Outside on the grass near the office building, as news trucks and police cars pull up, Karina and I are standing over Marco Marcucci, one of the thugs that attacked me and laid waste to my apartment the other night.
He’s in too much pain to move much, so he isn’t escaping. The two of us are occupying ourselves looking at Netnect News on Karina’s portable PC screen.
The headline reads, “Kendrick Deal Hacked, Secrets Exposed.”
And the Social Media Killer’s latest manifesto is posted below it.
“Councilman Deal thinks he can use his position of power to cover up his crimes, to springboard into becoming the Mayor of the largest city on the planet through charisma and corruption. He is wrong.
“We all knew he was a corporate crony, accepting money from Blyth Industries and Magitek Corporation to fuel their tax breaks, but what we didn’t know is that he has been accepting illegal campaign contributions from foreign lobbying companies over in the Eastern Union. And worst of all, he pilfered the account of the Cobb County School Board during his time on the board, spending over one million dollars pledged towards educational funding on renovating his office and building a private swimming pool in his backyard. There’s even more to his actions that have plagued our city, but I will share this another time.
“I have attached all of the offending documents, and hope the media tears to shreds this despicable man.”
All this happened while we were in his own office.
Deal is being escorted into the back of a police car as we read this, and I am pretty sure it’s not just for his own protection.
“Well, shit,” I say to Karina. “Maybe I really am the Social Media Killer. I show up, and people get taken down.”
“It probably means we’re on the right trail to discovering their identity,” she says.
Unfortunately, she is probably right.
I lightly kick Marco a few times. “Hey, are you ready to answer our questions?”
“Ugh…” he moans. “Leave me alone…”
“So did you really come all the way here… just to find me?” he asks.
I laugh. “So you ARE one of the thugs who broke into my house.”
“Whatever you’re going to do, do it.”
I stomp on his foot, and he cries out in pain. “Sorry. How careless of me.”
“Morgan…” Karina looks at me with eyes of disapproval.
I blush. Normally people aren’t around for when I interrogate people so I don’t have to be conscious about… being a jerk. “All I want is information, guy. Who hired you and why?”
“Hell, if that’s what you want, that’s easy,” Marco says. “I’m an employee of Motokawa’s, and I was assigned as part of a Social Media Killer protection contract to find out information for and prevent vulnerable individuals from being hurt.”
“We already know you were one of Motokawa’s,” I say. “By the way, I don’t know if you’ve been told now, but… you are going to be made a ‘free agent’ pretty soon.”
“Wh… What?” His face goes pale. “How do you.. Oh my stars…”
Pretty tame phrase for a thug.
“You’re welcome for the heads up,” Karina says. “Are you grateful?”
Whoa, didn’t know this was turning into a good cop/bad cop situation. I glance back at Karina and nod for the skillful pivot.
“Yeah, not that I’m going to be around long enough for anything to matter…”
“We’ll get you a running start if you tell us more about this contract. Who’s behind it?”
“We don’t ask those kinds of questions,” he says. “We just get our assignments and do them. It was probably a third-party anyway so we’ll never know who it is. All I know is they gave a list of politicians and business guys to do security for, a list of people to question, and you were on that second list. Sorry.”
That’s… a pretty big reveal. Not that there was a list of random assorted people to question and beat up; that there’s a contract out to protect all sorts of rich and famous people who might be implicated by the Social Media Killer’s attacks.
This must be more serious than I thought.
“Well, that’s okay now. here, I’ll get you out of that. Thank you for helping us,” I say. I get behind him to lift him up on his feet, and then I push him onto the ground. “That’s for my TV.”
“Morgan, you sure are petty,” Karina says.
“He zapped me with a taser shaped like a magic wand and punched me in the face with his robot hand! This isn’t petty!” Geez, some people get all the revenge-related luck; some people get to pursue the people who killed their parents or kidnapped their daughters, and I get stuck with avenging my trashed apartment.
“Hey, I’m sorry, okay?” the thug cries. “I shouldn’t have taken your Flash Gordon poster, but… I really like Queen, okay?”
“Not okay. That was one of my favorite posters!”
Karina rolls her eyes and I try to calm down.
“This ain’t fair…” Marco whines loudly. “We get our first lead in the hunt for the hacker guy and I get sent protecting a two-bit politician that leaves me like a sitting duck.”
I glance at Karina and back at him. “What lead?”
“Oh, I don’t know. Some tiny details nobody ever noticed until now. Like how when the guy hacked the Tim’s Codes guy, his wife and brother-in-law were mentioned as survivors in that big MARTA crash last year. It wasn’t never made public or nothing, so it might be someone who was also in the crash.”
“Oh, is that why you chose me? I was there in that,” I say.
Karina’s eyes open wide. “Wait, you were what? Oh… You were probably…”
“Yep.” It happened after we met, but before I trusted her enough to reveal that part of my life to her. “It was part of an attack by Athena Supreme. Eight died in the end but it was very close to a few hundred. I’ll… tell you about that later.”
“Actually,” Marco says. “We only learned that information last night. You were on the list because you’ve been involved in other recent events that are kinda suspicious, and you don’t have a very big digital footprint. They think the Social Media Killer’s probably not someone who has his own account.”
“Is it also a guy?” I ask, because he keeps using “he” and “his.”
“Oh, I don’t know. I always assume it’s more likely to be a guy because, what kind of girl is going to be this angry?” He chuckles and then coughs from the pain. “And I gotta add here, I never thought you were the real culprit. I just did my job.”
“Well, good luck on your free agency,” I say.
Karina and I start walking away from him as he continues to lay on the ground, writhing in pain from broken ribs.
“Wait up! Are you ever going to help me up?”
We don’t have the time to spare, anyway; we need to go see R8PR immediately.
He’s going to be very excited about all of this.