Friday, August 16, 2013

"Hey, I don't believe that any system is totally secure." - Wargames, 1983

Prenote: I made some changes to the appearance of the blog.  How's the background/layout for reading?  Also, there are now rating buttons at the end of each post.  Please feel free to use them and/or suggest button categories.

Now to the post.

Today, an excerpt from a short story I'm working on.  I've had the idea for many, many years but have only recently started on the story arc.  Okay, recently is this morning on the train.  Everything sort of finally came together and I'm going gangbusters on it, but it isn't done and even if I had a full draft complete I wouldn't post it becuase I need to write more than one draft and the story is SO GOOD that I don't want to spoil it for you with less than "perfect at my current skill level".

I haven't settled on a name for the piece yet but this bit I thought would sound hip with the title...

By Jon Stark
August, 2013; 362 words

Deep in the Utah desert, buried beneath tons of silicon and paperwork, lay a super computer so powerful that it was only legend in the darkest corners of the net - so powerful that the fanciful rumors of what it could do barely scratched the surface of its true capabilities.  Indeed, it was so powerful that those in Washington and Ft. Meade who were "in the know" actually knew nothing about the true scope of the project they'd secretly funded.  There was a compound with razor wire, guard towers, attack dogs - and, according to one internet source, sharks with lasers on their heads - guarding a fairly large-sized bunker which held a token Cray XT4, a small kitchen, a really nice gym, and a secret elevator.  The computer below stretched far beyond the security cordon, beyond the eyes of anyone but its caretakers.  It was RONIN.

In cyberspace it left no presence.  It would launch virtual assassins who came violently into chatrooms and corporate mainframes from the shadows as untraceable rogue code.  The intelligence gathered was packed up and left in prearranged drops to be retrieved by couriers of unbelievable speed and stealth - packet stealers that disappeared into the shadows.

Three months ago they stole a packet with a hidden transmitter disguised as a phone call between a terrorist and his grandmother.  They brought it into the dark place of the web that was RONIN.  The Trojan code sent a single pulse from within the domain before being erased.  The pulse was received by a young mathematician named Sanjay Horowitz.  He released specially coded worms that followed the signal back and careful began the process of outlining the hole in the net where the computer lived.  There would be no way to burrow through the virtual castle walls but there was always another way in.

Two weeks ago one of his worms found the back door and Sanjay snuck into the United States Government's most classified secret.  He didn't have a Q-Delta-Zero clearance (even if he did, it wouldn't have been high enough for access).  He wasn't interested in the secrets, though.

Sanjay wanted processing power for his counting algorithm.

Any ideas for what RONIN can stand for?  Put them in the comments.  The one I thought up on the commute was "Ridiculously Overpriced National Intelligence Network."

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