The few lights that were on in Medlab were dimmed as patients slept, but Yoshino was still awake, the glow from her porta-comp’s screen giving her white face an almost eerie cast. So engrossed was she in the intricacies of planetside computer nets, she audibly gasped when a soft chirp announced the arrival of an internal message. She looked to that window. It was from Darquin, who was, she knew, still in the intensive care unit at the other end of Medlab One.
Hey Yoshino! Up late?
It took her a moment to compose herself, then she quickly entered a reply. Darquin! I didn’t expect to see you here. Are you feeling better?
Some. You’re somewhere in here after all? In Medlab.
Yes, I’m afraid so.
Sorry I wasn’t there to help. I saw the prelim report.
I wish I’d been there to help you. I think we may have run into two different arms of the same beast.
Probably. I’m sniffing around to get a better ID.
I’m working on tracing the jamming field they had put on the council building. I’ve found the system that controlled the field, and now I’m trying to get into that system’s controller. It ought to be the main net of the syndicate. A moment later, it occurred to her that maybe he could use some help. Do you need any password crackers? I have several good ones.
They could be shifting the location or address of their hub around. Then came his reply to her offer. Sure, lay it on me. As long as they won’t crash the ship network!
They’d be fools if they didn’t, certainly. She sent a pointer to the cracker files, adding, I’ve already insulated the Phoenix’s systems from these, so there’s no problem there.
I was kidding, btw. But good idea!
She could see his smile in her mind’s eye, and was grateful he couldn’t see her blush. Arigato … I should have guessed you were kidding. 🙂 Do you have any suggestions as to where I might look? There’s no point in duplicating our efforts.
Good point. I’m looking into the Drazi, the Hurr, and Centauri crime groups right now. Crazy idea–checked out any signs of Thieves Guild?
Not yet, but I should! She began that search even as she explained, I was working on one of the Brakiri Chadi, since the assassin was of that group. That has brought up some memories, I must confess. But the Guild … their mark was intertwined with one of the Chadi sigils, on that blade Anla’shok Carlacci had, was it not?
Heck, everybody short of Rebo and Zooty might be connected to this. But yeah.
It is a … a vile business. And all too familiar. We must bring them down.
Sorry it has to be so familiar. FWIW we already gave them some real unfamiliar snags in their bank accounts.
Good. It will show them we are not to be trifled with. Her focus shifted for a moment, from the porta-comp screen to the long cloth bundle lying between her feet on the bed. She had refused to let it out of her sight. Biting at her lip, she entered a new message to Darquin. I regret that I must trouble you, but may I ask you a personal question?
During your time in Japan, did you learn anything of the art of the sword?
Yeah, lots of kendo.
Can you put together a sword which has been taken apart? I can, but I haven’t yet got the full use of both my hands.
There was a pause before the reply came. I guess so. But it’s been a long time.
Perhaps, when you have recovered a little more, I may beg your assistance in reassembling my swords? They were taken apart by a weaponsmith, but he was killed and I was injured before they could be put together again.
I’ll do my best, once Medlab cuts me loose.
She began to explain about her discovery about the swords, and their true lineage, but then abruptly swept the words into electronic oblivion. It was cruel to make him more uneasy than he probably already was. She’d gone down that road too often already. Domo arigato. Please let me know if I can do anything to repay the favor.
Not a problem.
She looked back to her screen, and the turmoil of emotions was suddenly swept away by a wave of triumph. Ai! I think I might have a lead into the Thieves’ Guild already! I’m surprised.
Sharp & spiky! I figured they been counting on things being so busy crimewise that no one would look at them too closely.
I think you were right. They have been running quite a few fraud schemes, I can see that right away. But the protection for their own systems is quite amateurish. I have an idea. Shall I plant a worm? We can activate it when we choose and crash their entire net in one stroke.
How about a worm that’ll help us trace them. I got a feeling they’ll hide deeper if they know we’re on to them.
Sure, let’s see who’s setting a trap for who.
I can do that. I have a good foundation program. It will just take a few minutes to customize…. I wish I had some me’teen.
I think Dr Mira made sure they were out of reach of everybody here.
I suppose I should be grateful that she at least let Arven’dra bring Kuri to visit me.
Probably trusts Kuri-chan more than us!
She didn’t reply for several minutes, finally sending into the message box, Forgive me … I am working out the last details of this code.
NP, still doing some follow-up myself.
After a few more minutes, she was finished. There. I’ve called it Kumo. Our own little spider, spinning a secret web for them. I can send you the instructions on how to query it, whenever you want to.
Great, that’s perfect.
Should be in your inbox in a minute or two.
Yoshino and Darquin exchanged a few more bits of small talk over the Phoenix’s internal messaging system, discussing the galactic situation and the latest multimedia from Japan, before they decided to call it a night which, Darquin conceded, it already was.
But even after they closed the channel, he continued to work. In fact he didn’t stop until he nodded off, his conscious mind still on the charts and files layered over each other on the screen. While Yoshino dreamt of fox maidens cheating swordsmen at cards, Darquin’s dreams were full of crime statistics and the application of terror.
Phoenix–“Mirror Moves” © 2001 Jamie Lawson & Joe Medina
Babylon 5 TM and © 1998 Warner Bros.