Chapter 11 – DarkNet Follies (Part II)

«      »

“Longitude in this hemisphere is negative,” Elaine said, pushing her glasses back up the bridge of her nose.

“I’ll try that,” Frog said.

The satellite picture resolved on the screen into a very familiar set of buildings: the Student Recreation Center. Right smack on the edge of Arizona State University. In fact, not so far away from the Computing Commons. The overhead view from the mapping program brought the pool and the sandstone colored buildings out in sharp relief to the green of the playing fields and the black asphalt roads running nearby like rivers. Little people could even be seen walking along the edges of the pool.

“Well, at least we know where that is,” Zane said. “Let’s see the other location.”

Moments and another browser tab later, another bird’s eye view displayed a spot on the opposite side of campus immediately south of Wilson Hall near Forest Mall. The palm trees looked like weeds against the brute brick of the buildings and the concrete walkways stretched like thin paths between them.

“Okay,” Zane said. “Red Leader, you, David, and Susan head out to the Student Recreation center—I expect that’ll have a lot more area to cover—and Blue Leader, you take Adam and head to Wilson Hall. All of you remain in radio contact and we’ll figure this thing out. I think our phones are equipped with GPS so enter your coordinates now. Maybe we’ll be able to figure out what the #B233 means.”

The group broke up into their respective teams as the two lieutenants—Russell, Red Leader and Benjamin, Blue Leader—stopped to ask Elaine to show them how to use the cryptophone’s GPS features. She consulted with them briefly; the UI provided a very simplistic interface and a view mode that didn’t take her much time to instruct them to use. After entering the coordinates, a little globe symbol appeared in the side of the viewscreen that they could access with the side buttons and that would switch between the standard view (the time on most of the phones) and an updated map view showing them how far away from their target coordinates the phone thought it was.

After a bit of discussion and cheerful noises the teams funneled out of the room and began trekking to their respective locations. Zane held his cryptophone up to his ear in constant conversation as he poked around the lab looking for a working headset. (Otherwise he’d be forever lacking one hand to hold the phone.) Elaine recalled she had several back in her dorm room, but couldn’t remember if any of the headsets in the lab worked any longer—most of them she held onto for parts: speakers, wires, and 2.5mm jacks.

Hey, boss,” Hadaly’s voice emanated from the projector speakers and the light in the room changed as her bust appeared superimposed over the field of green and it’s hexadecimal encoded GPS coordinates.

“Hasn’t Elaine told you not to do that where other people might seen you?” Zane said. “Oh, there you are. For a moment I thought you were using your ionizing holographic projection.”

“She’s fine,” Elaine said scanning the room for other people. Only Frog and Zane had remained behind and both of them knew Hadaly rather intimately. “Just like a teleconference. We could have included her in the meeting like this, if we’d thought about it.”

Zane shrugged and went back to his conversation on the cryptophone and resumed rummaging through the lab’s bins of exposed equipment.

The image of Hadaly on the projection screen beamed. She extended her arms and twirled to show off her newest creation of an outfit. Today she had startlingly blue eyes to go with straight blonde hair and her usual lab coat had pastel Hawaiian flowers falling over it—falling being the operative term as the fabric of the coat animated them twirling and fluttering across its white surface. Frog voiced her approval before returning to casually perusing a website on the terminal she’d taken over earlier.

“What do you have for me?” Elaine asked.

Nine of the target students are getting out of classes right now,” Hadaly said. “If you wanted to scan them, you wouldn’t find a better time.

“Load their class schedule and relative locations to the Enoch, please,” Elaine said and waited while her phone updated.

As she watched the points light up on her map of ASU she pulled down her goggles and ignited a programing HUD. With the map in the center and symbolic entities representing the data about the nine students to the side, she began to link them together with an optimization program that she quickly trained to run the famous Travelling Salesman algorithm in a Hamiltonian space. Judging by where the students had exited and the locations of their next classes, she’d have exactly ten minutes to traverse the campus and pass by each of them. The programming would also include a great deal of fudge factor with tarry time and multiple routes between buildings. However, most people kept to the major thoroughfares and tended to take the most direct routes, so Elaine figured only minimal deviation would be needed.

One student had no next class, the other eight had classes immediately afterwards.

«      »

About this entry