CM1.04 - A Really Good Scapegoat

The Director doesn't mess around. "The AI should be rezzed and hungry. Let's see if it can pull its weight for once. Contact PacSubOne and req it. Copy to all stations so that they get updated."

"Sorry, ma'am." The tech swallows. "The AI's down." The tech's voice is quavering because he knows this is one too many sorry-ma'ams on such short notice and they are all gonna get fired, fired, fired. And getting fired from Security isn't what you might expect.

Or maybe it is. Depends on what kind of person you've become, darling.

"The AI's down?!" Bob has never known the Director to swear (he respects that a lot). But you can feel the tension rise. Any minute she's going to grab a technician by the throat and start swinging him at the other technicians.

Bob's got seniority here, though, and he saves them all.

"It's Punter, ma'am." And it really is, too. Sort of.


"Yes, ma'am. Looks like he's trying to disguise himself, but the cortical scan is Punter's--or part of it is, anyway."

See, Punter's really good, and he has a history at Roar-Sol. He's their devil, their nemesis, their fly-in-the-ointment. He's their Cain, their Judas Iscariot, their Benedict Arnold, their O.J., their Wanted-Dead-Or-Alive. And he makes a really good scapegoat. Not only that, but Bob knows that Habeas Punter and the Director go back a ways too.

A tracer means nothing to Punter, and she knows it. She swivels the mike on her headset up to her chin. "Dreff, Subcontractor 338-F. Emergency priority, Director's authority."

The dull, deliberate scrape of Dreff's voice comes through on audio feed. The Director rarely puts Dreff on visual. Bob's thankful for that.

"Yes, Director Vallejo?"

"Intruder on Data Storage. Any means necessary."

"My, my. It's rare that I get the honor of defending the integrity of an employer's archives." Dreff's voice drips with luscious, vicious irony. "I can't thank you enough for giving me so much to live for."

"Shut up, Dreff. It's Punter and it looks funny."

"Ah. Well, then. Any special requests?"

"Something big and nasty."

"No doubt. I hope your supervisors aren't too disappointed with your extravagances. It's been simply scrumptious to watch your meteoric rise. Dreff out."

"No, Dreff." The Director catches him before he signs off. "I want you patched in here."

"Oh, yes. I'd forgotten. You're the kind who likes to watch. Very well. I love an audience."

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