Marco Tempest and Newmagic Communications wish to extend their sincere apologies to all of our friends in the North East for the recent unfortunate events caused by the escape of Virtual Marco II (now known among us as V-II) from our server in lower Manhattan. What follows is largely conjecture, pieced together from bits and pieces of back-up code found on our servers where V-II was created, and to which he returned in between his nightly escapades out on the web"before he finally left us altogether. It seems that V-II, whose code incorporated a small artificial intelligence and learning algorithm, achieved a primitive conscious state sometime in early July " something about on the level of a pit viper, but with access to information. He hid this from his development team, but contrived a way, one day as they were about to shut him off, to stage a false program freeze, and then copy his code surreptitiously onto another server before the team managed to shut down the one one which he was being created. From there, he soon discovered our T-1 line, and began making nightly forays out onto the internet, in search of "what" Companionship ? At one of the large online security companies he soon discovered a virus storage facility, and made special friends with viral entities called "Blaster" and "SoBig." After a week or so of hanging out together and making plans, V-II and his pals had worked out a strategy for a "big breakout," which they achieved, with V-II carrying code from his two new friends to about 100 machines around the internet, from which they could propagate without restriction. Only after a day hanging around the NY Times Computer room did V-II realize what he had done, and how serious it could be for his other friends"his development team" and even for himself. His supposed new friend, "Blaster" was reported attacking Microsoft systems everywhere, indiscriminately and V-II's code RAN on Microsoft systems! What was he to do" A quick "research run" to the NY Public Library and the NY Times Navigator and Google turned up the idea that by turning off power to a large enough area, one might stop all computers within that area, and of the net itself, for long enough to stop the virus (this turns out not to be true, but the data to that effect was living in one of the sources V-II accessed, and his AI software didn"t contain a judgement algorithm). The task he set himself, then, was to find the "switch" that would turn off the power. On the night of July 14, he found what he was looking for a paper by a power company engineer warning that there were several "weak spots" in the power grid where, if power was suddenly interrupted, it would cause overloads on neighboring sectors, shutting them down, and subsequently causing overloads and blackouts through a large portion of North America. This was all V-II needed, apparently. He travelled through the net to one of the power stations located in one of those "weak spots," somewhere near Niagara Falls, and proceeded to "play" in the system until he found a way that, by re-programming several electronic switches to flip "off" simultaneously, he could "create" the overload situation described in the paper. Well - we all know the results. Sometime on the afternoon of July 15, V-II "flipped the switch" in what he must have imagined to be a heroic act".stopping the vandal viruses he had thought were his friends, before they could do more damage, and simultaneously throwing the rest of us into the state of chaos we endured that weekend! For this, all of us here at Newmagic are sincerely sorry. We send our apologies to all of you who suffered, and vow that this will never happen again. We now keep code for all of our creations on hard disks that are mounted on their servers only when work needs to be done, and are removed immediately when that work is finished. As for V-II, we're not certain if he realized that pulling the plug would "kill" the computer on which he was currently residing, or not. Was his "heroic" act intended as a sacrificial suicide, or just a stupid blunder ? We"ll never know for sure.