Summer Extra Scene (Connection Concealed)

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Hello, fellow romantic!

The summer starts on my side of the globe today!

That means it’s time for an extra, written scene. πŸ™‚

I was able to work on it thanks to the recurring support of listeners around the world and I want to thank every single one of you from the bottom of my heart. <3

Curious to hear your thoughts πŸ˜‰

Sigrid

In Fireblue territory…

Louise tilted her head while looking at the screen. Her eyes stung from the long hours of work she had put in lately. Despite being tired, she couldn’t bring herself to go home just yet. Something was off. She just didn’t know what it was.

The rest of the team had left hours ago. Louise had told them to go home. They too had all put in massive overtime in the last few weeks. Now, Louise wished she had made some of them stay. It would give her some extra manpower to follow up on this hunch of hers.

“Come on, spidey sense,” she mumbled. “What are you trying to tell me here?”

The terminal on her right pinged and Louise reluctantly shifted her focus to the other screen. She relaxed a little when she saw a message from El had come in. Louise entered the long encryption key from memory and the message unlocked.

“Any progress over there?”

Louise smiled. El was always careful to keep her messages through the terminal vague. Despite the many security measurements, she had learned the hard way that anything could leak to the press.

“No,” Louise typed. “But spidey.”

El would know what she meant. She’d know not to expect Louise home any time soon. Louise turned to focus on her networks again, but another notification announced a new message by El.

“We need to talk,” appeared on the screen after Louise had entered the encryption key again.

She frowned. It was unlike El to insist on a conversation while Louise was working. Had something happened? Louise instantly felt her shoulders tense up even more. Nothing was more important to her than El’s well-being.

“I can come home,” she quickly typed. “I’ll leave in five.”

The response from El was almost immediate. Louise sighed and entered the code once more. This system was purposefully built to discourage instant messaging. She understood why; it was part of the Fireblue rebels’ philosophy after all, but sometimes she wished she could override the system.

“No, stay there,” the new message from El said.

Louise frowned. Her fingers hovered above the keyboard as she considered what to send back. She assumed El wouldn’t tell her what was happening until they saw each other face to face. It was the only safe way.

Another notification sounded. Louise sighed, shook her head and entered the long encryption key again. The tiny hairs on her arm rose while she read the short message from El.

“On my way,” it said.

“That’s not good,” Louise mumbled.

She got up from her chair and walked to the wall on her left. She looked at the many screens without taking in any of the information displayed on them. Instead, she calculated how long it would take El to get here.

It would be at least another forty-five minutes. El couldn’t just jump in the car and drive over. Her security detail alone needed ten minutes to gather everything and everyone before they could leave the presidential palace.

“That’s assuming she’s home,” Louise realized.

Something on one of the screens caught her attention then: the status light of a firewall flickered red for less than a second and then went back to green. Louise could have easily missed it just by blinking.

She hurried back to her terminal and, without sitting down first, opened the firewall logs that had briefly flashed red. She leaned over her desk as she scrolled through the list of logged events. She saw no record of what had just happened.

“This is also not good,” she thought, shaking her head.

Her eyes flicked back to the wall with screens. She squinted at the status light of another firewall. Had she just seen that one flicker as well? Her fingers tightened around the computer mouse as she waited.

And sure enough, it blinked red again and immediately returned to solid green. Louise held her breath as she opened the logs of this second firewall. She scrolled through the reports and again saw nothing that would explain this oddity.

Louise hurriedly sat down in her chair and opened another type of log. This one listed all the unexplained events her team had discovered in the last few weeks. After updating some of their infrastructure the previous month, they had started this list to keep each other informed.

Even though Louise personally knew every single person working on the new hardware, she also knew very few people could be trusted fully. Sometimes people didn’t pay as much attention as they should. They were human after all and humans made mistakes.

That’s not what worried Louise so much, though. She worried about infiltrators or spies of the global army. If they managed to work undercover in the Fireblue infrastructure team, they could easily compromise the Fireblue networks.

Louise quickly read through the titles of the reports her team had filed. Nothing seemed to include the firewall’s status lights blinking red for a brief moment. Louise did trust her team. This problem was either new or had gone unnoticed before.

Louise narrowed her eyes as she thought about the implications. If these firewall events were not logged and no one witnessed them, something could have been going on for weeks.

The back of Louise’s neck was tingling. Every bone in her body told her this was serious. She would have to find a way to monitor how often this happened and where in the network it happened. She had to do it manually if the logs weren’t working.

She was debating if she could do it alone or if she would have to call in the team when she heard the heavy door down the hall fall shut. She glanced at the clock and was surprised to see that almost thirty minutes had passed since El had sent her that last message.

Louise got up and made her way to the door. When she pulled it open, she found El in the hallway, looking distressed. Next to her, a blonde woman stood, arms crossed. Louise’s lips parted in shock.

 

πŸ’œ Dear fellow romantic,

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