FATE of New Angeles (GetcherGeekOn)

2299-08-09 (Part 1)
Preparing for the Heist

August 9, 2299

"So, here's the deal," the Garbage Man said. "This Geotech place is keepin' all the files related to this new secret contract on a protected server inside their office building. You need to get in, grab the goods, and transfer the files t' my organization."

"Sounds simple enough," Fishhook said.

"Ain't as simple as it sounds," the Garbage Man went on. "You gotta be off-site, far enough out of range of their networks that they can't wirelessly capture the packets when you transmit 'em." She turned to the darkened doorway behind her. " Raina NT407X , come out here, would ya?"

Emerging from the shadows of the back room of the Trash Can came a female bioroid, her eyes covered with a large VR interface. "Yes, boss?" she asked, casting her gaze around the room at G00dw;ll, Fishhook, and Rook.

"You're gonna sysop this mission for these gentlemen, understood? Set up a secure line, get the protected server ready, and give 'em whatever info you can find." The Garbage Man turned back to the three men. "Raina's the best there is. Bioroid designed specifically for systems interface tasks, and she's been sysopping for my org for three years now. You'd be amazed what she knows, but she don't do anything off-book, y'hear?"

"Glad to be of service," said Raina, flashing a smile. A moment later, G00dw;ll's wireless console chimed from under his arm. "I've just dropped you a contact packet. Let me know if there's any information I can provide."

"Anything you can get for us from the public record for Geotech would be helpful," G00dw;ll said, snapping open his console and checking in the packet. "I'm going to see what my friends have to say about this place."

"Fine, good. Just don't do it here," the Garbage Man said. "Talk to Raina if y'need anything. The next time I hear from ya, it better be confirmation you delivered that data pack."


G00dw;ll set himself up at one of his hideaways and dove into the underbelly of the Net. He had friends, and lots of them, spread out all across New Angeles just searching for information. For this one, though, he knew just the friend to get the info he was looking for.

<08:45:43> G00dw;ll: Hey, Tr0llcore. Anything on Geotech Ltd?
<08:45:57> Trollc0re: Checking


While he waited, G00dw;ll downloaded the briefing packet from Raina, the Garbage Man's sysop. The information was basic, and remarkably sketchy. In business three years. No major corporate harassment. No paper trail leading to any megacorps. Official stated purpose: geological survey and engineering for the greater New Angeles area.

<08:48:31> Trollc0re: Got something
<08:48:48> G00dw;ll: What?
<08:49:50> Trollc0re: Looks like they just closed a few job postings. Analyst. Security. Analyst… hm
<08:52:21> G00dw;ll: Well?
<08:53:54> Trollc0re: They just hired a new sysadmin.
<08:54:21> G00dw;ll: When?
<08:54:42> Trollc0re: Listing closed on 8/3

 

The day of the failed job. G00dw;ll's stomach sank. Could it be? Did Geotech just hire the runner who burned him, the same day she'd gotten away scot-free?

"Fuck me," G00dw;ll said aloud.

<08:59:11> Trollc0re: Something else here, too
<09:01:22> G00dw;ll: How can it get any worse
<09:03:40> Trollc0re: Some chatter here between Geotech and a known representative for Matsumura
<09:03:52> G00dw;ll: THE YAKUZA? Fuck me sideways
<09:05:17> Trollc0re: You'd like that

Arthur "Fishhook" Kingston strolled down Hypatia Blvd, doing his best to blend in with the crowds. It wasn't difficult. He might have been better dressed than most of them, but this neighborhood was ritzy enough that no one batted an eye.

The target, Geotech, owned the third floor of an office building at the end of the block. G00dw;ll had wised him to Geotech's closed job postings, particularly the security one. His ex-military background gave him a great excuse to go talk with them, even if the posting was closed. You could never have too much security, after all.

It never hurt to get a really good look at the neighborhood before hitting a target. Fishhook took his time, surveying the landscape, really understanding the lay of the land before he made a single move.


Trollc0re had given him some good info, but it wasn't enough. G00dw;ll needed more.

He would have to try and get it himself.

Loading up his icebreakers, G00dw;ll launched a new anonymous proxy and routed all of its traffic halfway around the world before it came back to his console. But he didn't go after Geotech directly—oh no. He monitored it from afar, watching its traffic patterns, and then targeted an intermediary routing server that Geotech's traffic pinged off regularly.

Routing servers didn't usually have much in the way of sophisticated ICE, because they didn't hold on to information—they just passed it through. But G00dw;ll had a trick up his sleeve. His fingers flying over his keys, he infiltrated the routing server and installed a low-level packet sniffer tied to Geotech's physical network ID. As they passed through the almost-passive sniffer, a higher-level program fired off copies of the packets to his local storage.

Based on the modified-date stamps on the packets, G00dw;ll was pretty sure that Geotech was doing some kind of remote backup. They were old, six months old in fact, files. He couldn't see the information yet, but he continued collecting the data, letting his local storage fill with as much sensitive, encrypted data as possible.

After almost ten minutes of straight information download, a message came through on his console.

<10:22:15> [UNKNOWN USER] I SEE YOU, G00DW;LL. :)


He froze for an instant, petrified. What had he left open? Panic froze him solid.

Then he snapped back to reality. Burning everything, he torched his connections, deleted his proxy, and slammed his console closed. Tucking it under his arm, he ran.

So much for that hideout.

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2299-08-09 (Part 2)
A Change of Plans

Fishhook looked up and down the street. Time to set this plan in motion.

His PAD pinged, just as he was about to make his final approach to the front door of Geotech. He almost ignored it—could it really be that urgent?—but instead he checked the notification. Just in case.

<11:02:27> G00dw;ll: DON’T GO IN. GOT TAGGED. MIGHT BE PANDORA. DON’T GO IN

He stopped dead in his tracks. Well, then. No sense in taking unnecessary risks.

Instead, he immediately went to Plan B. Turning on his heel, he headed for the apartment complex across the street from Geotech’s front door. Certain that the roof would give him the vantage point he needed for observation, all he had to do was get past the doorman. There didn’t seem to be any other physical security, but the guard out front dressed in a suit, wore dark sunglasses and sported an earpiece, not unlike a government operative.

It wasn’t long before Fishhook spotted a resident going into the building. A paper receipt slipped out of her pocket as she climbed out of the cab, and he retrieved it without being spotted. That gave him a name—Billerica—and now he had an excuse to be there.

He waited an hour, just to be certain that the doorman would not immediately suspect him of following her inside. At last, with casual grace, Fishhook approached the doorman.

“Good morning,” he said affably. “I’m here to see Ms. Billerica.”

“I’ll buzz her,” the doorman said, reaching for his earpiece.

“Oh, no need for that,” Fishhook said with a disarming smile. “She told me she’d be napping about this time, and asked me to tell you not to wake her. I’m just dropping off this data packet—” he held up a small data storage device “—for her review, and…”

The conversation went better than he’d expected. The doorman warmed to his manner quickly, and Fishhook’s charm went a long way. By the end of a short conversation, he knew that he hadn’t just achieved his goal—he’d made a connection that could be used later.

The doorman buzzed him through, and Fishhook made his way up to the roof. Carefully ascending the floors via the stairs—the cameras in the elevators would be impossible to avoid—and at last emerging on the top floor of the complex. Silence filled the hallway, and he made his way along it, searching for the roof access point.

He found it at last, and put his hand on the latch. Just as he did, he glanced both directions—and spotted a camera he’d missed in his initial survey of the hallway, staring directly at him.

“Damn,” he muttered, slipping through the door and heading up to the roof. He brought out his PAD and shot off a short message.

<11:29:31> Fishhook: Spotted by a camera in Riverview Apt Complex. Could complicate things. Top floor, north side. Just outside roof access.
<11:30:07> G00dw;ll: On it

Finding the perfect spot, Fishhook settled in for a long day of observation. This would take a while.


New spot, new proxy, new routes. G00dw;ll hunkered down with his console. He was almost reluctant to go into another system anywhere near Geotech right now, but they couldn’t afford to be caught if Pandora—the more he thought about it, the more certain he was just who they were up against—decided to go snooping around in the same place.

He fired up a new set of protocols and located the Riverview Apartment Complex on the Network. It didn’t take him long to find their servers, verify his pathing, and set up a probe to figure out what kind of security they were keeping on their network.

They had several servers—data, environmental controls, lighting controls, electronic locks. Why would an apartment complex have a system that would let management lock tenants in their apartments? he wondered briefly, but discarded the thought. The last server was a massive data server to hold all of their security footage. Target acquired.

Viewing the server’s details, he spotted the ICE with barely any effort. A Haas-Bioroid mass-produced Gyri Labyrinth subroutine. Ha. No problem. He guided his icebreaker through the outer edges of the randomly-shifting protocols of the Gyri Labyrinth, and once they reached the core, he let his program do its work. It installed an exception for his proxy, and just like that, he had full access to the security camera system.

With the exact camera location that Fishhook had provided, G00dw;ll quickly found the appropriate camera and spliced out the few seconds of his cohort’s appearance with a loop of empty footage from the quiet hallway. Adjusting the time-stamp was child’s play. When he finished, not a single trace of anything strange remained in that camera’s data.

Hm. G00dw;ll thought, once his task was completed. Wonder if there’s anything else I can do with this system while I’m here.

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2299-08-09 (Part 3)
Surveillance

It took about thirty seconds for G00dw;ll to realize exactly what he had gained access to. The security camera records for the apartment complex were stored on the local servers in a block of a week’s time. After that, they either deleted them or uploaded them to an off-site storage… but that hardly mattered. He had access to a full week’s worth of security video!

He fished through the list of devices, and located two cameras attached to the front of the building. The lenses were focused down at the area in front of the doors, but a large part of the entrance for the office building across the street stayed in view, if not perfectly in focus, basically the entire time.

A week’s worth of outside surveillance was invaluable. G00dw;ll quickly set up a download to a secure off-site of his own. This could make or break them.

While reviewing the cameras, a thought occurred to him. He brought up the current day’s recordings, and sure enough, there was Fishhook, gabbing away with the doorman. G00dw;ll paused for a moment, and shook his head. So obvious.

With expert skill, G00dw;ll created an algorithm that simulated electronic interference, and let it run wild with the day’s footage. Recordings from random cameras, in every part of the complex, corrupted and lost cohesion. The basics were still visible, but the detail had essentially been erased. No more problem.

Cracking his knuckles, G00dw;ll sat back and waited for his download to complete.


The day passed by overhead as Fishhook waited.

He watched, from his safe and comfortable vantage point, as every person went in and out of the office building that housed their target. He’d spent years in the military—holding a recon position was second-nature to him. Most of the people that passed through his sight were unremarkable: office workers, visitors, the occasional suited executive. Those that took his notice were the uniformed security guards, in their dark helmets and body armor. He counted them, one by one, marking each one by their gait, or by some piece of identifying equipment that they carried.

A fair number of them. Perhaps twelve unique guards throughout the day. Security didn’t seem particularly tight.

After a few hours, though, a pattern at last made itself clear. Every few hours, a single suited man would leave the building, get on a particularly high-pitched motorcycle, and disappear down the street. A few minutes later, another motorcycle would arrive, and a different person would go into the building. After the third time this happened, he watched particularly closely to the fourth such occurrence. The man who left and the woman who arrived both wore dark, tailored suits, dark sunglasses, and carried themselves with powerful assurance. Their generally Japanese ethnicity sealed his suspicions.

Yakuza.

Thoughtfully, Fishhook opened his PAD.

<16:34:50> Fishhook: Is it possible that Geotech has hired the yakuza for security?
<16:35:24> G00dw;ll: Shit, guess my contact was right
<16:36:01> Fishhook: That’s an interesting development
<16:38:12> G00dw;ll: I’ve got a bunch of extra security footage, by the way
<16:39:24> Fishhook: Give me a few more hours, I’ll let you know what to look for

Unconcerned, he waited until well after nightfall. One by one, the lights in the office building went out. Finally, at approximately 2200 hours, the van for the private security firm rolled up and most of the PriSec officers climbed in and left, leaving only two behind for the night. At about the same time, two more motorcycles buzzed up the street, and parked not far away from the building. Fishhook observed this development closely: they had not arrived to replace one who’d left, as the pattern had indicated.

One of the yakuza pulled off their helmet to reveal close-cropped hair and a young male face. On his back, Fishhook could see the distinctive, curved shape of a katana. The other rider was about the same age, female, with shoulder-length hair, and she carried herself with a grace that Fishhook associated primarily with black ops assassins.

We should avoid these two, if we can, he thought.

Once the exchange of personnel completed, only one light remained on, deep within the third floor of the office building. He watched as the PriSec guards’ security flashlights appeared briefly in all the windows: their sweep started from the top floor, and moved downward, taking about thirty minutes in total. Then, they waited in the lobby.

The yakuza still hadn’t emerged.

Fishhook tapped his chin. 2200 seemed to be the correct time to make a move. The two yakuza he’d seen enter at that time concerned him, though.

<22:32:12> Fishhook: Keep an eye out for a pair of yakuza arriving together. Bad news.
<22:32:50> G00dw;ll: i’ll look
<22:33:30> Fishhook: I’m going to see what I can do about getting us into the building.

Now that he knew where all the cameras were, Fishhook threaded them perfectly on his way out. As he emerged through the front door and noted that his friendly doorman had been replaced by someone new, he looked both ways down the street. This commercial district had plenty of bars and nightclubs. Surely one of those PriSec guards had stopped for a drink on the way home.

On his way here, he’d passed a place that he thought was particularly promising. Adjusting his suit from his day of surveillance, he strolled down the avenue and into a club known only as Q.

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2299-08-09 (Part 4)
The Keycard

The lights pulsed a dim red and violet as Fishhook descended into the basement nightclub called Q. The music beat in his ears, and a gray haze of artificial fog reflected the lights in strange, ever-shifting patterns. He scanned the room with practiced precision, and very quickly spotted a man dressed in the dark PriSec uniform he’d been watching all day. The off-duty security guard stood at the bar, a long, glass-and-steel affair that also reflected the shimmering ethereal lighting.

Fishhook pondered the situation for a moment. He could approach the man with his quick wit and charm, and try to fast-talk his way into finding out more about the building. The problem, however, was that he needed more in-depth information than such a tactic would provide. He needed real intelligence, not just a passing interaction.

He put on a genuine smile, and approached his mark.

“Long day?” Fishhook asked as he came up to the bar.

The PriSec guard looked over at him. He was a young man, perhaps in his mid-twenties, with a boyish face and wide, innocent eyes. He looked so much like a puppy that Fishhook almost felt bad for his ulterior motives. “Me?”

“Of course. What are you drinking?” Fishhook asked.

The young man looked down at his short glass. “Whiskey. Scotch, actually.”

“Good choice.” Fishhook flagged down the bartender and ordered them each a drink. “You like this place?”

The young PriSec officer shrugged. “Not really. But it’s not a bad place to get away for the night.”

“I know what you mean.” Fishhook took a sip of his scotch. He was fairly sure he had the boy’s number now. “I hope I’m not intruding. I figured you had to be ex-military, just by your bearing. I’m former SXC myself, and don’t know the area that well. Figured a fellow soldier might help me out.”

The PriSec officer’s eyes went wide as he took the bait. “M-me? No, but I always wanted to be. Couldn’t make the cut, though. Wow, SXC? Really? What’s that like?”

Fishhook smiled.


When his PAD chimed midnight, Fishhook took notice. The young officer, Alex Marsden, was thoroughly drunk. Fishhook himself had carefully concealed his own lack of drinking, and the more inebriated the young man became, the easier the conversation flowed.

“PriSec’s a pretty good gig,” Marsden hiccuped. “Decent hours, good pay, and some action from time to time. Never had to shoot anybody for real, but I’ve t—tazered a few. You’d be good at it. They’d probably make you a squad leader ’cuz of your mili—hic—tary experience.”

“I could use a standing job,” Fishhook agreed. “Tell me what it’s like.”

“Well—” Marsden said. “Get there to start your shift, and buzz into the locker room with the secure ID. Get your gear on, then do whatever the watch leader tells you until it’s time to go home. Check the security systems, make sure all the suites are locked down… y’know. Security stuff.”

“That does sound good. So you carry a keycard? They haven’t set you up with biometrics?”

“Nah. Encrypted keycard is just as good, they say. Easier to set up across multiple buildings, too, than sticking biometrics everywhere just for the security guards.” Marsden took another drink, and wobbled a bit.

Fishhook put out a hand to steady the boy. Finally, some useful intel. He concocted a story on the fly. “I remember once, back when I served on board the SXC Valiant, they issued us keycards. I was only a second lieutenant, fresh out of OCS, and I lost my card in a garbage hopper! I scrubbed the latrines for a week for that.”

“That’ll never happen to me.” Marsden clapped one hand to the left side of his chest. “Sec—secure pocket.”

“Good man,” Fishhook said with a grin. “Keep that safe.”

He ordered them another pair of drinks as the conversation went on. After another ten minutes or so, Fishhook turned as though to glance at a sound over his shoulder, and spilled his own glass all over the young man’s jacket.

“Oh, I can be so clumsy when I’m drunk,” Fishhook said. “You’d better give me that jacket, though. That glass was full of Martian-distilled vodka. Shit will eat right through kevlar if you let it sit. I can get it out for you.”

Marsden, as drunk as he’d become, saw nothing wrong with this situation. Fishhook took the jacket to the men’s room, used the automatic dryer to remove the water stain he’d actually made on it, and returned it to the boy—sans keycard.

“Here. Really sorry about that.” Fishhook said as Marsden put his uniform jacket back on.

“Nah, no problem. We’re both pretty drunk. Thanks for saving my uniform. They’d have taken that out of my pay.”

“Glad to do it,” Fishhook grinned. “Come on, you’re pretty drunk. Let me buy you a cab home to pay you back.”

“Aw, thanks man. And hey, if you ever need a job, you should go see my sergeant. They’d love to have you, I’m sure.”

Fishhook carefully guided the young man to a cab, got his address, and sent the drunk boy home, after tipping the driver generously. Once the cab was safely out of sight, Fishhook loaded up his PAD.

<00:12:20> Fishhook: I’ve got a keycard.
<00:12:36> G00dw;ll: good deal! we can use that to get in
<00:12:48> Fishhook: It’d be better if we cloned it, I think. Rook, can you do that?
<00:12:49> Rook F47E2A: Affirmative. I will establish a physical method for replication, once G00dw;ll dismantles the encryption algorithm.
<00:13:12> G00dw;ll: k, everyone get back here
<00:13:13> Rook F47E2A: Incidentally, I have also secured our transportation. I will return to the agreed-upon location immediately.

By the time Fishhook arrived back at the hideout, Rook had created a wireless transmitter which could write the algorithm, and had procured a receiving card that would accept the duplicated credentials.

G00dw;ll took the original card and worked his magic. He cut through the encryption protocols like shears through a network line. It took him less than fifteen minutes to crack it wide open and create a duplication process.

They loaded up the card, and checked it.

“It will function,” Rook said, after the test. “Unfortunately, it appears that the encryption protocols randomize at every zero-hundred hours. We are unable to predict the next pattern which will be transmitted at the next check-in. It is fortunate that you procured this card after its midnight refresh.”

“So you’re saying it stops working at midnight tonight?” Fishhook asked.

“Correct,” Rook agreed.

“No more planning, then,” G00dw;ll said. “We’ve got to do this tonight.”

“The building closes down for the night at 2200 hours,” Fishhook said. “That’s when we’ll make our move.”

Rook and G00dw;ll nodded.

“Do whatever last preparations you have to do,” Fishhook said. “I have to return this card to its owner before he discovers it’s missing.”

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2299-08-10 (Part 1)
Countdown

With the timeline crunched, G00dw;ll realized that they needed more intel, if they wanted a prayer of pulling off this job without getting caught. There were just too many players on the board, and if they missed just one thing before diving straight in, it would be too easy to fail.

He didn’t intend to fail again. This time, there’d be no stopping him.

Opening up his console, he loaded up his proxies. He pinged the tiny program he’d left running on the Riverside Apartment Complex servers, and zeroed in on its location… but the apartments weren’t his target this time. Instead, he used the geotag from his program and used it to isolate the physical and ’net address of the office building across the street—the one that housed Geotech and three other microcorps.

His fingers flew across the keys as he homed in on their servers. Not the ones belonging to any particular company in the building, but the ones that controlled the building itself: he wanted the security cameras, the door locking systems, the elevators—anything computerized that he could get his grubby paws on, G00dw;ll intended to hack and hack thoroughly.

When he reached the server, he sent in a probing query. The system responded instantly with lines upon lines of code. It scrolled down the screen of his console in plain text, the green-on-black characters flying by. He narrowed his eyes in concentration. It looked familiar, somehow… as though a pattern was written in there, just waiting to be solved. Surely, if he just concentrated, he could…

Oh, he thought after a moment. Hang on. Somebody told me about this one. Nice try, HB.

G00dw;ll engaged his icebreaker, and sent it after the Haas-Bioroid ENIGMA software. It logicked through the code gate in mere seconds once he gave it the parameters, and then he was—

His system alarms began wailing in his ears. His network monitor showed an activity spike mere milliseconds after the ENIGMA had gone down. Malicious code slammed up against his protective firewall in a thin, elegant spike; probing, seeking a way past his defenses.

“Not so fast,” G00dw;ll muttered under his breath, guiding his icebreaker toward this new threat. He countered the intrusion, and sent back a spike of code of his own toward the ICE waiting on the server. His icebreaker returned a positive identification: a Jinteki SWORDSMAN.

Now that he knew what he was dealing with, G00dw;ll engaged the sentry with full enthusiasm. A SWORSDMAN could be dangerous, but only if it made it past his firewall and into his console’s OS. Once there, it would start cutting the strings that held his filesystem together, and before long his entire system would crash out.

Not that he intended to let that happen.

He deftly parried another intrusion by phase-shifting his firewall protocols randomly, and then returned with a salvo of precisely-aimed packets, designed to assault and overload the AI’s sensory capabilities—disabling it, without destroying it. The last thing he needed right now was to alert anyone to his presence, and annihilating their ICE was a great way to get caught.

His aim was true. G00dw;ll watched the pingbacks as his salvo landed… and suddenly, the server went quiescent. His cursor blinked quietly, awaiting his instructions.

With a crooked grin on his face, G00dw;ll went to work.


Arthur “Fishhook” Kingston was what one might call a ‘planner.’

Plan A, he thought, going over the scenario in his mind. We enter soundlessly with the cloned keycard. Subdue prisec guards. Obtain disguises. Make our way to the target. Infiltrate the target, obtain the package. Exfiltrate via the same door we came in.

Nothing ever went as planned. Which is why Fishhook also had a Plan B, a Plan C, and a last-ditch Plan D in case everything went to hell.

Plan B involved a small EMP grenade he’d observed G00dw;ll constructing after the ‘failed’ job. After we got taken for a ride. Plan D was the simplest, if the least elegant: unload as much ordnance at the plate glass windows in the lobby as necessary to create an exfiltration point.

Plan C was decidedly more elegant than Plan D, but it required some special equipment. Naturally, he had no resources to use for procurement. It wasn’t like his old days in the SXC, where all he had to do was fill out a requisition form and the brass would get him whatever he wanted.

He’d asked G00dw;ll if any of his street contacts might be able to procure said equipment, but the kid’s people were mostly netheads. If he’d been looking for console equipment or ‘net cables or what-have-you, it would have been easy… but military-grade grappling guns didn’t exactly grow on trees.

So, instead, he carefully selected a wardrobe that ensured he appeared casual, but well-off, precise but nonchalant; the kind of clothing he might wear if he were a military black-ops operative looking for some not-quite-legal activity. If anyone happened to mistake him for one, he certainly had no way to control their thoughts, now did he?

He checked his chronometer. 0721.

With that, Fishhook hit the streets.

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