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The Boston PD offices at the Historic District always buzzed with people coming and going, serious faces, quick steps, all of them suits and high heels, or uniforms running errands. Gillian navigated past them to the elevators and got into an overcrowded booth. She got out at the third floor and made her way down to the end of the last hall, to the closed door reading Special Crimes Unit. She was about to touch the knob when she heard the music from inside. Tool, for a change. ****** Kurt, how many times had she told him to keep it low?
Even though it was an elite task force of the best officers in their fields, the workspace assigned to the SCU was an old storage room turned into an office. The general opinion was that it looked like a precinct back in the 70’s, with so many steel shelves, old furniture and papers everywhere. At least they had a long window to the street. But the old air conditioner only worked when it felt like it, so right then, in early August, they all had rusty old fans on their desks. Which took the décor back to the 60’s—the team liked to say it was pure Blade Runner’s style.
They were seven agents, but there was room for only five desks. As Unit Chief, and since she had no private office of her own, Gillian had ruled that her desk was the one by the window closest to the air conditioner, in case it decided to work. Tanya Lawrence and Kurt O’Brien, her tech analysts—such a colorful metaphor for hackers—were at the next desks, and the other four members of the team shared the two remaining desks.
When Gillian walked into the office, Ron Bellison, the explosives expert, was welding a circuit in one of his weird devices. Tanya worked on her computer at her usual warp speed, while Kurt took it in no hurry. Fred Morris, their sniper, fought the coffee machine like a ninja and Aldana Miles, Gillian’s right hand and their expert in sex crimes, was lazily sprawled in Gillian’s chair, computer on her lap.
“Morning, Reg,” said Fred, glancing up at her with a quick smile.
His words echoed all over the office as the others noticed her.
Etiquette and suits had no room in the SCU. Everybody wore jeans, T-shirts with smart mottos, flannels. And they used their first names no matter their ages, from twenty-four Tanya to forty-seven Ron. Gillian didn’t care about formalisms—she wanted them relaxed and efficient.
She stopped by Kurt and poked the wild bush he called his hair. “Keep. The music. Down. *********
“Yessir,” Kurt muttered, not pausing his keystrokes.
Tanya stretched out to reach his speakers and lowered the volume, to everybody’s relief.
Fred handed Gillian a steamy mug of coffee. Seeing him with his old jeans, his rock T-shirt, his longish hair and his placid ways, sometimes it was hard to remember Fred had been a military sniper, cited for bravery after every one of his three tours in Iraq.
Hank Schwarz, former DEA and SCU resident biochemist, entered with a hand held high and a triumphant grin. “Got it! Hi, Reg.”
“Black?” asked Kurt.
“The full set.”
“You sure the printer model matches?”
“Yeah, genius, I checked.”
All of them paused whatever they were doing to turn to Hank, raising their eyebrows.
“C’mon! It was only once!” he protested. “And it happened like a month ago!”
The eyebrows around him raised higher.
“And I noticed it was the wrong cartridge before anything happened to the printer!”
“You mean I noticed,” Ron corrected softly.
Tanya cut them off. “Whatever. Can you replace it? I didn’t ask for that ink to do my nails, you know.”
Hank snorted, scowling at her. “Sure, T. Want me to clean your bathroom too?”
“Okay, enough domestics.” Gillian smiled, dropping her bag on the shelf behind her desk. “Talk to me, gals. What’re you working on?”
“I have the security feed from the alley,” Tanya replied. “But there’s something I want you to see first. There it goes.”
A link appeared on Aldana’s screen, and Gillian leaned forward as Aldana opened it. They both frowned at the same time.
“What’s this picture, T?” asked Aldana.
“Is that the victim’s body? On the internet?” asked Gillian.
“You better sit tight.”