Raz now knew one new empirical fact: spending the night with company definitely put a spring in one’s step.
Up ahead, Screen’s door opened, and a woman of Amazonian proportions, with vines falling down her back like Medusa’s snakes, walked out and headed for the elevator. Screen saw him, beckoned him, and they exchanged high-fives as they headed for their duty stations.
He only had lab work scheduled for that day, unless Jones called him for any additional work – or unless Curt was pulled into a mission.
He took the stairs up to the labs – the one bit of exercise he’d been forcing himself to do. Living in the Agency had made him healthier, simply by the virtue of not being limited to living on noodles and expiring fruit drink.
His physique had stayed the same, and that was something he didn’t mind. He’d always been on the heavy side of pudgy, and his rounded edges were just as much a part of him as his skin tone or his epicanthal folds.
Besides, Tech rarely seemed to engage in body-shaming.
He swiped his pass to his lab – if someone else had been using the room since his last shift, it would reset all of his standard parameters, and the pass was an additional way of logging his activity, though the blue in his blood seemed to do a satisfactory job of always letting the system know where he was.
Curt was in his lab.
The agent sat on one of the stools, his long legs resting on the footplate. His face was as clean-shaven as always, brown eyes down and focussed on a phone. He looked up as Raz stepped over the threshold into the lab and slid the glass door closed behind him. The room sealed with the light sound of suction – just in case any deadly pathogens were released.
‘How can I help you, Agent C?’ Raz asked.
He’d had this fantasy a dozen times – variations on variations on variations. Sometimes it ended with a date; sometimes it ended with a fuck.
Curt stood and straightened himself, the mannerism so much like Agent Ryan that Raz was always a half-inch away from asking if they used the exact same code for the action. Augments, after all, had to get their code from somewhere.
‘Recruit,’ Curt said, ‘you know what I am, but you know I always think of myself as a human first, correct?’
‘I– Need your help, Recruit.’
Raz sat at his bench and indicated the seat Curt had been using. ‘Whatever you need, sir. Whatever I can for you.’
Curt scratched his ear for a moment. ‘I’m on probation, because of my history with the Solstice. This probation comes with a number of restrictions. One being that I can’t leave the state without supervision. I’ve left my daughter behind. I– I’d already broken up with my girlfriend – her mother – so I wasn’t the most involved father, but I– Most of my former friends are seeing me as the dick who skipped the state without a word. They’ve blocked me on Facebook and…everywhere else. I’ve only got a couple of people who are willing to send me pictures now.’
The agent stared at the floor. ‘I can’t be involved, but I don’t want to entirely miss out on my kid’s life.’
Raz squeezed the agent’s hand. ‘I’ll do everything I can, sir. I’ll need a list of names. I’ll set you up in the tech system – full access to social media feeds, without the person on the other end knowing anything. I’ll email you the credentials when it’s done.’
‘I appreciate it, Raz,’ Curt said, his voice back to agent-neutral. ‘But don’t let it dig into your real work. This isn’t an order, it’s a favour.’
‘I know sir, but I’m glad to help. The names?’
Curt pulled a wrinkled piece of paper from his pocket and laid it down on the bench. He stood and put a hand on Raz’s shoulder. ‘Thanks, Recruit,’ he said. ‘For everything. You’re still about the only person in this agency who will have a conversation with me.’
Raz opened his mouth, but Curt turned, his jacket sweeping around like a perfectly timed Hollywood shot, and left the lab before he had a chance to say anything else.
He cracked his fingers and logged into the Tech Department’s main GUI interface – a simple, elegant launcher for all their day-to-day programs – he clicked from his tab of +faved programs to the main list and found the one for messing with civilian accounts.
One by one, he found the people on Curt’s list, slowly building a network of people who had tagged his ex-girlfriend – or his child, as the agent’s daughter seemed to have her own Facebook page, albeit one presumably maintained by the mother, Darcy Stewart.
The System was smart, so he set some additional parameters – ensuring that any references to Sara Stewart would bounce right to the top of the new feed, and that any new pictures of the baby girl would be added to a digital album.
After another ten minutes of tweaking, he generated a new set of credentials and sent them in an email to Curt.
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