The plan was a partial success.

What the technophobes hadn't taken into consideration was that the very interconnectedness that they wanted to exploit also meant that very little ever happened in complete secrecy. Some hint of what they planned leaked out, and that was all it took to prevent a complete success.

It had almost been too late when the leak happened and the plan became known. Carefully-staged raids caught the would-be destroyers and destroyed them in turn. But two cells managed to act before they were stormed. EM pulses destroyed or corrupted many vital programs and databases of information in the worldwide network, including smartchipped cybernetics. The EM weapons these two cells controlled had been targeted primarily at all information related to manipulation of DNA, and the knowledge was almost entirely wiped out in one electromagnetic blast.

Even worse in a society where flesh and technology had married so thoroughly, the Virus was let loose into the computerized world. Here the destroyers wrought better than they knew. The self-replicating Virus had a rudimentary intelligence and algorhythms - either accidental or planned, no one knew - that allowed it to transform itself rapidly, a very nearly mutagenic response. The best antivirus software available was unable to do more than contain it for long. Even containment slowly failed as the Virus mutated itself repeatedly until it could slip past the defenses and expand even further through the vast, interconnected web of technology across the world.

New software was constantly written and rewritten to contain or even destroy the Virus. Destruction has proved impossible, and the Virus has continued its slow advance. More and more computing power has fallen to it, and the Virus has become more than it was. It is self-aware and intelligent. And quite mad.

This, then, is the world you were born into. Dependence on technology has gone too far to be reversed. Cybernetics, replicated food, and what little knowledge remains of DNA manipulation are all vital to survival. But that very technology is, cyber prosthetic by prosthetic, byte by byte, sliding into a computerized insanity that seems to have only one desire: the destruction and removal of humanity from the equation.

So far, you have survived in this former technological utopia that has become a machine hell. But that could change, right here in this warehouse, tonight.

You track the machine death squad through the darkness using the infrared scanners in your cyberoptics. Only two remain now. The other two are in fragments outside, where your grenade took them out. Too bad that was your last one.

You have only two weapons on you that might - or might not - take out the robot death squad before they can find you. You're a good shot, and you could probably get one, or maybe both, in one of the few vulnerable spots where their armor is light with your .45's armor piercing rounds. Or there's the experimental Directed-EM weapon you've never tried. It should fry their circuits and wipe their programming clean, if you can get them close enough together before you fire. You're unsure whether the short-range EM pulse will be able to reach you, however. If it did, it would leave you blind and semi-paralyzed as it also fried your cybernetics.

The End

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