Chapter 3: Damage Control (Part 3)

Back at Megasys, the leadership team has created a war room of sorts. Scott Mitchell and Kaseem Soni have taken over one of the larger conference rooms in the building and made it their temporary focal point for responding to the news. People were frenetically moving about the room, trying to keep on top of the support queries coming in at a blistering pace. The situation was made even more hectic than your typical meeting due to the need to have someone in the game as a virtual representative of Megasys Incorporated and the Webwar developers. Naturally, this representative had to be using the virtual reality apparatus not dissimilar to the one Hanh had been using before his demise. Even though the representative was just doing the digital equivalent of standing on a soapbox in the town square that was the game’s lobby, the virtual reality nature of it required some movement and an array of cameras that could track every move. Webwar was known for its player communication, and while the one member talked the in-game crowd through the situation and what had been done thus far - plus what the company would offer for the inconvenience - others were doing the same on social media, the site, and various official and unofficial discussion boards centered around the game. In the middle of it all sat Mikhail O’Neil and Scott Mitchell, along with the top security people that the latter could find on short notice. Kaseem could handle investor and public relations, but ultimately there was a technical problem that needed a technical fix. They were joined by Special Agent Jill Tamano of the Seattle Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Step two after making the required statement and acknowledgment under the CDPA was to engage law enforcement in order to handle the criminal justice angle of the investigation. It was not necessarily a formal part of the law, at least not more so than the duty to report any crime, but the financial markets were known to be fairly quick to punish those companies who did not publicly do so. For Mikhail, this was an entirely new aspect of his job, and he had had to confer with the team back in Houston to receive a crash course on dealing with law enforcement. He had not had to ask far - in other areas of the company’s practice such encounters were as regular as a cup of coffee - and the knowledge of what to do was close at hand. Mikhail’s job could be said to ensure that collaboration with the officials did not need to happen for his clients, with the general idea being that he would find any problems before the bad guys did. Being on the other end of the protection model was entirely new to him. He was thankful that the word from Houston was to just give his testimony, cooperate as needed, send corporate the files securely for further analysis, and and let the lawyers handle the rest. God bless the lawyers. Mikhail knew they would have their work cut out for them. The sound of a phone ringing causes everyone in the room to stop and look in Mikhail’s direction. He had just finished giving his statement to the FBI agent and was back in a heated discussion about whether Megasys should implement a rather pricey solution that a vendor had suggested not too long ago. Jill fishes a smartphone out of her FBI-issued jacket and steps into the hallway. The solution that one of the senior analysts was arguing for would do the job, but even for Scott Mitchell the cost was non-trivial. He was already dreading having to account for downtime needed to upgrade and replace some older systems Mikhail had identified, but the system and required monitoring would throw an extra wrench in the budget that they did not particularly need. Mikhail knew there was a cheaper alternative that would do 90% of what the analyst wanted, but it was firm policy to not recommend specific solutions by name; he could say the type of appliance or software needed to fix a given hole, or suggest a particular fix to code when required, but one mantra often repeated into his head was that they are testers, not salesmen. Indeed, that more laid-back approach to consulting - solve the client’s issue but leave the details of the implementation to them - had won over a fair number of Coyote’s early clients and was a reason for much of their repeat business. Jill steps back into the room and points to Mikhail. “Sir, I need to ask you to come with me. You are not in trouble and of course any cooperation is completely voluntary on your part.” Everyone stares at Mikhail with wide eyes, their minds jumping to conclusions before the agent had even finished her request. “Seattle police may have a lead in the case and the FBI has requested jurisdiction. Since you are the one who identified what may have been stolen, I would like you to be on-site to identify if, in fact, whatever we may find is related to your earlier investigation.” Mikhail is floored by the request. Help on an actual investigation? Him?! Growing up, Mikhail had read all the classic detective stories from Sherlock Holmes to The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. Even now as an adult he counted the old film noir genre one of his favorites. To put it lightly, being a detective had long been a dream of Mikhail’s. The depression he had slid into when the Houston Police Department had told him that his blindness in one eye caused by a rare genetic disorder that continued to baffle every ophthalmologist he had spoken to over the years was enough to automatically and categorically disqualify him from the force was profound. Discovering cyber security and the ability to be a digital detective of sorts to scratch that itch was ultimately his salvation. His bosses back in Houston would not be very happy about him going off the reservation to work with the FBI, though. Legal would almost certainly have a heart attack too. That particular factor made his interest all the more keen - who was Mikhail O’Neil to not take the opportunity to mess with someone in a way that, while inconvenient, was ultimately harmless? Besides, the scope of work did say to do whatever was necessary… “Alright, Special Agent. I am in! Presuming, of course, that Scott here does not need me at the moment.” If Mikhail were a puppy, he would be making those eyes that are impossible to resist.

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About Charles Herrera
John Doe's true identity is unknown. Maybe he is a successful blogger or writer. Nobody knows it.