Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer
Saykoe felt the agents following her, unseen, but their presence always just a corner, just a doorway behind.
She slipped into the narrow gap between two buildings, opened her communications system and coded in to decrypt the tunnel. As she stepped into the street at the end of the alley, the evening disolved into blackness.
“Got her,” the agent spoke aloud, the need for stealth now passed, “she’s out cold and her comm channel is decrypted and open.”
Hours later she awoke, a throbbing pain in the back of her head. The cold asphalt damp beneath her, and the street empty.
In the corner of her heads-up, a nearly open channel blinked, waiting for input.
In the control room, two agents watched Saykoe through the observation glass. She was strapped to an inclined table in the interrogation room, her head wired into a highly restricted VR rig, her every move recorded and scrutinized by the system.
“She won’t know she’s not on the street,” the seated agent spoke, “she’ll still think she’s outside.”
“You were sloppy,” his partner snapped, pacing, “you should have realized there was more than one level of encryption. If it occurs to her she’s being virtualized, she’ll never open a channel and we’ll never get the codes from her.”
Saykoe pulled herself unsteadily to her feet, looked up and down the street but saw no one. There was still the omnipresent feeling of being followed, but the sense of urgency had abated.
The blinking comms-prompt begged for attention.
Slipping back in-between the two buildings, she gave the prompt focus, and started feeding it a complex series of coded keys.
In the server room, the intrusion system slowed the virtual environment and captured every bit with the highest fidelity, while in the control room the agents studied the console with intent.
“I’ve never seen anything like this before. Get me a channel to over-ops, priority, encrypted, they’ll need to see this.”
The seated agent opened the session, coded-in and then fed through the appropriate keys to get over-ops online. A fraction of a second later everything froze.
Under the flickering glare of a single fluorescent tube, Saykoe looked up from the makeshift console to the agent taped tightly to the chair before her, his head wired into a highly restricted VR rig.
“Got you, you fuck.”
With the virtual environment on pause, she executed the code that she had staged, and watched the progress as it crawled through the agent’s open line and into the over-ops cerebral cortex, creating a series of back doors and opening communications ports for future incursions.
Stepping back onto the street, she felt the heat of the thermite as it consumed the heart of the building behind her, and everything within. Turning up her collar, she welcomed the cool breeze as she disappeared into the night.