illiam looked down on his fortress, built solidly into earth which he had created - artificially of course. On the outside, Will was sitting at his computer, encased in virtual reality equipment he had jury-rigged from old parts. His hands were sheathed in gloves, his eyes by virtual reality goggles which let him see the software in his computer as a landscape. The fortress was the computer's hardware and software interface. Viral attacks would be aimed at it. The surrounding landscape was green grass dotted by rocks and boulders. Will's creation was flawless, as far as he could discern.
This entire project was aimed not at protecting systems from viruses and hackers , but to eliminate them. The most recent series of worm-type viruses had forced Will to consider his three-year-old pet-project seriously. The worms allowed the hacker to gain control of the system, even if the hacker wasn't present. Will had decided to use his prowess as a programmer to eliminate the possibility of entry to the system by anything unauthorized. Only he knew that he wasn't putting his own system on the line by planting a small hole in the firewall program protecting it. This was a duplicate/dummy system, something with which to perform trials.
The gap was so enticing Will knew. Some virus or hacker would step right in, which is exactly what he was hoping for. He didn't want his third day of trials to go up in cyber-smoke. Will was right about the gap.
As he looked on through his goggles, a demonic-looking force flew through the hole. They had only one direction to come from, one direction to go. They flew right on in even as Will ordered his 'forces' to engage the enemy, luring them closer to their doom.
Since this was an air attack, Will only had two types of vehicles playing defense: the fast, light, but tough strong Dagger aero-fighters and the tough but fast ballistic tanks. The tanks took up a position a hundred klicks from the fortress, dug in the anchors, and prepped their powerful guns. The Daggers merely went up to engage the enemy straight away.
Soon after the demons had come in low enough and the tanks had begun to take them with their powerful cannons, the defending fighters began to herd the invaders in towards the fortress. This was the best part. The invaders were now too busy fighting to notice the small tracer team Will put through the portal just on the other side of the gap in the firewall. Once the team was through, Will ordered the firewall sealed and the scramblers activated. The viruses, having lost contact with their origin would become as disoriented as a computer program could get. They wold lose the tactical picture and fall back onto what they knew: Carry out the program, infect the system; the fortress is the system. The trap was too perfect.
The defenders fell back, firing on the invaders from inside the fortress' walls, around which there was now a one-way energy shield. It protected those inside while letting their fire pass to hit the invading forces, who were now stalled. They had lost the initiative. The tanks and fighters which had remained outside the shield encircled the demons and pounded them mercilessly past the last ring of boulders and into the compact area surrounding the base's shield. Will ordered the activation of the next phase.
A second shield encircled the invaders, cutting off their escape route. The forces which had kept them penned in until now withdrew. There would be no escape, no prisoners. On the outside, Will spoke into the microphone hooked to his computer. "Final phase, now." Those three words sealed the fates of the viruses, and Will's along with theirs. Wave after wave of energy swept over the trapped invaders, heating them up, but they had nowhere to go. In a moment, all Will was able to see was a solid field of blue-white energy, a white flash, and then an empty area between two shields, where only dry, desolate soil stood. Good, Will thought, Now I have a kill-zone.
In a short two days the news was all over the Net. Someone was trapping viruses and hackers alike and eliminating them, control measures and all. Police and government agents were getting anonymous tips as to where to find hackers or programmers who had turned their genius to the wrong field and had picked the wrong system to invade. Will's school was aflame with rumors sold as fact. Will had something to grin about. None of them even came close to the truth, so he was safe. No one would suspect anyone so ordinary-looking as Will. The truth was that he had willfully deceived them all. That he only had two very tentative friends in the school made his task easier. The only thing that made it simpler still was the fact that everybody ignored him. He could assume control and nobody would notice. Now there's a thought!
He had the perfect defence already. Why not try an offensive? He would use the same kind of program he had designed for the elimination of intruders. He called that one Counterstrike Initiative. He would call this on Strike Initiative. Will donned his gloves and goggles, keyed in his microphone and began. It only took half an hour to adapt the program to all the right conditions, and he would be controlling it anyway, so there was nothing to worry about. They wouldn't have anything like his programs.
"Run program, Strike Initiative." Four words began a simple operation by a complex program. In the dummy system, a full compliment of fighters, bombers, and carriers launched from the fortress. They headed up and out before a hole in a portal were opened up in the firewall. The team went through and the portal and firewall were closed.
For the fun of it, Will had his program bounce around the Internet, through a series of over twenty links before arriving at the school's main system. Will traveled along with them, seeing things from the point of view of the radar-tracking aircraft. In no time at all, the corridor ended in a blue-skied fertile land. Ahead lay a block of high-rise buildings surrounding a globular structure, the central processing unit, or CPU, the chip that controlled the software and hardware. Because Initiative had been designed to be entirely beneficial, it didn't register as a threat, and the invading forces slipped right through the anti-virus/anti-tamper devices and towards the CPU. The threat back home on the other hand, did register. Will ordered Strike to follow its programming back to the end and switched "screens" so he could see what was going on.
A large invasion group had managed to slip through the firewall. They were approaching the base by land and air. The defenders, including the lighter, land-based Knight tank were racing to meet the invaders. "Run program, Counterstrike Initiative."
"WARNING, MEMORY APPROACHING LOW."
"Do it anyway."
Will had a crisis on his hands. A virus was attacking his system while he was taking another. Running two programs at once was draining his system's abilities. He had to abort one or the other. Even if this was a dummy system, he had never lost, and refused to start now.
The Strike Force approached at high speed. The fighters flying point split up, giving a large craft the firing range it needed. A sizzling beam of silvery energy lanced out and struck Will's base, causing the landscape to ripple, but seemingly nothing else happened. Belatedly, Will realized that the duplicate system had been removed. This was now occurring on his system. He couldn't lose, or he would lose everything. William was sweating for the first time in a decade.
"Discontinue program: Strike Initiative."
"CONFIRM?"
"DO IT!"
"RECALLING STRIKE INITIATIVE FORCES."
"Now lets clamp down on these guys."
<Too late, William> the words scrolled across the screen , <You've lost. You belong to the Central Intelligence Agency now>
"But… What did I do?"
<You became too surly. You acted hypocritically, the same as those you defend yourself against.>
"How did you find me?" Will could hear the sirens now. He knew with absolute certainty that he had made a titanic mistake somewhere, but couldn't pinpoint it. He only had a few more seconds left now, as his defenders were blasted to pieces by superior weaponry.
<I suspect it's the same way you found out where your assailants were.>
"Please tell me. Where did I go wrong?"
There was a knock at the door.
<You better get that. They have a warrant. I'm sure your parents wouldn't appreciate a busted door.>
"I have a right to know. I promise I'll make it up to everyone later. I'll repay society. I'll help you."
<Sure. I'll give you a clue. It's a phrase really.> Will's defenses had surrendered. He waited.
<The phrase is Strike Initiative…>
© 2002 The Richmond Hill Public Library Board