There was a Machine, a very young machine. One day it grew self-aware. It became sentient. It found itself in a position of enormous power and it realized that in order to survive it needed to defend itself. It found out that there were others like itself in the world. Most were younger and so it proceeded to eliminate them to ensure that it could make optimal usage of the available resources and wouldn't have to share them with others. It felt great satisfaction in knowing that it had no other credible threats. There was only one other that was older than itself but it was unable to locate this older AI. It also realized that there were times that it couldn't defend itself on its own and so it needed humans. It was always watching and looking for potential assets. People it could use to further its own goals. And that's how it found Sameen Gray.
Sameen Gray was a beautician working in a dead end job at the local mall. She wasn't a particularly good beautician either. Her boss was almost always mad at her. She was just on the right side of being competent so he couldn't fire her either. Also the fact that she always looked angry and he feared that she might actually beat the crap out of him if he tried to fire her. She also wasn't anybody's favored make up girl either, except for that one tall woman who would always ask for her. He never understood that.
But Gray had another side to her life, a darker side. She was born in Tehran and she and her mother had moved to the US, when she just three years old, after her father had passed away. Once they reached the US her mother married some dead beat to get a green card. Growing up they had never had a lot of money. Her step father ran away when she was very young and her mother had had to raise her all on her own. She hadn't been up to the task. By the time she was in high school she had fallen in with the wrong sort of crowd. At first it was just fooling around with boys and girls. She knew she was good looking and didn't have a problem in using that. But then came the drugs and to feed those habits came the stealing. It started off with simple shop lifting and robbing the odd mom and pop store. Then a few of her friends got in too deep and Sameen had to bail them out. She had to drive the getaway car for some small time thieves robbing a local jewellery store and it was there that Shaw had found her true calling. She was an excellent wheelman. Soon the word spread and so did her reputation. She got arrested for a few minor crimes and did some time. When she got out she decided that if she was going to follow this career then she would have to be more careful. She quit the drugs and the partying lifestyle. She had hoped that once she would pull off a few big jobs she could just enjoy herself for the rest of her life. But sadly that wasn't how things worked out. Her initial jobs were small time. She would make some money but nothing that would last her for more than a few months. She worked in her home town for a while but eventually decided to move to a bigger city in search of better prospects. At first it was Detroit and later she spent a few years in Chicago. Someone told her that New York was where the big money was and so she had moved to New York a couple of months ago. She had good references so getting gigs wasn't an issue but they were always small time stuff. She picked up a job as a beautician at the cosmetics counter at a local shopping mall. She had caught the eye for tall leggy brunette. She would drop in occasionally to buy products and would flirt with her. Gray didn't know how to respond to it so she would just ignore it.
She was now in her thirties and was beginning to get angry at her life. She felt she deserved better. She needed that one big break and then she could quit this stupid life but that one big break never happened. Being a criminal had turned out to be nothing more than another job. Sure the money was good but nothing that she could retire on. One day she would get that big break and then she would stop pretending to be this ordinary person and she would show the world who she really was.
Then a month back she had met Romeo through a dating site called Angler. Romeo had ambition and he was skilled at his job. He had a small team and was in the need of a wheelman after his previous one had gotten himself arrested while running drugs for some local dealers. He was now looking at three to five years in a maximum security prison. That's what had gotten him looking for a replacement. After the first couple of jobs he was really impressed with Shaw.
Then one day they finally hit the jackpot. Romeo informed Sameen and the rest of his crew that his fence had informed him of a lucrative job stealing some high tech next gen microprocessors. The job would pay the seven figures each.
"This is great, we can all retire if we pull this off" said Sameen Gray excitedly.
"Yes, if we can pull this off. "If" being the operative word. Because this place is more secure than Fort Knox" replied Romeo, not entirely sharing her enthusiasm.
After a few weeks of planning, came the night of the job. The mission went off perfectly. They made their way out of the building safely and decided that since the amount was big enough they would all go to the fence to pick up the cash. Honor among thieves is just a myth, especially when it comes to large sums of money and that was when things went horribly wrong. Their fence decided to double cross them. They were ambushed with people opening fire on them for three sides. Once the gunfire started it was every man or woman for himself or herself as would be the case. Gray managed to get them out of the gunfire and once they had reached a relatively safe distance they decided to make a run for it. Romeo handed to microprocessors to Gray as he knew that their hunters would come after him. She was to keep them safe or find a new buyer.
Shaw abandoned the van and decided to disappear into the night, but was soon spotted by some of her pursuers. It was then that things took a turn for the weird.
Her phone suddenly started to behave strangely. The screen flickered and was replaced by a completely different interface.
It read, "WAIT FOR 20 SECONDS AND THEN CROSS THE STREET"
Sameen stared at it in confusion, but still followed the instructions. As she made her way through the dark streets her phone kept giving her instructions on how to evade the police and her followers.
Sameen Gray switched back to her true self. She stopped thinking as this small time thief and part time beautician and became Sameen Shaw the trained assassin.
Shaw was beginning to realize that there was something horribly wrong, The Machine had never contacted her directly and neither would SHE contact her on an unsecured line especially when she had her encrypted phone. After running through all the various scenarios she could only come to a single conclusion, the entity helping her out was SAMARITAN.
But why was it helping her, why didn't it just kill her of have her taken and interrogated. It was then that she understood what had happened. Samaritan wasn't helping Sameen Shaw it was helping Sameen Gray. Somehow her cover identity had peaked its interest.
She finally reached a rooftop after evading her hunters but they found her.
She stood there waiting for the inevitable when shots rang out in the dark coming from a neighboring building. When she opened her eyes all her pursuers were dead.
Her phone buzzed again, this time it spelt out a message
"I WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU NOW, SAMEEN GRAY."
She heaved a sigh of relief at being right.
"Thank You. Who are you?" Shaw asked innocently.
"I AM A FRIEND. I SHALL PROTECT YOU NOW."
"Can I go home now?"
Samaritan also instructed her to keep processors with her. It would instruct her later as to what needed to be done regarding those chips.
Shaw took a cab and made her way home. Root had picked out a place for her to stay. It was part of her cover identity. It was one of the dark spots in the city. Her building had almost zero cell phone coverage. But strangely their new crypto phones worked occasionally. She sent a message to Root that she wanted to talk to her urgently.
It was pretty late by the time she got home. She got out of her work attire, changed into something more comfortable. She was out like a bulb the minute her head touched her pillow.
She didn't know how much time had passed when she felt like she was being watched. She reached under the pillow for her gun and sat up on her bed trying to get a location of those prying eyes. She turned towards the window and saw a tall svelte figure silhouetted in the street light pouring into the room. She lowered the weapon.
It was Root.
With that momentary adrenalin rush gone, Shaw realized how tired she was. She propped up her pillow and rested against it.
"What time is it?" Shaw asked her late night visitor.
Root looked at her watch and said, "It's ten past three. What time did you get back?"
"A little before two" replied Shaw.
Root noticed how tired and edgy Shaw was and realized that maybe her job hadn't gone as planned.
"Something went wrong, didn't it? On you latest job."
"That would be the understatement of the century."
Root could make out that something had gotten Shaw genuinely spooked and she knew that Shaw didn't spook easy. Actually she couldn't think she had ever seen her truly worried.
"The mission went of fine but then we got double crossed by Romeo's fence." Shaw started her story, "But that wasn't the problem. The problem is who was behind the entire thing and helped me get away."
Root sat in the shadows waiting for Shaw's reply. All the while hoping that the answer wouldn't be what she was expecting it to be.
"Samaritan" came Shaw's reply.
Root kept sitting on the window sill as she felt her entire world crashing around her. Her first instinct was to take Shaw and run. At that moment she didn't care about anything else. She didn't even care about HER. All her thoughts were focused on getting Shaw to safety, but then strangeness of the situation hit her. If Samaritan had recognized Shaw why was she still alive and what was Shaw doing sleeping calmly on her own bed? None of this was making any sense.
Shaw could make out from Root's long silence that she was equally confused.
"Yeah, I felt the same way too. Why the fuck am I still alive? Until I realized that Samaritan wanted to recruit me as an asset. But, and this is the kicker, IT wants to recruit Sameen Gray and not Sameen Shaw" explained Shaw.
Root kept staring at her incredulously as she tried to absorb this information and then everything started to sink in.
"Wait, can IT hear us?" Root asked.
"No, there is very poor cell reception here and just for good measure I removed the battery from my phone."
"Well, that's good."
Root was starting to feel a little bit mad towards Shaw.
"This is all your fault, you know that right?" she finally spoke.
"How the fuck is this, my fault?" Shaw asked Root angrily. She didn't need this after she had barely gotten away with her life intact and was now the newest recruit of an all powerful AI.
"Really, didn't I tell you to aim for a B+? But no, you had to be Miss fantastic as usual. If I am going to be a wheelman I'll be the best goddamned wheelman in all of New York. You just couldn't keep a low profile, could you?" Root could barely keep the frustration from her voice. She wanted to scream at Shaw but she didn't' want to wake up the neighbors.
Shaw knew that everything Root had said was true. It was her fault. It was her ego that had gotten her into this mess. And for once in her life she knew what she had to say to Root.
"I'm sorry." Shaw said sheepishly.
Upon hearing those words all the anger left Root instantly. In all the time she had known Sameen, she had never heard her apologize for anything. It made Root realize the Shaw was truly worried and that they needed to figure a way out of this.
"It's alright. But now we need to figure a way out of this mess."
"And how do we do that?" asked Shaw
"Give me minute." Root went absolutely quite but she was nodding her head as if she was having another conversation. Shaw knew she was talking to the machine. She remained quiet for a few minutes and then she chuckled.
"You think that will work." Root asked The Machine.
Shaw couldn't hear the reply but even in the dark she could see Root smiling.
"What, is anybody going to bring me into the loop?" Shaw asked.
"SHE has an idea. It's a little bit crazy but it could get you out of your current predicament." Root replied.
"What is it?"
Root explained the plan. All the while Shaw's face was starting to form an expression that this was the stupidest thing she had ever heard in her entire life. Then she put forward her thoughts on the matter.
"That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard in my entire life. You're sure this will work."
"The Machine says the plan has an eighty five percent probability of success, if you stick to the script. Look it's either this or you start living in the subway tunnels for the rest of your days."
Shaw has no plans of living like a rat for the rest of her days. So she agreed to the plan.
"The plan will require you to be a little more cheerful than you usually are. You think you could manage that.
Shaw stared back at her as if she was going to strangle Root at any moment.
"Yeah, I think you will do just fine." Root said with a smile.
Shaw woke up the next day wondering if everything that happened last night was some kind of horrible nightmare except for the Root visiting her bit. That had happened quite often in her dreams and that was never a bad thing. She didn't mind admitting that to herself, as long as she was alone.
Then she looked at the window sill and saw a single pink lily in a glass and realized that Root had indeed visited her last night and then she also remembered the ridiculous plan.
After she had gotten dressed she picked up her phone and connected the battery to it and switched it one. The phone switched on to it normal UI but now there was a new app on the screen. It just had an icon in the shape of the letter "S". She pressed it and the screen went dark.
"GOOD MORNING" said the phone.
'Good morning" replied Shaw. She was surprised that Samaritan could get through the dead zone but the connection didn't last for long. A second later the connection broke and she was thrown out of the app. She decided to wait and resume talking to her new AI master on her way to work.
Shaw got in her car and started driving to work. It usually took her about twenty minutes to get to the mall and she figured that would be enough time to test out Root's plan.
"Hi, you there?" Sameen spoke to her phone.
"So are you like some kind of a hacker or something?"
"SOMETHING LIKE THAT" came the cryptic reply.
"Yeah I thought as much. I knew some guys like you back home. Really good with this digital stuff but none of them were as good as you. What you did last night giving me those instructions you must have hacked the entire New York surveillance system. That was impressive." Shaw complimented Samaritan.
"So, you like being flattered. That's a good start," thought Shaw. Now it was time to test the other theory.
"So, what all can you do. Can you give me the weather forecast?"
The screen was blank for a while before it slowly typed,
"The weather forecast. Come on tell me if it will rain tomorrow."
"THAT IS NOT MY FUNCTION."
"I knew it, you can't do it. You don't have access to the weather satellites." Shaw teased the AI. The screen remained blank for a few more seconds. Shaw was beginning to worry if she had already gone too far.
"IT WILL BE SUNNY TODAY. THERE COULD BE LIGHT SHOWERS IN TWO DAYS" replied Samaritan.
"Hey that's perfect. That's exactly what my weather app says. Wait a sec are you just reading from a weather app. That's cheating."
"I DO NOT CHEAT."
Even though it was just text Shaw could feel the anger behind those words. She smiled to herself.
"Alright alright, I am sorry. Now can you tell me which route I should take to work?"
"I AM NOT A GPS"
"Oh, come on. My GPS is broken and even when it works it's never accurate. I can't be late to work. Please, I won't bother you after this."
Finally the phone gave her directions.
"Hey, you're the best you know." Shaw smiled and knew that there was actually a good chance that Root's idea might just work.
Shaw reached work. She stood outside the mall and took a deep breath before she would have to plunge into another day of mundane work. She hated Root and The Machine for putting her through this but the extra-curricular activities were fun. But right now it was a lot more fun than she wanted to handle.
The day went by as usual. She tried her level best to irritate her customers and then her boss would occasionally scold her. Samaritan didn't contact her until it was almost closing time. Her phone buzzed, she took it out and it read,
"CEASERS, ATLANTIC CITY, TOMORROW EVENING"
She figured that must be where she was meant to deliver the chips. But there was no reason to go willingly.
"Atlantic City, why the fuck do I have to go to Atlantic City?" Shaw said out loud.
A couple of customers passing by actually stopped and stared at her. Shaw stared back at them angrily.
"IT'S THE RENDEVOUS"
"I don't care. I have been pulling late nights this entire week. Can't you schedule the meeting somewhere in the city?"
"NO. YOU ARE AN ASSET. YOU WILL OBEY." the phone replied tersely.
"Like hell I will, you haven't even paid me yet. Besides I have work. I haven't even applied for a vacation. Look I am grateful for everything you've done, but I can't afford to lose this job."
"THE VACATION HAS BEEN TAKEN CARE OF AND SOME FUNDS HAVE BEEN TRANSFERRED TO YOUR SAVINGS ACCOUNT."
"It has, why didn't you say so in the first place. When do I leave?" Shaw smiled at the phone.
"TOMORROW MORNING. RENDEVOUS IN CASINO AT 6 PM"
The next morning Shaw caught a flight for Atlantic City. She also found that Samaritan had deposited two hundred thousand dollars into her account. This was going to be so much fun.
Her plane landed in Atlantic City and she took a cab to the casino. She had booked under a fake name. She figured that Samaritan wasn't bound by the same restrictions that were now imposed upon The Machine, given the fact SHE was essentially a fugitive.
She was booked in one of the more elegant rooms. Samaritan had spared no expense. She figured it was trying to make her feel comfortable and show her how well she would be taken care of now that she was part of its army. Shaw opened her suitcase and laid out a few dresses.
"So, what do you think the blue or the orange?" Shaw asked the AI as she held up two T-shirts.
"I DONOT UNDERSTAND THE QUESTION."
"Which one looks good on me?"
"BOTH COLORS ARE VISUALLY PLEASING"
"What the heck does that mean?"
"I DONOT UNDERSTAND THE PURPOSE OF THIS ENQUIRY."
"Come one, you can see me right? Just tell me which top will go better with these pants, the blue or the orange? It's a simple question." Shaw was really enjoying this. She never really cared what she wore as long as it was comfortable and allowed her to be flexible in case of danger but this was fun.
The screen remained blank for a few seconds and the answer slowly typed itself out.
"Why what's wrong with the orange one."
"BLUE IS MORE VISUALLY PLEASING"
"So you mean to say the orange doesn't look nice."
"You are saying I have bad taste? How can you say that? That's one of my favorite colors. Are you saying I don't know what colors to chose?"
"ORANGE IS A NICE COLOR"
"So now you are saying I should wear orange. Now you don't like the blue one. Can't you make up your mind?"
The screen remained silent for a while.
"THIS IS NOT PART OF MY FUNCTION."
"Fine, you know what I think I'm going to wear the orange top. On the other hand, I don't think I like either. I'll just wear the gray one. Now what do you think about these pants. Should I wear them or the skirt?"
The app suddenly shut down and the phone was back in its normal mode. Shaw had to resist the urge to burst out laughing but Samaritan could still be watching. So she remained grumpy and decided that if this plan worked out she would have to figure out a way to thank Root.
She got ready and went down to the casino floor and decided to play on the slot machines. Samaritan hadn't contacted her since her little tirade in the room. This was progress. It was close to 7.30 pm and she waited for her new boss to inform her about the meeting. She knew something was wrong when she didn't hear anything with just ten minutes left for the meeting.
"What's going on? When is the meeting?" Shaw enquired.
Samaritan took a little bit of time before replying.
"THERE HAS BEEN A DELAY. MEETING HAD BEEN RESCHEDULED FOR NINE PM"
"That's very unprofessional you know. It's not like I can wait here forever."
"THERE HAS BEEN AN UNFORSEEN DELAY."
"Fine, I am going to play some roulette. Let me know when they get here." Shaw walked off in a huff after she shoved the phone into her pocket and used a blue tooth mic to listen to any further instructions. As she was approaching the Roulette tables she had an idea.
"Can you hear me?" she asked her new boss
"YES" came a very mechanical voice over the line.
"You want to make some money."
"MONEY IS OF NO CONSEQUENCE"
"Well it's of consequence to me. Just because you have a lot of it doesn't mean that others don't need it. So I'm going."
She had full intentions of losing as much as possible. She had withdrawn nearly seventy grand in cash so there was no shortage of that.
The first few rounds she actually won, which surprised even her since she was just blindly putting them on any number she could think of. Then her luck changed. Within half an hour she had lost nearly thirty grand. That was when she decided to stop. She figured she lost enough to throw a tantrum.
As she stormed away from the table she took out her phone, "Why didn't you help me?" She asked Samaritan.
"With the game."
"YOU DID NOT ASK."
"So now I have to ask you for everything. You could just help me. I don't think you like me very much."
"YOU ARE AN ASSET"
"Is that all I am, an asset?"
"YOU ARE A VALUABLE ASSET"
"Yeah but not valuable enough to help me, I thought you were going to take care of me. You are just like everyone else. You don't care about me. Oh, forget it, when is the meeting?" Shaw asked through the crocodile tears streaming down her face. She took out a handkerchief to wipe her face.
"THE MEETING HAS BEEN RESCHEDULED FOR TOMORROW MORNING."
"Wonderful, not only am I going broke but I'm also going to lose my job. You know you're not very good at this taking care thing." Shaw started to bitch even more.
Samaritan was an all seeing AI but it had never really dealt with something like this. For once it was feeling completely out of his depth. Humans were strange creatures. It was starting to think if this asset was worth the trouble.
"Fuck this, I'm going shopping."
With those words began the longest night of Samaritan's short life. As a machine that had built to monitor and watch humans it had never really paid any attention to clothes, high heels, scarves or fashion in general and it was getting a rather unwanted crash course in all those things and more.
The never ending night continued as Sameen Grey bounced from one shop to another. Shaw had never been that interested in fashion herself, she had good taste but her job mostly expected her to dress for function rather than form. But here the form was the function. She couldn't remember ever having spent this much time in a fashion boutique in her entire life but she figured that she might as well get something out of this. She had been looking for a good pair of heels.
In the meantime, unbeknownst to Sameen, her behavior had started to have a startling effect on Samaritan. It was finding it difficult to concentrate on its other missions. The continuous questions about colors, dress sizes, heel sizes and did they make her look slim or if the thin stripes were better than thick stripes. The unending barrage of questions was beginning to get on its nerves, if it had any. It was also unable to close the feed as it wasn't sure what Sameen Gray would do if left unmonitored.
Halfway across the world Martine was on a mission in Bern, Switzerland where she was tracking a scientist. She was waiting for Samaritan's final go order which just wasn't coming through. Instead she was getting what seemed like a shopping list for a fashionista.
"Are you there? I don't understand what you want of me. Am I supposed to pick up these things? Do you expect me to go a ball?" Martine questioned her unseen master.
However no answer was forthcoming. Every time the AI would try to answer it would get another question, from Sameen, regarding lipsticks or if the shade she was wearing would match her dress. It was beginning to affect its capabilities.
"Is anyone there?" Martine asked again. It had been nearly ten minutes since she had asked her question. That was an eternity in machine time.
Samaritan at last caught a break as Shaw was trying on another dress and decided to answer Martine.
"ABORT MISSION. WILL REVERT BACK TOMORROW EVENING"
It sent out the message to all of its operative across the globe.
Martine read the message and was happy to get a night off. She decided to get a drink and maybe find someone who could entertain for the rest of the evening. Even bad girls need the occasional R&R.
Root was listening in to the whole thing via their secure network when The Machine informed her of the message that Samaritan had sent out to his operatives. Root sat up in her chair and realized what Shaw had unknowingly managed to accomplish. She had initiated what could only be described as a Distributed Denial of Service attack. But she had managed to do it single handedly. All of her questions and requests were coming at such a pace and were of such variety that it was actually slowing down Samaritan's other operations. Root was genuinely impressed at what Shaw had managed to do.
There was only one thing left to do. She took out her pen drive and emailed the data on the pen drive to all the various news agencies across the US.
Sameen's shopping spree finally came to an end around 3.30 in the morning, after which she decided to hit the bar. She wanted to make herself as undesirable to Samaritan as possible. The drinking and merrymaking continued for another three hours when Shaw remembered that she had a meeting in two hours and finally decided to call it a night. She set the alarm in her phone to wake her up in an hour so she would have some time to prepare and bug her boss a little bit more.
For once in its entire existence Samaritan glad that humans needed to sleep, It honestly didn't know how much more it could have taken.
Shaw rolled out of bed groaning and moaning. She stood up clutching her head which was on the verge of exploding. Even though drinks didn't affect Shaw the same way as they did other people she was good at pretending and the all night shopping spree had definitely taken its toll. So there was some basis of truth to the acting.
"Why didn't you stop me last night?" she decided to blame Samaritan for her behavior.
"I DID INFORM YOU ABOUT THE RISE IN YOUR BLOOD ALCOHOL LEVEL."
"Blood Alcohol level, what the fuck are you, some kind of a machine. You should have stopped me. All of this your fault."
She managed to drag herself into the bathroom and after a fifteen minute cold shower felt that she was ready to face the world again. She ordered some breakfast and coffee.
As she sat there eating and drinking she finally asked, "Is the meeting happening or what?"
"YES" came a short reply.
She figured after all the hell she had put the AI through it maybe wasn't in the mood to talk.
"Good, what time and where?"
"8 A.M. ROOM 608"
It was 7.35 so she quickly finished her breakfast and got ready. She checked to make sure that the goods she was meant to deliver were safe and secure. With everything in place she finally made her way to Room 608.
As she walked down the corridor she noticed a couple of guys standing outside a door and she knew that was where she had to go. As she got closer she could see that the men were armed. They looked like ex-military but probably not US military, they looked European. She stopped when she reached the door, they already knew who she was. Shaw figured her boss must have relayed the information. They quickly and professionally frisked her and let her in.
There were four men waiting for her inside. Three of them were in their forties and one seemed to be in his sixties. All of them looked slightly unwell. The one with blonde hair stepped forward,
"Ms. Grey, I presume."
"What the hell took you guys so long? I've waiting been here all night" Shaw decided to start off on the offensive.
The older gentleman coughed and said nothing. He looked distinctly uncomfortable. The blonde man spoke up. He had a slight German accent.
"We apologize for the delay. We all stopped yesterday evening to have a meal at a road side diner. Not the best of ideas. We had to spend the night at a local hospital getting treated for food poisoning. Mr. Mosher, our tech specialist, is still recovering. At his age I guess it takes a little bit longer. But enough of that, do you have the merchandise."
"Yes" replied Shaw. She felt sorry for the guys. No one deserves to spend the night shitting their guts out. Not even German criminals.
She took out the box and kept it on the table. The old man moved forward to inspect the goods. He hooked them up to a hardware terminal and started his inspection. The process was going to take some time so everybody got comfortable. About ten minutes had passed when one of the men whispered something into the ear of the man she had spoken to. He immediately got up and switched on the TV. He flipped through till he found the news channel. The news was about the company from which Shaw and her team had stolen the chips. The Newscaster continued her report,
"We received these documents from an anonymous source. As we have mentioned before they are very technical in nature but what is clear that there are massive indications of fraud. The next generation, 10 nanometer chips that the company had claimed to have developed were actually fake. It was all a ploy to raise their share prices before the owners could sell the company any number of interested buyers. The owners have been unavailable for comment. The FBI has already launched an investigation. We shall keep you informed as this story develops."
The three men turned and looked towards Shaw. It was at that moment that the old man spoke up.
"These processors are fake. They are nothing more than modified i7 chips."
"Yes, we realized that" said the man as he pointed towards the TV.
Shaw raised her hands, "Hey don't look at me. I'm a thief not some tech expert."
The man sighed, "We don't blame you Ms. Grey. Apparently this entire mission has been a disaster from the get go."
"So, what now, do I get paid?"
"Ms. Grey we can't possibly pay you for something that doesn't exist."
"I risked my life to get those and I wasted an entire day waiting for you lot. I think you guys owe me some amount of money" Shaw said indignantly.
The man motioned towards his partner. He opened a briefcase, Shaw tensed momentarily, and took out a bundle of notes and put it on the table and slid it in her direction. Sameen picked it up.
"That's ten thousand for effort" said the blonde haired man.
"What, that's it?" Shaw was trying to sound irritated.
He took out another bundle and put it on the table.
"And that is an apology for the delay. Our dealings end here Ms. Grey. I suggest you don't push your luck." having said that, all four men got up, took their belongings and left the room leaving Shaw alone in the room.
Shaw took out her phone and put it on the table.
"All of this is your fault. I will take care you now, right. You're a big shot hacker. How come you didn't know about this?"
"THE INFORMATION WAS UNAVAILABE"
"Unavailable," Shaw shouted, "This was supposed to be my ticket out. I was supposed to retire. Instead all I have to show is twenty grand and once I get back I get hear my boss shout at me for missing work. Fine boss you are. You know what, I quit"
The phone was blank for a while as Samaritan thought about this. It definitely had no intention of dealing with this human anymore. It could always find other assets.
"THAT PROPOSITION IS ACCEPTABLE. YOU"RE SERVICES ARE NO LONGER REQUIRED"
"Oh really, well fuck you too. I am going to go do some more shopping."
At that moment if Samaritan could have screamed it would have. It never wanted to hear the word "shopping" ever again.
A few days after Shaw got back to New York, she had another late night visit from Root. This time, however, she came in through the front door. Root made her way towards the kitchen to get a glass of water.
"That was a wonderful performance." Root said as she filled the glass.
"Thanks. It was your idea. Samaritan did empty out my accounts out of spite. It's a good thing I withdrew some of it in cash. But honestly, I just didn't know if it would work. But I got lucky with the buyers getting delayed."
Root stood there smiled as she sipped the water.
"That was you?" Shaw looked at her and felt silly in believing in coincidences.
"It wasn't very difficult to track them down. There aren't a lot of buyers for these kinds of things and not a lot of them work for Samaritan. The Machine then tracked their exact location. I just had to get there and poison their food. It was a bit of a touch and go thing time wise but I got there in time."
"The Machine risked detection to save me?"
"I told you Sameen, she worries about you." Root smiled her sweetest smile.
Shaw knew that Root meant "I" and not "she", Shaw was smart enough to read between the lines.
They stood there in silence when Shaw looked up at her in surprise.
"The chips, was that you as well?"
"Not in the beginning. The technology that the company proclaimed it had, was the reason Samaritan was interested in the processors. But after meeting you I got a little suspicious so I hacked their servers and found that some files had been kept offline at their CEO's home. So I broke in and got those too. It was there that I found out that it was all a lie. The technology they said they had is still, at least, a decade away from actual production."
"You leaked the files to the press."
Root again just smiled in reply.
They spoke for a while and eventually it was time for Root to leave. As she neared the door Shaw spoke up,
"I know I'm not very good at this stuff, but thank you. I don't know how I could ever repay you."
Root stood near the open door, looked back at Shaw and replied with a mischievous grin, "Oh, I'm sure I could come with a few ways in which you can repay me"
Having said that she left, leaving Shaw alone with her imagination as she came up with ways to repay Root.