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A collaboration over too much coffee.
coffee and pen

23 August, 2005


(cross posted on my blog.)

The databanks glided past him like a vast procession of the dead. The gleaming spires of the world’s elite companies, protected better than some countries and infinitely more valuable than all the gold in the world. But he was there to steal right? After all, giving credit where it was due, he was the best in the business. Few people could afford his services. In fact, nowadays, it was only the mega companies that contacted him at his supra-legal and sub-orbital mansion. He had made his bones at the beginning of the digital age. While people of his age frittered away time in inane chat rooms and writing personal tripe on blogs he hid behind impenetrable barriers and searched for chinks in the primitive armors of the early cyber databases. He had learnt a lot then. He had also acquired his famous (or infamous based on the viewpoint) handle then, ‘Trimax’.

Trimax eased out of the shadows and followed the procession at a safe distance. He cut through the feeble outer defenses without a second thought. At the same time the swipies he had created activated themselves and cleaned out the perimeter defense at the back in one rapid swoop. He rushed in behind them before the redundancies kicked in. Once in, he quickly morphed into a data table and attached himself to the last databank. He was all but invisible now. But like that mythological Indian hero in some forgotten epic he had got in but there was no way back out. The tear had been closed and repaired by the swipies to avoid suspicion or raise an alarm. No sweat. Unlike that unlucky hero he knew the complete framework and could work himself back out. All he needed was a little luck. Yes, if he lucked out today he would never have to think of a job again. He would buy himself a farm on the other side of Mars and relax.

Come on, come on, focus, focus on the job, and don’t start dreaming again.

He executed his search bots and jacked them into the primary network. Now it was lying low and waiting until they found what his clients wanted. He checked his camouflage. It was perfect. Nothing to worry about. He drifted to his dreams, his only real pleasure left. Thoughts of Efwi enveloped him yet again. Would he find her on Mars? His sources told him that she had last been seen there. Would she take him back after these many years? Had she forgiven him at all? He knew he deserved her hate. For had he not left her in search of notorious fame? She was the only person who had loved him with all his faults and he had kicked her aside without a second thought when his needs had been fulfilled. The guilt never left him alone. It tormented and tortured him. With all his money and fame he still could not find peace. She was the only who had what he wanted.

beep…beep…his console chimed softly...the search bots had returned...

Time to shake things up a bit. First, he launched an elaborate decoy. Something he had never used before. Something that ought to fool the deadly geisha. They made killing unique entertainment. He shuddered at the thought. He had seen holo-views of hackers caught by them. He had no intention of going crazy like them. A self-mutilating craziness, utterly horrible.

Yes! His decoy worked. The geisha set off after it en masse. The field was as clear as it would get. He started the speed routine. He zipped in and out of the massed data clusters. Blurred surroundings whipped past him. The sensation of speed was exhilarating. He whooped silently and flashed around a corner, the destination data point looming ahead, the place highlighted with a pink sheen by his bots.

He braked and got off. This was the most dangerous part. He had to work without camouflage or protection. But with luck this should not take more than a few minutes. Ample time to steal the cube and get out. He finalized his cutting sub-routines, the precise iterations that would select the exact data piece he needed from a billion other pieces. He clicked the button and stepped back. Almost done now. Come on, come on, few more minutes and he would be done.

..and he saw her then, looking at him from the shadows, the love of his life in this of all places…

He stumbled with shock and stepped back. For a second he wondered if she was a figment of his over active imagination. No, no her flesh lines were too flawed to be artificial. It was her and she was pointing a gun at him!

They faced each other. Two adversaries connected by the past. One representing good and the other law and order. He wondered if she would pull the trigger if he tried to run. But something stopped him. He knew. He would not run again. Not from her. Life or death he would face it like a man. Death from her hands was infinitely better than the lonely death of an old man later. Like watching something in slow motion he saw her activate the gun and pull the trigger, thrice. Bright light flashed and in the next moment he jerked like a rag doll as the bullets punctured his lungs and burst his heart. He fell back, blood bubbling from his mouth. As the light around faded, the last thing he saw was Efwi looking down at him, a strange look of pity and hate on her face.

(Note: an idea that went nowhere, at least as of now, no wonder the abruptness. And oh, obvious respects to William Gibson, the father and master of cyberpunk.)