Freelance troubleshooter Andrew Sokolov is approached by a fixer contact, Darling, about an urgent job. Sokolov and his ally Maddox, a former cop, meet Darling at the Highpoint shopping complex, not realising that they’re being observed by their occasional compatriot, hacker 3dgel0rd Weedlordvegeta.
Darling tells Sokolov and Maddox that an experimental CPU called the Octagon was stolen that morning by armed gunmen. The Octagon, a prototype developed by megacorps ümi and NBN, was being transported by a mobile integration unit (a hi-tech van) from the Melbourne airport to the ümi arcology in the Bay. Outside Tullamarine, the convoy with the integration unit was attacked; the guards were killed and the unit (with the Octagon) was taken. Police are investigating, but the freeway surveillance systems were disabled during the attack, so they’re short on leads.
Darling wants Sokolov and his team to find the hijackers and regain the Octagon; it has to be done within 48 hours or the CPU will self-destruct. The hijackers disabled the van’s tracking systems, but Darling is confident it’s still somewhere in the Melbourne Sprawl. Once they have regained it, they are to call Darling for instructions on where to exchange it for their payment.
Sokolov negotiates payment with Darling and gathers some additional intel, including pre- and post-attack footage, witness statements and notes on evidence collected by the police. After he and Maddox leave, 3dgel0rd continues to monitor Darling, learning that the fixer is working for ümi – why is the corporation turning to freelancers to retrieve its prototype?
Sokolov recruits the rest of his team – Maddox, 3dgel0rd, the investigator Tanno and privacy cultist Snow – and they meet in a Hungry Jacks to go over the job. Sokolov shares his intel (3dgel0rd keeps hers in reserve) and they work out a plan of attack for gathering data over the next few hours.
- 3dgel0rd hacks into the freeway surveillance systems to check the video of the attack. She realises that the systems weren’t actually disabled; instead, another hacker deleted the footage as it was recorded in real time. That suggests a very skilled hacker working with the hijackers – but any hacker can be outhacked.
- Snow gets in touch with Jemima, a contact from her time at ümi, and they have a loud argument in the Northlands carpark, which is still a thing that happens in the future. Jemima tells her that the Octagon is an organic processor, designed and cloned by ümi – and every corp in the Sprawl wants it for their own, including NBN.
- Maddox, who is still indentured to Breach Security, visits his contact Vale Cobb for answers – he can tell from the evidence that the hijackers used a restricted Breach rocket launcher in the attack. He learns that his old boss in the police, Jeremy Rogers, has apparently gone rogue with gear and operatives – or maybe that’s just a convenient story for Breach to tell.
- Tanno and Sokolov head to the crime scene vicinity to look for witnesses. They find information at Adult Sexylandplex, where one of the skeevier porn enthusiasts makes a habit of filming everything around him. From his camera drone footage, they see the attack play out – and realise a police cruiser was watching the whole thing…