Monday, 12/23/2250 – By Kayla Salmon.
After the little run in with Aelita in the University’s garage, Sparky had expected that to be the end of it. Aelita was of a completely different circle than her, class, attitude, and the like. It wasn’t like Aelita wasn’t pleasant to be around, but when one looked at Sparky and then at Aelita, they didn’t appear to be people who would be compatible, and while they did share mutual friends, it didn’t make them very close.
Sparky lived on the campus. She’d been living there since she had been accepted at the beginning of her third year. She didn’t really have a home outside of the Academy. Technically, she did. She had a mother, and a father, but they’d never been close and when she was ten she had run away from home, her family’s home on Atlas, to figure out… well, herself. Even if it did sound a bit corny. She’d lived on the streets in New York, and then in Chicago. She made money by hacking and lived in abandoned hotels and subway stations. Given she didn’t have any evidence of an actual formal education, and she had no musical or artistic talent to audition in on, she wasn’t been able to apply for a scholarship to live at the school. However with the money she saved from hacking she was able to pay the tuition for her first year of school, and from there prove her intelligence and earn a scholarship for her following years. To continue earning money, and keep herself occupied, she continued hacking, but also began working in the garage at the University.
“You’re good with computers, right?” A voice behind her asked and Sparky sat up quickly, turning and looking behind her at Aelita. She blinked up at the girl, the breaks of a car disassembled in her lap.
“Uh… Yeah?” Sparky answered in confusion, her eyes widening as she saw a laptop in the swan’s hands. “What’s up?” She asked, putting the clamps and the brake pads on the ground and pushing herself to her feet.
“So, here’s the thing,” the seventh year said, holding the laptop to her chest, “I spilled some hot chocolate on the keyboard right? Well, in my surprise I jumped up and knocked it off my desk and the screen got cracked-” She was beginning to speak quickly and Sparky blinked as she tried to keep up, “-So I tried to get a wet rag and clean the chocolate off and, well, now it’s not starting up.” She trailed off, holding out the laptop to the nymph. “I have some papers for next semester on it, and my music and pictures and stuff and I wondered if you could fix it or get the information off it?”
Sparky looked at the girl skeptically as she took the laptop. There was a dent in the back of the screen and almost all of the edges appeared to be chipped or destroyed. Sure enough, there were traces of sticky chocolate on the keys, of which there happened to be a few missing, and the screen had a large splintering crack just off center.
“Uh, wow, okay,” she said, walking over to where she had set her own bag by a work bench and grabbed a chair. She very much doubted that all of this damage had occurred naturally, but then again, she’d seen weirder shit happen to people’s computers, so she didn’t really question it too much. “Yeah, I don’t think I could get this working properly again, but I can definitely get the stuff off the hard drive if it isn’t damaged,” she said, placing the laptop face down on the work bench and sitting down.
Grabbing a small screwdriver from her toolkit in her laptop case, she went to work unscrewing all of the tiny screws that held the panels of the laptop in place. Luckily it was a higher end laptop, one of the Avagadro’s MagicPro series, so all of it was pretty easy to disassemble, unlike some of the more cheaply made laptops that were one giant hunk that needed a machine to disassemble.
“The battery’s cooked,” Sparky said, pulling each of the pieces out to see if there was anything she could salvage. “Processor looks like it might be fine, and the hard drive looks like it might be-” she cut off as she felt slippery water around it in the motherboard.
She sighed and continued unscrewing everything and drying them off with a rag. She finally pried the hard drive out. It was slightly damp, but not completely fucked. “I’ll plug it into my computer and see if I can get anything off of it.”
Aelita was hovering over her shoulder as she reached down and grabbed her laptop and fished around in her bag to find a port to plug the drive into. “I’m just glad Avagadro makes their hard drives with a universal port or you’d have to take it somewhere with an actual place to plug in the hard drive,” she explained as she pulled the port and its cord out. “Or you know, find someone who also has an expensive ass laptop,” she said dryly. Not that it would be too hard at the Academy, she knew some of the Gardner’s had some of the lower models. Rather it would be the problem of convincing someone to let her disassemble their expensive laptop and try to connect a hard drive that might be fried into it.
She opened her laptop and began booting it up, sitting back in her chair as she worked, her leg bouncing up and down as she waited. She turned her head to see Aelita observing her, rather than looking worried about her laptop. The nymph grinned slightly, wondering if it was possible that the swan had sought her out on purpose. There was plenty others she could have brought her computer to, especially the head of the technology department at the Academy, Professor Gatei.
She leaned back forward, wondering why the seventh year would find any interest in her. Her hair was tied up in a knotted braid and she was covered in grease and she didn’t wear makeup or nail polish or nice clothes. The computer was done loading the hard drive and she opened it and began sorting through its contents.
“Well, it looks like everything’s here,” she said, surprised that that the hard drive had survived whatever it was the swan maiden had put it through. Poor machine. “You’re going to want to buy an external hard drive so I can put the information you want on it while you wait to get a new computer,” she said, trailing off.
“Or,” she offered after a pause, turning back to look at the swan maiden, “I guess I could just store the files on my computer and you could come back and get them once you have your new computer.” There, she offered her services and she expected refusal, for the swan to tell her that it was fine and that she’d head into town and buy something to put the information on, but she didn’t.
“Would you?” Aelita asked excitedly, “That’d be so awesome of you,” she gushed, throwing her hands around Sparky and pulling her in for a tight hug.
Sparky made a noise of surprise, but didn’t pull away and didn’t fight to break free. “No problem, it’s not that much stuff,” she said as the swan released her. “I’ll just put it in a folder on my desktop and get it back to you when you’re ready.”
“Cool, very cool,” Aelita said quickly, nodding her head in agreement. “Hey, I like, know nothing about computers, my sister picked this one out the last time, do you think you could tell me which ones are good ones to get and stuff? You know, customize it and stuff?”
Sparky paused, her eyebrows raising. “Well, the one you had was pretty good, it was one of the top models the last two years and was still pretty up to date speed and memory wise,” she explained, but the swan was stepping closer to her, their arms almost touching and the nymph shrugged, “But, yeah, sure, especially if you’re ordering it online, it’ll be easy to compare stuff.”
“Thanks so much, Sparky, you’re so helpful,” Aelita gushed.
“It’s alright,” Sparky said, smiling. She still didn’t really understand why Aelita Rede, of all people, was flirting with her, but it wasn’t like she disliked her. “Is there anything else you need?” Sparky asked, realizing some of the University students were starting to stare in the pair’s direction.
“Er, no, I guess not,” Aelita said, trailing off.
Sparky waited a moment and then stood up, “It looks like it’s starting to snow again, do, uh, do you want me to walk you back to the Eagle House?” She asked hesitantly.
“Yes! I mean, yes, that would be nice,” Aelita said excitedly, nodding her head quickly. “Um, I don’t really need that stuff,” she said, gesturing to the parts on the workbench as Sparky closed her laptop and shoved it and the hard drive into her bag. “You can keep anything that’s still working, you know.”
“Are you sure?” Sparky asked, looking at her, and then the parts, “Some of that stuff is worth- well, a bit of money.”
“Yeah, I mean, I don’t know anything about computers, so I can’t use it,” Aelita said, “It’s all yours. It’s a thank you for helping me.”
“Okay, thanks,” Sparky said, grabbing the rest of the still functioning parts and shoving them into her bag as well. “Come on, I can finish up the rest of this stuff in the morning,” she said, gesturing to the car she had been working on.