(C)overt Operations
Sergei ignored the technician making repairs to the sports center he was casing. With the neon-weave hoodie, sunglasses, and duffle bag slung over his right shoulder, he looked like nothing more than another athlete visiting the sports center.
The center itself was unusually white- reminiscent of decorations on earth, rather than the blacks and bright colors of Neo Miami. The contrast was such that it was impossible to make out anything beyond vague shapes in the city streets just outside the doors. A smell of septic and old corn permeated through Sergei’s nostrils.
Long, narrow corridors spanned around him in every direction, and Sergei strode towards what he wanted- the men’s locker room entrance to the fitness center.
Sergei strode through the deserted men’s locker room, his boots echoing through the unpopulated showers. He tapped the green neon thread lining the handle to his bag, and the Portable Integrated Wireless Hub System lining a hidden compartment in his duffel bag turned itself on, its overlay projecting into his contact lenses.
Nothing appeared on Sergei’s list, beyond the mobile phone, earpiece, and eyecams he had on his person, but that was acceptable. Sergei disabled the connection to his earpiece, and with a couple shifts of his palm pulling at the red neon thread, his IWHS was now showing the same type of signal as a mobile earpiece.
Sergei choose locker 231- located in roughly the middle of the room- and dropped his duffle bag into the compartment. He took off his hoodie and hung it on the provided coat hook, then emptied his pockets into the duffle bag, changing from his boots into a pair of sneakers. Finally, he closed the locker and punched in a new 6-digit pin code.
Sergei walked into the exercise room, exchanging brief nods with the few other visitors- mostly Shemi employees, he was sure- visiting the fitness center as he positioned himself on a treadmill, one row behind and to the right of what his contact lenses were telling him was a wireless access point. Sergei set out to start jogging as he used his irises to steer the pointer and navigate through the menus.
Sergei allowed himself to become lost in the jog as he examined the sterile white walls, light blue mood lighting, and news reports (“Today, new improvements to our police force’s Electroshock Gauntlets have been introduced by-”). Sergei allowed himself to be lost in the jog, not thinking about how much money he still owed, avoiding the topic of the family left in Russia he hadn’t heard from in nearly a decade, even somewhat managing to forget just why he was there.
After around an hour of light jogging, Sergei left the fitness center, entering the locker room and taking a quick shower before putting his boots back on and re-donning his hoodie. Before re-packing his pockets, Sergei pressed a pair of buttons inside of his duffle bag and felt the IWHS attach itself to the underside of the locker’s bottom shelf.
Slinging the bag over his shoulder, Sergei left the Shemi Corp. Sports Center.
Step 1, complete.


When he returned home, Sergei checked a couple messages before settling himself into his office. His office had no roof, instead having the ceiling pulled to allow him access to the wiring running through the floor above him. The glow of lights from his servers and the light of his desktop monitor lit the room, and a faint humming could be heard.
Sergei accessed the IWHS he had left at the sports center, which had connected to the Shemi wireless network. Over the next couple of days, it would install a keylogger and key monitor to every device that connected to that network, before being found and harmlessly purged in the regular checks corporations run. The amount of data he’d receive would be immense, but it would allow him to proceed with the next step.
Sergei shot a message to his handler before electing to hurry up and wait.

The faint hum of computers surrounded Sergei as he continued his work, filtering through the activity logs of nearly 200 people from the previous couple days. Finally, he found it.
A single, seemingly innocuous email- but the coordinates on the phone’s location features that a careless employee had forgotten to disable- 20l, 50L. Coordinates, near the Edge.
He sent an email with the data to his handler.

The Edge was characterized by a peace that Neo Miami never achieved. The bustle of cars, distant neon lights, and low hum of foot traffic were nonexistent.
Labor mechs marched in synchronicity, metal grinding as they strode over the rough, crater-covered surface. Each was bearing a symbol of Shemi Corp on their shoulders, and they stomped on the ground in a certain pattern. A platform opened, and they stepped in.
Screams soon followed.

Thirty stories above ground level, overlooking downtown Neo Miami- neon blurs speeding across the roads, a long bustle of people- Angela Palmetto stared at the Seed resting between her index finger and thumb.
“You’ve done very well, Sergei.”
Sergei swallowed, running a hand across his shaven head.
“T-thank you, ma’am.”
Angela clinked the Seed gently upon her desk.
“I think you’ll find your position in this company much more stable come the morrow, Sergei.”
“That’s very kind of you, ma’am.”
“Indeed. Rising Star thanks you for your efforts, Sergei.”
As the man bowed and scurried out, Angela fingered a key on her desk’s intercom.
“I want him watched. If steps a toe out of line, if he tells anyone about what we did…”
“It will be seen to, ma’am.”