A few days had passed since the Swelter Skelter festival. The gang had been introduced to Raymond Kenny, the newest addition to the team. It was a bit bittersweet, actually. Riley was no longer the newest member, but she was still the most inexperienced when it came to straight hacking. Sure, she'd been picked for her assignment because of her skills, but they were largely self taught and only went so far. And now they bring on board someone who was the near prophet of hacking into computers? Well, it left her with a strong feeling of inadequacy.
She hadn't spoken to Wrench much after the festival. They still checked in with each other over comms every so often, but she couldn't help but feel she was making things awkward. It wasn't him, honestly, it was all her desire not to disappoint him any further than she had. Hopefully it would all go back to normal soon. She missed their genuine conversations.
Riley was shopping for a few items around the apartment at the closest marketplace, standing in line for the checkout with her cart. It was unusually busy for a Sunday, and there were still two people in front of her waiting for their turn.
The brunette sighed, slouching against the cart. Bored out of her mind, her eyes skimmed the concessions and magazine racks that decorated the check out lanes. None of the tabloids were real news, just inflated egos and opinions printed loud and large on a page to attract people's attention. As a journalist, Riley found them annoying and kind of insulting.
Nonetheless, her boredom prompted her to pick one up. The least annoying-looking one on the shelf, which was a technology publication. She flipped through several pages of articles on smart cars and self-learning machines, the space program and other technological highlights, until she came to a small article towards the very back.
DEDSEC: FRIEND OR FOE?
Riley raised a brow, already starting to read what the author had written.
DedSec. A common term thrown around San Fransisco nowadays. We all know their name. We know their skills and accomplishments. But why haven't we started questioning their intentions? Who are these people? What do they really want with your data?
Some see them as vigilante, social privacy justice for the people of the new age. But are they really that blind to ignore the criminal activity they commit in order to expose 'unjust systems' within large corporations? Nobody mentions the breaking and entering, espionage, and use of the very data they claim to protect in their mission to expose the companies they despise. The hypocrisy is real, people.
The brunette rolled her eyes, closing the little book and putting it back where it belonged. She'd read enough. There wouldn't be anything but more slander to follow anyway. The line moved forward, and she rolled her cart ahead a few feet.
Her boredom returned, and she sat there staring at one spot, until a vibration in her pocket made her reach for her cell phone. She turned on the screen, but there was no notification window of having received a text. Riley frowned, confused. Maybe she'd imagined it. Sometimes that happened. Without much more thought, she put it back in her pocket.
A minute or so went by of just standing there, before the vibration happened again. Perplexed, she pulling out the phone again and still didn't see any notification. She stared at it, wondering what the hell was going on with her phone.
It happened again, and this time, she saw an image of a pixelated cat appeared and skitter across her screen before disappearing again. "What…" She muttered, now staring at her screen a bit more intensely. Unlocking it with her password, she navigated through several apps, to see if any of them were the issue. Nothing came up, until she opened the DedSec app that Sitara had dowloaded for her. As soon as she opened it, a pixelated cat blocked most of her screen.
"Shit…" She muttered, closing out of the app and turning off her phone. She didn't want this thing infecting all of her stuff. She tapped the earpiece in her ear and tapped into the comm channel.
"Uh, guys? Is something going on with the app?" She asked quietly, wary of the other people around her. In an effort not to look too weird, she brought her phone up to her ear to seem like she was just taking a call.
"Yeah, we know." Sitara said in a frustrated tone. "Our servers got hacked."
"By who?" Riley questioned, avoiding the gaze of the person in front of her.
"We don't know yet." Josh replied, and Riley could once again hear the faint tap of his keyboard. "Still searching the servers for any trace."
"You should probably get back to the hackerspace if you can. We need all the help we can get figuring this out." The female hacker continued. Riley nodded.
"I'll be there as soon as I can."
Seeing the person in front of her in line began placing their items on the conveyor belt, Riley moved forward again, her foot bouncing in anticipation and impatience. Hopefully this wouldn't take forever.
The others were glued to their laptop and computer screens, trying to figure out what was going on. It seemed Marcus was still on his way. Riley placed her bag on the floor by the couch and approached the others.
"How long has this been going on for?"
Wrench's mask displayed his irritation, gesturing aggressively with his hand. "The last half hour. But we still don't know who did this."
"Josh is still scrubbing through the server data to try finding any signatures." Sitara held out her hands with palms down, trying to calm everybody down. Wrench's anxiousness and anger wasn't helping too much.
All of a sudden, the screens on the wall glitched out and changed from the default DedSec Logo into a static image of one of those pixelated cats. "What the fuck?" Wrench said, standing and toppling over one of the chairs at the table.
They heard steps by the stairs, and Marcus hurried his way over. The screen changed again, this time to show a very familiar face. "Of course. Fucking, Lenni." Marcus said with a shake of his head. Riley was about to say something, but the many different screens of Lenni began talking.
"Citizens of the world, may I have your fucking pathetic attention. DedSec," the screen glitched a few times, and she laughed in a creepy and annoying way, "is a bunch of losers spamming your news feed. They pretend to be the saviors of your free will. When really?" Again with that stupid laugh, Riley cringed. "They're just some script kiddies…who want desperately to be popular."
Riley grit her teeth and clenched her fists as Lenni laughed again on the screen, cheap and low-poly images edited all around her. If this wasn't the biggest of slaps in the face, she didn't know what was. Was this because of the things Wrench and her had said at the festival? Was this her payback? The rest of the gang were watching with contemplative or angry, in Wrench's case, expressions.
"It all stops now." The smugness on her face was infuriating, and the brunette was itching to do something about that. "I am going to teach DedSec a lesson. And DedSec…if you think I won't…or," she laughed again, that teeth-grindingly annoying laugh, "can't…destroy your system? Well. Then. Please allow me to introduce myself! Ahaha!"
The sound of her final laugh was set on repeat, and continued on and on. Riley covered her ears from the noise, finding it highly unpleasant. "Make it stop!" She yelled, seeing Wrench wander off on his own.
"Tell me it's just Kiki." Marcus pleaded over the incessant noise, and Sitara sighed.
"It's just Kiki. We're housecleaning the felines, and Josh is brute forcing the crypto key."
"Argh! Shut the fuck up!" Wrench shouted, and the next moment something glass shattered. Blessedly, the sound stopped, leaving an eerie yet peaceful stillness in the air following after. Riley uncapped her ears and sighed in relief.
The masked hacker, annoyance clearly written in his mask, wandered back over with a sledgehammer in his hand. "Alright, so…are we going to war for this?"
"Absolutely! We're not letting these trolls drag us into their sewers. DedSec doesn't back down!" Sitara pointed at them all, emphasizing her point.
"So what!?" Josh yelled, silencing the rest of them. There was a heavy pause. Riley had never heard him so upset before. He looked so…defeated. "What good is going to war with them" It won't break their lock on us. It doesn't change anything…They got in!" Overwhelmed with emotion, he smacked the arm of his chair a few times.
Riley felt hopeless. When he put it like that, what were they supposed to do? But no, they couldn't just give up. This wasn't about to turn out like another Dušan trap. They weren't losing their faith again so soon. Like Sitara said, DedSec didn't back down. "We can't just let this go." She added, glancing between the rest of the group.
"She's right, fuck that!" Marcus rallied, walking to stand in the center of them. "Listen up. We're not gonna let Prime_Eight derail us. Let's be smart about this."
They just had to start from scratch and work their way to a conclusion. Just like coding. Work through the problem. Marcus' natural charisma as a leader seemed to kick the rest of them in gear. Sitara spoke first, offering up an idea.
"Alright." She shrugged. "Prime_Eight sells Zero Day exploits to anyone with money."
Wrench latched onto that line of thinking, holding out a hand as he explained. "Yeah, fucking governments. Blume, Nudle…even goddamned terrorists."
They all contemplated this information, trying to see connections and ways to somehow strike back against Prime_Eight. Josh may think it wouldn't matter, but at some point, pride came into the mix and no amount of hopelessly could undermine that.
"Sons of Ragnarok." Marcus said quietly, staring down at the table.
Wrench turned towards him, but didn't understand what they had to do with anything. "What?"
"…Hell yeah, Sons of Ragnarok." This revelation was energizing, because he knocked on the table then rubbed his hands together. "They hire themselves out to Sons of Ragnarok, right?" Sitara nodded an affirmative, and Marcus continued, pointing at them all in turn. "So we find out as much as we can about their people and their operations."
Riley thought it made sense. By targeting their business partners, they might be able to find an exploit to take Prime_Eight down, or at least interrupt their ops enough to put them in a tough spot with troublesome people. It was small, but it was something. Wrench nodded slowly, thinking along the same lines.
"We're not going to roll over. Not for anybody." The leader proclaimed with a newfound determination in his eyes, finally rounding in place and spreading his hands in a wide shrug. "Yo, Josh man, where you at?"
They all looked over to Josh, seeing him slumped in his chair, but his eyes were bright. Riley could practically see the gears turning in that big brain of his. Then he slowly stood, clenching his fists. "Now it's war." Wrench was seated in his chair, and he gestured him away. "Move."
Sitara had switched into gear, walking towards her laptop on the other table. "I'll put the message out on the back channels. These guys are bound to have enemies who'll give us some intel."
Marcus figured they should speak to Lenni at least, to see if she would somehow slip up and give them intel about how they could get back at her. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way.
"She didn't give up any info, just laid out what she wanted in return for the key. DedSec releasing a video discrediting ourselves. Which is never gonna happen."
"Damn right." Wrench said, punctuating it with an aggressive point.
"Hopefully you found something on your end. And uh, Riley?"
"Yeah?" She asked, surprised she was being called out.
"You must've done something to piss her off in particular, because she had a few choice words for you. I…uh, won't repeat them." He relayed, and her eyebrows rose. She shared a glanced with Wrench, who had his amused and/or happy expression displayed on his mask. Obviously he thought this was funny. But, if this was all in retaliation for her comeback at Swelter Skelter? That didn't sit well with Riley, despite how petty it made Lenni out to be.
Still, despite the setback Marcus encountered, there was still good news. Josh had dug up some info. "Ragnarok just hired Prime_Eight to upload malware into ATMs."
"Bank machines it is, folks!"
The rest of the gang, minus Marcus who was out at the club still, gathered around the hacker, formulating their plan. Josh kept piling information they could use, and Wrench picked something out from the bunch.
"They run that through their main club hangout, Rhonda's Diner." Wrench said, perking up suddenly. He had a fun idea, but Sitara began talking before he could voice it.
"I'll send Gooly there to scope the place. Marcus, meet with-" Before she even finished talking, Wrench was bouncing in place and raising his hand.
"Ooh, ooh, me! I wanna go! We're gonna destroy the bank machines, right?" He asked in excitement, two wide circles on his mask. Sitara cocked her head to the side, giving him a grin.
"Yeah, by interfering with the coding. But…you want to blow them up, don't you?"
"Pleeease? It's been forever since I've gotten to do something fun."
She rolled her eyes and shrugged. "Alright, alright! I guess it would piss off Prime_Eight even more if the whole mechanism were destroyed…" She spoke into the comm channel. "Marcus, get back to the hackerspace. Wrench has got this one."
"Alright, I'm on my way."
The gang dispersed to their various stations. Wrench wandered over to his workspace, and grabbed a set of keys, then headed for the stairs. Riley felt like she had no part to play in this operation, so she followed after him, meeting him at the bottom of the stairs.
"Can I come?" She asked, pouting a little. Wrench paused mid-step, and Riley mistook that as doubt in allowing her to join him. She clasped her hands together. "I want to help in some way. Even if I can't do a whole lot, there's gotta be something I could do. Just sitting here doing nothing would eat me alive."
His mask flashed exclamation points, before becoming a wink, and he held out a fist. "Let's go blow some shit up."
Riley smiled, bumping her own fist with his, and they made their way upstairs.
Marcus got back to the hackerspace and noticed the absence of not just one, but two DedSec members from the hackerspace. Ray didn't count, seeing as he was away on his own personal mission he wouldn't disclose. The man was more secretive than the companies they exposed. DedSec allowed their members freedom to choose whatever they wanted to pursue, so they didn't ask.
Marcus sauntered up to Sitara, a brow raised. "Where's Riley?"
The female hacker shrugged, smiling a little. "She left." Marcus leaned closer with a knowing expression, his unspoken question clear. Sitara's smile widened, but she played it off as best she could. "Yes, with Wrench."
"Mhmm…Sounds about right." He nodded smugly, pushing away from her and backing away. "You know, you're this much closer to owing me that $100."
"Pff, please." She scoffed, crossing her arms over her chest. "There's no proof. I'll believe it when I see it."
"I'm telling you, Wrench'll do something about it. Just watch. Dude's full of surprises."
"Uh huh. Just be prepared to hand over that $100 when they end up nothing more than friends." Was her only response, and Marcus let it go, turning with a chuckle to lay on the couch. He could use a nap while the others were out on their operation.
Surprisingly, their first stop was to his garage. "Hang tight, I'll just be a second." He said, parking in front of the place and hurrying out of the car. He jogged around to a side door, then disappeared for several minutes. Riley sat there, glancing around at the people walking by. Nearly everyone was on their phones. She wondered how many of these people even knew how easy it was for their information to be stolen and used for unlawful purposes. How many of them were clueless to what was going on?
Riley glanced at her own, playing a stupid click-farming game until there was a bump at the back. She turned to look through the window behind her, seeing the trunk had been opened, but whatever he was doing she couldn't tell. The car moved as he stowed something back there, and finally he slammed it shut, brushing his hands together to clean them.
The driver door opened, and he eased into the seat with a sigh. "There. All set."
"What did you grab?" Riley asked, putting her phone away as he threw the car into drive. Another wink was sent her way.
They eased up to Ronda's diner. It was now late in the afternoon, the sun slanting into their eyes painfully. Several people milled about the front, and they could already hear the music from inside from the parking lot.
Wrench lead them over to a stack of wooden boards and planks for the construction nearby. Their informant, Gooly, was sitting on the ground there waiting for them. He looked up and lifted his chin in greeting.
He informed them of the scheme Sons of Ragnarok had been running, how the ATM hack would triple their cashflow from their normal cash skimming ops. Gooly gave them the specs of where the ATM machines were located, and left them to it. They returned to the car, and Wrench opened the trunk.
Riley's eyes widened at the duffel bag full of explosives that was just sitting there. She pointed to them. "We drove with those just in our trunk?"
"Oh, relaaax. They weren't gonna blow up." He reassured, shrugging. "Probably…" He finished in a mutter, too low for her to hear. Beside the duffel bag was a few weapons, which he strapped to his person.
"Do you expect to go in guns blazing?" She asked, stepping back to allow him room to maneuver.
"Well, if you've got my back, then no. But I always like to prepare for the worst. Never know when a gun might be handy." He patted the improvised and customized weapons with affection, finally reaching in to grab the bag of explosives. "Now, let's get this show on the road."
Taking a deep breath of her own, Riley followed after him with the laptop Wrench had brought with them. They met back up where Gooly had been sitting, deciding it would be their 'base of operations,' or sorts. Wrench knelt by her to see the screen as she pulled up the security camera feed for the diner.
"Alright, the first machine is in the diner itself. I don't know how you're going to get inside looking like that." She admitted gesturing to his normal outfit. Wrench acted taken aback, placing a delicate hand on his chest.
"What's wrong with the way I look?"
"Nothing!" She assured, shaking her head. "It's just going to make it obvious that you're part of DedSec."
She was genuinely concerned she'd offended him, but the moment his eyes displayed two happy icons, she rolled her eyes. Always with the teasing. "Alright, tough guy, how are we going to plant those explosives?"
"Easy. This little guy will do it for us." He said, taking out the RC car from the bag as well. He set it on it's wheels and turned it on. "You'll have to help me get it inside without being noticed, though. Pretty sure people will freak out if they see bombs strapped to this thing." He admitted.
Riley gave him a pointed look, but checked the cameras inside anyway. The diner was busy, unfortunately, but the room the machine was in was thankfully empty. And the door was open. "Ok, I'll have to find you an opening. Get it all set up."
Wrench strapped three or four of the explosives around the car, taping them over so they wouldn't fall if it needed to jump over any obstacles. Riley was worried it would blow up from the jostling around, but if they hadn't done so on the drive over, it should be fine now. Hopefully.
Once done, he gave her a nod and pulled out his phone, sending the RC car over to the entrance of the diner. It parked itself just beside the doorway, waiting on her signal.
Riley watched the movement of people, the walking patterns of the waitresses, and as much detail as she could take in.
Unbeknownst to her, Wrench watched as she became hyper focused on the laptop screens, determined to find him a way inside. He appreciated her dedication and confidence. She remained calm, and didn't panic. He was glad she was here helping him.
Riley noticed that most of the occupants had wandered over to the far side of the diner, and those who stood near the door were looking up at the tv screens, where a football game was playing. "Ok, go, go!" She insisted.
Wrench pushed the RC car to move, skirting around the doorway and into the diner. It made a beeline for the back room with the machine. Riley's timing was perfect. Wrench watched on the RC car's webcam for guidance, easing it closer to the ATM. He jumped it higher up, then let it fall behind it.
"What are you doing?" Riley asked, watching as the car's metal arm started unscrewing the back panel of the machine.
"Wedging this thing inside. It'll reduce the the chances that the whole place goes up in flames." He answered, and Riley was glad he tried minimizing the risk to innocent people. Once it was well-situated in the wiring of the ATM, Wrench turned off the screen and placed his phone back into his pocket. "Alright, one down, two to go. Where is the second?"
Riley switched her camera view to the back area of the diner, showing a fenced off, restricted zone. "Back there. The gate is guarded, so you might have to jump the fence."
"Ok, where at?"
Riley kept searching the perimeter, finding him the best location. "Looks like the best way in is gonna be this south side. There's a small alcove you can get in without being spotted right here," Riley pointed towards the area of the screen, "and you'd be right near the next machine."
Wrench nodded his appreciation and headed off towards the side of the diner. Riley sat in her spot behind the wood, ensuring no one looking this direction would spot her. She flipped through a few cameras, monitoring Wrench's progress while he moved along the wall, rapidly approaching the right section.
"Alright, go in right…there." She said into the comm channel quietly. Immediately, he stopped in place and prepared to scale the stone wall. Riley switched cameras again to inside the compound, watching as people lingered and paced the inside. She frowned in concern, seeing more than she'd anticipated.
"There's a lot of people in there. Be careful." She warned, and he laughed.
"Careful is my middle name. Right after Danger."
The brunette smiled, shaking her head. "You can only have one middle name, Wrench."
"Only one? That's so limiting." Was his disappointed reply, making her laugh.
Out of the corner of the screen, Wrench could be seen vaulting the wall and dropping out of sight below. Riley tapped more keys, flipping camera perspectives until she found one with him in sight. The bag of explosives was still slung over one of his shoulders, and he was peering around a corner.
"Are we clear?" He whispered, waiting for her go ahead.
"No, get back behind the box." She said, seeing someone approaching from the right. Wrench stepped back, hiding out of sight as the person passed him by, none the wiser. "Ok, now run to that parked truck."
Riley switched the camera again, watching as he sprinted across the open space. Despite knowing there wasn't anyone looking his way, it was still nerve-wracking to watch him in action because of her directions. One wrong move and he could be in a bad spot. Focus, Riley. Don't let the pressure get to you.
"Ok, it's in that shed. No one's inside." She said after checking the camera, indicating a small wooden building directly in front of him. The screen switched back to where Wrench was. "There's two people walking to the right side of the truck. Stay there, wait until they pass. Then hold until my signal."
"Got it." He whispered.
The goons were conversing amongst themselves, slowly walking past Wrench without knowing he was even there. One glance to the left and they'd see him though. Riley couldn't help but hold her breath, finally releasing it when they were behind one of the walls of the shed.
Next, her attention was on his surroundings, watching for anyone that might be looking his way. Seconds passed by, and Wrench got a little antsy just sitting there. "Riley?" He asked, waiting for some indication.
"Wait." One goon in particular on the opposite deck was staring his direction. Swallowing dryly, she realized he had a gun strapped to his waist. And he looked ready and willing to use it, too. She stared at him, willing him to look away. There! Someone called for him, gaining his attention. "Ok, go!"
Without another moment to lose, Wrench ran for the door and threw it open. No one shouted out in alarm, thankfully, and he locked it behind him. "Nice." She praised, smiling in relief.
"I aim to please." He said, and she laughed. From her view of him in the camera, she could see his mask take on his amused expression while setting the duffel bag down and placing charges on the machine. "Heh, it's like you're my own personal Navi."523Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡiaxkgmX7av
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Riley was already switching back to the outside cameras to watch for anyone that might be heading towards him. For the time being, the coast was generally clear. "Almost done?" She asked.
"Yup. The last one should be in a private dock?" He confirmed, and he unlocked the door to the shed, waiting on her go-ahead. Riley waited for the next opening, then lead him back the way he'd come. The dock was outside of the gate, on the shoreline further north of the diner.
There weren't any security cameras that could really track his progress up until he made it to the covered dock. She accessed the only camera she could see, which was inside the structure. "Wait!" She said, noticing movement inside. Two people were conversing with each other right next to the ATM. "There's people inside. Is there any way to create a distraction?"
"One distraction, coming up." He whispered, putting the duffel bag aside and digging in his pocket for something.
More out of paranoia than anything, Riley switched to the cameras covering the ATM's they'd already hooked up with explosives, making sure nothing was wrong. She froze, spotting someone walking towards the shack. "Uh, we might have a problem."
"What? What's wrong?" He paused, stooping beside the building to appear less of a target.
"Shit…" She muttered, switching back to the camera inside the shed. Someone walked in, looking around curiously. He paused a second, then walked up to the machine and inspected the bars. "Someone just found the second ATM. He might try to take off the bombs."
"Aw, fuck…I'll have to blow them now."
"But they'll know you're there." Riley protested, watching anxiously as he walked quickly out of the shed, no doubt to notify somebody.
"Doesn't matter. We don't want them salvaging any of the machines." Wrench said, pulling his phone out to detonate them remotely. Riley tensed, seeing two people return to the shed and start reaching for the explosives on the machine. Biting her lip, she braced for the sound of-
Boom! Boom! Two consecutive explosion echoed through the air, and the ground vibrated underneath her feet. She could see a billow of smoke rise in the air in the direction of the shed, and people screamed from within the diner. Like she predicted, a torrent of customer flooded out the entrance and ran towards their cars in the parking lot. Nobody was looking back at the diner though, so Riley went unnoticed.
Riley lost a visual on both cameras for the diner and shed, as they must have been damaged or destroyed from the blasts. A babble of yelling came from the back of the diner, and she became worried. They'd be combing the area now for who was responsible.
"Are you ok?" She asked, switching back over to the camera inside the dock. The two people in there were on high alert, but remained inside the building. Both of them had guns now cocked and ready to shoot. There was no response from Wrench, but as she watched the feed, he burst through the door and shot both goons inside. They had no time to react and fell to the ground in pain.
"I am, but they're not." He finally replied, and she huffed out a breath of relief.
The brunette watched as he quickly knelt in front of the machine and placed the charges, taping them securely so they wouldn't fall off. He made a few more adjustments before grabbing the duffel bag and sprinting back out the door again.
Several seconds passed, with Riley trying to find a visual on him, before a third explosion rocked through the sky. More yells rang out, and Riley worried that they'd figured out where Wrench was. All she could hope for now was for him to get back soon so they could get out of there. All three machines were destroyed. Their mission was done.
And then the shooting started. Riley jumped, startled by the noise.
"Wrench, where are you?" She asked, peeking over the wooden crates to try to see. She spotted him hiding behind a tree near the side of the diner. Like he was covering from weapon fire in his direction. "Get out of there!"
"Trying!" He said, swinging out from behind the tree and popping off a couple shots while he ran in the direction of the parking lot. The covering fire helped him get further out of range, before he dropped his returning shots entirely and began sprinting full tilt towards where she was hiding.
"Get the car ready!" He said through the comms, and Riley scrambled up from her seat. She ran over to the car and slid hastily into the driver's seat. More gunshots rang out behind her, but she ignored it for now.
Fumbling for a moment with the keys, her haste getting the better of her, the brunette was able to shove them into the ignition and start the engine. She threw it into drive and waited for Wrench.
He was still running, and she saw him suddenly lurch forward, stumbling a few paces before picking up speed again. "Ugh…fuck!" He muttered on the comms, and she worried he'd been shot. The Sons of Ragnarok thugs continued their shooting, trying to catch up with the fleeing hacker, even as he rounded around the car and threw himself inside.
"Go! Go!" He shouted, pulling his phone out of his pocket. Riley stepped on the gas and rocketed them forward towards the road.
Though her focus was mainly on the road as they get away, Riley then noticed that Wrench hadn't returned with the duffel bag. She glanced over, seeing him tapping a few commands into his phone. Her lips moved to ask where the rest of the explosives went, but the much bigger, much louder explosion that sent a vibration wave through them even from this distance answered it for her.
"That should slow them down." Wrench said breathlessly, shifting his left arm more comfortably.
"Did you get shot?" She glanced over, seeing blood freely streaming from his bicep. Wrench kept a hand covering the wound so she couldn't see how bad it was.
"It's fine, just get us out of here." He said, and she grimaced with concern. But, he was right. They had more pressing issues at the moment. She kept driving until they were in the middle of the city, where no amount of searching would uncover them. Time to get back to the hackerspace.
"You crazy motherfucker." Marcus said with an impressed smile when Wrench and Riley stepped foot into the hackerspace. The two guys met halfway and fist-bumped, but Wrench grunted with pain, forgetting his injured arm. His friend noticed, holding up his arm to see. "Yo, you got shot!"
"So don't jerk it around like that." He complained, wrenching his arm away from him, which actually just made things worse. "Ah, shit…"
"I have a first aid kit in my car." Riley offered, and Sitara nodded.
"That would probably be helpful." She said, and the brunette ran off to grab it.
When she returned, Wrench was leaning on his workbench, wrapping a ragged cloth around it, but Riley placed the first aid kit on the table and laid a hand on his to stop him. "Here, let's put a better one on there. And clean it first."
Wrench didn't say anything, but hesitantly let her unwrap the makeshift bandage he'd been attempting to wrap and set it to the side. Riley pulled up the closest chair and made him sit so she attend to it better.
"I can do it myself, you know." He offered not unkindly, but she waved his offer aside.
"Yeah, but so can I. I like feeling useful." She said, stopping any further argument thereafter.
Wrench sat there, letting her clean the wound. Thankfully it had gone all the way through and there wasn't a bullet to dig out. Wrench had a hard time looking at her, especially when her hands were pressing so gently against his arm and she was concentrating so hard. Her hair was a bit disheveled, probably from running to the car back there in a panic. It was…cute.
It was then that he realized he hadn't thanked her for all of her help. But with her so close like this, he didn't know how to say it properly. The words got caught in his throat. The sterile wipe passed over an especially tender point on the wound and he recoiled a little.
"Sorry." She said, smiling gently to assure him she'd be more careful.
Something came to mind, then. "Cortana." He said, catching her off guard.
"What?" She frowned, grabbing the roll of bandages from the kit.
His happy expression returned, and he rested his good arm on the table beside him. "Fuck Navi, like you said. You're like Cortana. From Halo."
The confusion cleared, and Riley laughed, nodding slowly to herself. "Which makes you Master Chief?"
The implications made Wrench giddy, and two heart icons appeared on his mask. "Fuck yeah."
Riley laughed again, and she tenderly wrapped the bandage around his arm, making sure it wasn't too tight to cut off circulation. "Well, even though I was terrified almost the whole time that something would go wrong…that was pretty awesome what you did."
Exclamation points replaced the hearts. Wrench honestly didn't know what to say other than… "Thanks."
They both went silent again while Riley finished up patching Wrench up.
Marcus and Sitara stood to the side, and he gestured over to the oblivious pair of hackers with emphasis. "I mean, look! What other proof could you possibly need?" He whispered.
Sitara looked unimpressed, shrugging. "Nope. It's not set in stone, Marcus. No indisputable proof? No $100." With that, she patted him empathetically on the arm and walked away with a smug smile. Marcus would have to do better than that to convince her.ns 126.96.36.199da2