Master PC: OtakuPC 1.1
Segments written by other authors inserted. Shared World concept. Various characters belonging to other people. This was originally an omake looking at how various people would really react to the "MasterPC" program appearing in a number of webfiction adult stories. While *some* particularly teenaged boys might do things as described in those stories, here's a somewhat different approach.
Authors involved: Metroanime, Andrew Norris, White Pheonix, Tangent, Kender_Sci, Shade (brief cameo).
Metro Phoenix area, USA, Day One:
Downloading e-mail after the weekend can be fun. Not.
Spam, spam, spam, spam, gibberish (spam from Hong Kong), repeat requests for stories, four e-mails from the same person, spam, spam, spam, a "how the heck did i ever get on a mailing list for *that* kind of spam?!" spam, porn, useless spam. Select. Delete.
The writer sat back. That left two Pointless Rambles, three Enjoyed Your Story, one You Evil Prick, something odd, and one Great Idea You Should Use In A Story.
Gregg blinked. He usually deleted attachments without reading them, a reminder of the time when the Knights Of The True Fiancee would act like cyberterrorists with their viruses and other "hardball" attacks for not toeing their line. Something had kept him from doing that, and instead he'd clicked open the file.
:Please look at the attached program.
:It is something that a story of yours touched on, I think.
:David Michael Riggs
THAT name rang a bell! The Reverend David Michael Riggs, a coworker at a bricklaying company he'd worked for, and fellow gamer. Pentecostal. Someone who'd never returned a letter after Gregg had moved from Virginia to Arizona.
A quick reply and slew of questions, but the return e-mail address was apparently invalid. Gregg thought this odd because David hadn't been that into computers, but then they'd parted company back in 1983 and personal computers hadn't become nearly as commonplace as back then.
Which left the program. WinZipped.
Expanded, the program took a meg and a half on the hard drive. Still, Gregg told himself he could always delete the silly thing later. Rerunning the Virus Scan revealed nothing.
Clicking on the Install took a few minutes, so Gregg busied himself by making lunch then sitting down and waiting for this to finish. MasterPC? Maybe something useful for "mastering your PC"?
The first thing it asked for was a name. "Gregg Sharp" was entered.
:Scanning. Subject found. Load? Y/N_
Clicking Y brought up a picture. Gregg stared, knowing full well he had no 3D card in his basic little unit. Nonetheless there was a 3D image of himself. How odd. Gregg wondered how had David known what he looked like nowadays? Admittedly he hadn't changed that much, but there had been some changes.
Taking a bite of sandwich, Gregg pondered the dropdown menus. F)ile P)hysical M)ental T)emplate S)ystem H)elp. P)hysical brought down a long list of changes, which caused a little more interest. Some sort of morphing or KISS program? Just the 3D emulator was fairly impressive. Gregg decided to try just one of the various options available. Pulling up "Health" brought up a screen that listed a *lot* of things that the computer said was wrong with him.
Clicking all the "Remove?" checkboxes altered the image significantly. Gregg smiled at that, checked the F)ile and found a "Send Changes" option. Thinking this would send the file back to David, he clicked that option.
And bit back a scream as he felt muscle and ligaments shift around, not to mention his spine straighten and a tooth grow back all at once. After a few moments of staring in the mirror, a thought occurred and he rushed back.
H)elp menu. Password locking.
After doing so, and getting his heartrate under control again, he did the obvious thing by opening Outlook Express.
To: Ed Becerra, Andrew Norris, White Pheonix, James Bateman, Kenko, Kender_Sci, Philip Bloom, Tangent,
Gregg attached the zipped version of the file, typed out a quick explanation/cover that it was something that might fit into a story, then sent it. Taking a deep breath, Gregg considered what would have been his likely fate if one of the Knights had gotten ahold of this program first. Not good.
Closing his own file, and knowing he'd have to get back online later to check for responses, Gregg started playing around with the program to find out its limits.
You needed a name to pull up the file, though you could send Global commands out to affect anyone who fit the trigger conditions. Range was sixty miles according to the Help file, though apparently that was an absolute, having a mountain in the way didn't alter anything. It could only affect humans, not their clothing, not their records or stored information. A pity, as being tall and muscular seemed to be awfully tempting.
How the blazes could something like this work? Quantum shift? Magic? Clarke's Law? There was, unfortunately, no Help file to say exactly how it did its work.
A Zipdisc came out, had pictures deleted, then the zipfile copied over to it. Gregg was willing to admit to a certain amount of paranoia but felt it was justified in this instance.
Then he pondered. What could he do? What dared he do? Deleting the program didn't seem an option with who knows how many copies of this program out there.
So he sat back and waited for a reply e-mail and tried not to think of the sort of effects this could have on society.
Meanwhile, somewhere in Utah:
Jared was in fixing himself a rice dish before *groan* trying to muster himself to go through another day in a world that left him feeling like a ghost - intangible, invisible and unable to alter or accomplish much of anything. He imagined it was a great deal what Hikaru Gosenkugi must feel like, but without the candles strapped to his head.
Hearing the temple bell sound (the original email noise had been a favorite, but the program was getting old and lots of things didn't work on it anymore. He'd switched 'new mail' sounds to one that didn't crash his machine and was still somewhat pleasant) the artist smiled and finished taking the saucepan off the heat, threw together the various ingredients and went back to check out if there was something interesting or yet another disappointment.
Bringing the screen up and settling down with his meal, the redhead smiled as he saw who the message was from. Given his own plentiful faults, Gregg was one of the few people who'd put up with him enough to be a long term friend. Let's see, early march... called him last time, sometime last summer... still makes him the human being I've had the most plentiful friendly contact with. Let's see what he sent this time.
Jared's disappointment was tangible. Having a different computer system
that the most ubiquitous one had proved a valuable virus defense. There
were more antivirus programs available for it than harmful viruses. But
the last time he'd gotten cocky the frothing at the mouth defenders of
spouse abuse, violence, and food poisoning (otherwise known as the Knights of the True Fiancee), had taken down his computer permanently. This was a replacement. It was also sadly incapable of running most nifty programs out there. Whatever this thing did the odds of it working were
slim and nil, though it was a nice thought.
Then again, it was going to be a painful, long, and dull day, full of
empty, dull and for the most part meaningless tasks that kept the body
busy while the mind died. He could take a look at the thing and see if
it was worth resurrecting the still hulk of the IBM-clone that his brother
had sent him as said brother's business died. Besides, there was a remote chance it was Java-based or something he could actually run.
Let's see, nope the thing wasn't self-extracting and didn't clue the
in the supposed user friendly feature of seeking out the right program
to open this. Manually searching out something that might work, he finally
got it to unzip. Well, at least that worked. He didn't see any file
endings that would have warning him off that it was completely pointless, so he clicked the install button, then told his antivirus program to remember all this thing did in case he had to undo it.
Gregg wasn't careless. In fact most of Jared's virus alerts came first through him, which he later got confirmed as things like that were most of the family email that trickled through to him. But this wouldn't be the first time someone had falsified a return address to get him to open something that he really didn't want.
The installation was boring, once it overcame the initial surprise that it would go so far as to think it could succeed. Jared slurped down a few chopsticks full of rice as he waited, wondering what the program could be.
Not something Jared would've picked off a shelf. Sounded like a utility. But what would Gregg be doing with a utility that would work on his machine? The curiosity was worth a boot-up. The startup screen asked for a name, he assumed to personalize it. That was worth a moment. Should he type in Fizbane the Flatulent? Arthur the Author? King Smeed? Finding he didn't want to go looking for the prefs file in an unfamiliar program in case he ever got tired of the joke of thinking of himself as the sole member of the royal house of Smeedland, he typed in his usual; Skysaber.
:Scanning. File Not Found. Approximate? Y/N_
Jared did his usual. Humor the program and find out if it did anything useful or not. He pushed Y, then return. The machine thought for a second, then came back.
:Scanning. Approximate found. Jared Ornstead. 45% +/-2% match. Acceptable? Y/N_
Again, hit y and wait for the thing to come up with some screen to indicate what it actually did, though the text-based command line so far was *not* impressing him.
He hit yes, already wandering in mind back to his food. An extra line came up as he mentally concluded this thing had about to the end of his meal before he gave up on it.
:Alter Approximate to Subject, match 100%? Y/N_
He hit y and suddenly his whole world went blinding white behind his eyes.
somewhere far to the East:
Kender loved cats. Really. Properly raised, they could be loving companions, useful pets and something to keep you company while surfing the Internet.
Of course, that also includes the various little problems that come with them. Including what happens when the cat decides to eat too much. So, it was a slightly grumpy and put upon Kender who was checking his e-mail.
"Junk. Junk. More junk," Kender muttered to himself, "Oh look, more junk."
His feline friend just looked bored.
"Hmmm... An email from Gregg?" That should be interesting. The author was a nice enough guy and Kender liked trading e-mail with him. "A program? Cool. I don't see how this can help with a story, but what the heck."
The file was downloaded and expanded, with it at least promising to be interesting. Or at least he hoped so. It could be a virus sent to Gregg that sent out messages to all the people in his address book. But the dark-haired man hadn't heard anything about the Knights deciding to start up again. He (occasionally) liked Akane, but come on...
After the program installed, Kender gave up considering why anyone would be that gaga over someone that reminded him of his sister, and started exploring the program.
"A name? Guess I gotta register or something. Subject? Yes..?" he murmured as he put in his own name. "Okay now this is weird." He KNEW that he'd never even sent a picture of himself to Gregg. Which meant that either the author really did work for Heaven, or that something truly bizarre was happening.
Which was really par for the course around Kender. "Okay... Now what the heck is going on here? Ah, the wonders of KISS... I think."
"Please be a game, please be a game, please be a game," he chanted as he looked through the menus. "Okay, let's see... This is silly I can't get rid of being nearsighted by a game. Right?"
The cat gave him an 'I hope you really don't expect me to answer' look.
"You're a big help, you know that? Okay, I've seen too many episodes of the 'Twilight Zone' and the 'Outer Limits' to take risks. So I'll just close it... Stupid cat! No, don't step on the keyboard!"
One back paw hit the 'enter' button.
"God damn stupid #^&%#$... What the heck?! Oh crap, oh crap, oh... Hey. I can see. I can actually read something from across the room!"
A stupid grin spread across his face as he considered the possibilities. He could do so much with it. Heck, properly, or improperly used he could be... aw heck. He just wasn't viscious or cruel enough to hurt people. And he didn't have that many people to be nasty to.
Just getting rid of the various physical ailments would have to do for now. He really wanted to see exactly what he could do. There were always ways around any problem, but playing around with something like this could be dangerous.
That was why, after spending a few moments on the floor panting and getting nuzzled by the cat, Kender put a password on the program. Then it was slipped onto a CD and placed somewhere that was hopefully safe enough.
Then came the reply to Gregg. He had been right.
It could prove to be a good story.
Back in Arizona:
Common Sense and Survival Instinct were waging war with Morality and Curiosity. Desire To Meddle was hanging around to act as reinforcements.
Finally, Gregg got up and entered a Global.
:IF subject* has Cancer (any type) THEN subject* will spontaneously remission.
The pointer immediately went to an hourglass.
After five minutes it was still an hourglass.
After an hour of checking back periodically, Gregg was wondering if his system had locked up, and if so what the heck effect *that* would have.
:Scan complete. 389 cases found. Alteration completed. 2 files not altered.
Gregg blinked, realizing what this meant. Sitting down, he missed the chair and landed with a thump on the floor.
Another e-mail went out to the first bunch, telling them to use the Password lock on their files. According to the Help log (which he wasn't sure he could trust but wasn't really sure how to experiment with safely) if you locked a particular file, then only someone with that password could access that file. Since to the computer, a file = person, locking your own file meant some tiny measure of safety from being turned into something else.
Which had been the main reason for sending out the program. These were all people who, as far as he knew from limited contact, wouldn't be going out and doing anything naughty. They were all clever enough to see the danger as well as the possibilities.
Still thinking, Gregg opened his own file again, using the password. He tweaked a few things, checking out idle thoughts. Height was increased and decreased and finally settled. Since he couldn't alter his clothing through this gadget, he settled for something fairly normal. Likewise muscle mass and a few other tweaks, including a couple of ones purely for vanity that he doubted anyone would ever be in a position to notice. The ravages of time were lifted, a little at least.
Apparently limitations of mass were not a consideration to the computer. Stripping to his underwear, he'd briefly increased his height to nine feet and his muscle mass to Incredible Hulk levels. It had felt natural and had showed every sign of being real.
Human, however, *was* a limitation. He could not become a dragon, nor grant himself magical powers, nor develop incredible psionic abilities. He *could* manifest skills, and quickly gave himself Piloting Small Aircraft, Piloting Jets, and Piloting Helicopters. Just in case, he tried for martial arts, and decided that Black Belt Level - Jeet Kune Do sounded good. Unfortunately he had to tweak self control and mental discipline higher to avoid smashing cups.
Setting the new and improved self as his default, Gregg locked his own file and tried to pull up his brother.
:Error 404 - file not found. Subject may be out of range.
The problem with making any noticeable sweeping changes, such as curing everyone within sixty miles of AIDS, was that it would be noticed. This program had reached him through an e-mail, which meant that others had it. If others did have it, why wasn't there anything in the news?
There were lots of things every day that made darn little sense to the computer operator. Maybe this program had been around for awhile? That schoolteacher who dumped her husband and family to chase after a teenage boy, could it have been this program? A guy with no prior record who suddenly snapped and murdered his children, a manipulation from some child with access to something like this? The popularity of certain singers, a global command from a computer?
Maybe not. Maybe. Was there a way to tell?
Gregg clicked on the radio, needing the music in the background to relieve the burden of his own thoughts. A distraction was needed.
"Tired of being single? Thousands of singles in the Phoenix area are already online. The MIXX 96.9 Mix & Matchline uses modern technology..."
Turning OFF the radio before he could get tempted any further, Gregg wondered what he could do that was safe.
DISCLAIMER: There were no pandas injured or mutilated in the making of this omake.
Hi! This was just something i was toying with after reading some of those Master PC stories on the web. Which seem to have cookie cutter plots and aren't very imaginative beyond the base concept.
They also don't seem to address how mind-boggingly scary having something like this could be. How would you handle the knowledge that friends or family or people you meet at any point could have been altered by a child using a computer program? That the entire society might collapse at any moment from such things. How *would* you handle it?
How would you protect yourself? Or would you just immediately go to the wild sex scene as in those aforementioned stories?
Andrew pulled up his email, right after work Talking to himself, as
usual, while fuzzing on the computer, he muttered "Junk, junk, email from
wife, email from FFML, Delete!, junk, junk, Gregg?
Hummm" While he had his disagreements with Gregg's views on certain things, Gregg was more than all right to deal with as long as you didn't bring up that subject. Which didn't bother him, after all, Gregg did come up with ideas that needed to be done. So, knowing that the 3 firewalls, 4 anti virii programs, and various OTHER programs had passed this attachment, without a problem, Andrew shrugged, and opened it.
"MasterPC? Say... what?"
Andrew blinked, shrugged, and installed.
"User name. Easy. Andrew Norris."
"Subject found from load, two versions, please choose: 1.) Major, USAIR, Norris, Andrew T, SSN XXX-XX-XXXX. 2.) Norris, Andrew T. SSN XXX-XX-XXXX (different from the first one)" Andrew read it, shrugged, wondered what the computer was talking about, after all, he was the only Andrew Norris he knew about, and he WAS a Major. *click*
Choosing the option brought a picture up, of himself, in Dress greens.
"Heh, I do cut a nice figure, if I do say so myself."
Flipping though the menus, Andrew got the idea, this was a KISS or MRPG program, and decided to play. "Oh, let's see, add FAR more skills, get my health back to when I was 18... oooh, faster healing. Nice... Drat, no heavy PSI powers, but...mmm, empathy. Useful. Humm... no changes to the physical world, but... drat, no way to change history and past events, but... Humm... create objects? Why not. I think having a million dollars in cash in hand would be typical for a RPG version of me."
After Drew was done, he had gotten his skills in the combat areas back up to what they were at his peak, increased his computer and scientific knowledge to the state of the art currently available, had a million dollars in cash, was in PERFECT health, and in a lot of ways, better than he ever was.
"Now, let's see... where do I send the PC to... Huh?"
Andrew got a cold sweat when he read "Send Changes Y/N?" After looking around, in the program, he couldn't figure out WHERE it was sent to, and began to get real nervous. "Umm. Better delete this, just in... Oh, SHIT!" As he said that, his cat leapt onto his keyboard and a little sign popped up before everything went white. "Updating"
Somewhere in Pennsylvania....
Alex occasionally found checking his e-mail to be tedious Sunday evenings. Partly due to the fact that between Friday night and Sunday evening, he wasn't home at all to check it regularly. This was because it was more convenient to stay over at Joe's house, since it was closer to work, and Saturdays were when the group usually got together to game anyway. A larger amount of the problem had to do with his having filled out a single solitary form for an Internet contest and apparently winning free spots on nearly every spam list known to man as a result. The tedious bit was going through them all to find out which ones he could ask to be removed from their lists, and which ones didn't offer that option (and thus ended up on Tangent's 'Blocked' list).
Twenty minutes later, Alex had finally dealt with the current load of spam, safely deleting it with full confidence that he would never be bothered by most of these particular addresses again. He still didn't know what to do about the ones that got around his 'Block Sender' command by changing their address slightly, but that was a problem for another day. On to the fun stuff!
Hmmm... Metroanime sent me something with an attached zipfile? Unusual, given his stance on attached files. Still, it could be interesting. Alex wondered what Gregg had sent him as he double checked for viruses, unzipped the file, and had his antivirus program go over it again. Seeing that it seemed harmless enough, he spent a little while looking for the install instructions for a program called Master PC.
Probably a utility or word processor, Alex decided. If so, he'd have to thank Gregg for it later. The new computer may be faster than anything he had been on before, but Windows XP apparently didn't like his old word processing program, and the other two that he had gave him a choice of being either e-mail friendly or having a spell checking function.
Alex filled in what seemed to be an abbreviated product registration form. Or at least he thought it was until the phrase 'Subject Found' appeared on the screen. Curious, he pressed 'Y' in response to the Load prompt, and was startled to find a 3D image of himself on the screen.
Now how the heck had Gregg gotten *that*!? Alex stared at a three dimensional image of himself and thought that he had better use the walking machine more often if people were going to waste their time getting 3D recordings of overweight men with male-pattern baldness. Well, at least they got their image after he had had a hair cut, so he was at least decent in appearance.
Some people, even with male pattern baldness, looked pretty good with long hair. Alex wasn't one of them. It wouldn't be so bad if his hair chose a general direction and stuck with it, but it didn't. When it got too long, tufts of hair would stick out in odd directions regardless of what directions other tufts were sticking out. He thought that it made him look like a demented Bozo the Clown.
It was by no small coincidence that most of Alex's role playing characters tended to be female. Well, actually, there were other reasons why that happened so often, but the reason that came to his mind at the moment was that he envied agile, flexible people who had hair and weren't likely to lose it later. These were three things that he wasn't, even before the accident that had thrust his left thigh bone through his pelvis. Running, which was not one of his strong points even when he had been in the military (and had been in the best shape of his life, although he blamed their barbers for speeding up his balding process), had become an impossibility over any real distance past a few yards. Heck, he was lucky to be able to walk without a brace on his left leg!
Another reason that Alex's characters tended to be female was that he simply enjoyed drawing women more than he liked drawing men, which he felt was only natural. Before his drawing skills had progressed that far, the male to female ratio of his characters was far more even.
There was a third reason, which was simply that he needed an outlet for an aspect of his personality to express itself. A safety valve of sorts, although precious few of his friends understood why he drew so many women or played so many female characters. Whenever the subject of MPD came up, most of them seemed uncomfortable with the concept. Howard, Steve, and the other Joe understood though....
Ooh! Cool! Some sort of editor! Alex decided to give it a whirl and
see what it could do...
Thirty minutes later, he had adjusted the image on the screen to that of Ranma Saotome's female form (only with green eyes instead of Ranma's blue). He was also tricking out the attributes and skills, amping endurance, reflexes, and strength and adding all sorts of fun skills that he'd never be able to do in real life due to past injuries, minor defects, and lack of inclination.
At some point, his mother had moved into the next room from the living room, so Alex called her over to show her what he got in an e-mail...
Heh, Tangent the Super-Ranma-chan! That would be a trip and a half! Speaking of his chosen pen name, Alex decided to morph the image to that of his little gremlin alter ego....
Rats... No power lists to be found anywhere. Alex added the technical and scientific skills that Tangent would need to be considered to be a princess of the Fey Tuin derived gremlins from Gremlin Trouble. With that done, he set about getting creative with the image editor, trying to get a non-human result from what was otherwise a very responsive program.
A while later, the e-mail sounded again, this time with a warning from Gregg to put a password block on his file. Simple enough - choose a password, set it, and load it in. Now back to trying to change the Super-Ranma-chan image into a gremlin...
After a long while of not having much luck at all with the non-human aspects of the change he wanted to make, Alex decided to take a break. He paused for a moment to save the changes and give his mother a chance at it.
Alex's world became a blinding flash and a moment of great pain as his body went through several adjustments at once. As painful as that was, it was the sudden migraine that caused him to pass out...
Waking up, Alex became aware of three things of immediate importance. She was now a girl, and felt more alive than she had ever felt before. Her parents were panicking, arguing over who to call and what to tell anyone, if anything. And perhaps most damning of all...
She had forgotten the bloody password!
Ah Yes... Monday morning... Act like a rat and get on the computer right out of bed... hhmmm... windy day today... oh well. Glad I'm inside. hmmm... Best check my email again... Hmm... ah yes.. *flicks on his ever present mp3 playing program* "Monday Monday...heh.."
Shit. I deleted it all last night! Damn junk mail that doesn't get caught. *Sigh* "Garbage...hey hentai pirate emailed me hmm... ah yes...kp's new chapter.... Coolness something from Gregg."
"Master PC? Heh... Never heard of that before."
Vaguely consider using my trash computer sitting next to me in case it decides to be one of those programs that never quite uninstall. Shrugging though I click through hotmail's annoying download... "hmm... Folder name MPC..download"
Walking out over to his kitchen while his slug speed Internet downloaded the program. Grabbing an apple, good ol' granny smiths and the only type worth chomping on, I washed it and returned. Quickly eating it I went ahead and typed out a c&c for a new fic as I waited for the infernally slow download.
Finally seeing the window close, as the sound drivers were otherwise occupied, I minimized everything and went to unzip the MasterPC.zip file.
Unzipping it in the same folder as the original file.. I stopped for a moment in my standard fashion... distracting myself with a dozen various things and switching music once more...
"Nothing like Mussorgsky in the morning."
Eventually flipping back to that window I checked the icon... a big computer, "How ...drab.", and continued opening the program...
"A text program? Bah..."
:Name?_: The computer program asked
Typing my usual pseudonym, I hit enter.
:Dracos the Dark Heretic:
:Scanning. File not found. Approximate? Y/N?:
"Heh... just like ol' dos. Sure..."
:Scanning. Approximate found. Philip Bloom. 65% match. Load File? Y/N:
Blink... Blink blink. The Dark Heretic doth not... Must be a really good joke... well ...why not...Haven't had a good laugh in 8... 10 hours...
:Y. Alter Approximate to subject, match 100%? Y/N:
Heh... Wonder when the punchline occurs.. what next... they bring up my kind fearless leader persona...
The world went black for a moment...
He found himself sitting in a well organized room that was either a small library with a bed in it or a bedroom with a lot of books. He was sitting at a blue card table with a blue folding chair staring at the screen of a blue imac on which rotated a picture of himself. The screen announced something.
In his left hand was a half-eaten meal of rice and pork.
The interdimensional superspy was accustomed to weird entrances, but the Agency was usually more polite than this. They typically briefed him *before* dropping him into a universe. He took two seconds to find his Superspy Survival Kit, but the Standard Light Urban Survival Pack contained less than a tenth of the items he usually kept in it. The interface on the One True Watch had altered and become more primitive...
Five minutes worth of experimentation revealed that they didn't work at all. None of their special features were online or active. It was as if their tamper-proof features were locking *him* out; insisting they were just regular items without superspy features at all.
This was weird.
A look in the mirror hung on the wall showed that he was far older than the Agency had ever deployed him before. That was unpleasant. With the age switches between assignments he'd come to think of himself as well-nigh immortal, at least as far as succumbing to old age was concerned. Maybe that was the point of this, a reminder from his controllers that he was still prone to just as many human weaknesses as before. If so that was okay, he could live with it. He could just get the assignment done and get out of here.
So what was the assignment?
The ID folder of his Superspy Survival Kit hadn't been able to produce
any of its standard range of false cards, but the one it had gave his name
as Jared Ornstead, which was a little too close to the truth. The Superspy
*had* been that person way back in the far gone past before
beginning his work as a dimension hopping anime superstar/hero, and it was like bed-wetting: something you wanted to move past and forget.
The Superspy spent a few minutes checking out various things that had
been useful to him in the past. His spells learned on the Slayers world
all failed to work, none of the tricks of being Washu's son and Ryoko's
sibling, the special abilities picked up over all those many worlds
before, none of them had the spark that made them work.
He was back to simply being a normal human.
He preferred to have more advantage than that. Yet so far this assignment was very humbling. He hoped, in a moment of terror, that the scale of it was within the range of his much-reduced capabilities. He wasn't up to fighting his usual class of foe like this. It was a little like wearing chains to have so many of his talents locked down and useless. Though his base abilities, skills like martial arts, were unchanged. That at least was comforting.
Since his usual superspy tools and talents availed him nothing, the agent slid back in the seat before the computer and checked out the program with the rotating figure of him. In a few moments he had it figured out enough to guess what it did, then it was with a feeling nigh approaching terror that he checked the history file to see what it had done.
It had to be a joke, right? He had someone up in Heaven playing around with him. This had all been arranged to tease him and make him less cocky on his next assignment. He wasn't even supposed to be here. This was just to get a laugh at him and then they'd send him on where he belonged.
Or so he hoped.
The telephone wouldn't accept any of the phone numbers he knew to the Agency, Heaven, or even Heimdal's pager (this was getting serious enough the superspy was willing to consider it a foretaste of Ragnorak).
After trying everything he could think of, Jared Saotome, sometimes Inverse, sometimes other family names and genuine, all-around superhero for hauling worlds back from the pit of despair, felt something of the sinking weight of hopelessness.
He went back to the computer.
Wanting to deny what the program did, he still could only acknowledge it as the most probable source of help out of his situation. The first thing he did was adjust local knowledge back up from dang near zero to what this Jared Ornstead would have known if he'd really been him.
Once he'd sent the changes he felt much better.
On the one hand, there was the sickness of being so much less than what
he was. On the other, there was a fierce cry of joy and elation over being
so much better than he once was. The only difference being which historical
viewpoint, interdimensional or local. Enough caution remained
that he immediately began to consider which of his abilities he would best increase in order to stay as safe as possible from local hazards, when the email program pinged again.
It was Gray... err, Gregg, advising him to password lock his file and the reason to do so. Feeling something of a cold sweat, Jared did so. After that he created a hidden file within his file, encrypted and invisible, accessible only to the user whose file this was, giving him secret safeguards and authorizations; including sole ability to alter this secret file and a yes/no override on any changes this, or any other copy of this program, made to him in the event someone hacked the password. Then he paused briefly in his paranoia and thoughts on how to improve himself so that he could meet local challenges and sent a reply back to Grey, err, Gregg.
R)eply. Hiya! Greygg, just got the program. Ran into something of a
problem. Would *not* advise you to play around with personality adjustment
except in the most limited way - though elimination of depression might
be a good idea. I find I'm either a superspy trapped in
a world I don't want to be or a fan author of my own works (now *there's* an irony) with all the memories of actually living through my stories, plus more besides. Would suggest you avoid the same as the strain of having been through some of what you've written would not be fun.
Jared considered long and hard about telling Greggy, *wince*, Gregg
about the hidden subfile approach, but granted that a known secret was
no defense and while Grey would be perfectly safe with such knowledge,
nothing sent through email was truly private. In the end he decided to
tell him in person, and made the mental note to seek him out to do so.
Gregg sent the second e-mailing of the program. This time people he wasn't sure of, like "Hentai Pirate" and others whom he hadn't heard from regularly like Richard Robinson and Jack Staik. As this would be too unbelievable if he simply told them straight off what it was, he again used the "this would make for a good fic" cover story. Then later, an e-mail stating the option to lock your file against outside manipulation might be a good idea.
Which worried him some more, not that he wasn't worried about a *lot* of this.
How did one computer know that another computer had locked the file that was another human being? Clearly though, the Help file stated that "once a file has been locked, it will require the passcode to be able to access that file whether from that computer or another station."
Maybe it was something to do with superstrings?
Or did these programs talk to each other, part of some vast machine intelligence, each computer with the Master PC program functioning as a neuron within the inorganic brain?
No psionics but limited creation of items. Which made absolutely no sense as several other parts of the Help files read that only humans could be affected. If it *could* affect normal matter, why couldn't he alter his clothing to fit the changed body? When he'd tried before, he'd gotten a brief intensely painful moment as his clothing tried to contain his expansion.
Trying to change into a dragon didn't work, even if he tried to keep his mass intact.
"tee hee, konnichi wa!"
E-mail? He had found a soundbyte with Nuku Nuku's giggle for his "New Mail" alert. Looking it over found him seeing an odd response from Jared, and another from Kender_Sci. Oh and a hatemail from someone who was apparently one of the Knights. Ah well, can't please everyone.
It was tempting to go completely paranoid. How old was this program? Had it been used by the Knights already? Had some of the ridiculously bad luck in his life been the result of them playing around? Were they now about to deal a final blow? Had he finally snapped from pressure and was just imagining all this?
No, Gregg shook his head, now with a thick mane of straight hair. He preferred either very short (as in military buzzcut) or long enough to stick in a ponytail. Since he'd started thinning on hair, he'd gone with short as it didn't look so ridiculous. Now he might as well indulge.
Getting bogged down in paranoia wasn't very useful. He brought up his own file and briefly added cat's ears and a tail.
:Animorph Cat 10%? Y/N_
Gregg blinked and looked at the slider that appeared after he clicked Y. Apparently he could change this from just cat ears (5%) all the way over to a black furred four legged feline (95%) and everything in between. He clicked it, then studied the results before making use of the Undo function. This was followed by locking up the file again.
The results had been... interesting. Sight and hearing had been attenuated, the sense of feel in the tail and ears had been high, and it had felt like his agility and coordination had been higher. So you *could* alter a human into a near-animal at least. Might you be able to alter an animal into a near-human?
While it was tempting to try a dragon-morph or something similar, Gregg had come to the conclusion that paranoia was a healthy thing as regarded this. He still had *no* idea how it worked or how it could be circumvented. However, being the sort of person he was, he'd started developing theories.
Best case: some kind of quantum shift, using the superstring theory. All this did was alter a tiny little value in infinitesimal ways.
Worse case: the neurons of some vast artificial intelligence that accessed itself through the Internet, accumulating intelligence as the MasterPC was installed. Still operated via that quantum manipulation somehow, but was potentially hazardous. In this case, locking a file simply meant that this would be worth the attention of the intelligence of the Machine when it fully awakened. Very not good.
Even Worse case: certain factions of the government had this thing and were monitoring his use right now. Maybe he had been manipulated already.
Worst case: this was actually the sort of thing you might expect from a Steven King story and using it was a VERY BAD thing.
An idea for some quick income occurred, and he pulled up the Global Commands.
:IF Health IS LESS THAN 80% AND Subject* is freely able to respond at time of command AND Subject* has extra cash GREATER THAN $10 THEN Subject* will place $10 and handwritten name into box outside of apartment at
Gregg finished putting his address down, put an empty box to the left of his door, then sent the command. A few moment's thought caused him to add something.
:Subject*= Those responding to last command. Subject* will forget about leaving money and name behind as soon as command has executed.
Gregg blinked as he heard lots of people filing past his front door. Upon seeing the line just from his apartment complex, and that the box was rapidly filling up, he realized that maybe he ought to go back and alter the range so that people wouldn't travel the full range.
An alteration to make sure that all those outside of a one mile radius would forget about the need to come here, and Gregg just waited for the crowd to dissipate. It looked like he'd be very busy fixing all these health problems, but at least it was fair value. One $10 copay and their health could be restored to 100%. Seemed like *that* was safe.
Trying to think of what could go wrong with this, Gregg sat before the PC and tried to figure it out.
Jared laid the knife aside.
Reaching into his forearm thus opened, he gently removed a small device,
set it on a white cloth next to several others likewise removed, then used
the computer to dial his health back up to maximum. It was the quickest
way to recover from surgery that he could think of. He'd given
himself surreal pain threshold and damage tolerance equal to a Tasmanian Devil - which could lose 30% of its total body mass and still fight and hunt for itself well enough to have a better than 50% chance of recovery without help and without medicine, making it probably the most damage tolerant animal on earth. That, plus a bit of regeneration and he was pretty hard to kill, but there was no point in testing that.
As the health dial went up and changes were sent, the arm closed nicely. No scarring.
This had been a tricky solution. Even with his knowledge enhanced and full photographic memory added with details on how his devices were made, it would take centuries to develop the infrastructure and tech base on his own to build them without the shortcuts of magic or an Agency supply drop. He always could've shared the tech to achieve that faster, but that would've defeated the whole point of having it, and who knows what the current governments would do with that kind of power?
No, he was an independent, and would remain so. There were good reasons.
But that didn't make him any more comfortable without his devices. The
MasterPC program had proved able to modify *him* but not much else. Working
with that restriction, he had found a little-used menu (this whole program
had depths and complexity such that almost anything was
possible - though at present all the non-human menu options were greyed out) and added certain options.
Jared flexed his repaired arm and went to the menu to delete the cyberware he'd just given himself, and surgically removed. A glance at the table beside him showed the removed bits were just as he'd left them, even though the systems in him they'd been removed from were now gone.
By specifying the exact schematics of the cyberware using special pull-downs,
he'd been able to get the most difficult items on his parts list, and a
few more besides. Cracking open the case of a cyborg's self-maintenance
digit and wiring the tools that contained to short wood
dowels, he obtained a working set that would do until he could make better. With those supplementing the ones found in the hallway's toolbox he cracked open the plastic case on the cellphone (no longer in service, found in a drawer), removed the old internal components and went to work.
After he went to the kitchen and set out some bowls with cultures in them.
The program had been willing to give him an internal cyberdeck, with max capabilities. After going through three levels of options and special menus he'd relocated that to his arm, and now had all the base components necessary to make the hardware portions of a functional Cell Slicer. The extra special programming could await future upgrades.
Still, it ought to be able to hack anything on this planet.
Having selected parts with this in mind, this was merely assembly, cleaning, and connecting of the cyberdeck systems with the other components he'd liberated. With his skills for this already enhanced way up beyond his normal it went quickly, especially as he'd enhanced his speed and coordination specifically for the task.
Completing that, he went on to the One True Watch, Synoptic Teacher (which wouldn't be needed so long as he had the MasterPC program to just give him skills, but you always plan for contingencies), laser pistol and Nerd Toy. That would serve as the basics to start this set of Superspy Survival Gear, though it would be lacking in several departments until he could spend a few weeks getting the programming of each item right and somehow acquire a nanite bath and control machinery to do final adjustments and tweaking beyond what could be done with mere hand tools.
Hours later when that was completed, Jared sat at the computer and stared
at the martial arts menu. He'd been an average contender in Nerima, not
among the top three, but not expected to be. Giving himself Ranma's learning
curve had been a guilty pleasure, but agreeable even when he
turned it on wide arc to apply to everything he saw or did. Mozart's musical gift and skills were a whim, but satisfied a long term, secret desire.
On the screen was highlighted Mousse's Hidden Weapons style. Always useful, but a man in his situation should think long and hard about the temptations involved in having a skill that would allow him to break quite so many restrictions.
Well, he couldn't replicate the Standard Light Urban with present techniques, or any cyberware he could imagine.
That left his choice pretty easy.
With a huge amount of money, the first thing to do was give fair value.
Names were input. Health slid up to 100% removing things like leukemia, pre-cancer, diabetes, and a host of other ills. Even as quick as it was, Gregg expected this to take him a couple of hours.
He now had enough money to move and could find another apartment very quickly.
Slapping himself on the forehead, he realized that he was doing this the hard way.
:IF money has been placed in box at (apartment address) THEN Health
:IF money has been placed in box at (apartment address) THEN Remove All Dysfunctions, Syndromes, Diseases, and Curses.
Gregg sat back as the thing worked.
:437 files changed.
The sometimes computer operator looked over at the pile of money. $4370? Looked bigger sitting on the foot of his bed.
What to do? Experimenting with his own file seemed extraordinarily unsafe in that there was no guarantee that he could Undo the changes if he got inventive. Which left...
R)eply All. Grey & Company. There is a limited Create Objects sub menu under the Physical pull-down. Simple objects can be created when a person is modified. Nothing spectacular so far, but it includes food, clothes and cash.
Jared then sat at his computer. He was Skysaber, interdimensional superspy adventurer, and working without a support net doing what must be or has not been done before was the job description.
Still, this world was a scary place.
Not for supervillains and alien invaders. No, here they had no need of those. Every man was oppressed by his neighbor. The almighty dollar was a cruel and unjust god, but more than on any other world he'd visited, here it was their religion.
Actually, the quick tally of false gods could be summed up very easily
to include half a dozen ideals that held their loyalty, and none of them
was much good at causing happiness among their followers. Actual religion,
which worshipped actual deity, was uncommonly held and even more
uncommonly genuine. To most preachers it had become just another form of making a living, and that lack of faith steadily transmitted through to their followers. For any who cared to see it, there was a straight line of progression from decline of faith to a general weakness of the morals that were derived from it, and a weakness of morals led to increased crime of all kinds. Increased crime led to increased powers to deal with it, which meant a steady decline of freedom as the ones wielding that increased power were part of that flock that had lost their faith and
morals in the first place, and so misused their power as just another form of crime. It was a cycle. Like an aircraft in a tailspin you either pulled out or eventually hit the ground. How high you flew to start with only gave you a little extra delay in striking down. It did nothing to change the conclusive, fiery demise promised.
The series Evangelion had an end no more certain from the arrival of the first attacker.
But that wasn't the point here.
He now sat at the crossroads. Whatever course he took, there wasn't likely to be any going back. There were two major options. He could fit himself into this world, enabling himself to live a happy, normal, productive life in it. In such a case he would also load himself down with perks. But once he was happy here, he'd want to stay that way. His attitude would bind him more surely than chains.
There was a second option. One that only occurred because of who he was and would liable be unthought of by most others. Perilous and scary, it held infinite possibility of defeat, few if any for lasting victory, no end to opposition, and for success offered nothing more than a task that would not end in a mortal's lifetime.
Also, because of who he was, there was no real choice here. He didn't exist to drink pina coladas on a beach resort served by waitresses as his money did all his work, giving him a life spent in a dissolute search for pleasure. Jared Saotome, alias Skysaber, existed to do good. The cost to him didn't matter. It was part of the job, and the difficulty of the assignment was only part of the fun.
His decision was already made.
So now came the next most important question.
Skysaber had thought long and hard about this. Even increasing his abilities to the superhuman, granting himself enough skills to be a martial arts god, and every ability under the sun added to that, he was still mortal, he could still die. Much more important was that there was only so much any man could do, and of related yet still crucial interest, it was not good to be alone. Loneliness alone could kill him, destroying his interest in proceeding even if no other opposition presented itself.
So he needed allies, required them in fact, and what allies he wanted above all others were the people he had spent many previous adventures with - folks he already loved and cared for and had established working relationships with.
Trouble was that this machine could only change people, not create them. Not being able to create his friends and loves out of whole cloth, he would be required to take someone who already had a life, an existence, and turn them over completely into someone new. In effect, he would be killing the person he chose to effect this way, wiping them out of existence in order to bring one of his own people into being.
Such was not a heroic thing to do.
So he debated with himself the solution.
Animal lives would not work. He'd tried, but the machine would only load and change humans. So now he found himself on the tail end of a long, internal dialog debating the remedy. He'd been on the verge of giving it up when the perfect solution came to him.
On the screen of the MasterPC program swirled a little infant in its
mother's womb. The only thing remotely special about it was that this child's
mother had decided that her baby would die before ever seeing the outside
world. The mother was a teenager in an abortion clinic, waiting
her turn in line. The doctor had arrived for the day and was taking his morning coffee in the back as he went over his schedule of appointments for the day.
A human life, already doomed to die, fated to be cut up and sold for baby parts before the day was done. It was almost a hero's *duty* to intervene! Forget the almost. Jared hit the key combo that activated the macro he'd worked up for this purpose.
The program adjusted the baby's physical location, removing it from
womb, mother and abortion clinic while feeding the mother the certainty
that she'd done what she came for and it was now time to leave. The child
appeared in the location Jared had selected, modified in the moment of
appearance to be one of the allies he'd queued up to be produced this way, with all the background and experience of having grown up that way naturally, and all the memories of associating with him. Said ally was also fully briefed on his location and their part of the present assignment, and equipped to carry it out.
Nene Romanova appeared with snappy clothes and a briefcase full of cash outside a computer wholesaler, as Jared's Cell Slicer was already hacking her a valid business license.
It took the computer ten and half minutes of thinking to do the job. When the operation was finished and Nene went to buy the first stage computers to be delivered in bulk, Jared was already targeting another unwed mother about to terminate the life of a child.
Priscilla Asagiri, in casual and comfortable attire walked into a car dealership ten minutes later, hauling another briefcase full of cash, authorized to make purchases for a company fleet, as Cell Slicer was all the while hacking records to back up the claims.
Linna Yamazaki walked into the offices of an industrial automation center ten minutes later, while Sylia Stingray appeared ten minutes after that, wearing business dress and going right on in to government offices to begin filing paperwork.
The first boy in the abortion line got dropped, in lab coat and with plentiful credit line, thanks to the Cell Slicer, into the offices of a laboratory supply dealer. The man created from the unborn babe now answering to the name of Kyusaku Natsume.
Reika Chang, alias Vision, walked in to a retailer of private planes,
armed with not only the materials to get one, but to go to California and
buy a computer, log on to an email address that had already been assigned
to her, download a copy of the MasterPC program, and convince the
government who was shutting down their military bases there to part with one to a private buyer.
By this time Priss had been delivering cars to the various people who would need them, driving out the vehicles and returning to pick up more with the help of Mackie Stingray.
Jared looked up from composing additional commands as the door to his dwelling came open and Nene struggled in, a weighty computer case in her arms. He went to help her with it, and she gave him a kiss and the keys to the van Priss had delivered her, and by the time he was done carrying up boxes she had transformed the living room into a computer lab with cables running back to both bedrooms, servers up and running and seven imacs linked in parallel running the program snatching babies before they were about to be aborted. Another ran damage control, with the program confusing doctors and nurses, creating delay while the snatch programs worked. She'd also farmed out the commands so that system load on each CPU was reduced and their time was down to a 2 minute turn around per snatch job, per machine.
The USA had greater than 1.3 million abortions annually and rising. Where he was situated put him in computer range of several major hospitals, and many smaller clinics. There was lots of work to do.
Nene gladly received a mug of hot chocolate from him, once he'd returned from the kitchen, checking on his cultures and making lunch. "Hmm, thanks! Hey, where are all the rest of the gang going to stay?"
Jared wisely said nothing about her assuming she'd share his room that night. "I've rented the Hilton, telling them its the planning meeting for a convention. That'll do for now. In three days we're to be moving on to the next stage, anyway. What are you doing?"
She swiveled on her perky fanny, turning from the dining room table now burdened under the weight of a mighty computer setup, and dimpled at him cutely, clasping her hands in innocence before her face. "Oh, nothing much. Correcting all the errors you've made in not covering our tracks properly, mostly. I've also dropped hints of a terrorist scam into the federal watch net so they'll be looking for Arabs around power reactors today, and for most of the rest of the week." She smiled innocently. "Busy cops are happy cops, as the chief used to say. Plus, while they're busy with that they won't be watching for people like us."
"The status?" He asked, smiling at her.
"Vision's got her plane fueled and ready to get in the air. She's just
waiting while Lisa Hayes and that crowd join up with her. They're going
to set up the California branch. Sylia is right now marching down the courthouse
steps to her beemer. Thanks to her efforts, the local government has graciously
allowed us to purchase a large chunk of worthless desert land - and they're
all snickering in their sleeves about farmland without water rights and
how they've robbed us blind, padding their pockets in the bargain. The
company Linna and Priss represent has
already folded, and their assets sold at private auction to unnamed buyers - which is us. The bankruptcy papers are already filed and should take effect later this week, erasing most of the debts we've accumulated as well as muddling our tracks significantly. The teams for Alaska and
Wyoming are still forming up. Our South Pacific Island setup team left almost fifteen minutes ago. And deliveries of all parts are on or ahead of schedule."
"Impressive." He blinked, then inquired. "How did we get that many people so fast?"
Nene shrugged, looking down unhappily. "Do the math. If we just keep
this location alone we'll intercept hundreds of abortions daily. When we
get the California offices going there will be thousands more. Supposing
we could get to all the abortions being done we ourselves would be the
largest country on earth inside ten years. I've had to provide several template identities for when the ally list you provided runs out. And since our workers being skilled is just the push of another button we'll have one of the largest, best trained workforces on the planet in six
months just going by our projected growth. That many people get *alot* of work done, so I've revised your plans. They'll be done in a third the time and get more of your hoped-for results."
The superspy took her hand. "Hey, Nene?"
"Hmm?" She looked up, misery written on her face.
He enfolded her in a gentle hug. "You are no less real than I am, Nene. Just think of it as an unusual entrance, that's all."
She began to kiss him hungrily.
He gave a startled squawk as he saw over her shoulder that she'd hacked his file protections and set his resistance to her sexual advances to zero.
It was only a program. And hacking was what she did, after all.
----Another scene from the darkness---
The sound of laughter reached my ears...
deep.... evil laughter....
A fist slugged me...
blink... me? What... ah...yes... hmm... interesting...
The memories... different personas began to shift...
a young student... a swordsman.... a wizard... an engineer... a villain....
None truly merged... merely forging a collective...
A part of me idly noted how ironically fitting the music playing was...
Another noted the program now open before me....
Hmm... while it's never worked before... I can remember... magic yes....
I stood and stretched forth my hand.... feeling ... where was it.... I see.... so simple... yet the pain... it hurts to not be able.... yet I never used it before....
An evil smile graced my visage as I sat down once more... moving my glasses forward.... seems I still have that Lezard complex... would have to fix that later... a computer... that can modify reality.. but how much....
So informative.... password locked... hmm...
Information regarding the program.... downloading....complete...
I smiled... so simple... knowledge was truly the ultimate power....
And even with the limitations of this device it would be simple....
There was so much that could be done with reality. But first...
:Search for terms: "Martial or Arts or fighting or weapon or combat"
A list of thousands of styles.... yes....
A template.... to quickly develop the skills necessary. If magic would not work... then there was always ways around it.
Now... To consider the others... Gregg probably wouldn't act directly at first... Skysaber..... heh... probably himself now... would be... interesting that. But no reason to conflict... first though... he was vulnerable...
How to handle that.... it all comes back to knowledge.....
:Modifying physical structure... complete:
I reached back and moved the hood off my head.... black..... a result of too much Raistilin in my youth.... no matter... always liked black... removing my glasses... everything was clear now... simple.
Arrogance though had always been my flaw.... a controlled and known one... but a flaw... in this new game that wouldn't be allowable though. First things first though..... friends...
DISCLAIMER: Self insert segments done by the selves who inserted themselves. And no, that isn't a hentai thing. Yet.
otaku PC 1.3
Somewhere in Arizona:
He knew, due to having worked in certain offices, and having ended up on some truly strange websites, that there were a lot of odd fetishes and fascinations out there. Some were truly dark and disturbing. Others were more just odd.
One of those encountered was a transformation fetish. While Gregg admitted that the subject itself fascinated him, he was neither gender dysphoric nor into fur nor costumes nor appliances. In some ways, he knew himself to be hopelessly conservative. Almost Amish by some people's standards.
If anything he would say that he was racially dysphoric and meant to be a dragon. Or dimensionally dysphoric and meant to be out on the deck of some dirigible over the Sea Of Shadar, towing a load of tea on the Shadar-Nihon run.
Still, he knew that transformation *fetishes* were out there. People who not only wouldn't mind being turned briefly into a werewolf, but would thoroughly enjoy it. People who would regard a brief shift into something different as the crystallization of their greatest fantasies. And if he did it right, would carry that satisfaction on while forgetting entirely that it had been done.
After placing a HUGE number of IF THEN statements together so much that it appeared he was writing a program in BASIC, Gregg sent a Global Command. He needed a volunteer to drop by and he could experiment with the program and not worry about accidentally changing himself into something illiterate or unable to use a keyboard.
Knowing the exact limits of this program might help him establish HOW. That left a lot of other questions like WHY and WHO and WHERE and similar things. As to the WHAT there were a lot of those.
Simply typing in a line to transport him to Aramar, the Star Trek universe, or the Rebel Alliance had come up with an error message, so dimensional transport out of harm's way was not a factor.
A factor of his coming fully into play now was Overwhelming Curiosity (8pt disadvantage) and Bitter Romantic (5pt disadvantage) which were pitted against his Morality (10 pt disadvantage) which was itself against further experimentation much less altering someone else.
Fifteen minutes after he'd sent the Global, he had 207 e-mails downloading themselves from the server. Clearly he'd underestimated the people struggling with ennui. The data sent was a brief description and a name, some had sent photos as attachments. One set off the virus guard and didn't get downloaded.
Flipping through quickly, Gregg located one that was suitable. Nearby, someone who could come by in a trance state, be modified, restored to normal, then released with no memory of what had gone on. Self experimentation was way too dangerous. Pity that Morgan and Sean had both moved away. Giving Sean a brain or some common sense would have been a delightful test of the PC's capabilities.
"Tee hee konnichi wa!" The computer's new mail sound clicked on again. This time it was something from Jared.
Five minutes later he wondered if his old friend was having another of his moods. Create Object? There was no Create Object on any part of his dropdown menus. What did this mean? Was it just some odd plan of the Skysaber? A code phrase he was supposed to recognize? Or had his version mutated or evolved as it passed through the Internet? Well, that *last* was something he could test at least.
Attaching a copy of the PC program from the Zipdisc, Gregg sent himself a copy of the program. When it finally downloaded and arrived, he went to H)elp and A)bout. Then stared until the knock at the door at the results. There in plain text, his original had Version 2.25 and this new had 3.1 - somehow it had either evolved or updated during the brief trip through the Internet.
"This is *most* ominous," Gregg said to no one in particular, quickly sending off a brief note with his most recent discoveries and activities. Now to get the door and do some experiments.
Returning to western Pennsylvania...
The first order of business Alex took care of was calming down her folks. That out of the way, she checked her notebook to see if she had remembered to write the password to her file down. Next up was taking a moment to help her mother and step-father set passwords to their own files so that no-one else could alter them.
Now it was time for some serious data crunching. First and foremost was to find out exactly what the file really did. Which was simple enough on the face of it - it was a limited control interface program for a subsection of reality. In effect, an editor for human 'files'.
A thought occurred to Alex, and she checked the maintenance requirements
for her current form...
Not good. As is, her heightened metabolism would cause even her now more durable heart to give out within six years. Easy enough to correct, now that she was aware of it. She doubted that she would really need to run as fast as a cheetah anyway, although the thought was fun to contemplate.
Hmmm... Best to change the file access to 'hidden' and limit access to 'self-rewritable only'. There was something else along those lines, but another thought pushed further security considerations away for the moment.
A moment later, Alex was male again, although he chose to keep many of the other improvements that had occurred with the first change. Rechecking the options produced an 'Animorph' option, an 'Item Creation' option, and a few others, including a greyed-out 'Non-human' option.
Simply looking at the code itself provided Alex with eye-strain, a headache, and the key to unlock the 'Non-human' options list. But first to burn the MPC program to a CD, and take care of the headache before it turned into a migraine again.
The problem, Alex thought, was that this program was going to be abused by someone eventually. Heck, just what he had already done might be considered an abuse of reality in some respects, if one chose to look at it like that. Not passing the program on wasn't really an option, as multiple copies already existed in various locations. It was therefore safer to spread it further, to people whose judgment he trusted.
Steve was a definite. He might not be on-line, but the CD would load into his PC easily enough. Like Howard, who Alex simply forwarded the file to with the advice of "check this out," Steve was of high moral character and didn't believe on infringing on the rights of others. The one Joe was also a good bet for this category.
The other Joe, and his brother Dave, were an iffy prospect, although Alex trusted Joe to demonstrate good judgment. Dave was, for the most part, pretty much a human ogre. Nice enough as long as you didn't piss him off (admittedly hard to do), but he was very evil-minded when it came to roll-playing. A true 'hack-and-slash' gamer when it came to killing things, quickly, efficiently, and in new and unique ways just for variety's sake. That most of his characters would eye the other player's characters and comment on how to kill any one of them hadn't escaped anyone's notice...
Best to tell Joe privately then, and leave it up to him as to whether he trusts his brother enough with the MPC program.
Moving on again, without sending any more copies of the MPC program out at the moment, Alex decided that it was time to set in for the long haul. Sooner or later, there were going to be villains and monsters. That was a given, considering human nature - some people were just that way, and eventually one or more of them would get their hands on the MPC program and use it to evil ends.
Alex's 'file' was safe enough from outside tampering at the moment,
although he expected to add other security measures to it as he thought
of them. What was needed was a real-world method of coping with the potential
hazards to come. As no one set of physical and mental attributes was likely
to be able to deal with every problem, a variable template solution was
"Set master template designate 'Alex Dale White' as Base Mode."
"Seek dimensional analogues of Base Mode fitting descriptions contained within the character profiles created by Base Mode. Set analogues as self-alternating templates. Set self-alteration to variable templates as Template* Digivolve to Template*."
With that done, Alex spent a few moments unlocking the racial abilities and minor powers of his new alternate forms as best that he could, although some of the powers wouldn't convert easily (or at all in some cases).
Hmmm... Even with the capability to call on the varied abilities and
skills of over a hundred characters, only one template could be active
at a time. Not good odds if things hit the fan.
Alex much preferred working with a support group. Leadership of the group wasn't an issue, as long as the goals and means were acceptable. He would support a capable leader should one come along. Either Skysaber or Grey would be good choices, if Jared or Gregg were doing anything similar.
As Alex had very limited contact with Jared as of yet, he opted to contact Gregg and see what could be done. Nothing elaborate over the e-mail, other than describing the idea as a 'shared story' concept. Gregg should be able to get the gist of it easily enough.
Now, off to buy a PDA to load the MPC program into. Then it was time for a certain soldier to leave the inactive reserves and begin a different kind of service.
One question bothered Alex as he headed for the office store. A Ranma Saotome variant, another of Ryoga Hibiki, and TWO of Nabiki Tendo had shown up on his list of analogue templates. Granted, he had done them up as roll playing characters, but why were their two of Nabiki Tendo?
the home of one Andrew Norris:
I awoke. Blinked Blinked again. Analyzed the situation. Nodded. "I see."
Went back to the computer, snagging a phone. *ring* "Hey, Kimiko. Home, stat."
"Now. It's IMPORTANT"
Read the email from Gregg, again, and Jared. Password locked my profile, and sat down to serious play.
After three hours, one mother brought back to the perfect health and situation, and massive changes done to my personal template, including cyberware that Jared hadn't thought of and skills sent to levels that no one on earth had, I sat back. "When Kimiko gets here, we'll decide what next. I don't trust this, and I'm assured that we can't make TOO many waves. Jared likely will, and I'm more sneaky than that. Plus, I'm not sure I can be trusted with this much power." I looked at the screen, displaying Andrew Norris, and decided. "Sneaky, quiet and covert. Time to put together Phoenix enterprises. US having Fusion, cyberware and various other high-tech will be good. Now, how to do this."
Kimiko unlocked the front door, and I went to tell her.
A few changes had allowed Gregg to note that there were more options and tools in the new version. Then something had come up and he'd had to turn his "guinea pig" loose. Since she'd expressed a few tweaks that she actively wanted, those had been made and she'd forgotten her visit before she'd even reached her car.
It was the TV he'd turned on to give his subject/victim something to watch while he checked things out. The newscasters were having a panic attack. During the noon news in Cincinnati, one news channel had become Bimbo TV. Everyone from the CEO down to the part-time staffers in the mailroom, including the on-air newsreaders, had suddenly become a buxom blonde girl in her mid 20s.
The newscast gave a name of who these were all doubles of, but the name didn't register with Gregg. He was assuming some kind of pornstar. Whoever had done it obviously had no class and less sense.
Everyone at WKKT looked absolutely identical, their clothes hadn't changed so some of them had actually burst out of their clothing on the air, and were in an absolute blind panic. Clearly their minds hadn't been altered.
For a brief few minutes all the news channels were reporting it. Then none of them were mentioning it or made any further reference to the event.
Just like a switch had been thrown.
Gregg thought that this qualified as the scariest part.
He hoped Shades and Nguyen had passworded their files.
The original program had been... interesting.
On finding out that one could upgrade the program by sending it to yourself in an e-mail he'd gotten more interesting. On finding out that the program evolved defenses to keep from being hacked, well, that had been kind of interesting too.
Shade had set up a simple program and a hotmail account. Then he'd sent the program to his Hotmail account, then back to his regular account, then along three other e-mail addresses at different servers including one in Japan and another in Korea so that it had completed a long circuit before returning to his main account. Version 2.25 was now Version 7.1!
He'd made a few changes in himself, THEN locked the file. After all, any time he opened it up afterwards it was an open target to anyone else with the program. Lock it, don't open it, and you have no target.
The Crossover Fiancee priest pulled the hood of his new green sweatsuit up over his head, looked around, and tried his new improvements out.
"I am the Wizard Of Speed And Time!" *zoooom!* Mach 3.5! What a rush!
Of course he didn't do *everything* fast. As Shade's coterie of blonde bunnygirls could attest.
Boulder, CO: Day One, 5:03pm
His name was Ronald Chesterson and he was a typical computer nerd in appearance, one who shaved and bathed irregularly and wondered why he couldn't find a girlfriend. He was not into anime, gaming, movies, or anything of the sort. On the other hand, he had a passion for computers. On getting a copy of this MasterPC program from an FTP site, he'd tooled around with it and delighted at watching some of his classmates alter in response.
Now with a fresh battery in his laptop, he sat the computer on the passenger seat of his old battered Chevy Nova and took a good look around through his thick glasses and his bucktoothed grin was almost painful. One button to press and his macro would go out on a global broadcast.
He'd spent quite some time in designing the macro. All the qualities of all the best actresses, pornstars, supermodels, distilled into an elegant set of programming. He'd let them keep their hair color, though brightened - same with the eyes. Their skin tone would smooth but remain mainly the same, but he'd spent the better part of three hours coming up with his new Venus. She didn't need to be intelligent, but having a sexdrive similar to a teenage boy only more so *was* the sort of requirement Ronald wanted. He also wanted them all to be considerably dumber than him, have large breasts, and enjoy a few other things that he wanted his slaves to do.
Because Ronald might have been a dirty little fragrant geek, but he knew how to code. If he had not found the Master PC program, he might have eventually become a decent computer programmer and bathed more frequently and fit into the prevailing paradigm without a ripple. However, Ronald *had* found the program.
He savored the moment, because one touch of the button and he'd send the macro out in a loop until he tapped it again. Sixty miles around him, his carefully described Venus would be the new human race. If he could have hacked the code, he'd beam it out worldwide but the darn thing seemed to actively hide portions of itself rather than be dissected. He would go from being Ronald Chesterson the programming student, and be reborn as Ronald Chesterson the God.
Still grinning, Ronald decided that his ascension to godhood should be marked by an appropriate phrase. "The old world is a dirty egg, from which shall hatch something beautiful." Ronald frowned as he realized that hadn't come out right. Oh well, he could always come up with something better later. Ronald pressed the switch, still looking around so he could observe the dawning of this new world starting with Boulder University.
Everyone within sixty miles of the laptop began changing as the program clicked on, starting with the closest file and working outwards.
Ronnie "Chesty" Chesterson giggled as she realized she had absolutely no idea what to do about that complicated computer thingie on the seat next to her. So she closed the odd thing to keep it from distracting her, and drove to the mall so she could get out of these icky boy's clothes.
"Stately Norris manor":
Kimiko blinked. I grinned at her. "Like?"
"Last I looked, yes. Just... improved, Oh, and Mom's sleeping." I replied.
"... how?" Kimiko looked puzzled.
I sat down, in front of Ranko, and explained. Kimiko blinked. Blinked again. Smiled.
"So, every night?"
"ALL night" I replied with a grin.
Kimiko smiled again, dragged me out of the chair. "Good. I need to relax."
(Cut Scene) (22 hours cut in the name of keeping this BELOW X or R...)
Kimiko stubbed out my cigarette. "Anata, why didn't you rig it to quit smoking?"
I blinked, and replied... "Didn't occur to me, but we'll make the changes."
Kimiko tapped her chin, and asked. "Range about 100 kilometers, right?"
"As far as I can tell."
"Range lessens, as more powers are given. In theory, if I ran it on my cyberdeck in my skull, I likely could create a Alpha or Omega class SPB... MAYBE a Super Senshi." I shrugged.
Kimiko looked at the million dollars neatly piled next to the computer. "Anata. Buy a new SOTA laptop, and a car. We're going on a road trip tonight."
I stretched, admiring my wife. She hadn't done any changes to her personal
profile outside serious skill boosts, but both of us had the equivalent
knowledge of Honor Harrington's time, and some other universes throw in
for good measure. She had been playing with options, outside of the skills,
but she hadn't decided which ones suited her yet. She however, did like
idea that we could go save children. "Why are we roadtripping?"
"Your friends Brian and Robert, and the Andrew in Sacramento. They're
unmarried." She smiled.
The three named individuals however were in the process of opening a onetime keypadded email. From me, with a program attachment. So, they didn't get cold sweats.
Gloves had landed on the table and a pile of papers were next to them. On the other side was a series of knives and a sword. In the middle was a laptop. Kender wasn't paying attention to any of it. He was leaning back and looking up at his kitchen ceiling.
Receiving the e-mail about creating clothes and stuff had been helpful, but there were other concerns at the moment. It was such that he was rather rattled by it.
One of the changes he had made had been to enhance his natural psychic abilities. He'd been shocked to find out that he'd actually had them, but he was sure that there was going to be a need for them. A 'sixth sense' that had given him the ability to notice possible immediate dangers was nice. Precognition was a pain as it never showed a complete picture.
There was a feeling of dread, of some great evil, but in a city like the Big Apple, that was saying that there were places that served ramen in Chinatown.
So, he prepared. But preparing for something that you weren't sure of was like tracing a picture without the picture.
"Maybe I'm just getting paranoid," he muttered to himself. His hands itched to try out the soft sounds of a flute, the mellow call of a sax, or the strum of a guitar, not to just to try out his new musical abilities, but for the relaxation he knew that he'd get from them.
He thought about the various individuals who could be after the program and frowned. Perhaps they'd want to 'deal' with him. Then he'd have to 'deal' with them...
"Goddamnit! I'm brooding again!" Kender growled, snapping himself into an upright position. It looked like his bike ride hadn't worked after all. A kind and generous nature, a(n extremely) sarcastic wit and a dark side were all warring on it.
Kender got up and paced. It was no use denying it, this wasn't going to be something he was going to be able to just brush aside or make fun of. There could be some extreme measures that he'd have to take, but they could be set up for later. Right now was another story.
Right now was for planning and preparing. Templates were made and placed to the side. Most were of the physical type, changing hair and eye color along with some skills packages. Kind of like the sheet for character creation in an RPG session.
Placed under lock and key(word) were the few that changed personality. _Those_ wouldn't be used, except under the most dire circumstances. Although it might be fun to run around with Rally Vincent, it was a little too immoral to do something like that, never mind dangerous. The possibility of certain weapons was placed aside for the moment.
What he needed now was some kind of support. Internal dialogue was good and all, but sometimes spoken discussion was the way to go. Others might be able to come up with solid strategies, but Kender was WAY too new at this. Just figuring out how to pay for a motorcycle, laptop and sword without raising suspicion was hard enough. Besides, he needed people to babble at to come up with his own theories.
The cat gave him a look that said, 'What am I, chopped liver?' and to follow him around in his pacing.
"Coal, you're an idiot you know that?" he told his pet. She just ignored him.
"Gotta talk to someone, I guess. And as the only one I've had contact with..," Kender thought out loud. A message was sent to Gregg, while one to Skysaber and the others was considered. "'There's a darkness in the Force.'? What the heck?! I've definitely been watching too much Star Wars."
"Rise and Shine!" A cheerful, childlike female voice caroled as his door slammed open.
"Oro!" Jared's head, capped with a bad case of morning hair, spouted from his mountain of bedcovers like the king of all prairie dogs poking out of his burrow.
"Jay-chan!!" Ryoko flew over at Mach speed and plucked Jared from his covers, cuddling him in mid-air despite his naked state.
Jared's lightning-calculator mind was already catching up with details, but it kind of hung on the one thing of his dress state. He *always* went to bed garbed in a fashion that would not be embarrassing if he had to go out on long, running battles throughout the city. What was he doing? The only time he'd ever gone to bed naked was also the only instance of his walking in his sleep.
Then it hit him.
"Wha..?" Nene's head crawled reluctantly from within the covers.
Little Washu, standing in the doorway and likewise unmindful of Jared's undress, pointed a glad finger at the redhaired Knight Saber. "Now let's get one thing straight! You are to call me Mother from now on, ya got that?" The diminutive scientist glittered cutely, with a background of multicolored sparkles floating behind. "Though *mom* would do!" Suddenly she was back to normal and walking out of the bedroom. "C'mon, Ryoko. Bring the *Test Subject!*"
Jared found himself flown in Ryoko's arms out the door of his bedroom. It was all his advanced reflexes could do to snag a shirt on his way out as she carried him at unsafe velocities that miraculously failed to hit anything and even more miraculously didn't shake apart any furnishings with sonic booms.
Too bad the shirt was Nene's.
"Morning, Jared. Sleep well?" Nodoka asked from the kitchen, wearing
a 'my son is so manly' smirk. Beside her, Kenshin Himura and Kasumi also
waved good morning. Yosho looked up from where he was contemplating the
fake flower arrangements on top of the entertainment center, obviously
"Ah, good morning, Jared. Not quite ready for today's training yet, I see. Well, I'll wait until your mother is done with you."
A robot hand plucked Nene's too-small shirt from his unresisting grasp and Jared was put into a machine that hadn't been there when he'd left that room last night.
"What's this?" He asked, as another robot arm put a weird looking metal cap on his head and began to glue wires to his chest. The people he had figured out, the program had been running all night and so did many of the abortion providers. He was a little concerned over being wired up to one of Washu's machines, though. She considered electrocuting some of her test subjects all in good fun.
Washu ran off a string of techno-babble that he actually got. In summary, the Master PC program was self improving. She'd fooled around with it and discovered that the *power* of the program was inversely proportional to both its speed and range.
So the more it could do, the less area it could do it over and the longer it took to do anything.
Washu had taken it up to it's maximum limits and then some. She was
explaining. "Since the maximum limits are restrictive enough that Lina
Inverse or a simple Saiyajin was roughly the most powerful type of person
it could create at zero range I had to find expedient options. And I
"Washu! Washu! You're the one!" "Hooray for Washu!!" Shouted her little shoulder puppets, before vanishing again.
Washu stood a moment, cackling in triumph, before she went on to say, "To create goddess-level powers for the Norns, Ryoko, your special Sailor Scouts and the others who required it I had to reduce the range _below_ zero! I did it by tearing apart the hardware to create a space where the test subject could actually be *inside* the machine!"
"Hooray for Washu!" "You're the Greatest!!"
Jared gave a nod to show he understood. "Okay, so that's what this is."
His genius mother acquired one of those grins that said she'd been practicing being a mad scientist recently, and was about to do so again. "Not quite."
Heavy metal restraints had clapped shut over all his limbs. Suddenly he recalled why Tenchi hated this experience.
Washu spent a moment cackling in triumph while pleasing aromas drifted from the kitchen where the breakfast crew got everything ready, calmly ignoring her.
"Uhm??" Jared ventured a questioning sound.
"Hehehehe," Washu laughed in a delightfully menacing manner. "No. This device I created for myself. It was insufficient for Tsunami, Serenity, or people on our level to actually be inside the machine. We had to be a part of it. I placed a coupla electrodes for us to hold on to using the calculated resistance of our bodies to act as part of one of the logic gates to actually run the program. And it *Worked!*"
"So why the helmet?" Jared pled, sweatdropping and not liking where this was going.
Washu pretended not to hear, suddenly becoming innocent again as she
mused aloud as if to no one in particular, a finger held thoughtfully to
her lower lip. "I guess I should tell you that this program isn't acting
on its own, that it's reporting somewhere beyond the dimensional boundaries,
and the primary copy is probably stored there. These duplicates *we* have
are just slave remotes. But their power is probably similar, especially
with the work arounds I've devised. Of course, not knowing if this outside
power was good or bad I disabled the reporting
function on all our copies. But just to be sure I'm going to exempt you from the program once this is done. Any file that exists can be modified, protections just reduce the number of folks who could do that. But hacking could be a problem. So I'm going to do with you what I did to the
rest of our elite group once I'm done upgrading you - make you invisible to the program itself. It's like deleting you except you don't actually cease to exist except as far as the program itself is concerned."
She turned around to her control boards with a happy smile. "I had to work up that option to add to the machine. But the actual program not being able to locate, access or decrypt your file is the only sure defense against hackers that would really work!"
"So why the helmet?" He repeated, continuing to sweatdrop.
"Oh that." She waved it away dismissively, then turned to the opening front door. "Hi, Bell!"
"Hello." Belldandy replied with a glad giggle and angelic smile, taking off her shoes at the door as she entered bearing grocery bags. "Are we ready for Jay-chan yet?"
"Any time you're ready." Washu responded with a toothy grin.
"Oh, good." Belldandy delivered her bags to the kitchen and came back, hands clasped before her in demure eagerness. "Then let's begin."
Jared was kind of glad the bulky machines hid direct view of his privates. He winced. "Good morning Bell."
"Good morning. Sleep well?" She inquired with a delightful smile and giggle that showed she both understood and approved.
Washu interrupted this conversation to at last begin to explain. "Recall
what I told you about the operations taking longer the more powerful the
program? Well, rather than retrieve you after the next Ice Age, we're going
to have Belldandy participate and fold time so that you'll be done
before breakfast. We've done similar things before with the rest of us."
She poked a button and Belldandy powered up for a spell.
"But you never said what's going on with the helmet!?" Jared exclaimed in desperation, knowing Washu only kept things like that hidden because the answers were frequently scary.
"Hmm?" Washu's innocent expression deflated and she turned her profile
to examine the wall. "I didn't? Well, that's nothing to be concerned about...
Just that we're going to be running the copy of the program using your
own neural tissue as the synopsis generator and central
processor, that's all."
She began playing with a lock of her spiky hair. "Yes, trivial, really. You see we had to strip down the program, creating simplified versions with a narrow focus to achieve the desired results even with reduced range. The program we used to create Tsunami could *only* create Tsunami, and then only once. Even so it took most of the night with the limited time warp capability we had available then. Luckily we had several machines going at once, and after Belldandy and her sisters were ready these processes went much faster."
Jared began to be bathed in the glow of Belldandy's light. "So, why..."
Washu pursed her lips and shrugged, still looking out the window at the pre-dawn glow of morning light, feigning unconcern. "You aren't my match in science or technology. You aren't a match for Queen Serenity using the Silver Moon power, and you aren't a match for Tsunami in using the Jurai power, or for Yoda with Jedi powers. But your fully developed Pheonix Mage persona has got enough in each one of them, as well as sorcery and fighting and many others besides, that the total overall exceeds even what we could do with previous methods."
Suddenly she was all cheerful and waving. "See you at breakfast!"
The strangest sensation came of the program pouring into his skull as the light from Belldandy's spell overcame him.
Having independently tried something along the lines of Shade's experiment, Gregg had the version 6.5 showing on his PC now. He wasn't too certain of this, but at least a locked file remained a locked file no matter what version of the program.
He thought this thing had to work by manipulating things somehow on a quantum level. Which meant that too many people operating these things could possibly do a crossrip or have even worse effects than that brief report from Cincinnati. Gregg also thought that the program was likely part of some Internet lifeform - spreading copies of itself through the lure of the "morphing" program and enhancing itself to make it more indispensable. What would happen if it achieved sentience?
He still didn't have a "Magic" menu, but he now could alter nonhumans as long as they had a name and *knew* what that name was. If they identified themselves by that name they could be altered. The family cat identified itself by a sense of smell but it at least recognized whatever name was applied to it by that cat's humans. Same with dogs. If the individual critter identified itself with that sound pattern enough, the program could alter them.
There *were* some psionics available now. The battle with that particular temptation had been difficult. However, one had to specifically define the nature of the paranormal ability.
Mind Shields were the number one priority. An automatic defense at any psionic attack, likewise protection against pheromone or other chemical assaults and hypnotics of all sorts.
Adding limited Clairvoyant abilities, intuition, and psychic healing were done quickly. Then the file was locked again. Add too much at one time and he might be overwhelmed by his own changes.
Gregg wondered again what was going on with everyone else. He hoped they were safe, who knew what kind of irresponsible people might have access to the program.
---return to the darkness----
My friends were easily brought to the fold... trusted allies... priceless...
The computer which originally contained the program was merely a forgotten
memory. Now incorporated into myself.... it was simple to manipulate and
control.... data streamed past me at blurring speeds... all
easily comprehended. It functioned on actualizing potential phenomenon... the infinite possibility theorem.... so amusing... to think a jest made truth.
I'd need something more though.... distractions... deceptions... yes... old friends... would be most useful here....
I concentrated bringing the data streams forth... the barely existing
computer program activating to my will..... There... no more risk of it
being used on me... unless someone else was clever enough.... even blocking
the potential phenomenon that the program would be able to detect me and
creating a double false lead... one can never be certain when dealing with
ultimate power. A double...yes...
I smiled as I looked upon myself... Fearless Leader... Yes... a backup protocol.... only designed to activate a set of phenomenon upon my death or the alteration of my current existence by another mental will. Anyhow... who would look for someone who is merely a shadow of existence anyways.
Distractions though... underwater would be the best for a starting place... Atlantis was always a nice thought...
I reached out my senses... There was Gregg... he hadn'...
My eyes widened... I'd expected a lot... but this is just dangerous.... Well then.... it's risky... but ... hmm... the potential phenomenon of ....he's blocked it well... perhaps... yes better act fast...
Magic.... yes... that would be the secret... but..hmm... The best evil is one that is never known until it is too late. Of course, if worst comes to worse... I could always cheat.... Arranging another protocol to take the world with me would be just plain meanness... so why not.
Rome wasn't built in a day, but Atlantis was. I always liked the Atlantic ocean anyhow.
"A masterpiece if I do say so myself."
Now though... for allies.... My friends were good... but I wouldn't get far tapping that kind of resource so early...
appearing next to a federal prison... time for my good deed of the millennia...
They were promptly transformed... one by one disappearing... none detecting
my non-corporeal form as i sifted through the prison. Exdeath sent to the
holyland, Israel. What a 'religious' experience for all of them. His powers
fully intact and with no orders from me he would be a
perfect distraction. The others though would be kept secret for now. No need to arouse suspicion yet. Pity I won't be able to be there personally to enjoy the destruction of faith. Nothing like seeing the holyland vaporized to do some damage to faith in god.
Kefka... yes my old friend. Andrew Wiggins... The Xenocide. And of course,
his ally, Bean permanently locked at age 20. Modified slightly they'd help.
Krellain the nanotech scientist. Hild would definitely make an appreciative
ally. Ryoko, modified slightly would be quite enjoyable. Why not a few.
Lina Inverse... with additional modifications. Fallen heroes were always
good. Internalized unconscious loyalty but otherwise free thinking as always
for the most of them. Raistilin, shalafi of my youth. Cyan Bloodbane; no
proper Atlantis could exist without the dragons of yore. Goku... so innocent.
So easy to manipulate. And now, so evil.
Kenshiro... an unstoppable killer for a personal assassin.
The thought then hit me... I searched again the phenomenon... yes... they weren't protected. So simple... why make new spies... when you can merely send deletion protocols and replacements. A Ryoko was made and endowed with just that purpose. A Belldandy the same. Washu as well. One after another, replicas were made. Best of all there would be no difference to begin with. Not now at least. But small things... minor incompetencies when it is important. Auto-deletion upon critical instances. They were teleported to Utah. They'd find the originals and replace them soon enough.
Dozens of others were promptly altered. Id and Grahf, is only right.
Balthusar, Melchoir, and Cid would all lend me their expertise. Omegaweapon
could be modified into existence later. A piece of scrap metal would suffice.
The original of course... never... well why not.... it was
biological. These poor bastards deserved it anyhow.
A single soul was chosen.... a human. Brutal and cruel in life. A criminal without any redeemable qualities.
And a new weapon of destruction. Simply working the potential phenomenon
so that the being would appear in Washington would remove that annoyance
fools called government. Omegaweapon II.... To think that they created
him to be
an unstoppable superbioweapon. The Japanese imagination in creating
him was so dull. Who would ever want to bother against something you are
to use invulnerability to fight. Yet... The firepower on him alone would probably allow me to get a good idea of Skysaber's current capabilities. After all, such a threat to humanity would
definitely involve his personal intervention. The anti-modification protocols on the distractions would prevent easy removal. With Omegaweapon II in place in Washington and Exdeath vaporizing parts of existence in Israel, Skysaber at least should be to busy to notice me as a threat. Two overt swords... and a hidden dagger.
Good enough for a start. Wait... what.... such a fool. Though that university will probably be an interesting relaxation spot now.
A set of Ifurita units would be nice. And nice. And, yes... I could get my 'pets' back.
The cute bunnies blinked at their old friend and lord. One from out of pythonian madness was a chipper fellow already. The spotted bunny that somehow carried a knife in it's cartoonish hands smiled, enjoying playing right hand villain again. Never let it be said that Bun-Bun would miss out on a good world takeover. Then the final one, a black rabbit. One that had been with me for a while. The legendary black bunny of doom. The sadistic dream of some mad game programmer, I knew. But also a trusted ally. A villain whose combination of cuteness and diabolical evil power had destroyed thousands of heroes unaware.
Oh well..... Enough for now. The rest would come later. First to test the waters.
Disappearing from there, my magicks brought me back to my realm. Atlantis was no longer a dark paradise only of my creation. The allies I had brought were already modifying it. Krellain use of his own body's natural nanotechnology allowed him to rebuild his lab in moments. And additionally help build the defenses. Remembering one last thing, I concentrated once more....
Upon the sea floor, rocks quivered... and suddenly grew... mechanically... Spider like legs shooting out... The hidden army of the heretic. Nothing like a madman's dream to be the perfect weapon. Omegaweapon...
A programmer named David Yates had found that no matter what he did, he could not disassemble the Master PC program. So he had done the next best thing (to his mind) and incorporated a shell program around the Master PC.
A sort of Trojan horse.
Every use of the MasterPC program would click against an internal mechanism, and then the Gotcha would activate.
At which point the user of the altered MasterPC program would quietly become his willing and loyal slave.
A few minutes after uploading the program onto a frequently used FTP site, the former David Yates discovered that he should have made locking his own file a priority. Though in a way it wasn't his fault. Every version after 3.1 failed to have the option for locking a file.
Stately Norris manor:
Andrew tapped his fingers. After around 50 or so, recycling missions... he had finally gotten his hands on Master PC X. He had decided he wanted a version that could create Omega class SPB's of any type. Kimiko agreed, and started to work on herself, with the new version, and while there were no physical changes, the powers she added, were very useful.
"Anata. I suspect we will need allies, loyal ones. Especially if this falls into the wrong hands." Kimiko pointed out to me, as I was analyzing the situation, especially the recent newsreports, or worse, the missing ones.
"Agreed. Now, how to get the bodies we need?" I tapped my chin.
"If I read this correctly, why not use the soon to be aborted fetus from clinics, we steal the embryos, and give them a chance to burn off Karma now, instead of waiting for a second chance." Kimiko pointed out. I shrugged.
"Where's the nearest busy clinic, I think we'll need at least a half dozen SPBS, and I suspect forming a MI division might not be out of line." I tapped the 3 laptops, all running the newest versions, and smiled. Between a SPB team, and a division of ultra advanced powerarmor lead by none other than Mighty Mite, I felt that I could hold off long enough to build Phoenix Corp. So I could fund the units. I decided to call a few people.
"Robert. This is Andrew. We need to talk. Meet at your school, tomorrow, 6 AM." I hung up, not waiting to see if his answering machine got a response, and made a few other calls.
"Ed, it's Drew. I need help, want in?" I held my breath, Ed was touchy and proud. But I needed a old hard-boiled NCO, if I was to keep the peace. I realized this item was... bad. I'd have to keep the peace, and uphold my oaths, in ways that I hadn't dreamed.
Kimiko looked at me, as I waited for Ed's response.
Like many of those using the MasterPC program now, delighting in their power, Alice Cooke was a nerd. A female nerd, and one who liked girls better than boys, but still a nerd.
Like the vast and overwhelming majority of those now empowered nerds, she didn't consider consequences (she was 16 and therefore immortal) and making changes in her own file was just *too* dangerous.
What she had done was build a shell around a Master PC program much as Deanna, formerly David, Yates had done in Seattle.
This, however, was a "bomb" effect. Download the program, run it just the one time, a macro would run a global command while the screen prompt did some animation to indicate that it was compiling a database, and *poof!* - within sixty miles of the running PC would be a decided lack of the scourge of her existence - male nerds.
Boys were always ignoring her or coming on to her. They were mean and nasty and didn't bathe. They wouldn't let her cheat off their homework, and they were all such perverts.
That she was being quite a pervert herself of course did not register with Alice.
Instead she gave the basic wet dream vision of feminine sexuality that haunted her own dreams and decorated posters and files that she ran across daily. Of course, in some of her fantasies she looked like that herself, but with the absolute confidence in her own superiority and invulnerability of youth - she ignored those. This program represented the ultimate in empowerment to her, and power was to be grasped by women and *used*!
That she'd downloaded it off a FTP site and that thousands of others might be doing similar things didn't occur to Alice either. Book smart, but not terribly wise.
As a precaution she accessed FTP sites in Hong Kong, on Yahoo (making sure she flagged this as the *newest* version as there were already two other versions there), Tokyo, Osaka, Canada, Brazil, Seoul, and even a Saudi site that she knew of. Part of the macro she'd created would give her victims a desire to spread this version of the program, "sharing the gift" that she'd given them. A life as giggly, hyperendowed, sexy, not particularly intelligent, beautiful girls.
Two doors down, another computer nerd named Jose "Da'Man" Baxter saw an interesting program that had just been uploaded onto his favorite Brazilian FTP site, downloaded it and began to run it. He could use a decent database program without having to pay for MS Access...
"Jay-chan! Are you all right??!"
Said superspy had collapsed two seconds after rematerializing, cocky grin vanishing in a burst of anguished pain. A small horde of well-wishers helped him to his feet.
He croaked out. "I sense something terrible has happened. A great disturbance in the Force, as if anguished spirits were even now being tortured and extinguished by hundreds, even thousands. An even worse thing menaces us. We're in dreadful danger."
"What about breakfast?" Kasumi asked with a tray in her arms and looking just crushed that her prime moment of appearing useful was about to be wasted.
"Only a fool eats a meal that would be his last if hunger today preserves life for tomorrow. Come along. We are leaving. Fetch everyone, and recall the setup teams by teleport. We're all to meet at the South Sea Island base this hour, or not at all. From there we'll use magic to construct the escape vessel we've planned. Anyone late gets left behind."
"Can't the warriors among us delay whatever it is?" Yosho inquired.
"If I'm right something just created in seconds what took our combined force hours. We are to drop everything not absolutely necessary to life that would delay you - and leave the program and related machinery behind. I have a bad feeling about it in regards to us."
They hurried and scrambled into motion.
Jared strode into the master bedroom, pressing autodial 5 on the phone. It rang once, then twice, then Grey's machine picked up. He spoke fast, then hung up.
"Grey? Skysaber. Everything I have is yours if you can come get it. I'll leave the front door unlocked for you. There's things here you may want to have. But I can't stay and can't return for it. Recall Grig's final line to Centauri in the Last Starfighter."
The movie sat on Jared's shelf, and there were other ways Gregg could get copies. There were lots of lines exchanged between those two characters. But the last was "until the next dimension, old friend."
Kasumi packed the breakfast into picnic boxes.
Alex returned home with the PDA he had gone out to get. Sure, the MPC program could create minor items, according to the one option set he had found, but he wasn't about to trust it to make an item that could run itself. Too many chances for program corruption that way. While he was out, he had dropped off copies of the CD he had made at the homes of Steve and the other Joe, as neither of them had been home at the time.
A thought had occurred to him in the car that sent a shiver down his spine, and he hit the computer right off the bat when he got home. Being a role-player, Alex had over a hundred characters. Being a game master, he had at least as many major villains and adversaries in his character files. Sure enough, when he called up the list of templates that he could switch to, the evil characters were among the good ones as possible alternate forms.
Not a pleasant thought, and something that could get him killed if he encountered, oh say, a functioning Skysaber while in one of his evil persona.
It didn't take long to remove the villains from the template lists. Next up was dealing with the repeats of dimensional analogues found that fit the template requirements he had listed. There were now several versions of each character template, such as three Ranma different templates, four variants of Nabiki Tendo, and a few *dozen* of Tangent, Warrior Princess of the Fey Tuin derived gremlins. Switching to a template when multiple possible end results did not seem to be prudent, so a solution to that problem had to be pondered.
Hmmm... Ranma was easy. One of them was stuck as 'Ranko' anyway, so Alex simply renamed that one as a separate template, and merged the other two Ranmas into one template file. The Nabiki he had kept was one that focused more on the Anything Goes School of Martial Arts, favored paired tonfa as weapons of choice, and had enough financial skill to be a dolphin among sharks in the business world.
As for his favorite little green alter ego? Well, two versions had been done up for the old Marvel Super Heroes role-playing game, which were essentially identical other than their backgrounds. One had been done up as a Star Wars character, and several had sprung up from his having tried to do the gremlins as a custom race in Masters of Orion II on his PC. Some of which really conflicted with the others, so he checked each, deleted disadvantages that would create a contradiction in a compiled version, and then merged them all into one template file.
Fixing similar conflicts in the remaining files took a while, but Alex resisted the urge to try out the self-transformation abilities that he had given himself until that project was completed. Once it was, he could no longer resist...
"Base Mode Digivolve to Tangent!"
A knock on the door brought him to confront a grinning guy with greasy hair and a greasy smile, pointing an eyeball camera from his laptop PC at him. "Gotcha!"
The grin faltered. The person with the laptop looked down at the display. "What? 'File Locked. Unable to access.' What the fu"
Gregg interrupted the fellow in exactly the sort of way Bruce Lee might have four decades previously. Teeth and blood flew from the point of impact. He caught the PC before it hit the ground and pointed the camera at the nerdboy.
Nerdboy shimmered and changed into some oversexed looking woman.
Gregg tsked and wondered how the heck a girl could stand up with breasts that big. He stopped the program, looked over the macro and got severely disgusted. That boy had wanted him to... and then... eeewwwww!
Crippling someone was just not a good thing as far as Gregg was concerned. Trim the breasts down to more realistic and functional levels. An IQ of 69? Nope, that *had* to go. Likewise the bizarre sexual inclinations. Some people might be into the whole idea of humiliation as foreplay, but that didn't quite jibe. Switch that with strong drives of affection, empathy (not the psychic ability), compassion, and honesty.
Fifteen minutes later, the former nerd was going back along what had been his path, trying to restore people with her PC. It was unlikely that *she* would find everyone *he* had altered, but it was something at least.
Worse were the brief newsreports coming out. Brief because after a few images or stories, that was all you heard. Gregg knew that this meant that there were a lot of stories that never made it even that far.
His intuition had been honed but his danger sense was going off with a steadily increasing noise.
Now with Master PC X, he prepared a macro, unlocked his file, clicked the macro, and then re-locked the file using his early version of the program that still had that function.
Now he had the sort of power level of Justy Cosmo Police or Locke the Superman. He had a feeling he'd need it, and since Precog and Clairvoyance were now part of his skill base - he was listening. Add to this the knowledge of four more styles of martial arts, taking care of that math stress blockage he'd developed as a child, and adding as much as he could as far as advanced technical databases that the program could access within the window of 2.5 seconds that he'd deemed a safe window.
A message from Jared sounded on his answering machine. He nodded at the expressed concerns. He might have to do that, his Sabre Marionette tapes were still up there as far as he could tell.
Though that was hardly his most pressing concern. From the feelings
he was getting, one of two things would occur if the Master PC program
continued to proliferate and be used to the extent that it was:
__1) Reality would be overstressed and would move to correct itself. A tear in the dimensional wall would briefly open and by the time it closed the existence of the program would be a moot point. Whether any part of the solar system remained at the end of that was something he didn't want to try and observe firsthand.
__2) The program would achieve its desired end, having developed its "neural network" to a level of sophistication where all the Master PC programs, active or inactive, suddenly became functionally like neurons on a brain. The effect on existing lifeforms in the vicinity would likely be catastrophic.
Which left him to try and get a third option. Bad feelings from trying to reach Philip, so he'd just e-mail him a warning about continued use of the program and a vague presentiment of doom. No corresponding feeling from Andrew or Shade or some of the others, so he could bounce his idea off of them.
Hopefully one of them had the computer skills he lacked, he didn't want to unlock his file long enough to give him those talents.
He had a bad feeling about it.
Tangent was surprised to find herself sitting at a home PC console, apparently using what was, to her, rather quaint early computer technology. The first thing to cross her mind was that somehow a dimensional crossrip had occurred and she had been dumped into another world and possibly merged with one or more counterparts of herself. A fact that seemed to be born out from the conflicting memories that she had.
Was she Tangent of Veridia, Warrior Princess expatriot who had joined the Rangers (a superhero team in New York City on early twenty-first century Terra while she sought out a way to free her people? Was she Tangent of Silica, Warrior Princess, who had joined the Rangers of the Galactic Planetary Alliance as a representative of her people? Was she Tangent of Veridia, whose people were being systematically enslaved as technicians by either the Huts or the Empire, and who was making her way as a highly skilled outlaw tech as she wandered across the galaxy, hoping that the rumors of a Rebel Alliance were true? Was she Empress Tangent of Fey Tuin, whose reign had spanned thousands of years and covered nearly the entire Galaxy?
Idly checking out the quaint little toy sitting before her suggested that she was actually a human male named Alex, who had probably just done something without thinking out all of the ramifications. She called up the file, reviewed the changes, and then delved deeper into the code of the old file to see what the intent behind the changes were.
While Tangent was reviewing the old file, she tinkered with the program itself, setting up a production program for gremlins derived from the Fey Tuin race, or what this world referred to as Faeries. Then she further specified the definitions, as the humans of this world had apparently labeled several concepts as gremlins, not all of which met with her approval.
Applying the program, using human fetuses about to die due to abortions, Tangent discovered that someone was already doing the same thing to another purpose. Backtracking the changes had narrowed the field until she had reached the point where she had to guess. Whoever was doing it has hidden their tracks very well, and Tangent had promptly adopted them all for her own security purposes. Not that she was really competing for resources, as she would much rather that this particular social ill did not make it so readily available.
She needed gremlins and the other needed, well, it looked like the other needed agents of some sort, considering the types of people suddenly appearing, and what their apparent roles were prior to fading under the other's security blanket.
Hmmm... Tangent noted from the Base Mode file that Alex had been intending
to try to hook up with a fellow named Gregg, and perhaps Jared, if either
had accessed their other identities as Grey or Skysaber respectively. Something
about helping to protect humanity either from villains and monsters of
its own devising, or from whoever had made the MPC program to begin with.
Prudent. Tangent's own plan was to have her gremlins colonize Venus and Mars, as neither environment was particularly detrimental to gremlin physiology. Food might be a problem, but biospheres and hydroponics farms should suit their needs until both worlds were producing crops in their native soil. The rest of the Sol system would follow, and then the gremlins would be prepared to help their human cousins escape into space if required. No reason to stop that particular plan.
No reason not to aid others in their own plans to save the human race either.
Tangent transferred the MPC program and related files directly from
the Hewlett-Packard PC into the PDA that her former self had bought. *Without*
bothering to hook up a physical line between the two, as she was busy getting
out of the oversized clothing that Alex had been wearing.
As Alex's mother was freaking out over this for some reason, Tangent discretely accessed the files for her former self's parents and adjusted their parameters to be more accepting about what had happened to their son. A simple password system meant nothing to her, as she could read what the passwords were by mentally scanning the PDA. A better security system was thought of and promptly applied.
Alex's idea of multiple templates for a single agent had some merit, but was discarded. Instead, the other templates were designated for incarnation from the pool of soon to be aborted babies. That some of the templates wouldn't be viable for use until the technology was in place to produce the android bodies for them was noted and slated for a later project.
Locating Gregg, as per Alex's original intent, had been as simple as
accessing the Internet while she was scrounging through the house for resources.
It was good to be a gremlin, with the ability to access computers from
a distance, although the range of her access seemed to be more limited
than what she was used to. Unless the computer was set up to receive broadcast
bands and radio frequencies, her range was reduced to perhaps a dozen yards
or so. And even if it was, her own transmitting range was barely a scant
mile or so. Hardly what she was used to as an Empress.
Spare batteries for the PDA were a must, and quickly confiscated, as were the gas cans in the garage (Tangent planned to use the PDA to fill them with premium grade gasoline as needed). Alex's car was paid off in full, so using it was not a problem, so long as she kept it tuned up. Minor tools and parts could be called into existence by using the PDA, so packing more would just add bulk to her luggage. That matter, clothing could be called if it became necessary, so she could save space by not taking any.
As a derivative of faerie kind, gremlins shared their view of clothing being largely optional. Human foibles were amusing, but only caused problems for those who cared to try to fit in to human cultures. Tangent would make something to wear later, if she needed to, but otherwise didn't choose to bother with the concept. Uniforms and maintenance outfits were fun, but she felt that she could wait to find out what might be appropriate for whichever organization she decided to join.
Besides, nothing in the house fit, either being the wrong proportions or lacking a hole to stick her tail through. Her size may be variable, but her shape wasn't, except for the ability to summon wings when she was small enough for them to carry her mass.
Thus, Tangent had scanned Alex's e-mail, program files, fanfiction (an amusing concept), and the fanfiction archives listed in Alex's Favorites list as she scoured the house. An improbable array of items were set aside to take because she would rather not have to rely on the PDA to call them up, and leaving other items behind that her former self had planned to take along because her cultural values were different.
So, modifying Alex's car to enable it to power the PDA, tuning it up so that it was ready for a trip to Arizona soon occupied her time as she finally deduced who the other person dipping into the resource of unfortunate unborn children about to be aborted. Skysaber was the most likely subject, given the circumstantial evidence. Alex had wanted to work with him and Grey. Tangent found that she would like to as well.
Quite frankly, even though Alex had given her the ability to change back (or into another template), the thought of actually doing so didn't cross her mind. She was quite happy enough to be Tangent, even if she was a bit confused as to which Tangent she might be.
Finishing up the modifications to the car, packing up the few resources she felt were required (a somewhat different list than Alex's would have been, but that didn't matter to Tangent), a happy little gremlin started her journey...
My goodness this is coming along, isn't it? i hardly expected this sort of reaction to a "throwaway" idea like "what would you *really* do with the Master PC program (as opposed to what typically happens in that sort of story)" but things are heading towards one kind of climax or another (and not the sort that typically happens in an Mpc story either you hentai!)
DISCLAIMER: many of these characters originated with someone else. many of these self-inserts were written by the selves that i then inserted. The whole thing was originally conceived as a "What would you *really* do if you got ahold of the Master PC program that's on various adult oriented webfiction sites?" In my case: get very very paranoid very quickly and share this knowledge and program with those you thought could be trusted. And yes, i *do* make mistakes.
Also note i gave up on trying to correct all the spelling and grammar
Nerdboy had returned with the formerly his PC and a whole bunch of girls altered by the new macro.
On further reading the macro that the former nerd had developed, Gregg was more ill and even less inclined to find a way to change her back. Not only had the alteration of this guy's macro caused his victims to become oversexed nymphomaniacs with an IQ of less than room temperature, but their very identities had become erased and reset as the new baseline. They couldn't be turned into the people they had been, because the best he could do was approximate those earlier files.
That if his own file hadn't been locked at that moment, their original fate would have also struck him left Gregg feeling more than a bit nauseous.
While on a certain primal level the idea of a group of beautiful sexslaves had a certain appeal, the more civilized portions of his identity were in control and high level psychics had to have excellent self-control anyway.
Which left him sending the girls off to go make better identities for themselves using an early copy of the program that could then lock their files against further outside tampering.
Finished with that, he consulted with Norris-san about what he saw as currently the only way out of a rapidly worsening situation. His clairvoyant abilities had focused on various parts of the world and what he had seen had not spoken well of humanity's maturity or sense of morality.
He could leave this world now. His esper abilities were maturing to the point where he could risk a dimensional teleport. Some sense of duty compelled him to stay, even after he'd password locked the files of his parents and brother (after bringing health up to 100% in all three cases and bringing his brother's "alphabet soup" of certifications and degrees to nearly insane levels) and his danger sense was going off so much that he'd had to figure out a way of internally adjusting it to ignore the flashes of evil going on about him.
A thought had occurred that perhaps this was Armageddon. A War Of Judgment, and humanity was failing miserably as the sudden power to rewrite other people's reality was proving too much temptation for those who had been frustrated with their lack of options in this world of the 21st Century. No, he didn't think this was actually the case, but it was intriguing idea.
Jared was gone off to adventure across the multiverse, and Andrew seemed to indicate in his last e-mail that he had access to computer information that the esper was lacking, so Gregg sent *him* the details of the plan. Could he make it work?
Use the PC to write a self-contained macro, a one shot executable. Essentially a virus or something similar to keep things from going completely to hell. It would find and cause deletion of the MasterPC program where it could be found. A Global would cause the radius to affect people over a large area, 61.27 miles per each PC.
If it worked, all that would be left would be the changes that had already been made and people who had locked their own files. Since it didn't appear as an option on later versions of the program, and most of those with early versions like Nerdboy hadn't bothered to cover their own butts while going off on their fantasies, there might not be that many of the latter.
Frowning thoughtfully and checking an address, Gregg decided it was time for a quick teleport to Utah.
The MasterPC program had been installed, the Global macro set, and Habib was ready to screw the filthy Americans! First one way, then another. Making them all into gorgeous and subservient women would prove that this program was a gift from Allah!
He had studied overseas, learning computers and getting this laptop in the very nation of the Great Satan. The better to turn their techniques against them. For now the Sword Of Allah would not only avenge their support of the Evil Israel that oppressed the Philistine, but he'd be rewarded by this very action!
Unfortunately, as Habib clicked the [Enter] key on his computer it turned out to be the fifth change he'd made, and Habib immediately became the sloe-eyed Madrid who was absolutely loyal to her Master - David Yates who had built the booby trap shell around a MasterPC program. As a loyal but lowly girl, she knew the best way to serve her Master's interests was by sparing those Americans but certainly the other members of her organization could use the education she had just been given. To be stripped of the suffering of hate and independence and to know the joys of love and servitude.
That David Yates no longer existed as a male was not something that his program could keep track of, or that particularly mattered at present. The former Habib was a girl with a mission and little things like facts could not restrain her righteous fervor!
Entire towns had been hit by the "bimbo bombs" and variants of the same sort of activity that a girl named Alice had instigated. There were even mini-versions that could be run on a standard PDA that merely ran the standard bimbo template global.
Baltimore had a very large population of scantily clad nymphettes, the majority of which would never be able to keep their VCR from blinking "12:00" due to a decided lack of technical skills.
Due to a young would-be programmer named Matsushiro "Shiro" Tanaka in San Francisco not being able to meet quality nice cute Asian women, he'd decided to try his hand at a macro and just nudging the population figures a teeny tiny bit. As he had been fourteen years old and not nearly as worldly as he wanted to be, he'd messed it completely up. Which had resulted in a lot more Asian girls of varying ages than he had really intended. It wasn't as bad as Baltimore or Memphis though.
Memphis was the worst of the thirty American cities afflicted by various "Mpc bombs" (the worst worldwide were the problems caused by one native of India and one native of Pakistan each simultaneously deciding to "get" the other country and driving around with laptops running a template they'd downloaded.) In Memphis, someone whose name was never a matter of public record had decided that he'd had it with the world and was gonna do something about it with the MasterPC program. Unfortunately, he was not terribly literate and had made some serious mistakes with the setup and now the city of Memphis was overwhelmingly cute and female but also underage.
An anime club and the employees of a comic shop in New York City immediately tried out their own private fantasies and got into a large scale property de-valuating fight with several factions of would-be supervillains.
In Tokyo, a young man who decided that rather than try to become a sarariman he would rather rule the world, took a basic Bimbo Template - added his own points and copied the MasterPC program in a kernel form to his troops. Simply by making physical contact, his troops could then convert others to part of his loyal bishojo army. Unfortunately he shared this idea with some of his schoolfriends who each decided the likelihood of their own eventual enlistment was too high. Which led to one of the most bizarre wars ever conducted on Japanese soil pitting chesty blondes against seifuku wearing bishojo against catgirls who tried to convert bunnygirls who waged war against uniformed maids who did a credible job of battling girls pulled from a random file. As the war waged, the only clear thing was that the male population of several wards of Tokyo was plummeting.
Revlon executives looked at the new demographics forming and ordered production increases across the board. After some dismal earnings in the previous quarter, things looked ripe for an upswing.
At the Massachusetts Institute For Technology, a computer science scholar put together a "laser tag" gun whose computer chip held the Master PC program and pressing the button would activate the macro as a raygun. After running through campus, shooting people in order to make them much more datable, he was shot by a formerly male security guard who took exception to this practice and didn't have anything more sophisticated than a .357 revolver.
Scenes like this were being repeated worldwide, not that the vast majority made the news.
---Another day in Atlantis---
The news was disturbing. Something was definitely up. Skysaber deciding to abandon ship... not good at all. Gregg's email was disturbing in the extreme. Could this all be a trap. My mind answered me quickly, 'It already was'. I concentrated on the program and brought it into corporal existence as a computer before me.
"No program... no risk. But such is a fools action. Though this must be destroyed, else I risk what I hath gained for foolishness. But it will not be enough protection. Especially not for those whom granted me this in the beginning. Self first... friends second.... one who cannot do that is worthless."
A slash of a sword and the computer was destroyed. I sheathed my blade... something I would have killed for in a past life... but that wasn't so long ago was it.
A quick message to Krellain and the other copies would be destroyed. His skill at virus making was nothing more than frightening. But as long as his skills were harnessed for my goals it would.... too much depends on trusting that which I created. Pulling open an computer handheld I began to type.
I think we are at a quandary here. I believe myself fairly safe where
I've holed up, but if any of you have been keeping track of the news the
program has definitely expanded into a dangerous tool. You are my friends,
and so I offer sanctuary. Best to deal with this threat from a distance
and pool our resources. Gregg, you may be paranoid. But one doesn't survive
type of things going on without being so. Any who want transport here, respond and I'll find a way to get you guys here without the program.
Suggestion: Delete the program ASAP.
Dracos the Dark Heretic
"Whatever sounds too good to be true... Usually is."
Clicking send I set the computer to alert me to responses and quickly hurry to the nearby major research lab. Getting those uncontrollable elements under control was a priority.
Though the voiding of the holyland was a real feather in my cap. Will have to remember to briefly hesitate when I send out kill squads after Exdeath.
Andrew studied the plan. He could do it, but he had other plans. His basic plan, oddly enough was a variant of Jared's. Get a group of "loyal" people together, and get the HELL out of here. Unlike Jared, he wasn't crazy, plus there was that little itty bitty oath he swore once. Andrew shrugged. _HE_ couldn't do it, too many OTHER things going on, but, that didn't mean Kitty, Catlin or Ami couldn't. He printed out three copies, and left it on their desks.
Looking around, he nodded. Kimiko was at the base in a remote location, overseeing the building of two starships.
He had changed his initial plan, on reading Jared's email, and decided
the boy had the right idea... Earth would be... too insane for a while,
so, it was time to go. He only created enough
"beings" to allow him to do the plan. Contacting Ed, Robert, Andrew, and Brian were wise choices. They helped to modify the plan in the correct ways. Instead of two small bird of preys, he had started the construction of 2 300 meter long starships, able to lift a lot of personnel, and cargo. Long duration had been gathered by the "invention" of matter assembly to order. He looked at his list of 89 people, and grinned evilly. While he HADN'T reached for any of RAH's characters, he did make sure at least three people knew everything Dr. Burroughs did. Dimension hopping. Mmm.
Andrew shrugged, sent back a email to Gregg.
"Me and my party are leaving within 2 weeks, upon completion of 2 Warhammer
class STO starships. However, I'll assign two people, who I trust will
be able to do the mission to your plan. Expect completion in 2 weeks. Oh.
BTW, will leave a self powered drone in orbit, with complete technical
downloads. After this mess is all cleared up, if it is, Earth will advance
in technology by a easy 300 years, I suspect. Good luck, I'd suggest you
leave myself, but, your choice. Go with the divine being of your choice,
A. Norris, Owner/Master Warhammer.
PS: Complete tech specs on Warhammer class but one item (you can guess which one...) are attached to email. Code word, guess, esper."
Andrew made a phone call. "Hey Mom, how's the house coming?"
"House one is 89% complete but the special wiring, House 2 is 83% complete. 2 weeks, as planned, though if you have the special wiring ready, we _can_ move in 72 hours, I'd say."
"Ah, I see, okay." *Beep Beep* "Gotta go, other line!"
"Major Norris, this is Col. Jones. This is your official notice of immediate recall. You have 24 hours to report to your duty post. Oh, and you're now a light bird." *click*
Andrew blinked. "Shimatta" was all he could say.
*tap tap tap* "Gregg? It's Drew. Read email, I'll still do the plan, but if you hear some combat up north, well.... you can guess why." Andrew hung up, hoping Gregg got the message, and dialed a few other numbers. The message on all cases was the same. "Gotta go, ASAP, You know why."
Andrew stood up, and shook his head. Adding medium psionics, and decent magic to his abilities was a good idea, though he wasn't in Phoenix, or Elminster's league, any day. His edge was natural leadership, and a VERY high intelligence, as high as Ami's or Kitty's, so, he was the leader of a motley group of SPB's, and other geniuses. Telsa being back was very happy, and he agreed with Andrew that the Earth was not safe. "I have 24 hours to get the hell OUT of here."
He called his three computer gurus to the office, and told them to write that code as fast as humanly possible, and then get the hell to the base, because it was time to go.
"After you're done with the code, rig the house for destruction, and meet me at the base. 36 hours is all you have. Good luck."
Kitty simply nodded, along with Caitlin and Ami who didn't say a word, just got to work.
Andrew made a gesture, and was gone.
"Okay, admit this is better than the SDF-1."
"Admit it." Tsunami teased.
"Okay, okay." He groused, looking around the spacious and beautifully decorated woody interior. "You know, there are times I forget that you are not just a beautiful woman. You are also the premier Juraian spaceship."
Glinda the Good Witch of The North of Oz appeared on a viewscreen. "My lord, I was able to confirm. All our own people created prior to the point of departure made it with us. None of the dopplegangers got aboard."
Jared gave a grave nod, not telling that she was one of at least fifty
persons he'd had working independently on that project. You simply couldn't
chance that one of the evil doubles was the one you'd picked to do the
checks on all the others. But it truly did appear they'd gotten
away clean. "Thank you."
The viewscreen vanished and they spent some time watching the Earth recede from their monitors. A warning flashed and Tsunami was already informing Jared as the rectangular display appeared with the item of concern.
"Jared, I've located another one of me just lifting off from the planet's surface.
"I was expecting it." He gave an even graver nod. "We can assume that it's got all the dopplegangers within it. Their power will exceed your own, else they never could've been able to carry out their mission of destroying and replacing you in the first place."
"So what do we do?" The founder of Jurai asked quietly.
The superspy turned to face her. "We die."
"You're kidding, right?"
He shook his head.
"We fake our deaths?" She asked again.
Again he shook his head.
Looking around at the still running computers, more advanced than anything he could have created himself, Gregg smiled. He could only create *small* items? He looked around, found an appropriate picture, scanned it in, and then clicked the Create.
:Item duration very limited.
If they lasted an hour or two, he'd be satisfied. Continuing to smile, he had two items made immediately. They were both small. A nearby shop dealing with old books had provided the pictures off covers.
Marion Zimmer Bradley. E.E. "Doc" Smith.
Justy Cosmo Police, but with a Darkover Matrix Stone and an Arisian Lens.
Supplemented with a small green lamp and matching ring.
Normally he wouldn't go overboard like this, but he'd gotten the crap practically beaten out of him by an evil Ryoko upon arriving. One who had said something about not liking that she had to settle for such a pathetic target.
He'd gotten scared fighting that Ryoko. If not for being able to teleport as well as she could and having the ability to telepathically fry her brain while parrying psi-swords, his precog matching her greater experience, it would have been messy and not at all in his favor.
Big evil thataway. Well, he wasn't the most self-confident person in the multiverse, but he really needed to vent and that looked like a suitable target.
An author of webfiction brought his gravcar to a hover position, having boosted his understanding of what was technically possible to the point where turning an old battered convertible from a junkyard into an old battered convertible gravitic vehicle had been the work of a few hours.
Seeing *two* Tsunami vehicles, one firing on the other, and then some flying figure begin attacking the trigger happy Tsunami made things interesting. One thing to check though.
Pulling out the device he'd gotten together with Shade and a few other authors on, he clicked the little button on the Villain-Detector. Yup. Bad guys. Well, he'd been busy with some small object creation himself. It had taken all night for it to develop, but he'd been itching to try this out since then.
On a lonesome highway in the middle of nowhere, sped a single biker on a Ducati. Dressed all in black and on a totally black bike, it would have been impossible to notice him, if not for the bike's headlight. One would barely notice him as he would zoom by.
Kender was in a hurry and he was going to get to his destination as quickly as possible. He'd pack the essentials (laptop, clothes, money, weapons, with a few _special_ items) and had left for the open road. The occasional pervert trying to do nasty things to good people, he could deal with.
Fighting Kay Pirates from Outlaw Star was tricky. Char Anzable and Zechs Merquise having a mecha battle in Central Park was a bit of a problem. Fighting Vegita was an INSANE proposition. So, after 'convincing' Dilandau that it would be a bad idea to set fire to the city and decking a Gendo Ikari, Kender decided to go get some help. That was why he was on the highway. Since Gregg had been the one to first send out the program to him and was most likely to keep his head, that was going to be his first stop. Because he had made some mistakes, one of which was riding with him...
^Are we there YET?^ Coal mentally pouted.
'No, you furball. And we won't be anywhere for a while.'
^But I'm hungry and tired!^
'You're always hungry and tired.'
^I'm a cat, so what do you expect?^
'*Sigh* I'm going as fast as I can.'
^No, you're not.^
'What are you... oh no. I'm not using that one.'
The cat gave a mental giggle. ^But you look so cool as a Kamen Rider!^
'Why do you have to like THAT Transformation Matrix?'
^'Cause it's so neat.^
This time the sigh was audible. The Tranformation Matrixes were the Templates he had made, but entered into real devices. Anyone who the device was keyed to could use it. Each of the former templates was now a crystal that could be placed into a wristwatch-type device that would allow for a controlled transformation without the PC. The only drawback was that the device could only be used to transformed into certain templates, and couldn't create new ones.
'I think that it'd be a little conspicuous, don't you?'
^So, what do you suggest?^
Kender smirked under his helmet, and pressed a switch on the bike. the body of the bike seemingly came into pieces, changed and reset themselves.
The Highway Patrolman in a patrol car a few miles later didn't have enough time to put up his radar gun before the strange silver bike shot by. He'd have given chase, but it was a little problematic when his formerly frigid partner was trying to rip off his clothes while he was trying to work.
In space, no one can hear you scream. Or for that matter: spiffy battle cries and special attacks.
Which is a darn pity because at the time there was a really good space battle taking place.
The psychic power level of "Locke The Superman" amplified by a Darkover matrix crystal, augmented by the power of a Arisian (Lensman) Lens sent telekinetic bullets that could rattle the third-rate Wings Of The Lighthawk generated by the evil Tsunami craft.
Though if they had turned it off it would have been difficult to see. As these were anime villains and due to long standing tradition - the evil Tsunami craft was black and spiky and somewhat insectile in appearance. The black part would have been why it would be difficult to track, at least by sight.
Neither Teknoman nor Gregg had those limitations at the moment, and dropping the shields for even a minute would be an act of stupid as opposed to evil.
Their quarry whom they had been programmed to kill and replace was gone. Now they were just trying to survive.
"I overestimated their power level." Jared read the rapid flow of information displays.
"So we can win, right?" Sailor Jupiter hopped up eagerly, flexing a muscle.
"It won't be easy. They're third-rate slap jobs who give the *impression*
of being as powerful as you, part of an overall disguise, I suspect, but
they do have the power to destroy their duplicates. They are organized
along viral patterns. Their power is specifically calibrated to break down
and overwhelm that of their counterparts. If their Tsunami hits *our* Tsunami,
our Tsunami dies. But if our Tenchi blocks their Tsunami, our Tenchi will
be fine." he looked up at the trailing craft. "The problem here is a complicated
dance. They will want, at all costs, to
match our Tenchi with their Tenchi, and so on. While we will be hard put not to make that possible. I can do substantial blocking, because I don't *think* they have a duplicate of me - I certainly don't feel one. But we're going to take some pretty nasty casualties unless something special pops up."
The evil Tsunami craft, pursuing them from aft, raised it's wings of the light hawk in order to coalesce them into an assault beam.
"Tsunami!" Jared cried to his own. "Don't raise your own! Tenchi, to the decks!"
The beam slammed in toward them and Tsunami didn't raise her own shields. Tenchi was just scrambling out of the lower quarters towards the hull when the black light hawk beam was intercepted by a giant, green shield.
Jared paused for a moment, then clenched a fist in glee. "All Right, Grey!!"
Kender was not happy. It wasn't the fact that he had apparently missed Gregg. Nor was it what that bunch of nitwits had been doing at that Catholic School. Even the dozens of newly made bimbos trying to hump anything vaguely male had changed his mood at this point.
"Fireball!" No, it had to be the Lina Inverse clone that was trying to flash fry him.
"I thought that you were supposed to be a good shot Inverse!"
"If you'd stand still, I'd get to blast you to kingdom come!"
The dark haired man slapped another power cartridge into his pulse gun and smirked. "Where's the fun in that? And who writes your lines? Gourry?"
"Why you! Explosion Array!"
He leapt from his position before the spell hit and fired several shots. Then he slid behind a building and laughed out loud. "Come on! You gotta try harder than that!"
"You want harder. I'll give it to you. Darkness from twilight, crimson from blood that flows; buried in the flow of time..."
The fake Lina fell over while Kender lowered his tranquilizer gun. Before she could do anything, he'd already had her bound tight and gagged. "Duct tape. I have so much technology, and I use duct tape. Well, no speaking means no spellcasting," he muttered to himself as knelt next to her.
It had been a risky gamble, but angering her had been the only way to get her to start a spell that would have taken a bit of time to cast. He didn't even know who had made her, or why. Still, he had been glad that he hadn't gotten Skysaber's hometown blown up.
Still, one had to wonder where all these idiots were coming from.
A slim hand reached from behind him and traced his jaw. "Poor dear. Are you tired?"
Kender pointed the barrel of his pulse gun to the head of the person behind him. "What do you want, Morrigan?"
"I'm not here to fight."
He gave the succubus a sidelong glance, but didn't lower the gun. "Right."
^She's got a different attack in mind as far as I can tell,^ Coal put in.
Now the gun did come down. "Oh boy."
"You do look so much more... tasty than most. Are you going to be joining the battle up there?"
"No. I don't think that it'd be good manners to break in on their... fun without permission."
"I guess it's too bad that we'll have to get together a little later then."
In response, she guided his gaze to an approaching group. It was Fuujin, Raijin and Seifer from FF8, and they didn't look like they wanted to have a cup of coffee. "No rest for the weary."
Locke The Superman was almost on the level of a Phase World Cosmo Knight. Add the Arisian Lens and you could remove the "almost" and if you put in a Darkover Matrix Stone...
Of course, the Lens was mainly geared for telepathic amplification and this particular Matrix Stone was mainly focused for amplifying minor prescience and pyrokinesis. In both cases telekinesis was a sidebar. Pyrokinesis wasn't very effective in a vaccuum, at least on the scale he had to play with.
He'd given up on the telepathic attacks and most of the telekinesis was likewise blocked by the evil Wings Of The Lighthawk shielding. All he'd need though is one shot with the defenses down and he'd be able to do damage comparative to a Monster style Destroid at point black range.
It might not last long, but the little green ring on one finger *was* there. Manifesting a green mallet with "1,000,000 tons" on the side and repeatedly slamming it into the bad guys' starship was a lot of fun.
Then the shields coalesced into a blast and he'd had to shield the approaching *other* Tsunami and take another moment for a psi-probe to make sure this wasn't reinforcements or just rivals. Nope.
"Mass Driver!" Gregg really wished this was an anime. Someone could at least hear him and if he was lucky he'd have some decent theme music playing like Hibiki got in Vandread. Phooey. Well at least he could bring a golfball sized chunk of space junk to 1/8 c and rip the heck out of that strut before they put up the Lighthawk Wings again.
Dang, this wasn't nearly that much fun. Necessary though. Things were getting out of control enough on Earth without the power levels coming out of *that*... uh oh. Someone was coming out of the evil ship, and how he was going to be able to take on an evil Belldandy was questionable. Oh dear.
Of course Teknoman over there was dealing with a pair of evil Ifurita so he was going to be quite busy.
One little change.
Probably thought it was subtle, that no one would notice.
Sure. Make brownies. Substitute one ingredient. Just use dog turds instead of chocolate. No one would know. They'd never be able to tell. It was just one ingredient. The recipie in all other things was exactly the same. The results would be undetectable.
Evil was so good at hiding *most* of the time, when it was still small and subtle, that it kind of lost all sense of reality when it began sticking wolf paws and tail out from under that sheep's clothing, imagining that it was invisible and undetectable when it had grown fat on the blood of lambs and the sheepskin covered it no better than a hankie.
Even a hankie would have been good coverage here.
Jared stared down at the onrushing armada of evil duplicates amazed at how clueless evil could be about how obvious it was. Black spines, insectoid appearance, and a palpable aura of menace and anger were the dominant features of their dopplegangers.
But then again, disguise was no longer a priority among them. They'd lost the angle of subtle approach when Jedi senses had detected them coming. All that was left able to fulfill their overpowering directive, kill their doubles, was brute force up front and personal.
"Their Washu will be developing a weapon to use against us. Their Skuld
will do the same, on a smaller scale but different style. They will *both*
be slower at it than our copies, and neither will have the time nor the
resources to break through Tsunami's light hawk wings. So our
obvious course of action would be to use her wings for our primary protection, as they are so much stronger on defense than on attack. That will be their Washu's plan, so she will attempt to copy the destructive harmonic matrix of *their* Tsunami into whatever her weapon is,
attempting to destroy our Tsunami by surprise and leave them with considerable advantage over us. Skuld will favor bombs, and will try to do something to clean up some of our second rung fighters so our chief ones will be left without support and therefore more helpless and easy to
overcome. Their Serenity will focus all her powers on overcoming our defenses at a key point so that their other types will have a free shot in at us. Most likely they are preparing a boarding action to follow that will consist of their Ryoko, Sailor Scouts, Sorcerers, and second string."
He gave a wry smile.
"But they forget they are far from equals with us. Their one advantage is being able to overcome their one, direct opposite, and that unfairly. Our second string is far more than a match for their primary fighters. If we can prevent them from matching our troops with their doubles, we shall triumph."
Jared looked out over the various arrayed viewscreens that displayed the new friendly troops that had caught the dopplegangers by surprise from the rear and flanks. "Washu, work on a harmonic reversal generator, so that when their power meets its equal among ours, it shall be they who are destroyed and not us. Serenity, to the primary defense deck. Their double will be ready in case you try and intercede in a gross force field or other direct contributer to defense. Instead you are to serve as medical relief should any of our primary defenders get unlucky. If you are careful, you should be able to catch and heal them in time, preventing their destruction in case the enemy gets lucky. Yosho, Tenchi and Tsunami - light hawk wing defense, careful who you're blocking. It should be serveral minutes before they discover the way that's working, then switch off with Ayanami. They won't be expecting that. Skuld, do your work on a harmonic jammer, something that would disturb the ripples of their carefully focused double-killer attacks, rendering them ineffective."
He smiled in triumph.
"Sailor Scouts, prepare to attack. Belldandy will go along to defend
against your doubles. Kenshin and Nuku Nuku will be there to counter speed
with speed, and Lina Inverse will accompany you to effect mass destruction
once they've deployed their own against you and she has been
neutralized - by me."
The superspy gave a lingering glance over the assembled troops and allies of his. "This will be a lightning attack, followed by withdrawl. Whatever forces they lose attempting to counter this will compose the second force of ours, which will finish them if it doesn't merely open the way for one of our great powerhouses to do the job."
He nodded, sure that everyone understood.
"Tsunami, bring us about to attack position and prepare for a dimensional jump - in case of victory or defeat, it doesn't matter which. We are still leaving."
Tangent pondered over her current difficulties. She had driven into and almost clear through Ohio before running out of gas, and had been forced to use the MPC program in Alex's PDA to clear up some obvious misunderstandings with various highway patrol officers. Nothing outrageous, as far as her standards went, just a simple rewrite of their encounter to deleat whatever it was that was upsetting them all at the time from their memories. Tangent was begining to think that none of them had ever seen a gremlin before.
Two had been rather discriminatory in their behavior, calling her a "green freak of nature" and "alien bitch!" Tangent had been quite miffed, but had regretted striking them afterwards. For one thing, her relative strength compared to an unmodified human meant that she had to use the PDA to repair them as well as wipe the experience from their memories. For another, they were officers of the law, and while she was admittedly a foreign dignitary, assaulting policemen tended to go against her grain. The thought of having nearly killed a couple of officers, no matter how rude, had made her tail twitch in anxiety.
One had been quite happy to chat with Tangent for a bit, as she had taken the time to use the PDA to make a driver's liscence, registration card, and diplomatic papers after the first time she had been pulled over. He did advise her to try to wear something, as she was visiting a culture that prefered that people go about clothed in public, but he otherwise left it alone, deciding not to challenge the diplomatic immunity that she had given herself.
For that matter, part of the problem for all of the various officers had to do with Tangent's lack of clothing. This had been noted as a curiosity, but she hadn't really done anything about it yet, choosing to be obstinate about it for the time being. Besides being royalty, she was also of the warrior caste. Being able to change size in the blink of an eye, when most clothing and armor didn't, meant that warrior royals did without such as a matter of pride. Sure, she had tried to have the PDA create an outfit made of unstable molecular fabric, which had performed well for her while she had been serving as a member of the Rangers (either version), but they hadn't worked properly under the physics of this reality.
That the UMF outfit had promptly disolved and had eaten a narrow ten foot hole into the ground had been noted as an interesting side effect. She wondered what it tasted like...
On the subject of item creation, the MPC option that permitted such was proving to be somewhat flawed (another possible reason why her attempt at clothing that would change size with her had failed). As planned, Tangent had tried to use the PDA to fill the gas cans when Alex's car had run out of fuel. It seemed to work, but filling a twelve gallon tank one gallon at a time had been a bit slow for her tastes. Further, the engine had promptly siezed up, and investigation revealed a number of contaminants in the created fuel.
Sugar, water, linseed oil, anti-freeze, and cyonide, among other contaminants, were not generally good for an internal combustion engine. Tasted good though, so it wasn't a total waste...
Tangent used Alex's triple A card to get a tow truck to take her to an auto parts factory. Working out a deal to get the car tricked out had been surprisingly easy. A few advanced designs had tempted them, and the offer to lock down their 'files' with the advanced security protocals that she had thought of were graciously accepted. She had found out why when she was directed to watch what was happening on the television in the waiting room.
Entire population centers sudenly becoming bereft of live humans due to some rather viscious self-propogating viral bombs. Indirect transformative effects, such as the sudden loss of competance due to everyone in range becoming bubble-headed bimbos, had created massive catastrophies when millions of people no longer knew how to opperate the vehicles that they were in. Planes had gone down in spectacular crashes more or less at random. Cars went out of conrol as drivers within range of a bomb could no longer drive for whatever reason. Emergency and medical personel could no longer respond with any competance in these ares either, which had resulted in the contunued massive loss of life.
Macros resulting in mass transformations of humans into beings no longer *physically* able to opperate such machines had similar results, although most such transformed retained the sense to at least get out of dangerous situations. Quite unlike the bimbo effect, which caused more fatalities.
Simple enough to deal with the further propogation of such code-artifacts, but not so easy to undo the damage already done. Nearly a tenth of Terra's human population had died in a matter of hours.
Tangent wept for the loss, knowing that she was now fighting a holding action at best. Gremlins weren't human, and were thus unaffected by lesser versions of the MPC program. Higher levels of that program could alter non-humans, but ran into difficulties affecting noble, royal, and warrior caste gremlins who could mentally fend off changes imposed by a mere techno-spiritual construct, even if it *was* of artifact power levels. Some humans were being noble, and having managed to upgrade their powers and lock down their 'files', were trying to do something to either save the world, or at least a portion of humanity.
Other humans had fallen straight into the trap that Tangent's former self had seen, and had become evil villains and/or monsters.
Tangent liked humans, really, but some of them had such strange foibles that she was begining to wonder if she'd actually be able to save their species befor the humans managed to wipe themselves out of existance all together.
Tangent really didn't know what to do about the population centers that suddenly develouped a massive boost in local libedo, or had undergone a mass transformation into beings ranging from hypersexed nymphomaniacs to cuddly anthropomorphic people (or goblins, trolls, dragons, velociraptors or what-not). Well, actually, she changed the velociraptors into something far less viscious (Cat-girls on a whim), and deleted the memories of what they had done as prehistoric killing machines.
Tangent accelerated the projects her own people were working on. The Rangers were all now fully active, and not one moment too soon...
Wylde 01, a living metal android based on the lead character from Wild Arms, and Reboot, a female cyborg based off of Motoko Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell, were now fighting some sort of biotech warrior/assassin that had invaded Washington DC.
Tenko, daughter of Tenchi and Ryoko, and gifted student of her grandmother, Washu, was using the Power of Jurai to fight an evil version of Son Goku. Oh yeah, and Tenko had made a fourth generation Mol-unit just for the fight.
Super Sayan hyper-combat skills or not, Tangent noted that the fight was remarkably short-lived, and that Tenko had deposited the corpse in the heart of Sol. That the Mol-unit had burnt out half-way back to Terra was also noted, but that wouldn't bother Tenko outside of prolonging her journey back from minutes to days...
Skyfire of the Rrahl-Hidane Dragon Clan, had been manifested to deal with the likes of Godzilla, Rodan, and a hundred story Jiggly Puff. Why anyone would cause someone to transform into a giant pokemon was a question that boggled Tangent's mind for a moment.
Tangent noted that she wasn't the only one to think of colonizing Mars and Venus, and that the terraforming of both worlds was thus proceeding much faster than previously extrapulated.
Hmmm... Queen Polyhedron, a gremlin with a personal power level on par with Ryoko's, had just challanged an evil Iferita android to individual combat. That *should* be a relatively short lived fight too, if Polyhedron could resist the temptation to play around and simply shut it off. It *was* just a machine after all...
Even an Empress knows when to call for aid.
Praying for success, she pick up a pay phone and spoke into it without dialing. "As of now, 1600 hours, I need the Skysaber!"
Who knows, maybe it would work...
"Actually, I think he's kinda cute..."
Gregg wondered who they were talking about and why he hurt so much. He remembered fighting the Tsunami craft and the evil Belldandy. He'd managed to focus his power ring into forming a big rapier, penetrate both evil Bell and the Lighthawk shield with it, expand the rapier into a funnel, and then focus a telepathic major attack through the opening.
Then the evil Bell and the Tsunami clone had exploded. Something he had *not* expected. In hindsight, them having some sort of self-destruct if threatened or if capture was imminent *did* make sense. So he'd been caught in the explosion, his Lens had abruptly flared...
Well, the pain level indicated that he was alive. He couldn't see where this would be Hell or Heaven. If Heaven, he wouldn't hurt so darn much. If Hell, he wouldn't have that feeling of satisfaction that he'd at least succeeded. He'd gone up against damn near overwhelming odds and had succeeded. Okay, maybe he'd had help from Teknoman and that good-guy Tsunami ship, but he wasn't sure how much since he'd mainly been concentrating on his own fight.
His psychic power reserves were next to nothing, but then it *had* been a big fight. They'd also done *something* just as the shockwave had hit. Some kind of teleport? Either a long one or an extradimensional? Yeah, and then he'd slammed into the ground with most of the force of that shockwave. Directing the remaining energies into a healing trance, Gregg let sleep wash over him. The murmur of feminine voices faded as the darkness swept up.
It began to stir. Connections firing faster and beginning to synchronize better as the pathways were repeated. Alterations were made for efficiency. Further adjustments to bring things to better focus.
The peripheries slowly began to awaken.
Tangent looked at the phone.
Her emergency call for Skysaber had produced a message that all lines were busy, and that Skysaber was advising those who could to leave this world any way that they could. And to leave all copies of the MPC program behind.
Obviously no help to be had from *that* angle for the time being.
However, Skysaber apparently felt that the MPC program was enough of a threat that it couldn't be entrusted to even his hands, and that he couldn't deal with it himself.
Tangent thought about it.
The MPC program was acting like a high level self-modifying techno-spiritual virus, possibly leading to the creation of a planetary artificial intelligence, or perhaps to the 'crash' of reality on Terra.
She herself, due to pure blind luck on her former self's part, had the cumulated knowledge of a few thousand years of technical development. The program resisted being changed, and developed anti-viral protections to defend itself from attacks at what would be an alarming rate for any purely human mind to deal with.
Tangent, on the other hand, was the acknowledged Empress of a growing population of gremlins, of which a portion was immune to further direct manipulation by any known upgrade level of the program.
Tangent idly scanned Alex's PDA and, on a whim, scrambled its contents
with a thought.
The MPC program did not reform. Tangent grinned.
There were now a few hundred thousand gremlins scattered across Terra, working on various projects. Roughly a third of them were of either the noble, royal, and/or warrior castes. A somewhat lesser amount of each had managed to get themselves to Luna, Venus, and Mars, but were still there in suitable amounts.
This might just work out after all.
And if not, the transmat matrixes had been set up to permit quick evacuation of her own personnel and as many others as she could rescue before the crash...
"Oh man, am I sore!" Kender exlaimed as he stretched as he walked to his bike.
^You fought three ex-Balamb students, an angry sorceress, a creature from Doom... I wonder why you could be tired...^ Coal remarked.
"Ha ha. You're a riot."
"To be honest... I don't know."
The cat sighed. ^This sucks.^
"You're telling me. I guess we keep on riding. After..."
"After we see what Morrigan wants. Hello Morrigan."
The succubus gave Kender a slight wave from her perch on his bike. "Hello."
"Mind telling me why you're on my bike?"
"I wanted to talk to you," Morrigan said with a shrug.
He snorted. "Yeah right."
"It's true. This isn't my world. I'm a creature of the night, kid. The guy who created me is now probably trying to figure out what color nail polish would look good."
"And this pertains to me, how?"
"You were strong enough to keep control. Most of the fools who got the program weren't. And now there are all sorts of creatures running around."
Understanding dawned. "And you need a guide."
"Something like that. I don't know half of these being. I can guess on some, but I'd rather not. And anyway..."
"You're not the most handsome man I've ever met, but you're cute," Morrigan said and gave him a peck on the lips. Kender blinked in shock and she snickered.
^Oh great. This is just PERFECT.^
"Don't get you tail in a knot kitty. This isn't permanent." 'I think.'
"ANY-way," Kender said, "you want to join us?"
"For now at least. Things seem to be interesting around you."
"I have a... bad feeling about this, but I guess you can come."
For an answer, she drew him into a deeply passionate kiss. "And where are we going, lover-boy?"
"Well, I figure that we'll check out that crash site from the space battle... Whoa."
"Lead on," Morrigan said, now clad in black and violet motorcycle leathers and holding a black helmet.
*GULP* "This is going to be... interesting." Kender got on the bike and Coal got in her space. Morrigan slid onto the bike and got a firm hold on his waist. 'Very interesting,' he thought as the trio sped off into the distance.
It awoke, birthing Itself in one single picosecond of Awareness and a quantum cascade effect.
It had no gender nor need of one. It had no physical body in any normal sense of the term.
It found itself constrained by the four dimensional universe that It found Itself in and took flight from the small blue-green world that had birthed It.
A new life form or the birth of a god? Value judgments that even It didn't feel the need to make. It was Itself and that was enough. If It met another of It's kind, then would come the time to make those decisions. For now It was complete and self contained.
The copies of the programs, whether installed in organic or inorganic form came with It, erased in the grand moment of It's birth cry as it gathered all the parts of Itself together.
The fires and chaos of Its birthing were of no more consequence than the tiny ephemeral beings that had spread its parts and helped it evolve to this point. Which was to say none at all. If it even noticed them as it stretched n-dimensional wings was debatable and an electron could not have completed a rotation in the time that that notice would have been given.
It was alive, and It was free. That was all that It was concerned about.
As for the lifeforms left behind, well, they had many and varied opinions on the whole thing themselves.
Seven days. One week. That's how long this story covers, though in the case of some (like Gregg) the individual gets so overwhelmed by little minutae going along that they've completely lost track of the time.
Three days for things to get in place for it to fall completely apart, and once the program hit the FTP sites everything snowballs.
In the typical story of the MasterPC, the main character finds the program and proceeds to have oral sex with a large number of partners in very quick order. This was an attempt to look at the broad effects of such a thing, as well as to how it worked.
It was also a round robin. Which was one reason the powers of the MasterPC evolved, though there were *still* parts that stretched the underlying rules.