FJRK Freelance: <Circ0mflex>
August 2nd, 29487.

Since the inception of the Grid, residents of Rubi-ka have enjoyed many of
its features.

From news to weather nodes, travel destinations, and entertainment features, the Grid has brought us advances in culture and changed the way we disseminate information. However, there are individuals that spend a significant amount of time working within and using the Grid to great effect. Loose organizations within the Grid exist between users of varying locations and background. One of the most talked about and least seen of these groups is a society of hackers and technology specialists known as <Circ0mflex>.

<Circ0mflex> is entirely an incognito force, but claim membership from all over Rubi-ka and even beyond. As a reporter for FJRK, we were able to secure an exclusive interview over gridfeed with a member of <Circ0mflex> who came to us under the user alias PhreekMax217. This interview is presented as follows:

FJRK: So, tell us a little about yourselves. How did this all start?

PM217: We started as a group of people with similar interests, much like any modern organization begins. This usually comes when old organizations fall apart and the wayward members join or create new ones. We come from all walks of life, and claim membership in all major factions of Rubi-ka. A few of our members also come from other planets and systems and work the grid remotely through relays. I believe we are one of very few organizations that has affiliations that stretch that far.

FJRK: How and when did you personally become involved?

PM217: I don't want to discuss particulars about my real life identity. However, I came into membership about three years ago. I was working as a codemonkey for a Grid Design company that custom built networked nodes for nanotechnology research labs. When the the company went under for unethical business practices, I did some nodemining and found some rather incriminating information. I was contacted minutes hours later by an anonymous user and was politely asked to deliver this information to the Blue Hats. I was so impressed by the scale of it, I hung out with them in my spare time while looking for other work.

FJRK: Blue Hats?

PM217: Its a term that is used by hackers all over the grid. White Hats, Black Hats, Grey Hats, and Blue Hats.

FJRK: What is the difference between these color distinctions.

PM217: Its a sort of identity thing. Each Hat has a different specialty to us. It is a badge that says in a very general sense what you do.

FJRK: Could you elaborate?

PM217: I could but I'm not sure if the information is very telling. White Hats might see themselves as the good guys. They tend to create solid security measures and then sell them to interested companies. Black Hats tend to be the Grid's version of vandals and rogues. they are often the most responsible for serious attacks to private and corporate computer systems. Grey Hats tend to work the middle ground, claiming no real affiliation to White or Black. Blue Hats were originally a term to describe Fixers wearing Grid Armor, but has since been repurposed to include any Fixer that will also do legwork in real space in addition to gridspace. The term we use for hackers with a complex grasp of problem solving we call Wizards. I was considered a Wizard before joining <Circ0mflex>

FJRK: How did the name come about; What does <Circ0mflex> mean?

PM217: We stole it from basic linguistics. You might be familiar with it as a 'carrot' but the technical term is circumflex. The symbol for it looks like ( ^ ).

FJRK: It looks like a Wizard hat from fantasy holovids...

PM217: ...Or a video game.

FJRK: It looks pretty basic, and not very flashy.

PM217: I doesn't need to be. Why would you want it to be anything else? It's simple, straight to the point, and hard to misinterpret. It also looks pretty poignant on a calling card.

FJRK: Can you tell me a little bit about the goals of <Circ0mflex>?

PM217: Free information being first and foremost. Certain branches within Omni-Tek and other mega-corporations seem to feel no need for transparency. We have collected hidden data on many of these companies and branches that seem to be very much against releasing it to the public. If they had, it would be quite embarrassing to them, possibly leading to a severe drop in profits and/or participation. However, some of these projects and processes are harmful to people. We have a large stock of datacrystals with information on system crashes, security breaches, and inter-office communications detailing incidents that could lead to legal disputes. Companies and individuals leave behind data trails to us to follow, and its only a matter of time before some curious hacker decides its worth investigating.

FJRK: Can this information be considered reliable?

PM217: About as reliable as we decipher it to be. The war between Omni-tek, the Neutrals, and the Clans shows up as a massive nexus of information just waiting to be picked through. We know which leaders are into some pretty abhorrent practices, and who are hiring assassins to kill inter-office rivals, and which Clans are secretly stocking materials to do some pretty inhuman things in order to grab power.

FJRK: Do you ever have issues with Omni-Com?

PM217: They are our biggest allies and our worst enemies. They want us all very much out of the picture, but they also provide the environment in which we thrive. Perhaps if Omni-Tek were to pull the plug on the grid there would be disaster for us, but if they did that they would also be dealing themselves a severe blow. We have to play careful and hide deep, or right in plain sight.

FJRK: How can we trust an organization that uses criminal activities in order to further its own purposes? Aren't you as bad as anyone else attempting to thwart proper channels in order to get ahead.

PM217: You can decide that for yourself. Do we use illegal means? Some would say yes. Do the ends justify the means? We think so. But, that doesn't mean we shouldn't use this information against or to help people. Real power is the power to make options. We make options for ourselves and regular people so some might benefit. That's more than what you'll get from say.. a very covert lab within Omni R&D that has been working in conjunction with Omni-Med to create a nano-virus that counteracts the effects of certain common ailments. This vaccination will also lie dormant in the human body for months until it is re-activated by another vector. The virus will then replicate at an accelerated speed and destroy the host's immune system. The infected host may die within hours, primarily from a massive inflammation of the lungs if they are exposed to regular outdoor air. As you can see, this is very sensitive information. We are
pretty sure that Omni-Medical isn't even aware of their involvement.

FJRK: That's incredible, if it were true.

PM217: Believe me, it's true. We have verified it with multiple sources. We found out about it when a member of Omni-medical (who will remain nameless) came forward. Several members of Omni-Pol under the command of the late Robert Rosuma tried to intercept this person. Our people arrived before his.

FJRK: So how does one join this organization?

PM217: It depends on how you look at it. If you are among the top elite, someone is already watching you. If you get enough of us together they might actually be talking about you. If some of us think you are worth the risk, we add you to the collective. Almost all of our membership is entirely anonymous. Trust is hard to come by, even among our own.

FJRK: So how does that work?

PM217: Well, if you are smart enough and know what you are doing then you should already be aware of how to protect yourself on the Grid. If you are
not, then you'll fall rapidly out of favor and no one will share information with you. Think of each of us as our own separate entity. We have our own rules, our own allegiances, and often enemies. If you do not understand how that all works, then you won't last long. Your anonymity is broken if you are found out, and sooner or later the establishment will pick you up one way or another.

FJRK: So defending yourself is best done through anonymity? How do you
distinguish each other openly?

PM217: We don't. The moment you do, you break the code and people on't like having the code broken. Any number of things can happen to you after

FJRK: So how do you know who is who?

PM217: When you engage in any attempt to discern who the other person is. The less information you can gain about who you are dealing with, the more credible that anonymous person is.

FJRK: And people who live anonymously on the Grid-

PM217: ..are usually Wizards.

FJRK: Does <Circ0mflex> have anything collective to say to the public?

PM217: Only that we are watching, and sometimes we uncover some pretty ugly things. It's not just about that, however. Some really great things are out there too, and these are worth going after and fighting for. We think collectively that you can't trust everything you might hear face to face from our world leaders or any of their media publications. No offense, but relatively few people actually have nothing to hide.

FJRK: Is there any particular node on the grid we should pay attention to?

PM217: Not any one in particular. We don't share critical information openly with the public unless we are sure its legit. That doesn't stop people from creating or maintaining sites or nodes where information can be discussed. Several of these hotspots are frequented by some of our members, not that you could tell who they might be.

FJRK: Thank you for the interview. We greatly appreciate the time you have spent to answer our questions.

PM217: No problem. Just so that we are clear on a few things, FJRK is also an organization we look into-

<<end interview;;dlidscripterror:1374>%rk.grd.ghtml/FJRK_edit>>