Follow John Perceval Cain

Electronic Auguries
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Chapter 3

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"Friends are not as important as family. Do not confuse the loyalty of friendship with the bond of blood"

#TheMafiaManager

 

A small, square framed, overhead view of the building's floor plan appeared in the lower left corner of Alex's left eye. A yellow line with dots at intersections routed her to another room. Neat, Alex thought. As she followed the routing through the white generic hallways, she reflected, I wonder what this is all about. Who am I? Why would they put all these resources into me? I get, that alone makes me special... but, I don't feel like I was ever, that special. As Alex neared her destination, she heard voices in the room and paused to listen.

 

"Is Alex intact?" A deep voice said.

 

Alex heard the voice before. That must be Gavin.

 

"Very intact, I'm surprised at how good the scans were. The cyber augments show no rejection. The genetic changes are stable and will make the role easier," DGH said.

 

Alex barged into the room, raising her voice, "Not only do I not know who I am, but you changed me? You genetically manipulated me? What did you do to me?" Alex demanded.

 

DGH, in hologram form, turned zir lithe form gesturing like a magician's assistant, "Gavin, let me introduce you to the exceptional, Alex."

 

"Don't change the subject," Alex stamped a foot, "What did you do to me?"

 

"I improved you. Your clones kept dying and we were not sure why. I increased the copy count of a number of your genes to make you stronger and faster in hopes that one of the clones would mature so we could bring you back." DGH looked deep into Alex's eyes, "it worked." DGH turned and gestured towards the man standing next to her. "Alex, this is Gavin."

 

He strode forward reached out an arm and firmly shook Alex's hand, "You don't know how glad we are that you made it."

 

Alex turned toward Gavin; her knees went wobbly, and her palms felt sweaty, he was rugged, handsome and exuded masculinity. Gavin had jet black, short-cropped hair, a well-sculpted mustache and beard with a hint of salt and pepper starting to show. He was muscular, but not overly so and dressed in a well-tailored charcoal wool suit with a black turtleneck.

 

Gavin took her hand in both of his, they were firm, a bit calloused, but warm. He smelled of sandalwood and musk. "Alex, we need you... We need you to help us."

 

Alex felt like her flare of hardness was softening. She realized, despite not knowing who she was, she felt alone and wanted to belong. She needed others and wanted to be wanted. "Help you with what?"

 

"A robbery."

 

Alex stepped back and looked from Gavin to DGH and back to Gavin, I'm missing something, she thought.

 

"You look confused," Gavin said still holding her hand.

 

"Hon, watch that one, he's really smooth. Might even be smoother than me." Max said as she walked into the room.

 

"Maximillian, you tease," Gavin said, "No one can be smoother than the High Priestess herself."

 

Alex, feeling even more disoriented, pulled her hand back and looked at Max. "High Priestess?"

 

"Yes," Max said, "I am, the High Priestess of Earth's Temple of the Triple Goddess, I can tell you more about that another time, we're here to save people."

 

Alex's legs trembled and she felt a bit giddy. Looking at Max, but gesturing at Gavin she said, "but, he said they needed me to help with a robbery."

 

Max stepped in and gave Alex an enveloping hug, "Yes dear, we're going to save people by committing robbery."

 

Alex felt almost befuddled but marveled at how an android could so fully hug someone. Her heart rate was going up again. I guess I don't care why, I like them and want to help, she thought. "So, who or what are we robbing?"

 

"Atta Girl," Max disentangled herself from Alex and said, "Gavin, fill Alex in on the background while DGH and I set the hologram system up to project the briefing. Dealla should be here soon, she's finishing up stowing some gear and we shouldn't start without her."

 

Gavin summarized Earth's current political situation as being disproportionately driven by a small but vocal right-wing minority. Members of the Sacred Temple of Plenteousness (STP), a prosperity gospel offshoot of Protestantism which started during the mid-20th century and grew to popularity in the late 21st century, held sway over the Earth First party, which subscribed to a human nativism view, prioritizing human intelligence and pure human genetics.

 

RP-2200-45, the bill under debate at Earth's parliament was their doing and if it passed roughly a quarter to a third of the world's 10 billion individuals would lose their legal status and rights.

 

"You mean this will affect all of us?" Alex asked.

 

"Yes, almost every member of Innominate is at risk, this includes me, Max, DGH, Gavin, Dealla and even you," Gavin said.

 

Gavin went on, part of STP's beliefs were that sickness and poverty are curses for having broken faith. These were punishments from God via bad genes and the result of bad breeding. Over time, STP's members believed, with the correct marriages and unions, they could further purify the whole race to be more plentiful, aligned with God and ultimately eliminate all the world's ills.

 

About nine months ago, an inside man had come forward and disclosed to Innominate that the Archbishop of STP had engaged in a 25-year conspiracy with Grahambell Biotechnical. Instead of fertility support and consultation for the STP members, Grahambell senior scientists were introducing genetic changes in their offspring. All STP's putative breeding enhancements were in fact genetic alterations, not divine natural selection. If they could steal and publish the underlying genetic sequences and family trees, the bill would stall, and the conspiracy investigated and prosecuted.

 

Alex looked around and noticed the room had been transformed. There were four stocky, well-padded chairs, that looked like they came from the ready room of a fighter squadron in an arc in front of a three-dimensional hologram of a satellite view of the countryside. Max led Alex to the chair on the far end and she sat in the next chair. DGH wasn't in the room, but then Alex noticed one of the two large wall-mounted monitors showed a picture of a mission control office. DGH was there dressed in grey scale digital camouflage fatigues and had a boom mic headset on. Gavin stood near the hologram lost in his own thoughts.

 

Alex sat down and felt more grounded than at any point thus far. She had a sense of what was going on and knew that she wanted to play a part. This was an important undertaking, even if she didn't fully remember who she was, but believed this was consistent with the authentic her and that she ought to help. "Milli, please record this briefing. You can do that, can't you?"

 

"Affirmative, I can record. I can also get a copy of the maps, images and digital files from DGH if they allow them to be shared," Milli said.

 

A tall woman confidently strode into the room and Alex felt gob smacked, as she could have been one of Ruben's famous three graces. She was full figured and wore a skin-tight flat-black wetsuit like outfit showing off her curves to full effect. Smoky purple eye makeup accentuated her green eyes, she had pink glossy lip stick that matched her fingernail polish and her oval, olive skin face was framed with mid-length black dreadlocks with hints of red and blue in them.

 

Dealla walked over and stood in front of Max and said, "So this Princess is the chosen one," and gestured at Alex.

 

Alex's feelings rapidly flipped from attraction to infuriated, "What do you have against me? I don't even know you."

 

"I've been a top-tier net runner for Innominate and the Blaise family for the last decade. I've forgotten more about hacking security systems than you will likely ever learn." Ignoring Alex, Dealla turned toward Gavin, "Why do we need her as part of the team?"

 

"Don't be so dramatic, you're still a Queen," Max said laughing.

 

Gavin turned around, "Ladies, please... Dealla, we need two teams, with two net runners, when we go through the briefing it will all make sense."

 

Max said, "Alex, this is Dealla, Dealla Mante."

 

Ignoring both Max and Alex, Dealla unceremoniously dropped into the chair next to Max and said, "Let's get this over with. I still need to pack for my trip to New Mexico."

 

What's up with her, Alex thought.

 

Gavin walked over and sat in the chair farthest away from Alex, "DGH, please start the briefing."

 

The large screen monitor cut to a head and shoulders shot of DHG, "We received intelligence from our inside man that STP and Grahambell Biotech have been in an ongoing conspiracy. Public disclosure of the data showing there have been genetic manipulations for a quarter century will call in to question both STP's organizational integrity and this is against their core beliefs and will place large portions of STP's members on the wrong side of the Earth First party's legislation."

 

The hologram zoomed out to a planet-wide view and the globe turned and zoomed in on Britania and the Temple region of London. DGH continued, "STP's world headquarters, central bureaucracy and office of the archbishop is located in London." The facility on the hologram glowed with a pink tinge highlighting STP owned facilities against the surrounding buildings. "And we know that the family tree data is located here on a private server."

 

The hologram zoomed back out to a planet-wide view and two pointers appeared. DGH continued, "We also know that Grahambell Biotech's Central Hatchery and Conditioning facility, also in London, is one of two facilities where the genetic alterations are completed." The pointer over London started blinking pink.

 

"We also know from our inside man, that the Archbishop has been having an illicit affair with Grahambell Biotech's director of Research and Development, Dr Melaina Kadi. Her private lab is at the other worldwide site in North America, in the New Mexico region." The other pointer over the south-west of North America started blinking.

 

"Who is this inside man?" Dealla asked, "If I'm going there to recon the access point, how good do we know the data is?"

 

DGH looked at Dealla, "The data is unimpeachable, but incomplete, I've reviewed it all."

 

"Gavin," Dealla asked, "That isn't comforting, she hasn't said who it is."

 

"It's need to know," Gavin said, "and you don't need to know. Yet, I suspect before this is over, we will all know who the inside man is."

 

Alex looked at Max, who smiled and said nothing. This is cryptic, she thought, there is clearly more they're not sharing.

 

Gavin stood up, walked next to the monitor where DGH was displayed and faced the three in their chairs. "Here is the rest of what we know from the inside man. The data is split between the family trees and the genetic alterations across two quantum entangled servers that are not connected to any other network."

 

Dealla whistled, "I get it... you need a net runner at each server to simultaneously hack them to defeat the entanglement."

 

"Bingo," Gavin said.

 

"But it's actually much worse," DGH added.

 

"Delightful," Dealla said, "why would we want this to be easy."

 

"Can I continue?" Gavin asked, without waiting for an answer he continued, "In many ways we think the STP site will be easier as the inside man gave us most of the details of the site. We know there is a biologic entity detection system. That's Maximilian's task. She and Alex will infiltrate that site, Max will breach the facility, get beyond the detectors and turn them off. Alex will join her and then hack their server. There is also a DNA access check. The Inside Man gave us a biologic sample for Alex to use to defeat the access check. Alex will dive into cyberspace and have to link up with Dealla at a data fort."

 

"Nope, ain't gonna happen." Dealla said, "I'm not linking up with that."

 

"Why not?" Alex asked, "is there something wrong with me?"

 

"You have no idea what he's asking us to do," Dealla said.

 

"Dealla," Gavin said, "But I know exactly what I'm asking you to do. You are going to train Alex and you are going to link with her. You yourself said it, you've been my and Innominate's best net runner, I wouldn't trust this to anyone else. I need your magic. Trust me if anyone can do this, it's the two of you."

 

"Well... Okay... But I won't like it," Dealla said.

 

Max looked at Alex, then at Dealla, laughed and said, "yes, heaven forbid, don't enjoy it."

 

"What's that mean?" Alex looked at Max who grinned like the proverbial cat that ate the canary.

 

"You'll see hon, I don't want to spoil it for you," Max said.

 

I'm not sure I like that, even if I do enjoy it, thought Alex.

 

<<break point>>

 

"Hopefully, that's enough? We need to finish the brief, please," DGH said. "We know we have about a month till the parliament can call the question and vote on the bill. We have to complete the operation before that."

 

"Which leaves, what's left to do," Gavin said. "Before our rabbit hole detours, I was discussing that we don't know which of the two possible sites, London or New Mexico, is where Grahambell Biotech's entangled server is."

 

"If the Archbishop and the Doctor are having an affair, I bet it's in London, so they are close to each other," Alex said.

 

"How would you know," Dealla retorted.

 

"I'm just saying," Alex said. Wow, she's so critical.

 

"However, Dr Kadi's private lab is in New Mexico, so Dealla will go there and start reconnaissance to rule in or out that site." Gavin continued, "We will use my construction company's regional facility in Albuquerque as the base of operations. We will also use this time for Max to train Alex on her cybernetics. Dealla will train Alex on net running and hacking." Gavin looked at Alex, "You will have practice daily to build up the strength and endurance of your central nervous system to tolerate the dive though an entangled system. Finally, I will be giving you some assault training. We have a safe house and live fire range in the New Mexico area to get you up to speed on wet work."

 

"How do you even know I am capable of this?" Alex asked. Can I do this? Alex thought as she felt her anxiety rising and a bit nauseous.

 

"You are an exceptional security agent and have been involved in these sorts of operations in the past. Also, with the added genetic and cybernetic enhancements, you are in an otherworldly class of excellence now," Max said, laying her hand on Alex's forearm for reassurance.

 

"Hopefully the Princess doesn't break a nail," Dealla mocked.

 

I'll do this just to prove her wrong, Alex thought.

 

"We will also be planning contingencies for the Grahambell's Central Hatchery too," DGH said, "we know they employ similar organic intrusion detection to what is employed at the STP Temple. If needed, Gavin will use his family to smuggle himself and Dealla into the facility."

 

"His family?" Alex asked.

 

Max laughed, "Yes, his family, or his network. Gavin is the Boss of the Blaise Crime Family. They are second only to the Bratva of the Russian Region. His family started out in construction, waste management and trucking and his great grandfather parleyed it into a conglomerate that rivals most terrestrial corporations."

 

"Yes, then my father, Arthur Blaise, got the family connected to Innominate and that allowed us to expand off world and add to our repertoire and capabilities. We run multiple services; our intelligence agents and smugglers are some of the best anywhere."

 

DGH made a sound like clearing her throat, "Back to business. Gavin and Dealla will be the primary team, and once smuggled into London, or breached into New Mexico, there is likely to be a defensive net runner on the local subnet that Dealla will have to trap in cyberspace, while Gavin eliminates them."

 

"Max," Gavin went on, "That's when you and Alex will start your breach. You should be onsite and ready to go. We can find you a staging area where you can safely wait on stand-by."

 

"Where exactly will we go in the facility?" Alex asked.

 

Gavin looked at DGH and then to Alex, "We expect a final data dump from the inside man with those details."

 

DGH picked up, "I will set up a secure data fort in digital space, this is where Dealla and Alex will migrate their consciousnesses to after their breach and entry into the two entangled servers. They will be able to recombine all the data and feed it to me for us to use and exploit it. The tricky part is, the upload is likely to take at least an hour or longer and the whole time, Dealla and Alex will be in an extremely vulnerable state. Gavin and Max will have to protect their bodies until the data is transmitted and reassembled in my cloud storage, then their consciousness can return to fulling animate themselves."

 

"We need to get the Princess fitted for a net running suit similar to mine, she will need the built-in cooling coils if she's going to dive that long," Dealla said, "That is, if you expect her to live through it and not fry her brain."

 

"I will get her all set up," Max said.

 

"Good. After resurfacing from cyberspace," Gavin said, "we start our exfiltration. The upside is during this phase we can go hot if needed and not worry if we wake the neighbors. Remember, getting the data out is the most important thing. If we fail, billions of people will lose their rights and Innominate will be forced to go underground."

 

"Questions?" DGH asked.

 

Max stood up, took Alex's hand and pulled her to her feet. "While Dealla and Gavin head to Albuquerque, we're headed to Auld Reekie, we need to go get you packed."

 

"So, Gavin and I are lead team and taking the unknown Grahambell Biotech site, Max and the Princess are the support team and taking the easier STP site," Dealla said as she stood up.

 

"Actually, the teams are equal, and the two sites have quite similar risks and defenses," DGH corrected.

 

"But Gavin is the Op leader, correct?" Dealla countered.

 

"True, but I am the Master Mind, mission support and remote access." DGH said.

 

"So, Gavin IS the leader, executing your plan via your access and support," Dealla said.

 

Alex was fascinated that Dealla would argue fine points of distinction with a sentient AI, maybe she had misjudged her, she was fierce.

 

"Dealla, there's no margin of error here, what's your problem?" Gavin asked.

 

"If this blows up and goes sideways, I want to be clear on CoC," Dealla said.

 

"Understood, chain of command is Gavin, Maximillian, Dealla, DGH and Alex," Gavin said.

 

Dealla looked at Alex, "Excellent, I can live with that."

 

What a fucking bitch! Alex thought.

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