Crisis of Faith [Quick Fic]

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Impulzv
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Crisis of Faith [Quick Fic]

Postby Impulzv » Mon Jun 25, 2007 10:10 pm

[Just a quick fanfic I tossed out for fun.]

It was finished. I mopped the cold sweat from my brow before logging on to InterNIC to cover my tracks. The irony would have been getting arrested for hacking the very same world-wide network I had just saved. With that out of the way I sat back, lit up a cigarette, and replayed the past few months in my mind.

ARC. The Arunmor Corporation. Revelation. Faith. It was a whirlwind of images, thoughts and feelings. It had all kicked off when Uplink's top agent, Tempest, had been offed and I had received that e-mail. What had followed was a trail of corporate espionage, deceit, murder and greed. A digital arms race to end or save the network. I had even played both sides. After all, my Trinity Gateway hadn't exactly paid for itself. In the end, though, I had been forced to make a choice. If for no other reason than the selfish one of preserving my livelihood, I had sided with Arunmor and fought both ARC and the Revelation virus. A few of the major corporations had lost entire systems, but I knew I couldn't save everyone. I had done what I could to stop the virus, plain and simple. Let the insurance guys and the market analysts do what they would about the poor souls who had had years' worth of data and millions' worth of equipment destroyed.

That, of course, brought me back to the business at hand. I eyed the small prompt at the upper-left of my screen. "Nuke Gateway? Yes/No"

Good question. I was safe, that much I knew. You didn't oust the top Agent for Uplink without learning very early on how to cover your tracks. No one was coming. No federal agents were going to kick the door in and attempt to seize my Gateway. Still, a few memories from earlier in my career prompted me to check the motion detector anyway. Nothing.

I felt sorry for the kids and the wannabes who jumped into hacking with both feet. They slog through their first few missions, grab a few of the lower-level software and hardware upgrades, and then it happens: they get the green light to hit one of the government systems. The security on the International Academic Database is laughable. The Global Criminal Database is pretty easy to crack as well, given the right preparation. But something in their minds changes when they successfully hit a government system. They get impatient with the jobs that got them there. They've tasted blood. That's when things go south.

One of two things happens. They get cocky and sloppy, leave a trail and get disavowed by Uplink, or worse yet, nabbed by the feds. It's either that or they start borrowing against future jobs, making promises they don't even realize they can't keep. When the complaints roll in, their employment with Uplink rolls out. You learn how to pace yourself and stay careful, or you're out of the game. It's that simple. It's cyber-Darwinism.

I sighed a plume of smoke out. The last bout of musing was a nice distraction, but it still didn't answer the question. Should I stay or should I go? Do I walk, and leave my Top Agent spot to the next up and comer, get out of the game? Was there anything left at Uplink for me? They say the only place to go once you've hit the top is back down. Then again, maybe it's mental. Maybe people at the peak of their careers just psych themselves out, worrying about just that.

That's when I remembered Dogbert.

Agent Dogbert had the number eight slot at Uplink long before I hit the Top 10. He was one of the elite. He was one of us. He had also been sent up for ten to fifteen years. By me. It's hard to have a sense of camaraderie within a corporation, when the entire business is mercenary in nature. A lot of companies will pay through the nose to see a hacker who hit them do hard time. Sometimes, that hacker was Uplink. I had taken a few rundown jobs, and had never actually sent any of my fellow Agents up the river. These were private operators, and anyone not working for Uplink was competition. It was a nice arrangement for both the contractor and the Agent.

The Dogbert setup had been personal. One of the first things you learn in this business is to always keep one eye on your bank account. There are no special tags that say, "Pardon me, but this account belongs to an Uplink Agent. Perhaps you would consider rethinking targeting this particular individual." If you do your homework, you can usually figure out who the account belongs to and whether or not to hit it. Dogbert hadn't done his homework. I saw my balance get hit for one-hundred and fifty thousand dollars. I was cracking the bank's admin not half a minute later.

I ran down the transfer and found my missing money. It was going to be a pain to extradite it, but it was manageable. With that item ticked off my list, I turned to the connection logs. There was no-one paying for this. I was off the clock. But I was pissed. By that point, I had been sitting in the Top Ten Agents list for a while, closing fast on Tempest's number one slot. I was not about to let something like that go unpunished. Vanity aggrieved is vengeance's forbear.

The task was simple. I ran down the connection, found his computer and then hit the GCD. He already had two priors, which saved me the trouble of making them up. One artificial parole violation later, and his arrest had been authorized. I even checked the news feeds to see it happen.

The memory spurred me into action. Revelation had been stopped. A new era of the hacker elite had been ushered in. I cracked the GCD once more and wiped Dogbert's record. He would be released by the end of the day. The second part took some homework and some high priority system work, but eventually, I found his personal bank account. With a flourish of keystrokes, a one-hundred thousand dollar reparation bolstered his balance. I covered my tracks once more, then brought up his e-mail address.

Dogbert,

This is Mephisto. Check your bank account. And be careful whose account you hit next time.



It sounded stern enough to me when I read it out loud, with just a hint of apology. Perfect. I sent it on its merry way, and sat back once more, addressing the "Nuke Gateway?" prompt. I clicked, "No." A lot of innocent people had paid the price for my career advancement. There was a lot more work ahead.
@~}~~
madsniper
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Postby madsniper » Fri Jun 29, 2007 9:01 am

Very nicely done.

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