My search for self-realization had taken me through the digital, metaphysical, and illogical, but in the end every clue, every trail had gone cold. I still had nothing to go off of, and WOPR had been a dead end.
I had started off my career in Uplink so full of certainty, but what I had seen of myself over the internet had slowly raised my self-doubt to critical mass. I was brilliant with computers, that was beyond a doubt, but somewhere along the line I had forgotten who I was. What use is your name when you are alone as long as I was? But out there... people with faces, people with first and last names, people with long tracking records trailing back to their births. Compared to them, I was completely superficial.
I had a past, I knew that. I had memories, damnit, of warm evenings from my childhood, and awkward teenaged years. If I was so smart, how had it all fallen apart? Why was it all so vague? Without a core set of beliefs on which to base my view of the universe, I was becoming increasingly aware of a gaping hole within. What was my master motive? I had run out of places to look, except one.
Uplink would know, I was sure. I had done so much work for them, surely they would be willing to help me out. They were my only solid link to the corporeal world.
I dialed the number, and prepared myself for what would undoubtedly be an awkward conversation. The receiver picked up, and Mark Tothill answered the phone: "Uplink Corporation, Mark Tothill speaking"
I froze. That voice belonged to the man with the tie. The man who started me off in Uplink, but in my dreams watched my mutilation. I couldn't talk to him- I was just too uneasy. Getting no response, Mark spoke again. "Hello? Administration. Is anybody there?"
I remained quite silent. He grunted, then hung up. My fears had been confirmed. The man with the tie not only worked for Uplink, he ran it. The other night, when the man in glasses told me that I had to 'hide the extent of [my] growth' from Uplink, he was right. I would have to pry my personal information from the Uplink database myself. I couldn't risk the man with the tie finding out.
Every time I logged onto the Uplink Internal Services machine (be it to purchase, check the news, or find a client to work with), I had noticed there was an administrative section of the main menu to which I had no access. My answers had to lie there.
I was going to hack Uplink itself.
I connected to the system once more, but now with dishonest intentions. The connection was highly secure, but I easily bypassed the monitor, proxy and firewall.
Instead of my own name and password (named after the medieval dynasty of Scottish warlords), I forced my way into the administrative account.
I was faced with another voice-activated lock, as well as another elliptic-curve cypher. Remembering the voice of the man in the tie, I flawlessly impersonated his vocal patterns and the machine confirmed my forged identity.
I broke the encryption cypher just as quickly:
Starting from the top was my best bet.
Bingo. The personal information of every Uplink agent in the company. The level-7 fractal encryption on each of the large data files looked menacing, but chaos theory teaches us that fractals look exactly the same when magnified. I burned through the encryption and downloaded the lot.
To its credit, the Internal Services machine fought ferociously against my every effort. I had to continually keep the firewall and proxy at bay, and even then the machine was tracing me more aggressively and with more haste than any other I had broken into.
I closed the connection, covered my tracks and inspected my warez.
There was a piece missing. I had downloaded the entire machine, but Uplink_Agent_Data 4.dat wasn't there. I also had a master program designed to read the data.
After all that trouble, the data was useless to me. The one missing chunk of data had only four records on it, and mine was among them. Was I doomed forever to be known as Enkidu? What was my real name god damnit?
Looking once more over the full list of names, I recognized one of the names. Could it be.... no way...
I logged back on, to the Uplink ISS, this time with my legitimate account, and made a beeline for the rankings page.
Phobia, the number one ranked agent in the world, who had made headlines recently over his involvement with Andromeda (ARC), was named Aston Holdaway. I remembered his name, as his academic record had been one of my first hacking jobs as a new agent!
I pulled up his academic record once more. Not only did I recognize the obvious mark I had left at the bottom of his record so I would recognize it should I return, but....
I knew that face. He was the man in glasses. He had looked into my security camera and spoken directly to me.
Why was it that all roads seemed to lead to ARC? Being the best known hacker in the world, why hadn't he changed his record back?
He must have been trying to keep a low real-world profile. He must have purposely commissioned me to change his own record, and ever since then he had been quietly watching over my shoulder, up until the evening he paid me a visit!
But why pay somebody to lower the profile of his own record? Did he think he was being targeted somehow?
Too many questions. I had learned more about Aston 'Phobia' Holdaway than I had about myself. I felt sick knowing that the same man who told me to watch out for Uplink was also working for them, as well as ARC.
I received an email which quickly put the matter to the back of my mind.
The stolen data, which had only served to burden my mind further, was apparently of value to somebody. I couldn't wait to get rid of it.
Without response, I followed the web link and deposited the contents of my memory onto the Beta Networks File Server. Hopefully the information would be of more use to them than me.
I guess it was an incredible hack. Curious, how such feats had become second nature for me.
I would later look back on that day, and realize I hadn't once considered the consequences of my actions then. After that point, I was hopelessly committed to the growing darkness within my soul.