Locating the source hardware does not look like it’s going to be an option, not in the timeframe you have. You’re a signal analyst, not a magician. They’ve likely used a variety of encryption methods across several different proxy routes to evade the scanning algorithms so well. It might not even be just one troll. Their posts and the resulting activity lit up your watchlist monitors but any attempts to trace it were lost in the VPN firehose. Of course that means the Empire can’t detect them either. They already have the know-how, now it’s just a question of whether they’re looking for contributors.
You briefly consider what you have to offer and what you’re looking for in return. You have the hi-jacked communications satellite with off-world contacts, but that’s too risky to play up front. You have the private network centered in the polar region that lets you communicate outside of Imperial awareness, but unless they have a hardline connection to one of the portal nodes it’ll have to go through Imperial territory anyways. There’s always your custom trollian plug-in and streamlined data crawlers as a goodwill gesture. With the fleet of dormant servers you’ve bred and your main computing block, you also have crunchpower rivaled only by the Imperial Network Operators.
You hope this person is as devout as they sound. It’s certainly not something you can pass up. A loyalist sniffing around for someone to take the bait and give up info wouldn’t be posting on such a large scale that would get them outed as well, would they? Script kiddies looking to impress don’t go poking around in activities that could accidentally label them a traitor. An advantage of living in such a paranoid society. There’s no 100% guarantee, but you don’t live on guarantees, just faith.
You compose your initial message with as much tact as you can muster.
Hello. You’ve raised quite an interesting discussion, and it looks like you want the whole planet in on it. That might be a bit risky if you plan on continuing in the same mien. They’ll start knowing what to look for, and they have much more power behind them than you think.
Make of that what you will. If you’d like any assistance, feel free to contact mainframeMastermind.
You give them the address to connect to one of the low-security nodes you use for outgoing traffic and the authentication key to open the port. This one in particular scans incoming packets for interference or anything that looks remotely like an executable. Slow, good for only text and small files with an embarrassingly high latency you’ve been working on, but they’ll be able to download the trollian upgrade and contact you from there. Once you’ve established a rapport then maybe you might hand them the metaphorical keys to the city.
You could send the message to every instance of the poster you’ve been able to pull up as a display of bravado but you’re not looking to engage in a bulge-waving contest. Especially if this is not a solo act like you suspect. No, you sort the instances by timeframe and send the message off to the account of the very first post. You invoke the symbol of the sacred flame for good measure. Godspeed.
Two outline sketches and the final product that I did of the fantastic boat trolls fantrolls. The moment where Bel discovers the chart really made a strong visual for me. I loved it so much that I had to try getting the image out of my head.
I haven’t really drawn (let alone colored and shaded) anything in a while and I did the entire process on my iPad which was a first. I submitted the final picture to one of the tumblr accounts but it hasn’t been shown yet and I wanted to post the original sketches anyway.