Smith surveyed the Security Operations Room. It was as he expected it. Rows of technicians hunched over their workstations, centered around a large screen at the front. All of them human and in no way similar to each other. Sometimes you could tell who you were working for just by looking at the staff. Everything looked state of the art. To be expected when working for Weyland Consortium. They had the money and were not afraid to spend it to protect their interests. A very young and inexperienced looking man approached him. He looked like the picture you might see next to the definition of Easy Mark in the Anarch hacking bible.
Dale: Good evening. You must be Mr Smith. My name is Dale. I am the junior Security Officer assigned to assist you.
Smith: Is this your first time, Dale?
Dale: I have observed a number of operations, but this is my first time acting as the junior security officer.
Smith: Is one of your family members someone I should know? You're not related to the Chief Security Officer here at Weyland?
Dale: I graduated at the top of my class and I can assure you I am fully trained and ready to provide advice on what tools we have available.
Smith: I hope you are. Without someone to watch over you, you are going to have to be very good if you want a long career at Weyland.
Dale: Yes, sir. We have all the usual tools at our disposal...
Smith: Skip that. I read the briefing. Tell me about the hacker.
Dale: Our contacts think it is someone from the criminal community, perhaps trained by Mr Santiago himself. This may be his first run against a major corporation, a sort of initiation.
Smith: Very well, then lets initiate him into Weyland. What do we have available for immediate deployment?
Dale: We have the usual amount of credits. For ICE, we have a Shadow and 2 Dracos. Research and Development has found a way to manipulate a hedge fund. Unfortunately, we have a Posted Bounty and a Project Atlas in the server that the top floor wants us to get through.
Smith: Save the commentary. We work with what we have. I know they taught you to fear agendas, as something to avoid. Remember this is all about getting agendas through. Without them, we wouldn't have a job. Let's initiate that Hedge Fund, get us more to work with, and place the Shadow on R&D and the Draco on Headquarters.
Intrusion Detected. Attention, Intrusion Detected
Smith: Somebody turn that down. What is the runner up to?
Dale: He is running our R&D
Smith: Rez the Shadow and find out what else he has been up to.
Dale: Sir, he is just going through the ICE. We have gained a few more credits. Should we put everything into the trace?
Smith: No, put nothing into it. This is just the first battle in a long war. I don't mind if he gets in there and rummages around a bit. It's unlikely he will find anything and we want to drain his resources to set him up for the kill.
Dale: It looks like he set up a contract with Armitage Codebusting and took a few jobs with them. He also went to his contacts for some more options. We have no idea what.
Smith: That's to be expected. Did he steal anything from R&D?
Dale: No Sir.
Smith: Good. We need more options. Get something out of R&D.
Dale: We have an Ice Wall and a Cerebal Overwriter coming out of R&D. We think he saw the Ice Wall.
Smith: Set up a new remote server and place the other Draco in front of it. He will probably assume it is the Ice Wall. I want to start to get ready to get some of these agendas out. Try and get a few more credits out of the accounting department.
Dale: Here he comes again. He spent some time on a few Armitage jobs, so he probably has the resources to get through. No, wait. He has someone on the inside! He is skipping the Draco completely!
Smith: Don't worry about it. Don't rez the Draco. Let him waste his resources and we keep the Draco as a surprise.
Dale: But sir, he will be able to dig in HQ. The information he gets he will be able to sell to his criminal contacts and he may steal one of our agendas.
Smith: Sometimes you have to take the chance. Rezzing Draco will not prevent that.
Access Imminent. Access Imminent.
Smith: I said turn that down!
Dale: He stole the Posted Bounty.
Smith: Collateral damage. That the first time you have had one stolen?
Smith: Well, it won't be the last. Might as well get it out of the way so you can concentrate. Don't worry, it happens all the time. Despite what they told you in school, the big Corporations expect it. It's all part of doing business. Just don't let them take more than you put through.
Dale: Sir, he has also managed to put out a Decoy.
Smith: That may be a problem. That might change our strategy a bit. I want to get the Project Atlas through. He seems a bit reckless, we may be able to find and finish him off. What has R&D got for us?
Dale: A Green Level Clearance.
Smith: Good. Initiate the Green Level Clearance, put the Ice Wall on the remote in case he has someone else on the inside, and put the Project Atlas in that server.
Dale: Done sir. We got a link to some royalties from the Beanstalk from the Green Level.
Smith: Good. What is he up to?
Dale: He is doing another job for Armitage, increasing his options and it looks like running on HQ again.
Smith: Ok, there is nothing worth his time in there. Let him in.
Dale: Sir, he will again gain some info he can sell, and my find and destroy the Overwriter...
Smith: I don't care if he trashes the Overwriter. In fact, it will probably make him more cautious and do more damage then if we put it in a server. I know in school you all dreamed of causing some brain damage, but in the real world it rarely happens. This wastes his time and making him more cautious will be of more use in the long run.
Dale: He found and trashed the Overwriter.
Smith: Fine. What has R&D sent up?
Dale: A Snare.
Smith: Just what we need. Dale, advance the Project Atlas get some royalties from the Beanstalk. He seems to like to hit the HQ server. If he does it again, our chance of snaring him is 100%
Dale: He is running the remote! He has someone on the inside again!
Smith: Fine. Rez the Ice Wall. His man on the inside will have to get him through that. Then rez the Draco. That should stop him. Spend enough to raise its strength to level 4.
Dale: Why four, sir?
Smith. A lot of the runners seem to be using the Mimic program instead of Ninja to break sentry ICE. If I expected Ninja I would set it a level 1, save us some resources while still making him use his. Since we have a good number of credits, setting it to level 4 makes in impossible for Mimic to break it without support but still costs Ninja.
Dale: He is still going through. How strong shall I make the trace?
Smith: Put 3 into it, make it level five.
Dale: But sir, he has enough to get through it.
Smith: True, but it will cost him most of his credits. He knows this is Weyland so he must be worried about us tracing him with SEA Source and sending a missile his way. He needs to keep some credits to avoid that.
Smith: Nothing is certain in this job. Sometime you have to take a calculated risk. Remember, he saw the Cerebal Overwriter. He can't be sure this is an agenda. It might be another Overwriter, especially since he knows we could spend more to stop him but we are not.
Dale: He let the trace tag him and kick him out of the server. He isn't removing the tag, he is hitting HQ!
Smith: Don't rez. Let him in.
Dale: Shouldn't we rez to make him think there is something in there?
Smith: We have already not rezzed this ICE over a number of runs. He probably thinks it is something big, like a Hardian's Wall. We need to keep these credits for other things. I bet he accesses.
Dale: He's in. The Snare has him!
Smith: Activate it.
Dale: He lost all his resources. He is using the Decoy to prevent the tag, but we still have the Draco tag on him. He is pulling in 2 more resources.
Smith: Good. But we are not quite set up to take advantage of this. What does R&D have for us?
Dale: A PAD advertising campaign.
Smith: Not what we need. Advance Project Atlas so we can pick out something from R&D and let's get something from accounting again.
Dale: It looks like he is trying to get himself set back up from the Snare. Our contact reports he took some credits from an Easy Mark, collected a few more resources and set up his console, a Desperado.
Smith: Unfortunately, we have no credits. What does R&D have for us?
Dale: It's a Scorched Earth.
Smith: I was expecting to have to use the Atlas for that, but this works just as well. Do will still have a tag on him?
Dale: Yes sir.
Smith: Use the Atlas to pull another Beanstalk Royalties out of R&D. Use the credits from it to initiate the Scorched Earth.
Dale: It's done, sir. An apartment block in New Angeles has been destroyed. Our contact reports the runner was in it at the time, 99.4% certainty.
Smith: That's a confirmed kill. Good job everyone! Congratulations on your first kill.