The year is 2032. This is the City, centre of world politics.
In Leon’s experience, it came down to who you could trust. The City’s intelligence organisation, run by the Tin Man, had been compromised, to what level he couldn’t say.
His own organisation may have been compromised too. And it made him feel like the Tin Man to admit that, to make the decision to go alone. Teams were key, teams provided balance.
Scarecrow had located Dorothy, he had bugged the vehicles at the original location, but he hadn’t reported in since and there were dangerous men in the City. Playing pieces not usually on the board. Leon feared the worse.
Leon had followed one of Scarecrow’s trackers to this warehouse. He soothed the building’s security network, kept it calm, wrapped it around him like a warm blanket. It wouldn’t tell on him, he was its invisible friend, its secret.
He nearly tripped over the first body, concealed in the shadows behind a fuel reserve.
The corpse wasn’t local security caught in the wrong place at the wrong time; it was a mercenary, hired by the enemy, which meant there was someone else here. Leon asked gentle questions of the security, not wanting to push their friendship too far. But all he got back was a ghost, as if he had cast a shadow into his own future. A shadow with wetwork skills.
He found another two guards on the way up to the roof. Their uplinks were still feeding active data, a video loop of a patrol pattern, a heartbeat that no longer existed. It was high level stuff, but the internal security must be skeletal to miss this trick. Or distracted.
The next body was tucked in a corner on the rooftop. Not dead, but breathing raggedly, on the edge of consciousness, on the precipice of death. He recognised the face beneath the black streaks of masking make-up.
Dorothy blinked. Everything was blurred, everything felt out of sync. She remembered shadows, dreams and ghosts. Bloodshed and bloodlust. A darkness nesting in her soul.
The bright lights shimmered above her, painful, piercing. Her head felt as if it had been cracked open and driven through with nails.
Her last clear thought was the General in front of her, on his knees. Then, nothing, a long night full of demons. Someone was looking down at her. She tried to move, she was lying flat, straps at her arms and legs, a firm cushion beneath her.
She blinked rapidly, trying to focus.
“She’s waking. Well done, Doctor, it seems you succeeded on both counts. You really are a wizard.”
Dorothy knew that voice, she had hunted that voice for years.
“General.” She managed to slur as her vision swam and cleared.
And there he was, looking down at her, head bandaged, but smiling horribly.
“Siberian, come and say hello.”
The Siberian. She had heard rumours of the General’s shadowy, left-hand man.
Another figure stepped into her vision. Dark eyes gazed coldly down at her from a face she recognised.
“No,” she choked.
He smiled, baring his teeth. It was not pleasant.
“Simon.” She had seen him die, had cried at his funeral. “Tiger.”