Chapter 1: Part IV: A New Hope

Nutrunner: The Parody
Fiction by Pierre Savoie

Chapter 1: Part IV: A New Hope

Gunther Doppelkreutz took the glass elevator up to his office on the 53rd floor of Sosumi Corporation. He swooped past the 3 floors for Public Relations, the 15 floors for Customer Complaints, and the 34 floors for Legal, until he arrived at the floor combining the Upper Cafeteria and the tiny offices for R&D, Quality Control, Heating, and Computer Security.
He entered the dimly lit Computer Security rooms and made his way to his cramped cubicle. His desk was littered with Intrusion Report forms, Project Request forms, Reprogramming forms, and somewhere beneath them, his deck. Gunther took the time to sort out the forms in his usual categories: to do immediately; can be stalled; corp rivalry involved (handle with caution); tomorrow; never. He hated paperwork, and did his best to clear the tough stuff as soon as possible. His brain ached for the 'Net, and to tour the company's 'space personally to make sure security was in good working order.
"My blood-sugar is down," burbled a tinny sound from beneath a flannel cloth. Gunther pulled the cloth away to reveal the source of the sound: a small speaker mounted on a glass jar, housing a human brain.
"I'll make an adjustment, Hootie," said Gunther, absently tapping a touch-button on the box controlling the life-support conduits.
Hootie had screwed up, big-time. A crack computer programmer with the Corporation, he had threatened to leave even when offered more money. So one night Sosumi's Black-Ops kidnapped him, the med-techies turned him into a Pickled Egghead, and then told him he could walk away whenever he felt like it. This was naturally a sensitive subject with Hootie, who now divided his time between patrolling the company's Netspace and composing poems on how...REALLY pissed off he was, and the importance of finding another "white knight" corporation before attempting the Big Move.
Since a discussion of Hootie's life-support invariably drew close to the topic of his origin, Gunther changed the subject. "Any intrusions on our 'space? I get these paper reports, but the suits don't talk visual like we do."
"We had some kids at 3 a.m. trying to chip around our West code-gate, but the data wall was hardly affected. Real amateurs, masking themselves in Saturday-morning cartoon-icons. Not even worth a tag 'n' bag." Hootie was Sosumi's ace in the hole, on-duty 24 hours a day, constantly patrolling as a rare example of roving ICE. His reaction-time was phenomenal, totally focussed on interfacing the ICE programs with his brain, or popping up anywhere as a construct of his own: an obscure singer of the last century.
"Plus, we had another visit from The Nutty Professor. It looked like him, anyway. He's using a new Tinferret variant, and he got through two Code Gates and three Data Walls before I jangled his inputs with a Rock Is Loud. I just dropped it onto him when he wasn't expecting. He didn't call up his Battering Ram fast enough, and he lost his own signal to some old Judas Priest music and jacked out with a Dripp. I got no tag; just the usual view of a fat Black guy dribbling down through a sewer and out of sight. He was also using his I Spew program to leave chunk-markers for easier access next time, but I cleaned them up.
"I got the encounter all recorded in VRML, but printed a transcript for the suits. It was classic battlechess, man," Hootie said in a grinning tone.
Hootie appeared pleased with the encounter, Gunther reflected. It meant he was adapting, taking satisfaction in his job because the psychs made sure he couldn't enjoy anything else...except that strange oldie MOR music of his. Shuddering at the thought, Gunther acknowledged Hootie's report, clapped on some headphones playing some nice, soothing Mash-Face and the Toxic Trauma Team, and went on with his paperwork...

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