The sky was just beginning to grey into morning. Legrange sat alone, in his office on the fourteenth floor of the Authority building. He didn’t use his office for much, preferring to work where there was noise and activity, just for reprimanding Cadets and, as now, for thinking. He stared out across the city, taking none of it in, his mind a whirl of competing thoughts and theories. He needed to thin all of this down, get some focus.
“Leetle HaffHaff? Ease you mind?” he muttered, mimicking the street dealers. If he really was looking for a handful of White Nights it would be easy enough to swipe some from Evidence. He pulled open the lower drawer in his desk and pulled out a bottle of clear liquid. He wasn’t one for chemicals. He poured himself a large drink into the paper coffee cup that sat to his right. The liquid went cloudy and brown as it mixed with the dregs. Hobo’s Screwdriver. He took a gulp, then winced, then took another, winced a bit less, took a third and then settled back in his chair with his feet on the desk.
“So, Mrs White,” he said to the ceiling. Mrs Evandra White hadn’t been particularly helpful when it came to the Resistance, she hadn’t even been certain that was who she’d met in the aftermath of the explosion. She’d been lucky. Stumbling into the arms of Resistance operatives and asking to be taken to Authority didn’t usually result in being taken to Authority. It was more likely to result in your body being dumped in The Alleys.
Apart from that, nothing. Well… Legrange flipped open the brown leather wallet in his hand for the seventieth time, glanced again at the Citizen’s License inside, then flipped it closed again. He shook his head. I don’t get it.
Evie White had been at work, in the early evening, in the Administration building, when she’d received a message on her ComN. It was text only and told her to check under her desk. A Com unit – a customised ComL. She knew enough to know what that meant – Black Knights. It bipped in her hand and the voice at the other end told her that, if she wanted to see her husband again, she had to go to a specific flat in one of the Blocks. She had called her sister to beg her to collect her daughter from childcare and immediately left for the Blocks. She had travelled on foot as the time of day meant that she would have waited hours for a cab. She had been concerned about being followed, but was certain that she hadn’t been. On arrival, the flat was open. It had been filled with a strange, weblike substance that she struggled to describe and had not had time to examine, before the flat exploded. She had stumbled out and into the arms of Agent Jones, miraculously unharmed and clutching the wallet that Legrange held in his hand. He flipped in open again, flipped it closed again.
He’d sent James to the location, with a team, but the flat had been bare, gutted. They had taken a sample of the web, which was now in the lab. Legrange didn’t know what to make of that. He took a drink. It turned out that it wasn’t really helping him think, but it was making him feel better. He sighed, flipped the wallet open one more time, took in the details one more time. It didn’t matter how many times he saw them, he still didn’t believe his eyes.
This belongs to a man who doesn’t exist. How had it been there? How did it exist? He read the name again. BJORN BARLOW. The man who Sergey made up, the decoy they’d provided to waste Resistance time. Did they know? Was this a message? Legrange drained his drink. The involvement of Chaguartay’s daughter troubled him. Especially this daughter. If you’d wanted to get to the Mayor on a personal level, why target the daughter he never spoke to? Especially via her blowin husband?
It didn’t fit. It didn’t feel like Resistance. Unless the explanation was Jones. A new Agent, shaking things up? Was Toshock losing her grip? Legrange groaned. Can’t think any more. He drained his drink and, as dawn poured over the cityscape before him, he allowed himself to drift off to sleep.