The small commuter vehicle sputtered, on the last few volts of charge, into a parking deck in San Fransisco. The western sun hung large and orange over the horizon, and the air smelled like that special, Bay Area combination of salt and garbage. The interrogator drew in a breath and held it, contentment on her face.
She put the vehicle into park, then looked into the back seat and tapped Dani’s claw. “Dani,” she whispered. She tugged on Janie’s hand. “Janie, Dani – wake up. We’re here.”
Janie roused first. She rubbed her forehead, pushed her hair back. “Time for action, Dani. C’mon, girl.”
Dani stretched her limbs, taking up most of the room in the car, but stopped when her dress – a couple emergency blankets Janie had sewn together with floss – threatened to tear. “Whew. It’ll be good to get out and stretch.”
The interrogator stuffed one of her pistols into a shoulder holster, then covered it with a shell jacket. “Just don’t be too big about it. This is a large city, but there are eyes and ears everywhere.” She opened the car door, stepped out, and scanned the parking garage. “Come on. Let’s go.”
Janie and Dani opened the back doors and followed the interrogator to a small fire-escape door. They entered the stairwell, which smelled of sweat and piss from people who occassionally chose to turn the landings into the bathroom, then exited a couple floors above. They entered a couple of glass doors with clean-cut block letters, “BBC America.”
“Should I wait outside?” Dani asked.
“No,” the interrogator said. “Safest place for you is inside these doors. Once they even have you on closed circuit TV, I’ve got enough blackmail to keep you alive forever.” She puffed her chest. “Just stay behind me. A week’s been enough to get used to you, but I need to be on top of my game. I don’t want people to realize I’m afraid of chimeras.”
The interrogator entered, followed by Dani and Janie. She walked up to the front desk, tapped on the marble. “I’m here to see Rebecca Crowe.”
“She’s busy. I can leave her a number-”
“Not this busy.” She pointed to Dani. “Did you not watch us come in? I brought an American chimera with me.”
The receptionist lifted a brow and bent to see over her tall desk. “Oh god, what a costume-”
“It’s not a costume,” the interrogator said. “That is 100% American-made, bulletproof chimera.”
Dani waved a claw sheepishly.
Her face now white as a sheet, the receptionist sat back down and drew her holographic computer up. She pressed a red button, then said to the chest-up image of a woman, “Rebecca Crowe? This is the front desk. A huge piece of news just showed up, and I think you might want to come down-”
Rebecca Crowe, a perfectly British woman complete with crooked teeth and no-nonsense bun, interrupted, “What is it? Did Brangel Lee show back up, ready to do that interview?”
“No, ma’am – it’s…it’s some army lady here with a giant spider. The spider says he’s a chimera.”
“I’m not interested in the San Francisco homeless problem.”
“It’s not that – it’s a real, honest to goodness giant spider! Look!” She turned the computer around so the Crowe could see the guests.
Crowe’s eyes widened. “Send them upstairs. Get them into makeup.”