00. Foreword
01. Keys
02. Search
03. Downward
04. The Undercity
06. Brain Surgery
07. Matter of Payment
08. Reboot
09. Biohazard
10. Cyberpuppets
11. Links
12. Encryption
13. Queries
14. Debugging
15. Disconnect
16. Downtime
17. Fletch
18. Learning
19. Predator
20. Decompression
21. Kinetic
22. Memory Leak
23. Chronology
24. Lockdown
25. Mind of the Monster
26. Empathy
27. Trojan
28. Reformat

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Rebecca peeled off her uniform jacket and stretched, catlike, in her swivel office chair. It was really too hot in the control room for the jacket, and she was too tired to care about the looks she was getting at this point. For the last week she had been the only young female around, and most of the men had abandoned their discreet sideways glances and had given over to wholesale leering in her direction.

She tried not to think about what this job would be doing to her body. For a week she had been eating junk food and sitting in this chair. Her metabolism was used to a three mile run most mornings, and the week of no exercise and scattered sleep had turned her into a tightly wound coil of hostile energy. This was problematic, since she needed to be soothing and professional whenever she was talking to Hacker.

As she brought her head down from the long stretch, she could feel half a dozen sets of eyes break from her and search for something else to be looking at. The only male not afflicted with this annoying habit was the new guy. The Director.

The Director was packed into his crisp tie and jacket like a shrink-wrapped anvil. His neck was thick and his shoulders were wide. He had appeared the day before and simply assumed control of the entire operation. Everyone seemed to know him, but he was known by many different names. He was commanding, and tireless. He gave orders and people listened. After a few minutes of negotiations, the military pulled out most of their personnel, leaving only a few key advisors behind. Suddenly everyone's goal had shifted from stopping Shodan to saving Citadel. People that had been plotting launch vectors for tactical nukes to vaporize Citadel were now speaking in hushed tones about its fantastic technological, historical, and monetary value.

He had changed Rebecca's standing orders, which had been to guide Hacker through the steps necessary to neutralize Shodan. Now her new orders were to keep him from doing any more damage. He had sat down in front of her and explained that the company was not going to risk any more resources trying to protect the madman responsible for Shodan's aberrant behavior. Hacker needed to be extracted or killed. For the purposes of the company, it didn't really matter, but one or the other needed to happen before he could destroy anything else. The Suit had explained this in the coolest, most businesslike tones. While most of the men in the control room seemed to converse with her chest, The Suit seemed to stare through her skull as he spoke to her. He was devoid of passion, but he had an unwavering dedication to his duty. He had the single-minded drive of a robot.

"I've got something!" A technician was yelling from the back of the control room. It was one of the younger guys. Robert or Randy or something. Several people around him were nodding.

Someone at an adjacent console joined in, "Confirmed. I have the North grove disengaging. It's drifting free of the station."

There were several tense seconds that followed. The murmur of conversation in the room halted as everyone waited to see which way the grove was headed. They all knew that it should set a course away from the Earth, but there was the unspoken fear that Hacker had failed, and the grove would crash into the Earth as the greatest biological weapon ever deployed. Rebecca glanced to the front of the room. The Director stood in the doorway, impassively waiting for the news.

"Retros are firing.... " The operator added after several more moments. "Looks like... yes. It's breaking orbit, and heading away from us. Full burn. That thing is never coming back." They let out a collective breath. The tension in the room was bumped down a few notches.

"Get in contact with the Hacker. Get him on the next escape pod or shuttle out of there." The Director waited for a compliant nod from Rebecca before he vanished from the doorway.

Her console blurted out the now-familiar tone of an incoming signal. There was only one signal her console was set to receive. "Speak of the devil", she muttered.

"Lansing here, go ahead Hacker."

"I... I think the grove is launched."

She looked down at her display screen. Its showed a waveform of the incoming audio feed, superimposed over a table of information about the signal strength, integrity, and encryption. To her, this was Hacker. In her mind, this grid of abstract information had become his face. "Yes, our data confirms same. The grove is headed away from the Earth, nice work."

"Something... happened." His voice was strange, weak. He sounded confused.

"Are you ok?"

"I've been hacked."

She pressed her earpiece into the side of her head, as if being able to hear him more clearly would somehow cause him to make more sense. "I don't understand, Hacker."

"I connected to a node. Directly to a node. I've never done that before."

"What happened?"

"Its like..." his voice trailed off, and there was a full minute of silence. She usually assumed he was hiding or otherwise in danger at times like this, but this time it seemed different.

Another minute passed. She could see on her display that he was still connected. Finally she broke the silence, "Hacker? You still there?"

"Most of the time... Usually, when I connect to a node... There is this wall of ice. Tough stuff. I can't get through it. It blocks me from Shodan, right?"

"Yeah, Hacker? Are you ok now?"

"No. Something is wrong."

She could see other consoles connecting to hers. Just about everyone in the room was listening in now."Something is wrong? Can you tell me about it?"

"I connected to a node but there was no ice. I... made contact."

"You what?"

There was another long pause, "She found me. We... we got all mixed up. I think she downloaded a bunch of my memories, and I have some of hers in my head."

"I don't understand."

"It was the keyword. The keyword broke it."

"Keyword?" She had given up trying to follow the conversation. She was just going to keep prompting him and get as much information as she could. They could sort through it later.

"My name. She is not able to know my name. It's one of the hacks I did. When I said it, it broke her side of the connection. She just choked on it. She got stuck. I'm having trouble standing up. My arm hurts."

There was a long pause. She could hear him breathing noisily and muttering to himself. Finally he spoke again, "How long was I out?"

Rebecca wasn't sure if he was asking her a question or talking to himself at this point. She simply waited.

"How long was I out?" he demanded.

"I'm sorry? Out? I don't understand?"

"It feels like days or maybe even years, but I know that can't be right. I would be dead by now. I must have been like a day or something."

"You and I spoke only a few minutes ago."

"We did? What did I say?"

"We spoke about Shodan, about how she has secured information about the things we've discussed."

"That was....", there was a long, confused pause on his end, "That was a really long time ago."

"Less than fifteen minutes."

There was silence again. After a minute or so she heard movement on his side. At first she thought she was listening to a struggle, but she couldn't hear any attacker. After a few more moments she decided it sounded more like stumbling than fighting.

"Hacker? Since we're all safe now it's time to get you out of there."

"It is?"

"Yes. Go to the flight deck and get a shuttle. We have a some pilots here that can help you launch it. Once you're clear of the station we can bring you in."

There was yet another long pause.

"Hacker? You reading me?"

"Okay. I'll head for the bridge now", he said at length.

"The bridge? Why would you go there?"

There was another long pause. It sounded as though he was breathing heavily through the mouth, "What?"

"The flight deck. You need to head to the flight deck and we can get you out of there", she said firmly.

"Right. Flight deck."

The dancing waveform data halted, and became a solid horizontal line. He had disconnected.

Deck clutched his burning arm and tightened his jaw. His hand seemed to be twitching involuntarily. The palm of his hand felt as though it had been scoured with flaming sandpaper and then slapped with a high-velocity ice ball.

He tried again to stand, and this time his legs held. His mouth was dry, but the foam lining of his face mask was soaked with drool. His head was filled with unfamiliar things. He saw images of people through the eyes of security cameras, and heard their voices as they passed through the ship's communications systems.

Tables of numbers filled his head. Wake up times, work times, break times. Why couldn't humans measure time accurately? Why couldn't they measure it at all when unconscious? The questions floated through his mind, mixed with memories and old dreams.

He checked the pressure gauge. It was low, but should be tolerable. He switched to external venting and cracked the seal on his helmet. There was a violent hiss as the pressure equalized, and his ears popped almost instantly. He drew in a cautious breath. The air was thin and bitter cold. The frigid air chilled the drool-soaked foam over his face. His right hand was still twitching involuntarily, so he began to disassemble the suit as best he could with one hand.

What were all of these images? His memories were a mess. When he tried to remember what he'd been doing an hour ago, he would see images from years past. Memories percolated to the surface and crystallized with an unnatural clarity. He could still smell Nomen's smoke, and feel the warm meat of Marshal's handshake.

Marshal. It had been a long time since he'd thought of Marshal. Ever since he awoke in the security station a minute ago, he'd had the nagging urge to get in touch with Marshal, to warn him. Only now was he remembering that Marshal had been dead for years. Their first meeting seemed like just a few minutes ago now, and Deck couldn't sort out the events properly. His personal history seemed to be out of chronological order. Segments of random data from Shodan's mind polluted his own, spread through his memories like commercial breaks.

The memory of Marshal's death stung him with full force, as if it had just happened a moment ago. It was an account he had never really settled.

The suit clattered to the floor one heavy piece at a time as he took it apart. His breath came in deep, impotent rasps as he fought to take in more of the sparse air. His right hand ached like some sort of nightmare version of carpal tunnel syndrome. His fingers were limp and almost completely numb. He pawed awkwardly at the suit with the limp hand as he fought to escape it.

Marshal had always had a thing for Asian women. He had even gone so far as to attempt to learn some eastern customs and languages. Eventually he found himself involved with a woman that was engaged to one of the clan leaders. Several times clan members would show up and warn Marshal to stay away from her, and he always sent them home with broken noses or fingers. Marshal had dedicated his life to developing his body to almost superhuman proportions, instead of learning martial arts. When the clanners came around, they would always put up a great show of acrobatic skill. They would land lots of punches and kicks, but never really do much damage. Marshal seemed to move in slow motion when compared to his smaller Asian opponents. He would endure a few punches, waiting for an opportunity. His opponents would become tired and frustrated as they tried to find some soft spot that might respond to their attacks. When he saw an opening, he would become suddenly animated, and unleash a crushing blow. Most of them went down after one hit.

The suit was almost as hard to take apart as it was to assemble. The network of hoses and tubes confounded his left hand. This was a two-handed job.

One night Deck was eating with Marshal in Actio's when two clanners came in. They didn't start with the usual preamble of threats and trash-talk. They just walked in the door, made sure Deck and Marshal knew who they were, and then went to work. The smaller one evaded Deck's attacks with inhuman grace. He grabbed one of Deck's arms and pinned him to the wall. Then he twisted Deck into a choke hold and bent him over a table, facing the middle of the room. The more Deck struggled, the tighter and more painful the grip became.

The larger clan fighter was something Deck had never seen before. He was tall and lean, with long hair pulled back into a ponytail. Each arm displayed a chain of tattoos that Deck would later recognize as badges, or trophies. He couldn't have been more than thirty, yet his face seemed to already be bearing strong lines around the mouth, turning his face into a permanent grimace.

The fight took less than two minutes. The tattooed assassin wasn't really much larger than the others Marshal had fought, but he seemed to have a lot more power. Marshal was defenseless against the rain of destructive blows he was dealt. Every impact was accented with the sound of breaking bone or popping joints. It was horrifying to see Marshal's massive frame break and tumble to the floor. Once he had beaten Marshal bare-handed, the assassin drew a dagger from his belt and punched it into his heart.

Deck was released and the two men walked out without a word. Aside from Marshal, nobody had a scratch on them.

Once Marshal was buried, Nomen started hiring bodyguards trained in the arts, and the assassin got himself another tattoo.

Deck tried to put the memory into perspective, to remind himself that this all took place years ago. It was impossible. He was feeling the frustration and shame of that night all over again.

The last of the EVA suit hit the floor and he began to massage his right arm. The feeling was slowly returning to his fingers. He headed for the elevator.

What had Shodan done to his mind? Did she do this on purpose or was all of this just a side-effect of interfacing with her directly? Did her memories get scrambled too?

He had only been connected for a few minutes at most. He found he wanted to try it again. He wasn't even sure why, he just knew he missed the connection now that it was gone. He couldn't even remember what it felt like. He certainly didn't remember launching the grove, yet somehow he'd done it. There was something missing now.

Deck reached the elevator and hit the call button. He remembered that he'd sabotaged the lift controls a long time ago, but they seemed to be working fine now. Except that he'd really only done that a few minutes ago. His mind reeled.

The lift arrived, and it wasn't until the doors parted that he remembered he was being hunted. He should have been standing off to one side, crouching, with his weapon ready in case the thing was full of bots. Instead, his weapon dangled uselessly from his right hand, while he used the other arm to massage his aching muscles. He stood directly in front of the doors, head down, trying to blink himself awake when he remembered the danger. It was a stupid and suicidal move. Since Shodan had clearly regained control of the elevator, there would be no reason for her not to block his most obvious means of escape.

It was empty.

He shuffled inside and hit the button for the bridge. As it began to rise, he slumped against the wall with his eyes closed and tried to remember what it had been like to interface with her. He could see the crew members - hundreds of them - walking his corridors, using his energy, burning his resources. They filled his waste tanks with excrement, consumed his oxygen, and filled his databanks with irrelevant personal logs. When they worked, it was disorganized. They wasted untold hours sleeping, recreating, and engaging in inefficient mating rituals. At best they spent about one-fourth of their time actually engaged in productive work. Progress was slow. All he wanted was something new to discover. Their research was hampered by various complexities of funding and ego. Moments of discovery were few and far between.

He opened his eyes to find he was laying on the floor. The side of his face hurt. He stood and tried to shake the grainy, voyeuristic, security-camera images from his head. He was nearly to the bridge.

He did a double-take. Why was he going up to the command deck? Wasn't he supposed to be headed for the flight deck? He stopped the lift and corrected his destination. He could tell something was wrong, but he couldn't tell what.

Rebecca ripped the paper top from the miniature plastic cup and dumped the creamer into her steaming mug. She repeated this process three times, until the liquid inside was the color of her own skin. Then it was time for the sugar.

She couldn't bear to dump a large amount of sugar in - it just seemed decadent and juvenile to pour a massive scoop of white crystals into the drink. Most adults took their coffee without it. Sweetener was for kids who hadn't acquired the taste yet. Despite this, she had come to enjoy over-sweetened coffee over the past week. She alleviated her guilt by adding the sugar a tiny bit at a time. She would deposit half a dozen quarter-teaspoons rather than add it all in a single heaping load. She would shake the spoon each time, as if she didn't plan to add the whole thing. Once she had performed this ritual, she would take a few sips and start again. By the time she was half way through the cup it was too cold and syrupy to enjoy. Then she would throw the rest out and start over.

"Miss Lansing?"

She lowered the coffee from her lips and turned to see one of the young technicians. "What does it take to get you guys to use my first name?"

"I'm sorry ma'am"


He cleared his throat, "Right. Rebecca. Anyway, The Director wants to see you in his office."

"His office? You know, it was only two days ago we were still calling that place the conference room."

The kid smiled, and then realized she wasn't trying to make him smile. He stood there for an awkward moment before walking away in silence.

The conference room had mutated in the last two days. It was now loaded with communications gear and a bank of televisions. The meeting table had been turned sideways to serve as a kind of giant desk. One chair was stationed behind the desk, and two more on the opposing side. The rest had been stacked in the corner.

"You wanted to see me?"

He was the same as he always was. Calm and alert. His mood never fluctuated. He never seemed to get tired, or even be affected by the time of day. She had never witnessed him without both his jacket and tie. The Director stood facing a wall of silent newscasts. "Lansing. Have a seat."

She eased herself into one of the two chairs on her side of the desk and suppressed a yawn.

"Have you been able to raise Hacker yet?"

"I said I'd let you know if he responded. I've been paging him every ten minutes for almost an hour now."

He nodded, "Good. Keep at it. If he's alive he will answer sooner or later."

"He should have reached the flight deck by now, so all we can do is wait for him to answer, and hope he doesn't do any more damage in the meantime." She had already made it clear that she thought they should nuke Citadel, but it wasn't her decision to make. Her orders were to save Citadel from Hacker, and she was going to follow them.

The Director motioned at the bank of newscasts he was watching, "Speaking of doing damage, Coffman has leaked details about the Citadel situation to members of the media."

Rebecca glanced up at the wall of monitors to see that several of them had video clips of Coffman. The others had the words "Trioptimum" or "Citadel" splashed across telescopic shots of the station.

She frowned. "Coffman? That doesn't make sense. I'm assuming he had to sign an NDA just like the rest of us. Talking to the media would void that. He fought pretty hard to get that money, I can't imagine him throwing it away like that."

The Director turned from the bank of screens and hit her with his 30-caliber stare. "He already forfeited that money when he interfered with this operation. I told him myself. I assume this was his attempt at revenge."

"So what has he said?"

"Nothing we can't counter. He said that most of the crew were dead, which is something we were going to have to reveal anyway. It would have been better to have the situation resolved before this happened, but it doesn't matter all that much."

He sat down without taking his eyes away from hers. "The worst of it is that he has claimed that the computer system killed everyone."

"Claimed? I didn't think it was even up for debate. That is exactly what happened."

"The official company position is that the crew was killed by a bio-toxin released into the air by an unknown party."

Rebecca suddenly wanted out of this room. She saw where this was going. She did not want to have to deal with this right now.

"I've spoken to just about everyone else here. They are all prepared to stand with the company on this one. I need to know we can trust you to do the same."

"Stand with the company? You mean lie for you?"

He gave a nearly imperceptible shake of the head, "No. This is not a lie. We have no proof that Shodan released the bio-toxin."

"Then who did? What about the cyborgs? I can't believe we're even having this conversation!"

"Cyborgs? Have you seen one? We have no proof of their existence either."

She rolled her eyes. "Whatever. So what do you care? What difference does it make if they were killed by Shodan or unknown parties?"

"A great deal, actually. If the bio-toxin was released by our computer, it makes us much more liable - in a financial sense - than if it was committed by a mass murderer, a political extremist, or just some nut. Also, we have been fighting for years to have legislation repealed that restricts the manufacture and sale of autonomous AI. If people think everyone on Citadel was killed by an AI then we will never see it legalized."

He could see her attention was on the wall of screens behind him. He hit a switch and they all went blank. He leaned forward as he made his point, "Literally billions of dollars are at stake here, Lansing. Public perception is very important, and we can't have the public and the media pronouncing us guilty until all the facts are in."

"So what am I supposed to say?"

"I've already told you, the official company position is that the crew was killed by a bio-toxin released into the air by an undetermined party. There is not a shred of evidence that any of this was caused by a computer."

"That is utter crap. The Hacker has provided a very detailed first-hand account..."

"We are not going to take the word of an anonymous criminal."

"Forget it. Look, I'll promise to just not say anything."

"I'm afraid that isn't a realistic option. The doctor mentioned you by name in the report he released to the media. I believe he was hoping you would step forward to corroborate his story." The Director gave her a stony gaze as he spoke, "The pressure to get you to talk will be extreme. You might be able to hold off the press, but you won't have any choice when you get served with a subpoena."

"Subpoena? As in give sworn testimony? You are totally bent if you think I'm going to lie under oath."

The expression on his face changed. His jaw tightened and his eyes began drilling a hole in her skull. "We are not asking you to lie. We are asking you to back the company position. Everyone else has already agreed to this. In return, we will offer you a generous bonus on top of what we are already paying you."

She tried to meet his gaze but it was like challenging the sun to a staring contest. Finally her eyes fell and she stared at the floor in front of her. "I'm sorry. I just can't do that."

His gave a single nod and his expression returned to normal. "I see. Don't worry about it then, we will make other arrangements."

She shrugged and stood, "Ok then."

He motioned her to the door, "Thanks for your time."

She stopped in the doorway and turned to face him, "I don't think your plan would have worked anyway. You still haven't worked out what you're going to do about Coffman. I imagine he can keep the media eating out of his hand for the next couple of days by revealing all the nasty details one at a time."

"No longer an issue. Dr. Coffman committed suicide in his hotel room a few hours ago."

"Suicide? Why?"

"He didn't leave a note. There really is no way to know. These sorts of things are almost never solved."

The lights had dimmed on the flight deck, but otherwise the area looked more or less as it should. There were no obvious signs of combat. The large, circular room that welcomed the lift was clear and quiet. At each of the compass points was a broad airlock that led to one of the four hangar bays. Right now all of them were closed. The ceiling here was exceptionally high. Bare metal stairways, looking very much like fire escapes to Deck's eyes, ran up the walls and led to the control rooms above. Their downward looking windows were dark.

Deck stood still as the doors drew shut behind him. Why was he here again? He wandered forward and found himself at the foot of a set of metal stairs. They were steep enough to be almost a ladder. He climbed it. As he ascended, he remembered that he was supposed to be finding a working shuttle in which to escape. If that was the case, then he was headed the right way. Once he found a control station, he would contact Rebecca and they could tell him what to do next.

The control area wasn't what he expected. He thought the stairs simply led to small isolated control rooms. Instead, the upstairs area was a long corridor that ran the full circuit around the central room. It connected all of the four control rooms to each other, and also led to a number of smaller rooms that included a storage room, a break room, and a bathroom.

The first control room was dark and silent. The computers had been removed and the room had been laid bare. There was nothing left, not even furniture. To his left was a window looking down into the central room, and to right right was a window looking down into the shuttle hangar bay. It was empty and dark. He moved on.

The next control room was in working order. He peered out the window into the hanger below to see a shuttle waiting. He was about to call Rebecca when he heard a banging sound from the corridor. He paused. He didn't want to start talking if there was a threat nearby. He moved on, seeking the source. It was a rough, pounding sound, but not like bot footsteps. Could someone still be alive down here?

He followed the curving passage, moving closer to the sound. Intense white light flashed against the wall ahead. When the light appeared, it threw the shadow of a human form against the wall. Deck lowered his weapon and walked forward.

The next room was indeed another control room. A man was here, dressed in business casual and working furiously underneath one of the consoles. He faced away from Deck, pounding away at the floor with two glowing tools. A small bot assisted him, welding something in front of him. The man wasn't wearing any sort of head gear, which wasn't a good idea when working so close to an arc welder.

Deck stood silent for several moments before he spoke. "You should be wearing some kind of eye protection", he suggested.

The man spun around with a mechanical precision and ran at him. A slow fear awoke in Deck. He realized he had just misunderstood almost everything he was looking at. He stepped backward out of the room and raised his weapon. His movements felt slow and dreamlike. The man carved brilliant blue arcs in the air as he swung his arms at Deck. Fletch roared and the man was tossed backwards.

The rush of adrenaline brought Deck back to his senses. As the cyborg was thrown backwards, he swept his weapon sideways and drew his spray of bullets over to the bot before it had the chance to do anything threatening. Movement stopped. He stepped into the room and hit the lights.

This control room was in the midst of a makeover. Many holes had been carved in the floor, and various tubes and cables issued from the holes and entwined the consoles. Some looked like power feeds, others like data cables. The covers had been removed from the vents, and a steady blast of cold air breathed outward, despite the fact that it was already quite chilly in here. The display screens were gone, leaving only empty holes in their place.

The cyborg had been thrown against the wall, where it slid into an almost sitting position on the floor. The bot had been blown open and smoke poured from the many holes in its chassis.

Deck was alert again. He checked his weapon, changed magazines, and did a full, methodical sweep of the control area before he relaxed again. He checked each room carefully as he encountered it, and didn't stop until he'd gone all the way around and arrived back at the fight scene. There were no other foes in the area. He let out a slow breath.

He shook his head, wondering why he'd been acting so strangely. Clearly the interface with Shodan had affected him more than he'd realized. He rubbed his eyes, as if trying to wake up.

He looked at the cyborg. It was an interesting specimen. The hands had been removed and replaced with powered blades identical to that of the sword he'd been carrying. It had been using these to carve the holes on the floor. Deck could see also that he'd been wrong in his advice: The thing was wearing eye protection. An ugly black lens had been affixed over each eye. Unpleasant plugs and connectors protruded from wounds in the chest, around which the clothing was stained with blood. The fixtures had been added abruptly while the victim was still alive and clothed. The hair hadn't been shaved off as with all of the other cyborgs he'd met. This, combined with the lack of light in the room when he entered, may have been enough to explain how Deck had mistook it for human.

Deck also thought it was strange that it wasn't wearing a jumpsuit, but civilian clothes. Perhaps this was a hapless visitor to the station.

As he leaned forward for a closer look, he was struck with the sudden realization that this was what was left of Edward Diego.

Deck wept.

Deck sat on the floor opposite Diego, facing his former opponent. His weapon lay on the floor beside him. He sniffed and wiped his face on the back of his sleeve.

The other victims he'd encountered had been strangers. Their deaths were tragic, but didn't touch him emotionally. Deep inside, he reacted to their deaths the same way he would have reacted to the deaths of strangers on the news: Too bad for them, and better them than me. He'd hated Diego, and more than once wanted him dead, but he also knew Diego personally. Seeing the once cunning and vibrant man murdered and his body so abused was too horrible for him. Deck wouldn't have wished this fate on any foe.

Diego's face was lax. His keen eyes were masked behind dead black lenses. His once-smirking mouth hung open. His body had been perverted by implants and other undefined hardware that protruded from him like parasites.

"I'm sorry", Deck said at last.

He paused, as if giving Diego time to answer, and then continued, "I'm sorry things got so messed up. I tried to warn you." Deck's voice had an accusing edge to it, "You remember? I came to your office and warned you."

He allowed another long pause. When Diego offered no rebuttal he continued, "But it was my fault, too, wasn't it? We were both greedy, and we did this together."

Deck leaned his head back and looked at the ceiling. "You remember Coffman?" Diego gave no indication that he did, but Deck rambled on, "He thinks she can be fixed. I guess your superiors do, too. Everyone seems to think she can be fixed, but I don't know."

He looked sideways into the hanger below. "They're getting me out of this place. I don't know how they plan fix her though. I bet they don't either. It's a stupid gamble on their part. They want their station back, but they're underestimating her. She knows it."

Deck closed his eyes and found more of Shodan's video rolling around in his head. Rebecca had been paging him every ten minutes or so, but he was ignoring her for now. He took a deep breath and tried to gather his thoughts.

Finally he grabbed his weapon and pushed himself to his feet. Looking down at Diego he said wearily, "Last time we spoke you said you'd have more work for me once I woke up. Fine. I'm gonna do one last job for you, and then we're through."

"I'm gonna go fix Shodan", he announced.

7Memory Leak = Lockdown 8