Read Part 1 Here
It had been a full day, and I was no closer to finding the source of the slowdown than I was before. There was one lead that I was able to find, but it was not reassuring. Based on the tracer results, this code was already system-wide. How could something malicious have migrated so quickly without raising any flags? I had spent all morning weighing my options. Did I continue looking for other leads? Did I try and combat this from the shadows, slowly deleting each instance of this code over the course of a few days? Did I take complete control of the network for an hour or so and completely purge the code? Each option had it’s advantages and disadvantages, and I couldn’t make a move until I was certain what the right option would be.
While I deliberated, I got a vid-chat request. It was from James. I accepted the request, and his face appeared on my monitor.
“Q, How goes the search?”
“Poorly. The problem appears to be global at this point. I can’t easily fix it without shutting down non-essential components of the station for a short while.” I grimaced. I was hoping to have taken care of the issue without bringing it to anyone’s attention, but the head of R&D had managed to notice the slowdown.
“What are you talking about? I was asking how the search for Sam was going.”
Oh, that search. “Not so well either. I’ve been monitoring her ident verification, credit usage, and cellular usage. Assuming she went planetside, coverage should still be decent enough that we’d get a ping on one of these sources. Now, if she were still on the moon or gt a lift to Mars, then we might have a bit of a problem. But, given Mar’s current orbit relative to Earth, and the canvas that you had the military do of the lunar surface, I think we can discount both of those possibilities.”
“We’re in agreement on that much, but I would still like to find Sam as soon as possible. Try widening the net. See if there’s been any unusual activity on her parent’s end. The longer she’s out there, the more likely that she will get picked up by someone else.”
“Someone else, James?”
“Yes, like the people that came and stole the positron handgun. Either she’s working with them or she doublecrossed them and is now on the run. I believe that it’s the latter, given that we found one body over by the base breach.”
“If you say so…I’ll look into the recent expenses of the family. I’ll let you know the moment that I find something.”
“And only me. If Ari finds out, she might try to contact Sam. That could be disastrous.”
“I don’t like lying to my sister.” I said bluntly
“I know you don’t, but do you want for Ari to feel responsible if something happens to Sam?” I was silent, and James continued. “Trust me, the moment that we have some usable information, you can tell her everything. And Q? Whatever you’re searching for on-site, give it to one of your subordinates. I need you to focus on the task at hand.”
“Richard will be very upset with me if he finds out that I was handling a personal favor instead of ensuring the security and efficiency of the system. I’ll take care of both.” I turned off the video chat, and poured myself a new cup of coffee. James was right – as loath as I was to admit it, I needed to find Ms. Greene as soon as possible. I sent off an email. Within minutes, someone entered my office.
“You asked for me, Mr. Lodon?”
“Yes, Jake. I need for you to look into something for me…” I started to explain the slowdown situation in heavy detail. If I couldn’t figure it out, then he would need to know every single piece to even have a chance. After an hour-long discussion, I sent him off and returned to my current task.
((Continue to Part 3 here))