Thoughts, Words, Works

Missing Cycles - 4 @

Missing Cycles starts here.

Axalis really wanted to pop the memory chip into his wrist socket and see what it contained, but he had no idea where it came from, so that would be a great way to get a backdoor inserted in his cymanager, or worse. Instead, he pocketed it and started walking.

The streets were busy today, like they were every day. Axalis kept to the slow side of the pavement, while to the side of him various autocars hurled by at breakneck speeds, and above him the jetpod channels were themselves growing congested with traffic. Everyone was in a hurry to get somewhere. Axalis himself strode purposefully, though he had no destination in mind, and finally, spotting an shady-enough-looking establishment that he'd never before patronized, ducked behind a heavyset man wearing a thick coat into a black-light-illuminated... café, apparently.

Giving up on his earlier determination to start boozing at this hour, Axalis decided to kickstart his critical thinking with the strongest coffee this place offered, and found a seat near the darkest corner of the building to sort things out. He declined the server's offer to drop reflective sugar flecks into his drink, and, barely even sipping at the bitter black concoction, set to work on deciphering his situation the way he knew best.

First, he dug into his bottommost inside pocket and withdrew a handheld PC. This was an unpopular model, designed for the declining majority of people who didn't have a cymanager and some sort of network access incorporated into their person through implants. This handheld only had enough power to perform the lowest common denominator of tasks -- making calls, locating people and places, ordering groceries, and playing primitive games -- and it was poorly-designed enough that even these tasks were a chore for most people. This clunkiness, while it had done very little for sales of the model, served a purpose for Axalis, which is that it made this model an unlikely target for carpet-bombing hackers. Its designated functions were of little impact anyway, and he had loaded the little device with programs of his own design. He used it as a sandbox and a dummy for interacting with unsavory people and unchecked software. To that end, the model had one feature that was ideal: its battery was very easy to remove and put back in.

Axalis fished around in his pocket until he found the miniscule chip, and clicked it into the memory socket on the handheld PC. He was lucky it was one of the mainstream formats that this handheld supported; then again, if it had been his in the first place as Gladerice had suggested, that was by design, not luck.

Nothing happened visibly on the handheld when he inserted the chip, which was a good sign; he ran a quick analysis using a tool he'd written for this handheld, and it failed to detect any autorunning code or illegally-formatted data blocks that might be used to buffer-overflow his cymanager. He would have Baskerville inspect it thoroughly later, just in case, but for now he was satisfied. The only thing that seemed to be on the chip was a simple video, using only a tiny fraction of the memory chip's capacity. It was in a format designed for playback in ocular implants, so finally he plunged the chip into his wrist socket.

Axalis took another sip of the decidedly spine-tingling coffee as his cymanager picked up the video. Resting an elbow on the table, he covered his organic left eye as, in his other one, playback began.

Continued in Missing Cycles - 5...


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