Also see Missing Cycles part 1.
This wasn't new to Axalis. More than once in the past he had, in some stupor or other, decided to change his password and forgotten entirely what he changed it to. Normally he would at least remember the fact that he had changed it, not that it mattered much. The solution was the same. Axalis carefully unplugged the transceiver card from his rig. On normal devices, the transceiver would be a tiny circuit built into the device's frame, but for Axalis's rig, he had an entire card module to hold it, specifically so that he could unplug it and run in offline mode. Nothing else was secure enough. Axalis input a series of keystrokes that took him to his secret back-door, culminating in a 14-character secret code he had memorized long ago. His screen sprung to life and logged him in.
After changing his password back to a new value, Axalis plugged the transceiver card back into his computer and began picking up where he had left off. His current job was to investigate a certain politician for signs of anything shady: connections to the underworld, infidelity or sexual deviance, drug history. It was election season, and certain parties would rather not see him return to office, so they paid Axalis to find or create the evidence that would start a scandal. It was all very usual.
It was then that a certain file folder caught his attention. He didn't remember having a folder with his birth name on it. He opened it and started poking through. There were histories and records of his own activities. A copy of his birth registration. An employment history ending abruptly at age 19. There was more. Chat logs linking his birth name to his screenname, chats betwee his account and to his associates in the network. News articles on big jobs that had been associated with his identity. It was as if someone had been investigating Axalis from his own rig, and he didn't remember doing any of it.
Axalis's paranoia began to set in. If his computer had been keylogged, then it was possible that at this very moment, someone was receiving a package containing his personal secret code, the same one used as an emergency backup on all his devices. Sure, running offline as he had done was a decent countermeasure, but only if they weren't caching the data until it went back online. His self-inspection Sniffer, Baskerville, wasn't reporting anything abnormal with either the network activity on his rig or its own identity hash. That wasn't a guarantee that everything was safe, but it was probably a good sign.
As a precautionary measure, Axalis fired up Baskerville's predecessor, Hardy, and set it to work in parallel. Baskerville wouldn't be pleased by the intrusion, but Axalis figured it was better to be a little oversensitive about security right now. Meanwhile he began looking through the documents in the folder about him. Could he have been investigating himself? It seemed strange to forget about it if he had. There was one particular file that stood out to him, labeled Notes, and with almost no contents. It simply had a single address written in it. It was the address of a place Axalis had used many times, as an anonymous meeting spot.
Fueled by curiosity and against his own self-preservation instincts, Axalis decided to head to the Black Spot Port and see for himself. He left his rig in Crawling mode with the caution level set higher than usual, and grabbed his coat. If he was lucky, he was freaking out over nothing, and a quick jolt of the good stuff would clear up his problems entirely. Axalis sure hoped that was the case.