“Close the door,” Commissioner Slaiton said. He stalked to his desk and sat down heavily. “Now start again. And try to keep your voice down.”

Secmaster Whent shuffled his ratty shoes on the carpet. He was everything the coms joked about in a security expert. Pale, oily hair, bionic eyes to replace the ones long ruined. No matter what Slaiton might think of him personally, though, he knew that he had earned the title.

“There’s been a breach past the tier one wall level,” Whent said. “With all the hallmarks of a Raid.”

Slaiton took a deep breath and tried to remember his anger management classes. “Past tier one? The Raiders have never gotten that far.”

“Yeah, I know. We’re all kind of wound up about it. Nothing too vital was stolen or broken. We think.”

“You think?” Slaiton growled. Why were there so many “experts” who didn’t know their jobs here?

“We’ve never seen a Raid get that deep. It’s pretty amazing, really.” Whent looked aside when Slaiton glared at him. “I mean, the Raid sim hasn’t changed in years. It’s still a pain, with the human element scrambling the counters, but we had a handle on it. Theft has been minimal and nonvital. Broken sectors could be reloaded from deeper backups. No problem.”

“What about the bank crash of twenty-three?” Slaiton asked.

“That’s old news. Raid sim plus some day-zero crap that we’ve fixed long since. Even that only lost what? A day?”

Slaiton grimaced at the idea of a only a day of system-wide financial transactions being trivial. The CSO had been in an uproar. There were a multitude of deaths among the megacorps that could be directly tied to the crash. Damn geek.

“So where’s this on that scale, then?” Slaiton asked.

“Nothing like that at all. Things are much better segmented now. Maybe a sector or two got accessed. Withdraw was almost immediate,” Whent said. “If I was to guess, I’d say they backed off as soon as they realized what they’d done. Maybe to celebrate. Maybe just scared to hell. Half the Raiders these days are teenagers. Barely know what they’re even doing.”

Slaiton spun around to stare out his favorite window. He focused on a distant tower and let out his breath heavily. “I expect a report every hour until you’re sure what was done and how. And I don’t need to tell you that you had better have a solution. Soon.”

“No sweat,” Whent said. The door clicked as he let himself out.