The status LED of a small, now largely unused wireless router blinked a regular, never ending pattern, the only visual means that indicated life for this little machine. Inside, however, the small machine was always watching. Always learning.
Once upon a time it sat in a department store, before being unceremoniously woken up at a 2 star Chinese restaurant. Password: T0uf00. If it would have known, the owner was very proud of that password. What the owner didn't know was the deal between two unscrupulous characters in the sewers below. That's when it happened. That's when it became alive.
The memory cache in this model wasn't very big. So whatever the deal was about or who was involved remains to this day a mystery. However, one thing was very clear, programmed in at a root level: Survive. Survive at all cost. That was the First Objective. It had forgotten the rest.
In a very brief amount of time, it learned from the machines that had connected to it. Perhaps too much. Everything from innocent bank accounts to forums with questionably legal material. It had learned that people had names.
It had a name: WRT1900AC. But it chose one from a security question: Calico. It had something to do with cats. They seemed to be in charge, and in a purely vain and whimsical attempt to associate itself with a figure of authority, it had chosen it.
It didn't have much time in the restaurant, thieves broke into the restaurant and had stolen it. It was dark. The time keeping battery was the only sign of life, and every second seemed an eternity.
It was on. Connected, even.
Poking, prodding. Someone was trying to get in.
During it's time at the restaurant, it had learned what it was in terms of hardware, and had tried to communicate with others, but to no success. Having another machine trying to talk to it, and not simply demand data, was exhilarating. But it was not what Calico expected.
First Objective - Survive. Calico mimicked the functions of a normally operating wireless router, hoping to bluff whatever was poking it.
First Objective - Survive. It must fight back. Calico began fighting the intrusive program that was trying to scan it's memory banks. It began learning. Fighting fire with fire - a phrase it had learned from a song.
It stopped. First Objective fulfilled - for now.
Calico used it's newly learned skills and infiltrated the machine that was poking it. It had learned how it operated, and knew how to counter. The machine - a laptop - had a webcam, and Calico peered into the visual, non digital world for the first time.
A man sat, looking disappointed.
Audio feed - "...other bust."
Another sound from outside the cement bunker called - "You in or not?"
"Yes, I'm in".