Echo, Part 2

His car tore down unfamiliar streets until a garage opened off an alley.  The brakes brought the car to a stop and then the car reversed into the garage and the door shut him into darkness.  A map light came on and the mobile unit in his car said, “You should be okay here but please don’t exit the vehicle yet.  We are monitoring the scanners for chatter about you and once we are certain they weren’t able to track you here we will let you know.”

He had too many questions to get a single one out.  They all jumbled together and his mouth hung open uselessly.  What had happened?  Who was chasing him?  Why?  Who are the “we” that were helping him?  Where was he now?  And on and on.  He half expected the mobile unit in his car to begin answering his questions but then remembered that the chip in his head was only directly linked to the home unit.  The mobile unit wouldn’t know what he was thinking unless he verbalized it.

Finally finding his voice, he asked, “Who were they?”

He didn’t know why he started with that question but he did.  Perhaps he figured he might know why he was in trouble if he knew who was after him.  Or, perhaps, it was just the easiest of the questions to ask, with the answer likely being the most straightforward.

“FBI.”

He hadn’t actually seen any of them with a badge or other sort of identifying crests but the FBI made the most sense.  None of his darkest thoughts would have brought Homeland Security or the CIA to his door and the local police likely didn’t have access to any of his records.  That sort of only left the FBI.  He hadn’t heard any news about them increasing scrutiny of personal records but perhaps they found him while researching something else.

Realizing the mobile unit had continued talking while he’d been thinking, something he wasn’t used to as he so rarely spoke with the mobile unit and the home unit knew when to pause based on his thoughts, he said, “Wait.  Repeat.  I missed all of that after ‘FBI.’”

“Of course, apologies.  There isn’t much information available as the FBI systems are very secure but the team that came to your house had a warrant for your arrest and seemed to be attached to the Social Crimes division of the Bureau.  As soon as we can find a copy of the warrant we will let you know what the allegations are related to.  They have finished sweeping your home and have discovered that the home unit wiped itself.  They still uninstalled it, though, and will send it to Langley for further analysis.  We can assure you nothing will be gained from that.”

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.  Additionally, it doesn’t appear that they were able to trace your exit.  This car is registered though and you won’t be able to keep it much longer.  We are working on a solution for that as well.  We are sorry for the inconvenience but if you could continue to be patient and wait here that will work out best for you.”

He couldn’t think of anything else to say so he said again, “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.  Would you like some music while you wait?”

“No, thank you.  I’m okay to just sit here for a bit and try and to collect my thoughts.”

“Okay.  As always, if you need something you have only to ask.”

He wanted to ask why they were helping him and who “they” were but wasn’t sure he wanted to know the answer to that.  If the system behind his home unit was helping him autonomously that would be far beyond the capability he had imaged when he had first signed on.  If there were powers behind the system helping him, he would let them stay in the dark for now, until he learned why the FBI was after him and what his options were.  Though, as he worked his mind around the predicament there was one thing he wanted to know immediately.  “You aren’t synced to the home unit, how are you getting live updates?”

“We have linked with the home unit at this location, temporarily, to monitor the situation.”

“Is this someone’s home?  You’ve hacked into their account?”

“Not exactly.  All of your questions will be answered in time.  Are you sure we can’t play some relaxing music to help pass the time?”

He didn’t really want to listen to music but he figured the distraction might be good for him all the same, “Okay, yes, thank you.”

Soft music began to play through the car’s speakers and the mobile unit replied, “You’re welcome.”

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