“Whoops,” the man said and pulled his hands away from the keyboard.
She placed her coke on the table. “Whoops? This is not the time for whoopsies, John.”
“Um… I may have fried someone’s brain,” the man said panicking.
“You what?” She yelped and sat on her workstation across him. “Did you mirror all the servers?” She demanded while tapping furiously.
“Reroute traffic to the dummy DNS?”
“Spoof our IPs, plus a few thousand more to throw them off our-”
“Yes Daisy! Yes I did all that, it’s not… I dunno.” He sighed and started sweating like the can of coke across the desk.
She had her angry frown on. “For fucks sake man, we had it all planned down to the last…” She nodded. “No, it doesn’t seem like you fucked up…” she mumbled.
“I told you to use handles! We could be bugged. It’s Stuxlady,” she quipped at him.
“Stuxlady,” he corrected, “The hack went through. We got it man. I saw it, we had control of the nodes. I ran the script to change privileges and, I dunno. It didn’t go where it was supposed to.”
Daisy gulped down the coke and cracked open another can. It sprayed the dark location, and caught just a touch of light from the monitor, before vanishing into the air. It was an empty office space, a dot-com that had gone under like so many others.
“These aren’t good for you,” he pointed at the can of sugar.
“Wanna know what’s not good for me?” she asked angrily and slapped the pistol on the desk. “Having the hack of the century botched because of what? Something we didn’t anticipate during months of planning?” Daisy raised her eyes to him and they glistened furious blue from the monitor. “That fucking outsource man. That must be it, they spilled. That damn fucker!”
John shook his head. “I don’t think so, the Serbian would have never narced on us.”
She gulped down the can of coke while maintaining eye contact from the side. He hated when she did that, it was kinda freaky. “Do we have root access to the city?”
“Yeah, I only risked one ping, two minutes ago maybe?”
“They must be stopped, Baptiste. Those corporate pigs can’t keep getting away with openly destroying the liberties that our ancestors fought and died to earn for us-”
A crack and a thud interrupted her tirade.
John whiplashed, “What was that? A bird?”
“Stay here,” she said, turning on her flashlight and gripping her pistol. “I’ll go check.”
For once, he disobeyed. He followed Daisy through dusty cubicles. They weren’t the old miserable kind of course, startups had spacey cubicles with colors and swings. They still looked gray and abandoned in the dark, no matter what the original intention was.
“I think it was this window,” she said pointing the way. John noticed that she hadn’t scolded him for disobeying like she’d normally do. Could it be that the fearsome Stuxlady didn’t want to go in the dark all alone?
The thought of that made him smile.
“It’s probably just a bird,” he said. “The EM messes up with their internal navigation and they smack onto windows,” he whispered.
Daisy flashed her light into his face. “What did I teach you, Baptiste?”
“It’s not paranoia when they are really out to get you,” he repeated from memory.
“Good,” she said and took a step forward. Broken glass crunched under her shoe and a faint breeze came through the window. Something whirred. Mechanical.
Daisy gasped and pushed him back.
“Police drone,” she whispered and panicked, “They found us.”
He peeked. “No, that can’t be. It wouldn’t crash like that,” he whispered. “I’ll go check.”
Daisy pulled her t-shirt over her head, covering her face in an inverse hoodie. “Pull your t-shirt up!”
John the Baptiste, who wasn’t pious like his nickname implied, took in the lines of her body. In the twilight, with the bottom of her t-shirt pulled up like that and with her tummy and bra exposed, her body almost looked beautiful. Daisy was thin but she had a moderate gut, due to all the soda she drank when she was anxious. John didn’t mind that, her belly looked soft and inviting and as for that bra… Well, let’s just say he was already coding the unlock for that in his mind.
“Facial recognition for fuck’s sake! Pull it up!” She repeated.
“Oh, right,” John said and pulled up the bottom of his t-shirt too, showing his six-pack. Not an impressive one, but it was there. Hackers were notoriously unfit, he just needed a hint of muscle to stand out. He looked around, squinting behind the fabric. He could barely see through the threads. They both stumbled through the desks and approached the fallen drone.
Indeed, its camera was rotating, scanning the place. The rotors were smashed and they just whirred and whined like a wounded animal. Stuxlady, her face covered, pushed the camera away from them. Then she picked up a trash can and crushed the remaining part of the police quadcopter with menace.
“We are burned! We are so fucking burned,” she said out loud and paced, grabbing her hair up.
John pulled down his t-shirt and looked out the broken window. Something was wrong. The city was… Quiet?
That never happened in Pittsburgh.
“What the hell? Is the power out?” He said and the city replied.
A wave of noise crashed into him as the cacophony of sirens, alarms, tire shrieks, screams, pushed him back like a physical thing. He looked ahead. Planes were crashing. Planes. Were fucking. Crashing.
Cold sweat covered his body.
“No. No. We didn’t… No. We merely diverted the data flow, we didn’t block it,” he said out loud so he could believe it himself. She came to his side and he stared at her. “This isn’t what we did to the Solon system. This isn’t what I signed up for!” he spat out, pointing at the broken window.
He covered his face and swore quietly. He calmed himself. He could fix, it, give them the control back. He’d just have to undo his own script and give them access to the mirrored servers. Police, fire department, they’d be able to work their machines again.
Yes, that was it. He could do it.
He paced towards the workstation.
A gun cocked behind him. He froze.
“What are you doing,” he asked calmly, not turning around.
“Finishing what we started,” she said. The wind rushed through the broken window.
“Daisy, please,” he pleaded and turned to face her. “People are getting hurt. We can at least let the city authorities handle the crisis.”
“No,” she said simply but didn’t dare look him in the eye. She was looking at the pop-out display on the smartgun, with the sights locked on Baptiste. He knew she was a terrible shot really, but the pistol was so hacked and upgraded with illegal mods that it didn’t matter at this range. The vibra-grip would shift the shooter’s wrist, the kickback would be negated and the bullet would divert its course in the air and aim for his head. The gun was smart enough to ignore the trigger press if an innocent bystander happened to get in the way. It knew, it sensed you didn’t want to shoot that kid so it simply didn’t let you.
But who then is truly responsible for pulling the trigger? She or it?
“Look at me!” he demanded.
She said nothing.
“I said, look at me!”
“You of all people, you who knows my family, my history… You dare turn me into a fucking terrorist?” John said, chocking down the rage. “I’m gonna stop the script. Shoot me if you dare,” he said and walked towards the computer.
Daisy didn’t reply. Her face was contorted, she mouthed an apology, but she said nothing. She looked back into the pistol’s display.
And it was that night, the one later known as the night of the Solon hack, that Stuxlady shot in the back the last man who ever loved her.