Dust: Chapter 07 Part 4

Barely a few minutes later, Kitty was inside the Chase’s security domain. Gaining access had been as easy as Moe-Moe had said it would be. With just a USB hub, bluetooth dongle and a pair of wire strippers, we’d spliced our way into the camera’s USB connection. The camera itself only went offline for thirty seconds.

I had talked Kitty into letting me hitch onto her deck so I could watch her work. As a hitcher I could only influence or hinder Kitty through conversation, but I didn’t want to sit in the food court twiddling my thumb.

The security domain Kitty had broken into was a lot smaller than I’d expected. It consisted of one ‘endless room’ of electric blue, though the battery of floating vid windows surrounding the principal user boxed it in quite a bit.

Moe-Moe was right, security was a token effort compared to what I’d immersed myself into for the last twelve months. Under normal circumstances there probably wasn’t even someone monitoring the system unless something special was going on.

Obviously today was one of those special times. The avatar of the security head poured over the floating screens, seems a ladder fell over in a maintenance corridor.

The security avatar noticed that another user had entered the domain and looked over his shoulder. In the time it took him to do that, Kitty had run her invisibility app and blipped out of existence. It also hid her IP tag and removed her presence from the user registrar. The downside was that it ate up active memory.

The security head looked at the entrance portal for a second, shrugged and went back to work.

Under the cloak of her invisibility Kitty walked up to the side of the security head and looked over the various screens. I counted one row of screens and estimated their total number at well over thirty, a pair of floating arrows underneath suggested there were even more.

Kitty reached out to the displays and touched one. Her view changed to that of the entire CCTV network, displaying what had to be close to three hundred cameras on a mosaic of thumbnail screens. Kitty noticed a search bar above that and used it to find the feed from the lower ground floor car park.

Our luck held, only one camera actually saw us getting out of the car.

Suddenly Moe-Moe’s vidwindow appeared beside her. [Excellent, now let’s see what we can do with this.]

[It’s cool Moe-moe, I got this. I’ve found the first shot, now I just need to overlay the images PR got me over the three of us and the cops’l be looking for someone else.]

[That would take a long time, you’d need to find subjects that have made very similar movements to the three of you, from the exact same camera angle and then you’d need to match the lighting.]

[Or I could just swap out the footage of us arriving with something from PR’s porn collection, that’d cover our entrance.]

[It would also flash a giant neon sign in the cops’ face telling them ‘We are criminals and we hacked the cameras to cover our tracks’. Now what I want you to do is grab the footage from that camera from a good five minutes after you got out of the car. Try to find a long stretch of time where nothing moves in the background. Loop that over the footage of the three of you getting out of the car. Then with a little rotor-scoping we can make it look like there was never anyone in the car at all.]

[Making the car look like a remote decoy. Moe-Moe, you’re a genius.]

[It’s what I do.]

Kitty noticed something on her HUD. She glanced at the security head, who was still gathering footage for his own purposes. This time it looked like a garbage spill next to the day care centre.

Kitty had worry in her voice. [Someone else is here.]

Moe-Moe sounded concerned. [I’ll get this done. Now it’s your turn to do what you do.]

Kitty turned away from the battery of vid windows and looked at the portal. She ran an app called ICU and a tablet appeared in her hand. Kitty held the tablet up in front of her like she was trying to frame a photo with its camera. On the screen I could see the matrix with all its pretty outer skin stripped away and floating tags with neon letters everywhere explaining what everything was. A blurry image of a humanoid shape stood next to the now enormous glowing portal, the tag that pointed at the figure simply read ‘?’

Kitty took one look at that question mark and jumped. The tablet dematerialising in her hand. A ball of glowing green fire tore through the virtual space she had occupied a nanosecond ago. At the apex of her jump Kitty summoned a platform for her to stand on with one hand and her magic staff with the other.

[What the hell is going on here?] Demanded a masculine voice. It seemed even our lightning-brained security head couldn’t miss all this commotion.

It mattered little, in the next instant the invisible figure shot him with a half-dozen green fireballs and he disappeared.

The electric green bolts and their effect on the guard reminded me of a virus from Noodles’ arsenal.

It was similar to the signal cutting software I’d used as an Electronic Warfare Operator back in the army. Each time one of the green fireballs hit you it uploaded a packet of the virus into your system, worming its way in through your software’s sense of touch, something you really couldn’t disable without feeling like a disembodied nothingness floating through the matrix.

I’d tried it myself and it wasn’t pleasant.

Once all of the packets were uploaded they installed the virus, which then entered the target’s wireless transmitter or cybermodem and began running a program that generated exponentially more complex formula the longer it went on. At the same time the virus interfered with the drivers for the coolant systems. Until the transmitter overheated and either shut down or burnt out.

It tended to be more effective against portable devices like net-pads or a palm-tops as their wifi hardware tended to be smaller, more delicate and a lot harder to replace. When Noodles was on his run into Kawada, he disabled his workstation’s on-board wifi and instead had a dozen USB dongles plugged into a pair of hubs in case a security hacker used a similar virus against him.

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