"I can sandbox any corporate cluster you care to mention and, unlike the competition, I will guarantee downtime anywhere up to five days. That's a whole working week your company has the monopoly on trading. Nowadays there are only a handful of corporations that could survive more than forty eight hours offline."
"Give me three days and I'll set up passive surveillance on your target of choice, cctv feeds, credit transactions, cellular and voip channels. You'll experience more of your marks life than he will."
"So, gentlemen, what's your pleasure?"
The meet had been set up by Southie so I knew these guys were legit or rather illegit which amounted to the same thing from my point of view. They weren't feds, I knew that but they didn't look corporate either. The suits didn't sit right for one thing. Whatever these guys usually wore to work it wasn't tailored by Armani. Military? Idealogues? In my line of work it doesn't matter, I'm quite happy to play either side of any conflict of interests as long as the credits are there and, whether they think they can get away with paying for it or not, the credits are always there.
Lesson 1 - never try to rip-off a hacker. It's fucking pointless.
My headset chirped in my ear, told me the three of them were kosher. I'd run retinal, voiceprint and DNA samples through Central Intelligence, National and international police and social security databases, when they'd first walked in the door. Nothing. These guys were ghosts. I relaxed a little. Cloaking a live surveillance warrant triples the price.
"We need someone who can hack Sensenet", the big guy told me.
"Then good luck finding someone," I spat back, "assassination aint my bag."
Sensenet - neural hypernet interface, full immersion surfing as if you were there. Taste, touch, smell... It was the porn channels who pioneered it. Fried a few brains in the early days using reverse engineered military targeting rigs. Found out that with a bit of duplexing they could send signals back into the brainstem, instead of just reading the output.
Of course it was banned, after the first couple of hundred masturbating cabbages returned from their in brain fuck movie, paralysed from the bollocks-up. Didn't make much difference, the porn sites had always operated in and around the edge of the law. There was too much demand to let a little legislation stand in the way of profit. They kept ploughing money into the technology and eventually perfected safe enough kit. Nowadays, with enough credits, you could experience anything you could imagine, firsthand, from a parking lot handjob to gang raping a four year old. From the kid's point of view.
Eventually it went mainstream. There were medical applications, telecoms, entertainment... pretty much anything you could do on the hypernet you could use a sensnet jack to do but the only thing you'd use a hacker for was a hit - overload the wetwall protections and send a garbage dataflood straight into the brainstem. Mark would have a seizure so bad his eyes would explode out his fucking head. I didn't need it. I might be a bastard but even bastards draw the line somewhere. I drew mine a ways short of murder.
"We don't want anybody killed," the woman said. She looked vaguely oriental but it's hard to tell these days. Anyway a smart player would be wearing active collegen - remould the features to whatever the hell you want to look like. I know I was. Doesn't pay to be recognised in my line of work. Being unrecognisable helps immensely. "We want someone stolen."
I was losing my patience with these freaks and almost ready to show them the door but curiosity got the better of me. "You got about ten seconds to explain yourself lady. This had better be fucking good." I was playing it cocky but then what the hell were they going to do? The two guys were packing enough firepower to level the building and the chick had a string laser and some kind of nano acid but, since I'd disabled the powerpacks and my sentry guns were ready to fill them with half a kilo of armour piercing slugs per second if they so much as blinked at me the wrong way I figured I had the upper hand.
"What we require, Mr Cross, is for you to hijack a Sensenet datastream and download the users consciousness to our server."
"Are you out of your fucking mind lady? Did Southie put you up to this? This is a joke right?"
"Mr Cross, this is no joke. We will provide the interface software you will gain access to the ..."
"Look bitch I've listened to about as much of this bullshit as I care to, now I suggest you take your sci-fi story asses the hell out of my building right now before I lose my sense of humour completely and turn the watchdogs on you."
I signalled the miniguns to spin up and acquire targets just to drive the point home. In their favour they never as much as flinched.
"We understand that you may or may not believe that what we are attempting to do is impossible, this is of no import, Mr Cross. What does concern you is fifteen million untraceable credits for getting our payload behind the wetwall."
Fifteen fucking mil? For fifteen mil I'd kill the bastard myself, principles or no fucking principles and she was right. I didn't need to believe what they were doing. What the fuck did I care if their hocus pocus worked or not?
"Untraceable you say?" I turned on the most charming smile I could manage with this face. "Okay. Show me the credit streams"