Things kept eating at Constance as she made her way through the undergrowth. Too many things about the case were digging into her like a bad bra. Around her, the night had suffused into strange shades, thanks to her wetware, lingering blue shadows thanks to a bright moon. She kept low and wondered if the approach should be this easy.
“Finally got a SatComm over your position,” came a quiet voice near her ear. Sampson’s slight keyboard tapping was a constant reminder of his presence. “Looks like a small farm house of some sort. Truck is Idented, parked in front. I’m seeing about four signatures.”
“They match anything like the attackers at Carter’s apartment?”
“Hmmm … hard to tell. They don’t look like standard corpers, but then who does on these sort of runs.”
Constance saw the signatures pop up on her horizon, waypoints specking into position here and there, dancing like fireflies. The place didn’t have the look of a farm about it so far, the way was too course and uncultured. She wondered how long ago this place had been used for anything. The thought struck her suddenly, making her pause.
“Sampson, are we in any tribal enclaves right now?”
The silence passed with an edgy silence. “Ummm … actually, yeah. Well, sorta. You’re just inside disputed territory. Didn’t occur to me at first.”
Constance stayed crouched amongst the brush, “Which tribe?”
“Any number of the Skycity area ones. Government is reporting a landgrab on the area, but at least three hapu have claim.”
Constance dismissed the idea as she started to head in quietly. The dress up didn’t help, and the kick ass boots might be well suited to the board room, but they would be shredded before too long out here in the middle of no where. She saw the dark shapes of the farm house and outlying buildings ahead. Signatures popped up clearer than a flare, keeping guard on the perimeter.
And still no alert.
“Signatures in the building. Four. Grouped in the outer there,” Sampson reported. They blinked into existence in front of Constance.
“Is Carter even pinging?”
“No. Hasn’t in a while.”
“So he could already be unwired,” Constance remarked. She stayed low, hoping the brush would keep close enough cover for her. “But then why would he still be out here.”
“You’re the Agent, I’m only the angel.” There was a soft smile in his tone of voice. It gave little comfort to Constance. She watched the movements of the guards a while longer, before standing up and walking straight towards the house like she had all the business in the world to be there.
Agent Constance. The legendary Template of the Agency. Striding unarmed towards her would be husband and double agent. Nothing more deadly than a woman scorned, and left at the altar.
Constance and the guards passed like ships in the dark, as she put herself in the back door. Truth was, they either didn’t know she was here, or this was some elaborate trap. Her boots hit solid against the old wood floor as she paced up the hallway. The place looked unlived in and unmaintained. A single light bulb hung from the ceiling. It was a miracle that it was even still working, she reflected.
Signatures were on the move. Constance stepped into the nearest room as they walked out into the hallway. The room she had chosen was dark and cool. It might have once been someones front bedroom, but it was vacant of anything but the old frame of a desk. Her wetware was starting to map out the room, then the house, building dimension upon dimension.
She heard voices. Maori. She muttered, having offloaded it last run, but it was almost a given in the environment she worked in. She thought quickly, feeling the cold trickle of knowledge slide down the back of her skull like a stream of freezing water. The words started to make sense, but only a garble as they headed outside.
Constance stepped back out of the room. One signature left, one right. She walked confidently down the hallway, the light catching on the metal clasp that kept her hair back in its severe styles. She reached out, hoping, wondering if the links were still in place. Silent, dormant links that all Agents had.
The signature on the left gave off a slight shimmer. Constance opened the door, stepped through, and closed it behind her.
Carter looked disturbingly unsurprised to see her. He was sitting shirtless on the edge of a bed, a large number of black, locked cases about him. Some were opened, showing surgical tools. It was almost like walking in on some doctors kid, caught going through daddies stuff. She noticed the small portable generator sitting near the window.
“Hey, baby girl.”
Constance couldn’t help the hard expression that hit her face. There were enough things laying around the room that she could end her mission quick and deadly. She knew he still had dormant links. She could finish things just as quickly that way with a brief thought. It bordered on being almost in the realm of accidental, with the emotions running through her mind.
“I guess you’re here to finish things for the Priniciple.”
Constance fought back all the questions. She could feel more presences lingering on the edge of her mind than just Sampson. No doubt Manly at least had been summoned online to watch the proceedings. Constance noticed the scalpel sitting on top of one of the opened boxes. Carter noticed it too.
“I could have them all back in here in a sec, girl,” Carter said, rising slowly from the bed. “All I gotta do is shout.”
“Except you’re not going to do that.”
“No. I’m not going to do that.”
Constance and Carter stood there, silent a moment, eyes locked. Like partners in a dance that was yet to start. Carter’s big hands were held out slightly, as if he needed to prove he was unarmed. His big husky body was weapon enough, Constance knew. Savage when he had to be. And in the same sense, entirely seductive in that calm confidence he had about him. It was a confidence Constance had fallen for.
Carter smiled, just lightly. That same old smile.
“Remember your mission,” Manly remarked, tensely. Constance remembered times her and Carter had spent together. The long and lengthy history.
“Signatures returning in on your position.”
Constance looked at Carter, remembering the good times. It only made it hurt worse, the final betrayal. Not just to her, but to the Agency too. It was enough, the betrayal alone. Carter had played the trickster one too many times, and this time the joke was on him. His expression dropped, like he realized what Constance meant to do.
“All I wanted was a life, girl,” he murmured, in defense. His spirit seemed to drop, all pretense gone. “They could give it to me for what’s inside my head. A real life …”
Constance shook her head. He’d had his chance for a life several times over, even if it has just been a make believe one with her. Constance finally made the conscious effort to act.