"I can't believe I even have to say this," Dallas said, commencing a full crew meeting, "but don't talk to the press."
"I don't see what the big deal is," Clover said. No one said it, but obviously they were all gathered in the living room because of her comments to CNM News. "Nothing came of it, except a bunch of tweets and that remix video on YouTube."
"Nothing that we've seen yet," Dallas said.
"Couldn't you have just told the loudmouths this?" Houston asked. He was joking, mostly, but not talking to anyone, least of all reporters, did seem common sense to him. Clover, Bonnie, and Hoxton all gave him stink-eyes for his comment though.
"I'm telling everybody," Dallas answered. "We've never been in the public eye like this and everyone needs to be clear on how we're going to handle these situations. We don't want reporters or anyone else trying to get near us. It's dangerous for them and talking to them is dangerous for us."
Wolf, as the fastest typist among them, was transcribing what Dallas said into Google Translate for Jiro. Jiro read it, even though it was probably poorly conjugated garbage, and cocked his head to the side, confused. He gestured to Wolf to let him have the laptop. Wolf handed it over and Jiro clicked the language switch button, henpecked out a sentence into the Japanese box, then handed it back.
"I can not speak English to a journalist," it read.
Wolf gave him a commiserative shrug and typed "Dallas is telling everyone." in the English box.
"I don't see that Clover really did anything to hurt us, though," Hoxton piped up. As a fellow "loudmouth", he felt some obligation to defend her actions. "If anything, it would have demoralized them to have their star player mocked on TV."
"Or it'll motivate them to send something worse our way," Chains pointed out.
"Oh please," Bonnie scoffed. "You lads have been around since, what, 2011? You've been in D.C. since '13. They've had plenty of time to study us and brainstorm ideas and a shield with more shields around it is the best thing they could come up with?"
"No, Chains is right," Dragan said. "Winters is not the best idea they had. Just the cheapest."
Everyone turned their attention from Dallas to him, awaiting elaboration.
"No matter how much the police talks, they still have a budget. So they will try the cheapest thing first, to see if it works. That way, if it does, they still have the money they didn't spend. If it does not? They can try the next cheapest idea. And the next."
"Would it not be smarter to send the hardest thing they have at us to begin with?" Sokol asked. "They would save money by not trying a bunch of failed ideas first."
"Smarter? Yes. But they cannot justify the expense if something cheaper would get the job just as done. So they have to try less expensive things first even if trying so many things ends up costing more in the long run." Dragan shrugged, grinning at the silliness of it. "It is bureaucracy. Happened all the time when I was police."
"Besides," Dallas said, reclaiming the crew's attention, "publicly talking about how little of a challenge he was is only going to make them want our asses more. Especially since they're making such a spectacle of this themselves. It makes them look doubly bad after Garrett talked all that shit at the press conference."
"How does that make a difference though?" Clover demanded to know. "Winters still ran away, whether I said so on the news or not."
"Because without us going on TV and laughing at him, they can spin it as tactics. And as long as they can do that, they can act like they're winning," Dallas explained.
"But they're not winning!" Hoxton interjected indignantly. "We're mopping the floor with them. They shouldn't get to just lie about it!"
"That doesn't matter," Wolf said loudly, accidentally interrupting Dallas' rebuttal. Dallas looked to him to see what he had to say though so, with some reservation, he explained.
"The FBI are trying to frame this as a competition," he said. "They want us to lose focus. I had a competitor try something like this once as a marketing campaign. He put these print ads in trade magazines that compared his software to mine directly. He was trying to pick a fight. The marketing department said we shouldn't respond to it and they were right. I was angry about it, but if I had stooped to his level, we'd have ended up spending time and money re-positioning our products against his and catering to that fight instead focusing on what our customers wanted.
"That's what the police want us to do. They want us to start worrying about how we look in this 'competition', so we'll be more focused on fighting them than the jobs themselves. But my company looked a lot stronger to customers by not even acknowledging that guy's shit.
"Let them tell people they're winning," Wolf concluded. "The money doesn't lie."
There was a brief pause until Houston asked, "Didn't your company go bankrupt?"
"Yes," he growled. "Years later. That year was our third best in the history of the company."
Houston put his hands up defensively and leaned away, backing off that line of questioning. He picked the wrong time to question Wolf's business acumen.
"Wolf has it exactly right," Dallas said. "They're trying to drag us into it and we can't let them. We don't need to be worried about that or about having more reporters trying to get comments from us. So don't do anything to encourage them. No comments, no interviews, nothing. Everybody got it?"
A murmur of agreement sounded around the room.