Truth Spark - 5

Navigating a building while inside it tended to be simple. Though he couldn't use the power lines to zip around the building without running into a Tracer, the cables were still quite useful. Unless the electrician had been...creative...the practice of ensuring a building was up to code meant that Cam could sense straight, ordered lines that led down the length of hallways and wrapped around walls to inform where each turn, doorway, corner, window would be. If the room had a ceiling fan or a central light, he could often also tell how big the room was--and whether or not the fixture was on--without needing to concentrate on every wire at once.   Normally, he'd eliminate the rooms he could tell were powered down, dismissing the possibility of people. Then he'd work his way through the rest, one person at a time, until he reached the Spark. But he had an advantage this trip that could save even more time.   If it worked right.   "Tell me why she wasn't picked up on the scan." His elbow ached where he'd smashed it into the filing cabinet on the way out of the internet line and his teeth were still sending electric jolts into his jaw, but nothing was worse than discovering he'd entered an occupied room. "If that hadn't been your asset..."   "I know." There was silence for a moment. Then Puck sighed. "Landers had it filtered to the top floor, so she should have been on it. He thinks the power surge hid her, right up to the end. She showed up when you did, a little orange dot."   "I hid under the bloom because my energy is the same color. But you saw everyone else, right?" He frowned at Puck's affirmative, shook his head, and peered into a lit room to find it empty. "How many other humans on this floor?"   "Three more red and orange dots on the other side of the building from that office."   He'd seen no one on this side so far but Lara, so it could be accurate. If he passed by the Spark before the next bloom, he'd have to backtrack...but it certainly would be faster to concentrate his efforts based on Landers' work. "What else you got?"   "No blue. No yellow, since the Spark is off and you're toned so far down you're mostly orange yourself."   "I'm just barely using my power." Cam closed the door to the conference room. That his energy appeared so similar to humans on Landers' system made sense. "New Sparks blend in with humans so well even Tracers can't sense them until they bloom. Or we touch them."   "So you're just gonna start tapping humans on the way downstairs?" Puck laughed. "Let's see if we can make it easier."   He turned to head back to Lara as Puck instructed Landers to focus on all the orange dots on his side of the building. They'd go floor by floor to see if any others were a little brighter, like Cam's own signal appeared. Failing that, they'd at least be able to tell him who he needed to go brush arms with.   "Just don't forget to watch the blue ones."   "Don't worry. Not much to worry about till you get near the whole mess of 'em several floors down. We'll make sure you don't get any more surprises."   "Define 'whole mess of 'em'." Even after so much time around Galvans, and Mick, who'd picked up a ton of their phrases without ever setting foot on the planet, Cam still had the sense he understood only a small fraction of their language quirks.   "A lot of them," Puck clarified. "Same room. Thirty--"   "Thirty?" Cam cut in louder than planned. As he paused to ensure no one curious appeared, he caught a glimpse of movement ahead. Lara. Her hands were empty, but the way one nervously fluttered over her jeans pocket it was easy to tell where she'd stashed it.   "Maybe more. Too close together for us to tell. Five red and orange dots, otherwise surrounded by Tracers. Hey uh, what are the odds that one of those humans is--"   "If the Spark were among them, she'd already have been discovered." Devoured by the Tracers for the energy that ran through their veins...energy they didn't even know existed within them yet. Still...so many of the enemy in one area. If he was here for intel alone, that'd definitely be something the High Aunts would want to know about.   After a glance around that completely bypassed his direction, the woman headed down the stairs. Cam frowned. "Your asset needs to be more alert." Following her, he added, "More likely they're Tracer allies."   "Is she okay?" Puck asked.   "She's..." Cam stomped on a step to alert her to his presence.   Instead of continuing downward as if nothing were wrong, she gripped the railing hard and careened to a stop. Jerking a look up the stairwell, wide green eyes landed on him.   "Keep walking. Didn't they tell you to act normally?" he asked, his voice low. With a wry grin as her shoulders remained hiked up to her ears with tension, he added, "You are really bad at this. Relax."   Her eyebrows snapped together as she hissed, "Oh, excuse me for not being the best spy, like you."   "Please say that a little louder," he murmured, gesturing down the stairs. "Don't think the echo caught it."   She winced, but eased her grip around the banister. Her next words were barely a whisper. "How am I supposed to relax when I'm--" Her shoulders sank into place as he neared, the crisp collar of her shirt no longer crushed against her jaw. "I'm trying, okay? I know how important this is."   He should have asked more questions about their "interview".   "You'll be fine. Just keep going, like you're heading to lunch. That was the plan, right?" He didn't wait for her to nod, but passed her on the stairs and continued down to the next floor, checking the next landing was clear.   "Right out the front door," she finally replied, passing him this time. "Okay. Just keep going."   With a satisfied nod as she rounded a corner out of view, he followed Puck's directions to the nearest human on the floor. It was amazing what walking with purpose could accomplish. Humans often assumed you belonged there, even if you weren't following dress code. And it was easier than he expected to find excuses to bump into people who assumed he was from the IT department, a process he'd continue on the next several floors--unless he found the Spark, or another bloom happened.   "Cam, Lara left the stairs," Puck broke in urgently just as he finished with the next floor down.   He stepped back into a corner, next to an automated water fountain. "What? Why?"   "Looks like she spotted people coming up, and took a detour. But," and Puck's concern made his words even faster, "it's the same floor as that really popular room."   Cam sighed. Of course it is.

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17 Jan, 2022 14:44

Cam's just not having a great day! :D