Saturday, April 29, 2017

Flurry: Time After Time (Part III)

“You are not serious,” Serkan said after Lincoln Rutherford filled them in on the plan. Dr. Andrews had to leave the room for a meeting.
“We are not doing that,” Ace agreed.
“It’s the only way,” Rutherford claimed.
“That isn’t even in the same league as the truth,” Serkan argued. “Your plan is so convoluted and random that it doesn’t make any sense. What, were you a Bond villain in another life?”
“No, I was a security guard,” Rutherford answered seriously. I’ve been through this before. When I did it, it took me years to gain the guy’s trust, but we don’t have that kind of time here, so you’ll have to get the executives to trust you in one fell swoop.”
They didn’t say anything.
“Yeah, my friend, Brian would say that I have complexity addiction, but trust me. I see the connections, I know this will work, but only you can do it.”
“So many things can go wrong,” Serkan said.
“And I don’t love what role I’m meant to play,” Ace complained.
“Ah, you’ll be fine,” Rutherford said, literally brushing away Ace’s fears with his fingers. “And so will you, Serkan.”
“How do you know?”
“Remember how I told you that I see time from a third-person perspective, like I’m just watching it on a screen?”
“Yeah, but your time power doesn’t work when I’m around, so you can’t know what’s going to happen in the future.”
“No, I can’t, but I’ve gotten good at predicting things just the same. I’ve planned this whole thing out, and I’ve accounted for every detail.”
“When did you do this?” Ace asked like a cop in an interrogation room. “You just walked in here.”
“I’ve been planning for you to do this for awhile, it’s just more pressing now. Why do you think I got you that job as a security guard?”
“One of your superiors had a criminal record that I took care of once when he applied for the job, so he owed me a favor. I made sure you were hired,” Rutherford explained.
“I can’t believe you did that to me. I’m just a chess piece for you, aren’t I? You can’t move me around like everyone else with your crazy movie-time perspective, but you can manipulate me in other ways.”
“That is sooo not true.” Rutherford seemed rather offended. “I’m here to help.”
“You’re here to help by having my boyfriend attack one of the executives, while I fend him off and save the executive’s life?” When Serkan put it like that, it sounded even dumber.
“He’ll be wearing a mask,” Rutherford said unconfidently.
Serkan wasn’t buying it. “Does this kind of thing ever work?”
“No, it doesn’t,” Ace said. “We’re not even going to try. We’ll find another way.”
Duke Andrews came back into the room. “Did you guys figure it out?”
“Yes,” Ace said, stone-faced. “We were just leaving.”
“Well, let me know if you need anything,” Andrews said to them sincerely as they were walking through the door.
Lincoln made no attempt to stop them.
“I’m glad we’re on the same page with this,” Ace said to Serkan when they were in the elevator.
“Of course,” Serkan said back. “Rutherford’s plan was stupid, but it wasn’t without its merits. It did give me an idea of how we can actually get into the building, but we can’t do it alone.”
“Who do we need?”
“About a year from now, I’m going on a very light jog when I see a struggle on the street ahead of me. Two men are fighting over something very small, and one of them finally takes it away from the other. He runs off as the other guy yells that he was just robbed. So, naturally, I use my speed to catch up with the thief and take the flashdrive from him, returning it to its owner.”
“Okay...” Ace replied, waiting for more.
“Turns out the victim was a member of the grammer gang, one of the best.”
“Serkie, I don’t want you getting involved with those gangs. They’re dangerous.”
“They’re not that kind of gang.”
“I know, but they’re still built on an us vs. them mentality. They don’t do anything for free, and if we ask them for help, they’ll want something in return.”
“That’s just capitalism, Ace. Nobody at all does anything thing for free.”
“Correct, but what people like this ask for is usually something you don’t wanna give, and/or can’t afford.”
“We’re kind of out of options here. We need in that building, and my warehouse security badge just won’t cut it. I need J-Cuken to upgrade it for me.”
“But you said yourself that you helped him in the future. He’ll have no idea who you are.”
“No. But I know who he is, and I know if we just talk to him, he’ll agree to help. Yeah, he’ll want something from us, but it’s gotta be worth it.”
Ace sighed and conceded, “okay. I’ll trust you.”
The grammer gang is different than other gangs. By their very nature, programmers don’t need to be in the room together to get their work done. They’re perfectly content communicating with each other remotely. This gives them an advantage over other gangs, which is especially good since their work is generally more illegal than others. They only ever convene IRL during new member initiation rituals, but even then, most watch it through video chat, or just don’t participate at all. If the authorities ever compile enough evidence on one of the hackers, they’ll only be able to get that one hacker, at best. And once they do move in on a target, all other members are alerted. They immediately trash their equipment, scrub whatever room they’ve been working in, and relocate to somewhere else. The only permanent bases they maintain are virtual, and fortunately, Serkan knew how to access their network.
Ace returned home with Serkan to watch as he got on their computer and logged onto the grammer chat system. Serkan sent nothing more than a ping to J-Cuken. After a few seconds, J-Cuken sent back a message with GPS coordinates to an abandoned mall.
“Serkan, I don’t like this,” Ace said. “What if he has a gun?”
“He won’t be here,” Serkan explained. “This is not where we meet, it’s just so that he can keep an eye on me while we discuss business using what he already knows to be a secure connection.”
“This is not true,” J-Cuken said, appearing from around the corner. He spoke in a Russian accent that was much thicker than Serkan remembered. It was probably just part of his mystique, and something that he ends up getting over sometime in the future.
“Whoa,” Serkan said, surprised. “I thought you didn’t like meeting IRL.”
“I do not, but you have sparked my curiosity. Once you contacted me on your completely vulnerable machine, I hacked into your webcam and ran facial recognition software. What I discovered was that you are literally in two places at once.” J-Cuken handed Serkan a tablet, revealing a feed from one of Agent Nanny Cam’s drones that were watching the younger Serkan training at Frenzy Headquarters.
“I can explain that.”
“You are time traveler,” J-Cuken suggested.
“Why is no one shocked by that!”
J-Cuken shrugged his shoulders. “I have seen stranger things.”
“Like what?”
“Like every season?”
Ace took control of the conversation. “We need to get into the Snowglobe Headquarters. Would you be able to help us with that?” He reached into Serkan’s pocket and took out Serkan’s employee badge. “Could you modify this so that it gets us to every room in every building?”
J-Cuken took the badge and looked it over a bit. “You still use badges?” He rudely squeezed the badge until it broke in half. He then threw it onto a stack of lumber that had been left on the dirty floor. “We don’t need no stinking badges. What do they pay you in, goats?”
“What the hell!”
“I will help you. The leaders of that company pissed me off many years ago, and I have been looking for a way to get them back. But tell me, what do you have against them?”
“They’re responsible for all this snow.”
J-Cuken stood on his tippy toes and looked down the hallway at a sliver of light coming from a boarded up window. “Does nature not do that on its own?”
Serkan laughed, “well, yes, but not in summer.”
“What is...summer?”
Serkan quickly directed J-Cuken’s tablet to Google Translate, pushing the little speaker icon so that it read aloud the Russian equivalent of summer.
J-Cuken was still confused. “What is...leto?”
Now Serkan was confused. “Something’s wrong here. You don’t act all that much like J-Cuken.”
“ got me.” J-Cuken placed both hands on his face and slowly started pulling it down. As his hands lowered, so did his eyes and ears, and then his nose, and also his mouth. He moved his features all around his head, revealing a hideous creature of some kind.
“Oh my God!” Serkan yelled.
But his boyfriend wasn’t all that scared. “What are you?” Ace just had to ask.
“My name is Effigy,” it answered...warping its face to look exactly like Ace.
“Oh my God!” Serkan was forced to yell again.
“Time after time,” the creature said, still in J-Cuken’s voice, “people have come and seen me. They all react the same way. With horror. Am I really that disgusting?”
“Well, you’re not exactly Melissa Benoist, I’ll tell ya that much,” Ace said
“This is fair,” Effigy said.
“I guess that explains how you knew Serkan was a time traveler.”
“It takes one to know one.”
“Could you...” Serkan tried to speak, but was faltering. “Could you...make yourself look like something else?
The creature blinked and transformed into Serkan.
“Something...else?” Ace requested.
“Like what?” Still with that heavy Russian accent. “A taco that shits ice cream? I do not do this for you. I prefer to remain in a form you are most uncomfortable with. And so, I will show you your worst nightmare.” It transformed into a man they didn’t recognize, which was nothing scary.
“Who is that?” Ace asked.
“I’m Mateo.”
They just shrugged.
“Mateo Matic?”
Still nothing.
“Oh, wrong timeline. Okay, whatever.” Still in Mateo’s form, he took the tablet back from Serkan and set it on the table. He then waved his hands around like a Vegas magician, using real magic to produce an extremely thin transparent plastic rectangle that looked like a cell phone. “Anyway, this will get you into any building, at any time, on any planet. It’s a more advanced version of the Escher Knob.”
“You’re still helping us?” Serkan asked, surprised that this monster would have any interest in helping them with anything.
“Snowglobe still pissed me off long ago. But honestly, if you’re upset about the weather, they’re not the ones you should be going after.”
“Who then?” Ace asked.
“One of their daughter companies is the one that would most likely actually be responsible for it. But don’t worry, I’m pissed off at them too.”
“Daughter company?”
“It’s called Snowglobe Collective. Their whole thing is owning subsidiaries. D’uh. Snowglobe itself doesn’t really do anything.”
“Then who does?”
“High Castle Corporation.”

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