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Vida-Maria is a veteran hacker and network security specialist who administrates the Edgerunner communications net from the Aurora Nexus.

History[]

Matriarch of the Denver enclave, Vida-Maria is a veteran hacker and network security specialist who administrates the Edgerunner communications net from the Aurora Nexus. Vida started her career working for EBM in the reprographics department after flunking her fine art degree. Denied high-speed net access at home, she and her colleagues grew quite competent at making use of company internet facilities without triggering alerts in the system. When their activities were brought to the network manger's attention, he chose not to bring the group of teenage malingerers up on a disciplinary. Instead, impressed with their ingenuity, he decided that their bumbling attempts to defraud the company of a little bandwidth would present EBM with an excellent chance to test its electronic security. After all, if the reprographics interns could hack it, any moron with a cybermodem could walk right in and take what they wanted. So, without realizing it, Vida and colleagues became the rats in the electronic maze EBM called "The Playpen."

What EBM didn't anticipate was just how smart these kids were. The proto-hackers rapidly learned to spot and circumvent the traps left by sys-ops. Seeing the possibilities, the EBM directorate gave permission to use The Playpen to gauge technical potential in its support staff by setting them against each other in an elaborate clandestine game with net access as the prize. Within three months EBM started routing the kids to external test sites and leaving 'cheats' (intrusion software) for them to find and experiment with. Eventually they were sent against the EBM AI for final evaluation. Those that couldn't cope were logged out automatically, de-briefed privately and posted elsewhere in the company, but those few who made it all the way walked into the EBM virtual boardroom where the CEO proudly explained that they were ready to start playing a different game...

Vida-Maria worked in EBM's network security department for years, seeing frontline action and enduring nervous system trauma during the 3rd C War. While convalescing from her injuries, she developed her personal philosophy of freedom and sovereignty for the net. The virtual atrocities and misuse of technology she witnessed during the war gave her a belief that cyberspace should remain inviolable, a place of absolute neutrality where knowledge could be stored and shared for the benefit of all mankind, and that any individual or group using it as a battleground needed to be dealt with swiftly before they threatened legitimate peaceful users or their data. Vida knew she couldn't do what she needed to as part of EBM, so when her contract expired in 2017 she joined Netwatch.

The truth was that the Net already belonged to everyone, and no matter how much she wanted to stop it, people would still scrap it out with dirty software and fry each other's data fortresses for kicks or the bucks. Despondent, she left Netwatch in 2020 to drift around the southwest, finally settling in Denver in 2022 and getting a job providing technical support for a cable TV company. Just in time for the DataKrash.

For most human beings the DataKrash was a disaster, but for Vida-Maria it presented an opportunity. She began constructing simple LANs and inputting whatever verifiable information she could into them, pooling as much data as she could to create reservoirs of knowledge isolated from mass-communication systems and only accessible through simple VR or 2D screens. The notion caught on as people desperately tried to save as much information as they could from Bartmoss' depredations. With the help of community leaders, Vida started developing simple hardwired fiber optic links between rural servers and arranging bandwidth on Asian communication satellites for cellular calls. By 2025 Denver had rudimentary communications and Vida-Maria had a network she could trust not to kill an unwary user. She called it the DataPool.

Vida-Maria lives in the Denver enclave, tending the vast and fragile Edgerunner intranet. Unlike most Edgers, she values light and space and is often found trekking in the mountains alone, leaving the daily administration of the Nexus to her team. Her skin is a deep tan, her blonde hair streaked with gray, and her slight frame is sparse, fit and wiry. In her face, pale blue eyes sparkle with wit, humor, wisdom and intelligence. Because Vida-Maria is at last where she belongs.

Skills[]

Coding 9, Lightning Calculator Electronics 7, Authority (Council) 10, Jury Rig 8, Wilderness Survival 7, Interface 8

Outfit[]

Neural Net, ports, links & amps, extensive toolkit, wrist computer, Winchester M-70 rifle, well worn REI backpack.

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