Digital Arbitration - IoT Noir

By: Wedge Greene

Episode 6 of Pipeline’s ongoing serial, IoT Noir, starts some 15 years from now immediately following the emergency treatment of Ninan Pakinar in an automated clinic run by the AI Nightingale. If our readers recall, Kiko-Lyn Greg was rescued in a raid by the mercenary cyborg Ninan on the Hong Kong lab of Jonathon Blake, the CEO of International Widget. Jonathon had started this chain of events when he waged a cyber-attack on the IoT water control company of Kiko-Lyn’s aunt, Rachael Greg. During this attack, Black Hat hackers sabotaged Rachael’s smart home and attempted to kill her. Her niece Kiko-Lyn, learning of the attack, met up with a new contact in Hong Kong, ‘Dawn’ the human rights blogger. Kiko-Lyn was captured inside International Widget’s Hong Kong lab by minions of Jonathon. But the daring raid of Ninan and the technical ingenuity of Kiko-Lyn allowed them to escape together with fresh evidence on the dastardly Jonathon Blake. Ninan was wounded in the extraction of Kiko-Lyn and Dawn has led them to an NGO clinic run by the AI, Nightingale. There, Ninan is in the midst of an accelerated healing protocol. As we take up the story, our young heroes are apprehensive about their status with the AI and their associate, the blogger/activist Dawn…

Foxes in the Hen House

“You are looking so much better my little Kendogg[1].” Kiko-Lyn leans over him and fusses with his bedclothes as hidden under the covers she jacks one of her dragonflies into the data port on her staff controller. She did not trust her wireless encryption in the clinic overseen by an AI of unknown scope and power.

“Why Ken dog?”

“Well I did consider ‘Beast’. But thought that might be too forward what with the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ reference.” Best acknowledge the scars and let him know I’m past it. “And you do have that dog thing going in your armor overlay.”

“Only as disguise for this Chinese New Year. So, how is repair of my cybernetic libs coming?” Ninan asks the cute Kiko-Lyn. Lying in the hospital bed, seeing her for the first time without her fox mask, he has a close-up of her ear. He marvels at its convoluted shape, the earlobe and base close to her head but then slowly rotating forward until the ear top was perpendicular to her face. It is almost as if her ears were perking up to listen to her surroundings. Attached to the top are magnetic ear clips that must secure her enhanced reality goggles during acrobatics. It’s nice to see her face without anything covering it up.  Her hair is gathered into an upwards ponytail at the back of her head by a red scrunchie from which it flows down like a Jinn.

As she turns to answer, he sees a concerned but exasperated expression.  Her narrow chin kept close to her chest, mouth pensive in a slight smile below a clearly Caucasian nose, and worried almond-shaped eyes peaking behind the jet black, straight-cut bangs.

“Very good body armor, Composite Metal Foam, right? You had half a dozen dents in the CSF you idiot. No wonder a round found a chink opening into your leg leg and other not leg.”

He attempts a shrug. “That’s what CSF’s for; anyway it was frangible ammo.”

“No, armor’s necessary backup for idiots who don’t dodge. Anyway, I’ve restored basic functionality to both arm and leg.  Ran them through the x-ray here to check for cracks or fatigue. Damage was slight, micro-fracture stuff. They are also made of superior alloy. Nothing the 3D printer here has in material stock. Clearly mother Watson loves you. So, I cannibalized my exoskeleton legs for reinforcement. When you get to physical therapy, the exoskeleton will stage adjustments in support. It can start out taking most of your weight and be adjusted to pass more weight to you as you improve. You’ll soon be walking around with a detached part of me – ”   

“Ahh”, he says.

“But don’t look smug about it. Downside is the weight distribution is different and you’ll need to get used to that.”

“I’m good at adapting.”

“I did beglitzify[2] them as promised – ”

“Really, please no. Come on now. Let me see!” He tries and fails to sit up.

She laughs and it transforms her face. Her mouth opens into a perfect circle with two front teeth visible and her nose scrunched upwards. “Oh no you don’t.” She pushes him back down on the bed. 


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