Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Jehovah and Hades: Chapter 2

Here's the second chapter of Jehovah and Hades. This is probably the last full chapter I'll post here on my blog, but I'll keep everyone updated on how the writing is going, occasionally ask everyone for their opinion, and eventually let everyone know when I publish on the kindle. As always, let me know what you think.
(Jehovah and Hades is available on Amazon. Check it out here.)



This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are a product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2011 by Randall J. Morris
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in critical articles or book reviews.


3… 2… 1…
            The door slowly began to lift up. Hades went running at it full charge, lifted it the remainder of the way, and burst into the room. Without thinking, he ran in without taking a serious look around. Jehovah followed close behind and grabbed him by the back of his shirt and pulled him backwards. Hades had nearly sprinted right through the green laser beams appearing at about ankle level and moving up to almost the ceiling. As if to prove that his non-thinking strategy could work, Hades grabbed Jehovah and hurled him over the top of the lasers. Jehovah cleared the lasers, but landed hard on his left side with the wind knocked out of him.
            A few seconds later, Jehovah was starting to regain his breath. “Hades… next time… tell me… before you… do something… stupid.” Jehovah stood and took a look around the room. He saw the lasers that Hades had thrown him over, the entrance, a video camera with a live feed to the room upstairs, and a metal door on his side of the room with a keypad. A flat panel TV hung above the door with the words “THE YEAR OF DRACULA’S HEROIC DEATH” displayed in the center. Jehovah was used to this. Without his equipment, he had to rely solely on his brain, a lesson his father taught him when he was very young. Jehovah had read everything he could get his hands on when he was younger and his father liked to test his memory’s recall. Now he just had to figure out what this riddle meant.

            “What’s with the riddle?” Rick asked. “I like to challenge my sons and I always taught them that relying on tools could be a disadvantage when they are taken away. Jehovah’s greatest tool is right here,” Jacob said, tapping two fingers to his temple. “Their gear is distributed in different rooms throughout the maze for when the challenges get more difficult. Jehovah has a unique gift when it comes to reading that I’ve always encouraged him to develop. He doesn’t just read books, his curiosity gets the better of him and he has books… investigated. That’s probably the best word for it. Once he learns all he can about a book’s origin and history, about the author, and anything else he can learn from it, he remembers it all better than anyone I know. He hasn’t actually read Bram Stoker’s Dracula in years, so you’ll see what I mean here in a moment. Give him a minute or two to process what I’m asking him.”

            This makes no sense. Dracula, in the novel, didn’t die the death of a hero. He was a monster impaled through his heart while lying in his coffin. Furthermore, there was no reference to the year he died in the book. The word “heroic” just didn’t sit right as Jehovah thought it over. Dracula had never really done anything to merit such a… wait a second. There was a person the word “heroic” could apply to and he died in 1476. Jehovah began moving toward the keypad by the door when the intercom boomed “Please explain for our guest.” I guess my employer should understand my train of thought.
            “Bram Stoker’s Dracula is actually based on a real character. Vlad the Impaler of Wallachia. He was known for impaling his enemies and then drinking their blood as it ran down the pole he killed them on. In the novel, Dracula’s death is anything but heroic. He’s gored through the heart by a spike. Vlad, however, died in battle at the end of his third reign in 1476. ‘Heroic' can also be an applicable term in his case as most of his countrymen admire the way he established a kingdom of order, stood up to the Ottoman empire, and brought glory to his kingdom. His father, Vlad Dracul, was awarded his surname when he received ‘The Order of the Dragon.’ Any sons of Vlad Dracul would have been given the name of Dracula, or son of Dracul.” After his explanation, Jehovah punched the numbers 1-4-7-6 into the keypad. The lasers disappeared and the door into the next room opened. Hades started his mad sprint toward the next room, sensing it was now his turn to contribute.

            As Hades entered the room, he did a quick scan for two things: the number of opponents and the number of traps. Hades had this brief glance down to one quick second from years of experience and he immediately went to work. He had learned a long time ago that success came from immediately disabling one opponent and then slowing down to focus on his remaining enemies. His one second glance told him two things about this room: no visible traps and four total enemies. Only one appeared to be armed, which is what Hades had grown to expect from the beginning of the maze. His closest opponent stood a few feet from the door, so he carried the momentum from his speedy entry into a disabling knee to the man’s face. Hades had learned which parts to hit from lots of practice and his right knee connected with the center of the man’s forehead. Usually, a hit to the spot between the eyes at the top of the nose or right into the nasal cavity was more effective, but today he was stuck with “non-lethal force” as per his dad’s instructions. His knee left the man dizzy and Hades followed it with a quick shot to the man’s stomach, which sent him sliding further into the room.
            Now it was time to slow things down. Three remaining cronies; they vaguely formed a right triangle with Hades standing closest to the man forming the right angle. The man to the right held an Asian guerrilla machete: a blunt version but still effective if used correctly. All his opponents were heavily tattooed with various gang symbols and other Asian symbols that apparently made punks who wanted to look “badass” think that they had it figured out. The body is a temple, not a wall for graffiti. Hades didn’t like tattoos and didn’t understand people who did. The last step in his process was giving each of them a one word name that could help him think over the combination he wanted to attack in. The man immediately in front of him became Throat (because Hades saw a long scar running across his throat), the man with the weapon was Machete, and his furthest opponent he nicknamed Mr. Clean (because he could almost see his reflection in the man’s shaved head). His thought process took another couple of seconds as he moved slowly closer… and then he made his move. Hades started as if he was moving toward Machete, but his feet were actually moving in a sprint in between him and Throat. His body language arched to the right until only a few feet remained between him and his two opponents. It was then that Hades spun and threw his right arm directly into Throat’s scar. The move caught him off guard and the force knocked him off his feet. Hades caught the man in mid-air by his left leg, spun the other way, and hurled him into Mr. Clean.
            In the mean time, Machete had started running at Hades and came at him with a downward thrust of his weapon, hoping to catch him in the neck or shoulder. Hades reached over the blade, caught the dull side of the machete, and guided it to the floor with the momentum from his opponent’s swing. He immediately followed this up by grabbing Machete around his left wrist and his right fist crashed into Machete’s left eye. When dealing with anyone with a weapon, he liked to isolate the weapon and then give them a reason to drop it, usually pain in another area. Machete clutched his eye with his free hand and Hades capitalized by chopping down on his left arm, which caused his weapon to fall to the ground. Hades quickly retrieved it and brought the blunt side down on Machete’s head, knocking him out. Hades spun the machete and turned to face Throat and Mr. Clean, now fully recovered from his earlier attack.
            In a normal scenario, Hades would have hurled the weapon at one of his opponent’s for a killing blow and quickly disabled the other. Non-lethal force today so that’s out. Mr. Clean and Throat were separating and circling Hades in an attempt to divide his attention. Throat suddenly attacked with a kick aimed at Hades’ midsection. He anticipated the move, used the machete to bring Throat’s leg up and over his head, let him fully back flip through the air, and then brought him down hard on his stomach. A quick hit from the handle of the machete to the face knocked out Throat. To finish the battle, Hades kicked Mr. Clean in the midsection and brought the dull side of the machete down on his face.
            Jehovah came walking in the room as soon as Hades had finished. “Two minutes and forty seven seconds, give or take,” he said.
            “Mr. Clean… er… the bald guy has your flash drive.” Hades pulled the flash drive from the necklace of Mr. Clean and tossed it across the room to Jehovah. “Let’s move on then,” said Jehovah, as the door to the next room opened in front of them.
            Jehovah and Hades entered the next room together and found that it was almost pitch black. There was a spotlight in the center with a computer. Jehovah ran to the computer and booted to the operating system he had programmed on his flash drive. Hades began circling the spot light in case any attacker should attempt to interrupt Jehovah’s hacking.

            The operating system programmed by Jehovah was specifically designed to hack encryption and passwords. Jehovah employed all three standard methods of hacking and a fourth method that was unique to the operating system he designed. The first thing Jehovah liked to do was remotely access his father’s computer, which had over 2,000 micro-processors that could all be put to work at the same time. It divided out the work of hacking evenly. The second thing Jehovah did was send a small packet of data at the router to interrupt its connection. This generally forced everything on the network to reconnect. Jehovah could figure out how many characters the password was based on the time it took for devices on the network to reconnect after he forced a disconnect. In this case, the password seemed to be 8 characters, most likely a standard WPA or WPA2 (256 bit) encryption. Knowing the length of the password greatly increased the speed with which he could find it.
            The first hacker method of attack was known as a dictionary attack. The computer reads from a text file full of words from a dictionary. This is the fastest and usually most successful form of attack. In this case, after about thirty seconds, the dictionary attack failed.
            The second form of attack is called a hybrid attack. A hybrid attack basically adds numbers and symbols to the dictionary attack. Anyone paranoid about security or prompted to occasionally change their password usually kept the same word but added or modified numbers at the end. Another minute was wasted before this method failed.
            The third normal method of hacking was something Jehovah avoided at all costs, because anything stronger than a 64 bit encryption would take forever to crack. It’s called a brute force attack and it checks every possible character in every possible slot of the password. Jehovah had this programmed to run if his custom method failed. Since most people had switched to at least WPA encryption, this method was rarely run by his operating system.
            Jehovah’s custom hacking method had been developed by him in his early twenties when he worked as an agent for the Geek Squad, a company of computer techs and repairmen. Any time he set up a network in home for a customer, he logged the password in a custom database for later reference. He had friends still working for the Geek Squad that still added passwords to his database on a regular basis. This data base was designed to operate somewhat like a dictionary attack but it analyzed the passwords using a thinking pattern as well. As his database of passwords grew larger, his program analyzed the passwords for patterns in order to present other likely candidates. About two and a half minutes in to Jehovah’s custom hack, the computer found the correct password and gave him full access to the network. Within 30 seconds, Jehovah had the lights in the room slowly powering on.

            It took Hades’ eyes a few seconds to adjust as the light illuminated the room. He scanned the room to see what he would be facing. As he finished his full rotation, he clenched the machete tighter in his right hand and his muscles tensed. “Shit…,” he muttered as Jehovah continued typing away on the keyboard.

Jehovah and Hades is available on Amazon. Check it out here.

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