Connecting Outside the Network - Deus Ex HR

Chapter 8

Once Freya returned to her apartment, still trying to take in what had just happened, she heard an incoming call – it was David Sarif.

"Pritchard, I need you to hack the convention center's security logs. Find out where Sandoval is and let Jensen know."

"Copy that."

Nearly tripping on one of the many wires strewn across her living room, she picked up the nearest computer and looked up the convention center. As she scanned through the files, she saw a log stating that Sandoval had left two hours ago.

"Adam, I checked out the logs where Taggart is speaking – looks like Sandoval left," she informed him.

"Taggart will know where he went…"

"You really think he'll tell you, of all people, in the middle of a riot, in front of the media and a crowd of his supporters?" asked Freya incredulously.

"He will if I ask real nice…" answered Adam.

"Well, as persuasive as you are, if that doesn't work, he also has a dressing room backstage. Seems to me a man like Taggart must keep close track of his employees. Oh, and speaking of tracking, remember that back door in our firewall that Sarif opened but 'forgot' to tell us about?"

"Yeah, what about it?"

"Well, I was able to track down the private detective he used to get your background check – his name is Brent Radford and he lives on Earl's Court."

"I'll be heading there first, then. I should have enough time."

"If you say so."

Jensen passed several police barricades on his way to the old town apartment buildings. Every half a block there was at least one group of detained protesters cuffed and seated on the asphalt, surrounded by officers with twitchy trigger fingers. This place is a powder keg waiting to go off… Based on his GPS, it looked like Radford's apartment was right next to the one he'd brought Freya to only a few days ago. Freya. He hadn't planned on making a move on her like that. He hadn't even had time to think about how their relationship was evolving, with everything that was going on. He just knew that he felt something good with her and didn't want to let it slip away. It was the first time since the accident that he had let any woman touch him like that, and her eyes…the lightness of her body in his arms…her warmth... The last time he could remember wanting someone like this was when he and Megan were first together. Before she changed.

As he walked past that apartment and towards the one on his virtual map, he saw the door to Radford's apartment ajar. His eyes focused in on the door handle and lock – it had clearly been forced open, and he could hear faint voices in the room. Sneaking carefully, he saw a trail of blood leading to the bathroom, and a well-dressed man aiming a gun at a huddled figure in the corner. Quickly taking the assailant down, Jensen ran to older man lying on the ground. He was bleeding from bullet wounds to his abdomen and legs, but he was still alive and conscious. A quick survey of his wounds indicated he would probably be able to pull through as long as an ambulance got there soon.

"Freya, I located Radford, we need an ambulance here ASAP. Make sure Sarif gets the bill for any augments and neuropozyne he needs."

"Right, I'll call it in. Do you have any leads yet?"

"I'm about to," answered Jensen.

Radford coughed and spit a mouthful of blood onto the linoleum next to him. "No…fucking…augments." Jensen saw a medi-kit around the corner and brought it to Radford, injecting him with a bolus of morphine. It was enough to get him talking a little bit. After some perseverance, Jensen managed to convince him to accept medical aid, even if it meant augmentations, and had a lead to where the investigator had stored his data.

"Freya, he was attacked by men in suits, private security, secret service types. I'm going after them."

"Did you get anything out of Radford?"

"A little, though he wasn't in much condition to speak. Looks like he stored the data he dug up in a storage unit nearby. I'm on my way there now. I'll contact you when I have more."

After a half hour of radio silence from Jensen, his familiar call alert popped up in her head.

"Freya, I need you to assign a temporary security detail to an apartment on Brooklyn Court until I can figure out a more permanent solution. The woman's name is Walters. Michelle Walters."

"A security detail? What on earth for, Jensen? Who is Michelle Walters?" Freya could detect urgency in his voice

"She's family, but she's vulnerable. She rescued me from the fire at White Helix when I was a child. Her memory's pretty shot, but whoever's trying to bury this will definitely think she's a liability. Not a word to Sarif about this. Can I trust you on this, Freya?"

"Of course, Adam. Christ. I might have to call in a few favors, but I'll make it happen."

"Alright, I'm off to the convention center now. And Freya, thanks."

"Anytime," she answered, smiling.

White Helix? Why does that name ring a bell… she thought to herself. Following a hunch, she logged into one of her private hacker networks under her handle Nucl3arsnake. She put the same question to several groups, asking if anyone had heard of White Helix. As she searched through her other routes, including government databases and company rosters, she heard a notification that someone had responded.

Windmill: Walk away.

What the hell? Windmill? The hacker who was responsible for sabotaging us?

Nucl3arsnake: Shouldn't you be hiding in a cave somewhere?

Windmill: WH is way too hot. They'll be tracing you now for even typing that.

Nucl3arsnake: Who?

Windmill: You know who. *Windmill has signed off*

Pritchard felt a chill rise up her spine and opened up her network traffic log. Sure enough there were several trackers listed that had appeared in the system less than a minute after she had posted her first query. Crap… She was glad she had chosen to use one of her less often used computers to investigate – she had barely any data on the hard drive and hadn't synced it in months, so hopefully they wouldn't find anything. If it was the Illuminati, there was no use trying to stop them at this point. White Helix...White Helix... Suddenly she remembered one of the emails she had intercepted a few months ago. It was between David Sarif and Hugh Darrow, dated shortly before the attack on HQ 6 months ago.

Re: Reed's Symposium

Hugh, I'm in a real bind here - we're going public of course, Megan is more than ready to present her findings. I just gotta know from you, before we proceed, are we going to get any push back about White Helix? I know that chapter has been closed for a long time, but I gotta know if there was anything else they did to him that'll bite us in the ass. Is there any possibility of fatal permutations or rejection intrinsic to the modifications they made once this gets mass produced? I know Megan's been pushing you to give her access to the clinical trial data, we both know you can get them. There's a lot riding on this - her findings are going to put Sarif Industries in the limelight and don't want there to be any unexpected fallout from this.

- Sarif

Re: Re: Reed's Symposium

David, have more faith in me. You have all the information you need. Everything will be taken care of. White Helix is a door better left shut.

Your friend, Hugh Darrow

*Beep* "Freya! Get this, the GPLs are still transmitting – Sandoval switched them to a lower frequency," Jensen called in, clearly having just gotten the info out of Sandoval one way or another. She quickly forwarded the emails to Jensen. Now wasn't the time to discuss them.

"But…Adam…they could be broadcasting anywhere in the world. I don't have the type of equipment we'll need to find them," she protested, blown away by the task at hand. If only Sandoval had given some vague location to start with, but just 'the transmitters are still weakly functional?' That didn't give her much to work with.

"It's our only lead Freya, you have to do something," Jensen insisted.

"Okay, I'll see if Sarif has pull with any military or international surveillance groups – we'll need some heavy duty satellites to detect and triangulate their locations…if they're even still functioning…"

"I'll go see him myself."

Jensen called Malik down to the nearest rooftop and had her bring him back to Sarif HQ. The streets were still too thick with rioters to expect him to pass through unnoticed. Even with his stealth augs. The pilot landed them smoothly on the rear helipad, adding, "Hey Jensen, I think there are some bigwigs up there talking to the boss. Maybe you can catch them before they leave." Adam nodded and made his way to David Sarif's penthouse.

When he entered the atrium, there were several heavily armed, augmented men standing at attention. Jensen glanced at each of their faces, cross referencing their markings with groups he might know and came up empty. They didn't seem to care that he was there – they just silently regarded him as he walked towards his boss's office.

"Sarif?" he called out as he pushed the glass door open. Instead of his well-manicured boss at the desk, impatiently tossing a baseball to himself, Adam found the other father of Sarif industries: Hugh Darrow. The man had grey hair, a thick goatee, and a silver, curved crutch that was resting across his lap.

"David's just stepped out for a moment, Mr. Jensen. But do come in. I've been hoping to meet you," Darrow's calm, British voice broke the air. Adam couldn't help but look at him in quiet reverence for a moment as Darrow awkwardly pushed himself to a stand and hobbled around the desk. His right leg had been crushed in an industrial accident years ago, and oddly, instead of an augmentation, he had a top-of-the-line fitted mechanical leg brace. The father of augmentation still using last decade's tech?

"Mister Darrow, I'm surprised you even know who I am," said Jensen modestly.

"David speaks very highly of you. He says, that when it comes to detective work, you are like a dog with a bone. Have you found your scientists yet?" he inquired.

"What else did David tell you?" Jensen put his guard up a little. It seemed Hugh Darrow was more involved in the company than Jensen had known.

"Over the years? Plenty. But today I'm here as a friend and fellow scientist. Things are getting quite turbulent out there, wouldn't you agree? So many people, drunk on revolution. The UN being urged to intervene, and all because of the technology I created," he said, almost detached.

"Things have come a long way since then," Jensen reminded him. Though apparently you haven't noticed, considering you still use a brace and a cane. Unless there's a reason you haven't upgraded.

"Haven't they…and now my old friend David wants me to lead us to the Promised Land. He's asked me to invite members of the UN to Panchaea, to convince them we don't need industry regulation," Darrow continued.

"Your geo-engineering project in the arctic ocean?" asked Jensen. He had heard snippets about this multi-billion dollar installation being built in the middle of the ocean. Eliza had interviewed Darrow several times about it, though Jensen had been too preoccupied lately to pay it much notice.

"The installation couldn't have been built without the assistance of augmented workers. And when it's finished, my little hole in the ocean is going to stop global warming. A lovely photo op, wouldn't you say?"

Jensen didn't like the direction Darrow was heading. Calm, aloof, and cynical…he did not at all come across as a pioneer of world-changing technologies, or even as a philanthropist, as so many called him. He was fronting most of the money for the Panchaea project himself, as Jensen recalled, and he was still considered by many to be one of the brightest minds of the age. But something didn't feel right.

"If it works," Jensen replied.

"You mean, if it doesn't kill us all?" Darrow asked, a touch amusement in his voice. Jensen couldn't quite place it, but it was unsettling.

Behind him, another set of footsteps had approached and stopped in the doorway. "Adam? You're back! Can I, uh, speak to you outside?"

"Sure, Sarif," said Jensen, eager to leave Darrow's company.

Sarif put a hand on his shoulder and seemed to hurry him out of the room, as if to put more distance between Jensen and Darrow. "Get to the Helipad, son. You're going back to Hengsha island. Freya tracked down one of the GPLs. I had to pull strings with the US Department of Defense to do it."

"Whose device is it?" Jensen asked.

"Sevchenko's. But Adam, keep in mind…since I went through the DOD, it's very likely the conspirators will know you're coming. Watch yourself out there."

Jensen nodded and headed back to the helipad. As Malik lifted off, he called Freya, "It's me. Good work with the GPL, we're heading there now. Once we've landed I'll need you to scout things out for me. There's a good chance our enemies are waiting for us."

"On it. Pritchard out."

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