Curveball Issue 20: The Drums of War

Part Two: Farraday City Bunker

By the time Jenny is up and out of the shower CB and Red Shift are already dressed and staring down at the dinner table, where an actual fold-out map of Farraday City is spread over the top.

“Wow,” Jenny says, looking at the map. “I didn’t think they made those things any more.”

“So where did they trace it?” CB looks down at the map in irritation. “Saying ‘it’s in Farraday City’ isn’t very specific. We need something more specific.”

Red Shift shrugs. “Street Ronin thinks Zero can probably figure it out. They have to make some preparations before the move. Scrapper Jack hasn’t checked in yet, and Overmind and the Lieutenant are still looking into the magic thing. They have to make sure they can leave messages that won’t get intercepted.”

“I can figure what out?” Jenny goes over to the coffee and pours a cup. “What the hell are you talking about?”

“Crossfire did something clever the other night,” CB says. “I’m trying not to sound impressed, so I’m complaining instead.”

“Oh?” Jenny wanders back to the table, looking down at the map with interest. “What’d they do?”

“Vigilante attacked the TriHealth building in Manhattan.” CB shakes his head, trying not to laugh.

Jenny arches an eyebrow. “That’s clever?”

“I know, right?” CB grins. “It doesn’t sound clever at all, which is why it’s so damn pretty.”

“Maybe you better explain it to me,” Jenny says. “I just woke up.”

“Vigilante burst into the building from the ground floor, made a lot of noise, attracted a lot of attention,” Red Shift says. “So TriHealth enacted its security protocols, and Street Ronin was on hand to monitor all the data traffic flowing out of the building. He traced a huge dump of data here.”

“Oh,” Jenny says, surprised. “The security protocols were set up to archive important data off site, then wipe it locally to prevent it from being stolen.”

“Apparently,” Red Shift says.

“So they forced a situation that would trigger those protocols, with no intention of actually getting the data—they just wanted to see where it went.”

“Like I said,” CB says, “damn pretty.”

“Can you figure out where the data went?” Red Shift asks.

Jenny shrugs. “Won’t know until I try. Give me the data.”

“Already on your laptop,” Red Shift says.

Jenny looks around. “And where is that?”

“Moved it into the monitor room,” CB says. “To make room for the map.”

“We have about a day before they get here,” Red Shift says. “Another two if we wait for Scrapper Jack, which we probably should. We should use that time to—”

“Wait, what?” Jenny’s eyes widen. “They’re coming here?”

“It’s going to be a little cramped in the bunker,” CB says. “Might be a good idea if I picked up some air freshener. I’m thinking the little pine-scented tree things…”

Jenny doesn’t pay any attention to CB. She looks at Red Shift uneasily.

“Problem?” Red Shift stares back, expression bland.

“Uh… not exactly. It’s just… if they’re on their way here then training is over.”

Red Shift nods. “It’s a little sooner than I’d like to see you in the field, but there’s not much more we can do in here and it’s too dangerous to train outside. To be honest, I’m looking forward to doing something productive.”

“So I’m in on this? You’re not making me stay here?”

CB looks up in irritation. “Why would we do that?”

“Because I’m green.”

CB shrugs. “Everyone starts out green, Zero, and we don’t have a lot of allies right now. Right now I figure you and Street Ronin are our best shot at recovering whatever data this place is storing… assuming we can find it.”

“Right,” Jenny says. Her eyes unfocus.

“Jenny.” CB squints at her. “Jenny.”

She blinks. “Right. I guess I better get started on that.”

She walks into the monitor room and finds her laptop, already set up next to one of the monitors. She turns it on and waits for it to boot. She takes slow, deep breaths.

“You’re going to do OK.”

She turns in her chair and sees Red Shift leaning against the doorframe, arms folded.

“You sure about that? I don’t have a bulletproof force field.”

“Oh, you might get killed. But you’ll be OK.”

Jenny frowns. “That’s not funny.”

“I’m not joking,” Red Shift says. “You might get killed. It happens. But if you do, it won’t be because you lost your head and panicked.”

“I notice you didn’t say ‘it won’t be because you did something stupid.’”

“In my experience it’s actually pretty hard not to do something stupid,” Red Shift says.

“Not encouraging,” Jenny mutters.

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