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©02 The Media Desk
It's been a long time since I've thought of myself by my real name instead of theHunter, but I do have one. Everybody does don't they? Even Bishop42, although I don't know him by anything other than Bishop42. I would imagine his mother named him something besides Bishop42. I am not even sure he is a man and not a woman. I've never met this person. The person that changed my life, that changed me into theHunter.
This all started in an online computer game. Something I did when I got home from work to unwind a little and have some fun. I was never a major player. Although I was always competitive, I wasn't out to win. I enjoyed finding the other players and sometimes making a kill. But usually I would attack them just enough to get some points and let them know I had found them. I called myself theHunter.
One of the consistently high ranking players was Bishop42. Whether they played a good character or an evil one, or sometimes switching back and forth between the two, they were always near the top. One day the Bishop asked me to join him in a private chat. Nothing unusual about that, a lot of times players would talk about strategy or alliances or whatever in chat. Sometimes they would talk about everything but the game. At the time, I thought we were talking about the game, now I know better. I remember the typed conversation letter by letter. The Bishop writing in his maddeningly precise manner. I always typed the way I talked.
Bishop42: You are pretty good at tracking things down aren't you?
theHunter: i find what I'm after usually
Bishop42: You tend to work alone most of the time too. An interesting trait in something of this nature.
theHunter: partners can get in the way, or betray you
Bishop42: Sometimes you are satisfied with 'counting coup' instead of the kill as well. I like that in a player.
theHunter: sometimes the kill isn't as important as other times... But I CAN make the KILL when needed
Bishop42: So I have noticed. Is this in the real world as well?
theHunter: the game ain't real life is it?
I work at a research center for industrial machines. I was just a lab hand, tester, and odd jobber. I officially called myself the fourth floor 'Gopher'. But it paid well, and it was interesting. I seldom did the same thing for more than a few days.
So when I got a disc in the mail at work it wasn't any biggie. The disc was unusual though, it was one of those big old five and a quarter inch jobs. Nearly an antique around the office. But I knew of a machine that could still handle them and went to put it in.
The machine chewed on it for a minute, then a message came up on the screen.
"Congratulations." I read aloud. Then a cold chill ran down my spine.
I thought at first it was a joke. But after reading a few screens I knew it wasn't. I just knew it. Nobody was that sick.
The disc was from Bishop42.
It contained a file on a person named John Kunsler. The file was unbelievable. How anybody could have this much information on somebody and not turn him over to the police was unreal.
John was into kiddie porn. Heavy into it by the file. The disc contained several compressed pictures. By just a glimpse at one of them I knew I didn't want to see more.
Bishop42 thought John needed put out of business. But for some reason, couldn't touch him, or turn him over to the cops.
The pornographer had insulation, the disc claimed. The States Attorney couldn't move against him, the Postal Inspectors didn't have grounds, and so on. John had found a convenient hole in the law and had slithered into it so tightly he was unbustable on anything more than a local bad taste ordinance. His business went on.
I should have erased the thing right then. Dropped it into the recycle bin, set it on fire, anything. But I couldn't. I stared at the picture of John Kunsler. At his email address, and the rest of the facts of his life. Then I hit the 'PrintScreen' button.
Then, and only then, did I erase the disc and drop it into the bin.
I told the lab chief I had to make a run and I'd see him tomorrow. As I picked up my hat and walked into the hall, I became theHunter for the first time.
John lived in a city a couple of hours drive away. I had no plan on my way there. I thought vaguely about walking up to his door and punching him in the mouth and telling him to quit dealing in pictures of kids.
But on that drive some of the instincts from the game took over. John knew he was untouchable by the authorities. That was obvious from the file. The man moved hundreds of pictures a week right under their noses. His cash flow was laundered so many ways he reported his income in Francs.
But maybe there was another way to get to him. To at least drive him further underground for awhile if not stopping him altogether.
His customers were the ones that were the vulnerable ones.
A plan took shape. The only question was, was I the one to put it in play?
John's home office was nothing to brag about. His security system was so easy to defeat it was pitiful. For a man with so much going on, he evidently wasn't a master of the technology. I had everything I needed including the access codes to his offshore web storage sites and was out before his Schnauzer even woke up.
My drive back home was nerve-wracking. I needed my system to put the rest of the plan in operation. The one and only question that kept coming to mind was why would Bishop42 send me to do this?
Then light dawned. He hadn't asked me to do anything. He had simply presented this information and made the statement in the introduction that somebody needed to do something about this man. I had gone and done everything from breaking and entering to accessing private computer files and web sites all on my own.
Well, I said to myself as I pulled into my parking lot, might as well finish the job.
As I stared at my own computer screen I thought about what type of message to send to his customers. It had to be something they would recognize as trouble if they kept buying John's smut, but I probably couldn't send them a copy of the FBI logo without backlash if this come to light.
In the online game I used various spaceships to make moves and attacks. At work during slow times I made designs for paint schemes and other features. One of them was for my surveillance ship, 'The EYE of theHunter'. It looked like something off the wall of an Egyptian tomb, but with a very modern computer-graphic look to it.
In a few minutes I came up with a nice little e-mail package that contained that logo and a cheerful letter explaining they were being watched and 'we' knew all about their hobby.
Nothing else seemed to need to be said.
I sent it to John's offshore servers as a mass mailing to all customers with his codes. Then I sat back and sweated.
For an hour I sat and watched my screen, nothing happened. Finally I got online to check the game and my messages.
I had a note from Bishop42.
"Counting Coup instead of a kill. Very interesting, and, I believe, effective. Well done. Bishop 42."
I logged off with shaky hands. Whoever Bishop42 was they evidently had their stuff together in ways I had never even dreamed of.
The next day at work I had almost forgotten about my adventure. I was running a debug test on a video simulation when a special delivery package arrived. It felt empty, but when I opened it a couple of things fell out on the table.
One was five brand new hundred-dollar bills. Another was a credit card with theHunter on it as the bearer. I knew better than to think it was a joke, but I laughed anyway.
As I laughed something else slid out of the envelope onto my desk.
Another big black disc.
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