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I Own a small company

Written by PunisherBass


“NOTE: This obviously isn't a true story. Icepick, Einstein, and WolfLord all gave me permission to use them in the story. This was written for fun and isn't meant to hurt any of their reputations.

I own a small company. The company is known as A.W.O.L. Computing Incorporated. You might have heard of us. Our motto is "If it doesn't say A.W.O.L. then it's crap". We design and build custom gateways for Uplink agents to use. If you need something with plenty of speed but not a lot of memory then you come to us. If you want your dream gateway built then you come to us. Basically we offer anything and everything a standard Uplink Corporation brand gateway doesn't. We aren't the only custom gateway company, there are several others run by people who used to be my friends. Oh and I'm also one of the leaders against the rebel Uplink agents. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me start at the beginning…

My life as an agent started out as normal as any other agents. A friend of mine brought me in and I soon learned the ropes. I was in a bar with my friend Tom. We had been drinking all night and were more than a little buzzed. He had lost a stupid bet earlier in the day, so he was going to pick up the beer tab. When he pulled out his wallet I noticed that it was filled with cash. Knowing that he didn't pull in that kind of money at his day job, I asked him where he was getting that kind of cash. He told me, in a drunken slurred voice, that he was working as a hacker for a shady company called the Uplink Corporation.

I was intrigued and pressed him for details. After talking for a while he produced a black card that just said "Trust Is A Weakness" with a website address on it. After forcing Tom to take a cab home, I hoped in my car and headed home. On the way I was stopped by a cop for speeding, to this very day I swear I wasn't going 60 in a 50. He read me the riot act and asked me to get out of the car. I climbed out of my 1966 Pontiac GTO and fumbled for my wallet. While doing so the tiny black Uplink card my friend had given me fell out. The cop saw it and picked it up. He looked at it for a few seconds and handed it back to me. Then much to my surprise he apologized for stopping me and got in his car and pulled away without another word.

I was pondering what had just happened the rest of the way home. Why had the cop just let me go like that? What kind of organization was my friend involved with? Once home I logged onto my computer and checked the address out. After reading for a few minutes I was surprised to find that this wasn't some kind of scam. If I signed up I would be hacking into computers and getting paid large amounts of money for doing so. And best of all I couldn't get caught, if worse came to worse I would just have to start over from the beginning. So I said what the hell and signed up. Still feeling the effects of the beer I said that was enough for the night and I hit the sack.

Next morning I went outside to get the paper and I saw a small black box sitting on my doorstep. I had a bit of a hangover and I wasn't ready to deal with whatever was inside. I bent over and picked it up, threw it on my desk and then drank a pot of black coffee. Once the caffeine kicked in I popped open the box and looked inside. All that was inside was a small DVD in a case that said "Uplink OS" on it. I took it over to my computer and put the disk in. It automatically installed the Uplink operating system and connected to my gateway. I read through the basics and I took a shot at the test mission. About an hour after poking around my new bank account and getting the hang of things I took on my first job and the rest is history.

I quickly made my way up the ranks gaining new skills and buying new hardware. I was amazed with their delivery speed. Within a month I had climbed my way to the top 10 agent lists and had traded in 6 gateways. I was then running on a fully loaded Trinity but it wasn't enough for me. I decided to build my own custom gateway.

On my way to the top I made a few friends and I made some calls and pulled in a few favors. I e mailed WolfLord who worked in the Uplink Corp gateway department. I asked him if a few new Trinity's could fall off the back of a truck. He reluctantly agreed and the next morning I had a couple of new gateways sitting in my living room. I cannibalized their insides and put together one monster of a machine. It took me several weeks to do this, during those weeks I heard about ARC hiring Uplink agents to work on some secret project of theirs and they were paying a lot of money to keep it secret.

Once the monster was finished I called Wolf again and talked him into installing my gateway so I could take it for a test run. This time he was not as easy to convince. After promising to give him the ip address to the INTEL LAN he said he would do it. Later that day I dropped off the gateway and helped get it installed. Back at home I connected to my new gateway and my jaw hit the floor. I was amazed not only by the speed and storage space but that it worked. I thought about just keeping it for myself but the next night I was out at a bar with Tom again.

This time we didn't talk about our day jobs; we talked about our hacking jobs. I mentioned that I had built a custom gateway and told him the specs. His eyes widened and he talked me into letting him see it. I let him and when he sat down in front of it, his jaw hit the floor just as mine did the first time. He said that I should build and market these to the other agents. I had never thought of doing that before, but I said no because I didn't think there would be enough demand for it. Boy was I wrong.

Over the next few weeks' word spread about my gateway and soon I was getting offers from other agents wanting to buy my gateway from me. When the 10th offer came in I though "Well maybe there is a market there". I started ordering spare gateway parts such as motherboards and cases, and I bought a large part of their stock of cooling fans, which were never used before. I started building several gateways with the same powerful specs and named it the A.W.O.L. 3900 SE.

For the next week I stood in my garage cutting, sawing, and welding cases together. In my bedroom I was soldering the guts of each machine together. Each gateway came out a little more and more refined. Better connection points and stronger welds and so on. At the end of the week I had a dozen gateways sitting on my living room floor. I made a post on the Uplink BBS that I was now selling my custom gateway.

Within a week my dozen custom gateways were sold out. Each time someone bought a machine I would haul it to where WolfLord worked and would install it in that agents room. I managed to do this because I gave Wolf a cut of what I was making. Before I could start building the next batch I received an e-mail from my employer. It turns out Uplink had heard about what I had been doing.

At first I expected to find out that I was disavowed but I wasn't. They were mad that I had hacked into their hardware but they were also impressed. Chris, the CEO and owner of Uplink Corp contacted me directly. He told me that a few people had tried doing the same thing I was doing. But none of them had much success. He told me that what I was doing was not forbidden by the rules, but it wasn't exactly condoned. He was very impressed with my work and said that I would get to keep my job. After talking for a little while he agreed to give me some official help. I would no longer have to bribe Wolf to get my gateways installed, but they would be advertised with the standard Uplink gateways.

So with that I had to figure out a way to get my product mass-produced. I got in touch with some hacker pals of mine, Icepick and Einstein. Icepick was a legend in the community. Rumor had it that he worked for Uplink as much more than a freelance agent like the rest of us. Einstein on the other hand was a bit more of an oddity. He was a great hacker and knew his way around a computer system. Together we ran A.W.O.L. Computing Incorporated out of my garage. I did the building and finances, Icepick did the sales and advertising end of things, and Einstein did the testing and R&D. Together we made a good team.

Over the next few months we would hear things about what ARC was up to and when Einstein and myself would start speculating, Icepick would do his best to squash the ideas by saying, "they are probably just making a new OS or something". We would find why he did that later, but again I'm getting ahead of myself. I created new gateways and the other agents just loved them. Some of them spawned their own series. The A.W.O.L. Lite and A.W.O.L. Ultramatrix have become some of our most popular lines. The money was rolling in and it was great. We expanded to our own small building and hired a small workforce to help with the load. Then Icepick decided to go his own way and start his own custom gateway shop.

I was not totally surprised to hear that he was leaving. He had grown stranger and stranger as the weeks went by and his attitude went downhill. Every time we asked him something about ARC he would just stonewall us. In between his normal hacking jobs, he was always working on something at the computer. When he would spend a 12-hour stint behind a monitor we would get worried. At one point I logged onto his machine to see just what he was up to. All I found was evidence of him coding something and a file called "Revelation". I wasn't able to investigate much further because he was headed back to where I was.

Anyway, we parted ways and continued on with business. What did shock me was when he got his own business started. Icepick was advertising A.W.O.L. gateways as his own work. No one outside of the company knew any better because the gateways were prototypes not ready for release. I couldn't really do much about it because we had no patents on the hardware.

While I was still fuming over the news, I received another shock. Icepick had gotten backing from ARC. Icepick was getting fully funded with ARC money and we couldn't compete with it. ARC now had both of our aces in their possession, Icepick and our newest gateways. Icepick opened up a flashy website to help promote "his" work and everyone flocked to it. Modlink Computers had opened with a big bang. Every upstart custom gateway shop started throwing money at Icepick to be a part of Modlink. The few custom shops that didn't sell out where bought out in the blink of an eye. Within weeks Modlink Computers had a monopoly on the entire market.

Eventually even we were forced to join Modlink to keep A.W.O.L. Computing Inc alive. I signed a deal that gave Modlink and ARC damn near every ownership right to my gateways. The deal stated that A.W.O.L. gateways would be advertised on Modlink for a hefty fee and the ownership rights. But before the ink was even dry, all hell broke lose between ARC, Uplink, and the rest of the world…


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