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The Cottage

by Daryl Benson 11 months ago in Adventure
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The Janbu Collective

She sat alone in the dark, in the early morning hours. Just listening. It was her time of the day. Before the stresses of the day weighed down on her shoulders. She stared out over the ocean, watching, and listening to the waves roll over the beach. The water glistening and sparking as the sun just began to crest over the horizon. The world, slowly coming to life in the break of day. The birds had been singing throughout the still darkness, but now the cresting sun shown over their wings as they glided throughout the crisp morning air.

She enjoyed this time of the day, the morning hours. She felt closest to the earth and to herself in the hours just before the dawn. Sipping her coffee, Jasmine embraced the sounds and smells that assailed her while she sat on the patio of her beach front home. One of the reasons she had moved here was that the rolling sounds of the water. It was a luxury she still had trouble realizing was hers.

All good things must come to an end though, and she was forced to finally pick herself off the patio and head into her house to get ready for the day. The small cottage was positioned uniquely on a bluff overlooking the ocean, the seaside dwelling was complete with the white picket fence. She often caught tourists stopping to take a picture of her home, a place of stories. The bluff tapered off immediately on the edge of her home, which allowed for a quick and easy walk down to the water. The best of all worlds, the amazing view of being above the ocean, and easy access to the beach.

She was still amazed the elderly couple had decided to move back to the mountains when they could wake up to this every morning. Who wanted to shovel snow half the year? She shook her head as she jumped in the shower, it didn’t get any better than this. The water felt good, and she thought about what the days events would be as she cleaned.

It was a short drive to the office. Another reason she chose to live where she did. It started out that way. The desire that she wanted to live close to work. But the longer she lived in her little cottage, she started to realize she was choosing her workplace not her home. The home had slowly started to become a solid fixture in her life, not an option. She would change jobs if she needed to. She wasn’t so sure if she would move.

The work was not glamorous, that was always apparent as she slowly walked to her cubicle. But it was important work. She compiled security forensic data for various law enforcement agencies. The interesting work was when the international agencies got involved. Sorting thousands upon thousands of telemetry data and analytic data was not what she always imaged she would be doing in her mid-thirties. But the information technology career had sucked her in with the continuous pay raises and the challenging work. The work was not glamorous, but it took a degree of art and finesse to dig out the wonders that the data held.

Jasmine excelled at it as well. She found connections in the piles of logs, events, and data points that many others missed. The real fascinating work came after the data was mined though, and you could connect the players behind the attacks. She had traced several diverse attacks back to various foreign powers.

Her organization had recently been finding various strings of work that led them to believe that there was a new hacking group on the scene. Several months ago, there were leaks on the dark web that suggested a new group. They were calling themselves The Janbu Collective. Her tracking had hinted that they were responsible for some of the same cybersecurity activity her organization had been monitoring. She had drafted up several reports and her entire team were now carefully analysis all threats and seeing if they could be linked to the new organization.

What separated this group from other groups is that they weren’t just lurking in the shadows. Most hackers find strength in the anonymity that the webs of data afford them. But the Janbu, what they had started calling them, were taking a more active role. One of the glaring examples was a major cyber security breach that happened to one of the largest logging operations on the West Coast of the USA. Then through a strange series of events, most of the automated equipment within the manufacturing plants shutdown and put several different manufactures in dire situations to restore their operations. They eventually restored operations, but not for days or weeks, costing the companies millions in lost revenue.

The second example came to a major mining operation. Poor security within the company left the automated mining rigs vulnerable. Simultaneously all the rigs were programmed to drive off the cliffs of the mine. Millions of dollars toppled into ravines. The mining company was fishing their haul trucks out for days, and then spending days more repairing them. The loss of revenue was never released to anyone outside the company. What was released was the senior executives and the board of directors screaming bloody murder to every single law enforcement and intelligent agency.

She and her team had summarized most of this analysis in their reports. The cryptic part was that the Janbu could not be located. They had hidden their tracks well, using servers all over the world, creating secure tunnels between them, and spinning it all up through false cloud accounts with pirated information from legitimate companies. Those had been awkwardly reported conversations back to her organization. Police interrogating senior leadership of major organizations that had their infrastructure compromised and were responsible for millions of dollars’ worth of damage. It is what happens when both companies had glaring security holes.

The dark web was always sniffing though, and rumors had surfaced that the Janbu were being seriously investigated and the crosshairs were definitely on them. Jasmine didn’t think anything of this. Of course, they were being targeted. They couldn’t cause multi-millions of dollars of damage, repeatedly, and not lend themselves to investigation.

The day took a surprising turn when the suspicious package wrapped in brown paper arrived on the receptionist’s desk. The receptionist didn’t think anything of it and brought it to the senior director it was addressed to. Martin, however, did take note of it. The Janbu logo was prominent on the package, if somewhat obscure in its display. Martin thanked his lucky stars for having read Jasmine’s emails and paying attention to the finer details that she had placed in them.

The building was immediately evacuated, and the bomb squad was called. They didn’t make it in time, the bomb was set to go off at a specific time, or a cellphone called it. They didn’t know. What they did know is that at exactly 11:52 in the morning, every window in the building exploded outwards and smoke and fire billowed out of Martin’s office. The building had been evacuated for less than fifteen minutes. It was a close call. The firefighters got the fire out and saved most of the structure. But Martin’s office shared a wall with the business’ primary datacenter. Was that just a coincidence? The damage to the servers and the infrastructure was extensive. Who was the real target?

She hadn’t remembered the last time her thoughts turned dark, but her mood was plagued by the explosion. She was driving back home; every employee being released for the day. Police would be coming by every employee’s residence and collecting statements. Most of the employees would be under police protection until more information was determined. Any employee working on the Janbu files was under strict guidance to limit their communication, especially their electronic communication, with anyone and everyone.

Her dark mood permeated her existence as she sat on her patio, staring into the ocean waves. The day’s events played like a reel over and over in her mind. Her mind continuously repeating the conversation she had with Martin. She had argued with him how ridiculous it was to evacuate the building. It was just a nondescript package. What was the big deal? They had important work to do.

She quickly jumped up and emptied her stomach over the railings. Hunched over, gasping, she shook herself back into the moment. She was safe, everyone was safe. No thanks to her though, she came awfully close to convincing Martin to deviate from his plans. She said a prayer of thanks to anyone listening that Martin hadn’t listened to her.

She went and rinsed her mouth out and started brewing a pot of coffee. She imagined the detectives coming at some point in time would appreciate it, perhaps. In those moments, as she watched single drop after single drop of coffee formulate, she knew that she wouldn’t become a victim. If the Janbu were going to attack her and her people, she would find them and end them first. She walked to her bedroom and grabbed her gun and holster. She also knew at that point she would never be caught unarmed again, at least not as long as the Janbu were a threat.

She poured herself a cup of coffee and returned to the patio, to resume her vigil of the waters. As she stared out into the waters, she started making plans. By the time the detectives arrived, she was already brewing a storm all her own. They would not be unprepared again.


About the author

Daryl Benson

Just trying to write a little on the side to see if anything can come of it.

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