The Pupil

Leah Walker has proposed having Genevieve Duchard work on a special project to get her more integrated into the work Leah does at her company, L. J. Walker Security Consultants. One afternoon after classes at Georgia Tech, Genevieve heads to the offices on the tenth floor of Building 100 at Colony Square. It being Tuesday, Tracey McIntosh is at her desk when Genevieve enters. Genevieve greets her.

“They’re waiting for you,” Tracey tells her.

“They?” Genevieve replies, unaware anyone other than Leah would be there.

“I’ll let Leah make the introduction,” Tracey says.

When Genevieve enters the main office she’s greeted by the sight of Leah talking to a short, fat, balding man, with thick mutton chops, wearing jeans that ride low on his hips, and an ill-fitting herringbone blazer overtop of a knit pullover, and Converse high-top sneakers. He’s wearing thick, horn-rimmed glasses. His face is flushed, and bears extensive acne scars. Leah motions for Genevieve to join them.

“Scoey, let me introduce your pupil,” Leah says. “Roscoe Delahunt, meet Genevieve Duchard.”

As they shake hands, Genevieve says, “What do you mean, pupil?”

“You like Star Wars, kid?” Roscoe says. His voice is low and gravelly, but has a soothing cadence to it, which Genevieve wasn’t expecting. His accent sounds Midwestern.

“Not really,” she says.

“But you’ve familiar with the franchise, right?” he presses.

“I’ve seen the movies,” she replies.

“Then consider me, Yoda,” he replies.

“Short, green, and voiced by Frank Oz?” Genevieve says. “I don’t think so.”

Scoey looks at Leah. “This one’s a smart ass. I like that.”

“Scoey is the one of best social engineers in the business,” Leah says. “There’s only one name above his and that’s Mitnick.”

Genevieve doesn’t recognize the name, but feigns being impressed to cover.

“Flattery will get you everywhere,” Scoey says.

“You think you’re good?” Leah continues, “Scoey has forgotten more about hacking than you’ll ever know.”

Roscoe shrugs, then tells Genevieve, “See, kid, if you’re going to be taking on the hacking underground, you’ll need to know what they know, before they know it. Trust me, you don’t want to get doxxed by any of these guys. Witness protection is futile against them.”

“Okay, you have my attention,” Genevieve says, “what do you want me to do?”

Leah motions to her conference area, where several files are sitting on the table. They all sit.

“Recent intel suggests some groups out of Eastern Europe are targeting companies in the U.S. Looking to disrupt their online activities and infiltrate their networks,” Leah says, consulting one of the files. “One of their main targets is Bickering.”

“So, that’s a good thing, right?” Genevieve says.

“No. In fact, it’s not,” Leah says. “Bickering Plummet is heavily involved with the government and any infiltration makes them vulnerable as well.”

“Where do I come in?” Genevieve says. “You know my history with Bickering.”

“Yes, and we thought that would make the perfect cover for you,” Leah says. “I want to put you in charge of protecting their online assets.”

“You’re kidding, right?” Genevieve says.

“You said she’d be skeptical,” Roscoe says to Leah. “I owe you five dollars.”

“She needs to learn how business works,” Leah says. “You see the world as black and white. Good guys on one side, bad guys on the other. And it’s true that Bickering frequently ends up on the wrong side, but ultimately, they’re on our side. You may not like that fact, but it’s the reality we live in.”

Genevieve crosses her arms. “So, I’m just supposed to check my principles at the door?”

Scoey says to Leah, “I’ll field this one.” He leans on the table toward Genevieve. “Think of it like law school. Attorneys are taught to argue both sides of a case, whether they believe in them or not. That way, they gain experience seeing the whole picture.”

“Right,” Leah says. “Surely you’ve run across crackers in your online endeavors. Do you agree with everyone they target?”

“Not really,” Genevieve says. “Some may deserve it, but the vigilantes take it too far sometimes.”

“Exactly,” Scoey says. “I’m not above shaming some asshole who killed a giraffe, but to publicize every detail of his life puts him in real danger. You may not like most of the people who regulate our online presence— hell, I don’t much care for them myself — but the alternative is complete anarchy, and trust me when I say, that’s far more dangerous, especially when you consider who’s promoting it.”

Genevieve looks away from them, contemplating what they’ve said. Finally, with a long, frustrated sigh, she says, “What do you need me to do?”

“Perfect,” Leah says. “Scoey, fill her in.”

Roscoe takes out a card and slides it to Genevieve. “That’s my address in East Atlanta. Be there tomorrow by seven sharp. And wear your thinking cap, we’ve got a lot to cover.”

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