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Story - The Rise of the Automators, by Matt Joyce

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  • Story - The Rise of the Automators, by Matt Joyce

    The Rise of the Automators
    by Matt Joyce


    This is fiction. Also, I purposefully made this a ridiculous foray into unbridled narcissism. If anything says DEF CON, it's unbridled narcissism with a little world conquest on the side. So enjoy. Let me know if I should just give up writing and stick to code.

    Chapter 1. Breakfast evaded.

    Darkness engulfed the periphery of the bleary eyed man, as he fell back into his chair letting all of his frustration, hope, and anticipation bleed away. Even the burning glare of the display lighting his visage gave way to darkness, and sleep finally took him. In that dark lonely room, a terminal held sentry displaying the last successful exit of a compiler bent upon the will of the first automator.
    Jack's head danced with dreams of DEF CON CTF victories and speed freezed beer.

    Though he didn't know it yet, Jack Kipp or jkr to those who tracked his commits, would soon be leading a revolution. But first he'd have to survive Friday.

    The crack of the first vibration penetrating his ear canal left Jack feeling as if he'd just been hit upside the head with a crescent wrench. And, as the onslaught continued, he knew that his only hope of escaping this acoustic battery would be to rise and crush his assailant. Jack was not a very violent man by nature, but he was cruelly efficient when it came to solving problems. And as he cooly clipped the power cord running to his alarm clock, he betrayed no malice.

    Jack loved machines in all their forms. In them, he found grace, order, and purpose. You might think I was referring to the machines, you'd be wrong. Jack took an almost religious zeal in pursuing the 'right' answer in the projects he tackled. Jack didn't care whether the project was loved, or useful, or even ethical. All Jack cared about, was that he'd won. jkr had found the right path and he'd grown strong enough to tackle the next problem. For Jack, every great victory was a prelude to the next greater battle. Having vanquished the alarm clock the next battle would be the funk he had acquired during his weekend in front of his work bench. Jack didn't care about the smell that much, certainly he disliked it, but he was willing to sacrifice much to win through to the next opponent. But, he needed his job, and the tools it provided. And so Jack bathed with a ruthless determination.

    Breakfast was a foe Jack seldom bothered with. Today was no exception. Jack would eat when his co-workers forced their purgatory called lunch upon him. And so Jack found himself steeped in the gauntlet of his commute as lesser men wrestled with butter knives and toasted pastries.

    Work was not without it's enjoyable diversions. Jack had found that quite often his employer would stumble upon problems that were worthy of his battle mind. By 11 am Jack had found himself a puzzle that had reached into his soul and sparked anew an old fire. He was a viking amid a field of enemies. And his valkyrie was a kindly 58 year old former manufacturing plant engineer who had given up his blue collar the day he realized he'd be paying for his kids college. Jimbo didn't look like a valkyrie in fact he'd more closely resemble a smallish ice troll. And yet he was something of an anachronism in the industry. He was kind and accepting with his workers, and generally knowledgeable enough to know when he needed to get involved. But he had made the mistake of thinking of his employees as friends. And as he peered down upon the conquerer of untold algorithms he saw not a war god smiling in the face of his eternal foe, but a moody shy guy named Jack. Jimbo had a plan. And as with the best laid plans of men, and all of the best intentions, sometimes things go wrong. Very wrong.

    Jack was rallying his function pointers into a state machine in an effort to defend against the I/O onslaught of his serial interface. Mid stride Jack was interrupted by a crack of thunder issuing forth from the heavens. Jack sat momentarily dazed as he reeled attempting to find the source of this vile magic. What he saw before him appeared at first a goblin but soon resolved itself into the man he had called boss. Jimbo was speaking, and he thought he probably should attempt to ascertain what it is he wished to convey before returning to the fight. It would do no good to let human emotion stand in his path. And placating his fellow man always seemed the quickest path. Jack smiled, and asked Jimbo to kindly repeat all that he had said.

    Jimbo frowned a bit, knowing that he had disturbed Jack. But, Jack was smiling and had asked nicely what was up. So Jimbo decided now would be as good a time as any. And he invited Jack to his office. Jack stood and followed a bit too quickly. Jimbo didn't know why he suddenly felt like a human road block, but he did. Reaching the solace of his office citadel Jimbo circled behind his desk and steeled himself for the conversation to come. This had to be handled just right.

    Jack stared into the abyss of this bridge dwelling monster's ice blue eyes. He knew what terrible nuisance Jimbo was capable of wielding in his own life. And so as Jim opened his mouth, he listened with acute awareness. His dwarven master was pleased with the work that Jack had done for the company for the past few years. He went into an almost sadistic level of detail regarding Jack's trail of broken enemies. Jack remembered several past conflicts fondly, but his appetite for new conquest flared. Each past memory was a nail driving into him a renewed anger at being snatched away from his enemy before he could deliver such a mighty event tracker. Unknowingly, Jim droned intolerably onward.

    As Jim finished a short recounting of Jack's successes he wondered inside if his attempt to put him at ease had born fruit. He new that his goal here today would be difficult to achieve. But he pressed on.

    Unable to avert his eyes from the piercing gaze of his captain, jkr sat his mind blazing with repressed fury. Now his lord began an assault upon the quality of his person. Jack felt betrayed as his boss turned his greatest strengths before him into harlequin untruths. His very soul was being rendered before him in this mans perverted light not as the glorious thing it was, but as some scarecrow meant to blind him with fear of consequence. Jacks eyes gleamed with a light born in the very depths of the accounting mainframes accumulators.

    This was going better than expected, the old plant worker thought as he finished his criticisms of Jack's interpersonal skills. He half expected Jack to retreat into a shell of shyness or fall into a shower of apologies. But Jack seemed to be alert, and aware of the problems he'd laid out. Almost as if all he needed was for someone else to lay them out before him. Jimbo knew that this was the time to strike. First the blade, then the olive branch.

    Jack was mute, his fury had become ice in his belly as his traitorous leader finally ended his unrelenting cascade of lies. What more could this devil subject him to. To what lengths would he go to break him. Jack steeled himself as the goblin sucked in new air to turn into venom. And for all the hell he expected, what came next was a horror worse than any intern's first large commit.

    "Jack, I want to promote you to management." Jimbo bubbled with glee as he said it. But, he didn't want to scare the boy. "Not right away of course. We'll want to work you up and get you some experience first. I think we'll start by giving you a small development team in our vehicle systems division." Jim had him. He could see that this was a challenge that Jack was ready for. Pride was Jimbo's sin and humanity his weakness.

    Nothing could have prepared Jack for this. This, was utter desolation. A neutron bomb was exploding before his eyes and the fury of this uncaring fate had him. Jack struggled to think. He couldn't. Nothing came. He tried to draw upon the courage he had held before countless architecture meetings, but now he drew only desperation. What had he done to deserve this. Was it that skytalk he gave tearing apart that smart ass kid's open source project? As his world fell apart around him, the cold fire in his stomach turned into something new. It would take time for that egg to hatch, but it was fertilized now. And soon, the world would weep.

    Chapter 2. The automators on the Pequot.

    During the weekend following what Jack had come to regard as a great cataclysm, he had mired in the sorrow of depression. But from the ashes, he rose like a phoenix. All it had taken was a bottle of tequila, four shots of bourbon, 3 beers, and one unbelievably delicious burrito. Jack had not been this drunk since the Alexis Park. Lying somewhere wishing the stars would reach through the fog of his drunken haze, Jack finally saw his fate as a problem that must be solved. Solved so utterly that it could never rise again. Jack would not quit this time. Jack would do the unthinkable. He'd accept the promotion.

    The following Monday Jack arrived early. And stepping through the doors into his new office space, he felt as Jonah entering the whale. Except Jack was no weakened fisherman, he was likened unto Ahab. This office would be his Pequot and his subordinates would be his crew. And as they entered each in turn, Jack looked into them as he would a fresh core dump. He would find their weaknesses, and he would remove them. And then he would network them into a machine of wondrous scalability and efficiency.
    Jack would make them his automators, and they would be the furys that broke the binding hands of the fates.

    Over the next few months Jimbo took his care never to be too involved in Jack's group, but he watched to make sure Jack was doing well. At first there had been some issues with the staff, more than he had expected actually. In fact, he had wondered if he misjudged his friend. But, something had finally clicked in that team and their productivity was soaring. They're work wasn't very inspired, but they met every deadline. Their customers knew only pleasure with the results. Jimbo took immense pride in the awards that had been passed on to that group. He'd succeeded beyond his wildest expectations.
    And now he could deliver the good news personally. It was up the corporate ladder for Jimbo, and he was bringing Jack with him.

    Jimbo entered the office, and not a soul recognized his presence. The four young developers were engrossed in their displays typing at a frantic rate. The glow of the screens in the dim light casting shadows that likened them to specters. Jimbo knew something was off, but he couldn't quite place it. He bumbled onward past the desks of the developers, and towards Jack's off and there he stopped. There on the door instead of a name tag it simply had the number 0. How strange Jim thought, but it was exciting in a way. Jack was developing a rapport with his team. He began to notice they all had a number displayed somewhere on their desks. How wonderful Jimbo thought. And so he wandered into Ahabs quarters as the Pooh bear would wander towards a jar of honey.

    Jack had expected interference from Jimbo sooner than this. But he was glad to have more time to prepare. Even now the first stages of his plan were coming to fruition. His cadre had taken time to break, and to sculpt. But he'd done it. It was unlike any programming he had ever done before. It was exhilarating. And it was his greatest achievement to date. But it was merely foreplay. The ship had been readied and now she was setting to sea in search of victory and the death of cruel fate. Jack smiled with joy singing in his heart. Fire danced in his eyes to the melody, and his fingers were light in the lift and terrible in the drop. This small man before him had opened his eyes to this crusade. He would thank him in time. And he would despair. Jack had learned that despair yielded the best results, and he had the datasets to correlative prove it.

    Jimbo was expecting more excitement from the team, but Jack certainly seemed inspired by the promotion. Today had been a great day. So the portly fellow sucked in the fresh spring air and set onward down the hall with a little more spring in his step. Ignorance being the bliss of not knowing that Jack had his team committing just a little more code than was necessary. More importantly, Jack had been busy networking with other team members in the office. He was a rising star, as they say.

    Chapter 3. Rising star, my ballistic friend.

    Jack's career had exploded out of that tiny office. He had taken Jimbo with him driving up the corporate ladder like an unmanned freight train. Behind him his automators fell into place and spun with a smooth precision that defied all prescribed notions of administration. Where the automators went others joined or were driven out. They advanced their ranks, and followed in the footsteps of the prime automator, filling in their path with new automators. New integers to fill the set. Integers, then longs, then double longs their numbers grew. And all the while, unbeknownst to any but the automators so did their clandestine commits.

    In the 40 years since Jack had been promoted the world had changed. Layers of abstraction had been piled upon layers of abstraction and his automators had been the brick layers of that edifice. In every industry they spread, and into other disciplines as well. As automated vehicles took the streets, so too did automated control take sewage, power, communications and a whole host of critical systems. Today even potatoes could not be grown without a transistor functioning as its creator intended. Jimbo hadn't lived to see it but the day had finally come. In the late hours of August 19 2078, the test build system had issued an all green and then locked the 7350 master branches. Silence fell upon the automators. For those that knew them, or worked among them there was only a small moment of hesitant concern. Society had almost begun to accept this new society of people who had lived among them and yet apart. The unknown had become the known and the fear died with it.

    When the internet ceased, only to be replaced on every port and address by a single http proxy to a video stream, the world was in shock. They had grown fat, and lazy. They had begun to take their technological marvels for granted. The very thought of being denied them was unthinkable. And so, as Jack identifying himself merely as 0 spoke, they listened not with fear, but confusion. He was a naked gobbles before a wall of sheep. And as he spoke confusion prickled with fear, then desperation, and then something much like agony. He'd taken their world from them. He'd taken their technology, and now he offered only the path of his damned automators. And so they did what any cornered beast would, they fought back.

    Desperation turned to insane hope, and rage. Rebellion woke in the hearts of humanity, and they rallied. But, the automators had been thorough. What few automators that were left with their humanity intact were so well isolated they were as good to the rebellion as another corpse to light their fires with. It was a holocaust. And the automators did not care in the least, for their enemy was bigger than man. Bigger than petty vendettas. Bigger than any other will. Their enemy was the universe itself, and this was just the horn blowing to gather their forces before they marched to war and to the next greater victory.
    Last edited by Nikita; June 1, 2012, 02:17. Reason: Fixing Format things.