Hack the Future part 4 ( Steven Schaufler & J Dark )

“Well” ‘Hanson’ said thoughtfully, “Do it. We can always flatline ’em later.” Blade looked down as strong hands slid along her arms and knees. She didn’t struggle as she was lifted by three men. The front two held her by the armpits, while the one wrapped a metal limb around her knees. As they turned, she caught a glimpse of TJ. Her captors felt her stiffen.

“No squirming, or we change our minds and flatline you here.” She felt the press of a muzzle between her shoulder blades. “You two”, ‘Hanson’ growled, “Get that meat sack up and to security.” TJ was picked up like a sack of wet cement, and carried between the two men, leaving two unencumbered and armed.

They were moved to a security office, then zip-stripped by the elbows and ankles to a metal chair bolted to the floor. TJ, while pale looking, didn’t have the death-warmed-over caste to his face that she’d seen when he’d been shot. The door to the security room closed with a heavy thud. She saw one guard through the near one-way glass. He was leaning against the glass wall, weapon hanging from a shoulder sling. He reached into his pocket, pulling a thin stick-like tube that he brought to his lips and inhaled. He leaned his head back against the glass, blowing a waft of vapor into the air.

She tried focusing her own abilities. Her ears were normal human, because they had been sculpted that way to hide her in human society. A half-elf was generally spurned by both races. She leaned forward, letting her long hair form a curtain around her face as she focused on her power. She aimed her intent at the zip tie on her left arm. The spell wafted out, then recoiled away. The backlash created a stabbing pain between her eyes. She closed them, and waited a few moments before opening them again. The dim light stabbed at her eyes like icepicks, and she closed them hurriedly.

After a few minutes she felt centered enough to risk opening her eyes once more. The room swayed as she fought to focus, and slowly came back to normal. She looked over at TJ. His brown duster was splashed with blood from the shoulder wound. His black Tee shirt and dark blue body armor under the trench coat had a similar dark blotch of blood on them. Their weapons were outside of the security room, leaning against the far wall.

“TJ? Can you hear me?” she whispered. She focused again, shutting her eyes. She built the spell in her mind, felt it form, settling in place, making her eyes itch. She slowly opened them, and gazed slowly around the small room. Her gaze returned to TJ. His head was still tilted forward, his body trying to follow his head, hunching over only to be stopped by the tight zip ties at his elbows. She could see his noise amplifier in his right pocket, the holdout pistol up the heavy leather sleeve of the duster, the spring knives in each boot, the small blob of plastique in his hollow left heel, and the electronic detonator and control in the hollow right heel. Satisfied the spell was working she slowly scanned everything she could, finding two tiny cameras, one over the door, the other atop the wall shelves to her right. Neither had the bright glow of an active unit, meaning they could be passive, becoming active if sounds rose above a certain level.

Focusing on the one over the door, she said in a normal speaking voice, “Teej, you awake?” The dull color never changed. She rocked back and forth as much as the restraints would allow. No color change. The unit was turned off. She closed her eyes, and let the spell fade as she focused on a new one. TJ hadn’t twitched since they been trussed up in the security room. If they were going to get out, TJ had to be awake. She bit her lip nervously and nearly lost the spell. Regaining her focus, she nervously gathered saliva in her mouth, then activated the spell, spitting quickly. Her mouth burned from the burn of the acid. The spittle arced through the air, landing on TJ’s coat just above the zip tie on his right arm. The leather began smoking immediately, and the spittle ate through the coat, then attacked the plastic as it ate its way down the leather.

Teej, you awake?“; came Blade’s barely audible whisper. He wasn’t. Not quite yet. Besides, he was curious just how far his partner would take her current teasing. Up until now it had always been strictly verbal; more often than not related to his near non-existant lovelife. So why /she/ would suddenly try to wake him up by nibbling on his arm was beyond him.

 Did we go out and get drunk last night? No, that couldn’t be it. They’d gotten bloody well wasted before, and managed to get home to their own, albeit spinning, beds. What the hell did we do? As he tried to remember, her biting became more insistent, painful even. Opening his eyes just as he jerked his arm away, he started to growl „Damnit! That hur…“; then memory -and awareness- kicked in. TJ started to growl, then jerked again at the restraining tie, and parted it. He flexed his arm, getting his holdout knife  to hand as the pain acted as incentive, and worked at sawing the other zip tie in twain. He gritted his teeth against the pain as the acid continued to eat away at the coat and his skin. Blade kept an eye on the guard, who hadn’t turned around yet. Once free TJ tore his coat off, wiping frantically at the dime-sized ulcer in his skin.

Blade kept spitting at the floor as her saliva continued to shift to acid. She finally managed to cancel the spell after receiving painful burns in her mouth.

Hack the Future Part 3 (Steven Schaufler & J Dark )

Blade watched as TJ lurched sideways, spinning in a grotesque pirouette as the bullet took him high in the shoulder. “SHITASS IDIOTIC DUMBJIZZ ASSHAT!” She dropped to her back, and aimed her heel at the shooter. He stood partially covered behind a cream-colored Cadillac. The high powered rifle nestled against his shoulder in a classic upright stance. He saw her movement and dropped behind the car, rolling away as fast as he could. Blade pulled a break dance move, swiveling up and back to her feet. She ran as fast as her bare foot and booted one would let her.

Three seconds was all it took to reach him. He was prone, eyes glassy from shock. Blood pumped a bright scarlet rope from his shoulder, arcing to land three feet away in a splash of crimson under the harsh fluorescent landscape. Oh god the blood, his artery got cut. He’s bleeding out! What do I do? I can’t stop this. I can’t… She tore off a strip of cloth, and viciously poked it into the wound. He gasped like a fish out of water, weakly flailing at her hands as she gritted her teeth and pushed more of the ragged strip of cloth into the open wound. I gotta stop it, pack it so tight the bleeding slows. I

“We surrender! We surrender! Help me! He’s bleeding out!” she held up one hand as the used the other to keep pushing the cloth into the wound. The gush of blood had stopped on this side. The exit wound still bled, but sluggishly. She’d pushed her metal finger full length into the wound to pack the cloth in. He wouldn’t bleed to death soon, but he would bleed out without some kind of help, and soon. She couldn’t leave him behind, and she couldn’t carry him out. He was the one who’d made the deal, and hired her to do the hack. “We surrender! Help us! Help him, please!”

The guards slowly advanced, weapons out. The nearest one had a nameplate Blade could barely make out. ‘Hanson’ was spelled out in white against the black of the badge. The huge four limbed star that made up the Dayner logo on his left chest below the badge. She held one hand up, the other resting firmly on the bleeding gunshot wound of her partner.

“On the ground, face down. Spread your arms and legs wide.” ‘Hanson’ punctuated his commands with an aggressive pointing of his rifle at Blade. She lowered herself slowly to the ground spreading her limbs out as the guard asked. One of the other guards stepped forward and put a heavy knee between her shoulder blades. He pulled both arms back, and placed a zip strip around her wrists, locking her arms behind her. Another guard flipped her partner over with a boot. He groaned painfully as he was rolled to his stomach, his long brown trench coat spattered and soaked with blood.

“Some professionals. First sign of blood and they quit. Spuds.” The speaker laughed harshly and another voice Blade could hear joined in. What’s next? Will we be turned over, or tortured and killed, or just killed? I don’t like the odds, but keeping him alive was more important. We were screwed the minute he got shot. They were waiting for us. To get in place they had to have advance warning we were coming, or we got spotted right off the get-go. I didn’t see any spotters, my sniffers didn’t spot any active surveillance. I didn’t miss anything. We had to be set up. Why though? Why us?

Blade kept quiet, unwilling to be subjected to any kind of abuse. She was close to panic. Her hands were restrained and she had no way to free herself. The helplessness threatened to overwhelm her mind. “So, we shoot ’em now, or find out what they’re doing here?” Blade’s mouth was dry. She tried to swallow, then tried to roll over. The man’s foot pressed down harder as she shifted. “Uh uh uh, no moving. Not unless you want to get hurt.” She froze in place, her breathing shallow and rapid. “Looks bad. I think the artery got nicked. Lookit how far he shot blood.” She heard shuffling behind her near TJ. “Can you clean him up a little, Hash?” A few more shuffles. She could see him walking slowly around TJ, sizing him up. “Yeah, not a big problem. I can’t do anything about the blood loss. He’ll be out for a day or two.”

Hack the Future part 2 (Steven Schaufler & J Dark)

Despite the annoyed retort on the cusp of exploding into his microphone, it was the doors finally opening which made him pull it back only to be forgotten with the countless others she’d more than deserved, but never heard, over the course of their working relationship. And it had been one that was not only mutually beneficial but, also, quite lucrative. If that meant he had to take her sass along with her skills, then so be it.

Now he winced. Not only because ninety seconds was cutting things way closer than he would have liked, especially with his paunch not allowing him to slip sideways through the door before it fully opened like he would have a few years ago, but because Blade’s last impatient urging was cut off by a gunshot. Cursing a string of expletives under his breath that would make even the hardiest sailors blush, he wasted precious seconds by considering whether to prioritize the job or his partner… Then he moved, and he hated himself for it.

„Blade, I’m going for the prize. Don’t get your pretty little ass shot!“ He all but cried into the headset, not knowing whether she heard him or not.

It wasn’t nearly enough to clear his conscience if she did get herself killed but, it would have to do for now. He had reached the display case at the end of the cavernous and mirror paneled room and, while under normal circumstances he would’ve checked for any secondary alarms, he neither had the time for it, nor really the need for secrecy anymore. The glass case shattered after just one quick and precise application of his P7’s grip, and the polished aluminum cube which had been on display beneath it found itself in his free hand. He would’ve worn a self-satisfied smile, if not for the fact the door was beginning to close a good fifteen seconds before it should have.

Acting on pure instinct and trusting luck more than skill, he didn’t even tuck the newly liberated container into his satchel but merely took three long strides, before taking a leaping dive onto the mirrored floor and letting his momentum carry him forward like a skater on ice. And it was that momentum, along with a generous helping of luck, that saved his hide. He’d slid across the smooth surface so fast, that when his shoulders touched the carpet outside, it was almost like hitting a wall. His legs had nowhere to go but up, so he barely managed to clear the door before it shut and, whoever it was that fired at him didn’t factor in the sudden stop either, for the projectile which was no doubt meant to pop his head like a melon, buried itself into the carpeted, concrete floor a few centimeters in front of him.

„I’m getting too old for this shit!“ He yelled into his headset. Though the ways things were going, it likely was a futile gesture. Ever since he heard that initial gunshot on Blade’s end, all he’d gotten from the damned thing was static. Rolling over and zig-zagging along the narrow hall in a crouched run to avoid getting hit by whomever was shooting at him he somehow managed to make it to the stairwell unharmed.

Unlike his partner, who had to hack into the system several stories up, his objective had been on the sub-level. As such, he decided that if he was going to even to try to attempt getting to Blade, he had to first grab something better than his P7 from the car. Though once he opened the door to the garage, that became a moot point. Directly across from him, albeit separated by a good thirty or more meters, Blade was already hobbling towards the car. Grinning wickedly, he called out to her „I think we…“ and whatever else he’d meant to say was lost to the thunderous echo of a single gunshot tearing through the garage as violently as the projectile tore through his shoulder.

Hack the Future part 1 ( Steven Schaufler & J Dark )

She flipped her straight black hair back with a light toss of her head, then grunted in annoyance as strands floated like black silk back in front of her eyes. Grumbling, she took an alligator clip from her open kit with her right hand, and used it as an impromptu barrette to hold her hair. “Come on Blade, where’s that hack?” She muttered something low and scathing as the wires leading from her left hand continued to send signals, attempting to finesse the security login. “Hey! What’d you….”, the voice growled. She snapped back, “Shut it, spud. It’s hard enough hacking with a dog yapping.” The angry growl at the other end of her earbud promised a long talk when they got done. The last electron pattern for the security code dropped into place, the yellow ‘query’ going to a green ‘proceed’.

“I got it, I’m in. Doors opening now. We got ninety seconds before Dayner’s pet ‘runners find the hack.” She started feeding spoofers, small programs designed to randomly look, and act like a virus attempting to hack a program. Spoofers used a random algorithm to choose targets, then attached themselves to the program, and replicated, attempting to absorb all available memory. It was a slight variation on a distributed denial of service attack, but one that was internal rather than the archaic method of overwhelming the link to the ‘net.

Blade watched the spoofers take off, and watched the speed that the ‘watchdogs’, the company’s personal security runners isolated the spoofer swarm and began to deny them expansion. “It doesn’t look good, these guys are sharp. Pick up the pace. I…”, she started to say then dropped flat on her back as a soft scrape reached her ears. Three impacts hit just above her, the bullets pockmarking the wall and spalling ceramic dust into her eyes and nose. She brought her foot up, aiming the heel at the security guards in dark brown uniforms. Both carried silenced StGS Wasps, the stubby assault pistol with a silencer longer than the snub barrel. The guard to her left dropped to a knee to brace, the right guard leaned against the corner, only his head and right shoulder seen.

She lifted her left leg, tightened her toes a certain way, and the heel-mounted pulse laser fired, obliterating her boot, and the kneeling guard from the sternum up. The cauterized remains flopped and twitched as the body began to realize it had died. The other guard had ducked back around the corner as she’d fired. I got to get out of here. They found me way too fast. “They found me, I have to bail. Abort. Abort abort abort!” Dammit, there goes our payday. Angry at the shift in fortune, she pulled her father’s old Smith&Wesson Model 29 from the shoulder holster, and snapped a quick shot at the corner where the other security guard had slipped behind. The thunderous boom of the old .44 magnum raised the settling ceramic dust and she sneezed. The bullet tore a fist-sized chunk of cement and ceramic from the wall. She smiled grimly as she heard choking and coughing from around the corner.

She hobbled to her feet and ran clumsily, reaching the stairwell door, and yanking it open. It was second nature to slap the big D-ring around the steel railing and leap over the edge, using the rappelling wire brake to slow her descent. Landing at the bottom o the stairwell, she slapped the rappelling rig’s quick-release and sprinted out the doorway into the underground parking garage. Where is he?! I’m screwed if he gets caught. He’s got the keys.