84: Ria

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She had several reasons to perform this task while wearing the T’hana. It was, after all, primarily black, covering her fair hair and almost all of her pale skin. It also had several stealth patterns built into it, of a basic enough design that her elementary skills as a Keth-ethen, an operator of flux tools, could work them.

But most importantly, if any security cameras caught an image of her, it would lead the viewer to see a dark-hued middle-easterner, not the blond-haired, blue-eyed woman that it clothed.

Using the ethen that Master provided her, Das Ria easily entered the office building they had learned about from her tracker. The building had a bank lobby on the first floor, but it was too small to have live night security.

Her lock-hacking tool, a card with both an Earth-technology ‘chip’ and an ethen to hack the security, was a product created by the very same Alwarzi that were Master’s foes. He had liberated many useful tools from them, up to and including Ria herself. A second such tool was disabling the security cams temporarily as she passed them.

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But when she reached the entrance to the slaver’s office, she did not reach for her lock-hacking card again. That tool was meant to break Earth technology alone. An Alwarzi would be forearmed against Alwarzi techniques.

Instead, she took out another of the papers her senior warrior sister had provided and pasted it on the door, next to the handle.

She triggered it, and her sister’s voice came into her head.

<Little Ria, are you at the door you wish to open?>

“Senior Sister, I am looking at it now,” she answered softly. It was an unpleasant feeling, this voice in her head. It reminded her of the slave stone, that forced her obedience to its many demands. The constant demands that Master had only been able to partially mute, that still hounded her every day upon waking. Mind your diet, exercise for your figure, take care of your skin, cultivate your appearance, kill your selfish desires. You have no value, except as a means to please and obey him!

She forced that ugly subject back out of her mind and focused on the present.

A faint glow issued from the paper. Following the instructions she had received earlier, she held her fingertips near the handle. Her hand glowed in the same color as the paper, then the handle turned and the door came open just an inch. She felt her senior warrior sister’s mind touch her Tantochin, her right hand gate, to identify it to the lock in the door as an authorized entrant.

<You may enter,> she stated. The paper suddenly burned up, the ashes blown aside as if by a sudden breeze. Senior Sister’s presence vanished from her head.

She entered the office suite slowly, cautiously. The opponent had long since proven himself a dangerous quarry. It had an ordinary waiting room, with a reception window, but a glance through it revealed a workspace largely devoid of personal touches.

The office was not particularly intended for normal use. The shell corporation which rented it had it listed as a field office for an Alwarzi company based out of London. It received regular cleaning from a company owned by the slaver’s brother and appeared to have no other function than to provide temporary workspace for traveling Alwarzi operatives. Probably, if a receptionist ever worked behind that window, she would be a temp, or even a fellow operative working with a cover.

As such, she couldn’t be sure whether Benjamin had ever even used this place before the scene she had witnessed earlier. But the final moments of the surveillance had shown him leaving the envelopes and some other documents behind when he departed. Unless he had simply gone to get lunch and come back, they would be present.

She passed through the door from the waiting room into the office area. There were four offices, a supply room and a single toilet facility. All the rooms except the toilet were closed, and she sensed no presences behind them.

She was prepared to put a second paper on the door into the office Benjamin had used, but she found no security or lock on it. Passing inside, she moved quickly to find the envelopes and other documents sitting in the lap drawer where they had been left.

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In the old spy films she had watched, the burglar would be operating some little camera, taking pictures of each sheet as she went through the package. She had no need. A nearly undetectable tracker similar to the one she sent after Benjamin was with her, only this time, it was not trying to stay out of her awareness. It had sat on her shoulder like Long John Silver’s parrot the entire way, and now she merely had to show the documents to it.

The pictures had been recorded fairly well already, but she went through them with care to get better resolution. She would claim it was to have good copies to aid in identifying the two.  But perhaps Master would enjoy a better look at the two as well.

When she went through the other documents, though, she discovered that Master would need no aid in identifying the two women. The slaver already had their identity data.

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