Karin Eklund sauntered casually toward the staff entrance to the Gyrodigital building. The sun had been down for nearly an hour, but Gyrodigital was one of those companies that expected long hours from their employees. No one would think twice about someone arriving at this time.
If anyone had stopped to ask her for ID, she’d have been caught immediately. Each Gyrodigital employee had an unbranded swipe card and a separate ID with their name, photo, and department listed under a huge Gyrodigital logo, which a security officer could match to the data on the employee’s record. But she didn’t have one of those. She only had a generic RFID card that had been loaded with fake electronic credentials, and the reader happily beeped when she swiped it over the sensor. There were no human security staff nearby to double-check, so she slipped into the building undetected.
She tapped a beat out on the electronic tattoo on her arm to open an audio channel to her spotter, then subvocalized, “Step one, complete.”
• • •
Officer Taylor Demir watched as the intruder entered Gyrodigital’s offices. A combination of private and law enforcement drone-camera footage played over Demir’s vision, the heads-up display projected on the windscreen of the patrol car. Demir’s implants connected them to the automated car’s system so intimately that, had an emergency situation arisen, they could have taken manual control of the vehicle in an instant. But they didn’t expect to have to make any deviation from the mission—the Gyrodigital bust was the department’s top priority today.
Their visuals switched over to interior cameras as the tiny drones followed the intruder as she coolly walked toward Gyrodigital’s server room. Demir gave the woman her due—she looked for all the world to be an office jockey stuck working late. There was nothing suspicious about her whatsoever. Demir knew better, though, and ordered the car to increase speed.
• • •
Karin swiped into the server room and shivered as the sheen of sweat on her face cooled in the room’s heavy air conditioning. The air smelled wrong, and she guessed that Gyrodigital was using the cheap, effective but environmentally destructive coolant that had been banned years ago. It would be a minor infraction compared to the rest of the corporation’s crimes against the environment. Which was why she was here.
It wasn’t enough to tell the world that one of the largest producers of electronic goods was cheating on their carbon returns. Someone had to stop them, and that was why she was sitting in front of a terminal at nine at night, typing furiously into the admin portal to try to gain access to Gyrodigital’s deployment system.
• • •
The patrol car’s ETA system showed nearly ten minutes until they would arrive at Gyrodigital, so Demir pulled up some files. Facial recognition had gotten a hit on the intruder: Karin Eklund.
Several arrests at protests in support of the UN Resolution on Global Carbon Emission Regulations some years previously, but no convictions. However, there was evidence that Eklund was linked to a radical action group that had stolen several large corporations’ internal documents showing that their official Climate Impact Statements had been falsified.
Demir flipped though the dossier, text and images overlaid on their vision as they sped through the city streets toward Gyrodigital’s head office. The data on Eklund had dried up nearly two years ago. It was as if she’d dropped off the face of the earth, but here she was, caught on one of Demir’s microdrone cameras that had followed her into the Gyrodigital server room.
Demir watched in real time as Eklund hacked her way into the system.
Your destination is on the left, the car’s audio system informed them, and Demir cleared their vision.
• • •
Karin’s heart thudded as she typed, time feeling much slower than its one-second-per-second rate. After a relative eternity, she saw the string of text she’d been waiting for: ACCESS GRANTED. She entered the commands that would shut down Gyrodigital’s off-books manufacturing plants around the world; the ones still pumping out toxic waste, the ones still burning coal for power, the ones still pouring bywaste into the world’s lakes and rivers and oceans.
“Cops are here,” the voice in her earpiece said calmly, and she subvocalized an acknowledgment but kept typing. She only had a small window of time before legal processes would shut down all online access from this building, so she forced herself to focus on the task at hand.
• • •
Demir entered Gyrodigital through the front door, their uniform and badge scanned by the building’s automated security. All doors automatically unlocked for them, and they strode down the main hall. Before passing the server room, they pushed open the door.
“Nice to meet you, Eklund,” they said to the woman furiously typing at the terminal. “You probably have about five minutes before the court order will freeze Gyrodigital’s servers.”
“Got it,” Karin said without turning away from the screen. “Good hunting.”
Demir said, “Thanks,” and continued down the hallway to the offices where a board meeting was in progress. They brought up the electronic warrant on their handheld projector as they opened the door to the boardroom. It would be the first significant bust of the new climate protection laws: the CEO and board of Gyrodigital, all in clear violation of the globally enforceable regulations. Some of them might even end up in prison, and surely the company would be broken up, with increased oversight on all its production facilities.
“Good evening,” Demir said to the roomful of stunned executives. “You’re under arrest.”
Copyright © 2019 M. Darusha Wehm. Originally published on Patreon. Reprinted with permission of the author.
M. Darusha Wehm is the Nebula Award-nominated and Sir Julius Vogel Award winning author of the interactive fiction game The Martian Job, as well as twelve novels, several poems, and many short stories. Originally from Canada, Darusha lives in Wellington, New Zealand after spending several years sailing the Pacific.