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Posted: Wed Oct 04, 2006 6:27 pm
It's amazing how the three of us seem to always on similar wavelenths. I was thinking from the beginning that the intent was to have Phil take over Command Center at some point. So I'm thinking that Phil, being an intelligent though psychotic engineer, figures out the majority of Norman's systems and by the time that Jesse, Norman, and Mona (maybe) get to the warehouse, he's taken control of the warehouse. This leaves Norman to figure out how to break into Command Center (I think most of us have been in that situation when we lock ourselves out of our home and have to figure out how to break into our own house. It's then that we really see just how secure our homes really are!)
Posted: Thu Oct 05, 2006 9:09 am
Okay, even though blowing up CC sounds like fun, I don't think it is practical. Think about all the firemen and policemen asking questions. Some thoughts I had were sabotage. 1.Phil sledgehammers the computer system and/or the bike or tries to steal the bike. 2. He holds Mona hostage. 3. He programs a virus into the computer. Just a few things to think about.
Posted: Thu Oct 05, 2006 9:54 am
Sabotaging the systems beyond repair so they have to be completely decked out again anew is one I think would be plausible, but I like the idea of a virus more. I needen't necessarily activate immediately, but instead be a "logic" bomb designed to activate at a pre-programmed time, whilst Jesse is out on maneouvres. Maybe he has time to do this and Norm and Mona barge in, he takes Mona hostage and Jesse goes after them.
Then you gotta do a sequel ... "The Revenge of the Evil Engineer Part Two!!!"
Posted: Thu Oct 05, 2006 10:51 am
I like the idea of a virus that rears it's ugly head later, but then wouldn't Norman have better security on his computer than that. Of course if he destroys everything, Norman gets to start over. Hmmm - a sequel. Sounds interesting, but we need to finish this one before we start thinking of something else, lol. This story has been a real thinker (stinker?) for me.
Posted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 3:50 pm
Walking into the darkened warehouse, Phil looks around for the light switch. He sees the large circuit breaker on the wall in the "off" position. He pushes the lever upwards until it smacks open, flooding the room with light. Command Center comes to life, as all the computers begin their boot sequence. The side of Phil's mouth pulls open to a grin, exposing his teeth and the piece of Wrigley's trapped helpless between his molars. "So, Norman," says Phil to himself smugly, "let's see what you've been up to."
Phil wanders over to the Command Center console. "So, let's see just what sort of medical research you've been up to, Mr. Tuttle." He gingerly sits down in Norman's chair, and starts typing with his right hand, his left apparently injured during the accident that freed him from the back of the police cruiser. After a few minutes, Phil realizes there is no indication of medical research being done at the facility. "It appears to be more of a military application than a medical one. You're a slick one, Top-Secret Tuttle! So let's see what this 'Street Hawk' really is." After entering a command line on the computer the monitor brings up a three dimensional line drawing of Street Hawk, showing it's overall dimensions. "Hmmm, an attack motorcycle? No wonder Kirby liked your idea better. The old maggot was a big fan of motorcross. That must have been his friend on the bike at the warehouse. Next time, Phil, shoot for the head you dummy."
Looking up at the big green board, Phil attempts to locate any indicator of where Street Hawk might be. He finds a red flashing light in the same area that the warehouse is in, "Hmmm, you must be keeping it on site." He looks to his left and sees the blast doors, "So THAT's where it is." Time to destroy your precious creation, Norman.
But then, as if struck by a more sinister idea, Phil turns back to the computer and starts checking around the database. "Oh Norman...when are you going to learn." Phil tinkers away, hacking into Norman's unprotected computer database.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Heading back to his car, Jesse's beeper goes off. Climbing into his Mustang, Jesse reads the number on the pager by the dome light. "82CC. What's that?" Jesse fumbles around in his pocket for his wallet. Norman had a secret code system to communicate specific messages to Jesse via the pager, but most of the time he just used "01CC", which meant "Return to Command Center." Jesse had never seen an "82CC." Pulling out a card, he checks the code, "Intruder in Command Center! I hope you just hit the wrong keys, Norman." Jesse turns the ignition on his Mustang, bringing the Hi-Po 302 Ford to life. Dropping it into drive, he roars out of the cemetary parking lot and out onto the highway.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
A few hours later, Jesse pulls up to Command Center. It's dark and there are no cars parked outside. Jesse grabs his backup .38 revolver snub-nose out of the glovebox and gets out of the car. He quickly creeps up to the brick side of the building and slides along the side of it until he comes to a window. He slowly peers around the side of it. The windows are dirty and there's no light coming from inside, so Jesse can't see if the intruder is inside the building still. "Only one way to find out," says Jesse to himself, reluctantly. He walks over to the main door, turns the key in the lock, and opens the front door slowly, gun held ready at his shoulder. He doesn't see or hear anything inside. Quickly he enters the 4 digit disarm code on the pin-pad to keep the system from engaging another silent alarm. Then he slides quietly over to the power breaker and slides the arm to "On". If anybody is in there, they'll be blinded by the light.
Command Center lights up, and nothing appears to be out of place. Jesse checks the back rooms and living quarters, but nothing looks out of the ordinary. Just as Jesse is about to put his gun away, he hears someone knock at the front door. He slides up next to the door, gun leveled just above the deadbolt, and opens the door. Norman is standing there, already nervous, and the sight of Jesse with his gun drawn at him causes him to yelp in terror for a split second before his brain can process that it is just Jesse. Jesse immediately puts the gun away, "Sorry, Norman, didn't mean to scare you."
"That's okay, Jesse...I'm glad it's you!"
"Well, I got a page with a code for an intruder in Command Center."
"Yeah, my alarm system notified me that someone broke into Command Center a few hours ago...did you find anyone?"
"No, the place was locked up and nothing appeared out of the ordinary."
"Good...maybe it was just a false alarm," said Norman with a sigh. He turns behind him and waves at a sedan parked down the block. Mona gets out of the car and starts walking toward them.
Recognizing her, Jesse turns to Norman, "Oh, that's right, she had to drive you here...what are you going to tell her about this place? What's our cover?"
"No cover, Jesse," says Norman, not turning away from looking at Mona, "I told her about Street Hawk."
"You did WHAT!?!" yells Jesse, "What possessed you to go and do a thing like that."
Finally turning to look at Jesse, Norman defends himself, "Look, I missed out on some very important things in my life, and now I have a second chance with Mona. I'm not going to ruin it by trying to live a double life with her."
"Oh, no, we couldn't have that," says Jesse, sarcastic and annoyed, "that's the sort of thing we should only expect washed up motorcycle cop's to have to do."
"What are you boys arguing about?" asks Mona, as she gets within earshot.
"Nothing," say Norman and Jesse in unison.
"Fine," replies Mona, with a knowing smile. She thinks to herself how much they remind her of a couple of boys in high school; mischevious but with good hearts. "So, where's our intruder?"
"Apparently there wasn't one," answers Norman, sheepishly, "it must have been a false alarm."
"Well, better safe than sorry," says Mona, "so do you feel up to showing me around, Norm?"
"Uh...sure Mona!" says Norman, trying to avoid the scowl Jesse was giving him, "Com inside!"
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
In an office room a few blocks away another building has been broken into. But instead of ransacking or stealing anything, the intruder seems to be content to sit at a desk in front of a computer. Phil watches the screen, waiting for Norman to activate his computer.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
As Norman is showing Mona around Command Center, Jesse stands back in the darkened hallway, brooding. He mumbles to himself, "Sure, I have to lie and sneak around to keep this thing a secret. But does HE have to make any sacrifices? No. He's spilling everything to her."
Just then, Jesse looks down on the floor and notices something. There are little dark drops of something on the floor. He bends down closer to take a look. It looks like blood. And not far away on the floor is a chewed piece of gum. "How did that get there?"
Over by the console, Norman is talking 100 miles per hour. "So this is the control module, allowing me to monitor and control Street Hawk, it's weapon systems, hyperthrust, and all the other active systems on the motorcycle. Do you want to see Street Hawk, Mona?"
"Of course, Norman!"
"All right, here we go!" Norman punches the activate button on his console, and releases the blast shields with the control lever. Steam billows out from the blast shield interlocks and the doors slide open. The black motorcycle starts to rotate towards Norman and Mona as it moves backwards with the blast shield.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
In the office building Phil sees the prompt he has been waiting for. "Street Hawk Activated" blinks on the screen. Phil types his command into the computer, "Activate Machine Guns"
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Standing up from the floor holding the gum between his fingers, Jesse thinks for a minute. Then it clicks. "Phil!"
All of a sudden, amidst the noise of the blast shields moving, Jesse hears a sound he knows all too well. That was the "Whirrrr...CLICK" noise that the machine gun pod on Street Hawk makes when it is activated. He looks up to see Street Hawk pointed toward Norman and Mona. He yells out, "GET DOWN!" Norman and Mona, turn and look at him, surprised.
Then it happens.
*BLAM* *BLAM* *BLAM*
(To be continued...)
Posted: Tue Oct 10, 2006 8:41 am
Norman, Mona and Jesse all dive for the floor arms over their heads. "What's happening?" Jesse yells over the loud, pounding gunfire.
"I don't know" Norman yells back. "The computer...It's like it is operating on it's own."
"How do we stop it?" Jesse yells again.
"The power. I need to cut the power to the computer" Norman answers. "If I can just get back to the main power switch..." Norman says thinking aloud while looking for an avenue to the computer's power source.
Another spray of machine gun fire sends them all back ducking for cover again. A thought suddenly occurs to Jesse. He turns and belly crawls toward the main door. Timing the machine gunfire, he jumps to his feet, grabs the main power switch and flips it to the off position. The warehouse is suddenly cast into darkness and silence. For a moment nobody moves. As eyes adjust to the little light coming from the outside street lights, they climb to their feet.
"Is everyone ok? Norman? Mona?" Jesse asks.
"I'm fine." Mona replies.
"Me too" Norman answers. "Thanks, Jesse. That was quick thinking."
"What the heck happened?" Jesse demands.
"I don't know. It's like someone was controling the computer from the outside." Norman answers.
"Someone like Phil?" Jesse questions.
"Phil? How would Phil...? Phil was the intruder!" Norman realizes.
"Yeah. I found blood and gum on the floor just before that thing" Jesse gestures toward the computer, "started shooting at us. How is he controlling the computer?"
"He must have set up a port for remote access when he was here." Norman answers pondering the situation.
"Well, how do we stop it?" Jesse asks.
"First I have to get the computer turned back on." Norman answers pondering the situation. "But if I do that he would have access and start shooting again."
"Why don't you disarm the bike?" Mona offers.
Norman looks at her quizically. "What..?"
"Take the bullets out. If there are no bullets, he can't shoot at us."
"That's one smart lady Norman." Jesse says offering Mona his most charming smile.
"Yes. You are absolutely right. I'll disarm and disable the bike then return power to the computer. Then I'll have to find out how he set up remote access and disable his connection." Norman begins working his way around the semi-dark warehouse. Grabbing a flashlight and his tools, he makes his way to the bike.
"Norman is there any way to find out where Phil is before we disable his connection?" Jesse wonders.
"Well, I can probably trace the connection." Norman answers.
"If we disable his connection, he will know we are on to him and probably move on. Can you make him think he still has control?"
Norman thinks for a minute. "I think so, but it will take some time."
"Mona, can you help?" Jesse asks.
"Sure. If Norman will point me in the right direction." Mona answers.
Jesse turns and heads toward the dressing room. "Where are you going?" Norman asks.
"I'm suiting up. As soon as you have the computer and bike back up and running. I'm going to find Phil."
Posted: Fri Oct 13, 2006 12:20 pm
Dressed in his black riding suit, Jesse paces the length of command center and back again. "How much longer Norman?" he asks.
"That's the fifth time you have asked. I'm working on it." Norman answers as he works furiously to rearm Street Hawk. "How are you doing Mona?"
"I am getting close. I should have a location for you soon" Mona answers as her fingers fly over the keyboard. Norman set up a computer simulation to make Phil think he still has control of Street Hawk. She glances his way and thinks how nice it is to be a team with Norman. "I've got it. The connection is routed through a computer system in the Kenton building at Fuller & Brighton."
"Great!!" Norman exclaims, "The bike's almost ready. I've just got to tighten this one last bolt."
As he makes the last turn, Jesse runs over donning his helmet and nearly runs Norman overs as he mounts the bike. "Get me out of here Norman."
"Jesse. All we have to do is call the Feds and have him picked up. There is no reason for you to go out there. I haven't had a chance to test all the systems."
"No way, Norman. We turned him over to them once and he got away. I'm going to make sure the package gets delivered this time. Consider this the test run." Jesse answers.
"I'm going Norman. Open the doors." Jesse demands.
Norman turns toward the computer console and punches in the code to unlock the Maxi billboard. Jesse revs the engine and Street Hawk flies out the doors into the night.
Posted: Mon Oct 16, 2006 2:54 pm
Turning hard right at the first intersection, Jesse heads down Fuller Street towards the Kenton Office Complex. Jesse notes how odd it feels not to be entering hyperthrust, as most of his missions involve a lengthy drive. This time the battle is close to home. And it's personal. Phil tried to kill his friend twice, he won't let him do it a third time.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
In the Kenton building, Phil's mind is swimming as he imagines what destruction Norman's precious motorcycle was doing to the Command Center. "Activate missile pod #3! Fire!" he yells with glee like a child playing a video game. Without a video-enabled computer to work with, Phil can only use his imagination. Each "Command Excecuted" prompt fills his mind with visions of Command Center being destroyed, and hopefully Norman with it.
Phil is roused from his fantasy world when he hears a motorcycle down the street. "At this time of night? No...it couldn't be!" He gets up and looks out the office window, just in time to see a black motorcycle turn in off the streets and head for the front door. "NOOOO!" Phil screams down at Street Hawk. Norman had outsmarted him again. He wasn't in control of Street Hawk after all. In a rage, he runs back to the desk, sits down at the terminal, and begins typing one final message.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
At Command Center, Norman checks on the simulation that is keeping Phil busy. So far, so good. Mona walks up and places her hand on his shoulder. Norman looks up and smiles at her.
"You've got a good friend there, you know?" says Mona.
"Jesse? Oh...well...I guess so," answers Norman, "you see, my boss Kirby, the project director I was telling you about...well, he wanted me to recruit Jesse for the project. But, to be honest, I didn't really want to pick Jesse."
"Well...the official reason that I told Kirby was because he was really reckless and didn't take care of his equipment. I mean, Mona, I saw the guy work on his own bike once...and he used a dead-blow hammer to tighten a loose fitting."
"But that wasn't the real reason, was it Norman?"
"No...you're right. I could deal with someone that doesn't understand or respect his equipment. Street Hawk was built to take abuse, and anything he breaks just shows me where I need to make improvements...although I wouldn't tell Jesse that if I was you."
"My lips are sealed, Norman."
Norman grins in response, then the grin fades as he explains why he originally didn't want to work with Jesse, "Well, anyways, I'll tell you why I really didn't want to pick Jesse Mach for Street Hawk. I profiled him for a week or two, and I noticed that he was a real ladies man. I'd see him leave his house and go out on a date with a different girl every day of the week. I could tell that he was young, handsome, popular, and I just didn't want to deal with that."
"Mona...I was never any of those things growing up. I was the geek, the guy who was academically smart but socially dumb. I hated popular guys like Jesse, hated them for making fun of me or for having the nice cars or always getting the girl."
"They didn't ALWAYS get the girls, Norman," said Mona.
"Maybe not, but that's how it felt to me. Anyways, I just couldn't stand the thought of working with a guy like that, someone that I couldn't respect."
"But you seem to respect Jesse now?"
"I do! That's the strange thing, Mona. Once I got to know Jesse, I saw that he wasn't a bad person. In fact, he's really an honorable person. And under all that confidence and bravado, he's got a lot of pain and suffering he's trying to cover up. I shouldn't have ever judged him like I did."
"And now you have a good friend,"
"I guess I do," says Norman. He glances over at the computer and notices that Phil has stopped trying to control Street Hawk. He appears to have entered an invalid command line. Upon close inspection, he sees that it's not a command line at all, rather a message for him to read:
Looks like you were the better man after all. No matter. This world will soon be rid of Phil Rubenstein. However, I'll be sure to take your friend and your motorcycle with me.
Posted: Tue Jan 09, 2007 4:55 pm
Jesse throttles up the stairs to the Kenton office building. It's an old building with fading and discolored concrete walls. The neighborhood as a whole fell victim to industrial decay years before and the Kenton building suffered with it. As Jesse barrelled through the front glass door he couldn't help but feel a little sorry that he was subjecting the old building to one more indignity.
- - - - - - - - - - -
Back at Command Center Norman tries to get Jesse on the radio, "Jessie! Get out of there, Phil knows you're coming! It's a trap!"
There's no answer.
"Jesse, can you hear me?"
Still no answer. Norman starts searching the control panel, tracing the path of the communications circuit in his mind. Then he spots it. A hole in the panel right in front of where the preamplifier circuit is mounted. One of the bullets from Street Hawk had cut his audio communications to the bike. Without even asking, Mona walks up and hands him a screwdriver. "You read my thoughts," he says with a quick smile.
- - - - - - - - - - -
Phil runs down the hall to the storage closet, opens it up and turns the light on. As he takes stock of its contents, he notices a large can of paint thinner and some propane tanks. He grabs them and scurries off.
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Jesse turns the bike to the stairwell and starts driving up the stairs. He calls into his microphone, "Norman, do you have Phil's location in the building?" He hears faint static and no response. "Norman, you there? Hmmm, guess I'm on my own. Well my dear, it's just you and me," he says affectionately to the bike.
Posted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 6:06 pm
Back at Command Center Norman is quickly unbolting one of the control panels from the main unit. He pulls the panel off to reveal a backing plate with a square box with two wires coming in from each side. It's the preamplifier unit. In the middle of the box is a gaping hole left by one of the bullets fired earlier from Street Hawk. A brief flash from a spark jumps out of the hole, evidence that the preamplifier suffered fatally from the shot. Mona looks over Norman's shoulder, and after assessing the situation asks, "Do you have another one, Norman?"
"No, I'd have to order a new one, but we don't have time. I'm going to have to bypass it."
"Will it work?"
"It should, however it will be hard for Jesse to hear me without the line amplification." Norman grabs a pair of wire cutters and dives back down into the panel to rewire the circuit.
- - - - - - - - - - -
The stairwell echoes loudly with the sound of Street Hawk's motor as Jesse climbs the stairwell. At each landing he revs the motor, drops the clutch, and spins the back wheel out, turning him up the next flight of stairs. Finally he reaches the top floor. Jesse has found in his own experiences that bad guys tend to hole up on the top floors of buildings because it gives them a sense of control being able to see farther and know when people are coming.
Jesse's hunch proves to be accurate. Upon entering a large area of cubicles, he see's a flash of sparks from a ricocheting bullet while simultaneously hearing the sound of a .38 being fired. He instinctively ducks behind a cubicle wall. Another shot is fired, punching a hole through the fabric on the cubicle wall. The hole is pointing away and to the left, giving Jesse a good indicator of the direction Phil is firing from. He revs the motor and peels around the corner, nearly bumping his handlebars against the various cubicle walls crowded together. "Like rats in a labyrinth," he thinks to himself.
When he reaches the other side of the room, Phil is nowhere to be seen. "Great, I lost him," thinks Jesse to himself, "what do I do now?" Jesse ponders for a minute. "What would Norman tell me to do right now?" It dawns on him, and he turns on the infra-red sensor. The headlight on Street Hawk goes from white to red, and Jesse's visor changes to reveal the infrared heat signatures in the room. Jesse scans the room, seeing little spots here and there of warmth but nothing that looks like a person. Then he spots a faint blob of heat in the corner. He imediately switches back to regular visual, activates machine guns, and turns the bike headlight toward that corner. Expecting to see Phil, Jesse is a little surprised to see nothing but a wall. But a few feet from the wall was a propped open door. Phil must be behind that wall in the conference room.
Jesse hesitates for a moment. Heading into a confined room like that will be dangerous, especially trying to maneuver a motorcycle. Phil will definately have the advantage in that situation. But it's more than that. There's just something not right about the situation.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Norman finally finishes tying the loose wires together. He lays the wires back into the control panel and runs to his chair. He throws on his headset and looks at the screen. The best he can tell, Jesse is inside an office building, his headlight pointed at an open door. He's not moving. "Jesse, are you there?" he asks. No answer. He yells a little louder, "Jesse, ARE YOU THERE?"
- - - - - - - - - - -
The faint whisper coming through the speakers in the helmet are barely audible and Jesse doesn't even notice. He finally decides to enter the room against his better judgement and gut feeling. He idles toward the door, then just as he's about to enter the doorway he guns the motor and turns into the room, ducking behind his winshield. Expecting to hear gunfire instead there's nothing. He spots Phil sitting at the end of the meeting table opposite from him. Phil's revolver is rested on the table in front of him, his hands folded over his chest.
"Welcome," says Phil, "Jesse, is it?"
"It's Street Hawk to you," says Jesse through the robotic sounding microphone.
"Ahh, yes, Street Hawk. I see you've taken to calling yourself that name now, eh? Don't know if Norman would especially approve of that...he was always very possessive of his creations."
"At least he never tried to steal someone else's work or identity from them," retorted Jesse.
"Hah, well, the identity thing was easier than you might think...I just went through some of my old government paperwork, found Norman's I.D. number, hacked into our old employee database and found everything I needed there," said Phil, smiling smugly to himself, "now about stealing his work...is it really stealing if you're just taking back something that was rightfully yours."
"Street Hawk was never rightfully yours, and you know it!"
"On the contrary, my friend, it was. I suppose Norman never told you. Kirby promised me his next big project before Norman weasled his way into it. I had earned it; I had more seniority and I'd done all the research projects for Kirby up to that point. Then along comes this hot-shot engineer who Kirby thinks can walk on water and he hands him a Class 5 assignment. Norman stole it from me!" said Phil with a thump on the table with a closed fist, "I tried to convince Kirby that he'd made a mistake, but instead of listening to me he wrote me up and transferred me out of his group. Thanks to him I never got assigned to any good projects and the few I did work on they never took seriously."
"I think the real problem is that you care more about your own gain than you do about people."
"Oh really? And you think your friend Norman is a saint in that category?" says Phil, raising a bloodied eyebrow at Jesse, "Let's take his girlfriend Mona, for example. She hired on in the same group that Norman did. Well, I had my eyes on her from the start, but Norman must have sensed that I was interested in her because he stole her out from under me. Then, when she decided to take a job with Marpel, he just dumped her and forgot she even existed because he had his big project. How's THAT for caring about yourself only."
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Back at Command Center Norman and Mona are glued to the monitor. Norman cringes at every hurtful comment Phil fires at Jesse. Mona pats him on the back softly. They both look at each other when Phil mentions their separation, both sorry that they didn't make each other a priority instead of their jobs. Then Norman hears a beeping. He looks down at one of the sub-screens. The display indicates "Dangerous ambient flammable gas levels!" He looks at the screen again, behind Phil he spots two propane tanks. He grabs the microphone, holds it close to his mouth, and yells, "JESSE!!! HE'S FILLING THE ROOM WITH GAS!!!"
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Jesse responds, "Well, what you say could be true, but I can tell you one thing...Norman has been there for me and I'll stand behind him through thick & thin." Just then Jesse hears something come faintly over the helmet speakers. "Gas?" he says, suddenly spotting the propane tanks, "Gas!" He turns his head toward the doorway and notices that it had closed behind him. Phil had broken off the doorknob from the inside. It was a trap. Jesse knew he couldn't open the door with particle beam without igniting the gas.
Phil reaches down and grabs his pistol, "Well, Jesse...Street Hawk...whatever you want to call yourself...regardless of what you think you know about Norman, I will give you credit. You have proven to me that you're true to your word. You've stopped me from finishing my business with Norman. So even though I can't have my revenge directly on him, I regret to inform you that the next best thing will be to die knowing I destroyed his motorcycle and his friend."