You can go back to A here.
So she ate a couple of breakfast pastries and had a glass of water and called that good for at least the next half-hour. She’d had just enough time to do that, when there was a soft tap on the door and Inspector Hussein’s voice came from the other side.
“I’m here, but it’s not just me.” Inspector Hussein sighed. “You’re clear to open the door though.”
Brody moved to the door and turned the knob easily, opening it. “Good morning, Inspector.”
She gave him a dark look. “You’re not funny.” Inspector Hussein looked at Libby, and smiled. “Well, it’s good to see you up and moving.”
“Were you here yesterday?”
“I was.” She brought a couple of bags in with her, sitting them on the counter. “I went and got groceries because I’ve got no way to tell how long you’re going to be here.” She started unpacking canned soup, and ramen, and sandwich fixings.
Brody glanced in the hallway. “I thought you said it wasn’t just you?”
“He’s coming, he was looking at the security post.” She rolled her eyes. “We’ve got news, and I think we might have some kind of handle on where this is coming from now, but I’ll let him explain it because what I know is spotty at best.” She shot Brody a dark look.
He didn’t look pleased, and there was some undercurrent between him and Inspector Hussein that Libby didn’t understand. If the other guy hadn’t appeared in the door then she might have asked about it. Their new visitor dressed almost exactly like the rest of the people she’d seen from EMR. His suit was a little better cut, a little less worn around the edges. He rubbed his hands together and looked around their little hiding place, before nodding in approval. He had tanned skin and silver hair, and carried himself like he was a cowboy. Libby glanced down and realized there were cowboy boots sticking out of the bottom of his suit pants.
“Captain Halliday,” he reached a hand out for Brody to shake. “It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m Special Agent John King.”
“Agent King. Special Agent means you’re a district head, doesn’t it?”
“It does.” King smiled, impressed, before he looked at Libby standing next to Inspector Hussein in the kitchen. “And Ms. Elizabeth Wade.” He walked over and held his hand out to her as well.
Libby accepted the handshake, his grip was cool and so light it made her feel like she was overcompensating if she squeezed as hard as she normally would have. But Special Agent King had the kind of intelligence behind his eyes that said that was intentional, that he was gauging how she handled him making her uncomfortable.
She had an entire career of people trying to put her off, trying to gauge her responses before she gauged theirs, so she returned his light handshake and gave him the sort of bland smile she normally would. “We haven’t heard that there was anything going on that would draw the attention of the Emergency Management and Response district head.”
He smiled at her, wider than he had before, and his eyes crinkled at the corners. “Now that’s what I’ve come to talk to you about today, Ms. Wade. If we could have a seat?”
Libby glanced at Brody, and he nodded her toward one of the armchairs. Part of her wanted to bring one of the cans of soup with her, just so she’d have something to do with her hands. She swallowed it, and walked over and sat in the chair. Brody took the other one, and King took the middle of the couch, stretching his long legs out in front of him.
“You don’t need me for this, so I’m going to put the food away,” Inspector Hussein said, voice overly chipper.
King nodded, to say that he’d heard, before he pulled a projection cube out of his pocket and sat it on the coffee table, so it bounced off the door. “Inspector Hussein tells me you saw a gentleman standing in the street before your hotel was burned, Captain Halliday.”
“I did. I only noticed him because he had the light refractors on his face.”
A picture popped up on the door. “I don’t suppose either of you know this gentleman?”
He was a fairly nondescript looking white guy with brown hair and brown eyes. He looked trim and proper, but there didn’t seem to be anything special about it. Libby shook her head no, and so did Brody.
King pushed a button on his controller. “How about this one?”
Brody cursed. “That’s him. That’s the guy I saw on the street corner. Do you know who he is?”
“He has a great many names, generally. And as for what exactly he does…well, Ms. Wade is a civilian and so are you now.” King smiled blandly. “I can tell you that he contracts out to…groups that are less than pleased with the technological advances our society has chosen.”
Libby frowned. “Would those be like the Silver Glade Militia?”
King nodded. “You were almost contracted to run a survey in their area.”
“Not me personally, we were up for the contract, and if we’d gotten it I’d probably have taken the commission.” She stared at the face on the screen. “It never eventuated.”
King clicked his teeth, shaking his head. “I’m sure that was the line you were told.”
Brody cocked his head to the side. “Do you know differently?”
King locked eyes with Libby, and waited. And she genuinely thought about stalling, or claiming not to know what was going on. But she didn’t know what was going on, and being uncooperative probably wasn’t going to convince King to share. “Matt lost the bid on purpose.”
“Why?” Brody asked, blinking at her.
Libby shrugged. “They told him he had to bid for it. He didn’t tell me why he didn’t want it.”
King cleared his throat. “You volunteered for the contract in Karadeniz.”
Libby flinched. Most people outside the area just called it Black Sea City. The technical name was the Turkish, and she’d always appreciated the difference. It hadn’t been a good job, even before it abruptly ended with the institution of martial law. “I’m not sure volunteered is the word I’d pick.”
“But you went willingly.” King shifted his projector to a court document. “And then when it was all over you testified against the rebels.”
Libby rubbed her face. “They stopped being rebels when they started dragging people out of their homes and trying to force them into service. Are you implying there’s a connection?”
“When certain people heard GIG was bidding for the survey in their backyard is when this man showed up in Boston.” The projector flashed, and James was on the screen.
Except when she’d known James he’d always looked like a banker, like a city boy. James in the picture was wearing a wool lined jacket and carrying a riffle.
“Because the last thing they wanted was you in their backyard, even if all you were doing was your job.”