0x7D3 April 0x7

I'm ba-aaaack!

OK, that was actually a couple days ago, but now that I've returned to my Secret Underground Base (located in Panama; it used to be Manuel's whine cellar, so-called because he had vaguely lycanthropic tastes. The decor's nice aside from that incredibly tacky "Dogs playing poke-her" painting, but a colleague was quite overjoyed to trade it for something with rather more tentacles. But I digress excessively.

So, as you heard, my domaine was annexed by a Portal Potty. (You can still see a copy if you want.). One of those "Five billion utterly useless links to stuff you don't need, don't want, and can't be paid to click on" type places.

This was... unpleasant, to say the least.

So I decided to Do Something about it.

First step was to ask an acquaintances of mine working for a rather unsavoury employer, whom I have previously done the favour of accidentally failing to provide photographs of to certain law-enforcement agencies, to take a look through their employer's billing records. So after a couple minutes we disclose that the Portal Potty, while their whois information has them at 1602 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC (with a technical contact in the British Virgin Islands), actually paid Verisign for the domain using a credit card signed up for from a maildrop in Chicago. While they were at it, I also had 'em renew the certificate that lets me sign ActiVex controls as "Microsoft Corporation". It's so pleasant to be a Trusted Third Party, isn't it?

Right. So I've got the maildrop. Now, it happens that the US has been making maildropomats collect the physworld addresses of people that sign up for them, the better to track criminals who had become used to using them as anonymous snailmail addresses. But this information is only for law enforcement use, so I can't get to it. Right. So I have my secretary place a quick phone call to another acquaintance of mine; let's call him Mr. Poindexter. No, that's too recognizable. Call him John. Right. The press doesn't find out what chemical that triggers pulmonary embolisms was found in a certain corpse upon autopsy, and I get a reel-to-reel tape (They're actually fairly good as storage media, believe it or not) containing the maildrop address records for the central US. In a plain brown wrapper, delivered by air courier to my Colombian subsidiary.

My agent encrypts the thing using a US-made commercial encryption product that sends the private key in the headers of all messages, introduces a little corruption in the Nebraskan section of the tape, and sends the whole mess to me. It's necessary to keep some traffic moving on that link, or the International Bankers will realize that I know they can read that link. Besides, when the TIA mole in their organization feeds the tape of my tape back to "Apparat" (that's what TIA calls their quantframe - yes, most of their budget went to the construction of a self-aware quantum computer last year. This year, it's going towards implanting control chips surreptitiously in those of you dumb enough to submit to body cavity searches. The 'self-aware' bit was an accident, and renders their work almost useless; they know it, but they spent too much not to use it... but I digress most excessively, komrades mein...) So, closing the parenthesis and resuming the primary thread, "Apparat" will note that the tape is mostly, but not entirely, the same as one in their records. They will then attempt to determine what the hidden message in the Nebraska section is. It's a series of ASCII dobbsheads, with subtle differences enclosing a small message pertaining to the cephalic sutures of certain orders of ornate benthic trilobites from the early Ordovician.

I grab the tape, feed an extra copy to Apparat via my private link (Maybe going with the low bidder wasn't the smartest move when building the Sooper Seekrit Aitch Queue for DHS.) just to confuse 'em. Apparat asks me a few questions pertaining to etiquette, and I provide it with answers. Should be interesting when it reports everyone who places the salad fork on the left as a 'suspected lysergic acid user'. New tape. Fun. Check the quantlink signature to see if it's been tampered with; it has, but that's just a couple KGB deep-cover moles trying to figure out where in blazes to send their reports now that there's no Soviet Union and their immediate superior was first attached to the Khazakhstani intelligence network and then executed for treason to the Party; their dilemma is whether the Khazakh authorities are to be considered their new superiors or Enemies of the Movement. I twiddle a few bits to add an indecent proposition to their message (steganographically hidden in extra whitespace) and let the IRS's monitors pick up the tape, as that's where the mole to whom the message was intended to be seen by currently works. Right. That little bit of business dealt with (that, and seeing to the placement of a couple video cameras at the rendezvous point - the elder of the moles is both cute and deserving of a spot of blackmail, and I'd rather use sexual pecadillos than let on that I've been snooping through Khazakhstan's copy of the old Soviet employee records, though of course that's self-explanatory.).

ANYHOW, getting back to that tape. OK, the mail drop's associated Real Address is.... a mail drop a little east of Chicago - about 14 kilomiles, give or take. I don't need to blackmail anyone to get that maildrop - Beijing's firewall is centrally controlled, central control tracks all traffic containing Falun Gong references, and there's a buffer overflow in the software they use to track 'em. So what looks like a couple teenagers doing Happy Fun Teenager things (cracking South Korean government servers and covering 'em with porn, then discussing the impressive way they Fucked The Foreigners up the Ass by Hax0ring them most el33tly) is really the result of a few K of malformed VBscript being 'tracked'. And it contains the records, which show that no establishment exists at the address recorded therein. Right. My databanks recall something else at the Beijing maildrop-house's address, so I double-check - send an override out to the monitoring camera that would normally have a view of said address.

My screen lights up with a nifty little VR picture, zooming and swooping through brightly coloured polygons and such. As the viewpoint passes "KERNEL SYSTEM SECURITY BARRIER" and approaches "MAIN CONTROL OVERRIDE", I sigh and smack a key. The screen-saver vanishes. Replacing it is a small message in my terminal saying "No response from remote host." What - did they fix the bug that lets me into their cameras? A short commandline grows on my screen.

Nah. The cameras in that part of Beijing are controlled by a bunch of West African script kiddies. The author of the three-year-old exploit they used included code to fix the security hole that it uses. So I go in through the front door, using their user-level password (no sense alarming them by showing that "eastwood", the collective personality that their leaders use, logged in when they know damn well everyone who was "eastwood" was getting drunk and/or laid at a diplomatic reception.). So, I type "buttboy" at the login prompt and "bend over" and the password prompt. Let me see... hmm. Looks like "eastwood" is in two places at once again - maybe these script kiddies should stop telling their passwords to MI5-employed prostitutes whenever they get drunk and feel like impressing their Service Providers with their clever choice of access codes? Oh well, not my problem, but I'll take a note of it just in case I ever want a favour from one of them. That, and I change buttboy's password to "BEND OVER", as I notice that someone is trying to login unsuccessfully from a static IP belonging to an MI5 agent's boyfriend, said boyfriend having a severe caps lock problem according to my records. Take a look through the camera. Right. The mail drop establishment is actually a whorehouse patronized by high-ranking Communist Party members and run by a certain organization originally based in what is now part of Deutschland and originally bearing a name indicating their enlightenment. They list it in their records as a maildrop so that they can tell their handlers they're just transacting Dubious Spy Business.

OK, so the portal-potty operator gave a bogus address. Not exactly a world-shaking surprise.

Anyhow, they want a few hundred to get my domain back, and they've already made me look dumb with their appalling web design and utter lack of taste.

So... bugger that. Call up the maildrop place, type 'voxchange -oprint /usr/local/share/biometrics/usa-id/illinois/c32911291' (that being the command that converts your voice to match an Full Common Biometric Interchange Format voiceprint loaded from a file, and the path indicating that the file to use is, big surprise, located in the US biometric ID database. The ID number being that of Joseph Talon, regional director of Maildrops-R-Us-USA (not the real name of the company, but you can figure it out on your own.).


<chirpy female voice> "Hi! I'm Ariel! How can Maildrops-R-Us-USA help U today?"

<Me> "Joseph Talon speaking. Have the system pull up the video records for box 3279 and dump them to tape. A courier's on his way to pick them up."

"Yes sir! Right away sir!"

(In which there's clicking in the background: First, the single click of a porn site being minimized, then the fifteen or so fast clicks of the resultant popups boing closed, then a man's voice shouting "SPANK ME HARDER!!", an "eep!", some clattering, the noise of something falling to the ground, the staticky click of a monitor turning off, a sigh of relief, a strangled-sounding "ack!" as the noise of slapping flesh is not stopped by turning the monitor off, a scraping noise, the splintery crash of a monitor shattering, the somewhat staticky noise of a paddling in progress in Flash, silence, a sigh of relief)

"Um... sir... I'm sorry, we're having a little computer trouble" in a quite-fake voice.

"So I heard.", dryly.

And the computer screams "I WANT YOUR COCK!"

"Sir, please hold, we have computer problems, I mean, a customer is..."

(The hold button pressed, my phone automatically runs the Smart Amplifier program that I borrowed from Stage Whisper Inc. when they went bankrupt after investing all their VC money in so-called "stealth popunders", which were like regular popunders in that they could waste memory being run and time being downloaded, but unlike them in that they were 1x1-pixels in size and located off the screen to protect them from being possibly seen by users (which meant, according to the sellers of "stealth popunders", that authors of ad-blocking software would be unable to see them and hence unable to block them. The Flash designer they'd hired to do the graphics had, when the company said $50 an hour for two and a half hours was Too Much Money, offered to take only 80% of gross earnings instead. The Director of Marketing agreed, the contract was inked duly, and somewhere out there an ex-ad designer is boating around the Bahamas telling attentive island girls about his past employment (as a contract killer, as he had learned that "I invented the stealth popunder... you know, like the X10 popunder but harder to get rid of" tended to get him kneed in the testicles.). </digression>

<A bit high-sounding - the hold button on this phone cuts off more sound in bass than treble> The girl yells "QUICK HOW-DO-I-TURN-OFF-THE-COMPUTER?"

The computer's Rugged Macho Male Voice says "Oh Yes, Suck It.".


(Door slamming and a muffled "Oh go fuck yourself then" from someone who is evidently a co-worker well and truly tired of computational incompetence.)

(The noise of footsteps and some guy walking up and going "Wow, look at all this broken glass. Just hit the power switch on the computer."

A girl's voice yells "YES! SHOVE THAT CUCUMBER INTO ME!"

<Unknown Guy> "Huh?"

<Staffer> "NO! That wasn't me, it was"

<Computer> OH! YES! OH! YES! NOW! OH! YES! NOW!

<Unknown Guy> "Want me to turn it off for you?"

<Staffer> "Oh please"


<Staffer> "yes yes yes yes"

<Computer> "NOW NOW NOW NOW"

(Crunching noises as the guy squishes some glass on his way to the offending machine. A more cohesive breaking sound as the something that fell to the ground earlier makes a sound as of glasses under boots.)

"See, there's the power button, miss... what was your name?"


"just turn it off quick"

<A distant female voice, the same frustrated one as before> "LEILA! Key the tape safe for me, wouldja?"


<Leila> "Oh god she's coming!"

(Some more crunching, some frantic motion noises, and the crash of a computer falling from desktop height to the floor.)


(A sputtering cracking noise from the computer, most likely something sparking out its life.)

" COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC" goes the computer.

(A door opens.)

" COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC" goes the computer.

<Woman> "More stupid tapes. How many do they need, anyhow?".

" COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC" goes the computer.

<Woman> "LEILA! Customers aren't allowed behind the counter... FUCK! FREEZE OR I SHOOT!"

" COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC" goes the computer.

<Leila> "I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry"

" COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC" goes the computer.

<Guy> "I didn't do it she did!"

" COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC" goes the computer.


" COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC" goes the computer.

(A series of sharp gasps)

" COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC" goes the computer.

<Woman> "GET DOWN OR DIE!"

" COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC" goes the computer.

<Leila> "I'm down, I'm down, don't kill me please."

" COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC" goes the computer.

<Guy> "Now wait just a minute here.."

" COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC" goes the computer.

<Woman> "DIE BASTARD!"

" COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC" goes the computer.

<Guy> "Why are you pointing your car keys at me?"

" COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC" goes the computer.

<Woman> "You're trying to rob us!"

" COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC" goes the computer.

<Leila> "He isn't! Um, some guy came in and tried to take the money and was"

" COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC" goes the computer.

"... just about to shoot me when this customer scared him off."

" COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC" goes the computer.

<Guy> "Guy? What g?"

" COC COC COC COC COC" goes the computer.

"Shut up" hisses Leila.

" COC COC COC COC COC" goes the computer.

"Oh. You two get up then. Did anyone call 911?"

" COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC" goes the computer.

"Um, no, I mean yes, they said they're on their way."

" COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC" goes the computer.

<Woman> "Well, someone better call the regional director's office."

" COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC" goes the computer.

<Leila> "Right".

" COC COC COC COC COC" goes the computer.

(A click, and Stage Whisper disengages as hold is disabled.

" COC COC COC COC COC" goes the computer.

"Sorry sir, but you'll have to call back."


So much for that. However, AT&T's override switch works just fine, and the password on the CEO's account is still his daughter's initials.


And ANI says that that's now Joseph Talon's office.

"Maildrops-R-Us-USA, Illinois Division, Joseph Talon speaking."


" COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC" goes the computer.

"Right. I'll have a courier over to pick up your security tapes. Pull the tape for box 3279 while you're at it."

" COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC" goes the computer.


" COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC" goes the computer.

"Use the computer - no, wait. Have your supervisor use the computer."

" COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC COC" goes the computer.

When the courier returns to my Chicago branch, he has eight weeks or so worth of tape records. Plus the observation that the staff didn't even know who Joseph Talon was, and were firmly convinced that Joe Seth was the regional director. However, the tapes for 3279 were in there. (Along with a hand-pulled box labelled "today" and another hand-pulled box labelled "3297 records".

Feeding them into my system's fairly efficient - I've got a high-speed tape reader, having dealt with this sort of thing enough times in the past not to feel like using the Bloody Slow Custom Drives the NSA uses. The courier is a bit confused, of course, as the High Speed Tape Reader is, to all outward appearance, a bulk tape eraser. (To add plausibility, if you tap on the top in certain patterns, you can turn on or off a feature that will destructively wipe the tape after reading it. A cheaper model that doesn't have this control is in use in several government offices in eastern europe - it always wipes after reading, so it's a little less reliable - no retry. OTOH, I don't have to worry that someone will accidentally turn off the wipe function and then catch on that the thing is not a true eraser.

So, the tapes for 3279, when I finally get to them (my own quantframe helps, of course. The things are indispensable, even if a bit dishonest. Which is why I always double-check against the Original Document before following up on data it outputs.), show the person responsible. Or, at least, their hand.

A check against the nationwide handprint database shows that the owner is one Jenna Bush, Esquire, 54 years old, unmarried, and owning a bar in eastern Kentucky. This is ever so slightly fake; however, the CIA's records show the guy's handprint as read from the left buttock of a monitoring robot disguised as a high-priced female escort. The escort's records show the owner of the box as one Neil J. Ralsky, at a specific location. Traffic cameras at the location confirm the identity.

So I hop on a plane to Chicago. Not literally, but close enough. A midnight landing, and I'm just about awake enough to pay the guy a visit.

"Howdy, Neil. I'm here about a domain you're selling. It expired recently and I wish it returned."

"Yeah? Which one, gimme five hundred and I'll transfer it back."

"I'm afraid you didn't quite hear me. I said I wish it returned. I didn't say anything about wishing to pay."

"Listen, pissant. You pay, or you don't get it back. I paid the nationalized network service good money to give me domains as they expire."

"Really. And you think this is a good idea how?"

"It's legal, and I don't care whether it's a good idea or not."

"Right. So, you will return said domains."

"Yeah, right. Don't make me laugh."

He draws a gun and points it at me. That's rather dumb of him.

"And that's supposed to change my mind how?"

"I pay good money to the cops, too. They won't investigate me."


And the son of a bitch pulls the trigger.

Kind of stupid, that, but most people aren't familiar enough with holograms to recognize the things, nor to notice the projectors held by black-clad beings whose sillhouettes would be odd by human standards on a couple nearby rooftops.

The bullet pierces a BMW belonging to a certain well-known politician, whose daughter gets her cocaine from Neil. At present, she owes him a bit of money. That's called "motive". It hits her gas tank. Now, it happens that octane, at high temperatures, will engage in an ectothermic reaction with oxygen-based atmospheres. That's called "boom".

The fireball is impressive. Wonder what she used in her engine?

While Neil rolls around on the ground putting his eyelashes out, one of my disposable physical bodies enters his house and yanks all the hard drives. Reading them into the Leech (a portable computer about the size of a couple bundt cakes. Most of it's hard drives. Okay. Here's his password with the registrars he uses. It's "password". Oh well. The Leech fills the browser cache directories with fake semen-on-face photos of various members of the ruling family and replaces the voicemail jail software on one of the machines with a program that will fax some of the choicer pictures to the new Presidential palace (the one in a bomb shelter in Texas) along with inane questions about what the person in the picture felt when they were taken. And then re-faxes them to the Attorney General with an overlaid scrawled note saying "B. said to look into this; it's probably some whacko.". (Which is their Sooper Seekrit Code for "Have the death squads visit this guy."). Right. The teleoperated body reinstalls the hard drives and leaves. On the lawn, it stops to make Neil stop rolling (he's kinda not sure how long you put a fire out for) and slap his face. The tiny little camera that had been between the body's fingers burrows into the soft flesh of the cheek, creating a stinging sensation not much different from an actual slap. After all, the identities of the death squad members are useful blackmail materiel...

The robot body walks off into the distance. Behind me, a politician's daughter sleepily wanders out of Neil's house, where she'd been crashed out.

Some people say the Mayor made those big Xes in that runway.

Some people say that Neil Ralsky's disappearance was obviously just a flight to the Bahamas and safety.

Some people say that the surveillance state has made them far safer than they were back in '04 or '05.

Some people say otherwise. Not when they know they're being watched, though.


Gremliness on 0x7D3 April 0x7:

Marietta Osterieski on 0x7D3 April 0xD:
Your story stunning and very hilarious is.

su jefe on 0x7D3 April 0x1D:
um................ It's 2:30 am and I'm mindlessly surfing google for amusment and I come across this site. I have to say that this is among the strangest sites I've seen lately, mainly because of the background textures. They would look good in Drempels ( but not on a webpage, unless you're seriously high. That's my bit. Ciao.


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