сокрытие Part 2
The prematurely grey man considered walking into the hallway for the sole purpose of breathing into a bag.
He didn’t do these sorts of meetings. His partner had expressly forbade him from giving these sorts of talks with customers, prospective customers, anyone. But his partner doesn’t have a “need to know” and so here he was. Doing the one thing he hated more than anything… talking to idiots.
As he finished up his slide deck he took a few completely off topic questions that proved everyone in the crowd was clueless. And then he pulled his things together and began walking out the hallway. His NSA handlers flanked him on both sides as he left. Then a voice followed him out the door as he left.
“Sir, Mr. ████████, can I ask a specific how question now? I mean, I am sure you just explained it… but. It didn’t seem like this was a question anyone else in that room was interested in.”
A beat. “Yes. Please, ask.”
“So the Operator that eventually took control of the robot,”
“Bot. It definitely wasn’t a robot. They are different. A bot is just a script. A robot is mechanical, physical. There were no robots involved in this hack. Which I guess isn’t outside the realm of the possible, but I digress.”
“Sure, sorry. The” air quotes here “‘bot’, was eventually replaced by an operator that began to investigate what might be interesting to see, yes? Why did he stop and search the computer as opposed to using it to target his ultimate, or end goal? There was nothing interesting here, nothing overt anyway. Nothing screaming drill deeper, was there?”
“Most hackers don’t have a specific end goal in mind. Ops that manage troves of data brought to them by bots just don’t usually have a goal. Some botnets might have a ransomware end goal. Or to steal racy photos. Or to steal credit card data if it is found on the system by doing pattern matching heuristics. Right?”
“Yes, exactly, why did this Op take over in this particular case? Why didn’t they just allow the bot to move on and find the next interesting target, or depot, or credit card stash?”
“Great question actually. There is nothing here in the log files that seem to indicate anything of interest before the Op takes over. The bot had actually found numerous other clients on the network and had moved on already. Random dumb chance? Or not.” Prematurely gray stopped to consider a few different data points that surfaced to him simultaneously. “The very next thing he does… yeah. Hold on, here are some log files.” Gray puts his backpack down and starts shuffling. Then flipping. “No, different folder, wait one.” Backpack zipper, another manila folder busting at the seems. “In here somewhere. Right, here we go…”
“That is where the admin access is breached for the system – this next one is where the OP is able to begin evaluating where he, sorry they, are… what this system is. Here’s another one showing that they begin scanning the system for large text or bin files. And here?” More ruffling through pages. “And wait a second, here they are searching, in the hex, for a word. Hadn’t really been curious enough to look for what that word was, until now, because after this, they start hunting for piles and piles of random files and othe random information – and then began hauling random piles of stuff away. Personally am now realizing that may have been a misdirection of some sort? Like a maybe a personal vendetta murder being covered up by the murderer kicking up tons of dust by sacking the place and stealing everything valuable in the house? Hadn’t considered that until now actually.”
“Can you tell me what the hex was that the OP was searching for?”
“Sure, yeah, here… it’s ‘476c7970746963a’.”
“Um, sorry my hex is rusty… it would be um… ███████. Yeah. That’s correct. That’s what the OP was searching for. Does that mean anything to you?”
“Uh, yeah.” He made eye contact with gray and began pulling that particular sheet from the man’s hand and saying, “I have to go now. Delete everything. Then sand your drives. Then melt them.”
As med students at the University of Johns Hopkins school of medicine the trio hardly ever left their study group. Basically life was class, and study group, shower, class, back to study group… repeat. Time in this rinse repeat cycle sort of telescoped, simultaneously elongating and shorting. It managed to intensify experiences, emotions and even hormones. Which ran counter to one particularly crotchety Medical School Professor that liked to warn first year students, “If you want to graduate from this medical school, there are two rules: Don’t fall behind and don’t fall in love.”
Laura was quiet and actually didn’t need help from the study group. Ben the most impetuous of the trio hung on every word that Laura spoke in their study session meetings for a multiplicity of reasons. Ben the most significant being that he was perpetually on the bubble of always being forcibly removed from the school. And then there was Charles Soren Aabye, whose Russian family had only recently immigrated to the east coast. He was the flamboyant counterweight to Laura. And maybe for that reason, no one called Charles Charles, or even Soren. It just never happened. Instead it was always Kierkegaard, which he initially took great umbrage at. But as far as nicknames went, he could do worse he supposed.
The trio had retreated from their normal Library location (that, truth be told, had begun to stink quite prodigiously) and their standard co-laborers to crash for a test coming up the next day at a local Denny’s. Being a 24×7 establishment was a blessing and a curse in close proximity to a medical school. And yet, their test on the Citric Acid Cycle wouldn’t wait. So, abandoning their books, bringing their 3×5 cards, the trio snuck away from the campus and began the memorization effort over hot chocolate, pancakes and child’s menu masks.
Rhino – “Sir, Elephant, please name the cycle states and the atomic elements relevant to the Malate state of the Citric Acid Cycle.”
Elephant – “COO, CH2? Nope.. No idea. I could have named any other one. I’ve got my crap together everywhere else but Malate.”
Rhino – “Puhlease, Ben, I mean Senjor Elephanté. Ok ok. Name the easiest of them all then, Succinate.”
Elephant – “Ok, I see. I see. You went all in on me. I get it Mr. Rhino. I’m completely adrift. How many hours before I flunk out of medical school Ms. Gazelle? Do remind me?”
Gazelle – “You aren’t flunking out over a Citric Acid Life Cycle exam.”
Elephant – “I might surprise you yet…”
Rhino – “Have you guys even seriously considered what our lives are going to be like post graduation? Post internship? I mean, for those of us who plan on graduating that is. Doctor’s offices. Examination rooms. Maybe possibly surgery rooms?” Charles found himself staring down through his mask as he fiddled with his fork, involuntarily stabbing his napkin, and stenciling out an abstract pointilism masterpiece as he thought.
Elephant – “Um, yeah. There’s nothing I want more than to be banking a cool half million a year while doing breast enlargement surgeries day in day out.” Laura and Charles laughed at this, despite Ben’s obvious seriousness. The implausibility of it all just caught them completely off guard.
Rhino – “Ok Doctor 90210, you, study the cards and get back to us once you’ve got them. My darling, Miss Gazelle, would you like to take a stab at the Cycle for us and show us how it’s done?”
Gazelle – “Believe it or not, I haven’t even given the cycle a single glance, I’ve been so busy with my paper on alternative medicine frauds. Maybe if I reviewed them first and then give it a try?”
Rhino – “Oh no, the cards are in the hands of someone now who is desperately in need of them. Why don’t you just give it a go and see? Then you can have the cards.”
Gazelle – “Alright. I guess.” And with that she began to name the high level states and precursors. She began naming the different chemical outputs of each stage without faulting.
And as she worked her way around the circle of the cycle mentally Charles noticed that the light in the restaurant was beginning to dim a little bit. Only fractionally. But enough that it caught the attention of one or two of the other older folks who were playing bridge at the table across from them. And as Laura continued to nail each and every chemical and every stage without blinking, a light on the other side of the restaurant popped. The sound was quiet enough as to not attract the attention of anyone at their end of the restaurant, but Charles saw it happen and flinched.
A wry smile crossed his face as he watched. He was witnessing the most beautiful natural phenomenon that he had ever seen. The way Laura was decimating this citric life cycle just shouted at him. Her dark hair, her eyes? The way her mind worked flawlessly and without any consideration of how abnormal this was. Another light blew out. She continued on, now with her eyes drooping into a dull stooper and then finally closing.
Light bulbs were now popping at a faster rate now. And everyone was fully aware of the weirdness of the situation. Shrieks were even following each, as glass tinkled down from the ceiling. Some were even taking cover. Laura slowed momentarily, but Charles encouraged her on with a chin lift and a smile. And on she went on around the horn, the process was getting utterly decimated by Lauren now. And as she was cresting to the end Charles interjected without slowing her any, “Now the Krebs Cycle, go.” She caught his eye, and there was a look of fear and self consciousness there… “Come on.”
And she was off. She’d never studied the Krebs, or the Citric Acid cycles, but she knew them inside and out. She was flying now. The lights were out now. The other guests were under the table or fleeing for the nearest exit. Soon Laura’s hands began to shake and the tremors spread upwards through her arms and shoulders. She wasn’t cognizant of the shaking, but it was enough to cause Charles and Ben some alarm. They exchanged glances and then turned their gaze back to Laura. It was when the telephone poll outside the building sparked, exploded and caught fire that Charles interceded.
Rhino – “Ok, ok ok ok… I think that’s enough.” With a look this way and that he whispered… “I really think we should make our exeunt.” Laura stopped abruptly and the lights that hadn’t exploded lit back up and the lights on the street that had mostly dimmed returned to their natural strength.
Elephant – “Oh yeah. Definitely. Leaving, good idea” stammered Ben to the two others.
[NSA QUARANTINE FACILITY #27V]
PATIENT #A007c809 INTERVIEW
Unclassified per a FoIA request on behalf of one █████ ███████
Dr. ███████████ – Lauren. Can you hear me? Excuse me Lauren?
Lauren – I can hear you doctor.
Dr. ███████████ – Pardon the Faraday Cage we’ve placed you in. You were giving our systems a serious run for their money. You don’t seem to mix well with electronic systems.
Lauren – No, I suppose not.
Dr. ███████████ – My purpose today is not to run tests, today is a bit of a break for you.
Lauren – Oh good.
Dr. ███████████ – I’ve been tasked with finding a document that I’m hearing you were instrumental in creating? It doesn’t have a name, but some have taken to calling it the ███████ Record? Do you know what I’m talking about?
Lauren – No.
Dr. ███████████ – Well, I’ve been told that it is something of a manual?
Lauren – …
Dr. ███████████ – Yes? A manual for how you do what you do? Does that sound right? Is there such a thing Lauren?
Lauren – …
Dr. ███████████ – I really need to find this document.
Lauren – …
Dr. ███████████ – Look, I’ve not spoken about this with you before, but you have single handedly unnerved every single head of state in the entire world. You decimated the world’s crypto-capabilities without even trying. Sure, I’m guessing you are well intentioned. White hat all you’ll like. But there are some angry people out there Lauren. No. Actually, I think more so they are afraid. They are very afraid right now Lauren.
Lauren – I’m sorry, that wasn’t…
Dr. ███████████ – Let me put it to you differently. Chicago has no power right now because of you. Do you know what happens when a city the size of Chicago goes dark?
Lauren – I have no idea.
Dr. ███████████ – Half way through day one the food begins spoiling. By day 2 or 3 the entirety of the cities sewer systems have backed up. Sewers push that sludge via power. It doesn’t just flow on it’s own. The mass exodus that happened on day five that was caused by panic wasn’t pretty either. Once they realized the power wasn’t coming back? Yeah.
And oh the guns Lauren. This photo was taken yesterday in Chicago. So many have died just out of terror. Mistaken innocents were considered threats, bam. Over. By the second week the President declared it a quarantine zone. Roaming gangs run the city now. We’ve ceded the city completely back to nature. A modern preserve. You did this Lauren. You have destroyed Chicago. Speaking nothing of Toronto and Manchester.
Here’s a bit of random trivia. Did you know that I’m one of only two doctors on the planet that would agree to walk into this cage to even talk to you?
Lauren – Alright. Stop. That █████ record, as you call it, wrote itself. I had nothing to do with it. And so we are clear… I had nothing to do with Chicago. Or Toronto. Or Manchester. I’ve never even left the country, or visited Chicago.
Dr. ███████████ – hrm…. Highly highly doubtful. All of it.
Lauren – …
Dr. ███████████ – There is someone here that would very badly like to see you Lauren.
Lauren – Don’t do this.
Dr. ███████████ – His name is Charles. Yes? He’s been fairly crazy trying to get to you. He isn’t even sure you are still alive. We have him in a cell block, not too far from here. Explain to me the keys to this record and I will let you see him.
Lauren – No noooo.
continue to part 3