Chapter 11. How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Schema

The elevator doors slid open to reveal a futuristic command center worthy of monitoring the Internet itself. It should be so worthy—that is exactly why it was built. Deep in the heart of the Big City, unbeknownst to all but a few, was the INOC, the Internet Network Operations Center.

"What do you mean we can't track them!" A deep, gruff voice boomed from the heavyset man standing behind the analysts.

"They don't have network connectivity, sir. There's no way to get a trace," a URI at one of the terminals said nervously.

"Well, I need a trace!" the head man shouted. "Bryant! What do you have over there? Where's our exploratory team?"

A man on the side of the room almost dropped his coffee upon being called out. "Ummm," he stalled, shuffling through scattered papers. The stalling saved him, because the man in charge soon noticed Web and the others standing in front of the elevator doors.

"Web! It's you!" he strode across the room to the group, not noticing Schema's fallen body until he got there. His voice lost its military bark and his expression softened.

"Schema, too," he said quietly, shaking his head. "None of us saw it coming." He looked up at Jen. "I'm glad the rest of you are safe. Come with me into the briefing room and I'll catch you up on what's happening."

The glass-walled briefing room sat off to the side of the INOC and had just enough room to fit the large conference table that had been installed. Jen, Rusty, Matz, ...

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