The storm that had hung heavy over Bellis was on the distant horizon as Selena exited the hypertram at Tarrin’s main station. If the familiar scents of linden trees and the sea breeze didn’t give away the city-state, the buildings did. The architecture was overly Tarrin, lots of arches and curved corners that seemed designed to stamp into visitor’s heads that they were not in the rival city-state any more. Even the portrait of the Lethe family, the owners of hypertrams the world over, was in a nice round frame.
Selena arched an eyebrow at the vacant smile of Sonya Lethe, Tarrin-born Lethe heiress, and wondered what to do next. Tyrling’s directions had been vague, and information had been uploading to the Jhandarmi database as she traveled. There was too many possibilities and not enough certainties.
“You’re frowning,” Sciarra murmured as he stepped up beside her, blocking the spring chill.
“I’m debating the merits of walking into the art district, slamming people’s heads together and demanding answers.”
He tilted his head as he considered the idea. “Tempting, but not good for the fleet’s overall appeal.”
“The Combine’s brand,” she corrected. “Remember who you are.”
“A slightly menacing gentleman from Descent who might be here to purchase land, or art, or a little of both.” He made a show of looking at his watch. “All the good businesses should be open. Shall we prowl?”
A corner of her mouth twitched up in a smirk. “Indeed.” To everyone watching they weren’t just outsiders, they were wealthy outsiders dressed in the height of Descent fashion. They’d blend in well on the streets of Royan, but here in Tarrin they stood out. Being the center of attention was fine when everyone was simply sizing up her sexual appeal, this level of scrutiny made her hair stand on end.
The train station opened out to the grand terrace, a series of long, shallow steps, and then onto one of Tarrin’s many formal gardens. It wasn’t the right time of year for the grand display, but there were hints of the show to come, pale green buds ripening on the frail flower stems, dark dirt turned and nourished by gardeners dressed in the deep ocean gray of Tarrin’s civil service.
:Do you want me to hail a cab?: Sciarra asked via the implant.
:We can walk. Tyrling gave me a map of blind spots and I want to see if we can get between here and the art district without leaving it.: She sent him the map.
Sciarra sent back a sensation of disgruntlement. :The station is wide open, where could he have dropped out of sight?:
:The first blind spot is near a food court in the indoor shopping plaza.: It was redundant to send him the image of the glass and steel building ahead of them, but she did. Terminal Plaza had once been the stopping point for the tram before the rail was extended to the port. Now it was part botanical garden, part tourist trap.
Stepping in front of her Sciarra caught the heavy door and held it open. “After you, miss.”
Selena pulled up the map again as they stepped inside to the dry warmth of the shopping center. The lower level had the food court that smelled of grease and intoxication, an indoor river, trees that caused the major security concerns, and a row of knick-knack shops. :Do you see an opening out of here?:
:Maintenance door to the left of the bagel shop,: Sciarra said. :There’s trees blocking the view from two angles.:
She checked the schematics. :Passcode protected so there’s no camera on the inside until the hall splits.:
They stopped in front of it and let the other people flooding off the tram flow past.
Sciarra gave the handle a wiggle. “Locked.”
:Could you get through it without augmentation? Kaffton has none.:
A security guard came into view, following the crowd and pausing here and there to give directions to tourists.
Sciarra pulled a paper map out of his pocket. “It came in the food basket. You said you wanted to look at the dress shop first?” he asked, a little louder than was necessary.
“Only if they carry Kellington’s designs,” she said as the guard walked past. Her mouth snapped shut with a frown as the guard stepped out of sight.
“What tools would Kaffton have had?”
“Whatever professional tools someone like hi-“
A worker in the bright blue-and-orange stripes of the Dreamy Cream ice cream shop shoved between them and unlocked the door.
Sciarra grabbed the handle before it shut. “The security here-“
“- is abysmal,” Selena agreed. “But it’s likely how any thief would get in.”
They stepped inside the service hall, a small, cramped space overwhelmed by the smell of cooking grease. Ahead of them the worker’s footsteps echoed off the concrete walls.
:The next security array is at the T-intersection ahead. Camera, motion sensor, and a heat sensor,: Selena said.
Sciarra’s eyes glowed a bright green as he scanned the area, the information trickling back to her on a slight time delay.
Even during the war she hadn’t always appreciated a constant stream of intel from the rest of her squad, it kept her from thinking. Sciarra’s information was different though, no commentary or assumptions, just flat data. Facts without chatter. The scan he was using showed the support beams in the wall, a hairline fracture that needed repairs in one of the floor panels, and a hidden door halfway down the hall.
Cautiously, Sciarra pushed on the wall panel and the door fell back with a hydraulic whine of a mechanized hinge. :Are these on the city blueprints?: Continue reading BODIES IN MOTION: Chapter 10