The hacker names that correpond to file extensions are given in parentheses. These names were not included in the original files; in fact, most of the names remained unknown until the end of the game.

not.jpg (Caesar)
III, i, and I'm still here.

It pisses me off to think that I was going to fall for it - that I was going to let some doubt and fear overshadow the amazing things we've managed to do here over the past several weeks. I worked hard, man, and for what? For you all to bail on me?

I don't think so. I took a little trip, and I think it's quite clear, I was right all along. We saw something, something undeniably related to the whomp on our computers. We sat on our butts, people. We allowed this data to overwhelm us and we never really questioned it. We just sat back and said, "Pass the remote, dude."

Out there, in the open air and away from the hum of the fan, or the whirr of the processor, Random and I saw things you'd never expect, except on Ripley's Believe It or Not.

I'm back, and don't you forget it. I am not intimidated, I am not scared, and I don't really care if you stick around for the ride or not, any more. You all had your chances, and while I think it's stupid that your skills are going to waste with the scripting you'll most likely go back to now that you've left this project hanging, I am not going to hang onto the hope at this point.

If anything, I'll share a little. If it helps. So WHAT if you don't trust me? Random's golden, and he saw the same things I saw?

Are you on board, or not?


not2.jpg (Caesar)

Why "caesar"? Well, probably not for the reasons you'd expect.

It takes a unique freak to be a real pop culture junkie. On today's 'net, any jerko can slavishly track the progress of the latest Tarantino flick on $movie_portal_website or debate the merits of the $elves_and_orcs_ahoy trilogy in exhaustive, mind-numbing, spec-wallowing detail on some fanboy forum somewhere. This is all well and good, and there are definitely hipster silent bob type wannabes who would leech off of the realtime adulation of their fans and who are secretly checking the boards for anything the reviews didn't say. And yeah, that works for some, but not for everybody. I was looking for something.....I dunno....purer.

See, I got bored with what modern film had to offer a little while ago. So I decided to go back through the years, a decade at a time, and see what came BEFORE everyone started spending all their time focussing on the cash cow of Hollywood and what cinematographer did what - basically, when people just went to the movies to see a story, and to be entertained. And what I found, instead of this constant parade of meta-archetypes that are full of irony and self-consciousness, were several generations of real, genuine, natural badasses. Celluloid men for whom self-confidence came naturally because they KNEW that the world would be out there staring at them, not because their publicists and agents TOLD them so to pump up their ego.

In the 1970's, I found Fred Williamson. The Godfather of Harlem. Pure swagger.

In the 1950's, an embarrassment of riches. Sure, no one remembers Harold Tasker or Louis Calhern today, but look at their supporting casts! Icons all: Brando. Gielgud. Jimmy Mason. Heston (although I got SOMETHING I'd like to pry outta his cold dead fingers....)

In the 1930's, the mother lode: Edward G. Robinson. This guy resonated with me so hard it hurt. Little guy, pissed on by society, won't roll over but decides he's gonna play tough anyway. Just squirrelly little Emanuel Goldenberg, up there against the rest of the world. "Mother of this the end of Rico?" The gangster is the perfect blueprint for today's 'net cowboy.

They don't make 'em like Robinson anymore. Name me one modern actor that has that blend of thuggish panache and pure stubbornness. Well, maybe Pantoliano. Which, now that I think of it, he was a Caesar too, once, wasn't he?


not3.jpg (Caesar)

Too many years of scanning network backbones by the glow of my monitor. Too many late night pizza feasts, becoming the poster child for poor diet. ItÕs too much trouble, but when thereÕs nothing else in the house, coffee blacker than the blackness of my screen. Too much working myself right up to the edge of that adrenaline rush, finding one last neglected port to worm into. Eventually it caught up with me. Yeah yeah, I know they say it's genetics, but I can't help feeling like I'm paying for living a normal teenage life.

I don't remember the first time, but I remember the ugliest. I was four hours into a marathon session of Half-Life on the 'Gamex - SO much cooler, btw, when you play it with the mod chip installed - and the next thing I knew, I was on the floor. She had her arms locked tight around me and was screaming something in my face. "STOP IT! STOP IT! PLEASE!" It was a grand mal, lucky I hadn't bitten my tongue or gouged my face on the side of the coffee table going down or something, and it's not like the two of them hadn't seen it a million times before. But it had been getting better - hell, I had been on the Dilantin for something like six months by that point which was doing NOTHING to help my acne - and I guess the 'rents never expected to see another seizure that bad.

I was laid up for five straight days. Treated like a king, they waited on me hand and foot while I laid in bed and sipped juice and avoided strobing monitors and tried not to look pathetic. All the time, I was just itching to get back online. 1337 h4x0rs have to stay wired, or our batteries run down. Scratch was just itching to give me shit for time spent off the grid, totally.

Monday I played catchup to see that my firewall had taken a solid pounding while I was playing sad little invalid. I figured, okay, what goes around comes around. The urchins probably wanted to see what the hell I was keeping on MY root for a change, and were keeping themselves busy this whole time. Little did they know that instead of the thousands of game keys and ripped .mp3s and porn archives they might expect, all they would have found was a bunch of diagrams and Metapoint slideshows for my Civil War Gettysburg battle recreation project.

Outflank. Rush. Retreat. It's like chess or football.....some people don't get this game, but it's fascinating to me. Lose the battle, win the war.

Anyway, so I scanned the attack logs on the firewall. Much to my surprise, instead of the usual sneering from Scratch and 1337 attitudes from the rest, all I saw were the closest thing you could ever get to warm fuzzies from people you would prolly never meet in fleshspace. "come back come back five and dime whatever, C!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!", said one from mello (ha ha, I am poor diet poster child, he is Ritalin poster child), " urchins are lost without you!!!!!!!!!! BACK BACK BACK NOW NOW!!"

Someday I will be ruler of the world, and I will outlaw exclamation point keys on keyboards. But at that second, plugging back in, I knew I was home again.

And it felt okay.