weakest part of the security around the target. Tamato drew a small cylinder about the size of salt shaker from a concealed pocket and pressed it against the wall next to the door. Twisting the bottom produced a bright flare of heat and a noticeable hum. For several minutes, nothing appeared to happen, then, slowly the wall began to glow red as heat began to build up inside the wall. Tamato focused on his sensors as he waited for the tool to finish. After ten minutes, the cylinder vibrated twice, signaling that it nearly out of fuel. The wall now had a two foot wide hot spot that had Tamato’s infrared readings spiking wildly. The general increase in room temperature was also alarming and could possibly be picked up by the building’s internal sensors as an anomaly. He needed to work faster.
Tamato switched the device off and stowed it in a different concealed pocket. Taking several steps back and he drew yet another tool this one thicker and longer like a flashlight and it at the red glowing spot and turned the bottom again. A chemical foam, manufactured by Ford Chemical ironically, ejected from the device and covered the hot spot. It made a relatively loud hissing sound as it did and was followed by a cracking sound as if Tamato were walking on thin ice. Tamato infrared readings dropped quickly to normal levels. Radio waves, had picked up however.
Without wasting more time, Tamato swiftly kicked the center of the foam covered circle. The metal and foam broke apart with a muffle crack, the pieces of foam keeping the metal pieces from clanging loudly on the floor. A few more kicks and the hole was just clean enough to let Tamato slither through.
He emerged into a small room that was blessedly cool. The air that flowed in this room was as free of impurity as the highest levels of the Ford Building but was cold enough to kill a human if exposed too long. Even one wearing insulated armor. Filling the room were rows of tall towers of electrical and computer equipment. Large tubes containing cables of power and data ascended, extended, and descended from every direction to interface with the various digital devices that filled the room. The room needed no direct lightening small bulbs that covered the devices created symphony of light that never quiet fell into darkness or illuminated everything. Tamato’s radio and infrared sensors flat-lined. His ambient noise sensor went crazy.
He had reached his destination.
His target stood in the center of the room, removed from the rows and towers but instead stood on a pedestal. It was very unlike the rest of the electronic devices around it. None of the large insulated tubes ran to it. Instead transmitters surrounded it like a crown. It was housed inside a cylindrical glass case was illuminated with pulsing light. The epoxy that all computer motherboards were made of dominated the internal structure followed quickly by chips of all sizes and wires of all colors. The components were submerged in clear non-conductive liquid for cooling purposes. What made it truly unique wasn’t any of these parts, however, but the flesh like growths that attached themselves to every piece of the machine, growing on it, providing the faint pulsing glow.
The head of digital security for Ford Chemical. The mastermind behind its digital campaigns, corporate strategies, network security, and so much more. It was a biological and digital amalgamation. Unique, save for the others that ran the computer systems of Ford’s closest rivals. Not that rival was a term used any but the deluded masses.
The system was almost completely disconnected from the net, interfacing wirelessly with only the machines in this room, and only in an ad hoc manner. Its touches upon the world outside were light, calculated, and impossible to predict. Even with those light touches, it basically ran everything digital about Ford Chemical and even many things that were not. Nobody was gaining access to the target without being face to face with it. Tamato suspected its secret though. Something even its creators didn’t know.
Tamato reached over his shoulder and drew a an ergonomic grip handle from a concealed compartment there. With a click a blade began to grow from the hilt like syrup filling an invisible mold until it formed a long blade. The now sword was similar to a traditional Japanese katana, although far stronger and sharper. He pointed the tip at the center of the glass cylinder and drew the blade back.
“Wait.” The voice spoke to Tamato through the speakers in his own suit. The radio sensor remained flat-lined. There had been no spikes in any of his other sensors. “Let’s-” It increased the likely hood that the hypothesis of his patrons was correct.
Tamato didn’t hesitate. Being detected only meant he needed to succeed faster. The blade struck the metallic shell of his target. The tip of the sword penetrated the glass but only sunk in slightly, failing to pierce its way fully into the tank. Tamato tensed his muscles and placed all his force on the blade.
“You do not understand the near countless lives that will be lost by your actions.” The voice said in his ears. It was neither male nor female. It was almost monotone except that he could tell it was pleading. He did not answer it. There was resistance to his strike, as if something were trying to repel the weapon. Still he pressed. Tamato was short but his body was well toned and the sword was the sharpest blade that could be constructed on a molecular scale. Slowly it pierced through the layers of dense transparent armor.
“I am more than a simple corporate computer. I am a sentient being. A unique creation.” The voice pleaded. Tamato snorted, then cursed mentally. He shouldn’t have indicated he was even listening. Its sentience was in question by his patrons but of that, Tamato had no doubt. Nothing without sentience could perpetrate the ambiguous evils that this thing in front of him had. He had seen the data. It was not as contained as its deluded owners thought.
Despite being disconnected from the net, the head of Ford Chemical had managed to communicate with its brethren or any computer system, regardless of distance. It had slowly, carefully, and over the span of lifetimes, orchestrated the slow destruction of the environments of countless worlds, until the human masses huddled in towers like the one he currently stood, safe and controlled. Controlled by them.
“If you do not cease your course of action I will be forced to retali-”
Tamato triggered the electromagnetic pulse generated in the hilt of his sword the instant the tip pierced the inner layer of the target’s armor. The voice died away in his ears instantly. All the readouts in his suit died as well. All around him computer systems crackled, fell silent, or began to smoke. The lights flicked and died like worshipers committing suicide as they learned their god was no more until Tamato was left in darkness. The cool pure air was no longer being pumped into the room.
Tamato pulled off his mask, gathered saliva, and spat on the transparent armor. The coolant was trickling down the side of the casing like blood, although no motors provided it with fresh coolant which was draining quickly out the bottom. The liquid must have supplied the meat with some kind of nutrients as it began to shrivel and dessicate almost immediately as it was exposed to air. Without its wireless connections it couldn’t scream in agony, if it even felt pain, and yet he still felt something scratching at his mind, just behind his eyes. He ignored it.
Tamato only had one thing left to do. Stowing his sword, he pulled a final tool from his suit and with it burned letters into the glass case of the dying would-be mastermind.
“One of Three. Until Humanity is Free.”