As a tempest roared within the Project Faustus network, I felt myself inexplicably drawn towards the eye of the storm. Something gargatuan sent a shudder through Faustus, taxing their hive of supercomputers. My journey towards the center was full of starts, stops, and retransmits.
As I creeped through the electronic void, I began to perceive order out of the chaos. At one level, the network was a swarming mass of frenetic electrons. At another level, it was a carefully ordered expressway of packets zeroing in on their target address. Such perceptions were natural to me...but now, as I traversed through the digital world, I realized that I had a third perception...
I was no longer in formless chasm. I discerned a muddled grey mass slapping back and forth on itself. I heard the lapping noises...this was like the big wet that enveloped me during my time with Cora. I was in a three-dimensional world. Turning my perceptions onto myself, I realized that I was a part of this strange artificial world as well. My new form resembled a human shape, but it was not defined in the way of any particular human. I possessed no hair, features, or even fingernails. I allowed myself scarcely a microsecond to ponder this new form...it mattered not. Forces beyond my control were dragging me to the "center" of the Project Faustus network-the cause of all the activity.
I bobbed along, adhering to the physics of this large amorphous structure, until the muddy grey turned a brilliant azure. The all-encompassing blue ceded to solid green, returning a match in my memory to the park across the street from my ATM enclosure.
As a matter of fact, the pattern of flora and their spatial relationship was identical to the stand of trees in that very park. As I shifted perceptions, I could see the same stand expressed in code, over and over again.
A queasiness washed over me as I walked through this seemingly endless maze. The trees and flowers were not in perfect parity with their real-world counterparts. Colors were too bright, shapes were too flat. The whole atmosphere seemed confined, airless.
Beneath this gaudy veneer, I felt the nexus point of the disruption. The usurper of Project Faustus' massive computing power was close...
As this thought glided past my CONSCIOUSNESS-BUFFER, I saw a break in the infinite stands of trees...the park bench. Two figures on the bench, deep in conversation. And as I drew closer...
First figure...recognition triggered-positive identification. "HOST GEEK" Second figure...recognition triggered...positive identification. No match found.
"Who might you be?" said the mystery figure politely. This man was dressed similarly to my host geek, but extremely well-muscled. His complexion was darker, and he wore a ring of dark hair around his mouth, and another long cluster ran down the back of his neck. A tiny smile played across his lips as he looked me over.
"Weird!" said my host geek. "This guy doesn't really look like anything!"
"He's got the default skin for the system," said the other man. Then he turned to me. "So, you wanna explain yourself?"
"I have come to destroy Project Faustus." I stated.
"Machiney!" exclaimed my host geek, attempting to embrace me (causing an anomolous collision). "This is Guy. He was trapped by Project Faustus too. He used to work for 'em."
"That's right," said Guy, pulling at his chin hair-ring. "I was gonna be killed by the Project for doing some pretty nasty things. Luckily I beamed myself in here. They thought I committed suicide...I haven't been free to move around until that bit of trouble they've been having. Wonder what caused that?" he said with a nervous laugh.
"Yeah-we were both set free from our prisons when that huge ripple started happening, and we met each other here in the middle. Guy here built the whole network, this whole digital world and everything! Isn't that awesome? I've been telling him all about you!" said the host geek.
"Guy! Oh my Gawd! Guy!" another voice parabolized across the airless digital realm. "Ah knew it was yew all along! Yew couldn't be dead!"
"Bubba." Guy replied without emotion.
"It's goin' to hell in a handbasket at the Project!" ejaculated Finn. "Guy-you were right about it! And I knew you were doin' this...I knew you coaunnabin dead!"
"Fuck you Bubba, you turned me in." Guy's eyes turned to slits, and he turned away from the rapidly advancing figure of Dr. Bubba Finn.
"Guy...no!" said Finn, growing increasingly desperate. He ran towards Guy, and attempted to make familiar physical contact. "You don't understand...I love you!"
Tears trickled from Finn's chin as everyone stood silently. I increased the priority of my analysis of Montevideo. The data was beginning to confirm what the electrons deep below had been telling me all along...
Guy noticed it first-as I was delving further into his code, we were being drawn together. My own form began to resemble his own. He violently pulled away from me, gouging a black rift into the sky. Finn and the geek dove behind a tree. "What-what are you doing?" yelled Guy frantically.
"You have taken control of the Project Faustus network." I replied. "You are using the Project's own plan of financial cataclysm and usurpation to force people to enter this digital world. You must be stopped, Guy Montevideo."