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SkullHack Six

Skullhack Six
R.B Clements

Link:Part 1 | Link:Part 2 | Link:Part 3 | Link:Part 4 | Link:Part 5

Breaken the Younger rode the lift down underneath the Industrial tower alone, and silent. His mind dwelt momentarily on his sister, Maggie. He had taken her life, in a way. Tossing her like a piece of scrap meat to Diego after he had learned of her treachery, her “love“ for Jordan. Deep inside he sneered. He had felt an inkling of remorse as he walked away from his dying sister the night before, but he discarded it as vestigial emotion he no longer wanted or needed. Another Maggie could be made, Clare she would be called this time. Indeed, he himself had been grown just as she had, as had his other brothers and sisters. As had his “father” and “mother”. He had, once, contemplated the implications of his family. The same two people being grown and re-grown in perpetuity, but he had no fondness for philosophy, so implications didn’t particularly matter. What mattered was that the Breaken clan were strong, and would last until the end of time. He would make sure of that, just as his predecessors had, even if it meant destroying your own blood.

The lift came to a soft halt thirty stories underground. He always enjoyed coming down this far below the city. He savored it more than massive horizons visible from the apex of the Tower itself. It was quiet, save for the low hum of electricity that powered the computer, it was secure. Breaken the Younger walked down the bare concrete passage as various unseen security devices scanned him to his very atoms, authenticating he was of the right DNA and not an imposter. He passed through the large circular portal, whose three geometric steel sheaths slid apart as he approached.

“Collective?” (the name CoDyne has been changed to Collective)

“I am here.” The voice seemed to float all around the room, giving no hints to a direction of emanation.

“I have a task for you.” Breaken spoke as sat in the only chair. As he did so, a holographic sphere expanded in the center of the room, illuminating naught but bare walls and floor.

“Locate Jordan. There is a picture in your data file.”

Instantly the sphere became a mass of information. Images from millions of surveillance apparatus flashed upon its exterior. Words, sound-bites, numerics all splayed across the image so fast they became a blur of muted noise and color. Within a second, the sphere returned to its solid color, the task having been completed.

“There is a facial hit on Lev Train D, traveling from Station 16 Germantown up through the North Grid.” Further backlogging traces facial hits back to subject Jordan’s last known residence. Furthermore, there is a Police APB on subject. Furthermore, an APB on Detective T. Orleans of the Philadelphia Sector Police with connections to Jordan.”

“Explain Orleans”

“Orleans is an unknown. He is wanted for dereliction of duty, assault, theft, destruction of police property. Theft count in connection with accessing secure Police networks to search for Jordan.”

“Interesting. I want Jordan alive, and for myself. Send some Industrial Security after this Orleans. Find him if you can, I don’t want him interfering. Next, contact Father, have him hold off the cops until we get to the train. They probably know where he is too.”

“Orders have been sent”

“Good. I have another task for you. I suspect Jordan of having open communication with nanos. Real-time access. How would we approach his capture?”

The computer was silent for a moment. Longer than usual as it pondered this new information.

“With limited data, I am unable to make an accurate analysis. Do you want a limited analysis?”

“Yes, give me all available options.”

“It is unlikely the subject would be able to control a nano swarm of sufficient working size with the mental capabilities inherent in a human. The computation to control effectively in real-time would be massive. Therefore, he either is unable to use them without massive amounts of thought, or he is connected to an AI source which is supporting him. In my analysis, it would be unwise to confront subject without cutting off his AI source. Cut off his AI source, you are in effect cutting of any realistic defense using his nanos. Without the AI source to help with computation, the process would become overpoweringly complex, possibly resulting in physical injury to the subject.”

Breaken leaned back in his chair, his hands a steeple under his chin.

“Cut of the army from the supply line….”

“Correct. This could be accomplished through jamming, range, or destruction of the AI source.”

“But how would we find his source? It could be anywhere….”

“My suggestion is jamming. Lure the subject into a secure location, then jam all incoming/outgoing signals. Once the signals have been blocked, drug the subject.”

Breaken the Younger allowed himself a rare smile. He knew what to do. He would lure Jordan into a place of his own choosing, a trap. And when he was in control of the nanos, there would be no stopping the Breakens. All he had to do was head to the labs to get the bait….


The rooftop billboard was a pandemonium of flashing lights and colors, that from a distance resolved into an image of a smiling man smoking a cigarette. “ENJOY MOONMIST” Tony Orleans sat behind the billboard in a narrow, darkened access alley, nestled and hidden amongst the steel signs large support legs. He didn’t care what the sign had on it, all it had to do was hide him. He had chosen this spot because the cameras would have a hard time looking past the lights, smart surveillance gets interested by flashy things, and the heat sights would only see the blob of a million LEDs. He was secure for now.

Orleans removed his body-armor and lit a cigar from the battered pack he always kept in his shirt pocket. He never smoked, hadn’t smoked since….well, since ever really. It just seemed right to him to carry a few cigars around, a comfort knowing they were there. Orleans looked at the gun laying in front of him. He had thrown his service arm away, as well as his badge, knowing the RFID tracers concealed within both would tell his secrets. He picked up the revolver and checked its barrel with a squint of his eye. It was an old fashioned model, one that fired bullets. Technically they were illegal, but all the cops had them-a symbol of brotherhood amongst the force, or some crap like that. Orleans though about the force. He missed it already. But once he caught Aleces killer, everything would be all right. He could go home to Nancy, the Captain would forgive him; probably bust him down to patrol but…

“Who am I fucking kidding….” He spat the words out as he flicked the cigar butt with his thumb and fore finger.

Orleans said the words out loud, as if some spastic, faceless part of himself was rising up from deep within to point out the obvious truth. He was done in the force, it was over. He kept trying to tell himself it didn’t matter, things would work out. But he knew it to be untrue. Laughing dementedly, he pulled the map with Jordan’s surveillance hits from his pocket.

“Nothin’ left for me except to get you…and I’m gonna get you….” Orleans voice had fallen to a low timbre, almost a growl. His right eye twitched involuntarily as he took in the map. Little dots marked where surveillance cameras had picked up facial matches similar to Jordan’s, a large cluster centered along Germantown Av, suggesting a residence in the area. Orleans stuffed the map back in his pocket satisfied with the new lead.

Orleans walked out from the obscurity of his hiding spot. The City lay around him, three-hundred-sixty degrees of frenetic activity. Even this high up, 40 stories, he could hear the distant wail of sirens, the blare of car horns, the quite buzz of the airships that dotted the sky. The sky was a deep electric blue with no clouds except for the low sloth like haze that blanketed the entire region. Orleans took it all in, not in appreciation , but in the knowledge that somewhere, amongst it all, there was Jordan.

Orleans broke into a brisk jog and leapt effortlessly from the edge of the building. He had started to get the hang of the jumpack, and actually enjoyed it. It was easy to see why the kids loved it, despite its dangers. He landed on the roof of the next building, startling a flock of little black birds which took into the sky like an ominous cloud, erratic at first only to fall into a sublime order that only the birds knew and understood.

By the time the birds had landed on an outcrop on the adjacent building, Orleans was already gone.


Jordan had been sitting in his seat unconscious, riding the train around and around, from one end of the line to the other. Other passengers assumed he was drunk, or high. A couple even thought he might be dead, but they just returned to their papers and feeds. He was probably just sleeping. All of the other passengers pushed him out of their vision and conceded to ignore his presence.

Had they been paying attention, had their gazes lingered for moments rather than microseconds, they would have noticed something strange happening to the young man. Maybe they had noticed it, but something in their minds had filtered out as being contrary to the possible.

Jordan’s eyes snapped open, focusing on the ceiling of the train. His head lolled softly as the Lev train banked through its arching turns. His eyes continued to stare at the ceiling, a strange distance in the depths of their greenness. More importantly, where there had once been nothing but confusion, the eyes radiated calm, cold understanding. With a sudden comprehension, Jordan began to take in his surroundings. The train was beginning to slow down as it approached the next station, all the oblivious passenger making shuffling and perfunctory movements in their preparations to depart.

Jordan stood and began to walk down the center aisle towards the nearest door. The moment he moved, his entire body seemed to expand slightly, then contract back towards a semblance of its original form. The slightest movement seemed to cause ripples through his mass, mass which now held gas-like attributes rather than a solid.

By now, the other passengers couldn’t ignore what their eyes were seeing. They couldn’t explain what they were seeing, but a ghost would be an apt description. They stood back, unsure of what to do. As the doors slid open, a distracted businessman bustled into the train, colliding with Jordan’s form. Jordan disappeared into innumerable eddies and whorls that blew illuminated in the sunlight slanting its way through the smudged train windows. Suddenly, all the tiny particles seemed to slow, then in some insane act of physics, withdrew back to their original form. The passengers gasped, wide eyed as Jordan continued out the doors onto the platform.

The crowds on the platform made way for Jordan, mesmerized by the subtle vibrations that encompassed this strange man, that made his features so otherworldly. Jordan seemed not to notice the crowds, many of whom were filming the apparition or rapidly sending off feeds to the networks. In a matter of minutes the entire world would know the existence of this event as video and reports climbed their way through the news filters. Once it reached number one on the news lists, there would be no ignoring it. Not by the police, not by the government, nobody.

Well. Ok then!

I sure hope Jordan isn't having any second thoughts about this!

A great tension-building installment here. The sense of an impending trainwreck is impossible to miss now.

Minor point: instead of "conceded to ignore his presence," perhaps "proceeded to ignore"?

I thought you conveyed Jordan's transformation really well, and there's also a powerful sense of Breaken the Younger's resources and just how far his reach can go.

Orleans continues to intrigue. I have no idea what he's going to do when he finally comes face-to-face with Jordan, and I suspect he doesn't really know himself. Can't wait!

I concede to your comment

Yeah, proceeded would be a better fit...thanks for reading! Edit: On further thought, I think I put conceeded (am I even spelling it right?) in to illustrate that the other passengers were trying (and succeeding)to ignore Jordan, a "don't rock the boat" policy when it comes to dealing with strangers on the Lev trains, even if they look like they might need help...Do you think that conceed would work in that form?

kelson.philo's picture


In that thar thesaurus, conceded can go along with: approved, accepted, passed, agreed and voted for. Perhaps condone would be a better choice? It goes along with overlook, disregard, ignore, refuse to acknowledge.

Hmm, many options here, really

Still not sure about 'concede'. IMHO, it implies a sense of defeat, as if the people on the train think even trying to help Jordan would be pointless and bound to fail.

'Condone' might work. Though it still doesn't seem quite the right word.

How about "...and resigned themselves to ignore..."? That seems to reinforce the idea that they feel the right thing to do would be to help Jordan, but--using whatever excuse they can come up with--they're still deciding not to get involved.

So maybe 'resigned' would be sort of the same idea as 'conceded', but would imply less about what the people are thinking? Would that work?

Words are fun! =)


Thanks for the suggestions, i think Im going to leave it for now. When I do an edit, Im sure the correct phrasing will appear. Also, any news on making podcasting available? Thanks...


With a slow burn on the previous chapter's exposition, Jordan's transformation will be a real kick in the teeth :) I'm also intrigued by the replicates; we haven't seen enough of them yet. The dialogue between Breaken and the Collective is a great way to convey information to a sceen audience.

Again, Orleans' internal monologue would be hard to put into pictures, but I think his mental breakdown gives you a good solution: insane monologue :) I picture him crouched behind that sign, puffing on a cigar, and musing to himself about going home to his dead wife, then flying into a rage as he admits that his career is over.

Keep it up! --Dan


I've got something special planned for the replicates...

Very Cool

oh, the anticipation!! I really want to know what Jordan will do. :)

kelson.philo's picture

tension abounds!

tension abounds! visualization excellent! can't wait for the clash of the titans that's going to ensue.