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Sides of the medallion
Skrivet av Mathias Nordvall   
2004-08-06

Sides of the Medallion

To Shila, you were my first creating and I still miss you.

The backbone of the world, the modern civilisations nerve system, the oil that keeps the corporations going. They are all other words for one thing, the Matrix. In the year of 2054 corporations more or less rule the world. And to make communication possible between corporations for trading of computer software, closures of merchandise deals and just general exchange of various sorts of information they together formed the Matrix.

But don�t let the explanation above fool you. The Matrix isn�t just used by corporations. Also tortoises (slang for normal user sitting in front of a tabletop computer) take advantage of the information circling inside the Matrix. There is though one line of profession that uses the Matrix to more then just gaining simple information about various things happening in the world, downloading games/software and talking to friends.

They are called deckers and are as good as always shadow runners. Shadow runners are outcasts of society. Professional hit men, burglars, criminals, deckers that live by doing jobs supplied to them by their Mr. Johnson (slang for contact person giving contracts on jobs that can�t stand being exposed to the public eye). But don�t think that they are hated by all. Even corporations in the year of 2054 hire shadow runners for operations they don�t want to be officially involved in.

Deckers would have been called hackers in the 20th century. But there is a difference of great significant. Deckers get online by jacking their brain directly to the Matrix using a deck (now see why they are called deckers? J ). So while the decker is in the Matrix everything he/she sees, does, say happen in the Matrix. Not in the normal world, deckers are even oblivious to the real world while being jacked up the Matrix.

< Connection established >

< Accessing Grid >

< Access denied >

< Reconnection attempt >

< Grid access granted >

The stream of information hit Shila with the force of a flowing river. No matter how many times she had done this before she always find it thrilling to see the information rushing against her at full speed to finally impact upon her persona. The familiar landscape of information spread out to the horizon, surrounding her on all sides. A chaotic stream of bright dots crossed the sky above her. Each and every one of the dots representing another user of the matrix.

Her mission was clear as synthetic water. Mr Johnson had said that all she had to do was to break into the mainframe at AzTechnology and download the personal files of their employees. The only problem were that AzTechnology are one of the major corporations meaning they had major protection against unauthorised people trying to get into their cN (short for corporation network). So her first priority would be to gain information about the general construction of the network, where the nodes are, where the security barriers are located and how many IC robots (computerised Intrusion Control robot making sure that no unauthorised personal gains access to the network) they are using.

After a couple of pushes on her virtual "toolbar" her Matrix avatar stood in front of a node, which acted as a haven for shadow runners. Here they could exchange information and set up meetings for deals that couldn�t be dealt with over the Matrix. Like the trade of guns, armours and other miscellaneous items. The node "entrance" was covered with a bright glow. (A standard barrier that make sure that no other people then members, well and extremely good deckers, could get it). Inside the node twenty or so people were talking to each other inside private conversation rooms. But this was not what she was here for. She had her eyes fixed on the inner zones of shadowland, the deckers� personal mainframe. If you didn�t possess the skills this was an area you would never travel to. After going true a pair of standard security check points she could finally start browsing the index catalogue.

This was something she hadn�t taken account to when accepting the mission. The catalogue didn�t contain any information concerning AzTechnology worth the reading. Except a couple of frightening files stating that "expeditions" formed to shake out some information about the AzTechnology network had mostly resulted in broken circuits or decks. Needless to say decks are not something you would call inexpensive.

So now she only had two choices. One was to forget the whole run and all the money attached to it. Or she could try to infiltrate AzTechnologys� cN on her own without having any information at all about the network. Maybe the choice would have been easier if she had been working with a partner. Going into the Matrix with the purpose of breaking into a major corps� cN without support in real life standing ready to unhook her if something risky happened was not something to be taken lightly upon.

"But a job is a job", she thought to herself as she prepared herself for the disconnection of the Matrix. In the same moment as she disconnected she could feel like if the world zoomed out. Becoming smaller and smaller until she was completely surrounded by thick grey smoke, well smoke isn�t the right word to describe it as but it�s still the most correct one.

< Connection terminated >

She was now back into the real world with her mind. Everything seemed less alive in our own world, everything wasn�t sparkling with life and colour as things did in the Matrix. But real life was in the equation that was something she couldn�t remove even if she had wanted too. Your body couldn�t continue to work if you didn�t sustain it with food, sleep and a million of other things. If it hadn�t she would have gladly stayed in the Matrix . As her mind passed true the thought of food her stomach took the opportunity to inform her that it needed a refilling.

20 minutes later the brown haired, normal built, pretty short woman called Shila was on her way to the local pub. But her trip didn�t just circulate around the subject of food, she also felt a need to exchange a couple of words with "Moodboy" and give him a new mirror program she had written earlier this month.

Programming degenerating programs (they started to age and fall apart once you had activated them but they were still a must for all deckers) gave Shila a small extra income that could put some more food on the table and pay some of her bills. As DPs (Degenerating Programs) only had a life span of one or a couple of days after activation there was always a demand for them and Shila were more then happy to supply them to the people that could pay the dough required.

The vector taxi pulled up at her favourite pub a couple of minutes after she has given the driver the directions. This was the place she always visited when she didn�t feel like eating home cooked food or just felt a need to dine in the presence of other people. Just because you are a decker doesn�t mean that you don�t have a need to meet other people, does it?

The pubs� inside was a bit bigger then the outside suggested. It had about ten round tables scattered over the room plus a bar in the inner right corner with a couple of stools for people to sit on wile drinking. A non-smoking section was out of the question as the smoke hung heavy in the air and by walking in here you wouldn�t feel a need to take out a cigarette as you could just inhale the stale air and get your nicotine urges cured by that alone. When Shila walked into the bar it was about half full. 15 or so people were sitting at the tables and taking up a couple of places at the bar. She looked around and saw "Moodboy" waving at her from one of the inner tables. He quickly stood up and offered her a chair before she even had made a move on one of the empty chairs. She sat down waiting for "Moodboy" to say something.

 

- Do you want a drink, his offer surprised her a bit.

- Oh, sure, why not Moody, she said using the short of his nickname.

He cleared his throat and then raised his voice a bit so that the waitress 2 tables away heared him.

- Two whiskey, make them double and on the rocks, the order was answered by a nod as the waitress went away to fetch the drinks.

- Do you have the program with you, he asked. By the tone of his voice he seemed a bit nervous.

- Don�t worry about it. I finished the program four days ago plus I got it on a backup disk. You�ll get your program.

- I have to ask you about something, she continued. Do you have any information about the AzTechnology cN?

- Why do you ask? Moody asked curiously.

Her answer came as a whisper so low that a person one-yard away wouldn�t have heard it.

- Because my Johnson is offering me good money, really good money if I can deliver the AzTechnology personal files to him.

The conversation was interrupted for a short moment when the waitress put the drink down on the table.

- Are you mad! His reply came out a bit too high causing a few heads to turn in their direction.

- Lower your voice, Shila now sounded a bit irritated.

- Sorry, Moody looked down into his drink managing to look a bit ashamed.

Shila just laughed at him and ruffled his hair playfully. Moody looked up again and opened his mouth.

- I would strongly advise you not to make a run against AzTechnology, I don�t have much information about them but I do know that they are heavily protected by IC and other security alarms, he looked up at her with a faint smile on his lips.

- I know, but I�m not a small girl anymore Moody. I have been on the Matrix for years now and been in many situations, one more dangerous then the other.

- But still, Moody added

- Plus I need the money for rent and food. And even if I do fail the chance that they will find out who I am is all but zero, Shila now talked with confidence. She was good and she knew it.

- Well I can�t do anything more then warn you, can I.

- No, you can�t. Oh and how about the money for this program, she said placing a small brown package on the table.

Moody reaches out and grabbed the bag.

- I�ll wire them to you as soon as I get home, he said firing of another smile.

They both stood up, took on their clothes and went for the door. Outside it had started to rain again. Shila had actually been quite surprised that the rain had taken a pause in it�s pouring, on her way to the pub. It rained almost all the time now a day. It was a clear sign of what the global warning had done to the globe. All the industrial waste products had created a blanket, which wouldn�t let out enough heat to keep the globe at its normal temperature. The result was a global warming that had caused a part of the polar ice to melt and heightening the volume of water in the atmosphere because of that. And as the water couldn�t stay in the atmosphere it had to come down again. Making it rain almost all the time.

Shila gave Moody a quick hug and then watched him vanishing down the street as the rain effectively covered him more and more as the distance between her and Moody grew larger and larger. Her thoughts didn�t wander far away as she soon noticed that her clothes were becoming wetter and wetter for each second passing by. She quickly started to wave at a taxi coming down the street on her side of the road.

The driver politely waited for his passenger to make herself comfortable in the backseat before asking for the directions.

- Maryland street 1460a, she replied and then let her mind wander off again as she sunk down into the passenger seat tiredly watching the houses pass by outside the window.

A roadblock set up by some construction workers made the ride back take 40 minutes. But Shila didn�t care, barely even noticed. Her mind was occupied by the thoughts off whatever or not she should take the chance to make quite a big sum of cash, which would lead to a step up in society, or not. As taking that chance also involved taking risks. Risks that could lead to the destruction of her deck or even getting herself locked up in some penitentiary.

The key made a faint click in the keyhole as it announced that the door was now open. She got inside, dropped her purse on the floor and then quickly headed for the kitchen. After roaming true the fridge for some food she finally found a TV dinner. For how long it had been there she couldn�t remember, as she didn�t even recall buying it. It was synthetic of course. Everything was synthetic now a day. The dinner was eaten under silence. She didn�t even have the radio turned on. In normal cases that were a habit she had. It broke the silence even if it didn�t offer stimulating conversations.

It could be called irony. But the thought of the radio was the thing that tipped the cup. She would do that run. The thought of spending the rest of her life in this dull, grey apartment without any company at all was not something she embraced with joy. After her dinner was finished she put the plates away in the sink.

- I can do the dishes tomorrow, she said to herself.

She had decided to do the run but first she was going to take a shower as cigarette smoke from the pub had made her hair and clothes smell, badly.

After showering she entered the bedroom and some clothes on. When it was done she sat down in front of her computer just looking at the Matrix connection socket for a couple of minutes. It was now or never, her last chance to turn back. Then she slowly picked up the cord and connected it to her head.

Connection established >

< Accessing Grid >

< Grid access granted >

The world was spreading out before her again. Shila was at peace with herself once more. In the Matrix she felt safe. This was her territory and in here Shila knew she was at the top of the food chain.

< Changing LCD >

< New LCD entered >

She could now see it clearly. The main barrier of AzTechnology. Her deck hummed faintly as the code cracker program was loaded into the memory of the deck. A couple of minutes later the barrier authorised her as code green. Meaning she could work in the mainframe without interruption. As she entered the lobby she felt a cold shiver go down her spine. She had never felt it before but guessed it was just because she was very nervous. Browsing true the file catalogues didn�t take long and in a matter of seconds the personal files were downloading them self to Shila�s deck.

The event came as a shock. It just gave her a second of warning before dumping her of the Matrix. The shiver she had felt was a clever IC activating itself upon her access of the AzTechnology cN. Shila�s mind was back in the apartment. The sudden dump had caused her to lose all sense of location. Hard thumps could be heard against the door and a voice came from the other side announcing they were the police and demanded her to open the door. But it was all a blur to her. The destruction of her deck had made her senses temporarily go haywire because she had trouble even making out the words being shouted to her true the door.

Her vision was also out of sync and it looked like something had shaken the world making all the colours flow into each other. But she now reacted on instinct. Darting her self to the window that had a fire escape stairs just outside. As Shila started to climb down the wet, cold and slippery steps she could barely make out the sound of her door cracking open as the police officers decided that they had been waiting outside long enough. When the police officers reached the window she was already half way down the stairs and there was no way the officers could get down there fast enough to arrest her. Shila reached the last stair and just released her grip of the ladder and fell the last 3 meters before landing in a pile of garbage bags. The now very frightened girl threw herself out of the pile, starting to run against the exit of the alley. Suddenly her world was filled with lights. As her vision was smeared out she had not seen the car blocking the exit until now when it lighted up its searchlights. Her vision was gone but she still kept running. There was a voice shouting at her from some place behind the blinding wall of light. The panic she now felt and the fact that she had her hearing impaired made her ignore the voice, as she couldn�t make out the words anyway.

Shila didn�t hear the sharp sound at first. The bullets flying true the air, biting into her chest. Burying itself deep into her body. She heard the first sharp bang at about the same time as the two other bullets dug them self into her body. Shila took two more steps forward before falling to her knees. She looked down at the red holes in her chest. Her body unable to comprehend the fact that it had been shoot. Shila looked up against the lights burning in her eyes, took a last gasp of air and then fell to the ground.

The rain was still pouring down over the city, over the alley and over her body when the paramedics approached the corpse. On the other side of the street a black dressed figure stood and observed the scene. He had felt a bit guilty when he had picked up the phone and made that call. All medallions have two sides. One side that shows a mystical and exiting career without problems but there is also a darker side, A side never spoken about.

And the backside of the shadow runner medallion is so very, very dark.

- But as she had said. We all have to pay our bills, Moody said to himself while walking away from the scene, letting himself being embraced by the rain pouring down. As it always did.

The end

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Riktigt bra!
Skrivet av Osoboy den 2006-01-14 01:41:43
Jag gillar k�nslan!!

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