Coffee Break Read – Becoming A Murderer

This was all pure charade. All the forensic data for the crime he was supposed to commit was already prepared and logged, ready to be released by Jecks. What Grim found more disturbing was the smooth ease with which it all rolled into motion, like a well-used mechanism. This was clearly not the first time something like this had been set up. It made him wonder how often someone had been framed by the CSF before. Not a comfortable thought.
“It’s not right, Grim – you shouldn’t have to be doing this.”
Cista Tyran greeted him, brushing her hair from her eyes furiously as she spoke. The anger ran taut throughout her body and her expression was dark as the clouds at a storm front. She had insisted on being here. Soon a secure link alarm would be triggered which would be the signal for her to leave and for Grim to make his first steps into the blasted wasteland that his life was about to become. 
“It’s not like I had much choice,” he reminded her. “As you pointed out a while ago, someone has to stop these people and it looks like I’m the one for the job.”
Ty pressed her teeth into her lower lip so hard Grim fully expected she would draw blood.
“This isn’t just dangerous, it’s little short of asking you to commit suicide. If our people get a clear sight of you they will shoot you down and if you make one mistake around the bad guys, then they will do the same and that is assuming they even bother to give you any kind of fair hearing in the first place, which I doubt.”
“I thought you were here to send me off buoyed up and ready for anything.”
“Would you prefer that I did?”
He shook his head. It meant a lot that Ty was saying this kind of thing. Her loyalty was something he hadn’t really expected. And it mattered. She was the only person aside Jecks who would know his real position.
“It’s dirty and dangerous,” he agreed, “and it is destroying my life. But better that than have the Coalition collapse or another Legacy out there for us to have to fight.”
Ty said nothing, just looked even more unhappy. The trouble was that they both knew when she walked out of the door he was on his own. Completely. Grim was used to working that way, albeit with a strong support network in the background, but having to work without that safety-net was not such a big issue for him. He had never really had to call on it much anyway. Ty was a team player, not someone ever inclined to run completely solo and he could sit behind her eyes for a moment and see why she struggled with the idea of abandoning him. Not that she actually was, even if it felt that way. In reality she was the person holding the other end of the single life-line that still connected him with the CSF and legality. They had a series anonymised communication links he had memorised for emergencies, once each was used it would be invalid and they would have to move to the next.
“Just promise me you’ll let me pull you out if you get somewhere shut-ended.”
There was a look close to appeal in her eyes. Grim shook his head.
“We both know that isn’t going to be an option. If I get stuck somewhere I won’t be in a place to yell for help.” He found himself gripping her arm briefly, unsure if he meant it more as a reassurance or as an emphasis. “What I most need from you is that when I ask you to move, you move fast. When I find these two I’ll do my best to box them in alive or dead, but that’s when I’ll most likely need to yell for back-up.”
Ty studied his face, he could see her emotions slowly seeping into the background as she took back self-control.
“I’ll be there,” she promised. And he had no doubt at all that she would.
They both heard the link alarm warning that time was up and Grim stepped away as if consciously releasing her. But she leaned in and pressed her cheek against his as she gave him a brief, tight, hug.
“Take care out there, Grim.”

Iconoclast: Not To Be the latest Fortune’s Fools book by E.M. Swift-Hook, is available for preorder and will be released on 1 February

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