Redirect “The Running Dead” – A Cyberpunk Short Story

by Chris McGinty of

I wonder for a moment about the
logistics, but I make my way forward. I had critics. They all questioned what I
was doing. I’m not sure whether I question it yet. This corporation is corrupt.
Every one of the hackers I know is sure of it. Every runner I know is sure of
it. There is information on an Agenda in one of these subsidiary data forts,
and it will tell the world everything… if one of us can successfully access it.

A runner who called herself
Spid3rKn0ck0ff, a funny name among the runners, tried a subsidiary fort two
weeks ago. We had to send an envoy to find her IRL. She wasn’t in very good
shape. There was some piece of Black Ice – a Zombie – that did some insane
amount of Brain Damage to her. Some clever corporate monster called it The
Running Dead, and it nearly killed Spid3rKn0ck0ff. She’s safe now. We’re
watching over her. I hear she’s not twitching as much.
We all agree that the Corporation
must be keeping something big in that fort, and the whispers on the newsgroups
are that we don’t have much time. The Agenda has been strongly advanced since
she tried to run it. While I hate to say it, Corp programmers are generally not
foolish enough to put such heavy duty Ice on a fort with legal, albeit shady,
investments or to protect efficiency programs. It’s either something highly
sensitive and unethical, or it’s a trap.
I just got another message from a
runner questioning my plan. I told him that someone has to try something, and I’m
moving forward. The Corp has another fort still operational that held some
quick, illegal funds a few months back. We ran that fort and trashed the
investment. They rezzed a simple Wall that cost us some bits. They lost more
money than we did though, so it’s ok. I’ve programmed a risky method to try to
get around The Running Dead. It’s costly and I’ll have to trash it after the
run to avoid being traced, but if it works it’ll be worth it.
I’ve developed a digital sentence
for the run, a pre-directed phrasing that allows me to plan part of the run in
advance. When I’m approaching The Running Dead, it’ll redirect me to the Wall
on the currently unused fort that previously held the investments. If it
doesn’t work, I’m toast, but I think I’ve got this. If the Agenda wasn’t so far
advanced, I would take some time to get better protection against the possible
brain damage from The Running Dead. I’m certain that the redirect will cause me
to encounter the Wall though. I’m jacking in now. Wish me luck – if you believe
in that sort of thing.
I’m approaching the first piece
of Ice. It’s unrezzed. I’m hoping it’s nothing bad, because that could throw
this whole thing off. They didn’t rez it when Spid3rKn0ck0ff ran the fort
though, so they must have realized she could deal with it.
Hmm. They rezzed it. It’s a Code
Gate. I don’t have a breaker for that, but it doesn’t end the run. It’ll just
cost me two bits every time I encounter a piece of Ice. I’ve got the extra four
bits, so I’ll pass it. Haha. They want a picture, probably to help a future
trace. They can have an adorable shot of my nostrils. This Ice isn’t designed
to stop you. They must be trying to scare off the skittish.
I’m approaching the next Ice. The
Corp has a nice option to admit that you have no business being here, but as
far as I’m concerned, I’m an authorized user. I’m clicking “Yes.” I’m
authorized, you know…
Yes! I’m encountering the Wall.
The redirect worked. As long as this last piece of Ice isn’t bad, I’ve got this
made. Screw you, Running Dead! I’ll just pay to break the End the Run sub, and
get past this. I have a lot of funding ATM, but I had no time to build a proper
deck to run with. It could bite me if this next Ice is bad, and if they have
the money to rez it. They had those investments before, but I’m guessing they
used most of it to rez the The Running Dead. They probably don’t have the
funding for something else big. I’m approaching the Ice now. Clicking “Yes.”
They’re actually rezzing it? It’s
just another Wall. It’ll be costly for me, but I can do it. Breaking the three
subroutines. They really don’t want me in there. This Agenda must be bad. I’m
entering the data fort now. Clicking “Yes.”
Ugh. I don’t have much time. I’m
going to get hit by a lot of Brain Damage by an Upgrade in the fort. I don’t
have enough money to trash it, and I can’t access the Agenda unless I do. Their
plans. They are worse than we thought…
Chris McGinty is a fiction writer
who spends most of his time calling himself a blogger, mostly because he blogs
a lot.

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