We pushed you down deep in our souls, so hang on…
This damn fic has been kicking my ass for almost a week now, but finally, FINALLY I managed to get ‘er done. I actually made myself do some research for it, only to end up scrapping an entire segment where I rambled on for a paragraph and a half on the techniques law enforcement uses to track cellular phones and the calls made with them. ::headdesk::
Anyway, this is for Winzler, who wanted a perspective-flip on the events in Red-Eye from Roy’s POV, and I certainly was not averse to giving our adorable Hobbit of a hacker some extra love! Apologies to all in advance for my gratuitous use of run-on sentences and any tense-mangling I may have missed.
Author’s Note 07/09/12
Finally, a chapter of this series that isn’t 100% soul-crushing tragic trainwreck! ILU, Roy.
Chasing the Dawn
December 17, 2010
Hey, kiddo, you all set?
Just about. Marv says hi.
You’ve got everything you need?
Yep. Test-ran your worm, no issues, OK to launch.
What about your gear? You’ve triple-checked it? Quadruple-checked?
Yes, mom, now would you kindly get off my ass?
Just making sure. You know IT would eye-laser the skin right off of me if I didn’t look out for you.
Calm your tits, okay, I’ve done this a dozen times. And thanks again, man.
See you on the news, kiddo.
Pick up your goddamn phone. NOW.
Roy did, and suddenly everything changed.
For almost ten minutes after Alan hangs up, all Roy can do is stare blankly at the cel phone in his hand, shellshocked. His mind is racing at a hundred miles per hour and it takes a heroic amount of effort to rein in his thoughts enough for him to get some kind of a hold.
You can’t flip out about this, Roy. It could be anything. Or nothing. Hell it’s probably a prank, and man, if I ever find the asshole who’d do that to Alan…
But the timing…
Coincidence. You have to think about this rationally. You cannot afford to go tinfoil hat, okay? At least not any more than you already have.
But what if it’s not a coincidence?? What if it’s…what if we really…
The mass digital pulse experiment had been Flynn Lives’ equivalent of SETI—beaming a call into the sky, knowing that no answer was ever likely to come. Even Alan had laughed and shaken his head when Roy told him about it (and Roy had tried bravely to pretend that hadn’t stung.) “Yeah, I guess it is pretty crazy…but you have to admit, it’s the kind of thing Kevin would try, right?”
He knows it’s insane. Tinfoil-hat nuts. But despite all his best efforts to keep himself grounded in the aftermath of Alan’s revelation about the page, Roy can’t help but think of Dr. Ellie Arroway in Contact and the moment when the signal of repeating prime numbers first sounded over the speakers at the VLA…the moment when the stars answered back.
The first step he takes is to call PacBell and confirm that yes, landline telephone service to 9543 Culver Blvd. is disconnected, and has been since 1991. That means the page was almost certainly a cellular signal, spoofing the arcade’s old number. Tracking it down is going to be a trick, but Roy’s been in the hacker game for a decade and a half now, and he knows several.
There’re several pieces of information Roy needs. He needs to look at Alan’s pager service account so he can track the signal back to the cel tower it originated from. He wants to look at Culver City PG&E, too, and the power usage at the arcade. He knows there is electricity to the arcade—Flynn Lives pays the bills, after all—but looking at last month’s power bills won’t tell him if there was a sudden spike in usage tonight, or any time within the last few days.
Hacking all these services and following up on each thread by himself would be a chore, and way too slow for his taste, so Roy sets about fixing up one of his custom-designed search-and-spy programs to do it all at once. He has a friend on the forums who works for Orange County PD’s Computer Crimes division, but he doesn’t want to contact her with this just yet, even though he knows he could use her help. Maybe it’s stupid, but this feels private, somehow. Once he’s gotten to the bottom of it, perhaps he’ll announce the news to the rest of the organization, but for now, Roy wants to keep it in the family.
He takes a break from his programming a little after midnight to check the news, and sure enough, there’s Sam, freefalling off the roof of Encom Tower and vaulting over police cars. Ladies and gentlemen, Ezio Flynnditore, he thinks with a grin, before going online to grab a copy of OS12 for future vivisection. One can of Japanese black coffee later (Red Bull is for babies) and he’s back to work, and by 1:45 the new-and-improved spybot is done and ready to roll.
Maybe, Roy thinks, he’ll even give it a name.
He doesn’t know what he’s going to find. Maybe the page was a fluke. Maybe it’s a malicious prankster, and he and Alan and Lora and Sam can have the pleasure of finding the guy and kicking his ass to El Toro. And maybe, just maybe, it’s something more.
If it really is you, buddy…alive or dead, if it’s you out there, trying to drop us a line, help us. Help us find the truth, finally, once and for all. Help us find you.
No matter what comes with the dawn, he knows everything’s changing, and for the first time in years, Roy Kleinberg allows himself to hope.