Master lends me to a friend to seduce their girl!
"Sweetie," Sasha said, "I hate to break this to you, but we're all criminals."
I rolled my eyes. "Point taken. Any suggestions?"
She smiled wryly. "Bring your gun."
It was after 10 PM when Sasha came to get me. The ever present Seattle drizzle had lifted in the last few days. Looking up through the SUV's window, I could and a sliver of crescent moon hung among the few pinpricks of light that could be seen through the glare of city lights. "So where are we going?" I asked.
"Duvall is northeast, twenty miles or so." She let the car drive in silence for a few moments. "We haven't had much chance to talk recently," she said. "How are things?"
I shrugged at the vague question. "Everyone is worried about the president's declaration."
"We're at war. There's no denying it now. Are you interested in knowing the truth?"
"Yes. How bad is it?"
"In the month since the executive order was passed, more than forty safe houses have been raided. Most of those have been concentrated on the east coast, but the rest are scattered across the nation."
"Forty," I repeated, considering. That was at least a few hundred genemods captured and reverted.
"There's more," she said. "We've gotten some leaked intel that the feds have been tapping phones and sending subpoenas to every CSP in the country. They're trying to crack our comm network. The agency has never focused too heavily on that kind of tech, and that's going to cost us now. Phone and data communication is being heavily restricted for now, but supposedly they are working on the problem."
"Any breaches there?"
"So far, fortunately no," she said, "though it almost seems too good to be true. On the other hand, the security measures the agency has put in place are quite draconian. I've been restricted to very brief, coded communication with a single contact once a week, and the information flow is almost entirely one way at this point. But even if the network is not breached, this whole mess is disrupting agency logistics to no end. Of course, that's only going to make things worse as people get more desperate when they aren't getting enough to eat. I expect forty houses to turn into a hundred soon. I'll be surprised if half of us are left by the time we reach the president's deadline."
That was a staggering admission. My best guess was that there were somewhere between twenty and thirty thousand safe houses in the nation, scattered through every major city. Usually when one was found by the feds, it was enough to make headlines. The fact that the recent surge in raids wasn't in the news at all was worrisome.
"So how is Stan's network coming along?" Sasha asked.
The abrupt change in subject caught me off guard. "Uh, well, I'm no software guy, but it seems to be going well. He and Tilly are working on setting up a network node in Santiago with a group of expat genemods to test two-way communication. I can ask him about it when we get back."
"Good. I was nervous at first, but I think that this network is going to be exactly what the agency needs right now. If we can establish a free flow of information between the agency and the various safe houses without risking the identities and locations of any one member of the network, I think it will help tremendously with our security and logistics problems."
I blinked at Sasha in surprise. I had never thought of Stan's pet project as something that could prove so vital. "I'll talk to Stan," I promised again.
The trip out to Duvall took about twenty-five minutes, half of it along a winding road with nothing but trees to either side. The car slowed as it crossed a bridge on approach to what appeared to be the town's only stoplight. "Car, display route," Sasha said. The screen on the center console came to life, plotting the car's course on a map. It was another couple of miles or so to our destination, a bit north of town.
The car moved through the intersection and rolled along the highway for a few minutes before turning onto a gravel road and coming to a stop.