**Rated PG for mild language.**
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The Fillogerran continued his surveillance into the night, connecting his videoscope to his PaND and programming it to sound an alarm if the subject awoke. With that, he downed the rest of his synthjuice and settled into his chair to catch a little shuteye. The dark fur, agile body, and night vision inherited from his cat-like ancestors served him well in this line of work. He thought of this as sleep overtook him and mumbled a quick prayer of thanks to the spirits before drifting out.
“So, Korrus, you think you can just run away from your training, from your obligations here? You think the spirits of your ancestors will ever rest knowing that you have broken the chain? There has been a male of our line in the clan’s honor guard for the previous 7 generations.”
“Father, I know my decision disappoints you, but it is my decision to make. Grandfather would have supported this choice and you know it.”
A brief look of shock crossed his father’s face. “You should know better than to invoke the spirits of the recently departed. ‘Yet give their spirit time to find peace so that peace may better come to you.’ So it is written.”
“Fine, father, if you want to quote the writings, let us quote them. ‘Each of us shall best find how to serve and protect the clans, for no one knows the talent of the individual better than the individual.’ So, also, is it written. I can best serve as part of the J.I.A. Our worlds, as well as all the worlds of the Alliance are more vulnerable than anyone will admit.”
“And you think you can fix that? That is nothing more than the idealism of youth. Sometimes I wish the Clans had never joined with this damned Alliance. It takes our focus away from our home where it belongs.”
“Really? ‘And you shall find what friends and allies you can trust, learn from their knowledge and teach them yours.’ So it is written.”
“I am tired of arguing this with you, Korrus. Either return to your proper place here, as a male in the line of Pallek, or leave here with no family and no name.”
“Korrus, do you hear me? Leave and you will have no home, no clan.”
As he continued to walk away, his father’s words became less and less distinct until all he could hear was a single tone, constantly ringing. No, more like beeping. An incessant beeping that would not stop.
Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.
He started awake in his chair and grabbed the PaND to shut off the alarm. Quickly, the Fillogerran moved to his scope. The brightening of the sky and the activities of his prey confirmed that it was now morning. The man in the apartment, who looked like any normal human, had just stepped out of the cleaner and was hydrating some breakfast.
Korrus changed into a fresh set of clothing and downed a protein drink. He loved the Morning Shake line from AgriCon and it was one of the few indulgences Korrus allowed in his life. The man in the scope was now dressed and looked to be getting ready for work. Strapping on his shaders, Korrus quickly made for the rooftop garage on the apartment building where his Terran Motors Panther skycar was parked.
The Panther came to life and Korrus powered up the tracking system sitting in the passenger seat. He had placed a tracking device on the suspect’s skycar last week and it made following it in traffic much easier. As Korrus eased out of the garage, he saw the now familiar TM Zephyr emerging from the building next door, the tracking device obediently relaying its position.
Korrus slipped into traffic well behind the Zephyr and traveled the now familiar route to the Alliance Fleet Intelligence building. He enjoyed the hour long commute from Christchurch to Sydney, especially the stretch over the water. Earth’s oceans were one of the last areas not overpopulated (although not unpopulated) with people. It felt good to be free from the claustrophobia of the endless cities.
Setting the Panther on autopilot, Korrus put the next half hour to good use, filling out recon status updates and answering some ‘Net messages. He finished just in time to retake the controls and enter Sydney airspace.
He followed the Zephyr into the large parking garage and used his Agency IdentiBadge to pass the security checkpoint. After parking four rows away, he arrived at the lift just in time to get on with the suspect. Korrus knew it was risky to get this close so early in the investigation, but he wanted to play a hunch that his gut told him was necessary.
“Morning,” greeted the man as Korrus punched the button marked JIA, 108th Floor’ “You must really like your job to be in such a hurry.”
“Yeah, guess so,” replied Korrus not wanting to give it too much of his voice to create an imprint from.
The hack module for his PaND had arrived from Vegas yesterday. Korrus had leaned on a contact in the Info Liberators (or 1nf0~L1834a704$ as they called themselves) to get it. Sometimes you had to know when not to arrest someone.
As he stood there, his PaND began automatically hacking into the suspect’s PaND and downloading all information it had stored in the last two weeks. As they neared the 105th floor, Korus took a quick glance at the display and saw the progress bar was only 95% complete.
“Why does the final 5% always take as long as the other 95,” thought Korrus.
Since he had already pushed 108, he knew it would look suspicious to get off with the suspect at 105, so whatever his PaND pulled down would have to do. As the doors closed, he looked at the display.
“Hmm… well 98% is better than no percent,” he mused.
Continuing to ride the lift, Korrus stepped off as the doors opened for the 108th floor. He walked over to the door for Suite 10801, marked with the sign “Joint Intelligence Agency, Future Threats Division, Sydney Field Office” and walked in.
“Good morning, Korrus,” greeted Karyn, the receptionist. “How was your ‘commute?’”
“Boring as ever,” he replied as he walked to his temporary work space.
Because of his constant traveling, Korrus did not have a permanent office, but instead would set up shop at whatever local field office he could find. For that matter, he did not have a permanent home, either, but that came with the job.
Pouring himself a cup of synthjuice, he began looking over the contents of his newly purloined data. Starting with the calendar, Korrus saw nothing but one boring appointment after another. He switched to looking at the suspect’s recent messages. The in box was pretty tame, but there was a rather large file in the sent items.
“So that is what made the download so slow,” realized Korrus. “This thing must be at least a terabyte.”
The file was incomplete, but Korrus instructed his PaND to rebuild what it could. The data retrieval program informed him that it would take approximately five minutes to do so.
While he waited, Korrus switched back to the calendar information. He set up a quick search program to identify which names were the most frequent. First was the suspect’s supervisor, no surprise there. The next two were other analysts in the same office, but the next person on the list caught Korrus’s eye. Sharyn Johnsun, communications technician, Alliance Fleet. He pulled up all meetings with this woman and found meetings with her listed for every other week.
“Well, either it has a girlfriend or a contact.”
His PaND toned that the data retrieval was complete, so Korrus switched back to view the data.
The synthjuice dropped onto the carpet, its contents spilling across the floor. Korrus’s hand had forgot what it was holding since his attention was riveted by the data now displayed: complete patrol times and paths for the coreward Frontier area.
Still ignoring the growing stain on the floor, Korrus switched his PaND into communicator mode.
“J.I.A. priority code Sierra Alpha, Agent code Foxtrot Tango One Seven Niner Zero.”
A moment passed. Korrus wondered who ever invented these odd code words. Most likely Terran in origin since they seemed to be experts at professional paranoia.
“Foxtrot Tango One Seven Niner Zero, you are cleared for Sierra Alpha event. Please announce target name and level of threat.”
“Target name is Karter Jones, Alliance Fleet Analyist, Grade Two, suspect file code One Three Niner Zero Seven. Threat level is absolute. Repeat, threat level is absolute.”
“Received, Foxtrot Tango One Seven Niner Zero. You are authorized to detain suspect and to use local J.I.A. forces for assistance. An arrest warrant has been loaded into your PaND. You may use deadly force only if suspect is non-compliant, confirm.”
“Confirmed. Foxtrot Tango One Seven Niner Zero off.”
Korrus rushed out of the room, putting his PaND back in his pocket with his left hand and drawing his TalonDT from the shoulder holster with his right.
“Put me on the intercom,” he barked to the receptionist. I never did learn her name, Korrus thought as she fumbled with the buttons.
“Attention all J.I.A. personnel. We have a Sierra Alpha event in the building. All external communications must be shut down now. All tactical personnel report to the lift immediately.”
The office erupted into action as the receptionist stared blankly at Korrus as he walked out of the office to the lift. He was soon joined by seven tactical officers in armor and carrying AllianceSM48 sub machineguns. They stepped onto the lift and he hit the button marked 105.
As soon as the lift doors opened, they stormed into the Alliance Fleet Intelligence office. Korrus lead the charge holding his IdentiBagde and PaND in one hand and his coilgun in the other.
“I am Special Agent Korrus Gennaam, J.I.A. Future Threats,” he announced to the surprised security guard. “I am here to serve an arrest warrant on Analyst Karter Jones. You will lead me directly to Analyst Jones. You will not announce my presence or take any other actions to alert Analyst Jones to my presence. Is that understood?”
“Yes s-s-sir,” stammered the guard, still in shock.
With the guard giving directions, they marched through the office. Korrus kicked in the door named by the guard to find Jones working diligently at his terminal.
“J.I.A! Lay down on the floor with your arms straight out! You are under arrest and failure to comply will result in the use of force!”
Jones just sat there with a slight smile on his face as wisps of smoke began to curl from his skin.
“NO!” shouted Korrus, but all he could do is watch as the robot slowly dissolved. Some day the tech guys would figure out a way to disable their self destruct mechanisms. “Damn synthetics, someday we’ll figure out who your masters are.”
Korrus walked over to the terminal and realized the bot had been attempting to transmit the patrol information to a remote hyperspace communications relay. He hit the cancel button to abort transmission and keyed up his PaND. He knew a technician that could find out what direction that relay was transmitting in. Maybe someday would be sooner than he thought.