MY FIRST DAY on the job coincided with the first day of the Haden Walkout, and I’m not going to lie, that was some awkward timing. A feed of me walking into the FBI building got a fair amount of play on the Haden news sites and forums. This was not a thing I needed on my first day.
Two things kept all of the Agora from falling down on my head in outrage. The first was that not every Haden was down with the walkout to begin with. The first day participation was spotty at best. The Agora was split into two very noisy warring camps between the walkout supporters and the Hadens who thought it was a pointless maneuver given that Abrams-Kettering had already been signed into law.
The second was that technically speaking the FBI is law enforcement, which qualified it as an essential service. So the number of Hadens calling me a scab was probably lower than it could have been.
Aside from the Agora outrage, my first day was a lot of time in HR, filling out paperwork, getting my benefits and retirement plan explained to me in mind-numbing detail. Then I was assigned my weapon, software upgrades, and badge. Then I went home early because my new partner had to testify in a court case and wasn’t going to be around for the rest of the day, and they didn’t have anything else for me to do. I went home and didn’t go into the Agora. I watched movies instead. Call me a coward if you like.
My second day on the job started with more blood than I would have expected.
I spotted my new partner as I walked up to the Watergate Hotel. She was standing a bit away from the lobby entrance, sucking on an electronic cigarette. As I got closer the chip in her badge started spilling her details into my field of vision. It was the Bureau’s way of letting its agents know who was who on the scene. My partner didn’t have her glasses on so she wouldn’t have had the same waterfall of detail on me scroll past her as I walked up. But then again, it was a pretty good chance she didn’t need it. She spotted me just fine in any event.
“Agent Shane,” said my new partner, to me. She held out her hand.
“Agent Vann,” I said, taking the hand.
And then I waited to see what the next thing out of her mouth would be. It’s always an interesting test to see what people do when they meet me, both because of who I am and because I’m Haden. One or the other usually gets commented on.
Vann didn’t say anything else. She withdrew her hand and continued sucking on her stick of nicotine.
Well, all right then. It was up to me to get the conversation started.
So I glanced over to the car that we were standing next to. Its roof had been crushed by a love seat.
“This ours?” I asked, nodding to the car, and the love seat.
“Tangentially,” she said. “You recording?”
“I can if you want me to,” I said. “Some people prefer me not to.”
“I want you to,” Vann said. “You’re on the job. You should be recording.”
“You got it,” I said, and started recording. I started walking around the car, getting the thing from every angle. The safety glass in the car windows had shattered and a few nuggets had crumbled off. The car had diplomatic plates. I glanced over and about ten yards away a man was on his phone, yelling at someone in what appeared to be Armenian. I was tempted to translate the yelling.
Vann watched me as I did it, still not saying anything.
When I was done I looked up and saw a hole in the side of the hotel, seven floors up. “That where the love seat came from?” I asked.
“That’s probably a good guess,” Vann said. She took the cigarette out of her mouth and slid it into her suit jacket.