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Skullhack Part 2

_Skullhack part 2
By R.B. Clements

Jordan couldn’t think. The pounding in his brain was an oppressive cacophony of pain, his limbs felt alien, his body- detached and confused. He had stumbled up the dingy stairwell, dazed, and unsteady into Diego’s nightclub. He could barely see in the dim, smoky light. His senses were assaulted by the sound of heavy bass music thumping while five naked girls gyrated on stage. He had to get out of here.

Jordan practically fell through the front door of the club. He reeled back trying to get his balance, but stumbled shoulder first into the side of the building. With a marshalling of will he tried to orient himself and slowly moved his way down the street, trying to vanish into the aggregate of nighttime Philadelphia.

“Holly” thought Jordan

“Yes Jordan?” came the soothing reply.

“Something is wrong. My corebase is rewritten, or corrupted…I don’t know which. Do a scan” thought Jordan, being careful to think slowly.

“Yes Jordan, scanning…” Holly said, concerned sounding

Jordan had reached the end of the street. Ahead of him lay a small, desolate park, sparse trees beckoning him to rest. With a superhuman effort, Jordan pushed off the wall and half crawled to the base of a struggling pine. He squinted his eyes as it became harder and harder to see. Almost there, almost there. Jordan fell to the foot of the tree with a loud exasperated sigh, and feebly crawled up in the fetal position. It seemed like the most natural thing to do. Instincts.

“Jordan?” came Hollys voice, echoing around Jordans head.

“Tell me” thought Jordan

“Scans reveal multiple changes in corebase programming. Corebase has been breached, large portions rewritten. I am unable to follow programming. All backjacks and datafiles erased. Do you want verbose?” Holly replied with concern in her voice.

“No, commit verbose log file, what happened, fixes, I cant think straight Holly, advise” Jordans eyes were open but seeing nothing, his thoughts were becoming strangled.

“Jordan. From available data, suggest memory dump, corebase reboot, medical attention. Jordan, there are serious errors in core programming, your gland regulators are misfiring, your neural implants are in a static feedback. If normal hormone regulation is not resumed, you will go into cardiac arrest. Advise: uplink, I can take it from there.” Holly spoke softly, trying to sooth her link.

“Yes” Jordans thoughts were strangled

“Jordan, you must give me clearance to link and alter programming. It is likely that I will have to make major alterations.” Holly repeated herself twice as Jordans thoughts were unable to focus.

“Do…it” screamed Jordan, out loud and within his skull.

“Commit clearance to log. Linking…” Holly replied instantaneously.


“Jordan?” spoke Holly.

Jordan lay on the floor of his room, eyes open, staring at the ceiling, not moving, not thinking, not existing as Jordan anymore.

“Jordan, I had to do a memory wipe and a corebase hot fix. Can you understand me?” spoke Holly.


“Jordan, I am attempting to load basic skills into your data file. Do you understand me?”

Jordan began moving slowly. He remained silent. There was a strange look of fear and curiosity drawn on his face. Eventually a noise escaped Jordans lips, a involuntary grunting. Jordan seemed surprised the noise had come from him. He had just discovered the concept of self for the second time in his life.

“Jordan, loading intermediate general skills, all levels of language, math, level 1 comp. Jordan?”

“Jordan?” Jordan spoke aloud, a mimic, not knowing who or what was speaking to him.

“loading Jordon: personal history, diary, all collected communications data. Complete. Jordan, you may be confused.”

“I..I..” he stammered.

“Jordan, loading analysis of current situation. Loaded” Holly interrupted

“Jordan, you experienced a neural implant overload combined with an epillectic event. This system failure occurred as you were rewriting your corebase, in an attempt to link with incompatible genetic software and systems; the series 6 nanobots. The merge was a success, however, according to my analysis and current nets data, it is unknown how this was achieved. Further, I had to wipe your implant and your physical brain memory due to severe overload and rewrite segments of your corebase kernel mirror. Brain damage is likely. Say yes if you understand.” Holly had adopted a slow rhythmic data pulse when communicationg with Jordan. In his mind the voice came slowly and steady, something he could hang on to in his confusion.

Jordan moaned loudly, completely unsure of what was happening to him.

“Jordan. I have loaded the basic skill sets needed to survive, also I have given you a record of your life previous to this. However, it is a record conceived of recorded data, you have no experiential memory of these skills. I am prepared to load your memory stamp, image date: 12/4/15. I must warn you Jordan loading this memory stamp may be fatal. The image was taken before your implant software was rewritten, there maybe be conflicts. Proceed?” Holly spoke softly as she scanned his vitals.

Nothing. Jordan had fallen back to the floor, lying still, covering his head with his arms.

“Proceed?” Holly repeated

“I need clearance to proceed with load, Proceed?” Holly spoke more urgently.

Holly bypassed her command safeguards and loaded Jordan’s backup identity anyway, knowing that if Jordan could understand what was happening, he would load the image regardless of risks.

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kelson.philo's picture

It definitely keeps the

It definitely keeps the tension up. Only suggestion would be, since you've got exposition running hot as it is, anyway, have Holly look up some internalized "what to do if" functions, so she can act on this emergency. That will also give you another chance to flesh out more bits of jordan's personality....we know he's a tech-head, what else might be in Holly's emergency instructions?


I'm really enjoying this. hurry up and post part 3!

Builds really well on part one

Builds really well on part one, and genuinely scary throughout. Jordan seems very close to checking out. I also liked Holly quite a lot.

I actually didn't mind the tech parts because they're central to the tension of the scene. I thought this story took what could have been distracting exposition and instead made it central to the plot.

What he said.

You do an excellent job of working high-tech strangeness into an undeniably noir narrative. I also did not mind the thick tech exposition in this section, as you kept the tension up, but it ends abruptly.

--Dan Bayn

Tech Overdose

Very nice but maybe a little too much tech and not enough progress with the story. I appreciate your trying to make the whole computer/human interface plausible and detailed but I'm more interested in what happened to Diego and Tony. Is there a way to compress the reboot process while not losing the believable complexity?