Operation Zero Balance: paolojcruz

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Written by paolojcruz for The 6-Pack Challenge 

Round 3: Crime, Justice, and Revenge

Who paid the cost for the Great Crash? Not the financial service corps that offered high-interest credit that desperate working stiffs couldn't ever hope to repay. Definitely not the banks that underwrote all those sub-prime auto loans and dud mortgages. (Too big to fail, they said.) So, the Powers-That-Be went after the little folks, The Defaulters. They rounded them up in Collection Facilities—massive private debtor's jails—along with their next-of-kin. They're forced into mandatory labor under the tireless gaze of robot Fiscalizers until they recover a fraction of their debt... or die trying.

The 'lucky' ones go incognito. They spend their lives running away from ruthless Collection Agents and mercenary Skip Tracers.

I was a Skip Tracer once. It was a decent living if you didn't think so hard about the consequences.

That all ended when my former husband racked up billions in debt at the roulette tables. He tried "writing off" his arrears at the business end of a revolver. But he just ended up passing the burden onto me. So, I went underground.

Now my crew and I will make the system pay. We're well aware that the First Omnibus Bank uses a distributed network to house its loan data. We recognize that taking down this one facility won't somehow magically lead to debt relief for all Defaulters, never mind actual economic justice. Heck, if we just screw up the collection schedule for one billing period, that would already be a sweet deal. So that's why we're here.

Eri 404 has already disabled the main security grid from his/her terminal in the Hi-Ace. S/He knows the SysOps will most likely rez several layers of black ICE around the main servers quicker than a cheetah on Synaptex. In fact, s/he's counting on it; s/he told me s/he's fully prepared to risk losing a few neural pathways in the surge, if it means pulling this off. A real trooper, that one!

What's more critical is the actual meatspace defenses. Once the Bank's private goon squad realizes there's been a breach, it's a tiny window—we're talking microseconds here—before they lock down the compound. Fortunately, that's just enough time for Miss Shilpa and Hieronymous Wu to sneak into the server rooms from above.

Of course, we plan to send Tony the Oni to the main entrance as a distraction: bust a few heads, break shit, and generally do what he does best. At the same time, Open Sorceress will cast a Lotus-Eater-grade glamour to make it seem like there's a full-scale assault on the facility.

If it all goes according to plan, Miss Shilpa ought to be able to hold off the books long enough for Wu to crack the storage drives, blitz the loan records, and set up the L-bomb. What's not so certain is them making it out before it all goes ka-boom. That's why I'm paying them - or their next-of-kin—the dragon's share of the Units for this run.

Well, here goes nothing...

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