Jaru fantasized about turning the Politiks’ security droids against them. The image kept her anger in check as she looked around the dim basement. For all their rhetoric against the corruption, these people were useless. Action was needed, not bitter words fearfully spoken. She noticed Korab was silent, eyes glittering.
Jaru motioned him aside. “Worthless talk,” she sneered.
“Spineless words,” Korab bit off. “The Politiks even control dissent.”
“The system is large,” Jura observed.
“Not too large to send a message.” Korab eyed her. She nodded encouragingly and he continued. “Hit them hard. Their money.” She smiled, eyes widening. Haltingly, he whispered his plot. Take the money, leaving a message, then get off-planet quickly. He added furtive details.
“This is as far as I go,” he said finally, looking embarrassed. “I have a family.” It was enough.
Jaru was an engineer before the Politiks’ military coup. Forced to work in a droid factory, she seethed through mindless shifts. Miniature chipsets and AI units passed through her hands. The defective ones were coded and dropped in a ‘cycler. She was careful. Just a few coded and dropped into her shoecover each week.
Her hands sometimes shook as Jaru built her tiny army. She savored her anger, bolstering her courage. Her telescreen stayed on to keep patrolling listenerbots away. She barely noticed its noise. Her thoughts cycled through Korab’s instructions, touching on the shuttleport documents his contact provided.
She broke off from the crowd that morning. Heart thumping, Jaru slipped down a dim alley and stashed the package. Easing back into the flow of Workers, she shoved shaking hands into her coverall pockets.
Getting into the alley was as easy that evening. Timers gave the illusion she returned home. Lights, telescreen, even recorded footsteps. She shivered in the shadow of a ‘cycling collector. As curfew approached, she gritted her teeth. No turning back.
Enveloped in shadow, she sent the bots to find crevices into the big creditplex. She watched via remote. Tiny cracks ignored by security scans were their access routes. Too small to trigger motion sensors, they scuttled to the comps.
Breathless, Jaru followed Korab’s plan. The bots took small sums from each account, sending the funds to untraceable accounts on Chonestra. When a bot found the account of the Politik General, Jaru’s teeth set on edge. She siphoned off his fortune. There was the message. She called the bots back, quivering triumphantly. They self-destructed on return. She dropped the pieces into the ‘cycling collector.
She joined the flood of Workers in the morning haze. Detouring to the shuttleport, she breathed through jangling nerves. Jaru showed her forged papers, holding her breath. Moments later, she was through the gate and boarding.
She strapped in on the spaceyacht, accomplishment trilling through her. Message sent, now on to safety. Startled, Jaru did a doubletake at the telescreen. Korab’s image, “TERRORIST” in garish red letters. She sucked air as though punched in the gut. Guilty relief trickled in as the yacht broke orbit for Chonestra.
©2010 Jessica Rosen
The first line of this is a variation on a #storystarters I wrote some time ago. Gotta love those #storystarters! Thanks as always to @Selorian for the great hashtag.