Zack, a Solo, was contacted by his boss, Gary. Gary asks Zack to meet a man named Bennett Kader. Kader has done a little accounting work for Gary and Gary is generous enough to do him a favor.
Kader’s teenage son Garcia is in a coma-like state. Says the doctors said everything is fine, but there are chips in his head – which Bennett didn’t know about. Before calling police into this, Bennett wanted more info. Zack brings in The Omega, a Netrunner. Omega finds out that the chips have been hacked, causing Garcia’s condition. Also finds out that Garcia has been stealing and “premixing” (finishing) unreleased music and selling it on an underground forum and filesharing site called LabNote. Garcia has money in a BitDime account from sales.
Omega tracks back the program that hit Garcia – it was sent from a copy/print shop downtown. Examining the security tapes, they track down the person who sent the program, a college student at River City University. Zack and Omega visit him, the kid refuses to talk. Zack says if the kid calls the police, the cops will want to ask him some questions he won’t want to answer. The kid lets them in.
The kid was approached in a coffee shop by a stranger and paid $1000 to connect a flash drive to a computer at the copy shop and execute a few simple commands. The kid didn’t know what it would do, and didn’t ask. Zack and Omega examine security tapes at the coffee shop and get an image of the man who gave the kid the flash drive. They eventually manage to ID him as Zen, a Fixer from Louisville. They begin asking around until they find out Zen was sighted near a hotel downtown by the library.
Zack goes to find Sherrina, a nomad he knows and rather dislikes (the feeling is mutual). she agrees to help and goes with them to the hotel. [ Did Sherrina help locate Zen at the hotel? ] After bribing the hotel manager, they find out Zen is in Room 315 and go upstairs. Sherrina knocks, saying management sent her and that Zen has her “for a whole hour.” Zen lets her in, and she immediately moved to block the window. Zen wonders what’s going on, and Zack enters the room, gun drawn. Zen goes for his gun on the nightstand, and Zack shoots Zen right through his gun hand before he can pick up the weapon. Zack pins him to the floor. After some coercive persuasion, Zen reveals who hired him to send the program to Garcia – a musician named Damien Wynter. Zack and Sherrina stop Zen’s bleeding somewhat, and leave as sirens approach. Omega rejoins them as they leave – he waited down the hall in the men’s room, watching Babylon 5 on his laptop or tablet or whatever.
They find out where Wynter’s studio is, and pick the lock to the back door. Sneaking past the night watchman, they pick the lock to the only occupied studio. Zack headlocks the technicians, causing him to pass out. Omega puts a chair under the doorknob of the recording booth, trapping Wynter. Wynter does not answer questions until Zack enters the recording booth, and threatens to damage Wynter’s hands so bad that he will never play music again.
Winter confesses to hiring Zen and targeting Garcia, yelling that the little punk had stolen his work and was selling it. Sherrina suggests letting Wynter alone, and telling Bennett that the program can’t be deleted – after all, “the kid had it coming.”
Omega begins negotiating a deal – he will delete all of Wynter’s music from Garcia’s computers (letting Wynter watch him do so), and will transfer the money in Garcia’s BitDime account to Wynter. Since Wynter’s newest album had not been released by Garcia yet, Wynter agrees. They follow through on the plan, and Omega programs the computers to block access to the music forums and software, alerting Omega if Garcia tries again (Omega is aware that Garcia could just get new equipment, but it’s a stopgap measure for now). Bennett’s father is not at all happy (Omega introduces Wynter as “your son’s VICTIM”). Omega says he thinks he can find a way to release Garcia.
Omega forges an ID saying he is Zen’s brother and gets into his hospital room. He tells Zen he represents a midsized local corporation, and that what happened to Garcia has happened at least two other times – he shows Zen faked info showing that this has happened in Wisconsin and Texas. Zen seems surprised. Omega requests a copy of the program. Zen seems agreeable, but insists he cannot get the program in just 24 hours. He also asks who the target is. Omega pushes to have the program ASAP, finally agreeing to within 72 hours of Zen’s release from the hospital. Zen keeps asking who the target is until Omega says one of the corporation’s people has been selling their secrets, giving a name of someone just recently deceased.
Zen agrees, and Omega leaves.