Hackjob: Part 3

Wednesday found me attending classes and quietly wishing I had a lab on campus like I had when I’d been in the Castle Rock Compound for the summer. I’d spent Tuesday evening back in the lab in the Heroes’ League’s headquarters watching my bot factories build robots, and loading them into my “assist pods.”

Then I let the pods float into the air, dispersing bots to their assigned lamp posts and telephone poles.

All of it went without a hitch despite the fact that it was 99% automated.

The notion of bots making surveillance devices and distributing them with barely any human involvement probably would have worried anyone into privacy issues and maybe it should have bothered me.

It did, a little bit.

I’d taken a required social science class last spring though (Psychology 101), and in response to a question about how a study was done, the professor mentioned that filming what was going on in a public space was completely legal.

I imagined that people might be bothered by the broad scale of what I was recording, but I was in the clear legally. Anyway, I’d only set the spybots to record people whose speed appeared to match someone who was robbing people.

You could argue that “We didn’t invade your privacy nearly as much as we could have,” is not nearly as inspiring as not doing so at all, but I was okay with it.

Also, by way of  getting down to business on tracking Kid Biohack, I followed Jeremy’s advice and subscribed to Kid Biohack’s feed.

An update would set off alarms that had a good chance of waking me up if I were asleep.

On Wednesday night then, I found myself in my room. I’d eaten dinner in the cafeteria with Haley and Camille. Haley had been going through Freshman orientation over the weekend and first couple days of the week. She and Camille were going to be attending a party with a group of other girls from their dorm  that night.

When I asked if she wanted me to come along, Camille frowned, and Haley said, “I’d like you to come along, but none of the other girls have boyfriends at Grand Lake. So it would feel a little weird. I’m mostly going because I don’t want them to get in trouble. I’ve never been able to get drunk, so, at least, one of us will be able to keep her head.”

Jeremy didn’t have classes on Wednesday night, so he disappeared with some other guys. He stopped at the door. “You sure you don’t want to come? A couple friends of mine are living in a house off campus. I think the plan is boardgames, but it may just be hanging out and talking.  You should do more than just… Well, you know.”

“I’ll be fine. I’m actually kind of ready to be alone for a night.”

Jeremy cocked his head and walked out the door. “Okay. I’ll see you later.”

By 10:47pm, I was most of the way through The Martian. I’d been intending to read it during the summer, but circumstances had never been right. By “circumstances had never been right” I mean that I’d put too much work in on the pods plus extra-curricular activities like nearly getting killed by a dragon.

As the main character of the story stripped his ship of everything non-essential in preparation for his final launch, a knock came from my door.

I opened it to find Vaughn standing in the hall. “Mind if I come in?”

Vaughn grinned up at me. Maybe an inch or two shorter, Vaughn used to look a little heavier than I had, but this summer’s intense training program had done him some obvious good. He wore a black t-shirt and jeans. His chest muscles were fairly obvious under the shirt. His arms were well defined too.

I didn’t plan to mention it, but he did look a little more like his grandfather had in old Heroes’ League pictures.

“Sure,” I said. “You did more working out than I realized during the summer.”

Vaughn shook his head. “I don’t think so, but I may have gotten more of an effect.”

He shut the door. “Anyway, you should look at yourself in the mirror sometime. So, what are you doing?”

I shrugged and held up the book. “Reading. Haley’s out with some people from her dorm.”

Vaughn nodded. “I saw the movie. Is that much different?”

“I dunno. I missed that in the theater, and I don’t think it’s on Netflix.”

“Ok,” Vaughn looked toward the door, and then back to me. “I’ve been talking to Amy over the phone, and she and Samita have been doing some research on The Thing That Eats. She’d like to have a meeting on the next Stapledon weekend.”

“Fine with me. Pass it on to the group. We’ve got to do something with that even if we just pass it on to the adults.”

Vaughn shook his head. “I’m pretty sure Amy won’t want to pass it on. Ancestral enemy, you know?”

“Right,” I began, and then my phone started ringing along with my laptop and tablet.

“The hell?” Vaughn looked around the room, probably trying to figure out the source of the noise.

“Kid Biohack,” I said.

19 thoughts on “Hackjob: Part 3”

  1. Just caught up again. I bet Kid Biohack is the girl that was talking about him earlier. That’s why she was talking with the roommate, whatever his name is. Anyway, Kid tracked him down in the forums, then tracked him down in real life.

    See, it’s going to be the Block that gives the roommate’s secret away. A guy that deep into conspiracy theories, who spends that much time online, and suddenly he had nothing much to say about The Rocket? There’s suddenly a conspicuous hole in his verbal chatter whenever The Heroes League comes up? He’s hiding something. He knows something.

    1. It came up after jeremey got the block that He CAN talk about the heros leauge and the rocket. Just not stuff he finds out aboutthem from knowing their identities. So he could talk about theroires and gossip as much as he likes but he reveal any info he gets from nick or whoever that he couldn’t get from online.

  2. The business of filming people in a public place is interesting. The take that I saw on this that I found quite credible was, yes, it was OK, but, identifying people, then using that information, was where the privacy implications arose. Arguably, people needed to be informed of their identification, and the purpose for which this was done, as they were the ones responsible for the decisions made about any data on them. In simple terms, they ‘own’ that data.

    With regard to The Thing That Eats, a link back to ‘Faerieland: Part 48’, to explain it, might be useful – I had to use a Google search. Not sure how this would fit with the way you’re tagging characters.

    1. I was quietly hoping that either people would remember or that I could get away with waiting to remind them till later. The meeting at Stapledon is in the near rather than distant future.

  3. My guess about the spybots is that they do not need to keep anywhere near everything. I would have it keep a limited number of video segments in a short term memory. Staring a new segment which might well be in the range of 4 seconds would overwrite the oldest. Speedster activity would trigger a live feed to base and first in last out dump of old frames to base simultaneously. either that or not so brief storage.

    As for Jeremy I suppose he could be fed the line that there “was” a post “somewhere” about “people” (Syndicate L) having a nasty streak of freak blender accidents when trying to identify the League. have you seen the youtube video? Super liaisons in NYC? Saint Louis? And they had to wait after calling in an order for breakfast to go? etc. etc.

    pure speculation based on publicly available information should probably still work. Also Hal would probably not mind running a disinformation campaign too much.

  4. Good story-building chapter and a solid hook!

    One thing that twanged my attention when reading. Verb mismatch.

    “She and Camille were going to be attending a party with a group of other girls from their dorm tonight.”

    The narration is past tense. ‘tonight’ should probably be ‘that night’ since it’s not quoted speech in the story – I quoted it in the response.

    Also, I’m not entirely certain you considered that Haley and presumably the other girls are all under age for drinking. While we all know that under age drinking happens in college, you normally write solidly in young adult mode, and I’m not sure you want that image in the story. I cannot remember any other underage drinking being mentioned.

      1. If that was directed to me, l am writing nothing original at the moment. I’m currently a novice OTR truck driver, driving 500-600 miles per day.

        I am slowly working through several half-finished projects before I start anything new. There is a fan fiction fic I am writing over at sufficient velocity, then there is the patent which is a slow and tedious project. Then there is editing my original fiction works and publishing them.

        Plate full. I will probably start my next story before I finish editing Set in Stone, but after the fan fic and patent.

          1. Don’t want to derail Jim’s comments here, but it’s basically a method patent for fuel-based propulsion in space. As far as I and the examiner have determined, nobody has ever considered delivering fuel to payloads in route in space in the manner I claim for my patent. No new tech here, just a different way of using tech. At this point, I am only tightening up my claim, but it’s still time-consuming, and I don’t have a lot of time.

    1. I should probably change tonight/that night.

      With regards to underage drinking, I referenced it in the second chapter of the first book. You could say that it’s Vaughn’s origin story. Vaughn had a drinking problem and drinking was why he crashed Sean’s car prior to the story. Also, Cassie references going to parties with him and getting him home. In the second major storyline, Logan, who turned into a massive, cannibalistic, furry creature at the prom, was known for being into drugs which is what led to him trying power juice.

      More recently, Amy joked about hiding beer in the refrigerator where she keeps different types of blood. She’s technically underage even if she comes from a place where she isn’t.

      It hasn’t so much been “on screen,” but part of that is simply because Nick’s the main character and he doesn’t drink–at least not yet. This is a coming of age story though, so it’s a story about someone encountering the adult world and deciding how to live in it. It’s likely we’ll see a number of “firsts” of various kinds.

      There’s a larger assumption in what you wrote, and that is that young adult fiction shouldn’t include underage drinking. I don’t know if that’s right or wrong. I can only tell you the approach I’m taking. I’m going with the assumption that if life includes it, I can do so–if it’s right for the story. It’s more a question of how I include things than what I include.

      Sexuality, drugs, abuse, addiction, rape, incest, graphic violence, death and similar divisively hot button events are all easy to do badly in a story. This isn’t a story that should go deeply in any of those directions, but I’m okay with including them to the degree that plot, characters and verisimilitude demand them. The challenge is doing it in a way that fits the current overall tone.

      1. Fair enough. I don’t remember many of those moments, but if you’re happy with it, then that’s what is important.

          1. Me too have not see nothing offensive.
            Btw I’m not going to run away with graphical violence/sex of any kind or verse/drug abuse/any other strong content.
            BUT! It must fit the story and not be done for the sake of it.
            At the end I trust Jim and his “directoring” of his story. §thumb up§

          2. It would never have occurred to me that somebody *might* have taken offense at anything in this story! But apparently someone might? It’s easy for me to say, but I wouldn’t want those kinds of people in my audience anyway!

          3. Please don’t censor your story out of fear of offending! In the wide world of Internets, there is always someone who can find some reason to be offended. I can’t think of a single great work of literature that isn’t offensive to some significant chunk of the world… The banned book list is like walking through a hall of fame. Sin boldly! You are in no risk of losing your following, and if they require you censor your self to keep them do you want them?

            All that pontificating aside… I think you can trust yourself and the story. The tone would have to dramatically change for the handling of sensitive topics like thst to “cross the line” in this story, and considering the consistency of the rest of this work, over multiple years, I am confident you would feel it and fix things before we ever saw it. In addition, the 1st person narrative style, and the character of the narrator would mean that even if the story did go someplace horrific, Nick would be our filter and buffer. Instead of slapping the reader in the face with cheap thrills, the significance of something “bad” would be played out by revealing its impact on oir narrator and how he comes to terms with it.

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