Ayla and the Networks is the fifth Phase story by Diane Castle, originally posted on November 30, 2008. It describes the events of the week of November 29 to December 5, 2006. It is preceded by Ayla and the Tests and followed by by the short story Combat_Boot then Ayla and the Grinch (A Christmas Story). During that week, Ayla gets involved with not less than four intermeshed intrigues involving the several intelligence networks at the school.
The Blackmail plot
A conversation between Ayla and Jadis is recorded. The recording appears to be pretty damning, and it is auctioned off to Thuban, the Alphas and the Good Ol' Boyz. Fantastico wins the auction and proceeds to blackmailing both Ayla and Jadis. However, their attempts to do so without exposing themselves are frustrated by the countermeasures set up by Techno-Devil and Fey, forcing their hand. The school Security nabs the group, who are duly punished by Headmistress Carson. It turns out that the recording was actually quite harmless. Fantastico, in a fit of misdirected anger, threatens Ayla at the Crystal Hall—but you don't grow up a Goodkind without learning you can't let this kind of behavior go on. When Fantastico refuses to back down, Ayla gives him a very public and humiliating lesson.
The Masterminds plot
The Masterminds are annoyed because Ayla's entry into the intelligence game means prices went out of their range. They decide to strike back by stealing his intelligence. The Spy Kids figure this move and decide using it to trap the Masterminds, but Stopwatch is in fact playing a diversion on them. The Spy Kids stake out Poe Cottage expecting to catch Jello and Heartbreaker disguised as Chou and Molly, but they get the real Chou and Molly, plus interference from two other groups (see below). They end up in Security with plenty egg on their faces.
Meanwhile, the Masterminds are hitting Ayla's school locker. They copy the contents of his laptop and plant a virus. Stopwatch sees a very interesting business plan and decides to implement it himself—but he didn't expect some unpleasant consequences. When he runs to Phase for help, Ayla reveals that it was all a trap and ends up with control of the Masterminds.
The Whitman Girls subplot
The Lit Chix get some incomplete intelligence suggesting the Bad Seeds are going to hit Phase and they want to be there when it happens so they can be the heroes. The Three Little Pests decide that this is a prime opportunity to "borrow" some Essence from Foxfire and Lifeline. They all end up interfering on the Spy Kids operation (see above).
The Security plot
Officers Trews and Green are discovered by Sgt. Buxton and Lt. Trout to be selling info to Phase—without clearing it with them and giving them a cut. They decide to feed Ayla some fake info as a test of how he will react. The test fails, and Ayla confronts Buxton. They end up achieving some acceptable understanding, and Ayla helps Security to control Officer Derek Johnson (the Humanity First! spy).