“Just look at the state of him. Good grief. What were you thinking of? This is serious, you fool.”
“I’m telling you he is the best!” I replied.
We both watched Hayden in the mess. Seemingly oblivious to us, he sat as always in this same position, at the same table ritualistically arranging the food around his plate into some sort of personal symmetry while slowly nodding his head inside his headphones. I wasn’t sure if he could hear the Commander. If he was, he could probably recall and repeat each and every word of our conversation. Backwards if he wants to.
The Commander shook his head.
“Just tell me where the Hell you found him again? I’ve heard you took him out of some bloody care home. I’ve heard you tried to recruit a whole bunch of ‘em. Oxford not good enough for military intelligence recruitment these days? Do you know what we are up against? So let me get this right, this guy [He couldn’t even bring himself to say his name] is heading our first strike team? That’s just bloody brilliant, that is!”
I was not happy with this view, even from a senior officer.
“With all due respect Commander, he’s a bloody genius and makes some of your recent Oxbridge recruits look remedial. We’ve never seen a mind like his.”
“Well Hayden‘s a damned freak if you ask me. We’ve had it now!”
After that the commander slammed the mess door as he stormed through it.
“We’ve had it now!” I heard him shout again as he slammed another door further down the corridor.
All Hell was brewing. It had been bubbling under for some time.
The War was about to begin any day. We were all involved in the final preparations.
However, the next war was to be very different to any other previous wars.
It would begin on the Internet.
Hayden had been selected due to his downright prodigious mathematical talents. You just don’t learn skills like those in any university. That was something you were born with. He was simply one in a billion and I am glad he was on our side.
The way that the seemingly otherwise clumsy and untidy Hayden used mathematics was both as beautiful and as cold as the Chopin melodies he was obsessed with. However, he saw none of its beauty. I can’t imagine that Hayden had ever found anything “beautiful”.
Hayden had been recruited and trained for a specific pre-emptive strike to bring down the entire electronic communications structure in the East, prior to an invasion. He was an unlikely candidate to kick off what would be one of the biggest fights in world history.
Warfare had moved on from its primitive history of trenches and tanks.
We all had become increasingly reliant on the Internet for our everyday lives. We had become far too reliant on it for our own good. I often considered what actual part of our lives we couldn’t actually live via the Internet. It seemed that people all over the world no longer needed to leave their homes to perform everyday activities. It just wasn’t natural. But then why did we have any further need to hit each other with clubs?
In terms of warfare: bringing down a country’s Internet network would bring down their entire infrastructure. If done in the proper order, a country’s social, industrial, commercial and military communications networks could be incapacitated to make them ripe for invasion before they even knew what was happening.
I sat down by Hayden, that night before the war. It was just any other night of the week to him, spent on the same table with the same choice of meal. His team’s job was to electronically cripple the very data structure that held the Easter bloc countries together, prior to formalities of “land and air operations” which would cause minimum casualties.
It was hard to believe that it could be a “last supper”.
Talking to the autistic Hayden was never easy at the best of times. His eyes would lock on you for a quarter of a second if you were lucky, then they would just dart around rapidly from left to right. My eyes could never keep up with their speed. His sole effort at being polite was one of his split-second artificially forced smiles on one side, almost like a wink that returned his face to its original concentrated expression before you had actually realised what those wrinkles by his mouth were there for.
He explained to me what he had achieved during that day, what music he would be transcribing tonight and what computer games he would be playing after, each in their strictly allocated time slot. He didn’t listen to my questions, but would stockpile them to answer later, in their correct order, after he had finished his statement. He had everything organised for the next day. Hayden knew how to hack the security algorithms to cause the blackout. I often urged him to share his strategies with his fellow “troops” in case he ever “caught the ‘flu”. He did try but wasn’t good at explaining his techniques. He had a massive amount of responsibility on his shoulders and was blissfully unaware of it.
Only a person like Hayden could not think about the next day and what it would entail. To say he was focussed on his current task was an understatement. His current task was supper. Attempting to change the subject of the conversation away from Hayden’s one-way monotonic monologue was rather pointless. As to any algorithms needed to crack the code, that wasn’t a problem, as I knew he could do in the background with his eyes shut, probably while he found something else to keep his mind busy.
There was no one on Earth who could hack and crack codes like he could. Basic military training we forgot, as Hayden had his own discipline, trapped in his own bizarre rituals of his own bizarre world. He had enough trouble just walking around stores in town to follow any regular “parade ground” military training. That was how he was and we were not going to change that. And it would be Hayden who would open the door for the beginning of World War III. For a moment, he was to be the most powerful man on Earth perhaps. We were relying on this young man sat with his headphones on in front of his strategically symmetrical supper to simultaneously close down all phone lines, mobile communications, satellite communications and radio signals of an entire continent. Thirty minutes after his morning’s work, thousands of tanks would cross a border in the hope of meeting very little resistance.
I needed recruits who were fit for this modern conflict. By that I meant digital-age, digitally minded assassins who were as cold, numerical, and unemotional as the very machines they spent their lives sitting in front of.
I needed brilliantly minded soldiers without remorse, guilt, feelings, and vulnerabilities and who could program computers in their sleep. I needed robots really. So I got out there searching.
Previously we had been selecting and training the very best of Oxbridge mathematicians as was our traditional “Milk-round” headhunting ground. Some of these were excellent, but they had to also work at their mathematics. They needed effort and rest. They had vulnerabilities. What I needed were recruits who were naturally born with the very brilliance they would need to play against the world’s best mathematical tacticians without any strain whatsoever, as if it were all just one leisure activity.
So I tracked down a careful selection of highly autistic young mathematicians. Looking back in history it would seem likely now that the most successful of our brilliantly creative talents in the fields of music, literature, design and invention all seemed to exhibit autistic traits. They needed an outlet in which to blossom, otherwise their skills would remain wasted in their unfulfilling lives. What better use for their prodigious maths talents than electronic warfare?
What I ended up with were a crew of highly individually gifted, talented, incredibly misunderstood recruits with previously unrealised and untapped logical talents. I nurtured them. I changed them into soldiers, of a kind. However their social and communication skills were lacking somewhat and they did not work well as a team. There was no way that they could adjust to military life so we had to move to accommodate them. This did not go down well with many of our personnel. However times had moved on. We would be fighting in a different world in a different time and I needed a different type of soldier. The Commander would have to realise this. I am sure that our enemies were fully aware of it.
Satellite observations deemed the time to be exactly right.
Our military were in place. The time had come for the blackout.
“5-4-3-2-1. OK, Hayden turn ‘em off” Smiled the Commander.
“Ok. Off they go. Execute”
“Execute. Damn you.”
“Execute. Execute. Execute”
The room looked at the young genius.
“I can’t do that as Scream21 has been put in charge of their security. Scream21 is defending their security in their command centre”
“What do you mean? Who the Hell is Scream Sodding 21?”
“Scream21 is defending their security. I can’t let you bomb him because we will play chess again tomorrow night and he is 3-1 up.”
Every one else avoided the Commander’s gaze blankly.
Enraged, he stamped around the centre screaming, “Anyone else here know the code? Anyone know how to execute?”
No one did.