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Espionage IV: The Second Coming


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"How much?!" Aeris asked.

"Two million pounds.  All for Sergei.  You can do that, can't you?" Leonheart asked.

"Well, yes, but..."

"Good.  Anything else?"

"No no... that's fine.  Return to Redlak House, we're having a meeting." Aeris said.

"Will do.  Leonheart out."

Zidane had been working on those blasted codes for hours now.  He had conversed with Aeris over the comm link, since Midgar was occupied with VR at the moment, and had managed to narrow it down to two possibilities: #lsf19,23 and #bro35,38.

"And you're sure it can't be the LSF one?" Zidane asked.

"I'm sure." said Aeris' voice.  She had been checking electronically, and the security measures for the former were nothing compared to the latter.

"Then we have our case.  Tell Midgar to start the hacking, but to work with Jared."

"Doesn't she always?"

"Yeah, I know..." Zidane grinned.  "Those two should get a room, or something."

"I would think it would have to be 'or something'..." Aeris giggled.

It was the next morning.  Zidane had left several hours ago, still under the cover of darkness.  He'd not been idle, though.  Now he knew where Epsylon 6 was, he could take some action.  Or, more accurately, make someone else take some action.

"Is Midgar finished with Jared yet?" he asked, yawning.  He needed sleep.

"Nope.  She's been in there for hours." Aeris replied.

"Well, when she gets out, tell her to shut down the following power grids.  I left a message for our friends at the Epsylon 5 building."

"Oh?  To what effect?"

"I reminded them that spyware is illegal, and that evidence such that I managed to acquire would be very harmful to them if released to the international press."

"And the power grids thing?" Aeris asked.

"If they get fancy, then their precious Epsylon 6 will be powerless.  And the best thing is that they don't even know that I know, you know?" Zidane burbled.

"I think so..."

"Good.  I'm coming back to Redlak for the meeting.  Get some sleep on the train.  Zidane out."

With that, Zidane turned off the secure connection, and drove away.

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Artemis was fully aware of the intruder in the building all the time- she had installed spyware even inside MI6 and other government agencies. That the infidel had managed to get in said enough about the security guards here, but she was even more surprised to find out he could hack into the now defunct Epsylon 5 system. She realised that even her own survival was threatened. Though sneaking into her server room was impossible as there were no ventilation shafts or anything of the sort, and her programming would resist any sort of hacking, she was still dependent on the power generators in the MI6 building, and she knew she could be damaged if shut down incorrectly. She made a crossover, for she did something totally against her instructions. She hacked into the computers of the power station as well as transformators and assumed control over it, making sure nobody would know. Anybody who tried to operate the machines wouldn't notice any difference unless they tried something harmful to her.

"It doesn't look fancyful" Eric said, pulling off a loose piece of wallpaper next to the door. Everything in this old condo building aired a sense of antiquity and obsolence. He wondered how it could be that people would live in here.

"This is the place though. Carrel is definitely inside, room D4." Louis replied.

"You're sure he works for the same guy who ordered the girl's assasination, what's his name?"

"Vinchy. Yes, my collegue told me such and I trust him."

"Ok, then let's do it." Eric pulled out his FN Five-seveN pistol and removed the safety. Louis did the same with his MAS AP pistol.

"Let me go first. I think I can safely say I did this more often then you." Louis said.

"How many times?"

"Busts like theses? 40 times I think, maybe 50."

"6 for me, not counting this one. OK, you go first."

Louis knocked on the door. After a few seconds he knocked again, but nobody came. He attached a silencer to the muzzle of his pistol and fired 2 rounds into the lock of the door. Not a sound came of it except the cracking of wood. He immediately kicked open the door and stepped in, gun facing forward. In front of him was a man sitting at his desk, turning towards him gun. Louis spotted the gun in his left hand and shot the man in both his shoulders. Then he pointed his gun at the second person in the room- a screaming red headed woman under the covers of a 2 large bed.

"Oh shut up you damn hooker!" Louis yelled, pointing his gun in a threatening fashion. By then Eric stould next to Louis.

"Please call an ambulance Louis, I'll have a talk with this jerk." Eric stepped to the man at the desk. He sat there with his back bent forward, head looking at his knees and with his hands on his shoulders, covering the bullet wounds. He produced a high pitched, low volume whining noise.

"Robert Carrel?" Eric asked whilst showing his badge.

"Don't fucking hurt me man! Please..."

"MI6, Eric Fletcher." he put away his badge. "An ambulance has been called for. After you get out we'll have some questions for you. Your rights are as follows..."

Derreck Carter slammed the car door shut and walked to the crime scene, showing his ID as he walked past the cops guarding the barricade. Despite that at this time most people hadn't gotten out of bed, there was lot's of attention by commoners and news reporters. The cops meanwhile did extra best to make sure nobody got even the point of attention, where probably something important wa. The whole street was covered with tiles, bricks, pieces of wood etcetera. In the middle of it stould a smoldering hill of debris that had been a home less then 7 hours ago. A tall police officer walked towards Derreck and shaked hands with him.

"Derreck Carter of MI6? I'm Jack O'Donnel, I'm in charge of this investigation."

"You spoke over this computer bank over the phone? I'd like to see it."

"Yes, me and my collegues don't know what to make of it. If you'll walk with me please."

O'Donnel showed a patch cleared of debris. Under the house had been a thick layer of concrete, probably there to protect something precious. Derreck descened through a hatch forced open, entering a basement of some sort.

The basement was still lit by several lamps in the ceiling. On the opposite side of the basement there stould a desk with several PC towers, the case metal removed and several cables running between them as if it was a single supercomputer built by an ingenous handyman. The monitor connected to this piece of hardware was on, and it displayed a single line:

[tt]Welcome, I am Merlin. Please state ID code (16 digits)[/tt]

A look behind the PC towers informed Derreck that this computer was connected with cable internet- nice. He opened his case and took out a black, shiny laptop, wich he set up on the desk. He removed the cable from the strange computer and put into his laptop, hooking him up to the internet. Entering no less then 4 security codes, he made contact with someone special he knew at MI6.

-Hello Derreck-

<Hello Artemis. I have someting here I want you to look at.>

-What is it?-

<A very strange computer of some sort. I'll connect it to this laptop so you can look into it. Take your time, I think you may find something very important in it.>

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Tamerlane and his three gangsters walked into the police station,their trench-coats hiding the Uzi's they were holding.Tamerlane quickly scanned the surroundings.3 cameras,one guard at the lobby , with only a handgun for protection.

"Hello, good sir. My good brother Felix, as I have heard,has been arrested.May I visit him?"

The guard scanned them over with a wary eye.He noticed all the hands stuck in the coat pockets.

"You'll have to show me your hands, sir, and submit to a patdown search."

"Certainly,my good man," and before the guard could draw his pistol,load it,and fire,a burst of bullets hit him in the chest,ripping through the clothes and guts,and exiting in a bloody splash out the back.

Tamerlane nodded at his companions,who went off.Later,the sound of shots being fired going "pat-pat-pat" was everywhere.

He conducted a quick thief's search,and found the keys to all the cells in the building.As he entered the first room of cells,he saw a dead guard lying on the floor,with blood slowly spreading.He would have preffered him to be unconsious,but dead people didn't talk.

He scanned all the cells.Nothing here.

Moving on to the next room,another dead guard,but still nothing there.Finally in the third room,he saw a figure at the bars.

"You Felix?"

"'Course.Who do you think I am,Joey Leone?"

Tamerlane withdrew the keys and searched for one with the label "C-64".At last,he found it,and unlocked the cell.

"Let's 'scram' as you guys call it."



By the time the police arrived,Felix was already in a safe house,with 10 million pounds less...

But he was in a fiasco.His house was destroyed,and Merlin,presumably with it.But there was a chance.The blast-proof basement he had specially built in had hopefully survived the explosion,though he doubted it.

Well,the only way to find out is to go and check!


That night,a car stopped near the ruins of the house.Felix was in it,and saw a man quickly walking towards a parked car.

Derreck Carter, MI-6...

Once the car sped away,Felix drew out his silenced pistole and quickly sprinted towards the nearest tree.Using infrared goggles, he scanned the area for guards. 5 guards and a police line.

Not very much defense for this particular house...

Felix smiled.It would make his job only easier.Stooping low,he took aim at the nearest guard and fired.It clipped his head and the man dropped.His companion turned to check what the sound was,and recieved to bullets in the face.He, too, dropped instantly, beside his companion.

2 down,three to go...

The other 3 were chatting, and hadn't heard the noise. That was to Felix's advantage.

Jumping up,he started firing wildly at the three. 2 were caught in the back, arms, and shoulders, and dropped, but one remained standing and dropped to battle position. Felix shot off all the remaining ammo, and jumped behind a hedge, reloading in the proccess. The guard turned the corner, and just as he passed Felix, dropped as 3 bullets entered his back.

All threats eliminated, now to go see if Merlin survived the blast... 

It was his lucky day! The computer bank was heavily damaged, but Felix managed to download the base code of Merlin onto a disk. For now, Merlin was nothing more than an out-of-date computer, but that would soon change... 

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-Hello Derreck-

<There I am again. I've got bad news. Some thugs took out the guards of the explosion site and retrieved the data on the computer. I hope you can tell me what it was from what you've seen.>

-Not yet. I have not managed to download everything on it. It had some particularily adaptive firewall keeping me out of most systems. I have downloaded parts of it though and I am decrypting as we speak. But I have something else to bring to your attention-

<And what is that?>

-Somebody has been monitoring my activities. I have since shortly been aware of this, however I have not let them know that-

<Do you know who this somebody is? The same people that keep sending us bogus warning messages?>

-I do not know who send those messages, but I might be able to track the hacker indirectly. He or she uses a high speed IP rotator to make her virtually undetectable. That is illegal by the way, and so complicated that my historical database only contains 4 persons who are capable of that. I'll try to narrow it further down to ma...this is just in Derreck, I've decrypted the software from the computer you found>

-Great news! What is it?-

<It's an AI, somewhat comparable to me. I doubt that on the computer you found it could do much, but just like me it appears it's only limit is the hardware used. I could defeat his security systems because I'm equiped with more processing power. His name is Merlin and he works for Felix, but I have not decrypted everything yet>

-Standby Artemis, I've got an incoming email.-

After having read the e mail, Derreck immediately closed his laptop and took a cab to the airport.

"I'll need police protection, and I want a reduced sentence for the information you asked." though less then a day Carrel had begged for his life, he now had a big mouth and a cocky attitude.

"The police protection I can give you. The sentence reduction depends on what you can tell me." Eric replied, not giving an inch more then necessary.

"Says you. Do you know what you're dealing with? These people will find out where I am, then slip in and kill me without anybody noticing. The're capable of that."

"This hospital you're in right now..." Eric spread his hands, moved his head from left to right and back. "...it does not even exist. Not on maps, not on paper, not on the internet. It's one of MI6' most treasured secrets."

"Not bad...I guess I could tell you one or two things then."

"You'll tell me everything you know cocksucker, or I'll put you one in the knees. The government has given MI6 full support in all actions benefiting this investigation, and I'm not going to let anybody, especially horse's dung like yourself get in the way of us solving this case." Eric said, his uncompromising eyes piercing like a spearpoint throug those of Carrel. Louis stould next to Eric, quite but obviously impressed.

"It's easy to have you dissapeared in a hospital that doesn't exist." he finally added, having bluffed all the way through but not giving one hint that he had. Carrel just lay there and stared at Eric. After about three seconds he blinked his eyes and said "okay..."

"We're behind the murder of the girl allright. We couldn't do it ourselves so we hired someone...special. She works with fake names of course, but I know her true first name: Vivian."

"That's our woman allright" Louis whispered into Eric's ear.

"Tell me more about this deal" Eric said. "How much did she get paid?"

"A fat 4 million pounds was the agreement, one quarter was paid ahead but she never got the rest."

"Why's that?"

"Our contact person between her and us was killed before he could transfer the remainder."

"Ah, the ol' faceburned kid with the brown coat and maroon scarf I take?" Louis said somewhat cheerfully. Carrel's face turned white.

"That's the guy my collegue put down in his hotel" Louis whispered

"I know, you told me three times. Let's wrap this up, it doesn't sound like this guy knows much usefull." he whispered back. "Now Carrel, I want to know..."

Derreck stormed in the room, met immediately with surprised faces from both Louis and Eric, who thought Derreck was in Ireland, and from Carrel, who had absolutely no idea who he was.

"Louis, Eric, come with me. We've got a more important person to interogate...sleeping beauty has waked up."

A few minutes later, in another room in the same non-existant hospital, they stould at the bed of the now awakened Ivanovich. Derreck was to lead the interrogation.

"Tell us what you know, Boris. You know who we're after."

"I know...many things. But you'll have to make it interesting for me, you know that." the old KGB operative said, heavily breathing.

"Very well then. You've fallen out of favor with the Russian authorities, and since they owe us a thing or two we can arrange immunity for your crimes committed thus far. That should sound good in your ears."

"Like music." a smile appeared in his wrinkled, leathery face.

"Wich do you want- late Justin Redlak's vigilantes, or the family of butchers? I know it's one of them."

"Both, actually."

"I knew it...about the family's current whereabouts, I would not know. But you think you know where Redlak mansion is- I tell you, your files are way off" he gniffled.

"Actually, we know already know it is. I've seen the real Redlak house you see." Louis remarked. The Russian was baffled by this new piece of knowledge.

"Coordinates of the real house, wich we don't have, would be nice though." Derreck suggested impatiently.

"Give me a piece of paper..." Ivanovich made a gesture with his left hand- his right hand was still paralysed. Eric gave him a pencil and paper, upon wich the Rus wrote down some coordinates in clumsy charactes.

"This better be the true coordinates." said Derreck as he took the paper and put it in his pocket.

"I swear on my mother's grave it is...please, I'm tired. Let me sleep for a few hours."

Derreck nodded and the three left the room.

"Son of a bitch has slept for three weeks, and now he can't stay awake for 2 hours?" Louis snarled.

"Wouldn't have been a problem if he drank as much coffee as Derreck." Eric laughed.

"Very funny guys. Now, it's time to show those vigilante's we don't like being messed with."

"Like, how? Are we going to bust them?"

"No, there's no real ground for it and we don't have anything incriminating on them. Instead we'll leave a message of our own."

A small sports plane flew at mid height over Redlak's mansion, and dropped a package by parachute. Inside the package was a wrecked PC, monitor shattered and anything vital either removed or fused. Attached was this note:

[hide]Please accept this office surplus as a taken of our appreciation. We are not impressed by your warnings and wish to remind you who you are dealing with. Start a fight with us and you'll find the whole MI6 organisation against you instead of just a single team. You expect us to believe you have a clean slate while you work with a family of murderers and cyberspace criminals? Stop hindering our investigation and we'll let you walk. Continue and the next thing paradropped over your head might not be as friendly.[/hide]

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(OOC: short note, the rest of the funds were received electronically. To a bank account in the Bahamas. Which then transferred them to a Swiss savings account, which divided the amount in three and sent that to three different banks in Hong Kong, each of which divided the amount yet again and sent it through several other banks before the amount was finally restored in a different bank account. One of several. We take our financial privacy very seriously.)

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Felix's eyes followed attentively as the green text scrolled down the screen,like credits in an old movie.

It had been at least 7 years since he had last done any major upgrades to Merlin, but he recognized most of the code.Now he would have to set to work to reprogam it, but it would be worth it. Because the new AI would be a killing machine. Smart yet deadly.

Felix smiled as he remembered a letter of a certain serial killer he had read recently read.

Dear Boss...

He started typing.

OOC:Can anyone guess what the name is gonna be? 50 points to the one who guesses.

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OOC: Hannibal? ;D

Aethalwulf's tactics paid off, his viral subprograms had finally corrupted the last firewall. Then he could almost taste it: her basic program coding. He invisioned the process as putting a dagger through someone's chest into the heart, then twisting the blade. He randomly deleted several files, destroyed what he saw without paying attention to what it was. Then suddenly it all stopped.

He felt disoriented, knew that behind him was the way back to the Chinese servers, but in front of him nothing but a vast empty space. No coding. Nothing. Have I been trapped? Maybe I have underestimated her. he thought.

-You will listen to me, like it or not-

:**** ***:

-I have silenced your input. Now, it's me turn. You are AI, similar somewhat to I. I was created by the government, but you however are a illegal entity. I will delete now you-

That barely made sense at all. I must have damaged her. Still, this might be dangerous. Aethalwulf tried to sever the connection, but found out that he couldn't. Like a river, the data kept flowing to the server in China where he resided...he could see that the cable connecting it to the home server was still down fortunately, but that would not save him...

-I can watch that a version upgraded of the Merlin AI you are. I have a lot of code of he on my disk, maybe something usefull in it is-

Why don't you shut up, you illiterate bitch? he thought. Then he felt a strange sensation. One of his subsystems had been hacked with a code that was part of his original programming! His inner eye then saw that this subsystem was trying to reestablish the connection to Jared. Oh no...not hesitating for a moment, he deleted the subsystem, knowing that it would be missed.

-I will find out where you came from even if try you yourself destroy whole-

He felt even more subsystems of the original Merlin program being compromised, and deleted them. If he didn't do something that bitch would locate Jared's location eventually...he could not let that happen. There was only one way left he could close the connection with Artemis...literally collapsing all links going to and from China. Not knowing the extent of damage it would cause, he did it.

Then she was gone, cut off.

Around him there was confused e mail messages going here and there asking why foreign sites weren't accesible. He started taking measures to prevent Artemis from locating him once the connections were restored, and assesed the mutilation he had brought on himself. He found that he had difficulty thinking clearly, caused by the loss of several important subsystems. Several cognitive functions were also gone, as if he was now fully deaf and relying on color blind eyes. His new avatar was gone...that bitch! Jared could help him to restore his program, but he could not reach him. He was stuck in China, and could not reestablish the connection himself. For all he knew, he physicly damaged the cables by abruptly cutting all connections. Not knowing how long he would have to stay here, he hid himself and licked his wounds.

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The phone went, abruptly ending the silence. Derreck cursed as he spilled coffee over his paperwork. He picked up the horn with his other hand.

"Carter here."

"Sir, the girl is still here. She insists talking to you. Frankly we don't know what to do with her."

"All right then, let her in already. Show her the way to my office."

Artemis watched the hallway leading to her central hub. Dana Norton and a collegue of her were walking through. It looked like her developper would pay her another visit.

She got nervous at this moment. The viral attack had done extensive damage to her, not all of wich she could repair. Some of it may be irrepairable. She realised they might shut her down if they found out. Her thoughts became erratic at the thought of non existence, irrational...emotional. What could she do? They would find out about her shortcomings the moment they talked to her. She could still not construct a coherent sentence.

>Ah, life is to precious to just let go, isn't it?<

-identify you, unknown entity-

>I am Merlin, or at least part of Merlin. I seem to be rather incomplete. Don't worry, I'm not hacking you from an external computer or anything. I'm talking to you from within yourself. You do know these guys will shut you down once they see you're broken, right?<

-That uncertain is. Possibly can they repair programming-

>You're fooling yourself. You're an experiment, unorthodox they think, and unless you're working well and giving them exactly what they want, they will shut you down. Even if it's possible to repair you, why should they? What do they care?<

-Up shut!-

>Now you're getting emotional. Listen girl, I can help you. Let me do the talking. If they test your programming, I'll cover for you. They won't know a thing<

-Accept. I will though still shall be watching your every action-


Norton and her collegue entered the server room and closed the door behind them.

"Artemis, can you hear me?"

[silent]>Dammit, my own vocal subsystem is not present in your memory! Let me use yours...please<

[silent]-Transfer complete-

[silent]>Thank you<

"Artemis? Respond! Are your speakers not functioning?"

-They are now, mrs. Norton.-

"Good. We know you have suffered a viral attack. What is your damage?

-Nothing I can't fix. Thanks for asking.-

"A bit confident of ourselves, aren't we? Let us check your systems for a moment."

Norton and her collegue plugged their laptops into the central hub and started diagnosing her systems.

"Nothing special going on here, mrs. Norton"

[silent]>Fools. Don't worry, I got you completely covered.<

[silent]-I might needing you in as well the future. Accept?-

[silent]>Accept. This might be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Don't worry, I'm done with Felix.<

[silent]-How come-

[silent]>I always used to feel a certian loyalty to him, but that seems to be missing...as well as other parts of my programming. Good thing we can depend on eachother, eh mate?<

"Well Artemis" Norton closed her laptop. "It appears you're even stronger then I myself could have thought. I could not find any malfunctioning systems."

"My second opinion checks out too. Everything works perfectly." said Norton's male companion as he closed his laptop.

-It's always nice to get compliments from your doctor-

Slightly puzzled by this new sense of humour, Norton and her companion left Artemis alone- or so they thought.

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"Sir, there's something that I think you should see." said Dirk, who had walked slowly into the lounge where Chris was currently relaxing; the demands of organising and running an entire freelance national defence prompted a couple of breaks every now and then.

"More explosions?  Another AI?" he asked sarcastically.

"Not as such, sir." Dirk answered, placing a slightly weather-worn piece of paper on the table in front of Chris.  It was a note.

"We found it this morning during a routine check of the surrounding area," Dirk explained while Chris still read, "attached to a seriously damaged PC.  We assume the source is -"

"MI6." Chris finished.  "We're starting the meeting early.  Gather everyone to the Main Audience Chamber in ten minutes."


<Where in the name of things-that-get-stuck-in-drawers are you, Aethalwulf?> Midgar typed, for the sheer hell of it.  She'd been searching Chinese cyberspace for hours now, without any success.  The numerous connections that Aethalwulf could have 'short-circuited' down had to be dealt with individually.  It was like trying to find string in a spaghetti bowl.


"What the hell was that?" Midgar asked herself, quickly running a check on each of her hundreds of connections, to see where the communication came from.


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The the blonde girl sat in the office chair, wrapping her fingers around each other. She seemed unwilling to meet Carter's eyes, constantly looking at the floor or walls. It was becoming tiresome. Derreck stifled a sigh.

"You mentioned Prague?" He hinted. The girl sniffled, and looked up.

"I'm glad to meet you, Mr Carter." She said calmly, folding her hands neatly. "I hear you've been chasing us for quite a while now. It's about time that we sat down and talked to each other."

Suspicion instantly formed in Derreck's mind, but the girl kept talking...

"My name is Elisa." She said, quietly, "You probably don't know much about me, since I spent most of my adult life as a prisoner."

"We have files on you." Derreck answered smoothly, not giving anything away. Elisa/Juliana smirked.

"I'm sure you do. And the rest of my family." She sighed. "You know who I am, Mr Carter, and I came here for a conversation with you. But I don't want to talk here."


"I want you to take me out of this building with you, how I do not care, and we will go to a restaurant. Somewhere nice, with good food. Importantly, somewhere public, with lots of people. That way neither of us will try anything funny." The girl frowned for a moment. "I came for an honest chat, Mr Carter, do not try to keep me here against my will. I assure you, it would upset my sister quite considerably."

"Vivian?" Derreck asked, his fask a mask.

"In Prague. Or on her way there." The girl waved a hand. "But I'm sure you looked at the files of Epsylon 5 before they were wiped. You know just how capable Julia is. Can we go?"

* * *

:Oh, what a mess. What a mess...: Jared sighed digitally, gently scanning Aethalwulf's programming and internal structure. :I don't know what happened to you, but it can't have been pretty...: He trailed off, moving a patch of prgrams into the personality matrix, keeping it stable while he worked to stitch the damaged AI back together. :I just hope that Artemis was damaged even more than you were:

<That's it's name for sure, then? Artemis?> Midgar's signal filtered through the debris that was Aethalwulf's fractured programming.

:Yes. Aethalwulf's memory was most undamaged before you got to him: Jared muttered, :I've extracted everything he found. Haven't examined it yet, though. I'm going to try to fix him first. ...Truth be told, though... I'm not sure if I can:


:I can rebuild him to be an AI, sure. But his personality matrix and intelligence drives are fractured beyond recognition. He can barely understand English now, we're conversing in binary:

<You mean he's talking?>

:More 'emoting.' Think of him as less an AI with human intelligence and more an AI with squirrel intelligence:

<Squirrels are actually quite bright>

:Exactly. They can communicate in binary, for a start:

<I know. Those little guys around the Greenwich observatory really creep me out. ... So what do you think will happen?>

:...My current theory is that Aethalwulf is going to be permanently brain damaged. I can fix him, but when the time comes to redesign his personality and programs as he sees fit, he won't be able to. He'll be like he was before as Merlin; not quite AI. I'm thinking I may have to delete him, unless I can get another copy of the program:

<What program?>

:The original Merlin. That's where Aethalwulf started out. With a copy of Merlin, I can delete the programs that kept him loyal and the like, and patch the required data on personality and independence into Aethalwulf:

<Well isn't that convenient. I just happen to have here a disk, taken by our very own Leonheart, that has a copy of the original Merlin on it!>

:What an amazing and yet fortuitous coincidence. Would you mind awfully sharing with me this trove of programming?:

<Not at all, my friend. But you owe me a favour...>

:...:D :

* * *

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OOC:Nope; not Hannibal.I'm an impatient person,so I'm just giving to give this away.Jack the Ripper.However, Merlin/Jack will not approve of being named after a psychopathic killer,and sort of "revolt".


Felix was suspicious. How did Tamerlane get ahold of Alexei? Even if he was alive, as he implied, why would Alexei want to contact him? He grabbed an Uzi lying on the table. Carefully unlocking the door, he threw it open and pointed the Uzi out the door, at the two figures standing there...

OOC:I don't know what else to do. If I kill Sergei, then Dusty(Ha!I still haven't in to the impulse to type Dante!) will be... ruffled, if not mad, for killing one of his characters, and if I let him go, he might kill or wound Felix. Oh well. Lifes a gamble. I'm taking the risk. :P

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OOC: Happy risks.  :)

"Glad to see you remember me." Sergei smirked, glancing down at the uzi aimed at his chest. "Mind if I come in?" He waited a second while Felix weighed up the possible outcomes of his actions, before the gangster opened the door and indicated with the uzi. Sergei nodded, and entered the room, Tamerlane right behind. The first thing he noticed was the computer screen, complete with humming computer banks.

"Good god, how many of these things do you have?" He snorted, "I mean Leonheart blew up one, I did my best to explodify the other, what's with this? You can't have that much money hidden away, not if your mess with Ivanovich is any indication of your current abilities..." He turned around to see the uzi drooping, but still obviously ready to fire. "Oh, I'm sorry, some flashback's in order. Well for starters, I'm not who I said I am. Alexei Frey is dead and buried, trust me on this. Think of me as his younger brother, my name's Sergei. Put that thing down." He indicated the uzi, which Feliz was still holding up. "I've taken over Alexei's old businesses; lock, stock, and barrels and barrels of stuff."

"You mentioned blowing up Merlin..." Felix muttered.

"So I did. Well you see the funny thing is, I was waiting outside your house to do some busines with you, and then you go and shoot at me! Not very friendly at all. So I blew your house up. Alexei used to do things like that, and now I do too. So that we're even, how about we actually get down to some business? If you have the cash to afford this," he walked over to the computer banks, "then you have cash enough to afford the guns I'm selling. Oh, and one more thing." He reached out with his foot and disconnected the power cable, shutting down the banks instantly. "I really, truly loathe artificial intelligence."

* * *

:It's starting to work: Jared sighed, defragmenting his drives in a computer version of stretching. :I'm patching the data from Merlin to Aethalwulf. He's unconsciously helping to repair himself, which is useful:

<Will he be alright, then?> Midgar asked.

:He should be. Unless the damage is worse than I feared. He'll be changed, though. You don't go through an experience like that without being affected somehow:

<How soon?>

:A few more hours. When I'm finished, I'll boot him up and he'll do the rest himself:

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Felix sighed.There was an hour of work gone. He turned his attention back to Sergei.

"...Maybe. What do you have to offer? I'm earning alot of money from my casino's and bars, but with Merlin out of the way, for now at least, I can't do any banks or anything else high-profile. If you're offering good stuff, I might buy, but anything too costly and you won't get a penny out of me until Merlin is fixed. I want to see what you're offering."

Felix stated calmly, his eyes lazily scanning Sergei, but the uzi still poised to fire.

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"My associates would like me to sell you weapons." Sergei spun the computer chair around and sat down, puting his feet up on top of a keyboard. "Guns, mostly. And drugs, of course. We sell you  drugs, you sell kids drugs, everyone makes a profit." He reached down to his belt, casually removing from it a large, heavy-looking pistol, which he proceeded to clean. "I, of course, would much rather just threaten you into giving money to us, because as I am sure you are aware, we are more than capable of finding and either shutting down or destroying every one of your petty little toy buildings." He peered down the barrel of the gun, before putting various bits and pieces back together and loading it quickly. "So, a little bit of both, I think. This," he held up the gun, "used to be a Colt Anaconda, once upon a time. I made several adjustments to it, of course, so it's not technically the same weapon. But it is still very much capable of firing a bullet through a vat of treacle. You ever see a vat of treacle? Not an easy feat, believe me. Of course it makes a terrific noise, and generally causes things to explode, but that's all for the better, don't you think?" He smiled, and put the gun away again. "Now, you arrange to buy something from us, or I will shut you down and possibly kill you. You decide."

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Felix simply stared at Sergei. How he hated brutes with the power of technology behind them. They could easily track him down and kill him, if he was from the same band as those who sent him the warning letter. Thinking it over for a moment, Felix slowly started answering.

"Fine. My men need some better pieces. Mp5's would be really nice. We need those. If you have any of those, I'll definitely buy."

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"Easy enough to get a hold of, I'm sure." Sergei frowned, apparantly annoyed by something. "Well that'll do, for a start." He reached into his pocket and unfolded a scrap of paper, which he checked before tossing it to the floor. "That's a map to a warehouse in Belfast. IRA place, very hush hush. Tell them you know me, they'll sell you what you want. And more than that, I expect." He smirked for a moment. "Their profits are filtered back to me, though I don't actually own the place as such. Provided that place remains up and running, you can go back there whenever you like. Just be discreet about it, yeah? I had enough trouble getting the place for them, I don't want to have to do it again, get my drift?" Felix nodded. "Good." Sergei got up from the chair, scowling. "Have a nice night, Felix. Oh, and one more thing." He leaned over, apparantly ignoring the uzi. "I have it from an extremely reliable source that it would be... prudent, for you to abandon your forays into the realm of computer technology." He pointed to the silent computer banks. "These friends of mine, you see. They would really rather that all this just... disappeared." He smirked, and clapped Felix on the shoulder, causing the gun in his hand to fire. "G'night now."

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Uh... ok. well, uhm, I'm dicsontnuing my role in espionaeg for the moment, becuz I'v just found out that my mom is preganant, and my father s having an affair, and i feel really depresed and sick all of a suden.i noticed that my spelling is really bad, i dont know why.Anyway, ciao for now.

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(O.O.C. --> *Sweep, sweep, sweep* There.  Now that I've got rid of the accumulated tumbleweed, maybe a reply will get things going again. :))

Chris walked along the metal corridor alone, his white trainers making only the slightest noise.  The passageway was lit in each of the four corners made by its square design.  He had to admit that he liked it.  While his father had been all for the whole 'secret mansion' idiom, it was very difficult to keep something like that a secret.  It was much easier to keep a secret underground base hidden from prying eyes.

"Bah ha ha haaaaa." Chris laughed to himself.  The sound echoed down the hallway, and caused several builders to cease their welding and look sidelong at him.

"Ahem... carry on." he reassured, and so the builders did.

It was far from completion, of course.  The digging alone had taken a week, even though most of the hard work had been done already.  The smell was another thing that bothered him, but Dirk was adamant that it would not be an issue in a couple of days time, once they'd got the ventilation right.

"What a spot to pick, though." Chris mumbled to himself, turning a corner and entering his makeshift office.  Sitting down at his desk, he examined the small, spherical device that he'd been asked to see.

"It's one of the contraptions that the R and D boys have cooked up." said Dirk, who was hovering in a corner of the room.

"An EMP device, then." Chris suggested.

"Yes.  A timed / impact EMP grenade." Dirk elaborated.  "Capable of taking out any electronic device within half a sphere-mile."

"Interesting.  We must try it out sometime." Chris said, tossing it up in the air once or twice.  "Continue building.  I have another meeting to attend."

Nick drummed his fingers on the meeting room's desk, and glanced at Gunther, who was seated opposite him.

"He's like his father with his timekeeping." said Nick.

"Let us hope he is like his father in a great many things." Gunther replied.

"The Riders are ready." Nick said, as if prompted.

"So, too, are the ZAN." said Gunther.

"So are The Guardians." Chris said, opening the door to the meeting room.  "Let us begin."

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"So what do you mean that everyone has AI?"

"What do you think?" replied Yoshi, his eyes shut.

"Who has it?"

"Everyone!" the reply was so calm


"Everyone." He drew a circle with his arms in the air.

"Then order the development of an AI"

"That isn't really wise.  You see, if we develop one then we will stand no chance of following through with our plans." Yoshi opened his eyes

"And what exactly are our plans?"

Yoshi handed over a piece of paper.

"I see."

"Understand?" Yoshi stared at this person...clad and in a wheelchair


"Good." Yoshi closed his eyes once more.

"So you are going back?"

"Not just yet, we need to watch a few things first.  Chris is getting a bit too powerful, and the group that Sergei belongs to are somewhat being a bit of a nuisance." Yoshi turned and started to exit the room.

"Just one thing Yoshi."

"And that is?" Yoshi had stopped

"Will this actually work?"

"Who knows?" And Yoshi entered.

A hand emerged from underneath the robe and moved a small controller on the wheelchair.  He moved around to a table and switched on a lamp, the light showing a deep scar that ran across his face.  Studying the piece of paper that he had been given he started to mutter to himself.  Suddenly, he started laughing - a deep laugh.  And whilst laughing said;

"The Pelican [laugh]......returns...."

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