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Friday, March 14, 2008

Tales of the Cypherpunk 18

index

"Where's Moe?"

"Processing."

The open center of the office was buzzing as shifts changed and the hikkikomori prepared to hide themselves behind closed doors and keyboards again. Betty wandered across the neutral colored carpet tiles, stretching out her left hand to brush the water cooler. A deep brown woman filling a canteen on the other side looked up amusedly.

At 23, Betty was a kid, the company's cute mascot. The receptionist. The receptionist to an office that received no visitors.

Shilo limped behind her. He moved silently in a straight line, still wearing soft, black, black shorts. She glid in a hyperbola, touching furniture, plants, and eventually the back of one of Tyson's commandos. The lean hundred kilo man flinched and held a stack of files closer to his uniform.

On the left side of the rear wall, a corridor led past a stockpile of gear, rooms of flickering light and drooling operators, around a spiral stair and back to a roomful of machines whistling in the darkness. Betty, Shilo, Moe and an anonymous technician watched truth whirl in the center of the room. White points, blue points, and pink points swam in a beam of light. Each one was connected to many others by a web of sharp lines that faded from green to silver and opaque to translucent. Betty watched it with a small smile. A kaleidoscope lit her face. It reflected in her eyes.

"What is it?"

"It's a database."

"Duh, it's a database. What's in it? Why does it have so many dimensions?"

The snowstorm paused. The pinpricks in the air were steady and bright. Moe glanced at the darkness where the door was closed and locked. She answered:

"It appears to be a dump of Central Intelligence's dossiers."

The room was silent. Betty said "oh."

Shilo coughed. He looked at Moe.

Moe looked at Shilo.

"Ah, how much?"

"All of it."

"Including names? Criminal records? Credit scores? Grocery lists?"

"Yes."

"And the class II information?"

"All of it, Shy."

"Even what they get from the banks under the theory that it will never be seen by humans, under pain of death and unlimited financial liability?"

"Yes."

Betty pointed at the technician, who was carefully making archives. "Should I kill him?" She squinted at him. "It's Ed, right?"

"...Not yet. Shilo, based on atomic microscopy, the bits were all written at the same time. The database was constructed by queries to the original. That means there's almost certainly at least one more copy, the original, out there."

"So the chick took it and ran to Jonas to cash in on the.. ridiculous value of the information? Shiite. Whoa. He could skim... billions. Lots of them. Just locally. He'd have an edge for years. He'd pwn the industry. Does that include all regions?"

"All of them."

Betty smiled. "Billions, you say?" Four small gray teeth showed. The tip of a pink tongue poked forward.

Moe raised her hand. "The problem is that she would not leave the copy of the database behind. That indicates that she did not leave entirely of free will. At best, she left in a hurry and hoped that SOP would have her disks burned unread. At worst, she was captured. Perhaps by Jonas. Perhaps by a third party."

"Least I erased everything behind me. Hopefully no one at RDI knows their Central Intelligence Liaison committed billions of counts of grand theft."

"Breach of contract," the technician intoned soulfully.

"Pretty bad, Ed," Betty added.

"It's against the code." Shilo said.

Moe mentally checked the time. "Whatever. I haven't finished my analysis, but it's safe to say that at least two organizations know about this. I'm going to ask the boss for a planning meeting at 1 PM." Half her face was covered by red hair. The other half hid in its shadow.

They adjourned.

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