Ironically, this sort of thing was known as a cake walk.
A simple in and out, and by the end of it, Craig would have what he came for. Except it wouldn’t really be the cake for his daughter’s birthday like the code words and contact had called for. Instead it would be a dirty bomb, made from the left over waste of a corporation who had little compunction about how they did business in someone else’s country. Put together by some tech boy who didn’t have any compunction about misusing his companies time or resources.
Craig could feel Dogson’s presence at the forefront of his mind, as he stepped out of his conveyance. He felt that he looked the part of a special projects man, in his clean cut suit. He’d let his face take a little more of a shadow, opting not to shave this morning. He’d ditched the tie as well, in a move he knew spoke of casual confidence.
His surrounds were almost cliched.
Some burnt out part of South Sector, but close enough to all the plants that there were enough surveillance drones in the air. The huge edifices loomed above him, casting more than a dark shadow over their surrounding districts. Although abandoned, they appeared to still be churning out lazy clouds of smoke from their stacks.
Heat vision on his heads up revealed what he had suspected. Deserted. SatComm turned up about as much, mapping onto his heads up in a way Craig had long since forgot to find curious. A routine run, with the Agency looking over his shoulder. Williams was high enough up the food chain that the case against the corporation would do some serious damage.
19:37, local time. Craig wondered briefly what sort of schedule Williams kept that required such a late night meet. He dismissed it when he noticed an incoming conveyance. Craig almost expected an update from Dogson about that, but thankfully got none.
The skycar touched down a polite distance from where he stood. Craig waited, quietly surprised to see the man come alone. He got out, retrieving a heavy case from the trunk. Craig stood near his own conveyance, and waited for Williams to approach.
“Abraham Williams,” Craig remarked as the man walked towards him.
The guy looked as haggard and tired as he had on the hardline calls. He had a fire in his eyes though, Craig noticed. The sort that makes a man dangerous, one that came of a knowledge of how one would like the world to work around them. And the intelligence to make it happen. He was dressed in all blacks, a thick, probably armored puffcoat his only really discerning feature other than his spiky blond hair.
“Craig Johnson,” Craig remarked, without missing a beat. He put forth his hand but Williams had the good sense not to take it. Craig withdrew the offer promptly.
“You have what I asked for?”
“Sure,” Craig replied, motioning back to the open door of his conveyance. The briefcase was popped there on the drivers seat. “And the good sense not to ask what you want with it, of course.”
There was a pregnant pause that Dogson felt that he had fill, as the two men looked at each other. Craig stood calm, but it looked almost as if Williams expected it might pull a gun. “The Agency is watching. This case really will be open and shut.”
Craig didn’t bother to subvocalize a response to that. He stepped back towards the car, and retrieved the briefcase from the drivers seat. Williams hefted him the case he was holding, as Craig moved to pass him his own.
Craig frowned. It was barely noticeable, but it was there. A chill of concern, and surprise.
“You’re cool right?”
“Yes,” Craig remarked, composing himself. “Of course.”
Dogson wasn’t there. Nothing was there. It was as if every link to the Agency had suddenly gone dead, totally without his intervention. A hell of a time to have a system glitch. Craig quickly kicked in photographic memory, and continued to take the exchange. In the blink of the exchange, a brief biological tick occurred to him.
“You can have a look if you like,” Williams suggested. A hint jittery. “That’s prime stuff. No back room electronics boys. Industrial strength.”
‘Code Black,’ thought Craig as he put the heavy case on the hood of the car. He played things slow, before deciding to ignore this development. Better to think through the implications later. ‘When was the last time they called a Code Black?’
Craig popped open the case at its six contact locks, and opened it up on a curiously shaped device. His wetware suggested nothing particularly untoward about the case. It was warning him now of the presence of dirty materials. His experience in the line of work gave him a work down on the particulars. A simple device. Dirty matter, with enough explosives to ensure a wide spread.
“Get much call for these in your line of work?”
“Uuuh, no,” Williams remarked. He shoved his hand in the pockets of his puffcoat and watched with case in the other.
“You want to ask what I would want to do with something like this in the Republic,” Craig suggested. He closed the case on the device, and connected to it with his wetware, supplying an old style lockcode. He looked back to Williams. “Or who I’m working for, and what they’d want to do with something like this. But you have better sense than that.”
“Called it right. I got better sense. Would be lying if I said I wasn’t curious. Less I know the better.”
“You’re right,” Williams continued, still looking tense. “Don’t get much ask for this sort of stuff.”
Craig put the case into the passengers side seat, for the moment. He sensed that Williams wanted a good old tongue wag, and nothing supplemented a case better than a few quiet confessions. Extra points for the final report.
“If you’ve got the smarts for something of this sort of construction, and the placing in your corporation to source the parts, I’m assuming you’re a man of means.”
Williams regarded him carefully. Maybe like he was sizing whether he could trust a man with more than the knowledge he fleeced his company of the worst of their waste. He clutched his briefcase like his life depended on it. Or maybe it did, Craig wondered. There was more to this man than making quick buck or two.
“Got that straight.”
“You’re looking for more work perhaps?” Craig asked, casually, trying to tease the answer out of the man. Craig gave brief though to what policy was in the case of a Code Black. How fucked was this case without Agency eyes?
“You said you worked in special projects,” Williams remarked finally. “Might be looking for a bit more. More than work. Might be wanting an out.”
Craig let himself the show of surprise. It had been a while since he had seen one of these sorts. He wondered how much dirt he had on Richmond and whether it would be worth Agency time and investment.
“Whoever you’re going to give that to could use someone like me.”
Craig gave a wry smile, “Trust me, boy. The sort of people who would use something like this don’t have much call for anyone long term.”
“I been doing some poking. Like you said. Man of means. You’re working for Iwi Sympathizers, right?”
It was curiously disarming not to have the knowledge of the Agency at his fingertips, Craig found. It was starting to set in just how alone he was right now on this one. The implications were starting to set in. This might not be a short blackout. He regarded the guy with a stern look.
“You’re a man of means, Abraham,” Craig said. Blunt. “Don’t poke. And how about you sit where you are for now. If I have more work for you, I know how to get hold of you.”
Williams nodded, with a deep look of concern. Craig figured the information that he had in that case would keep the boy busy for a while. It could also get him in a good deal of trouble if he was the sort to be poking and dealing. Craig thought on how it could be used to get him out of Richmond. What would their case look like without Williams? Would it still fly in the courts? The man could just vanish.
There would be no calls for backup on this one.
“A good day to you, Mr Williams,” Craig remarked, retreating to his car.
“A good day.”
Craig felt his wetware meld and his heads up connect to the conveyances, as he sunk into the drivers seat. Williams had finally turned to head back to his own skycar. Around him, Craig’s conveyance bloomed into life. Craig pulled out of the dark lot, chewing over what to do next. He marked and protected the photographic recall of the transaction.
Now he just had to figure out what to do with two cases sitting in his car, that he would rather not be discovered with. Especially without access to the Bunker. Code Black called for a lot more than just a cessation of contact. It meant agents going into stasis on all operations.