Mental Warfare #cyberpunk

Welcome to the 16th installment to The Nothing’s Child. The world is nothing like we know anymore. Or something…

If you are new to how the links work, each section shows all the links for the specific section. Otherwise there is a link for the start of each section. It is easy to catch up to where we are now.

Section 1
The Nothing’s Child
Section 2
Life is a Dumpster Dive
Section 3
Bleuthor Encryption
Section 4
Behind the Bookcase
Section 5
Interrogation with no Egg to Stand On
Section 6
Mental Warfare
Eggs in a Basket
Coded Eggs
Section 7
Cracked Eggs

Mental Warfare

Josh strapped himself in next to me. The connection wouldn’t go directly between us. We had been connected to a router that acted as a surge barrier. In the event something crazy happens it should protect us.

We each hooked up our decks and readied them for a run. The tough part of this, it was happening in my head. Our brains and bodies are nothing more than machines. How they work is quite similar to the machines we make with our hands. Electrical impulses control how fluids and tissue work together through the whole thing.

I hadn’t seen Jen or Michelle since earlier in the day. They were going through a debriefing all their own. Didn’t really matter much, if this killed me I wouldn’t care where they were anyway.

“You need to enter the Net first,” Josh said. “I’ll work within your parameters so they need to be set up and running before I jack in.”

I nodded then connected my wire to the port. With the press of a button the familiar cold snap brought me back I to the world of the Net. At first the world around me was a blank loading screen. The space was a private networking area. All we would see would come from our apps.

I flipped through the scripts I had loaded and called up the spatial parameters apps. They went to work, as virtual space took shape around me. When they finished I found myself in an office with a desk and a few chairs. There was a door with leaded glass, my name in black letters on the door. A phone kept rang on the far side of the desk.

After the fifth ring it stopped but a knock came to the door. A shadow outlined in the leaded glass as it hammered the wood with its fist. The phone rang again, then more pounding. I ignored the door in favor of the phone. A woman’s voice at the other end.

“They’re going to kill you.” Jen’s voice. “Don’t let him in.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“They don’t want to retrieve the info,” she said. “It’s a hunter-killer app. Unplug and I’ll get to you. We need to get out of here.”

After all the work it seemed a little odd that they would want to kill me now. But even with our history Jen has never led me wrong. The problem here was I couldn’t just cut the connection and hope that they didn’t notice. I needed to do some disruption, buy some time.

If the connection could lead him into my world, I should be able to follow the path into his world. This isn’t something I have done before but I can code on the fly. And this is just another puzzle.

If I opened the door at any time it would give them access to my world but it would also give me access to theirs. A good thought for the future but I didn’t want to open that flood gate just yet. I threw up a few defensive apps. They reinforced the door and secured it with cross beams. From there I went to work.

I pulled elements of code together, nothing as direct as a frontal assault. This would need to move on the sly and it needs to be quiet. Let me tell you right here, there are times when you do something so sneaky, so underhanded that you frighten yourself a little. This little app, so small, so simple, any other time in my runs I never thought of something like this. It’s a beaut and it’s gonna fuck up someone’s world.

I wasn’t sure how long it would take for the app to do its work but I would have to take some hits in the process. Part of the job, still sucked all the same.

I went to the door and removed my extra defenses. I expected it to burst in on me but only found the knocking again. With the attack app ready I turned the handle, opening the door to Josh’s avatar. I put on a big show of welcoming him in. Lights fanfare anything to keep his focus on me and away from the nasty that slipped behind him.

He didn’t so much as walk around the space I offered him, instead jabs and pain clicked through different sections of my brain. Imagine an earthquake, then picture it happening in your mind. This feeling went a bit beyond violated. My thoughts felt a bit … Slimy. I needed to end this and soon. I couldn’t think, I couldn’t breathe. My first impulse had direct defense. Shield apps fired on instinct and he crushed them down.

I changed tactics. I had already allowed him in, the only safety I had left was to guide him to where he needed to go. I set false trails in place. Through a screen that assumed compliance to his demands I led him through various layers of my mental net. Twists and turns that looped back on each other. My mind had become a rabbit warren that lead him in circles.

The nice thing about the playground of your mind, it’s still your playground. It was much easier to create twists and turns than I thought it would be. Remember what I said about electrical impulses, apparently in your mind, your thoughts have substance. The power of my deck was amplified well beyond what I thought it could be.

This didn’t change anything. I didn’t want to kill him. I wanted to make some changes. I worried that my app might run into the same problem in his mind that he ran into in mine. Then I realized I wasn’t making a visit to his like he was mine. His conscious thought was invading my brain. His defenses were down.

This was a game of capture the flag. The battle grounds were our minds. Let this be a lesson. It is always a good idea to leave at least one key player back to guard your flag. You never know when the enemy might slip through and make a run for your base.

It took some concentration to maintain the war on two fronts. But I was determined to win this battle. I received a notification. My app made it to its destination. The trick now would be to guide him out so I could sever the connection. The after effects would be ugly but well worth the work.

“I am afraid your presence is no longer required,” I said. My digital avatar settled into the same space as Josh.

“Don’t be a fool,” he said. “I can still help you.”

“At one point I might have believed you. But the time for fairy tales is over.” I threw up a shield app and used it to push him through the opening, back into the void between our minds. At the same time my app in his head captured his flag. Or should I say severed the connection between his mind and his body.

You know how I said I didn’t want to kill him? It’s true. Instead of killing him I locked his mind into the void space. He will be free to run as far as the Net will take him. But his body will wither away with the lack of connection. Maybe one day they will find a new body to download his mind into.

I took down the walls and brought myself back out of the Net. Something was different. The egg in my brain did not press as hard. The routing around that Josh did in there seemed to have knocked something loose.

The physical world didn’t set matters right. Much as I expected Josh’s body was there, vacant look to the eyes. But there was more, goons I hadn’t expected. Did he call for back up?

“I see you made it out,” Ghost said. I was really beginning to hate this guy.

“I’ve had worse hangovers.” I noticed the gun aimed at my head.

“I wouldn’t bother getting up,” he said. “Would it surprise you to know that we know where the information is now?”

“Took you long enough. Third graders are quicker on the draw.” I thought my brain was a little scrambled from the mental fight, then a fist to my temple added to the party. I wanna say right now, this wasn’t a good day to be me.

“We won’t be bothering with all this crap to remove it though. Cuff him, meet me at the car.” He stepped aside and let the goons do their job. Pretty neighborly of him I think.

“You won’t be joining us?” I asked.

“Gag him, He never shuts up.”

The team worked well together. Few words were exchanged though they moved like dancers, knowing where to be and what to do to get there. By the look of it all, this wasn’t their first human extraction. Guards were dispatched as they traveled the halls. They made it to their car without setting off any alarms.

Mental Warfare

Flickr Creative Commons via Allison

This is where I have to take issue. They didn’t bother making room for me in the car. I apparently don’t rate the car ride. No, they dropped me into the trunk. Talk about dehumanizing.

From the trunk I heard doors shut and the engine start. I even noticed when the car started moving. But I had no idea where we went after that. I figured I knew where they were taking me. Doesn’t matter though, when you’re trapped in the trunk of the car.


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