“You should have taken me with you,” I whisper to him. Then I lean my head against his and begin to cry. In my mind, I make a silent promise to my brother’s killer.
I will hunt you down. I will scour the streets of Los Angeles for you. Search every street in the Republic if I have to. I will trick you and deceive you, lie, cheat and steal to find you, tempt you out of your hiding place, and chase you until you have nowhere else to run. I make you this promise: your life is mine.
Too soon, soldiers come to take Metias to the morgue.
THE RAIN HAS STARTED.
I lie on the couch with my arm draped over Ollie. The spot where Metias usually sits is empty. Stacks of old photo albums and Metias’s journals clutter up the coffee table. He’d always loved our parents’ old-fashioned ways, and kept handwritten journals just like how they’d kept all these paper photos. “You can’t trace or tag them online,” he always said. Ironic coming from an expert hacker.
Was it just this afternoon that he’d picked me up from Drake? He’d wanted to talk to me about something important, right before he left. But now I’ll never know what he had to say. Papers and reports cover my stomach. One of my hands clutches a pendant necklace, a piece of evidence I’ve been studying for a while now. I squint at its smooth surface, its lack of patterns. Then I drop my hand with a sigh. My head hurts.
I learned earlier why Commander Jameson pulled me out of Drake. She’s had her eye on me for a long time. Now she suddenly has one less in Metias’s patrol, and she’s looking to add an agent. A perfect time to nab me before other recruiters do. Starting tomorrow, Thomas is taking over Metias’s position for the time being—and I’m entering the patrol as a detective agent in training.
My first tracking mission: Day.
“We’ve tried a variety of tactics to catch Day in the past, but none of them have worked,” Jameson told me just before she sent me home. “So. Here’s what we’ll do. I’ll continue with my patrol’s projects. For you, let’s test out your skills with a practice run. Show me how you’d track Day. Maybe you’ll get somewhere. Maybe not. But you’re a set of fresh young eyes, and if you impress me, I’ll promote you to be a full agent on this patrol. I’ll make you famous—the youngest agent out there.”
I close my eyes and try to think.
Day killed my brother. I know this because we found a stolen ID tag lying halfway up the third-floor stairwell, which led us to the soldier pictured on the tag, who stammered out a description of what the boy looked like. His description didn’t match anything we have on file for Day—but the truth is, we know little about what he looks like, except that he’s young, like the kid at the hospital tonight. The fingerprints on the ID tag are the same prints found just last month at a crime scene linked to Day, prints that don’t match any civilian the Republic has on record.
Day was there, in the hospital. He was also careless enough to leave the ID tag behind.
Which makes me wonder. Day broke into the laboratory for medicine as part of a desperate, last-minute, poorly thought-out plan. He must have stolen plague suppressants and painkillers because he couldn’t find anything stronger. He himself certainly doesn’t have the plague, not with the way he was able to escape. But someone else he knows must, someone he cares enough about to risk his life for. Someone living in Blueridge or Lake or Winter or Alta, sectors all recently affected by the plague. If this is true, Day won’t be leaving the city anytime soon. He’s bound here by this connection, motivated by emotions.
Day could also have a sponsor who hired him to pull this stunt. But the hospital is a dangerous place, and a sponsor would’ve had to pay Day a great deal of money. And if that much money was involved, he certainly would have planned more thoroughly and known when the laboratory’s next shipment of plague medicine would arrive. Besides, Day wasn’t a mercenary in any of his past crimes. He’s attacked the Republic’s military assets on his own, slowed down shipments to the warfront, and destroyed our warfront-bound airships and fighter jets. He has some sort of agenda to stop us from winning against the Colonies. For a while we thought he might work for the Colonies—but his jobs are crude, without high-tech equipment or noticeable funding behind them. Not really what you’d expect from our enemy. He’s never taken jobs for hire as far as I know, and it’s unlikely he’d start now. Who would hire an untested mercenary? Another possible sponsor is the Patriots—but if Day had been working for them on this job, one of the Patriots would’ve drawn their signature flag (thirteen red and white stripes, with fifty white dots on a blue rectangle) on a wall somewhere near the crime scene by now. They’d never miss a chance to claim victory.
But the biggest thing that doesn’t compute for me is this: Day has never killed anyone before. That’s another reason why I don’t think he’s connected to the Patriots. In one of his past crimes, he crept into a quarantine zone by tying up a street policeman. The policeman didn’t have a scratch on him (except a black eye). Another time, he broke into a bank vault but left the four security guards at its back entrance untouched—although a bit stupefied. He once torched a whole squadron of fighter jets on an empty airfield in the middle of the night and has on two occasions grounded airships by crippling their engines. He once vandalized the side of a military building. He’s stolen money, food, and goods. But he doesn’t set roadside bombs. He doesn’t shoot soldiers. He doesn’t attempt assassinations. He doesn’t kill.