Glitch got out the car in the lower rear garage they all used when meeting at Hawk Global. Sort of felt like a scary movie scene back there with the dark shadows and flickering lights. Glitch ignored it, though. He hadn’t been afraid in a long time. He may not be the stone cold killer Jack was, or the berserker Scratch could be if someone pushed him too far, but he could hold his own. He had to working with them. Even Scratch thought twice when Glitch was holding a gun in his hand. The same gun he’d had to leave behind because Eagle didn’t like them coming to meetings armed. Well, unless you were Jack, because no one told that man to leave his weapons at him.


Glitch found his way to the basement elevator and got on. Scratch took up position at the elevator door to wait until Glitch got back down. The panic button on the inside of Glitch’s watch would alert Scratch if he needed back up. It pulsed out a short airwave, much like broadcasting on the air, and was untraceable. The flaring sound on Scratches receiver would let him know to come up. It was low-tech, and old-school, but it worked for them in hairy situations.


And damned if this wasn’t one.


Hawk Global, for all its nefarious dealings, had the face of a cutting edge firm of technology helping to propel the world of science into a new frontier. As such they carried contracts with various government entities, school endowments, and under the table deals. It was a place of steel and glass, yet so fucking murky it made Glitch sick to his stomach just to be inside it. The elevator, surrounded in double-paned one-way and soundproof glass seamlessly ate the floors of the over fifty floor building. At floor forty-nine the elevator stopped and Glitch got off. The empty reception area covered in all white, from the desk, furnishings, and walls, greeted him .


I’m the darkness, Glitch thought of his black attire. The stain of a criminal on an otherwise pristine world. Bullshit. If working for Hawk hadn’t taught him anything else, the world was a disgusting, dark, and dangerous place, and Glitch loved every minute of it. He’d probably be bored out of his mind if it was any other way. But he was not in the mood to be played with. He needed to find out just how far this shit was going with Eagle. And if it was as bad as Araceli mentioned, and Glitch had a hunch about, then they needed to make an escape plan. And quick.


On the other side of the reception desk, behind the large Monet, there was another door, to another elevator. This one would take them to floor fifty, to the office of Eagle. the real one. Not the one on forty-nine where he met business executives and played golf with a glass. No, to the one where Jack could play dirty with a mission, if Eagle wanted to see it. Where people could come in whole and leave out in pieces. And where Glitch, Scratch, and Jack kept coming back to get their hands dirtier. A slim key inserted, and turned, and he was on his way.


The doors slid open without a sound and Eagle was standing there, in front of the large one-way window looking out at the city. Tall with salt-n-pepper hair, classic features, and dark eyes, Eagle was a man of importance and confident carriage. And why not? He had nothing to fear. With just a snap of his fingers he could make whole governments topple. If Glitch didn’t think he could outsmart the man he may have been afraid. For now he was just irritated and wanted this meeting over. Eagle took his time turning around with a glass of some sort of amber liquid sloshing around round ice. He sipped it slowly, watching Glitch through his silver-rimmed glasses.


“You have forty eight hours, Glitch, to finish what you started with Amsterix. You haven’t failed me before. I trust this won’t become a habit?”


“And who said I failed?” Glitch asked, taking a nonchalance stance in the face of his enemy. Screw him if he thought he was going to make Glitch sweat.


“Come now. Let’s not play games with one another. I asked for their company to lose over a billion dollars over a week’s time, and I’ve seen nothing but those funds fluctuate.”


“And how, pray tell, would you know that without me sending you a report?” Glitch asked. Eagle always got a report after a job. Until then, he knew nothing about how it went, or so he said.


“Do you think I have to answer you?”


“No. But, how about I tell you what I think? My equipment is key-logged, or tracked by a screening software. From there you found a hacker, or IT specialist with minimal skill, apparently, to try to watch my program, formula, and data outputs to monitor my progress. What you didn’t explain to the asinine busybody that an effective program to move money will do one or two things: move it in small increments that are barely traceable, or, two, do a gamble roll where the funds fluctuate through different amounts, to mimic stocks for example, to make the loss and gains appear like a very poor decision made on behalf of the accounting department. I did option three: both,” Glitch said, making a plausible reason for the program that Araceli had run to take back some of the gains he’d taken daily.


“I thought you said there were only one or two ways, Glitch,” Eagle asked with cold smile.


“And I thought you realized that I’m smart enough to do what I want. That’s why I’m here, right? As of now, if I send you the files, six million will be available, washed, and moved within your twenty-four hour deadline. I didn’t fail. I don’t fail.”


Glitch did the numbers quickly in his head. He wasn’t lying, exactly. By stopping Araceli from running her program he had been able to move the amount of money that he had been expected to. Enough to put a large dent in Amsterix’s standings. He just would have to make some adjustments to the “nest egg for convicts” fund he’d also been supplying. Either way, Eagle’s non-argument over what Glitch said about the equipment told Glitch that he was right. Eagle was watching them through the programs, as best he could. And they were probably being set up for a fall. The problem was figuring out when, where, and how. There were a millions possibilities, and thousands of jobs, some small, some huge, that could put them away for life, if not find them on tables for lethal injection.


“Then there should be no reason that I can’t have what I want on time. I have some other jobs I’m going to need you all in on.”


“Will do,” Glitch answered, gritting his teeth as Eagle turned around, dismissing him without a word.


Rarely were they put on jobs together, but when they were, it was usually nasty. The sort where Jack made a mess, Scratch took what he could from that mess and made it look clean, and Glitch made it appear as if none of it ever happened. The type of jobs that made Glitch realize that he didn’t mind the smell of blood anymore, and screams all sort of started sounding the same when someone was in pain. Jobs that made Jack go into a dark place for days after it was done and them all wondering if any of this shit was worth it.


Yeah, that’s what Eagle was talking about. And those jobs carried death sentences with them if they ever got caught. And one of them was probably the exact job that he would betray them on. Glitch didn’t rush down to the garage. He went down in the same easy pace he’d come up. But when the doors slid open in the garage and Scratch saw his face, Glitch knew, by Scratch’s harsh curse, that Glitch was wearing his mask.


“That bad?” Scratch asked as they got in the car. Glitch stayed mute until Scratch opened his scrambler and started the car for the extra noise. As they pulled out the garage Glitch cleared his throat.


“We have further proof that he intends to set me up. Come on, Amsterix is a subsidiary of Hawk, and he never mentioned it once.”


“He has us stealing money from himself, no loss for him, and dangerous for you,” Scratch said with a curse.


“That’s not it. I don’t know how, or when, but he’s going to fuck us forty going north, and he’s going to use me to do it.”


“Come again?”


“My equipment has his stamp, Scratch. The only gear that’s safe is my personal stuff I’ve accumulated and he knows nothing about. But I can’t use that on jobs with him, he’ll flag it and see our other stuff. So, I’m going to be the trojan horse.”


“No fucking way, Glitch.”

“Yes, Scratch. And if we don’t find a way to get out of this shit, I don’t think I can stop it. He’ll have everything he needs to rip us a new one. I’m your leak.”

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