Chapter One, Part One
In an office sits an employee, black uniform with the insignia of a serpent in a shield, trying not to fidget under the scrutiny of the man who sat behind an overly large oak executive desk. This was his first time being called to the executive’s office since his hiring. His nervousness was due to the rumors of employees who told him that he was getting fired or worse. Sitting on a dais, the desk and man loomed over the net security officer. He felt as if he was being passed under a microscope. The executive’s dark brown eyes bored into the tech’s very soul. His hands grasped the leather armrests to keep from pounding on the desk.
“What do you mean you don’t know how he got it into our system?” The voice was controlled, but with the strain of someone trying not to lose his temper. His Mayan accent was thick, and his extra chin shook as he spoke.
“Is not our system secure?”
The pale man swallowed audibly, and his voice shook when he spoke. He shifted in his wooden seat, trying to find some comfort.
“Si, Jefe. It is secure. We have the best tech teams on the continent.” He swallowed again, took a deep breath, and continued. “We have never seen anyone like this man in our system before. He was fast. Faster than we have ever seen.”
El Jefe leaned forward to rest his arms on the desk. His expression turned to interest.
“Tell me more, Arjelio.”
“He seemed to call forth, almost summon, complex forms and programs to his aid with no lag at all. Not even our fastest coders could counter his moves. If you wish, we have system footage that I can send to you by the end of the day.”
“Make it so. I would like to see this person who has eluded my system security. You are dismissed.” Arjelio sighed relief as he headed to the door in rapid fashion. He didn’t want to give his boss a chance to change his mind about letting him continue his employment. The executive leaned back in his chair after the tech had left, and began to ponder what he just heard.
I wonder if he is one of these fabled cybermancers that I have heard about. If he is, I must find him, and study him. This will take time.
“All, I am saying Micheal is that you need to be careful. You keep taking these MayaTech Net runs, and they are going to find you. These people don’t play fair. The whole world does its best to avoid crossing their path, and you waltz right into their net security and back out like it’s a walk in the park.” Alicia fiddled with the tribal feathers in her hair before taking another sip of tea. The worry showed in her green eyes. Michael dismissed it, trying to make her feel better.
“Alicia, I know what I’m doing. If there is any danger, I can always make mirrors of myself and lead them on a goose chase.” Though he smiled, it did nothing to make her more at ease.
“Isn’t the security job RagingBear got you enough to cover your expenses? I thought he had put in a good word with Angel and got you a wiz biz op.”
“Wiz to a point. He also got me a stellar doss to flop in, but the pay is barely enough to cover the bills. I just need a monster data-steal to cement my cred.”
“Then you’ll stop?” Her whole face was waiting for a “yes”. He sighed.
“Net running is what I do, Alicia. Asking me to stop completely would be like me asking you to quit practicing medicine.” Her disappointment stung him.
“If you’re not going to stop net running, at least don’t go into MayaTech anymore.” He took her hands in his and looked into her eyes.
“This deal broker has me retained for one more run. After this, I won’t go anywhere near MayaTech.”
“Promise.” He kissed her hands and slotted his cred stick into the pay slot.
“I gotta go. Shift starts in a tick. Dinner tomorrow night?” Alicia looked at her watch and grabbed her things to leave.
Her sandy brown hair cascaded off her back when she leaned over.
“Working a graveyard?”
“Yup. Covering for someone who got dumped out last night.” Alicia winced. He smiled.
“Nothing major, just a headache. Going back to the clinic?”
She nodded as she flipped her shoulder-length hair into a wrap, being careful not to include the feathered bunch. Michael shook his head.
“Every time I see you do that, I wonder how you miss the feathers.” She let out a playful laugh.
“It’s a girl thing.” She gave him a peck on the cheek and made her way out of the coffee shop. He watched her walk out. What is wrong with me? I am supposed to be ‘playboy extraordinaire’. He shook his head and made his way to his apartment. I need a nap.
The executive looked over the footage. He knew enough of net security to understand that what the 40‘s jazz avatar was doing was not standard. It took nanoseconds for him to call up programs that the security team took seconds to load. Amazing. I’ve never seen such speed or talent. I have heard of people being able to call programs as a mage summons spirits, but this is astonishing. I believe this is the person for whom I’ve been searching.
Pushing a few buttons on his telecom, he relayed his requests to the receptionist who called the appropriate departments. If I can get his location, I can have him to study. I must have this person. A few moments later, three people entered the person’s office. All very different in appearance in dress, but with the same purpose. They each chose a chair, and sat in a semi-circle, waiting for the one who called them to join them. The large man pushed his wheeled chair to the last place in the circle. Nodding, all took out their hand-held interfaces. The executive punched a few keys, and all gazed at their tablets with mixed expressions.
“You see why I called you in for this meeting?” All nodded in acknowledgment. He looked at the woman to his left who was looking with astonishment. Her voice was filled with wonder.
“Could this be the cybermancer, Jose?” He smiled, the yellow of his teeth showed the amount of coffee and cigars he partakes.
“I believe this to be one, yes, Amelda. We have to find a way to trace his location and bring him here.” Expressions from eagerness to concern were seen around the small circle. The person sitting across from him stroked his goatee.
“He is bound to have friends, Jose. There may be repercussions.” Jose raised a brow.
“Are you saying that you will not be able to extricate him when the time comes, Julio?”
Julio looked put out. “Los Culibres are always prepared to do your bidding, Jose, and we will do so without fail.” Shaking his head, Jose smiled and raised a hand.
“I did not mean to ruffle your feathers, my friend.” He looked around at the others.
“We need to come up with a plan.” All looked down at their tablets and began to share ideas.