- Mar 4, 2015
sudo -rm -rf -2
X-Division, Omar Mukhtar Building, Constantinople - 6:30 PM
Angela and Anders entered the office. While Angela unlocked the file cabinet and began leafing through their case files, Anders reached under his desk and pulled out an ancient typewriter.
“What’s with that?” Angela said.
“Tesla Dynamic prototype,” Anders said, “Internet-connected peer-to-peer typewriter, capable of sending and receiving simple messages to other typewriters. Only ten were ever made, all in the mid-90s.”
“Yeah, because nobody wants to channel their inner Metternich when texting,” Angela said.
“The good news is, the Lone Gunmen and I bought all ten,” Anders said, “We sold six to allies. We were to use them in case something happened and we needed a way to contact each other through nontraditional means.”
“If the messages are sent over the internet, can’t they be tracked and read?” Angela said.
“Each message is encrypted in Morse code and sent directly to the destination typewriter,” Anders said, “Since it’s so basic, it’s swamped by the rest of the internet. You’d have to know what you’re looking for to find the message.”
“That…makes absolutely no sense,” Angela said.
“Hey, that’s our job,” Anders said, “Anyways, I probably simplified a lot because I’m not an expert in this sort of stuff. Rest assured it works and is safe.”
He plugged in the typewriter and put up the antenna for the modem. Several small lights blinked on the side as they heard the whir of the ancient modem booting up.
“It’s a lot like the typewriters the other side used to communicate,” Angela said.
“It stands to reason if they came up with the technology, we’d figure out something similar,” Anders said, “Minus the cross-universe communication part.”
The modem beeped.
“Alright, we should be good now,” Anders said, “Let’s get started.”
After loading a roll of paper into the typewriter, he pushed the function key and the number “1.”
“That will tell it to send a message to the Lone Gunmen’s typewriter,” Anders said, “Theirs is designated as 1.”
“How do you send numbers then?” Angela said.
“You push another button,” Anders said.
“That’s a terrible design,” Angela said.
“Blame Tesla Dynamic,” Anders said, “Now for the message…”
He began typing, the typewriter’s keys clicking as each keystroke was registered on the paper.
HELLO? ARE YOU THERE? CONFIRMATION LARISSA 9.
Anders stopped typing and leaned back.
“What now?” Angela said.
“We wait,” Anders said, “There should be confirmation coming with the message to be sure it’s actually them. Only we’d know the place where we first met, in Larissa in 1990.”
After a few seconds, the function key and the number “1” pressed themselves, followed by the other keys typing out a message on their own.
LOUD AND CLEAR. CONFIRMATION ARGISSA 0.
“That’s the industrial park where we ended up later that night,” Anders said, “It’s them.”
HOW ARE YOU?
SAFE. GOT OUT IN TIME.
HAVEN’T HEARD IN A WHILE.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN?
SOMEONE’S AFTER US. WE CAN’T GO HOME YET.
DON’T KNOW. FOR SOME REASON, WE RECEIVED WARNING OF THE HIT.
WHO WARNED YOU?
STRANGE. I THINK IT WAS SKYE.
Angela and Anders looked at each other.
“Skye?” Angela said. “Didn’t she die in 1997?”
“We didn’t see a body, Angie,” Anders said.
I THINK SO. HER FACE JUST SHOWED UP ON MY COMPUTER. IT WAS LIKE SHE WAS SPEAKING TO ME.
DON’T KNOW, IT HAPPENED SO FAST. SHE WARNED US OF THE ATTACK JUST BEFORE IT HAPPENED.
HOW IS SHE ALIVE?
I DON’T KNOW. FIGURE IT OUT.
MIGHT BE THE COS.
THAT WANNABE SKYNET? THE ONE THAT KILLED SKYE?
WHAT ABOUT IT?
MAYBE IT’S NOT DESTROYED.
WHAT DO WE DO?
There was a long pause.
WE HAVE TO GO NOW. KEEP YOUR MACHINE PLUGGED IN. WE’LL CONTACT YOU WHEN THE TIME’S RIGHT. WE’LL WORK ON IT ON OUR END.
The typewriter fell silent again.
There was no response. Sighing to himself, Anders put his hands down and stood up.
“Well, that was something,” he said, “Apparently our friend Skye’s still alive.”
“Anders, that’s impossible,” Angela said, “She was in the data center when it was blown to pieces by SVI. Even if she did survive that, it was 1997. We would’ve heard from her. Why is she reaching out now?”
“Remember the case we were working on when she died?” Anders said. “The COS, that artificial intelligence.”
“We uploaded the Kill Switch,” Angela said, “We destroyed it. Twice.”
“Maybe it still isn’t destroyed,” Anders said, “Maybe it was responsible for the drone strike.”
“Well, isn’t that just great?” Angela said. “Budget Skynet’s back for round 3?”
“But why would it go after the Lone Gunmen?” Anders said.
“And why isn’t it using SVI again?” Angela said.
“We all want answers, Angie,” Anders said, “We’ll get them soon enough.”
The typewriter began typing again. They slowly turned back to it, watching as a message appeared on the paper.
ANDERS? ANGELA? YOU THERE?
Anders sat at the typewriter again.
LANDER? FRONIKER? BIERS?
IT’S ME. SKYE.
“Are you serious?” Angela said. “Is it really Skye?”
“Possibly,” Anders said.
HOW ARE YOU ALIVE?
UPLOADED TO COS.
“So it worked,” Anders said, “She did upload herself in the end.”
“Anders, there’s no way the internet in 1997 was advanced and powerful enough to upload and house an entire human consciousness,” Angela said, “This is ludicrous. Could just be Sentinel tricking us.”
HOW DO WE KNOW IT’S YOU?
HOW DO YOU DO, FELLOW HACKERS?
“That’s her,” Anders said.
WHAT ARE WE SUPPOSED TO DO?
HELP ME DESTROY IT.
FIND ITS DATA CENTER AND DESTROY IT AGAIN. TAKE IT OFFLINE FOR GOOD.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
IT’S NOT ABOUT ME. IT’S ABOUT STOPPING THE COS AGAIN.
THE KILL SWITCH DIDN’T KILL IT COMPLETELY.
IT’S SPENT THE LAST SIXTEEN YEARS REBUILDING.
IT’S TAKING OVER THE INTERNET. THE MILITARY. THE STOCK MARKETS.
WE NEED TO STOP IT FROM TAKING COMPLETE CONTROL.
“Did we just go full Eliminator?” Angela said.
“Maybe,” Anders said.
WHERE IS THE DATA CENTER?
DON’T KNOW. THERE SHOULD BE ONLY ONE THOUGH. IT HASN’T LEARNED FROM
The typewriter suddenly stopped typing. Anders sent a message.
There was no response.
“Damnit,” Anders said, “It must’ve shut her out.”
“So what do we do?” Angela said.
“It’s obvious,” Anders said, “We finish what we started. We shut down the COS. Again.”