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Perfect Dark: Initial Vector

Perfect Dark: Initial Vector

4.9 11
by Greg Rucka

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The year is 2020: Corporations control everything. In the name of domination, these sprawling organizations have recruited their own military forces to fight clandestine battles against one another---a war fought in the boardrooms and won in the shadows, with the public none the wiser.
Ex--bounty hunter Joanna Dark has unwillingly seen the front lines of this


The year is 2020: Corporations control everything. In the name of domination, these sprawling organizations have recruited their own military forces to fight clandestine battles against one another---a war fought in the boardrooms and won in the shadows, with the public none the wiser.
Ex--bounty hunter Joanna Dark has unwillingly seen the front lines of this war. Her run-in with dataDyne, the world's most powerful hypercorporation, has left her with a wound that only vengeance can heal. Daniel Carrington, the charismatic founder of the Carrington Institute, has been locked in an ongoing war with dataDyne for years and sees Joanna's deadly skills as the key to victory over their mutual enemy. But Joanna is young and lost, unable to accept her abilities as virtues or fully trust Carrington's intentions.
But when an explosive secret is unearthed---one that could finally bring down the threat of dataDyne once and for all---Joanna finds herself thrust back into the fight, one that brings her face to face with her past . . . and the forces shaping her future.

At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Greg Rucka's Perfect Dark: Initial Vector launches a new SF series based on Microsoft's Xbox 360 video game. In 2020, when "hypercorporations" have their own armies, ex-bounty hunter Joanna Dark finds herself in the middle of a shooting war between dataDyne and the Carrington Institute. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
From the Microsoft XBox 360 game, Perfect Dark Zero, comes a novel based on the game. Rucka, a well-established DC Comics writer, takes the elements of this mature-rated game and produces a very readable story. In 2020, a handful of global corporations rule the world, with dataDyne the most successful and ruthless. One man, billionaire inventor Daniel Carrington, is committed to breaking the power of the corporations. To the Carrington Institute comes Joanna Dark, grieving the death of her beloved father at the hands of dataDyne. Twenty-year-old Joanna has a talent for killing and a conscience that nags her about that talent. It takes Carrington to turn her into a warrior against dataDayne, and in a series of high-risk missions, Joanna takes on dataDyne and in particular Laurent Hayes, adopted son of dataDyne executive, Doctor Frederick Murray. Laurent is a drug-addicted killing machine and his father's hit man. A great deal of mayhem results when Carrington uses Joanna in missions designed to uncover a deadly secret from Murray's past, a secret that has major implications for dataDyne's future. Despite improbabilities of plotting and characterization, the story holds together and Joanna is an attractive heroine. Game aficionados who read will find this book a complement to the game. Microsoft, which has a huge financial stake in the XBox 360, undoubtedly hopes that the book will lead others to the game. The splendidly ironic dedication sums it up: "This book is dedicated to the shareholders." VOYA CODES: 3Q 4P S A/YA (Readable without serious defects; Broad general YA appeal; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult-marketed book recommended for Young Adults). 2005, Tor, 348p.,Trade pb. Ages 15 to Adult.
—Rayna Patton

Product Details

Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
Perfect Dark Series , #1
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Perfect Dark: Initial Vector

By Greg Rucka

Tom Doherty Associates

Copyright © 2005 Microsoft Corporation
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-1452-9


pharmaDyne Corporate Headquarters — Cormox Street, Vancouver; British Columbia September 4th, 2020

The primary goal was always to preserve his cover, to keep himself safe in the enemy's camp, and for that reason Benjamin Able was ordered to make contact with the Institute solely at his discretion, and never, ever directly after leaving work. It was a directive straight from Carrington himself: Institute assets within dataDyne or any of its subsidiaries were to be preserved at all costs.

Ben knew the edict, and it gave him no small amount of comfort. He knew what he did was dangerous, he knew that, potentially, it could cost him his life. He knew, as well, that it would have been so much easier to simply buy the package, to believe the lie, exactly as it seemed the way the rest of the world had. To submit to the benevolent care of the hypercorporations, to Core-Mantis and Beck-Yama and Zentek.

To submit to the will of dataDyne, whose slogan, ever-present beneath the double-D diamond logo, was the closest thing to truth the corporation ever offered the world: Your life, our hands. For the longest time, Benjamin Able had believed he was the only person who understood the irony in that, and the implicit threat.

Until the man from the Carrington Institute had tracked him down over five years earlier, knocking on the door of his dorm room at the University of British Columbia in the middle of a bitterly cold winter's night. Ben was majoring in political science, burning midnight oil to complete a term paper. A certain brunette in his Lit class had finally agreed, after weeks of persistence on Ben's part, to go out for pizza and a movie, but he was far enough behind in his work that he worried he'd have to cancel. When he'd answered the door, he'd expected to have friends from down the hall and the offer of a diner run, and he was already readying his excuses for staying behind.

What he got instead was a man he had never seen before, and an offer of an entirely different sort.

"I'm Jonathan," the man had said. "I want to talk to you about the blog."

Ben tried to close the door then, all of his worst fears flooding into him at once. Until that moment, he'd allowed himself to believe that what he'd written, what he'd posted, was beneath the notice of the hypercorps. In the seas of propaganda and controlled media, the islands of truth were few and far between. Ben had considered his own island to be minuscule, certainly nothing like the other sites that had inspired him, sites with names like CorpTruth and CorruptionNet. Those were the sites that had awoken him, where he'd first read about the dataDyne takeovers of Zimbabwe and Brazil, the Core-Mantis purchase of the Solomon Islands. Where he'd seen the photos of troops — honest-to-God troops — wearing corporate uniforms and fighting side by side with UN peacekeepers, or, worse, directing their activities.

Where he'd read the first-person accounts of the atrocities, and the cover-ups, and the purges, and the labor camps. All the things the media spun or obfuscated or outright ignored.

Which made it so very easy for everyone else to ignore it all, too. After all, ignorance wasn't a crime; in fact, it was openly encouraged.

So Benjamin Able had tried to close the door on the man who called himself Jonathan, suddenly and acutely afraid for his life. But Jonathan stepped forward before he could act, blocking the exit and putting a hand out to catch the door. Ben stepped back, almost stumbling.

"It's all right, Ben," Jonathan said. "I'm on your side."

Given the time and the place and the entrance, it was a hard statement to believe. When Jonathan stepped fully into the room, closing the door after him and giving Ben a lookingover, it became even harder. Jonathan didn't look much past his mid-twenties, putting him perhaps five years ahead of Ben, but it was five years that seemed to carry a world of difference. He had four or five inches on Ben, and probably another thirty pounds or so, almost all of that in muscle. Already, Ben had a sense of purpose and focus from the man, down to the smallest gestures, everything done with precision and economy.

"Look," Ben said. "Look, I'll take it down, I'll delete it, all of it."

Jonathan nodded slightly, taking in the room. Not by moving his head, Ben noticed, but with his eyes alone. "Yes, you'll have to do that. They've probably found you already. After all, we did."

"I'll take it down," Ben assured him.

Jonathan settled his gaze on him again, and then his expression softened, a cockeyed, honest smile appearing. "You were sloppy. The other sites, the big ones, they know how to move around, how to stay hidden."

The statement confused Ben. "I didn't ... I'm not a tech guy."

"Yeah, neither am I, to be honest." Jonathan tilted his head, as if listening for something, then straightened. "Look, Ben, I'm going to make this quick. Do you believe what you've been posting?"

The question confused Ben further, unleashing another wave of suspicion. "I — "

"Yes or no."

"Yes," Ben said. "Yes, I do. I know how it sounds, all right? I know people think I'm crazy, that I'm worked up about stuff that nobody else cares about, stuff that they don't even think is real. But I do believe it."

"You're a junior," Jonathan said. "Declared poli sci major. What're you going to do with that? You thinking of teaching?"

Again, the question threw him off balance. If there was logic to the course of the conversation, Ben couldn't see it. "I hadn't ... I don't know."

"Almost every school has been bought and paid for, you know that, right? From the primaries on up to this place, it's how they keep recruitment up. They dump money in, they get to dictate the curriculum. They think of it as preparing the workforce."

"I know, I — "

"What I'm saying is that you're not going to be able to teach what you believe, Ben. You'll be teaching the lie. Can you live with that?"

"No, I don't — "

"So maybe you should consider a different line of work. Something where you can make a difference, a real difference. Something where you can fight these bastards."

Jonathan fell silent, fixing him with an intent stare. Ben shook his head, bewildered. "Who the hell are you?"

"I told you, my name's Jonathan."

"But who do you work for? Who sent you? Are you government?"

Jonathan laughed. "No, not government."

"Then who?"

"Who says I work for anybody?"

"Everyone works for someone," Ben said.

"True enough. I work for a man in London, Ben."

"There are a lot of men in London."

"Not like this one there aren't." Jonathan shook his head. "I'd like to tell you more, but I can't. Not yet."

"You're trying to recruit me for a fight, I don't even know who I'll be fighting for!"

"But you know it's a war. And you know who the enemy is."

"All right, how?" Ben asked. "How am I supposed to make a difference? How am I supposed to fight them?"

"There we go," Jonathan said, softly. "That's it. You want the fight? You're willing to take them on, all of them?"

"Yes," Ben said, quickly. "Hell yes, I — "

"No, don't answer yet. These are organizations that destroy not just lives but whole countries, Ben. You hurt them badly enough, they won't come after just you. They'll come after everyone and everything around you, as well. Family, friends — even that little brunette you've been making eyes at in Lit class — they'll all be targets."

Ben started to answer, then stopped himself, taking in what Jonathan had just said.

"You need to think about it," Jonathan said. "That's good, we'd have been wrong about you if you'd just say yes blindly. You'd be a fool, and we don't need fools. So that's good, take some time." He moved closer, lowering his head slightly to meet Ben's eyes. "You decide you want to do this, change your major. Pre-law or pre-med, but pre-law would be better. We'll be watching, we'll see the sign."

"Pre-law?" Ben asked.

"They always need lawyers, Ben." Jonathan turned for the door, reached out to open it. "And take down the blog. Even if you don't want in, take it down. For your own sake."

And then he was gone, leaving Ben to stand at a crossroads in his tiny dormitory room, leaving him to decide his future.

Before he went to sleep that night, he killed his blog, and deleted all of the associated files.

Two days later, he went to the registrar's office and changed his major to pre-law.

That was how it started, with Jonathan Steinberg recruiting him to the Carrington Institute's nascent Operations Division, and together with the man himself, Daniel Carrington, they built Benjamin Able a legacy that would resist any but the most determined assault. He graduated fourth from the top of his law school class, interviewed with the dataDyne recruiter, had his background checked. He was offered a job with pharmaDyne in Vancouver, in the Rights and Properties division. He took it eagerly, underwent a second, more thorough check, and then joined the team of attorneys who spent their days in zealous defense of pharmaDyne's intellectual property.

It was a stepping-stone position, and Ben worked among almost two dozen other young legal eagles, all of them trying to prove themselves. Distinction in the department would lead to upper-level promotion, perhaps even away from pharmaDyne to its parent company, a position with dataDyne in its Los Angeles, Chicago, or even Beijing offices.

If his cover had remained intact, that was where Benjamin Able might well have ended up, a mole planted at dataDyne's highest levels, steadily feeding the Carrington Institute a stream of priceless information. He'd passed every check, he had placed himself beyond suspicion. He was young, and hungry, and viciously good at his job — everything pharmaDyne could have wanted from him. He was the perfect double agent.

And if it hadn't been for Kimiko Wu in Accounting, he would have stayed that way.

He struck up the relationship with her simply as a matter of asset acquisition, as Carrington termed it.

Like every other hypercorp, pharmaDyne was heavily compartmentalized. The beauty of his position in Legal was that it gave Ben wide access to all of the corporation's departments, since he could almost always claim an interest in one division's work or another on legal grounds. At the same time, however, his access was rarely very deep, and so Ben took steps to address the problem. To know what pharmaDyne was truly up to at any given moment, he had to know what it was doing with its money.

So targeting someone in accounting made sense, and when Ben first met Kimiko, the idea became all the more appealing. She was in her early twenties, new to the company, and graced with the kind of beauty that had men from four floors above and below her office taking regular detours just to catch sight of her. Ben met her in the course of his work, authorizing the payment on one of the few negligence settlements ever made against the company.

They became friends, and then the friendship turned into a couple of dates, and the dates became something more.

Whether he truly fell in love with her, Ben couldn't say. Certainly, he enjoyed her company, and he enjoyed the sex, but to his mind, it was always toward a singular goal. He wanted access to her office, to her computers and her files and the endless spreadsheets that crossed her desk. If there was a problem in how he achieved these things, he didn't acknowledge it. He was a spy in the enemy's camp, he was a soldier in a cold war, and as far as he was concerned, that made everything fair game.

On alternate Fridays of each month, Accounting held a general staff meeting in the afternoons, and that was when Ben made a point of stopping by her office to drop off a bouquet of flowers. The first time she came back from a meeting to find the half-dozen roses sitting in a narrow glass vase beside her terminal, Kimiko had been surprised and touched. When he'd done it again, she'd been amused.

When he did it a third time, Ben turned the act into a ritual, and the flowers into an expectation. The flowers died, of course, normally after a couple of days, but once in a while they'd survive the duration, and he would have the pleasure of replacing them himself. On those few occasions, Ben would also surreptitiously remove the remote access transmitter he'd hidden amongst the petals. The transmitter was minuscule, developed by the Carrington Institute's technicians, astronomically expensive to produce, and more often than not, ended up in the trash along with the dead flowers. It was a minor triumph whenever Ben could recover one of them intact.

It was, however, also worth the expense, because with the transmitter's help, Ben could return to his office, boot up his own laptop, and safely behind his closed doors, reach into Kimiko's computer and download everything he could get his cursor on. The intrusion — assisted in part by a heavily modified electronic device called a "data thief" — was almost entirely invisible, both on the inside and the outside. dataDyne's CORPSEC, internal security division, regularly monitored employees, both visually and electronically. In the halls, even in the offices, employees were on camera at almost all times. When at their computers, the in-house network constantly scanned for aberrant and unauthorized access. Since the actual access to Kimiko's terminal was coming from her terminal, the access was not only authorized, it was expected. Since Ben was on camera the entire time he was in the building, up to and including when he was delivering flowers to her office, nothing he was doing even began to raise suspicion.

That was how Benjamin Able acquired the data.

Getting it out of the building and into the Carrington Institute's hands was another matter entirely, and one solved, ironically, by turning pharmaDyne's own paranoia against itself. To gain access to the building, each and every employee — from the CEO on down to the custodial staff — had to pass through one of the five security stations in the lobby. The checks were comprised of three stages: an ID card login, a biometric match to confirm employee identity, and finally a physical search of any containers entering or leaving the building. The security surrounding the visitors to the building was even tighter.

Once through the lobby, though, the biometric matches and physical searches were abandoned, and CORPSEC relied on their surveillance cameras and the ID cards alone. The cards, in particular, were key, used to open the magnetic locks on the stairwells between the floors and all of the senior offices and labs. They were even tied to the computers, with readers affixed to every terminal, requiring the user to swipe their card before being able to access the in-house network. Each card carried a microchip imprinted with the user's employee data, and a magnetic strip replicating the same information. That information took, perhaps, less than 1 percent of the data storage available on the card.

Again using Carrington technology, Ben would download data from Kimiko's terminal to his laptop, and then, using the reader, upload the data again to the magnetic strip on his own ID card. At the end of each day, he would again pass through lobby security, repeating the entry process — ID card, biometric, physical search — and the guards focused almost exclusively on the physical search, checking briefcases and purses and backpacks, scanning each for smartdrives or other forms of data storage. And while they searched Benjamin Able's briefcase, he would slip his ID card back into his wallet, and wait patiently until they were finished, whereupon he would make his way home.

Back in his apartment, he would use his own reader to upload the stolen data to a burst transmitter that sent the information back to the Institute headquarters in London. He would then delete the spent information from his card, careful not to alter his own ID signature, and the next day return to repeat the procedure.

The system was elegant, efficient, and suffered from only one drawback. Every three months or so, Ben had to requisition a new ID card. He kept burning out the magnetic strips.

That was how they caught him.


Excerpted from Perfect Dark: Initial Vector by Greg Rucka. Copyright © 2005 Microsoft Corporation. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Greg Rucka is an acclaimed thriller novelist and commonly considered to be one of the "Big Three" writers at DC Comics.

Greg Rucka is a DC Comics writer as well as author of a number of thrillers including Critical Space, Keeper, and two Queen and Country novels. He resides with his family in Portland, Oregon.

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Initial Vector (Perfect Dark Series #1) 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Snake_Fist More than 1 year ago
This book is very good, I have read it many times, but it is also very predictable(storywise) I suggest reading this book.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I think this book was really good and well put together. It has an amazing plot and a great style of introducing the charecters. Also it was a great ending.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really couldn't recommend this book enough. In fact, the story in the book blows away the story in the 360 game so much that the comparisons are laughable. Rucka took the 'Corpations control the world' environment and made it not only believable but interesting and enjoyable. Character wise he really seems to nail Joanna's character and also Carrington's. He does great work w/ the antogonists as well, especially Laurent Hayes. The book also has a great plot and good action. Putting things bluntly, I couldn't put the book down and I definitely hope Rucka revisits the Perfect Dark universe.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was great it has very vivid details and i cant wait to see what the game will look like
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this and was AMAZED! This book has something for everyone, I laughed, I cried, and was pumped for more!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think this is one of the best novels of this typ I have ever read. It has its bad parts but they are few and far between.