tilly with the others: part 39

The man in the boiler suit and bow tie reached the top of the stairs and sniffed. Irate TTC riders pushed past him on the way to the streetcar platform, the east/west subway line, or the street level.

A woman in a brown leather jacket gently pulled the man wearing the bow tie out of the way.

"I think the convention is to move out of the flow of travel if you need to stop," she said quietly.

"I can't smell him," said the man wearing the bow tie. "He's not here."

"He must be here," said the woman. "Let's walk the concourse and try the other side of the station."

The man wearing the bow tie picked up a scent on the other end of the concourse. After some pacing around that earned them not a few stares from passers-by, the man in the bow tie led the woman to the driver's breakroom door. Two steps from the door, the man froze.

"He's been terminated," he said.

"We're following the Ninth Protocol," the woman said. "We will eliminate the hostiles, then complete our report and clean up before any more can show up." She shook her head. "Thousands of primitive inhabited planets in this galaxy, and we have to wind up on the one hostiles are interested in wiping clean for mining. Are we the only planet left that does pure research anymore?"

"I really don't think this is a good time to get philosophical," said the man in the bow tie.

The woman shrugged and positioned herself to one side of the door, while the man in the bow tie stood in front of it. The woman put her hand over the doorknob. There was a loud pinging sound, and the door popped off its hinges.

The bow-tie man and the woman peered in.

Inside were two men in TTC driver uniforms, sitting on broken-down orange plastic chairs and sipping at coffee. Neither of them looked like they had even blinked when the door had been popped off its hinges, a fact perhaps explained by what was on the floor. A man dressed in a boiler suit and bow tie, twin to the man in the doorway, lay there in four or five pieces.

"Two against two," said one of the men drinking coffee.

"Not really," said the woman, reaching into her pocket. She threw something the size and shape of a cricket ball into the breakroom. It bounced off one of the chunks of dead body, hit the floor, and flashed out a blinding white light.

The men's screams peaked quickly beyond the range of regular human hearing and cut off abruptly. The white light faded, and the regular fluorescent tubing spluttering in the ceiling of the breakroom revealed that the only remaining occupant was the corpse.

"Better fix the door," said the woman. The still-living man in the boiler suit put it back in place and melted the hinges into a fixed position.

"Right," said the woman. "Let's clean up the subject's domicile."