The Mutant Virus
Typed out by tsr
The Mutant Virus - "Crisis in a Computer World!"
It's never easy
Ron Trainer, the hottest of the elite corps of Computer Master Debuggers is
enjoying his first week of vacation in over two years. He's been busy keeping
CPI running error-free. In case you don't know it, CPI is what allows the
world to exist the way it does. It controls everything; from global databases
and power grids to holographic theater software as well as simple things like
the timing of the traffic signals. But something is terribly wrong tonight -
cities around the globe have lost their power and data feeds. There have been
several major aerial collisions between passenger liners and heave freighters
and the skyways have been closed until global traffic control is back on-line.
The world is in a panic and the planetary government is on the verge of
collapse. There is rioting reported in several areas. What's going on???
It's worse than you ever imagined - someone has somehow infected the 5 most
critical areas of the CPI processing center with a new vicious strain of
computer virus. Once it evaded all of the powerful protection subroutines, it
then locked-out all of the possible input sources so that no one can get in
to try to deactivate it and restore normal operations. There have been no
messages or demands from anyone, so the "who" and the "why" remain a mystery
and the "what to do" doesn't look to inviting.
Since no one can get at the virus from the outside, the only hope is in
fighting it on its own ground. That means getting inside CPI itself and going
against the virus one-on-one!
Miniaturization has been around in the experimental stage for a few years,
but hasn't been tested on anything as large as a person before. Now's not the
time to worry, though. You're the Earth's only chance.. put on your JetSuit
What you've got
Although recently there have been great strides in advancing the
miniaturization process, it still is not powerful enough to shrink a whole
ship or even a small vehicle. Its limit is one or two people and their
armored JetSuits with some limited weapons. The Suit has a very limited
shield that can only last for a few seconds when you first enter a sector, so
use it wisely. It also has a Vaccine Blaster that can deliver 3 types of
Automatic or AU: This one sends out a stream of vaccine code that will travel
for a short distance and then arm itself to detonate when it contacts either
a viral or vaccine cell, or a wall. It is a good all purpose charge, but not
much help for getting the virus if it's behind some vaccinated cells.
Short Fuse or SF: Use this one for getting in closer than you can get with
the AU setting. It will travel for a short distance and then detonate. This
one is great for shorter distance work or shots in tight spaces.
Long Fuse or LF: Good for getting a pocket of virus that is hiding behind an
already deactivated area. It will travel for quite a while before detonating.
Let's kick some virus
After successfully completing miniaturization, you will find yourself inside
the Communication or COMM section of CPI; in this section, the Processor
Support hardware is green and the highly vulnerable Access Grid is grey. The
virus has gone straight for the grid and every cell it's infected has changed
color. This virus is actually one of 5 slightly different strains of the same
code; each one specifically matched to the section of the computer it has
invaded. Besides the COMM section that you're in now, there's also Security
or SEC, Power or PWR, Memory or MEM and the Central Processing Unit or CPU;
the "brains" of the CPI. In the COMM section, the infected cells will always
be magenta, while in the SEC section they will be bright green, light purple
in PWR, dark green in MEM and pink in the CPU. On the other hand, the vaccine
that you shoot will always turn the cells blue.
The active virus and active vaccine are the clusters of small black spheres
you see in the infected and deactivated cells. Some of the clusters are
moving and some seem to be resting, although resting virus clusters can
suddenly become very active without warning, so be very careful around them.
It's your move
The controls to your JetSuit are simple:
A + B= Launch CM
Up + B= HyperThrust
Left & Right= Rotate
Down + B= SpeedBrake
You've gotta be very careful when flying over virus-infected area. If you
happen to pass over any active virus, it will drain your suit's power faster
than the PowerPack can replace it. The slower you pass over the virus, the
faster and greater the drain. There is a audible warning that sounds like a
Geiger counter if you're losing power. If your power level is drained to
zero, the PowerPack will be destroyed and you will have to use one of your
backups. That is why it is very important to use the HyperThrust and
SpeedBrake functions when maneuvering in tight situations. HyperThrust will
allow you to fly quickly over the virus if you need to and lost the least
amount of energy, and the SpeedBrake will allow you to stop exactly where you
want without drifting into hostile areas. (When releasing the SpeedBrake,
make sure that you release the B button first and then the Down arrow on the
control pad arrows. If you do it the other way, you'll end up moving again!)
What you can see
The control panel provides some very important information. The gauge on your
left shows both your PowerPack energy level and score. To the right is the
number of PowerPack backups remaining. Next is a map showing the layout of
the current level; the sector that you are currently in is highlighted. It
will tell you which areas are cleared and which are starting a new outbreak
of virus. It and the message window below will also inform you of any special
problems in any of the other sectors, especially at higher levels. On the
right is the window that shows which type of vaccine your blaster is set to
deliver, and the window below shows whether you have picked up any CM's or
ES's (we'll talk about those later).
Next stop, level 2
After clearing the COMM level, you'll be de-miniaturized for a brief rest and
a chance to recharge your suit's PowerPack as well as get some advice. Then,
all too quickly, you'll be reinserted into the Security level, or SEC. Since
you've cleared the COMM level and freed up some input sources, the
Programming Team that's monitoring your progress from the outside can start
to try to assist by loading small bits of code, called macros, to help you
out. At this point, the only macros they can insert are called Counter
Measures or CMs.
CM's are special bits of code that automatically spread vaccinated cells from
wherever they're dropped. CM's are very powerful, and they will continue to
pump out vaccinated cells until all of the virus is destroyed - even if you
leave the sector and come back later. There are 4 different types that differ
only in the direction that they spread the vaccine. Although all of them are
blue, they have different colored number fields and different numbers so you
can tell them apart:
Before you can use one, you've got to pick it up. All you've got to do is fly
over one and you've got it. Because of the JetSuit's limited power supply and
memory capacity, you can only carry one string of CM code at one time. If you
are already carrying one and you fly over another one, your suit will
automatically exchange them.
Oh yes, there's one more thing. Starting with the SEC level, the designers
added an anti-virus defense called System Security Vectors, or SSV's. They
were designed to recognize unauthorized programs (such as computer viruses)
and deactivate them. Unfortunately, they only have a minor effect on this
virus - you can see that they leave a trail of clear grid cells behind them
as they pass, but this virus is just too powerful for even this sophisticated
defense. Even worse, the SSV's thing that you don't belong in these sectors
either, so they will drain your PowerPack if you let them touch you! Their
movements are fairly predictable, so they should be easy enough to avoid.
2 down, 3 to go
You've gotten through two tough levels, but it's only going to get harder
from here. Because of their increased importance and vulnerability, the
higher levels were given stronger and smarter SSV's to screen out all but the
nastiest bugs. Unfortunately, this virus is The Nastiest. The SSV's in these
higher levels still can't do much against it, but they can sure make it a lot
harder on you!
Luckily, the Programming Team can start inserting some additional bytes of
help for you called Enhancement Subroutines or ES's. There are two types of
ES's, one you'll be able to access now and one that'll be available only in
the CPU section.
The first type of ES's that you'll see is the SuperGun. It supplies an
additional power boost to your Vaccine Blaster. It will fire a charge that
arms itself immediately but will only detonate on enemy virus, not on
vaccinated cells. The charge will also bounce off walls, making it a very
powerful weapon. There's just one thing - because they're tied into your
PowerPack, if you lost a PowerPack, you lose the SuperGun until you find
another one. ES's look like CM's, but they have their own color and they're
Red: 0 - SuperGun
Red: 1 - SuperGun
Purple: 0 - PowerShield
Purple: 1 - SuperGun
This is getting nasty
By the time you've reached the Memory or MEM level, the virus has had a
chance to "dig-in", and is starting to mutate. It has gotten into the SSV's
and is using them to spread the virus also! The only way to spot them is that
they are hiding in certain conduits in the walls.
By now, it is also probably getting its tendrils into the Core - the most
important and fragile section of all CPI. If the Core is destroyed, then the
world as we know it will come to an end. Humanity will be plunged back almost
to the Stone Age. Whatever you do, don't let it happen! Your control panel
will warn you if (when) the virus has started to do its deadly work. When
notified, you must stop whatever you're doing and make your way to that
sector, even if you haven't cleared the sector you're in. If you delay, the
results could be disastrous.
Is this the end???
Here in the CPU, the last sector to be cleared of virus, the virus is at its
deadliest. This is where it's had the longest to work and this is where it'll
be hardest to defeat. The Programming Team will be able to help you a little
- they'll be able to insert the second type of ES, the PowerShield. If you
pick it up, it'll give you immunity from any type of SSV's, and you'll be
unaffected by direct exposure to enemy virus for a full 8 seconds! This is an
invaluable tool, and should be used wisely. Don't waste it!
So what are you waiting for. The world is in jeopardy and you're just sitting
around reading this book! Finish the virus off now, before it's too late!