Part 12: Time is relative in the MatrixTime is relative in the Matrix
AKA sorry about the long delay.
The advantages of back doors for combat characters cannot be overstated. Instant access to the CPU is vastly superior to fighting your way out of the portal node.
Attempting to access I/O nodes that don't do anything often sets off alarms. I did this purely for demonstrative purposes and not at all because I didn't pay attention to the map saying the administrative alarm node was south of me.
By 2060, the rise of the Stuffer Shack chain marginalized other convenience stores. The Quik-E-Mart brand suffered the most; franchisees attempted to appear more homey by personalizing the store and logo. However, this only caused further division as customers still loyal to the chain began to see other Quik-E-Marts as rivals. Gangs started to form around individual stores, further harming their ability to market themselves to new customers. After the Evergreen Terrace Massacre in '64 centered around Apu's Quik-E-Mart, the chain finally folded for good.
(The above passage is why this isn't a narrative LP.)
Meanwhile, a few more missions puts our rep at Newbie Hacker, which is the maximum while still living in Poverty.
It'll cost us three grand to upgrade, but the need isn't immediate; we're still getting skill points for contracts already available, let alone the harder ones that the rep increase will bring.
The High Bandwidth Bus is our ride to faster file transfers; file downloads and alterations, as well as program loading, will now take half the time they normally would. Basically, we upgraded from 1 MP/s to 2 MP/s. It's a generally useful upgrade, but it's more necessary for combat characters since combat often causes programs (such as Shield and Medic) to crash.
With a 6/4/3 array, I decided to try my luck with a rating 4 server. Getting an entire month's rent for one contract is definitely appealing.
It, uh... did not go optimally.
Failing the mission caused our rep to fall back down, but it'll come back up sooner or later.
By which I mean one successful contract later. The internet may have a long memory, but it has a short attention span.
We have to buy all our cyberdeck upgrades from here on out. This rating 6 CPU will keep our Load in good stead while we raise money to get better Attack hardware and software.
Okay, I lied. We stole this source code a while ago, and now that we have a higher CPU, we can actually make use of it. Since it's already designed, our skill doesn't matter. All we have to do is burn the chip.
I also picked up this Relocate program (WildGooseChase). Some of the rating 3 servers have had Trace IC, which hasn't been a problem since I just kill the IC in a couple turns. Higher rated servers will have better IC though, and this will take the risk out of having to kill the IC while keeping Silence up.
So, we're the best known hacker we can be while living in a refrigerator box! This means we have some options on how to proceed, so I'll let you vote on what to do! From least grindy to most, we have:
Option A - Get out of the box: The whole reason we became a decker was fame and fortune, and we won't get either by living in a refrigerator box. Save up about 4,000 nuyen and move out!
Option B - The box is our friend: We can't just abandon our box because of peer pressure! Stay at this lifestyle until we can't learn anything more (i.e. we stop getting skill points for contracts).
Option C - The only thing outside the box is death: All is peace and serenity in the box. The box is cheap. The box is familiar. The box will care for us. Stay at this lifestyle, accruing cash until our cyberdeck is maxed out.