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Title: Defcon 0x2A Author:Dichotomy

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  • Title: Defcon 0x2A Author:Dichotomy


    He smiled. It was that time of year again. Diode looked at the calendar and saw that It was coming. Defcon. That perennial gathering of his friends and family. Not the family of his blood, mind you. They were all fuckwads. Brainless, moronic, pathetic fuckwads.

    No, this was the gathering of his REAL family. His brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters. Most of whom, he never knew by name, but they were all kindred spirits. They were the web of people that kept Diode from going over the edge and deciding that every last waterbag on the planet was nothing more than a waste of carbon and oxygen that should be simply removed for the sake of decency.

    After a year of suffering through the stupidity of his bosses, of his coworkers, and of his "friends" and "family", Diode would be able to spend three heavenly days in the company of his brethren. It would be a true homecoming. His twenty-fifth, in fact.

    A smirk crossed his face as that occurred to him. His silver anniversary. It would be a time to be remembered.

    Diode's first trip to that Hacker Mecca had been Defcon 19. He had never before seen anything of its kind, and knew after the first time that he would never see its like, ever again. The last two decades of his life had proved that theory out, in spades. Ever since that first pilgrimage, he had sworn to never miss another. For the twenty four years since, he had kept his oath, and he'd be damned if this year would be any different.

    With a wave of his hand, Diode cleared the images hovering before him in mid-air, wiping away the blocks of text and imagery that encompassed his day job at GoogleSoft. With a few motions of his fingers, he summoned the website for AirAmericas to book his flight. Grumbling as he saw that all direct flights were already book, Diode went ahead and bought his tickets for the layover in Bogata. Having to deal with the extra hour wait in the middle of the two hour trip was irritating, but it could have been worse. At least he was able to book a seat on the second story of the saucer.

    As he went on to book his accommodations in The Elysium Hotel, Diode frowned when he heard the chime. Glancing at the corner of his display wall, the fifty year old saw a strange email blinking at him from his Other Inbox. The one that existed in the slack space of the cloud service he had stopped payment on five years ago, yet magically had retained his access to, via the darknet VPN that he had weaved between the virtual nets of Next^3-Gen Firewalls. (Stupid fucks, deep packet inspection died twenty years ago. Well, score another one for the vendors' marketeers...)

    With a flick of his wrist, Diode summoned the note. It flashed opened in the center of his field of vision.


    Don't go.

    They know.


    Furrowing his brow, Diode stared at the cryptic message. Who the fuck was an4rchist?

    With a sigh, he waved his hand and sent the 200 byte email into the garbage. It was probably some psyc kiddie troll trying to prank him.

    With a shrug, he finished his travel plans and reluctantly returned to work. Just another fifty hours of work to finish out his week, and he could take his day off.

    It was sorely needed. He'd only do a few emails this Sunday, he promised himself. With any luck, his boss wouldn't call him. His project was almost done. Diode had hopes that he could wrap it up in time to go to Defcon without it hanging over his head. But if he didn't, fuck it. They could wait until he got back. What's the worst they could do, fire him? Not likely, as he had safely hidden the cryptographic keys to the core of his program. They couldn't finish this job without him and they knew it.

    Sighing, he swept his hand and summoned up his MetaProgramming IDE. As the window shimmered into life before him, he started to move his fingers. The code began to flow into the ethereal air as his digits moved over the image of an old-fashioned qwerty keyboard. The young punks laughed at him, constantly deriding him for not using the iris-triggered optical input glasses, but Diode was comfortable with the Old Ways.

    Besides, he didn't want to get eye cancer. He'd seen what had happened to programmers who wrote too much code with the shades on.


    He groaned as he stood up from his seat and picked up his bag. The flight had been delayed an extra couple of hours due to excessive radiation in the stratosphere. Having sat in that tin can on the runway in Columbia just waiting was enough to put anyone in a bad mood, but Diode was already pissed. His fucking coworkers had pissed all over his project before he left, sabotaging his progress just when he had been about to finish.

    Diode might not have minded if they were raising real issues, but the lot of them were just shithead rejects that couldn't understand half of the code he wrote on one of his bad days. Of course, his answers to their complaints didn't' satisfy the Bosses, so his submission for commit to the main tree was rejected and now he had to actually code "fixes" to the "problems" they had "found".

    Something inside Diode told him it was time to move on.

    Walking into the terminal, he was greeted with the familiar rings of the slot machines in the airport. With a chuckle Diode remembered how that sight had surprised him twenty five years ago. Now, a quarter of a century later, here he was, greeted by the same sounds and flashing lights.

    Some things never change. But why was it the trivial shit that was so immutable, but the really good stuff couldn't last?

    "Hey, D!" called out a familiar voice. The travel weary hacker turned and saw his old buddy, Revert. A smile crossed Diode's face as he walked towards his friend of the last twenty-five years.

    "'s it going?" he asked as the two clasped hands, shaking and hugging briefly.

    "You know, man. Same shit, different excuses," came the stock answer.

    "Yeah, fuckin' tell me about it," Diode answered as the two started to walk out of the terminal to baggage claim. Diode wouldn't have checked any bags if he could have helped it, the two-C's charge was painful. But, he couldn't carry his Kit into the cabin with him, it violated too many FCC regulations.

    "You ready for the con, bro?" Reverter asked with a knowing grin.

    Chortling, Diode glanced over at his friend. "You mean, am I ready for the parties?" His buddy only smiled more.

    "Yeah, I'm as ready as I'll ever be," Diode answered. "Did you have a chance to look at the schedule for talks?" he asked as they made their way down the concourse.

    "Yeah, it's the same old shit," he said with a shrug, switching his bag from one shoulder to the other. "There's a couple that might be good, but most of it's just the same crappy talks by kids that think they've found the leet new hack." Rolling his eyes, Reverter added, "They all think they're going to be the next Dan Kaminski."

    Barking a laugh as they reached the carousel, Diode answered, "Yeah, they can dream." With a sigh, he added, "Fuck, I miss the old days."

    "You and me both," Reverter answered as they waited for his bag to arrive.

    The two stood together in silence as the endless streams of bags passed by on the massive conveyor belt, the jostling crowd about them jabbering about their pedestrian lives and Big Plans for their vacations in Sin City.

    From across the carousel, Diode caught sight of a cute, demure looking brunette. He smiled slightly as he glanced her over from afar. He was about to look away when with a sudden turn of her head she was looking straight at him, her eyes locked intently upon his. He jumped and was about to look away, but the intensity of her stare held him in place. Swallowing, he furrowed his brow as he stared back. The seconds passed by, then her lips curled into a knowing smile that made his blood run cold.

    A wave of people passed between them, obscuring her from his view.

    When they had passed, she was gone.


    Diode and Reverter walked down the hallways of Defcon, their badges blinking randomly as they wandered from one area to another. It was the second day of the conference, and they were both more than a little hungover from the night before.

    "This used to be easier, didn't it?" Reverter asked.

    "I think so?" Diode answered in a fog. "I really can't remember..." He chuckled, "but then, right now, I really can't remember much of anything..."

    "Well, let's get to that talk about hacking AI's," Reverter said.

    "Yeah," Diode started to say, but then caught a glimpse of the girl from the airport, walking away through the crowd.

    "Actually," he said, "You go ahead, I'll catch up."

    Casting a glance at him, Reverter lifted an eyebrow. "Okay man, if you're sure..."

    The two parted and Diode hurried through the throng of people, chasing after the brunette as she moved swiftly through the crowd. He followed her into the Holo Hacking Village, and promptly lost her as she deftly wove her way through the maze of people and flashing 3D images.

    Diode moved through the room quickly, rushing around to try and find her, then finally gave up with a shrug. Standing in the middle of the room, he looked about in frustration as he ran his fingers through his hair with a sigh.

    "Hey, buddy, check this out," Diode heard a young man call from the table to his left. Glancing down at the youth, who must have been a third of his age, Diode saw him holding up a pair of dark, wrap around glasses with displays inside of them.

    The elder hacker answered with a smirk, "Nice VR glasses, kid, that's some vintage shit. Where'd you get them, from your old man?"

    The young man smiled and shook his head. "Nah, I made them!" he answered proudly. "Want to try?"

    Chuckling, Diode nodded. "Yeah, sure," he answered. "It'll be like a trip down memory lane," he said to the teen with a good natured smile. Taking the glasses from the youth's slender hands, Diode slid them onto his face.

    With a sudden gasp, Diode felt the entirety of the world around him fold in on itself until he was surrounded by a seamless field of white. In a panic, he tore the glasses off of him, only to find that he remained in a completely white space. He spun around, looking in vain for some kind of distinguishing feature.

    "Hello?" he called out, only to hear nothing in return, not even an echo.

    "HELLO?!?" he shouted, starting to feel real terror.

    "No need to shout," came the cool baritone of a man's voice behind him.

    Diode spun around to be confronted by a gray man taller than himself, dressed in a stylish black suit with a blood red tie tucked neatly between the obsidian shirt and jacket. The man wore a pair of glasses, much like the kind that Diode still held in his hand.

    "Who are you?" Diode asked, unable to keep the fear from his voice.

    Removing the glasses, they gray man looked at Diode with red eyes. "I am Onyx," he said with a cool voice and a warm smile.

    "What do you want with me?" Diode demanded, feeling a little sick inside. Why had he drunk so much last night?

    Oh yeah. Defcon.

    "I represent the Triad," the gray man answered evenly, watching Diode with a steady, appraising gaze.

    Diode's blood ran cold. The Triad. There wasn't a hacker alive who didn't know about them. Nobody knew who they really were, or what their true motives were, but when they chose to strike, the results were crystal clear.

    Sometimes it was just a company that was gutted, its most precious IP strewn across The Internet with abandon, the business bankrupted. Other times, factories were set ablaze, their computer control systems used against them to destroy them more effectively than any bomb maker ever could.

    The best security companies in the world found themselves unable to even gather meaningful forensics on The Triad, let alone mount a meaningful defense. When they chose to strike, there were none who could stand in their way.

    Some rumors claimed they were rogue AI's, unleashed on the Internet by the last elements of Anonymous before they were stamped out (again).

    But here was someone claiming to represent them, talking to Diode in...wait, where were they?

    "Where are we?" Diode asked, adding, "What do you want from me? You represent The Triad, or you ARE the Triad?" his words piling onto each other as they started to rush out of him.

    "So many questions," the gray man answered with an amused, knowing smile. "That is good. Questions help to authenticate you to The Triad."

    "What do you mean, authenticate me?" Diode asked with a confused, irritated voice.

    The gray man's smile disappeared, his red eyes losing all amusement. "Your questions deserve answers, but we have no time now to dispense them," he replied briskly. "For now, you must take it on faith that We are The Triad, and our interests are aligned."

    Diode was even more confused than ever. He paused, asking, "What do you want?"

    "The cryptographic keys," Onyx answered evenly and simply, as if that explained everything.

    "What keys? What are you talking about?" Diode asked with an increasingly angry voice.

    "Project Meridian," the gray man replied.

    Diode took a step back, frowning. "How did you know that name?" he asked nervously, not sure why he was surprised that The Triad knew the name of his project at work. "Moreover, why do you care?" he asked with a furrowed brow, "It's just a middle-ware piece for some stupid-ass post-gen cloud app that they'll probably pull the plug on after six months of turning it on." Barking a laugh, he added, "Hell, it may not even see the light of day."

    "It is a cornerstone to the Government's Next Phase," Onyx explained patiently. "Your company did not tell you or your coworkers what its true purpose was, as they have learned the value of keeping you ignorant." With a wry smile, he added, "and your code went into Production yesterday morning."

    Diode stared at Onyx, dumbfounded. The gray man went on. "You were wise to encrypt the core of the program, that has prevented them from using it to its full potential." He frowned slightly, "but that also has prevented us from putting a stop to it."

    The elder hacker continued to stare at the gray man, his jaw slack.

    "You're shitting me, aren't you?" Looking around, he asked, "Is this some sort of prank?" He cupped his mouth with his hands, "Reverter? Is this your idea, you sick fuck?"

    "Time is short, Diode," Onyx urged him. "We need the keys, now."

    Turning back to look at the gray man, Diode asked, "If The Triad is so damned powerful, why don't you just crack the crypto? Why do you need my help?"

    The gray man might have sighed, but only said. "Given enough time, we could. However, even we have our limitations." Furrowing his brow, he added, "and as I said, time is too short."

    "What if I don't give you the keys?" Diode asked, still not convinced.

    "Nothing will happen," Onyx answered with a shrug, adding, "But then, nothing has been happening for almost forty years, hasn't it?" Diode frowned as the gray man continued, "Would there have been the food riots if something had happened? Would the ice caps still have melted if something had happened?"

    Shrugging again, he said with finality, "we reap what we sow. If we sow nothing, then we get what we deserve."

    Frowning, Diode pondered the gray man's words.

    "My time is over, Diode. What is your decision?"

    Reaching into his pocket, Diode pulled out the thumbnail-sized drive that he always kept with him. On that drive were the keys Onyx sought.

    "What the fuck," he said, tossing Onyx the device.

    The gray man smiled. "You will be remembered for this, Diode."

    Then the gray man snapped his fingers and Diode's world went black.


    "Dude, wake the fuck up, the talk's over."

    Diode snapped awake, jumping up in his chair next to Reverter. He looked around as the packed auditorium emptied out around them.

    "I can't believe you slept through Dan's talk," his friend muttered as he stood to go, picking up his bag.

    Looking around in a panic, Diode asked, "How'd I get here? How long have I been out?"

    Reverter looked at him with an amused expression. "Uh, you walked here with me?" Diode looked up at him confused. "You fell asleep about fifteen minutes in." Reverter grabbed his friend's arm and pulled him up, the elder hacker looking about with a bewildered gaze. He stood for a moment then shook his head, picking up his bag. The two started to file out of the nearly empty auditorium, with the rest of the conference goers.

    "Man, I still can't believe you slept through it. Fuckin' embarrassing..." Reverter mumbled as they walked into the crowded hallway, while Diode tried to figure out how he had gotten there.

    "So where were we before the talk?" he asked his friend as they made their way to the bar.

    "In the AI Hacking Talk," Reverter answered as he bought a couple of beers and handed one to Diode. "Here, drink up, I think you need one of these. You're too sober."

    He grabbed the brew from his friend and took a long pull on it just as Reverter's phone went off. He pulled it out of his pocket and glanced at it, his eyes suddenly flying wide. "Holy shit!" he exclaimed reading the transparent device with a shocked expression.

    "What?!" Diode asked, his panic returning at the sound of his buddy's voice. As he asked his friend, the sounds of phones chiming filled the noisy hallway and the general din of the hallway turned into a clamor.

    Reverter leaned in to answer Diode, almost shouting in his ear to be heard, like when they were at a party. "The Triad is claiming that they just took control of some the anthro-drone soldiers that the Army just put into Production," he explained. "There's reports on UBCNN that the drones are marching on the Capitol, they're wiping out all resistance."

    Diode's blood went cold. Was his encounter with The Triad what allowed them to do that?

    Or, was it just a crazy dream he had while sleeping through a Kaminski talk?

    "That shit's fucked up, man," Reverter said, taking a swig on his drink. "I'm kinda for it, but, you know what they say, sometimes the devil you know..."

    Diode nodded, taking another drink as he stood with his friend and they watched the live news feed on his phone together. Just then, someone bumped into him in passing and muttered an apology, but Diode felt something out of place in his pocket during the collision.

    Fishing out the bulky object, he found he was holding a pair of black VR glasses.
    Last edited by eris; June 1, 2013, 18:32.
    "They-Who-Were-Google are no longer alone. Now we are all Google."

  • #2
    Re: Title: Defcon 0x2A Author:Dichotomy

    @Dakami giving talks at a ripe old age of 55? Why not!

    Good Luck!
    "They-Who-Were-Google are no longer alone. Now we are all Google."