Strings of Retaliation – 17b – iHack a Killer

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Gabriel came through faster than I expected, which may have just been a way to give me more rope to hang myself with.
The files were insane.
The complexity of the systems required to make the technology work with such elegance would baffle most of my peers. Putting this together required more geniuses than the Earth naturally bore at any point in time. Understanding it was only a smidgen easier.
As I combed through the files, it became clear that the FBI either didn’t know or didn’t share the full extent of the SSW program. The only way I could explain the leaps between generations was if after the initial test project, Lorelei, MerriTech developed scientific ‘killing machines’ in parallel to their ‘soldier’ product line.
While I drooled both from sheer amazement and neural overload, Lorelei went about her business, planning the upcoming world tour, working, training, ignoring her brother’s calls and harassing me for result every other day.
“You did it much faster for me. How harder can it be?” She yelled a week after I received the files.
“No offence Lor, but you’re a cheap model compared to these.”
In a way, I should have minded my tongue because she was none too pleased with my answer. On the other hand, she left me alone for two weeks and that really helped me get the work done.
For the sake of security and to free up the processor for deeper interactions with the brain, MerriTech got rid of the ‘call out’ program all nanobots were typically encoded with. It coincided with the implementation of the remote control feature, which led me to believe there was a way to trigger some kind of extraction through that channel.
The How-To manual wasn’t in the FBI’s file. But that wasn’t even my biggest worry.
When creating generation 5 and following, MerriTech altered their DNA to support accelerate growth and react faster to the prompts of the nanobots. The scientific branch of the SSW mastered splicing technology to such a level they tailored the size of certain glands to the desired results.
Technically, the brains would not have been viable because their wiring couldn’t quite adapt to the drastic change in physiognomy and unnatural growth speed, but the nanobots made up for that.
Brilliant!
As far as nanobots extraction was concerned, Saskia was lucky: G7 was one generation away from the life-threatening threshold of DNA re-sequencing. She had been grown too fast though, so I’d need to devise a cocktail to gradually get her off certain hormonal imbalance. That would be dicey.
But the failsafe and remote control had to go first. Theoretically, I could find the exact radio frequency the nanobots received messages from, then order them to detach from their port, enter the bloodstream and be filtered out through normal bodily functions.
“I need to hack Saskia’s brain,” I said to Lorelei and Gabriel after they sat around my main workspace. Lorelei glared at me. Gabriel frowned. Geez! “Hack the nanobots in Saskia’s brain.”
“You’ll have to do it remotely.”
I sighed. “Guys, I’m wrecking my binaries here. Cut me some slack.” Neither of them reacted. “The facility blocks radio waves, doesn’t it?” Gabriel nodded. “And none of your guys has the skills to do this on their own.” I paused to get another nod, but it never came. “Once I get the process started, I may encounter contingencies. This’ll be a very risky, time-sensitive miracle.”
“They won’t let you in.” Gabriel insisted.
Lorelei scoffed. “What the use of agreeing to his help, then?”
Good! My head was safer when they were butting theirs.
“You can have your brilliantest man monitor me.”
And so Gabriel did, to all our surprises. I wondered if the mole, whoever that was, had a vested interest in letting me fix Saskia. Maybe they thought I would fail and effectively tie their loose ends.
Or maybe the FBI mole had no tie to the MerriTech traitor and couldn’t care less about Saskia’s information.
“So Emmerson,” I said after setting up my FBI-provided computer, “can I use the needle to get in?”
“No. It’s a localized EMP wave.”
For the love of code! They hadn’t wanted to burn the nanobots completely with a standard EMP and used the bluntest tool at their disposal to stave off the problem. The side-effects of a continuous electro-magnetic wave on the human brain could be disastrous. Fortunately, based on MerriTech’s files, the nanobots had the capacity to restore damaged tissue as long as it wasn’t completely dead. Fingers crossed.
“I’ll need a bit of more time, then.”
Under the watchful eye of my FBI hound, I pinged different frequencies to see which one led to Saskia’s brain. Gabriel winced when I accidentally established contact with his communication chip.
“I’m in.”
My watchman paled when he looked at the lines of code on my screen. There were a lot of them and it wasn’t a common language.
“I’ll need coffee.”
“I thought you said it was time-sensitive?” Gabriel complained.
“It’ll get there, but there are a few hours of code breaking between now and then.”
The first sip of the facility’s coffee motivated me to work fast and avoid having to pull an all-nighter at all cost. The swill was just too foul to survive on.
Lorelei had a chair in the corner of the room and didn’t say a word during the hours I spent working on Saskia. She just sat, almost statuesquely. I had never seen her so tense, not even during her post-nano-extraction madness. A few months ago, I feared she wasn’t feeling anything. Now, I feared she bottled up too much.
Middle ground is a lie.
Saskia twitched. Lorelei bolted out of her chair. “What’s happening?”
“The hard part is starting,” I replied, focusing on the task at hand. I was in the operating system of one of the ‘administrative’ nanobots in Saskia’s brain. Every time I inputed a command or tweaked a line, there was a risk of creating a bug.
Saskia’s fingers wrapped and unwrapped repeatedly.
“Vexx…” Lorelei’s stress buried straight through my concentration.

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About Aheïla

Somewhere in Quebec City, Aheïla works as a Game Design Director by day and writes by night. Known for her blue hair, unyielding dynamism and tasty cooking (quails, anyone?), she’s convinced “prose is the new crack”. She satisfies her addiction daily on The Writeaholic’s Blog and weekly on Games' Bustles View all posts by Aheïla

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