Killing Time OST – 16b – Deal

<< 16a – Deal

I arrived at the rendezvous point half an hour in advance, wearing my Nightshade face, my stretchable Kevlar suit and my boots of butt-kicking. With stiletto heels. A tactical team needed more than thirty minutes to deploy and conceal themselves efficiently in an environment that provided so little cover. None surveyed the area. It meant that Gabriel would wear a mike to communicate with his back-up, standing by in one of the residences. I didn’t mind.
Vexx minded though. He hated the whole plan, actually. He barely refrained from calling me crazy; the word had become a bit of a taboo under my roof. On the other hand, I saw in his eye how relieved he was that my guts were back in place. He only wished I agreed to have him as my back up. Unfortunately, one of the things I needed to own again was my independence.
“Hello Gabriel,” I said, revealing my presence as soon as he showed up at ten o’clock sharp. He wore a nice suit that gracefully framed his build. I didn’t remember his shoulders were so delightfully wide but then, they hadn’t been my main concern both times we met.
“Hello.” He stopped about ten steps from me, a prudent distance that wouldn’t give me too much of a head start if I tried to make a run for it. “Can I have something more human than Nightshade to call you?”
I smiled. “The flower’s also called Atropa Belladonna.”
“Atropa. From the Greek Atropos. The Fate responsible of death.” I nodded, appreciating the fact that he had done his research. “Not a lot better.”
“Bella weirds me out.” Our gazes locked. This wasn’t just about a name. “Call me Alice,” I caved. I would ask a lot from this man before the night ended; I could give him and his team a little something to chew on. Not that they would find much. “I’ll have the name of your back-ups in exchange. Standard two agents team, I presume? One of them’s your usual partner.”
“You’re good. One of them’s going to love you for saying ‘agents’ and not ‘men’. But I’ll only give their names for your true identity.” Gabriel winked.
“You’re funny.”
The FBI agent squared himself, as if daring me to put him through another round of tests. I knew what I needed to know about him. He was clever and thorough. Respected within his agency too, or else the Director would have had his way; the place would be surrounded by snipers and I wouldn’t have shown. Gabriel knew that.
The number of unanswered questions was thinning. A major one remained though: had they figured out what had been done to me?
“Your file created a trail of migraines all the way up the food chain,” Gabriel said, his smarts following my thoughts with confidence.
“Yet you’re still in charge.” My case had promoted him, at least unofficially. The higher ups feared a change of spokesperson would annoy me. Smart men. “You’re welcome.” He smiled. We’d have to spar again someday; our common appreciation for verbal joust made a promising prelude. “Migraine because of the cautious trail it had to take or because of its content?”
I surprised the smile off his face and wondered why. Corruption within the government wasn’t new, neither was lobbyism by tech companies. Politicians entangled themselves with tech either to get money for their campaign or free implants for their loved ones. Law enforcement officers weren’t any different and it caused schism within the intelligence agency, reserving the big tech cases to a select few. And then there were the usual dirty cops who would get a hell of a payday if they brought news of mind-controlling implants to the mafia.
A minefield presented safer options.
They should have formed a special anti-tech task force years ago but the companies had their claws too deep in law enforcement.
Then there was the content of the file which raised a tricky question, to say the least: should I go to trial for crimes I was programmed to commit?
“Both.” Gabriel paused, probably hoping I would take back the lead of the conversation since I had called him here. “They haven’t decided whether you should receive indemnity or not. Lots of facts to cross-check.” I shook my head. Not what I wanted to hear. I expected him to ask a certain question before I laid out my plans. “How did you know you could trust me?”
And there it was. I nodded in approval.
“Your body’s fairly free of tech,” I said, telling him I had ways to know that without revealing my actual resources. He needed to grasp the extent of my reach or the rest of my claims wouldn’t mean a thing.
“I bet the friend who extracted bots from your head has something to do with that knowledge.” I shrugged, smiling. “Talented ally.” His training told him to dig deeper and use whatever information he could find to pinpoint my identity.
“And how do you know you can trust me?” I asked.
“If you were a killer, I’d be dead.”
Vexx always believed in my relative innocence but it lifted a burden off my shoulder that he wasn’t the only one. I could smell lies a mile away and no stench emanated from Gabriel’s affirmation. I rolled my shoulders back.
We both knew where we stood and a part of the tension automatically vanished. It was time to dive in the main subject.
“Interpol and you will grant me indemnity for my past crimes and the handful of others I plan to commit in the coming weeks.”
Gabriel’s jaw dropped for a second then he winced and tapped something in Morse code on the bone behind his right ear. His back-ups must have yelled through his communication device. Not very professional. Or maybe they weren’t as playful as Gabriel and I.
“Bold move,” Gabriel finally said once he shut up the voices in his head. “Why would we do that?”
“Because I’ll make sure the migraines my file caused die with my career as assassin.”
Gabriel fell into a ‘I’m listening but I’m not sure I want to’ pose, eyebrows slightly creased, shoulders relaxed but arms crossed.
On with the show.

16c – Deal >>


About Aheïla

Somewhere in Quebec City, Aheïla works as a Game Design Director by day and writes by night. Known for her blue hair, unyielding dynamism and tasty cooking (quails, anyone?), she’s convinced “prose is the new crack”. She satisfies her addiction daily on The Writeaholic’s Blog and weekly on Games' Bustles View all posts by Aheïla

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