CB isn’t entirely sure where this safehouse is—he passes out before they arrive, and when he wakes up he’s on a cot, covered in bandages, his shoulder in a splint.
He sits. It hurts to sit, but he can do it. He’s sore from head to toe, but his head is clear—good sign—and his shoulder only hurts marginally more than the rest of him does. It’s a small room, about twice as wide as the cot itself, and only a little longer. A small trash can sits beside the cot, and he can see the tattered remains of his t-shirt spilling over the side of it. A clean canvas button-up is draped over a folding chair; his boots sit at the foot of the cot. Next to his boots is a pair of brown slippers.
There was a time when this part of New York City would have been described as “lurid” by night. It’s not true any more—it hasn’t been true for a while—but CB remembers. He’s mostly convinced that it’s better the way it is now. He’s not particularly opposed to strip clubs and peep shows, but in those days loitering on the sidewalk meant something very specific that frequently drew unwanted attention from undercover cops. Tonight he’s sitting at a small table set up outside an all-night coffee shop, sipping relatively decent coffee and being ignored by pretty much everyone. He prefers this version of the city, especially tonight.
Jason Kline sits on the sofa outside the Chairman’s private office and forces himself not to fidget—a minor tic, easily mastered, but the urge to do it never quite goes away. He glances down at the glass coffee table, gaze idly passing over the magazines set strategically in front of him. They’re all trade mags, focusing on the Intelligence industry. They’re not the real ones, of course—people didn’t leave those lying around. No, these were the ones that were shown to the public, that covered technology and trends that were in play five to ten years ago.
He doesn’t bother picking any of them up. Haruspex is years ahead of everyone in the industry. The articles in those magazines are ancient history.
David Bernard sits, cross-legged, on the far end of the conference room table. All of the chairs in the room have been pushed out to the walls, making his perch look more like a runway than a meeting table. Behind him, a transparent portal runs the width of the room, showing nothing but darkness. The Nautilus is running too deep for light to filter through the water outside. He suppresses an involuntary shiver as he imagines the immensity of the ocean around him. That tiny strip of not-glass is all that separates him from it. It occurs to him, yet again, that it might be safer to wait until he’s on solid ground before trying this. He reminds himself, yet again, that everyone is running out of time.
Arthur Franklin’s first memory is that of goosebumps running down the length of his arms. He shivers, opens his eyes, then immediately squeezes them shut as light burns into the back of his head. He turns his face, raising a hand to cover his eyes. He shivers, and realizes he’s only wearing a medical gown.