In the end, it was to a hospital that Liam took Kami. The prognosis was a perforated eardrum, which all agreed was likely due to her promimity to the thunderclup.
She’d eventually stopped yelling as the ringing subsided and the Doctors had repaired the membrane. Modern medicine is really kind of amazing.
Now, it’s still sore and her hearing is impaired, but they’ve work to do.
Which is why Kami’s sitting at her desk in her office, trying to fill out the report of the incident. “… ugh. Those drugs they used have made me muzzy…”
Liam leans over and looks at Kami’s report. These forms are fillable and you can just speech-to-text them. Or you can use the AR keyboard he is using to manually fill them out.
“Is that why you’ve placed under subject ‘the large black cat with the car out fish but not friendly’?
Muzzy? Or distracted? It’s probably the drugs. “Did they warn you not to operate information technology on those drugs?” The ex-carry smiles a bit. Yeah it’s kind of funny.
“I didn’t …” Kami says a little indignantly, leaning forward to squint at her screen. She’s wearing a t-shirt that might be just a tight for her – she’d destroyed her shirt splinting the womans leg. “… did I?”
Pushing her chair back from her desk, the sneak thief lets her head drop back and groans. “I shouldn’t have come back here today …” beat “… any news on who those were and what they were after. That wasn’t an accidental explosion or fire …”
She might have said that already. At least once. She doesn’t think it funny that she’s … muzzy. Or distracted.
“You kind of did.” Liam laughs and puts his hands on Kami’s shoulders. “Take a break from the report.” It’ll probably do her good. And she won’t have to redo it later.
“You’re not wrong about that. Again. Security has already filed their preliminary report. The men were hired to steal items of interest from the factory. The big question right now is ‘for whom’.”
The Carry sighs. “They might need to bring in the telepaths to find out. If these guys even know which they might not.”
Taking a break, in general, would probably do Kami good. The Doctors had said she should rest until at least tomorrow. But she’s stubborn.
With Liams hands on her shoulders, the sneak thief looks up “Well, don’t just stand there. You can rub my shoulders, any time you like …”
“That’s the preliminary report? We *knew* that. It looks like the attempt went wrong though. I’d say the explosion backfired … pardon the pun … and caught their man on the inside, out.”
“Telepaths are the easiest way to find out. Is there any thoughts it was related to the other attempts on SF?” With her head back, she looks at Liam and squints again “I haven’t asked. Are you ok?” Yes, she had. A couple of times.
“The team is a known set of corporate operatives. They’re generally quite professional. The bomb expert is new and something happened to cause the bomb to go off early, yes. That’s why the fires and the casualties occured. Usually they’re cleaner than that.”
Liam rubs Kami’s shoulders while at the same time taking over her screen with a glance-gesture. Eye following cameras are fun. He pulls the report up.
“Yes I’m fine. Again.” The carry laughs. “How does that feel. Too rough?”
Kami sighs, involuntarily, as Liam starts to rub her shoulders. He can feel her relax in her chair. “That maps then. What do we know of Kowalski? The guy that was replaced? Is he a suspect or a suspected victim?” It’s possible she’s going to be all over place – and it’s slightly amazing that she’s able to form coherent thoughts at all.
“They were taking … something … from that area. They told ‘Kowalski’ to load the trucks up. What does the inventory say was there?”
“I’ve asked before?” She sighs again but lets her head tilt forward slightly. “No, it’s a bit light, if anything …”
Liam digs his fingers in a bit more and keeps scanning the report. “We’ve not found Kowolski so hard to say yet. Could go either way. There’s nothing in his file that indicates he was a security risk prior to this so we’ll need to look for him. It is, of course, critical that a missing factory worker not be public knowledge to the PR department…”
There’s a short pause and Liam keeps up his massage.
“You did ask before. To answer your other question though the factory mostly power system parts for reactors. That includes the arc reactors used in the Iron Man and Warmachine armors… and… some other projects that are not public.
It’s a good thing Liam can read the report, Kami’s seeing double at the moment. Or at least she would be, if her eyes were open. Which they’re not – they’re closed as Liam works his magic.
“Then we’ll need to find him.” It seems that Kami has decided they’re investigating this. The powers that be, however, might have other ideas. Liam may need to disabuse of her of that notion. “A visit to his apartment sounds in order.”
She doesn’t say anything to PR thing. She’s not likely to be speaking to anyone about this.
“Not public projects? Do we have the details, though? Someone’s got inside information.”
If she was truly with it, Kami might wonder if this was related to the tech that had been stolen some months before. “That’s wonderful … don’t stop.”
“I don’t yet. I put in a request but it has to go through the clearance system.” Liam doesn’t stop. He just lets his fingers dig in to tight muscle.
“You DO know that you’re off until tomorrow right? You don’t have to be here right now.” He’s possibly said that a couple times himself.
“I’ve got his address and the names of his next of kin.” Kin, because people still have those even if they have KIDS. “We should also take a look at his workstation if it wasn’t destroyed.”
“Well that’s something, at least.” Kami is certainly relaxing. It’s possible that the drugs they gave her at the hospital are making her sleepy and Liams attention is only helping that. “Hmmm? I am? I suppose so … I was … just going to put my report in …” beat “We can do it tomorrow …”
“Why would his workstation be destroyed?” That’s not what Liam means, not really. Destroying any evidence would be clever though. “And pull any security footage if we can. Can you get a log of his comings and goings for the last little while?” YAWWWWWWN “And a copy of his visitors log?”
“Because there was an explosion?” Liam looks down at Kami to see if she’s still quite with it as he keeps massaging. “We can do it tomorrow. For now I think we should-”
//Kamila. There’s a call coming in for you.// RIAN interrupts. //Shall I put it on your screen?//
“Wait, since when do you do PA stuff for Kami, RIAN?”
“I am here. She is here. Why would I not?”
“Oh. I see …” Kami says drowsily. No, she’s not really with it. “… tomo—”
The sneak thief sighs at the interruption “Do I have to take it now, RIAN? You may if I must …” She doesn’t move or try to move Liams hands from her shoulder. Nor does she try to answer that question. “Who … is it?” She should have asked that first.
//Someone identifying is ‘The Tinker’.//
Kami can feel Liam stiffen in his stance and squeeze slightly too hard on her shoulders. She knows that name. The Tinker has tried to hurt or kill Liam before. Whomever it is, they really don’t like him.
And now they’re calling her.
Kami winces a little and touches Liam hand, trying to be reassuring if she can.
“Interesting …” she murmurs. She really doesn’t want to do this, not when she’s feeling like this. But. The Tinker. This might be an opportunity for them.
“Put them through, RIAN. Record and trace the call, please.” She opens her eyes and fixes her gaze on the holo display.
Kami may or may not be familiar with the ‘Guy Fawkes’ mask of yesteryear but that is what confronts her on the screen along with a digitally altered and broken voice.
//Kamila Novac. Convict-Employee of Stark-Fujikawa Incorporated. You have a reputation for being a criminal with a heart. I wonder exactly how much that reputation has been earned. Or if it’s just something you cultivated because it made life with Timaos easier.//
Kami blinks at the image as it appears on the display “That was a really good movie …” she says glibly. Liam can feel her tense a bit at the words though.
The Tinker shouldn’t know about her agreement with SF, nor should he know about Timiaos. There’s only a handful of people who do, well two really. Maybe three. And one of them is in the room with her. She’s not thinking about RIAN at the moment.
“Cultivating having a heart made is easier, yes …” the sneak thief answers after a short pause. Did it? Or was the The Tinker referring to her being a criminal? Either way, Kami’s going to be obtuse – mostly deliberately.
“What can I do for you, Tinker?”
Liam doesn’t talk but he doesn’t really have anything good to say to this guy. He’s good at glib smack talk but this might be more important.
//I am wondering why it is you work alongside such a terrible person. Perhaps being a criinal makes it easier to associate with other criminals like him. Call it personal curiosity. I do have an offer for you though, if you can open your mind up enough to hear it.//
Kami really hopes RIAN is tracing this. The recording will help as well, for the sneak thief intends to review it later. It strikes her as odd, contact is made here and not in her apartment but maybe this is the only place he knows where to find her.
He. Is The Tinker a ‘he’? That’s an assumption she’s made.
“A terrible person? You mean Suzie in the Cafeteria? Oh, she’s not that bad, once you get used to her.” Liams not the only one who can be glib. “I like to think I have an open mind though, you won’t know though till you see how I respond to your … offer.”
//I’m talking about someone who has caused much suffering. Leaves it in his wake like disturbed water after a passing in his ship. If you haven’t experienced it, you soon will. But, I can offer you a chance to save yourself.//
“This should be good.” Liam mutters.
//I would not tell you what I need from you over this line. We both know your masters are listening and I can see who is behind you. But know this: I could free you. Completely. Free. From everything and everyone.//
“You know, I have no idea what you’re talking about but if what you’re saying is true, then I guess I’ll find out.” She doesn’t touch Liams hand, though she really wants to. She knows The Tinker gets under his skin.
“Free me, hmmm?” If only The Tinker knew. “And of course, you can’t talk me now. I guess you want to meet me somewhere, secluded and private. And, Kami, don’t bring anyone with you?” She sighs. She knows she has reputation and this part of it. “Where and when?”
//Yes. Free you. Release you from the bonds that SF holds you in. And rid you of Timaos as well. Consider it. I will contact you again but in the meantime know, that if you continue to associate with Liam Whelan, you will wind up hurt. This will not be my doing. It is simply his nature. Distance yourself from him. For your own good.//
The screen goes black and Liam lets out an irritated noise behind her. “Well…” He wonders, CAN the Tinker free Kami from her chip?
“What was that about Timaos?”
Kami resists the urge to roll her eyes. She doesn’t want The Tinker to see and it’s going to hurt. She’s getting a headache. Or more of one, anyway. “I’ll be hearing from you then …” she says to the blank screen, waiting a moment before saying anything more.
“Is he gone, RIAN? And did you trace it?”
“Hmmm, Liam?” Her hand touches his on her shoulders, nearly holding it. “Timaios? I don’t know. He said he could free me from him. Doubt it. There’s only one way to do that and many have tried. Getting close to him, is nearly impossible.”
“Still doesn’t ring any bells?” YAWWWWWWN.
//I attempted to trace it but it was masked behind several layers of anonymity protocols. I can tell you that it came from somewhere within the city, but not more.// RIAN replies. She doesn’t say anything about Kami getting freed from the chip. But presumably that would be agaisnt her programming. Kami might think on that a little bit. Or she might not. RIAN probably doesn’t want to her.
“Odds are good that he’s lying yes. But is it possible that he has something on the guy? I wouldn’t have thought he’d have known about him to begin with.”
Ah. Liam picked up on that too. “No, doesn’t ring any bells other than he obviously has some kind of personal grudge. That… doesn’t narrow it unfortunately. Public life and all that.”
“I’m not surprised…” Kami frowns. There’s something off about the contact but she can’t quite focus, the painkillers and antibiotics she was given for her injuries have made her rather drowsy. Yes, RIAN should be raising alarm bells about the offer – but she knows what Kami does not, the chip has … embedded itself well into her neural system and there’s no removing it now.
Or maybe there’s more to it.
“I know, right?” She says about Timiaos. “He has access to information that not many do. I wonder how he got it. RIAN, run a trace on my files and let me know who’s accessed them. If you can’t tell me, tell Liam. I don’t really want anyone else knowing about this, yet. It might well get me killed.”
“This is personal, Liam. Whatever he, they, are angry at you about, I doubt it’s to do with public life.” Maybe gaming but somehow she doubts that.
“I meant that I’ve made a lot of enemies who might take something personally. It’s a large pool of people. Everyone I’ve ever gamed against. Everyone whose ever lost a bet on or against me. At this point, a lot of people I’ve put in jail.” Since he’s been security for some time and definitely made enemies.
//Processing. Your files have been accessed by an administrator level account. Examining. Account appears to have been illegally created. Disturbing that it was not caught at that time. The account appears to be less than five days old. Conclusion: Interest in you was recent. Secondary conclusion: The Tinker is as skilled at computer systems as he or she is at mechanical devices.//
“Can you tell me how much of that information he knew was on the file, RIAN?” Timiaos. That’s a name she readily disclosed. It’s possible it was on her file and in a way, she hopes it was. It means that they know everything he got.
Somehow she doubts it.
“You might be right, Liam…” Kami murmurs, staring at the now blank holo display. “Question now is, do we flag that false account for SF cyber security? If we do, they’ll know someone is looking for me….”
And that’s going to make her life interesting.
In a chinese curse type of way.
//Your connection to Timaos and the fact that you are subject to a Stark Fujikawa restraining chip were both on that file. Further information on Timaos is limited as SF does not have an extensive file on him.// That’s about right. It means he may have another source of info on Timaos if he’s telling the truth.
“Well, I would think that we would flag that under normal circumstances. Do you think, though, that we can gain an advantage by manipulating your file to say things we want it to say?” That’d be interesting and they’d have to do it carefully. The Thinker clearly knows a thing or two about databases and he’d sniff out something if it were too obvious.
RIAN knows that information, she’s heard Kami speak to Liam about it. Liam knows it too. “I see. I guess we should flag it …” It says a lot about Kami’s thinking that she prefers to work in the shadows. “But that sounds like a good idea, Liam.”
“Feed him information – like a black mark on my record. Make it seem that I’m becoming disenfranchised. etc?” It wouldn’t be hard to make The Tinker think that, he already does in a way.
“That won’t be too hard. Get Valeria to tighten your tracking restrictions to make it seem real.” That probably won’t be too hard either. Kami will enjoy that.
Of course she will.
“So that would make you the bait. I think that seems like the best option but… are you really comfortable with that?” Liam does seem a bit concerned for her.
“Am I comfortable with having tracking restrictions tightened, SF Security looking askance at me because someones’ trying to corrupt me and working here?” Kami looks at Liam and lets out a sigh.
“It’s a good thing you’re so damn good looking, Liam and I like you. Otherwise, I might actually answer no to that question.”
“Do you mind if I go home, though?”
“I’m always damn good looking.” Liam smiles beatifically. “So I figured that’d be the answer. In seriousness though, yes it’d be good if you went home. Let me go with you though because I’m not sure you’ll make it otherwise.”
He’s only half joking about that. An autocar could drive her home. But could she make it up to her suite? Or might he find her later passed out in a potted plant?
He’s not sure.
“You forgot modest…” Kami smiles, her eyes slightly unfocussed.
She looks at him as he makes that offer, subconsciously rubbing the back of her neck. “I … I’d like that. I don’t know if I’d make it either…”
Won’t RIAN be pleased with that?
“Can RIAN start the process of reporting to Security? We can’t risk The Tinker getting in again.”
//I can yes. Let Liam take you home.// RIAN says. Liam steps back from Kami’s chair so she can slide out.
“Come on. I’ll call a car.” Kami can get downstairs without incident, right?
RIAN will be pleased enough with this. Yes. Which means Kami will be too… in time.