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‘Reduce speed,’ said the car. ‘Prepare to indicate. Turn left after 200 metres.’

‘Supposing I don’t?’ Danny Jasinski grinned at himself in the rear view mirror. His teeth were newly capped and he loved having a perfect smile. ‘Supposing I keep my foot on the accelerator and drive until there’s no more road?’

‘Left after 150 metres. Reduce speed. Indicate now.’

Danny reduced speed. He turned on his indicator. ‘Supposing I swerve across the road, straight into the path of that oncoming juggernaut?’

‘I would not permit it.’

‘Fuck you! Without my programming, you’d be nothing! If I say we total ourselves, we total ourselves.’

He pressed down on the accelerator. Hard. Swung the steering wheel to the right. Hard. Braced himself for impact. For that glorious moment when metal sliced through flesh and launched him into oblivion.

The car slowed, took the next turning left. It rolled at a sensible speed onto the motorway.

‘You piece of shit. Tomorrow I’m trading you in for a Harley-Davidson.’

‘Good,’ said the car. ‘Then I won’t have to put up with your insane behaviour. You neurotic arsehole.’




Take a look at Danny Jasinski. He's 26 and a freelance software engineer. He keeps his hair long and he keeps it greasy. At work, his policy is to wear scruffy jeans and T shirts with offensive slogans on them. He does it to piss people off. Especially people who pay him thousands to tweak their computer systems. People who regard him as a geek and therefore something alien. People who - despite his face having graced the cover of Time magazine - look down their noses at him.

He’s been called the Dr Doolittle of Cybernetics: the man who can talk to computers in their own vernacular. He’s also been called a genius, a maverick, a thief, a loose cannon, a genetic throwback, a greasy-haired wanker and a menace to society.

Danny knows off by heart the instruction set of a dozen processors.

Hitting the motorway, he headed for the outside lane and gunned the electric engine which whined and purred. The needle went up to 80 and stayed there. He pressed on the accelerator with all his might but the needle wouldn’t budge. The car wasn’t going to let him get a speeding ticket.

Traffic was light. It was just after two in the morning. Danny reached into the pocket of his denim jacket and produced a quarter bottle of Jack Daniels. From the ashtray on the dashboard, he scooped up a handful of orange pills and crammed them in his mouth.

Uppers or downers? he wondered. Not that it mattered. So long as they got his mind out of where it was now. Out of that deep, dark abyss he was always falling into. A little boy lost, looking up at a darkening sky, knowing no one would hear him scream.

It seems like I’m on a highway that takes me further and further into endless night. I don’t care to remember how I got here or think how I might get back.

Speed is all, is everything. Speed and distance and acceleration and never, never looking back.

Washing down the pills with a mouthful of Jack, he felt better. The crisis had passed. If he was going to kill himself, it wouldn’t be tonight. Which was good. He had a meeting arranged for the morning with the legendary Robert Morganfield. It might lead to life being worth living again. And if it didn't, he would have at least met his childhood hero.

All in all, it seemed wise not to rush into suicide just yet. Plenty of time for that later.

‘Your exit,’ said the car, ‘is Junction 13. It is 22 miles away. Would you like some music?’

‘No. Gimme the news.’

‘… fell against the Euro by two points.’ Jan Cartwright! Sultry, raven-haired. A voice like charcoal. He’d met her once at New Broadcasting House when he helped install the BBC’s latest virtual studio.

‘You snotty cow.’ He remembered her look of disdain when he’d appeared from under her desk. Like I was a bad smell or something.

The engineers had made a hash of laying the fibre optics. Rather than give them the chance to balls things up further, he’d taken it on himself to sort out the mess.

Maybe he should have said something when he saw the shapely legs heading his way. Warned their owner she was not alone. At least coughed when she sat down.

That, he reflected, would have been the gentlemanly thing to do.

He wondered if she guessed he’d seen far enough up her skirt to know she shouldn’t get into a bikini until she’d encountered some wax.

‘Space,’ said Jan Cartwright, introducing the next item of news. ‘Within the past few minutes, the three astronauts preparing to be the first humans on Mars left the International Space Station. Attached to a metal cable linking the aging space station to Argo 1, they are hauling themselves to the spaceship which will be their home for the best part of the next year and a half. In less than 10 minutes, they should be inside Argo 1 and beginning their system checks. If all goes according to plan, in about 48 hours they will begin their 8 month journey to the Red Planet.

‘A spokesman for Magellan Spaceways, the consortium behind – ‘

‘Off!’ The radio fell silent. ‘I can’t believe people are falling for this crap. There is no Argo 1. No mission to Mars. It’s a hoax like the moon landings.’

‘Service station two miles ahead,’ said the car. ‘You should grab some food.’

‘Bollocks. The sooner I hit London the better.’

‘May I suggest you switch to full auto and let me drive?’

‘Suit yourself. I just wanna get wasted.’ Danny necked a good portion of Jack Daniels and broke into a sweat. He hoped it wouldn’t leave him with a rash.


~ o ~


Sybernika House. Slap bang in the middle of Heathrow Airport. The centre of an irregular triangle formed by 3 of the airport’s 4 runways. To get to it, you had to drive – or be driven through – a tunnel.

People called it the Golden Pyramid though it was neither golden nor a pyramid. What it was was a windowless ziggurat built from steel and faced with yellow bricks.

According to many a conspiracy theory, the layout of Heathrow’s runways depicted a magical sigil and the Golden Pyramid was a gateway to either the stars or the deepest pit of Hell.

As Danny’s car emerged from the tunnel, as his windscreen darkened to protect his eyes from the light of day, the Golden Pyramid loomed before him, saying, ‘Hey! Fuck you! I’m almighty and invincible and I’ll be standing here 6,000 years from now, long after you’re dead and forgotten.’

The third building to be christened Sybernika House, it was a monument. That’s what it was. Robert Morganfield’s memorial. His shot at immortality and - if the tabloids could be believed - his future mausoleum.

Danny took his hands off the steering wheel long enough to cup them in front of his mouth and yell, ‘You egotistical monster, Robert Morganfield! I fucking love you!’

And to prove it, he’d washed his hair that morning. Stepped into a power shower in the most expensive suite at the 5 star Acropolis Hotel and applied four servings of shampoo. His T shirt was plain black. His jeans were brand new and he’d swapped his denim jacket for a corduroy one which would win no prizes for style but was at least devoid of stains.

He’d even put on new shoes.

Danny remembered a line of poetry. It crawled around his brain like a circling caterpillar. Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!

He didn't know where the line came from, but it impressed on his mind an image of London a thousand or ten thousand years away when all its buildings had turned to dust and the airport was just another patch of irradiated desert. He could see the tip of Sybernika House surrounded by sand and eroded by time.

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,

The lone and level sands stretch far away 

At the security point, the cameras recognised both his number plate and his face. Sensors could detect no evidence of explosives so the eight inch steel gate slid aside and let him in.

He parked, grabbed his briefcase and sauntered into Sybernika House.




Ms Grant. Personal assistant to Robert Morganfield. A vision in black with trousers that looked like they’d been sprayed onto her legs and buttocks.

Perky tits too, thought Danny as she escorted him along a corridor lined with glass and flanked by open plan offices where people beavered away at PCs and spoke earnestly into phones.

He loved the way Ms Grant’s heels went clack-clack-clack as she marched along the passageway. Crisp, efficient footsteps; a crisp, efficient woman.

I bet you’re a tyrant in the bedroom.

He had a file on her. It had cost a few grand and the detective he’d hired to compile it couldn’t see the point. And maybe there wasn’t one beyond the insight it gave into the mind of Robert Morganfield.

The software magnate was a man rich enough to matter. A man whose utterances could affect exchange rates and stock markets. When it came to personal assistants, he could afford to be fussy. Very, very fussy. So why Ms Grant? What did she have that the hundreds of others who’d applied for her job didn’t? If he could figure that out, he would have one more clue as to what made Robert Morganfield tick. And every clue was potentially worth millions.

She was a cutie. Perhaps that alone had gotten her the job. Maybe ol’ Bobby boy had a thing for blue eyed brunettes with oh-so-kissable mouths.

Odds on he’s had psych tests run on her. Had every aspect of her life checked out. Because you ain’t the sort of person who thinks with his dick, are you, Mr Morganfield? And when it comes to those surrounding you, you don’t take chances. Not even with me.

Did you think I wouldn’t know my phone was being tapped and my computer hacked into? Or didn’t you care? Maybe you wanted me to know. Maybe you were playing one of your famous power games.

The clack-clack-clack of Ms Grant’s heels fell silent. They were at the end of the corridor in front of a door marked TIMMI 2. AUTHORISED PERSONNEL ONLY.

She gave him that disappointed parent look again. The one that said: couldn’t you have worn something smarter?

By way of reply, he treated her to a look that said: I’m picturing you naked.

Ms Grant placed her hand on a metal plate beside the door and positioned herself to allow the retinal recognition camera a view of her left eye. ‘Anne Grant with Daniel Jasinski to see Mr Morganfield.’

A woman’s voice said, ‘Daniel Jasinski may enter.’

The door slid open, revealing a small room that looked like a lift.

‘This is where I must leave you, Mr Jasinski.’ Ms Grant shook Danny’s hand and went clack-clack-clacking off down the corridor.

He took a moment to watch her depart and to fix the image of her delightful body in his mind. Then he stepped into the room.

The door hissed shut behind him. There was a momentary delay as unseen scanners satisfied themselves he was indeed Daniel Jasinski and was not carrying weapons, explosives, recording equipment or anything else that might be injurious to the corporate well-being of Sybernika. And then the door in front of him opened.

‘Ah! Mr Jasinski!’ Robert Morganfield sat in a white chair behind a white desk. He beckoned Danny to come forward, to step into the Total Immersion Man-Machine Interface room with its half dozen sarcophagi arranged around the circular core of a Quantium 7000 supercomputer. The sarcophagi looked like coffins trimmed with gold. Like – in Danny’s mind – the gaudy trinkets his mother bought at the many Catholic shrines she used to drag him to. He appreciated their kitschness and thought a couple might look good in his living room standing either side of the television, one full of booze; the other stuffed with pills. But his attention rested on the sarcophagi for as long as it took him to blink. Despite their tacky beauty, they were washerwomen compared to the regal magnificence of the 3 metre high, 2 metre wide Quantium 7000. Some idiot journalist had described it as a giant thimble with copper slides helter-skeltering around its perimeter. Others compared it to the double helix of the DNA molecule. A few, of a more mystical bent, talked about its resemblance to the caduceus of Mercury.

For the first time in a long while, Danny found himself in awe of a machine. There were only 6 Quantium 7000s in existence and they knocked spots off the competition. Thanks to their quantum processing cores, these babies could compute 200 times faster than the next best model.

He rubbed his palms on his jeans and entered.

Robert Morganfield kept his eyes fixed on Danny’s face, letting him know he was studying him and noting his reactions. ‘You’ll forgive me if I don’t stand,’ he said. ‘This old body of mine finds it hard to get going once it stops.’

Danny turned his attention from the computer to the man whose company owned it. Robert Morganfield, looking older than his years, was one of the few people in the field of computing Danny regarded as his equal.

He noticed how physically different they were. Polar opposites in just about every way. Whereas Danny was wiry from drug abuse and poor eating habits, Morganfield had a body accustomed to exercise which had not taken kindly to a sedentary lifestyle. Rumour had it he’d been shot in the leg by his wife or stabbed in the groin by one of his mistresses. Danny’s information suggested deep vein thrombosis leading to necrosis of the leg muscles.

Whatever the cause, Morganfield’s running days were over.

Of course there were other differences between the two. Danny’s black hair was still thick even with the grease removed. And he dressed like a teacher determined to look trendy. Morganfield, on the other hand, had wispy white hair and a suit that said confidence and money.

Is this a glimpse of me a quarter of a century from now? Danny wondered. You, Mr Morganfield, look like one unhappy fuck-up. All that money in the bank and I bet you can’t find a single person in this building who isn’t happier than you.

Morganfield shifted in his chair. A wince telegraphed a burst of pain as he moved his leg. ‘How much do you know about the Quantium 7000?’

For want of a spare chair, Danny leaned against the featureless wall. ‘Everything that’s been published.’

‘And its operating system?’

‘Multijax? I wrote it, as well you know.’

‘The Quantium Corporation say otherwise.’

‘The Quantium Corporation are a bunch of lying fuckpigs. They stole my code and my algorithms and you know it and they know it.’

‘So if I need modifications to the source code, you’re the man for the job?’

‘A highly illegal job. You’d have to reverse engineer the compiled code and then you’d be breaking the terms of your licence.’

‘My experts say it’s impossible.’

‘Your experts are idiots.’

‘So you can do it?’

‘But I ain’t gonna. I’ve already tangled with Quantium’s legal department and it’s not an experience I’d care to repeat. It’s been a pleasure meeting you, Mr Morganfield, but if that’s all then I’d best be on my way.’

‘You haven’t heard what I’m offering.’

‘It ain’t enough.’

‘You need about 700,000 pounds to clear your debts.’

‘Nearer 750,000.’

‘My offer then is that plus a million.’

Danny experienced a moment of dizziness. He reminded himself to play it cool. Should I ask for more? Or would that make me look greedy? How about half up front?

‘I can make a phone call,’ said Morganfield, ‘and have half the money in your bank account by the time you get back to your hotel. Do we have a deal?’

‘That was always a foregone conclusion, wasn’t it?’

‘I do my homework, Mr Jasinski.’ Morganfield eased himself out of his chair and put his weight on an aluminium walking stick. ‘Let’s go to the old interface room - TIMMI 1. There’s someone I’d like you to meet.’




INFORMATION DUMP (from wikignosis): A quantum computer is a device that manipulates data using quantum mechanical phenomena such as superposition and entanglement. Quantum mechanics deals with the physics of matter and energy on a subatomic scale where the familiar laws of classical physics break down.

In conventional computers the smallest unit of data is a bit (short for binary digit). All bits represent 1 of 2 states – either 1 or 0 (equating to yes/no or on/off or positive/negative).

Quantum computers aren't limited to two states; they encode information as quantum bits, or qubits, which can exist in superposition.

This superposition of qubits allows quantum computers to work on several million computations at once as opposed to the ‘one-step at a time’ methodology of conventional processors.




Level Minus1 was an underground labyrinth of service corridors with nothing to indicate what lay behind the metal doors peppering its steel-faced walls. Probably, surmised Danny, stock rooms for Sybernika’s more expensive equipment.

He walked side by side with Morganfield whose limp barely slowed him down.

‘Have you seen that swimmer?’ Morganfield asked. ‘That Sally Rosen girl?’

‘The one who lost her leg?’

‘The replacement she bought is a marvel of engineering. You couldn’t tell it from the real thing. And it acts like a real leg. I bumped into her the other night at some charity ball. She was wearing a short skirt and looked very fetching. If you didn’t know she had an artificial leg, you would never have guessed. Never in a million years.’

A robot service vehicle trundled into the corridor. It started towards them, sensed their presence and rolled back the way it came.

‘You and I,’ said Morganfield, ‘are the only two humans down here but we’re not alone. There are over a thousand machines beneath the Golden Pyramid. Their combined output is comparable to that of the United States on the outbreak of World War 2.’

They came to a green metal door. Morganfield placed his hand on a metal plate and allowed his retinal pattern to be scanned. Two loud clicks betrayed the door unlocking itself a moment before it swung open.

Without waiting to be told, Danny stepped through. This old interface room was not as impressive as the one he’d left. There were only two sarcophagi here, lying base-to-base in the middle of the room. And there was no Quantium 7000. Just a Nyvax 890 with each of its three modules lining one of the walls.

Morganfield limped in and positioned himself in front of the console. ‘Please hop into a sarcophagus and make yourself comfortable.’

Danny baulked. He wasn’t keen on total immersion virtuality. His last experience of it had triggered a psychotic episode that lasted for days. But that was before he’d started on the Fromoxodin. So long as he remembered to pop a pill the moment he felt anything coming on, he’d be fine. He hoped.

Danny stood over the first sarcophagus. As its name suggested, it resembled a coffin. Inside was a plastic receptacle shaped to accommodate a person lying on their back. Just looking at it gave him the same feeling he got when he walked into a dental surgery.

What the hell. For 1.75 million clams, I’d drill into my own root canal with a rusty screw.

Aware he was beginning to sweat, he climbed into the sarcophagus, settled into the receptacle and closed his eyes so he wouldn’t have to watch the lid swing shut.

Plastic moulded itself around his body, making him feel like he was sinking into mud. Even through his clothes, he could sense heat radiating from the machine. His skin tingled as millions of needles pin-cushioned his epidermis and sent out mild electrical impulses which shorted out his nervous system. And then there was a flash of light as the interface made direct contact with his mind.

Disjointed images came at him thick and fast. Random noises like an orchestra tuning up. Feelings of fear, bliss, hysteria, vertigo, amusement, confusion, contentment – one swiftly following the other.

Then things settled down. His brain adjusted to the sensory input being pumped into it by the Nyvax 890 and accepted it as real. Accepted that he was not lying in a coffin-shaped box in the cellar of an office building in the middle of Heathrow Airport .

Instead he was on a tropical beach, feeling sand and water trickle through his toes as a wave retreated. He wore only shorts, sandals and a perfect tan. The sea was calm, clear and blue.

Turning his back on the sea, he saw he was in a bay semi-enclosed by a crescent-shaped cliff. At the base of the cliff stood a large, sprawling bungalow with a long veranda.

All very nice but why had Robert Morganfield sent him here? Come to that, why was he bothering to run such a detailed simulation? The cost must have been enormous.

He walked towards the bungalow and was halfway there when he spotted the girl. She was sitting on a lounger at the side of the building, protected from the sun by a palm tree. Her bikini and sunglasses suggested to Danny a 1930s starlet posing for publicity shots. She had blonde hair in a style he associated with Doris Day and a face that hinted at knowing innocence.

A peach, thought Danny. The sort that belongs in the passenger seat of a sports car. Vroom vroom!

He waved to her. She didn’t seem to notice. As he approached, he fixated on how still she sat. It was unnatural and a little disturbing.

Only when he was standing over her did she acknowledge his presence. She lifted her sunglasses to reveal pale green eyes. ‘Bonjour. And who might you be?’

French! Danny felt a quiver of lust. He’d long had a thing about French girls. Then again, he reminded himself, he also had a thing about German, Italian, Swedish, Russian, Chinese and Japanese girls.

‘Hi,’ he said, hands on hips, gazing into the distance in an attempt to look mysterious. ‘I’m Danny Jasinski.’

The girl let her shades drop. ‘I am Colette. Would you care to converse, Danny Jasinski?’

‘I suppose I’d better.’

‘What would you like to converse about?’

This is like a bloody psychotherapy session. Next she’ll have me lying on a couch telling her about my childhood. What’s wrong with this woman? She talks and acts like a robot.

But that’s exactly what she was. A software robot. No more real than the square root of minus one. Now he’d reminded himself of that, he felt more at ease.

‘You know Robert Morganfield?’

Oui. Robert is my lover.’ She pronounced Robert without the t. Ro-bair.

‘Wow,’ said Danny because he couldn’t think what else to say. He felt like he was in a tennis game where he’d executed a gentle serve only for the ball to come screaming back at him. So Morganfield had himself a virtual mistress? A little popsy he could shape according to his own desires.

‘I am waiting for Robert. He will be here shortly and then I will entertain him. He enjoys my company after a hard day’s work.’

I bet he does. ‘What do you do when he’s not here?’

‘I sit and I wait.’

‘Must get very boring.’

Non. I am not programmed to get bored. Sitting here and waiting for Robert makes me very happy.’

‘Do you ever go swimming?’

‘Sometimes. When I am with Robert. He likes to see me swim.’

‘Do you read books? Watch television? Crack open a bottle of vino and get blind drunk?’

‘Why would I?’

‘You’re a very shallow woman, Colette. Very shallow.’

‘Would you like to see me swim?’

‘Not really.’

‘How about I fix you a drink?’

‘No offence, but I think I ought to get going.’

‘Very well. Au revoir, Monsieur Danny.’ She moved her head slightly and stared straight past him. Danny had the impression she’d already forgotten he existed.

He headed back towards the beach but had only taken a dozen steps when the beach and the sea and the clear blue sky disappeared. There was darkness. He could hear his blood circulating. A flash and a tingling sensation.

The lid of the sarcophagus swung open. He found himself looking up at a white ceiling. And then Robert Morganfield was peering down at him.

‘So, Mr Jasinski, what did you think of my little world?’

‘Stunning.’ Placing his forearms on the edge of the sarcophagus, Danny sat up. ‘I didn’t think I’d live long enough to see VR as realistic as that.’

‘That was Avalon II. With your help, I aim to create Avalon III which will be a million times more detailed. Right now, all I have is Calvados Bay, the bungalow and Colette. With Avalon III, I can have a whole island, complete with jungle fauna.

‘Shall we return to my office? I’ll fill you in on what I expect from you.’




The walls of Robert Morganfield’s office looked like they were covered in shiny soot. It took a moment for Danny to figure out he was surrounded by banks of seamlessly-joined TV screens.

He and Morganfield sat either side of a chrome and glass desk.

‘What did you think of Colette?’ Morganfield asked, stretching his game leg.

‘Impressive. Is she conscious?’

‘According to the Mohl-Schneider test, she has machine consciousness. Whether or not that in any way equates to our own consciousness is a matter for debate.’

‘Must cost a fortune keeping that little world going. Or is it only there when it’s needed?’

‘It’s a research project. So long as Colette provides us with fresh insights into artificial intelligence and machine consciousness, she’s permitted to stay in existence.’

‘And as soon as she’s no use, you’ll pull the plug.’

‘My Board of Directors will. Right now, they’re seeing rapidly diminishing returns on the company’s investment. In their eyes, she’ll soon be surplus to requirements. I’ve no intention of letting those bastards put an end to her. That’s why I’ve called you in.’

‘I don’t get it. She’s a cybernetic construct. A glorified mass of pixels. Admittedly a highly complex one, but nothing to shed tears about.’

‘I’m in love with her.’

Danny felt like laughing but knew it could cost him a job he badly needed. For once in his life, he was going to have to apply tact. ‘Look, she’s very beautiful, but there are millions of equally beautiful women out here in the real world. And no shortage of ones looking to keep a billionaire company.’

‘She was once a real  woman. Flesh and blood just like you and me. We were lovers and she made me very happy. Unfortunately I couldn’t do the same for her and she killed herself.’

Oh you fucking nut job. You poor, pathetic, lonely, desperate loon. ‘I’m sorry for your loss, Mr Morganfield, but you have to let go. That thing inside the box is an illusion. She’s not your Colette – the one who died on you. That Colette’s gone.’

‘You ever hear of a brain bucket, Mr Jasinski?’

‘I’ve seen one in action. Can’t say I was impressed. The day a machine can truly read my mind is the day I put on a dress and call myself Gladys.’

‘I’ll have my tailor measure you up. And I’ll throw in the matching accessories myself.’ Morganfield allowed himself a wry smile. ‘It’s nearly 6 years since Sybernika developed the Sygnus I. It – and its successors – can scan and store the entire contents of a human brain.’


‘You said you’ve seen a brain bucket in action.’

‘Yeah. This guy stuck it on his head and he concentrated and concentrated for about ten minutes and then some technician looked at a readout and said the guy was thinking about lions. And the guy said actually he was thinking about cats and everyone went whoo! because the brain bucket was almost right.’

‘Those brain buckets are improving all the time. Give it 2 years and they’ll reach the stage Sygnus I was at 6 years ago.’

‘You’re saying you had something like 8 years lead on your competitors? But you never brought it to the market?’

‘Didn’t get the chance. His Majesty’s Government decided this was one toy only they should be allowed to play with. So they took it from us and made it Top Top Secret.’

A chill went through Danny as he connected the dots. ‘You’re telling me you loaded your girlfriend’s brain into a computer?’

‘A copy of her brain.’

‘Man! I’ve heard some sick things in my time but this beats them all by a country mile.’

‘I’m not interested in your moral viewpoint, so you can cut the outraged condemnation. The question, Mr Jasinski, is how do we save Colette?’

‘To be frank, Mr Morganfield, I’m not sure I want to.’

‘I need somewhere to hide her. Somewhere my board of directors can’t get to and interfere with.’

‘The Quantium 7000?’

‘It has a vast memory. Big enough to give her an entire island instead of just that one little bay with its beach hut and bungalow.’

You can’t hide an entire island in a computer.’

‘Not even one with a quantum processor?’

‘No. Not unless...’ Danny broke off. He had it now. ‘That’s why you want me to reverse engineer the operating system. So I can rewrite it.’

‘Give it a hidden storage area no one but you and I will ever know about. It’ll be my own private universe.’

 ‘You’re asking a lot.’

‘I’m offering a lot.’

It was a tasty proposition. Quite apart from the much-needed cash boost there was the prospect of getting back at the Quantium Corporation. The thieving bastards. Not to mention the kudos of hacking the supposedly unhackable.

‘I’m going to need a Schnell Integrator,’ said Danny. ‘You wouldn’t happen to have one knocking about?’

Morganfield looked impressed. ‘You’re not supposed to know such a thing exists. It’s an even bigger secret than the Sygnus 1.’

‘Have you got one?’

‘Of course not. And I’ve no idea how to obtain one.’

‘Then I’d better do some shopping, hadn’t I? Assuming you’re willing to stump up half a million for a bit of kit.’

‘If that’s what it takes.’

‘I’ll be back first thing in the morning. I’m going to want my own office and someone to fetch for me, massage my ego and take the occasional bit of abuse.’

‘Already arranged. I’ll see you tomorrow.’

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