The Start Click. Hiss. What can was this now? The third, fourth in as many hours? A few more, and her heart would stop. Tonita Akomo tilted her head back and quaffed another can of Diesel, crushing the empty energy drink in her hand as the other typed away at an old-style terminal. Her company had prompted that the best defense in a world of virtual-reality hacking was to run older software, older hardware. Akomo had smelled that bullshit from a mile away, but her company did not protect high-end corporations from the world's best deckers. No, it took jobs from 'ma-and-'pa stores, setting up bland security routines for kids with no cash and an itch to stir up trouble. A tense silence filled the second floor of the CyberSafe™ office, partly because it was exactly 4:22 in the morning on...Saturday, yes Saturday. She had to remind herself of that. Partly because Tonita Akomo, and a handful of other on-call technicians, were experiencing the single worst breach the company had ever seen. Some small-time, SINless drekker running obsolete programming without the decency to bounce his signal across the world, had managed to bust through months' worth of established protocols with the "new fangled" decking software. Go fucking figure, Tonito mused. "And here I was thinking,"- Right. We should have established something to prevent this from happening. Got it. "-we should have established something to prevent this from happening," her manager droned on. "These protocols should have worked against most-" "Clearly most idiots," Tonito interrupted, agitated. "You knew the second we hit anybody with a cyberdeck that they would blow through anything we had to offer. I mean, shit-" The manager cast her a look. "-look at this guy. Not even using a VPN. You know what? He doesn't have to. He doesn't need to hide from us, because he knows we can't do anything to burn him once he jacks out. Just, let me plug up and-" "Absolutely not." Coming from the man who still uses a PAD two generations disconnected. Fuck you. The employees around her - the other drones - sat in silence, watching the exchange between frantic bursts of typing. Tonito gave up and went back to typing. Every decker loves attention. This one was a cocky one to boot. He must have left something in the servers. Something she couldn't unearth until they... ...And this is what he wants. "You need to shut down the services, boot the servers back up. Do we have the back ups stored?" She stated dryly. What am I saying? Stored back-ups? The hell uses that anymore? Should be in a server farm somewhere, way off the gird, not here, on a manual back-up that hasn't been updated since 2030... She snapped her fingers impatiently. "Come on, back it up. Bring it down. Restart it." --- Click. Hiss. Can number six, 6:33. Though it had taken them far too long to do it, the CyberSafe™ team had managed, much to Tonito's surprise, the epic feat of essentially performing the large-scale version of "have you tried restarting it yet?" Already the post-crash shakes of a few too many Diesel cans were starting to kick in, and Tonito had almost forgotten to look into the logs of the downed server. All of the staff had left...An hour ago. They had all high-fived each other, thought they were the heroes, and left. Time to see what you've hidden... Tonito's threat earlier to jack into the Net had been an empty one; she'd forgotten her cyberdeck at her apartment. She had forgotten the datajack link, though, little good it did her. So that left her manually slogging through each file. Each file of spam sent in to the server to crash it, each potential rootkit implementation (the one thing she could applaud her firm for providing, even if she had programmed the protocol). There. A file different from the rest. Hidden away between two very similar files. lookatme.txt Figuring that a spam junk link within a hack would be counter-intuitive, Tonito grudgingly prompted the file to open. It was a bland, dry text description of a server design. Annoyed, she scrolled through the readme text. Wait. A... job? Had someone intercepted a run? And given it to her work place? Was it a scam? A federal agent honeypot meant to snare her? Tonito cursed, slammed the "off" button on her terminal, and hoisted her backpack over her shoulders. She needed a drink. And, more importantly, she needed answers.