Than’yhidre stood at the DataNet hub, cloaked with a node screen to avoid notice from online snooping that might otherwise detect her, taking in the raw data as her internal wetware drive processed it. She had accompanied Meenakshi out of Old Quarter Chennai to the Outer City, after a weekend of breathtaking visits to the Old Quarter’s famous landmarks and lounging at a local beach, where the two women enjoyed a bit of sun and surf before getting down to business.
She was silent and unmoving as she focused on the data while Meenakshi stood nearby, on the lookout for any trouble that may show itself. Than’yhidre was mining records going back more than twenty Terran years of young girls then only two or four years of age. She was looking for someone of her own age at the time, on a hunch stemming from her recurrent dreams. It would be easy, she surmised, to match her own face, de-aged to childhood, with local records, and Gotcha, find her true identity. It would be a simple matter to find the Tellusine match. That is, if you ignored the short fangs, subtly pointed ears, and the propensity for seemingly exotic eye colors like ruby, violet, or gold of Kai’Siri. She could find the closest match by combing through the results. Or at least, she thought she could….
Than’yhidre was locked in an introspective state. Images flashed through her consciousness as she sifted the data for patterns, touching icons, virtually travelling along Net nodes, bypassing security measures, for the correct match to her face from so long ago. Here, in the world of the DataNet, she was an online goddess, powerful and deadly as she slew the avatars of security programs and gained access to their files. But in the world outside her head, she was physically immobile and helpless, an easy target for any nearby who meant her harm. So Meenakshi kept watch, being surprisingly skilled at handling Than’yhidre’s Miduuk Yokku blade in the correct manner. To slip or mishandle the weapon meant disaster for any unfortunate limbs, especially one’s own.
Than’yhidre found a promising spimescape file and opened it before stepping inside. There were again two young girls running from something, as in her dreams, but seen from the second person. Wait. Freeze that image. Zoom in. Stop. Run facial analysis software. Add Kai’Siri cosmetic traits relevant to: querant Than’yhidre Dunori. Age into adulthood by two decades. Processing. Processing. Match found. Identifying now… Identification made. Yes! Begin identification of the other girl as well. I’m burning to find out who she was. Processing. Identifying. Identification made. You?! That’s impossible! No, just unlikely odds. Wait. What’s that? Pan out. Reorient field of view. We’re being chased by…machines? Those look like big Terran owls with insect wings and scaly tentacles! Definitely modeled on insect flight biomechanics, likely Terran bumblebees. Hmmm, let’s get closer. Right here. At the base of the left set of wings. Stop. Aha! Serial numbers! I can use those to identify the manufacturers. Save data. Run search algorithm. Shade Industries. Hmmm. The CEO, Chairman, and majority shareholder is identified only as a Mr. Shade. No biographical data. A freak name. No direct contact information. Seems no one but the board of directors knows what he looks like, or even what species he is. Look at in-system court records. The company is an entity of interest in numerous criminal and civil cases in the empire, all stalled in court or adjudicated by bought judges. Save data to wetware drive for further processing. Time to wake! Disengaging induction field.
Than’yhidre jerked back to full awareness of the world around her as her task completed. She smiled, as she gestured to Meenakshi. “I’ve found something,” she said in a low voice, “…of interest to both of us. But I can’t say it here, and I need proof to back it up. I have found a few leads we can look into to get that proof! Let’s get back to the hotel and rest. I’ve got a headache after all that data processing.”
Elsewhere on the cislunar DataNet, eyes dangerously indifferent to the human condition, with vast resources and unsympathetic intellect, had noticed Than’yhidre’s search. Quietly, surely, those eyes, and the mind behind them, made its plans to deal with this new possible disruption.
So, child. You have returned to the nest of your species to seek your origins, and justice, and that I cannot allow. I’ll make arrangements to chat with you a bit, and with your new friend….In time. But time is with me, not you, and my reach is far. It will be…good…to meet you personally, and not merely through the eyes of a telepresence droid. Welcome to my long game, mammal. Welcome to the kingdom of Shade!
To be continued in June.