Previous Story: 45. The Hacking Contest
To: Interested Parties
If you are receiving this transmission, you clearly possess specialized equipment and knowledge. We are exploiting a weakness in the communications blackout surrounding San Lazaro but only have a short window of time to communicate. We are contacting you to present an offer that can benefit both sides. We do not currently wish to identify ourselves but please be assured that our intentions are good. Our aim is to cooperate with individuals and groups such as yourselves and work towards solving this crisis.
The term we now use for the infection is CyMS (Cybernetic Mutation Syndrome). Like us, you may have already concluded that the virus spreads through implants. We need to gain as much data as possible to aid our efforts in understanding and combating it. With this in mind, we request that you function as our eyes and ears on the ground. Below are instructions for adapting any sensory implant or handheld computer in order to scan and download data from the implants of infected individuals. Please be aware that the virus can spread through close contact so scan using only these specially adapted devices.
Collected data can then be uploaded via a secret research console hidden in Republic Square. Also detailed below are directions for locating both the console and the key-card required for upload. We will have another opportunity to circumvent the blockade in 48 hours and will check for data then. Tag your uploads so we can identify you in further communications.
We look forward to hearing from you. Only by working together can we defeat this threat.
‘Well, detective, what do you think of this mystery?’
Pai had only just seen the message and Flash happened to be passing by. They would have to tell Buck and the others but she was desperate to know Flash’s opinion. He leaned back and shook his head in disbelief.
‘Good to hear from someone outside, right?’ added Pai. ‘And good to know someone else has made some progress.’
‘If they’re on our side. Not much risk for them but plenty for us. We’re the ones who have to get close to these CyMS.’
‘I hear you but if these guys are for real, this could be the best news we’ve had since this all started.’
Flash nodded and stood up. ‘On that we agree. Let’s go tell the others.’
Winston ‘Winner’ Malik was both surprised and impressed. He’d been working on a method of hacking the San Lazaro communication shutdown and now it seemed someone else had already cracked it. Not only that; they also understood the importance of implants in this whole crisis. But who were these mysterious ‘friends’? What were their motivations? And how would they use this data?
Winner was sure of one thing; the boss needed to know. He hurried to the doorway and called out to Goddess. ‘Elaheh, please tell Mr. Arcadia there’s been a significant development. Very significant.’
‘Holy crap!’ Artemis turned from the screen and looked at Gadget. The pair were alone at ATS; the other team members were out on patrol.
‘When did this come in?’
‘Two minutes ago,’ replied Gadget.
‘We haven’t received anything else from outside the barrier, right?’
‘I’ve been trying but no – nothing until now.’
‘We have to tell Lucky and the others,’ said Artemis.
‘It’s almost noon. He’ll be back soon. Then we can discuss it.’
‘He won’t like this. We don’t know who these people are.’
‘I don’t like it either,’ said Gadget. ‘But maybe there’s more to gain than lose. Can we get to Republic Square?’
Artemis had spent more time than anyone else on the city streets. She prided herself on her ability to prowl around undetected.
She grinned. ‘We can get anywhere.’
H3X was trying to hack a strong box security system for Lady Rose when the message arrived. She’d been working for eight hours straight and read it twice to make sure she wasn’t hallucinating. Running a hand through her mohawk, she sipped a soda and read the message a third time.
‘Sounds like a scam to me.’ Even so, H3X was certain Lady Rose would be interested. If it was true, this was potentially a game changer. Using one of her head implants, she patched straight through to Rose’s personal line. It was busy so she called Little Jenny.
‘Hey, Jen. Get the boss to call me ASAP. Could be something big.’
Cyborg was gazing out of one of the mansion windows when the robotic dog came to fetch him. Hearing the eager bark, he turned and followed the metallic creature back to its owner. He had allocated the second-floor study to Kuklacı, who he found staring at her laptop screen, face pale.
‘Johnny, you need to see this.’ She turned the screen towards him.
Cyborg leaned over the desk to read the message. Once finished, he straightened up and let out a long breath. ‘Wow.’
‘Contact from outside,’ added Cyborg thoughtfully.
‘And it seems they want to help.’
‘Can you get the others together for me?’
‘Sure. What are you going to do?’
Cyborg hurried over to the study wall, where Kuklacı had placed a paper map of San Lazaro.
‘Find us a route to Republic Square. I want to be there first.’
Walter and the other animals all knew something was wrong. Not only this but they felt sure that something significant was happening in one area of the city. None of them could explain it but all agreed they needed to learn more. It was decided that Howl and Athena would be sent to investigate. Anxious and fearful, the others waited at the zoo.