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A Free Online Science Fiction Novel- “Liberty”- Chapter 8

by Blaine Coleman 4 months ago in Sci Fi · updated 3 months ago
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Dex gets a new server

] Image credit: JosipPlecas-LiY0KIVeIjU-Unsplash

*Note-a short prologue on chapter one provides details of the world in which this story takes place. Each chapter links to the next to make reading easier.

This is chapter seventeen of a novel I am sharing online, titled Liberty, A Daughter Universe Novel. I use the word “Liberty” because it relates to this story on multiple levels.

Comments and criticisms are welcome and encouraged.

Comments and criticisms are welcome and encouraged.

~ ~ ~

Dex and Tony: Safe House Two

Tony lifted the already cut padlock off the hasp and opened the small door, then reached into the dark space and pulled a frayed, white string. A single light bulb in an old, dirty-white ceramic fixture flickered and came on steady. Dex could see a set of wooden steps that led up into the shadows above.

Great. Another attic.

“After you,” Tony said. Dex stepped into the small space and looked at the lamp fixture.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a light that old,” Dex replied, then coughed on the dust that floated in the air.

Tony shrugged. “They only renovated the parts of the building that people live in,” he said. “Other than upgrading the wiring and installing the trunk line for the building, I doubt anyone ever came up here.”

“It’s a good thing the government skimped on rebuilding these neighborhoods.”

“Maybe the best thing they did for poor people was ignore them,” Tony agreed. “It gives us a lot of neglected places to do what we’re doing.”

“Is there a table and chair I can use?”

Tony nodded. “I brought a folding table and desk chair for you and that old armchair was already here, so I’ll have a place to sit, too.”

Of course, Tony needs a comfortable chair that he can relax in, Dex thought. Which is a good thing- at least that will keep him out of the way.

“It’s getting late. We need to get busy. I’ll splice outlets from the main electric line, but you’ll have to hook into the optic cable yourself. The Resistance has gotten too big to just give up now.”

Dex just smiled. He was getting tired of doing the same thing, over and over. Especially since every attack he carried out made the next one that much harder.

“I’m not giving up, Tony, but I’m going to do what I’ve been telling you guys all along; hit soft targets, networks that aren’t secured as tightly as the main computers. The government has all kinds of automated drones and smart missiles, plus those ‘fly on the wall’ surveillance bots that track everyone; we can’t fight them, but we can avoid them. If we leave the primary computers alone the military won’t come after us.”

Tony was not so sure, but—Dex was known as the best hacker in the ECA, and the Resistance was lucky to have him. He trusted Dex to know what he was doing.

“Just what does that mean?”

“It means no attacks on the city’s, or military’s, core computers, and no banks; they’re too well defended. After I started hacking into them, they beefed up the firewalls and put in Black Ice anti-intrusion algorithms. And I am not going to risk my tablet being compromised.”

“Well, if we can’t hack into government or bank computers, how’re we going to accomplish anything?” Tony asked.

“I said I won’t interfere with the main computers. I never said there aren’t other government systems that will be a lot easier, and safer, to take over,” Dex replied. “Did you get a new server?”

“Of course, I did!” Tony sounded offended that Dex would even question whether he’d done his part. “It was right where the others are left for me, but this one’s even smaller than the one we left behind. It’s labelled “40K core”,” he said and handed Dex a small, matte-black box the size of a deck of playing cards

“40K Core?” Dex asked. “That’s hard to believe.” He took the unit from Tony, looked closely at it and a smile filled his face. “I don’t know who your guy is, Tony, or how he has access to tech like this server. It must be a prototype, or I would’ve heard chatter about something like this. In a box this small- I didn’t know something like this existed … it could be an experimental model from QCore. It’s beyond military grade,” he said. “It will run circles around the computers I plan to go after today. Let’s get started.”

As soon as Tony had the power feed hooked to the server and set it on the small table, Dex set his tablet next to it.

“Forty-thousand cores!” Dex said, marveling over the tiny device.

“Yeah, I wonder how House gets these things.”

“It can’t be on the up and up,” Dex said. “He must have some serious connections to get something like this.”

As soon as Dex powered up his tablet, he swiped three fingers over its holo-face and three virtual monitors popped into existence in front of him. With a smile, he began entering the program he had written, amazed at the server’s speed. It was as though the computer's AI anticipated what Dex sought and with his algorithms it swept through firewalls, knocked aside anti-intrusion programs located and took control of the AIs that controlled the SSP power network. To test his control, Dex chose a single satellite and uploaded the virus into it. As soon as he got confirmation that his algorithms worked, he targeted the power feed to Central Square. ,

“You’re cutting power to the government district?”

“Reducing, not cutting. What better place to test our control?”

“But the Council said to focus on the water supply. What are you going to tell them?”

“That isn’t a problem. The water pumps are already being slowed but I need to cut back the supply, too. With this new server,” Dex looked at it fondly, still amazed at its size, “I can do both at the same time.”

He knew that rich people didn’t depend on sea water; they had their own sources, so they wouldn’t even notice. But, the middle class, businesses, and the poor relied on those plants to supply the water they needed, and the Council wanted to stir up public unrest on the assumption it would get the attention of those in control of the city.

Dex was a skilled hacker and would work for anyone who had paper money to pay. To him, a job was a job, and he always did the job well. Still, he did not like the idea that the very people the Resistance wanted to help would suffer because of his actions. The Council, however, felt it was important to inconvenience the middle class along with the poor. They believed that if more people experienced some of what the poor endure every day, then that might broaden the public appeal of the Resistance. Or so the Council hoped.

“How’s it going?” Tony asked.

“It’s done,” he replied and looked at his watch; fifteen minutes. Not bad, he thought. “The desalination plants should begin shutting down one at a time.”

“One at a time?” Tony asked. “Why not just take them all down?”

Dex shook his head. “Because that would draw too much attention,” he explained. “I hit the main plant first, and the output is already down by a half and it’s gonna keep dropping. They’ll suspect it’s a virus and focus on trying to isolate it from the other plants. But it will be a waste of time. This new server got me direct access to the SSP and the power feed to the main plant will taper down to zero, then the other plants will start going offline.”

“So, what you’re telling me is that we can control the entire SSP?”

Dex had a pleased smile. “That’s right. We can control power transfer in the entire Alliance.”

Tony was stunned- he had never imagined the Resistance would get access to the SSP, let alone control it. His mind swam with possibilities for the power they now had.

“We need to let the Council know about this, Dex. They’re going to be thrilled with what you’ve done.”

“No, we don’t,” Dex quickly replied. “They’ll want to go straight after the military, to take it away from the government, but the military and government have their own satellites and I can’t hack those codes. There may be a powerful enough AI to crack the highest-level military grade encryption, but we don’t have one. If a machine like that even exists.”

“Well- I don’t know much about computers, but can’t you use that server to search and find out if a powerful enough computer is built?”

“Don’t you think I’ve already done that?” Dex replied. “I’m not stupid, you know. I’ve got the tablet using excess resources from the server and running search algorithms. If such a machine does exist, QCore will have built it. We’ll know soon enough.”

“I know you’re not stupid, Dex. I was just asking. You’re the computer whiz, not me.”

~ ~ ~

Chapter 9

~ ~ ~

This was originally published on

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Sci Fi

About the author

Blaine Coleman

Born at the end of the Boomer generation, I enjoy a quiet retirement with my long-time partner and three dogs.

When I write, it's on a variety of subjects or short stories. I'm a student of life and go with the flow of the Tao.

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