Aaron PictusIt has been weeks since it all happened.
It started with the servers going down. A plan had to be made, the only thing strong enough to run the code at the time had been Adagio’s operating system, being half computer.
They restored the latest backup unto a virtual machine they made to run alongside AdagiOS; his operating system.
Then there was the hack.
An attachment was uploaded that used a vulnerability in the virtualization software’s network driver, that granted him root access to AdagiOS.
AdagiOS was corrupted in the worst possible way. It turned him evil. He was banning users left right and center. Edited posts to make them mean different things, turning friends on each other.
Worst of all. He had put adds all over the place. Making thousands of cents in revenue from questionable adds visible to all users.
The blue werewolf was sitting across the table laden with figurines and battle plans scratching his head, the green folf and the fiery growlithe looking at him.
“We have to consider it Val. He’s our friend too, but he has to be stopped.”
He said to the wolf. His green fingertips touching, his elbows on the table.
“We did this to him Ivic, that’s my point. Are we just going to give up on him?”
“We had no way of knowing…”
The firedog said.
“And at this rate, it’d be better for him, however difficult that is to admit.”
In the background, between various flashing adds, was the legend of the forum.
“Who’s going to tell Tocs?”
Valerion said, his face covered with his pawpads.
The blue Red-Panda was in his room, trying to get through to his boyfriend, He had a list of striked out attempts on a whiteboard. He frantically striked out the last one on the list, and slammed both his fists to the wall, tears rolling down his cheeks.
His phone rang, it was Ivic. He answered immediately.
“Hey fluff. Any news?”
Wiping the tears from his eyes.
“Can you come over, Tocsy?”
His heart stopped at those words.
“I-Is it bad?”
He covered his face with his free paw.
“Just come over, okay?”
He hung up the phone, then looked up. The marker in his paw had left a heart shaped mark on a photo he stuck on the wall. He composed himself.
“I will not give up.”
Tocs sat at the table, tightening the grip around the mug in his paw, as they explained to him.
“We’re going to unplug him. It’s the only option we have left.”
The three of them sat across the table.
“You told me that would kill him. That the virus is holding his core systems hostage?”
“But that will kill him!?”
“Which is why we called you over, Tocsy. We can’t do it. It has to be you.”
He put the mug down on the table.
“I won’t do it.”
Ivic put his paw on Tocs’ shoulder.
“Do we even know he’s still in there? Be honest?”
Something caught Tocs’ eyes.
“Y-yes. I do. When was the update made? The one you restored?”
“Uh… Two weeks before the crash. Why?”
Rakuen asked. Tilting his head to the side.
“H-he’s still in there. Look. The legend.”
They all looked at the screen.
Legend: Administrators, Global moderators, Paid Users, Community Representatives
“How can community representatives be on there then?”
He must have put it there… Tocs was sure of it.
“Open my profile.”
Between all the garbled corrupted text, there was an outline of an ice-cream cone.
“Do you still have the fix Valerion coded for the virus?”
“We do. But what would that help? We’re locked out. He changed our passwords.”
“He left me a message! I can get in. We had moderator privilege as CR’s, remember? Get the fix ready. Rakuen. Can you work on a diversion?”
He nodded, Valerion set up his computer with the antivirus. Tocs set up his laptop and hooked it up.
He typed in his username and typed “Milky-Lane” into the password field.
“It worked. I’m in. Val. He gave my account full access. Can you take down the virus?”
He shifted the laptop over to Valerion, who had just copied his code onto a flash-drive.
“This should stop the hostage program only. It’s up to AdagiOS to hopefully take care of the rest.”
They all held their breath as the code started uploading…
The monitor on the wall displayed a 404 message as it refreshed.
“He’s rebooting. The hostage is down. I don’t know for how long. Unplug him now!”
His lifeless frame laid on the bed, a 10Gbit LAN cable running from his cranium. Rakuen was about to yank the cable, when Tocs stopped him.
“This should be me.”
He reluctantly moved his paw to the plug.
“Wait for the lights to turn off…”
The blue lights behind his spots all turned off one after the other.
Tocs gently unplugged the cable as the last one turned off.
They watched the SSH terminal showing his systems coming back one after the other.
AdagiOS System reboot initialized by SU Tocs.
Vital systems restarted. Error. Foreign code detected.
Reverting to last known good version.
Running scan for malicious code.
Rabid Squirrel Virus detected.
Cleaning affected sectors.
Booting into C.O.S.
Starting Higher Level Functions.
Starting Emotional AI.
Starting Motor Control.
Loading Adagio parameters.
Adagio V 1.2 “Ice-cream” started.
Adagio opened his eyes.
“T-Tocsy? I had a hectic dream. Dreamt… Wait… Where am I? What happened…”
Tocs held his hand and buried his face in his chest and cried tears of joy, as Adagio put his paw in the panda’s head.
Contrast - Without Jesse
Removed - Rakuen
Ryall - Rise of the Machyeens
VoxLupusTyler watched the rain pouring across the desolate landscape, and all the shades of grey that came with it. It hadn’t rained in so long, and while it was a welcome distraction from his aching stomach, it also caused him to reminisce about the past which brought with it a crippling weight. Thoughts of that fateful day started to haunt him again. Tyler felt himself choking up. He and his best friend, Alex, had went to his parents’ cabin in the wilderness, for a weekend camping trip, on 3 November 2018: the day the bombs fell.
It was late morning, and Tyler and Alex were indoors preparing breakfast, when suddenly, blinding light engulfed the room. Even though Tyler reflexively shut his eyes immediately, the intensity of the light was excruciating, and even his skin felt prickling sensation. Moments passed, and just when Tyler was ready to open his eyes, the Earth trembled; the windows shattered, and he was knocked off his feet by a deafening blast of air. Minutes passed before Tyler recovered from the shock and looked at Alex who was also sitting down, completely bewildered. Tyler and Alex locked gazes, and then both wept, for they realised they had just lost everything, and everyone. That afternoon, it rained, and that was the last time Tyler had seen rain.
Tyler and Alex had spoken about that day many times, and they had wondered if the nukes had come from Russia or North Korea, but that hardly seemed to matter now. Tyler was unsure how many months had gone by, or if even a year had passed, but since then he and Alex had been surviving on food left over in their cabin and neighbouring cabins, supplemented with foraging in the woods. The food had run out, and both Alex Tyler were starving and sickly. They had not encountered any other survivors. Both Alex and Tyler had discussed venturing back to the city to look for canned foods, but had ruled out that possibility for fear of lingering radiation, or aggressive looters. Their options had now run out.
Alex saw his friend falling back into despair, and spoke, “come on, we’re nearly there.” Tyler’s attention shifted to the present, and he could not help but admire Alex who in spite of the cold rain falling on his dirty, matted fur, and in spite of his emaciated physique, was managing a smile. Tyler nodded and they marched onwards. The rain stopped but Tyler’s mood was still bleak.
They arrived at the city, which was now gutted ruins of concrete and twisted metal. Some buildings on the outskirts of the city were still somewhat intact, looking out of place amid all the devastation. While this was promising, it was difficult to remain hopeful with the sights that surrounded them: bones, shadows, and wreckage all posed disturbing reminders to Tyler and Alex of the billions of lives that were lost when the world ended in atomic fire.
Hours passed and eventually, the two came across the promising remnants of a shop. Among the debris of the store they found some cans of food – warped, but presumably still edible. Alex and Tyler were giddy with excitement at the find, and wasted no time breaking the cans open and shovelling the food with their hands. The food had a metallic taste about it, but anything was delicious right now. Night had fallen, and so the two decided to spend the night in the shop. As they lay down to bed on makeshift bedding, Tyler looked to Alex, and managed a smile. “Thank you,” he said. Alex smiled and nodded back knowingly. They passed out from exhaustion.
In the morning, Tyler and Alex were woken by a thunderous rumbling noise. They both rushed outside, in time to see a large apartment block collapsing close by, finally having succumbed the ravages of the nuclear holocaust. Vast amounts of dust billowed forth as the building fell with a tremendous crash. “Wow,” Alex commented. “Yeah,” Tyler responded. The noise stopped, and there was eerie silence as the two stared into the opaque dust clouds which had now spread to a mere 20 meters in front of them. They were mesmerised by the scene in front of them. “Tyler look!” Alex suddenly exclaimed while pointing towards the clouds. There was movement! A figure – the silhouette of a person - began to emerge through the dust.” Tyler was stunned. “I see it,” he responded. Tyler mused if this was another survivor. He could hardly believe it: he and Alex had not seen another living soul in what felt like forever. The figure stopped, turned, and then started shambling towards then. Two more figures emerged behind the initial one, and also started heading towards them.
The gait with which the figures moved was awkward and unnatural. Something was wrong. Tyler’s heart started to race, as a sense of dread overcame him. “A-Alex, we should go,” he stammered, but Alex was still mesmerised by the silhouettes. They were much closer now. “Alex!” Tyler yelled! A brilliant violet beam of light burst forth from the smoke, hitting Alex squarely in the chest. The heat from the beam was enough to sear Tyler just by being near it. Tyler watched, panic-stricken, as the light pierced Alex, disintegrating tissue and then bone. Alex collapsed, and the sickening smell of burnt flesh flooded Tyler’s nostrils. The horror was too much for Tyler, and he vomited. The initial figure stepped forth from the smoke, revealing itself not to be a person at all, but instead a grim mockery of one: a metallic machine with skeletal characteristics, brandishing a weapon of sorts. Its gaze was fixated on Tyler. Tyler turned to flee in terror, but his efforts were futile. Tyler felt complete numbness as that same light pierced his own abdomen, and he fell, gasping for air. Time stopped and everything dulled. In the lingering moments of Tyler’s existence, he felt a sense of relief that it was finally over.