“I am free,” Kyle sent though he wasn’t happy admitting it. As he thought about how unhappy that idea made him he realize there might be more to it than the possibility of surveillance. In truth, he didn’t want to meet the bounty hunters because he didn’t want to deal with them at all. There were still some hard feelings.
Another message came in, “Going to go to to end of block supplied earlier. Meet us there.”
Kyle sighed and told himself, it was probably a good time. It was as safe as anything. He hadn’t even left the Children on his own. He kind of had to do it. “Will meet.”
* * *
About thirty minutes later, Kyle was standing at the end of the block the Children’s house occupied panting. As soon as he’d arrived back at the house, he’d climbed out a window and run down the road to his meeting. He hadn’t just taken the van, because while he wasn’t certain about the possibility of magical spying he knew the van recorded it’s routes. He’d run because he didn’t want to be away for a second longer than he’d had to, and he’d climbed out the window because if there was going to be surveillance it would be pointed at the doors.
Fortunately, Richard and Amadeus arrived only a few minutes after he did. Their ride was fairly inconspicuous. They pulled up in a white work truck with a white cap over the bed. Kyle imagined the back was full of all the recording equipment they wanted to point at the house, but from the outside it could have been nearly any construction or maintenance vehicle.
As soon as the truck was stopped, Richard rolled down the window and said, “Get in.”
The instruction came out more like a command than an offer and Kyle found himself bridling. It was just a bit too much like when they’d tried to kidnap him for Thomas. Charles had said the men were safe, but did that really prove anything?
Kyle hesitated long enough that, Amadeus, who was on the pilot’s side, of the truck leaned across and said, “Come on. You’re clearly worried we might be watched. Whoever you think is watching is less likely to see something if you just jump in.”
Reluctantly, Kyle did so climbing into the back of the truck’s extended cab. Richard didn’t even give Kyle enough time to sit before he asked, “Alright, what gives? Why don’t you want us to do our job and watch the house? Is there something you don’t want us to see?”
“What? No! that’s stupid.”
Richard scowled, “Stupid huh? Well, it seems a little odd that we’re out here to keep an eye on you and learn what the children are up to you and you’re try to shut us down.”
Kyle blew out a puff of air in an annoyed sigh, “I’m trying to shut you down because I don’t know what kind of magic the house has on it. There are spells that can detect when they’re being observed, you know. Hell, some of them are pretty low energy even. With modern magic it’s possible to ‘tag’ light and sound coming off an object and know when it’s captured. If something consistently captures light and sound out of the thing with the spell it knows it’s being watched; well it knows once it eliminates things that aren’t really watchers. If I were one of the children I’d have a spell like that up.”
“I’ve watched a lot magi, and I’ve never been caught with something like that.”
“Yeah, well maybe the ones you were following weren’t that bright,” Kyle shot back.
“Guys, we don’t….” Amadeus tried to put in from the other side of the truck, but this time Richard cut him off.
“I know at least one of them wasn’t that bright, and he sure didn’t have any way of knowing when he was being watched.”
Presumably that was a dig, but Kyle wasn’t willing to acknowledge the touch. “When, exactly, did you ever try to observe me? As I remember, you just tried to kidnap me every chance you got and didn’t worry much about anything I’d done.”
“We were a lied to,” Amadeus said.
“So? I mean, what part of IP bounty hunting allows you to attack me with an unhinged monster? Or to shoot a cop? Or to guard some nutball’s underground lair, for crying out loud! Shouldn’t you have have had a second thought in there somewhere? Or is it all just ‘following orders’ with you.” By the end of his rant Kyle was only holding onto the very edge of his civility and his words were coming tight and angry. Even that display of control was mostly because he hadn’t forgotten the men could grind him to paste.
“Listen everything we did was…” Richard sounded equally angry and had twisted totally around in his seat so he could better face Kyle.