Knowing it was bound to go sideways, Gates went in anyway. Sometimes, stepping directly into a situation was the only way to salvage it. Beyond that, you had to be seen trying to protect your assets. If people learned your snitches could be hurt or killed with impunity, the price of information grew too great for a poor working man.
He sighed and resisted the urge to check his weapons again. The sensor blister mounted in the elevator ceiling was probably recording. And if they’re smart, Tiger Kitty has someone watching through the nets, so why give away any hints what I’m here for?
Dropping his duffel, Gates looked around his tiny apartment a last time and verified he had every one of his very limited assortment of personal items. Satisfied, he took his MobiGlas out and called the management company to let them know he’d vacated the premises.
“So the same shooter killed both agents. Anything else linking the two?” Gates asked.
“Our analysts think their investigations point to the same criminal enterprise.”
Gates couldn’t keep the snark off his lips: “Such a difficult stretch for the analysts: smuggling dope and smuggling people are so very different, after all.”
Well now, isn’t this the perfect welcome to Taranis, garden spot of Human-controlled space?
A pair of obvious pirates were closing on a trader just at the edge of Gates’ sensor coverage. He’d been tracking developments for a while, watching as the captain of the long-hauler, trying to escape the two vessels behind it, blundered across the pirate lying doggo along his path. The third pirate went active with his sensors, closing the sack.
It had been, Gates reflected, a frustrating week. First, the 325 had developed an electrical problem in the damaged wing after the jump, then the sole civilian shipyard in orbit over Nemo III claimed all their repair bays were occupied.
“Gates, can you hear me?”
The words brought pain. Gates recoiled from them, retreating into a calm pool of nothing.
Gates slugged the live feed to the command terminal, then had a moment of vertigo as the view wobbled, Seabrook climbing out of the Caterpillar’s conning chair and moving for the hatch.
“Yes, quite clearly.”
Gates waited in the underwater transit tube connecting Nemo Prime with the suburb Stroller called home. That house was too tough a nut to crack on short notice, so he and Seabrook had decided on taking Stroller here.
Gates was growing tired of Nemo, or at least the tiny patch of it he and Seabrook had gone to ground in. The safe house was spartan, yes, but that was to be expected.
“That’s got it,” Ferrera said, the strained hum of his tractor beam generator underlining the statement.