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ZODIAC

Part I:

May all your dreams be Digital

                                       By Lex Morrison

 

 Color Version

Prologue:


      It began in the year is 2025, 10 years after the outbreak of the Revelation Virus that nearly brought the information age to a close.  Since that time many hackers have left the world of illegal computer access and found lucrative and successful jobs rebuilding computer networks and creating advanced security systems to prevent a similar disaster from ever occurring again.  However a strong underground hacker following still persists and the once powerful Uplink Corporation has found its monopoly waning as other rival agency have begun appearing throughout the digital world.

       It was at this time that Cappella Optical Technologies unveiled the Latus Chip, an advanced two way relay system that operated through neural impulses. The Latus Chip was attached to the back of a user’s neck and then connected to a specially designed terminal through an optical transfer cable. Once activated it allowed the user to see and interact with the digital world as easily as opening a door and perform tasks at the speed of thought.

       It has been two years since then, and now the Latus Chip has become the industry standard for the computer elite, as well as the new breed of hacker.

 
       However all is not right in the information world several well know hackers have gone missing in the last few weeks, vanishing without a trace, and deep within the hacker inner circles there are whispers of strange things occurring out in the wilds of the information world.

Our Story begins:

 

     Rain drops fell in a steady stream against the long bay window and cast a dull grey light into the room. Paintings and photos adorned the wall each of crystal waters and sun swept beaches.  Leaning against one wall was a wooden bookcase filled with the works of Nietzsche, Kafka, and Shakespeare.  An old couch and table sat facing a television that looked more like a museum piece then an everyday appliance. I was a small time fixer dealing in the sale and purchase of illegal goods, specializing more in the lower end of the spectrum providing those things that people wanted but could not have, or helping them get rid of some prematurely inherited possessions. That is, until one day when a petty thief named Jarred arrived at my door with an offer I could not refuse.  
    

I had done business with Jarred always dealing in some minor merchandise, cell phones, jewelry, nickel and dime stuff really and so when he showed carrying and over sized brief case I had had no reason to expect this transaction to be any different from the previous ones. But I could not have been more wrong when he opened the case to reveal a portable Latus System.  I had no idea how he had come by it, he never said where and I knew better then to ask how. Regardless of where he acquired two things were blatantly clear one, it was a custom made model, and two he was very eager to unload it. Jarred was not the sort of person who usually came into possession of high-end  goods, after all he was little more then a scavenger with fast legs, stealing from the dead to pay for his next fix of baby blue. But wherever he obtained the Latus System chances are a dead body would not have been far away and yet my eyes light up at the possibilities of what this could provide. It was like I had been handed a silver ticket and all that remained was to enter the chocolate factory. Knowing that this was likely the only chance I would ever have to gain access to the UnderNet, I handed over all but five thousand Yen of my savings to purchase the case from him.

     After Jarred eagerly departed I took my time to clear enough room on the desk to place the heavy case containing my little piece of personal power. Then using my rather limited knowledge of computers to hook up the system, and attaching the Latus Chip to the back of my neck, I flipped the on switch.


>Checking Connection....... Ok
>Checking UnderNet OS........ Ok
>Checking Memory Systems..............Error
>Warning Primary Memory Core Fault.
>System must be reset.  
>This will result in Complete Data loss and Restoration of the Original >template.
>
>Reset commencing
>..................................
>
>System Restarting.
>
>Checking Connection....... Ok
>Checking UnderNet OS........ Ok
>Checking Memory Systems........ Ok
>Checking Secondary Memory Systems........ Unknown module detected.
>Auto Recovery initiated....
>Recovery complete.
>Zodiac Files restored.
>
>
>Connecting to UnderNet
>Originally Established by the Uplink Corporation
>
>Welcome Back Agent Jackal
>
>It has been 3 weeks, 5 days, 7 hours, and 24 minutes
>since your last access.
>According to the UnderNet Terms of use policy, your extend absence

>has resulted in forfeiture of all ranks, stocks, and system accounts.
>
>           Have a nice day.

 

It took a few minutes to adjust to the sudden rush of sensation and I could only imagine that this bombardment of impulses was the same feeling that a skydiver experienced when free falling a plane and it took me only a second to decided not ponder what the affect would be if I did not have the digital equivalent of a parachute.  The world around me was a wash in glowing blues and black. Azure lines crisscross all around and bright yellow spheres race along them, making me feel as though I am standing in the middle of a vast three dimensional spider web. I could see small translucent icons and symbols around the edges of my field of vision, and from the articles I had read on Latus System I recognized this as the Oracle interface that acted as medium for controlling the software and hardware on the Latus System; as well as providing detailed information beyond the pseudo-sensory information that my brain was currently processing. The other part of the interface was known as an Avatar it acts as a digital body, customized to the users design, allowing a person in the UnderNet to look however they wished. It also served to ground people helping them accept what they see and hear as real.

 

 A white wooden door stood directly behind me acting as the graphical representation of the gateway to the Latus system, and beside it sat a brass mail box with five new messages flashing in it.  I reached out to touch the mail box which caused a gentle shock to course through me and immediately a much smaller version of the box appeared in the bottom left of my vision with the same unopened messages blinking away. Still unsure of what to do and how to interact with the world around me, I tried to focus on opening a letter and like an extension of my will one the letters flew out of the box and proceeds to unfold before me.


To: Jackal

From: Sakura

Subject: Does RustyRazor have a new Alias?

Date:  April 25, 2027 - 14:08

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

          Hey, Jackal I’ve been trying to get a hold of RustyRazor for a couple of days now but he’s not answering his email and he hasn’t been seen at his usual haunts, have you been in contact with him at all?   Someone said he might be using a new alias I figured if anyone knew it would be you. If you hear from him at all, get him to contact me.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

As quickly as it unfolded it closed again and the next message unfolded before me.

 

 

To: Jackal

From: WoeHammer

Subject:  RE: Corrupted Data

Date:  April 30, 2027 - 7:17

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

          Sorry man, I took a stab at recovering that corrupt data packet you sent me but it was totally trashed.   I did mange to recover a partial destination IP, it was being sent somewhere in the Emerald City.  Hope this helps and if you need anymore assistance with your project give me a shout; I’ll be back from my vacation in two weeks, peace out man.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

To: Jackal

From: accounts@uplink.com

Subject: Monthly Fee

Date: May 01, 2027 – 00:01

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

          The ¥3,000 monthly fee has been deducted from your account.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

To: Jackal

From: Sakura

Subject: Hello????

Date May 8, 2027 – 22:45

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

          Hey Jackal are you there???  I’m starting to panic now; I still haven’t been able to find RustyRazor and now Iggy is missing. The last time I talked to him was at the LL, he was all excited about a high paying contract he just found and that was the last time anyone has seen him. I’m going to try and dive into the Uplink message archive and see if I can find the details of his last job, hopefully that will give me some clues as to what has happened to him.

 

Please contact me ASAP; I just hope something hasn’t happened to you as well….

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

To: Jackal

From: Ice Miner

Subject: Expired Account

Date May 15, 2027, - 18:02

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

          I was doing regular maintenance on the uplink server and noticed your account had expired, I guess you must be out having too much fun, so what was it this time a blonde or a brunette?  Never mind, just stop by the uplink node and I’ll set you up with a new account, no need to bother with the usual formalities for an old friend after all. Alright see you when you get here.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

          With that the last message vanished from view and once again the spider web of pulsing lines came into focus.  This whole new world that had just opened up before me was so vast and beyond my comprehension that I felt as if I had just been born and was no more then baby trying to learn how to crawl.  I decided start by first trying to get a better feel of the Oracle interface and controlling my avatar, before I dared venture out into the wilds of the UnderNet. I concentrated on a small grey map icon in the bottom of my field of vision, which caused it to spring forth into my centre of view and transform into a rotating three dimensional globe.  Several small white circles appear on the globe and branching lines connect them to smaller white squares. All except for one square over Canada which had a flickering green appearance. I stopped and stared perplexed at it for a moment trying to determine what it meant, when the realization that it was the digital equivalent of a “you are here” sign struck me and I started to laugh.

 

After that I tried concentrating on a notepad icon which brought up two lists on either side of the globe, one listing contacts, with the names on the list matching the names on the emails I had read earlier, and the other list containing the names and addresses of various nodes, including: Unified Government Public Access node, Uplink node, as well as several others that appear to be online communities with names such as Bin Town.

 

          After a few minutes of experimenting and toying with the different features I decided to venture out into the UnderNet, although I was still unsure of what to do I felt I was ready to crawl and so I followed the advice in the last email and travel to the Uplink node to have a new account setup. After that earning some quick cash by taking on a few easy jobs should be a piece of cake. Touching the name of the Uplink node in the list caused the globe to stop spinning and a dotted green line connected the white circle representing its node to the green square of my gateway. A small blinking box with jump written in it also appeared above the globe. And with a single determined thought I closed my eyes and said jump. With that my avatar begins to disassemble.

 

 

          When I opened my eyes my surroundings had completely changed. No longer was I standing alone in an empty space, I now found myself in a bustling plaza, with avatars of all shapes and designs passing by around me. The large plaza was filled with the sounds of people laughing and talking, as well as the calls of intrepid entrepreneurs. High walls of black steel fringed with blue neon lights encircle the area and the ground was made of the same black material except it formed concentric rings that had tiny pulses of data zigzagging through them on their way to various destinations. Pathways of varying sizes branched off of the plaza in all directions and in the center stood a large glass monolith. Numerous Avatars where clustered around it reading the latest news and information on small crystal screens.  It seemed a likely place to start and so I approached the monolith looking for a vacant access slot, which I found along the far side of it. I touched the glass and a chime sounded as screen emerged from the surface of the monolith. 

 

There where several different categories displayed on the screen, listing the different functions available through the terminal. They included access to a node map, ranking lists, accesses to news servers, and help.  Since help was what I needed the most, that the option that I selected. It brought up a new list containing references to terms and subjects all of which where completely alien to me. All except the last one marked with a golden e and simply labeled “Uplink 101”. The last option was the only one I could understand and also the most curious of them all. So I selected it on the screen and a small cylindrical crystal emerged from the monolith with the words “Uplink 101” written along the side. This left me even more perplexed then before. I turn it this way and that trying to figure out not only what it was but what to do with it, to no avail when all of a sudden I felt a gentle tap upon my on the shoulder. I turned around only too be greeted by the image of a tall blonde woman, her long hair hung loosely down to her ankles, and she was dressed in cocktail dress of crimson red, with three silver bands wrapped around her upper left arm.  With a pleasant smile and a playful tone she began to speak.

 

“First time in the UnderNet, I take it”

 

“Ya, Is it that obvious?” I replied sheepishly

 

“Yes, you look very green; especially since you’ve been fiddling with that ed-soft for the last five minutes with a clueless look on your face. That and you don’t have a visible handle”

 

“Ed-soft?”

 

“Ed-softs they are a medium for storing information and techniques as well as a functioning as a method to imprint that information on a user. In this case the one your holding contains the basic rules and regulations of Uplink, along with a few hacking tutorial and a guide to life in the UnderNet.”

 

“So it is like an electronic textbook, I don’t suppose you could tell me how to use it?

 

“Well for a greener like yourself, you’d load it into memory and run it like any other program or you could always print it and read the book offline, which ever you prefer.”

 

“Isn’t there any easier way?”

 

“Well there is… Huh, now this is unusual you’ve got a MIIARC installed on your Latus, that a pricey piece of hardware never seen a greener with one before.”

 

“What is a MIIARC?”

 

“Memory Ingram Imprinter and Reflex Conditioner, it’s an advance high-tech tool that allows you to actually download an ed-soft directly into your brain and nervous system.  Within several minutes or hours depending on the person, they posses the skills and knowledge contained on the ed-soft. It’s mainly used by the pros, since it costs a bundle, that and the fact it is difficult to obtain high level ed-softs. But it’s defiantly invaluable if you want to become a serious hacker.”

 

“I can see the advantage with that a person could learn in few hours what it take most to learn in a year. So how do I use it?”

 

“That’s easy; simply insert the ed-soft into the port on your left temple. Then wait, after its installed it may take a while for the new information to synchronize with your existing memories but things will began to make sense as it happen so you’ll be able to recognize the meaning and function of what’s around you.”

 

“Thanks a lot, I appreciate the help.”

 

“Don’t mention it, after all we were all green once.  You should head over to the registration office and get set up with an Uplink account you’ll need it, if you’re planning on doing anything other than browse. It’s the connection path over there at three o’clock.”

 

“That’s exactly why I’m here;   I just wasn’t expecting all of this.” I said stretching out my arms.

 

(Laughing) “You’ve still got a lot of surprises ahead, if you’re impressed with the Uplink node. Well I’ve got to go, the name’s Julia by the way.  After you’ve gotten your feet wet you should stop by DownLink it’s a net bar off of this node. See you net cowboy!”

 

“I’ll do that, be seeing you”

 

With that she vanished into the crowd of people. I spent a long moment staring at the crystal until I decided that it was better to take advantage of the Latus System upgrades that I had, rather than learn about the UnderNet the old fashioned way. I was surprise that where only a slight resistance as I inserted the ed-soft into the port. But then I was hit with a sudden burst of adrenaline and a flood of images invades my senses every muscle began to twitch and then as quickly as it began the feeling faded from my body leaving me doubled over and panting. It could not have been more then a few minutes since I implanted the ed-soft but it felt as though I had just spent a several hours in the gym.  Although despite that nothing else seemed to have happened. There was no sudden insight or surge of power and I began to wonder if she had been telling truth about the ed-soft after all.  Although it right now it did not seem to matter one or another, so I headed towards the Uplink registration system and decided to wait and see if any new found knowledge would manifest itself.

 

I walked along the pathway Julia had pointed out and even as I drew near I knew that it was the right way to go. Entering the connection was much like passing through a door where that inside did not conform to the same dimensions as the outside.   I found myself in a medium sized white room with a receptionist counter and a line of grey and green chairs along a wall complete with a few out of date magazines in a pile on a table.  The receptionist appeared to be a smiling silver tadpole wearing a policeman’s hat. There where several other avatars in the room, sitting on the chairs and filling out forms including one person who decided for whatever reason that it would be a good idea to look like an orange number seven.  Not wanting to waste my time doing paper work I decided to take a gamble and walked straight up to the receptionist.

 

“Hello there, I’m Jackal I believe Ice Miner is expecting me” I said in a confident tone.

 

“Oh yes, that’s right he said to send you in when you arrived, right this way please.” it replied in a gracious tone and then escorted me to a glass door.

 

Once through the door I was standing in a rather small wood paneled room, with a set of golf clubs leaning against one wall and an old fashioned miner’s pick hung on the far wall behind a mahogany desk. A tall man dressed like a doctor was sitting in large leather chair behind the desk and greeted me warmly as I enter.

 

“Jackal, I was wonder when you where going to get around to stopping by.”

 

“I’ve been busy you could say.”

 

“I bet. What happened, it looks like your Latus has been completely wiped? Never thought I would see the day when the great Jackal would get flash fried.”

 

“It’s a long story.  I’ll fill you in another time, what I really need now is a new user account.”

 

“Sure, this will only take a second.”  He entered a few commands on a panel showing an image of my avatar and then turned back and handed me a simple iron band. Almost without thinking I clasped it onto my left arm.

 

“Thanks, I appreciate this Ice Miner” I said hurriedly.

 

“Don’t mention it. You okay? You don’t seem like your usual self today” Ice Miner asked suspiciously.

 

“I am just off my game, still a little shaken that’s all.”

 

“Hmm, it seems like more then that. Maybe you had a few brain cells fried during your last dive. I hear the new defenses the corporations employ are far more dangerous than the last generation.  Maybe you should head down to Bin Town until you’ve got yourself back together. I know that place is a dump full of ragtag hackers, and junk shops but at least you won’t run into anyone who recognizes you down there.”

 

“That sounds like a good idea.  I’ll do that. Well I’ll be seeing you.”  I left as quickly as I could after that, since I didn’t want to arouse his suspicion any further but it was clear that I had set off a few warning bells.  Clearly I would have to be more careful from now, since it seemed whoever Jackal was, he defiantly had friends in the Elites. And I could not even imagine what they would do to me; if they found out I was using their dead friend’s Latus System.

 

Once again I brought the globe into view and this time after only a moment of searching I managed to find Bin Town. It seemed to be a small node over eastern Australia with only a couple of data lines leading to other nodes it was clearly not a high traffic area or one of much importance for that matter.  I cringed slightly in anticipation of the jump before my avatar disassembled and then reassembled at my new location. It was an odd sensation traveling through the UnderNet and one that I was unsure I could ever get use too. 

 

My new surroundings where as different from the Uplink node as night and day; in fact if I had to use one word to describe my new surrounds it would be seedy.  Brown was the predominate color and there where brick buildings all around as well as piles of broken and damaged shapes.  I begin to realize that those piles where discarded data fragments, bits and pieces of junk code that gathered in some of the UnderNet maintenance nodes. It appeared that for whatever reason a community has developed around this one, the people here where on the fringe of society the desperate and despondent. Some of them had dreams but they ended up in a vicious cycle of debt, and now they where merely trying to hold on to what little they had left in real world. Others had got hard dumped one too many times from their dives and where now quite a few less brain cells than when they started and then there where many who had decided that the digital world was far more real than the real one. 

 

There where a number of places in around that immediately caught my eye.  One of them being a run down looking net bar called Korobeiniki, and a well maintained looking building called the Blue Parrot. Seeing as how it is was the least dilapidated building around I figured it was probably the local work brokerage and head towards it.

 

The inside was pretty much in keeping with the outside although it looked more like a bar then an employment centre.  Wooden tables and shady booths filled the interior and a long counter seemed to act as a focal point of attention. Numerous screens dotted the walls listing the available jobs, and there where also a couple of rather odd looking avatars conversing with black shapes at some of the tables. I walked towards one of the screens however instead of seeing a detailed listing of jobs as I had imagined the screen was instead completely blank.

 

“Hey you, dog headed boy.” a rather grizzled and unkempt man behind the counter yelled.

 

“Are you talking to me?” I replied turning to face him.

 

“Who else, you want a job! You pay me first, 100 Yen to read the board. You don’t like you leave.”

 

“(Sigh) Alright.” I responded defeatedly. I had dealt with many people like him before they where the kind shopkeepers who treated their stores like their own private fiefdom where the customer was lucky to even be allowed in. I placed my digital smartcard into the reader on the counter and he nodded when the payment confirmation appeared, then with the flick of a switch he caused the screen I had been looking at to light up.

 

          Looking at the screen, I began to understand why Ice Miner had said that no one who knew Jackal would be here. I also understood why the people outside looks so poor.  Most of the jobs listed on the board where only offer a few hundred Yen for completion, making them hardly worth the effort to undertake, all that is except for the last one on the list, which was offering a fee of ¥1,500. As it was the only offering a decent fee I quickly selected it before anyone else noticed it which caused a small light to scan the band around my arm.  The job listing on the screen where then replaced by a simple line of text that read “booth six”.  Looking around for a second I found the booth I had been direct to and waited for the client to arrive. It took several minutes before the client appeared if you could call it that since the client was little more then a non distinct black shape just like the many others I had seen people talking too.

 

“Th-Thank you for answering the job posting” the shape says nervously”

 

“Don’t worry your safe, now what are the details of the job?” I inquired in a soothing voice.

 

“Well you see the thing is, I’m not a bad person really. I just made a tiny mistake at the office where I work. You see they don’t treat me very well there and I decided that I was do a little bonus nothing big just what I was owed. So I transferred some money from the payroll system to my personal account, it such a small amount that I figured no one would notice”

 

“But they did?”

 

“Yes, I thought I had been so careful. But now, they are going through all the written records and accounting data. What I need you to do is hack into the accounts and resequence the parole account to make it look like the bosses son was just taking out a larger than normal personal allowance.”

 

“Hmm, shouldn’t be too hard, what kind of security can I except?”

 

“Well the admin, is on vacation, that’s why thought I’d get away with it, but other than that there should only be the three-dimensional encrypted access port between you and the files.”

 

“I can handle that, alright then I’ll take the job.” I said handing him a small digital chit containing my account information.  Thanking me profusely he handed me a chit of his own containing the IP address for the office along with the employee ID numbers.

 

Although I agreed to do the job figuring it would be a simple matter however a quick scan of the primary memory on the Latus system revealed that it contained only the basic connection and file control protocols.  It looked like I was going to need invest in some software if I was to have any hope of making some money. So I turned to the man at the counter and asked.

 

“Is there tool store around here?”

 

“Outside third building on your left” he responded without glancing up from the magazine that he was reading. It did not take long to find the place he mentioned and I found myself standing in front of a large sign displaying the name “The Happy Gator Clamp” in glowing neon yellow glory.  The inside reminded me of a small convince store right down to the halogen lamps flicking on the ceiling.   The owners’ avatar was that of a smiling alligator wearing a pair of black sunglasses, and the shelves where packed with assorted colored boxes many bearing the Uplink seal of approval others seemingly named after there creators.

 

“What you need Mon?” the gator inquired in a friendly voice and a thick Jamaican accent.

 

“A Data resequencer” I answered in an equally friendly manor.

 

“No problem, I got what ya needing. You looking for speed, size or concealment?”

 

“Concealment I think I don’t want to leave even a footprint.”

 

“I hear that, you don’t want no one know what you been doing. Then I recommend Fido’s repack version .7. It should do the job for you and it only set ya back ¥650”

 

“Alright, here you go, thanks for the help.”

 

“Don’t mention it, come back anytime.”

 

With my first piece of software in hand and installed on my Latus System I left the small store and once again entered the sprawl of brick buildings that made up Bin Town.  Almost without realizing it I had began adjusting to the UnderNet, the terms and slang where starting to make sense and it seemed as if the ed-soft had worked after all.  I could not help but wondered what other ed-softs existed and how I might be able to acquire one. Since if even a common place one could such an affect on a person imagine what a high level ed-soft could do.  But first I had other things to deal with as I prepared for my first job as a hacker.  With a quick thought I brought the globe into center of my view and my fingers began to dance around it tapping nodes and sub-systems, tracing an elaborate path twisting around over dozen different systems to link Bin Town to the target system.  With the path complete I took one last deep breath and hit connect.

 

It felt as though I was being pushed through a wind tunnel as my data compressed into a small packet and then bounced across the data streams of the UnderNet along the path I had created toward my destination.  I was not sure what to accpect when I left but when I finally arrived I found myself a little disorientated by the journey and so it took me a  minute to get my bearings and take stock of the plain unadorned system I was now in. Who ever had designed the place had either no need or no desire to customize architecture in any way and had instead simply left it with the basic template. 

 

A blue walkway leaded off of the UnderNet to a large metallic pyramid constructed of roughly two dozen different shaped blocks.  Almost immediately a text book like memory surfaced that could not have been my own and I recognized the pyramid as a three-dimensional encrypted access port. The basic idea behind the system was spatial recognition. In order to pass through the connection the port it had to first be decoded by shifting and turning the blocks to transform the initial shape into a new shape that would allow access. The more advanced generations usually included trap connections, by employing designs that could reach the final form through different block combination, however only one combination actual lead to the system the others usual lead to dummy system or even a labyrinth lock to trap the unfortunate hacker.   But seeing as how this was a rather basic system I knew there would be no such safeguards or dangers. A quick scan of the connection protocol revealed that a cube was the desired final form for the lock.

 

Stretching out my hands I quickly began to manipulate the pyramid blocks, shifting, turning and separating them from the main shape.  All of a sudden I could here a quiet buzzing sound and a small warning light began to flash in the Oracle display.  Apparently the system was not as weak as I had been lead to believe. The system had detected a possible unauthorized access and already begun tracing me. Working quicker then before I continued moving pieces and it was begin to resemble a cube. I continued to slide piece after piece in and out of the shape, transforming it from all sides, when suddenly without warning the port transformed back into a pyramid.

 

“Damn it!” I cursed to myself. Apparently the three-dimensional encrypted access port was equipped with an auto reset. Unless the shape was completed within a finite time the port would return to its initial state. This was defiantly going to make my job harder. And the trace currently following my connection trail back to my home was not helping matters any. 

 

Once again my hands began to dance around the pyramid almost as if they had a mind of their own. I no longer had the luxury of planning out a solution to the puzzle. I simply had to act and focus on the final image.  Much quicker then before the cube began to take shape as I rotated it in all directions plugging in blocks left and right.  A second warning light appears in the oracle interface, which meant the active trace had already reached the halfway point. So I redoubled my efforts, until at that the last final block clicked into place.  The cube was complete and it flashed for an instance before transforming into a pathway leading into the heart of the system.

 

 The interior was the same simple design as the exterior, made up predominately of blues and black with a few other colors thrown in to signify pieces of data and system functions.  Placing my hand atop a short oblong pillar caused a system schematic to appear in the air in front of me. It took only a moment to examine it and located the target area.   I ran towards my destination, down a short passage that lead into a large warehouse shaped room representing the data storage module.

 

The room was filled with assorted sized cubes of data some rapped in a green wire representing encrypted information other completely unprotected.  I scanned cubes in the room looking for the file headers for the payroll archive until at last I discovered the one I was after.  I barely had time to confirm that it was the right file before I activated the data resequencer which sent a steam of red 1’s and 0’s into the cube.  Slowly the stream changed from red to yellow while my eyes kept flicking towards the warning lights in the oracle interface.  My heart was racing I would have to stop and abandon the job of third light lit it was just too risky after that. The yellow began to shirt into green as I tried desperately to will the program to run faster.  At last the flow turned completely green and then stopped.  At that same instant the final warning lit up and I activated the recall command severing my connection to the target system.

 

I let off well deserved sigh of relief, as the familiar, all be it depressing sights of Bin Town once again came into view.  Turning I reentered the Blue Parrot and sent a message to the client informing them of the successful completion of the mission. Then pausing only for a moment to break the trail of bounces connecting Bin Town to the system I had just hacked. I logged out and the bright lights of the UnderNet where replaced by the dimly lit view of my apartment.

 

A rush of adrenaline was coursing through my body while I replied the memories the still fresh memories of the job in my mind.  A smile crossed my lips as I realized that now I was officially a hacker. Although despite that euphoria and excitement I felt my neck ached and I found myself rubbing my sore eyes.  That is when I looked around and noticed for the first time that the sun has long since set, and night was in full swing. I started too wondered how long I had been online for, but then exhaustion set in. So I collapsed into bed and mused on how successful my day had been. A acquired a state of art Latus system for the fraction of its true value and I had even managed to make a few Yen. All in all it was a good day.