I was waiting when the first of Dee’s “friends” arrived. I wasn’t sure how many to expect. I also wasn’t sure how far behind the CSO would be. Nobody had asked, but I felt they’d have a much better chance if I was here to take some heat off their backs.
Now there’s something I hadn’t thought I’d ever consider.
The first person through the warehouse door was tall, female, middle-aged. She seemed in surprisingly good shape given her hobbies. But that was just internal bias talking. No doubt none of the hackers really looked like they showed in the vids. Jet, for example, made you think pro wrestler before computer geek.
“Welcome to Outer Block Z-Gamma-Five,” I said, offering an open hand to the clearly nerve-wracked hacker. “Affectionately known as… well, it doesn’t actually have a nickname. I didn’t even know it existed until today.”
The woman’s eyes darted left and right and she maintained a deathgrip on her small satchel. “Who are you?” she snapped.
“Jake Hellard,” I said. “Got a bunch of titles, too, but they’re not really relevant right now. I think we have a mutual friend.”
“You talking about Dee?”
“One and the same,” I replied. “She should be joining us presently.” The woman’s gaze drifted over my shoulder. Made me nervous. I’m not used to being ignored.
“Well, well,” said Jet’s voice from behind me. “I’d recognize that voice anywhere. You’re a lot taller than I expected, Ace.”
“Jet? Holy -” Ace dropped her satchel and nearly tackled him for a hug. “You are not what I expected either. I am damn glad you’re here, though.”
Jet smiled an easy grin. “Thank my boss, here. He’s making all this happen.” Ace turned back to me, her eyes wary and speculating.
“Right. I guess the title Corporate Head has a bit of relevance here,” I said. “Persephone Industries. At least, for the moment. It remains to be seen if I’m anything at all once this plays out.”