Jenkins

Jenkins

Jenkins was a tall, thin, wiry kind of person. His hair ragged, eyes bright, but with more baggage than carry-on, long, knobby fingers, legs, and even arms, and sharp, but tired features around the eyes. His hair was dark, his facial hair only half shaven, alternating sides with the weeks, and his taste in music somewhere between heavy metal and light opera. None of this mattered, granted, because no one could see or hear him regardless. Years of work for various telecom companies had gotten him used to working alone. He’d take a solo corporate shuttle out to the target transceiver satellite, fully aware and comfortable with being light-seconds, sometimes minutes from the nearest living soul. He’d dock with the airlock, crawl in, and station there for days if not weeks, just making sure everything was as it needed to be.

Before telecom, Jenkins’ was as much a background character as the least seen red-shirt. This is an accomplishment for someone who stands six feet barefoot. In school, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who knew who he was, let alone that he was there. College was much the same, with middling grades, retreating to his dorm to tinker. The funny thing about his school experience was the fact that even though no one could tell you his name, everyone knew what he’d been doing. Jenkins was not an expert in being read, he was an expert in being read. Ghostwriting the school news-feed, maintaining the blog-about-town, but the one funny hobby that was the most visible and least thought about the stealthy messages left about town.

If graffiti is art, what Jenkins fancied was a masterpiece. Carefully crafted beacons stamped beneath harmless looking tags, flat circuitry running on expertly hidden solar, stamped with an otherwise amateur looking tag and plastered under benches, beneath air vents. Jenkins’ miscreant tagging didn’t just avoid the eye, but ticked away probing for other devices and creating a slowly oozing mesh network. While never truly idle, each one would sniff for nearby wireless signals and catalogue with other nodes. Regular updates would zipping across the network, buzzing nearby phones and communicators and feeding off of otherwise overlooked protocols. Whenever Jenkins wanted, he was heard; an army of devices in pockets and bags buzzing to life with a new message or dispatch. Without needing to piggy-back services, Jenkins could not be silenced without significant effort to hunt down each and every node.

What’s so different about what he did now? In an army of communication satellites it can be hard to detect every firmware change or chip swap. Between freelance and salaried work Jenkins had been in well over a thousand satellites, and the days of shuttle travel afforded ample time to plan, plot, build, code, engineer, and hack. With a thousand nodes and some clever engineering, you can even fake the presence of a node that might be missing.

When Jenkins issued his two weeks, he was on a job. He packed his badge into the shuttle, entered some info into the navigational controls, and sent it back to BrightStarNet Communications. Tucking into his new home, it was time to get to work. Adjusting course, he pointed his newly commandeered satellite towards the next goal; a long derelict MedTek cruiser christened Caduceus. He was not sure what he’d do upon arrival, but he knew it was time to wake up his far reaching web. He would not be seen, he would not be heard, but he would be read.

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