The creature that dragged itself into Slaiton’s office barely resembled the cocky Secmaster that had briefed him weeks ago. Slaiton had gotten regular updates, as requested, but Whent and his team had stayed deeply entrenched in their lair to work the problem. None of the news had been good.
Slaiton had prepared himself to berate Whent for incompetence, but a single glance told him that this was a man who had been pushing himself past every limit for his work. His hair was a single matted mess. His clothes had likely not been changed in a week, judging from the smell. One of his eyes was on the fritz, glancing this way and that, occasionally flickering.
Perhaps the lecture would wait, this once.
“Sit down, Secmaster,” Slaiton said. “And tell me the news.”
“We-we… we’re trying. The breaches have been regular. Once, twice a day. They’re Raids, no question. None at all. But it started changing. Quickly. We patched the gap from the first breach, quick as… quick as… something real quick. Next day, it was different. Human component’s been ampl – ampli – gotten bigger. Faster. Faster than us.”
“I’ve seen the reports. They’ve gotten past tier three?”
Whent nodded, his head slewing side to side with the motion. There were all the symptoms of stim OD on him. Slaiton wondered when he last slept. “Getting into the real stuff, now. Low-sec corp vaults. Things people’d pay real money for. Things that could really hurt. I’m guessing the corps aren’t happy.”
“Fortunately, they don’t know yet. Nothing’s been publicly broadcast or leaked. It makes me wonder why the Raiders are doing this at all. I imagine it’s taking quite a concerted effort.”
“Just one group. Just one. Can’t track it down, either. Every trace leads to a dead-end. Right in the middle of a server. Sitting there, cut off. Like – like they’re taunting. No terminals to find.”
Damn. Persephone. Exactly like that trace to Persephone that Hellard had been so reluctant on. Policies were unclear on this. Technically, corporate sovereignty still applied. But there had never been a breach on Central this severe. Would the other corps sign off on a waiver? But to do that, he’d have to tell them what level of hell had been going on here.
“I have a new order for you, personally, Whent.”
“Whatever you need. Sure,” Whent replied. His words were starting to slur.
“Go home. Shower. Then go directly to a doctor. I do not want to see you back here for three days.”
“But – but – the team…”
“Call in Margo. She’s freelance, but I trust her. I know you do, too.”
Whent nodded again and shuffled out.
Damn it. Slaiton hated dealing with politics. He’d have to remember to get the chair cleaned, too.