Chapter 1 – The Round Table: Should Spiders Kill?
Spydi looked down at his computer console. Its readout was cryptic to the uninitiated, but to him it read like music. It had only been a month since he had released the spyder-bots and they had already penetrated 10% of the local traffic of the internet.
It wasn’t a perfect solution, but for the beginner user, it was helpful to have someone looking out for computer security breaches and computer attackers and deal with those attacks without having to even think about it. Also having the email sent to them telling them what was done, and what they could do recommending improvements to their security and safety precautions that might help them, would hopefully be useful. It helped to make the internet a safer place.
Johnathan just thought that made the Internet a better place, and as one of the leading coders on the net, he felt like it was something he could do to give back. Now with his new spyder-bots, he could be multiple places all at the same time — still signing every email “Your friendly neighborhood Spiderman!”
It was sort of true, though his username was Spyderman, not Spiderman. But that was just to keep the search engines off his back.
“Mr. Parker,” Mr. Bently — the old crochety bossman queried, “ Are you finished with that systems program you were working on yet?”
“Yes Mr. Bently, I was just ironing out a few last bugs, and then it should be ready.”
Working for Mr. Bently and Gen Corp wasn’t as important as his side hacker hero identity as Spydi, but it payed the bills without breaking the law, not that he was entirely above that, if he felt the need was great enough, and the crime was harmless enough. But sometimes even that can get you in a whole lot of trouble, so a lot of the time it is better to stay within the lines.
It was however pretty hard to be a hacker nowadays without taking a few liberties.
The net was sort of like the wild west — especially the dark net — there was no law a lot of the time, and sometimes you had to be a law unto yourself.
That sometimes meant breaking the law yourself to help the greater good. But you had to be careful, because if you weren’t, you were in danger of becoming the evil you were fighting against.
The alarm went off on his smart phone. Crap, I almost forgot the Round Table is today. I have to be on the zoom call in 15 minutes.
The Round Table was a group of hackers on the internet who patterned themselves after the Knights of the Round Table in King Arthurian Legend.
Today they were going to consider adding Spydi to their hacker knight leadership of the Round Table. Spydi was nervous. These were some of the best hackers in the world. They ranged from all over, and their exploits, and united decisions and direction on the net, were legendary. Why they wanted him he didn’t know. He thought it might be some sort of mistake, but you can’t turn down an invitation from the Round Table, or tell them they are wrong.
The table was private – no one could see it except the hackers invited into the zoom meeting. In the Round Table galleries view he could see all the knights before him, across the screen in the gallery in front of him on the screen.
Each of their usernames was in front of them bellow their pictures. Spydi knew that none of them were probably their real pictures, though some of them were animated – including his own picture which looked like the comic book hero spiderman with the title Spydi written bellow it.
Many of the member had the same names familiar from Arthurian legend like King Arthur, Lancelot, Guinevere, and Pendragon, but there were others like Damon, and Hyperjack, and Superstrike.
King Arthur was the head on the table, and he told us they had a lot to discuss, so we want to respect everyone’s time but, get to everything we have to.
We have previously emailed you all the issues being covered in this meeting including the new candidates for knights of the roundtable and their qualifications.
Welcome Spyderman, Calamity Jane, and Daygon. You are all exceptional hackers, and well known in the hacker world, all for you skill and for your integrity.
Johnathan bristled at them using his actual username ”Spyderman” instead of the nickname he went by “Spydi”, but of course they would know that. Hopefully they would just keep the name to themselves.
Your qualifications are why we have invited you to be with us today. However at this time we can only select one of you, so regretfully for those we don’t select, will have to wait for some future time when another space in our ranks opens up, if and when that time comes. But we want you to know that it was a very hard decision, you all did well.
But before we announce our new member, we have a very serious division in our ranks that needs to be addressed.
Some of the members in our ranks feel that as in war, that if the cause is serious enough, and the foe evil enough, that we should be allowed to take a life.
Up till now it has been outside our charter to do so and we have never intentionally taken a life. Still we recognize the seriousness of this question and feel it is a legitimate issue, so we intend to discuss it and put it to a vote.
Johnathon felt uneasy. Were they actually talking about killing people?
Pendragon unmuted, his red armor shimmered, and his mechanical voice echoed as he spoke, “I think we need to realize there is real evil in the world. The internet has become worldwide, and we have become part of that network. There are drones, and computerized war machines. We can’t just hide and think that death and war won’t find us. Either we act first, or it will act against us.”
Superstrike with his red, white, blue, and black crisscrossed flag superhero costume chimed in “I am with Pendragon, we need to strike first. Death is the only thing that some of these murders understand. An eye for an eye!”
Johnathan couldn’t hold back “But wait, doesn’t that just inflame things and make things worse. We are not soldiers we are programmers. I think we should work for peace not war. I don’t mean to wax religious or anything, but didn’t Jesus teach that we shouldn’t resist evil but that we should do good to those who hurt us, and turn the other cheek?”
Calamity Jane spoke up “Yeah, but was he talking about murders? And what about protecting the weak? It is getting to be that we can’t stand by and be neutral, all of us are going to have to fight.”
Daygon, dressed all in midnight black, said in a deep voice, “All they understand is death!”
Johnathan said, “I am not saying that we don’t fight, but we don’t have to kill. If we kill, we are only making ourselves just like they are. We become the enemy we are trying to destroy.”
Hyperjack said, “I think the question King Arthur and Lancelot are posing is not if violence is never justified, after all the knights of the round table, who we are named after, killed people in the legends, but it is to ask if we should take it upon ourselves, as part of a hacking community, to take lives. The question is not an easy one.”
“We need to see which way we are leaning on this issue,for now, so we can get behind it. Let’s take a secret vote.” King Arthur announced, “We will post the results in 48 hours. Now to the issue of our new candidates.”
Suddenly the zoom called flashed and ended.
Johnathan moaned. Not now!
Spydi tried to reconnect, but something was wrong.
He checked his connection, but it seemed like it was something on the Round Table’s end.