Chapter Seven

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Tom Scott woke an hour earlier than he wanted to. Not one for lying in bed, or any form of relaxation for that matter, he sat up and stretched out his back. The recently sewn up, puckered skin on his right shoulder tugged a little painfully. Standing up, he walked over to the mirror and examined the healing wound. Now eight days old and free of infection he didn't think it would scar too badly. The surgeon had done a good job removing the shell, but the bone beneath the wound was still sore from the fracture and would take a while longer to heal. A less confident person would have quickly resorted to restorative surgery to hide the blemish for fear of losing physical presentation marks. Scott wasn't bothered with any of that. The marks, scars and assorted injuries he had collected on the job were like badges of honour to him. They served as a reminder to remain ever vigilant every time he looked at himself in the mirror. This 'badge' he was now sporting was received when they'd tried to apprehend a small group of people who'd been printing anti-council propaganda. Both the men and the printing operation had been taken out of action and some useful intelligence gathered about ongoing activities in the Flawed sectors.

Unlike many of his privileged colleagues, Tom was born to a Flawed mother; something he tried very hard to hide and a fact known by only a few. Thankfully, an SPR score of 98.7 had ensured him of a good home and acceptable adoptive parents. At twenty-two he was the youngest Agent in his division and had been fast tracked for promotion. This initially down to some helpful nepotism, thanks to his adoptive Father who worked in the Council, however it wasn't long before he had proven his worth. His speed, intuition and sheer bloody single-mindedness made him a dangerous foe.

Privately educated and healthy trust rapidly reaping interest in the central bank helped make Tom quite the 'catch', although he had little time for relationships outside of work. Considered very good looking, his tall, lean and muscular torso was honed to perfection during punishing work outs at the gym, when work would allow that is. With cropped blonde hair and piercing blue eyes, Tom Scott could have had any woman he wanted, however he opted for no-strings, one-night stands if he ever desired physical activity of a different kind.

Wearing grey sweats and a white sleeveless vest, he walked through to the kitchen area of his apartment. Grabbing a health shake from the refrigerator he sat down at the counter and grabbed his ComDat- a hand held device that linked into the Agency network. The green light on the side of the device blinked rapidly informing him he had multiple messages.

Operation Oculus: Intel update 3.5

Name: Hannah Iris Green (file ref F2PPX-00007861M)

Age: 17

SPR: Restricted

Parents: Lynne Green (file ref F3BBY-00005324J), Daniel Green (file ref M8HFR-00004921H)

Address: 342 West 2 Street, Zone 2

Background check:

Demoted (Mr Eastman, Consultant). Adopted by Greens, aged 2 weeks following forced removal of Green's own child due to promotion. Educated to 14 (achieved average score FCC (Flawed Competency Certificate)). No violations or transgressions. Employment Status: employed (Child minder to Mrs M Jackson (deceased) and Cleaner (varied)). Closest relationships (outside family): Shane Dexter (see file MB1PPA-00007892L). Minor infractions. More to follow....

Dissatisfied at the lack of anything of any interest, Tom sat considering his next move. After two weeks of covert surveillance they'd turned up nothing. He had followed the girl everywhere she went, recorded details of everyone she met and the agency had even put bugs in her house. She was an attractive girl, if you liked that sought of thing, but nothing about the girl suggested anything unusual or exceptional. Nothing stood out, no irregularities, a squeaky clean record, seemingly average intelligence and no relationships of any note.

"Come on," he said exasperated, "there must be something." He glanced over some of the photos he had been sent. He'd already looked at them countless times, but still he saw nothing. All background checks on family had come back clear. Even her relationship with Dexter appeared innocent enough. He was a kid from a stable background, both parents working for the Area's hygiene services. Lifting the copied folder, he took from Eastman's office he decided to review it again.

After an hour or so, and having made several calls to the office for further checks he stood up to stretch his legs and went over to the window. His apartment was on the fourth floor and he had a good view of the street below, which given the time, was still relatively quiet; rush hour wouldn't begin for another hour. Tom looked down to the roof top of the nearby grocery store and saw some pigeons being fed by a little girl. Something about the way the girl was feeding the birds peaked his interest. Not the fact that the child was committing an offence punishable by law for encouraging vermin into their pristine environment. No, instead it was the pigeons themselves. Busy pecking at the ground, grabbing any scraps of food going, they were extremely nervous beasts moving together as a flock. Just then, one of the birds, visibly no different from the others rose up above the flock and swooped down attacking one of the other birds, stealing its food and stunning it in the process. Having grabbed the scrap of food or whatever he had been after, the bird returned to pecking away, blending in with the others till it was difficult to even spot the aggressor.

Tom moved away and sat down on his light-grey sofa and laughed loudly to himself at his oversight. The Green girl wasn't just a Flawed, she was supremely good at being a Flawed. Almost chameleon like, she didn't stand out, and never took risks. She was so non-descript in her actions and behaviours that, no one noticed her; she blended right in. It all felt too contrived and too perfect. The irony made him laugh again. While ever she lived as a Flawed he/ they would learn nothing. They needed to remove her safety net, put her in a new environment to watch and wait.

Tom Scott picked up his phone and dialled. "Relocate Hannah Green immediately."

Eastman had chosen her for a reason. Now it was time to find out why.

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