Chess moved down the hallway at a brisk pace. He had a pretty good idea of where he could go to hack into the files he needed. If he could get there without anyone questioning him. For a moment, he envisioned himself back in the game, sneaking through the sheriff’s halls. Holding his breath, he opened a door and stepped through.
“How the hell did you get here?” an angry voice demanded.
Chess swallowed hard and turned to face the person who challenged him. A middle-aged man in a “class B” service uniform sat at a small desk. Chess opened his mouth, but no words came out.
The man stood up, glaring at Chess. “Unbelievable!” he exclaimed. “Can’t get a repair tech down here… I got equipment that’s been out of service for two years… But I happen to get hold of one of these things--” He waved a small, very familiar-looking metal box at Chess. “And you guys are here within hours. Well!” He stood, scraping his chair back loudly. “At least we can properly assess just how unimportant we are, here.” Carelessly, he tossed the box onto the desk. “That’s what you want. But you don’t need to be an expert to know what it is: a short-range transmitter-receiver.”
Chess blinked at the box. It was the samiz transmitter that the dissidents had lost – it had to be. And this guy was handing it to him. Slowly, Chess reached for it. But the officer was still grumbling.
“Yeah, big deal, huh? Not exactly going to destroy civilization as we know it,” the guy scoffed. “Our men took it off some dissidents, but I guess we won’t even get credit for that.”
Chess raised his eyes briefly, but then focused on the box again. The device in his hand was remarkably similar to the one he had carried – so long ago, it seemed – at the command of the general. How long had dissidents been trying to do this? he wondered. Chess’s mouth was still hanging open when he looked up at the officer again, but he quickly composed himself.
“The dissidents,” he asked, looking directly at the officer now. “What happened to them?”
The guy rolled his eyes as if the question annoyed him. “What do you think? They took ‘em to the Swamp, like all the rest.” He thumbed over his shoulder. “Never hear from those guys again.”
Chess returned down the hallway at a slower pace. In his breast pocket was the flash drive, now containing the information that the dissidents wanted. And, in his pants pocket, was the samiz device. That was an unexpected bonus. He had no intention of trying to install it himself -- that had not been part of the deal -- but he was sure the dissidents would be glad to get it back. And it had been so easy.
He rounded a corner and started down another hallway, and now he could smell odors wafting out from the mess hall. His stomach growled, and he slowed, but then walked past the inviting doorway. He could not risk being here any longer than necessary, he knew. They had certainly already called in for some kind of confirmation about his presence there. Besides, he reasoned, this base was so far out in the middle of nowhere, they probably did not get the really good food supplies, anyway.
On impulse, though, just before he exited, Chess ducked into a supply closet and donned a protective vest. Then he slipped his jacket over it and headed out.
He checked out with the same guards, at the same retinal scanner. It would now show the same poor person’s I.D. for everyone, until they figured it out -- which could take years, the way things seemed to go in this place. The guard thanked him again for his help.
“No problem,” Chess grinned, barely slowing down. “Sorry. On a tight schedule, you know.”
He was meters past the outside gate when he heard raised voices behind him. He ran.
He kept running as he heard the shouts to stop, and the subsequent weapons fire. And then he felt a great pressure crashing into his back and he fell to the ground. Terrified, he began to crawl.
He went much slower, but the ground was uneven, so he had a better chance of not being hit, he hoped. He gasped for air as he crawled along, his lungs already beginning to hurt from the stress, along with the physical effort. His back hurt, too, but he could not focus on that. Just keep moving.
Then a bullet tore into the flesh of his leg and he cried out. And stopped. And closed his eyes.
Continued next page...
Mr. Spock: It is a fact, Doctor, that prowling by stealth is more time-consuming than a direct approach.
Star Trek: Tomorrow is Yesterday, Season 1 Episode 21
Getting away from blogs about stuff that we can’t do anything about... and onto something that is being done. The dissidents in my story have these “magical objects” that, when physically plugged into a computer, router or other connected equipment, grabs all information passing through and transmits it back to a pre-programmed site via the samiz network. Before writing it into my story, I gave this idea a considerable amount of thought. I also revised it significantly over time. (What exactly should it do? Should it allow them to sabotage the computers or insert revolutionary messages through the government computers or just collect information?) I had serious doubts about whether it was possible or practical and if it would even seem useful to readers. But then a friend brought my attention to a January 2014 article in The New York Times and my doubts vanished.
...the N.S.A. has increasingly made use of a secret technology that enables it to enter and alter data in computers even if they are not connected to the Internet, according to N.S.A. documents, computer experts and American officials. The technology, which the agency has used since at least 2008, relies on a covert channel of radio waves that can be transmitted from tiny circuit boards and USB cards inserted surreptitiously into the computers. In some cases, they are sent to a briefcase-size relay station that intelligence agencies can set up miles away from the target... In most cases, the radio frequency hardware must be physically inserted by a spy, a manufacturer or an unwitting user.
- N.S.A. Devises Radio Pathway Into Computers The New York Times, 14 January 2014
I seriously cannot believe that I am so overjoyed about evidence of spying by the NSA, but there it is.
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