The streets had been cleared well before Slaiton’s ground vehicle roared through them. Less than an hour ago, the general search for Hellard had produced an anonymous tip. He had crept out to some anonymous warehouse of his in the outer reaches. Not only that, but several No-Man cards had used to buy hypers from throughout the city to the same general area. Lines that linked directly back to areas of high suspicion in the most recent assault.

They had the the bastard. Finally. No way was he weaseling out of this.

The CSO heavies pulled up with a screech at an unlabeled building of black metal. It was virtually indistinguishable from the others around it. A simple block-code above its door couldn’t even be read without the appropriate scanner and clearance. To Slaiton and the CSO, though, this was clearly the place. Slaiton smiled and gritted his teeth. He jumped out and commanded the door breech team to start their work.

And that’s when it started feeling fishy. The door wasn’t even locked. It slid open on motion sensors as the first of them approached. If Slaiton hadn’t been surrounded by a dozen special ops heavies, he would have given this serious reconsideration. There was no way Hellard would just booby trap the place, though, and starting a firefight wasn’t his style. Slaiton gave the signal and they marched in. He followed behind a few seconds later.

The warehouse was huge but quite full. Floor-to-ceiling server racks. New-gen CSO hardware, from what Slaiton had been told, ready for the big roll-out in the next phase. If they’d known Persephone was going to be such a problem, they never would have rented this place from them. But Hellard the Senior had always been a great ally. And Slaiton would make sure that Junior’s replacement was equally so.

There was a single desk with a half dozen terminals laid out at the front of the farm, hastily assembled. As Slaiton approached, Hellard spun around in his chair positioned behind it. Damn that man’s cocky smirk. He couldn’t even look properly scared when trapped in a corner.

“Corporate Head Hellard,” Slaiton said, satisfaction dripping from his voice. “You are under arrest by CSO authority for conspiracy and actuality in breaching the security of the Central Server. Your corporate immunity is hereby revoked until such time as a trial of your peers is conducted. I also know that you are harboring agents responsible for the recent attack and damage at this location. You will produce them at once or additional charges of obstruction and…”

Slaiton stopped. The man was still grinning. Damn him.

“Thank you for responding to my invitation, Commissioner Slaiton,” Hellard said. He rose from his chair easily, leaning against the desk. “We could have done this all remotely, but it always feels better face to face. Especially at such a rare and momentous occasion.”

“What. Are. You. Talking. About,” Slaiton growled. The heavies on either side of him shifted nervously.

“Today marks the start of a new corporation, sir,” Slaiton said. “Welcome to the birthplace of Samsoncorp.”