Story #1- By: "Badman"

I awoke to the smell of cigarette smoke.  I knew I'd been captured before I opened my eyes. "Ah.  He's awake."

Two men, dressed in dark suits, in a small room decorated only with the
TriOptimum symbol.

The first man spoke again.  "It was quite a...problem, finding you. But we made it happen.  We are, of course, TriOp Security.  Pleased
to make your acquantence, mister..."

"Hacker is fine."  So they still didn't know my name.  Good.  "I want to speak to Rebecca Lansing."

He pursed his lips.  "I'm sure you feel that since you and Rebecca went through something together on Citadel Station, and because she is
TriOp's Security Chief, that she will help you out of your current situation. This is not so.  Rebecca is quite aware that you are here, and will allow us to do our job, because the situation warrants it."

This was a Bad Thing.  I had always thought that I could count on my friendship with Rebecca in a pinch.  If what this guy said was true...

"Why am I here?"

The second mib spoke for the first time.  "Are you aware that you were not the only survivor of the Citadel disaster?"

I gave a hollow laugh.  "Someone survived the explosion?"

"No.  The rescue teams scanned the bridge area and found two biosignals.  A strong one - yours, of course - and a much weaker one."

"Who was the other survivor?"

A pregnant pause.

"Edward Diego."


"We had no idea who he was.  He was an unrecognizable mound of flesh until we got him back to earth and ran his DNA.  By that time, he had been almost completely healed.  He was quite insane, though.  We slapped him into one of our sanitariums, and that should have been then end of the story."

"But it wasn't, of course."

"No.  About two months ago, Diego became lucid. He could talk again, and was no longer suicidal.  We took a brainwave scan. He appeared to be almost back to normal."

"Almost?"  I was becoming interested in spite of myself.

"See for yourself."  He handed me three brainscans - one of Diego before the Citadel incident, one taken when he was first admitted to the sanitarium, and one taken after he became lucid.  "See any pattern?"

"There appears to be one area here on his last scan that did not return to normal."

"True.  This was why he was not released from the sanitarium.  I have the numeric data on that area here."  He handed me another sheet, and I had to laugh.  "What's so funny?"

"Part of this is the Omolu-Hoffman Formula.  Street hackers call it the Fuckup Formula.  Any hyper-optimized computer that uses this formula as its basic decision-making process is, by definition, sentient."

"Anything else?"

"There's another formula here.  It appears to be a derivative of the OH Formula.  I would guess that this is the formula that describes SHODAN's basic...personality."

"So those two formulas will recreate SHODAN."

"To a point.  Since the formula is sentient, it will have some form of mutation.  Different speech patterns, different ways of thinking, but always the same goal."

"And the rest of the data?"

"I can't even begin to recognize it.  It looks like line noise to me. But if I had to guess, I'd guess...code of some sort."

"A computer program?  For a human brain?"

I smirked.  "SHODAN couldn't do that.  All she could do was reanimate dead bodies and give them weapons and verbal instructions."

"Really.  Edward Diego escaped from the sanitarium last night."

My smirk faded.

"I thought so."

Mib number one spoke up again.  "And, within the last few hours, we have lost contact with the Atlantis Project.  Are you aware of this project?"

My throat went dry.  "It's a self-sufficient undersea city."

"Correct.  Run by a hyper-optimized computer network, one of the few left on the planet. Non-sentient, of course, there are laws now..."

"But you believe he will attempt to use this computer to...recreate SHODAN?"

"I think we can safely assume that he has already done it.  You have had more experience in dealing with this thing than anyone else on the planet.  We would like to...hire you.  As an on-site consultant."


Mib one looked at mib two.  "What was the population of Atlantis again?"

"About 1500.  Beautiful place.  I've actually been there once."

"And now SHODAN will reprogram as many as she can, and kill all the rest."  A sharp look at me.  "The destruction of an entire city.  Nasty thing to have on your conscience."

Mib two piped up.  "Not to mention the eventual destruction of the entire human race."

The pain of the fear was almost too much to bear.  But there was nothing for it.  They were right.  Ultimately, I was responsible for SHODAN.  I would have to face her again...


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