0's and 1's: Book 1 CBDT (Cyber-Bullying Defense Team)
(Hunter Douglas, Code Name: Verne)
It took a long time to make everything fall into place and build a big cover story for myself. There's an old sociological concept about focusing attention at what is presented to you in order to divert attention from what is potentially the most dangerous to you. The Allied combined forces during World War II did it prior to the Normandy landings; it is obvious to most people studying history now, and probably to German commanders in the past, that the Allies would invade Europe off the northern coast of France. Diverting attention to the wrong places, the wrong times, and the wrong messages made the most dangerous and successful invasion in human history possible. People remember De Gaulle, General Eisenhower, and Churchill for the grand feat, but it was code breakers and intelligent men like Alan Turing, who made it possible. Like the grandfather of counter-intelligence, I am facing something ideologically and systemically dangerous to the world and to our community. Let's hope my final fate is better than Turing, being betrayed by the very nation he served due to homosexual bigotry.
The press ate up the "unveiling" ceremony; Steve Jobs deserves most of the credit for this kind of showboating performance, I can't argue with a master of mass marketing. Though, I hated every second of the showcase from the new silicate crystal micro-processing units to the final 8.5 inch tablet being created in a matter of 10 minutes from start to finish. Ryan and I had designed the new solid state system to help increase the amount of technology access for everyone, in combination with dedicated 3D printers. It was meant to expand access, not as a means of market share acquisition by the big technology players.
Still, I needed a big cover story for creating this team; massing resources and diverting funds sounds simple on paper, but without a pretense, you can't hide it. By revealing all of the new technologies publicly, I am starting a massive bidding war for the new technology rights, which is going to be ugly. Google Venture, my co-partner, is being pressured by "Alphabet", their parent company, to acquire sole rights. Except they can't win, under our agreement, I have full ownership of patent rights to all inventions I create. They'll still make a lot of money either way, but losing market share is keeping them awake at night. Apple and Microsoft are smelling blood in the water; Intel and AMD are calling me with bribes to slowdown any sales talks, probably until they can reverse engineer the demo models.
That's fine with me; I really don't care who wins this war as I hold the technology patents solely, I just want the news media to keep my story going on this fight. The more attention I get, the less threat potential I would gain in the eyes of the people I am trying to bring to justice. The only bad part is Kevin, Jeremy, Benji, and some of the other guys aren't taking my turn to corporate exec very well. I hate doing that to them, but it is safer if they don't know what my true intentions are yet; especially, Kevin and Benji, who have passed my test and will be offered a place in the new team. Kevin is a good guy and smart in his own way, despite his foul mouth and bad tastes. I expected him to be one of the first to sign up as he knew Ryan and me really well.
Benji is an interesting guy, a paradox of intelligence and cynicism. His real name is Ben Jie Long, but no one ever uses it, preferring to think of him as Benji. He's also 16 and our goalie on the soccer team. He's only 6 feet tall, but he has one of the longest legs to body proportion I've ever seen. It helps him block goals in spectacular fashion. Off the field, we argue most of the time; he's a "Singularitist", one of those Technological Singularity proponents, and fiercely critical on programming language, but he's also loyal and honest. Ryan and I loved getting his feedback on new tech developments, which would turn into a two hour redesigning exercise. Intellectually, I know he's around my level in terms of IQ. I never did put much stock into MENSA membership, but he usually doesn't apply his intellect openly, preferring to sit back and work outside formal settings. I know he's definitely gay based on an eye opening incident involving Ryan and me catching Kevin and Benji coming out of the same shower stall with cum dripping down their legs last year. They're not a couple, but it was really hot to know our friends enjoyed some tête-à-tête with a little "Frot" from time to time. As a tech ethicist, Benji will keep everyone honest.
Starting with my friends, who I know and have worked with before, is hazardous for secrecy, but it is also easier than working with complete strangers. They weren't the only people who passed the test, but they are the people I want. I know this team will need to expand and include other members, but a core group is needed to keep stability. Our psychological and sociological backgrounds balance one another's strength and weaknesses. Our relative mental capabilities are comparable, and our ethical baseline is aligned.
DHL should arrive with their customized laptop, tablet, and smartphones by Friday. They'll be asked to sign into a secure website with one time login credentials. Then the choice will be theirs. I want them to be my allies in this, but I will not force them to be my allies. If we are to be true friends and partners, I am not pushing them into this endeavor, especially if there is likelihood that all three of us will be killed.
(Benji/Ben Jie Long, Code Name: Wells)
We all change day to day, moment to moment. Our bodies grow older, our minds sharper, and our hearts colder as death draws closer. Love is probably our only consolation in this ugly messed up world, but it is fleeting and desperate. When I hear my friend Hunter speak, I wish I was as brave as Kevin to engage him or tender as Ryan was to dissuade him down the path he has chosen. Technology is a wondrous tool of human potential; it allows us to search the deepest depths and walk on distant worlds, but it is a cruel mistress of avarice. I helped him form the framework and some basic ideas around the new solid state systems; I knew what it could usher in, a new world of potential for all mankind. Now, he has placed this beautiful dream into jeopardy for the potential of a billion, 2 billion, maybe even a new trillion dollar industry. This isn't Hunter Douglas.
I know I am an introvert; I don't like to talk or be in big groups. My parents forced me to join the soccer team, so I could make "friends". It was probably one of the few things they did right in my life, because in the past two years I have played with Hunter, Ryan, and Kevin, I felt like I finally found people I belonged with. Most people don't like my criticism or detail oriented approach to concepts, but Hunter and Ryan took it with pride and never faulted me or threw me out of their lab. I even found Kevin, despite being outwardly crass, was a really nice human being and a good lover. While western culture has varying attitudes towards homosexuality from bigotry to tolerance, Eastern cultures live under an oppressive apathy. Some people do exhibit a form of tolerance, but it's mainly "we don't care" denial. At times, I wish I was hated, because at the very least, it would show that my parents and family cared.
So, I was drawn to my friends and when one of them goes away, I am left emptier. Ryan was a good human being, perhaps too good for this world. When he was being attacked online, I wanted to figure out who was going after him. I knew Hunter was probably doing the same things, but I couldn't just let him carry all the weight alone. Kevin and I went through all the student's electronically sealed permanent records within the school first, and then expanded the search across the entire district and city. It was probably illegal, but we couldn't let someone we honestly cared about be harmed without reason. Hunter probably did the same thing, too.
In the end, we found nothing; a few traces of petty vandalism, psychological disturbances, and maybe some closet cases along the way, but no one was a prime suspect. After Ryan killed himself, I could tell Hunter wasn't taking it well; I could tell Kevin was anguishing in his own way, too. I felt like a complete failure. Even after breaking the law, I couldn't find the culprits. It kept happening again and again. I reached my own conclusions about what was happening; these were not mere acts of hate by random strangers, someone was pulling the strings. I wanted to share my ideas with Hunter, but he was nowhere to be found and like Kevin, I got no replies from his lab.
Then, when Mayor Chance announced his campaign, I thought Hunter would jump on the band wagon, but he didn't. Kevin said, "He was too busy making money". Despite what Hunter wants to do, I will not be deterred, not when a threat is this big. Maybe, I can make a difference with Mayor Chance's campaign, despite its outdated ideals.
Chrome colored laptop, tablet, and smartphone with no logos or identification, plus a letter with a secure website, username, password combination, and a timeframe with instructions to connect, were not on my Christmas list, not even my Amazon wish list. I am curious as to whom my benefactor could be, since the only person I knew who liked the sleek color of chrome was Hunter, but he would never give me so many things at once. Besides, he and Ryan gave me a laptop last year for my birthday, while Kevin hooked me up with a Turtle Beach headset and a blowjob.
Curiosity might have killed the cat at least for Schrodinger half the time, but there's an interesting mystery that should be solved. Part of me is afraid this is connected to the same people who attacked by Ryan, but they wouldn't provide me with the tools for my abuse. There's something else growing, something else being placed in play.
At the scheduled time, I used the Tor Browser included with the laptop to enter the secure website. When I entered my credentials, the screen flashed twice, and then a window popped up. It looked almost like a classic instant messenger program, except for two important details, it was full screen and all I had access to was a text box. There were two other "people" being displayed on the screen, one named Verne and another named Shelley.
Before I could begin typing a question, a line of text appeared:
Verne: Welcome Wells and Shelley, please do not use your real names or reference friends, associations, or other personal information on this log. You may refer to me as Verne
Shelley: Why? This is a secure chat, you're using Tor
Verne: You will find out soon enough
Interesting screen name choices, Jules Verne is noted as one of fathers of Science Fiction, who created some of the world's first adventure based Science Fiction stories. H.G Wells is also a father of Science Fiction, creating the first social commentary based stories. While Mary Shelley is usually thought of as a horror writer, her novel Frankenstein was in fact the first modern Science fiction story, making her the grandmother of all Science Fiction. Whoever Verne is, he knows his literary history very well at least in the genre of Science fiction.
A PDF document appeared before my eyes filled with detailed points about data analysis and deep net search results. I used the arrows on my keyboard to read the document and was shocked at how far this person had taken his/her research. Deep net searches are possible, but the current way of research into this area of the "Dark" side has always been haphazard; you must know what you are looking for before you can search. While the FBI might have cracked down on sites like Silk Road that existed in the deep net, there are at least several hundred more similar sites across multiple servers. The entire Silk Road exercise was more of a policy concept than an actual victory against some of the biggest underground networks of drug dealers, child pornographers, and generally unpleasant criminal elements. It's kind of tragic really; popular media would have people believe law enforcement has a handle on new technology and internet related crime, but the reality is their own networks are vulnerable enough for a group of teenagers from an internet forum to just hack into without issue. Being a "white hat" doesn't mean I am a saint, nor does being a "black hat" mean I am going to scam people. Personally, I think of myself as more of a "grey hat" like Gandalf from the Hobbit.
By the time I reached the concluding point in the document, it disappeared from my screen and the chat window returned.
Verne: I hope that was insightful
Shelley: All of this was planned by a handful of conservative crackpot hackers
Shelley: It makes no sense, why come after gay teens like us, we pose little threat
Wells: Why do terrorists go after civilians rather than go for military targets?
Wells: We're easier to pick off and targeting gay teens gives plausible deniability
Verne: Exactly Wells
Verne: We have become a physically strong social and political force in society
Verne: However, new technology and new frontiers are open ground for these people
Shelley: That's just fucked up, they killed ____
Verne: Do not use real names Shelley, I have set up a black protocol for everyone and everything that any of us are associated with
Verne: I understand your frustration, but this is the world we live in, not the world we want
Wells: Have you gone to the police with this?
Verne: They cannot help us; this is a new form of attack for them as well
Verne: Traditional bullying and traditional terrorism are conducted in the real world
Verne: This is a hybrid of both in an integrated technological society that has not built laws, which can prevent it or have a law enforcement system that can be relied upon to investigate it
Shelley: So we're on our own, is that why we're here?
Verne: Yes Shelley, I have asked you to come here to make an offer
Verne: You have seen my evidence and I would hope that you believe what I told you in those points were true
Verne: A new type of defense must be created against a common foe, will you both join me?
Wells: A Cyber Bullying Defense Team
Verne: That's one way to put it; though, I thought of it more in line with Rangers on the frontier
Shelley: You know I could make a bad joke about Power Rangers right now
Verne: Do not make that joke
Verne: I am speaking of a group, who are dedicated to investigating cyberattacks on gay teens and alleviating their pain
Verne: We will be watching social networks, websites, and blogs for hacking, false information, and even repair what was destroyed by these people
Verne: We will not be members of law enforcement, but we will act as their eyes and ears, the silent guardians of the Web for gay teens within our city
Wells: That's a lot to ask a stranger
Verne: You have been tested and found capable of meeting this task
Shelley: Fuck, how do we know you're for real about all of this crap?
Verne: You don't
Verne: Ironically, I have to ask you both to take a leap of faith
Verne: Will you follow me into fire, into storm, into darkness, into death?
Verne: Good, please plug both the provided tablet and smartphone into the usb port
Verne: A key program will be installed onto all three devices that will allow you to access secure chat, hidden text messages between cell phones, and an integrated cloud for storing your details
I did as I was told and plugged the two mobile devices into the two open USB ports on the side of the laptop.
Verne: In two days, I will assign each of you individual assignments and research into individuals that are suspected to have been part of the recent string of attacks
Verne: For now, remain silent about what you have seen or discussed here, reveal nothing to anyone including your closest friends
The screen faded to black, then returned to the standard Windows 10 launch screen. All I can do is smile, because Verne basically outed himself to both of us, but neither of us will ever betray his trust. We won't talk about it between us either, because we know now what is at stake. Kevin might act dense sometimes, but I bet he figured it out as soon as I did. No one would ever quote Joseph Michael Straczynski outside a convention center, except one foolishly brilliant 15 year old gay boy. I guess Hunter went into darkness, but not into despair.
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