The last person who ever suggested that Toshiko Sato could be a good receptionist was her careers officer at high school, who tried to persuade her against taking a science stream and suggested that the secretarial course was more suitable for a girl. She had dealt with him straight away and set her sights much higher than being able to type and answer a telephone.
She was willing to put up with such a mundane job for a few days, providing it WAS just a few days, only because Owen needed somebody to go undercover pretending that she came to GlasTech Ltd from their usual temp agency. She had railed against the idea at first. He had argued that he couldn’t put Shona in a potentially dangerous situation in her condition. He said so when Shona was well out of earshot. Even six months pregnant, she would probably have taken him down and administering pain to his vulnerable places for suggesting she wasn’t capable of handling the situation.
Toshiko then pointed out that secretaries didn’t have to be women, and the only other member of the Torchwood Glasgow team who could be excluded from consideration was Darius, since the reception of GlasTech had a huge plate glass window at the front.
It was a valid point. But she lost the argument in the end because Owen had other plans for Dougal.
It was nearly five o’clock on her fourth day in the job. It had been a miserable afternoon with the plate glass window blattered by pounding rain and wind. Dougal Drummond let some of the cold in when he stepped into the reception dressed in a security guard uniform that must have got his husband, Sandy, thoroughly excited. Toshiko wondered idly how he must have looked in his dress uniform when he was a soldier and decided it was a crying shame to womanhood that he was gay.
“Good afternoon, Miss Sato,” he said as he signed the firebook to show he was on the premises. “Nasty weather for it. Are you getting the bus home?”
“Unfortunately, yes,” she answered, staying in character and giving no indication that she knew him as anything other than the guard. She scanned his staff ID badge that automatically ‘clocked him on’ to his shift. He wished her a good evening and passed on through the staff only door. She waited another five minutes before logging off from the computer and taking her pid from the docking station. She put her coat on and picked up her bag and headed out into the dark, blustery late afternoon.
The bus stop was just down the road from GlasTech. It was out of range of their CCTV. So she wasn’t standing under its ineffective plexiglass roof for very long before a car pulled up and she quickly slid into the passenger seat. It was a pool car that couldn’t be traced back to Torchwood even under the closest scrutiny. She shrugged off her wet coat and threw it into the back seat. She pulled her photo ID identifying her as Miss Noriko Sato off her blouse and dropped it into her handbag.
“There’s absolutely nothing to report,” she said. “By day, GlasTech are a perfectly ordinary manufacturer of plastic containers. They’ve cornered the market for shampoo bottles. There doesn’t seem to be anything amiss – at least as far as I can tell from the front desk. You know, apart from the first morning when the head of HR told me what my duties would be, I have hardly set foot in any other part of the factory. I’ve seen the ladies loos off the reception and a staff room where the secretaries have their coffee breaks. And that’s it. This is a really lame undercover assignment.”
That wasn’t exactly true. Her skills as a computer hacker had let her into every corner of the firm’s operations, from the accounts to imports and exports to the personnel files on every one of the two thousand employees. She had found out that a large proportion of those two thousand employees were migrant workers from Eastern Europe. They were all paid the national minimum wage, but, even so, there was a high turnover of those employees. The head of HR was recruiting almost daily, while apparently writing very few references for those leaving to go on to other employment.
It wasn’t very much to go on. But Owen insisted it was proof that something sinister was going on.
Toshiko thought it was proof that she made the right decision not choosing a career in secretarial arts.
“Something is going on there,” Owen insisted once again. “And until we know exactly what, I need people on the ground.”
“Then get Munroe to practice a Polish accent and get him a job on the shop floor,” Toshiko suggested. “I don’t think I’m going to crack it as a receptionist. I just don’t have enough access to the building.”
“Munroe and I are going in tomorrow as health and safety inspectors,” he replied. “If Dougal doesn’t find something tonight. Meanwhile, forget about it. I’ll order a take out and we’ll chill in front of the TV with your favourite DVDs.”
“Domestic bliss in the evenings only works when I have an exciting job during the day,” Toshiko pointed out. “But I suppose it will have to do.”
Dougal’s night shifts had been as dull as Toshiko’s days as a receptionist for most of the time. He had managed to do very little more than thoroughly explore the factory under the pretext of checking that it was secure. He had seen nothing that roused even the slightest suspicion of sinister activity.
A movement in the half dark corridor that he was patrolling caught his attention. He shone his torch on the tall, black clad figure and relaxed.
“Darius!” he said. “You got in, then?”
“Hardly a challenge,” he replied. “The fact that I don’t show up on CCTV is a big advantage for infiltration. Keep walking, by the way. Look like you’re patrolling the corridor as normal. Just routine.”
Dougal walked the corridor, checking doors to make sure they were locked. Darius walked at his side. The head of security in his control centre would see nothing unusual if he was observing him.
“I haven’t found anything,” he said in a quiet voice that nevertheless seemed loud in the empty building. “I wouldn’t want to work here in a million years, but I can’t see anything that Torchwood would be interested in.”
“The woman Doctor Harper retconned last week insisted there were monsters in the building and that the management were feeding employees to them,” Darius pointed out.
“Yeah,” Dougal acknowledged. “But that is such a wacky idea.”
“Doctor Harper used a truth serum on her. AND the lie detector. She was telling the truth.”
“She thought she was telling the truth,” Dougal conceded. “The truth serum is still experimental. And the lie detector CAN be fooled if somebody is delusional enough. Or if they’re determined to tell lies. I don’t know why she would, unless she had a real grudge against the management or something.”
“People who have a grudge against management sabotage machinery or send computer viruses to the accounts section. They don’t go to Torchwood. And aren’t you going to check that big door we just passed?”
“What big door?” Dougal asked.
“That big door,” Darius insisted, pointing to a double door painted pale blue like the others along the same corridor.
“There’s no door there,” Dougal replied.
“Then it’s hidden behind a perception filter.”
“A perception filter?”
“Mechanical one. I can do it naturally if I want to. Takes it out of me maintaining it for too long. But I know when something is hidden in plain sight like that. First bit of Torchwood weird shit in the place.”
“Granted. But how do you know...”
“I’m a vampire. I don’t show up on video cameras and I can see through perception filters. Look again. There’s a door there. I’m telling you there is. Hang on.”
Darius took a long, thin tool from his pocket and aimed it at the security camera covering this part of the corridor.
“Ok, we have a couple of minutes before somebody notices there’s a problem down here. Look at the door.”
“I see it,” Dougal told him. “All the other doors have numbers. I didn’t notice that there was a missing number.”
“Perception filters do that. Your mind slides past the anomaly. Anyway, do you have a pass key? Let’s find out what’s behind a door that somebody put a perception filter on.”
Dougal was convinced. He found the pass key he had been entrusted with when he took up the position as night guard. He fully expected it not to work. A door hidden behind a perception filter surely had a more sophisticated lock than the stationery cupboard.
He was surprised when it unlocked. He pushed the door open and he and Darius slipped inside a dark place that became even darker when Darius closed the door behind him.
“I can’t see a bloody thing,” Dougal protested.
“I can,” Darius assured him. “We’re in a short, narrow corridor with a fire door at the end. I think there’s a stairwell beyond there. Stick close to me. There’s nothing to trip over. You’ll be fine.”
“Vampires are good for infiltration work,” Dougal commented.
“I am happy to be of service,” Darius replied with a hint of sarcasm.
“I... didn’t mean that you’re... you know... I mean... you’re part of the team. You’re not... What I mean is, we all have our talents to bring to this job. Being able to see in the dark and fool video surveillance is useful. Any minute now, I expect my skills in unarmed combat to come in handy. This place isn’t hidden for nothing. Somebody has to be down here.”
“Somebody is,” Darius confirmed. “I can sense the warmth of living blood somewhere close.”
That was a useful trick for infiltration, too. But Dougal decided not to comment about it. He moved slowly, his hand on his night guard’s torch. Unarmed combat was all very well, but the rubber encased durable torch was good and heavy and would serve as a useful cosh if the situation warranted it.
Darius moved faster than he did, and with more confidence. Dougal moved slowly, with one hand outstretched, expecting to touch the fire door at some point. He was surprised to find the door held open by Darius.
“It was unlocked?”
“It was locked on the other side,” he replied. “Another way I can be useful on a mission such as this. Don’t tell anyone at the Hub. It would worry the, too much. But at night, I have the power of transformation. I turned myself into smoke and slipped through the keyhole. Opening the door from the other side was easy.”
“I never knew you could do that. Why do you hide your abilities from the others?”
“They see me less as a freak if they don’t know about things like turning to smoke.”
“We’re both freaks,” Dougal pointed out. “They’ve all seen me die and come back to life too often. Even Sandy... sometimes, he looks at me... and even though he loves me, I know it scares him a bit.”
“Shona loves me,” Darius said. “But she still calls me a blood-sucking Undead freak.”
“Yes... but for her that’s a term of endearment.”
Darius laughed softly. Then he warned Dougal and they both moved cautiously and quietly down the steps to another double door that led into the sub basement of the factory. There were sounds coming from there. There was a low electronic hum of machinery, and also a voice giving orders. The distinctive reverb of a tannoy system meant that he didn’t have to shout.
The door opened and a man wearing a similar uniform to Dougal’s stepped out. He looked at Dougal and then raised his hand to switch on his in-ear communicator. He didn’t get chance. Darius moved swiftly and hit him across the back of the neck, knocking him out cold.
“He’s about my size,” Darius noted. “I might become part of the security detail for a while. Saves me having to project my own perception filter. He can go in that cupboard behind you.”
Darius changed quickly. The sight of him in a security guard’s uniform struck Dougal as odd. But it made sense. Two security guards would not cause comment.
They stepped through the door and emerged onto a metal gantry some fifteen feet above the floor of the sub-basement. The said floor was vast, probably running right under the whole of the main building.
“Try not to stare,” Darius told his colleague. “We’re supposed to be guards. We should be used to seeing what’s down there.”
“I’m doing my best,” Dougal replied. “But... I’m having trouble believing what I’m seeing.”
What he was seeing was a series of glass tanks, each roughly the size of a high-sided bathtub. Each tank was filled with a translucent green liquid. Submerged in the liquid were what looked like Human bodies.
No, not quite Human. They looked like unfinished humans. They had the general shape, a head, trunk, legs, arms. But the hands and feet were solid, without fingers or toes. The heads were bald and faceless.
“Keep moving as if you’re patrolling,” Darius told Dougal. He did so, glancing down at the workers in pale green overalls and caps who were attending to the baths or to the machinery banked along the walls that was obviously controlling the operation.
“Are they being paid double time for a night shift, then? No questions asked, no questions answered.”
“Even migrant workers must realise that this is not just part of the black economy,” Darius reasoned. “Look at their eyes. They’re hypnotised, brain washed, working like automatons.”
“You’ve never worked on an assembly line, my aristocratic friend,” Dougal pointed out. “They don’t look very much different to the day shift.”
But Darius was probably right. The workforce in this sinister factory were almost certainly not there voluntarily.
They moved at a night guard’s measured pace along the gallery. Dougal tried to count the baths, incubators, whatever they were meant to be.
“Five hundred and ten,” Darius said. “Not counting twenty at the end here that are currently empty.”
“They’re not humans,” Dougal concluded. “The things being grown in there. They’re some sort of copies of humans... clones...”
“Probably not.” Darius smiled toothily at the mild joke shared with his colleague. “In Lithuania we have legends of such things. Creatures with the shape of humanity, but not the soul, created by unnatural means and scorned by the saints as unholy.”
Since Darius was a creature created by unnatural means and generally scorned by everyone, not just the saints, homunculi must have been very ill thought of in Lithuania, Dougal concluded.
“They’re mythological though?” he asked. “You said they were ‘legend’.”
“So are vampires, though. And you exist. What did these homunculi do?”
“Nothing, until they were given the soul of a Human. Then they took on that Human’s features, their intelligence... their personality. But with evil intent behind it all. A homunculi would murder his way through the loved ones of the victim whose soul he took, slaughter innocents with the face of one they trusted till death.”
“This looks too scientific for Lithuanian folklore, or any other folklore,” Dougal pointed out. “But somebody might have the same idea in mind. Stealing souls and putting them into these... things.”
“More than five hundred tanks,” Darius mused. “That is a lot of souls.”
“What if this isn’t the first batch? GlasTech have been here for five years. Depending how long it takes to grow one of those bodies, they could have homunculised half the population of Glasgow by now.”
“The question ‘why’ occurs to me,” Darius said.
“I don’t care why. It has to stop. We need to get the fuck out of here and get some back up. We need U.N.I.T in on this, a major shutdown operation.”
Then he gave a sharp cry and slid to the metallic mesh floor. Darius looked down and saw his eyes open wide with shock and a bullet hole through his forehead. He turned to see a security guard in matching uniform aim a pistol at his own head. By the time he pulled the trigger, though, Darius was no longer standing there. A black smoke spread out and then melted away through the mesh.
The only thing wrong with being a cloud of smoke was that he didn’t know exactly where he was while he was in that state. He didn’t have any eyes. Usually he only transformed long enough to slip through a crack or a keyhole in a door that was directly in front of him. Instinct alone got him through. There were no doors this time. He sank through the mesh floor and reconstituted his body hanging underneath the gallery by his fingertips. He tried not to notice that Dougal’s blood was dripping on him. The smell made his head reel and his mouth watered as he resisted the urge to drink.
“Who the fuck is he, and where did the other one go?” he heard somebody ask. Heavy footsteps shook the metal floor and he clung on tightly.
“He’s no problem any more,” another voice answered. “Stick the body with the reject subjects for incineration and find the other one. When you do, blow his fucking head off. Don’t hesitate this time.”
Darius almost lost his grip when they picked up Dougal’s body and a fresh splash of blood hit him directly in the face. It trickled into his mouth. He hadn’t tasted warm fresh Human blood for months. He had been living on black market blood donor packs since Shona got pregnant. It was a heady taste, but he felt guilty knowing it was the blood of a dead friend. The fact that he wouldn’t be dead for long didn’t make it any less upsetting.
They carried Dougal away. Darius crawled slowly under the gallery towards the end of the huge room. He had spotted something he couldn’t see from above – a wide doorway with loose plastic sheets hanging down rather than a door. As he watched the sheets were pushed aside by one of the incubator tanks hauled by four of the hypnotised workers.
He noted that only three of the workers came back out again when they had finished.
He turned to smoke again and slipped through the plastic sheeting into the annex. When he reconstituted again he was lying on top of a large, long filing cabinet. He was tired after transforming himself three times in a very short time, to say nothing of crawling upside down but he gave his last effort to making himself invisible to anyone who wasn’t expecting to see a vampire lying on top of the filing cabinet.
“We should wait, Kelvin,” said one of the two white-coated men who appeared to be in charge of what was going on. “There’s an intruder loose in the complex. He could be trouble. We shouldn’t continue the process until he’s stopped.”
“He’ll be dead within half an hour,” Kelvin, the elder of the two, replied. “We can use that half hour to try the process again. This time it might succeed.”
“Well, we’ve got plenty of test subjects,” the first man conceded. “An unlimited supply of foreign peasants.”
“But we don’t have the time. That’s why we’re not stopping for anything. Our masters don’t want an army of useless peasants. They want to be able to replace key figures in parliament, business, the military. And they want it soon. Get the subject ready for the process.”
The younger man hesitated just a few seconds.
“You’re in this too deep, already, Bell,” Kelvin told him. “There’s no point in having any qualms, now.”
“Thank you, Mr Exposition,” Darius thought. “Telling me the whole plan and your names on top. Makes writing up my report much easier.” But there was precious little else to be thankful for. He had no idea who these ‘masters’ were, but their plan was ambitious and dangerous. As for this process, he had half guessed what it did already and he was horrified even before he saw it demonstrated in front of his eyes.
The unfinished Human Darius still felt he wanted to call a homunculi was lifted carefully from the tank and placed on a table where it was restrained with leather straps and probes attached to the featureless head. The luckless immigrant worker offered no resistance when the same was done to him. Darius knew a thing or two about hypnotism. It was another skill that came naturally to his kind. But he had never seen so many people rendered so pliable.
The man didn’t even scream when his body shuddered and spasmed as if an electrical charge was passing through it. His eyes were wide and his teeth clamped shut so tightly he bit through his own tongue. Blood poured from his mouth as the strange procedure continued. Needless to say neither of the operatives were interested. He was merely test material for their project.
The homunculi screamed – at least it did once it had a mouth to scream with. Darius watched the features begin to form. They were vaguely like the man whose life force was being used to give it life. It screamed loudly and struggled against the restraints for three horrific minutes before it died in agony. Darius noted that the worker was dead, too. But the two scientists took no notice of him. They tried to revive the homunculi with heart massage and defibrillation.
Darius seethed with anger. He had been called inhuman so often it no longer hurt him to hear the word. But these two scientists fitted the term much better than he did. They were prepared to kill a fellow Human being in order to create this artificial life that had no humanity in it except that stolen from the victim of their madness.
Inhuman he may be. But he was civilised. So he resisted the urge to leap down from his perch and rip their throats out. But it took a lot of self-control to do so.
“Get rid of both of them,” Kelvin said with a resigned sigh when it was obvious that another experiment had failed. “Send them to the incinerator.”
“What’s going wrong?” asked Bell. “Do you suppose we’ve made a mistake with the embryonic fluid mixture? Is that why they’re too weak to survive the process?”
“I hope not,” Kelvin replied. “We’d have to destroy the whole batch and start again. That would be a tragedy.”
Again Darius held back his anger. He watched as the dead worker and the homunculi that had never properly lived were both thrown into a plastic hopper. Bell called for a pair of the workers to come and take it away. Darius noted that they showed no emotion at all about one of their colleagues lying in the hopper in a limp tangle with the homunculi. They started to push it away through the plastic curtain.
Darius sighed and let his corporeal body turn to smoke again. It really was the last time he would be able to do this tonight. He was exhausted, already. He reformed himself in the hopper. Neither of the two workers questioned the fact that there were now three bodies being sent for incineration.
He had assumed there was a furnace within the plant somewhere. He was surprised to find himself tipped into the back of a refuse wagon, the sort with the frightening looking mechanism that compacted the rubbish. He moved quickly, sliding underneath before the steel came down and dragged himself to his feet in the space inside. His vampire eyesight told him that the wagon was nowhere near full, but it did contain at least a dozen bodies of humans and homunculi from the latest failed experiments.
When a hand reached out and grabbed his, he shrieked with fright.
“You’re a vampire,” Dougal told him. “And I scared you?”
“Yes, you did,” he replied. “It’s good to see you, my friend.”
“You, too. Though I’m not sure about our companions. They’re not looking so good.”
“They won’t be the only ones if we don’t put a stop to this,” Darius pointed out. “Let’s get out of this tin can.”
At that moment, the tin can began to move.
“I’m curious where exactly this tin can IS going,” Dougal said. “If the waste isn’t incinerated on the GlasTech premises, then somebody on the outside is party to what’s going on. Let’s just hold tight for a while.”
The journey took less than ten minutes. There was a brief stop at what they guessed was the entrance to the waste disposal facility and then the wagon travelled another fifty yards or so before stopping briefly and then reversing. The waste compartment then began to tip up and the back end open up. The bodies tumbled forward, not directly into an incinerator, but onto a metal conveyor belt that lead to the mouth of it. There were two men operating the system. Darius and Dougal watched them accept wads of money from the refuse wagon driver before they jumped down from the compartment and knocked them both out cold with fast and effective unarmed combat moves. The driver drew a gun, but Darius turned towards him, his face grey, eyes red and fangs extended. He gave one long low snarl and the driver dropped his gun and left a steaming puddle at his feet.
“Some people will be along to arrest all three of you in a short while,” Dougal said to him as he tied him securely to the side of the conveyer belt along with the two refuse workers. “Don’t waste their time claiming that you were captured by a vampire. Just tell them everything you know about what’s going on in Glastech and you might just get away with a light sentence for co-operating.”
Darius closed the phone call he was making and nodded. U.N.I.T were alerted. A major clean up operation was on its way to Glastech and to the incinerator facility. Their work was done.
“Those filing cabinets in the processing room,” Darius said thoughtfully. “I have a feeling Mr Kelvin and Mr Bell wouldn’t want their contents falling into U.N.I.T hands. They’ll have plenty of warning when a full scale military operation descends on them. What if we go back in there first?”
“Discreetly, you mean?” Dougal asked.
Darius looked at the refuse wagon and smiled toothily.
“Discreet wasn’t EXACTLY the word I had in mind,” he answered.
Dougal had passed the advanced driving test in the army. He had no trouble handling the refuse lorry in ways it was almost certainly not built for. The automatic barrier at the entrance to GlasTech fell beneath its wheels. The speed bumps on the way to the car park were of no consequence at all.
As for the plate glass front of the reception, that shattered spectacularly when Dougal put his foot down on the accelerator.
“Exactly how I imagined it,” Darius said as he jumped down from the passenger seat and felt the satisfying crunch of broken glass under his shoes. Dougal joined him from the driver’s side. The lorry was ‘parked’ right in the reception. The desk where Toshiko had sat until five o’clock was smashed into the back wall.
An alarm either fire or intruder, was going off. But since the authorities were already on their way neither of them worried about it. They went straight through the staff only door and headed down towards the sub-basement.
They were still in the main corridor when they were challenged by two security guards who threatened to shoot them.
“Didn’t you do that already?” Dougal asked, recognising his most recent murderer. The guard recognised him at the same time. He dropped his gun and surrendered to Dougal’s custody. The other held out a few more seconds – until Darius bared his teeth.
“We haven’t got time to bother with you,” Dougal said. “Arrest each other and go and put yourselves in the custody of the army when they get here.” He took the two guns and offered one of them to Darius.
“Do you think I need it?” he asked with a flash of red in his eyes.
“Maybe not. What do you want to do about the staff? Do we try to help them?”
“Leave them for now. U.N.I.T can look after them. Our priority is the two scientists.”
When they reached the gallery above the sub-basement they split, Dougal taking the left and Darius the right side. They both met opposition from more security guards, but Dougal shot them in the legs and disarmed them. Darius only had to look at them in his unique way to make them think about a new career.
When they reached the end of the gallery Darius jumped over the railing and landed on the floor below easily. Dougal dropped and rolled the way he learnt to do it in the army and came up with his weapon ready to deter any opposition.
The workers didn’t take any notice of them.
“The alarm we set off is ringing down here, too, Darius noted. “But these people are SO brainwashed they’re not even trying to help themselves.”
“Good job we didn’t set the bloody place on fire,” Dougal replied. “U.N.I.T will deal with them when they get here. They’ve got people who can set their heads right.”
They turned and stepped through the plastic sheeting. There was another poor soul strapped to the table, but the process hadn’t begun, yet. Darius moved between the table and the younger scientist, Bell, and again let his vampire nature take over enough to thoroughly frighten the man. Dougal restrained Kelvin in the act of reformatting the hard drives of his computer. He wasn’t gentle about it. In the army there were rules about the treatment of prisoners. But he wasn’t in the army now, and he had seen the bodies in the refuse wagon and heard Darius describe how they died. A pair of bruised testicles was the least this man deserved.
“I want the keys to the filing cabinets and all the passwords to your computer system,” he told him. “And I might stop kicking you before you need a new pair of kidneys.”
Kelvin was a scientist, not a soldier. He gave in to Dougal’s request. By the time U.N.I.T arrived and began taking the bewildered staff and the unresisting security guards into custody Darius had speed read most of the paper files. When Owen arrived shortly afterwards to see what his Torchwood operatives had uncovered he had plenty to report.
“You were meant to gather intelligence, not start a war,” Owen told them. “You ruined my evening by the fire with Tosh.”
“Tell her how we remodelled the reception area,” Dougal replied. “She’ll forgive us.”
“Very likely,” Owen conceded. “So... what did you find out?”
“When those two twats talked about their ‘masters’ I thought they were being used by some alien intelligence trying to take over the planet,” Darius said. “I couldn’t imagine Humans being at the bottom of a plan like that.” His eyes flashed red with anger. “It was a business consortium. The owners of GlasTech are in the thick of it. And a bunch of other big shots. It was about money. They wanted to be able to influence government, take down their business rivals... It was JUST about money. All those poor sods died in agony because a lot of rich bastards wanted to get even richer.”
His eyes burned. His face turned ashen and he let out a low growl. Owen stood back from him. He thought Darius was still in control of himself inside. He wasn’t dangerous. But all the same he kept his distance until his rage was over.
“Sorry, boss,” he said when he was himself again. “It just makes me so angry. Human life is a precious thing... and when I see it being used so carelessly...”
Owen didn’t say anything. He wasn’t sure what he could say to a Vampire who had just summed up what made him ashamed to be Human some of the time.
“We’re not all that bad. Some humans are worth fighting for. That’s why Torchwood exist. So I keep telling myself, anyway. Go on, now. You and Dougal can call it a night. Shona’s on night duty at the Hub.”
“I thought she was going home tonight. Is she waiting for me?”
“She probably won’t admit it, but I think she was worried about you being on a field mission. Go on and make her night. And I won’t look too closely at the blank sections of the CCTV in the morning.”
Thanks, boss,” Darius replied, looking a bit more cheerful. Owen watched him go and then looked around at the place where a terrible crime had been committed and reminded himself that humanity WAS worth fighting for, despite all evidence to the contrary.