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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Tales of the Cypherpunk 9

index

"Rich, boss! Rich!"

"You realize that this could be a suicide mission?"

"Rich?"

"Shy, it's a blind contract. Guaranteed expenses, yes. Money up front, great. Bonuses for getting shot at? An 'extreme anguish' clause? Those I'm not so thrilled about. We need to decide tonight what sort of preparations to make. What do you need on your end?"

"Guns. Lots of guns." Shilo nodded seriously at the boss.

Betty chimed in. "Shilo, no one has ever done anything like this."

"That's why it's going to work."

The two burst out laughing. Betty buried her face in her hands and and shook her curls. The boss sat there, silently, slowly turning red. The corners of his mouth struggled to break free of his iron self control. He opened his mouth to speak and quickly shut it.

Those present numbered six.
Shilo, the Cypher.
Betty, the Receptionist.
Daniel, the Producer.
Tyson, the Field Marshal.
Moe, the Analyst.
The boss.

It was Moe who spoke. Red, moist lips formed words with soft, round edges. "The top priorities are to find out who is acting and what their objective is. For this case, assuming negotiation fails, I'll need a live subject."

The boss turned to her. "Why do you think negotiation will fail?"

"Contact will probably be made by Shilo, which reduces the chance of success. More importantly, evidence indicates a zero-sum, winner-take-all game. The only successful compromise would involve the winner paying the loser more than the loser stands to gain from confrontation, statistically. If that compromise were possible, Jonas would be the first one to recognize the possibility. The open hostilities by both parties indicate that they each believe the odds to be in their favor, which would stall negotiations even if both parties were inclined to participate.

The obvious conclusion is that there are disincentives for loss on the scale of total organizational destruction. In that City Trust is a franchisee and the RDI branches are run as join partnerships, the potential scale of this event could range up to global corporate collapse. On the other hand, it could represent a power play by a local RDI executive. Failure by such an actor would mean, at best, industry blacklisting. Either way, since Jonas has apparently gained control of a vital asset, this is an existential crisis for Q. We can expect to face the entire resources available to Q, which makes the identity of Q paramount in determining our response." Dark red hair flowed over deep red cashmere. "There are no bounds on the level of Q."

Tyson gazed through her. "If Q were higher than local level, Jonas would hire more help, wouldn't he? He couldn't expect us to take on RDI International without any intel."

"Possibilities include: that he has violated Franchise policy and can't draw attention to the situation. That there are special circumstances pertaining to this situation. That he intends for RDI to win, thus eliminating third party knowledge of the transaction."

Moe's eyelashes fluttered and she glanced at Betty. "That this is a personal matter, which would introduce significant error potential into analysis efforts."

Shilo said, "We can't assume Jonas will make an error. He's an insurance agent. He's as close to homo economicus as you're gonna get. The fact that he's willing to make us rich-" he caught a warning glance from the boss- "means this is big money. I smelled it when I wrote the contract."

Daniel scritched in his notebook, then looked up at Moe. She sat to his right, on the corner of an ancient steel desk. "You need a live subject, huh. That it?"

"Yes." Her lips sealed together. One demure red pump hung from her toes and brushed Tyson's knee. To his right, the boss was in his "thinking mode," chin on fist. He faced Shilo and Betty, who was recomposing herself next to Daniel.

"And I need guns."

"No you don't."

Tyson raised his hand. "I need guns."

"How many?"

"Lots. Here's a list."

"Great. By the way, Shy, the motor pool is not happy with us lately."

"Why are you telling me this?"

"Just thought you'd be interested. Shy."

"More upgrades!" Betty said.

"Boss, does she need more-"

"Upgrades! Onegaiiiiii Dan-chama. Kudasai with sugar on top."

"She needs survivability, Dan. We were looking at some stuff that can seal arterial wounds, but I don't know if it would be better to go for one of those last-ditch things."

"I need super strength!"

Three voices shouted "No!" and for one moment the din was united. Betty folded her arms.

Daniel wrote. "I'll get her an appointment. Shy, do you need anything besides guns?"

"A flamethr-"

"No."

"I need a KTX-A33 size medium long, a thousand meters of I9 cable, an EOD van on standby, and the basic issue uniform and gear for RDI and Alpha Point. Also try to get an MX-80 in new condition. Also, put a rush on my general supply order. Also, I need twice as much of everything in inventory."

"See? Make a reasonable request and there's no problem."

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