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Rapture of the Insecure

By Faith Clifford

Romance / Scifi

Prologue

The usual churn had shifted into a subtle dissonance that he couldn't quite finger, jangling against the sonorous backdrop of his block's data streams that lay sprawled across the spines of every file in his collection.

Glittering eyes narrowing, Aoi scanned the room, roaming over animated files standing woven and sagging in row upon rank of back lit alabaster. With a hoarse sigh, he arched against the pebble floor into a pirouette across the library. Fingers tented, he gently tore the most burgandy tome from its fibrous neighbors and stroked the comp-troller tattoo at his collarbone to goad its deep encrypted whisper into his ears.

"Located. Arman; deviation 3sig; distal domains."

His jaw jutted sideways as he ground this development under his molars. New dimples bloomed and faded across the file, mirrored in his features.

Aoi froze a moment, considering. The chorus fizzed against his stillness.

-TSCHHHH-

He sucked air against his stone eye teeth and into motion, chewing a precise invocation against her right palm. He swore gentle obscure deprecations under his breath as he ran loud the stream. Yoshiki's local Barrister, priority violet F-Sharp. Three ticks stuttered by, enough for a cynical ebb in the background burble as the system revealed a new voice..

Annoyed and muttering, he lumbered onto the line with the diminutive cadence of multiplexed feeds folding into his background cadence.

"Aoi, you know I love your work, but do you have any idea what time it is here?"

Bemused Aoi voiced, "I'm afraid I don't know which 'here' you're in lately, Kai," in clipped staccato tones. "It's Arman; currently employed as a torque for the Glasser Banking Cartel. His streams have gotten rather turbulent again. They show a growing cluster of attention between distant accounts, some of which seem to be new or somehow acquired without a bright trail."

He hooked a dark finger across the coarse file and fed it's contents to Kai's feed.

Kai grunted with increasing sourness as he ground the data between his temples.

"Four of the accounts are within our first jurisdiction- I am patching additional nodes to monitor them now. The other five are further out. Can you get any parsing nodes downstream of those nets?"

Three two-handed runes traced, one against his slack thigh and the other two in scrubbed air, pulsing probes into visible evanescent life.

"Yes."

Kai growled," Maintain that, log any changes and flag if he escalates. Report to me if anything happens." And then his inputs sang with static as Kai slammed the feed shut with a structural pattern for her to consult. Head cocked curiously, he traced it's edges with his toes as the pattern rippled across her pebble floor; simple containment procedures with a layer of elevated redundancy. Arman's past had similar distal associations, they were palpable as grainy plaids on the face of his fading file; he had come right up to the line of impropriety but never crossed it into high crime probability.

Kai could incriminate himself by numbers if he was daft enough to try, but damned if Aoi was going to let him actually wreak damage. With another rune traced across his chest, Aoi shared the new procedure across a few of his spare nodes. The ruddy files squinted an incandescent white and then faded into their normal indigo as the nodes opened silent ports inside them.

A small smile sailed across his lips briefly as the background cacophony relaxed into a polished, intimate smoothness flowing over the patient new processes like babbling water.

Arman was one of many, and Aoi's ears were sharp.

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