Toreador is getting on my nerves. I’ll admit, I’m out on the edge of civilized space here, living in a non-C3 sanctioned apartment on the fine line between the haves and the hackers. Tori thinks I work at one of the Slyph Cosmetics houses up near the heart of the city, so okay, I’m not being entirely honest. Place like this though, if Tori knew where I really clocked in, he’d probably shake me down for double the rent.

So the question I was faced with this morning was, did someone tip him off, or was he just testing the waters.

I live out here on the edge because, well, while C3 provides nice tidy living spaces for its personnel, there’s not a lot of bang for the buck there. You end up living shoulder to shoulder to shoulder with a bunch of people who all work with you. Not a lot of interesting conversation between the neighbors.

Its not intended that way, Mike says they envisioned civilians mixed in, that the C3 personnel would be living in complexes owned and secured by C3 that were opened to the public as well. It kind of evolved this way, with new personnel, particularly transplants from out country, getting placed in the C3 buildings out of convenience as the company grew. Each time a civvy moved out, a C3 moved in. Out of all three buildings, I think there’s one eighty year old climatologist and a twenty-something orthodontist still in the mix. Outside that it’s all uniforms and carpools to Coerdian West.

Back to Tori though, it was one of those generic slips of paper stuffed into my postbox. You know the stuff, the kind you dispose of after the fact, not glaspaper. It’s almost hard to hold onto it’s so lightweight. A printed up notification of a rate hike, an annoyingly big rate hike. I commed him as soon as I’d read thru it. Here in the apartment I don’t have full time access to L.A.R.Y., it takes a particular plugin for that, one neither I, nor the seedy neighborhood glas vendors, has access to. that means most comms are voice only unless I’m talking to someone with an S2 rig or higher, not so common outside the business world.

“Temple Towers, Front Desk Speaking.”. Tori was one of those guys whose accent and manner shifted depending on who he was talking to.  At the moment he was pretending to be something more along the lines of a concierge. He had aspirations of owning a higher class establishment someday. Stranger things have happened, I suppose.

“So Tori, after the rate hike you’re going to be hiring a proper receptionist, right?”

There was a long pause. Okay, perhaps I could have opened a bit more… Diplomatically.

“Miss Denali, room ten three sixteen, right?” Tori also knew the name and face of every single individual in the building. With close to two hundred apartments, this was no mean feat, especially for someone without any glas in their head.

“Afraid so, Tori. Any chance we could chat about the new fee structure?”  Because that’s the way normal people handled things. Once upon a time I might have popped in through his bedroom window at midnight, just to be sure I had his undivided attention. The impulse was still there, the feeling I should just reach out and shake him until he found a more reasonable solution. I stepped on it, pushed it away into the dark. You had to live the cover until it became second nature. Clearly I wasn’t there quite yet.

“I think that would be an excellent idea. Why don’t we meet at Tate’s on the Corner this afternoon? Vince comes in to cover for me at 1.”

It was my turn to pause for a moment. I was expecting a run of hard-nosed discussion, Tate playing the hard up property manager, me playing the underpaid girl in a shop. I wasn’t expecting a reasonable discourse. Best just to run with it and see what happens next. The coffee shop would be safe enough, a half dozen people, cameras and lights. And coffee, that’s a bonus right there.

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