• Jack woke up to the warm glow of the sun on his face. He rolled over to see the radiant yellow sun staring back at him, it's magnificent rays peeking through looming cumulus clouds. Jack groaned, squinting, it was really only a bother to him, but he was to lazy to configure the simulation to something less bright. There wasn't any country side like that anymore, except in the nature reserves where only the rich could have their summer homes placed. Mostly because the majority of the Eurasian-American Alliance territory was composed of huge urban sprawls. These bleak colossal monsters enveloped a tri-state area. New York, Los Angeles, and Atlanta being the biggest in the former regions of the US. Of course, Jack thought, there weren't any states anymore either, and there weren't any countries, although people still said they were from America or Brazil, but they were all happy, peace loving citizens of the United Nations of the World, otherwise known as UNW or EAA.
    Jack shut off the artificially rendered sunset and looked outside his window to see the cold gray dawn creeping up on the horizon like a blight from hell, there were office buildings and apartment complexes as far as the eye could see and beyond. Jack lived in the section of the New York Sprawl called Old New York. An oxymoron nonetheless, but what is even more ironic was that it was exactly in the center of New New York. Old New York was the original city in all it's old run down glory. Now the once great Seers Tower and the Empire State Building are shadowed by the cold colossal buildings that stretched to the Stratosphere. A constant stream of helicopters and magna-trams can be seen streaming to and from them.
    The old city was in complete disrepair. The local governing bodies of the New York Sprawl blamed it on the fact that they didn't want to ruin the old city's charm and are currently trying to restore it. It is only a lame excuse for the fact that they didn't want to waste their precious government grants, and the section made a great container for the sprawl's homeless population.
    Nobody really cared anyways, at least not since they invented cybernetic neural hubs. This 'technological marvel' is hardwired to your brain and spinal cord, allowing you to sense anything you want, while simultaneously making you a biological computer. This invention opened up completely new possibilities in the area of the mind. People can now telepathically communicate with anyone else with a neural jack anywhere. Although with everything 'good', there is consequence. This technology has opened a door that allows people to hack using human intellect, instead of having to know every aspect of a computer. This is were Jack comes in.
    Jack's profession was that of a black hacker. He was part of a group of shady individuals who hacked for a profit. These underground nobodies leased their skills to big time corporations to lie, cheat, and steal their way around government regulations. Despite Jack's proficiency at what he does, he turns down many of the requested jobs, because many compromise people's physiological health. In other words, Jack refuses to hack minds.
    The computers in Jack's world are Prometheus' fire, They link direcly with your neural pathways. They let you see what you want to see, feel what you want to feel. or what someone else wants you to feel. The physical realm is brought forth and shaped by hat one's subconscious processes it to be. In other words, a storage unit may appear as a warehouse to you.
    In Jack's world you plug yourself into the internet. Anyone who has an average amount of money is implanted with a cybernetic implant at the base of the neck. It has a small quarter inch hole. That allows a small neural 'jack' to be inserted into the neck. It dips you in a virtual world that I processed and takes physical form through your senses.
    In Jack's business, you have to be the best. There are no exceptions, you have to use your muscle, your wit, and your gut to get yourself in and out of every situation. Jack knows this all to well, as he is continually hunted by agents of the Global Security Organization, within and without the virtual realm.
    Jack quickly went through his morning routine of checking any and all messages to him, he checked and tweaked all of the firewalls in his system, he had to protect all of the information stored on his drives. During his routine he heard a sharp rap on his door. Jack froze, a small bead of sweat ran down his cheek. The rap came again, twice, this pulled Jack out of his stupor. Jack quickly ran over the monitors stationed on the wall. Several armed, what looked to be, NSA agents where standing at his doorway. Jack cursed under his breath. He quickly ran around the room destroying any and all electronic equipment. He stopped at the grid access node, it was illegal for a citizen to privately own one without government clearance. It allowed you to access the internet, it immersed you in it with all five of your senses. It had also been extremely expensive on the black market.
    Jack turned around has he heard the agents shout something muffled, but it the meaning was clear: "Open now before we come in ourselves." Jack quickly set up and EM bomb that would completely fry all of his electronics. Hopefully the agents had EM shields, or they would die. Jack didn't want that to happen, but he was more concerned with his own safety. He download all his necessary information into a data crystal and slipped it into a pocket. He then walked over to the wall and moved a couch uncovering an old fashioned ventilation system. Jack was a lover of technology but this is precisely why he had chosen this dreary apartment complex. He unlatched it from the wall and crawled inside, then relatched it and continued on until he came to a larger chamber that contained a preemptive supply cache. He continued down the vent and dropped through a hole, directly on an agent.
    Jack looked around fast ready to jump aside while making sure the agent had been alone. When he was satisfied he stood up and grabbed the agent by the scruff of his neck and dragged him behind a electro magnetic generator. It's sub sonic hum would cover his noise. He propped up the agent and slapped him awake, the agent was bleeding from the head and would probably need stitches.
    The agent groaned, he most likely had a slight concussion. The agent had not been wearing his helmet, Jack didn't blame him the helmets were notoriously itchy and hot. Jack didn't like to hurt people, directly at least, but he liked it a lot less when he himself got hurt. Jack slapped the agent again, this time it worked. Before the agent could scream for help Jack jammed a cloth into his mouth.
    "Be quiet or I'll make you eat your teeth." Jack eyeballed the man, he was an ox, but even an ox couldn't take 200+ lbs right on the head. He aimed the commandeered KM34 semi-auto tactical assault handgun at the agent. It had been modified for the chamber to occupy tiny syringe darts. They were filled with a poison that would have killed within thirty minutes if he hadn't gotten the antidote, which only the NSA have. It seems they either wanted him dead or alive.
    "I'm going to take the cloth out now, talk and I shoot in the heart." The agent shakily nodded in response. Jack reached out to pull the cloth out, making sure not to get his fingers to close to the teeth, being bitten would not feel good.
    Jack activated a micro recorder with his free hand. He looked the agent straight in the eye and said "I want you to say these exact words. 'All clear'" The agent was compliant. Once he had done so, Jack aimed his newly acquired pistol at the man, he shot him once in the arm and once in the leg to be safe. The poison was mixed with a mild sedative. He would not be able to stand for a while.
    Despite the resounding cliché, Jack stripped the agent down to his trousers and dawned the suit and equipment, it would give him a few seconds cover if he actually came face to face with another agent. He slid the agent over behind a pile of incinerator cans.
    Just as he was done the speaker in the stolen agent's helmet crackled. It popped and commanding voice barked "Report in team!" Several other reports came in varying from "All Clear!" to "No Tangos in sight." Jack would have rather used a voice simulation software, but you had to have at least a half hours worth of conversation to completely replicate someone's tones. Jack did not have time for this, so he replayed the recording, it was going to sound slightly off since it was going through two speakers, but not big enough of a difference for someone to catch who wasn't paying close attention.
    Jack checked his HUD to see if any other agents were nearby, the closest one was approximately 50 meters away. Thats was far enough away. He glanced over his shoulder and up along the sides of the buildings. Jack new from experience that you couldn't always trust technology. It broke to easily. After he was sure no one was close by he slowed his breathing and tensed, he new as soon as he cut the link between him and the tracking unit they would know something was wrong and storm over to his position.
    Jack opened the side panel of the helmet and quickly cut two wires, effectively severing all communications between him and the NSA agents. He quickly dawned the helmet once more and began to run. Jack may not look it, being as pale as he was, but he could jog a mile or two without breaking a sweat. He was in full sprint running and darting through the alleyways, he had the advantage of knowing th area. Bu the agents were faster, they had special training and cyberneticaly enhanced muscles. At full sprint they traveled at around 20 mph. Jack could only manage around 15 mph, for a short time. So they were on him pretty soon.
    Jack took a furtive glance back to see the first of the agents cutting around the corner he had just turned. They had finally found him, there were only three but they had probably communicated his position to the others. they would be there soon. Jack pulled out his tranquillizer gun and did a switchback. They hesitated, he had been counting on this since he was dressed as one of them.
    He shot two of them but missed the third. The first two fell to the ground clutching at the darts protruding from their chests, it was to late though. The poison had seeped into their blood stream. They wouldn't be able to move so h did not have to worry about them, hopefully one of them had the antidote. The third agent however began pulling out his machine pistol and opened fire on Jack. Jack cursed and did a rolling dodge behind a large industrial incinerator. Bullets pinged off he side of the giant metal box. It seemed it was shoot to kill now
    Jack had to think of something fast before the other agents arrived. He looked around and saw nothing. the only useful thing he had was the helmet on his head. He would have to make due, he tore off the helmet with regret. It would have gone for quite a lot on the black market. He swallowed his regret and tossed it out behind his cover. he had been hoping the agent was jumpy. He was. Bullets hit the helmet like a million angry wasps. Before the agent realized he had been duped Jack made a break for it and turned a corner. The agent would not be happy. He would most likely be demoted.
    Jack ran faster than ever before. He was finally coming upon the spot which he needed to be. the marketplace. It was the only actually nice looking place in Old New York. It even attracted tourists. There were bound to be plenty of people there, and that meant plenty of cover. Jack burst into the marketplace at full speed. When he glanced back to see if he had been followed, he ran smack into a silver haired girl.