Code Monkeys IC
Seattle, 2121, September 18th. Seattle and its surrounding urban and suburban areas have evolved into a massive metroplex, massive buildings carpet the land, as even larger skyscrapers poke into the sky. Still, a few even larger skyscrapers pierce into the cloud layer, where high powered solar panels can absorb the unfiltered sunlight. Modern Seattle stretches four times as wide as 21st century Seattle did, and is a dozen times as dense, with massive apartments and tenement buildings for its many citizens. Under the regulations of the UAR, the city lives an uneasy life, as corrupt UAR troopers patrol the streets on a regular basis, extorting money from people almost more often than they protect people. Despite this, the people still manage to live their life with a degree of content, born of acceptance of their life rather than success or freedom.
Here in Seattle, is where many massive corporations, controlled by the government of course, place their databanks and servers, as Seattle is renowned for having some of the most powerful network servers in the nation. As a result, Seattle also serves as the main base of operations for the Code Monkeys. Though the Code Monkey's maintain a secretive presence in most major cities in the UAR, the number of Code Monkeys in Seattle are almost double that of any other major city. Here, in Seattle, are where the largest concentration of the Code Monkey Superhackers reside.
Superhackers, are individuals that make use of massively powerful supercomputers, hidden away in secretive locations. These powerful HACKtools rely on more mobile hackers to install a trace into computer systems for them to infiltrate and otherwise ravage. In spite of the secrecy of the Code Monkeys, there is little to no military training, instead, the Code Monkey's rely on their use of Cells. Since each cell of hackers is contacted by, but cannot contact their operator, even if they are compromised, captured, or otherwise made to talk, the authorities would find little information of use.
The life of a Code Monkey isn't an easy life, but then again, life isn't easy.
Waterwalk Alley, off of 87th street. A usually deserted alleyway, Waterwalk is the kind of place someone would not want to visit alone late at night. It appears to be just another abandoned alleyway, its inhabitants forced away by the authorties as sparkling white buildings are built all around it. For some reason, the alleyway and its buildings are not torn down, likely because built under the alleyway lies one of the city's major power lines, and accidentally damaging one of these power lines would cost the city more than it would to tear down the shoddy alleyway. Broken neon signs and boarded up store fronts of abandoned businesses can be found here, and a partially destroyed finger scanner flickers constantly as it stands by a pair of rusted shut, carbon steel doors.
Behind these rusted steel doors, once one gets past the finger scanner, is a makeshift high tech hub, built into the shell of an old apartment building. Its lobby, while resembling nothing more than an abandoned apartment lobby, is rigged with all manner of cameras and security systems hidden from view. The apartment's second floor lounge has been converted into a type of hacker's command center, as well as general living space. Taking up most of the second floor, the command center is filled with tables and desks thrown around and angled in a very mishmash manner, computer monitors and hard drives, sitting on top of several, wires snaking around the room. Holographic data pads lay here and there strewn about in a very random manner, as well as old fashioned paper notes sitting in stacks or pinned to walls. A couple of office chairs sit by some of the desks, while a pair of large cushy chairs sit by a old chess table in the corner. On the opposite corner, past an empty door frame is a small kitchen with a pair of fridges.
Despite the mess, this Hub has only recently been reactivated for use by the Seattle Team 12. As the building is rather small and compact, normal floors spanning only 4-6 rooms each, both the third and fourth floor were made available for the team to live in, allowing them plenty of personal space. Rooms on those floors that aren't being used by the team have been converted into storage areas, where various computer parts, scraps, power sources, tools, and even a small cache of weapons and ammunition are stored. All the windows on the third and fourth floor are barred by planks, allowing small amounts of light to filter through, windows on the second and first floor are completely covered, rendering the floors rather dark, illuminated by the glow of computer screens and lamps.
Early morning, near the center of Seattle's densely packed urban jungle sat a three story building, far smaller than many of the towering spires surrounding it. A relic of days gone past which had been refitted to match the sterile white of the more modern city around it. Inside the lights shone a dull gray-blue light, humming with an incessant drone all the while. Each floor was divided into small cubicles with individual larger offices circling the outer edges. Sounds of fingers clattering across various keyboards intermingled with the dull hum of the lights. Small talk could be heard between neighbors here and there with a sharp ring of phones from the offices piercing the tense white noise every so often.
In one of the center cubicles sat Abel, fingers flicking across the keyboard in practiced motion. Mundane streams of numbers and letters she was tasked with entering for the equally as mundane job moved across the illuminated screen of her monitor. With headphones set over her ears and a tune from ages long past drifting faintly from the headphones the young woman could have very easily seemed dead to the world as she performed the near mindless task. For several hours, a few days each week, this was her routine which was only to be interrupted by a buzz from her mp3 player to signal her break, and a second buzz to later signal the end of the day. The first alert was something she agonized over, a time she would have to go through preformed small talk in order to see just as normal an average as possible all while her mind reeled with discomfort, urging her to flee.
The next was a relief, allowing her to finally pack up the few things she would bring with her to work and make a quick exit. Though leaving was a small relief the trip back to her residence would prove nerve wracking in and of itself. As Abel left the building the music which comforted her would be changed to something more of a caution than a comfort. With a few taps of the MP3 players buttons the music would click off. A short moment of silence followed by a crackle as the automated systems of her HACKtool broke into the polices radio chatter. From there she would move to avoid their patrols as much as possible. Even if she did not prove suspect it was better to avoid them all together in her mind. After all, they did not often have your best interest in mind.
It took her around an hour for her to arrive on the rundown street of Waterwalk Alley. The sight of the area always made her give pause, an area which looked familiar to to the streets of her childhood neighborhood. It wasn’t a comfort but it was at least different from the gloss and shine of the city proper. At least it didn't hide the grime under a fresh coat of paint. The girl approached an old apartment building, seemingly nondescript to most within the city. She took a cautious glance around the area before moving as quick as possible through whatever checks were necessary, then slipped into the building.
Not wasting a moment Abel proceeded through the disheveled lobby at a brisk pace. Truth be told she wanted to run but she also felt the need to save what little face she could. After all anyone within this building would be someone she would eventually have to associate with. Still she proceeded up to the second floor and right past it, moving up to the third. As she drew closer to her room her pace increased, peaking as she practically flung her door open and closed it with a slam. Abel's back then fell against a wall with a thud. Her legs having begun to quiver she slid down to the floor. The headphones she wore were discarded beside her, her head hanging into a hand. Just as it did every day the carefully constructed shell she built for the world crumbled leaving her little more than a shaking wreck collapsed against the wall by the door. She clumsily pulled her HACKtool from her pocket, sloppily thumbing at the power button to shut down the unsettling chatter of the police radio. When the room was finally silent she simply leaned against the wall with a heavy sigh, eyes closing with her hands clutched around her HACKtool in effort to slow to quivering that had spread through her entire body.
Even in the year 2121, the value of a day off work hadn't diminished. However, on this day, the massive metroplex was absolutely bustling with bodies. Not that this was much different from any other day, but Seattle seemed to more densely populated than ever for some reason or another. It was a nice bright morning for a Monday. For the beginning of the work week, it was rare to feel such positive energy and even rarer for one to have been given a day off. Aaron Gunther appreciated the scheduling though. Working as an IT support technician was tiring, even if you did work from home and only held the title as a side job of sorts. Gunther couldn't hold a real occupation due to the time he dedicated to being a Code Monkey, but he couldn't bring himself to part with his hobby even after joining the underground organization. Fixing computer illiterate people's problems was a kind of relief for the man and he enjoyed tinkering with electronics of all forms to some degree anyway. On this day though, Gunther found himself on the uncommon end of winding down.
Gunther was seated in at a table in a place called The Hotspot. It was an internet cafe' that was actually much more advanced than internet cafe's of old. In addition to rows and columns of public computers, there was a separate room with full VR setups that allowed consumers to either enjoy virtual games or surf the net in newer ways than ever before. In another room - the room Gunther was in - there was a full restaurant and bar. He sat in the corner with a bottle of something he didn't care to know what because the taste was satisfactory. He could feel a slight tinge of burn as he ingested the liquid making him think it might have been some light alcohol, but again, he couldn't be sure. He'd heard about the drink from some random client and he figured why not try it since he had an equally random day off. He gazed out of the smart window at the tall and even taller buildings that surrounded the area. It was a fine day to fuck over the UAR indeed. With a grunt and a swipe of his mouth, Gunther stood and exited the cafe'.
Once on the street, he pulled a black and chrome slab from a custom pouch strapped to his right thigh. A wire was connected to the top and an earpiece was inserted into one ear as Gunther weaved through throngs of pedestrians and their suitcases or children. It was a pretty loud day with the cars and amalgamated conversation melding together into some singular super noise, but Gunther hardly paid any attention. Once his setup was complete, he pulled the hood of his jacket over his blonde head and pressed the sole button on the front of his tablet. The super AMOLED screen lit up quickly and booted to the home screen just as fast. Unlike normal tablets, Gunther's went through a seconds long boot process in order to ready the custom programs he had designed and installed. The lock screen appeared just like any other modern tablet OS, but after drawing in the password pattern, the screen switched to a custom command prompt UI with a virtual keyboard accompanying. Muscle memory took over and trained fingers tapped furiously on the screen, creating multiple lines of text. At this point, Gunther had memorized the positions of the cameras on his specially picked route to Waterwalk Alley.
First, there was the camera on the street corner where he hung a right. Gaining remote access was easy; in the new Seattle, though the servers and networks were vast and extensive, the caveat was that wireless access points had to be more widely adopted in order to spread the range of networks. These points were then tethered to the larger mainframes around the city in order to fully connect the web of networks the UAR employed. Things like security cameras were linked to these points in order to be remotely controlled from whatever substation housed the employees that were watching what was being recorded. Gunther simply accessed a backdoor that allowed him to gain remote control without directly taking over the action, thereby lessening the chance his virtual presence would be found. After gaining access, he'd rotate the camera as he walked past in order for the frame to miss him turning the corner before re-positioning it and exiting the network. He'd continue on like this for any other cameras as he hung lefts and rights and finally appeared before Waterwalk Alley off of 87th street.
As he walked into the more confined space, Gunther removed his hood and placed his tablet back in its pouch. The old finger scanner accepted Gunther's thumbprint and the rusted steel doors opened with a heavy creaking that seemed to announce that someone had arrived. Gunther kept quiet as he swiftly made his way past the messiness of the area and up to the fourth floor to his room. As he shut the door behind himself, his mind drifted into a sea of nothing. Fatigue began to set in and the comfort of the bed seemed much more than usual. Gunther laid back and decided he'd rest his eyes for a minute or two. He silently hoped the team would receive some sort of mission sometime soon. He had only one goal and it was his whole reason for joining in the first place. He needed to find the truth behind his mother's murder years ago and the attack the UAR made on one of its own buildings.
Even if it was cliche', he wanted to have his revenge. He needed it.
Kim's eyelids fluttered once as she lied in bed, fast asleep. Her hand was hanging down from the side of the bed. The eyes fluttered once again as her hand was being vigorously licked. Kim giggled once and called out a woman's name before turning around in the bed. The thing licking her though took offence to this and jumped up onto her and rubbed it's entire body against Kim's face.
Her eyes slowly opened and a voice called out to her inside of her head with a very sweet and feminine voice. "Good morning Kim. Starting boot sequence." Information and numbers started flickering across Kim's eyes as she gently started to pet the cat that found her bosom and face really nice to rub up against for some reason.
While she was asleep, a very small section of her internal computer remained active to make sure that her body acted and reacted as a normal human's body while sleeping. An old lover had even said that she spoke in her sleep at times, but that was absurd. "Stand up Kim and we can begin the daily ch---"
"I know Lisa. I know. We've done this routine for a long time now," Kim cut the AI off and said. Kim stood up and the AI remained quiet. "Lisa. Start the check," she said and stretched out her arms.
"As you wish. Standby for check-up," the AI said as even more information began to scroll across Kim's eyes. Biometric information on her last few remaining organs. Mechanical information about her mechanical body. Her computer scanned itself for viruses and maleware before Lisa gave her the go sign.
"Lisa, continue with the weekly check as well," Kim said and the AI obeyed and Kim's body started to shift and the armoured plates that made up her body started to move around a bit to see if everything worked properly. In the span of a minute, the AI was done and once again gave Kim the go ahead sign.
Kim nodded before she removed her clothing and walked out to the kitchen. It was almost empty. There was only the bare minimum left in her hose. She was moving after all. Moving into the safe house. She found it ironic, that her, a UAR politician was going to be living together with 'terrorists'. During the days she was Kim Nelson, a respected UAR official which appeared on the extranet from time to time. Her face had started to become known as of late.
She had entered the political scene about two years back and was climbing quickly. She guessed some of it had to do with her name, and some of it due to what she was. While no one else knew it, her cyborg body gives her an enormous advantage. She can think faster. She can check up stuff in a jiffy and find statistics while debating over an issue.
On the evening hours and night though, she was 'The Red Devil', a hacker. It was an interesting double life. One was a stalwart politician and the other lived in the shadows doing things that the UAR condemned. However, she wanted to know. She needed to know. And after finding that file, a thirst for vengeance had been born. Unlike most Code Monkeys however, Kim did not want to overthrow the UAR, she just wanted him gone. She wanted to gain a strong enough position where she could get him executed for his crimes.
Kim opened up the fridge and took out the last thing remaining inside of it, a can of cat food. She gave it to her black and white kitten and petted her head before getting dressed in her usual clothes, making sure that the gun and sword did not bulge out before striding out from the house and to her job in the local government building. It was another debate today aired on the media. School reforms it was this time. She was on the side of those that wished for a reform, and Kim would be the main debater for their cause.
The debate was dreary. The opposing side had their same old arguments that it would cost too much to reform the school system. Kim however argued that change would benefit the society as a whole. If the kids were motivated to study and had teacher support, they would become better citizens and that the state would benefit greatly in the end with a better breed of youths and thus crime would go down, drug abuse and violence would go down, saving the state billions per year.
Most of the board in charge of education seemed swayed by Kim's arguments as the debate progressed and she really hoped that they'd do as she had suggested. She knew how little she had liked the school itself when she grew up, even if she had liked the people there.
As the debate ended and the cameras were turned off, Kim turned around and briskly walked out from the office after giving her respects to the people there. She did not have the time for idle chit-chat today as she returned to her house. She picked up the cat, and the very few things remaining in her home and closed and locked the door behind her. Kim was going to rent her apartment out while she lived in the safe house. A clever plan she thought as she already had a tenant moving in just the next day..
As she drove through the still heavy early afternoon traffic she wondered about her new home. Her stuff had been moved in earlier part from her bed which rested on the car roof supported by maglev technology to keep it from burdening the car. It took her until later in the afternoon to arrive and she parked the car in the parking house next to the house.
Kim exited the car and used a remote to move the bed along with her. The cat found it very fascinating and comfortable to lie on top of the bed as it floated behind her and into the house. She made her way up to her assigned room while the cat purred from the slight vibrations that the magnetic field produced as she walked up the building.
After everything was set up, she thought that perhaps it would be a good thing to have everyone of her new associates eating together to make everyone a bit more accustomed to each other. Kim had never seen the others before, just spoken to them. She had been busy with work and this was her first time off early and she had nothing tomorrow part from some work that she could do in half an hour or so.
With that thought in mind, Kim walked to the kitchen and started making some food.
Noise: It was always hard for her when there was too much noise. Whether that involved walking the streets filled with millions of empty faces or standing still and watching the enigmatic lives of other pass before her, noise always made her feel uncomfortable when she found herself around crowds. However it wasn't exactly noise in general that made her feel uneasy whenever she found herself stepping outside to be around others, but rather the foreign nature that this noise seemed to posses that left the girl with an uneasy taste in her mouth simply observing the surrounding city. Back at home with the others she had grown accustomed to was enough for her, she could do without drowning in a sea of blank faces.
Eve found herself waiting impatiently in line at a local convenience store surrounded by all sorts of noise that could have been assaulting her, stuck in-between a woman speaking briskly to a far off entity an a man behind her who felt the need to consistently clear his throat at every interval of fifteen seconds. The girl could only find herself remaining small and helpless in the confines of others, wedged behind two large bags praying that she could return to the home she had felt most comfortable at soon. Time dragged on, the noise continued to blare, and the constant attack of a hacking man had Eve pray to whatever entity she could to find herself out of that situation, left to sit through that time of the month in uncomfortable irritation and strong longing towards being finished.
Snack replenishment always was a struggle for the shy girl.
She approached the counter at her twenty-second throat clearing in exasperation before setting down the bags of sugary goods in front of her, finding herself tapping her foot with impatience as the shop attendant made attempts to eye her in-between the bags.
"Is this everything?"
Eve nodded impatiently, flickering her eyes between the heavy woman in front of her and the door, ready to bolt at any chance she could get.
"Excuse me mam?"
Eve flickered her eyes back at a set of another impatient gaze, taking a minute to understand just what the problem was before silently apologizing while scampering her hands along her pants. The man with the rough throat shortened intervals and soon enough the girl was ironically holding up the line herself. It took her a moment to find the thin transparent object she was looking for, handing the object to the woman in front of her much to her annoyance.
"Sorry, I like to pay physically rather than network."
Eve pathetically apologized as she sat through the woman frustratingly manually scan the card and hand the object back, muttering herself towards Eve of the pathetic transaction that still remained on it (The woman was obviously new, many of the regulars already knew of the girl). One of the draw backs of disconnecting yourself from your family and living off another identity of course was the poorer and harder lifestyle, still whatever meager funding she seemed to get went towards candy. (Eating Kim's prepared meals aside from sleeping in the hideout seemed to reaffirm the girls lifestyle when the group had formed up.)
The card was returned, thanks was addressed, hands went around both bags, the door was nearly in sight, glass was pushed through towards the shining light of a bright gleaming city, and-
Time raced by as the girl pushed her way out the door as quickly as she could holding two bags of junk, pushing her way into the crowd of foreign people on darkened street that was 83rd street. While not as crowded or noisy as the crowds of millions deep in the downtown district the amount of foreign people still was enough to make the girl slightly dizzy, staggering with what energy she could down to a cross section that would take her back home to her destination. Shopping in one of the busiest streets that existed in the docking district was never a favorite of Eve's, however something about the heaviness of the two bags brought comfort to the girl as she turned her gaze onto the artificial roach brown material.
As with any sense guide of coordination however losing concentration is key towards causing unnecessary public accidents and many apologies that could have been spent biting the bullet and trudging back towards the dark safety of indoor familiarity. Of course such things always happened to Eve but on this particular day she would receive her card exercise for the year, a situation that was rare to happen but nevertheless of all people it would be her.
Bump, cliche trip/fall, and hence confrontation that would normally occur.
"HEY Who do you think you are!?!"
Most people normally apologized with her and helped pick up her things, however as the girl scrambled to grab a hold of one bag and make her way to the fallen other her attention could only be directed by the aura of anger emanating from the man she just hit. Only this wasn't any ordinary man as the square faced individual began interrogating the girl while his thin faced companion watched with amusement on the sidelines. Normally the girl was used to foreign anger, a stranger that she could apologize to and move on with her life. However seeing the UAR insignia on both mens uniforms only added to her pale complexion as questions she couldn't even comprehend were being bounced off of her.
"Where are you going?"
"Home sir I-"
"How young are you?"
"I'm nineteen but-"
"Shouldn't you be in schooling then?"
"I'm taking time off-"
"Do you understand how much this suit is WORTH?"
This tripped Eve up as she really couldn't say, forced to sit through the man brush off invisible scratches from their brief contact and glare right back at the girl. Only this time he didn't say anything but rather reached into his pocket and pulled out a mobile device, waiting silently as Eve was trying to comprehend what was going on.
"Are you joking?"
The square faced man grew red as he nearly exploded with anger, his silent companion behind him laughing silently as if finding the fact of extorting money hilarious.
"I could have you arrested for not only assault but talking back to an officer. Luckily I'm only fining you for the damages to my uniform WHICH I must remind you is not cheap. So if you wish to continue to going about your menial life I am waiting for the reparations you owe me."
Eve wasn't really sure what to say as she still sat fearfully in shock throughout the entire situation, trying to ignore many of the passerby's who currently were watching the scene that was unfolding with indifference. Even if UAR officers weren't common by the docks such a scene always was common place in their city, even if Eve's reclusion indoors never had her come to face with such a situation. She finally managed to let out meekly to the man,
"I only pay physically..."
Which of course did not go over too well either even if the transparent card worth absolutely nothing was swiped from her hand. Glancing with sever distaste towards the physical object in his hand he then let out the request that Eve did not hope to hear.
"In that case since I need you to address your name so I can locate you within our system, for future reference if this card doesn't hold out."
The girl thought fast, quickly doing everything in her power to make sure that this information wasn't looked up forcing her into a slew of many more lies.
"-I have a physical copy of my idea as well. It should be easier for you as I think I'd be rather hard to find within the system."
"Everyone is recorded accurately within our database, what does it matter if you have a random physical copy of your identification with you?"
The officer behind him spoke up finally, a glint of continued amusement shining in his eyes as the square faced man was taken aback by his sudden outburst.
"If I may...why are you carrying around a physical copy of your identification with you?"
The girl frantically searched for an out, racing in her exploding head of nervousness as she tried to find some way to avoid sitting any longer in this foreign noise that made her head hurt. She craved to be home and in the comfort of others she could vaguely call familiar, trying to think of some way...just any way to...
"Look I am very sorry for appearing rude and ruining your fine uniform. You are a well and wonderful man and I do you dishonor by speaking to you. If I may I have another way to repay you in that bag right there...if you don't mind accepting it."
Speech 101 back in school finally was coming in handy through one on one conversation as her heart continued to flutter trying to betray the calm persona she was representing. Still the man was taken back slightly by her words if a little skeptical by her request, glancing over to the bag still found on the ground and wondering if he cared to listen to what Eve was saying. Eventually though he sighed and motioned for his companion over to check the contents of the bag while he himself continued to find the exact payout of the card that was handed to him. Still he seemed calmer almost, probably not used to a girl speaking kindly and complimenting him for once in his life as a calm serenity fell over his features.
"I'll humor you, for now know that you still aren't off the hook..."
He spoke towards her direction, still trying to load the information he was looking for on the screen in front of him.
"Hey Mathews come take a look at this,"
The square faced officer glanced over to his companion and squinted towards what the thin man was holding in his hand: A package of sour flavored candy that was a personal favorite towards Eve. Head Exploders, always a classic.
The beet red man thrust his head back toward the direction of the girl only to find that she was gone, racing his eyes to the screen to understand the amount of money she had left with the two of them in the first place. It was an amount of money too embarrassed to be owning in such a fast paced society as Seattle with Eve having every right to be embarrassed of her funding. But such was the life of her lifestyle on the continued quest of finding information, outside luxuries aside from food could wait.
The girl now found herself on 84th street racing through what crowds she could get by effectively while now clutching onto her last bag of sugary goodness for her life. She continued to swear to herself in frustration at the fact of leaving such a large amount of candy back in the presence of two angry UAR guards, still with some naivety she hoped that at least one of them had a sweet tooth not to chase her down for her own incompetence. Still she ran, farther into 85th only to now cut into the street itself and try to make her way to one of the back alleys she could find her way in.
It was always frustrating to make her way outside, especially when their main hideout wasn't near anything particular aside from a few residential areas and the sound of far off freighters toward the north end of the docking district. Still the girl was thankful that at least a luxury store was close for her to buy the sweets she wished for, even if they were a luxury she could hardly find herself affording in the first place.
But such was the life of a Code Monkey.
Making a few close calls in what could be another incident the girls lungs continued to burn as she continued to run in fear while hoping to find a good side street to cut into without running straight towards the shoreline. Of course such a thing would be difficult to do on its own unless she was purposely trying to make her way there, but still it was enough to keep her mind going off easy spots that she could possibly be seen if the two men did decide that their egos required themselves to come after her. Oh how she thanked whatever city planner that did not install many security monitors at the far end of nowhere, racing through easy blind spots she could find while still trying to make it back ohm as quickly as possible. Of course this meant it took longer and a more careful planned out route when avoiding what little security monitors there were, even if not prevalent still there if she wasn't careful and wished to have another conversation with those two men. Still she had to hand it to the higher ups of the organization she was currently freeloading at: It was a prime spot for buying sweets and avoiding UAR officials.
Still that led up to the question of why two egoistical soldiers were wandering around the docking district, still at the current situation in which she was in such thoughts only flashed briefly as there were still attempts to race home quickly.
It was there she found it, an easy alley to cut through as she raced toward 86th street and then onto 87th which would lead her to her destination. For some reason their hideout could only be reached by 87th street as it quickly cut into a dead end, but the fact of the matter was that 87th was rarely traveled on outside of regulars who rarely if ever stayed in the surrounding apartments still functional. Once again did she have to applaud others at its prime location and be thankful that it wasn't deep in the sewers of the city.
The alley she was running through didn't take long to break out of as now she was past what meager crowds there were on 87th street onward and now onto the more sleepy poor residential areas that resided int the docking district. It was amazing that even despite a short stretch of streets (Even if the current run was beginning to take a toll on the girls heart) she still found it surprising of just what a change there was in the amount of people that resided in each. Yet Eve wouldn't complain.
Onto 87th and down the street past the old government propaganda poster on the right, then a little further down and cutting through Waterwalk Alley down to the only set of functional doors still in that cramped and dark place. She threw her thumb on the scanner as quick as she could while fearfully listening towards any foreign sound that might come racing down 87th street coming after her.
The door opened and nobody came, the girls lungs still burning violently.
She staggered through the door with ragged breaths, sweating all over as she tried to make her way up the stairs and to the third floor which would contain her workstation. Yet she wouldn't be able to make it, collapsing on what would coincidentally be the third step and collapse on the side wall in that dirty lobby. However by now it had an almost familiar stench to it, one she could grow used to as she found herself drifting off into a frustrated lull as she still hated herself for leaving the second bag. A waste of money and all because of her carelessness.
Yet even despite the others who found themselves in this same residence alongside of her there existed a wonderful serenity that rarely could be found in her city. There was silence.
The girl passively reached into the bag she managed to save to pull out something to eat away this frustration and adrenaline, however she stopped herself as something began to mix into the lobby air of the first floor. It was faint but...present as the oder contrasted in part with the dust that had still yet to be cleaned out by the discarded lobby. It was the faint smell of food being prepared above her, a smell she hadn't ever experienced before despite what would be previously presented in terms of being edible.
Which of course meant one thing that presented new uneasiness in the girls stomach: Someone new was there.
The Grey Hill Barrens was a seedier part of Seattle, located off 101st street. The people in this area were typically to poor to afford the high class living of the rest of the city, and were generally thrown together in large communities all over Seattle called Barrens. The communities were coined barrens, as they were typically void of typical 'civil' citizens, and were only lightly patrolled by police. What little police presence there was in the barrens typically focused more on keeping whatever happened inside the barrens, inside the barrens, as opposed to keeping the piece of the neighborhoods. The lack of police protection often resulted in the inhabitants of the barrens to be more hostile in nature, and more prone to violence. No one race made up the majority of the barren populations, but they all shared the same demeanor, gruff and cutthroat, and not the most trustworthy of people.
Of course, the lack of police presence also meant that the barrens were hubs for black market trade. Here you could easily find firearms and ammunition without security checks, clearances and traces, as well as aftermarket parts for computers and HACKtools. These black markets often took on the facade of pawn shops, though occasionally there were bazzars and marketplaces filled with black market goods, as well as street sellers, pushing smaller products. The Grey Hill RootShop was a moderately known black market, large enough to maintain a large selection of items, but small enough to stay under the radar of inquisitive individuals, whether they be police or private.
Walking amongst the throngs of lower class city dwellers walked a man of regular height, and regular build, with regular hair covered by a regular hat. He walked with a slight hunch, his hands in his pockets, lightly swaying as he walked. With his plain leather jacket, and cargo pants, he was quickly forgotten by passerbys in the Grey Hill Barrens. He casually walked into the open doors of the Grey Hill RootShop, no one greeted him.
Joshua Sykes made his way to a side counter, well out of view of the rest of the store. Behind the counter was a lanky techie, his left eye replaced by a cybernetic replacement. The techy was nervous and twitchy, his lanky frame shuddering as he occasionally jerked this way and that. Noticing Joshua's approach, he waved excitedly at him.
"H-h-hey! J! O-over here!" the nervous tech squeaked excitedly, his voice sounding as though it was perpetually cracking.
Joshua quickly crossed the gap, closing in on the techie so he wouldn't have to yell his name again.
"H-hey! I-I didn't think you'd m-m-make it!" the lanky man squeaked.
"Stop talking Frankie, do you have my stuff?" Joshua said bluntly.
"Y-yes!" Frankie said as he frantically nodded his head, reaching down to pull out a plain black sling backpack as he did. "I-its all in here!"
Casually reaching over and taking the single strap backpack, Joshua quickly brought it close to him and opened up the main pocket, leaning slightly as he peered inconspicuously into the bag.
"I-I upgraded your shock-baton like y-you wanted," Frankie ranted as Joshua inspected the pack's contents. "M-more responsive, less misfires. I also upgraded y-your VR piece like you asked, I-I removed the glass portion so it looks more like a bluetooth. It uses h-holo panels to feed info to your eyes."
"Oh and also!"
"Thats enough Frankie, thanks." Joshua said, cutting the man off, as he slung the backpack over his shoulder. "We'll keep in touch." he said, walking off as the jittery man stuttered a goodbye.
Half an hour later, Joshua walked and turned onto 87th street, abandoned and quiet as always. Pressing his hand against the fingerprint scanner, Joshua quickly made his way through the lobby, his shoes clacking across the ruined stone as he moved. He returned to the second floor lounge-turned-headquarters, which was more crowded than he was used to. This meaning he was used to being the only person spending a good amount of time there. The hub's computer power allowed him to do a range of things he wouldn't be able to do on his HACKtool alone, and he busied himself with various programs and pieces of equipment while he was up there.
Someone was making food in the small kitchen. Leaning over slightly, Joshua called out,
"Hello? Aaron?" Joshua knew it wasn't Evelyn, because all the girl ate was junk food and he passed her on the way up, and Abel never left her room. The group currently at the hub had never met Kim Nelson offline, and Joshua was skeptical that they ever would, and as such, he assumed it was Aaron Gunther.
Nevertheless, not moments after he called out, his HACKtool received a message. It was heavily encrypted and took his phone a few moments to decipher.
Be at the Hub center, 15 minutes. -Exo
Joshua shrugged, he was already at the Hub center, so it seemed all he had to do was wait.
Gradually over several long minuets Abel's frazzled nerves began to settle into some semblance of normalcy. The quivering stopped leaving her leaning listlessly against the wall. Her breathing slowed into a tired pattern, eyes drooping into lazy hoods. Her thoughts which formerly raced upon various nerve fueled absurdities lulled into aimless pondering. Simply another part of an average day, at least for her. The young woman was content to sit in the quiet, letting her thoughts wander about. As she did so that silence was gradually filled with faint murmurs of activity from the floors above and below. First footsteps moving up to the second floor, then to the third, then the fourth above her. Next was a second pair of footsteps which only moved to the second. A bit later the faint smell of cooking made its way up to her third floor room.
Abel's stomach groaned as if by reaction. ”Haven't eaten today...” She spoke aloud to herself, cursing the ill-informed decision as a hand went to her growling stomach. Reluctantly she pushed herself to her feet and began to glance around the room. The only sign of nourishment in the room was a trash bin containing discarded wrappers from some off brand energy bar and an empty bottle of iced tea sitting on her desk. Sitting down on the edge of her bed across from her desk she gave a weary sigh. She toyed with the thought of forcing down her nerves and sneaking back out past whoever had arrived to get something to eat but ultimately only ended up peering out a small crack in the boarded up windows in disdain. The thought of getting some of whatever was cooking down below didn’t even process in her mind. After all there was still ever more shuffling about down stairs. A voice could even be heard, though not well enough to be made out. There was no way she could have slipped out unnoticed if someone could arrive at any moment. How many people were going to be living here? She thought.
While her mind reeled about in agonizing contemplation, a faint tone suddenly began to play out from the discarded headphones connected to her HACKtool. Distracted for the moment she stood, picking the piece of technology up from the floor to check the incoming notification. Her heart skipped when it began to decode automatically. A random forum notification or a spam message from King Hasbul of Antarctica or some such nonsense would not require decryption, which was about all she normally got. Even before the message popped up she already had a hunch what it would be about. Be at the Hub center, 15 minutes. -Exo Managing to sneak out was now even more of an impossibility than before. Now there was no choice. For most of those 15 minutes Abel would stare at the glowing screen of her HACKtool with a growing pit in her stomach which canceled out its former grumbling. Two minutes before the designated time Abel drew in a deep breath. Her teeth grit together as she did her best to push away the look of unease from her face which reflected in her HACKtool, then placed the headphones over her ears. With a few quick motions she resumed the playlist of music from earlier in the day and exited her room.
Abel closed her door as quietly as she could, moving down the hall then down the stairs in much the same fashion. As she neared the second floor her head hung a bit, her expression growing more or less flat. Soon she reached the end of the flight of stairs leading to the second floor, lingering there as she tightly clutched the MP3 player in hand.
Kim hummed on a tune as she cooked. She loved to cook. Even though she did not need to eat, it was a lot cheaper than to replace her power core. The good doctor had also said that it was good for her psyche to eat like a normal human. She missed him. He had been dead for five years now, but Kim knew everything that he had known. It had been his way to make sure that she would survive. "A good friend indeed," she thought as she stirred in the food. She wondered if her gesture would be appreciated by the youths. She was old enough to be their mother. She chuckled as she thought about it and turned down the heat. While she was not completely out of it when it came to the latest trends and what not, she was by far no expert on the youths. She had the data, she had the statistics, but she did not have the heart. She had seen a lot in her days, she was old.
That thought crept up on her as she saw her own face in a reflection. She still looked young, but she was old. As she stood there and stared into the reflection, she felt so old. She laughed dryly at that thought just as a voice called out to her. She turned towards the voice just as her HACKtool beeped as it stood on the table. She turned towards it and looked at what popped up. "I see.....so it's time now," she thought and nodded to herself as the computer decrypted the message. Kim did not bother about it at all and instead focused on her cooking before calling out to whomever had called out to her.
"No, it's not Aaron," she said in her smooth and calm, yet mature voice. "But feel free to come in anyway." Kim turned down the heat for the food but kept it on to keep it warm and stirred it one final time before setting up on the table. It was quite simple in fact. Mashed potatoes with a bolognese was what she had made together with vegetables. There were mushrooms, and corn grains in addition to the other things together with spices and red wine. A quite healthy meal in other words, and very tasty, at least to Kim.
She had set out five sets of tableware in total, one for each member of their little crew as the HACKtool finished the decryption. She put down her computer onto the floor and back into it's bag after reading the message. It was just waiting left now. Kim sat down at the table after placing some milk, juice and water on it and waited. Either she would have to eat alone, or they could all eat together while waiting for the message and while it was playing. Kim however, would only wait a few minutes before she would start eating.