The Offer

The moment Clare let go, Miela sank to the floor outside the UltraNet facility, uncaring of the risk of scratching the gold surfaces of her nodes. Clare knelt beside her – there ought to be protective covers over those optical ports... but that would take forever to apply and remove.

"You’ll damage something." Jaz would have been horrified. Miela didn’t react. "Is there somewhere safe you can lie down?"

"Wasting your time." Phil was impatient to move on. “Just leave her to recover.”

Clare tried softly patting Miela’s cheek. "Come on... just stand up... you’ll be fine…" She muttered assurances, repetitive and ever more inane. "Come on, stand up." Clare finally let her frustration out. "Or do I have to start polishing your nodes in public? How’s the static pickup with those fancy gold contacts? Do you get sparks shining down your fibre links?"

No response.

"I mean it." Miela stirred reluctantly but did not rise, so Clare buffed up the nodes at the bottom of her rib cage, careful circular motions with the sleeve cuff of her jacket... just don’t scratch the optical coating... you break it, you buy it... “I can do this all day.” The skin twitched slightly as the tiny static discharges fired minute nerve resonances near the implants.

"Stop. Stop now." A faintly mumbled protest. Miela was blushing again, but still slumped, immobile.

"Let me help." Phil hoisted Miela to her feet – he was stronger than he looked. "Come on Miela. Snap out of it. You’ve had bad disconnects before." He held her casually with one arm and fumbled a small device from his pocket – a silvery lozenge with the Coriolis Net Products logo on one face. Waving it like a bottle of smelling salts, he drifted the lozenge over her belly nodes, steadying her as each pass made her flinch, bucking as if he had slapped her.

"Generates random data pulses..." He held up the device briefly. "Sends a bit of a jolt down the line. Best thing for break-fever."

Miela was shuddering and moaning, a distressed puppet driven by random leakage from the nodes into her nervous system. Stray instructions flooded her processing beads, sending further confusing signals straight to her cortex.

"Enough. Stop." She was pleading with him, feebly trying to free herself. He continued to jolt her. Miela made a desperate effort and pulled free. "Bastard." She ran to the next door.

"You could have stopped sooner." Or are you a complete bastard?

"A matter of experience." Of arrogance and cruelty. "You can only be sure the break-fever is over when they have the strength and will to pull away."

"Oh." She forced acceptance into her tone, but she had seen his eyes, the laughing pleasure at causing pain. This really was the man who had clawed at her rep.

"Miela will be fine. Time to show you around. Start with the Enhancements lab. We’re working on some exciting things there. Possibly a serious alternative to some of the CyberLine products."

"Sounds good." And commercially valuable for Lilywhite.

"So, what did you do before working for Bob Critchley?"

It was an innocent enough question, but obviously fishing.

"Part of the DigiTart project."

"Fascinating. Tell me about it over dinner tonight." He opened another door and ushered her through, an overly familiar hand caressing her back.

She forced a smile. "Delighted." There was a job to do and a promised reward. Phil was just another punter, an unpleasant one she wouldn’t have taken on without serious incentive, but that was nothing new. "Why not join us at the King’s Arms?” It was time to turn on the charm and take that escape route to the Martian colonies. “Bob will slip away as soon as he can. He has an arrangement with one of the staff."

"Doesn’t look the type."

“No, I supposed not.” Task two, stop Bob from looking like a tit... that conflicted with task one, get Phil’s attention and take him down. "That’s why he has me. I made the booking for him. He needs to get out more."

"You know his tastes well enough?"

"I watched his eyes, Phil. It’s not difficult."

He laughed. "I can see why Lilywhite employed you.” Phil gestured ahead. “Come and meet Mitch, not that he says much at the moment."

Clare followed him into a medical facility, divided into two with an airlock and generous observation window. On the far side, a young man was suspended in a gel tank, dreaming in enforced sleep. A few trailing wires monitored basic heart and brain function, but nothing like the sort of attention expected from a major intensive care facility.

"What’s wrong with him?"

"Nothing's wrong. He’d be screaming in agony if he was conscious. There are micro-fabricators crawling under every last scrap of skin, building mesh, datapipes, neural interfaces. You name it, he’ll have it. The processor beads are already embedded. Diagnostics show about five percent hook up so far. Another month and he’ll be ready. Internal shielding around major organs is almost complete. Come through and take a closer look."

He tapped a number into the airlock controls and pulled the outer door open. Clare stepped in, Phil crowding her in the confined space. Unwanted hands slid around her waist, adjusting her jacket, an uncomfortable reminder of the way he had played with her rep. The same pattern, gentle touches escalating towards something more intrusive.

"Why the airlock?" Cool temptress. Don't pull away. Passive encouragement. Draw him in. Take him down...

"This is just a standard set-up. Mitch doesn’t need it." His hands rose higher, uninvited. "But sometimes we do more hazardous things."

The other door opened and Clare stepped out gratefully, but not too fast – the bait had to wriggle on the hook, not jump and run for it. She approached the tank and stared at Mitch. He had pale skin, modest but clearly defined muscles, hint of dimple in the one visible buttock. "Cute… what about the nodes?"

"Entirely subcutaneous..." Phil was proud of this piece of work, the first hint that he cared about anything. "Full coverage. Radio frequency or fibre if absolutely necessary. The fibres can extrude through the skin with almost no pain, but they need very special connectors. For low bandwidth, we can transmit directly through the skin to the fibres."

"All over subcutaneous mesh?" It was incredible. And exciting. "In a couple of months?" Madame had obliged with details of how long it had taken to embed Emily’s more limited mesh.

"Sure. Small areas in a matter of days. Before you leave we could do you an Emily…" he laughed, a lecherous chuckle. "You know about Emily Lilywhite’s… enhancements?" Clare nodded, matching his lewd humour with a careful smile. "We can do that on you at a fraction of the cost of DerMesh. Couple of days. Just a local anaesthetic – the fabricators are hell on the nerves. Moderate impact protected.... and full processor control over the shape of your breasts."

"I prefer manual control," she teased deliberately, not that Phil needed encouragement. "Is Mitch the only one?"

"A volunteer." Phil avoided the question. "The full body mesh is still experimental – very experimental. Limited area applications are something we’ve done plenty of. Getting towards applying for licences to use on a commercial basis."

Clare stepped close enough to rest her nose against the side of the tank and make out the reddening of Mitch’s skin as the micro-fabricators did their work. The temptation to knock on the glass... hey, mate, anyone home? "What does he do? Security?"

"Covert operations, I imagine." Phil crowded her at the tank. "We cleaned things up, but you can still see scar tissue across his shoulder. If you look closely, you’ll see it extends down his back. I have no idea how it happened and Mitch wouldn’t say."

"Amazing. Can you show me more?"

"More?" he teased. "Man’s only wearing support gel. What you see is what he’s got."

"I can see... but I always want more...” She tapped lightly on the tank. "Seriously thought, you know what I mean. I had no idea Lilywhite had people working on such sophisticated techniques."

He shrugged. "All good work, although Una would be the real prize if she were working properly. This submesh project is probably our second most exciting, so the show is all down hill from here."

"It’s all fascinating," she assured him. "I guess I’m more used to the artificial intelligence stuff."

"Ah. Yes. I consulted on some of the specifications for DigiTart." He flicked his gaze around as if looking for eavesdroppers. "Did they base any of the DigiTart simulations on you?"

It sounded like a perfectly innocent, salacious question, but she heard the ongoing fishing. He was suspicious of the coincidence of her name with his confessor. It was also a stupid question...

“Oh, come on... have you seen them?” Clare laughed it off. “I don’t have the breasts for it... or the figure... OK, maybe the legs... but I’m not exactly a glamour girl...” She put a conspiratorial hand on his arm and whispered, "I just provided some of the working background information. Besides, most of the reps are pretty tacky."

"I believe Emily did much of the design work."

Fuck you, Phil... He’d completely missed his cue to tell her she was gorgeous... and as for Emily...

"Yes, she did." Clare was dismissive. Look at me. Not a dull company girl. Not toeing the company line. Someone fun to play with...

"So much to talk about over dinner."

"Might take all night…" Offer, promise and question all rolled into one. "So what’s the matter with Una? No one explained anything." She shrugged helplessly. "Don’t even know what it is. I thought it was just another big AI project, but I suppose not…"

He gave her a long, hard stare, then carefully took her security pass from lapel of her jacket – groping her breast just flowed naturally with the moment, another deliberate invasion of her personal space.

“So what have we got?” He ran his finger over the summary strip to watch her security clearances scroll past.

The intimacy was offensive, even if she was deliberately inviting it.

He reattached the pass with another lingering, aggressive grope. “Impressive...”

"I grew that way," she retorted and and he froze, just for a moment before the innuendo sank in. A serious oh wow moment – he really had been more interested in reading her security summary than touching up her tits. That was even more offensive. "So? What’s Una all about?"

He recovered quickly. "More clearances than Bob Critchley, but you don’t know what’s going on."

Clare stroked her own finger along the card, randomly activating the display. "That’s the idea. I’m here to learn, so they told me nothing. Bob gave a few things away, nothing much."

"Cyberwar."

The word hung like a threat, a chilling promise of chaos. He was deliberately trying to throw her off balance.

"I know that much, but not who, or why, or where. How does UltraNet fit in?" She stared at Mitch, floating unconscious, enhancements growing invisibly under his skin. Just an experimental technique, or a gorewar specialist being hurriedly prepared for the expected conflict?

"UltraNet is a sentry system. It monitors net traffic, looking for hostile patterns."

"And crashes just before it's needed? Sounds a bit too convenient." Clare tried to slot the facts together, but still had to find a place for Phil in the scheme. His talk of killing his boss might have meant Una, so perhaps the computer wasn’t paranoid after all. It still made no sense.

"You think it was an opening shot?" He dismissed that with a laugh. "Possible, but I doubt it. Una is unlike any other sentry system. No one would know what she does. She’s utterly passive – just listens – completely undetectable and reaches all round the world. The quiet spider in the heart of a web of net-bots gathering data. The trick is to analyse the information and be able to give not only warnings but fast estimates of the physical locations of the aggressors."

"Sure?"

"No doubts," he said firmly, looking her in the eye. "I know Una as well as anyone, perhaps better than anyone. Miela, Bill, Matt – the enhanced operators – they don’t truly understand Una. Not even the designers understand the practical reality the way I do. Una is perfect and unique."

"That’s amazing..." And he claimed to understand the machine better than an operator who wired her brain directly into the system... total bullshit. He was either lying, or deluding himself. "So, what was Una doing when it went wrong? And how come Bob can get it to talk when you can’t? Who the hell is Octavia?"

"Una… deteriorated over the space of a week." Phil kept his face blank, not lying, not giving the whole truth. "There was no obvious cause."

And matching the time you were roughing up my rep?

"And Bob?"

He shrugged, a stiff, angry flexing of his shoulders. "You tell me. I’ve never heard of Octavia. A system designer, maybe? Low-level emergency access? Is that something Bob would know about?"

Deception and conspiracy were now entwined through her life. Phil was still a mystery, a piece without an obvious place in the puzzle and everything he said made it worse.

"If I figure it out, I’ll tell you," she promised.

"Thanks… what is Bob director of?"

Clare laughed uproariously and then slapped her hand over her mouth. There was no way she could wake Mitch from his anaesthesia, but it seemed disrespectful.

"I only work for him." Calder should have told her this. Her sparse briefing made her look incompetent. "No idea exactly what he does. Perhaps when I’ve been working for him for more than twenty-four hours I’ll find out…"

"Would you like to know?" he enquired, sly and provocative. “I have a pretty good idea...”

"So tell me. I’ve had enough of being in the dark."

It was as if she had just passed a test. Phil relaxed and gestured to the door. "One step at a time. I’ll show you the rest of the place."

"About Bob…" she hinted, stepping out of the room. It sounded as if Phil would only talk under the influence of orgasm.

"Amazing, isn’t he?" Phil sounded amused, but Clare wasn’t convinced. "Cracks Una in a matter of minutes. What does that tell you?"

"He’s a clever bugger. Or Octavia is."

"A message from Octavia. An interesting introduction." Phil paused, giving her an intense look, a violently charismatic air. "And one which worked incredibly well. The cyber equivalent of a perfect chat-up line."

"Compensates for his lack of skill with flesh and blood women." Clare struggled to follow whatever devious chain of thought Phil was building. There was no doubt that he was playing with her, trying to get under her skin as well as inside her clothes..

"I know of crackers who would kill for his sort of skill." He took both her hands and twirled her around in the corridor. "Think of Una as the prettiest girl in the bar…" Another twirl and then he drew her close. "Not a house girl… real class and she knows it. She isn’t for sale. She’s saving herself for that perfect man. A party girl, but just drinking and dancing. Defences honed to deflect any line until that man comes along – and Bob certainly isn’t the man she’s waiting for."

"But he takes her anyway." Clare twisted out of his grasp, teasing distanced, not rejection. The bastard was deliberately talking riddles... come on, give me the punchline...

He stopped at a door labelled ‘Testing 5’. "So what does that make Bob?"

"Bloody lucky?"

He laughed. "More than that." He pushed the door open. "You’ll like this."

Clare entered and stepped into a savage fight. The smells of a gym and the sharp slap of blows landing. She jerked back a step and then worked out her role was merely as spectator, safely behind a head-high polycarb safety barrier around a large, square room, a merging of classical gym and martial arts dojo. Most of the floor was padded, but the training area was cluttered with hanging bars, ropes, vaulting boxes and a tangle of climbing frames.

There were only two combatants, lunging and twisting, evenly matched. A tall, heavily built man in shorts and skin-tight Stellex pummelled at a short, muscular barrel in transparent bodysuit and glossy black armoured jockstrap. Slaps, kicks and punches rattled away, some parried and some landing without apparent harm. Clare tensed with each impact. Neither man was pulling his punches. On the far side, high up in the wall, three people monitored the fight from another of the ubiquitous observation rooms.

The lights went out, darkness broken by occasional flickering bursts, but the fight went on. Clare felt a moment of fear and stepped away from the training area. Phil steadied her, finding her unerringly in the dark. She deliberately settled into his arms.

"What the hell is going on?" she whispered, the question of Bob temporarily forgotten.

"Testing. The big guy is a trainee cybercop. The other one is a combat instructor. They’re both using experimental sensor nets. The stuff the instructor is using is as good as body armour for modest impacts, it lets the skin breathe and there are some clever tricks to minimise bruising. On a par with DerMesh but without the surgery time."

The lights brightened and Clare watched the fight continue, wondering how many nodes were needed to control the bodysuit. There were no visible signs of the interfaces.

Phil threw in a seemingly random question. "Tell me... at a time like this, why has Bob been sent to help sort out Una? Other than his obvious genius for cracking computers."

This was like trying to handle pushy clients at Hunter's, the sort that would crowd and hustle. Phil was keeping her off balance, angling towards his own agenda.

"Bob is…" Clare started answering on reflex and stopped. She still didn't know, and none of this was something to discuss in public... "Do those sensor nets enhance audio pickup?"

"They do. Let’s go to my office… unless you want to finish the tour first."

She pulled away from him, just enough to turn and look into his eyes. "Maybe later. I want to know about Bob."

He led her back out to the architectural glasshouse and through the fractal light show. The walls of his office were perfectly transparent, only revealed by the occasional smear left by the cleaners, and the complex lensing of the corners.

"Take a seat." He waved at the reassuringly solid, opaque furniture. "Office – obscure walls."

Clare sat as gentle swirls of light crawled up the glass walls until the view was completely tangled in the fluid shapes. Illusory windows appeared in the slow turbulence and settled into views of meadowland, idealised tranquillity.

"Latest snooper-poop technology. It muffles sound as well," he assured her. "So, do you know what Bob is now?"

"A top-notch cyber expert…" Clare tip-toed through her own ignorance, and whatever game Phil was playing. "A super-geek… Probably Lilywhite’s corporate hacker?"

"Almost there. Why do companies like Lilywhite employ hackers?"

What didn't they employ hackers for? Hackers, generically, were the ultimately flexible corporate resource – making, breaking, protecting, concealing... leading data and machines in a dance.

"Cyberwar expert." Who has terse conversations about cyberwar with his driver... "Breaks into systems without working up a sweat. Comes here when there’s a war looming.” Clare saw the answer he was pushing towards. “And Una is an important defence."

He ran his fingers over the desk terminal, replacing a meadow scene with a simple schematic. "Not a defence…" A part of the diagram was highlighted. "A warning system. Early on. When it matters most. Catch the attack here, and you can mount a defence. Normally, the first hints are when all your systems start breaking up…" The emphasis shifted across the graphic. "By then it’s probably too late. When Una was up and running, she picked out three minor skirmishes elsewhere in the world – just little commercial spats, but she got them in time for us to watch the whole thing. Cyberwars don’t start out of nowhere. Assets get moved into position first, and that’s what Una watches for."

"And Bob runs cyberwar for Lilywhite."

He nodded. "That’s my guess."

"Right…" Complete bullshit. Bob walked in and broke through Una’s reticence in moments – which had to be something prearranged. It was like watching Kyla work – there were days or weeks of preparation before the moment she did the break-in. Bob’s performance smelled of backdoors and dummy entries and tricks for creating false security records. There was no way you would deduce that Bob was a top cybersoldier from that. Unless, you already knew the answer. Phil had driven her to the conclusion he wanted, crowding and hustling…

"So what does it all mean?" Keep talking, sucker. I can pretend to be fooled and you spill everything you know. Just get close so I can take you down. "Why is Bob here? Is Una a first victim…"

"The best question of all. I have no idea. Watch and learn. Perhaps Miela will be able to tell us once she gets herself reconnected." His lips twisted into a wry smile. "What do you think of Miela? You were interested in her?"

"The nodes…" Clare shrugged – the truth made good bait, and she needed to keep wriggling on the hook until he bit properly. "I have a bit of a thing for enhanced people." Go on... make the offer again.

Phil moved to a workstation, waiting a few seconds for the display volume to stabilise. He ran his fingers over the keyboard and brought up a wire-frame display of a woman’s body, minutely annotated and tangled with multiple coloured lines and patches – just as Emily had displayed her cosmetic upgrades.

"Wow. A DreamVu… Emily has one of those terminals – only the TruVu model though…"

"Comes with the job," he assured her.

Clare didn’t bother to ask if he could use it to log on to DigiTart in full 3D interactive. She was afraid of the question and sure of the answer. Phil was dangerous and violent but the bait just had to keep wriggling and inviting until she had solid evidence to offer Calder.

"So, you’re interested in enhancements." Phil was suddenly a cheerful salesman, zooming the display in on the left side of the chest, showing the placement of nodes and links. "This is Miela’s body map. The white items are planned upgrades." He stroked the details to highlight them – almost the red clawing of her rep. "Matt is on a training course and Bill is currently out of action whilst his upgrades integrate properly, once they’re back online we can do these for Miela. Impressive, eh?"

“That’s a lot...” That’s way too much... could kill or paralyse if you get that wrong.... "I prefer the… look.” She moistened her lips. “I like the ...”

Wake up, girl. Just another job. Get in, get it done and get out without being caught.

"Sexual appeal." Phil finished her sentence for her and brought up an image of Miela, rotating and zooming in on various nodes. "A lot of people find her quite repulsive but to me she is… appealing."

Clare leant towards the image. "A bit of a turn-on..." With a shaking finger, she highlighted the nodes down the back of the image. Much too close together... “So many...”

"You need to learn to appreciate the depths of the beauty." He brought up the connection diagram again, the internal detail. "Look at the structure… the data paths… the computational complexity."

Clare stared at the tangle of nodes and links. If the enhancements were taken much further, the technology would outweigh the remaining body tissue. Miela was reaching the limit of enhancement without sacrificing internal organs. "Take out the left lung and half the liver – you could cram even more in." Or kill her...

Phil laughed. "Yeah. She’s pretty much packed to the limit. That’s part of the beauty. If you were designing her from scratch, things would be done differently. As it is, we have added and modified over the years. Scar tissue is becoming a limiting factor. I never cease to be amazed at what we have created." The display moved down to show a complex node array to be implemented in her buttocks – one of the few places she had left with room for expansion – and linked through a set of spinal nodes. "Have to do the subcutaneous mesh to protect the systems of course. After that, I doubt we can do much more. Even without the space limitation, Miela is getting too complex. To go forwards we would have to strip out everything and start again."

"That would be traumatic, surely?" Clare shivered – the police retired obsolete cybercops rather than try to re-wire them. It was just too dangerous. "Not just the scar tissue… I know people who use implants. They get very… integrated."

"She wouldn’t survive," he admitted. "Not with the current state of the techniques, and we can’t afford to lose her. Miela is a special case – probably the best operator we have. Working directly with systems as complex as Una require staff with extreme levels of processing directly interfaced to the brain. Just look what we’ve had to do to make it work. The ones to go in her arse will actually have high bandwidth fibre connects laid up along the spinal cord, and that’s risky enough. The space there is very tight and if the surgery goes wrong... I suppose we can always put her in a wheelchair."

"You can repair spinal cord damage, though..."

"Depends on the damage and scar tissue. There’s only so much a spinal bypass can do." He grinned suddenly. "But how about this…" The display cleared and shifted to show an upper torso diagram, a pair of multi-node clusters buried in a pair of breasts, a faint blue layer indicating subdermal mesh. "As much processing power as a top of the range cybercop. Almost no loss of body tissue. The mesh acts as a sensor net. Perfect for the high-flying female executive. Installed in under a week."

Clare would have accepted it instantly if Phil were trustworthy, and hadn’t just described the horrendously risky surgery he was planning for Miela. He didn't care, it was all cost-benefit analysis. And toys for the boys.

"How many have you done?" The buxom, enhanced escort she had met at Reception sprang to mind.

"Oh, none yet. A few prototype installations. Wanted to do it to Miela, but she refused – as if it would make much of a change to her wardrobe. It’s perfectly safe. All of the techniques have been proven individually, and implanting nodes in clusters is well established. Women just conveniently have a handy piece of body volume we can use… or expand." He eyed her up carefully. "Difficult to tell with that jacket on, but I imagine we could cram in a pretty large pair of clusters in you. Probably enough volume there already to give you a choice – stay as you are or go up a size."

Clare glanced at the spec on the screen. "And leave my nipples swinging below my waist with the extra weight."

"Not at all," he assured her. "That’s what the mesh is for. We create a few anchoring points… mostly ribs and clavicles. Holds everything up – although a set like this wouldn’t add much weight. Say the word and I’m sure Lilywhite would authorise you to field test the first one." He swung the desk terminal over to her. "Take a closer look."

Clare reached in and skimmed over the text annotations on the diagram. It was a tempting offer, and she knew that her overeager interest had been recognised. There was still the question of why Phil was giving her the opportunity – something to discuss with Calder. Every instinct told her that there was a hidden trap. The vicious little silver gadget he had used on Miela still stuck in her mind. He liked using that.

"What about the power cell and external connection?" The absence of the distinctive metallic nodes on the skin was a disappointment. It was the sexiest thing about Kyla, and the dangling chains emphasised their existence. Before meeting Phil, if someone had offered her a set of gold nodes like Miela’s, Clare would have said yes, no questions asked.

"Standard – unless you want something special. We can fit them safely in several bodily orifices if you want to hide it completely." It was a sales pitch – he really wanted her to say yes. "Or there is the latest technique that the Cybercops are using. Very clever and discreet."

"OK…" It was disappointing – Clare liked the look of the skin nodes. "If Lilywhite authorises it, you’ve got a test subject." There was plenty of time to change her mind – an unlikely scenario. Having her own processor implants was more valuable than how she looked in the mirror, and it was possible that this was part of Calder's plan. A difficult call to make – she wanted it too much, and so did Phil. "Will you talk to Calder, or should I do it?"

Phil was all smiles. "I’ll sort that out. Usual company channels. This is a sensitive subject, so I prefer to use known secure comms. Probably have an answer by this evening."

"Great." That was too fast. She skimmed the presentation to its title page and read the list of possible test subjects – five names each with a note of reason for rejection. Miela had backed out, another girl was noted as having insufficient available body volume, two more had shown problems rejecting mesh implants. The last one just recorded that Kyla Chamile was no longer available.

Clare stared. Pure coincidence, or something to tweak my interest?

"Is mesh rejection a common problem?" Don't stare at Kyla’s name.

"An early difficulty," he assured her smoothly.

"And this one? What does not available mean?" Come on, Phil. Let’s see some reaction.

"Not a company employee." His tone was perfectly level. "Chamile was a contractor. Ex-cybercop. She seemed ideal. She pulled out and we’ve heard nothing since."

He doesn’t know. "Well, maybe you’ve got me, now." Or he's a perfect liar.

The puzzle had changed completely. Kyla had been connected with Coriolis, had some knowledge of these new implants, new tech to build better cybercops. New tech to threaten cybercops. Dangerous stuff not yet available…

Except that their subdermal enhancements were already in use, whatever Phil said. Everything about the stocky woman who had escorted them from the gate screamed enhancement – and she had certainly had a sub-mesh of some sort. Would Coriolis have spent the time and money having her fitted out with a CyberLine DerMesh, or would they use their own product? Mitch, the experimental volunteer… that set-up had looked well-established, not a prototype.

Things were not all they appeared at Coriolis, but was that a few rogue projects, individuals stepping outside the rules, or was the company full-blown trouble? The worst case that Clare could imagine was Coriolis being the aggressor in the emerging cyberwar

No. The worst case was that the rot extended to the parent company, Lilywhite.

Clare closed the document. Time to be decisive. "Sorted then, if Calder approves. So, what are we going to do while Bob fixes Una?"

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