Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Week 15 - Golden City

Michael Salsbury
(Note: I've officially shelved this story.  I've had trouble figuring out the middle.  Until I sort that out, we don't have a full story.)

Although I'd had no idea where the passenger liner the Agency had left me was headed, it didn't take long to worm that information out of the passengers and crew.  We were headed to the planet Atlantica, known for its beautiful oceans, bustling cities, and celebrity inhabitants.  For once, it seemed as though the Agency was doing me a favor.  This was a planet I'd actually want to land on.  The opportunities for my kind of criminal mischief seemed to be everywhere.

I spent a lot of time with the ship's computer systems getting to know Atlantica.  Unlike RFD 125, the agricultural plant I'd just left, Atlantica was a gleaming, modern Alliance world.  It had all the luxuries found on any Alliance world, and a population of scheming, corrupt, wealthy people with the money to buy them.  I planned to help myself liberally to the treasures of the planet's elite, and get far away from the reach of the mysterious Agency and its heretofore hidden agenda.  

By the time we landed in the Atlantica City Spaceport, I'd formed a plan.  The question was how to finance it.  As usual, the Agency had stripped me of most of my funds.  I played around with the idea of getting them back, but realized that this meant getting much closer to the Agency than I cared to.  They could have the money.  Easy come, easy go in for a thief like me.

As I stood in line to clear Atlantica's Immigration process, ads for Boon's Golden Casinos popped up in the 3D displays along the walls in the Immigration area.  "Win with Boon!" one ad claimed.  "Huge cash jackpots paid daily!" another flashed.  These were interspersed with grumpy looking images of the casino's owner, Fred Boon.  Between the casino ads were promotional videos for Boon's Golden City.  From what I could tell, it seemed like an entire city built as a timeshare.  The computer models were garish.  Every building seemed to be covered in shiny gold-colored metal.  You'd probably see the thing from space when it was built.  "Only 10,000 units left!" the advertisement warned, "Reserve yours now."

Despite the constant media barrage, I was grateful to advertisers for once.  The casino advertisements gave me the idea for bankrolling the bigger game I planned to play.  I'd take the casino for a few hundred thousand credits, then leverage that into a much bigger payoff from a different scam.

"Step forward for scan," the uninformed official droned, waving to me.

I stepped up to the counter.  Their system sampled my retinas, fingerprints, and DNA instantly and compared them with the planet's own legal records and those of the Alliance.  For a moment, I wondered if my past entanglements with the authorities would come back to haunt me.

"Derek Custer," the official said, looking at the screen.  "What is the purpose of your visit to Altantica?  Business? Pleasure? Emigration?"

"Pleasure... and maybe a bit of business."

She nodded, tapped at the screen a few times, then turned back to me.  "This is your Atlantican identity card and visa.  Present it to any public official who requests it.  Failure to have this card with you is grounds for detention and deportation, at your expense.  Is that understood?"

"Yes," I said, taking the card and slipping it into my pocket and feigning shock.

I think some of these bureaucrats get jollies from frightening tourists.  I wanted them to see me as just one more rube arriving on their planet to be fleeced in their casinos, overcharged in their hotels, and sunburned on their beaches. 

I hadn't been conscious when I boarded the liner to Atlantica, so I was a bit surprised to learn that I had luggage waiting for me at the spaceport carousel.  Not wanting to break cover as the weary tourist, I picked up the bag and proceeded to Atlantican Customs.  I hoped whoever had packed for me hadn't loaded the case with illegal drugs, weapons, or other contraband.  I hadn't even researched what this planet considered contraband.  Oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

The Atlantican Customs officer was quite thorough.  He went through every pocket of every shirt or pair of shorts, the inside of every sock, the lining of the suitcase itself, and even gave the underwear a good going-over.  Had these actually been my clothes, I'd have felt violated.  Since someone else packed them, it was like watching a stranger go through an inspection.  I was curious what they'd find, but not particularly worried.  He put everything back in the case and handed it to me.

"You're free to go.  Welcome to Atlantica, sir."

"Thank you," I smiled and tipped my head toward him, took the suitcase in my right hand, and continued out of the spaceport toward the Ground Transport signs.

A robotic cab pulled up to the curb in front of me.  I stuck my head inside the window.  "How many credits to go to the Boon's Golden Casino?"

The robotic face turned toward mine.  "Visitors to the casino pay no fare, sir.  It's covered by Mr. Boon himself.  He has authorized me to tell you that he hopes you have a great stay and enjoy trying your luck at his establishment."

"Well, then, please tell him thank you," I said, and climbed into the cab with my bag.

"I'm sorry sir, but a humble robotic cab driver like myself is not authorized to communicate with such an important public figure as Mr. Boon."

"Of course not.  Silly of me to every ask.  Please forget I said anything."

"By law, sir, I am unable to forget any conversation which takes place in this vehicle.  I assume you mean instead that I should cancel your request to send a message to Mr. Boon."

I sighed.  Robots have come a very long way, but they still tend to be too literal.  "Yes, that's what I meant.  How long before we arrive at the casino?"

"Anxious to start winning?" 

"Do people usually win at Boon's casino?"

"I wouldn't know, sir.  I'm not privy to that data.  Would you like me to inquire with the casino mainframe?"

I shook my head.  "No. I was just making conversation."

"Ah," the robot said, "casual conversation mode.  Lovely weather we're having, isn't it?"

Unconsciously, I slapped my hand to my forehead and sighed.  "Ugh.  Yes, yes it is.  Could we pass the rest of the trip in silence, please?"

"Certainly, sir."


The robot dropped me off in front of the hotel attached to the casino.  Inside, I inquired about the room rates.  At the prices they were charging, my meager Agency bankroll would last about two nights.

"How long will you be staying with us, Mr. Custer?" the drippy-sweet feminine voice of the robot desk clerk asked.

"Just two days, I think."

"Very good, sir.  Here are 50 complimentary casino credits.  Feel free to enjoy the casino while I have the porter take your bag to your room.  It's keyed to your retinal scan."

"Where'd you get that?"

"From your ID card, sir, and the Central Registry."

"I see."

Ripping off a modern casino is not a simple task.  From the minute you enter the building, facial recognition cameras identify you and let the casino security force know if you're the sort of individual who might be there to relieve them of their funds by force or more-creative means.

Unless you have a large and very well-equipped army, taking a casino like Boon's will only end in disaster.  The high-tech identity system is combined with an equally high-end intrusion detection and countermeasure system.  That system is backed up by a well-trained and well-armed security force, which uses central coordination and encrypted radio signals to organize itself.  If you're prepared to kill a lot of people and blow up a lot of things, you can rob a casino this way... but you'll pay a price in blood.  I've crunched the numbers on it, just as an exercise.  Trust me, the odds are against you and even if you clean them out, you'll probably still only break even by the time you pay your team.

No, the smart way to take a casino like this one is to ever-so-gently tip the odds in your favor.  Win a hand here, break even there, lose a little bit the next, and so on.  Do it right, and the casino managers will think you're cheating, but won't have enough evidence to arrest you.  Do it wrong and, well, remember that well-armed security force I mentioned?  They'll get up close and personal... real personal.

Knowing that people like me exist, casinos do their very best to ensure that there is no way I can tip the odds in my favor.  They've replaced many of the games with electronic versions which use encryption and security protocols most military organizations would envy.  The few games that still use cards and dice employ robotic dealers who can't be corrupted, can't be reasoned with, can't be blackmailed, and feed constant real-time data to the casino management.

So how am I going to turn the odds in my favor, you ask?  A very astute question, that one.  The answer is a simple one.  I spot right right model of robot behind the blackjack table.  In its fingertips are visual scanners that record every card being dealt to players, as it's being dealt.  While the rest of the casino's electronic network is virtually impenetrable, the fingertip scanners have a small but useful flaw.  They leak radio frequency data as they scan the cards.  Just as proof of concept, mind you, I once built a tool to capture that signal leakage and reconstruct the images on the fly.  The very thing that's giving the casino and robot its edge in the game will do the very same for me.  I can turn the tables back to balanced again, and use a betting strategy to gradually win over time.

The casino bosses will no doubt be alerted to my gradual gain, and will certainly figure I must be cheating somehow, but they won't know how.  They'll watch me, watch what I do, what I say, who I interact with, and search my room, trying to understand what I'm doing.  When they can't find anything, they'll toss me and my winnings out the door, and tell me never to come back.  That's just fine with me.  I won't need to come back.


The electronics I need to accomplish my task are commonplace, part of any number of appliances and gadgets on store shelves.  I pick up a few tools to go with the other items, slip into a public restroom stall in one of the stores, and built my card reader sniffer.  A pair of common augmented reality contact lenses provide the visual interface to the data the sniffer gathers for me.  I tuck the sniffer in my pocket and stroll back to the casino.


The next day is spent playing hand after hand of blackjack with the robotic dealer and the occasional human players who sit down.  I start with the 250 credits I had left when I returned from building the sniffer.  When I returned to my room in the casino that night, I'd parlayed that into 872 credits.

The following day, I'd more than doubled it.  The casino offered to comp my room as long as I continued my winning streak.  I took them up on it, of course.

At the end of five days, I was sitting on a mere 200,000 credits.  I was ready to move on from the casino and start making some real money.  

I crawled into bed and fell asleep.

A few hours later, I was awakened by the sound of the door opening.  Two men in suits came in, grabbed my winnings, then grabbed me.  I tried to fight back, but they were far stronger.  One of them hit me in the back of the head, and I fell unconscious.


I awoke when something foul-smelling was waved under my nostrils.  As soon as I opened my eyes, one of them grabbed me by the arms.  Another punched me in the stomach.  It felt like I'd been hit by a truck.  The glared at me.

"You're cheating out there.  How?"

"I don't know what you're talking about, I'm just here on vacation and--"

Another punch hit my stomach.  I wanted to vomit.

"You're beating the odds on the blackjack table.  The only way you could do that is if you're cheating.  I ask again... HOW are you doing it?"

"I'm not, I'm just really lucky--"  This time, the punch went a bit further south.  I screamed.  The one doing the punching developed a smug little grin.

"Wrong.  You WILL tell us eventually."

"There's nothing to tell, really..."  This time, one to the face, just below my right eye.

They had me dead to rights, of course.  I had been cheating.  Why not tell them?  That's because once they know I'm cheating, and how I'm doing it, they can hand me off to the police and fix the weakness in the robots.  They can also keep their money since, after all, I broke the law to get it.

So it's a simple equation.  Talk, and I go to jail.  Keep quiet, and the kick the crap out of me.  At some point they'll figure maybe it was just dumb luck and kick me out with the money - telling me I'm never to gamble here again.  I can live with that.


The beatings continued for quite a while.  I don't know if they stopped because I passed out or if I passed out because the pain got too great.  It doesn't matter which, I guess.  The point is, I finally got some sleep.

The door opened and three new black-suited thugs entered.  One of them held out my augmented reality contact case. "This, this is how you were cheating."

"What?  Those didn't work the minute I set foot in here."

That was true, in a manner of speaking.  The casino was built to act like a Faraday Cage, blocking all incoming and outgoing signals except those belonging to the casino itself.  Augmented Reality contacts need a wireless computer network to function properly, so they couldn't do their job inside the casino.  What I wasn't telling my captor was that I didn't need them to talk to the network.  I needed them to talk to the sniffer. Fortunately, I had taped it under the dresser in the room before I went to bed - in case of a situation like this.

The thugs looked at each other, and stepped out of the room.  I couldn't hear what was being said, but they seemed to be having a heated argument about something.  I hoped it was about whether they needed to kick me out of the casino or not.

The thugs came back.  

"I sent two of our guys to tear your room apart.  They find something that talks to these contacts, we turn you over to the cops.  You want to avoid that, you tell us what they're gonna find and where."

"I told you guys, I didn't cheat--"

The beating started again.  This time, I felt a rib crack.  Every breath hurt.

I felt myself starting to pass out.  Before I did, they left the room.

Before they came back, I needed to think fast.

If they searched the room well enough, they'd eventually find the sniffer, and it would be off to jail for me.  

If they didn't find it, they'd give me back the money and kick me out.  At least, that was the usual pattern in these cases.

I felt around my waistband for the lockpicks I'd hidden in it.  I looked around for a hidden camera in the room, but didn't see one.  I guess they didn't want to record roughing up their guests.  Fortunately, that was as convenient for me as it had been for them.  I removed the lockpicks and got to work on the door.  Fortunately, it was an old mechanical model and despite the pain, I got it open.

I crept out of the room and began walking down the hallway.  I'd expected to find myself in the basement of the casino, locked up in some old storeroom.  These guys were apparently a classier act than that.  The hallway was carpeted, with the good stuff.  The walls were nicely finished, with high-end fixtures lighting the place.  It felt more like a boardroom than a basement.

I kept forcing myself to breathe normally, as much as it hurt.  I crept along, as quietly as I could.

There were voices not far ahead.  I moved more carefully.  There was an elevator at the end of the hallway.  If I could get there, maybe I could get to the casino floor.  They wouldn't dare touch me there, and if they did, I could raise enough of a fuss that someone would call the police.  No matter what I'd done, the beating they had given me couldn't be legal.  

One of the voices sounded familiar.  One of the thugs?  No.  It was someone else. Who?

"When you find out how he ripped me off, make sure no one ever sees him again."

"OK, Mr. Boon.  I got Rocco and Frank turning his room upside down."

The beep of a comm signal broke the silence.

"Hullo?  You find it?  Nice job!"

"Well?" Boon asked.

"They found it.  The engineer's lookin' it over."

"Then we have no need for our guest."

I moved faster toward the elevator.  I had to reach it before they went looking for me.

I got to the elevator and hit the button.  The doors opened.  Two of the thugs were inside.  I saw one of them swing his arm back with something in it, then blackness.


I slipped in and out of consciousness after that.  At one point I thought I was being shaken and bounced around.  Then it felt like I was burning up.  Then shaking again.  

Now, it was just cold... and it hurt, or rather, I hurt.  I tried to get up, but someone pushed me down.

"You need to stay in the bed.  Don't get up/"

I opened my eyes.  It took them a while to adjust, and to focus.  I looked for the source of the voice. There was a woman seated on a chair next to me.  As I kept looking around, I saw tubes coming from my arms, wires attached to my chest, and I seemed to be on a bed.

The woman looked at me.  "So tell me, Mr. Custer, why did Fred Boon want you dead?"


"Yes.  I've been watching Boon and his people for a while.  I saw them load something into a ground car and drive off toward the desert.  On a hunch, I followed them.  I found you in the desert with three bullet holes in your chest, covered in bruises.  Boon doesn't usually treat his paying customers like that.  Why'd he do it to you?"

If she really had saved my life, she deserved an explanation.  Mind you, it didn't have to be entirely truthful.  The truth could put me behind bars, after all, and I was in no condition to prevent that.

"Thought I was cheating," I told her, pointing to the pitcher of water next to my bed.  I was parched, and felt too weak to get it myself.

She stood up, walked over to the table, and poured me a glass of water.  I drank it immediately.  She poured another.  

"Cheating?  How is that possible?"

I shrugged.  "I don't know.  I didn't do it."

"I see," she said, raising an eyebrow.  "Look.  Boon bankrupted my grandfather.  He hired my grandfather to do a bunch of electrical work in the casino.  It was a big job, and Boon promised him a lot of money if my grandfather and his men got it done on time.  They were an hour late.  Just one hour, and Boon refused to pay.  My grandfather had borrowed the money to buy all the wire and supplies he needed, and paid his men overtime out of his own pocket.  When Boon didn't pay, my grandfather lost everything."

"Sorry to hear that.  Boon sounds like a real piece of work."

"He is."

"Maybe we need to take him down a peg or two."

"I was hoping you might say that."

"You know my name.  What's yours?"

"Sally Reed.  I'm a freelance journalist."

I held a hand out toward her.  She shook it.

"Here's what I have on Boon," she said, and handed me a computer tablet.  I began reading.  Hours later, I was still doing it, and Reid had left.


The materials Sally provided gave me a good picture of Boon and his operations.

He claimed to be worth billions of credits, but the facts Sally found brought that into question.  His casino was worth a billion, but he only owned ten percent of it.  His apartment buildings and condos were leveraged to the hilt, and arguably belonged to the bank.  It didn't take an advanced business degree to realize that operating business this way carried risks.  Lose some tenants and you don't have the cash flow to pay the mortgage on the building.  The real estate market drops a bit and suddenly you're upside-down in the mortgage, and the lenders come calling.

Boon's biggest asset wasn't the real estate he owned or the television shows he produced.  It was his reputation as a billionaire.  That reputation made beautiful women want him.  It made other men want to enter into business dealings with him.  It made people willing to loan him money when he lost everything.  If I was going to take Boon down, I had to destroy that reputation.

Boon was at best a moderately capable entrepreneur with a keen ability to bully and coax others into doing what he wanted them to do, even if this went against their better judgment.  When he couldn't make someone else do what he wanted, he would make the best deal he could, then file for bankruptcy to force people to give him the terms he wanted in the beginning.  If he hadn't tried to kill me, I'd almost have been impressed.

In addition to his army of bankruptcy lawyers, his ability to push others, and his reputation as the one of the planet's richest, most-successful entrepreneurs, Boon was also an overflowing fountain of self-confidence.  If a reporter asked him a question, he invariably told them he was the "best" or the "most" of whatever quality they asked about.  "Excuse me, Mr. Boon, but would you ever run for public office?" they would ask.  "If I do, I'll be the greatest politician ever to be elected.  I'll make this the greatest planet in the whole Alliance," he'd answer.  It would be fun to rattle his self-confidence and self-image.

A plan began forming in my brain.  I called Sally and told her what I had in mind.  She said that her code of ethics forbid her from taking part in anything unethical, illegal, or deceitful, but she could certainly help me with the tasks I had set for her.  Those required nothing more than using her position as a news reporter to make sure people saw Boon self-destruct.


Getting a job as a janitor in the Atlantica public records office was the first step.  This gave me an income I could use to finance the next step in my plan.  It also gave me access to the government computers when the worker drones went home for the day.  Once into the system, I was able to begin building an identity and history for a "Future Me" who would soon be close friends with Mr. Boon.  This was something I took my time with, using more than one worker's account and over a period of time, so that any decent investigation would make it seem as though my information was very real or part of a large government conspiracy.

With the false identity established, I needed a radical change in appearance.  Theatrical makeup supply stores helped with some of that.  Home plastic surgery kits helped with a bit more.

Boon had never seen the real me, but if he had, he wouldn't recognize the new one.  Hopefully his goons wouldn't either.


The reputation I'd created was that of an off-world venture capitalist with access to billions of credits. I didn't actually have billions of credits, though, and wouldn't need them to pull off my plan.  All I really needed was the right connections.

In any large city with a number of wealthy citizens you'll find a series of exclusive, private clubs where the rich and famous get together to talk, make business deals, and one-up each other.  Packing up the custom-tailored suit I'd spent most of my janitorial income on, I made my way to the roof of one of them.  The moonlight made it possible to navigate without injuring myself or using a flashlight that might have been spotted from outside.

There's a funny thing about these private clubs.  Most of them are very old.  They're located in very old buildings.  Those old buildings tend to use very old alarm systems, very shoddy locks, and rarely more than a single security guard.  It's a lot like stepping back in time a century or so.  This club was no different.  The roof access door was secured with an old pin-tumbler lock that took me about as much time to pick as it would the real key-holder to open it with the key made for it.

There was no alarm system on the roof door, but I did encounter the occasional sensor here and there as I made my way to my destination.  The club would open at 8am.  I set a silent alarm for 7am and went to sleep.


When the club president found me waiting behind his desk, his eyes popped open wide and his jaw went slack.  He started to reach for his personal communicator.

"Wait," I told him.  "I'm not here to cause trouble.  I'm here to help you."

He took the communicator out of his pocket, but didn't activate it.  "Go on," he said.

"No doubt you're wondering how I came to be sitting inside your club, in your office, behind your desk.  You might also wonder," I said, waving my hand across the pile of documents on my desk, "how I came to be in possession of the array of club records in front of me."

He walked closer, jaw fully dropped open at the sight of the confidential club files in front of him.

I looked up at him.  "I see that I have your attention."

He looked at the desk, and at me, and nodded.

"If I were you, there are certain questions I'd be asking.  First, who is this man and how did he get in here?  Answer... I'm a private security consultant for a very wealthy client who is a member of this club and asked me to ensure that their private information remains private.  Let's just say that my client's private information is here on the table, along with that of several of my client's friends and competitors.  I don't have to tell you how upset my client will be to learn this, do I?"

"No," he said, looking down at the floor.

"Now that you know who I am, the next question you should be asking yourself is what I intend to do next."

He nodded, without making eye contact.

"I could go back to my client and tell them what I've found here.  I'm sure this would result in my client canceling his membership in the club.  He'd probably also tell a number of his closest associates to do the same.  That might be enough to cause quite a scandal in the media.  Might it not?"

"But, you don't plan to do that?"

"No," I said, gathering the files together and standing up.  "I think we can help each other.  If you work with me to correct the security problems that allowed me to enter your building, break into your office, and access your private safe, then I need not tell my client that there is anything wrong with your security."

He sighed.

"However, this doesn't help me.  It helps my client, it helps your club, and it keeps you out of trouble."

"I have a small discretionary budget.  I can--"

"No. I don't want your money.  What I want won't cost you a thing."

He sighed again.

"You are to accept me as a member of the club.  You will ensure that I have access to the club and all of its members.  If I ask, you will introduce me to any other member and tell them I'm a long-standing member of the club who has been off-world for many years."


"You would prefer my client and his friends left the club?"


"I want access to the club to expand my contacts and my customer base.  That's all."

He seemed to think about this for a moment.  "Fine."


I spent the next few weeks visiting the club constantly, getting to know its members.  My goal was to expand my influence and reputation.  Intentionally, I ignored Boon.  If I understood him as well as I thought I did, he would not understand how a member of the club could be interested in almost everyone else other than himself.  His ego wouldn't be able to fathom it."

Alliance Admiral Schwartzfeld and were talking about fleet security when Boon's hand hit my shoulder.  "I don't believe we've met yet," Boon said.

"No, but did we need to?  Your face is all over the screens in the Atlantica spaceport, and billboards all over the city.  Then there's your television show."

He smiled slightly, then stifled it, pushing out his lower lip slightly.  "You got some kind of problem with me?"

"Me?" I shook my head.  "No."

"You've been talking to everyone but me."

"I just returned from off-planet.  I've been gone a while.  I'm getting to know the current members. I'm sure I'd have gotten around to you in time."

"I'm the most successful, richest, most powerful member of this club."

"So you say.  From what I've seen, you say it a lot."

His teeth gritted, and his upper lip curled.  Then he seemed to have a change of heart, and relaxed.

I stood, turned to face him, and smiled.  "Look, Mr. Boon.  I think we've gotten off on the wrong foot. Let me buy you lunch."

"No, allow me," Boon said.

Since I didn't have any money yet, I was more than happy to allow him.

We spent the lunch making small talk about business.  He talked about how he had taken his father's relatively small business and turned it into a multi-billion-credit force of nature.  To hear him tell it, no human ever born had his talent for business, showmanship, sales, or seduction.  Keeping my lunch down became a difficult proposition.

"Let me get down to it," Boon said, leaning forward, "I figure you're here to make some kind of business deal.  That's why you've come back from off-world, and why you're schmoosing with all the club members.  Let me save you the time.  Compared to me, they're all deadbeats."

"Since you've bought me this nice lunch, I'll level with you.  You're right.  I found something out there.  I've got millions, but this deal needs hundreds of millions."

That lower lip stuck out again.  "I've got billions.  My empire is huge.  Biggest on the planet.  You need to be working with me.  Not those other losers."

"Here's the thing, Mr. Boon.  I did some checking into your background."

"I checked into yours, too."

"Want me to tell you what you found?  I put it there.  You found plenty of public records about businesses I ran ten or twenty years ago, but nothing recent.  You found where I came in a few weeks ago on a freighter.  That's about it.  No bank records.  No birth records.  No employment history.  Not even bank records."


"You're smart enough to know that means one of two things.  Either I'm a fraud, a made-up person, or I've got the kind of connections that can make any record disappear if I want it to."

He nodded.

"Fraud makes the most sense, except that I'm a member of the Brentwood Club... and the club manager has known me for a very long time."

"So you have connections... in the government."

"And elsewhere.  I get things done for the planetary government.  They keep me off the books.  I haven't checked in with them since I've been back, so they haven't wiped my tracks yet."

"You know about Boon's Golden City?"

"Your project to build a whole new city from the ground up, one that you control?"

"Can your connections get me the permits I need to start breaking ground?"

"Probably.  Gotta tell you, though, we're gonna have to grease some palms.  They're gonna need enough money so that if they get fired for this, they can just disappear and retire."

"OK.  How much?"

"I'll need to talk to them.  This is bigger than anything I've asked them to do before.  What are you doing in return?"

"Three hundred million credits, and a twenty percent stake in that business of yours."

"Make it three hundred fifty million, and you're on."



(to be continued)

About the Author

Michael Salsbury / Author & Editor

In his day job, Michael Salsbury helps administer over 1,800 Windows desktop computers for a Central Ohio non-profit. When he's not working, he's writing, blogging, podcasting, home brewing, or playing "warm furniture" to his two Bengal cats.


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