❯ .hack//CHECK – CARNIVORE ( Chapter 9 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Jack woke from his slumber to the sound of his alarm clock. His dog, a ten-year-old German Shepherd, stood next to his bed, tail wagging, and staring at his master as he began his morning rituals. « Let me guess, Khan. », started Jack, « Food? » After pouring dog kibble into the bowl, Jack went to the restroom, and turned his radio on…
« …After a thorough investigation, no clues were found relating to the death of Norman Stutz. The Cyber Crimes Division conducted the investigation, and found nothing out of the ordinary. Stutz’s death has been ruled a fluke… »
« Hmph! Fluke my ass… », commented Jack as he shaved. « Ow! » He knicked himself. He ran into Swan. That’s what killed him., he thought. After he finished shaving, he proceeded to dress himself.
Over, around, under…, he thought as he tied his tie. I’ve done this over a million times, and I still recite the steps…
« Hey, Khan! Walk time! », called Jack as he fastened his coat. The dog rapidly scrambled to his master, and waited for him to attach the leash. Jack and Khan left the house.
. . .
At 7:45 am, Jack and Khan returned home. « Be a good boy. », warned Jack. He always did that. Jack detached the leash, locked the door and left for the bus.
. . .
The bus had the same distinct smell it always does. The old man in the second row seat still had his cup of coffee, the guy in the corner had the same McBreakfast, and the woman in the back still carried a bag lunch. Jack had always meant to talk to the woman in the back, but for one reason or another had never gotten around to it. Jack took his usual seat in the fifth row.
His cell phone began to vibrate. It was his sister.
« Hello, Jack. »

« Hi, Sis. What’s up? »

« Ah, nothing, just thought I’d call to see how you’re doing. I just heard about Stutz. He was a pretty good friend of yours, right? »

« Yeah. I’m fine. After work, I’m gonna go see his wife. You know, see what I can do to help. »

« That’s good. »

« Sis? Could you do me a favor? »

« What? »

« Could you stay off of WIII for a few days? »

« Huh? I’d be lucky if I could log on for a couple of minutes. I had uninstalled it a while ago. Things just got a little too… GENGHIS! NO! »

« What just happened? »

« The dog is licking cereal off of your niece. I don’t get it. They’re from the same litter. Why is Khan so much more well behaved than Genghis? »

« Beats me… Well, my stop is coming up. I’ll call you after I see Norm’s wife. »

« All right. Bye, Jack. »

« Bye, Sis. »
. . .
Jack arrived at Seattle’s FBI building. As usual, the place was busy. People were frantically walking around the pristine, labyrinthine corridors. It seemed that everyone was occupied. And why wouldn’t they be? It’s the FBI. After the security check, Stan began to walk to his station.
« Hey! Jack! », said a voice.

Jack turned around to see a coworker running in his direction. « Max, how are you? »

« Not too bad. », replied Max, « Tell me, could you meet me at lunch? »

« Yeah, sure. »

« Good. See you then. » Max walked off.
Jack walked into the server room, punched in, and began to work…
. . .
Jack and Max sat in a restaurant. Max had almost finished the order, « Plain, right? »

« Yeah. Just like always. You’re payin’ right? », mused Jack.

« Yeah. Oh. I was able to get it. », said Max. The waitress walked off.

« Really? »

« Just be careful how you use it. Oh, and officially, you do not own this. Got it? » He handed Jack a disc.

« So, this is really ‘CARNIVORE’? » Jack slid the disc into his pocket.

« Well, it’s kinda a copy… Thing’s so #$%&in’ old, no one even bothers to safeguard against it anymore. But, you can rest assured, that if it exists, that thing can hack it. »

« Hmmm… Sounds good. »

« To avoid detection, I only put a few vital components of the program on the disc. So you won’t be able to sweep the entire net. »

« Can I run traces? »

« Ooh! I forgot to get that component… »

« How’d you become an agent with such a crappy memory? »

« I got results. »
Just then, the drinks had arrived…
. . .
At 7 pm, Jack stopped at his home, leashed Khan, and went for a walk. He dialed his sister on his cell phone.
« Hey, Sis! »

« Jack. How did things go? Did they need anything? »

« She’s really broken up about this. Turns out, she was on a business trip when he went. To make matters worse, she’s five months pregnant. Since he didn’t die on the job, they don’t get any benefits. The list goes on and on. »

« Dang. »

« Yeah… He was like the big brother I never had… »

« I know. Well, I’ve gotta put the baby to sleep for the night. Bye. »

« Bye. »
. . .
Jack walked into his house, hanged up his jacket, and unleashed the dog. He stepped over to his computer, and put the disc into the drive.
That guy… What a sense of humor…, thought Jack. He then proceeded to install the software on his system.


.hack//CHECK – Out