The CyberCorp pyramid stretches above me in the dawn half-light like a technological tower of Babel, except this one is finished. It’s poking the gods. It’s the tallest building in the city, which is quite a feat in a city of this size, but what do you expect from the owners of the world? Or at least, the owners of everyone who’s ever touched a microchip. Well, boss, you better watch out now.

Even at this hour of the morning, the lobby of the CyberCorp headquarters is lighted and welcoming, colorful and ultra-modern. “Come in, we’re here for your benefit,” it’s trying to say. Well. I know better. You can’t fool an old private eye like me. I’ve been in the game way too long for that. The glass doors open automatically as I walk towards them and I get the feeling something is scanning me. Then a feminine robotic – but impressively expressive – voice says “Hello Visitor. Welcome to CyberCorp. Your world . . . plus.” Whatever. “Please state your business with the CyberCorp main offices.”

“I wanna talk to the board of directors.” What the hell, it’s worth a shot.

Something beeps quietly. “That is an invalid request at this time. I’m sorry, you may try back later. Is there anything else I can help you with today?”

Hmm . . . guess I never really thought about how exactly I could talk myself all the way to the top. Especially not to a damn AI. Must be why they don’t have a human receptionist, they get confused pretty easily sometimes. Charmed pretty easily too. AI’s on the other hand, that’s a little tougher. Then an idea strikes me. “My name is Jack Fenix, and I’m here to see Tess.” No way to know how she’s connected to CyberCorp, but my guess is that with her augmentations, she’s gotta be on the payroll.

“Processing . . .” says the AI. “One moment please.”

Something grabs me from behind. I try to struggle, but the grip is too tough, too hardy, too . . . mechanical.

      All I can do is surrender

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