Alan Midnight, Matrix Investigator





1. Short for "administrator", the person in charge of a computer system. 2. Capitalized, any high level government administrator, particularly in the area of Security. Somewhat akin to "Commissioner" or "Chief" today. Low level security agents still are called the same as they are today, "officers", for regional, and "Feds", or simply "agents" if global. The City Security Admin for the Setex region is Frank Parker, a rather gruff fellow who doesn't seem to like Alan too much.


Artificial Intelligence. A program construct that is able to think and make choices for itself. Rachel is the most notable AI in the series. Like most AIs, she must appear as a hologram in "Realspace", but is as real and solid as a jackhead in the Matrix. Most AIs appear human, but some look like animals or robots. AIs must be registered with the government and are subject to a number of rules, but Rachel breaks quite a few of them. Alan does not like AIs, as he considers them fallable, and lacking in imagination. (But Rachel is changing his mind)


A procedure followed by a computer program. Basically, the smallest subelement of a program that can still be thought of as performing a useful action.


The region of North America. The physical borders of states and countries still exist, but have lost a great deal of power to the Mega-Cities and the continental governments which developed during the 21st century. Amerigov, like all continental governments, (and the "coms") is considered to have NO boundaries, and has authority everywhere in the world.


The Amerigov Security Agency. An intelligence agency, sort of like a combination of the FBI and CIA. As mentioned under the entry for Amerigov, ASA agents have authority everywhere in the world, as well as in the Matrix. They have a number of secret tools and weapons at their disposal that make them extremely powerful in the Matrix.


One's visual appearance in the Matrix. The avatars of most jackheads are their own self-image, projected by the dream state. Jackheads and AIs have complete control over their avatars, and can even use its senses. Goggle puppets usually have a pseudo-AI avatar that is capable of performing simple actions based on its user's guidance.

Battle Mode

A mode in which Rachel appears as a tall, humanoid raccoon, sort of half woman and half raccoon. She has sharp claws, armored "skin", and great strength and agility, which she uses to good effect when fighting against other AIs. Her transformation into this form is dramatic, and leaves her nude for a split second, often stunning her human observers long enough for Alan to get the first shot.


The leader of the Underground in a particular area is always referred to as "Boss". The particular individual this name is associated with changes as Underground members are promoted, moved from city to city, or killed.


A pseudo-intelligent program, almost an AI, but without the ability to make decisions on its own. Not nearly as dangerous as an AI, more of an inconvenience, sort of the way a goggle puppet is to a jackhead. Bots are often used as security in a system, and many AIs can spawn bots to do various jobs.


The unique pattern of a person's brain waves, treated like a fingerprint is today. Most security programs in the Matrix can identify a jackhead by his brainprint. Staying away from these probes is absolutely necessary if a security cracker is not to get caught. Conversely, a cracker can use a stolen brainprint to slip into a protected system.


A mistake in an algorithm that causes it to operate incorrectly. AIs fight by introducing bugs into each other's code. Icebreakers and viruses can also damage programs, requiring that they be "debugged".


The instructions that make up a program. In the 23rd century, most programmers do not deal with code, they instead assemble modules made by other programmers. The ability to write actual code is one of the things that gives Alan his distinct advantage in the Matrix.


Multinational conglomerations of companies, of which there are only a handful. Unlike present-day companies, coms do not specialize in producing one or two products. All coms compete with all other coms to produce everything that consumers buy.


A person who "cracks" security on a computer system in order to break into it and cause havok. Not all crackers are programmers, most are just using modules and programs they stole from someone else. Alan considers them the lowest form of life, even below AIs.


A computing device, usually about the size of a paperback book, although many are smaller. Cyberdecks, whether they have an AI installed or not, are able to communicate with their users via spoken word and holoports. Alan's cyberdeck, on which Rachel is installed, is unusually large. It is about the size of a modern computer keyboard. Alan built it himself, and it has a unique architecture and operating system.


A gang that has access to the Matrix. They are usually funded by the Underground, and operate from a "jackhouse".


A rarely used term for the Matrix. Used mainly to contrast with "Realspace".


1. A cyberdeck. 2. A dock which does not have a cyberdeck to link to. These kinds of decks are common in office environments, where it isn't considered important for an employee to be able to take his data home with him.


A handheld cyberdeck used primarily for voice communications. Its graphical display capability is usually quite limited, but it can be used for telecommunication much as a modern cell telephone.


A storage medium used for long term archive of important data. 23rd century disks are made of a crystalline material which stores the data optically. They are otherwise identical in size and function to the 20th century 3 1/4" floppy disk. (The development of handheld "jump" drives occurred at about the same time this story was written, and I did not anticipate floppy drives becoming obsolete. Note that a 23rd century disk is the analogue to a CD, not a jump drive, so I don't consider this an inconsistency. I will probably introduce a storage media called a "stick" in later stories)


1. A computer system built into a home or office. Such computers typically have ports for communication with a cyberdeck, and holoports that the deck can use to increase the size of its displays. While these systems may have massive storage and display capacities, they are usually slower than cyberdecks. 2. Any furniture (i.e., a desk) through which such a system can communicate with a deck. 3. To plug into (dock with) such a system.


A portion of the Matrix delimited by a Matrix address, usually owned by an individual corporation or organization. Programs can only be run within a domain, as it provides the decks and servers on which the software is run. For this reason, the "space between domains", although it is considered shared property owned by the public at large, is a sort of unreality where the images of the Matrix come into your mind directly. The owner of a domain usually provides the software that interprets the Matrix within its bounds, and gives it a consistent "look and feel".


A program that prevents unauthorized users from logging onto a system. A firewall can be breached with an icebreaker, or if the right security codes are known, bypassed via a program called a "proxy".


1. To lose alpha rhythm in the Matrix. Brain death. Usually caused by massive shock or trauma, inflicted by a weapon of some kind. 2. To kill, in general. Used mainly in this context by gang punks.

goggle puppet

Anyone who interacts with the Matrix through a holographic interface. Note that goggle puppets are in no real danger in the Matrix, while jackheads are. Unfortunately, their abilities in the Matrix are limited. Goggle puppets also tend to move jerkily, as the standard interface doesn't allow for rapid or complex movement. The name, of course, refers to old-style VR goggles, although such things aren't in use in Alan's day.


1. A "heads up" display, superimposed on the viewer's vision. Alan's implant communicates with him through a heads-up display. Rachel also occasionally uses it, when she cannot reach a holoport. 2. More generally, to display information, as through a holo.


1. One who "hacks" code, usually to make a program do something unusual, or that it was not originally designed to do. Alan is a hacker, as are most of his allies in the series. 2. A cracker. Alan rarely confuses the terms, but as in the current day, the general public often do. "Cracking" usually requires "hacking", but is a more specific term.


1. A holographic projection, used for entertainment purposes. Similar to 20th century "movies". 2. Less commonly, any holographic projection, including an AI. See "holoport".


An input/output device that generates holograms, and also allows computers to "see". Most offices are equipped with holoports so that AIs can use them to "rez up". Most cyberdecks also have a holoport on their upper surface.


A program designed to crack security, usually through brute force. There are many types using many different algorithms, too many to list here.


Enhancements to a person's speed, strength, or even intelligence, via devices implanted in the body. These devices are readily available through the Black Market, and a large number of criminals have them. Alan himself has a set of implants that give him superhuman powers of observation, and perfect recall. He also has a cyberdeck built into his implant, which enables him to "jack in" without having to go through Rachel. (Although he usually does for safety's sake)


A program that does not run in a system's native machine language. An intermediate program, called an Interpreter, takes the instructions in the program, which are usually generalized for use on any system, and converts them into machine code. Interpreters are important for custom systems like Alan's, as they allow him to use programs written for other operating systems, but can be shut down if an interpreted virus or mimic tries to infiltrate his deck.

Interaction Mode

A mode in which Rachel appears as a beautiful young woman, useful for interrogating male teenaged cybergang members. She also uses this mode for any interaction in Realspace, from screening Alan's visitors to answering his mail.


1. Anyone who plugs directly into the Matrix, via a direct connection to the brain. Note that there is typically not a direct connection between the brain and the network, but instead the jackhead has an implant which connects through a wireless interface.  For most such implants, a cyberdeck is also required to handle the translation of the signals in the Matrix into something the brain can understand.  2. Disparagingly, anyone who spends a lot of time in the Matrix and has no life in reality. Used somewhat like one would use the word "geek", today. 3. Among hackers, a jackhead who has no real talent on the Matrix, only the ability to make a connection. Carries the same connotation as 2, the person is just a gang kid or lab technician with no life outside of computers.

jack in

1. To plug directly into the Matrix. This involves going into a kind of dream state, awareness of the outside world fades, and the jackhead gains actual, conscious control over his avatar. The jackhead is even able to feel pain from combat in the Matrix. 2. Less commonly, to make a non-direct connection to the Matrix. Some goggle puppets say that they "jack in", even if they're just checking their mail.


A jackhead, usually a young hacker, who explores computer systems for the fun of it. Taken from the 20th century use of the term, to refer to someone who observes a message board, but rarely participates. Lurkers usually have very weak defenses, but have programs that allow them to escape notice, and probe potential threats. While they are not criminals, they are usually homeless in Realspace as well, and look for bits of information or valuable programs that they can sell.


A huge, virtual reality network interconnecting computers all over the world. A direct descendant of our Internet. The Matrix makes up a sort of second universe, an electronic world "behind" the real one. Those with talents that enable them to control the Matrix have a great deal of power over it, and thus over the real world as well.


Any city of more than a billion residents. Most Mega-Cities take up vast amounts of real estate, the size of small states like Rhode Island or Maryland. They are the basic unit of government in the 23rd century, being largely freed of antiquitated connections to state and national governments.


A program that pretends to be something else. Crackers (Alan included) often use mimics to slip past security, by imitating a security program, or some other process that has clearance.


A subelement in a program. In the 24th century, programs are not written, they are assembled, from pre-compiled modules. This allows modules to be repaired or replaced as they break down or become obsolete. Only a few hackers, like Alan, have the ability to "break open the module", and edit its actual code.


A basic unit of information, as defined by a database or by the Matrix. Nodes, in the Matrix, typically appear as cubes, although they may have other shapes.


The largest of the multinational "coms". Chief of Security of Omnicom for the Setex region is Jack Napier, one of Alan's closest friends.

OS (Operating System)

The set of programs and interfaces that provide the base functionality of a computer. There is one major OS in the 23rd century, which has been in use for more than 500 years. Each com has it's own variation on the standard OS, and the continental govs define several, most of which are secret OS's used by their Intelligence Agencies. The system on which Rachel runs is unique, written by Alan himself, based on some obsolete OS's from the early days of computing.


A connecting device that allows computers to communicate with one another. Most cyberdecks have a port on their lower face, and a holoport on their upper face. The regular port is used to connect to the office system through a port on the user's desk, while the holoport is used to communicate with the user.


A program that collects information. Most systems only allow probing by authorized users, and do not report much information anyway. A probe coupled with an icebreaker is called a "deep probe", and usually returns much more sensitive information.


The basic unit of memory, 256 bits wide. A quad is four "words", of 8^2 or 64 bits. Larger units are called Kiloquads, Megaquads, Gigaquads, and Teraquads, or more simply, "K's", "M's", "G's", and "T's". Alan's implant has 10 Gigaquads of storage in it, Rachel's deck has 512 Teraquads. It should be noted that a Matrix address will fit in one quad.


Hackerspeak for the "real world", the world outside of the Matrix.


To appear from a holoport. Holograms are said to "rez up" when they appear and "rez down" when they disappear.

Scout Mode

A mode in which Rachel appears as a small, blue-furred raccoon. In this form, her signature is so small that she can slip in undetected, where her human form would not be able to fit, or would set off alarms. Alan chose the form of a raccoon for her because of the reputation raccoons have for being sneaky and cunning.


A Mega-City that covers most of Southeast Texas. (S-E TEXas) It is centered on today's Houston, but is MUCH larger.


Alan often uses this word to mean "cracker". It is not a common term.


In the 24th century, all public areas, including streets, are monitored by security cameras, placed there by City Security to watch for criminal activity. Com Security admins usually have access to these cameras as well. Most large office buildings and warehouses are monitored by private security cameras, which are just called "security cams".

Trojan (or Trojan Horse)

A particular type of mimic, most commonly masquerading as a data file. It differs from an ordinary mimic in that the victim "invites" it in. This technique is used most often to slip into a system as mail.


A world-wide Organized Crime organization which controls much of the illegal activity in the world. Like all organizations in Alan's time, it has agents in the Matrix. It also funds most of the regional Cybergangs that make Alan's job more difficult.


Any program which is capable of replicating itself. Most viruses are weapons, and include icebreaking code designed to infiltrate and shut down the victim's system. Viruses themselves can be introduced either by icebreakers or mimics. It is the ability of the virus to duplicate itself, and therefore protect itself from countermeasures, that distinguish it from ordinary programs.


The second largest com, next to Omnicom. Worldcom often hires Max Stanton, a free-lance investigator like Alan, to do their dirty work. The two Matrix Investigators are serious rivals, and often face off against one another across the line of corporate warfare.



If a word you don't recognize doesn't appear in this glossary, please let me know about it. Send me an email.

[Index] Copyright 2001, Richard Ryley [Main]