My eyes were burning from staring at a monitor all day. The non-interlaced
lines of code being burned into my retinas. My mind numb, my face frozen
into a look of obedience. I could never forget I had a monitor in front
of me. I was being monitored. I went home just long enough to log in.
Send some emails, create an electronic trail. Whoever cared would know
that I was home. Then I left. Left for
When you want to jack in, the place to go is AC. But since you want to go there, you can t just go there. You have to go into the zone. The zone is corporate, no surprise there, everything is corporate. It is a place for games, to relax and have fun. The corps dont go there to have fun, they go to watch you have fun. Watch you relax, see what you do when you think it isnt for real. I know its all for real.
I log in with an account. Not one of my important ones. Not one traceable to me. Always slip in first with something you can lose, in case you cant slip back out. I got in, and I got out. Simple as that. Its always simple when it works.
I go back in. Not deep. Just skimming the surface. Idle chatter. There
is news. It seems there was old research on mages, ways to make them tougher,
stronger, better protected. It sounded like military hardware. Not cutting
edge anymore but better then anything civilians could dig up. Of course
I became interested. Being a mage meant wielding power, power it took
a lifetime to learn - or a simple training
When you need to know, there was only one person to see - Maggie. She
called herself the jackcat, but nobody else did. It reminded me faintly
of an ancient song about a girl everyone called Nancy. I must have heard
it in a commercial somewhere. I remember that
You dont see Maggie in AC. There is a portal to jackcat, but I was sure it was a trap. They knew about her but they didnt know how to stop her.
I tabbed out and surfed to her site on the web. It looks pretty enough, culture, hobbies, typical tourist glitz and garbage. But those who knew how could dig past that, find the real info. Why she put it there I didnt know. I often wondered if it was there to distract us, keep us from digging for the better information. But what she had always seemed complete, and it was always accurate.
There was a man I needed to see, Spertat the Ursuin Hunter. He would sell me a book about the armor, for a price. And it seemed he didnt keep a fixed address. I didnt blame him. But I would find him.
Back in AC I set up my search program and entered his name. The ursuin hunter had become the hunted. He was said to be in the north. I looked. I didnt see him. My night was over and I was no closer to my goal then I had been when I started.
Another day of droning at work and I was back in AC. I had to find Spertat and I couldnt take the time it seemed to require. There was an option. Now most of what I do is on the edge. It isnt right, but it isnt strictly illegal. This was. It had been banned and users along with it. But I needed the edge. I needed the speed. I needed Gear.
In a few minutes it was up and I was running. It was like the wind was at my back, or I was the wind. I flew across the north from mountain to valley. Drudge, servant, I saw them all. But no Spertat.
I looked to see a man keeping pace, his blue dot flashing. It was an admin. I was busted. He remained polite as he told me my rights. I had none. He knew about the Gear. I was banned.
Or, rather, that account was banned. I had others growing around AC. I could pick one from Serac or maybe the DoC. But that would be for another night. I needed more information and it looked like Spertat wasnt going to give it to me.
What I had was information in its rawest form, the rantings of Lum. Some
say he was driven mad trying to decipher the workings of the Great Machine.
Others say he had to have been mad to try. The only thing certain was
that he was made, a few lines of his ranting was
I ran a search on the only word I knew, heiromancer. And there it was, heiromancer armor. The key to finding it was a man called Zairente Ra-Yao. No fixed address for him of course.
No point in wasting a valuable avatar. I picked a weak one I had few
resources invested in. It was slow and weak. Until I activated Gear. With
Gear, skill did not matter. It was pure speed. Turn on the tracer program
and I was ready. I was ready for the admin. Three
I found Zairente Ra-Yao. He was not a player, all he wanted was money. He gave me the key, so encrusted it was scarcely recognizable. The only way to clean it was acid. And acid meant grievvers.
It may surprise you that I have a patron. But while you can survive in AC without a patron you cannot truly live without one. I contacted mine and told him a little of what I was up to. I needed a meatshield, I hoped he could provide one. As luck would have it he had one in mind. A twinked brawler who needed some outdoor time. He arranged a time for us to meet.
We couldnt meet for a day. I was tempted to hunt grievvers on my own but patience is the key to success. The day was better spent checking my various accounts, tending the avatars as they grew in their various camps. I started a half dozen more as I had lost several already on this quest and might need more fodder for the admins. A productive day but not a fun day.
The next day we met by the drunken madman. The brawler was a she. Chiseled face, piercing eyes, no random genetics, she was chosen to look beautiful and dangerous. The kind of face that said she was looking for trouble, which means she could not be very smart. She was not. She talked a lot to impress me with her skills, which after I buffed her were quite impressive. But they were technical skills only. She could fight like someone who had been trained all her life but never actually been in a fight. No sense of her surroundings, no sense of movement. She was a perfect meatshield.
There were rumors of grievvers by Stonehold. I was tempted to go someplace else just on principle, but hunting grievvers was not illegal. Sometimes secrecy is worthwhile, sometimes it is just making things harder on yourself. With her fighting and me keeping her alive we made a pretty good team. A lot of grievvers fell before I found enough acid to clean the key. But the task was done. Now I just had to find the door.
There was risk now. The key was tied to this avatar so I could not risk
getting him banned. I had to find the portal the old-fashioned way. I
booted up all six boxes, dual logged on five of them, and had a macro
search the dires. While they were searching I found a
When the portal was found I logged out the other macros, leaving only the one to hold the portal in place. Then I went there with the key. The key fit and I was transported before a shimmering gem on a spire above the dires. I found a smaller gem there as well and used it.
Thats how I ended up here. The rest you know. I know you arent
government or even corporate. If you were I would be gone already. So
open up and let me in. Im ready for the tests.