It was an executive office suite. The lights were off but the computer was on. The floors were an expensive hardwood, rich with reddish colour. The decour was outdated, and the bookshelves were matching antiques. The books, however, were new. And the computer was a high functioning top quality.
A male security agent entered by the doorway. He was scarcely over thirty years old, and his hair was a dirty blond brushcut. He wore a professional black business suit over a plain black t-shirt that clung tightly to his muscled body.
"Report," commanded a woman. Her nose was hawkish with authority, and her once-black hair had assume the likeness of steel wool. Her eyes were brown like the floor, except mustier.
"We removed the tracking device from between that second staple's prongs in the middle of the documentation. Instead of disabling it, we brought it here as you requested."
The woman in the wheelchair nodded in acknowledgement from behind her desk.
"The documents have been sent to our lab downtown. A team will attempt to reverse-engineer the university's technology from those documents. Only one scan of it has been made, for back-up, and we're keeping it under the tight security you authorized."
She nodded again, and then the craggy skin around her eyes seemed to tighten with cold purpose.
Behind her, the night's pervasive shade was exposed against a city skyline. The clouds hung slightly overcast, and the crescent moon sat upon them like a knife's blade in cotton.
"The others are curious, and I admit that I am too, as to why you have not ordered the strip destroyed according to protocol," he told her.
"I thought you'd actually want to do your job," she told him. "I hired you because you have a military background."
"In covert ops," he put in.
"Precisely. You see, this building is a baited trap. They will come for it, one way or another. Perhaps not tonight. But mark my words, they will come," she promised.
He became less casual, "I see. That makes much more sense to me. But what of the young woman?"
"It was sloppy to release her after that interrogation, but I suppose it would have been even sloppier to have disposed of her. Where is she?"
"Wandering out of the basement, I assume."
"What basement!?" the woman in the wheelchair became antsy, and turned her full attention away from her computer monitor and toward her head of security.
"The basement here. Below us."
"And you're certain she knows nothing?" her words were heavy.
"We took her too soon for her to have gleaned any insight from Darrion."
"Damn. I have faith in our science team, but I doubt the university's special division would be careless enough to have put all the pieces we need in one folder. Has a preliminary analysis come through?"
"I wasn't aware of any secure information coming through the network. And I doubt answers will come so fast. I'm no scientist, but I did get a brief look at those files. They're complicated. I reckon we've underestimated the intellect of that pawn of theirs, and scope of their technology."
She smiled tautly at that. "Better for us, in the long run."
"I hear the secondary LaChique sample report came back," he told her. "Is she human?"
"The rep-" began the executive.
She was suddenly interupted by a voice from the radio at his hip, "This is the Back Light. The Mouse is bleeding, I repeat, The Mouse is bleeding."
"The report was rather empty," said the woman, choosing to ignore whatever she could make of the security's radio code. "Just like the first. It's as if there's nothing to sample at all. The cells deteriorated quite rapidly. We've seen nothing quite like it, and it leaves no clues behind other than a slightly higher residue of broken nucleotides, suggesting her DNA is far more complex than yours or mine."
"And is yours and mine the same in complexity?" he ventured. For a moment, he thought she had looked down at her legs. "Forgive me, I have no right to ask such a question. Or to make such an absurd accusation."
She smiled, "I think it's plain to know that we specialize in absurdity." The black wheelchair rolled back, and the executive in it sighed, looking up at the ceiling of her office. "An operative at her concert earlier tonight retrieved a small blood sample for us. A preservative was applied. It probably won't work, but I think a tertiary test is to be expected."
"Have we identified any more of their 'subjects'?" he asked her.
"No," she said. "You'd have gotten a report if such progress had been made."
"And more of Rosa, does she know what she is?"
"I'm afraid we haven't obtained enough intel to answer that question yet," said the executive.
There was a pause.
He touched a finger to a rather prominent mole on his neck, as if self-conscious.
"Is that everything?" she asked him.
"I believe so."
"You are dismissed. But remain on alert. If the Division is adept as we suspect, they will strike tonight. Here."
He nodded, and then walked backward out of her office.
In the hallway, the decour was more modern and this relaxed the man as he strode idly down past rooms full of corporate purpose.
Then, the radio communications system buzzed at his hips, "This is The Blue Doorman. The fire is lit. I repeat, the fire is lit. Over."
He promptly bolted toward the nearest stairwell, as did another security officer down the hall. Scarcely anyone was working overtime so late into the night, but now he reckoned he would know why his staff was a full regiment on this particular evening.
"This is The Eagle. Secure The Mouse! I repeat, secure The Mouse!" he yelled into his radio. Then he realized he was unarmed, apart from his tranquilizer pistol. His shoulders tensed.
Footsteps cascaded downward, not just his, but many above and below.