40 – Blackout

The Esc key felt terrible. It was the curse that came with using the keyboard as a pillow. Stef looked up, wondering where the giant fly was that had woken her. She sleepily required a larger-than-normal flyswatter before working out that the noise was coming from the roof.

Oh god, we’re being invaded. Hackers and laptops first!

Some semblance of sanity crept into her mind, and she turned to look at the her Frankie’s clock. The digits cut through her sleep-addled brain and she stopped looking for giant flies. It wasn’t a creature from a Z-grade sci-fi movie, it was a signal to be awake. Continue reading “40 – Blackout”

39 – Destiny

Stef managed to avoid Taylor for the rest of the morning, spying him once briefly at lunch time, but he didn’t follow when she ran away, then took refuge with Frankie in the tech recruits’ common room.

It was a pleasant mess – the arguments about the games on the giant screen were an friendly background noise, and the couches were comfortable, even if there were plushies hidden behind the pillows.

A pair of goggles peeked at her over the top of the screen. ‘Whatcha doin’?’ Continue reading “39 – Destiny”

35 – Insomnia

Stef punched her pillow, then tossed it across the room and leaped from the bed in order to give it a good kicking. After it was thoroughly beaten, she made it disappear into whatever smelly sub-dimension all of the things required away went to. If such a place even existed. If not, the whole concept played merry hell with physics. Apparently the “m-word” didn’t have to take physics into control.

Hacking hadn’t worked. Coding hadn’t worked. A game of computerised chess hadn’t worked. Nothing was allowing her to relax – such was the curse of having to change a sleeping pattern almost overnight. Continue reading “35 – Insomnia”

28 – Respite

Stef walked quickly from the gym, and made a beeline for the lift. She pressed the call button, and predictably, eight seconds later, the lift arrived. She took a quick look at the panel of buttons before her, and stabbed the one for the floor above, the tech department.

When the doors slid open, a pair of Goggles looked up at her. It took her another moment to realise that they were attached to a slight, pale-skinned young teenager. He stood directly in her path, and stared at her, seemingly having no intention of moving.

‘Um?’ Continue reading “28 – Respite”

24 – Duty

Ryan bit back on a scream of pain as his recruit slumped onto him. He turned his head a little to look at her – she was unconscious, bleeding and very, very pale. As pale as he was, he presumed. He lifted the arm from his uninjured side and pushed her a little – her injured shoulder was still touching the ice, but the weight was gone from him. Weight that only would have made him bleed out faster. Weight that would bring him closer to death.

Three minutes now.

The ice had done a lot to stem the flow of blood. It had done a lot to…

A lot to save his life. Continue reading “24 – Duty”

22 – Standstill

For a moment, her world was a series of still images. There was a flash from somewhere outside the ice-cream parlour, the impression of being grabbed, the somewhat harder impression of hitting the floor with a narc on top of her, shielding her from the rain of falling glass.

Stef shook her head. ‘-uh?’

Ryan pushed on her shoulder. ‘Blackout bomb, stay down.’ He stood, and fired out to into the night. Continue reading “22 – Standstill”

15 – The Last Suit

‘Would you shoot me if I squeed?’ Stef asked, resisting the urge to bounce off all the walls. This was much better than the time she’d hacked…this was better than any hack.

Wow…is that actual happy? You should bottle it and sell it on eBay.

Don’t ruin this for me!

You’re the one who just calculated the shipping cost for empty bottles.

Your logic will never defeat me, now back to- Continue reading “15 – The Last Suit”

13 – Laughter in the Dark

Stef looked back at the brick wall, sure of three things. First, she was sure that the sound of flesh against flesh was her buzz-cut opponent slapping himself in the head. Second, she wasn’t the ruler of the universe. Not yet. Third, the volcano-slash-agent was likely strong enough to push the wall down on her head, and leave her as some sort of meaty hacker pancake.

Knowing that she couldn’t stay behind the wall forever, she placed one hand on the cool brick for strength, then walked out, trying to keep her expression as neutral as possible. Ryan’s face was unreadable – though amused, if she had to guess. Her opponent had his head hung, her method of approaching the test seemingly having caused his brain to reset. Continue reading “13 – Laughter in the Dark”

12 – The First Test

Stef closed her eyes, the next line escaping her for a moment. There was a noise, and she opened her eyes, and for a moment, there was a pirate standing in front of her.

‘Cap-’ she went to say to the figure, but blinked, and some of the fuzziness disappeared from her vision. It wasn’t a pirate, it was the agent.

For a moment, she was back there, in the dark, terrified, with no way of escape. Frightened, and with no obvious means to attack, she pulled the quilt over her head, and hid. Logic took over after a minute, and she pulled her head out from under the sheet.

‘Well, that answers one question,’ he said as he crouched in front of her Continue reading “12 – The First Test”

10 – Recruitment

Ryan had to smile – though the ease of her recruitment was unsurprising, it was still a rare pleasure for new recruits to be so openly excited at the prospect. More often, it was a case of “yeah, sure, whatever” or “how much do I get paid?” or “anything, so long as it keeps that six-armed-hippo-beast away”.

Stopping an angry agent from committing a murder he would have regretted wasn’t the only advantage that the memory had given her. Persons exposed to the wonders – and dangers – of the world, people who had seen outside the humdrum and the everyday, tended to subconsciously gravitate toward it. Sometimes, it just led them to walking a little lighter, more aware of the world around them, sometimes they joined up with one of the smaller factions, sometimes they joined Solstice, and sometimes the were recruited for the Agency. Continue reading “10 – Recruitment”