Red Line Underground 2: Cyber Scars|
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Copyright ©2013 Cheryl Dragon
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2215 Chicago Territory-Summer
A few months had passed since the rebels in the Underground pulled down the former cyborg Vel. He'd proven a good and informative addition to the efforts to overthrow the Corporation above. The attacks had ceased and things had calmed down. Still they lacked enough hard intelligence to mount a revolt.
AnSol never doubted his old friend KiRin's move to snag the cyborg. Their hacking skills made it so tempting to take over the GPS and other implants controlling men who'd offended the Corporation and been put to work as punishment. Freeing men who shared their need for BDSM play felt like an act of kindness.
Ginger walked into the monitoring room, and AnSol sat up straighter. She was their first pull from above and had eagerly joined the rebel operation. Unfortunately she lacked any useful intelligence about the Corporation.
"What's with you?" asked the blonde, doe-eyed young woman with one big green spiral curl. The Underground clothing was mostly black and gray. Touches of color or other styled expressions were minimal and meaningful.
"Nothing, just one of those frustrating days." He wanted to do something. Every so often the urge to strike against the machine that controlled everyone's life up top and kept the rebels in the old train tunnels under Chicago boiled up in him.
"Patience." Ginger smiled at him.
"I'm tired of being patient." AnSol had been below for over ten years now. He'd been unable to hide his dominant sexual nature long past puberty. Above, any violence was illegal, but sexual deviants were more harshly punished. Here they were free, but AnSol was alone and the rebellion efforts lagged. Without sufficient intelligence on the Corporation layout, security measures, and the Artificial Intelligence technology, they couldn't plan an all-out overthrow.
"Stop mulling it over. You'll go mad," Ginger said.
"I've been here a hell of a lot longer than you." He saw a cyborg reading come on his screen that registered differently than the others. Focusing in, he tried to tap into its system.
"I know, but starting a war when we can't possibly outgun them isn't a smart move either. We need to out-tech them." Ginger nodded.
"Exactly!" The dingy room felt brighter to AnSol. He didn't mind the dark so much if there was hope in his heart. True, he'd rather live in freedom underground than obey above. But what was the point of all his hacking and computer skills if he couldn't help the rebellion?
"What?" Ginger looked over AnSol's shoulder. "No. You can't pull down a cyborg. He's in the headquarters. On a top-level floor. It'll never work."
"Look at his coding. It's not normal. Something in his programming is unique. I've never seen one like this before." Ever since his friend pulled down a cyborg and found not only a rebel informant but a sexual submissive, AnSol had dreamed of finding his own man. Odds weren't great love would follow sex, but a sexual partner would be a step up from being alone.
"So maybe he's damaged or lower level. You want to waste a pull? We'll get attacks from above. You know we will. It has to be worth it. I keep telling you guys to pull two or three at once."
"Can we control three cyborgs at once? Even hacking in and taking them over, it's dangerous with their strength and implants. Besides, the AI will pick up on that attack faster. One cyborg can malfunction but three at once?" AnSol had watched the cyborgs off and on, even when it wasn't his turn on the monitors. Something deep inside told him this unique signature was a sign.
Ginger pressed her lips together and shrugged. As a former cyborg, she wasn't a risk taker by nature. The Corporation had reconditioned the drive out of her, and AnSol couldn't blame her for playing it safe. Still, he needed her expertise with the implants.
"How soon can you be set up to pull the implants and dump the information?" AnSol asked.
"Ten minutes but you're not serious. AnSol, we need security backup and help." Ginger shook her head full of curls.
AnSol sent a message to KiRin and Vel. If anyone would understand the positive end result, they would. Both confirmed they'd be there within minutes. "Backup is on the way. Vel is fast. We'll have a sedation gun ready to go. We need more cyborg knowledge, Ginger, more cybernetic enhanced help. Everyone down here would die to be free, but I don't want to die. I want to live free in the fresh air."
"We all want that, but one more cyborg won't make it happen tomorrow." She sighed. "Fine, I'll get ready. It's hard to watch, though. Becoming a cyborg is worse, but humans adapt. We can learn to live with a lot of things, especially when they monitor your thoughts and punish you. Letting go of that and becoming free again isn't easy either."
"We couldn't do what we're doing without you. Every move is a step closer." He smiled at her.
Ginger headed to her station looking unconvinced.
Pausing, he turned. "Do you wish we'd left you up there and not taken you?"
She looked down. "No, I'm happier here. Seeing someone else go through the adjustment to freedom is kind of like reliving it. In the end it's better, but the sudden change can be painful."
"I'm sorry, but they really need your help." He couldn't agree more that it was difficult to watch someone struggle.
One day when they all were free above, it'd be a struggle for AnSol not to jump at every turn, not to fear the noon sun, and not to hide his true nature from everyone. Freedom was worth the pain.
Zeroing in on the cyborg in question, AnSol sent a few odd messages to see how the man reacted. All the responses came back normal so there was no active malfunction. Perhaps he was a higher-level cyborg? Enhanced information? His location was ideal for having added knowledge, but getting him to the Underground would be tricky...