Rainbow (pt. 3)

Part three in the Rainbow series:

Rainbow (pt. 1)
Rainbow (pt. 2)


On the way out of the dump the three girls spot Qasim way up ahead on the fifth level. Arguing with a pair of rough looking men. Dressed like an ordinary punk, the one doing most of the talking looks mostly human with a single glowing biotech eye. The other man towers over both of them, nearing seven foot with seemingly enhanced musculature. The leader is up in Qasim’s face. Noticing the girls approaching the lead punk grips the younger boys head cruelly forcing him into a bow. Trembling in rage Qasim accepts the humiliation, keeping his head silently bowed in submission as three strangers turn and walk away laughing.
With an exchange of wordless looks the three approach where Qasim is stood. Aaren and Maria hang back to give Jeong-Suk space to check on him in private. The contact as she touches him startles Qasim, causing him to flinch away before he recognises her. Jeong-Suk recoils at Qasim’s violent reaction, a sliver of hurt entering the concerned expression she wears. Ignoring her reaction, Qasim recovers his composure and turning to face the group he smirks in an attempt at looking tough.

“Where the heck have you dumbasses been?” he demands, “I been waiting here for ages.”

Aaren shoots a look to Maria, the pair exchanging their thoughts of annoyance at Qasim’s attitude.

“We were hiding from security,” Jeong-Suk answers still hurt by the harshness of his reactions.

“That’s right,” Maria interrupts, stepping between Jeong-Suk and Qasim to shove his shoulder roughly, “Why the fuck didn’t you warn us they were coming? If Aaren wasn’t looking for you we’d be in the lock up right now, you lazy piece of shit.”

Balling his hand into a tight fist, Qasim narrows his eyes into a glare stepping back into her, “You got something to say to me, skank?”

Those two fighting would hardly be unusual, but with the close call with security and the clash with those punks putting them on edge Aaren pushes between them, “Cut it out, you guys. We should go check out what Maria stole from the drone.”

“Drone?” Qasim asks, to a smug reveal of the memory core by Maria. Instantly forgetting their quarrel, the group hurries back to the school computer lab to analyse their prize.

***

The core is a common design for surveillance drones. Lacking the specific tech to  connect the device to the computer, Maria with Qasim’s help in gathering parts quickly rigs up a converter to interface with the device. Within the core, the data is protected by a simple encryption. Despite this the limits of the shitty salvage tech and school computer limits the timeframe for cracking the program to eight hours minimum. With the day cycle coming to an end the group agree to meet up again the next morning to check the results.
Remaining behind after the others leave to finish setting up program to hack the core Aaren doesn’t mind being left by herself. She enjoys the time to surfing forums and tagging unsecured websites. Better than going home, anyway. Sonorousmind the hacker and cyber tagging champion is much cooler than Aaren Roy, the Dvorovoi engineering district brat.
Hours pass as she loses track of timing arguing with some jerk called Chatterbox about the who’s tag was more impressive when she’s interrupted by her stomach growling insistently. Shooting one last diss Chatterbox’s way, she kills the computer screen and grabbing her jacket heads out into the street in search of food.
The city at night is a strange mixture of bright and dark. With the day lights all dark, the business lighting in the areas that remain open after dark casts an even sharper vision on the world. Swinging by her favourite restaurant for a burger, Aaren settles in the store watching while Dvorovoi news plays on the monitor.

“Casualties of the terrorist attack in the 113-Blue section of the Engineering district tonight are yet to be confirmed, initial estimates are in the tens of thousands,” the subtitles scroll across the muted monitor. Aaren is frozen as she watches, 113-Blue is close to right next to her home.
Checking her phone, there are no missed calls or messages. Whether that’s a good sign or not she couldn’t know. Racing out the door, she runs as fast as she can to the rail station. When she arrives it’s been closed by Dvorovoi Security forces. Miles from home with no access to transport Aaren returns to the restaurant to keep watching the news. The network is locked down, by Dvorovoi Corporation and a number more explosions occur in the residential district and in the early hours of the morning, a single explosion in Dvorovoi Tower shakes the city in terror.
An attack in the residential zone is one thing, but for a blow to land on Dvorovoi Tower itself. Only a rival corporation could have the power. A hostile take-over would mean massive direct civilian casualties and countless indirect in the aftermath. The memory core at the school long forgotten, Aaren spends the rest of the night and much of the morning watching the news at the restaurant with the small crowd of people who have gathered around the monitor.
Despite the sense that the world was about to end the previous night, by noon the danger seems to have passed with no further incidents nor explanation. The network and rail remains down, preventing Aaren from returning home or hearing about her family. With no further reason to remain watching the news, she returns to the school to check on the core and see if any of the others have returned.

When she arrives back at the school the core is gone. Over the following weeks she learns her family have survived, as well as Jeong-Suk and Maria. Neither having taken the core, nor admit to having mentioned it to anyone. Qasim’s name appears on the list of casualties in the aftermath of the attacks. Jeong-Suk is inconsolable, they had been secretive but she and Qasim had been closer than friends, in time she stopped coming out entirely. Shortly after Maria’s family transferred away to another Dvorovoi city, leaving Aaren the last of the gang along.
Her mechanism for coping with the isolation and loss was an obsession with the attack and the missing core. Following her graduation she left Dvorovoi city for the slums, chasing her obsession into the criminal underbelly. The need for the skill to dive led her to Faith, the only option for learning the truth behind what happened.

***

“You listening, Sonorous?” Faith flicks her nose, snapping her sharply out of the memory.

“Yeah sorry,”

“Good, cause if you weren’t…” with an evil grin, Faith hits the command plunging Sonorous back into the network, “This is going to hurt like a bitch.”

Author: Zairron

I'm writing to build a habit, practice, and be creative.

4 thoughts on “Rainbow (pt. 3)”

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