Neuromancer

Chiba City. Not my idea for a great vacation spot, but a gold mine for hackers like me... and I needed the money. Actually, this place was once a great hangout for Cyberspace cowboys, now Chiba is falling apart. The days of the great cowboy raids are over; it just got too dangerous out there in the Matrix, the giant, electronic web of information. I'm still not sure how it happened, but all of a sudden, cowboys started dropping out of action faster than mice at a cat convention. Sure, you can always have your dead brain kick-started by some stranger who'll charge you literally an arm and a leg for your resurrection; assuming, of course, they find you.

But hell, after one of two flatlining experiences any sane man'd quit... put I needed the money.

I'm Dixie, Dixie Flatline. I'm leavin' my story behind here, hopin' come cowboy finds it and can make use of it if I die. I'm going in to face the toughest combat of my life, but I better start at the beginning. I wandered into Chiba with no cash and half the population after me for credits I owed. I stopped off at a bar called the Chatsubo, owned by this guy named Ratz who had a sarcastic remark for everything.

I ordered the spaghetti dinner which tasted like raw rattlesnake and smelled worse. I was about to leave when, in a not-so-polite way, Ratz expected me to pay for it. Luckily, the Chatsubo had a PAX machine on the wall.

So I quickly logged on and read through all the messages. There were several pages of them. One message from Matt Shaw listed link codes for databases such as cheapo, for the Cheap Hotel, regfellow, for the Regular Fellows, and asanocomp, for Asano's.

I noticed a message from some guy named General Armitage who was willing to pay me if I answered his ad with my ID Number. I don't generally like giving out my ID Number to strangers, but I was broke and really didn't want to trade in my intestines just yet -- besides after Ratz's pasta, I don't think they were worth anything. This guy seemed a little flaky but honest and he mentioned cowboys and cyberspace, so I sent him back a message. As I went to my bank account to get Ratz's 46 credits, much to my surprise was ten grand sittin' there from my new best friend, General Armitage. General A wanted me to meet him at the Matrix Restaurant but I wasn't sure, at the time, where that was. He probably wanted to buy me dinner to celebrate my answerin' the ad. Ratz was naggin' me about his dough so I tossed him the cash.

"Thanks, friend artiste," replied Ratz. "Shin came by but he didn't want to interrupt your beauty sleep. He still has your deck." I hated that sarcastic tone in his voice but I appreciated the message. I really needed a deck. Our idle chit chat was interrupted by some guys form the Health Department who came in and closed down the Chatsubo and consequently saved hundreds from food poisoning. I had some money now but I needed more, lots more. Now I ain't the greedy type but I can tell you Chiba is an expensive place to hang out. So I got to thinkin' -- where does someone go for money? A bank, right? So I decided my next step was to find me a banking database to satisfy my financial situation.

I passed by the Body Parts store -- no need to stop in there... I was very proud to have all of my body parts -- and a donut shop, where a fleet of cop cars were parked out front. Not that the cops were after me, but I decided not to stop in because after the spaghetti, I was a little leery of food. I kept cruisin', passing by Microsofts, a software store run by some wimp named Larry Moe. He was the kind of guy, when younger, was the last one to get picked for teams in dodge ball and the first one out. I stopped in at his store to warm up a little bit. A cold wind had been blowing through Chiba that day and I was numb to the bone.

"I'll warm you up with a flamethrower if you don't get out of here, pal," he snapped when I told him why I had stopped in. He was sold out of all his software anyway, so I quietly stepped back out. "Better not to cause a scene," I thought to myself. Anyway I walked on and noticed a massage parlor on the corner of the street (I made a note to myself quitop in there later).

I found Shin's pawn shop on the next corner and stopped in to pick up my deck. Shin's an interesting fellow; not the type I'd invite to an afternoon garden party, but he seemed to know how to get a hold of some hardware that ain't all that readily available. I knew I'd be needing a deck to get into databases even though I couldn't afford a cyberdeck. I picked up my Yamamitsu UXB equipped with comlink 1.0 which would do me fine for right now, but I knew it took comlink 6.0 to reach cyberspace. I checked out Shin's inventory, but really didn't see anything.

When I was leavin', Shin mumbled something to me in Sprawl then locked the door. I'm not all that bilingual, but I can tell you he was glad my deck was out of his shop. I wasn't too offended, mainly because I didn't understand it. So I blew it off and set out in search of any link codes, passwords or info I could get my hands on. I've included a map in here of downtown Chiba, at least the places I came across, that might help.

My next stop was at the House of Pong. It's been a while since I had been in Chiba and things had changed. I walked in expecting to go a couple of rounds of table tennis and instead, met a crazed monk named Nolan who wanted to know if I had seen the Holy Joystick.

"The Holy what?!!" I laughed.

Nolan got this solemn look on his face and started rhapsodizin' about a long road for students on the quest for the Holy Joystick.

"Holy Joystick! Now I have heard everythin. What kind of a place is this?" I don't know exactly what I said, but he was offended and kicked me out mumbling something more about my being unworthy of the quest.

I went down to the end of the street to Crazy Edo's. Edo fancies himself a patrician of hi-tech and loves to eat smelly fish eggs. He told me his prices were low and he could beat the prices of the other major hardware store in town, Asano's. I told him I was just browsing and checked out his stock. But before I left, he mentioned he could get me comlink 2.0 if I brought him some caviar. It sounded like a good trade to me and I went off in search of caviar.

I started makin' notes to myself at this point (like Edo - caviar and Nolan - joystick) because you never know how much you're gonna have to remember. I wandered up to the Matrix restaurant and I wasn't even to the door when I got picked up by a lawbot for associatin' with that general on the PAX, Armitage. They said they'd arrested him and now they had me. So much for democracy and presumed innocent until proven guilty. I have no idea what Armitage had done, but I should have known that you don't just get ten grand for nothin'. They sent me to a justice booth. Those lawyers there wanted to charge 250 credits to defend me. I don't think it would have done any good -- I was still fined 500 credits... but it seemed like a small price to pay for the ten thousand I had already gotten.

I paid my fine (which by the way, is irrevocable) and I kept an eye, rather my nose out for caviar. Suddenly I remembered -- it struck me like a thunderbolt -- the massage parlor! Maybe they serve caviar to their customers. But the minutes I walked in I got that feeling that this was the kind of place someone could get into a lot of trouble. I was there just long enough to find out they didn't have caviar, but they did have the link code for the Panther Moderns, chaos and the password mainline, and the lawbots which heavily patrolled the place.

I listened to the compujudge's lecture about being a model citizen, then headed back to the parlor for... (well, let's just say some entertainment of the physical kind) and maybe some more link codes and passwords. I met Akiko again. She told me another link code, bozobank for the Bank of Zurich Orbital, but then that darn lawbot showed up. As you could guess by now, this gettin' arrested stuff was a little more than I could take, although lookin' back on everything I kinda laugh.

When I was young, I was a well-behaved kid, never got into trouble -- I tried, but never really got into serious trouble. And the other night when I was talkin' to my Ma, and told her about gettin' arrested, she said with a little disappointment, "Are ya happy now, son? Ya got yerself a record."

I decided the message parlor was not worth the hassle anymore although I wondered how that place ever made any money with the people always gettin' dragged downtown.

I walked down the street to get as far away as I could from the parlor. The street came to a dead end at the spaceport just ahead. On one side of the street was the Maas Biolabs, but the doors were locked. I looked around, there was no way to get in. It had been awhile since I had been in Chiba but this part of town looked familiar. Then I remembered. I turned and walked across the street to the warehouse, with a smile as big as Texas across my face. I went through the doors, down the hall and knocked on another door.

"Enter," said the elderly voice.

I opened the door; an old man was sittin' behind a big desk, cluttered with junk. He was pointing a gun at me.

"Julius Deane," I said, "put that thing away before you hurt yourself.

Seems you haven't changed much. You know just enough to make you paranoid, huh?"

Ole Julie lay down his pistol, and grinned his pink grin. "Dixie, what are you doing in town?" His grin changed to a devilish laugh. "What do you want, cowboy?"

"Me? Want somethin'? How about a joystick or some caviar?"

Julias shook his head no but offered to upgrade my cryptology chip, if I had one.

"No such luck, Julie," I said. "Maybe another day. I'll be seeing you around." And with that, I left.

I couldn't make up my mind if today was a good or bad one. I stopped off in the Gentleman Loser for a drink. Then I'd decide. This bar wasn't all that crowded -- I found a seat right off -- but didn't need it 'cause there was a PAX machine on the wall and I wanted to check out any new messages on the bulletin board.

One said that a woman named Shiva at the Gentleman Loser had a guest pass for the Matrix Restaurant. I found her sitting at a booth in the corner.

"Hey, geek!" she yelled. "C'mere! I got somethin' for ya!"

"Whatever it is, I hope it's not contagious," I cleverly responded. "Anonymous was here earlier. If you're a friend of his, you know what I've got for you."

One of the messages for me on the PAX was from Anonymous Bosch. It said that he'd borrowed a cryptology skill chip from me and that I could pick it up at the Gentleman Loser. Frankly, I don't ever remember owning a crypt chip, but why complain? Shiva gave me the chip and when I asked her about the Matrix guest pass, she gave me that, too. Glancing around the room, I also noticed that some of the booths came equipped with cyberjacks, my way into databases and eventually cyberspace.

Right now I'd say, yup, this had been a good day. Feelin' lucky I decided to chat with Shiva. I pulled one of those lines they used back in the olden days. "Hey, baby, let's get outta here and go back to my place."

She smacked me good with a right hook. After everybody stopped starin' at me, I went to the bar and ordered another drink. Nope, this hadn't been that great a day after all. But in Chiba City, it never is.

I finished my drink and headed for Julius Deane's place. After being publicly humiliated I might as well upgrade my cryptology chip. Julie charged me 5000 credits for his efforts and it was only up to level three.

I went back to the Gentleman Loser armed with my deck, comlink 1.0 and an upgraded cryptology. I made my way through the crowd, and watched some poor sailor go flyin' over a table from Shiva's right jab as I went to the back wall to a cyberjack.

When I jacked in, it prompted me for a link code. I tried bozobank, then chaos. Both times it flashed incompatible link (I hate when that happens). Then I tried cheapo. It worked! I was in the database and the intro message said the first level password was guest. Perusing the main menu I decided to order some room service then take a look at my bill. I almost fell out of my booth -- Cheap Hotel had caviar! I quickly paid my bill (they wouldn't let me order until I had paid up) and ordered some caviar.

By this time I was back to feelin' like it had been a good day after all. I went down to the Cheap Hotel, got my caviar then went to see Crazy Edo at his Used Hardware Emporium. He was so excited about the fish eggs and I was even happier about gettin' rid of them. He installed comlink 2.0 in my deck then raced to the back room for some cream cheese and crackers.

I was tired and should have gone to sleep but I wanted to check out comlink 2.0 at the GL. I tried bozobank, no luck. But this time chaos worked like a charm and using the password mainline I was in to the Panther Moderns database.

There were several things there and my gut instinct was to write 'em down. First, fungeki was a password at Hosaka. Another said Larry moe had a coptalk skill for sale. Modern Bob heard I was in town and to welcome me back he said he would give me some link codes. So I wrote back to him, "Hey, Bobby boy! What is the link code for the SEA?"

His returned message explained that the code for the Software Enforcement Agency was soften. I exited the message board and looked at the software library.

Only one program interested me there, comlink 3.0. I quickly downloaded it and left the Panther Moderns database. It cost money to link into databases so I tried to spend as little time as possible in each one. I tried soften with comlink 3.0 and I got the opening title page for the Software Enforcement Agency. But, without the password, I couldn't get in.

So, as much as I dreaded seein' that little weasel again, I went to get the coptalk from Larry Moe. After arguin' and threatenin' to beat his pea brain to scrap metal, Larry sold the skill to me for 100 credits.

Thinking that the Panther Moderns might be able to help me, I decided to ask Larry about them, using a bribe for incentive.

"I'll pay you 100 credits for a meeting with them," I offered. He took my money and examined it to make sure it was real.

"What a rube! You really think I'm going to let you just walk in there?" He laughed arrogantly. "But thanks for the donation, man!"

I wanted to throttle his puny neck on the spot, but noticed a security cam on the wall. I'd been arrested enough times already and decided to leave, vowing to get back at him some way, some other time.

I went outside, implanted my chip. I have decided it doesn't matter what hour of the day it is, there's always a cop at Donut World.

I cruised over there to test my coptalk skill. If I could fool those dough-eatin' boys-in-blue, I could fool anybody. I sat down next to one SEA officer and started askin' him questions like we were old buddies.

"Finnegan, old pal!" he answered. "I didn't recognize you." I knew I had him fooled. If only my coptalk skill wouldn't face away, I could learn a lot.

"The coded Fuji password is aburakkoi," he was saying, "they haven't changed it in years."

He also told me the link code for the Tactical Police was keisatsu and the coded password for the SEA was smeegldipo. I used my cryptology skill and discovered that smeegldipo decoded to permafrost.

Things were goin' pretty good now and cyberspace was just beyond the horizon for me; at the end of the rainbow, that's where I'd find my pot o' gold. At the Loser cyberjack I had no problems gettin' into the SEA Database with soften and permafrost. I was able to upgrade my coptalk skill to level two here, and found comlink 4.0 in their software library as well as some weird program called sequencer 1.0. I downloaded and jacked out.

Unable to log onto any databases with the link codes I'd rounded up so far, I decided to snoop around Chiba for more information.

My Irish accent was pretty good now so I went to see my friend at Donut World to relieve him of any more vital information. He flapped his gums about snorskee, the encode password for the Tactical Police. He also told me that Shiva had been questioned at the Gentleman Loser about the Loser Database. I really didn't what to talk to Shiva again after I crashed and burned on the first try, but I got that gut feelin' again and figured the Loser database was important.

I used my cryptology skill and did some quick decoding. Snorskee turned oult very supertac while aburakkoi became uchikatsu. Frankly, I wondered why they even bothered to encode that last one.

I then found Shiva, she was sittin' by herself. Not surprisin', eh? I just up front asked her, standing in a ready-to-duck position, what she knew about the Loser database. She told me that loser was the link code and wilson was the word. At first I thought she was calling me a wilson so I took a few steps back and rattled off a few choice insults.

"You truly are a wilson, aren't you?" she said, walking away. It was only then that I realized she was giving me the first level password to the Loser database, wilson.

I was humiliated, twice in the same night, in the same bar, by the same woman. I sauntered back to my booth and logged into the Loser database. Most messages were worthless, but one had the link code for the Eastern Seaboard Fission Authority, eastseabod. I also found the link code for another bank, Bank Gemeinschaft, which was bankgemein. Once again, I tried bozobank and also bankgemein, but neither worked. My only choice was to log onto eastseabod but realized that I had no password. Then I remembered sequencer 1.0. At the opening screen of Eastern Seaboard, I used sequencer and it found the password, longisland. There were two messages: one which revealed that loser was a password for the Loser database as well as the link code (pretty tricky, eh?), and one which said that Finn at Metro Holografix had a joystick. The software library had comlink 5.0 which I quickly added to my software collection. I had to erase several lower level comlinks; they were of no use to me now.

Again, I logged onto the Loser database, but this time with the second level password, loser. It gave me access to a new bulletin board which told me to ask somebody named Lupus about banks and that einhoven was an encoded password for Bank Gemeinschaft.

With comlink 5.0 I could get in bankgemein with the decoded password verboten. However, I still needed a bank account number from which to transfer funds. I thought I had used all link codes. As a last resort I flipped through my notes and found two database link codes I had seen a long time ago on the PAX, regfellow and asanocomp.

With these clues and my skill, I found three more link codes, hosakacorp for Hosaka, musaborind for Musabori, and fuji for Fuji.

That last one made me feel stupid for hacking it in at the link code request.

I logged onto Fuji using uchikatsu, and discovered that Larry Moe was working for them. I wrote down his ID number, 062788138, thinking it might come in handy.

I didn't find anything at Musabori, so I went into the Hosaka Database using fungeki. there I learned that Hosaka was in fierce competition with some company named Tozoku, also known as Yakuza, a Japanese criminal organization. I added my name to their list of new employees; if I couldn't download money I'd settle for picking up a paycheck.

Not wanting to miss out on the obvious link codes again, as I had with Fuji, I hacked some link codes in unsuccessfully until I tried yakuza which I had seen in the Hosaka database. An opening screen came up and I used sequencer to find the password, yak. Eureka! These I found comlink 6.0 and I knew I was not far from cyberspace.

A note in the Hosaka database had mentioned that they needed comlink 6.0, so I linked back on using hosakacorp and uploaded comlink 6.0. They were so happy, they game me 7500 credits for it. I think I was even more happy. Out of curiosity, I logged into the Tactical Police database, keisatsu, and discovered warrants out for the arrest of several Chiba city residents. Because I had level two access with supertac, I also had the power to edit these warrants. This was my chance to get revenge on Larry Moe, so I decided, "What the hell?" and put his name on their list.

With comlink 6.0, I was finally able to get into bozobank using sequencer once again. I couldn't figure out a way to download any funds so, on the advice from the streets, I set up a Swiss bank account. The account number is 712345450134.

I went back into Bankgemein and tried to transfer funds again, but I still don't know an account number at the bank. I tried 71234340134, but of course that was my Bank of Zurich account number, not Bank Gemeinschaft, and once again I was unable to download credits from a bank.

I left the Gentleman Loser disappointed and wandered around Chiba City. I found myself in front of Larry's Microsofts and decided to step in to see what had happened to my old "friend." To my surprise, the Tactical Police had done their job and arrested Larry Moe, because he was nowhere to be seen, and the door behind his counter to the Panther Modern's meeting room was open.

I stepped around the counter and into the meeting room. A funny looking dweeb introduced himself as Lupus Yonderboy. "Matt Shaw says you're all right," he sneered. "So talk. What do you want to know?"

I asked him if he had any skill chips and he told me that he'd sell me an evasion chip for 2000 credits. That seemed a bit steep to me, but he told me it was necessary for survival in cyberspace, so I bought it. I asked him about several locations in Chiba City, but the only one he could help me with the Sense/Net. he told me he could sell me a security pass for the that building for 4000 credits. I couldn't afford that, and besides, I didn't really need to get in there. On my way out, I remembered a message about Lupus knowing about banks. When I asked him this final questions, he said, "I've been siphoning from account number 646328356481 for years."

It was getting kind of late and I decided to go to the Cheap Hotel, where I got my room. My "room" was really just a place to sleep and resembled a coffin. However, it was equipped with a cyberjack, and although I had wanted to wait until morning to log onto the Bank Gemeinschaft database, I found myself too excited to sleep. So I jacked in and entered bankgemein once again. This time when I tried to transfer funds, I had an account number, 646328356481. It had 30,000 credits in it all of which I transferred to my bozobank account number 712345450134.

Now I had the money for a cyberdeck. I slept well that night.

The next morning I went to Asano's to buy a cyberdeck. I couldn't afford the top-of-the-line Ono-Sendai Cyberspace V11, but I could afford the Samurai Seven. Asano told me to try Metro Holografix for software, so I decided to go see Finn.

Finn, whose head really does look like it was designed in a wind tunnel, sold me a good icebreaking ware called Drill 1.0. When I asked him about skills, he told me he'd sell me ICEbreaking and Debug. Both sounded important to me for cyberspace, so I purchased both of them. Remembering that Finn also had joysticks, I asked him for one so I could help those poor Pong Monks. He sold me one for just twenty credits.

The Pong Monks were very excited about the joystick I gave them, and to show their appreciation they gave me two new skill chips, Zen and Sophistry. I wanted to ask them what the skills did, but they ignored me; they were too excited playing pong with their new joystick. Worshipping a computer game seemed like a ridiculous thing to me, but who was I to criticize others. At least they had a direction, a purpose to their lives.

I felt pretty good about entering cyberspace now, but I thought I might need a few more skills. Remembering Julius Deane, the man who seems to know all, I went back to him and asked about skill chips. For 1000 credits each, he sold me Psychoanalysis, Phenomenology, and Philosophy.

I had heard rumors that artificially intelligent programs (AIs) existed in cyberspace and could be dangerous. My gut feelin' told me they might be useful in combats with AIs.

With my guest pass for the Matrix Restaurant, I stopped by for some food. As a youngster my mother had often warned, "Never go into cyberspace on an empty stomach."

At my table I overheard a conversation between a guy named King Osric and another named Emperor Norton. They were talking about battling ICD in cyberspace and such when they caught me eavesdropping. I asked them if they had any skill chips they wanted to sell me.

"Have I got chips!" he said. "I've got Logic, Software Analysis, and Musicianship. For you, a bargain. $2,000 each!"

"Get serious," I said, "I could get those off street for a lot less than that." I started to turn, pretending I was leaving.

King Osric jumped up from his table and grabbed my arm. "Wait. Sit. Sit. You look like you could be a good customer. For you, a discount. At $1000 each."

I nodded in agreement. "Okay, I'll take Logic and Musicianship. And I want some upgrades. At a discount." Osric hesitated, then gestured "why not?" As I was leaving I heard Osric tell Norton, 'Why is he a cowboy? He could've been a lawyer. His mother would've been proud."

Satisfied now that I had the right skill, warez, and deck to enter cyberspace, I set out for the Cheap Hotel to jack into cyberspace.

As I jacked my deck in at the Cheap Hotel using comlink 6.0, I could feel my surroundings slowly fading away. Thoughts started drifting into my mind, lights flashing, geometric forms taking shape, and slowly, a matrix descending down over the top of it all. It's a feeling I can't explain, a sight without words to describe it. When you experience the hallucinogenic effects of cyberspace yourself, you'll know what I mean. Without know why, I knew I was on a grid, a grid with coordinates.

As I drifted around the matrix, I felt edges where I could go no further. It seems cyberspace was divided into zones and you couldn't travel from one to the next. I tried at several places but the barrier was just too strong. So I relaxed my mind and went back to the geometric shape that was closest to me when I first jacked in. Cautiously I entered into it and saw that it was protected by a layer of ICE circling at its base. The hum of the ICE made my nerves rattle at the ominous sight of the glittering base.

Painstakingly, I examined the electric blue ICE, searching for signs of weakness. Now was the time to use my ICEbreaking skill and any ICEbreaking warez I had. I sent Drill 1.0 in, but soon countered sending out attacks on my deck. Fortunately, my shielding was pretty good and I could absorb several attacks. I kept sending Drill 1.0 in eventually the ICE cracked.

I drifted through the crack and found myself in the Cheap Hotel database. I was given the highest level access possible and could edit my bill from here without paying anything. I had already paid my bill, so I exited the database. It was costing me money to be in cyberspace and I watched my credits slowly drain away, but I had enough to spend quite a long time in cyberspace. I was still looking for cash, though, enough so that money would no longer be a concern to me for the rest of my days. It might have been wishful thinking, but I'd come this far and things were looking good.

Throughout my travels in cyberspace, I mapped the locations of all the databases, their coordinates and zones, I've included my map of cyberspace in this document as well as their coordinate locations. I traveled to every database and you may wish to do the same, but I'm leaving notes here only on the ones of interest so you can skip over the worthless ones.

In the first zone (I'll call it Zone 0), one database to go to is the Panther Moderns. There I found blowtorch 3.0, decoder 2.0, and a virus called thunder head 1.0. A virus is a one shot deal so I downloaded several of them.

Two AIs turned up in this zone as well. The first was named Chrome at the Psycho database at coordinates 96,32. It was my first AI and I had no idea what to do. Through the crack in the ICE, a huge holographics face appeared. It spoke to me a psychiatrist to a patient, and slowly I felt it draining my constitution. At first, I tried some warez on him but quickly realized they were worthless. So I turned to my skills. I tried Logic and a few others without effect until I tried Psychoanalysis. It came back and told me Chrome's weakness was Philosophy so I hit him with that a few time and he yelled "Psychopath!" at me.

I still didn't seem to be hurting him too much though. I was pretty close to being flatlined when I tried Zen which fully restored my constitution. I soon realized that Logic, Philosophy, Phenomenology, and Sophistry and the four AI skills which do damage to the AI after being hit by its weakness. I had to use Zen again, but was soon able to defeat Chrome by rotating my skills again him. He told me that I would die like a worm with his lasts words, but he was the one out of commission now, not me. After the combat, I noticed my four AI skills had gone up to level two.

The other AI was Morphy at the World Chess database at 160,80. He didn't seem too much of a problem after I discovered that Logic was his weakness but I don't think I woulda been able to get past him without raising my AI skills to level two. I guess I was just lucky to have bumped in to Chrome first. Morphy was storing away a program called Battle Chess 4.0. I didn't know what it did, but I downloaded it anyway. I figured it might be useful later on. Some of my warez had been bugged in my AI combats, so I jacked out of cyberspace to debug them. besides, I had been to every database in Zone 0 and I was ready to move on to the only other jack I knew of, the Gentleman Loser's Zone. I left my room at the Cheap Hotel and went to my favorite booth at the Loser. The lights around me faded, and I felt the rush of cyberspace coming on. I was now in Zone 1 and I went to the Loser database first since it was right in front of me.

It seems like you always arrive in front of the database where you jack in. The Loser ICE was a little more difficult to crack. Inside I found another virus called injector 1.0 and a program called slow 1.0 which literally slows down the ICE attacks.

Two AIs were here. The easier one was Sapphire at Citizens for a Freematrix. it seems that Freematrix was a trap to catch unsuspecting cowboys who downloaded its software, all of which was no good.

Sapphire's weakness was Sophistry and the Freematrix base exists at 352,112.

The other AI is Hal at 448,32 in the NASA database. I discovered his weakness was Logic and I easily destroyed him. He was even packin' away some good warez. Python 2.0 turned out to be another virus while blowtorch 4.0 and decoder 4.0 were more powerful ICEbreakers. There wasn't much else in this zone so I jacked out with my new warez and debugged my damaged ones. I got rid of some of my lesser warez (such as decoder 2.0) so that my deck would have plenty of room for new ones.

I'm now digressing from my story a bit to talk about ICEbreaking strategies and the AIs.

When I first enter a new database I sometimes use a probe to determine ICE strength and the such. However, this wastes time and I usually exit from the combat immediately afterwards to avoid counterattacks.

When I'm ready to fight, my first course of action is to activate my ICEbreaking skill, then send in slow. I'll then send in a virus followed by my ICEbreaking warez. If my virus runs out, I'll send in a different one. As with combatting AIs, it's generally a good idea to use several warez rather than just one. Each time you use one it seems to lessen its effect. For example, blowtorch 3.0 seems to behave like blowtorch 2.0 the next time.

You may find better way and warez for combatting ICE; this is just the way I operate.

There also seems to be a ranking of warez as follows:

level one: blowtorch, decoder, hammer
level two: drill, doorstop
level three: depthcharge, logic bomb, concrete

So, using this chart, drill 2.0 (2.0 x lvl 2 = 4) has the same impact as hammer 4.0 (4.0 x lvl 1 = 4). Obviously, a program such as depthcharge 8.0 carries a lot of punch.

For the AI message buffers contained in databases with AIs, I have gathered that the AIs do communicate with each other and have plotted to take control of the Matrix. The two most powerful AIs, Neuromancer and Greystoke, are competing to be the controlling AI. Each is trying to sway the weaker AIs to ally with it. I see this as a positive thing because united, the AIs would be quite formidable, but divided, they could be played against each other and destroyed.

With my ICEbreaking skill up to two and my AI skills up to five, I felt I was doing well. I was running a little low on funds, though, and decided to go to Hosaka to pick up my pay check. It turned out that the check was for ten thousand credits, an amount which would go a long way in cyberspace. But more importantly, a cyberjack awaited for me on one wall.

I jacked my deck in and faded into Zone 2. There were four bases here, but only two are worth mentioning. The Hosaka database had hammer 4.0, concrete 1.0, injector 2.0, and slow 2.0. I downloaded all of them and erased slow 1.0 and injector 1.0 since I had no use for them anymore.

At the Musabori database, it was easy to break through the ICE, but there was an AI in there who turned out to be Greystoke. I could find no weakness in him and was rapidly being flatlined, so I had to use my Evasion skill to get the hell out of there. It was pretty close and I was almost flatlined, so I jacked out of cyberspace to rebuild my constitution and debug my warez.

Unable to find any more cyberjacks in Chiba City, I went to the space port and took the first flight to Zion Cluster. The flight was very short. In fact, the stewardess talked throughout the entire flight.

On Zion was some guy who spoke some strange dialect that was hard to understand. As he babbled on about demos and banks I began to think he'd blown a few too many brain cells.

I interrupted him. "So what do you know about banks?"

He looked at me, blinked, then gestured for me to continue. "In particular? Gemeinschaft."

He told me that the vault code was BG1-66. there was a lot of dub music being played by the Rastafarian populace around and, felling gratitude to the old man for helping me, I decided to try my musicianship skill and play some dub. I must have done OK because he said he liked my music and sent me on a shuttle called the Marcus Garvey to Freeside with another guy named Maelcum. He wasn't a very talkative fellow, which was good. I didn't want to hear what he thought about demons and evil spirits.

Freeside was the home of several banks. The first one I came to was the Bank of Berne. A rude secretary was ready to throw me out until I told her that I wanted to open an account there. She didn't believe that I had the money, but she left to get the proper forms for me to fill out anyway.

She was gone an awfully long time, and I noticed that the door to the manager's office was slightly ajar. So I went in and found it deserted. However, there was a cyberjack on one wall.

I jacked in and found myself in Zone 3 in front of the Bank of Berne. Altogether there were five databases here, and all were important.

Below is my suggested order for visiting them:

1) Free Sex Union at 288,208. There's an AI named Xaviera in there whose weakness was Phenomenology but not much else. You'll need to take her out first, though, to build up your AI skills.

2) Turing Registry at 432,240, allows you to upgrade your AI skills and Psychoanalysis.

3) D.A.R.P.O. at 336, 240, has thunderhead 3.0, injector 3.0, concrete 2.0, and drill 3.0.

4) Screaming Fist at 464,160, has slow 3.0, depthcharge 3.0, python 3.0, a strange program called KGB 1.0, and armorall 1.0 which lets you build back your deck's shield to full strength when it's low or gone. You get as many uses of armorall as its version number, i.e. 2.0 gets 2 uses.

5) Bank of Berne at 336,160, contains another AI named Gold whose weakness was Philosophy. This bank database contained a way to transfer funds. Fortunately, one message in the base revealed an account number, 121519831200, and the new authorization code, LYMA1211MARZ. I was amazed and overjoyed to find 500,000 credits in the account which I transferred into my bozobank account number 712345450134.

After exiting from cyberspace, I debugged my softwarez once again and logged into bozobank to download my 500,000 credits. I left some in the bank just in case I got flatlined so that Chin wouldn't get it all. I finally had all the wealth I could possibly need. Money would no longer be a concern for me.

I was ready to leave Chiba once and for all and start living the good live, when I thought about the AIs and how they were trying to control the Matrix. I had a chance to do some good here, some real good.

And I had accumulated quite a bit of power as well as wealth. I might be the last hope for cyberspace, and I couldn't let it go. I would try to destroy the scheming AIs and keep cyberspace safe for cowboys.

Now that I had the cash, I could afford the security pass for Sense/Net that Lupus was selling in the Panther Modern's meeting room. The four thousand credits he charged no longer had any meaning to me. I went to Sense/Net and jacked into cyberspace before the security robot could kick me out. I arrived in Zone 4 in fronINT/ALONE2®TXTe Title went in. There I found the numbers of several ROM constructs that could be checked out at Sense/Net. I got the number for ROMBO, 5521426, and left the database.

The only other database in the zone was Gridpoint, a cowboy hangout, which contained thunderhead 3.0, hammer 5.0, armorall 2.0, and a program which would temporarily stun the ICE called jammies 3.0. At lower levels, jammies didn't work too effectively, but 3.0 could be used to get in a few free shots before the ICE attacked. I left cyberspace and gave the security pass to the security monitor in Sense/Net. It gave me access to the ROM construct library, and I checked out ROMBO with the number I had learned in the Sense/Net database. I plugged my ROM construct into my Samurai Seven and went back to freeside.

The other main bank on Freeside was Bank Gemeinschaft. There was a warning on the outside saying that intruders into the vault would be terminated. I laughed to myself at the warning knowing that I had the vault code, BG1066. There wasn't anything else in the vault but a cyberjack, so I logged in.

I arrived in Zone 5, which contained five databases. Two of the bases were banks, Bank Gemeinschaft and Bank of Zurich Orbital, and I had been to the highest levels in both of those, so there was no reason to go to either of them. Bell Europa, another database, didn't contain much of value and could easily have been skipped. The most useful were Nihilist at 416,368 and I.N.S.A. and 448,320. Both contained valuable warez that were necessary for my survival in future combats. Python 5.0 turned out to be as potent a virus as I was to find the rest of the way, and I downloaded several of them. Slow 4.0 proved to be important as well, and with armorall 3.0 I could restore my deck's shields to full power three times. Satisfied that I had accomplished all that I could in this zone, I exited cyberspace and left the Gemeinschaft vault.

I had now been everywhere in Chiba City and Zion and everywhere on Freeside except the Villa Straylight. So I went there hoping to find a cyberjack and a way to destroy the AIs. Little did I know that from here on out, every database that remained contained an AI.

The Villa Straylight was a usual which contained a pedestal in the middle of the room. On the pedestal was a bust with ruby eyes which spoke to me. "In this room lies death, my friend. This is the road to the land of the dead. Marie France, my lady, prepared this road, but her lord choked her off...."

I tried to ignore it, but it wasn't easy to avoid its deathly stare. The base of the pedestal contained a cyberjack. I felt myself being of energy as I remained in that room with the bust and knew that if I didn't get out soon, I would fall unconscious. So much was goin' on in my head and the voice kept getting louder. "Stay and become a ghost, a thing of shadow in the land of the dead. Keep me company. Become a sphere of..."

I jacked into cyberspace and felt the rush of pure stat entering my mind as I drifted into an alternate state of consciousness. I found myself in Zone 7. Somehow, I had managed to skip Zone 6. Knowing that I was not yet prepared for the final zone, I searched for a way out of Zone 7. Unable to find any breaks in the invisible barrier, I activated my ROM construct, ROMBO, who turned out to be no help at all. I had been to all the locations around and there were no more cyberjacks. He just verified there were no ways out of Zone 7. I had him analyze my software, but most of them I already knew. However, neither of us knew what Battle Chess 4.0 and KGB 1.0 were for. ROMBO proved to be quite worthless and I'd suggest you check out another ROM construct if you have the chance. Hell, if I don't survive, you might even find me in there. Attempting to find a way into Zone 6, I tried Battle Chess... nothing happened! Then I tried KGB 1.0. I started moving through cyberspace. I had no control over where I was going, and I soon passed on right through the barrier around Zone 7.

The program took me into Zone 6 and sent me straight toward a database. I had no idea what I was getting into, but I felt ready for the challenge. It turned out to be the KGB database (makes sense) guarded by an AI named Lucifer. The warez in this database were incredible, and I felt certain that with these warez, I could crack any database.

It contained slow 5.0, armorall 4.0, and depthcharge 8.0 just to named a few.

The only other database in Zone 6 was that of Maas Biolabs. It was guarded by an AI named Sangfroid whose weakness was Phenomenology.

There were no warez inside the base, but there was a way to unlock the front door and turn off the alarm at Maas. Since I had never been inside Maas Biolabs, I thought I might get in now, but I was anxious to finish the task at hand, and so I left Maas behind. Besides Lupus had said that Maas is protected by a poisonous gas, and to survive in there, you need to buy a gas mask from Julius Deane, by asking him about hardware. From the reports, it seems you would have access to cybereyes, the equivalent of a deck but with a little more RAM. I personally was quite satisfied with my Samurai Seven.

I exited cyberspace and found myself back in the Villa Straylight.

I was getting weaker in there so I made my way to the exit. The voice was still talking in that lifeless, entrancing tone. "...your consciousness divided like beads of mercury..."

I fell to my hands and knees and crawled out of there with the last of my strength. I colla. I havethe hallway outside. A few hours passed before I was back to full strength and I was able to debug all my warez. When I had finished, I charged back into the Villa Straylight and jacked into the final zone, Zone 7. I was ready for it now.

The first database I went to was Phantom at 320,464. The AI in there was named Phantom; he was not hostile nor did he attack me. In fact, it seemed as though he wanted to play a game of chess. Aha! Battle Chess 4.0! Perhaps he just wanted Battle Chess 4.0. As soon as I sent him the game he let me enter the base. It seems he had once been a great chess master, but had gone quite crazy. He mentioned he had the program Turing had made to destroy Greystoke, hemlock 1.0. I left the Phantom database then, confident that I could destroy one of the two most powerful AIs, Greystoke.

Before I left Zone 7, however, to go kill Gretystoke, I checked out the other two databases with probe. The one at 432,464 was Allard Technologies. Neuromancer was in there, so I decided to pull out and wait on that one. I knew Neuromancer would be my toughest challenge, and I wasn't ready for him yet.

The other database there was Tessier-Ashpool, which contained an AI named Wintermute whose weakness was Sophistry. I thought that Wintermute might be easier than Gretystoke, even though I had hemlock 1.0, so I decided to take out Wintermute. Combats against these AIs were getting tougher. Sometimes they were so strong, their strength indicators went off the chart. But my skills were getting better, too. It was a race to see if my skills could advance quicker than they could increase their strength. With Wintermute, the strongest ally of Neuromancer, gone, only Greystoke and Neuromancer remained... I was confident.

I left cyberspace once and went to Musabori, where I jacked in. I was back in Zone 2 and the ICE around Musabori was easy to crack. But when I got through, Greystoke was waiting to greet me again. This time I was prepared for him though and I sent him a present, hemlock 1.0. He had no defense for this attack and fell apart before my very eyes. Greystoke was no more. In the database was a program called Kuang Eleven 1.0.

ROMBO nor I knew what it did, but I had a strong suspicion. Since Greystoke and Neuromancer were enemies, Greystoke was probably working a program to destroy his adversary. Kuang Eleven 1.0 might just be that program.

I jacked out of cyberspace and went to the Cheap Hotel to sleep. I wanted to be fully aware for my confrontation with Neuromancer the next day.

So here I am, leaving this by my bed in case I don't come back to tell about my victory over Neuromancer. If I'm not so lucky, well, I hope this account will be of use to somebody else someday so that cyberspace can become a safe place for all. Good luck!

Before I go, though, I want to tell you about the dream I had last night. In that dream I was on a deserted island, and my life was slowly draining away. I'd be dead soon if I didn't do something. Without knowing why, I used my AI skills, and after the third one I was able to escape. I escaped into cyberspace and Neuromancer was there. My Kuang Eleven 1.0 hurt him but did not kill him and I still had to use skills to beat him. I don't know if this dream meant anything, or if any of it will come to pass, but I'll remember it... just in case.

Information.
This page, and all contents, © 1999 Interplay Productions , Irvine, California, USA. All rights reserved.


As the blurb directly above should have shown, this file was NOT written by me.  I mearly have decided to host it on my site for  convienence.