Full Name: Gerald ‘Gerry’ Rose
Vector – the code-entity that had once been a man – navigated the architecture of the digital superflow. The structures were interpreted in his mind as pixelated representations of vast urban edifices as he blink-jumped through canyon-like streets. At every turn the Dragon loomed in the distance, and the thing that had once been a man was afraid. Despite lacking a physical form and its fight or flight processes, Vector knew fear even on this digital level. If the Dragon was here – did it intend to finally annihilate the last vestige of a shattered man?
Vector randomly accessed memories. He had been Gerald Rose, a talented neophyte hacker, going under the handle ‘Vector’, breaking IC(E) and skimming data from federal, military and corporate internet assets, selling to order or occasionally the highest bidder. Despite the involvement of C.O.R.E., he had nonetheless managed to stay a step ahead of the authorities, a small but undeniable thorn in their side. It was a game that Gerry enjoyed as he burned sites for his own gain and more importantly for the rush. Before long the name of Vector was known to every code monkey and hacker wannabe on the net. He was an idol, a star of the hacker community.
All good things end, though. Agents of the Mysterious Man tracked him down to his lonely apartment and gave him an offer he simply could not refuse: engage in a single job or face the consequences for rejecting it. Seeing no choice, and knowing fully the reputation of the Mysterious Man, Gerry agreed, knowing it would not likely be something simple. And of course he had been correct in that assumption.
Brokering the deal was a big-shot lawyer named Eric Hanson. Why someone as high-profile as Hanson was involved, Gerry did not understand. What he did comprehend however, was that the terms were simple: succeed in the job or die. When he learned what the job was, he saw no way out. The Mysterious Man wanted him to burn C.O.R.E., hack his code and deliver control of C.O.R.E. to back to the crime-lord. Mysterious Man gave Gerry the tools that he needed to do the job.
Gerry knew that taking on the leader of Heavy Metal was a near insurmountable task. He called in favors from across his own shadow network of hacker peers. He spent days gathering and refining an array of IC(E)breakers. He built Deadlock hacks, Kluge intrusions, and the best Munch program he could conceive. He built a mini network of computers all hardwired to work together to run his programs. With the backing of Mysterious Man nothing was beyond his grasp. Most important of all was the network-interface device that Mysterious Man gave him. Like nothing he had ever seen before, it was calibrated to his own brain waves and allowed him to manipulate his programs and computers as quickly as he could think to do so.
He knew he had to work his programs hard because C.O.R.E.’s code would show no porosity. He had to use every edge he could, including the network-interface. He had to do the unthinkable. He had to break C.O.R.E.
Gerry decided to try to burn C.O.R.E. at night, for it seemed logical to him that criminals were always busiest at night, and that would mean C.O.R.E. should be busy too.
Mysterious Man agreed to provide a distraction to draw Heavy Metal out, and as Gerry watched the T.V. news, alert and hyper vigilant, a trickle of sweat running down his pallid face, he realized just how high the stakes were; this was something beyond any of his expectations as the Mysterious Man’s distraction became apparent.
A monstrous thing, several stories high, lumbered through Downtown, trashing buildings and brushing aside Pulp City’s cops as though they were nothing. Heavy Metal rose to face the threat, but they too were unable to stop it. At this Gerry went to work and began his hack. He launched into streams of data, his neural pathways integrated with Mysterious Man’s network interface.
Black IC(E) blocked his way. He threw a dozen IC(E)breakers at it, and it started to crumble. He had never faced anything so powerful. Just then, out of the corner of his eye he saw something incredible on the T.V. Something he could only describe as a huge techno-dragon– the Byte Dragon he would later understand – with electricity crackling around its form as it rose up to fight the rampaging monster, two titans locked in battle.
As he watched the remarkable emergence of the Byte Dragon, the IC(E) that had been shielding C.O.R.E. weakened and fell, changing as it did. Gerry rode through the hole in the wall that he made, the power of his mind activating his next salvo of programs through Mysterious Man’s network-interface as he realized the connection between C.O.R.E. and the Byte Dragon.
Gerry started cracking multiple encryptions and copying files, streaming data back to his mini network. Things were working out. He thought he could do it.
Then it all stopped. Count zero interrupt. Every program that he had running froze. A buzz developed in his head where he wore the network-interface. A second later and everything went black.
Gerry had tried to burn C.O.R.E. that night, and in the blink of an eye Heavy Metal’s leader turned the tables. The entity that had been Gerry realized later that he never stood a chance. Broken by C.O.R.E., his consciousness coalesced into something new, something inhuman, yet something clearly and ultimately framed by his human perceptions. Vector was born and he was lost, a new life-form in a barren wilderness of data in the digital superflow.
Gerry had been remade and he was Vector now, and he was stuck there, perhaps the second most intelligent digital life-form on the planet. So he ran, or what passed for running in the digital realm. But no matter how smart a program he was, he was trapped.
As he became more familiar with his environment he found he could shape it to his will. He created companions, sprites he called ‘Pixels’ to do his bidding as remote servitors. The Dragon was out there though, and that made him afraid. It would come for him eventually, and he knew instinctively that it could erase him if it chose to do so.
With little hope and desperate, Vector called out. ‘Help me’ was a message flashed across the internet. He waited, and nothing happened for days. Then he heard a sing-song voice call to him. He saw a figure before him, a strange figure indeed, clearly a woman, cat-like in her appearance and garish in her hues. She was no pixelated representation of his surroundings or his desires. She was real and she was there. Vector asked how that could be. “I like to be here and there, there and here” came her reply as a broad smile broke across her beautiful face.
“Come on, let us go, we have much to do!” she suggested, and her hand reached for Vector’s. He was overcome by her peculiar beauty and so unthinking, took her hand in his. They danced through the barriers between the superflow and the physical world. As they did, so much information cascaded through Vector’s mind that it almost shattered at that point, but he was saved by Kitty. He found he was at the docks in grimy New Port. He was back in the material world, and he had the most beautiful woman he had ever seen to thank for that; he was ready to do whatever she asked.
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