thoughtwisps One commit at a time

a hacker's delight - an extract

Fiction. An extract from an untitled novel in progress.

In a not so distant future, brainware has become a staple part of life. The wealthy enjoy highend ad-free custom gear, the rest make do with malware riddled memory harvesters.

In the end, they all talk. Some in quiet whispers, others spitting out rage and despair. For some, it takes mere minutes, for others hours, even days. When it finally happens, she is there to experience the subject’s memory for one last time.

Of course, the technology isn’t perfect. No technology ever is. Some subjects don’t yield even after weeks of disassembly. By that time, the data becomes too corrupt to trust and the subject too unstable. Neural bits flip and decay. Termination is recommended and probably the kindest, too, but in this profession the latter is usually of little consequence.

Once the neural imprint is extracted, the true fun ( or what fun constitutes for people of her kind anyway) can begin. It’s not strictly necessary for a memcracker to run every single neural imprint through the scanner before emulation and extraction. Some wiseass somewhere has already made a memoryValidator that checks for corrupt loops and other funzies that tech savvy subjects sometimes leave as boobie traps or – as she prefers to see it – Easter eggs for those like her that think nothing of violating the privacy of the mind, least of all when the price is right.

And the price is very right for this one.

Most state of the art emulators, like the neuro-qemu she’s using already pre-validate the sample before emulation anyway. So scanning the thing would just be wasted cycles at this point.

But you can never be too careful with the stuff you find inside these subjects. The cargo these neural bits are carrying is worth a lot of good quality cycles in the brainscapes and she needs it. It’s tempting to skip the scanning – just take the bit dump and pump it into emulator, but there could be traps – scandetectors, emulator probing, emulator corruption, hell and for the most daring emulator escape and total bluepilling of the whole system.

That’s how they’d lost x0r a year ago. The payload he was studying contained your basic everyday ROP shellcode to divert the emulators execution. It was script kiddie material – okay, maybe a bit more advanced, but x0r had forgotten to turn off address space layout randomization after fucking around with some crackmes for fun. The payload was triggered and swallowed the emulator whole and along with it a good chunk of x0r. He was lucky it was script kiddie grade and she and a few others eventually unfucked him. What was the lesson learnt here? Never fuck around where you eat? Never eat where you fuck? She was never very good at learning lessons anyways.

And in any case, rushing to the prize would make it less savory.

It’s a privilege to be the last living being who gets to enjoy these rare moments before they are packaged and shipped off to the highest bidder for whatever nefarious purpose. This week, she’s already experienced an early morning kiss between secret lovers, a mother’s joy in seeing an infant’s smile and the pain of a parent’s limp hand on a hospital bed.

Great moments, but still not the same as experiencing them from the front row. A lame consolation prize for someone who one night 5 years ago woke up with a mind and no memories left.

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