“You’re the senior agent,” said Agent Brame cheerfully from the front seat. “I’m sure you don’t need my help to get your foot out of your mouth.”
There was a moment of awkward silence then Agent Tierce said stiffly, “I apologise for my remark, miss. I assumed that your fur was naturally white.” He paused and went on, “The way you dealt with the pink-furred guy back there was the sort of thing we learn at our mother’s knee…”
Eridah shook her head, “I’m no descendant of Usagi.”
“None of us actually are,” Agent Tierce said with a faint smile.
“Oh, I know that.” Eridah went on, “When I was a bit over half way through the first year of high school I got sick and tired of being beaten up, so I found a local dojo that was prepared to give me self-defence lessons.”
“Makes sense,” Agent Tierce acknowledged. “As well as apologising for my personal gaff, I should also apologise for us dragging you into this. I don’t understand why Professor Miofey involved you.”
Eridah looked at him thoughtfully. “He was trying to avoid someone. At least, that’s what he told me. He also seemed to think you’d need someone to explain his findings.”
“I got that part,” Agent Tierce looked thoughtful. “He knew that the Commission has its own scientists.”
“Who asked him to write a report for them,” pointed out Agent Brame. “That suggests they don’t know enough about his field to be useful.”
“Or that what they needed a report on was unusual,” offered Eridah.
“Whatever the details,” responded Agent Tierce firmly, “we need to change vehicles. Doing that discreetly is going to be complicated by you being one of the most easily recognisable individuals on the planet outside of the off world embassies’ staff.”
“That’s not my fault,” shot back Eridah. “I’m afraid that the best I can do is a dark mantilla over my ears and hair.”
“That’s better than nothing,” pointed out Agen t Brame, “and most recognition algorithms concentrate on the head. Your tail would still be showing but you might not get picked up until a person checks the footage.”
“You do have a dark mantilla with you, don’t you?” Agent Tierce was looking at the traffic around them as he spoke.
“Oh yes, it can still be quite cold when I leave home in the mornings.” Eridah demonstrated the truth of her words by opening up her bag and pulling out the black mantilla.
“Excellent.” Agent Tierce turned to his colleague, “Brame, after we’ve changed vehicles in the multi-storey, we’ll head to the safe house to switch again and call the office so they can sweep their perimeter for unfriendlies before we arrive.”
“It’s a plan, boss,” acknowledged Brame as he negotiated a particularly tricky roundabout.
The multi-storey was just that, a multi-storey carpark. They drove in, got a ticket, parked the vehicle and got out, with Eridah’s head and ears already swathed in the black lace. Brame locked the vehicle and they walked briskly away, with the two agents guiding Eridah on a path that they assured her kept them out of view of the security cameras as much as possible. They went up a level via the fire stairs and reached another vehicle which Brame unlocked with a key he produced from an inner pocket.
They climbed in and drove off. Twenty minutes later they pulled into the garage of a suburban house that perfectly matched the rest of the street for maintenance, build quality and era. Eridah doubted that the rest of the street had military security mechs on guard inside their garages.
This is followed by Beyond the Garage.