2034-02-26 1130LT Kevin Breaks Cover
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|Event: 2034-02-26 1130LT Kevin Breaks Cover|
|Kevin, Aurora Smith||Umbra|
|Caused By||Cause Of|
|On This Day|
Kevin sat in the booth, waiting for what he hoped would be a life-changing meeting. He still didn’t like Syd, but had to admit that the cringing little man was good at moving things around under the radar. The ride from the Office to Umbra had been just as smooth and anonymous as the ride out last night.
His AR whispered, °1150h° in his ear just as a person-sized portion of the white mist turned red. Here we go, he thought. He reached a hand through the privacy shield. A small hand took his.
The mist faded to white and flowed back to reveal a small, pretty brunette with delicate features. Her piercing blue eyes took in Kevin for a long moment, then widened in recognition. “My, my, Mr. McCallum.” Her soft, almost girlish voice was amused. “It seems your death didn’t take.” She released his hand.
He began to stand, but she waved him back down and took a seat on the other side of the booth. “What brings you to my colony?” She sounded curious at a surprise visit from an old friend.
Friends it is then, Kevin thought. “I’d like to survive what’s coming. I didn’t see a way for Jackson McCallum to avoid all the contracts I know about, let alone the ones I haven’t found out about. I thought the smart play was to get out before it all goes south.” “And you thought I would help you out of the goodness of my heart?”
He reached into the breast pocket of his jacket and pulled out a data crystal. “Part one,” he said, setting it on the table in front of her.
“It is an interesting day,” she said. She seemed genuinely pleased as she covered it with her palm. She turned her hand over as the crystal sank into her cybernetic flesh. “A moment,” she said.
Kevin sat in silence while she sorted through the information on the crystal, watching her carefully. Her smile, the warmth in her voice, it all seemed so completely genuine. Years ago, when he’d first met her at a trade conference, the brief included a warning: “Do not trust her no matter how pleasant she appears. She will smilefuck you.” He had scoffed at the unbusinesslike text at the time.
When she spoke again her expression and tone was serious. “How exactly do you expect to survive giving me this?” she asked. “Forget what Lockheed Martin will do to you when they find out you’ve given Boeing a nearly complete rundown of their strategy and tactics for the corporate war to come. You’ve somehow evaded my own security for sixteen days. I really should take you in for processing.”
The lack of any threatening tone made her remark even more chilling. He didn’t know a lot about what the Boeing Lunar Ultraviolet Research Facility did, but he was certain that if he went in as a subject he would not come out at all. “Part two, is my insurance,” he said. “You may have noticed that none of the plans related to you being targeted are included. Once I work for you with a clean identity and your protection I’ll be happy to deliver those plans.”
She leaned back, cocking her head slightly. “I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that I can’t torture that information out of you.” She thought some more. “I don’t see you having a way to kill me, either.”
“Kill you?” Kevin scoffed. “I want to use you as an ablative shield. You can’t do that dead.”
She smiled again. “Your information is quite good, as far as it goes, Mr. McCallum,” she said. “I have some things to attend to this afternoon. Come to my office at five. I think you will find that there are plans in motion that were well above your pay grade.” She slid out from the booth gracefully. “We may need to change that.” She reached out a hand. They shook briefly. She turned, stepped into the mist, and was gone.
That could have gone worse, he thought to himself. He pressed the virtual button to turn off the privacy shield. Instead of clearing, the field rapidly darkened to a roiling black cloud, like ink in water.
“The fuck?” That was a new one for Kevin.
Large red letters faded into view:
REMAIN HERE FOR 60s TO AVOID PRIVACY VIOLATION.
By the time he’d read the message it was already counting down. He wasn’t sure what the insubstantial field of tiny machines could do to him if he ignored them, but he realized that Aurora Smith would be one of the parties who’s privacy he would be breaking. He tried to sit harder. She was intimidating.