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While this conversation took place, I was keeping a close eye on the house and its surroundings. There was nothing immediately suspicious by visible light. Unease filled me, however. Clair was out from under my protection every second she was in the house. Dylan Linwood was sure to track her down soon enough. Independently, she and I had arrived at the very same conclusion.

Raymond Miller used the secure landline (not secure from me) to call another WHOLE operative to arrange the collection of everyone inside the house. That was when I learned of the plan. Relocating from the house was a good idea, but staying with WHOLE wasn't a compromise I would have suggested. Still, I could only trust Clair's judgment.

The moment Ray hung up, I called the landline. Something had changed.

"I need to speak to Clair," I told him as I had told Steven Separovich earlier. "Urgently."

"Okay, hang on," he said, and I heard him say more softly, "It's that friend of yours again. Says it's urgent."


"Surveillance has changed in your vicinity," I told her.

"What kind of change?"

"All EITS drones within camera range have been detoured along alternate routes. Not only that, but crowd-sourcing allocations for this area have been reduced to zero, so the drones are flying on internal reckoning only."

"What does that mean?"

"That Manteca Municipal Authority is effectively unmonitored for two blocks around you, and the blind spot is widening."

Clair said nothing at all for a second as she interpreted the data that I had provided. "Someone's up to something, and they don't want anyone else to see them doing it. Any sign of him?"

I guessed who she meant: Dylan Linwood.

"None, but I too am blinded by the lack of data."

"Okay. Thanks for letting us know. We're heading out now."

Clair hung up and I was deaf and dumb again.

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