Al was bored with his job at Takashima. He had just enough ambition to get to middle manager of Internal Data Sec. The pay stunk, the work was insipid and his coworkers were drek. He spent most of his time reading dull reports and snoozing through pointless meetings. The highlight of his day was his brief, daily flirtation with the bosses’ assistant, one Ms. Camille Starfall.

Part Elf, part human, Ms. Starfall had deep green eyes and luminous skin. She would appear and disappear at the precise moment she was needed.

One Monday morning, Ms. Starfall appeared at Al’s cube, wordlessly dropped off a report, spun on her heels and was gone before Al could compose what was certain to be a devastatingly charming pick-up line that would finally land him that date.

But a love affair with the radiant Ms. Starfall was not be, thanks to that stupid report and the rabbit hole he fell into.

Al could not resist investigating data inconsistencies. It was his speciality. This morning’s report was full of them. By lunch, someone from Corp Sec told him to back off. Undeterred, Al dug and dug. He was so engrossed in his investigation, he failed to notice his coworkers distancing themselves from him.

He failed to heed the additional warnings because the hunt was so enticing and he knew his was close to solving the riddle. After 2 weeks of digging, Al hit the jackpot – a scandal that went straight to the top of Takashima.

Al’s first thought was to do a little black mail, take the cred and retire. It was at this point, he remembered the warnings to back off and realized he was in danger.

Al asked around and got the name of a fixer, The Cash Machine, rumored to be able to pull off miracles. Al spent his paltry life savings and arranged for an extraction.

The extraction was strange. The team seemed too large and very disorganized. Not what Al expected from professional ‘runners.

In a full panic, Al ran away from the teams, turned a corner and stood face-to-face with the Corp Sec guy.

“I told you to leave it alone,” and he leveled his Browning Max Power at Al.

As the life drained from his body, Al Keaton’s last thought was of Ms. Starfall.

“The Morning Report”

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