Consequences

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This chapter was crafted by the amazing ChristopherOpyr


Sampson fought the urge to tug at his broken nose. He'd splinted it the best that he could as he'd ridden on auto-pilot over to the Matrices, but it was a crap job; he may have been a software genius, but he didn't know squat about medicine or basic first aid. He sniffed, sending a surge of pain shooting up his skull, and he could taste the blood in his postnasal drip. He'd have to actually see someone soon or his nose would never set right; but of course, that would have to wait. There was still more to be done.

Since arriving at his basement headquarters, his drones had been deployed, diverted from their various missions, abandoning Abby's apartment and the various corporate perches and seedy hotel jobs. Their prying "eyes" had other matters to which to attend now. Within a few minutes, the first would be reaching the outskirts of the Westcott territory and closing in on the GPS coordinates for the Underground.

Once more, for Abby, there was nothing that Sampson could do but wait. He hadn't even bothered turning on the Dark Web feed. He had told himself that he had kept the feed off so as to avoid the inquisitive eyes of the two other late-night hackers with which he shared the space, yet if he allowed himself a little honesty, he didn't know if he could bare to see whatever truth the feed would reveal.

So, instead, he focused on what he could control - his death. As he tapped at the keyboard, he initiated a new FrindyPeeks account - Morgan Lambert - uploading five years' worth of backdated photos, while simultaneously erasing Sampson Ford from the FrindyPeeks facial algorithms. A few more keystrokes and with the help of some well-placed backdoors in the systems of his less scrupulous targets (thank you Herbert Fitzgerald) and various legal records were planted in databases throughout the country. Bank accounts were set up, money transferred, and digital histories drafted all with a few well-place taps of the keyboard and premade executables. Sampson, no Morgan (that particular change was going to take some time for proper adjustment), had always made sure to prepare for any eventuality. The chance that he'd be discovered one day had never been far from mind.

His new identity propagating out over the digital infrastructure, Morgan turned his attention towards his old identity. Where had he told Hugo Addington to pick up Contestant 64? Ah, yes, portside, just south of the Underground coordinates. His car should be arriving there any minute, soaked in his blood (at least Nick breaking his nose had done some good), and with discarded restraints in the back. Add in the bullet holes provided by the drone that should be arriving right about -- yes, now -- and, with any luck, if the Addingtons bothered to look for the drop they'd come to the conclusion that the Resistance had offed him for his betrayal, while rescuing Contestant 64.

Morgan switched to the drone's camera feed, keeping the window minimal so as to avoid the gaze of his fellow hackers. As he watched, explosive bursts flared out just off camera, and armor-piercing bullets shredded the driver side door. Another volley struck the hood and soon enough he could see smoke rising from the engine block. A few more minutes and the whole thing would be in flames. It's too bad he hadn't had a cadaver around for a body swap, but hopefully his DNA would do.

He'd have to erase those records from the system later, after his death had been confirmed, or at least suspected. There were way too many loose ends for his comfort, but that's what happens when your ex-girlfriend's idiot boyfriend forces your hand in the middle of the night - things get messy.

An alarm blared in his headset, sending another bout of throbbing through his already aching temples. That would be the rest of the drones, he thought. They'd arrived on the perimeter of Westcott's terrain. He closed out the first drone's camera and switched over to his eyes downtown. Multiple views overtook his screen in a plethora of settings: night vision, infrared, ultra-violet, and of course plain old natural light, among others. It was the infrared that dominated his interest. A large heat signature could be found right over the GPS coordinates provided by Hugo, but it wasn't coming from the buildings above - no it was coming from below the street, which Morgan supposed was appropriate for a place that called itself The Underground.

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