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Hercules in the
21st Century~
Aries

Hercules Deletes the
Sinister Cyber-hackers

- or -

The Scourge of the
Brooding Virus

 

It was the twenty-fifth year of the new millennium, and the whole world, with a few pockets of exception, was online ~ wired into the internet and by that time, dependent on "new" media not only for information but for education, banking, travel, and virtually all interpersonal communications.

In one of the world computer headquarters, Rick Euliss was known as the quintessential cyber-meister ~ even before the big blackout, the one that blew down the entire international power grid for over a week and sent modern civilization temporarily back into the dark ages.

One spring day that year, soon after the equinox, Euliss was in the lab getting ready to go home for the evening when the key network person on staff, Ray Mondo, noticed some dropout in the digital information array the servers were uploading and downloading. As there were many levels of safeguards built into the system to avoid signal degradation, this anomaly caught Mondo’s attention as a red flag.

An emergency email alert message overrode Euliss’s daily signoff procedure: "Warning: Systems Alert: Data dropout in fiber optics mechanism array." Rick sat back down at his desk and picked up the phone to call in his A-team: hardware administrator Abigail Deiress, software programming specialist Luke Aster, and Mondo.

"Need you to run full system diagnostics before heading out today," Euliss set his crew into gear. Already telephones were ringing and email distress messages were pouring in from cyber-citizens who’d been affected by the dropout Mondo had noticed and reported. Worse, it seemed to be continuing.

Experienced with hacker crises as he was, Euliss had a bad feeling about these continuing interruptions affecting local and remote systems worldwide. He’d seen a virus before that had a similar pattern, and the results had been lethal. The computers of what appeared to be random victims had been blown up, their owners’ property trashed from the expolsions, and many of the users blown away in the debris.

Mondo, Deiress, and Aster had worked with Euliss on that crisis, and the four had become a tight and effective team. And now their previous experience would be called.

"Aster," Euliss directed, "see if you can detect any subfrequency code being generated, and run a comparison with Mondo’s system tests." Then to Abigail, "you get the dangerous part again, Abby. Prepare to go inside the Boewolf cluster. And be ready to shutdown if needed."

Initially the hackers seemed to have made too much headway, too fast, for Euliss and his team to catch up with them. Now that the deadly virus had infiltrated the Internet and its netizens, failures had started cropping up in certain sectors of the primary servers. All those subscribers lost power. Transportation lines, TV stations, even sewer systems were shut down. And it looked like this was just the beginning.

Euliss and his senior colleagues worked through the night, well into the next day, before getting off the ground. Finally Aster, whose programming knowledge included over 25 computer languages, discovered a strange set of characters being piggybacked along the media menu stream. Realizing this must be the source code for the virus, he began collecting the system-fatal strain in output files, and to study them.

Together with experts in all known computer infections, Euliss worked on decoding. It seemed futile beyond belief; terabytes of compressed spam were spewing every minute. They realized, as they'd feared, this was a modification of the same kind of data explosives that had been used in the other online bombings.

Meanwhile Abigail had the Boewolf cluster open and was perched, ready to abort, when and if instructed. Of course the danger here was the high voltage of the processors, for to shut down the system in override meant the power supply cascade had to be open. Lightning or even static electricity in the area could repolarize the entire electronics, and if that happened, anyone near the system would be fried, instantaneously.

Onsite, workers slaved round the clock with Euliss for almost an entire week, and only short nap periods for rest. By the end of that time, things looked extremely dismal. For days, the hackers’ "smart" virus weapons had been setting off explosions, but this time societal leaders had been the targets. At one point over half the world no longer had power. Looting and pillaging ravaged the lands; government takeovers were imminent. People in all parts of the globe would soon lose their water supply, and before long after that, starve.

Rick used his mathematical prowess trying to distill the enemy code. He'd run teraflops of interpolations, yet none had worked. And when it seemed absolutely hopeless ... finally, a pattern emerged in one of the decoding programs.

This was all it took for Aster to get a translation underway, and at last our heroes could retaliate against the hackers. Euliss waited until the anti-program had been debugged, and on his mark, instructed Abigail to shut down the "M" series nodes, and for Mondo to initiate broadcast of Aster's vaccine, soon as the Boewolf cluster came back up online.

Everyone was sweating, fatigued, and more than a little shaken, but once they saw they'd succeeded, Euliss and the A-team were jubilant about their achievement. The power grids gradually started to come back up, and congratulatory messages poured in from presidents of nations as well as businesses. Fine champagne was delivered, there were fruits and cakes and flowers arriving at the lab, not to mention a media onslaught of reporters wanting footage of the exhilarated engineers.

A few short hours later he left for home. So did Mondo and Aster; Abigail stayed behind to finish her work inside the Boewolf cluster. And without any warning, their vaccine code finally penetrated the hacker’s primary headquarters. As planned, it locked down their servers and literally flattened the entire premises. But unfortunately, a spike-bomb left in wait by the hackers had been triggered. With Abigail’s hand on the casing of the array power supply unit to close it, the spike sent 150,000 watts of power through her body. Our dear hardware administrator merged and became one with the alternating current flowing through the system; she was gone.

The spike-bomb not only had killed his loyal colleague, to whom he’d taught everything she knew, but Rick also learned the latest bombing had set off yet another virus strain. With a new killer code to crack and neutralize, he first had to repair extensive system damage.

Depressed and weary, Euliss and his other two remaining A-team started over, only this time Rick stood in for Abigail on disabling the Boewolf cluster. Another four and a half days of heavy, tedious work, and they finally succeeded in deleting all of the hacker virus, once again.

Only this time, when done, they had no celebration in the lab. Weary, grief-struck, feeling lost without his friend Abigail, Euliss returned home. He got still, lit a candle for Abby, and wept for all the world.

Loosely based on the Aries myth from
Alice A. Bailey’s book, The Labours of Hercules

 

To read the classical myth, as given by the Tibetan, click here

 

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