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Waking Up - Chapter 3
Posted By: kabu<will36@gmail.com>
Date: 20 August 2010, 4:16 am

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      And a one, and a two, and a push and... bam. Oh baby, I'm good.
      Finding a security hole in the base's security system hadn't been easy, of course, but once found it took a trivial amount of time to exploit. Cameras, computer access logs, building entry logs, retinal scans, it's all laid out in front of me. The investigators haven't been through all this data yet because of the ridiculous amount of red tape involved in a situation as fucked up as mine. They have to get permission from the chief of security, but they can't ask the chief of security until they have the right clearance (which takes about a week to get, if they're in a rush) to put in a formal request (another two days). Then the chief of security has to get signatures from the base administrator (one or two days) and the administrative AI (which won't be me officially for another three days). Then the police's primitive dumb AI has to collate the data, and everything has to be combed over. It's a fucking mess, but my nosiness has gotten the best of me once again. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it must have learned something worthwhile enough to get killed over first.
      So here we go. All the data from the day of my murder, laid out nice and neat in front of me. Well, not my murder. Jessica's murder. I'm not Jessica anymore, and, you see, it's kind of hard to get used to. Jessica was timid, and awkward, and wrote bad poetry in her spare time. She was clumsy and a bad driver, she liked sunshine and sailing and lying on the beach. She had frizzy red hair that never behaved itself, and was perpetually late for work no matter how many alarms she set. She's not me, I'm not her anymore.
      I'm proud and strong, I laugh without thinking first. I can hold my own in a conversation with generals and commanders, I love computers and numbers and swimming through the datastream. I have pet service robots. I'm confident, I have real power and I'm the closest thing to a bona fide angel that any human will see in this life. I'm Tisiphone. I'm a Fury of vengeance, with a spear and a... well, a rather pretty dress for some reason.
      And by God, I would give anything to trip and fall over my own feet just one more time because I've never been more afraid.


      In the presence of the distinguished ONI Director, I must remind myself that, as a Colonel in the UNSCMC, I should be able to withstand his gaze without flinching. But it is difficult indeed when one recalls the... colorful tales surrounding Director Wole. None can be verified, and none can be mentioned to his face, but I have heard them from people whom I have every reason to trust. Certainly, I have no trouble believing even the most outlandish tales. Wole is, to paraphrase a rather shaken First Lieutenant who had recently met with the fellow, one scary motherfucker.
      For example, the legend of the Director's leg:
      Forty years ago, at the height of the Covenant War, when worlds were burning and all hope seemed lost, there was a young sergeant in the UNSC Marine Corps. Sergeant Wole was considered by many to be a brave man, steadfast and strong, always ready to lay down his life for the cause. Commendation after commendation was heaped upon his head over the years, and, the story goes, he managed to remain humble and modest in the face of his growing fame. His sudden honorable discharge caught the worlds by surprise -- sure, he had gotten shot through the leg, but why wasn't he fitted with a prosthetic and sent back into the fight?
      Once upon a time, Wole and his squad were ambushed by a pack of Grunts and a solitary Elite in the verdant forests of Cygnus IV. The squad came up over a low rise and a private stepped through an infrared laser tied to a few plasma mines. Those went up, and then squeals and screams pierced the dawn air as bullets and plasma whizzed and sizzled back and forth. A third of the squad was blasted to glass and carbon by the mines, and another third was cut down in the first few seconds of the frenzied firefight. Wole and his good friend, sergeant Jefferson, were pinned down behind a log that was being rapidly eroded by green and blue bolts of plasma. With morning dew flashing into steam above them, Wole requested of Jefferson some covering fire. Sergeant Jefferson, however, failed to deliver. In fact, he tossed down his gun and, gripped by a terrible panic, attempted to flee. Wole leapt out from cover (receiving his characteristic leg wound in the process) and proceeded to beat the ever loving shit out of his comrade with the butt of his rifle before slitting his throat and throwing the body to the tender mercy of the alien horde.
      This is, of course, just a rumor. There is no hard evidence of any such event, nor does it appear on any official record. But I can't help but ponder, as I contemplate my course of action, what the Director would do to me, should he be so inclined, if he was willing to bash in his best friend's skull with his own hands.


      So. Data. Let's see...
      The override that erased the security footage of my murder came from the chief of security's terminal, which is to be expected. Donald Jones was a temperamental old grouch who had, surprise surprise, been trained as a sniper back in the day. But why would he kill me? It doesn't make much sense -- unless he was bribed?
      Time to delve into finances. Let's see what the bank has on him.
      Now that's odd. An offworld account that has been receiving monthly deposits and frequent withdrawals for the past... five years? But no big deposits, and they're coming from his primary account. And the withdrawals are to one Michelle Durac. A rather pretty young woman in the next town over. That sly dog... but clearly not related to my... situation.
      Maybe I should tell his wife?
      I'll ignore that for now, in favor of looking at the login information. Retinal scans. The scan that he used to log in on that fateful day was a one hundred percent match to the recorded value, which was highly unlikely. Specs of dust or stray reflections or a slightly different angle or just random errors ensured that it was never a perfect match. In fact, it only has to be ninety-five percent accurate to qualify as a valid log-in. So that means somebody had actually hacked the scanner with a digital copy of the original scan. So that means it was anybody but the chief of security -- unless he deliberately hacked the terminal to throw off suspicion from himself? Gah. I wish I were a detective...
      Now let's broaden the search.
      Hm... loading... loading... there.
      Now... what the hell is that?