Virtual Tour

My head is throbbing but I have no choice, I have to seize this lead. I have to find out more about this guy, this company. That had to have been a Prostheticore cybernetic implant, so I guess thatíll be my first stop.

I activate my CyberCorp implant and all of a sudden Iím in the empty Metascape, text options floating into my peripherals from the Interweb. Every time I do this, it feels a little bit like death. But maybe thatís not so bad. I run a search on Drake's number and I'm greeted by a host of Prostheticore servers--all of them encrypted as hell. Maybe, just maybe, I can weasel my way in. I jack into a public access server--a promotional information deal. Iím greeted by a procession of smiling caretaker AIs dressed in a brightly colored Prostheticore uniforms--behind them a full model of Prostheticore has been rendered in stunning detail, looks exactly like the real place, except its floating in white space.

ďWelcome to Prostheticore, the future of cybernetic implant technology. Would you like to learn more about how our cutting-edge research can help you?Ē says the blond one. Somehow, the soulless look on all AIís faces just fits better on blonds. I push past her and run to the back of the lobby and through the door in the back of the model building. Iím in a hallway now--clean and sparse. They bothered to model in the entire building, no doubt so as to conduct virtual tours. It's possible there's a hidden access link here to one of their encrypted servers, if I can just...

Over there. There's a blue glow coming from a receptionist AI's phone--everything's graphically represented these days. The AI picks it up and I start actioncoding, tracing the call. Sure enough, it's from someone inside the company mainframe.

I grab the phone out of the AI's hand. Literally I'm hurling Actionscripts at her to disable her call and retrace it to me, but the graphics are dynamically rendered to emulate the code--don't ask me how the hell they do it.

"Excuse me," I say into the phone, "I'm here on inspection and need access to the interior Mainframe codes to check a few things out."

"Uh," It's a female voice--human, AIs don't get confused. "I'm afraid we--"

"Look, I just got promoted and they haven't transfered me the codes yet. It'd be a huge help to me, Ms..."

"Jane," she says, and her voice gets a little more excited, "Jane Manson."

I do a quick scan of employee information, accessing the database they have set up on the public server I'm jacked into now. There's nothing incriminating, but--perfect. They show recent promotions to prove how damn generous they are. There are a pretty impressive number. I pick an American one--half the names are Japanese.

"Well Jane, tell you what. I'm Thomas Hannah, and if you help me out here, I'll remember you next time they're handing out promotions. I got it this time, but I've looked at your records and, damn girl, I wouldn't be surprised if you were next in line. What do you say?"

That does it. She sings me access codes like a choirgirl.

I jack into the mainframe. Physical representations mean piss now--I let the Interweb envelope my entire vision. Drake's number points me to some of the newest experiments, and I start pulling files.

In the MetaVerse I hear a caretaker AI asking me in her kindest possible voice for identification. She's going to access security bots to trace my real-world location any second and call the city police to track me down. Iím knee-deep in information already--too much. I need to sift through it to find the real--damn. All the case files on Drake are firewalled for internal access only. I flip to the Scape and see that I'm blocked by a wall of flames--dumbass sense of humour these programmers have. Have to find my way in. Never been great at hacking, and the sound of a security alarm like a mortar shell in my brain reminds me that I have only a few seconds left to do this. I donít know if Iíll make it.

      Get out of there, log out of the Metascape

      Try to tackle the firewall anyway

I couldn't take it anymore. I called it off.