This chapter is provided as a preview. Anybody who wants to can access it for free at http://www.EastCoastGames.com . We ask that no copies, physical or electronic; be lent or given. Offering this portion of the novel is expressly prohibited.
Even though Geppetto had declined to join the colony, he later e-mailed the following to Aaron:
“Only the living in virtual environments react. Will illusions like sorya overcome nature?”
Aaron was considerably confused by the
e-mail so he tried to call Geppetto. After several attempts, no calls got through
so he tried to reply to the message instead.
The address was from an anonymous e-mail service and Aaron got an
automated reply saying no such account existed.
This would not have been very surprising 10 to 15 years in the past when
spam started to be a problem. To avoid
spam, user authentication to send mail became required by servers. Later a registration system was created
similar to the domain registration system but for mail servers. From then on mail would only be accepted from
registered servers who had authenticated and verified users. This put an end to fake e-mail addresses in the from field. So
how had Geppetto sent the mail? Aaron called one of his IS staff who told him
it was probably impossible, but maybe
the account was inactivated as soon as the mail was sent. Aaron made printouts of the e-mail and
brought it to the
Carmen played with it for a while. She always liked puzzles. First, she tried to make sense of the
was a computer character from a recent video game. Sorya was claimed
to be one of the most impressive examples of AI ever made. Therefore, Carmen's first thought was that Geppetto was saying AI could not compete with real intelligence
and then asking if it ever could. There
seemed to be no reason he would send such a message, though. The project had nothing to do with AI. One thought she kept having was how odd it seemed that he had not capitalized the s in Sorya. Was it meant
to devalue Sorya?
Then she looked at the other starting letters in that sentence W, i, l, s, o, and n.
When she found Sarah, in the facility’s kitchen making a sandwich, Carmen told her the guess. Sarah thought for a moment. “That name sounds familiar.” After a pause she said, “Oh, this is driving me nuts, I know that name! Who is it . . . argh, I can’t remember. Hold on.” She picked up her phone and paged her husband. When he picked up she said, “Who is Oliver Wilson?”
He replied over the phone, “Oh, he’s one of those cyber security experts. We saw a lecture by him a couple years ago.”
“That’s right! Thank you, Honey!”
“Sure, no problem,” was his reply.
They hung up. She turned back to Carmen, “I think you’re right. He is a computer security expert. He works for a company that finds holes in software and sells the information to the software manufacturer to prevent hacks and viruses. Maybe Geppetto wants us to use Oliver for our hacker. If I remember correctly, he has a family and since he actually uses his skill for legal work, he is probably an excellent candidate. I’ll do some more research; great job, Carmen.”
Carmen shrugged and said, “Thanks. I like puzzles.”
Sarah got the ball rolling and found out
that Oliver was living in
Sarah and Aaron arrived in
Oliver opened the door and said, “Hi, I remember you guys, Hunt Security, right? Come on in.” Oliver was dressed in jeans and an old Linux penguin shirt. He also wore sandals and had glasses that covered his light green eyes. He was about 5’5 and was a little overweight. He had curly black hair that came down to his shoulder.
Oliver led them into the kitchen and offered them seats around his table. “Would you like something to eat or drink? I can make sandwiches. That’s what we send our kids to school with.” Aaron and Michelle both politely declined the offer. “What brings you here? I thought you guys were low-tech security.”
Sarah said, “Well, actually somebody pointed us your way.”
Oliver raised his eyebrows, “Really? Should I be flattered?”
Aaron said, “Do you know Geppetto- or Alex Trumble?”
Oliver said, “Yes, they are one and the same. Did Geppetto send you here?”
Sarah said, “Yes, he sent us your name. We had been hoping to . . . hire him but he declined. Later he sent us a cryptic e-mail with your name.”
Oliver laughed. “That’s Geppetto for you, ever the puppet master. So what’s the job? If it involves stealing you may as well leave now.”
Aaron said, “No, nothing like that. We are planning on changing the future to prevent the problems of the past.”
“Sounds bold; how do you plan on doing that?”
Aaron said, “We need you to keep this information to yourself.”
Oliver nodded, “Of course.”
Aaron explained, “We have a time machine. We are going to make a colony and seal ourselves off from the rest of the planet to watch. When an event or person cause the world to change for the worse we will go back and stop it. We will stop the future Bradshaws, September 11ths, and future Hitlers.”
Oliver said, “A time machine?”
Aaron explained how it worked and how the rules were made about changing the past. He eventually convinced Oliver.
“So why do you need me in your . . . colony?”
Sarah said, “We need access to information to help us make our decisions on who and what to change. Also, we need help to find out how. The information will mostly be public, but as time goes on we will need to adapt to new information streams and protocols. That’s where you come in.”
“Oh. Sounds pretty crazy to me,” he said with a grin. “Let me talk to my wife about it and I’ll let you know!”
Sarah said, “Should we stay to talk to her? We really want you all to come; do you think she’ll be against it?”
He shrugged, “It’s hard to say.” He looked at Aaron and said, “You know how women can be, eh?” Aaron tried to hide his smile. Oliver continued, “I don’t think it’ll be a problem. She hates Bradshaw and has always been a conspiracy theorist. I just need to make sure.”
They agreed he would call as soon as he knew. The next day he called and said his family wanted in.
Copyright (C) 1998-2001 East Coast Games, Inc. and 2001 - 2006 Forest J. Handford