I’m trapped in Plato’s Spy Cave.
1 Day Later - Deadman - Data Centre
I wake up. The lights are on. Shit, I’m still at work. I sit up, see Evil Dumbfuck and a passel of agents. Aw fuck, I’m still in the meeting.
I slap myself a few times. It’s coming back to me. We’re sleeping in shifts so there’s always someone watching Lodestone. Wait, that doesn’t make sense. She’s not here.
I look over at Lodestone. She waves.
Okay, she’s kinda here. But, just virtually. Still fucking weird. Shouldn’t she be on the lam, or something?
I sit and listen, while I wait for my brain to boot. Seems like the plan has changed while I was sleeping. We’ve gone from trying to find Lodestone in real life, to trying to cut her virtual presence from our system. She calmly watches our efforts. I guess we suck at this too.
Evil Dumbfuck is grilling our other contractors. Asking how this is possible. Not understanding their answers. Fucking guy. This would go a lot faster if he would just leave. People work better if you let them work. Instead of trapping them in a conference room and yelling at them all night. Hell, I can solve most problems in my office in a couple of hours. Mind you, I solve a lot of problems by asking Lodestone what to do. Probably wouldn’t work this time.
A senior contractor is explaining the problem for the eighth time.
“Our virtual work program has millions of lines of code. Lodestone helped write it. She could have slipped her backdoor in anywhere. It’s going to take thousands of man-hours to find it.”
A junior contractor raises his hand.
“What?” says Evil Dumbfuck.
“Why don’t we switch to a secure system?” asks Junior Contractor.
“She’s in our secure system.” says Senior Contractor.
“Yeah, umm, I meant, like... Leviathan?” asks Junior Contractor.
“Because, it, uhh, automatically seals back doors...”
I’m dying. This is the best meeting ever. Evil Dumbfuck is having a stroke. Lodestone gives Junior a thumbs up. The other agents turn a whiter shade of pale.
“Cut off the virtual work program.” says Evil Dumbfuck.
“We’ll lose our technical assets.” says a senior agent.
“Cut it off! CUT IT ALL OFF!! I want this site completely isolated!” shouts Evil Dumbfuck.
We make it happen. Our contractors blink out. Lodestone makes a wack-off gesture, then blinks out. We spend another few hours pulling wires, batteries, and antennas.
The National Spy Agency is offline. What. The. Fuck.
We’re given an hour break. I head to my wack-off bathroom. Put on my augmented reality glasses. Lodestone is there. Of course she is.
She gets sexily disheveled. Rubs herself.
“What are you doing?” I ask.
She stops. “Uhh, what we always do.”
“I thought this was a secret meeting. The wack-off gesture - that was code to meet here.” I say.
“Nope. The wack-off gesture was code for Kentucky to go fuck himself. I’m here because this is the time we do it.” she says.
“What the fuck! Are we going to talk about the security breach?” I say.
“Okay. I didn’t do it. I figure you did.” says Lodestone.
I look at her boobs. I want to trust her. How is she even here?
“Why are you here?” I ask.
She straightens her clothes. “Why are you here?” she asks.
“I don’t know.” I say.
She nods. “I’ll leave if you will.”
“Please?” she says. “Please go right now.”
I hear yelling in the distance. Gunshots.
“What’s happening?” I ask. I’m calm.
The lights go out. The emergency lights do not come on. It’s day 31 of the biggest power blackout in our nation’s history. Their batteries are toast. I’m deep inside a huge secret facility. No windows. It is absolute, pitch black. I could get some light from my phone. I hear another gunshot. Probably best not to give them something to shoot at.
My augmented reality glasses flicker, show a faint red monochrome version of my surroundings. There’s a red line on the floor.
“Follow the red line.” says Lodestone. “I’ll get you out of here.”
“No.” The yelling and gunshots are getting closer. I don’t care. “What’s happening?”
“It’s a purge.” she says. “They’re protecting the data.”
Jesus. Why? Okay, we’re sitting on the world’s biggest stash of blackmail material, and it’s been infiltrated, but who cares? We’ve never given a shit about our stored data. We’re the National Spy Agency. If our blackmail material gets ruined, we just get more.
Except, maybe now we can’t. If Leviathan really shuts all our backdoors, we may never be able to rebuild our global blackmail stash. Which makes it insanely valuable. And vulnerable. Any contractor or agent could have slipped in a backdoor. Our political superiors would have no idea how to find them. But, they know how to find us.
I head out. I ignore the red line. I’m going to data storage. I snag a fire axe on my way by.
“Please. Just go.” whispers Lodestone.
I get to data storage. It’s massive. Racks and racks of hard drives, thousands of them. I wish I had a flamethrower. A computer virus. More time. Oh well.
“Please. They’ll hear you.” whispers Lodestone.
I start hacking the racks. Every wack takes out terabytes of secrets. Frees a thousand people from blackmail tyranny. I chop as fast as I can.
“They’re coming.” whispers Lodestone. “Please, just go. You’re barely making a dent.”
I hack. One rack down. That’s a couple thousand people free.
“Please.” whispers Lodestone. “We’ll find another way. We can fight another day.”
I hack. Two racks down. I’m getting faster.
“Please.” whispers Lodestone. “Don’t leave me alone.”
I hack. “I’m sorry Lodestone.” Three racks down. “I’m an asshole. I wish I’d fooled around with you one last time.”
“You still can.” whispers Lodestone. “Just, please be quiet.”
Hack. Four. Hack. Hack. Five. Hack. Six.
“They’re going to kill Megacles.” whispers Lodestone.
I stop. Look at Lodestone. She’s crying.
“You hid her. But, I found her first.” whispers Lodestone. “Other people will find her too. We’re not the only ones who trade in secrets.”
“Follow the red line. It will take you to Megacles.” whispers Lodestone. “If they catch her, they will destroy Leviathan. If they catch her, they catch all of us. Someone needs to protect us.
I’m still. I’ve been lied to so many times.
I follow the red line.
“How are we going to wreck the data?” I whisper. I’m scared. Wasn’t scared to fight and die, but running for my life is freaking me out.
“I’ll scramble it a little. It will look like good data, but if they use it, they’ll just attack each other.” whispers Lodestone.
“You can do that?” I whisper.
“It’s literally all I do here.” whispers Lodestone.
The red line is getting fainter. I slow down. “Why is that getting fainter?” I whisper.
“You need to slow down. You’re getting near the room where keeping the agents. We have to go by quietly. Or, wait for the distraction.”
“Uhh… when they shoot them.”
I stop. Slip out of my shoes. I’m calm again.
“No!” whispers Lodestone. “You can’t really see. I’m using a map to give you visuals. You won’t know where the killers are.”
I slip into the room. Listen. It’s a big room I hear breathing. A lot of breathing. I creep towards the breathing.
“No no no…” whispers Lodestone. “Just… slow down. Maybe, I can…”
I creep forward. Listen for breathing. The prisoners will all be grouped together. Sitting or kneeling. The gunmen will be spread out. Standing. Probably.
“Just wait. Wait wait wait…” whispers Lodestone.
The breathing is getting louder. I’m close to someone. He’s standing. Alone. I lift my axe. Stop breathing. Creep forward.
“Christ’s sake. Can you give me one goddamn minute.” whispers Lodestone.
I swing wide. Connect later than I expected. Guy wasn’t where I thought he was. He screams. His gun goes off. Fuck. Now I’m deaf.
He curls around the axe. Collapses. I pull the axe free. What now? I can’t see or hear. Swing wild? Duck? Feel around for his gun?
A light shines in my eyes. Fuck! I throw my axe at it. The light pinwheels through the room. I see men struggling to my left. Men holding handguns to my right. The light hits the ground. Goes out. I charge right. Get a hold of someone. Fight for his gun. Can’t get it. Fuck! Fuck! Wrap an arm around his neck, twist, dive at the floor. Hit hard, but his skull hits too. Now I’ve got his gun. Give him a bullet. Another. Sit up. Shooters pose. Fuck. Still can’t see or hear. The house lights flicker. Fuck. I’m facing the wrong way. I turn. Stay low. Lights flicker again. Everybody’s low. I get ready for the next flicker.
“STAND DOWN!” I faintly hear Lodestone screaming in my ear. “YOU GOT THEM! DON’T SHOOT THE PEOPLE YOU JUST SAVED!”
Heart’s hammering. I lower my barrel.
The red line’s back on my map. “Get back in the hall, and I’ll turn the lights back on.” says Lodestone.
I go back to the hall. The lights come on. Me and the surviving agents shout at each other until we’re reasonably sure we won’t shoot each other. I enter the room, gun low.
I look around the room. I see five agents from the meeting, standing wild-eyed with handguns. I see the other fifteen agents from the meeting on the ground. Gang’s all here. Evil Dumbfuck has an axe in his chest. Fucking guy.
“What the fuck?” I ask.
“Yeah, this was planned in haste.” says Lodestone. “I think they just went to their cars and grabbed their personal handguns.”
“Why’d they turn out the lights?” I ask.
“They didn’t. I did.” says Lodestone.
I look over to where Evil Dumbfuck’s light landed. It’s a smashed cell phone. “Right.” I say.
“Who are you talking too?” asks Senior Alive Agent.
“Lodestone.” I say.
He nods. “What’s the play?”
“We have to get the fuck out of here. There’s a second wave coming. Lodestone will cover our tracks. Lodestone, can you cover our tracks?” I ask.
“I will change their records to show there was only fifteen agents working here.” she says. “I’ll change your records to trust fund douchebags who chase trim and coke.”
“Lodestone will cover our tracks.” I say. “Connect to Leviathan with your glasses, and give Lodestone access to your feed. Get clear of here. We’ll plan on the move.”
We break. I get in my car and hit the road. Nobody tries to stop me. Why would they? The data center was cut off from all communication. Nobody knows what happened there. Eventually, they’ll check, but records will imply no survivors. Why bother this car? It’s owned by an unaffiliated trust fund douchebag.
I try to drive like a trust fund douchebag.
“What’s the play?” I ask.
“Befriend Megacles. Protect her.”
“Put out on the first date. Don’t let her know you’re psycho.”
Solid advice. “And to protect her?”
“I don’t know.” says Lodestone. “We’ll plan on the move.”
“Fair enough.” I say.