By John Ogden
The star interceptor shifted and shook under my touch, danced like a puppet loosely strung.
Somewhere in the rift between the meat and the metal of my hybrid mind, a thousand digital eyes, all mine, tracked lines of code, hunted figures, wrapped critical values in light and tied them down, left them securely locked in the recesses of my consciousness. Three point five seconds. Time from initial intrusion to total control. A little slow, but the interceptor was armored better than anything else I'd seen cruising through the rim between the core colonies and the lawless frontier.
Military grade cyber armor.
No. Better. Something better than military grade. Something black market.
Meat mind impulses got the better of me and I gave the interceptor a quick flick of code that sent it spinning through the black like a top. Cheap, rogue interceptors were bad enough. Something like this– something like this particular interceptor shouldn't even be here.
Turning back inward, I caught the readings on the pilot. Terrified, but alive. Alive for the moment. Alive only as long as it amused me to keep him alive. One flick, one thought, and he'd suffocate or freeze in an instant. I was tempted. Even knowing he was plugged into the interceptor I'd taken control of made me feel dirty. Being that close to any human was enough to make me feel tainted or infected. I couldn't wait to be rid of him.
But the nature of the interceptor, its armor and everything else that made it stand out meant I had to keep him alive. Had to keep him alive, at least, if only long enough to know what he knew.
Snapping the digital equivalent of a layer of latex over my own mind, I reached into the controls of the interceptor, molded the back of the pilot's seat into a drill. The symphony of his screams as I cut into his soft and terrified mind was almost enough to make the messy extraction of his memories worthwhile.
And what I learned in the silence was sweet. So sweet.
- - -
John Ogden was conceived of a government form and a passing mailbox. He lives somewhere out in the woods of a rural land more akin to the fantasy realms of literature than real life, and his favorite dirt bikes will always be the broken ones.
Thursday, May 7, 2015
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