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Monday, November 12, 2007

Tales of the Cypherpunk 7


"Shy, you know I like to let my operatives handle things as they see fit. You're the top man at the company. Some weeks you make more than I do. But I gotta tell you, I'm a little concerned about recent events. First, you get ambushed by a couple of cops. Day in the life. Then, we get in a shootout that costs upward of 6k and makes it onto the nightly news. It happens. But when my SISTER BETTY gets SHOT AT then we start to have a FUCKING PROBLEM!"

The boss suddenly screwed up his face and punched the van's wall with a clang. The fuzzy black composite wall cracked. The sheet metal underneath dented, then righted itself with a hollow 'pop'. The boss's black, slitlike eyes were wide open. The boss's pale, impassive face was flushed. Behind him, the driver glanced back at the sound.

Shilo and Betty sat on a bench at the back of the van, facing toward the boss. There were no cabinets or electronics, but there were olive drab harnesses on one wall and a drop-down bunk against the other. A recently used syringe and IV bag lay on the bunk.

Shilo rubbed his arm again. "I'm not real hot about it either. I think this might offend my sense of honor somehow. Yeah, well, maybe not. But what started all this was that cop wanting some woman back from Jonas. Now, call me crazy, but maybe this isn't just a personal thing. We need to find out who this woman is and come up with a new contract for Jonas. If we handle it right, we stand to make a lot of money off of this."

The boss clenched his jaw and brushed a lock of black hair out of his eyes. Jonas, their client, was the owner of the local City Trust insurance franchise. In the absence of any sort of industrial regulations or unified legal system, insurance had become the most important financial vehicle for managing risk. As such, City Trust and other banks now did almost 30% of their gross business in insurance. Profit margins were low, but it was safer than loans.

Financial companies, even franchisees like Jonas, were large and rich, but seldom targets. That's why Jonas could get by with a small, high-end firm like theirs to handle special operations. However, if something big went down, it wasn't covered by the base contract. Jonas would have to authorize any expenses over 30k per month.

Betty spoke up, for once. "These cops are from RDI. The local branch has 730 front line employees and a hundred and fifty support personnel, plus the executive team. They have been known to conduct joint operations with Blackwater and Alpha Point. Their banker is Bank of America. Their insurance is through the same. Arms suppliers are Colt and Allied Signal." Her blue eyes were flat and she looked as though she were reading from the sleeve of Shilo's jacket.

The van pulled into its spot and turned off.


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