Influx: Episode 14

Emily stared in shock. Her mind was still struggling to come to terms with what she had just seen. A bull, bigger than her, bigger than Abigail, bigger than anyone except maybe the horses and bears that she had met, had just come and…taken her. Just like that; reached his arm around her mouth and held it closed. Despite her protestations, the bull had simply ran away, with his hostage in tow.

She had seen Abby try to fight back. Biting, scratching, kicking…everything that she could think of. She wondered why she didn’t just try to log out; it was an almost guaranteed way to escape from the system. And yet, Abby hadn’t done it.

She struggled to come up with why. Maybe she had just forgotten about it? Either way, the fact that there was a bull who was literally kidnapping people in the middle of the day…that had to be dealt with. As soon as possible.

She hoped that Abby would remember to log out soon. Because otherwise she didn’t want to even think of what she’d be going through. Emily toughened herself, and tried to find any of the original Alenkas testers. They, if anybody, would know what to do.

But where was she going to find any of them? She had no way of contacting any of them that she knew of. Hell, she’d only met one or two. What did they look like? Is there a difference between what the testers look like and what she does? She cursed herself for not looking up that difference originally. Abby’s sanity could stand on her choices! She tightened her grip on her plan; now wasn’t the time to think about Abby, now was the time to help.

“Can I help you?” she heard a kind voice ask from behind her. Emily spun around to see a white cat with surprisingly long hair, her red eyes staring out concernedly. She had a small tanktop with some shorts that covered less than even some bikini’s did.

“Yes, maybe. I’m looking for one of the Alenkas testers! I think my friend just got kidnapped!” Emily blurted. Shit. She hadn’t meant to say that immediately. What if word got back to him because she blabbed, and ended up moving bases because of it?

“Kidnapping? In Alenkas?” the cat asked, her face full of concern and worry. Emily nodded her head frantically. In for an ounce, in for a pound. “They weren’t part of the influx were they? All the new people that have been coming in the last few weeks?”

“She was, but-“

“Why didn’t she just log out?” the cat asked pointedly. Her voice was still light, still concerned, but there was a hint of something else there. Desire? Emily wasn’t sure. It sounded like the cat was only half-and-half.

“I don’t think she could,” Emily answered. The cat blinked at her in surprise. Emily didn’t fault her; her tone shifted completely to dispel any and all doubts, and she hadn’t even meant to.

“Why not? Isn’t it just a ‘think of logging out’ and you log out? That’s how it works right?” the cat asked suddenly. Emily blinked. There was…very little right in that sentence. Suddenly the fox had a feeling that the cat in front of her was a tester, based on how she was so damned confused about a process as basic as logging out.

“Uh…no. You have to say it. The bull held her mouth shut.”

The cat stared at her. “There has got to be a better way. Come on, let’s go, I’ll take you to Simon. If anybody would know how to find your friend it’d be him,” she motioned to the grey fox to keep up as she ran into the library. “I’m Sam, by the way!”

“Emily! Wait, you guys have a base inside the library!? That is so cool!” Emily said, her eyes lighting up before she realized that it wasn’t the best time for that kind of thing at the moment.

Sam chuckled darkly as she grabbed Emily’s hand. “Not a base, just an operations center. We had to do a lot of crap over the last ten, eleven months or so. We’ve gotten very good at finding things that don’t want to be found,” she smirked.

Without wasting any time to explain, Sam launched up the steps to the second floor, forcing Emily to use all of the grey fox’s agility to keep up. Keeping up still, barely, Sam brought her to an iron barred door, similar to what one would find in a jailcell. It appeared locked, but apparently wasn’t as Sam practically tore it open.

“Simon! We have a problem! Another one, yes!” she called out instantly. Emily blinked. ‘How many problems do they have that they have a saying for this kind of thing!?’ she thought wildly.

Emily heard a sigh from the other room, a rather masculine one. “Simon’s out at the moment, but the IDM’s free. What’s up Sam?” another cat said as he walked out holding what looked like a small canteen. He was orange, with a few darker patches on his head and back. His tail swished lightly with every movement.

“Cal? No worries, we need to look up the current position of a person. Can the IDM do that, do you know?” Sam explained quickly. The orange tabby looked at them, looked at the new grey fox that he didn’t recognize instantly, and his eyes hardened.

“I don’t think it can, but it shows in the login positions. Come on!” Cal said, running to the other room. Sam nodded, and while still grabbing onto Emily’s hand, brought her into the same room.

It was a largish room, with tall bookshelves almost everywhere. There were a few doors built into the other side, most of them open. Emily could barely make out the beds and such that showed that this was where these two -three?- made their home. There was a large table in the center, taking up a good quarter of the room.

In the other side lay what looked like a dozen plus monitors that seemed to be taken straight out of some sci-fi thriller show. A large high-backed leather chair sat in front of a small keyboard. ‘That must be the IDM…whatever that is,’ Emily thought.

“This is the IDM. The Internal Debugging Module,” Sam explained as she let go of the grey fox’s hand and quickly launched into the chair. Cal chuckled softly, even as he looked as if he was about to race to head to it himself.

“You can find out where she is from here!?” Emily asked.

Cal blinked slowly. “Possibly but unlikely. So what exactly happened?” he asked softly.

Emily nodded. She hadn’t explained it very well, had she? “So my friend Abigail and I, we were just walking towards this library, and I got excited and ran ahead of her. I thought she was right behind me, but then I heard a scream. I raced outside, and that’s when I saw a giant bull with his hand over Abby’s mouth, and he seemed immune to any amount of fighting back that she did.

“I only saw him for a few seconds, but in that time he managed to take down Abby and race off with her somewhere!” Emily explained quickly.

“Apparently they need to use their voice in order to log out, I already asked. She was part of the influx,” Sam said without taking her eyes off of one of the monitors. Green code was flashing quickly by, and Emily stared to try and make any sense of the numbers and letters scrolling by.

“That seems like that’s an issue…” Cal said quietly.

“It definitely can be, especially if word gets out. I’ll send a quick message to the emergency response team, hopefully they’ll patch that out quickly. Or at least add another way to log out from there,” Sam said. Her fingers flew over the keyboard quickly as she typed it out.

“Right. I’ll look for any signs of her being able to log out,” Cal said, going over to the other side of the dozens of monitors. Apparently there was another keyboard back there, as Emily heard clicking sounds reminiscent of such a thing. Emily stood waiting for a few long moments, wondering if she had panicked for naught.

“You said her name was Abigail right? Any particular species of animal? There’s a lot of names in here under that one,” Cal asked. Emily nodded and hurried over. It was a similar setup to the other area, except this one was a bit more cramped due to having less space. The chair was a small metal one with some cushions rather than the ornate leather one that the front space had.

“Calico, cat,” Emily answered quickly.

“Cat, calico,” Cal repeated as he typed it in. “Let’s see, Abigail, Cat…there’s a few of those. Any particular age that you know of? Or a last name?” he asked.

“Age? Uh…we didn’t talk about that. We kind of just met today. I think she was fairly young though, she seemed as shocked as I did when we were talking about Kara’s age earlier…and no, we didn’t share our last names,” Emily answered quietly.

Cal nodded. “Right, there’s three then. One that’s twenty two, one that’s thirty, and one that’s fifty six. We can rule out the fifty six immediately, as she’s logged on once and never again, something tells me she didn’t look at the adult warning, heh.” He continued typing furiously.

“I’m seeing the same thing. Twenty two is still logged in, there’s no logout coordinates. Thirty is logged out. Alenkas really needs a system of ID’s for us to work with,” Sam complained after a moment. “I’ll work with the NuVO team to see if we can’t get more information. The IDM doesn’t store current information, only certain logs of information.”

“Wait, what do you mean logs? You mean you can’t find her!?” Emily asked suddenly.

“So whenever information changes, that’s what the IDM stores and accesses. It was never meant to be an overseer, it was meant to be a debugging machine, hence its name. Current information is something we don’t have access to, but the team at NuVO does, hence why we’ll try and work with them. Any other information about Abigail that you know of, that would help us find which is her specifically?” Sam asked.

“No, I’ve told you everything I know about her. She has a little brown patch on her nose, along with being a calico’s various colors, but other than that…” Emily answered quickly.

“Damn. One of the few times we wish that the character team had put in more than just ‘cat’ and let genetics take over…wait a second, why not…?” Cal said after a moment. Sam got a questioning look on her face, and peered through the machine at the orange tabby.

“What do you mean?” Sam asked quietly, slightly hesitating.

“Alex. He was on the character team, if anyone would know how to distinguish specific types of genetics within the system’s species database, it’d be him. Emily, thanks for reporting this, but we can take it from here,” Cal said. Sam grinned, apparently knowing exactly who this ‘Alex’ was.

“No, I still have sometime within the system before my mom forces me out. I want to help!” Emily said, refusing to back down. Cal looked at her a moment, unblinking, silent as his thoughts probably wandered through the various things that could go wrong.

“Fine, she comes with. Come on, Cal, you stay here. Emily, we’re heading for the southern side of Alenkas, that’s where Lyla and Alex are. We find one of them, or Lucas and Aiden we’ll find Alex. Don’t worry about Abigail, we’ll find her!” Sam said, her eyes turning a darkened shade, and Emily suddenly had a worry that they wouldn’t just succeed, but succeed to such a degree that Alenkas would forever be changed.

‘What happened to make them all so protective…?’ she thought as she followed the white cat out of the library.