Prologue

Excerpt from an interview transcript:

<8Bit>: “Look, if Synthware has something their competition wants that badly, they’ll find Runners who can get to it.”

<MIRIAM>: “You give Runners a lot of credit. In your opinion, what makes them different from any other criminal with cyberware?”

<8Bit>: “You ever heard of a lady called Grace Mary Hopper?”

<MIRIAM>: “Famous Runner?”

<8Bit>: “Nah, she lived back before megacorps were a thing. Invented the first language compiler.”

<MIRIAM>: “I really don’t know much about computers, sorry.”

<8Bit>: “It’s fine. Hopper’s the one that recorded the first official computer bug. The system went down, and she went looking and found a moth stuck between the relays in the main frame. She taped the thing in the logbook with the comment, ‘First actual case of bug being found.’ Snarky lady. Wish I’d been around to buy her a drink.”

<MIRIAM>: “I don’t think I see your point.”

<8Bit>: “Runners are moths. Doesn’t matter how perfect a machine you build. There’s a weakness there, and Runners will find a way to exploit it. They’re resourceful in a way that wage slaves aren’t. Any organization is susceptible to them.”

<MIRIAM>: “Well, not any organization.”

<8Bit>: “Any organization. Doesn’t matter how much cred you throw at the problem. There’s always a bug in the system. There’s always a glitch.”

Chapter 1

The chopper blades thrummed like an overclocked hard drive through the void of the dead sky over Neosakka. Inside, Glitch clutched at the grimy, pleather armrests of her seat. Her stomach’s desire to empty itself onto the riveted floor was at odds with her head’s desire to Be a Professional, Dammit. Glitch abstained from the debate, and instead focused miserably on the overrated nature of biology in general. Each hammer of her heart beat brought them closer to first contact with their mark. That conversation would either put them back on terra firma, or get herself and the rest of the crew blown out of the sky back into the proverbial dust from whence they’d come. Either way, circumstances were only about to improve…

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