As soon as Kyle got away from the children he sent a text to Richard and Amadeus. Neither he nor Jessie had been confident about doing that before. The theory was, anywhere the Children of Atlantis controlled might be under surveillance. It wasn’t safe to send a text or place a call, even in code, because a hidden camera might record it and the pattern of communication might be obvious. They were supposed to be pretty cut off from the outside world after all.
On the way home, however, a good opportunity presented itself. The van notified Kyle that it was getting low on fuel and requested permission to stop at a hydrogen station. Kyle okayed that, and then sent an encrypted text from the bathroom. Even if the van had surveillance equipment, it wouldn’t be able to catch him doing that.
Not that it was entirely safe. Magic could have been cast to track any communication of anyone who had been in the van.
However, such magic wouldn’t have been easy. In the first place, it wouldn’t have been possible with a modern spell. No simple modification of physics would allow a user to track all communications near a van. In the second place such magic would be of dubious legality; grey market stuff at best. Finally, the NSA and dozens of other similar organizations worldwide worked to make sure encryption worked as advertised.
Kyle had been a little bit surprised to learn that at a career fair during his final year of college. However, apparently, that was the main job of the NSA. They ensured cryptographic systems worked, or if they failed that the government knew about it and no one else did. Their table in one of the School’s common rooms had contained listings for mathematics doctorates, software engineers, and magi. They hadn’t had any openings for super spies.
When he’d inquired about the magic jobs, they’d explained that most of magi they hired were from the classic school. Those magi found new and exciting ways of snapping encryption, bound the spells to secret triggers, and then cast them until the power requirements got so high no one else could. It hadn’t actually sounded all that interesting. Of course, spinning nanofiber hadn’t been that great, but illusion was panning out to be pretty exciting.
As such, any magic that would have broken the encryption on the text Kyle had sent would probably be in the hands of the government and impossible for a small organization like the Children to access.
For all of that precaution the message Kyle sent wasn’t very interesting, “In Plato’s city. Nothing interesting to report yet.”
Confident that his job was done, at least for a while, Kyle went back to the van, paid for his hydrogen, and got ready to go.
The encrypted SMS application on his phone beeped at him just as he was instructing the van to resume its trip to its previous destination. Kyle looked at it, wondering if he should answer it. Of course, his earlier precautions had been utterly over-the-top. After a couple of minutes of uncertainty he did so.
“Great news. Please send address of city.”
OK, yeah, Kyle thought. He did have something to report after all. He entered the address into the phone and shot that off to the bounty hunters who were occupying the other end of the connection. That task done, he returned his thoughts to Alision and her rapid fire detox of the homeless woman. Could it have been all it seemed? Was it really just a good act performed with magic in order to gain the group some good press?
He wasn’t certain. It could be. As a tactic, it made a fair amount of sense. That is, it made sense if it worked and it could work. However, it didn’t exactly flow to say the idea made sense. The Children Kyle and Jessie had meet so far were all from the original college organization. That would seem to suggest they didn’t have large auxiliary wing composed of ex-homeless people.
So if the homeless weren’t joining up with the children what was happening to them? Perhaps it just wasn’t a good way to recruit after all. Alternately, perhaps they were joining up, but they were going somewhere that…
Kyle’s phone rang again. He looked down at it. There was another encrypted text. When he unlocked it, it read, “We are going by city. See if there are good places to do some sightseeing.”
“What?” Kyle asked the question out loud even though he was alone. He took the somewhat cryptic comment to mean the bounty hunters intended to see if there was a way they could set up surveillance of the house. He didn’t like that idea at all. Given that he was still sending texts he apparently had decided the van wasn’t spying on him, or at least it wasn’t doing a good enough job that the cryptic things he’d already would give him away. Still there was a lot of space between that and setting up next door to the Children’s hideout with telephoto lenses. Even Kyle had heard of a few classic spells that would take note of that sort of attention.
He sent a text back, “Don’t do that. Bad idea.”
The reply was terse, “Why?”