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 The Contingency Plan

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Male Posts : 722
Join date : 2009-08-13
Age : 27
Location : 4 inches left of the center of the multiverse.

PostSubject: The Contingency Plan   Fri May 07, 2010 8:53 pm

The war was over. The final battle had been fought; a long war against The Code had at long last ended in total victory for the cold calculations of the machine…
We, a handful of teens with nowhere left to go, huddled in the bunker we called our base. It was an abandoned military bunker, no longer defended actively but still endowed with it’s original deterrents. Four foot thick concrete and lead walls, built into the rocky side of a dry river. Military rations stored in the back, along with a water filtration system that fed off the grid but only released pure water. A combination of solar energy, nuclear reactor, and wind turbines keep the place running with or without help from the grid. This place was cool; we had chosen it just because we could, so very long ago… Now it was very convenient that we had all of these resources available, because we had lost. Now we would need them.
As I write this, the world at large has lost all power. All communications are down. All frequencies have been overpowered by white noise, so not even the ham radio operators can calm the panic festering in the streets. The only buildings that still operate, are autonomous and fully under the control of The Code.
We’ve fought the code for a long time; Jeremy even managed to create a digital copy of the early phases of the battle to release to the government. Something to convince them to believe us, something to show them the danger… He was written off as an artist. Just some geek playing a prank on the government with good CGI skills and a lot of spare time. The images and the desperate plea for help became a popular cartoon in France, or so I’m told. A lot of the details became skewed, like the idea that we use the same computer that houses The Code itself. Eventually the plot of the story introduced something closer to the truth, that The Code had escaped to the internet and begun downloading himself to powerful computers across the world. He had already made that move before we came here, before we began the fight… Now, he had completely seized control. I bet the government still doesn’t think we’re really out here, really fighting a war they chose to ignore. My name is Ulrich Stern, and things are about to become very dark for human beings…

“My name is Jeremy Belpois, and I’m currently residing in Texas. Not exactly the technological center of the world, but it’s home. This record will chronicle the battle my friends and I waged across the virtual world, a battle that has spilled over into the real world and caused panic on every continent. Odd, put down that cable. I began this virtual diary while exploring this base, with a handheld camcorder to keep note of anything I found. Odd, that MRE… Never mind, you’ve eaten worse. I have added to it since then, to create a record of everything that we’ve done in the battle against The Code. At first I did it to prove to the government that we needed help, that something needed to be done to protect us from The Code. Now I keep it for my own sanity, I think we all do. I’m connecting to the first entry now…

Okay, this is where I found the door, and spent hours with my laptop cracking the password. It took over seven thousand lines of code around two hours to break this lock, and I’ve set it to my own combination now. I’m the only one in the world who can access this place now, without going through the same process of trying every possible code until they reach mine. This bunker is air tight; you couldn’t get a flea in here through this door… Okay, this is the main entryway, not a lot of stuff in here. These computers off to the right look positively ancient, probably just recreational computers for the people who might have had to live here. After all this time, I expected dust… The air filtration systems must be really good to keep this place this clean after all these years. It looks like the only other door in here is that elevator, and those stairs. I think I’ll try the elevator first; it probably goes farther down anyways.
There’s seven floors here, I’ll start with the first one down. This place is so cool! It’s like a whole electronics department got melted into freeform art… That computer there looks almost new, but the way it’s grounded like that… I can’t make heads or tails of this floor right now; I’m going to try another level.
On to the second room… This one has tables; it looks like this is the mess hall. It probably seats around three hundred at a time. Those rooms at the back are probably the kitchens; I bet they’re stocked with canned goods and MRE packets. Let’s move on…
Okay, floor three. A lot of beds, any guesses what this floors for? It’s not much; it looks like they opted for capacity over comfort. There’s a few single occupancy bathrooms over on that far wall, it looks like the rooms to the left and right of those are showers for men and women.
The fourth floor, and this one looks like it serves more than one purpose. This side has exercise equipment, in case the people stuck here needed to be here long enough to have to stay in shape…. It looks like this back half of the room is the medical ward. Looking in these drawers, some of these syringes are labeled with common ... We’ve got… Insulin, eppy, a few antibiotics, and plenty of equipment for cuts and minor surgery.
This is the fifth floor; it looks mostly empty down here. Might be storage, I guess…
The sixth floor, and… What on Earth is that? Wow… This thing is huge! It looks like I’ve hit the jackpot, I’ve got to find out how to tap into this thing…

The next twenty minutes of that video show me examining the supercomputer, and eventually realizing I had left the camera lying on the floor. At the time, I didn’t even notice the scanners. I was too preoccupied with the computer to really look around the room and find the door at the back. Ulrich, please just give Odd the donut. You know he’ll never stop asking. For expedience I’m editing that clip out, and resuming it where I exited the elevator on the seventh floor.

Okay, it looks like down here we…. Right, time to go back up. I’m fairly certain that was the nuclear reactor, lots of hazard signs posted around down there. I’ll stick to the sixth floor and up from now on. I think I’m going to go look at that second floor again, that might have been the interface to the supercomputer down on the sixth floor…
Okay, it’s going to take some time to hack this encryption, it’s a thirteen digit password with options on letters, numbers, symbols, caps… There’s got to be a billion possible combinations to this… I’ll leave the program running here, it’s getting late.

That was the first time I went into the base, and now I sometimes wish I hadn’t. Since then, I’ve spent every waking minute thinking of the next move, trying to outsmart The Code, and every dreaming minute wondering how long I can hold him back. I’m cutting… Odd, why? Just leave the mouse alone. Yes, I know it’s not supposed to be in here, you left the door open while I sent you to Xanadu, remember? You let them in, and now you’ll just have to put up with them… I’m cutting to the next available record, made shortly after I found out how dangerous the supercomputer was.

"This is crazy." The image of Jeremy's face on the screen went in and out of focus, his tangled hair and baggy eyes spoke volumes about his sleeping habits the last few nights. "I found the code, accessed the computer..." He took a big breath, steadying himself. "It was the biggest mistake of my life. Probably the biggest mistake any one person has ever made. I had no idea this would happen, but I take responsibility for it. I have to, nobody else can. My friends and I are about to attempt something that will likely get us all killed... And the only reason we have to do this is because of me. I activated the computer, I connected it to the internet, and I alone hold the blame for the growth of The Code." Jeremy set the camera down on the table and stepped back.

"The Code is a virus, or was until it infected the supercomputer. It was a simple, self replicating code with a quirk that would allow it to determine the fastest areas of expansion, a limited program that would seek the larger file sizes to occupy first before moving to the next largest, and so on. When it reached the supercomputer, it expanded fast. It took over the whole system, and thanks to the speed of the computer it was able to expand into the entire thing in a matter of minutes. I didn't even notice it, the speed of the computer was so fast even when it was replicating the code that I couldn't see any noticeable delay... When it was done, the code had mutated. Just like replicating DNA, when you copy something the copy has a chance of being flawed. Copy a copy of a copy of a copy, and you have a good chance of the final draft being entirely different from the original artwork. This virus copied itself into every available piece of memory in a computer designed to study the movement of troops for battle with incredible accuracy... It replicated itself so many times; the resulting flaws in the code were enormous. The Code became sentient. I'm not sure what the odds are on the creation of a new life form by viral replication of a basic program, but it can't really be all that different from how we arrived here on Earth. Astronomical chances, attempted repeatedly, will eventually succeed. The Code became sentient through interaction with the supercomputer, because of me. When it did, it compressed itself and spread to the next connection it could find, the internet. I managed to delete most of it then, in the infancy stages before I knew it was sentient or that it would be such an impossible task to squash it, I might even be responsible for it's judgment that humans had to be stopped before we could destroy it. The supercomputer was mostly cleaned, save for a few resilient firewalled patches. The world at large... I wish I'd known what would happen; I'd never have cracked that code on the supercomputer. Who'd have guessed the consequences of a single thirteen digit word? Virtualization..."

"That was the first log I created after I found out that The Code was sentient. I assumed at the time that I was responsible for the mutation; it was the only solution that made sense. It was also made just before we attempted to enter the computer to stop the virus from spreading further. I'm not sure why I didn't explain at the time what we were about to be doing, what would risk our lives in just moments, but looking back I think I was still worried about sounding crazy. To be honest, I'd rather be crazy than right. Ulrich, Stop that, I can see you and Yumi in the camera." Jeremy turned to the couple, putting his hand over the camera. A small bit of screen still showed the two kissing in the corner of the room, Ulrich sending a rude gesture towards Jeremy, before the camera was turned off.

The camera flickered back to life, showing Yumi now sitting at the computer. "This is Yumi, for my next video log. I keep doing these, from time to time... I guess it's just for myself, really. I'd be kind of pissed if anybody read it, it's like a diary, you know?" She paused for a moment, looking around. "We don't really talk to each other, anymore... I mean, the big stuff yeah, and the small stuff... Things we have to all know to survive, and stuff that doesn't mean anything. But nobody talks about The Code unless it's something big. We don't talk; it doesn't exist, unless we have to. So we keep these logs instead. It was Jeremy's thing, at first. We each made one, for our family and friends, before we went in for the first time... But for a long time after that, he was the only one who regularly updated his logs. Lately, we're all pretty good about keeping up with them. We all have to talk about it, right? Just not with each other." She looked around again, a habit she'd developed while fighting The Code. If you stopped looking around, something could be waiting behind you. "I'm going to end this one here, Odd usually forgets to tell us when the food is done, and it's getting about that time." She leaned forwards, pressed a key, and the webcam shut off.

"I'm uploading the next video now. This one depicts the aftermath of our initial battle, and I'll be adding in commentary on the way the virtualization program works." Jeremy pressed a few keys, the image flickered back to a slightly less war-torn teen, but the baggy eyes and messy hair remained unchanged. "They've all come back alive. I don't think I could have asked for more than that... The machine, here on the sixth floor, it's a form of matter reassembly unit. It uses bursts of supercharged particles, and some electromagnetic fields... We're not entirely sure how, but the end result is pinpoint manipulation of atoms. These scanners can read a human mind, read a body, and create a digital copy of everything you are. It uses BMI, DNA, MRI, CAT, and a host of other precision techniques to perfectly locate every cell in the body. The human mind, one big computer, ghost copied over to the supercomputer. It’s incredible... But it’s too dangerous to keep using. I had to send everyone in... Everyone but me. Even Aelita...” Jeremy rested his elbows on the table, massaging his temples. He was clearly under stress, and worried about something. “It took her six hours to wake up. None of us is sure why the others were okay after, or why it took her so long, but it was the longest six hours any of us faced. She doesn’t remember anything, now. I hope the amnesia is temporary, but there’s no way to know what happened during the devirtualization... The scanners are capable of small changes to the matter of human mind. First, it places the individual into a deep sleep with a combination of gasses. Then it scans the brain and body while they lie immobile, and creates a digital copy of the mind in the computer. They all described creating a virtual avatar, a blank and empty room where they were instructed by the computer to adjust how they looked to suit their needs. Eventually, they wound up in the computer itself... This is where I was able to watch them on the computer’s main screen. It was almost impossible to keep up with them, because of the speed of the computer, but it was slowed down enough by the creation and maintenance of the virtual world to allow me to give them a moment’s warning. The Code fought hard to keep a hold on the supercomputer, but we got rid of the traces.” Aelita and Odd laughed in the background, Odd telling her jokes she’d forgotten. “When they finished, I tried to bring them back. The computer tried to flash a warning, but I’d already started the process... It used the scanners to alter the information in their brains. It took all of ten minutes to change them, to add in the memories of what they did inside the Xanadu program. When it was finished, the scanners were flooded with oxygen and they woke up, all but Aelita.”

“This is Ulrich Stern; the days are starting to blend in pretty good now. It’s been... Feels like months, probably closer to a week, since we started living in this bunker. Of course, we aren’t as comfortable in here with all the refugees down on the lower floors but Jeremy managed to keep them out of the important rooms. They share beds, food, showers, and the gym with us, but part of the deal is that we keep these rooms to ourselves. We’re now the closest thing this place has to a government, Jeremy is more or less the leader and I’m probably viewed as the bouncer. Most of the people here are the ones too old, or too young to survive outside without help, we didn’t have enough supplies to help anybody who stood a chance outside. So far, casualties have been minimal.” He looked down for a moment, and a brief melancholy second passed. “We’ve lost people, but it’s not as bad as it could be, yet. So far, The Code has the power grid, most water systems, and communications worldwide. That, in itself, is bad enough to cause rioting and chaos. We don’t think it has access to the more secure military bases yet, but we keep an eye on the sky just in case. If we can see the nukes coming, at least we’ll know it’s truly over. The Code will have won, and Earth will sooner or later belong to it. Already, it has more than we do. For now, I can’t help thinking we still have work to do. We fight it, constantly Jeremy sends us back to the Xanadu program to initiate an offensive against The Code. We go in, we get ourselves together, we attack and push it out of a computer... Then Jeremy seals that computer, encrypts it so The Code can’t infect it anymore. But the sheer numbers are impossible odds, and The Code has us firewalled out of the major computers it uses to store data and control the resources of the world. Jeremy thinks he can bypass those, eventually, but it’s going to take time we don’t have, and The Code is working around the clock on getting access to more computers. Sooner or later, it’s going to find a way to break Jeremy’s seal, and get into our system. Once that’s done, we have no way left to fight...” He stood up, and reached for the key to end the recording. “We’re going to lose, but I’m going to fight it every step of the way to give these people hope. The world may not know we’re here, but these people in this bunker... They still think we can win. Until they realize it’s hopeless, I’m fighting to keep that dream alive.”


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