Faction: Shadow Axis
Enrique Messi was a ghost who surfed in the shadows of the dark web, with many incredible feats attributed to him by his hacker callsign. As Engine he broke into intelligence services and Swiss banking networks, corporations and high-end legal firms, pulling hacks no one thought possible. He did all this without laying any trail back to his door in a crummy apartment in downtown Empire City.
No idealist hacktivist, Engine hacked for the fun of it, despite making a small fortune in cash which he squirreled away. With little time for people, hacking was his life. He stayed out of view. He had no friends and no family to speak of. There was just him and his art, hacking.
Enrique’s end began with him sat alone in his apartment late at night in near darkness, the room illuminated only by flatscreen glow, he was chilled when there was a knock at his door. He ignored it, relying on half a dozen steel locks and a reinforced door to keep unwanted junkies or other street trash out of his place. But the knock came again, each time a firm, rhythmic pattern of raps.
As Enrique stood up the door was smashed in. No shouting accompanied the invasion, as two hulking guys in suits stepped in, followed by a smaller, thinner man. All wore dark suits with dark glasses. Clearly, they were not law enforcement. Enrique reached for his safety measure, a sawn-off shotgun he kept on standby. One of the big guys crossed the room in less time than Enrique took, kicking the firearm away before punching him hard in the face.
The slim intruder quickly made things crystal clear in his Eastern European-accented English: Enrique would hack the Five Eyes new ultra-top-secret network ECHELON-OMEGA, and use that to gain access in Project Battle, an off-the-books cyber-controlled humanoid robotic weapon system. Enrique would do that, or he would die, and there would be no where he could hide. They had found him once, so Enrique knew this was no bluff.
Two days later and Enrique was ready. The guys in black had equipped him with a cybernetic helmet to allow him to control the asset when he had access to its network. He had his equipment, and he was ready.
ECHELON-OMEGA was tough, the toughest hack that Engine ever attempted. Engine was quickly firing every script he had, rewriting tools on the fly. There was some kind of artificial intelligence operating in E-O and it was matching him,, move for move, countermeasures for each script, until at last he broke through. Engine was in.
He glided across data chains, following digital breadcrumbs until he found the backdoor he needed – someone had been careless. Crashing through the defenses of project battle was easy, as they erroneously thought they had a closed system.
Engine’s mind flooded with cybernetically downloaded data. In an instant he knew how to operate the war machine’s basic functions. He fired up its systems and began walking it out of the hangar where it was held. Then things blew up.
Engine immediately recognized Doctor Arachnus, Rampage and Deathspark – the Retributors! He didn’t have time to worry about the coincidence of their arrival, he just needed to get the Battle robot out of there. Guards were shooting at the villains and the Battle unit, and the Retributors were attacking the guards. Still adjusting to controlling his metal vessel, Engine felt as though his mind was in two places at once. Disorientated he fired a missile at Deathspark which flew wide and took out part of the hangar wall. Deathspark screamed in fury, unleashing a multi-megajoule blast of electricity which blasted through the robot’s protections.
Pain spiked through Engine’s brain at that moment. He tried to pull back from the robot, but that was all he could feel.
Back in Enrique’s apartment, his body was still, and the cybernetic helmet he had worn was smoking and sparking. The news headlines later that day would describe his death in an apartment fire, revealing his identity as one of the world’s most elusive hackers. But somewhere, Engine mastered the Battle robot, escaping the villains and the guards at its base.
Soon Battle Engine joined the ranks of Tyrant’s Shadow Axis, seeking information on the men who had set up. Time was on his side, and one day they would pay.
“I am a hacker housed in a fully-armed mobile weapon-system. Your move, little man!”
Battle Engine – Ace Adventures #23