Shel hated these kinds of meetings, with these kinds of clients – the kind with money and the expectation of some faux put-on professionalism. She hated getting all dolled up in her most humanoid avatar. No elf ears or swords bigger than her head, no prehensile tails, no wings, just normal human attractiveness dressed in a sedate black blouse and skirt to offer some semblance of respect for the dead. People with money expected women in skirts with their hair made up neatly, even the female clients. Maybe it was the traditional subservient woman role that put them at ease. Connor always liked using females for this kind of work. People with money liked the power their wealth gave them, and even in the liberated 2020's, those kind of grieving richies didn't feel threatened by a professionally dressed woman.

Shel's official job title was GlobalNet excavator, though her job couldn't be considered official. The GlobalNet Consortium, the internationally incorporated body that oversaw the vast worldwide information network, had its own cadre of licensed legal excavators. These legally blessed hackers had one job – they were the trash collecting undertakers of the GlobalNet. When someone with a GlobalNet ID died, an excavator's job was to crack into the deceased's GlobalNet accounts and clean up. They would collect all the web site logins, emails, financial accounts, and various avatar credentials into one discrete lump, hand the lump off to the next of kin and remove that ID from the Net completely. Not only did it make for good database maintenance practice, it kept that ID from being reused by identity thieves that infested the GlobalNet like rats. The trade in dead GID's was brisk. Estimates that there were more dead GID's in use than dead voters in Chicago were not entirely unfounded. Legal excavators were supposed to prevent that.

Of course, Shel didn't have a license. She freelanced for whoever would hire her. Connor ran a funeral home in LA for rich clientele, the kind of users that sequestered money all over the place, often in places their spouses knew nothing about, using that hidden money to hide expensive secrets. Official GlobalNet excavations became a matter of public record, available to anyone willing to put in a Freedom of Information request, much like obituaries and death certificates. With money involved, not only were there secrets to keep, but conflicting desires about who would receive the deceased's assets, conflicting desires that could take years of probate court to disentangle. Shel could beat the official excavators to the punch, moving bits and bobs around the GlobalNet to the satisfaction of the client without incident. Well, hopefully without incident; Shel was no stranger to a GlobalNet dustup or two. Finding and revealing secrets to the client was the worst part of the job. Nothing made her more uncomfortable than having to tell a grieving wife that the hubby she gave her best years to had scores of girlfriends expecting a piece of their dead sugar daddy's pie, or worse, that the loving father liked it freaky in a way the wife never imagined.

Today's job seemed a bit different. Connor had given her a heads up beforehand. "This one might not be so bad. You're working for the girlfriend this time."

"The girlfriend? What happened to the wife?"

"They were separated, getting a divorce. The girlfriend got power of attorney, so she's in charge of all the arrangements. The wife knew he was a scumbag and the chippy is a gold digger. She's pissed as hell, of course. I've had to screen calls from that crazy harpy for two days."

"How much money is at stake here?"

"A few million. Guy traded derivatives for years. He was good too, always one step ahead of the regulatory changes that would make what he was selling less profitable, before he was on to another scheme. Girlfriend's going for the gaudy funeral package too, probably just to piss the wife off."