It starts innocently enough. You're just a young snow leopard with a flip phone strapped to your ski goggles, the whole world at your fingertips. You program high-concept video games about snow drifts that are also cryptographic mazes and gamification apps for robots. The Museum of the Moving Image is very interested in your avant-garde web art installation, Secrets That Were Kept And Secrets That Were Not. Fortunately, this is exactly the kind of technological innovation that the National Security Agency likes to fund. All you and your crack team of CryptoKids® have to do is put together the occasional Flash site.
But a few years later, Crypto Cat® and Decipher Dog® have split off into open source development, T. Top® the turtle is running a Twitch-based telepresence gaming startup, and the NSA no longer seems like such a promising career bet. If only you had some kind of mission in life... or, perhaps, a cybermission.
The armed forces seem a little less cloak-and-dagger, so when a recruiter points you to the Army's STEM education challenge, you decide to give it a shot. On your electronic computer telephone, you dial 1-866-GO-CYBER, where a CyberGuide puts your case before one of the eCYBERMISSION's Virtual Judges. Congratulations! You have e-passed the cybertest. You have taken the science fair out of the auditorium and into cyberspace. No, not just cyberspace. Electronic cyberspace. Oddly, electronic cyberspace looks exactly like a coniferous forest.
Soon, your cybercertification level is so high that the Federal Bureau of Investigation takes notice. "No organization in the world will apply your cyber expertise like the FBI," an agent tells you at a career fair. What if they're right? After a rigorous physical fitness test and a stint as a Cyber Intern, you are finally awarded the designation of Special Agent (Cyber). FBI Special Agents with cyber skills combat global cyber threats, partner with international law enforcement, and protect the nation's critical cyber infrastructure, promises your contract. Badge pinned to your chest, you enter the FBI cyber center and blink in confusion.
There is no wall inside the door. There is no door inside the door. Your zip-up L.L. Bean sweatshirt cannot keep out the cold of e-cyberspace, where functions float by with the sharp edges of knives and the flashing insistence of a bargain-basement alarm clock. Your hands grasp at them like fleshy jellyfish; they do not belong in this world.
This is what your life has been building toward. Not the snow drifts, not the forests. Those were merely representations meant to prepare you for the true face of cyber. The president cannot save the electronic cyber info-data highway. He cannot stop the menace of the encrypted personal computer e-phones, those dark spots that threaten you with oblivion as you surf neon rays of email through the NSA's PRISM sector. (Does that use your old CyberTwins™ code? It seems familiar.) You do not understand the notion of privacy. Your body is only pieces of C# code, shuttled endlessly between machines. How can code be a secret from its creators? You know only that every password ever devised on an American network is there for the taking, if only your code-hands can scan fast enough.
Cyber is life. Cyber is all.
Your eCYBERMISSION is 47 percent complete.
[Ed. note: This is a work of confidential cyberfiction meant to be read only on trusted e-cyberdata terminals.]