The agent stood and watched the team. They all sat at terminals, typing, decoding, trying to find some of the evidence that he had lied about. But it would be there, soon enough. He trusted Lian.
“Sir!” one of the women shouted from further down the car.
“Yes?” he walked over to stand behind her, a woman of average height, brown hair in a braid. It had red highlights, and things hung from it, woven in, feathers, symbols, religious totems.
“Someone is trying to cover this up. I’m losing it as fast as I can find it. Whoever is hiding it is very good”
The agent leaned down and watched the screen over her shoulder. She had a bunch of datapoints plotted, but she was right, they were being altered or just disappearing before she could react, before she could find any kind of pattern.
“Do you think its her sir?”
“Maybe. What do you think? And whats your name?”
“Cassy sir. And I think that this is a very sophisticated red herring”
“Why do you think that Cassy?”
“Because this data doesn’t pertain to anyone. Its data about different people, being altered to look like even more different people. I think that the real data exists somewhere else and they are doing all this work to alter this data so as to lead us on a false trail”
That was actually brilliant. The agent must remember to complement Lian on that the next time he saw her. If he ever saw her again.
“Excellent job Cassy. Flag it, and make sure that nobody else ends up on this trail. I want you to keep following this though. See if you can trace the source. It may lead you to somewhere interesting”
The agent moved off, proud of Lian and Cassy both. Hopefully this team would prove to have more people like her than like Kral. It gave him hope. It looked like Callion had not given only plants, only killers, but also some good people like Cassy.
He walked off down the rows, checking over the shoulders of the team. They did seem to be doing good work. Hopefully it was good work that would save lives.
He knew that that was ironic. He was misleading them so that Sho would have a chance to live. And who knew how many lives she would take in that time? But it was his choice. It had been made.
He turned and saw Kral looking at him.
“I found something”
“What is it?”
“A flight. Unauthorized docking and departure of a small system jumper. Docking port 943”
“943? Isn’t that close by?”
“It is sir. I believe that it was the Butcher’s rebel friends, if what you say is true”
There was still distrust and anger in his voice, but it was tempered by professionalism. He would do for now. And if he got out of hand the agent would kill him.
“Then lets go”
Lian sat back, relaxing. The watchdog she had set told her that the railcar was no longer using as much of its connection as it had been. She checked the camera screen and found what she had thought it would show at such an alert.
Jor led his team out the main doors, all of them armed to the teeth. Another door at the rear opened, and an armoured groundcar with a roof mounted turret drove out. The team piled in, Jor sitting in the cab, a redheaded woman taking the turret. They headed off.
Lian was certain that they would be heading for docking port 943, and the traitorous dockmaster that had set up his base there.
The best deceptions were the ones with truth in them. And this one had much truth. A small system jumper had just landed there. Then rebel elements had loaded, and the traitorous dockmaster had sent them on their way. It was just his misfortune that she had undone the hacking that he had done, and revealed the orders that he had falsified as indeed being spurious.
Oh well. He was a traitor to the Arc. She turned back and frowned. Now the system was telling her that three jumpers had docked there, not two. That couldn’t be right. She checked the flight logs and saw that there were two clearly falsified landing reports.
“Oh god” she breathed “I’ve sent them into a trap”
The agent sat in the cab of the armoured groundcar. The team was silent behind him asides from the occasional cough. Cassy sat beside him in the drivers seat. The hatch to the roof was open, and the wind whistled through. He could see the red haired woman at the turret looking in all directions, tracking targets as they passed now and again.
She didn’t take her eyes off the road ahead of them “Yes sir?”
“What is your specialty?”
“I am a specialized computer analyst and cryptographer. I am the also the vehicle specialist assigned to this group”
“Ok. Good to know”
He turned his seat and looked at everyone in the back.
“What about the rest of you? I want you to list your name and specialty, starting with you” he pointed to the man on the left closest to him “And going in clockwise order”
The man he had pointed at was handsome. He had piercing blue eyes and pale blonde hair. He had well defined cheekbones and spoke with a faintly eastern European accent, something not often heard off of Earth.
“I am Alexander. I was trained with everything. I can do any of their jobs. Just tell me when”
The next person was a woman with curly brown hair that she had cut short, just above her shoulders. She had light brown almond eyes, and a soft face. She looked sweet, like a little girl.
“I am Francesca. I have trained with heavy weapons, and am an interrogator. I am supposed to interrogate any prisoners we take to extract the necessary information by any means possible. I’d like to discuss later how you got the rebels in the tunnels to talk. You may have been able to get more out of them if you had known proper techniques”
The next one was another woman. She looked very plain, with mousy brown hair and nothing to really make her stand out.
“I am Katrina. I am a marksman and general combatant, trained with firearms, explosives, and melee weapons”
“Same” said the man next to her. He was also very plain, but had short black hair and grey eyes “The name’s Stan by the way”
Kral was next.
“You know who I am sir”
“These others may not”
“Well then I’m Kral. I was trained with my knives and my pistols. Very much like your training sir”
The next woman was a knockout. A stunning blonde with wavy hair she sat with a small smile on her face.
“My name is Gina Inviere. I am trained at seduction and infiltration. I will be useful to you on any ‘soft’ missions, and maybe outside of missions entirely” she winked at him and her smile widened.
“I would love it if you helped me outside of missions” The man next to her said with a smile on his face. He had smile lines around his green eyes, and the agent could tell that he often told jokes.
“I’m Thomas. I guess I’m the team’s medic. I also like telling jokes, walks in the park, and am looking for a girl who is as sentimental as I am. I’m a crack shot with an RPG as well”
“Well thats good to hear. Someone who will lighten the atmosphere” the woman next to him rolled her eyes. She looked Asian, one of two among them with a clearly defined nationality. The rest were that general blend race that years and years had produced in the Solar System
“I am Lin. I’m trained as a demolitions expert. You want something gone, get me”
“And I am Samuel” the man next to her was the other one who was clearly defined racially. He was black, shaved bald, and had dark brown eyes.
“I am specialized in hand to hand combat and political systems. I was selected in case we should need to deal with the political systems of wherever we may go, and as the Butcher is reputed to be an excellent melee combatist. I’m looking forwards to trying my skills against her”
“What about the woman at the turret? Does anyone know what she is specialized in?”
“Lori, heavy weapons” she called down “And I was told that I am to be the secondary pilot on this mission should Cassy be incapacitated. Right now I think you should cut the chatter and look out the window. I think we may have company”
The agent spun his chair around and looked out the window. It appeared that she was right. There was a blockade in the road ahead, one that should not have been there. And there were quite a few angry looking people with guns behind it.
Cassy looked at him “Should we get out?” She flipped a switch on the dash and looked back out the window. The people on the barricade started shooting.
“Stop the vehicle!”
He grabbed his assault rifle and leapt from his chair.
“Pop the hatches! I want you all deployed and behind cover in ten seconds. Go!”The team scrambled, releasing safety belts, grabbing weapons, and leaping out of their seats. They ran for the hatches, switching safeties off, swinging out into the street, and running for the nearest places of cover. Lori swept the turret back and forth, the barrels making a rhythmic chum-chum-chum sound as she laid down cover fire for the team.