Stef had her nose pushed to the window of the observation window that looked down on the surgical suite – though no surgery was taking place. Below, Ryan observed as he walked around the curved path towards his daughter, the Parkers were going through a complete medical workup with Austin Reilly.
In other parts of the observation area, there were small clusters of Tech recruits, each holding some device to take notes – from a humble notebook, to a tablet. Occasionally, one of them would ask a question, or make a point, and below, one of the Parkers would nod.
She looked up, her eyes wide in a way that meant she had been crying, or wanted to cry – her logic, apparently, was that the dryer her eyes were, the more of her tears would dry up before they could be cried out.
Ryan looked to his office door. There had been a knock. His HUD told him it was Stef outside – and she had knocked, instead of shifting in – a sign to be a little worried for her. She went through strange cycles of this – on good days, she would shift straight in, on days when she felt less good about herself – and therefore feeling undeserving of his affection – she would loiter in the hall outside his office, or insist on knocking.
He had insisted, gently but often, that she was always welcome.
The journey to the hospital wing of the Lost’s “Agency” – this particular location bore the name of “Sunmote Gardens” – was the same as the trip to Hook’s office, a mix of the almost familiar, overlaid with bright colours, simple magic, and a sense of fun that the corporate atmosphere that the Agency soundly eschewed.
Shifting was a near-instantaneous transport – there was maybe a second or two as you disappeared where you were still aware of the place you were leaving, and less than a second to recognise something about the place you had teleported into.
Travelling by mirror had the world go rainbow at the edges, then transport you even more quickly than a shift.
Whichever way they were travelling now was a world away from either of those disappear-reappear options.
Hook walked them forward, each step taking them past ghostly echoes of buildings, each step taking them far further than the distance traversed by their feet.
Stef leaned against the railing that prevented idiots from falling into the river. Beside her, Alfie munched on their traditional morning doughnut – a staple of their routine whenever Alfie did the mail run with her.
Something hit him in the back.
Curt started awake, his mind already alive with possibilities as to what had startled him. Someone wanted to hurt him. It was Petersen with a gun. It was a knife. It was a fist. It was-