One Note - XII
The Dreamer and the Dreamed
“We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.” - A.W.E. O'Shaughnessy
In our last episode, Ryan (Busk) decided to do a little investigating to see if he could determine who the Valkyrie was and if her intentions were honorable. Much to his surprise, he not only learned that the Valkyrie (Kelly Grossman) was indeed who she claimed to be, but that her computer and home were being watched, and that those doing the watching had some very powerful tools at their disposal. Before he could decide what to do about what he’d learned, the “Watchers” as he called them forced his computer to blue screen and shut down, leaving him with a difficult decision to make.
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It was a moment before what had happened registered. I could only hope that moment wasn’t long enough for whoever was behind the attack to do any serious damage or get access to our encrypted files. They’d forced a blue screen, which automatically caused the operating system to crash and reboot. I used those precious seconds to unplug, pull the battery, and remove the hard drive. Next, I retrieved my backup machine from its locked storage box in the closet - one that had never connected to the internet and had no operating system installed. It was designed to do one thing - send a pre-established message letting everyone in the company know our security had been breached and they should lockdown. I hated to do it, and I knew my parents, especially my dad, would throw a wobbly. But it couldn’t be helped. They’d built a respected and trusted cybersecurity firm, and I didn’t want to take a chance on compromising their reputation. I turned on and connected the device to the WWN, sent the message, then unplugged and shut it down. End-to-end, the whole process took maybe two minutes. Then I pulled the hard drive and sent it along with the drive from the laptop I’d used to access Kelly’s system to the crusher.
Kelly…my breath caught in my throat and my chest ached remembering the look on her face as she bent over her computer. I wasn’t sure how I knew her - when or how we’d met - but those dark brown eyes and the way she chewed on her bottom lip as her fingers moved on the keyboard were both familiar and precious to me.
But now was not the time to focus on that puzzle. The weight of what just happened was hanging over me like a guillotine waiting to drop. Now that I’d initiated the lockdown, there would be hell to pay. I knew my father and the emergency team would be knocking on my door shortly, demanding an explanation. If I told him the truth - that I’d been using their precious technology to track a journalist covering the notorious “audio virus,” he would be apoplectic. I wasn’t looking forward to that conversation.
Before they arrived, however, there were several things I needed to do. A glance at the clock on the wall told me I had about 35 minutes before they arrived. I made another trip to the closet, grabbed three burner phones, pulled on my raincoat, and grabbed an empty guitar case. I tossed the phones into my backpack and slipped out into the backyard through the sliding glass doors in the living room. From there it was only a matter of unlatching the gate and stepping onto the sidewalk leading down to the river. Anyone seeing me would assume I was going to one of my weekly busking gigs.
Late afternoon fog was already rising from the water when I reached the Thames. Damp and cold, it limited visibility and muffled the sound of my footsteps. At the path that runs the length of the river I turned left and pretended to be deep in thought, ambling along and stopping every once in a while to look at the water. When I was sure I hadn’t been followed, I pulled the first phone from my backpack and dialed Stefan.