Read part 5 first.
“Sometimes the fly gets the honey and sometimes the honey gets the fly.”
“Why are you here, Cal? I thought we agreed to never–“
But he flipped a coin in the air with his thumb and caught it in the palm of his hand, then looking up into my eyes he flipped the coin to me. Catching it, I inspected the coin myself before tossing it back. It was a silver penny. An eye on the one side and a key on the other.
“So, what’s it to me? You know what it means.”
“We need your help Sera.”
“I’m not working for Warren anymore, remember?”
“We need you….. I.. need you. I can’t do this one alone.” I could tell the words fought against crossing his tongue, the loner he was… we all were, really.
“Are you Vaped?!” I hated how screechy my voice got. I never could control myself around him. Those eyes and that mind, I knew I was kicking against the inevitable. I knew I’d jack up for him. I knew I taste his nectar again. I knew they needed me. I knew I would slip past the dogs and the ghosts and the sentinels and I’d find the key for Calvin and for the Cause. Then I’d come back into the waking world and I’d disappear for a while. Just like every other fucking time.
Sighing, I held out my hand.
The lift at the corner of his mouth said it all and I heard the quiet sigh of relief as he handed me an envelope. The one I knew he’d have because I saw it in the ‘scapes when he came knocking for my land-locked addy.
Lifting open the flap and pulling the folded and stained sheet from the envelope, I read the words Warren had written there.
“Is this a fucking joke, Cal? I can go all sorts of places but Black Brass? Last time I went there I almost got Wiped! Me! I don’t get caught. I’m a butterfly! Ain’t no Tracer that can see me! But even that deep, I cause a few ripples. You’re a Dreamer, you KNOW this Cal! You know better than anyone. Shit don’t you even remember Hangdala? The Glare touched you! Almost burned you perm. You lay here for nearly three months catatonic after that—!”
“I know Sera! I know! Believe me. But Warren sees something there. He’s never steered us wrong…”
“He ALWAYS steers us wrong!”
“No. No. He doesn’t. You know that. This is bigger than us. What we’re doing is important. It’s necessary. And, ….it’s what I am.”
Pinching the bridge of my nose, I looked at the page again. Fucking Warren. Guess it was time to drink a gallon of orange juice and take myself for a nice long walk in the web.
“I’ll prep my gear.”
Three years ago:
This job is just getting weirder and weirder. I’m just a mid-level Tracer. Or so I thought. But here I am, sitting in a fucking meeting with guys further up the food chain than me and I’m starting to wonder why. I’m having a hard time following or even caring what they’re on about. My implants are starting to itch in the stifling room. When you’re wired like me, you need it cool. Cool and dry. Not warm and muggy. I’m drinking iced kava, but it’s hardly helping. My ‘pad is covered in doodles and scratch-code only a geek like me would understand.
The guy next to me starts talking and I wonder again for the hundredth time why the message popped up on my screen which told me to report six floors above my paygrade to conference room 7b in ten minutes. That was two and a half hours ago. I was beginning to think the message went to the wrong Tracer. Until I heard my name.
“….Aadesh has shown that it IS possible to trace them. He’s written an outstanding code that is able to trace just a certain path or user quite effectively. I think he’s our guy for this.”
The room collectively turned their eyes on me. I had in fact written some code which had immediately snooped out, followed, and found a hacker within minutes of inputting it into the intraweb for a branch of the Company. I had a nice bonus tucked away from that endeavor. I cleared my throat,
“I-I’ve been working on some even better code, actually. I think you’ll like what I’ve put together just as soon as I do a few test runs on it.”
There were murmuring nods of approval and the man beside me continued, only now I found myself unable to not listen. He tapped his ‘pad and the wall across the room lit up. “What you’re seeing here is what we believe is the work of one Dreamer in the ‘scapes. He’s able to Lift anything, anything at all, seemingly without effort. He lifts it and then our guess is he sells it to someone else because these documents and videos are cropping up almost immediately. I can’t stress how important it is that we catch him. And soon.”
Suddenly I knew exactly why I was here. And my implants began to heat up and itch even more.
This is an on-going collaboration series that I’m working on with A.P. over at constant VARIABLE. He’s doing the odd-numbered parts and I’m doing the even-numbered ones. I hope you enjoy!
Read Part 7 here.