Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Checkout (06/09/11)
TITLE: Big Sis
By Joe Moreland
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With a heavy sigh, Mort (as he was known to friends) paced the floor of what remained of his crime scene, and thought about the events that had led him to this point.
Early this morning he had received orders from HQ to raid the home of a history professor. The orders called him a terrorist and required he be stopped with deadly force if necessary. Everything about the mission was vague.
Agent Mortimer and his task force burst into the professor’s house, only to find him frantically uploading something to CIS. One of the SWAT team had fired instantly, but, whatever the damage, it had already been done.
What concerned the conscientious investigator now was the nature of the terrorist attack. Every query he made to assess the severity of the issue met with “classified” flashing across his monitor. How could he investigate when he did not know what crime had been committed?
“Don’t worry about it, Mort,” his commander told him over the link. “It’s out of our hands now. You were there to try and stop him, that didn’t happen and now the nano-cops have it.”
“Something doesn’t feel right here, Rich. We just killed a man and I don’t even know what he did to deserve it.”
“Again, not our problem, Mort, and we’ve been ordered not to make it our problem. Capiche?”
“Yeah, I get it.” But he wasn’t happy.
The only physical evidence that had been found at the scene? A small book called “The New Testament.” Everyone had taken a turn passing it around in amazement - the first book, on paper, any of them had ever seen. Nothing had been printed on paper in over 200 years. Before they could determine it’s relevance to the case however, agents even more special than Douglas Mortimer had whisked it way.
Mort sat down to think things through. It seemed obvious that the attack was against CIS itself. What could the professor hope to gain by sabotage? CIS literally stood for “Computer in the Sky”. Technically it consisted of a series of computers orbiting earth on evenly spaced satellites.
Every man, woman and child connected to Big Sis. As soon as it was practical (usually before school age) a child inhaled a nasal spray of nanobots that set up residency in their skull, forming micro-circuitry that enabled each person to connect and retrieve information at will from CIS. What had started more than 300 years ago as something called the “internet” had grown from personal computers, to hand-held devices and, finally, to direct access through signals sent and received directly from the human brain.
The technology was both amazing and a little scary, Mort had to admit. Not only could you instantly retrieve any piece of knowledge known to man, but every action you took and every word you spoke got recorded and analyzed by CIS. The computer could not read your mind, but centuries of analyzing the words and actions of billions of people had made it an expert in predicting, with uncanny accuracy, what an individual would do next.
There were folks who lived “off the grid”, as they called it, refusing to allow CIS to take up residency in their head; but those people had it tough. They lived in communes outside the cities and had to grow their own food and generate their own electricity since the global government refused service to anyone not connected to CIS.
Suddenly Mort remembered something about the professor. Hurriedly he brought up photos of the scene and zoomed in on the man’s shoes. Mud. Red mud to be precise. Only one place in the area had dirt like that - the Basin Commune of Believers.
Nobody had any idea just what the Basiners believed, but Mort was pretty sure that Professor Abel Graham had been there recently, and that was a hunch he intended to checkout immediately.
“Maybe that’s where he got the book”, he almost said, but thought instead.
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