The Sheen lets out a fairly good approximation of a sigh. "Maybe we should just get started."
“The Steward’s mansion is on the way to the fabs, but…” Hoim starts.
“Unless you’ve got a skinned worker you can wear, you’re not gonna blend in at the nanofabs,” Tena says.
“Don’t get my hopes up,” FTE jokes, immediately realizing it’s not funny to the other people in the room, which only makes it funnier. “Where can I go without getting tagged, let’s start there and we’ll figure out what to do from there, whether it’s making a smaller wearable shell or extending the operation or just making a ruckus worthy of a Turai response.”
“Well, we can try our armor, but we don’t have Turai vox codes,” Hoim says.
“And if your travel shell can do anything useful, we should be able to carry that around without much trouble,” Vama adds.
“I’m pretty bare-bones in the travel shell,” FTE replies. “It’s meant to keep a low profile, which… isn’t bad, but I’ll be of limited help if we go in that way. Let’s shoot for the vox codes first - if we get them, we can slide into their DMs as Turai. We fall back to the travel shell infiltration if that doesn’t work. And the 815’s usual exfil plan is ‘bamf’ out. If you’re not leaving the planet after this, we should set up a backup safehouse as well.”
“...how clean should this safehouse be?” Vama asks.
Front Toward Enemy’s hand wavers in the air, the universal “meh” gesture. “If all goes to plan, the harvester is gonna eat everything that’d be chasing us. If it doesn’t go to plan, we’ll all be dead, so don’t sweat it.”
That assurance is not as reassuring as it could have been, but Hoim still nods. “Right. Well, let’s get cracking on those Turai idents. We can handle forming the packets, but with the Turai cranked up like they are, getting past their net has been the sticking point. Think you can handle that?”
FTE “cracks” its “knuckles”. “Time to hack,” it says. Tena leans in for a closer look as subtle panels shift on its shoulders and wrists, adjusting its internal vox arrays to account for local fluctuations.
(FTE Hack Cortex-to-Turai: 2d12+1d10 vs. 2d8 = 9, 6 v. 7)
A moment’s pause, a footfall onto a missing step, and FTE stretches out into the local Turai subcortex. The system’s security net glitters along the horizon, a blanket of cyanide cobwebs. FTE’s infiltrator routines conjure a wriggling familiar and coax it forth, carefully sliding past warning creepers and picking past tendrils with fragile but dextrous limbs. The red warning barrier blocking off the Turai subcortex looms above it, but a careful stab in between pulses opens a micrometer-wide hole, plenty for FTE to glide through into Turai dataspace.
(FTE Hack Evade Turai: 2d12+1d10 vs. 1d10 = 7, 7 vs. 2)
The nice thing about human systems is that over time, they develop layers. Front Toward Enemy stalks the undergrowth where old code’s grown up into the newer, precisely-ordered databases. It climbs, pausing as the red sentinel glow passes over. The vox codes are secured but accessed frequently, and all the Sheen needs to do is get a figurative toe in the door as a valid request passes by. One lick is all it takes to copy the authorization.
“Are you in?” Hoim asks.
“We’ve got the packets put together,” she says, holding a holodisk. “...where do I...stick it in?”
“But we just met,” FTE says, taking the disc and running it through a fairly-normal looking vox, just another part of its shell.
(FTE Data Plant: 2d12+1d10 vs. 1d10 = 10, 4 vs. 6)
And just like that, the real world fades, its alpha channel minimized in favor of the Cortex smell. FTE pours out its virtual vox like a canteen, releasing chrome minnows into the data stream alongside countless identical packet-fish.
It comes back and gets up, pretending to stretch its arms and back. “Our codes are in their system and we’re tapped in. Let’s go do a war crime.”