The Masquerade


Dear Marc,

I write this as I sit alone in my darkened office, my world settled and, for once, at peace with the world I exist in. Of course, it has not always been this way, and I really doubt that this peace will last for very long. The next Century is at hand, and I calmly wait for that final bell that will ring, alerting me to the fact that the next year, 2400 CE, has arrived.

I wish to record everything as it happened. I know that you remember most of it, since you where there, but I want this letter to be recorded in the event of my passing. When I am gone, you will take my place, and I want you to know as much of my wisdom as I can give.

You see, the century's passing means very little to me, since the passing of a mere hundred years in a lifetime that spans millennia is hardly anything to get excited about. But, even Vampires have to have something they can look forward to. I guess I've reached all my goals, except for the position of Antideluvian, but that is impossible. However, I've taken my turn as Justicar and Primogen, and I'm happy now in my position as Archon. It could be a whole lot worse, I suppose, but still, I'm comfortable.

Of course, there was once a time when I was nothing but a third-rate hacker, hacking into miniscule stuff as I learned my skills. I remember now. . . . I worked for Macrosoft. . . .

I recline in my computer chair, feet propped on the desktop. I stare a while at the blank space in front of the Hi-Res Flat Screen monitor in front of me. It wasn't necessary, of course, I could use the implants in my eyes to simulate the screen (with a better picture, too). It felt... right, somehow... this way. I'd always been a sucker for tradition though.

The flat screen lies face up on my desktop. With a press of a button the holographic image appeared. It was I, or rather my "icon". I watch myself and flex my hands to check to see if everything was OK. It checked. The Icon zoomed around, while different "walls" and "buildings" zoomed past in a holographic frenzy. The image stopped abruptly. The icon stopped running as if it were never running in the first place. It stood before the Tajita's first line of defense. "Samurai Protector 2 b2.30" ... not bad. The icon flashed it's protocols at the noble guardian, and then sliced it in half with its sword-program.

The guard was nothing, something to keep the lamers out. Now one had to slip through those nasty walls.. or scale them. I had done my research, and knew better than to just bulldoze through these walls. I smile and the icon starts it's blurringly fast climb. I watch for a while, then I flick my hand

to stop the icon... a little to the left... aha!

The niche was small, and how coincidental of it to be just large enough for me to squeeze through.. he he he... I had spent the majority of Wednesday night carving this niche without getting caught.. My icon was inÖ nowÖ for the library.

I twist my hands into place, and start going through the files that scroll cross the view screen. Absently I make the motion with my right wrist to turn on my music player and flip the channels while staring at the filenames that still run rampant on screen.

I bob my head up and down to the deafening beat of "The Apocs'" latest single-

~..The Apocalypse has come and past..~

Files... more files...

~..And just when ya thought that ya breathed yer last..~

Aha! Jackpot... I make a torrent of hand motions, sending electronic messages throughout my skinsuit and the deck on my desk I command the program to execute and upload itself to the Tajita Corps. NY network.

Suddenly a painful jolt shoots through my skinsuit telling me the job is done and I curse the experimental technology. It's so helpful, yet so damn annoying at times . . . .

~~..They Make You Come Back For MOOOOOOOORRRRRRRREEEE!~~

I laugh somewhat maniacally and thought upon the night's work. How fun, I think, it will be to see those suits wake up in the morning and not be able to even log into their very own network. It was simple, perhaps a bit too simple. Naahh. I had hand-written "Riddler" from scratch. A very ugly, ugly program indeed. "Riddler" was akin to some brute-force hack-techniques... with an elegant twist. It asked questions, and whatever the other computer or network replied it would twist around and ask more questions, all the while it would be tracking down passwords, and altering them in "key 13". This means it took EVERY letter in a password and moved it up 13 letters in the alphabet, simple to decipher..... if you know that they are in key 13.

Shit, the phone. I close the connection and swivel about in my chair to face the videopad. I sigh and flick on the videoscreen. It's Michael Stevenson, one of BY's execs. Great, I don't want to talk to him, but he's my boss and it's not like I can simply ignore him. . . .

Ah, what a lovely memory. Of course, it was just right after that that things began to get interesting. You see, that hack into Tajita Corps was my big break. My hacker alias back then was c€berw@t, and what a stupid name that was for me. But that Tajita hack brought me into the big leagues.

It seems that that hack brought me into good standing with some of the big names out there like CyberJack, Alias, and HaVoC. Pretty soon after that I changed my name to ~dark^aeo~, but that wasn't until after I'd taken over Macrosoft. . .

I look over at Marc and smile. Now it is time to take over, slice in when Yates is weakened by the attacks from the outside. BY and Macrosoft had failed in their attempt to take over. They should have learned from that whole Y2K thing, but no, they had to go and try again, and on the eve of the very next century for heaven's sake!

I shrug and Marc and I hook into the systems, sliding the datajacks into the techplates hidden behind our right ears. Now it's time for BY to shut the hell up, and to stop spreading his filthy lies about ARMATAGE. I look over at Marc, and he gives me the go-ahead signal. This hack should be simple. Just slip through the Cybotic mainframe and slide into Macrosoft's main unit. That's where Yates' life-support shit is hooked up. If we get that far, then BY wont be able to do a damn thing and I will ascend to the top.

With a grin I set the decoder programs running, setting their paths wide to catch all the guardbugs. I lean back, stretching to touch the keypad for the radiobox. Ahh! HATI's playing. Now there's a great band. They remind me of the Apoc's. . . .

~Words of Hate and Lu§t flowing through the air!~

The music pipes through the sound system, feeding into our audio implants and perhaps filtering into the dataworld. Who cares though? All the mainliner hackers listen to HATI, so who could trace it back to us? It really doesn't matter, since Macrosoft's people wont give a damn once I'm in control. I flick my wrist, watching the data scroll across my field of vision.

### Black Lotus. Input/output carrier?
>>> Begin ploading ARMATAGE.
### Pload complete, commencing Command Sequencing.
>>> OnComSeqEnd, begin ARMATAGE datajack.
### Authorization?
>>> Freejack: -dark^aeo-
>>> Passnet: Deus ex machina

I grin. The protection 'net was easy to get through. Now, for the fun stuffÖ

~Singing of the Lost Ones, the Dark Ones, the Hacker generation!~

That did it, of course. I got through to Gates' life support and that was the end of him. There was a legal battle over his remains, the rest of Macrosoft's employees wanted him cremated and dumped to the bottom of the deepest sea. No one loved the old bastard anyway.

Well, I quickly changed the name of MS to Myrris Corps. Don't ask me WHY I changed it to Myrris, I simply liked that name. Perhaps it was the name of one of my old herd members, but who could remember all those names? The thing is, though, that Myrris began spouting out new technology like it was vogue or something. Of course it was, but I at least attempt modesty every once in a while.

Oh, to hell with modesty! Remember that skinsuit thing I was telling you about? Well, people at first thought they'd be just a passing fad, or something that only hacker types and punks would wear. They never expected it to become the fastest selling thing on the market since they legalized Marijuana. But, I guess the 'net will do that to you, get you addicted, that is.

It did start out with just a minority of the general populous, but as the uses for molecular-skin-graph technologies grew, so did the demand for it. Soon, almost the entire world was wrapped-up in skinsuit technology, and Myrris Corps was the top-brand maker. Of course, we let a lot of our tech slip onto the Black Market, especially the new stuff that would go to the Hackers.

Now, that got me thinking. . . .

~Marc?~ I can remember myself asking. ~What'd the world be like if we began to protect the Hackers?~ He smiled at me, and that started me onto a whole tangent. ~Yeah! We could gather the best Hackers on the 'net and employ them here at Myrris Corps. Let Myrris be a cover-up for a new Hacker group. . . the Masquerade! Thatís it!~ I smiled at my own little joke and Marc nodded.

Marc's always with me these days, it seems. He's always there when I wake up in the evening, almost as if he woke up while the Sun was still in the airÖ. I don't know how he does it, to tell you the truth. 'course I've been known to walk about during the daylit hours on occasion. . . .

But, anyhow, lots of work must be done, I should start now . . . .

I began to drop little notes here, little invitations there. Soon the Masquerade became a reality. All the Hacker greats where there, Spyder, Knaive and CyberJack. HaVoC had died recently, car accident I was told. I didn't believe it for a moment, but there was nothing I could do about it really. But, at least the others were there, and they had ~dark^aeo~ at their head.

Masquerade grew large, it's power and influence outshining Myrris on the Black Market and Hacker Nets. Oh, did the Government enjoy them! I am overcome with laughter as I think of this, but I do wish that was the last the Government did. You see, I'd been supplying all of them with top-notch skinsuits and nanotek technology. Almost all of the officials in the American Government where under my sway, and a good deal of the others. However, I hadn't thought about them revolting against me. . .

~They did WHAT?~ I screamed at Marc. I couldn't believe the news! The American Government, MY GOVERNMENT was starting a new group to "fight the violence and anarchy of the GlobalNet". Yeah right, like that's gonna happen. They would be called the DeathNet, I guess to strike fear into the hearts of those who didn't know better. I heard some ex-big-time hacker started it, but who could it be? None of my people would, of course. Those that weren't directly controlled by me were controlled by my supply of drugs and NanoTek!

I paced the floor of my plush penthouse at the top of my New Yo-- wait, GREATER New York it's called now. I sigh and shake my head. What a stupid name, but I guess it's the whole 2100 rejuvenation plan of that new hot-shot mayor, what's his name? Guilianni or something. Descended from one of NY's old mayors. Well, he better be praying that his ancestor will help him if he wants to take over MY city!

~My Lord,~ Marc interrupts me, I HATE IT when he does that, and he KNOWS that! I whirl on him, my anger flaring. ~WHAT?~ I snap, knowing it's probably not his fault, whatever's going on. ~Sir, there is an emissary from the Justicar here to see you. She sounds urgent!~

Great, just what I need, some pansy-assed Ventrue Archon hanging out here. The Camarilla knows I've done what I can to keep up the Masquerade, no not MY Masquerade, THE Masquerade, the one that states that all of us Night Folk remain hidden.

I nod, and Marc disappears, returning a moment later with the Archon trailing behind. I'd seen her once or twice at Conclave, but I'd never actually met her. She's about as old as I am, perhaps only a few decades are between our ages. She smiles politely at me and I offer her a seat.

The conversation starts normally enough, well as normal as any conversation between two Methuselah's can be anyway. We talk about the goings-on in the Camarilla, nothing big really. However, when we get to the point of her visit, she stops me. ~The Justicar is going to retire, Aeolis. He needs a replacement, and I think you know why I'm here.~ She stops, and I knew it.

Great. Just what I need. It's not like I could refuse an offer such as this, but I really don't want the responsibility. . . .

Taking the position of Justicar was a great step for me, it allowed me power over a large chunk of the Vampire community. The Prince in GNY had hitherto been very unkind to me, never granting me anything I asked for, always been a pain in the ass, really. Of course, now his whole attitude was different, now that I was Justicar. He had no choice but to obey me. Eventually I retired as Justicar and became an Archon for the new Justicar. Of course, he valued my opinions and advice, and the Prince, well let's just say that there's a new one now.

For many years I ran Myrris Corps and Masquerade while continuing my job as Archon. Myrris continues to put forth newer and newer technology, forever building off of the skinsuit tech. We've come up with newer and better interfaces, ones that allow complete connection to the 'net. The DeathNet continues to be a pain in the ass, did I tell you that it was HaVoC that started that? Yeah, he faked his own death 'cause he was jealous as hell of me. Go figure! Now, 2400 is about to roll around, and we'll see what the next centuries bring. . . .

Eternally Yours,



The phone rings and I wearily pick it up.

A slight buzz runs through my skin suit and I close my eyes, connecting to the comlink.

~Sir, it's 2100 now.~ comes the voice over the line. ~Thank you, Marc.~ I say.

"Sir, it's 2400 now." The voice echoes in my mind. "Thank you, Marc" I reply.

I lean back and relax into my chair. I wonder what the next century will bring...?

I lean back and relax into my chair. I wonder what the next century will bring...?