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   Chapter 4 No.4

Project Looking Glass By Mark Anthony Tierno Characters: 4731

Updated: 2018-04-10 12:02


Her chest was threatening to bust through her too-tight blouse, as her eyes held a slight hunger and willingness. She looked ready and willing.

Sigh, I was just too beat. Damn!

I mumbled something incoherent, half-waved a hand, and went into my office.

The auto-light went on as I came in and went over to my desk.

"ICy, " I muttered to activate my associate.

I sat down heavily as ICy flipped up from inside the desk. I was worn out; that was the first time that I'd been on the receiving end of a murder rap Q and A.

"Hi-ya boss, " the familiar head materialized on the holo-screen, "you look beat. Hard day?"

ICy had definitely ditched the Mohawk; in fact he was completely bald.

"Cute look, " I sighed, "got something for you."

I took the papers out of my shirt that I'd gotten at Kaver's and opened up the upper right hand drawer; the one with the document scanner in it. I shoved the papers in it, closed the drawer, and pressed a button on ICy's control console.

"Scan and summarize, ICy."

ICy whistled while scanners went through and read, analyzed, and summarized the documents. It also checks for fingerprints, chemicals, identifying marks, and just about everything but make coffee.

I really wish he'd stop that whistling.

"Ready."

"Okay, what've you got?"

ICy fixed me with a firm gaze and said, "First I want an apology!"

"What?" I thought I saw a slight pout in his expression.

"You didn't like my former hairstyle; and I don't like being bald."

"Huh?"

Who programmed this thing?

"No apology, no info."

I just remembered; I did.

"Okay, okay. I apologize. I'll even compromise; you can have hair if the style doesn't get too wild, but you can have any color hair you want. Okay?"

ICy smiled and then brown hair sprouted from his projected head; and then promptly turned plaid. I can never win.

Sigh, "Okay, now give."

"Summary as follows: It's a brief on MUT. MUT grosses about 80 to 100 billion a year, deals in hard and soft science, everything from toasters and spacecraft to biogenetics and biotabs, plus real estate, asteroid mining, an orbital station, the works. Like your typical multinational, they have their fingers in just about every pie, including Project Looking Glass."

I was wide awake. "How much of a bite in the Project?"

"They're one of the principle c

ontractors; they own and help maintain the orbital station collector part of it."

"Well, " I sat back, "we appear to have some sort of a connection now."

"Do you want to hear what the invisible writing says?"

My head snapped up, "Invisible?"

"Yeah, the kind of stuff visible only under UV."

"Well?"

"It gives the name Operation Sunburn and a file number."

"That's it?"

"Yup."

"Hmm. Have you had any luck with MUT's cyber-system?"

The head straightened itself, made a throat clearing sound, and said, "Well, first there was the risk. I mean, I could have been- "

"Yes, get on with it!"

"I performed rather well, I would say."

"ICy!"

"Okay, I got in."

"How'd you do it?"

"Well, " he blushed slightly, "their system is a female and- "

"How can a computer be- "

"We got our social needs too, " he said defensively. "She was programmed by a woman and so-"

"Okay, so what'd you find?"

Computers; you can't live with them and you can't-.

"Well, we got to talking and I found out that- You know, she's a very lovely computer and- "

"ICy!"

"They're using artificially inflated cost overruns in various projects to hide some money transferred to a secret project, " he responded quickly. "Wanna guess the name?"

"Operation Sunburn?"

"Yup. I'd say about 30 billion over the past year or two."

I whistled. Of course that was chicken feed to MUT, but still, this was an expensive project.

"And a number of technical personnel have been transferred to various phony operations that fall under Sunburn."

"How many?"

"About a couple of hundred. They're primarily replacements for people transferred out of various jobs. But before you ask, no I can't tell you what those original jobs were because the personnel reshuffling was too creatively complex, "

"Hmm. Anything else?"

"Nope. About that time her boyfriend began to intrude."

I won't ask.

I began to think. Some very nasty possibilities were beginning to arrange themselves in my mind. But, since the department wouldn't help me, I needed some outside help.

"ICy, I'm going home to get freshened up a bit. See if you can find out anything on that file number. Keep track of me through the Comnet, " I activated the homing signal on my wrist communicator, "then I'm going to look up a few family friends."

"Aye, aye."

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