Deleted Scene

Miranda Hewlett-Packard Gets Inducted

Author's Note: Miranda Hewlett-Packard was a major character in the initial draft... but I had plenty of major characters already, and the book was very long. One painful bout of surgery later, she was out.

Miranda is a manipulative sales rep for Hewlett-Packard in Melbourne, Australia, who gets into trouble for trying to steal another rep's order. But she escapes this for a job as Hewlett-Packard Liaison to Team Advantage. At the beginning of this scene, she has recently arrived in New York (the headquarters of T.A.) and met Holly T.A.

Holly survived the surgery that extracted Miranda, but in the final version of the book we see very little of her. She and Miranda had quite a twisted little relationship. That's why Miranda is sleeping in her bed.

Miranda woke and Holly was sitting in bed beside her, talking on her cellphone. The bedside light was on. It was still dark outside. “What—”

“We do have people there, we have at least three liaisons and a shitload of security people. What the fuck are they doing?”

“What time is it?” Miranda said.

Holly pointed to the bedside clock. It said: 4:14 A.M. “Have you spoken to Nathaniel? Oh, Jesus. Are you sure?”

Miranda sat up.

“No. I’m not going to try to co-ordinate this from three thousand miles away. You’re on the ground, use your head. Take any opportunity to get them back, but I do not want any more dead executives. You understand? I’ll be at work in fifteen minutes. Call me there.”

Miranda thought, Dead executives?

“Good luck,” Holly said, and killed the call.

“What’s happening?”

“US Alliance tried to buy out one of our companies morning. A hostile takeover.”


“We were ready for them,” Holly said, going into the bathroom. She turned on the shower. “We thought we were ready for them.”

Miranda followed her in. “And?”

“Something went wrong,” Holly said. “Get dressed. We’re going to work.”

Holly T.A. drove really fast, and it freaked Miranda out. There was so much to hit in Manhattan: cars, mailboxes, bus stations, and more people on the street at five A.M. than at noon back in Melbourne. The roads were straight, thank God, but Holly blasted through traffic, zipping in and out of lanes, talking nonstop to the cellphone wedged under her ear. Miranda gripped the seat with both hands.

“Bullshit! We’re all in New York, why go to London?” At sixty miles an hour, the car nestled up against a cab, almost touching. Holly said, “Can you hit the horn for me, sweetie?”

Miranda pressed the horn.

“Longer,” Holly said. “Just hold it down.”

Miranda held it. The cabbie rolled down his window and flipped them off.

“That’s unacceptable,” Holly said, but Miranda realized she was talking to her cellphone. “Tell the Government I’ll videoconference.” The lane to the right opened up, and Holly darted out, scraping past the cab. She accelerated so hard that Miranda whimpered. “Jesus, all right! I’ll go. Make it happen.”

“What’s happening?” Miranda said.

“I got promoted.” She swung the car around and they bounced down a ramp into an underground parking lot. Valets swarmed around the car, opening doors.

“Oh!” That was good news for Miranda Hewlett-Packard, the increasingly well-connected Liaison. “Congratulations.”

“Hmm,” Holly said. “It’s not under the best circumstances.” She produced an ID pass and swiped at a door, then for an elevator. “Sweetie, you need to get inducted. I have to go away, and I need you to do some important things for me.”

The doors slid open and they stepped inside. “Inducted?”

“ID pass, set up your office, meet the right people.”

“Oh,” she said. “Is—this where I’ll be working?”

Holly smiled. “You didn’t think you’d be out in that horrible Hewlett-Packard building in Jersey?”

Miranda didn’t know where the HP building was. “I…”

“You’ll be just down the corridor from me. Isn’t that fun? We can’t have Liaisons spread all over the countryside. So get yourself settled, I’ll be back before you know it. There’s been some trouble in London, the Government wants to slap everyone’s wrists. I have to go and look concerned. Christ, this elevator takes forever.”

Miranda looked at the display. Holly had pushed for the 77th floor. She blinked. She should have paid more attention to this building when they arrived. “What happened in London?”

Holly sighed. “US Alliance walked in and killed two of our top people. Like I say, not a good way to get a promotion.”

“They killed people?”

“Nathaniel ExxonMobil, CEO of one of our most important member companies. And Johan T.A., our President. Things are getting messy, Miranda. We’re not going to sit back and wait for the Government to sort this out.”

Miranda said, “So… what have you been promoted to?”

“There’s only one place you can go from where I was, honey.” The elevator dinged. The doors parted. An enormous Team Advantage logo grinned at them: two strong hands joined in a muscular handshake. “I’m the new T.A. President.”

Miranda spent the morning getting IDed: photographed, fingerprinted, retinal scanned, questioned. She had to fill out forms about her background and provide details about herself that no-one else would know. “Who gets to look at all this stuff?” she asked the admin guy.

“Don’t worry, no-one outside can get hold of it. Your privacy is totally guaranteed.”

“What about within T.A. companies?”

He looked at her quizzically. “Well, obviously we share it internally.”

“I see,” Miranda said. She looked down at the form.

“We use it to prevent anyone impersonating you, to screen you for risk factors—”

“Risk factors?”

“Predilection to certain medical conditions, to corporate treason… you know.”

Miranda decided to invent a fictitious childhood. “All right.”

“You must have been through this stuff before.” He craned his neck to look at her writing. “Oh... Hewlett-Packard.”


He smiled, a touch condescendingly. “HP doesn’t do this stuff. We call them ‘Hardly Protected.’”

“Mmm,” Miranda said.