breach

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The room was vigorously protected. All media links were closed. But that station was the secret heart of VIA. Wallace and Mallory were surrounded by d-mat. And that was their blind spot.

The room contained a fabber and the fabber was switched on. All fabbers were connected to the Air. And I was in the Air.

One crack is all it takes, I had told Arcady in the Farmhouse. One line of code to widen the crack. One custom chip built from scratch in a booth. One transmitter to widen the bandwidth.

Information wants to be free.

Clair must have heard the fabber whirring into operation. She recognized the chip for what it was as soon as it was active, and instantly she too was connected to the Air. Data flowed both ways-into her, and out of her. I had all the transcripts and I would read them moments later; I could see through her lenses again. She was already exploring the station's command systems, via the menus I had provided. Environment, Attitude Control, D-mat.

"Stop that," she told the room. The breach had been noticed, machines activated. Had she taken even a moment longer she would have been jumped out of my reach forever. "Cease all d-mat activity."

She snapped her fingers, and the system recognized her command gesture, just as it had recognized Mallory's. To the station's label-focused AI, they were one and the same now.

D-mat shut down all across the station.

Clair accessed a menu called Communications.

"You found me, Q," she said to me, not knowing I could already hear her. "Now, how do I get out of here?'"

"You don't," came Wallace's voice through the walls of the room.

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