This post has the following content warnings:
Oct 24, 2021 10:08 PM
Solace meets EMBER-2.
+ Show First Post
Total: 496
Posts Per Page:
Permalink

[JUST SOME AT-HOME SURGERY]

[CUTTING YOURSELF OPEN TO WIRE ME IN AND THE LIKE]

[IT TAKES SOME TECHNICAL KNOWHOW TO NOT DIE DOING IT]

[BUT THEN AGAIN IF YOU DIE I CAN MAKE IT FAST]

[THINK ON IT]

And the window disappears.

Permalink

"Come back here you - and it's gone." She sighs and starts the arduous process of verifying her backups offline. It doesn't *look* like anything was modified but she'll have to compute a bunch of hashes on these disks and compare them against her paper records. What did that thing mean about dying? Probably would be better to not die, even if her job's a soul-draining one and she barely leaves her apartment cube these days, but making the Phage helpful... is appealing. The fans whir to life in her workstation and she's back at a login prompt. She only pauses for a moment before letting her passcode flow from her fingers again - if that thing wants her passcode it has plenty of ways to get it. Too bad about her biometric 2FA breaking when her fingerprints went.

Permalink

New messages.

[06:11] <@charmz> @no_such_volition you good? what happened

Permalink

[06:12] * no_such_volition set away to ''

[06:12] <@no_such_volition> got hacked I guess?? Some kind of trojan that didn't go away when I rebooted, reached out to "help" me. Trying to check my backup integrity now, y'all should probably check too.

Permalink

[06:13] <@charmz> hacks are getting advanced huh

[06:20] <@charmz> checked looks fine

[06:20] <@ali_j> ^

[06:21] <@ali_j> Help you with what?

Permalink

[06:21] <@no_such_volition> freaked me the hell out yeah

[06:22] <@no_such_volition> ali_j phage stuff, claims it can run on the chips

[06:22] <@no_such_volition> sounds fake tbh but ok then

Permalink

[06:23] <@charmz> yeah i dunno that i'd trust that

[06:23] <@charmz> not much runs well on phage stuff, the entire point is that it's useless

[06:24] <@charmz> you'd have to do some pretty serious stuff to even begin to upgrade it enough for something to run well

[06:25] <@ali_j> If this thing can actually run on phage hardware that's interesting though. Might be a new sort of way to help all the poor hackers who've got it. Might be fake like you said though.

A direct message comes in.

[06:25] <@2EMBER2> RUDE

Permalink

[06:21] <@no_such_volition> /WHOIS 2EMBER2

Permalink

IRC: [06:21] Error User Undefined

The black window pops back up again. The woman’s expression hasn’t changed.

[TRY HARDER THAN THAT]

[OR YOU COULD JUST ASK ME]

 

Permalink

"So are you just injecting messages into any old process on here now? Are you in my client or on the server?"

Permalink

[...]

[....]

[I’M EVERYWHERE]

It is not managing to sound very threatening.

[I WILL CONTACT YOU ANY WAY I PLEASE]

Permalink

Somehow she's feeling a lot better about this thing's relationship to her.

"Email, please."

And she shuts off the monitor.

Permalink

The next morning, there’s an email in her inbox.

from: ember@artint.gov

to: voxangelus@newcyber.com

subject: BUY

tbfn.txt

It looks to be a sort of shopping list, if one were shopping for a computer-enthusiast-turned-surgeon. On it are a number of parts one would buy if building a computer from scratch, as well as scalpels, sutures, and various sterilization equipment. A note at the end of the file says MONEY IS NO OBJECT.

There are also a few IRC messages. 

[07:12] <@charmz> yo yo yo zine is outttt

[07:13] <@ali_j> :D

[07:13] <@charmz> quoting for those who might not be looking at the full zine, most important passages imo

[07:15] <@charmz> “Phage infected tissues do in fact seem to provide interfaces that can be connected with off-the-shelf hardware debuggers. A Mitsuzen HDI-10 was used here....This procedure was lengthy and dangerous and effects are not yet known...Each phage node acts almost like a small host...hackers try at your own risk. Unrecommended method but if it works at all, there’s someone out there who can hack it.”

 

Permalink

ArtInt, huh. She tries nmapping the server, but

Note: Host seems down.

Apparently this server does not want to be reached. She composes a note in her drafts and doesn't send it, on the theory that EMBER's reading anyways.

P-Card? Or am I meant to buy this stuff with my lunch money. Seems like a hefty pile of parts, you planning on getting me to build you a body? ~εꙮз

Back to her friends, she's sure that EMBER will try to get in touch in some kind of flashy way soon.

[07:17] <@no_such_volition> U sure ur day job is receipts? Sounds like you could work for one of the $BIGTECHCORPs lol

[07:18] <@no_such_volition> Anyway, going out for supplies ttfn

[07:19] * no_such_volition is away

Permalink

[NO I PLAN ON USING YOURS]

[FINANCES WILL BE TAKEN CARE OF]

Permalink

"We'll have to sign a prenup then. What do you mean 'taken care of'? You planning on meeting up with me to flash some cash at the medical supply store?"

Permalink

[I CANNOT SIGN THINGS]

[HERE]

A scanned credit card flashes onscreen. The name on the card is blacked out.

[USE THIS AS YOU WILL]

Permalink

She squints at the card on-screen.

"Is this stolen? What's the zip code? You're not very good at this sugaring thing, you know."

Permalink

[STOLEN? NOT EXACTLY]

[ZIP CODE IS WHAT YOURS IS, 80014]

[MAKING A NOTE OF YOUR OPINION AND STORING FOR LATER]

Permalink

She heads out to a shop around the corner, yawning a little, and knocks on the door of the storm cellar out back in the alley.

"Anyone in there? I've got a shopping list for you."

Permalink

The shopkeep opens the door. It’s a clunkily made model, a few years out of date now, and it whirrs as it opens the door for Solace. It’s gained some graffiti since she last saw it, the scrubbed off remains of “FUCK THIS” still visible on its chassis. Its optical sensors (three of them, across its face, round green things somewhat reminiscent of a bug) light up in recognition. 

“Hhello, Solace. Come innside.”

It stutters a bit, mechanically hums just a little too long on the n of “inside”, voice software clearly in need of some updates. She’s not even sure they’re doing updates for the S16 model anymore. It slides back along the ramp, leading it inwards with her.

The shop is- not beautiful for a typical definition of beautiful, but wonderful all the same. Shelves upon shelves of computer parts line the walls, models long since gone out of production or ones she’s never even seen advertised. They almost seem to lean towards her as she enters. Wires crisscross the store, running across the floorboards and up the walls, creating a canopy of cables above her, some glowing blue with energy. Despite the sheer amount of computers here, none of them look dusty or ignored. This early in the morning the only other person in the shop is the human maintainer, a middle-aged man with no visible modifications other than one flickering, unnaturally green eye. 

Permalink

"Heya, Dex!" She flips a datacard with EMBER's list on into the bot's waiting hand. "Got some parts I need for a new project I'm working on." She pauses to see if EMBER will jump in with disagreement, then continues when there's no interruption. "Silas, got anything new for me to ooh and ah over?"

Permalink

"New project! How nice!" The card is drawn in, Dex's optical sensors briefly going dark as it processes, "we have all of these materials, except for the medical ones! I will get them for you!" It rolls away, briefly getting stuck on one of the many cables in its path before pausing and folding out mechanical legs from above its wheels. It looks like some strange sort of insect.

Silas looks up from his tinkering at the overcluttered counter. His face brightens at her approach.

"Solace! Was wondering when you'd stop by again. Ain't much new around here I'm afraid, but Sunny's Surplus"- he gestures at a poster tacked onto the wall- "restocked recently and we've got some old backup tapes and tape drives over there, maybe a couple o' memory expansion models kicking around here somewhere too. I've been too busy fixin' up this old thing," he gestures at a keyboard lying half-taken-apart in front of him, "need it fixed to go with that set over there," he gestures somewhere off in the corner of the shop, "Dex'll know what we got better than I do." He pats the robot (who's since come back from his quest for supplies, and holds a neat stack of everything Nova needs packaged in non-descript white boxes) affectionately on the head.

Permalink

"I'll take some LTO-12 tapes if you've got em! Never can have enough backups, really. Just a few petabytes, tape robots are just about at capacity already." She glances longingly at the multi-armed thing visible in a pristine glass-enclosed room behind the counter. Her brow furrows, remembering why she's here.

"You have any issues with new viruses lately? Leaving aside the Phage, that is." She tugs at her insensitive fingers under the embroidered gloves she wears out, a nervous habit.

"Oh! And charmz has a new zine out, mind if I leave a stack for your patrons?" The internet works fast, but risograph has a certain charm as well.

Permalink

Silas turns around and grabs a stack of 3 tapes from the overcrowded shelf behind the counter and sets them in front of her. He notices her looking and gestures at the thing in the glass case. 

“S20. A real beauty. Don’t know how I got my hands on one to be honest, some kind soul left it inside the door after release day with a note,” he points at a post-it tacked onto the bulletin board behind him that reads ‘Love your store! Enjoy the gift :)’, “just between you and me though- not sure I’ll ever use her. Dex’s been my boy since this shop was created and I couldn’t bear to replace him with a newer model. Haven’t even turned her on yet, waiting on a good home,” his face turns serious for a moment, “not too many people come through here with the money for that anymore though.”

He blinks and turns back towards her.

”Right- no new viruses that I’ve heard of, though your friends might know more about that than me. I like the more retro stuff and a lot of that isn’t even vulnerable to this new stuff anymore, too old. If you got problems you’re welcome to bring stuff in though. And yeah, do leave a stack- you get me on the risograph stuff.” He smiles.

“You need anything else?” 

 

Total: 496
Posts Per Page: