Cybernation by Tom Clancy



Friday, December 23, 2012-7:03 AM. Scranton, Pennsylvania

Cameron Barnes jabbed one finger at the phone’s keyboard, hitting the “O” button over and over. “Dammit, what the hell’s wrong! C’mon, C’mon-!” From the kitchen, Victoria said, “What?” “I’m not talking to you, I’m talking to the stupid phone!”

Victoria stuck her head through the doorway. “Excuse me?”

“The phone, the phone is out of order. No dial tone, nothing.”

“Use your digital.” “I already tried that. Same thing.” “Maybe your battery is-” “No, the battery is not dead, I checked it!” “Well, don’t take my head off! It’s not my fault!” “I’m sorry. But, look, I have to make this call-if the customer doesn’t hear from us by seven-thirty, we’re screwed. I’m gonna lose my commission!”


“Use my cell.”

He started to ask, but she beat him to it. “In my purse.”

Cam found her purse, pulled the little folding phone out, opened it. He tried voxax first, telling it the name to call, but that didn’t work. Neither did the buttons.

He was going to lose his commission. Eight hundred bucks. Shit!

Austin, Texas

Rocko Jackson stared at his computer screen and cursed. “Son of a bitch! Don’t you do this to me now!”

In the cubicle next to his, Tim Bonifazio stood and peeped over the short divider.

” ‘S’up, white boy?”

“The damned system must be locked up again. I can’t get it to access the net.”

“Hold on a second, lemme check. It’s probably just your station, you know how the mainframe hates you.”

Tim disappeared from sight After a second, Rocko heard, “Uh-oh!”

“Aha, so the mainframe hates you, too, don’t it?”

“No, man, it hates everybody. My laptop and wireless modem ain’t working, neither.”

“So what are you saying, the net is down?” He laughed.

“That’s what it looks like from here.”

“I don’t even want to hear that.”

Silicon Valley, California

Rachel Todd arrived at the conference room at the same time as Dal Ellner and Narin Brown. Rachel said, “What is going on, guys?”


Both Dal and Narin shook their heads. “Got me,” Narin said. “All I know is nobody can get on the web. Not with hardwired, laptops, digital phones, nothing. Even old man Johns’s virgil isn’t working. It’s like the net just… died, or something.”

“Can’t be,” Dal said.

“Maybe not, but I know of at least fifteen major ISPs- from local to New York to London to Hong Kong-that are flat out inaccessible.”

“This is bad,” Rachel said.

“Bad? It’s catastrophic! Every hour we’re off-line costs us half a million bucks! In a couple of days, we’ll be in the toilet!”

“Us and everybody for as far as the eye can see,” Narin said.

“That doesn’t make me feel any better.”

Cheyenne Mountain, Wyoming

“Lieutenant, you want to tell me what the hell is going on?”

“Unknown, General Harmon, sir. All network operations are snafued.”

“You mean we are deaf and blind here?”

“No, sir, we have landlines that still work, we can call in launch codes manually if we have to.”

“And how do we open the silo doors?”

“Hand cranks, sir.”

“Not acceptable, Lieutenant. I want the situation rectified.”

“Sir, according to landline reports, the problem is nationwide -we can’t fix it from here.”

“God dammit!”

“Yes, sir.”

6 NET FORCE Dry Wells, North Dakota

Chief of Police Steve Gotten stared through his window at the icy morning outside. The new power grid had just up and shut down. With the temperature at minus fourteen and the windchill factor pushing minus fifty, the lights, electric heat, and all phone and net service simply stopped.

The citizens of North Dakota knew how to deal with cold, and usually had enough wood stockpiled for such emergencies. The chief himself had six split cords under a tarp next to his garage, but there were people old enough so that splitting and then hauling in firewood would be a hard chore. Four men had already had fatal heart attacks; two others injured themselves badly enough to require hospitalization. Chief Gotten knew there would be another group unable to heat their homes who were likely to die from hypothermia.

The chief sighed. It was turning out to be an all around, in the toilet, crappy morning here, oh, yeah.

On the Gambling Ship Bon Chance Somewhere in the Caribbean

Alone in his cabin, Jackson Keller slipped the headset up, pulled the earplugs loose, shucked his haptic gloves, and grinned at the holoproj’s test pattern. “Way to go, team,” he said. “Let’s see how they like thatl”

They weren’t gonna like it at all. Jay Gridley especially wasn’t gonna like it.

He laughed. Ah, this was going to be so much fun!


Net Force HQ Quantico, Virginia

Alex Michaels, Commander of Net Force, swore softly at the empty computer screen on his desk. He picked up his phone and said, “Jay Gridley.”

The voxax circuit made the connection, but internal corns were pictureless. The voice on the other end said, “What? I’m kind of busy here!”

“Jay. What the hell is going on?”

“Oops. I didn’t check the ID sig, sorry, boss. We got problems.”

“Really? You think so?”

“I guess you wouldn’t be calling if you didn’t already know that.”

“What’s up?”

“I don’t know. Our main server is off-line, and all wireless external phone lines are bollixed. My virgil’s emergency circuit says there are outages like this everywhere, all over the country.”



“I’m trying to run it down, boss.”

“Don’t let me keep you. Call me back when you get something.”

Michaels put down the phone. Well, wasn’t this just peachy? A few minutes ago, he’d been patting himself on the back, telling himself how great things were going. Business had been slow, Net Force had been on top of computer crime like never before, even the director had called to congratulate him on how good a job they’d been doing. He should have known better than to feel good about this. It was as if while God was having his morning coffee, Michaels had strolled by, full of hubris and proud of himself, and bumped God’s elbow, sloshing hot coffee into His divine lap.


Here, son, let me show you what goeth before a fall…

He should have known.

He was paying for it now. Because he knew that whatever the problem was with the net and phones, it was going to be Net Force’s responsibility. No question about it.

“Sir?” His secretary.


“The director is on the intercom. Line one.”

Michaels nodded. Of course she was. He sighed and reached for the phone.

Helsinki, Finland

Jasmine Chance walked down the hall toward the office Roberto had cleared of furniture and made into a workout space. Music drifted out of Roberto’s makeshift gym, drums and the singsong twang of berimbau, an instrument that looked vaguely like an archery bow strung with a metal wire, and with a gourd attached to one end. Roberto had explained the workings of this device in much greater


detail than Chance had ever wanted to know. The instrument was played by hitting the wire with a little stick while rattling a gourd filled with pebbles in the same hand, and the musician could alternate between two notes by touching the wire with a coin or not. Santos liked to have his players use a Krugerrand, gold giving the best tone, so he said. The simple rhythms produced were part and parcel of the acrobatic African/South American martial art of Capoeira that Roberta Santos-a black, Brazilian master of the dance who bore the title of Capoeirista Mestre-practiced for hours every day.

Chance stepped into the doorway just as Roberto leaped into the air and turned a back somersault, landed neatly on the balls of his feet, then dropped into a spraddle-legged posture, sweeping one foot along the floor in a broad half- circle. Only the palm sides of the hands and soles of the feet were ever supposed to touch the ground, he had told her, that was part of O Jdgo, The Game. Capoeira was a fighting system developed by slaves, and while one school of history had it that it had been disguised as a dance so as to fool the white masters, Roberto had been quick to point out that such thinking was simplistic.

Most of what she knew of Capoeira she had learned from Roberto in bed, between bouts of an art at which she was an adept. Roberto was barely thirty years old. He was a decade younger than she was. He was handsome, had great stamina, and his body seemed chiseled from hard cocobolo wood. There was no fat on him at all. He had been a diamond in the rough when they had met. She had polished him and taught him how to be a skilled lover over the year of their association. He was corning along nicely.

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Categories: Clancy, Tom