Connecting Outside the Network - Deus Ex HR

Chapter 3

An hour later, Jensen was coming through the door, his optical augments retracting when he came into the more dimly lit office. He clenched his jaw a moment when Freya continued to focus on her computer work, seeming to ignore him. As difficult as she was, she had really come through with those schematics today. Leaning against the door, he watched the way she focused so intently on her work. Somehow, he was reminded of Megan, though Pritchard didn't keep her hair quite as tightly restrained and had a more relaxed countenance. She even had a few loose copper brown locks framing her face, barely hiding the edges of her glasses. As he looked at her, his CASIE implant automatically kicked in, alerting him to her heightened heart rate, furrowed brow, dilated pupils, and her subtle gnawing on her lower lip. Something about this network problem was really worrying her.

"Jensen, sorry, I didn't see you there," she apologized, taking off her glasses and gesturing to the chair on the other side of her desk. He sat and as she came towards him, she brought out a cable and started reaching around from the front to the back of his neck.

"Woah, Freya, what are you doing?" he asked, grabbing her arm with lightning quick reflexes to stop her. She let out a stifled cry – he hadn't hurt her, but the speed at which he caught her wrist had startled her.

"There's a signal coming from Derelict Row that is keeping a back door open to our network – a back door that someone placed there, who wasn't me. We don't know who is watching what we do, so I don't want to connect you to the network. I've disabled the network connectivity on my external data device, so I can safely connect with a hard line."

"I didn't know you could connect to me like that," he said, surprised, slightly loosening his grip on her. After doing so many violent take downs on terrorists just an hour ago, holding her arm felt like holding a bird's wing – light and fragile. If his pressure sensors were just slightly off, or he were careless, he could snap her forearm with a sudden flick of his fingers.

"What did you think these circular ports on your neck were for?" she asked, laughing, not seeming too perturbed that her arm was in the viselike grip of a lethal weapon. "Though I guess you don't see back there very much. Do you have a problem with me doing it this way? We can wait until you've gone and disabled the signal, if Sarif hasn't already told you about that, but I have some very useful stealth and hacking programs for you…"

He wasn't sure why it unnerved him. It was one thing to get updates wirelessly, but to have a wire plug into him and perform a data transfer made him feel a lot more like a machine than a person. He wasn't about to let Freya know that, though. Her whole life was computers, which was probably why she had such a detached haughty sense of humor. Despite only having minimal implants herself, she was probably more comfortable with technology and augments as a part of everyday life than anyone he knew. If anything, the fact she didn't seem to think anything of his garish augments should have been refreshing. He certainly got stared at everywhere he went. Either it was envy at the limbs he had no choice in getting, or curses and stones for appearing to have so completely discarded his humanity.

Noticing she was still waiting for an answer, he shook his head and bent his neck forward, releasing her arm gently. Reaching around, she easily pushed in on one of the ports, turned it 90 degrees counter clockwise, and it popped open. He felt the plug connect, and was surprised when she sat sidewise on his knees, placing her tablet on her lap. She seemed oblivious to his body, so focused she was on the screen and starting the data transfers.

As they waited for the transfer to complete, he attempted to shift the weight a little. The angle of the weight on his lap, light as she was, wasn't what his hip prosthetics were calibrated for. Just that subtle influence of torque was noticeable. He glanced up at her intense sapphire eyes darting across the screen.

"So what's this about a signal in Derelict Row?" he started awkwardly, trying to distract himself.

"Well, from what I can tell, it's been tapped into our system for a whole fucking year. I don't know how it got there, but when it first went online it was streaming massive amounts of data."

"Wait, so you're saying someone from outside this company has been accessing our network for a year? That means even before the attack someone out there had intel on our research and our systems."

"Exactly. The funny thing is, that initial streaming of data wasn't going out, it was coming in, to Sarif's office. Meaning there's a good chance Sarif was the one who originally set it up, to get information that no one, not even me, would be privy to," she added. "I've worked here for 7 years, you'd think he'd trust me with this company's secrets."

"Look, even if it was Sarif, and I'm not saying I agree with you, what kind of data do you think he would have been so interested in?" Jenson was trying not to appear skeptical, but it was hard to repress his reactions.

"Well the data stream started around the time that Megan first told Sarif she wanted you to be hired here. So, and I'm just making a wild guess here, I think it was a background check on you. Got any dirt you don't want anyone to know about?" she asked, nudging him with her elbow.

His CASIE implant flashed an alert, but he disabled it, not wanting to be distracted. "You're saying the boss compromised your firewall because he wanted…"

She abruptly stood up, and disconnected the cord, "All done, feel free to take all that up with Sarif. If you don't, then I will, and I think since he was probably going through your dirty laundry, that you should be the one to get the truth from him. Please tell me what you find out, when you get a chance. I expect he'll be sending you off to disable that signal any time now, but I think he'll want to find out what was on that Purity perp's neural chip first."

Jensen stretched his knees and stood up, initiating a sync with the program add-ons she just gave him. After reviewing the new hacking options available to him, he looked back at Freya, already hard at work on the computer.

"With these new perks, I might even be able to hack into your computer if you're not looking," he chuckled.

Rolling her eyes, Pritchard responded, "Ha, ha…let's leave the real hacking to the computer experts, Adam. You've got some gangbangers to take down, a neuro chip to find for me, and a signal to disable."

Smirking, his shades shot down over his eyes and he turned to go. "For you, Freya, anything." She glanced up and stifled a smile best she could, but suspected his CASIE implant had picked up on it. As he left, she continued observing him as he moved smoothly towards the elevator to speak with Sarif. The augments had definitely changed his posture, and the flow of his movements. It had a cold elegance to it that Freya couldn't help but admire. For a brief moment she thought back to when her hand had felt the fibers interwoven into what remained of his shoulder flesh. She'd never actually felt someone's augments before. Usually she was too busy with work and what few friends she had weren't augmented. I wonder if he'd let me take a look some time...oh well.

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