Mission 01.03

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So, Fifty Shades of Grey totally ruined it. Ruined it, I say.

Yes I, a red-blooded male whatever-that-means, read Fifty Shades of Grey. Wanted to see what was getting all the ladies titillated and maybe, oh I dunno, get some ideas... okay, yes it was dumb, but what's done is done. The point is, this Grey character in it has a classical music obsession, and I swear I began wondering if the author went to Redplains Academy too because she was mentioning several pieces I played or sang during my high school years. I even looked her up on wikipedia, but she's some Brit and while the Redplains Disaster had global ramifications, Redplains Academy itself was purely an American tragedy, so chalk it up to a weird coincidence.

And then in the scene, you know, THE SCENE, the author's describing the music they're listening to while they're doing it and I'm thinking, oh no... that sounds like she's talking about the Tallis... oh please, don't be the Tallis...

Fuck. It's the Tallis.

Spem in Alium. Sing and Glorify. Forty voices singing:

I have never put my hope anywhere

Forty voices converging in the fortieth measure:

praeter in te – In any other but in you.

God of Israel

Who will be angry...

Sing and Glorify. You took my Sing and Glorify, you fucking fanfic hack. Now it might as well just be "Spam and Aluminum" like Susan Brody used to always call it.

I can't listen to the vocal version anymore without throwing up a little in my mouth, so it's the instrumental Kronos Quartet arrangement that I'm listening to as I watch Sackcloth cutting across the street, firing her M-16 at the Spider Tank. Every bullet hits and every one plinks with sparks off its armor. Meanwhile, the asphlat all around her practically explodes as all five of the tanks's gun turrets track her. Luckily, the calibration of the targeting mechanism hasn't quite been perfected yet or Sackcloth would be toast. Thank you, QA backlog!

Thunderer is shouting over the network, "Sackcloth! I said to wait! What are you doing?!"

She responds quite simply, "We can't wait eighteen minutes. The tank will blow through the perimeter by then." And in spite of her weapon's uselessness and the bullets flying thick and furious, she snaps in another magazine dives out from her cover again and begins running AT the frickin' tank. I mean, crazy dame is crazy.

I message Rook, telling him to hurry... and then promptly recall that I shut down my chat with him.

"Vanguard, D-Day -- move in to assist," Thunderer commands, "Tommy, it'd be really nice if you could take this thing offline...

Yeah it would, wouldn't it. Although the tank is disconnected from the satellite relay, taking only manual input from the pilot (and a good thing at that, since the pilot is rather inexperienced), as a technopath, I can still query it and force its systems to respond. As before, I'm instantly presented with an authentication challenge, and by the time my decryption program can hack the admin password, it's changed.

I keep trying though, and as I rewrite the code the on the fly to increase calculation speed, Sackcloth does this amazing flip over the tank, getting the guns to get all mixed up trying to follow her. At the same time, Thunderer bursts out from his position, and his high-powered rifle actually plugs a few armor-piercing rounds through the tank's plating. For his troubles, the wall he ducks behind is nearly reduced to rubble by two of the tank's guns.

With Thunderer's and Sackcloth's distractions, Vanguard comes out swinging -- swinging her giant metal hammer with the strength of 45 Olympic weightlifters, that is. She manages to disable one of the eight legs with a mighty CLANG. "I got your back, Sackcloth!" she shouts.

"Me too," D-day says, digging himself out of a metric ton of destroyed building, "Just lemme get outta this mess..."

Even when Thunderer blind-shoots at the thing, tossing his rifle over his shoulder and the remains of the wall he's hiding behind, he somehow manages to hit. So of course the tank concentrates its fire on him.

"Tommy, this thing needs to be shut off," Thunderer roars as barely makes it around a corner for more cover, shell casings hot on his trail "CAN YOU DO IT?"

"Well, I guess I'll have to, won't I? Stand by."

I apologize to Jun, "Sorry gotta go" and close her window in the middle of her respose, "Yeah, okay. Good lu--" I crack my knuckles and close all other connections except the peer cameras and music. Which means letting go of my media blackout, but oh well.

As a violin soars, I kick off my revised script and let the results come directly through the neural interface, skipping the firewall entirely. Risky, but necessary if I'm going to whittle down three days to thirty seconds. The overall processing of the human brain is about 100 million, million operations per second. That's over 100,000 times more processing power than today's super computers... and that's just for the average human being. My spiffy Gen-Alt brain has TWICE that capacity so if I'll see the pattern of his encryption algorithm emerge way faster than the server farm will...

I'm busy sorting through the input and so I notice a little too late that the tank has armed its missiles. Thunderer is tucked away down the street, but...

"Sackcloth, D-Day, Vanguard, watch out it's about to..."

BOOM! Sackloth is sent airborne by the explosion and she bounces off the hood of a humvee before she lands hard on the street. Vanguard too is sent sailing off her feet and D-Day, who finally just got himself out from under cinderblocks and metal beams, gets showered with molten concrete.

"Uh, fire missiles. Sorry about that..."

Thunderer begins cussing me out. "Tommy, whatever you're gonna do, DO IT NOW!"

See, you know, yelling doesn't make me work any faster. And it's not like I'm just sitting here twiddling my thumbs! But then, just like that -- BOOM rightbackatchya, Spider Tank v.18.1.05 -- I crack its code.

For .03 microseconds, I revel in my triumph -- I mean, I got this thing by the balls, pardon my French. I can read its BIOS, I can finish its commands for it, I know its favorite color. Oh, you want to change you password, do you? Ha, ha, ha, oh no you don't...

And then I power down the damn thing. The gun's suddenly whir to stillness and the legs squeal as they descend into resting position. Then it's all quiet. Thunderer advances cautiously, trigger finger at the ready, and D-Day is quickly on his feet again to back him up. Sackcloth and Vanguard hobble into position, too.

"Tommy, you're a rock star," Thunderer says, "Pop the door!"

"Yes sir!" I do as he orders, and watch the poor balding poindexter slither out, hands extended and quivering as Thunderer keeps his rifle trained on him. With the arrest well in hand, I resume my chat with Jun. "Hey, you're never gonna believe what I just did..."

But she has an away message posted, something about Blondie being a something that rhymes with witch. So instead, I pick up my media threads again, and begin deleting Instagram and Facebook posts, whistling while I work. Because I'm a rock star.

Sing and Fucking Glorify.