Written in 365 Parts: 85: Hooked

“So they had taken the bait” Hooper thought to their self as they watched the figure on an internal screen. Just a few hours ago part of Hooper wanted all of this to just go away. When they had discussed the whole situation with Drick and Krennar, Hooper had cautioned against jumping to conclusions. Sure it seemed as if the case was cursed, but it was likely just a massive embarrassment. Once it became too complex to hide then they would silently back down, Marsh cannot be that important.

Drick had argued differently, but Hooper stood steadfast until events overtook them. Hooper had to admit the facts had already pointed at someone doing a little more than just keeping face and rushing from embarrassment. It was a panicked scramble to tie up every loose end as fast as it appeared. The fact they had covered up a chase, the missing witnesses, missing data files, zero footage from any camera in the area, attempted pay offs, attempted assault at the Spaceport. It was pretty clear that someone was willing to pay a lot and make very sure to cover and bury whatever this was. Then there were the operations against Hooper at Judicial Central.

The first breach of the Judicial communications could have been put down to clever hackers and a lot of money thrown at a low level supply worker or contract personnel. Sure that level of communications surveillance was tricky, but it was possible. Using a local connection to facilitate a remote hack and monitoring was not impossible, just next to so as to seem improbable. It didn’t mean that there was a serious issue, certainly a call for a major investigation and review, but not a problem in the Officer Corps. 

However then there had been the direct theft of material from Hooper’s personal files on their terminal. Technically anyone could log into any terminal at Judiciary and do their job. It was how the system worked to the highest level of efficiency. But Hooper, like many of the older breed, had a favourite machine. A terminal that they had molded to work fast and respond to their particular way of doing things. Old pros always had a custom chip added to a favourite station. A place to do extra work, keep personal data, and as a dump store for the odds and ends of partial cases or stuff to follow up. Hooper had two, but they had always been doubly peculiar. Both of those terminals had been accessed and both had been cloned for the data in the personal space. 

Then Hooper had heard a report about two of the people on his organics list. One had accidentally stepped in front of an automated truck, which had a faulty line in its artificial navigation unit that meant it failed to stop, turning them into a smear along fifty-third inner city causeway. The other had decided to take a stroll out of their window three kilometres above the ground. The impacts against the gently sloping wall of the skyrise meant that what organic matter reached the base was a bloodied tumble of flesh and bone. 

Hooper had suspected for some time that there was something off about one of the Officer’s on the watch. Hooper had put it down to mild paranoia and the usual minor backstabbing and gossiping that kept people jostling for potential promotions. There were always promotions. Humanity was expanding in this section of space. There were the many bases that needed experienced judicial officers able to handle every job from making laws to being the prison guards. There were new worlds being colonised with megacorporations paying handsomely for Officers to run entire departments. Turnover up the ranks was high, and so everyone wanted to fast track up the ladder and off the world.

But, the breach of two machines was proof that it was much more than an opportunist looking for a better job. It was a serious breach of security and regulations. Someone was as much a traitor to Judiciary as a direct enemy of Drick’s. Hooper wanted to know who they were. They were going to pay to the law, and to Hooper’s boot which would need to be surgically removed from their backside.

Then Drick had brought the information about the hit on Krennar and Marsh. Hooper had wanted to immediately move them to a new location. But Drick had reasoned the logic of doing such. Anyone who was willing to send a team into Judicial Central would just trace and chase the next location. They needed to buy some time to work out and enact their next move. So they had come up with the scheme to let Marsh and Krennar die, and Hooper had come up with the idea of tracing the secondary check team. Anyone paranoid enough would double check they were dead.

Which is why Hooper was here.

Hooper watched in silent boredom as the prey opened both freezers and took a deep sample from each of the two corpses. Draining cerebrospinal fluid and taking a bone marrow sample from both. They wanted to check if the two bodies were clones. That was a wise move as they were. Very hastily grown clones, there was no life in them as they had been tanked in just a few hours. A lab analysis would be able to detect this in fewer than three hours, but that was mostly irrelevant. Their job had been to enable Hooper to smuggle Krennar and Marsh away, to buy time as potential corpses. This secondary work of bait was all a bonus.

Hooper was hoping that the suit worn by the now hooked little prey wasn’t fitted with low level radiation detection. The suit generally resisted all forms of electromagnetic detection, and that probably included the very high emitting radioactive detection, so there was a good chance it did not detect radiation in low doses. 

This would be helpful. As since the figure entered the room, and alerted Hooper, they had been subjected to highly targeted painting with particles of a particular isotope. It emitted radiation on a specific frequency. This was the reason Hooper had to be in the room. An organic had to be here to monitor the radiation levels and manually turn on and off the emitters. Automated systems were forbidden from taking decisions regarding toxins that affected people’s lives, except in life or death situations. If this went as it should, the target would be wearing a trackable suit, and Hooper would be able to follow them.

Hooper watched the figure leave slowly and gracefully the way it had entered. It made sure to clean all traces of itself. As soon as it was clear of the building entrance Hooper was out of his box and heading to the door, pausing for a few moments while the six clean up droids detached all the sensors, and emitters, that had been placed earlier. A check that all equipment was back in its place and Hooper left the building and all traces they had been there as well. Hooper took a short sprint to the waiting vehicle hidden in good cover. Hooper signalled their approach and got into the rear.

Hooper was just about to ask if the plan had worked when the vehicle started to move. One of Hooper’s internal screens lit up and they saw a target and trajectory for a vehicle ahead of the one they had just climbed into, it was from the overhead drones.

“Looks like this crazy shit worked.” said Rodero across the Comms unit.

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