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Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Cypher's Tale 28

index

The blade popped through skin and skull with a wet kerthuk and a zippery saw through bone. Black Alice turned pale by degrees.
"Do you have to use a steak knife?"
"I don't have a skull-cutting knife handy. Stupid me."
A festive vomit colored spurt of brain squirted onto Shilo's hand. "ughll."
Jonas sat at the other end of the long desk, hands in keyboard, sending messages. He conspicuously avoided looking to his left.

Shilo lifted a bloody mat to reveal pulverized pink and grey matter. "Wow, brain surgery's harder than it looks." He turned the scalp over, pulling a dozen fine hairlike leads from the brain. Embedded in a skull fragment was a gold-veined ceramic plate. "Jonas, write down a serial number for me."
"All right. Ready. Wait, there's a serial number in his brain?"
"Sure, all these chips have them."
"There's one in *my* brain?"
"Yeah."
"Allah be praised, what are they *for*?"
"Just inventory stuff."
"That's... freaky."
"Well, it's not like anybody can see them. You can even use them as encryption seeds if you want."
"Do you use them for that?"
"Hell no, my chips don't have numbers on them. That's too freaky."
"Damnit, Shilo."
"We've survived an assassination attempt or two. Call me Shy. Now.. A73B0FE91F."
"Ah. Wait, can't you take notes in your head?"
"We had a little cyberwarfare on the way here. I had to power off."
"But can't you reboot?"
"It's technical. So."
Shilo finished clipping the fine hairlike leads to a digital I/O board. He stripped off bloody antistatic gloves and stepped 2 meters to the opposite wall, next to Black Alice, perched on the black couch. He pulled a sink out of the wall to wash off.
"You're disgusting, do you know that?"
"Uh, well, I don't usually have company. You're like the second persons in here."
"Who was the first?" asked Jonas.
"Betty."
"Of course."
"So Alice, you think you can cut someone's brain out elegantly?"
"When you cut his head off you put the knife back in your pocket!"
"It's in a thigh sheath. And.. I forgot about it. But I had no choice."
"Throw it away? Hello?" Her black hair flipped back to emphasize.
"Throw it away??? What if I get captured?"
"You think you're going to kill anyone with a piece of shit box cutter?"
"It's not a box cutter, and the *purpose* is to cut my arteries."
Her eyebrows slowly drew together. She looked at Shilo, his crotch, his face again, and then his crimson clerical collar.
"Oh shit! You're a cypher!"
"Yeah."
"That's what I hired him for."
"No, he's a *real* cypher!"
"Yeah."
"Uh... and I really hired him?" The dense body rotated on its axis, a black ergonomic chair.
"Jonas he's a *Cypher* cypher. With the collar and the Code and the crazy."
"I hardly think 'crazy' is in the Code."

Jonas, though not a history buff, not like Shilo, was nonetheless educated. Trivia percolated up through his wetware like bubbles in tea. He said nothing and resumed typing.

"You're a-"
"Since we're on the subject, what are you?"
Her mouth worked silently. "I yuh, I'm an industrial spy."
"So you were the one."
"Yes, and now we're all going to retire rich."
"If my people can keep us alive."
"If your people can stop breaking and entering and tipping off brutal cartels."
"I wiped the evidence you left behind. If this was Central Intelligence, then the only reason they were so delicate was lack of certainty. If they knew what we had, they'd be shooting up our offices right now. "
"So you were the one. How did you get in there? It's way high."
A server screen flickered.
"Let's see what he knew."

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