Else Return ␀ Part I


asi_icon.gif elliot_icon.gif

Scene Title Else Return ␀ Part I
Synopsis Elliot approaches Asi for help creating a program for an unspecified personal project.
Date February 15, 2021

The Bastion

With a quirk of her head, Asi slowly leans forward like it'll help her hear better. In her quarters at the Bastion, she's sitting beside her desk with her laptop open atop it, while Elliot sits on her bed with his. She looks a little bewildered, but quickly recovers.

"You want to do what?" she asks carefully.

“Basically,” Elliot says, “I want to be able to query a database for specific search keys and automatically copy over any related files.” He tabs back and forth through several windows on his laptop to make sure he has what he needs at hand.

“Ideally it would run from something portable during an infiltration,” he continues. “And there would be bonus points for also scrubbing the activity from the target server. It doesn’t really need to be subtle though, usually timeliness is a priority in even a long infiltration. Don’t want to be found standing around a restricted access point with an external harddrive in hand, they usually take that poorly.”

He drops his prototype into a shared folder on Wolfhound’s servers for reference. “I’ve been toying with it for a while, but I’m kind of out of practice with malware development. And I have no idea where I’d start if there is a hostile technopath or AI presence on the server.”

He looks around himself for a moment and scoops up an enameled metal thermos, which he offers to Asi. “Also I brought the good stuff.”

Asi takes hold of it while she thinks, slowly leaning back into her chair. She doesn't turn in toward her desk just yet, head gradually lolling to the side as she weighs something in silence, finding one side of the argument soundly outweighing the other if that tilt is any indication. "I have something that works like that, actually. Admittedly." Though it might be only him she admits it to.

"When I pulled the datamine from Praxia on our way out, I didn't just use my ability to do it. I have a— utility that I set up previously for even non-technopaths to use for exfiltration." She turns back to the desk, setting aside the coffee for now so she can turn to her laptop. Asi looks nonplussed for all the wariness in her tone— she carries an excellent poker face as always. (Drug- and alcohol-inebriated evenings an obvious exception to this well-refined and practiced rule.)

"It's seen use more than just there, so I know it works well. The difference I think in what you're looking for is it's not set to exfiltrate files over a network, nor is it currently designed to cover its tracks. It's inelegant— a brute force smashgrab of information." Resting her elbow on the desk and her chin in her palm, she uses her left hand to type and scroll with an absent expression. "We could find a way to marry the two together, potentially, even if it takes some re-engineering. I've wanted to go back and— refine it, anyway, but I've just been…"

She trails off as she opens Elliot's file to review it, eventually sighing out the rest of her thought— although it comes with a jump ahead given the time it took to restart it. "Do you have any idea what type of system, or are we figuring that out on the fly and we should work several variations of this?"

“At the rate that technological advances are proliferating, especially at the corporate level, it’s hard to guess, but,” Elliot shrugs. “Ideally it would function in a top-tier corporate environment, if not in a dedicated, protected data archive. That might be too big an ask.”

“Smash and grab isn’t a bad last-ditch, though,” he admits. He stretches his arms behind his back and gets as comfortable as seems polite in a coworker’s bed. “When all else fails. And now that you’ve reminded me of Praxia I realize that I have absolutely no idea how to implement this past a language barrier. What little I’ve seen from that data was mostly Mandarin.”

“Did you have to deploy that directly in their server farm? I can’t imagine they made it easy for you.”

Asi only lets out a noncommittal noise at first while she looks over the screen. Finally, she mutters, "Apart from the part where the antechamber to the server room tried to kill us, it went easier than expected. I unknowingly carried…" she dithers. "Let's call it the proper security key to bypass most of their security." Hesitant for only a moment longer, recalling Elliot saw her memories, she turns to him more directly.

"The Red Oni was the nerve center of all of Praxia's systems," she explains openly. "With a version of myself running absolutely everything, I tripped no alarms when I disabled security. I was already trusted." Asi lets out a quiet huff of a laugh. "They had a quantum communication system, untraceable, difficult to hack… save but for one person in this universe who they just so happened to piss off rather than befriend."

Her head starts to tilt before she wonders, "Where are you planning on deploying this, Elliot? You have a lead on the Praxis project related to your person?"

Elliot considers the answer to that question carefully, eyeing the doorway, then Asi. “I don’t think I can safely answer that question right now,” is his response. “It is of a personal nature. If you would rather have nothing to do with this, I would totally understand. While this has practical applications for me in future work ops…”

Elliot is smart enough to know there could be traces of the application that could lead back here, to Asi. “I can tell you that I don’t have an opportunity to deploy it yet,” he says. “But if the opportunity presents itself I need to be able to take it.”

She shakes her head once. "You helped me uncover invaluable information about my own situation, Elliot," she states, not wanting there to be any question of dedication to this. "I owe you, for one. And I would help you anyway."

Unsmiling, she looks back to the laptop screen. "I'll configure it accordingly. But I have to warn you— if your path is taking you to cross Yamagato since they bought out Praxis, don't. They have something even more effective than a technopath guarding their data. If you're interested in an unpleasant death, I'm certain they'd only be too happy to arrange it."

Skipping through to her personal server, she opens the files side by side on her screen, beginning to frown at them. "I'll see about combining your work and mine into something worth a lot of money for paying parties. I've got some time left before I'm off the bench, after all." She mutters, "Have to pull my weight somehow."

Elliot wasn’t really expecting this idea to succeed, he’s been hiding the pieces of this for so long. His mouth turns up to a smile without him realizing it. He wonders if maybe he and Wright should just bite the bullet and tell people about their link. Maybe they wouldn’t react as badly as they’d always worried. But on reflection he knows it’s not safe to say it yet. Not until he can answer those questions about what happened to him in the shattered mirror of the Ark.

“You don’t owe me for helping with your memory. I don’t trade favors with friends, I just help when needed,” he says quietly, then chuckles. “And getting to experience LSD from a safe distance was its own reward.”

Asi lets out a scoff of a chuckle despite herself. "Ah, the true motivation comes out at last…" she ribs him without even looking back his way. She just continues scrolling, then taps out a note for her sake for later. The laptop is nudged aside for now, thermos taken in hand instead. She ought to juice up first, after all.

"Anything else on your mind while you're here?" she wonders with an upward tick of one eyebrow.

Elliot looks up as he considers for a moment. “What do you want on your pizza?”

The corner of Asi's mouth kicks back in a half-smile. Tipping the uncapped thermos in his direction, she declares with finality, "You're allowed over for crazy projects any time."

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