“Clicking now.” She pushed down the activator button with her left thumb and shoved the door open with the palm of her right hand.
She had three minutes. The Fuzzer only held three minutes worth of charge; a second more out there, exposed to cameras and sensors, and her biometrics would be measured, compared against the main database, and every drone within five kilometers would start homing in on her, weapons hot.
“Don’t stop for anything.” Jilly’s voice was nervous in her earbud.
She was already out of the alley and halfway down the block, avoiding eye contact with the few other people on the street. “I've done this a hundred times now, buddy, I don’t need to be told how to—”
“You there! Just a minute.”
An actual, for-real, brick-and-mortar human cop. What were the odds? She ignored the voice. Maybe he’d figure she wasn’t worth the—
He could call down all the drones himself, by touching his badge with whichever of his fingertips he’d registered with the network. She stopped, turned, sighed. Well, that’s just bad luck.
“You dropped this, miss.” He held out something. The Fuzzer! Must have dropped out of my pocket. How long had she been exposed?
“Hey, thanks!” She took it, smiled politely, deferentially, trained by half a lifetime of interactions with people just like him.
“What is that thing, anyway?”
“I keep my music on there.” Barely believable, but she had a face people wanted to trust. It was one reason she’d been chosen.
“You should just use your subcutaneous chip.” He shook his head. “You kids, so distrustful of technology.”
She shrugged. “Thanks again.”
“Have a good day.”
A few steps further down the sidewalk, she whispered, “How much time did I lose?”
“Forty-five seconds; you have seventy seconds left. Could be worse. Why the fuck was there a meat cop out—”
She was almost running at this point, trying to look late for work or in search of a bathroom or anything ordinary. “Who cares. Call out my countdown.”
“Just get inside. I built some wiggle room into the schedule.”
For a month he’d talked about precision, about no room for error, about finding someone who could do this if she couldn’t. “Wiggle room.” If this worked out, if they didn’t get caught, she was going to punch him in the mouth. Her doorway, the goal line, was in sight. “Almost there.”
She hadn’t tripped since the third dry run. She took the steps two at a time, made it to the door, put her wrist against the hacked sensor lock, and, when it buzzed, slipped inside the building.
The windows rattled; somewhere nearby, there had been an explosion. She peered through the slats of the window blinds: the cop was running the other way, towards the incident. With any luck, he would forget about her until the forensic reconstruction interviews, and with good luck, he would forget her even then.
“Okay. Here’s where you go now.”