Deep Six: Taking it Back & Coda

     Combining last segment along with the coda because both are shortish compared to the rest. Figure why not. This is the last part, and if anyone's read all of this I'm both amazed and pleased. I feel this one's too weak a story to go on my first anthology but it'll make print sooner or later.


Part 8
Taking it Back
We were gathered in my motel room the night before the meeting was supposed to take place. Everyone called this a bad idea, and I would agree with them except that I didn’t know of another way to get this done. We couldn’t pull the same trick twice. I’m not sure why it worked the first time truth be told, but I don’t want to push it. Instead I plan on walking straight into the lion’s den. Me, and a nondescript black notebook.
Meanwhile Tanya will have ‘six and the armor on waiting as my backup. We’ve charged the batteries to full and it’ll last about six hours, give or take depending on how active she has to be. We’ve already tested the rig on her, which was a good idea since it helped her plan what to carry and work out the little bugs that always crop up.
Maybe I should have mentioned this part had come after another week so Tanya and the armor of strangeness could get acquainted with eachother and I was double sure it wouldn’t do anything screwy to my computer.
Miko and the others that came with me would be waiting here. If more than twelve hours passed without word they were to scatter. If Tanya or me called and said the wrong words they were to scatter. Worst case, in my estimation, was that they’d trade me for everyone else they’d taken. With me out of the picture what good were the rest? Of course that would all go on the slag heap if they decided to check and see what was inside the little black book I carried.

“Sir do you have an appointment?” The receptionist, thin guy maybe about mid-twenties or so, eyed me skeptically. Why not? I looked like an extra out of one of the Construct movies, black long coat, couple days of stubble, and a bit of an attitude.
“Tell your boss that Richard Guy Fawkes is here and he has the item he’s been asking after. Might want to tell him to call up a few extra suits.” I smiled and patted the laptop bag I was carrying.
The guy looked from me, to the bag, then back to me before buzzing me through. I tossed the guy a couple silver dollars as a tip. Yes they still make those, and yes I keep a few with me. I like coins better than paper money. Sue Me.
The office was actually something of a letdown. Boring cookie cutter furnishings, sparse decorations. Sure it all looked nice but it looked barren. Nothing like what I’d think of when asked to describe where a high level flunky from a multinational conspiracy would try impressing the Unwashed Masses.
“You look somewhat unimpressed Mister Fawkes.” Dark tan, grey eyes, looks too good to be natural. I smiled back. And settled into an offered chair. “I have to admit you and your associates gave us quite a chase, and I suspect if you wanted you would still keep us running ourselves ragged.”
I inclined my head to the man in a slight nod. “True, but there are too many lives at stake for matters to continue as they have been.” Let it never be said that I didn’t know how to get classy, or at least wordy. “I propose we end this. Everyone walks away. You let your hostages go. It gets settled. Now.”
“I see.” His smile never wavered. “And why should we meet your demands when we already have you in custody?” His tone was as bland as if he were discussing the weather instead of people’s lives. “I’ll admit your coming here and meting was a bold move. Pointless and counter-productive, but bold.”
To answer I unslung the laptop bag, set the loaner on the man’s desk and, after it booted, I opened what needed opening and slid it across the desk. He frowned at what he saw and said nothing for several long moments. I can’t be sure what was going through his mind, but I’m pretty sure he was wondering just what a person with the kind of training that’s on par with what most militaries give, equipped with a next generation powered armor and a map to where this man’s family lived would be capable of doing.
“So the minnow has found a way to swim with Sharks and survive.” I couldn’t tell if he was impressed, frightened, or if the whisper was intentionally loud enough for me to hear.
I pulled a cell phone out and offered it to him. “You can talk to her if you like. She’s,” I checked the time, “In Illinois right now. I believe she should get to your mother’s in about-”
“Enough!” For an infinitely small moment the man’s calm was gone, replaced by the sort of feral rage I’d felt when I saw why my friends had been taken. It lasted the barest fraction of a moment then was replaced by the clam professional mask I had seen when I came in. “What do you want?”
Let me make this quite clear. I do not like this plan. I don’t like sinking to their level and I feel soiled by doing so. That did not mean that I couldn’t take a small bit of perverse joy at seeing this guy twitch.
“I take it we can now discuss matters as equals?”

What You See Here
Victory is ours, and now not only the existence of advanced quantum processors known to the world, but also diagrams, schematics, and even the programming language that is required to write something that runs on these things. Nobody can seal the technology away, Now that people are talking en mass first one government will allow general usage, then another, and another, and soon the rest will have to open up to the possibility either to keep their businesses from falling behind, or because of sheer demand by the public.
It’s been months since I’d gotten back home. Granted one can’t just leave home, work, and family, and not have to deal with any messy aftermath, but my earlier reluctance to pull from random bank accounts does not extend to specific people who I feel do not deserve the money. That helped smooth over my transition and caught me up on missed bills.
Legion helped me find the best way to go about cleaning my record up. I’d even managed to keep ‘Six. Even though quantum computing has since hit the larger business and consumer markets, diminishing it’s edge in many respects. We’ve been through too much and I won’t just throw it away because of a silly thing like losing it’s shiny newness. Pity I got fired for being gone from work; win some, lose some I suppose.
Evil plot foiled. Hero returns battered, bruised, and suffers losses but attains Massive Win. Curtain Closes.
What next?
I hear there’s a security firm interested in hiring me as a consultant.
As for this record? Officially I was never involved in any of it, because none of the players involved ever existed in any official sense. What you see here could be a true account of one of the most interesting and stressful months of my life, or it could have less substance to it than Nixon’s belief in his own innocence. The Internet is full of lies, half-truths, and stories so strange they just might be real. Naturally I like to believe it happened, because the alternative is my mind having checked into the Crazyland Motel, but I cannot make your mind up for you. Either you believe me or you do not.


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