Themis Project. Where had he heard that name before? Right, the software they used in museums. It was used to determine the authenticity of artifacts using its advanced computer vision techniques. But what was it doing here?
Nico couldn't believe what he was seeing. Themis Project - Confidential blinked on the screen in bold text. It was upgrade day, the day when he trudged around the loud, sweaty server room and updated all the software. Just another boring day at Orion Enterprise Systems. Or at least, it should have been.
Today was different, though. Someone left a terminal open at his usual station.
"Hello?" He called as he looked around. Who would have left this here? It was as if they had run off in a hurry. "Hello?" Nico called again. No one answered.
Higher than normal traffic on some of the servers triggered the yearly security audit, and here was strike number one. Never leave a logged-in terminal unattended.
It was a routine enough task, the audit. There was usually nothing wrong, just a program someone forgot to close or someone's code running in an infinite loop. This was different. Nico's senses tingled at the word Confidential. What had he stumbled upon?
Taking a deep breath, Nico clicked on the folder. Just a peek, he promised himself. It was halting the shutdown process, after all. The smart thing to do was to kill it. He'd apply the necessary updates, finish his audit, and be on his way.
Nico flipped to a new page in his notepad and marked down Unauthorized Software with a swipe of his pen. He glanced back at the screen. Maybe one of the interns installed it by mistake. He prepared to close the window and deliver his report when he noticed a filename out of the corner of his eye.
Currency scans. Deposit slips. Output and log files. What was all this? Nico's curiosity got the best of him as he delved deeper. Who would have left all this here?
Before he knew what he was doing, he was several folders deep.
Themis determined real artifacts from fakes. Nico remembered that much from a summer job at the museum, back when he was in college. What if it could also be used to detect real currency? No reason why not. Archivists uploaded images of real artifacts to train the system, and through machine learning the system could classify what was authentic and what wasn't.
Only...this wasn't the system he remembered from all those summers ago. This was different, and much more powerful.
Nico tapped more commands into the terminal and a process list spilled across the screen. There was the culprit. A process churned through the available memory of the server as he watched and spilled into swap space. What the hell was it doing? And was it related to Themis?
His hand hovered over the kill command as a thought struck him.
Nico opened the file of currency scans again. He paged over to the output directory and compared the images. Usually, Themis didn't produce any output. It was designed to say yes or no to an image, not produce new ones. But the output folder disagreed. It too held images of currency. Had these been created by the Themis software?
The closer he looked, the closer the two files seemed. Nico clicked on one of the output files. A high-resolution image of a twenty-dollar bill filled the screen. Only...something was off about it. As he zoomed in, he noticed that some of the pixels were placed oddly. The intricate details on the dollar had been disrupted as if they'd been caught in a printer then spit back out.
Wait a second.
Whoever had installed Themis had modified it, and heavily. There was no way it should be able to generate images like this. He knew that at the research level, Themis was one of the top players in computer vision and fraud detection. But this was something else altogether. Miles ahead of any of the current capabilities.
He was so absorbed in the computer that when a firm hand clapped him on the shoulder, he tumbled from his seat with a yelp. The man yanked him upright by his sweater. Nico's eyes widened as he came face to face with Percy Wilson, the CEO of Orion Enterprise Systems. "Can I help you?" He choked out.
"Come with me, Mr. Wayfair," he growled, dragging Nico away from the computer and out of the room. "It appears you have something of mine."