Hackjob: Part 11

Kid Biohack’s right hand twitched, but despite what I expected, he didn’t blow up at Travis. He smiled and said, “I know that wasn’t the ideal introduction, but it’s not entirely my fault. My powers make me a little impulsive sometimes. I’m sure some of you have the same problem.”

He smiled at Haley. She didn’t smile back.

“I don’t know how it is for you,” he continued, “but my muscles and tissues respond to chemicals my body secretes, allowing me to make myself faster, stronger, tougher and more agile. No one’s found a limit as to how far I can push them. It’s all a matter of controlling my body to create the right combination of chemicals. People even write into my website to suggest ideas.”

I felt my eyebrow rise, and wondered if he saw any hint of that through my mask.”You’re pretty open about how that works.”

“You should see his website.” Vaughn shook his head. “They can’t give too many details on his muscles because they don’t take well to poking and prodding, but they’ve got some scientific report detailing how they’re different from normal muscles. It’s pretty crazy, but Rocket, you might understand it better that I do.”

Travis crossed his arms over his chest. “Aren’t you at all afraid of what your enemies could do with that?”

Kid Biohack raised his hands in a shrug. “Well yeah, but you can’t think like that. Have you ever heard of open source software?”

Travis glanced over at me as he said, “No.” At almost the same time, I said, “Yes.”

Nodding in my direction Kid Biohack said, “Of course you’d know, but for the rest of you, here’s what it is: some computer programmers publish the hidden code they use to create computer programs openly where anyone can see it. Then anyone who knows what they’re doing can submit ideas and improvements. And sure, people will try to hack the program, but other people will have ideas about how to prevent it. Right now, we’ve got an amazing group of people submitting ideas. I’ve gotten further in the last few months than I have in years.”

He said it all with the enthusiasm of a convert. My first thought? “Hidden code?” It wasn’t hidden. It was just compiled into a format easier for computers to read than humans. My urge to correct him vied with my suspicion that it wasn’t worth the trouble, and lost.

Travis shook his head. “I’m not going to tell you how to run your life, but I need to tell you a couple things. First, you told people you were coming here to join the Heroes’ League. We’re planning to expand, but we’re not taking anyone who shows up. We’re not even taking every super we know. We’re taking people that we need. You’re stronger, faster, and tougher than a normal person, but so is half the team right now. You can adjust which one’s your strongest, but hell, I took you out tonight. You’re going to have to offer us something we don’t have.”

Haley frowned, and looked like she was about to say something, and honestly, so did I. Travis didn’t run the League. He’d only been as involved as I was this last year.

Kid Biohack gave a smile, and started speaking at almost the same moment Travis stopped. “I think I do offer you something you don’t have. I can adjust my strengths to match what the situation demands, but even better, no one knows what my limits are. You’ll be lucky to pull me in now when I’m at the beginning of my development.”

The corner of Travis’ mouth lifted, but he didn’t break into a smile. I felt like he might be close. Travis said, “I’ll keep that in mind, but what we need right now is more along the lines of a gesture of good faith.”

Kid Biohack nodded. “Anything.”

“You’re not streaming this, are you?”

“He can’t.” I don’t think I sounded frustrated, but I had mentioned this to everyone. “You can’t broadcast out of one of our vehicles or buildings unless you’re in the League or on the guest list. He’s not either.”

“No kidding?” Travis glanced toward me, and then back to Kid Biohack. “So, no streaming, but did you record any of that?”

Probably guessing what Travis wanted, he hesitated, but then said, “A little.”

“Delete it,” Travis said. “Immediately.”

He opened his mouth, closed it, but finally said, “Seth gave up all the delivery locations. I need that.”

Looming over him by more than a foot in height, Travis said, “We’ll get you all of that, but delete anything you’ve got on us since getting into the van.”

Kid Biohack raised an eyebrow. “Van? Oh, you mean the limo? Fine, I’ll do it.”

Kid Biohack put his hand to the side of his mask, tapping his fingers a few times before finally saying, “It’s done.”

“Great,” Travis said, “We’ll send you the location data. I can see you on my comm. For now, though, you should go. We’ve got a few things to talk about over here.”

Kid Biohack nodded, and walked toward the front door, stopping there. “A pleasure working with you. I’ll see you soon.” Then he stepped outside.

Haley fixed her brother with a stare that I’d only seen during arguments. “We aren’t really considering him for membership, are we?”

33 thoughts on “Hackjob: Part 11”

      1. Quick question: what’s your opinion on an author incentivizing TWF votes by rewarding high levels of votes with bonus chapters? I feel it corrupts the system, but am interested as to your thoughts.

        1. TWF was designed to allow people to vote and get rewards for voting. While I’d agree that if it were supposed to be a scientific survey of who has the most support, rewards would mess up the system. I’d also note that that’s not the purpose.

          It’s supposed to be a contest that allows serials to fight it out while also introducing the serials’ readers to new serials.

          That helps develop an audience for serials as well as help up-and-coming (and even established) serials find readers (always a challenge).

          So while I hope to remain as high and visible as possible, I also hope people do use rewards because the more people that come to vote, the more people that might discover my serial.

        2. I know this is a late reply, but I don’t think it corrupts the system at all. I mean, if a story sucks, extra chapters won’t encourage people to vote for it. Meanwhile, if people like the story so much that they’ll take the time to vote so they can read more? That must mean that some people really think it’s worth reading.

    1. Superficially, but ultimately not very much. Courtney can modify her body–looks, composition, and structure (so long as she’s basically human shaped).

      With Kid Biohack, he can modify his body chemistry, but his body remains within its specific parameters. His ability levels change, but not what his abilities are. He can’t modify himself to get new abilities (Courtney can, within limits), just get stronger, more agile, better reflexes, tougher. etc…

          1. Can he make himself smarter? It might be interesting to have him be able to adjust his brain chemistry. Especially if he never gains enough fine control to control exactly how he makes himself smarter.

            By different kinds of smarter, perhaps he jut thinks faster sometimes. Other times, he makes wild but accurate intuitive leaps (which would probably irritate Nick – especially if he’s right) or perhaps he might develop enhanced senses. On another occasion, he might become some sort of human mental sponge like John Travolta in ‘Phenomena.’ Odds calculations or math savant.

            If the team really needs him to be the intuitive thinker, but he develops a hypersense of taste and touch, it would throw plans awry, and force the team to rethink tactics.

            Variable mental acuity powers could be hilarious. It would also make him a sideline member of the team, since he couldn’t be counted on to carry a predictable, useful ability that couldn’t be matched by another team member.

            I will comment that the ability to secrete drugs is something potentially useful. He makes drugs, Nick puts them in bots as delivery vehicles. Travis and Haley also have knockout dugs in their dewclaws, but it might not be as potent or as varied as what KBH can supply. Especially if he can create many different drugs.

          2. The idea behind KBH’s powers is that he doesn’t have Courtney’s level of near total control of her body. He’s got greater potential with what he can control though. He can’t manufacture any chemical. He can only control certain one, some of which are essentially commands, some of which are different sorts of fuel, and so on…

            He can affect his brain, but it’s more of a side effect in that his brain isn’t supposed to be susceptible to manipulation, but… it’s connected to the rest of his body, so effects are still possible.

          3. That should make it interesting for KBH. He knows that he can be better. However, he is not sure as to what his level of “better”is. Coupled with his need to confirm his sense of self worth be being the center of attention…. yeah, I see fun things happening for him in the future. I hope that he has a good insurance policy.

            As for Courtney. if she is manipulating her genetics, I can see her easily being the most powerful/manipulative/deceitful person on the team.

  1. Finally caught up! Now i am in the same boat as everyone else, waiting for a new post.

    I am really enjoying the series.

        1. A number of people started reading soon after my story appeared there (which is what I hoped would happen). I don’t know how well my short story worked as an introduction to Legion of Nothing, but that was its purpose…

  2. I need more. More I say.

    Error: but they’ve got some scientific report detailing what they think they might be how they’re different from normal muscles. It’s pretty crazy, but Rocket, you might understand it better that I do.”

    Fix: but they’ve got some scientific report detailing what they think they might be and how they’re different from normal muscles. It’s pretty crazy, but Rocket, you might understand it better than I do.”

    Error: And sure, people will try to hack the program, but other people will have ideas about to prevent it.

    Fix: And sure, people will try to hack the program, but other people will have ideas about how to prevent it.

  3. Kid Biohack’s rewriting the situation as the Heroes League driving him away in their ‘limo’? Keep him away guys!

  4. Another thought. Months (more than a year?) ago, Nick and presumably some others were made honorary clan embers of an alien race because they killed one of theirs that had gone rogue.

    If they are watching Nick, I wonder what they think about how he’s using his bots these days. Do they approve of Big Brother and think Nick should be more aggressive? Do they hate the idea, and are planning to have a little talking-to with him? Or something between the extremes.

    I haven’t bugged you about it for a while, Jim, but it’s probably rather obvious that I’d really like to see Nick interact with the aliens again.

    1. That’s going to happen. When? I’m not quite sure, but I’ve got the story pretty much planned out. The question essentially is when best to write that particular story. I’ve got to take account of where the arc fits in terms of novels and the serial.

      I’m essentially working with Dresden Files style pacing here (or 80s X-Men) where a plot thread that came up two years ago may well become the next book.

      And that’s the thing, a few loose ends from the book with the alien invasion come together to form their own book, and set the stage for other stuff at the same time…

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