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Zero Effect

by

John Leader


Copyright 2017 by John Leader

Smashwords Edition


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EBOOKS BY JOHN LEADER





Zero Effect

By

John Leader


Table

of

Contents


Chapter

One


Chapter

Two


Chapter

Three


Chapter

Four


Chapter

Five


Chapter

Six


Chapter

Seven


Chapter

Eight


Chapter

Nine


Chapter

Ten


Chapter

Eleven


Chapter

Twelve


Chapter

Thirteen


Chapter

Fourteen


Chapter

Fifteen


Chapter

Sixteen


Chapter

Seventeen


Chapter

Eighteen


Chapter

Nineteen



About The Author




*** Zero Effect ***


Chapter

One


I struggled hard to reach Razorback status and now I worked on my first official galactic and sanctioned job. I had reached the sixth floor, my senses acted on high alert, my eyes searching and my ears listening for any kind of hidden ambush, and I paced forward fast against treacherous exposure, and I maintained my heightened vigilance, the adrenaline in my blood peaked as I headed for room 637. No androids appeared, maybe they were inside the high end hotel room protecting Piney, I tried the cold steel doorknob with care, but it was locked as expected and I took a few steps back, then blasted the locking mechanism, most of the metallic material melted and the laser blast left smoldering fumes lingering in and along the door jamb housing, then I forced the door and rushed inside the room looking for a my intended target. There he was, my eyes caught Piney sitting behind the computer screen, his facial expression frightened and his whole started body jerked with incredulous surprise, large red flashing letters lit up the screen with the command “execute, activate.” The overlaid and larger letter words flashing behind the running coded lines that flowed fast under the larger printed message as the illegal hacking program executed commands that reflected on the computer screen. A wayward hacking code somewhere in the galaxy was in effect and most likely on this planet and in all probability someone was about to get hurt. Exactly where, I might never know.

Piney begin sweating and he knew he had reach his end even as unconvinced as my presence seemed to him. And as soon as he saw me he stood up and slid behind the computer chair expecting some kind of protection or for me to change my intentions.

“You’re too late. She’s dead,” Piney said with a half smirking smile on his face hoping to throw me off, droplets of sweat dropped down his tense griping face, no doubt he had a victim in mind besides himself.

I pointed my laser gun above his midsection, “Congratulations,” One squeeze of the trigger and Branson Piney vaporized into a thinning floating mass of semi opaque purple gas that hung and held in the air, its weight carrying it to the floor leaving DNA residue just where Piney had stood seconds before, the hacking program on the computer still active, still working, still hacking, it continued its wayward coded commands.

With the thin vapor falling, most of it at my feet, as I approached the computer, I placed my laser gun back into my shoulder holster under my coat and whispered to myself sarcastically, “We strive for Zero Effect,” then a quick scan of the room told me Piney was alone, most computer hackers worked that way fearing others might betray them, it gave them a feeling of impregnability. I waited until the other Division techs arrived and scrubbed the areas starting with the lap top computer for information about other victims and for hidden computer bombs waiting to activate on unsuspecting people and businesses, the area was physically cleared of exploding booby traps by the bomb squad.

I kept thinking about Piney and his few words, “You’re too late. She’s dead.” Was he talking about my daughter or my wife? I didn’t want to revisit that feeling again, once when I was told my daughter Kelly was killed because of a hacker cutting off the energy from one of the downtown buildings. The elevator dropped like a rock, dead weight, the safeties taken off line by the extorting computer hacker. All she was doing was taking some business papers from one office floor to another. At the time I worked in the Runner Division running down all kinds of planet hackers but at that time I could not track down the hacker fast enough, one that demanded ransom form the Corporation where Kelly worked.

Several other good people were also killed from his illegal hacking shenanigans. The hacker disappeared without a trace even when the corporation agreed to pay the ransom, the accounting number to transfer the money never sent to the financial officer set up for the transfer and delivery of the ransom. It was difficult to set up a trace when the whole of the universe could be a hiding place. Most of the time hackers remained close, if you call a parsec in the galaxy close.

The Division techs arrived as I finished checking one of the adjacent rooms and as I stood in the doorway sweating it out and trying to figure out exactly what the hacker’s words meant. Just then a message came in on my personal phone and the ring tone trigged my memory again, one I hated and dreaded because I didn’t like the helpless feeling it evoked, I felt a brick like weight in the pit of my stomach, one I didn’t care for.

“Ok. Your daughter is ok. One of the maintenance androids was taken off line.” I felt a strange sense of relief, but I knew my ex-wife would soon send some kind of court order aimed against me and smack me with full intent to block my access to my kids once again, and maybe she thought there was good reason this time. For some strange motive she always felt she was always right, but how would it stop further actions against my family? Hackers were all over the known galaxy, but few reached Razorback Hacker status, the most dangerous and criminal level. I had worked against crime most of my life chasing computer hackers and I knew giving up this job would not stop crime at any level, too bad my ex-wife did not feel the importance that I felt for my job and the concern for the young and the innocent that ended up injured victims from blind collateral damage.

I took several steps and froze; my mind went to Kelly again, I couldn’t stop the thoughts of my murdered daughter bouncing around in my head. She had been the eldest, beautify, and people oriented, a big heart with the desire to help people, but that did not stop the Razorback’s actions. It was because of them that Kelly was dead, and from that dark day since I worked in the Runner Division, my wife never let me forget my job and even though she never said it she held me responsible for her awful death. I could read it behind her wintry eyes that formed a solid wall and held harsh accusations that came through like an invisible ray penetrating everything in its way.

How does one make a difference? That was always the nagging question. But I felt that if I could intercept and stopped one deadly hacker even one at a time and I felt that I made a difference and that was why I worked hard in the Runner Division. I worked hard and managed to crack into the Razorback Division and I’m not quite sure how many computer hackers I chased down and locked up hoping to halt criminal activity against unsuspecting targets in business and directed aimlessly at personal endeavors from hard working people, and those that were innocent and had no knowledge from unseen hackers slicing into their quite and sometimes private galactic lives.

I recounted the first couple of days in my mind with the Razorback Division. I was pretty green back then with their protocols and methods; I wondered how anyone could survived the first years against some of the most violent hackers and vile criminals in the galaxy, details form the agents’ reports I read, suffered a variety of injuries and hospitalization, the computer reports a reminder of the deadly dangers before me.

The auditorium was empty and I was an audience of one and it must have been important because the head of the department presented a well organized stack of information. The Razorback Division held the top level position in the galaxy and it was a specialized section requiring expert computer and software skills and then the skills were not even used. Division knew I came with heavy baggage, but they also recognized that I had brought in more than my share of street scum and predators, and there was a file filled with lists of computer hackers, cheap ones and dangerous ones, that I had grabbed and pulled in and kept them behind legal walls. I knew I had saved countless people; school aged students, college kids, businesses and corporations from the criminal computer hackers dealing out destructive forces from their computer binary programming and code. And there was always some hacker force with nothing more to do than to alter and grind up unsuspecting people forging dismal lives in the vastness of the universe and it all started at the planetary level, that’s where my job started and ended until now that I worked with the Razorback Division with its infinite pursuit guide lines and part of the countermeasure used against the Razorback Hackers, no place was consider too far or too near once a hacker reached Zero Effect status and termination level. Because of scientific DNA manipulation Razorback Hackers lived a long life, criminal ones to boot, and that made it necessary for agents like me to hunt and physically cut down and Zero Effect these criminal types in order to end their greedy and wayward destruction.

My wait was ended when Jeremy Ranking, the head of the Razorback Division, entered the auditorium and lecture hall and instantly hammered his eyes on me. How could he miss me I was the only agent in the small auditorium used for disseminating critical information to Razorback agents? I waved a short salute as he climbed the stage steps and he returned the gesture as he remotely activated the presentation on the auditorium sized screen.

From the front row I turned, sat, and smiled and got ready. I had to listen to another high level mutton head presentation; there was always a mutton head in charge, the bigger and longer the title, the bigger the mutton head and they all seemed to come with a rough edge created with care and practice using the underlings for carnage practice, I hoped my clothes didn’t get bloodied from my blood.

The information ran long yet short as Ranking talked about the three top and most wanted Razorbacks assigned to me, each criminal reaching Razorback status and holding expert standing with software and computer skills well above the normal ability levels of any top computer programmer with a doctorate degree and more than that, the dangerous hackers were familiar with the multiple communication systems used both by civil and governmental agencies and they applied them with powerful insight putting them to good use along with their dangerous and crushing computer hacker escapades.

It was not going to be an easy assignment by any means, no assignment was, but I had worked and scrambled to get into the prestigious Razorback Division and I expected to execute my job as outlined, and I knew that as a novice in this department my performance would be determine by my first assignment, this one, my first one, and the outcome, and my actions could well determine if I would continue with the galactic division. I had reached the top and didn’t want to get knocked back down, a deep humiliation for anyone. Then again without warning the Razorback Division would suddenly need more agents because they had been eliminated leaving the department with fewer field agents in the great inhabited universe and the unpredictable array of galaxies.

From time to time the lack of numbers required dangerous promotion for some knucklehead and volunteer who was ill prepared for the job, and yet, many were accepted into the Razorback Division frequently because of need. I remember one guy, Terrell Faller, which lasted all of one week. The Division guys found him dead in a hotel room with no clues or leads. The signs were few to none, with little forensics left to explore, and the fact that the agent was perusing a Razorback Hacker left little doubt as to who had killed him. I didn’t plan to go that way, but no agent existed that could not be killed and we were considered expendable by the division and if you made the wrong choice at the wrong time, you failed to return home.

“Did you get all that, Dickson,” Jeremy Ranking snapped his hammering eyes right at me paired with a phony half smile that broke his formal face, the higher ups, the bosses, were good at platitudes.

“Very well, sir. I got it. And I’m ready to head out. I heard that some Razorback agents get a partner. Will I get one? I wondered and smiled back.

“No. You’re it, and I expect frequent reports from the field, and report any unexpected problems that you hit upon, and remember, you report directly to me and let me decide if division action is required, understand, Dickson? Your function here is to do one important thing, Zero Effect those virtual murders and killers in total.” Ranking turned, a staff member approached him and he grasped a note given him, he stopped all action and read the note, then lifted his head and directed his serous glance back at me.

Ranking had struggled with a few agents before, all gone now or reassigned. Like the other agents I knew I was expendable and wondered who would end up replacing me. There was always a long list of applicants and agents asking for a crack with his division but only a few possessed the hard crust necessary for the job and had the hard knocks of experience to survive in his division game against criminals who ground up anyone that blocked their path. Most new guys lasted only a few months before they were killed or disappeared from the physical universe. We were all reminded not to underestimate the Razorback Hackers, they were smart, devious, and dangerous and from experience the Razorback Division knew they would kill for profit and that also meant that they would kill to escape, more so with the hackers labeled with Zero Effect terminal label, a permanent and nonrevocable status once marked as such.

“As you say, I’ll check in regular and relate any situation and let you tell me if I should expect problems,” I eyed Ranking and worded in my mind, “Just like a mutton head in authority,” I further thought. “As if he could change things with words of authority especially in the field where things are fluid and any unformulated moves require immediate analysis and unusual action. Hell, I hoped I’d survive this guy. What a mutton head,” I kept a shallow smile from the tension of the new position.

“Keep it in mind, but just as important remember Division. Commands holds recourses that you can activate as you peruse the outlined top three Razorback Hackers on the Division list. We’ll have agents, but technically you’re on your own until the target is lined up for you or you find him before our agents can act. I don’t want to lose them because you failed to report in and kept the division people from working their parts and doing their jobs.” Ranking postured a serious tone and demeanor, a true executive with rank, his half smile gone and he reflected a true executive if I ever saw one.

“Ok, I will pursue, seek, and make sure that each Razorback reaches “Zero Effect” status, and as the Division’s motto says, ‘We strive for Zero Effect’, I cracked a half simile knowing my job was an opened book and as I touched my coat pocket I felt the new and recent credential, and a special coded computer card key that could open most if not all locked access area in the universe and then some. I had heard that the coded computer cared key would be incorporated into the VSA, Vital System Analyzer, device later in the month with the issuing of the latest and up dated device.

Where would my first job take me and would I return, I didn’t know, but I had a duty that I believed to be greater than any one person. Ranking stepped down from the stage and walked over to me and shook my hand and we managed to exchange a few enthusiastic words and then I turned and headed for the division ride and ship docking area where a ship waited to take me to my first point of inquiry and search.

The special division space ride waited and I knew it would speed me to the orbiting space portal where I would enter the coordinates encoded on my official travel agent prepared card and then the space portal would transport me across the galaxy where I could talk to paid information and search out clues directed at finding my Razorback target and pinpointing the cover from where the criminal hid and worked. And of greater importance was making sure I was not detected, monitored, or blocked by guards of sorts including criminally programmed androids, robotic coded lasers in the hallways or rooms, maybe in the elevators, and watch for deadly laser fire from the hackers I pursued. For now I would let Division take care the galactic watchers who monitored for pay.

It was getting interesting I thought. I’ve got the files to review and the three names. I preferred carrying them digitally, but division insisted that I carry hard paper files, those they said could not be hacked, but I knew better, before paper there was always a computer virtual track left somewhere. The first name had the numeral one next to it. This is the one I knew I must zero effect first then I’d hit the next one. It surprised me that the next two names were both marked with a number two next to them and I guessed that I must decide which one to zero effect first after I did some investigations and followed the trail of information leading me to one or the other criminal hacker.

First, I had to find the very first one, Branson Piney. This guy owned a luxurious estate, but was not currently living there as the checks showed. I reviewed his file and started reading it, let’s see, “murder by hacking, hacking for ransom, corporate and government espionage, murder and computer extortion, and the lengthy list repeated on with the same criminal actions. I was sure he hid away from the luxury estate and remained secluded somewhere that providing safer hacking access and where he could code illegal programming lines and works his devilish criminal intent against someone or some business. According to his modus operandi his expert skills targeted companies and business with one sinister plan in mind and that was to collect money by threatening their data bases and financial files and that could include destroying their encrypted account, client base, and targeting and killing key personal in the elevators by disabling the safeties or causing a fire and locking the exit doors, very profitable activities for Piney in the past. This kind of money paid for his life style and no doubt for the luxurious estate sitting empty because he seldom uses it since he was always away on business and hacking for profit. Besides he knew it’s the first place division would check. The local police would secure the estate and the bomb squad and the specialized computerized guys would work their magic after cutting the main electrical powder to the place. Something always blew up when they cut power to Razorbacks property and then there was the search for self contained powder sources that engaged booby traps and hidden devices of all sorts, a lengthy and slow search until the estate became secured. Surveillance was maintained from the outside, but Piney had cameras inside and out and robotic commands too numerous to count on the estate, a continuous dangerous encounter for onsite agents.


Chapter

Two


Few useful options gave pause against Razorback Hackers that sprung up mostly from greed and contra galactic laws meant to protect the social requirement of decency.

These Razorback Hackers were smart, too smart to get caught with ease and I bet that these high level hackers worked from places other than their prime resident and exercised great efforts to keep their location well hidden both from roving eyes and virtual scans and continuous on line galactic searches, that made sense I thought. But they forget that people will talk for money and that it was one thing Division had, money to sniff out the covered trails. But experience told me that hackers will pay people big if they have to, but there first choice was to silence loose lips with a cheap blast of a laser, a sharp blade or easy method like garroting, they were not squeamish about murder if it kept them ahead of the law for their greed came first.

One of the two names with the number two by it was Monday West, a lady according to the information in the top secret red lettered file. That’s one I hadn’t consider, I’ll have to zero effect a female, the words of Jeremy Ranking kept resounding in my head, “Our motto is,” ‘We strive for Zero Effect,’ and the Division phrase kept repeating in my head as my mind worded through the problem, the phrase sounded more like an ad and some business pushing for customers. There was no doubt that Monday West was a first class criminal and dangerous hacker with a long list of kills to her name. I knew well that if her name reached the Razorback Division file she was a deadly and dangerous foe and criminal not to be taken lightly and one that must be approached with extreme care.


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