The Last Angel: The Hungry Stars, Chapter 27

This month’s latest update is now live: Chapter 27 of The Hungry Stars. In this chapter, the infiltration of the Triquetran League’s largest cloning facility proceeds. Echo is forced to deal with hostile networks with on-the-job training and put the well-being of some squishy, easily damaged organics in fate’s hands. She doesn’t care for that.

Things seem to be going well enough, though. The cloning facility’s internal defences are largely reliant on its network and despite only have a few direct encounters with Triquetran software, Echo is very good at what she does. The excerpt below details her efforts to get access to the cloning facility and hopefully get some answers as to what is going on on this planet.

To see if she and her compatriots do and whether they’ll like those answers, check out the links above. Thanks, and hope you enjoy!

~

Quickly and deftly, the AI extracted stored passcodes, routing addresses, handshake protocols and everything else the network used to corroborate the validity of connections, whether those were personnel logging in, different devices or other custodians. It wouldn’t be enough to completely hide her presence, but it was a good start. Even moment she had in the Nibiru information universe was a moment she learned how to infiltrate, evade and now subvert the attentions of its inhabitants. Soon enough, it would be as easy as slipping into Compact computers.

Except the Compact doesn’t have something like me lurking inside them…

Whatever was in the recesses of the Nibiru internet, Echo was more and more certain that she didn’t want to meet it. Not until she was ready. Pragmatically, there was no upside to taking on a more powerful cybernetic intelligence in its own network unless you had an advantage. Furthermore, doing so would reveal what she was very quickly. A skilled enough uplink could handle a VI, but in the information universe, only an AI could fight an AI and not immediately lose. Intuitively… something was very wrong with the Triquetran’s machine minds, their custodians and wardens, and that sensation was not getting lessened by familiarity, but becoming more pronounced.

Proving Echo’s concerns, the JMC custodian had feigned submission. It had recognized her strategy and known it couldn’t hold out for long, but it managed to protect key areas of its operating system and scrubbed enough of its periphery of the sedative to punch through her assault, hurling a desperate alarm out. The imperative splintered, racing from the VI’s core along multiple pathways to its destinations.

-no!-

Though it made an attempt to ensnare her before its functions became choked with junk processes, Echo disentangled herself from the VI. She barely escaped its trap, but there was no time to waste. She caught several pieces of the alert with tendrils from her quicksilver mind, strangling them before them could reach secondary nodes and trigger additional flags or notify human security personnel that their system was under attack. The last piece… the last piece was darting through wires and circuit boards faster than thought, trying to escape as Echo encircled it, severing connection lines and filling its own operating system with static.

The suffocating custodian threw everything it had left at Echo in a final attempt to slow her down, even as its mind finally filled with bloatware processes and extraneous, useless code. It might not even be necessary. The JMC’s VI had surprised her. She’d misinterpreted its quiescence, and this was the price of that mistake, but she couldn’t fail. Not now.

Come. Back. Here! She chased after the alert as it raced from the center of the JMC’s network towards the system’s periphery and the remaining connections to the greater planetary network. If it got out, if it alerted the other security sweeps or the presence…

It was almost there, almost loose…

~

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