We wanted to clean up a few things with a hacking attack. It turned out differently than expected.
The time had come. The hacking chip I had developed for Chris Kross was ready. I had copied Chris’s data, which he wanted to add to his Hurston account, onto the chip. In addition, a worm that would search all databases and delete all entries about me. It was my way to freedom. Freedom to move around the Stanton system again without fear of being hunted down by the henchmen of Hurston Dynamics. There was just one hitch. The Huston Dynamics central computer had the highest security level. There was only one way to access it. At the administration console in a heavily guarded security bunker at Hurston Dynamics.
Chris helped me. He hated the Hurston family as much as I did and wasn’t afraid to take out the guards in the bunker. Nevertheless, we wanted to deactivate the surveillance satellite orbiting the planet Hurston first. It didn’t have to be so obvious.
Chris’ Crusader C1 Spirit was as flat as the solar panels on the surveillance satellite. Chris had parked it perfectly next to the solar panels, out of range of the defense towers. The C1 was barely noticeable. In the darkness, it merged with the satellite. For a few seconds, I hovered in space and watched the spectacle. Then I turned around and headed for the maintenance shaft that led me inside the satellite.
Nausea overcame me when I reached the inside of the satellite. The circular room went down deep like a tube. Or upwards? It was hard to tell in zero gravity. Everything was relative. Without a fixed point, it was easy to lose your bearings. My fixed point was the indentation in the column running through the middle of the tube. The maintenance computer was located there.
The green lights on the maintenance computer confirmed that the satellite was online. Strangely enough, the screen was not locked and I had access. The subroutine for switching off the satellite was open. It looked like someone had unsuccessfully tried to shut down the satellite. My finger touched the button labeled ‘Disconnect’. The lights changed color. The red light was reflected in my visor.
When I was back on board the Spirit, Chris gave full thrust. The acceleration was breathtaking. For a brief moment, my eyes went black. Within a few minutes, Chris had brought us to the surface of the planet Hurston and landed behind the bunker in the blind spot of the defense tower.
After the freight elevator had taken us into the depths of the bunker, we couldn’t believe our eyes. Directly in front of us was a footbridge that led over a hole and disappeared into a wall of fog. To the left and right of it, the room led to the back. There were pallets with crates everywhere. A lifeless body lay on the floor. He was wearing the black and yellow armor of Hurston Security.
“What’s going on here? If the guards are all lying on the floor, it’s going to be a walk in the park.”
Suddenly we heard voices. Instinctively, we took cover behind some crates. Chris peered around a crate.
“There’s Nine Tails. What the hell are they doing here?”
“Maybe we’re getting support.”
“Or not,” Chris snorted. “Your Hurston Security armor doesn’t make you a friend of theirs.”
I look down at myself, perplexed. The black and yellow armor with the word “HD” on it, which I had put on as camouflage, was more of a disadvantage than an advantage in this situation. I might as well have stuck a target on my chest. At that moment, the first bullets whizzed over our heads. Chris returned fire. While I was still lurking behind the crate, he had already rushed forward.
I cautiously looked over the crate. I heard shots, screams, but couldn’t see anyone. Armed only with a pistol, I followed Chris. After a few steps, a Nine Tail appeared on the right behind a stack of crates. He fired. A few bullets from his shotgun hit my helmet. I was thrown back. My eyes went black. As if out of my mind, I shot blindly in the direction of the Nine Tail until my pistol only went clack-clack. The magazine was empty. I had not yet reloaded when I heard a trampling sound from the left, like a herd of buffalo. Someone came running.
“There’s a whole horde of Nine Tails. Take cover!”. It was Chris.
With a blurred look, I followed Chris back behind the crates at the entrance. While I treated myself with the medgun, I heard Chris shooting incessantly. Finally, the shots stopped.
“We need to get to the server room. Left or right?”
“Around to the left,” Chris said and ran off.
I followed him. On the way, I picked up the FS-9 rifle from a fallen Nine Tail. The bunker was a battlefield. There were weapons everywhere, bodies of Nine Tails and Hurston Security guards. Bit by bit we fought our way forward until we finally reached the server room.
“Right at the back is the admin console. Watch my back,” I shouted to Chris as I ran past some server cabinets.
As soon as I had inserted the hacking chip into the computer slot, it began its work. Using a brute force method, he tried to get into the central computer. The massive attack pushed the servers to their performance limits. The ventilation of the servers became louder and louder. I watched impatiently as the progress bar on the screen moved very slowly. Suddenly, an alarm blared through the room.
“Damn it! The cooling system in one of the server cabinets has failed.”
It was the cabinet right next to the admin console. There was a display right at the head of the cabinet. It showed how the temperature of the server was rising inexorably. I pressed the button to reactivate the cooling. The display showed an input field for a code.
“Shit! I need a code to reactivate the cooling. A hacker friend of mine told me that the codes for the cooling system are on one of the screens in the bunker. Find it and give me the code.”
Chris ran off. The temperature of the server continued to rise.
“Chris, hurry up. The server’s about to smoke.”
“Wait a minute. There are Nine Tails everywhere. I have to shoot my way through. Shit, there are a lot of them.”
The seconds passed as slowly as hours. The temperature gauge had already reached the red zone. Damn, what was taking Chris so long. Then he got on the radio.
“Here he is. 3769.”
As soon as I had entered the code, the cooling system was running again. Relieved, I returned to the admin console screen. The interrupted upload continued. I was so focused on the slow-moving progress bar that I didn’t notice a door open at the other end of the server room. Several Nine Tails came out. They aimed their weapons at me. A staccato of fired bullets echoed through the room.
The Nine Tails fell to the floor. Chris entered the server room limping.
“Bloody hell, there’s a lot of them. They’re everywhere. I got hit in the leg. I can barely walk.”
Shocked, I looked at the pile of lifeless bodies. Just as I was about to say something, the alarm sounded again. The cooling system for the server next to the admin console had failed again.
“I’ll do it as fast as I can,” Chris said as he limped out of the server room.
The temperature was rising and rising. All I could hear over the radio was Chris cursing and shooting. The door at the end of the server room opened again. With one leap, I jumped behind the server cabinet. I crouched down and waited. Suddenly someone in trousers, shirt and cap stood in front of me. It said ‘Security’ on it. It was a security guard from Hurston Security. He slowly lowered the gun he had pointed at me. Then several shots rang out. The security man collapsed. Two Nine Tails in heavy armor came around the corner. The magazine of my FS-9 rifle discharged uncontrollably. I sat on the ground with my gun smoking, the two Nine Tails and the security man lying right in front of me. What the fuck, I’m a hacker, not a soldier.
Suddenly, the server cabinet spewed out sparks and smoke. The server blades were scorched. I looked stunned at a shapeless mass of molten metal and plastic.
“I’ve got the code,” Chris shouted over the radio.
“Too late. The server’s gone down. Hopefully the other servers will make it ……”
The alarm sound interrupted me abruptly. The cooling system on another server had failed.
“Chris!” I shouted into the radio.
“Yes, wait a minute! All hell’s breaking loose here! …. There he is. 2591.”
I entered the code. The display showed ‘Error’.
“Wrong code. There must be another one,” I shouted into the radio in a growing panic. Chris replied with a gasp.
“They’ve got me. I can’t move anymore. You have to help me….”
His voice trailed off. More panicked than in control, I stormed out of the server room towards Chris’s tracking device. There were lifeless bodies everywhere and I had to step over them. Suddenly, a Nine Tail appeared in front of me. I shot, tripped over a body and hit the ground hard. When I got up again, I was standing in the middle of a pile of lifeless Nine Tails. I couldn’t see Chris, though. Then I spotted him. He was lying motionless half under a Nine Tail.
Panic overcame me. With shaking hands, I pointed my medgun at him. After a few seconds, it took effect. As soon as Chris was on his feet, I ran back to the server room. Halfway there, a bullet caught me in the back. The force threw me against a wall. Somehow I managed to stay on my feet and stumble into the server room. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw another Nine Tail. Gunfire whipped through the room. A sharp pain shot through my chest and it went dark before my eyes.
Shrouded in darkness, I felt another stab in my chest. My vision slowly became clearer. Chris was kneeling above me with a medpen in his hand.
“There are too many of them. If we don’t want to die, we have to retreat.”
I looked around. The floor was littered with lifeless bodies. In the meantime, two more servers had gone down. The situation seemed hopeless. My eyes fell on the admin console. The upload had been interrupted. Three server cabinets were smoking. We could hear Nine Tails and Hurston Security fighting outside the server room. Chris was right. We had to get out of here. Somehow we made it out of the bunker. With the last of our strength, we reached Chris’ spaceship and flew back to Grim Hex.
What shitty timing. We were caught in the middle between Nine Tails and Hurston Security and had failed all along the line. But one thing was clear to us, we would try again. Next time with reinforcements. But first we had to have our injuries treated in Grim Hex’s rickety clinic.
Translated with deepl.com