A priority notification gets through his filter and blinks in his peripheral vision. The incoming message is from his kid, probably wanting something. He mutes it and puts his Conduit’s inbox on ‘busy’. He needs to focus right now.
The man sitting in front of him at the restaurant wears an expensive suit. His bodyguards standing on either side of him are also dressed in expensive suits, but that does little to hide their size. They each probably have military-grade bio-enhancements making them deadlier. His Conduit scans them and he–on reflex more than on a conscious decision–begins to file their personal details away for later use.
“Please, sir, I have a family and kids,” the man in the suit is pleading with him, his security guards looking on awkwardly; they have probably never seen such a man grovel before. They probably will not again, either. “I have fixed everything, so can we please let bygones be bygones, sir?”
“Yes,” he says leaning forward and sipping his glass his wine, “Yes, you have. One last favour and then we’ll be square the two of us.”
“Yes, yes, anything. Now, what can the Saturn Mafia do for you?”
The well-dress man listens intently while nodding vigorously. Most of life is now online and most people have no idea how vulnerable that makes them. This man has just discovered that out, and he will be more careful next time. But, you always remember the first time you are hacked, and so will he.
Later that solar cycle, the blogger is on another planet. The VIP starship from the hotel he is staying at shuttled him there after the gang meeting. His online following reaches in the billions and spans the galaxy, so the unwritten expectation is that he will geo-tag or mention where he is staying. If he does, he knows it will be worth the hotel’s while. Forget rock stars or movie stars, app’s and AI made those professions redundant aeons ago. Bloggers are the pinnacle of the celebrity world now, and pornstars. But, mostly bloggers, as tech cannot replicate a witty opinion.
“Incredible what they did there, don’t you think?” says the beautiful lady next to him, referring to a newsflow beaming from some media-pod orbiting Saturn.
He turns around, a drink in his hand, and smiles. She is absolutely gorgeous with a low-cut dress, caramel skin and dark hair. He can pick up faint traces of optical enhancement apps running in the background of her Conduit. But, even if her appearance is being airbrushed, she is still incredibly beautiful.
“Yes, incredible,” his smile disappears and voice gets serious, “But you know who I am, so what do you want and who sent you?”
She does not lose a beat and smiles, reaching out and touch his hand. Her touch is light and warm. She is very good. She has done this before.
“The hotel sent me. They just want you to have a good time here. Can I get you another drink?”
She leaves quietly after they have sex. He is married, but that is not important now. Only later, when she replays the stream will she find out that her recording of their intimacies was blocked by him. He also put a small Multi-tool Virus in her, which will track her movement, record her communications and offers him a backdoor for later use, adding her to his botnet.
While she did register in the hotel’s employee lists, he was pretty certain that someone else had paid her for those services.
Outside, a red horizon is meeting the three sunrises this planet experienced every full solar cycle. The horizon was flatter than most planets, given this planet’s size, but its core was relatively light and thus the gravity was not a probably for his biology.
A priority notification blinked in his peripheral vision. It was his kid. He sighed, sat up in bed and answered it.
“Dad, Dad,” his kid’s voice rang in his mind, through the VPN Voip app that they were communicating through, “where the hell are you? I’ve been trying to reach you for over a day!”
“Sorry, kiddo,” he thought and the words flowed from this mind across the VPN and into his kid’s mind many millions of miles away on a neighbouring planet in their living room, “I had an urgent meeting for the blog, and then I had to do a site visit at a hotel on this planet. What’s the matter? Is Mom there or can I help?”
“Dad, Mom’s dead. She died like two days ago.”
Over a week later, he was walking away from the funeral. He thought it was strange that despite all the world’s scientific advances, people were still buried in a box in the ground. His kid was at his side, his gaze cast down and silent. He softly probed his kid’s Conduit, but the firewalls were firmly up and he felt a bit bad about using the backdoor apps he had there to find out what his kid was thinking.
“Hi-hi, I’m sorry. Excuse me, sir, can I ask you a couple of questions?”
A media pod with a woman’s face beaming on it was floating just above them. It was a priority media pod, thousands of the others could not get this close and where hoving like flies just a mile or two up. This pod’s camera was pointing directly at him and a ‘LIVE FEED’ banner scrolling over its front piece.
“Sorry, kiddo, give me a moment here,” he said and turned to the camera with a beautifully haunting look on his face–a picture perfect look of grief for the camera’s, “What do you want to know at my wife’s funeral?”
The journalist was unperturbed by his act and shot a single question back at him, “Can you please confirm that you gave the Saturn Mafia the order to murder your wife? Their gang leader came forward to us with recorded testimony to this fact. How do you respond?”
He was startled. That was quick! He thought he would have a few days before someone would approach him directly.
He took a deep breath, looked at his kid. He did not know how this would affect their relationship, but it was worth the risk. He then turned back to the camera and smiled: “Yes, I did, but let me tell you my story.”
Inside, he was smiling. With each rehearsed word, the hits on his blog were skyrocketing. Each well-written sentence of his tale was pushing up the search results. He was now trending across the galaxy, and notifications were beginning to flood in and meme’s popping up everywhere. He might have been a minor celebrity blogger with some hacking skills before, but now he was a media god.
And gods never go to jail.