Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Secret Messages

The state of TIAH

December 27th, 2006

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Alternate Historian's Note: As we head into another holiday weekend, Stephen Payne gives us a personalized message for the holidays, and we continue the second half of our NaNoWriMo novel. We hope that you are enjoying the change in format – let us know how you feel about it in comments or by emailing us. This will be the format of TIAH throughout the holiday season, and probably well into January, unless we receive a great outcry about it. Speaking of the Holiday Season, keep in mind those who need help year-round and keep yourselves safe and happy, as well. And, should you feel generous inclinations towards our guest historians, you can visit the sites of those who have separate ones from TIAH; generosity towards us here at the Academy is always appreciated, too, and you can find ways to help us out all over the site. Right now, we'd appreciate a lead on a good day job, but my lovely Co-Historian could also use some more memory on her PC, if anyone feels generously inclined. (It's PC133-style – yes, it's an old machine). Any good wishes you have towards us can be emailed here.

in the timestream, as the Hussein-Saddat time dilation device returns Mullah Elijah Rafsanjani to the year 2126, he glimpses two further events. The births of two beautiful dual heritage children - Jacob and Joshua, in London England. The father, Steve Payne, tells the Mullah that love will meet you at the point of your need. Rafsanjani is now sure he knows how to achieve a breakthrough for the future, very different from the one he had planned for when he set out to cancel Christmas. -entry by Steve Payne from Counter History in Context - You're the Judge!-

The dazed, blank look on their faces told Janice that what she had said had sunk in pretty deep. Good, she thought, and stood up. “I should contact Mike and Eli – they've been living for this kinda thing to happen. Can I use your computer, Steph?”
Steph nodded, holding her children close to her. “It's in the living room.”
Kevin said, “Hey, they probably have some spyware on her PC – a keystroke recorder, at least. They'll be able to track you.”
“Good point.” Janice dove into her backpack and pulled out a small stick. “Operating system on a USB. Never leave home without it.”
Jake shook his head, smiling. “You are one paranoid chick.”
“It's not paranoia if they really are after you,” she said, shaking the stick at him. She walked over to the Morris family computer and found the USB port. She slid her small stick into the port and turned the machine on.
Kevin followed her over and quickly turned off the computer, saying, “Hang on a second.” He pulled the computer out and examined the back. “Hey, Steph,” he called back into the kitchen, “do you know of any special hardware that you've had to install in the back of your computer?”
Steph looked at the kids, who both shook their heads. “No, why?”
Kevin pulled a small, flat object from a port in the back of the computer. “This is a hardware hack – probably record everything you're doing.” He looked grumpily at the little gray box. “I'd lay odds we gave them plenty of time to open this up. Steph, have you got a screwdriver?”
“Yeah,” she said, walking over to her kitchen cabinet and getting some tools out. She drew out a small kit and took it over to him. “These work?”
He looked over the set and nodded. “Thanks.” Their hands brushed slightly as he took the kit from her, and they both sort of smiled about it. Janice rolled her eyes, but didn't say anything. Kevin deftly and quickly removed the case's cover and peered inside the guts of the machine. “Oh my god,” he grumbled.
Janice sat up and asked, “What is it?”
“Look at all the dirt. Do you ever open this thing up, Steph?”
Steph and the kids laughed. “No, I'm afraid I don't dust the insides of my computer.”
“Wish I'd brought my air can,” he muttered, moving a cable out of the way. He cocked his head at something he saw and said, “OK, this isn't standard equipment.” He pulled out a card that was plugged into a spare slot and set it on the table. He spent several more minutes going through the case before saying, “It looks clean, now. Well, except for the dust.” He put the case back together and turned it back on for Janice. “Now, you can use your OS on a stick.”
“You are good,” Janice said, impressed. She saw her familiar system boot up, and she logged in, then opened up the non-standard Internet browser she kept for just such situations. She navigated to the forum where several friends of hers passed encrypted messages to each other. She found the thread that they had started for the current events and posted a reply addressed to Orgone and Cressidae. She then copied and pasted the last few messages into the decrypter she kept on her desktop and read through them quickly. Once she was done, she turned back to the group and said, “Well, Mike and Eli are still around, and hopefully they'll see this post and instant message me.”

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