Off the Grid — Episode 05

And the night wings die

After punching the intruder in the face a couple of times to wipe that smirk off his face, Wright sits down, trying to compose himself.

– If they have my son, they’ll be able to find and penetrate this place, no matter the level of cloaking.

Peter doesn’t seem to react at first. He takes his backpack, rummages inside, until he finds what he was looking for — a small blue steel case. As soon as he opens it and takes out what appears to be a tape measure, Wright recognises the tool: – An Elastocable-26!? Do they still issue that to field operatives?

– This is a 35-calibre Elastocable, and no, they don’t, but I like to collect useful stuff.

After sizing up the guest, Peter releases the Elastocable, which quickly wraps the man in a sort of tight cocoon, leaving out the head and the legs from the knee down.

Wright stares at Peter for a bit, impatiently. When the two make eye contact, he says: – You seem strangely quiet, my friend. Y’do realise what’s about to happen?

Peter is evidently lost in thought, and just nods slowly.

– Will ya tell me what’s running in that head of yours?

Peter looks at the intruder, then his gaze meets Wright’s again. – I’m just thinking that maybe this kerel is bluffing.

– Go on.

– For starters, you were checking that helmet before, and said he has sent a distress signal. Can it actually get through your snowglobe? I’m no engineer, but from what you’ve told me, I’m assuming all digital transmissions have to pass through a firewall…

– You’re right. Let’s have a look.

Wright returns to the studio and sits at an isolated workstation. He types a few commands and the monitor screen fills with overlapping log windows. He performs a search restricted to the last 30 minutes of activity. – Aha, it would seem you were right. The broadcast request was rejected and quarantined.

A pause.

– …So nobody’s coming. For now, at least. But what… what about my son?

– I don’t know what happened to him, but let’s establish a timeline. When did he leave?

– Uh, three days ago, early morning.

– Okay, where did he go?

– Remember I told you that I designed the snowglobe with two other scientists? My son is working with one of them to improve the cloaking technology we’re implementing here. William Tyrrell, the scientist, has been living and working out of an abandoned AAR. Well, for security reasons Tyrrell hasn’t disclosed the exact location of his shelter to anybody but my son.

– Not even to you? Seems odd.

– Nae, Tyrrell and I… we had our, er, disagreements in the past. He’s not talking to me anymore. But trusts my son implicitly… They seem to work very well together…

The way Peter is looking at him makes Wright realise he’s starting to get carried away; he quickly recaps: – So, well… Robert, my son, left three days ago to visit Tyrrell. I don’t know how far away Tyrrell lives, so I don’t know how long it takes to reach his shelter. Peter always leaves on foot, and stays off the grid all the time he’s away.

Peter ponders, then asks: – How long does he usually stay away when he goes see this Tyrrell?

– Sometimes five days or so. Once recently he stayed for more than a week. He told me they were making significant progress with a new type of suit they’d been testing and— Wait a minute…

Fighting his repulsion, Wright moves closer to the intruder and examines the parts of the suit the Elastocable has left exposed. Then he checks the helmet again. Peter thinks he understands where this is going: – This is not the prototype, right?

Without diverting his gaze from the helmet’s HUD, Wright says: – It’s definitely the suit Robert had with him, but yeah, not the prototype…

Fok… – grunts the intruder as he looks away from Peter’s grin.

Peter then turns to Wright again: – So perhaps your son managed to fool these idiots. He’s certainly smarter.

– I wonder why someone like Covington would recruit people like them.

– Well, from what I know they’re good at hacking, but strategising isn’t exactly their forte.

– Right, Covington’s the mastermind. Or at least he fancies himself one.

A pause, then Peter gets up, approaches the intruder, crouches near him, slaps him in the face, and says to Wright: – Well, it’s time we make this fool talk, so we can find out where they’re keeping your son.

– That won’t be necessary.

The three men are startled by the voice, which doesn’t appear to come from any specific point in the room, and sounds slightly muffled and machine-altered. Before they realise where it’s coming from, there’s a faint crackle, and Peter notices little flashes of a dim, violet light, just out of the corner of his eye. Seconds later, the figure of Robert Wright appears, standing behind Peter.

Jeremy Wright can’t believe his eyes: – Robbie! You’re safe! …The hell happened!?

Peter adds: – And more importantly, for how long have you been here?

Father and son exchange a sort of forearm handshake that strikes Peter: it’s a brief but intense gesture, revealing a glimpse of deep affection between these two otherwise restrained men. Then Robert turns to Peter, his voice now normal: – I’ve been here long enough to understand a few things… (looking again at his father) They attacked me early this morning while I was getting back from Tyrrell’s place. This prototype suit still has some power issues and doesn’t self-recharge properly, so I was travelling using the standard cloaking of my regular suit, the one this dunce is wearing now. Anyway, there were three of them, and somehow they knew my position… they were probably using some kind of modded binoculars… and before I could even try an escape route, they knocked me out with a flash grenade.

– Did they hurt you, son?

– Just a few punches, to intimidate me. Nothing I can’t handle. They told me that if I didn’t give them my suit and brief them on the new cloaking tech I was developing, they would publish the coordinates of this place and Tyrrell’s shelter on all the underground networks. I was pretty sure they were just bluffing about this location, but it was entirely possible they’d found out about Tyrrell and I couldn’t risk exposing him…

Peter continues: – …So you gave them your regular suit and had them believe it was the prototype.

Robert nods: – While the real prototype is this I’m wearing. See? It looks like a plain undersuit.

Jeremy Wright is fascinated: – It’s really thin. But what about the helmet? Does it work without one?

Robert removes his glasses, and touches a sensor on the right hinge. A bare-bones HUD lights up on the lenses. – Rather inconspicuous, don’t you think?

His father is visibly proud. Peter wonders: – How did you trick them into thinking that your regular suit was the prototype? Didn’t they ask for a demonstration?

– They did. (Nodding towards the intruder) He grabbed the suit from me and put it on. I was being restrained by the other two blokes. I told them I needed to show them how to access the hidden features still in development, and as soon as I had my hands free, I activated the undersuit and got away as fast as I could.

Peter remains concerned: – Good for you, really. But the fact that this guy has managed to find this station and enter undetected makes me think they actually knew where to find us, and that means this whole place is compromised…

– He’s right, Robbie.

– That may be my fault, actually. The suit’s helmet was storing mapping data in its cache… (He turns to Peter and explains) It’s what allows me to move about in poor visibility conditions without losing track of my path, and also helps me to avoid the strongest pockets of radiation that remain in the region. (He stares at the floor) They must have figured out this location by dumping the data and comparing the paths I took at different times in the past. I’m sorry, father, I didn’t have time to delete the cache before they took the suit from me.

Jeremy Wright isn’t really worried: – Nae, it’s okay lad, I think we can still contain the situation. There were three of them, you said? Chances are they uploaded the new mapping data to the helmet, and sent this joker on his way… But it’s unlikely they broadcast this station’s coordinates before receiving confirmation from him.

Robert nods: – And the snowglobe’s preventing any unauthorised outgoing comm, so that leaves us with two hackers who may have some idea as where this place is, and one who’s actually found it.

– So we set a trap to lure the other two somewhere nearby and we eliminate the problem.

Peter cuts in: – Sorry to interrupt, but—

But a loud alert coming from one of the workstations interrupts Peter and attracts everyone’s attention. Robert is quicker than his father and sits before one of the largest displays in the room, showing a map of the area with faintly illuminated overlays and a few dots scattered all over — some of them blink at a very slow rate, others don’t blink at all, and one dot is currently blinking rapidly and in a different hue. Robert inputs a few commands, and the map’s magnification increases. His father and Peter are standing behind him. He strokes his chin and grins as he points to the blinking dot: – We won’t have to lure them after all. They’re coming down the D1314, approaching the old Serqueux sanitation complex.

– Oh, that’d have been a great site for an ambush, – remarks Jeremy Wright.

Peter puts his finger near the screen and draws a segment in the air: – Yes, this section here is all dirt road and dead trees, and they’re going to reach it soon.

Wright gives his son a gentle pat on the shoulder: – So, what’s the plan now?

– We need to keep them near the complex. Then we’ll return their friend there. And then we’ll, um, send them on their way.

Peter draws close to Jeremy Wright and holds his forearm gently but firmly: – Any news for me, from Bekah? Can you check if she got in touch while we were all busy with that fool over there?

The man approaches the workstation monitoring encrypted convo channels, wakes the display, and checks for unread private hails. Nothing yet. This makes Peter antsy again: – I’m worried for her. If Section 9 investigators figure out just how much she’s helped me so far, things are gonna get ugly for her.

Robert Wright joins the conversation: – You’re not giving your friend enough credit. Bekah048’s reputation in the hacker circles definitely precedes her. From what I’ve understood, you are close colleagues, but I bet you didn’t really know about her hacker status until this situation broke out.

– No, not really. I mean, obviously I knew she was passionate about everything related to technology, past and present, but that she was actually involved in hacking activities…

– You see? That’s because she’s smart and careful and paranoid about not leaving traces. She knows time’s of the essence. As soon as her hack’s ready, she’ll activate it.

Peter is slightly surprised at the amount of details Robert seems to know: – Just how long have you been here, cloaked?

– You had just arrived. When I escaped, I didn’t run straight here. I know this experimental cloaking is practically undetectable, but I took precautions just in case the suit’s power system failed and left me exposed. When I passed the old shelters in the razed area of Gournay, the HUD started displaying the coordinates of the standard suit, so I knew that dunce was coming here, and I followed him.

Peter shakes his head and nudges Jeremy Wright: – See? We were here sharing stories, and we didn’t know there was a fucking cloaking party going on… (A beat, then to Robert) Hey, I could’ve hit you when I knifed our ‘guest’!

– I was behind you when that happened, don’t worry.

Jeremy Wright cuts in: – Lads, we have to go out there and figure out a diversion to keep those two hackers close to the Serqueux complex.

Robert sits at another workstation. What Peter thought was an old, inoperative mini-mainframe, comes to life, the admin console on the small 18-inch display loading obsolete protocols. Robert explains: – With this, I can tap into the old war emergency network and issue a biohazard alert for the areas in the vicinity of the complex, urging anyone there to stay in Serqueux until further notice.

Peter raises an eyebrow: – Isn’t that going to sound a little too suspicious? Maybe they’ll think it’s just an old warning and dismiss it.

Robert grins as he turns his attention back to the workstation’s display. His father explains: – Here in the continent, biohazard warnings are still taken very seriously to this day, especially in the areas surrounding abandoned medical facilities. Old containers storing waste or toxic chemicals may break with age or radiation, and create unsafe pockets that need to be quarantined. The emergency system we’re tapping into was designed to be nuclear-proof, so it’s still considered reliable.

– Well, I hope they know that.

At the warning broadcast prompt, Robert types: Attention, please. A Level 3 biohazard has been detected at warehouse E6 of the Serqueux sanitation complex. For your safety, it is essential you remain confined in either Building 3 or Building 5 of the main complex until further notice. 

That’s what the automated message over the PA system will sound like. When he gives confirmation, the console start autotranslating the warning before the final, bilingual broadcast: Attention, s’il vous plaît. Un risque biologique de niveau 3 a été détecté dans l’entrepôt E6 …

The three men now go back to watching the radar display. Shortly after, the rapidly-blinking dot stops, then proceeds towards the Serqueux complex in the straightest possible line.

– Good, – mutters Robert.

Peter glances at the injured intruder again, and suggests they should try to extract some information out of him before delivering him to his mates.

– What could he possibly know? – asks Jeremy Wright. – And d’ya think he’s gonna tell us anything anyway?

– It’s worth a try. For starts, he could know how many Semis4 mercenaries are working for Covington…

As they approach him, he’s already shaking his head. – I vont tel ya niks… nothing!

Peter scoffs and speaks to Wright, without breaking eye contact with the stranger: – These guys crack me up. They’re geeks who receive an even more basic military training than we forensic scientists in London State, but they love to act tough. (To the stranger) What’s your name?

– …

– I don’t even get to know your name? Come on. Let’s try it again.

Peter takes out the Elastocable’s steel case, and touches a button on its lid. The Elastocable’s grip tightens. The man struggles and gasps for air. Peter touches another button, and the Elastocable relaxes the grip.

Reddy, Reddy! (inhales) Name is Reddy.

– Okay, Reddy. Another question: who else knows about your location?

He snickers: – Ya’ll know fery soon.

– This piece of shite isn’t taking us seriously. I think I’ve another canister of acid powder around here.

Again, fear appears to be a good motivator: – Vait! I tel ya.

Still sitting at the radar workstation, Robert says: – For being someone who didn’t want to reveal anything, this bloke is surely chatty!

Reddy continues: – Only 822 ant 416 know.

– What?

– I dont know teir names, only codenames.

– Your mates, are they those two entering Serqueux? – asks Peter while vaguely pointing in the direction of the workstations. Reddy hesitates, then nods.

– How many are out there looking for me? How many did Section 9 recruit?

Robert gets up and moves away from the workstation.

– I… I…

How many!? – yells Jeremy Wright in Reddy’s left ear.

– Dont know exact number! Meself, 416, 822… I know of anoter unit in anoter region… Six men… ant…

Reddy looks paler and weaker.

– You all must have kept in touch via comms. Coordinate the search, divide the area in sectors to cover, and the like. Reddy!? Come on! (Peter slaps his face)

Reddy struggles and starts mumbling in Semis4 slang; then, louder: – Dont know, dont know, Mr Covington—

His eyes wander off. When they see Robert enter the kitchen, they widen in horror. – Vait! Mr Covington koordinates! Operatifs, information, evry-ting kompartementalised! Vee merely receive orders, ek sweer!!

As Peter starts turning to see what’s happening behind him, he hears a soft, low-pitched whine.

Hiss.

A dark blot stains Reddy’s forehead. His figure remains still for a second, then slowly sinks to the floor. The Elastocable releases and retracts.

Another update on the absence of updates

Or — Are you still alive? Is this place going to be updated soon?

Yes and yes. 2017 has got off to a rocky start, but I wanted to reassure my readers: The Minigrooves Project is still alive, as is the Off the Grid series, whose Episode 05 should come soon-ish.

The two main reasons of my silence have been a move, and the fact that I haven’t had Internet connection at home for the past 18 days. For more information about these two events, read these two entries on my main website:

Things will hopefully improve in the next days, and I should gradually unfreeze all my writing projects and resume publications. I apologise for the general lack of updates. Again, none of my current projects and series has been abandoned, only put on hold to deal with more pressing matters. Thanks for your patience and understanding!

Off the Grid — Episode 04

A certain unease in the air

 

Peter is thinking as quickly as he can, something that doesn’t come easily given his current predicament. He feels angry, betrayed, scared, foolishly naïve, and for a moment he would just love to kick stuff around, smashing everything in his path and punching Wright in the face. But there’s no time to waste and he needs to focus. He looks at Wright as if to ask him something, but then he just starts thinking aloud: – It all boils down to two scenarios, the way I see it. One… I let you blast me with radiation to disable the tracker. The benefit: I get rid of the immediate threat, I could stay here with you for a while and plan my next moves (Wright nods). The downside: I’ll be on anti-radiation medication for the rest of my life— my certainly shortened life…

– I’d help you in any wa—

– Possibility two… I take my chances. I leave now and keep running. The benefit: well, no extra radiation, and theoretically I get to live longer. The downside: they’ll know where I am, they’ll track me down, and I’ll have to put up one nasty fight sooner or later. (Wright nods again, now with a guilty and saddened expression) … Unless…

– What are you thinking?

– How long before this isotope tracker stops working?

– A few days I suppose. Your metabolism has to break it down and absorb it fully.

– So I’ll just have to resist a few days… find a place to hi— No, no, what am I thinking? Even if I locked myself in a fortified area until the tracker stops working, they’ll just wait for me to come out.

He delivers a good punch to the nearest surface. That startles Wright. – Come on, mate, you must have a way to run interference. All this technology, all those hackers you’re in contact with, and you’re telling me you can’t… I don’t know… spoof the tracker’s signal? Or clone it so that I would appear in more than one location at a time?

– It has a unique signature, I’m afraid. But…

– But? I’m all ears.

Wright sits back at the workstation monitoring encrypted convo channels and starts typing something: – A transmission takes place between a transmitter and a receiver. In your case, we can’t do anything to prevent the transmitter from transmitting, but with some luck we could prevent the receiver from receiving. I’m asking a few entities here if they have a contact with knowledge of London State’s latest MILCOM protocols…

Peter looks at the cascade of random-looking characters and symbols on the screen, when he spots the handle &!048!834α1-1*.

– There! Ask her.

Wright is fascinated: – You know Bekah048!?

– I wouldn’t have made it this far without her help. Make sure to mention the expression 9117 to the power of 6405 in your convo. She’ll know you’re helping me and that your request is genuine.

– That an inside joke, I assume.

– Something of the sort.

Wright keeps typing. An intense conversation ensues among Bekah048, MatyasInk, and Wright. Peter is amazed at how these people can type in ’cryptscript so quickly. Wright reveals that usually it’s the machines that translate plainscript on the fly in RTT (Real-Time Translated) windows, but lots of hackers find it faster to learn to write ’cryptscript directly. After a couple of minutes, MatyasInk leaves the convo channel, and it’s just Wright and Bekah.

Wright grins.

– Good news? – asks Peter.

Wright nods: – She can help. She says she can propagate a shadow routine to prevent London State’s sat network from picking up your signal. I’ll simply need to send her the tracker’s transcoded signature.

– Brilliant. Ask her “How long before direct contact via mod cdv?”

– Aye. (A beat) She says Will operate UPN when safe. Wait, is she talking about an Untraceable Portable Node? How did she manage to get her hands—

Peter chuckles: – Knowing her, she probably built one in her spare time.

– I’m sending her the tracker’s signature.

When Bekah leaves the convo channel, Wright turns to Peter: – This must be your lucky day. If she can pull that hack, of course.

– I believe she can.

Wright stands up and adjusts his shirt and tie. – So… What’s next?

– I was thinking about staying here a few hours more, rest a bit, take some food for my journey, and be out of your way as soon as I can. If I’m detected despite Bekah’s efforts, I don’t want your communications station to be compromised.

– That’s quite kind of you, considering what I’ve done to you, – Wright remarks bitterly.

– Well, you were made to believe I was the bad guy…

An alert on the №14 display catches Wright’s attention. He rushes at the corresponding workstation and starts typing furiously. “It’s Soseki,” he mumbles, “Finally.”

Peter is curious: – Could I follow the conversation? I have a few acquaintances in Old York, forensic experts mostly, and I don’t know, perhaps I could be of assistance somehow.

Wright makes a peculiar grimace, and Peter can’t tell whether it’s annoyance or a sort of resigned why not?, but while waiting for Soseki to explain something, he says: – I’ll open a read-only RTT plainscript session on this other terminal. Anything you want to say or suggest, you tell me and I’ll relay it if pertinent.

Next to the workstation there’s an old Model 8900T terminal, with the label EXT-RL Dynamic Protocol Embd. Manufactured 2055-11 – Property of the Sovereign State of Éire. Its screen wakes and Peter can see a readable version of the conversation taking place between Wright, Soseki, and another entity called K0VACS:

K0: But what’s the holdup?

WR: Last I heard from nsk-21 is that she’s still with the 3Coin Group.

SO: Sakra! What for!?

WR: According to her last coded message, NNC needs to extend their comm network to reach Arslan. She has to crack a point of entry and the Group’s gone underground in Arslan’s Annexed Districts.

K0: That place’s a fucking blackbox.

SO: The op is time-sensitive, we’ve a small window to hijack the sat.

K0: The retasking routines are ready, but w/out nsk-21 it’s afn.

– ‘afn’?

– ‘All for nothing’ – replies Wright without diverting his gaze from the display.

– What’s this nsk-21’s speciality? And who’s NNC?

– She’s one of the best comm protocol crackers. NNC is Noegoa Nyom Corporation.

– I’m sure Bekah could help, but she has already too much on her hands.

Wright makes eye contact briefly: – Don’t involve her. These people are dangerous.

SO: I asked AnatolyK but he said it’s out of his league. Don’t you have your comm man?

K0: Our guy was taken & beaten outside Hattan by the Liberty H8ks.

WR: Utterly sorry.

SO: That sucks.

WR: Do you think the H8ks will run interference? They’ve been surprisingly aggressive lately.

K0: They want to control all network traffic passing through the remaining 3 active Externet nodes in Old York.

K0: They want to know what the normals are up to.

Peter remembers someone, and lights up: – Tell them to contact a man that goes by the handle 053!Watt.

– Is he reliable?

– He’s certainly a professional. He runs a forensic laboratory out of the Cape Cod shelters. He has collaborated with several governments in the Eastern American Municipalities and has done his share of RDRA—

Wright flashes a quizzical glance.

– Remote data recovery and analysis. I think he’s skilled enough to commandeer a satellite.

Wright nods and types:

WR: I’ve a trustworthy contact. Suggests you connect with entity 053!Watt. May be good enough to help.

SO: Rumour has it you’re in contact with LSF. What’s the deal?

K0: Really trustworthy?

WR: (K0) RLK trustworthy. (SO) I am. Let it be known he’s a war crimes TR. No thief or traitor. And if he’s a traitor, he’s betrayed a criminal government.

K0: OK. We’ll proceed with contact. Agree, (SO)?

SO: (K0) Agree. (WR) Send some proof, I can broadcast.

– So many acronyms here… – Peter shakes his head.

– Heh. LSF stands for London State Fugitive. You.

– And who’s RLK then?

– Nae, RLK stands for ‘real life knowledge’, which is a high degree of trustworthiness in this day and age. While TR means—

– Truth-relayer, that much I figured.

– Can I send Soseki a small part of the contents of your datastick? You need as much help as possible, and having the underground movements on your side is a good thing.

– Sure.

WR: I’m waving you a data burst, (SO).

SO: Great, thanks!

After some quick closing remarks, everyone leaves the convo channel.

– I hope your Watt53 contact is up to the task, otherwise…

– Don’t worry. If they mention my recommendation, he’ll do his best. He owes me a couple of favours, so…

They return to the kitchen. Peter feels restless. He sits down but keeps rocking in his chair.

– You hungry? That circadian stabiliser I gave you might also have made you a wee angsty, combined with the coffee.

– Actually yes, I wouldn’t mind a bite. Look, I know it must be hard to find stuff to eat in these remote locations—

– Oh don’t worry about that. As I said, there are some perks in maintaining a communication node. We receive a fair amount of supplies from different parties…

Wright shows Peter a fully stocked pantry.

– You have shortbreads! I probably ate my last like ten years ago…

Wright laughs, takes a can out and returns to the kitchen sink: – We shall have tea, then, like they did in the old country.

Peter notices something weird in the kitchen’s lighting. Or rather, in how the light seems to slightly change hue near the refrigerator unit. It’s barely detectable, but since taking that stabiliser, not only does Peter feel very alert, his natural powers of observation also appear heightened.

Pretending to check his right boot’s zipper, Peter reaches for his pocket blade.

– Something the matter? – asks Wright, noticing how Peter has fallen silent and stopped rocking all of a sudden.

– I think your son has returned.

Wright seems confused: – I didn’t hear any vehicle. Did you—?

Peter takes a shortbread from the can and replies nonchalantly: – Come on, we both know he’s here…

The water’s boiling in the electric kettle. Wright’s expression now shows sincere puzzlement. Peter notices that the faint colour desaturation he perceived near the refrigerator has moved to the wall segment next to the studio entrance. He swiftly rolls down the table and hurls his knife towards that desaturation. As predicted, the knife hits something before the wall and appears frozen mid-air. Both men hear a faint grunt. Wright, too, reacts with surprising deftness: he takes a canister from a drawer and throws it in the same direction. On impact, the canister releases some kind of powdery dark grey substance. There’s a multicoloured spark and some smoke. The figure of a man clad in what looks like a modified 2Skin NBC suit is partially revealed. Peter immobilises him, while Wright removes his helmet and pushes a button on the left side. The man’s suit crackles and now his figure appears completely. Peter’s pocket blade is stuck in the man’s left thigh.

The man is still conscious, seething, but not saying a word. Wright looks inside his helmet and something he sees in the HUD worries him. Peter looks up: – What is it?

Wright turns and spits on the man’s forehead: – This piece of shite is a monitor, sent from good ol’ London State I guess.

Peter twists the blade in the man’s thigh. He growls and keeps the pain behind grinding teeth. His eyes frantically dancing between Wright and Peter’s faces. He finally hisses: – Y’bliks! Hul kom! 

Wright looks at Peter: – The fuck’s yellin’?

– It’s Semis4 slang. I think he said something like You bastards, and then They’re coming.

Wright nods: – He has sent some sort of distress call. I’ll see if I can trace it. … Wait, if he’s from Semis4…

– Yeah, he’s not Section 9 proper, but one of Covington’s mercenaries.

A new thought seems to stop Wright in his tracks. He tries to reactivate the suit’s cloaking, then reads a series of values in the helmet’s HUD. A terrible realisation makes him drop the helmet on the floor.

The man snickers, then speaks with a thick foreign accent: – Rekoknize zis teknologie, olt man? Vee got yer son!