On a Mission: Three – To the Edge of the Sky
I stare at the three monitors before me. My eyes flit between each screen, scanning the data flowing endlessly on each one.
What did I miss? DidI miss anything?
The information cycles through several times. By now, I’ve lost count how many times I’ve seen each line.
The data collected all checked out. I’m sure it did.
I absentmindedly drum my fingers on the redwood desk as I try to collect my thoughts. The repetitive sound slowly eases my mind.
High Priestess…how did she manage to mess with my data?
My temples pulse momentarily when my augs come on.
Every detail in my office suddenly becomes much clearer: from the slight scratch marks on the far left corner on my desk where Monarch decided to leave his mark, to the way the dust slowly dances in the light peering through my half open blinds.
It only briefly registers that the sun must have risen by now. I analyze and reanalyze every tiny bit of intel that I received from everyone.
I don’t understand.
I sigh and rub my temples.
All the data looks solid. So how did she know? How did they know about any of it?
I lean back in my chair. A sigh escapes my lips, though my eyes still remain steadily on the monitors.
The fact that they knew Five was considered for the Artemis mission is troubling. Eight seemed too disturbed to even properly react to what he told me.
I fight back the urge to chew on my lip as I think and lean forward again, moving in closer to the screens as if that would somehow help me solve the problem better.
Could KAIROS have corrupted some data in their most recent attack?
No. No, that might possibly explain one thing, but that’s hardly enough.
Devil is a brilliant hacker, as much as I hate to admit it. But even he has never managed to fully hack into our systems.
Data corruption at this level would require a far deeper breach than he’s managed so far.
So what did I miss?!
I take a deep breath to calm myself.
“Come on, Three. Don’t let yourself get distracted.”
Talking to myself out loud always feels a little strange, though the more I do it, the less strange it’s starting to feel.
One day, I’m gonna do it in front of someone without realizing…
I could stop before something like that happens, but it’s too helpful to make me want to.
“Could it be that there’s a new spy in PHASe?”
Probable? Yes. Possible? Doubtful.
The new Phantom Alpha member comes to mind, though.
I’ve seen her stats; S class is most impressive.
But could she be the one giving KAIROS information?
The thought stays in my mind for a good while. But after some quick, yet careful consideration, I have to conclude that it’s unlikely.
As impressive as her stats are, if she were KAIROS that would have been caught during testing.
I’m curious to meet her in person, though.
I push those thoughts away and refocus on the data flow. A single line catches my eye, and I quickly hit a key to stop everything.
Two weeks ago a strange reading was caught in the middle of the night.
The techs checked it out as soon as it was noticed, but nothing was found. The reading was written off as nothing more than a minor glitch.
Considering what happened, though, this could be more significant than it first appeared to be.
Focusing on the date and time in question, I begin my search through the archives.
And the more I look, the clearer that it becomes that my hunch was correct.
There was something weird going on with the camera’ for about half an hour. Why didn’t anyone notice it at the time?
I frown, reading over my findings for the third time.
It’s almost like there was an active scrambler on the floor, but why would…
I feel a chill run down my spine as realization hits.
No…it can’t be.
My fingers fly over the keyboard, filling my office with the low sounds of haptic feedback.
If I can unscramble what’s there, I should be able to uncover the mystery. And if it’s what I think it is…
If it’s what I think it is, then we have a bigger problem on our hands than we realized.
The computer keeps throwing errors at me. No matter what approach I take, it doesn’t seem to work.
What kind of scrambler can be this thorough? This has to have been a PHASe grade one.
Doubts start to creep into my mind with that thought.
Maybe I’m wrong about this lead after all. Maybe I’m just wasting my time.
Maybe it was just one of the lab techs testing out some new equipment, which would explain why this anomaly was written off as nothing more than a one off glitch.
But my gut tells me that’s not the case. It can’t be.
If I’m wrong…
Something pings, and my fingers freeze above the keyboard for just a second. I grin and start tapping away furiously, finally bypassing the mess that the scrambler left behind.
It’s not much, but I pull together a data fragment, a short clip from one of the security cameras on the sixty-eighth floor.
I hit play and wait. However, the video seems to be nothing but the empty hallway at night.
“All that work, and I-” I cut myself off at the sight of a dark figure walking down the hallway.
She strides confidently down the hallway, and though there is no sound I can clearly imagine the click of her heels against the floor tiles.
I hold my breath as she moves closer to the camera.
I stare at the screen with unblinking eyes, my heart beating wildly against my ribcage.
I’m afraid to miss even the tiniest details.
As the woman gets closer I try to get a better look at her face, what I can see anyway. She stops, right in front of the camera, and looks up.
The familiar looking half-mask makes me gasp.
And those sharp blue eyes staring right at me…
No, that’s not right.
She’s only looking at the camera, but I can’t help but feel like she’s looking right at me.
Her eyes seem to hint at a smile as she salutes the camera and continues down the hall. The video cuts out and I snap back to reality.
Temperance…Temperance was in the building and no one knew? How? How did she get a scrambler that powerful?
This is bad. This is really bad.
No wonder KAIROS was ahead of us in the Artemis mission. They’d planned it all along. I should’ve been more vigilant. I should’ve had a look at the “glitch” when it happened.
I push myself up, grab my jacket and head for the door.
If they compromised one mission, there’s no telling how much more they managed to do while she was here.
I have to tell Nine.
I check his location on my map and stride out of my office with one objective in mind.