[X] Search the immediate area - quickly - for anything that looks useful.
-[X] If nothing turns up, jack in.
It'll take a couple extra seconds to search the immediate area, but the payoff would be well worth the small risk.
I lift up the keyboard. No written password there. An office full of corporate retards and I get the one that doesn't write their password down. Though, now that I think about it, that wouldn't help me without a username anyway. So I pull out one of the drawers and upend it. Pencils, pens and paper spill out, with a couple pictures that I don't bother looking at.
The next drawer is completely empty, but the third, emptied out onto the floor, tumbles out an absolute torrent of magnetic swipecards and a credit dongle. I pocket the dongle, because depending on whose money this is, they may just very well be paying for my upgrades out of the goodness of their heart. Bless you, noble soul, for your donation.
I look at the pile of swipe cards and sigh. There's no way all of these work. If there were one or two or three, I could try them all.
But this many? Fuck, man. This is just the worst. I'll take one.
I grab a card, hit Ctrl+Alt+Del on the keyboard, and swipe it. Nothing. Well, can't say I didn't try. Stupid idiot keeping all these non-working cards.
Next step is to find an open port on the console- happily, there's one right on the front. I grab the plug from the back of my neck, and pull out the cord with it, unspooling from a tiny reel that I had implanted with the deckless augments. Sure, I could have eschewed the cord entirely, and actually, I still do have a wireless transmitter in the plug, but a cord provides better EMSEC every time.
I pop out a small universal converter from my pocket, slip it on the end of the plug, and jack in. With one last look around, to make sure that nobody's seen me physically, I activate the link.
The Net is hard to describe to someone who's never seen it, but think of a city, with your skyscrapers and smaller buildings, and large thoroughfares and smaller side streets. Now make all of those bright neon colors.
Any user can filter it any way they want, but I've always preferred bright neon colors- anything that's not immediately connected I have dimmed anyway, and a giant golden brick of unsorted data's just nice to look on. Of course, I could do all this without all of the Tron lighting, but why would I, if I've got the chance?
It also allows for a good abstraction of concepts, which is important to speed for runs. I'm not going to be coding any new tools on the fly, so I don't need a command line every time.
But here I am, jacked into the console in front of me in meatspace. It's all dark save for the dim red glow of authentication systems, as the console has blocked all of my standard passive probe protocol initially. Not a big deal, but there's no easy way around the authentication.
That's not to say that 'through' isn't an easy way as well.
I reach out my hand- I find it easier to keep grounded if I keep my physical form in the Net, and it provides the minimum of disorientation if I need to jack out in a hurry- and my standard suite of obfuscation and spoofing protocols spreads out, at the ready. I'm going to be traced eventually, since I'm on their network physically, but the longer that takes, the better.
Finally, the last touch. My password cracker appears in my hand, thin blue bar's glow overlaid on the red authentication barrier- a very sophisticated piece of software that I totally did not write myself. It's one I got off of 'Ske, and while I've modified it heavily, I haven't felt the need to write it from scratch.
The cracker slides into the authentication barrier, and tries a few common logins, slowly, before it goes all-out and trips every alarm the system has.
Of course it doesn't work. It never does. The blue bar's soft glow brightens to full intensity as it bruteforces through the authentication.
Then I hear it. Beep.
A familiar sound, the sound of my Trace Tracker. It has many options, and I can always check it to see the status of the trace. But a simple aural cue suffices most of the time, and it speeds up as the trace gets closer.
There's a significant delay before the second beep- I've got at least a couple of minutes at this rate.
Traces tend to include two parts: a digital part, where the ICE, when it finds you, will do its best to fry your brain through the link. Of course, there's security on my end of the link, but no security's perfect. As evidenced by the fact that I'm cracking security right now.
The second part is physical- when the ICE finds you, it almost always also finds your physical location. Of course, by the time the ICE finds you, the physical location is mostly just to dispose of the flatlined, brain-dead body.
The red authentication barrier dissolves, and the corporate network brightens before me.
Multiple paths lay ahead of me- one leads to a large, angrily pulsing red-and-black cube. I'd love to go for that one, but I can see the massive amounts of static near it that indicate the presence of hostile ICE, and if my probe programs aren't lying to me, that's only an estimation of that server.
It's airgapped, and there's no way I can get to it without physically jacking into that system or one connected to it. Nothing in the immediate vicinity of my location or easily accessible seems to be. This might be a result of the damage, or it might be intentionally airgapped for security. Either way, I'm interested.
Next we have a large, absolutely massive green mound of data. Likely financial records, transactions, boring stuff. Decent enough security, but so much data that there's no way I'll have time to sift through it on the run. I could set up a feed from it to the server Taters set up, sell the data later, but I doubt there's anything revelatory in it.
Near that, on a direct-link, we have the digital equivalent of Rome: the security system. There's two main ways that a network can set that up- like they have here, a near-direct link to all connected systems, allowing for extremely fast ICE response times, but also extremely fast to be accessed by outside agencies like me. The other type is less centralized, but much slower. If I can get in there, I can significantly degrade their response time, both digital and physical. Hell, I might even find something nice- some systems have their camera network wired directly into the security system, and I might even be able to control physical security from there.
The downside is that all of that is just prep work that takes time, I won't find any interesting data in security systems normally. But it can be useful. That time I spend cracking the system will be time not spent finding interesting data, though. And direct-connection systems tend to have some nasty, nasty ICE protecting them.
Finally, we have, connected through this floor's intranet, through all the other floor intranets that are still intact, one odd chunk of data on a server. My automated probes have highlighted it bright gold, indicating data that doesn't match the standard patterns- it's well-encrypted, but not in a secure location. The encryption is good enough that my probes can't even get a read on what the data might be, as there's no associated metadata.
And that's strange.
The ICE around it doesn't seem particularly strong, either.
indicates that I've got to make a choice, though. Time's a wastin'.
[ ] Go for the airgapped data. Even though I'll be plowing through the hard ICE for literally zero data payoff, I might be able to get a clue as to where I'd need to jack in to access it.
[ ] The financial data seems like a good start. I like money. Money is great. Please give me money, magical corporate data ATM system.
[ ] Security system. I've got enough time to be prepped, and this'll give me easier relocation options when this connection gets traced.
[ ] The odd data. There's just something alluring about the unknown, isn't there?
[ ] Write-in.
If you're interested in what the trace tracker sounds like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRWhrZrQIVM&feature=player_detailpage#t=337
I also cannot recommend playing Uplink enough if you're a fan of cyberpunk and hacking in general- while it's of course unrealistic for the computer-related things, it keeps itself fun and interesting. It doesn't hold your hand, and it can definitely be unforgiving. It was also one of the main reasons I wanted to write this story. It's definitely the second of the three major influences.