Zoe hummed quietly as she clicked her mouse again. The digital watch around her wrist beeped quietly, reminding her that it was now midnight. Around her, another dozen or so mouse-clicks echoed in synchronised harmony.
There were only a few more weeks before graduation day, and most students were eager to clear their projects with colours greater than that of a rainbow. The school had graciously allowed students to stay overnight in the vast expense of the library, which was now swamped with sleeping bags and cups of instant coffee. In any case, only the workstations in the school library were powerful enough to break down the human genome in a matter of seconds and provide guidance to the piles of worksheets that had to be filled.
With her well-versed knowledge in computers, Zoe could simply automate her search, programming her search parameters and extracting the answers in a compiled document for easy access later. In any case, the Asian teenager had something more important to look into.
Although she could have used her own computer to fulfil her little task, the fibre optic line that connected her with the ISN limited her. The school, however, had multiple fibre optic lines combined with a direct link onto the ISN. Most internet connections had to go through the service providers’ servers before connecting to the ISN. The school had a direct connection, which meant data transfers at unprecedented speeds.
And this was what Zoe was banking on.
Inserting her own personal DVD into the computer’s optical drive caused a window to pop up on the main screen. Shifting her work to one of the 3 LCD monitors before her, Zoe watched as the interactive representation of her computer back home appeared. A click of the mouse, and her scripts were away at work.
One script opened a backdoor through the school’s server, making her virtually invisible and leaving to virtual tracks in her bid to answer unanswered questions. Another script would divert any unused bandwidth to her terminal while creating a phoney set of statistics to fool the server into believing that nothing of the sort was happening. The rest were of the usual fare; fetching e-mails, news that was out of the ordinary and anything that was flagged for her attention.
In an instant, all that had to be done was done. 90% of the school’s bandwidth was now at her disposal. E-mails and news headlines began to flood the applications responsible for handling them. Processor usage spiked as it began to process packets of information from across the galaxy. The Guardian Angel was now truly at work.
Questions plagued her head as she watched line after line of command scripts scroll past. The mysterious communications were bewildering enough. Now, the death of a friend and her apparent “resurrection” on the digital realm was simply too interesting to pass up. Hopefully, her search scripts would come up with something that could at least quench her thirst for answers.
New mail message. Flagged: URGENT. Read now?
The prompt on the display caught her attention, breaking her train of thought. Fingers manoeuvred the mouse over the “Accept” button, and she clicked. The e-mail message window opened, but there was nothing inside. It was only a blink of an eye later that the audio player interface loaded, and an audio message began to recite itself quietly through the headphones.
“This message comes to you at a most difficult time,” recited the mysterious voice infused deeply with the English accent. The video feed had been crippled, replaced, instead, with a digital spectrum of the audio feed. “I trust you have seen the latest happenings on Olympus Mons. Even if you haven’t, I have provided a link for your reading.”
Somewhere behind the e-mail message, the browser window launched itself and began loading some articles. A script launched itself, and access was gained into the Olympus Mons internal server as well as a few other restricted access servers.
“But,” continued the message, “our primary objective right now is to decide on our next course of action. This recent happenings have left us in a unacceptable state of disarray, and we require the guidance of our higher orders.”
“The Tugas awaits your honourable response.”
The message stopped and closed itself. Shifting her cursor to her browser, Zoe brought it forward, curious as to what it contained. On it, were articles suitable for internal circulation, obviously pointed out by the large “CONFIDENTIAL” headers each page had. Further reading revealed of the mass number of deaths at Olympus Mons. Other articles spoke of the influence of drugs, how these poor victims died and other scientific talk. The next few moments were spent looking at pictures and videos captured through surveillance systems. Although most of the scenes were gory, they failed to irk the teenager. Considering how the past few weeks had been, this was just more fuel to the fire.
Zoe opened her script editor and started to enter a new set of parameters to her search script. The first, and already existing piece of script entered earlier, was any articles and information related to Clarke. The second was anything related to this Tugas. The third was with regards to the Olympus Mons incident. The search was expanded to articles on the ISN as well as various forms of communication, including telecommunications and electronic mails. Anything flagged with the search terms would be marked for her reading.
It was when she hit the execute button that her display began to dissolve into white noise.
Staring surprisingly at the reaction, Zoe checked the other monitors, which seemed normal. But they too suddenly dimmed slightly, although their processing threads were still running as per normal. A screech from her headphones caused the teenager to flinch, although it was more out of surprise than shock.
Then, from out of the static, a face.
A young woman, probably with Caucasian descent from the shape of her face, began to outline on the screen. She had long hair, although it was impossible to see whether it was dark or light. Her full, luscious lips shifted, as if speaking to her. Yet, all that came through was noise through the headphones.
A word! Through the static, a word had formed. It was like watching a show with subtitles, but with terrible reception. Most of the static was scrambling the image, but it was still discernable. Zoe clicked at her mouse and tapped at her keyboard, but both input devices failed to respond.
Another word! This time, the meaning was shifting to something more sombre. Could this be another case of Chloe?
Zoe froze, staring deep into static-laced eyes that were tinged with a hint of desperation and need. For a moment, she felt a connection with this mysterious character. It was as though behind this mysterious image, there was something human reaching out towards her. As fake looking as this image seemed to be, it too screamed of a sense of realism that could not be denied right into her face.
Again, like any other transmissions that she had received earlier, the screen refreshed itself and she was greeted with her previous desktop. The search script was already running, and her assignment was one step closer to compiling the required answers.
Zoe stopped the search, halting it with a click of her now responsive mouse. Opening the script editor once more, she added a new rule.
“New search parameter,” Zoe mouthed quietly as she typed it out.