Shell woke up around 9 am. It was a typical hot late springtime morning in City N. She got out of bed, washed her hair and face, brushed her teeth, and began polishing her metal body with a generous amount of "Uncle Bezo's 100% Ultra-Fine Chrome Polish".
After polishing herself to a brilliant shine, she gave herself an approving nod in the mirror and got dressed. She switched on her television monitor and watched the news. A reporter was giving a breaking news report:
"There are unconfirmed reports that the Adept phenomenon has returned. We have been hearing numerous accounts of adepts suddenly regaining their abilities, which were suddenly and unexpectedly lost two years ago."
Shell sprang to her feet. "What?" she shrieked. She continued to watch the news report. Shell remembered the wedding ceremony from the previous summer, where the bride, the president of Crest Corporation, was finally able to style her hair differently because of the loss of her Adept powers. The bride had to cover her left eye for most of her life due to the nature of her powers. Shell remembered how different she looked at the wedding and, for this reason, that wedding presently came to Shell's mind.
It had been over a year since Shell last saw the president of Crest and her husband, Atlas. After Atlas had become Jess's head of security, the two later decided to get married. Shell attended the wedding along with her freelancing partner, Duncan. Lieutenant Renk had been Atlas's best man and there was an incident where Duncan ate half of the wedding cake. The ceremony had been broadcast live and was like a modern day royal wedding. Shell had not seen Renk since the wedding.
Snapping out of her reminiscent trance, Shell switched off the television monitor and headed out the door. On her way down the hall, she was greeted by her neighbor, Chester. She smiled and waved at him as she headed out.
Shell was on her way to meet Duncan at their usual place, the doughnut shop near the former site of EMA headquarters. Shell had been the faithful corporate type until EMA headquarters was destroyed two years ago. The incident had started a chain of events that left Shell somewhat traumatized but allowed her to meet several interesting people along the way, including Duncan. Now that Shell was a freelance hacker like Duncan, she lived a live of greater freedom than she previously had.
Shell arrived at the doughnut shop and waved at Duncan, who was sitting in his usual spot in the back of the store. She sat down across from him at the table.
"Did you hear that the adepts are getting their powers back?" asked Shell.
"Yes, and they're just as baffled about it as they were when their powers disappeared," replied Duncan.
"Crazy," said Shell. "Nobody's been able to come up with a workable theory."
Duncan ate a doughnut while Shell ordered a cup of coffee. "So," said Shell, "We have any new jobs lined up?"
Duncan shook his head. "Not right now," he replied. "I have been researching something else, though. There's a radio signal coming from somewhere out beyond the moon's orbit. It hasn't been traced to any known satellites, stations, or spacecraft."
"Oh?" said Shell. "What kind of signal?"
Duncan shrugged. "It's almost like random noise but it has pseudo-random characteristics," he replied. "I was up half the night analyzing it. There's something peculiarly familiar about it but I don't know what."
Shell scratched her head and sipped her coffee. "Odd. Do you know when it started?"
Duncan shook his head. "I have no way of knowing. I only discovered it last night."