Summary: Armageddon stuff.
Linear, sequential, bounded. They have scary Alpha-based commandos and crazy ordinance and whatever stuff cabals of insane decabillionaires stock up on when they are trying to take over the world, but they are still limited to the best brains money can buy. And that's not Topher Brink.
Sure, his smarts are for hire, but his very best work is for those he likes, fears, or, well, feels guilty about. Right now there's a few of those out there, so he's going to show a thing or two to people who never saw such classics as War Games and wouldn't recognize a wardialer if it bit them in the cortex, which is actually about to happen as soon as his program takes over the switchboards and begins co-opting the fine people of the Los Angeles area for the greater good.
This is Armageddon stuff, but he's smiling as he works. It feels good to be a hero.
Then he sees what his fingers are really typing, and realizes he's not being a hero.
He's a bomb going off.
He can't scream, stop, or warn anyone, not until the damage is done. It's a very fine programming job, and even with a hacked brain he can recognize the signature.
The insane decabillionaires taking over the world were limited to the best brains money could buy. And that had included Topher Brink.