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Tiffany Korta

Digital Love (IC)

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The Starlight Room, Tremont Hotel, Downtown Freedom

10 am, 18th September 2012

The interview had been arranged months ago, before the incident at his offices, and Ms Van Cleef had insisted he attend. She reasoned in her irritating calm tones that it was his absent that has caused all the trouble in the first place. And if he was honest things his hunt for Angela had reached an impasse. Despite his best efforts he’d been unable to track down her movements; it seems she’d dropped off the radar again. Probably planning one of her crazy “art crimesâ€.

As the waiter took Amir to the table to meet the Reporter for his interview something seemed familiar about her, that wasn’t unusual he’d meet plenty of the press over the years. But that wasn’t that, it wasn’t until the waiter was getting him seated that the penny dropped. She was wearing a sensible, expensive, suit and her blond hair was tied neatly up but it was unmistakably Merge Trois!

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His response to Ms. van Cleef had been a simple retort, explaining how next time he gets kidnapped by a mad scientist and held for months while he gets examined and experimented upon, he'll wait until he has a clear spot in his calendar. In the end, he had listened to reason, and he had dressed up nicely for the interview. Hair brushed back, but calculatedly just a little mussed. A dark slate gray suit, with a crisp white shirt that wasn't buttoned up all the way, same was true with the cuffs.

He ordered a coffee, and sat there waiting until the interviewer took a seat across from him, and he was about to offer to get her something, before seeing who it was, and then he slowly leaned back in his seat and looked at her, as he laced his own fingers together. "Hm."

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Merge didn’t seem at all bothered by Amir’s blasé response. Instead she polity ordered a coffee, her voice full none of her normal bounciness. She sipped her water before speaking.

“I hope you don’t mind my subterfuge, but I remember you saying that I’m not welcome at your offices. How are the refurbishments going anyway?†she paused slightly before continuing, waiting for some kind of response from Amir “This isn’t the magazines fault they did book this interview, I just hijacked the event. I wouldn’t normally do this, but I think I’ve found out something you’d like to hear. I’ll even cover the cost rather than let the magazine pay for it.†It was hard to tell with Merge but she seemed to be telling the truth.

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He chuckled, like she told a joke, and the blase went away, and he was smiles and welcoming, and nodding at her words. Unfolding his hands he took a hold of his glass, and sipped at it, before speaking, his tone light, conversational, "Well if I was one of those angsty, dark types I hear so much about, my comments back to you would be choice, and perhaps utilizing furniture, but seeing as how that wont get anyone anywhere..." Leaning back in his chair, he moved a hand before him gesturing to her. "I am, for lack of a better term, all ears."

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There was a brief pause whilst coffee was served, and Merge asked them for a few minutes to consider there order.

“So I went through the portfolio to see what could be worth so much effort. Most of its was straight forward stocks, share and some property. All of which are still being maintained, you old romantic you!†she gave a little smile “The stand out was a safety deposit box in her name. So I managed to get into the vault and take a peek inside, and no I won’t tell you have I did it, and of cause it was empty. But of cause you must have done all this as well, as I’ve said before you’re not a stupid man. But I’ve got avenues of inquiry that you couldn’t even think about, and wouldn’t consider investigating…â€

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"Average yield per quarter 9.83. Highest profitable year had a yield of 14. I am familiar with her portfolio. Our split was initially amicable." He yawns a bit still making it look to any onlooker that this was a casual interaction between them, and he reached into his pocket and pulled out a card and flipped it onto the table, a glossy black and gold credit card. "Do you know what that is, Ms. Troi? Besides a credit card, do you understand the gravity of it? Have you checked my net worth today? Not my company's, mine? Look long and hard at the credit card. You know I am unreasonable man, and right now we are talking business, let's cut to the chase. And you can have a day, twenty four whole hours with that card." He smiled slyly and lazily leaned back in the card, his posture not matching how steely his gaze was on her.

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She gave a sly smile as she looked at the credit card. “Ah you’re working on a false assumption. That this is all about the money. I’m here sitting here because my employer left me out to dry, revenge if you like. I have my reasons for what I’ve chosen this lifestyle, not that I feel like sharing my reasons…â€

She got out a pen and wrote on one of the restaurants napkins.

“I really don’t want a reward for doing this, surprising at that seems. But if you feel the needs to repay me for my services, this is the name of one of the finest Neurological expert in the city.†She slid the napkin towards Amir “She’s also almost impossible to get a consultation with. I don’t have the influence or the money. All I ask is a promise that you’ll try to arrange a meeting no questions asked.â€

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And then he smiled, like the cat that caught the canary. "Done and done. But..." And he folded his arms behind his head and he grinned at her. "That is assuming that card is me trying to repay. It's not. It is instead show you a slice of the real good life. My benefits package is extensive, and I am willing to be more than a little magnanimous, now that we aren't standing in the middle of an invaded boardroom of mine. I can use talented people, and you wouldn't be the first super powered person I hired."

He slowly leaned forward and picked up his cup, and took a sip of it. "Of course that discussion can wait until later."

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For the first time since Amir had first met her Merge actually seemed lost for words. She sat there for several second almost open mouthed She then gestured over the waitress to order her food, and recovered her composure. Finally she’d recovered enough to answer the question.

“It seems I’ve misjudged you, not something that happens to me often. You can’t understand how much I’m tempted to accept this offer. But there are thing I’ve got to do, important things, that might mean I’ve got to do less than savory thing to achieve them. And I couldn’t, I wouldn’t, drag you into that world even if it’s by association.†She managed a sad smile “I just hope this isn’t a limited time offer…â€

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"I understand." He picked up the card of the neurologist, and pulled out his phone, starting to tap away a message. "I also understand that I am in need of someone capable of counter corporate espionage, and it is common to hire people with... interesting backgrounds for those posts." This girl, possibly better than most anyone who knew about him, had a fair idea of how much of a shark he really was. Certainly he was a fair shade more ruthless than most, he hid it behind calculated buffoonery, and still managed to retain principles. However, in the financial world if one could not be hardhearted in regards to their rivals, than it left one open to exploitation.

"Consider this proposition open ended for now. You should still take the card, you look a little peaked, I think some sun would do you good. Especially after what comes next."

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“Why would I need the holiday when I have this beautiful sun kissed skin?†she gave a broad grin, it seemed that she was back to her old self.

“So about this safety deposit box, it took some digging and calling in a few favours but I managed to find its contents. I assume you’ve heard the term Arche-Up Companies? Start-ups that take a bit of technology from places like Arche Tech and HAX and try to turn a profit from them. Well it seems there was this company called Ephemeral Entertainment who somehow got there hand on a Brain Scanning machine. They thought they could take brain scan from a famous person and us it to construct the perfect virtual assistant. But there was some kind of disagreement over image copyright and the recording came back into the hand of Angela. And it seems that recording of a, mostly, sane Angela Milan was what they were after.â€

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"I am familiar with Arche-Ups, I had an opportunity to invest in several. I elected not to because it tended to lead these sorts of mad scientist things. And now, it appears someone has absconded with that scan? This sinking feeling in my stomach when you are around, tell me, is it ever going to get better?" He ordered another coffee, and settled back in his chair some more. "Does this neurologist have this?"

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“Not exactly. You see Ephemeral Entertainment disappeared right after the whole debacle, and now suddenly there back again. A little suspicious coincidence wouldn’t you agree?†she took another sip of her coffee.

“So I, well Camera, tried to follow the digital paper trail and find out who truly owned them. And he’s no slough at running down a digital data trail, thanks to his unique gifts.†There was a hint of sadness at that final part “But even he couldn’t trace through all the shell companies to find the true owner. I’m no expert but it was almost like someone was actively trying to stop him.â€

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"And we're reaching an impasse. I can put resources in to looking into this, but if someone is actively stopping you like this, I do not know what I can do, and seeing as how you are spoon feeding me information right now. So let us cut to the chase. What am I going to do?" Despite the sarcasm that one could take with his words, it wasn't there, as he simply did not know where she was going, and this investigative process was not where his strong suit.

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“And I thought you were the brains of the operation?" Merge gave another of her cheeky smiles

"It just happens that Ephemeral Entertainment are based just a few blocks from this very restaurant. I’m sure if a rich handsome investor turned up and asked for a tour they’d be hard pressed to turn that person down. Especially if they expressed an interest in trying out the machine. I’m sure they’d even find a visit scheduled in if necessary.â€

She took another sip of the coffee “They we can have a look around and maybe find evidence what going on, especially if you’re comfortable not asking how I got the information. And if we find the recording… well is it stealing if you’re recovering something placed in your care?"

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He looked at her carefully, though there was an amused little smile on his face. "There? Was that so hard?" He made a few mores texts, not even looking at his phone. "I am not going to worry over such things. Because the moment we find something... things are going to get interesting. They are aware of who they stole it from." The phone buzzed and he lookedf at it, his brows furrowed. "There, Ms. van Cleef is making an appointment with them, as well as one with that neurologist. Also, she told me to stay away from you."

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There was a flash of concern, possibly even anger, on her face at what she perceived as Asad playing her. Her voice keep it’s normal jovial tone. If Asad hadn’t been paying attention to her he might not have even noticed the slight change in mood.

“Ms Van Cleef and myself have some history, I wouldn’t blame her for her options.†She gave another of her bright smiles “But, and I feel I have to make this clear, I might be a thief but I’m an honest woman. If I give you word I’ll keep it to the letter.â€

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"Dear, pointing that out often has the opposite effect, especially to someone who is lied to all day, everyday, by the sincerest of people. And all of whom have ample reason leave me to twist in the wind if it will serve their interests. So, I would advise not saying those sorts of things." His expression still mild, charming, not slipping in the slightest, not calling her a liar, just stating plainly that assuring him that she was honest would do little towards it's intended effect. "And surely you are not overly concerned about my assistant's opinion on you?"

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She gave a much more genuine smile “It seems that the world of business and the criminal underworld operate in much the same way. Though I’m guessing in business getting fired is much less terminal.†She gave a little sigh “I thought for a change we might try trust, rather than each of look out for the point where one tries to betray the other.â€

Seeing her coffee was empty she called for refill.

“Anyway I quite like Ms Van Cleef, it rare you get people who are quite so unflappable. You should pay her more, and you can tell her I said that!â€

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"I am a little pessimistic when it comes to the nature of others at times, too many bad experiences, and I do try to learn from past events. But..." and he paused then, a little dramatically, turning to the waitress and flirting with her as he ordered another coffee himself. His attention, invariably returned to Merge however, and he nodded to her, "You are right." Picking up his phone as it vibrated, and he looked at the screen.

"And that is why I hired someone who hated me when were in school together, and pay her at a fixed rate with upsides that is higher than my salary. Like I said, I have an eye for talent. Appointment is made for thirty minutes from now." Arching a brow and grinning just a little bit as he looked at her sidelong and slyly.

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A voice spoke right beside his ear. “I have to go collect something, meet you, and me as well, there.â€

It was of cause Merge, but she was also sit right in front of him an enigmatic smile on her face.

“I’ll answer the two question that everyone asks about my powers. She is me and I am her. We’re both aware of everything that the other is seeing. It’s like being in a room with hundreds of television and being able to watch and listen to each one. And then there’s taste, touch and smell as well…â€

She gave a little smile “And no, it’s just one Merge and one partner.â€

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His lips curled into a small smile as he shook his head slowly. "And I get accused as a showoff? Hm. My rule is never be completely honest about one's powers." But he nodded at the instructions for what came next. "For the record, I do not expect this to be fun. Annoying perhaps. As I can promise that my presence will only slightly be welcome... Though, again, money." And he flashed her a winning smile, and signaled that they were done. "And I have to admit I am spoiling for a fight, more than a little bit." Offering up the waitress the card he had offered to Merge earlier, "Point though, for the double entendre with... yourselves, that is new for me."

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“The clues in the name honey. I’ve been asked about it a couple of time. Not subtly either, it’s just the people I tend to work with.†Standing up Merge gave a broad smile “Probably best if we travel separately, less questions that way. Unless you want all the gossip pages talking about you with your criminal girlfriend.â€

She leant in and wrote the address on a napkin and then gave him a small kiss on the cheek.

“Well that should give them something to talk about. You’ve got reputation to keep up after all.â€

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Watching her as she leaned in, he didn't respond or flinch away. He could see she liked pushing buttons, liked playing, liked messing with him. Probably because he was baited by her frequently. "Alright, I understand." Casually snatching up his napkin, and putting it into his breast pocket of his jacket. "I felt a little insulted, only three paparazzi followed me today. See you there, I am certain you have my number so you will be able to contact me via a text when I get there." His smile broadened, and he took her hand and kissed the back of it gallantly, as he rose to his feet smoothly, playing the audience he knew he had. "Now if you will excuse me, I have an appointment elsewhere, I will take care of the cheque."

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About an hour later Merge summoned Asad to outside the unassuming building where Ephemeral Entertainment. The Merge who meet him earlier was subtly different. Her suit was substantially cheaper and slightly crumpled her hair, normally immaculate, was slightly disheveled. She also carried a bundle of papers and folders.

“What do you think? I’m your hassled assistant, this is what normal assistants look like when dealing with the likes of you.†Her smile suggested she wasn’t entirely serious, she leaned in to whisper in his ear “I've bought Camera Obsura along, he’s invisible but not intangible. Just pause enough at doors to let him pass, I’ve told him to brush you as he passes so you know he’s through.â€

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