Both the security mechs activated at the same time, Eridah assumed it was a movement sensor thing. Both mechs scanned the vehicle, two red laser grids sliding over its surface. Both grids disappeared at the same time and both mechs intoned, “Authorised vehicle identified. Occupants may exit the vehicle to be identified.”
The three of them climbed out of the vehicle to be scanned by the mechs, both machines scanning all three of them at once. Once again both mechs intoned in unison, “Agent Tierce, identified and authorised. Agent Brame, identified and authorised. Eridah, daughter of Samsah and Dester, identified but not authorised.”
“Eridah is under our protection,” put in Agent Tierce. “She’s an important witness in our current assignment.”
“Noted and recorded,” intoned the mechs. “You may enter.”
As Agent Brame unlocked the door from the garage to the rest of the building, Agent Tierce asked, “So, Eridah, how does our database know who you are?”
“My entire genome’s been sequenced,” she replied, “because I’m scientifically interesting - someone got their doctorate for doing it. I believe there are copies everywhere, although I do retain copyright.”
“Copyright? On your genes?” Agent Brame sounded surprised.
“Yes. It means that if anyone comes up with a commercial application I can veto it and if I allow it to do ahead, I can collect a licensing fee.” Eridah smiled. “I can, for instance, refuse approval for anyone to recreate my DNA and produce artificial clones.”
“Who’d want to do that?” Agent Brame was still surprised.
“To date? One consortium of unmodified humans and an organisation out of Derraganum.”
“Sounds like a Derragii thing to do,” commented Agent Tierce. “Their espionage and intelligence people tend to get carried away when they’re under the hammer.”
“And it wouldn’t be the first time they tried to drag us into their slave trade and worse,” pointed out Eridah. “Apparently they felt my clones would have exotic rarity value – not an idea I want to encourage.”
“Because it’s one step from there to someone wanting to own the original?” Agent Brame looked sympathetic.
Eridah nodded, “And because people aren’t a commodity, no matter how they’re produced.” Then she added plaintively, “Are we going to stand in this garage all day? Because I was in a two hour exam and I’d really like to use the bathroom now.”
“Excellent point, we should go inside.” Agent Tierce swiped a card through the lock and the door into the house opened. “We’ll go first, just in case someone else is already here – we don’t want any misunderstandings.”
There was not, it turned out, anyone else already in residence although Agent Brame said some very pithy things about the last person to use the main bedroom. Eridah, on the other hand, had no complaints about the state of the bathroom that was her first port of call. Agent Tierce disappeared into what he called the communications room although, when she saw inside it later, Eridah thought it was more of a large closet. Despite the lack of space, Agent Tierce stayed in there longer than Eridah spent in the bathroom.
When he finally emerged, Agent Brame asked, “So, what’s up?”
“HQ has a loitering problem and needs us to wait here while they police the area.” Agent Tierce pulled up a kitchen chair and sat down. “They want me to call back in two hours.”
“Then we should eat while we’re waiting,” replied Agent Brame. “I’ll see what’s in the freezer.” He walked over to the wall unit and opened the door. “Looks like mince, mince and more mince. All the frozen pizza is gone and so are all those bags of pretend-leftovers for making hash.”
“Sounds like pasta and sauce then,” said Agent Tierce. “I hope there’s still cheese in the fridge.”
Agent Brame opened the other wall unit. “Yes, we have cheese without mould. No milk for coffee and no fresh vegetables or fruit. Housekeeping can’t have been through since the last residents left. I hope there’s still pasta and sauce in the pantry.”
“Straight cheese on hot pasta isn’t bad,” allowed Agent Tierce, “but I do like a good sauce.”
This is followed by Passing Time and More Surprises.