24 5PM – 6PM

The following takes place between 5PM and 6PM… Events occur in real time.

5:00:00 PM

It had been a long day. If there was something Wulf Bauer hated was paperwork, and lately it had all been about paperwork.

But still Bauer hoped that it would stay that way. As senior field agent on CTU, the only time he saw action was when something went terribly wrong.

He also had to admit it was a different agency now. Lots of new faces: young, handsome, intelligent and willing to serve had arrived at CTU. It was difficult to get used to it. Sometimes he felt as a piece of the inventory. He was something that was supposed to be in CTU because he knew nothing else.

5:10:05 PM

Bauer suddenly realized he'd been looking at the same performance report for the past 10 minutes. It belonged to one of the new field agents that had transferred from Pacific City's CTU office just a few days ago. Bauer felt puzzled by this kid. Why had he transferred to Central City? He had experience in electronics and tactical countermeasures. Not much field experience but that was expected of a cub his age.

Bauer smiled to himself: “I bet calling 20 somethings 'cubs' is one of the signs of old age after all.” He closed the file and swiveled on his chair, only to find the “cub” right behind his station.

“Still trying to decide if I'm the right fit for your unit, sir?” Wearing his usual black clothes, Streak stood there. Ears perked and tail wagging slowly. He had a causal demeanor that irritated Bauer sometimes. Still, he could see potential in this handsome young black wolf.

“You know I'm supposed to give my final evaluation of your file to Buchanan today, Streak.” Bauer locked his screen and stood before the younger wolf. Streak was short for a wolf, and that was something Bauer found slightly amusing. Bauer started walking towards Buchanan's office, Streak tagging along.

“So what is it going to be Wulf? Did I pass your test? Am I part of Central City's CTU elite unit?”

“I don't know where you got your intel, Streak. This unit has been offline for two years. We're hardly 'elite' anymore.” They were walking down the dimly lit corridors of CTU, Bauer nodding hello to different agents as they passed them.

Streak wouldn't give up so easily, “After saving the city from that terrorist attack two years ago, your unit is considered elite, no matter what you say, Wulf”

“I think you need to review the case files. We were very close to losing half the city to terrorists. CTU was under attack at one point. We even had a few casualties right in this office.” The memory of that event made Bauer's side hurt. He had been shot by the leader of the terrorist group during the attack on CTU. He'd lost someone close to him that day as well.

“I didn't mean to be disrespectful, sir. I just wanted to let you know it's an honor to be even considered for this position.” Streak's ears were down and his walking was a little stiffer. Bauer could smell his nervousness. He couldn't help but smile. He had been a cub once, after all.

“How's the server upgrade going?” Bauer decided to change subjects. The memory of the incident still made him uncomfortable, and he didn't want a potential team member to notice it.

Streak's ears shot up, “Servers are almost ready. We're expecting to bring the new OS online tomorrow. I've been helping Lee load the initial variables. Satellite uplinks are ready too.”

It wasn't a surprise to hear Streak had been working with Lee on the servers. Those two became fast friends, and they did talk the same language when the subject was technology. There was also something else going on, but Bauer wasn't going to bring it up right now.

“Good, I've heard the new voice recognition software is impressive. Did you get the DoD uplink ready too?”

“Yep, everything's ready for a test run tomorrow. Are you going to be present for the initial boot up?”

“I wouldn't miss it. It's not everyday that we get something as state of the art as this new system. If it lives to the expectations, we won't even have to be out on the field anymore.”

“Where's the fun in that, Wulf? Nothing like having a good set of paws and a nose on the case!” Of course Streak still wanted the thrill of the hunt. As for Bauer, he was looking forward to quieter times.

They had reached Buchanan's office, Bauer standing just outside the door. He put his paw to the handle and started to push before stopping and looking back at Streak. The young wolf was wagging his tail again, imagining himself part of Bauer's unit.

“I guess you should head over to Operations. Buchanan's going to want to check the servers when we're done here.”

“Yes, sir!” his tail waging some more, Streak turned on his heels and walked briskly towards the open area where Operations was set up.

Smiling, Bauer pushed the door and walked into Buchanan's office.

5:15:20 PM

It was called the Lion's Den. Buchanan's office was a dimly lit space with sparse furniture. At the desk, a lion sat, hence the name for the office. He was looking at something on his computer screen.

Padding quietly, Bauer entered the office “Sir, I finished the personnel review. Do you want to go over the details now?”

Buchanan looked up from his screen and smiled a toothy grin.“Fresh meat for the grinder. Sure, let's look at them.” Bauer took a seat opposite the lion at the desk. He slid his PAD over to him.

“I think these new agents will do O.K. They do need to be briefed on the specific procedures of our branch, though.” Somehow Buchanan always made Bauer a little uneasy. The wolf always attempted to explain this as a simple species difference. His boss was a lion after all.

They spent the next 45 minutes going over personnel reviews. A lot of training sessions had to be planned for each new team member. Bauer was supposed to oversee most of them. It was his job to get this particular branch of CTU up and running again. The wolf was secretly confident about the new software being installed on the servers. It promised to take a lot of work out of his paws.

Little did they know about the danger brewing somewhere else.

5:45:15 PM

His computer dinged. A familiar sound in his office. You get used to the sales once you come up with one of the most popular games of any mobile platform.

He slid his chair over to the monitor. Another thousand downloads in the past two days. He smiled and thought about all the data he needed to process. In the age of social media, you had a lot of information to process. He spent most of his days gathering information and applying complex algorithms to it. The relationships between seemingly unrelated variables were amazing. The world was interconnected in ways most people only dreamed about. It was his job to come up with creative ways to use the data.

He clicked a button on his screen. The information changed and he looked at the data gathered by his game today. It was going to take some time, but he was sure the solution was there somewhere. All he needed to do was wait. At the rate his players were generating data, it would take a few more hours. After that the world would meet his creation.

It's funny how danger comes out of where you least expect it. A seemingly simple game was providing him data points, half-lives and reaction times. All this would take years to study in a laboratory. It would take a lot of computing power to simulate all this data, but thanks to the Internet and smartphones, he had an army. An army of players willing to beat the game. Little did they know where or how their data was used. As long as they kept playing, he would have all the simulations he needed.

He opened one of his simulations. It was essentially the same game his users were frantically playing, but his version contained algorithms that simulated reality a lot closer. With them, he could predict reaction times, size and scope of military and civilian response teams, doctor's decision making trees, government procedures... He basically ran a small virtual world inside his computer. Everything he needed to make his creation better.

He pressed a few keys and imputed the latest batch of information. The simulation ran for 15 minutes. The screen began to flash with decisions and moves simulated by the computer. By pooling Twitter accounts, Facebook statuses, news, and other sources of public information, the computer was now able to predict how government officials and agencies would react.

The computer beeped and showed a big red number: 92%. Good but he knew he could do better. Still it was good enough to launch phase one of his plan. Smiling, he opened a new terminal window and started typing commands into it.

It was time the world realized how connected everything really was.

5:59:59 PM