Trimax Reloaded

I. Origins

The world slowly swam into focus. The light first dissolved into multi-colored blurs and later solidified into vague shapes. The surroundings wavered and then acquired distance. He was in a room filled with what seemed like the technological detritus of late twenty-second century. He felt lighter. His body felt smaller too. There was a tingling sensation on the back of his neck that receded slowly. Who was he? He had a name, didn’t he? The details of his surroundings floated in like a supply ship docking on a service port. He was in a store room of some sort. It looked as if the room was used by service bots to repair security clusters. There were vast stacks of unopened sub-routines and looped commands. There were piles of highly redundant firewalls. In between all this, sprinkled like dew, were the thin trails of data transmission tubes. Yes, now he knew why he was there. It all came rushing back in a streak of silent white noise.

He needed to get the cube.

The contact had been made a few months back by a mysterious caller who never gave her name. But when pressed she had asked to be referred to as Trin. In fact, he was not certain that Trin was a woman but from the beginning, for some reason, he always assumed the caller was a woman. Normally, he never took on anonymous jobs as they were too risky. He made an exception for this one as he had been intrigued. Trin had used a voice masker to hide behind a machine voice. That itself was not surprising as many who contacted him did the same thing at first. But what surprised him was her refusal to meet in person and the vast amount of money he was offered for the job. Yes, the job she wanted him to do was extremely difficult, perhaps even impossible, but the money was really good and even though he hated to admit it the money offered made the job look sweeter.

After all, giving credit where it was due, he was the best in the business. Few people could afford his services. In fact, nowadays, it was only the megacorps that contracted him. He had made his bones at the beginning of the digital age. He hid behind impenetrable barriers and searched for chinks in the primitive armors of the early cyber databases. He had learnt a lot then. He had also acquired his famous (or infamous based on the viewpoint) handle then, ‘Trimax’.

The job she gave him was curious too. She wanted a data cube copied from the main database of the Bangalore based Hive Consortium. Hive was a low profile company involved in robotics and AI. He checked up on them to find that they were heavily funded by the Indian Army and did a lot of highly secretive research into mechanized warfare using AI. He was not surprised to find that their databases were heavily guarded but not in an obvious manner. Surprisingly, no one in his circle knew anyone who had tried hacking into their database. He admired how they had managed to maintain such a low profile even in an age of high level scrutiny. Trimax remembered Trin’s highly specific instructions.

“The data cube cannot be found using ordinary search routines as it is not indexed unlike all the other data cubes in the cluster. You will have to come up with a new routine to find it.”

“Then that is impossible. I do not even know what to look for, leave alone where to look for. Hive’s database is huge. I need at least a tag.”

She paused for a few seconds and replied, “Will a third order tag be sufficient?”

It was better than nothing. He would still need to work fast but he was confident that with a third order tag he could localize the cluster the cube would be in easily. After that it was only a matter of seconds while he narrowed down the search and found the correct cube. So he had said yes and a few days later she sent by secure mail the third order tag. The tag had an innocuous label ‘matrix hive mind access’.

The next few days he spent writing a search routine to ferret out the cube. There was no way to test the routine before the hacking run. The risk of the routine being copied and spawned was too great and she had given strict instructions not to use it in a trial run. So he had to be pitch perfect. One wrong caller function or inexact algorithm and he could kiss his life goodbye. The geisha would be on him in an instant. To increase his chances of staying undetected during the run he also purchased elaborate decoys from a very reliable dealer out of Tokyo. The dealer had assured him that they never had been used and would fool any security drone in the world. The decoys would be crucial in fooling the geisha and buying him some time while his search routine got executed.

Battlestar Galactica

Battlestar Galactica

I do not watch television. Not just because here everything is broadcast in German (even Hollywood and Hindi films are dubbed into it) but due to a habit borne out of the way my parents regulated me and my brother’s TV viewing habits. For academic reasons they never allowed cable TV so I was never part of the MTV, Friends (and other such popular TV series) phenomena. I grew up on good old DD and DD Metro. It is only recently, through the persistent recommendations of a lab colleague, that I’ve gotten around to viewing complete seasons of a few American TV series. Great TV shows like 24, Scrubs, House M.D. and Dexter have changed my perception on how TV shows can deal with serious issues in often convincing as well as entertaining ways. But more than all these series the one TV series that has impressed and even surprised me is the 2004 reimagining of Battlestar Galactica. Three seasons of the show have been broadcast so far on Sci Fi Channel in the US and Sky One in the United Kingdom and Ireland. A fourth and final season is slated to begin in April 2008.

Battlestar Galactica started originally as a TV series with a huge Stars Wars hangover in 1978 and became a cult hit. The 2004 reimagining is a complete reboot of the original series with significant changes to the storyline. The basic storyline as mentioned on Wikipedia is as follows:

Battlestar Galactica chronicles the journey of the last surviving humans from the Twelve Colonies of Man after their nuclear annihilation by the Cylons. The survivors are led by President Laura Roslin and Commander William Adama in a ragtag fleet of ships with the Battlestar Galactica, a powerful but out-dated warship at its head. Pursued by Cylons intent on wiping out the remnants of the human race, the survivors travel across the galaxy looking for the fabled and long-lost thirteenth colony: Earth.

To elaborate, the Cylons were a form of AI created by man who later rebelled against their creators. After the First Cylon War and a subsequent armistice agreement the Cylons leave humanity to disappear into space. They reappear 40 years later and launch a sneak nuclear attack on the human colonies nearly wiping out humanity. About 50,000 human survivors manage to escape with the Battlestar Galactica and try to survive in the long and arduous journey in search of a mythical Earth as a new home for humanity.

A Strange Kiss

The night rolled away powered by our flights of fancy. We were outside the city on a small hill. The Zinian’s alu-boats could be seen far above us ferrying important members of their entourage for a night out in the glittering city that glowed behind our backs. I looked at her sitting by my side lost in contemplation of the crystal sand at her feet. I brushed away the dark hair falling into her eyes. She did not turn. I don’t think she even felt my fingers.

We had to come to a decision soon. For the thing between us would not be a secret for long. Most importantly, our actions would have grave repercussions that could and would concern a hundred planets in the multi-verse. It was not just about simple and pure love. It was also about big words like inter-life relations, space-culture dynamics and other arcane jargon.

She was still an enigma to me. From the time my eyes fell on her in Tulot’s hybrid party I’ve been fascinated by her inscrutable looks. She had the looks of a goddess but the face of a diplomat. We got talking soon. I did not find out her true nature until much later. But how does that matter? For the first time I found someone with whom I could discuss my inner dreams without that person secretly laughing at my naïve notions. Three thousand years of human development and still we hunger for the old basics; love, companionship and emotional bonding. She had a resolve and intelligence within her that could have propelled her to great fame in the known inti-verse. Strangely, she was not in the least bit interested in that. She was the exact opposite of me in that respect. As far back as I can remember I’ve wanted to be famous. I’ve always desired for people to talk about me, to recognize me from a distance as I walked down the virtual boulevards of Semperi City, or when I took a weekend break in the brilliant blue waters of Hintenia’s famous never-ending oceans. It was a hunger that had been driving me mad with frustration. But being with her soothed the raging fires of my twisted ambition. I had never felt more at peace with myself.

“Do you want to talk about it?�?, I asked her. She shook her head gently. I sighed silently. She had been difficult that way, refusing to discuss our situation, even though more than me she knew how difficult it would be for us once everything came out into the open. I let her drift back to wherever she had been mentally. I suddenly started. Perhaps she was consulting the RCI. She trusted that…that thing too much in spite of knowing that I did not like it. What would the RCI say? Would it agree to mediate on our behalf in front of the Global Bureau? I snorted at that. The RCI was notorious for its cunning, almost like a bio-human many said.

She got up suddenly and nodded at me. It was time to go back. I got up and brushed the sand off my clothes and looked at her. We stared at each other trying to divine our respective thoughts. Her eyes were wet with some deep emotion. Was I right? What had that hulking monster advised her? All of a sudden she pulled me to her and kissed me full on my mouth. A deep, deep metallic kiss. I could taste her cold tears in my mouth. Her lips melting and her tongue searching for mine with some desperation. Her hands gripping my head with a fierce determination. I had never been kissed like that before. She let me go as suddenly as she had pulled me. She turned towards the city and started walking without a backward glance. Confusion was stalking my thoughts and nothing seemed to make sense. Perhaps, there would be time for words later. I shrugged and set off after her.

Tell me can a man ever fall so utterly and madly in love with a robot?

Les Morts

They came in their machines and ate us. They fed on our brains, inserting their squeaky clean protrusions at the base of the head and sucking out the grey matter. They left the white matter alone for some reason. No, no they only wanted the stuff that drove us, made us think, made us love, made us hate, the stuff which made us humans. We called them ‘les morts’, the dead ones.

I think I’m the last one left. I haven’t met anyone else in years. I’ve hidden out for long in the forgotten corners, living on scraps and wild roots. But I knew it was a futile struggle from the start. How can one man stand up against their inhuman single-mindedness? This is the job I had set myself to do. To record the passing of our species. Something that kept me alive until now, running and hiding, running and hiding from their horrible sounds.

Yes, yes that is something that drives me mad. That utter, utter horror of a sound they make. It makes me lose grip over reality. It is a like worm digging into your brain, inch by inch, slowly but steadily. Oh…the sheer mental torture of it. I cannot stand it anymore. I cannot run anymore. There is nowhere to run to. Everything is empty. This whole planet is one vast graveyard of the brain-dead. Not a thing moves except for them. Not a sound anywhere except for their wordless whispers.

I don’t know if anyone will ever read this. The last testament of mankind. A message in a bottle for a whole species. But I wanted to do this. To leave a record of our passing. We were good weren’t we in spite of all the havoc we wreaked? We were after all human, not like them, not like them. There they come. I can hear that sound again. It is like a heartbeat speeded up mechanically and played back in reverse in high pitch. Words cannot describe what that sound can do to a mind. I wanted this to be a comprehensive record of our existence and all I could come up with is this disconnected rambling of a mind on the edge. I failed. We failed. They have won. Game over.