Playback Before the Gendarmes Arrive

This rough sketch continues the story started in The “Great Engine of Atosa” and picks up after “Before the Gendarmes Arrive.” Atosa, being one of the things on Hlau’s list 800 years later, is the site of a gigantic engine mainframe complex, built during a period that is comparable to Earth’s 19th century.

Jing and Zo led the errant priest to the data terminal where they had witnessed the hack in progress. The data spool was still in place and hadn’t been re-wound yet. Even with the all the analytical engine mainframes down, electricity still fed into the complex from the windmills and the nearby river, stopped-up by a hydro-electric dam. The terminal couldn’t connect with the engines in its current state, but it could display the data that was recorded onto the spool. Zo pulled down one lever to re-wind the roll of punch paper and pushed it to stop, and then hit a button to play the data.

Ikaya grabbed the cable that connected the monitor to the the keyboard, the telegraph key, and the engine when the day’s data come on. He had Zo fast-forward the roll to the point when the mysterious access happened. He had clearly sensed something before, even if he didn’t say it. When the source with no origin appeared on the screen, it confirmed that there was something more to this than a masked identity. He knew something.

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Before the Gendarmes Arrive

This rough sketch takes place a close to 800 years before Hlau’s investigation of a string of hacks on some computer mainframes. Atosa, being one of the things on his list, is the site of a gigantic engine mainfame complex, built during a period that is comparable to Earth’s 19th century. Jing, the protagonist of this sketch, is witness to some of the early events of the Great Engine Heist. There is a discrepancy in the calendar system and the dates used here and some of Hlau’s stories. I’ll definitely correct it in future drafts. This part picks up from The Great Engine of Atosa, III.

Ikaya, the holy man, nervously looked at Jing and his young apprentice. It had been years since Jing last saw him, when he and his fiancee Mura had seen him to discuss officiating the wedding that never happened. Then the last time he heard the priest’s name was when Mura broke off the engagement, saying that she just could not stop the forces of nature. But she had to tell Jing this while he was working, coding away on an important file. His sojourn in Tiago, which he thought would become something permanent, had ended with a phone call. And this man ,who had stolen what could have been his life, arrived shortly after another one. One did not need to be a telepath to grasp that Jing was seething with anger.

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The Great Engine of Atosa, III

This rough sketch takes place a close to 800 years before Hlau’s investigation of a string of hacks on some computer mainframes. Atosa, being one of the things on his list, is the site of a gigantic engine mainfame complex, built during a period that is comparable to Earth’s 19th century. Jing, the protagonist of this sketch, is witness to some of the early events of the Great Engine Heist. There is a discrepancy in the calendar system and the dates used here and some of Hlau’s stories. I’ll definitely correct it in future drafts. This part picks up from the second part.

Jing took the phone and put it back into its holder on the wall. He had called the local temple – there were no high level telepaths there, but they told him they would call the School of Wisdom in Shusa. There may be an expert there or they could find someone to dispatch. They didn’t tell him something he already didn’t know. Supposedly, some of them could teleport. He hoped one of them could simply think themselves over and caught whoever broke into the system.

All he knew was that the fez-heads were coming and they’d be utterly useless. Police always were.

The local police never investigated computational crimes. Neither did the Tribal Affairs officers – they only came to the Engine Complex if there was a crime involving a Tanesh on the grounds. Some agents and uniformed policemen from the Agency would come soon. They weren’t equipped to handle psychic crimes, though.

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Fiction: Visualizing the Server

This is the hack as it occurs in Kumo’s mind. She is, after all, a telepathic hacker and she draws her inspiration from the Temple of the Muse. Also, remember, she’s on Hlau’s list and she is one of the Seven.

Kumo often focused on something related to the network. Sometimes she would use a wireless signal in a library or café, other times she would touch a computer or hold a network cable. The physical object itself was not enough for her mind to log onto the network and acess information from a computer. She visualized the connection, the safe with the combination, and the listening tools she would use to ascertain the password. Sometimes the password prompt would appear as a sentry and she would somehow read the person’s expression and figure out the password. Othertimes, she would see a lock and create a key from thin air to fit the keyhole. Kumo was very good at mentally matching lock with key.

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Fiction: Sa Na

After seeing sa na on the list, Hlau is no closer to finding out what these two syllables mean.

Hlau parked his car close to Toshan Circle and headed to the Sanaya Café to meet Midori, the agent assigned to the case. After seeing sa na on the list, the syllables jumped out at him, especially with the furigana, or the small Phonic syllables above the Universal characters on the sign. However, sa na was also present on several other signs within sight – Hisanaya Bank, Losana Books, Bosanada restaurant. Something told him that sa na had to be something else other than a business, but he could not know for sure. Living in Shusa, he never really paid much attention to the signs attached to buildings, like most people, he only saw them on a cursory level and read the signs he needed to get to. Now he couldn’t help notice the neon tubes bent into complex characters, which was popular a season ago with newer ones made for nostalgic purposes, letters attached to building facades, illuminated at night, banners, old hanging signs with archaic typefaces, and fluorescent light backed hard plastic signs in all colors and fonts. Two commonly used syllables now jumped out at him from everywhere.

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Fiction: In the Temple of the Muse

Here is someone on Hlau’s list. Kumo is a villainess of this story, and she sees her crimes as a creative act.

In the Temple of the Muse, which was at the west end of the Mall and faced it in an eastward direction, Kumo had come early in the morning to get inspiration from the Nine-Personed Goddess. It was still dark, a few hours before the tourists, eager with their cameras, would come and crowd the large statue, hoping to get inspiration and a picture with her at the same time. The sun would rise soon and those few hardy souls, when the Temple was at its most beautiful, would be soon come to the Temple when it was bathed in the golden sunlight and reflected the pinkness of the morning sky. Kumo preferred to see the Muse at daybreak, but this was the time when she would have the Goddess to herself, before the devotees and then the tourists would take up her time.

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Fiction: The Decryption

This scene takes place in the story’s present, several years (or decades, or cycles of 10 months, in the Mintakan calendar) after Hlau’s initial trip to the House of Wisdom.

Hlau was in the Evek’s office when they were going over the intelligence they got from the Agency of Investigation. The Agency had called them because they needed consultants on a string of computer hacks, all of which were virtually untraceable to any device. The Agency’s computer experts had gone over the evidence they had available and they could not find anything that would identify a computer or a particular user. Without any real evidence, the Agency had come to the conclusion that this series of events was of a psychic nature, which is where priests from the School of Wisdom could help.

            The Evek got up from his desk and walked up to a red-stained teak filing cabinet, and placed his hand at the handle of the top drawer for a few seconds and then opened it. He took out a book-sized box and brought it to the desk and sat down. He drew his finger along the line created by the lid and the lower part of the box and opened it. Hlau knew that the Evek had just unlocked a psychic lock on both the cabinet and the box. The Evek then took a folded piece of paper from the box, unfolded it, and said, “I think you’re ready to see this.”

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