Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Connection: Keep Alive - Part 2

This story takes place one month after the events in The Know Circuit. Part 1 is available here and part 3 is available here

Once he’d learned how to store information in a separate memory block from the normal avatar processes, Mu managed to create a clock and calendar program to keep track of the time that had passed. Every time he woke, he tinkered in what little bit of meditative time he could find, creating all the pieces of a new avatar interface that he hoped to eventually connect to his previous shell. Mu was counting on the programmer of the kidnap software not to have expected an attack from within.

Though a slow moving slog, the creation of the new avatar proved to be therapeutic. It kept Mu sane. His captor let slip a number of details during that time. Some corporate account in Hong Kong he’d hacked last year had actually been a dummy account used to launder money from Los Angeles to China and back. The owners of that account had hired his kidnappers to take care of the problem, and rather than whack him, they’d decided to enlist him in an experiment. The kidnap software, in the alpha stages of production, scared the shit out of Mu. It could infect his system from specific GlobalNet interactions, forcing his connection to the GlobalNet to remain open. That allowed the kidnappers to trace him back to his roost, no matter how many anonymizer hops he took. Once they’d found his crèche, they broke in, replaced his nutrient drip with the SomniTrip, hooked up the crèche to a portable generator and moved the whole shebang out under the cover of darkness to some remote facility with a bunch of other boxed up hackers.

The physical part troubled Mu. Even if he managed to get his new avatar interface working, even if he could kill the connection so that he woke up in his crèche, what then? The place had to be guarded, and his body would take some time to recover from the effects of the drug. He would need to shut off that feed hours before he severed the connection with his avatar, and that little module required weeks more programming than he first expected. But once he escaped the box, he would have to rely on his physical skills to escape whatever bodyguards were strewn about the place. He had no chance of that in the best of times. He knew the outcome of that scenario but it no longer mattered. Better the guards put a cap in his ass than his brain burn itself out from overuse months, maybe years into the future.

Finally the day came. His clock informed him that he’d been captured for at least six months. His friends had likely given him up for dead. His family probably believed that his lifestyle had finally caught up with him, and he realized with chagrin that they would actually be right.

By the time his escape plan was ready, he’d decided on calling his handler Liàn, which was Chinese for chain. She provided him with a katana for his battle, a fairly straightforward sword clash between himself and three plate wearing assailants wielding claymores. Despite their obvious advantage in numbers and equipment, he’d bested them easily with his maneuverability. Along the way, he’d cloned the katana’s code, storing an exact duplicate in his new cache. Standing over the bodies of his victims, he knelt to the sword, awash in the cheers and jeers of a full house. Then without acknowledging the crowd, he walked confidently back to the prison where Liàn waited.

“Weapon,” she said coldly. His chance had come. He tossed her the sword, and while it flew through the air gleaming, he summoned his copy of the sword and a shield from a previous battle, diving through the air as she reached up to grab the sword. To her credit, she avoided his killing stroke and grabbed the sword out of the air in one motion, catching the blade and slicing downwards at him, a blow which landed harmlessly on his shield. He rolled into the antechamber and sprang back into a fighting position just as the portcullis slammed shut behind her. She pressed her back against the bars in a practiced stance.

“Very nice,” she said with obvious admiration. “How’d you do that?”

“My little secret,” he hissed, feinting with the shield before spinning and landing a blow that she parried hard enough for sparks to fly from the blades. “I’m leaving. Do you want to tell me your name before I go, or should I keep calling you Liàn?”

“Chain. Cute. It’s as good a name as any.” Three lightning quick slashes drove him back a few feet, the last a fatal mistake. He slammed her arm with the shield, causing her to drop the sword. He popped her in the face with the shield, then slashed her from shoulder to hip. She derezzed immediately.

Time to leave. He knelt quickly, triggering the kill program stored in the sword. His avatar drove the sword into its belly and sliced across, severing his connection with the GlobalNet.

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