Chapter 9

James emerged from the Chief Inspector’s office after a thirty minute tongue lashing dressed up as a “pep talk”. The overall gist had been for James to “buck up and start acting like a man” with a clear threat: the free ride would only last _so_ long. He hadnt been explicit in the threat of course, but it was made clear that he had been visited by a member of the housing authority to investigage mis-appropriation of housing benefits for “active police officers” – obviously the Chief expected James to resume his duties sooner rather than later and especially expected him to “drop the farce” of claiming his wife’s death had been anything but an accident, a dog attack.

James walked the corridor with insides knotted. The apartment he lived in was given under the understanding that he was an active police officer, married, with an overall net-worth above the threshold to be in such an up-scale location of the city. He counted off the reasons why that wasnt the case and what would change if he found himself suddenly homeless. His mind was made up by the time he left the building. “Illegitimi non carborundum – Dont let the bastards grind you down.” he muttered to himself, resolving to clear stuff out and to pack just in case.

Li stepped back from the console to try to think. She needed to stabilize the VR matrix. The more she stared at the problem the more insane the odds seemed to be that she could actually pull the thing off. As she stared through the window at James laying prone in the isolation area she remembered the old phrase “Catch and release” … was there some way she could tag him, release him and then follow him in his indigenous environment? She was out of her depth. Uner normal circumstances she would have called on either _anthropology_ or _biology_ for aid in the process but Magda was off the ship and there was no way she was going to give Shawna that amount of leverage.

She decided to trust the computer, “Tag specimin A” she said to it.

“Unable to comply.” it said.

“What do you mean, ‘unable to comply’, all I want you to do is to tag the specimin.” she replied

“Unable to comply.”


“Specimin already bears a tag.”

What? Li hammered at the controls. There it was and she was too blind to see it. Too wrapped up in her own stuff. James had been tagged before. If that was true, there was every chance that someone else would be claiming the find!

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