Eridah had trouble keeping up with the taller, fitter, white-furred male but between the iron grip he kept on her wrist and her fear of the green-furred gunman behind them, she managed it. The black-furred male, unburdened by an unexpected companion, was leading the way, sliding down the handrails, taking the stairs two at a time and almost bowling over the first of the ambushers waiting for them at the doors to the outside.
As their flight degenerated into a melee, the white-furred male dropped Eridah’s wrist to deal with the purple-furred assailant in front of him. Another male, with hot pink fur and a broken nose, grabbed at Eridah and she hit his nose with the heel of her hand. As the pink-furred male recoiled, a forest green companion made his own grab for Eridah just as the white-furred male turned back to her. Despite dodging, Eridah was unable to get away from her new assailant and his hand closed around her wrist. As she pulled back, trying to break away, a patch of red appeared on the side of the green-furred thug’s chest and his grip slackened. Glancing back in the direction they’d come from, Eridah saw the celadon green gunman, weapon in hand and apparently taking aim at another target. The white-furred male grabbed her hand again and dragged her towards the exit.
Outside, the black-furred male electronically unlocked a white car that stood at the curb, suspiciously convenient to the door. As he went around the bonnet to the driver’s door, the white-furred male threw open the rear door next to the curb, pushed Eridah inside and climbed in beside her before closing the door. As the black-furred male got behind the wheel, the white-furred male said, “Do up your seat belt, miss. This is likely to get hairy.”
As she obeyed and the black-furred male started the car and began to pull out into traffic, Eridah said, “Thank you, but who are you and what was that all about and why is Professor Miofey dead?” Her voice broke on the last word.
“We’re agents with the Homewarren Secret Service,” the white-furred male showed Eridah an authentic looking badge in a leather wallet. “I’m Agent Tierce and my colleague behind the wheel is Agent Brame. Professor Miofey was writing a confidential report for the Planetary Exploration Commission and he called to have someone come and collect it from him. You saw what happened after that.”
Eridah nodded then asked, “But all of that for a botanical report?”
From the front seat Agent Brame answered, “It’s not unknown for commercial interests to attempt to intercept or get advance copies of Commission reports, but that did seem rather extreme. Two groups and firearms is definitely unusual.”
Agent Tierce looked back through the rear window and said sourly, “It looks like our friend with the gun has gotten a picture of our identification plate – we should swap vehicles. And to think I thought this would be quieter work than anti-espionage duty.”
“Could you drop me somewhere?” Eridah asked the question quietly. “I can make my way home from anywhere around here.”
“Sorry, can’t do that.” Agent Brame didn’t take his eyes off the road. “You’re a witness to a murder and you’ll need to give a statement. Besides, I don’t think we’re being followed, but do you really want to lead this trouble back to where you live? Your fur is fairly noticeable and I imagine anyone could find out where you live just by asking around enough.”
Eridah found his observation chillingly prosaic.
“Speaking of your fur,” began Agent Tierce, “what in the worlds have you done to it? If you’d just-”
“Nothing,” interrupted Eridah frostily. “This is what my fur has always looked like. I have mutations.”
This is followed by Multiple Vehicles and the Surprising Contents of a Suburban Garage.