For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as an Element Leader, Bravo Squadron, 4th Delta Wing, on October 4, 2013.
Airman Ridgeway’s element was conducting a routine patrolling mission through the financial system near FINRA’s primary servers when they discovered shellcode decrypting itself and probing a backdoor to the securities trading authentication subsystem. Upon finding indications of a botnet brewing, Airman Ridgeway led his anti-penetration specialists towards the nearby IP block. Upon arriving, he discovered a senior executive had been phished and was allowing infiltration of the system. The black hats quickly shifted their attention to Airman Ridgeway’s team. Remaining calm under attack, he ordered his element to reinforce the shielding on their own servers while he captured logs to transmit to command.
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The cohort moved silently, swiftly, as their leader examined the chalk marks on crumbling brick for the next marker. Finally, a single white stroke, and they were there.
She took a knee, ignoring the bludgeoned bodies that lay nearby, clutching to faded signs in a final act of defiance. She pulled aside pieces of junk, then found her hardlink and plugged it in, swiping the screen open, shielding the light with the tattered remains of a shirt.
Her companions idly watched the bombs rain ahead in silence. Buildings shuddered, but they remained unmoved. Long-since scarred callouses absorbed the shockwaves.
She tapped the button. Their glasses flared alive and with them, three pylons of light rocketed through the sky, into the heavens. Red. Blue. Orange.
A moment to take it in, and then the group disintegrated.
Small, sallow cheeks watched their elder brothers and sisters sprint towards the red, their weapons shimmering with still-wet blood. Then they too began to move, their tiny feet forming a line as they began their long march towards the sit-in.
She unplugged, then covered the port, rubbing aside the indentation of her knee with the tip of her shoe. She looked up to find the only remaining member of her party, standing there, his hand outstretched.
Behind him, a collapsed neighborhood flickered pale orange opportunity flickered in pale orange, where opportunity lay.
She clasped his hand into her own. They would find the pieces, again. They would engineer the swarm, again. And again. And again. Until it finally worked.
Part of my ongoing startup dystopia series. Previous installments here.
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