Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Dealey Five: Chapter 19

The Dealey Five
Chapter 19 (or, "Four Minutes")

Where We Last Left Off: Didi tried to shut down the program, to no avail.


Tama kept his ear pressed against his phone. Didi’s voice hadn’t come through in a couple of minutes, and all he could hear was static, but he wasn’t giving up. “Didi? Are you there? Come on, say something!” He turned to the other kids, who were now all gathered in the bonus room. “Still nothing.”

“Well, you know what they say, dude.” Jason took the phone from Tama.

“Tough luck?” Rosa asked with a skeptical look.

“Nope. If something doesn’t work, just give it a couple of whacks --”

“Woah, woah, woah.” Tama tried to reach for his phone, but Jason held it higher. “Give me back my phone! Don’t break it!”

“Not until I get it working again --” Jason felt the phone get lifted from his hand. He looked behind him to see who stole it. “Hey!”

It was Isabel. “Got it.” She pressed her ear to it. “Nothing. The connection has been severed.” She pressed a button, and the phone turned off. “Didn’t I ever tell you that I’m connected to the Colemak button as well?”


“Clearly not.” Isabel handed her phone back to Tamasine. “I got your distress signal. What’s the situation?”

“Didi got caught by Dimitri,” Rifka said. “Only I don’t think it’s Dimitri.”

“It’s that freak Carissa and Mac told us about.” Jason gritted his teeth. “What’s his name, Vorek or…”

“Dvorak,” Rifka corrected, the name rolling off her tongue.

Isabel stared back in disbelief. “Dvorak? Here? That can’t be possible. We got rid of him ourselves. I watched it happen. There’s no way he could be back here.”

“Oh, it’s totally possible.”

They turned to find the woman sitting at the kitchen table, Saint Arbucks drink in her hands, staring off into space. She lounged, legs crossed, black QWERTY jacket open at the zipper. “After all, nothing ever totally disappears. The atoms just turn into something else, as people become ash which becomes air which becomes something else. We are all made of stardust, are we not?” She turned toward them, blue eyes set on them. “It is a pleasure to meet you all finally. I would have hoped it would not be under such dire circumstances, but I wanted to make sure your morale is up. You’ve been through much more than what regular recruited units do.”

“This is Sarah Dealey,” Isabel introduced the woman, who notably did not get up from her seat. “She is the one in charge of our faction of QWERTY. I didn’t expect to see you here, Boss.”

“Eh, I was thirsty.” Sarah took another sip from her cold drink. “There’s nothing like Saint Arbucks in the rest of existence. Except for Kalto on Xando, but...that’s another story. Saint Arbucks it is. This city, it…” She didn’t finish her sentence, just sipped.

“You’re with Mick, aren’t you?” Rosa asked, breaking the silence. “We met him at QWERTY headquarters, Tama and I…” She looked over at Tama, who was in a daze. “Tama? Are you okay?”

His eyes weren’t moving from the phone. “He’s my little brother. I let him down.”

Rosa put her hand on Tamasine’s shoulder. “Then we have to get him back. Not only for you, but for all of us. We’re a team, aren’t we? The...the Fearless Five, or something like that.”

“We’re making up team names right now?” Jason groaned.

“Relax, bebe pobre. It’s not a priority one. We need to get Tama’s little brother back from that freak.”

“He said at midnight the entire city would bow to him,” Rifka noted from her seat. “What do you think he meant?”

Tama racked his brain for a solution. “It may have something to do with that code Didi was writing. Maybe he’s using the code to take over the city somehow? Like a uplink virus?”

“That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard.” Isabel shook her head. “Who could use computer code to take over a city like that? Even if it was a virus, each individual computer would have to download the virus and then it would have to open to activate. Plus, there’s the issue of different types of computers, and tablets, and…” She sat down. “My head hurts!”

“You’re on the right track,” Sarah said. “But this is Dvorak you’re dealing with. What do you know Dvorak capable of?”

“Creating utter and total chaos. The only way to reverse the chaos he creates is to rewrite it in limbo. But this isn’t a collision situation, so we can’t do that. There’s no limbo to go to.” Isabel gulped. “There has to be a way. I don’t want this world to be destroyed.”

“Destroyed?” Rosa felt dizzy. “This world, too?”

“I won’t let him.” Rifka stood up. “I can’t. Not Dimitri, not this new Dvorak, not anybody. Not after everything that has happened. I will stick by the glory of the Quintessential Works program and serve it for the rest of my life.” She smiled at Sarah. “We are her five, Rosa.”

“She’s right,” Jason noted. “We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t believe in QWERTY. All of us do, and so does Didi. We’ll get him back and put a stop to this loser. If he can manipulate the world, we can too, can’t we?”

“Our equipment can’t work against Dvorak because, technically, he is still a member of QWERTY,” Isabel noted. “It buffers out if used against a fellow member.”

“Then how can he work against us?” Jason asked.

“Because he’s been given the power to manipulate independently of any collision or separation,” Sarah picked up. “There is only one member of QWERTY who can do that, and Dvorak is that member. It’s necessary to have him in the case that a colliding world does not have a guardian, like your world. Without him, the balance is upset, and all of existence as we know it will fall apart.”

“Can’t have the yin without the yang,” Jason said.

“How do we even stand a chance?” Tama asked, still dead on his feet. “There’s nothing we can do.”

“Oh, for crying out loud, Tamasine.” Jason messed with Tama’s hair. “You’re our leader. Don’t be so down. We’re a team. We’ll get it.” A pause, then “Seriously, dude, quit being so down. It’s messing with our morale. You said so yourself. Family.”

Rifka gave Tama a hug from behind. “Family.”

He gave a small smile, then adjusted his goggles, pushing a strand of hair back. “Family. All of us in it together.”

“But what about Carissa and Mac?” Rosa asked.

There seemed to be a bit of sadness in Isabel’s eyes. “I haven’t been as effective as I wished to be here. From here on out, I will make sure I stay with your assignment. Carissa and Mac are out tonight. Let them stay that way. They’ve done enough for this world. And as its new guardian, I will do everything in my power to save it.” She sighed. “I just have no clue where to start.”

“Then let us Sarah Dealey Five handle it,” Rifka said. “Tama, it’s your call.”

He took a deep breath and looked at his friends. The pressure was hard, but he remembered Hideko’s face in the hallway, how calm Miyuki had been. He had done this before. He could do it now. “Dvorak’s using Didi’s code to mess with the entire city at midnight,” he said. “We need to find a way to stop the code...or maybe we just need to find a way to stop New York City.”

“Can we do that?” Rosa asked.

“It’s crazy...but it might just be done,” Isabel said. “There was a blackout a few years back in this timeline caused by a massive power failure, and there was also the hurricane that caused problems. New Yorkers are extremely resilient, and if we play it right, they won’t even remember any interruption happened. We’d have to shut down the network, but even that won’t stop the virus if everything turns back on after midnight.”

“Didi will have to find a way to stop it, then.” Tama bit his lip. “I just wish there was a way we could communicate with him. He’s stuck with Dvorak now. But if he rewrites the code, then midnight will come and nothing will happen.”

“You neglect one fact,” Sarah noted from her perch. “Dvorak was able to directly call Tamasine without the use of a phone number or code. How was he able to do that?”

It was quiet for a moment, then Jason said, “This sounds totally out there, but what if he was looking to use my boombox for something like that? The KGB was all over my boombox. It and the code may be related somehow.”

“He coded your boombox to work as a phone?” Rosa rolled his eyes. “Dear, that man must have better uses for his time other than fiddling with electronics.”

“It’s a thought.”

“Tama,” Isabel asked, “does your phone have a callback number from Didi?”

Tama checked the history; it did, but instead of a phone number, there was a long string of numbers. “If we send a message to this,” Isabel said, “it will get to Didi. I’m not sure how, but the boombox will intercept it as an interdimensional message and do something. We don’t know what, but we have to try.”

Tama nodded. “Let’s do that. And then, we’ll shut this city down.”


“You? Recode the world?” Dvorak laughed at Jian. “How silly.”

“It’s not silly. If it was, then all of my code would be silly. And you’re using my code right now.” Jian tried not to panic. This should have never happened. He should be back with Tama and the others, but he was here now, against Dimitri...against Dvorak. And there was no way out. The door was blocked, and Dimitri was both taller and stronger than him. This was not going to be easy.

Jian didn’t know how he would get to the computer. Then, something the American boy had said came back to him. “Move past that idiot and get out of there!” Or something like that. He couldn’t remember it all.

But if he couldn’t be big and strong, he would just have to use his smallness to his advantage.
Dimitri was still seated by the boombox, which was now shut off. The area behind him was wide open, and Jian dove for it, passing by Dimitri and to the main setup. But he wasn’t aiming for just that. He threw himself over the computer and to the main power source. With one pull, he yanked it out of the wall, silencing the computer.

The entire room went pitch black dark, with no light to illuminate it now. Dimitri’s voice echoed out in the small room, hard as a rock. “What did you do?”

“Only what I can do to stop you,” Jian said. He braced himself, waiting for Dimitri to attack him, to turn back on the power.

But the moment the words left his mouth, the entire room seemed to lose its energy. A strange whrrrrrr noise could be heard down the hall, and Jian knew the power was off to the entire building. Did he do that when he pulled the plug?

The boombox then sputtered to life, even with the power off. The music played at a low volume, but something else was coming in as well. Jian couldn’t hear it, but when he tried to turn it up, the volume stayed put. He finally put his ear to the speaker.

The message came out as static against the throbbing beat. “か...き...か...え...る...” It repeated over and over again.

Jian focused on the message until he could hear it. It’s Tama! He’s saying to rewrite it! It has to be him! Now he just had to rewrite the code, or else Dvorak -- wait. Where was Dvorak?

“Hey!” he yelled, but there was no answer in the room. Jian couldn’t see a thing, and there were no lights except for the computer...which he had unplugged. And the power had to be off to the entire building now. So how could he power up the computer now and try to rewrite the code, as Tamanii-chan was telling him to do?


He grabbed the boombox and put it right in front of the computer, then turned it on. The entire room began to shake to the bass -- and the computer started to boot up.

I don’t understand any of this. Jian waited, watching the screen until it finally sprang to life. But that code does work in reality. Maybe I’ll learn why later. For now, we have to fix this.

He turned, using the light from the screen to see. Dimitri’s body was on the ground, sprawled out, eyes closed. There was no sign of Dvorak. What kind of power outage was this? No time to think of it. As soon as the power came back on, the code would complete. There was no way to stop what had already been distributed to computers around the city. Jian could only fix the source file and redefine the elements, so that when it executed it didn’t harm a fly.

As soon as the computer was on, Jian had the software booted and was scanning the directory files for the copies Dvorak had made. Thankfully they were all the same file type, and putting that in narrowed down the files. But there were still several files of the type that Jian needed. He knew the source file’s name. But how many copies were there? Dvorak could have made any number of them, and any one of them could be the file he sent to the world.

He stared at his regular source file. There was no way around it. He would have to open every file and change each one individually. This would take forever. But wait...if he recoded the original file to be transmitted to every one of the copies, then it would work. He typed in the code at the head of the document, then saved it. Now, when the source file ran, it would transmit to every document with the same file type as the original. That may screw up other files Dimitri had on here, but there was a world in need of saving.

Okay. Now...what in the source file needed fixing? He had already stopped the source from carrying out, but the others would still do so. What could he have written that needed changing? He stared at the beginning, when all of the attributes were defined. Now, it all made sense. NYC was New York City. KGB was understood.

DVAK...did that stand for Dvorak?

Jian gasped. That was it. That DVAK spot was how Dvorak was able to talk through Dimitri, how he could take over the world. The DVAK was his key to existing in this dimension. If he could redefine that one part…

His fingers flew over the keys as they had time and time again before, only this time the intent was different. There were a few modifications made, and then he found all of the instances of DVAK in the document and replaced them. With a click, it saved just as the boombox snapped off.

Jian turned. Dimitri -- still Dvorak? -- was on his knees, hand on the boombox. “You --” The boombox sputtered back to life, and as it lived, Dvorak died, Dimitri’s body collapsing on the floor again. It kicked off -- he rose -- it started up again -- another collapse. The boombox and Dvorak were trading places. Jian didn’t know where in the code this was taking place.

He looked over at the clock. Four minutes to save the world. The boombox just had to stay on until then, and Dvorak couldn’t get up --

The whrrrrrrrrr sound from the other room kicked on, and Jian knew the power was back on to the building. Then, from outside, he heard a loud “Shit!” in a very familiar voice, followed by Rifka’s “Quiet yourself down, Jason!”

His friends. They were here.

He grabbed the boombox, as it was still on, and made sure the switch was secure and turned it all the way up. It was deafening, but they could tell he was in here now. Plus, there was no way Dvorak would get him now, with the boombox being so loud --

The door opened and a familiar face stepped in. “Didi?”

He looked up, a smile on his face, the computers forgotten. “Tamanii-chan! I’ve missed you!” With a start, he got up from the floor as the boombox was knocked over, snapping off.

Dvorak stood up, facade overbearing and shadowy in the dim light. “Where do you think you’re going?”


“Didi?” That was Tamasine, on the other side. “You…”

Jian could hear Tamasine speaking in English, but every time he tried to converse back, it came out in Chinese. “Tamanii,” he forced out.

“Not today,” Dvorak said, and then, several things happened simultaneously.

First was that the computer, now powered by the regular electricity instead of the boombox, shut off -- after all, it was still disconnected from its power source.

Second was that Dvorak kicked the boombox, and it flew across the room, over Jian’s head, smashed into the wall, and fell with a crack.

The third was that Dvorak started to run towards Jian, but Tamasine grabbed him from behind to stop him. “Go!” he yelled.

Jian ran to the back of the computer and plugged it back in, automatically starting the booting process. It ran up just as Dvorak pushed Tamasine back into the corner of the room farthest from the computer. The other boy smacked against the wall, falling to his knees.

“Tama-niichan!” Jian yelled, but then Dvorak was all he could see, picking him up, grabbing him from behind the computer, hoisting him, then down, down, farther and farther until Jian thought the moment would last forever.

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