The Hunted (formerly Running With the Devil) Chapter 3 Snippet 1 completely rewritten

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Chapter 3
Three months later:

Throngs of people filled the sidewalks of Alpha Centauri’s capital city of Centaurus. Overhead the flying billboards played their messages and huge holographic images were projected onto the high-rises. The air was filled with the smells of people and machinery.

Air cars flew by, their acrid exhaust making Kate frown. Centaurus, in her opinion, matched Earth for the overcrowding and horrible environmental conditions. She couldn’t wait for her mission to be complete because this was one planet Kate had no intention of ever returning to.

A breeze blew through the city and she pulled her leather coat tighter to her. After spending most of her life on Necko, which was a very warm climate, going to the more temperate planets showed Kate how much she missed the warmth.

God I hate cold weather, she thought with a grimace. If I get off this planet, it won’t be a minute too soon!

Kate weaved her way through the masses, looking no different then the crowd. The key to being a successful undercover operative was the ability to disappear and blend in. When Kate was able to keep her enemies from knowing she was there, then half the battle was won already.

She flipped her hair off her shoulder and spotted one of her back up. Reyes had discovered a plot by Fleet medical personnel to sell harvested organs on the black market. When the information was verified, he had sent her out to make contact with the ringleader. To make sure she stayed safe, he had assigned two other agents to watch over her.

I guess he doesn’t trust me enough to do it on my own, she thought. After what I did for him a couple months ago, you would think he’d know I could do the job.

A frown crossed her face when she remembered the James mission. Hopefully this time no one would have to be killed and the guilt would disappear for a while. The goal of this mission was to make contact with the doctor in charge and arrange to purchase the organs. Once that was done, make the drop and arrest him for conspiracy to sell human organs.

It sounds so simple, she thought, but everything can, and most likely will, go wrong.

The problem with black ops, or any undercover op for that matter, was that it left Kate out on the limb. If the police raided them during the middle of the deal, then she would either be arrested with the doctor or have to blow cover to escape. Either one of those courses of action would ruin all of the hard work done by Reyes earlier.

Which is why I would love to get out of this job, she thought.

“Lieutenant,” one of the backup agents said via her neural transmitter. “we have you in sight.”

“I noticed,” she said. “Maybe you should try a bit harder to blend in. Remember what happened to Rachel don’t you?”

The silence from the back up agents was deafening. It had been a month since a mercenary called Mabus had killed Rachel. Kate had spent the past four weeks stewing over her friend’s death and wondering when she would get a chance at revenge.

However, she thought, it seems the Reyes has other plans in mind for me.

A comforting weight was in her coat's inside pocket. After Rachel’s death, Kate had refused to go anywhere without her sidearm. Just knowing she had the kimber in a position to potentially save her life was enough to keep the mind at ease.

While worming through the crowds, Kate was growing ever closer to a major hospital. The idea that someone would be selling organs from a hospital was something that blew Kate’s mind. However, there was something wickedly cleaver about it. Who would’ve thought that a doctor, someone sworn to healing, would be selling organs?

And to use a hospital as the front, she thought. I sure as hell wouldn’t have thought of this!

The sea of humanity parted and she came to a stop in front of the hospital. Kate looked at the building and an eyebrow slowly rose. If someone was planning trouble, they certainly wouldn’t do it in a hospital where innocent people could get hurt.

Which is exactly why I need to be careful, she thought. These people will sell organs inside this building, which means they will do anything.

“I’m going in,” she said.

“We’ve got the building covered,”

“Great,” Kate said. “Just try not to stick out like a sore thumb, guys.”

With a sigh, she stepped through the front doors and into an atmosphere of silence. Compared to the noise and smells of the crowd, the lack of odor was almost startling. Bright lights and white walls surrounded her while she crossed the lobby. A holovid played the nightly news in one corner and Kate stepped into the lift.

The doctor had an office on the twentieth floor and she told the lift to take her there. While walking the streets, Kate could afford to relax a bit, to be out of character, but now wasn't the time. If she allowed her façade to slip just once, then the ability to trap the doctor would be gone forever.

This is going to be infinitely harder then the James mission was, she thought when the lift came to a stop.

Kate took a deep breath and stepped out into the corridor. The agents outside would be able to hear everything that happened to her due to the neural transmitter and that was a small measure of relief. However, just knowing how poorly they were doing at blending in, she doubted that they would be much help if she needed them.

She hoped that they wouldn’t be needed and mentally crossed her fingers. While other agents had stumbled upon the smuggling operation, it was her job to bring it down and that entailed the greatest risk. The fact that remained about wet work ops was that the person who discovered the problem didn’t have the greatest risk, it was the man or woman who had to deal with the issue that did.

Which puts the ball squarely in my court, Kate thought, keeping her face an unreadable mask.
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