29 Aug 2014

By the Numbers - Chapter 22

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Saturday, April 24, 2071
0027 hours

    Charles eased his Harley into the Renton Mall's parking lot.  Treehugger followed with the Bulldog.  The lot was deserted, with only three cars total.  One of the cars, a dark blue BMW i985 sedan, flashed its headlights.  Treehugger blinked the step-van's once in response.  She parked the Bulldog several lanes away from the BMW.  Charles stopped beside the van and dismounted.  He walked around to the rear door.  Inside, Numbers removed her belongings from the bag holding the Evo representative.  She took a deep breath to steady herself.

    Oswald rubbed her shoulder.  "Going to be okay?"

    Numbers nodded.  "Let's hand her over.  I'll be better after that."

    Oswald squeezed the hacker's shoulder before letting her go.  "Treehugger, the door?"

    Treehugger stretched in the driver's seat.  "Give an elf a chance to get back in her body, okay?"  She hit a switch on the dash.  The rear doors unlocked and opened.  "There."

    Charles climbed inside the Bulldog.  He picked up the bag like a sack of potatoes, not noticing the mass at all.  He jumped back out.  Oswald followed.

    Once out of the van, the group walked halfway to the BMW.  A group from the car set out at the same pace, meeting in the middle.  Fraulein Johnson stepped forward, flanked by Wulfe and an elf with broad shoulders.  "Is that the insider?" Fraulein Johnson asked.

    "It is," Numbers answered.  "Freshly retrieved from Evo."

    "Let's see her."

    Charles set the bag down on the ground.  He opened it, revealing the unconscious dwarf.  "I think she's coming to."

    "How do we know she's the one?" Wulfe asked.  "After all, Fraulein Page has good motive to keep us busy while she scurries away."

    Numbers kept her attention on Fraulein Johnson.  "I have files that can be verified by your own security people placing Ms Evo at the kidnapped girl's school.  And, seeing that she was waiting for us with an assault rifle, I think it's safe to say that her fixer was in on it."

    Fraulein Johnson smiled.  "I'd like a copy of the files."

    "We'd like payment," Treehugger said.  "We're not doing this for fun."

    "Of course."  Fraulein Johnson put on a pair of AR gloves.  After a few moments of her dragging an AR object, she said, "You should be seeing the funds transfer now."

    Numbers watched the escrow account through her contacts' image link.  She smiled.  "Thank you."  Using her headware commlink, she sent the files to Fraulein Johnson, relaying the data through an anonymizing node.  "And there's your files."

    Treehugger sent a list of expenses to Fraulein Johnson.  "That's our expense list.  It doesn't include the damages to my van.  I'll have to get those estimated first."

    "I know a mechanic in town that can take care of your van.  Mr. Morrisey does excellent work.  I'll have him expect you on Monday.  He'll send me the bill."

    Numbers glanced over at Wulfe.  "And the other part of the deal?"

    Wulfe bristled.  "Ich immer noch wider.  Fraulein Page ist für die Vernichtung von Firmeneigentum wollte.  Ich muss sie aufnehmen."

    "No, Herr Wulfe," Fraulein Johnson said in English.  "This is simple economics.  We let a minor threat leave to deal with a bigger one.  You will be too busy to work on Fraulein Page's case.  Break the dwarf first, then you can return to the lesser crime.  Do you understand me?"

    "Ja, Fraulein."  Wulfe glared at Numbers.

    Fraulein Johnson looked down at the Evo representative.  "Bring her.  Put her in the trunk."  Looking back up, she continued, "I do hope that we never have to meet like this again."

    Numbers put on her best fake smile.  "I do as well, Fraulein."

    The Saeder-Krupp team left, the elf helping Wulfe with the bag.  Numbers remained in place, her legs and knees trembling.  Charles stood behind her.  "Are you okay?" he asked.

    Numbers watched as the BMW drove away.  "I am never working for them again."  She reached out to the troll to steady herself.  "Give me a moment."

    "Take as long as you need."  Charles turned his head to face the rest of his team.  "You two go ahead.  I'll take Numbers home."

    "All right," Oswald said.  "Numbers, give me a call when you get home."

    Numbers heard her teammates get into the van and drive off.  She let the sounds of the city wash over her until the rain started.

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