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This chapter is provided as a preview. Anybody who wants to can access it for free at http://www.EastCoastGames.com .  We ask that no copies, physical or electronic; be lent or given.  Offering this portion of the novel is expressly prohibited.

The Hacker

Burbank, California
Monday, October 5th, 2015, 2:20 pm

 

 

      The final challenge in finishing the list of colonists was finding a hacker.  They had purposely put it off until the very last because they expected the candidates to be the least stable.  One of the problems they had was finding a hacker that was good, publicly known, and had children.  If a hacker was well-known, it would be hard to judge if he or she was good.  If police had not arrested them, were they good or was it hype?  All of the hackers that fit the criteria were all, at least allegedly, retired.  Many of them had spent time behind bars for computer crimes.  Only two of the hackers out of twenty on the list were women. Jared and Yuri both insisted the hacker be young, preferably in his twenties, when he would be at his prime. Finally, they decided to try a person in LA.  He had several aliases, but he was best known as Loco.  His real name was Jacob Winters. 

      When they tracked Loco down to an address and phone number they tried to call him to set up a meeting.  Loco absolutely refused to see them, so he had to be removed from the list.

      The next candidate was known as Geppetto.  His real name was Alex Trumble.  Geppetto lived in Burbank, CA. They were able to arrange a meeting with him.  When Geppetto was still a teenager, he had been reported to have downloaded several gigabytes from the NSA computers.  Somebody had downloaded data and left a virus to hide their tracks, but no evidence was ever found indicating who it was.  Geppetto’s computers were searched, but nothing was ever found that indicated he had created a virus, had hacking tools, or had ever connected to the NSA system.

      When Sarah and Aaron arrived to meet him, he was wearing a black t-shirt and black jeans as well as white shoes.  He had short hair that was purple on his left side, which progressed to black on his right side.  Geppetto also had gold-rimmed glasses. 

      Geppetto lived on the third floor of a warehouse which had been converted into lofts that were rented.  His place was barren, but not particularly sanitary.  He had dishes with half-eaten meals, pizza boxes, and opens cans of soda.  The floor was wood; the walls were glass windows and concrete.  The windows were mostly covered by white sheets.  He had a refrigerator, microwave, stove, and a sink in a corner.  He had no television or entertainment center.  He had a series of desks covered with laptops, computer power supplies, hard-drives, DVDs, serial cables, various sized monitors, some keyboards and mice.  On the tables there were also some computers connected to a router and a KVM switch. In front of the desks was a series of office chairs.  The KVM switch was attached to the latest in 40-inch flat screen monitors, which were rapidly adopted once the refresh rates got as good as traditional monitors.  In another corner on the floor was a mattress covered with a sheet that was only covering one side of the mattress.  The rest of the room was barren.  There were no decorations.  The only doors were one to a bathroom and another to the hall that Sarah and Aaron entered from. 

      After saying their introductions, Geppetto asked them to sit in the chairs in front of the tables with the computer equipment.  Geppetto said, “So, what brings you to my humble dwelling?”

      Aaron said, “Well, we are in need of a talented individual to join a long-term project.”

      Geppetto asked, “What type of project?”

      Aaron said, “Well, we want to help shape the future by keeping tyrants from ruling countries and by preventing major disasters.”

      Geppetto asked, “Why?”

      Taken aback, Aaron replied, “Well . . . to improve the human condition and to reduce deaths.”

      Geppetto said, “OK, how?”

      Aaron was reluctant to continue.  He looked at Sarah and Sarah shrugged.  Then he began, “What I’m going to say must be kept in the strictest confidence.”

      Geppetto frowned, “Dude, I’m not gonna narc on you guys.  Let me know what you’re doing.  I have to know you’re legit.  If you don’t want to tell me, you may as well leave.”

      Aaron continued, “OK, we have a way to . . . we have a way to change the past.  We have a time machine.  We want to set ourselves aside in a biosphere and watch human history evolve, whenever a despot takes power or an event hurts mankind we will go back to fix it.”

      Geppetto said, “So you’re going to live in a colony in Switzerland to watch as events unfold and change them as you see fit?”

      Sarah said, “We never mentioned we were going to Switzerland, and we never said colony.”

      Geppetto shrugged, “Colony is fairly obvious, and since you recently bought a large plot of land in Switzerland, which seems like a good place for a colony, it also was fairly obvious.  What isn’t so obvious is where you’re hiding the Millers and why CTF hasn’t found them yet. Is the time machine what they are looking for?”

      Aaron reddened, “Who gave you that information?”

      Geppetto said, “I can’t tell you how I got it, but don’t worry, I’ll keep it to myself.  Listen, your idea is interesting, but I’m not really interested.  In fact, I only invited you here out of curiosity to see why CTF has taken such a special interest in you.  From what you have said, I gather they know you’re leaving the country and want to stop you.  The big mystery, though, is the Millers.  They may have killed three CTF members, but I doubt it was with a gun.  Further, the bodies of the agents were never physically checked into the morgue, and their caskets were empty.  Were they transported through time?  Why is CTF lying about something like this?  Did Jared invent a weapon?”

      Sarah and Aaron were in complete shock.  No VPN (Virtual Private Network – Secure connection to a private network through the internet) connections to their company had come from unknown IPs (Internet Protocol addresses), so if he had hacked into their system it was either through a faked IP or something that bypassed their VPN’s log.  They had somebody from IS check the log before meeting Geppetto to see if he attempted to hack into their network.  One thing was clear: Geppetto had access to information and probably was an elite hacker.

      Since, at this point, Geppetto had so much information, Aaron didn’t mind giving a little more, in hopes he could answer his own question: why did CTF want Jared so badly?  “I can’t tell you where Jared is, but . . . I will tell you that he did invent a weapon of sorts.  He invented a time machine, but they don’t . . . or shouldn’t know about it.  What they do know is that he and his wife killed the agents by taking them apart at an atomic level.  Jared has created a device that can rearrange matter at the subatomic level.  But, CTF doesn’t necessarily know what the machine is and what it can really do. All they know is what they saw.”

      Geppetto nodded, but could not guess what it was CTF thought they were looking for.  They talked some more but made little progress with the problem.

      “Listen,” said Aaron, as they were about to leave.  “We really would like you to go with us.”

      Geppetto said, “My life is here.  It sounds interesting, but I really don’t want to change the past or the future.  I like to watch, that’s all.”

      So, Sarah and Aaron left.

Copyright (C) 1998-2001 East Coast Games, Inc. and 2001 - 2006 Forest J. Handford

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