The Infoduel: A Novel of Decentralized Conflict

Company of Friends

Max Reilly knew he was in a better position than before. He was back on the design end of things, rather than being the Chief Executive Officer. The company would continue to bear his name, and he would continue to remain on the board of directors, but he was back where his true passion was. Many people had erroneously thought that they would walk out of college and into their dream job. Reilly was one of the lucky few to do so after he had completed graduate school. He had gone into business with some college friends, and the rest was history.

Now, the company was doing fairly well. Recent product announcements had put the company back on track with the shareholders. Despite his resignation and the ongoing lawsuit related litigation, the company was doing fairly well. Jane West was doing the bureaucratic and administrative things she had been trained to. With the confirmation that their technology had not been compromised, they knew they would have to be more careful with it in the future. Certain drone prices increased a bit to the Networkers, as well as new instructions on how to avoid detection and destroying evidence in a pinch.

The Outback Grand Challenge had finally been rescheduled. The date itself was well after the lawsuit was scheduled would appear in court, preventing Night-Watch System Securities from gaining any more contracts in the meantime. Certain circles in the Australian military-industrial complex were also rocked by a good number of resignations. The ARBie tentacles had apparently run deed with some of the officials in charge of selecting companies. The recent lawsuit and controversy had flushed their enemies out into the open.

A few members of the Ayn Rand Brigade were likely still around. However, they would probably be turning on each other now, backstabbing their former comrades (if that was an appropriate term) for the few scraps and crumbs of remaining power. The more the fought amongst themselves, the less effective they would be making themselves out to be in the long term. But, long term stability and efficiency was not something that the ARBies were known for. Atlas had not shrugged, but collapsed and died, with his corpse locked in a rigor mortis to support the status quo.

Something that Bhuta had brought up several times before was that the ARBies were not "true Randites." Max Reilly had never read much philosophy, or even heard the name Ayn Rand, for a few months before the ARBies posted and spammed their declaration across the Net. Beforehand, they had posted several essays and rants on how excessive force was needed to remind the sheep "who was really in charge." Bhuta had been one of the main people to rebuke each of them online, and became involved in several forum-based flame wars because of that. Ah Q, however, had constantly trashed Ayn Rand, as a "hypocritical, arrogant whore." Ah Q did have a noted interest in literature (as he claimed he had a "worthless degree in it" from earlier).

Ah Q always complained that Rand was a "nasty old bitch, full of hate for anyone that didn't believe in her crappy philosophy." His main issue was that Rand not only reduced the world to black and white, but believed that she and her followers were the only "rational" people in the world. Everyone else was a parasite, an idiot, or a moocher that would hinder the growth of the "great." The best a parasite could hope for was to shed their "irrational" ideologies and become "rational" strictly as Rand defined it. In her own lifetime, Ayn Rand expelled anyone that disagreed with her in the slightest ways from her inner circle. By the time of her death, her inner circle had dwindled to a handful of its former members. The former American Secretary of the Treasury, Alan Greenspan, had once been one of Rand's inner circle. After Greenspan had a quote of his taken out of context by a newspaper, her designated "intellectual heir" had expelled him from the circle.

Rand had a previous "intellectual heir," a young man named Nathaniel Brandon. Rand cheated on her husband with Brandon, who was near twenty years her junior at the time (despite being married). The best irony was that Rand claimed to despise infidelity in marriage. Rand also despised immigration, despite being a Russian immigrant herself. After a falling out between the two, two different thinktanks dedicated to her philosophy had been formed. They both tended to fight with each other just as often (if not more so) than many of their intellectual and philosophical enemies.

Ayn Rand's own books were almost universally trashed by critics of all sorts. The writing style, however, was called "cultish" by Ah Q. In his opinion, one of the biggest flaws of Ayn Rand was that her school of "objectivism" was based on the (quite subjective) "rational" ideals of Rand. Many followers of her philosophy considered the fact that only the "rational" could be the completely moral. (Many of them also considered themselves part of that "rational" elite, as well.) It was a sort of abridged, elitist school of thought of insecure and self-proclaimed "intellectuals."

Max did not follow much of the philosophy beyond this. He personally thought the arrogant, self-important bastards in the "Ayn Rand Brigade" chose a name that reflected most of their ideals. For a bit of irony, Bhuta did note that Rand once said that "Morality ends when the gun begins." The ARBies were noted fans of excessive force against "those who had it coming," or anyone not in the Brigade (though it was also likely to refer to those members of the Brigade who fell victim to the machinations of their "comrades"). However, Rand had also said something to the effect of,"When defensive force is wielded against those who would initiate its use, that marks the transition from might to right." No wonder a few of the American neocons loved her so much. Either way, Reilly did not think too much more of it. He had a lot of designs to finish, after all.