"You're some kind of cyborg," I say. Score one for subtlety, Jack.

She stares at me for a second, betraying no emotion. Then:

"Yes. The same nano-bots that are killing you make me run. The plague started as a side-effect of my creation."

"And they let you run around doing whatever you feel like?"

The glare goes stony. "Do you wish for my assistance, or do you not."

Well, I was being a bastard, I guess. “What do you know,” I ask, “about CyberCorp and the experiments they fund?”

“Not much,” she says, her eyes cold and motionless. “They have a way of keeping their secrets close to the vest.”

“Yeah, I can see that.” I need a lead. “Still though, you have to know something. Anything that might be useful, anything at all. I’m way over my head here, but if I don’t get to the bottom of all this, something terrible is going to happen, I can feel it.”

“You are most likely quite correct. I am sorry I cannot help you much, but I do have one piece of information you might find useful. A company called ImplantWorks is responsible for producing the technology used in the Prostheticore 101C experiment that created Drake. Their headquarters building is only a few blocks from here. You might be able to find something interesting there.”

“Hmm . . . maybe. I’ll check that out. Thanks.”

“Oh,” she says. I stop walking away and turn back to face her. “They’re also the primary suppliers of CyberCorp VR5 chip parts.” Very interesting indeed.

I hightail it to the ImplantWorks building. Gotta figure out how I’m gonna do this. Hell, I don’t even know what exactly I’m looking for. I figure I’ll just sit out in front of the building for a little while. Make sure I’m well hidden and see if anything happens. It’s surprisingly well lit and busy considering the late hour. Wonder what’s going on in there.

In one of the rooms on a mid-level floor, a man in a suit, apparently an executive of some sort, is talking on the phone to someone. An idea strikes me like a bullet. Most big organizations have separate networks for their tele/videophone system and their overall data storage system. Makes maintenance a lot easier, for one. Also brings down security costs, most of the time, because there’s no real need to permanently shield the phone lines from access – once a conversation is complete, it doesn’t become a piece of data on the network somewhere, it just disappears. So most companies skimp on the phone security system ‘cause it’s an almost foolproof cost-cutting measure. I jack into the Metascape and hope ImplantWorks is pinching its pennies.

I bring open the Metascape interface and search around for the command string controlling the ImplantWorks phone network. It doesn’t take to long for me to find it, sitting out in cyberspace all alone, with only a few measly links to the ImplantWorks main server. I switch to Interweb viewing and start hacking the firewall code surrounding it. Bingo. Never known a company to sacrifice more money when they figure less’ll do the job just as well. Guess they didn’t count on people like me.

Less than a minute later, I’m in. I switch back to Metascape and estimate the room number of the guy on the phone. Only two active phones at this time on the seventh floor, so I got a fifty-fifty chance. I go with option A.

“ . . . unreasonable to think that we could have that many VR5 coordinator chips done in such a short time.” I think I picked right. “I mean, There’s less than a day left until TRUscape launches, and with the huge demand caused by the nanovirus inhibitors that come bundled with the implant now, we have to have every goddamn factory in the country working overtime on this. This is going to destroy the company! We can’t survive at this level for much longer, I mean, 150 million VR5 implants have been sold in the last week alone, not even counting the month it’s been on the market before that. I can’t wait till tomorrow, and things calm down. CyberCorp is so focused on this launch, maybe we’ll actually have some time to rest afterwards.”

“Yeah baby,” says the other voice on the line. Female. “Look, ya getting so stressed out, baby, why doncha just come ovah in a little bit and I’ll relieve some of ya stress, eh? What do ya think?”

“I don’t know, I promised my wife I’d actually spend the night at home tonight. I mean, once this whole big VR5 thing is done, I’ll have a lot more time, and –”

“It don’t hafta be long, just a quick visit. Unless you want it to be . . .”

“Look, Penny I . . .” The man sighs. “Alright, fine. Fine. I’ll be over in half an hour.”

“Good boy,” she says, and the line goes dead. I jack out to see the man on the seventh floor stand up from his desk and walk out of the room. I think it’s time to go.

Something big’s going on with the launch of TRUscape tomorrow. And if it’s Cybercorp, it can’t be good. What do I do now?

      Go home, it’s been a long day.

      Go see a guy I know who’ll have some more info on CyberCorp.

I couldn't take it anymore. I called it off.