Hacking Easy Street

A William Gibson/Neuromancer inspired fanfiction

author/Electric Monk

The sky above the Sprawl was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel. It was an ugly day in the Sprawl, high in complex industrial chemicals with the setting sun illuminating them briefly as it broke free of the omnipresent cloud cover for a glimpse of color. The few people brave enough to walk in the gathering darkness were hurrying because of the things lurking in the alleyways, not entirely human anymore. The pollution was actually kind of light. Normally it was choking, today, only irritating.

NYPD Tacticals prowled the streets, looking for trouble. Better armed and better equipped then your average army they still traveled in groups. They were the enforcers outside the heavily secured residential areas. BAMA Rapids flew overhead in their sleek helicopters, waiting for problems. BAMA. The Boston Atlanta Metropolitan Axis. The Sprawl. Was at once the largest, most dangerous and most interesting place in the world. It was a haven for those avoiding the law. The Tacticals and Rapids just wanted order, they could care less about what else went on. The gangs were careful to keep combat below the threshold, nothing more then automatic weapons. SoCal gangs had tactical mini-nukes so in a sense the cops in the sprawl had it easy.

The only place still open in this part of town was a bar - The Gentleman Loser. It was a cowboy bar deep in the decaying industrial parks. If you walked inside the press of people would threaten to explode but you could still see the clearly defined groups. The cowboys and joeboys crowding around them, the cowboys showing a relaxed contempt for their own bodies and the joeboys doing their best to imitate them. The few corporate commandos watching everybody at once, hands on their guns, ready to let their weapons have a brief moment of glory, at a high cost to everybody else. The handful of street guys and wasted junkies sitting off to the side, everyone keeping a slight distance away from them, careful not to touch them.

A tall man dressed in light absorbing black with middle-eastern features and a pair of mirrored glasses hiding his eyes, walked in and sat next to a typical cowboy slumped into the bar. Despite sitting with them this man was no console jockey, no relaxed stance showing contempt for his own body, instead he embraced his body, moving with no wasted motions. He glanced at the dead-looking cowboy next to him and said quietly to him "Know any decent jockeys?"

The hacker sputtered for a second before replying, his eyes flashing "Don't you know who I am, I'm the best in New York. The name's Bennett, heard of me?"

The man in black smiled slightly "Well, you're not technically in New York. I need some work done, and from what I've heard you're the man to do it. My names Arrechi, and that's as much as you need to know."

"What kind of job" Bennett said, suspicious of his sudden good fortune. He had a bit of a dry spell lately.

"Was I wrong? You look a little under the weather."

"Oh no you don't all-in-black-guy, I can go just as good blasted or not, what kind job is it?"

"Walk with me." Arrechi said quietly, gesturing outside.

A few minutes under the darkening sky and Arrechi had him a cowboy. And slightly less in the way of New Yen.

A few hours later Bennett was staring at a custom built, Ono-Sendai based cyberspace deck. He turned to Arrechi and asked; "Automatic Jack?"

Arrechi nodded his head and said rhetorically. "If you hire a good cowboy, why would you stick him with inferior equipment."

Bennett looked down at it and unhooked the trodes, putting them on his head. "Some one who understands. So what's the target?"

Arrechi smiled, "The Ono-Sendai prototype/design center. It's in the middle of their main research section, you're here for this-" he smoothly stepped closer and handed a disk to Bennett "-And it's going here" He handed another disk to Bennett and stepped back, just as smoothly.

"You're the boss." He slotted the two disks into the system, turned to Arrechi and asked "icebreaker?" He received another disk, which he also slotted in. He then took a deep breath looking at the smoothness of the console in front of him and thought about nothing. His head clear he cracked his neck, with a slight wince from Arrechi and…

He booted the desk on and smiled as he entered, towers and fields of it ranged in the colorless nonspace of the simulation matrix, the electronic consensual hallucination that facilitates the handling and exchange of the quantities of data that corporations and mere mortals slung around. The stepped scarlet pyramid of the Eastern Seaboard Fission Authority faded in, behind it the matrix spread out and far, far above were the spiral arms of military systems. Bennett looked at the first two disks, diagrams showing a prototype simstim switch allowing someone to switch between the matrix and simstim without jacking out "cool man" he murmured. He then took a glance at the other disk, "the Finn's shop huh" he said to Arrechi even as he ran through the steps he needed, his conscious far beyond the meat now, "pretty high level contact you have my man."

An intricate series of blurring jumps. Masking his trail. After a few real atomically measured seconds and much more matrix time the flat silver cube of the Ono-Sendai prototype/design center appeared before him. Around it was the virtual campus of the Ono-Sendai research campus. Glittering layers of ice, faintly transparent. Shapes hunting around. He punched up the icebreaker, slivers of shifting black appearing. He smiled slightly and began. The slivers streaked in towards the ice, running complex attack patterns. Cracks appearing. Carefully aimed slivers dodged defenses, surveying, and then hit. The ice fragmented in slow motion as he punched in. Solidness of nothingness around him. Hundreds of fantastically colored Eiffel towers blinked into existence as the illusions covering them faded with the ice. The emergency generated defenses couldn't stop him as he blew them apart with the last of his slivers of hallucinatory blackness. He soared free, the AI beaten down for a moment as it re-tasked resources. An orange Eiffel wavering. Meat with fast reaction speeds flipping manual overrides. The AI telling on him like he had told on the bullies in the fourth grade. His newly found destination appeared to him as he read the directory; girders reforming of a particularly garish shade of green.

Even as he entered some frail human in the real word punched an override/offline switch and the tower wavered around his avatar. He snarled wordlessly and cut off the switch, sending lethal feedback down the silver pathway. Frying the meat watched his hands melt. Eyes wide he collapsed, smoking. In now, he told it to send a simstim switch to a small shop, deep in the Sprawl. He quickly tidied up, seeing more cowboys streaming in to grab the pickings. After carefully deleting any records that showed he had even been there he punched max reverse, and blurred, the matrix flashing past him. Bennett hit the off switch and removed the trodes from his head. He turned, smiling, to Arrechi and said a note of triumph in his voice "All done, your buddy should have his switch in 7 to 10 days".

Arrechi smiled "His name his Case, I'm sure he'll find it useful." Bennett frowned. Names? Arrechi shook his head and smiled as he took out a flecher, aiming it at Bennett. Bennett's face went blank as he registered his death. Arrechi shrugged as if to say "such is the business" and pressed the trigger. Dozens of flechettes cut through the air and punctured Bennett's body, turning him into a particularly chunky paste. Arrechi picked up the case and walked out, pausing at the door to empty his gun's magazine into the black deck.

The room went quiet. Arrechi looked around at the smoldering remains and then vanished.

The man who had tried to cut out the tower and had lost his hands instead was still screaming when the medical response team arrived. He looked at them with eyes gone mad. "Why…?" he gasped. Flatlining. The medics had no answer.