16

Of course, you can't just walk into Internal affairs headquarters and off someone can you?

You would think that wouldn't you, well, here's a clue, you can do exactly that, you just won't be walking out again. Someone (I forget who) once said that if you're willing to trade your life for the life of someone else, there's nothing that can stop you. I can point you out a few flaws in that premise, and I know a few people who are distinctly the exception to the rule, but by and large, it's a good premise.

This is my thought as I near the main building, I'm not expecting to come out of this one, so I can act with impunity. Walking in through the main entrance, the guards don't pay me a second glance, after all, why should they, I've been here far longer than they have and it's not worth them stopping me to see if the weapon scanner that just went off was accurate. Far better to trust that I know what I'm doing and then worry about it if they have to try and take me down later.

The main area where I work is underground, serves several purposes, firstly, because people who come in might be counting on LAD to get them out after we blow them to shit, not going to happen down there. Second, someone can attack the main building with artillery, you can have all sorts of accidents above ground, below ground, it's all accounted for.

Well, that's the theory, I get down to my level and drop by my office, Pat isn't in yet, no problem there, I can wait. I sit down for the last day of my life, feeling the material of my chair ease backwards. Funny really, I mean, not many people know when they're going to die, this is where you get the statistics from. What statistics? Simple ones like what the most likely word you're going to say when you die is?

Do you know what the most used word is when you die?

Statistically?

I'm reliably informed it's

"aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhh"

But I've got to say, I'd like to meet the people who did the census, I mean, how did they take that census?

"Excuse me sir, I've got a question for you."
"What's that?"
BLAM
"aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhh"
"Yup, one more on column 'a'."

It's one of those uncertainty things, I mean, if you know you're going to die that day, what do you do? Well, I've got myself a little time, and my office is well out of the way, and I'm not logged in, so no-one knows I'm here, so I can spend a little time thinking. I wander over to Eve's desk, funny how life does that to you, you know that the person's gone, but you go through their stuff, hoping to hear them one more time. Maybe to remember something that they said, something that they did, anything just to know that they're not dead in your heart.

There's a memo on her desk, something from IAB about the case, indicates a secure number to call to retrieve the information. I flip on the secure line and call it in, quoting them the number, there's a pause, then three clicks on the line (indicating three transferences and one wiretap going active) and then an old voice speaks.

"Agent O'Riordan" his voice sounds cracked, as if from too much smoking.

"Speaking."

"Your case has a problem within it."

The problem with the top level of IAB is that they're mostly tossers, they've spent years being bright-eyed boys trying to protect and serve, when they finally make it, they're old and they don't have the energy to be what got them there.

"Yes?" I don't bother to conceal my impatience, what they going to do, report me? I smile at the thought.

"The sins you were quoted do not match the ones in the book, and there is another problem."

"Being?"

The line clicks again and the old guy is replaced by another voice, deep and smooth, with the edge of confidence that only something that's lived too long or seen too much has.

"The problem is that the first kill does not match the pattern, all the kills were in direct opposition to the victim, the rich Operative was killed by poverty, the supermodel was killed by corpulence, and so on." He pauses to let that sink in. "The first kill was pacifism, the victim was a pacifist, that breaks the cycle. Pacifism is not a sin in the eyes of SLA, many of the chosen ones do not commit acts of violence, and are still revered without the need for death."

I nod to myself, that makes sense.

"The other sins that were in the book were those of treachery and truth, the last sin was committed by one of the people who had been trying to solve the crime."

That pretty much confirms what I'd been thinking, that it's someone within my department, then it occurs to me, IAB wouldn't have had to reroute to a different location to secure the line.

"So who are you then, what's your interest in the case?"

"I have no interest Agent, this is what we do, we tie the loose ends so that others do not trip over them."

"What department are you with?"

There's an avuncular chuckle, as you might hear from a kindly uncle "It's not something you need to concern yourself with, Agent."

"Oh I think I do, if this is what you're saying it is, then there's two more killings to be done before this is over."

"Yes, Agent, that's what I'm saying." He responds with a slow and measured speech, almost monosyllabic "You have to understand that we can take no more action in this matter, your department has already made its share of mistakes, we will not tolerate any more."

"My department? Who is this, you're not IAB, what's your business in this?"

"S1." The line goes dead in my hand, both a response and a warning in one word. I gently replace the handset and sit back down.

If S1 are involved, it goes above me, maybe even above Pat, I hear a noise at the end of the hall that indicates Pat arriving and decide to wait a minute to let him relax before I spring it on him.

Twenty minutes later, I casually stroll by Pat's office, he's got a box in front of him and is pulling something out of it. I pause for a second before I go in, he pulls something out of the box, it's a pale loose cloth, there's a few holes in it, and as he continues pulling it out of the box, a small black patch can be seen on the back of it.

Almost like fur..........