“Mao. You as twitchy as I am that we ain’t been found yet?”
“Hmm. Probably yes and no.” The chipped ear flicked. “From what I can hack, Kirihara seems to have kept her word, which puts us officially off the grid for the first time since our stars appeared. As long as her friends in Astronomics conveniently forget to scan here, she’s eliminated the primary way the Syndicate’s always kept Contractors on a leash. And if we’re very, very lucky, Kirihara arranged it quietly enough that the Syndicate doesn’t even know no one’s looking for us.”
“Huh.” Huang scowled. “But they can still read flares.”
“And all that will tell them is that we used our Contracts somewhere Astronomics doesn’t scan,” Mao said happily. “They’ll assume it has to be somewhere out in the hinterlands away from Tokyo. Oh, it’s not a perfect camouflage; from the star locations they know we’re still on Honshu somewhere. But there’s an awful lot of somewheres for a man with Hei’s skills. Not to mention a cat.”
“Heh. Point.” Huang took a breath, more relieved than he wanted to admit. If Mao thought he had to run like heck, he would. If the cat-Contractor was calm enough to enjoy himself, Mao believed the odds were pretty good in their favor.
“On top of that,” Mao’s claws kneaded the picnic cloth, “a surprising number of the Japanese branch of the Syndicate seem to be under lock and key. Section Four has been very efficient. And Kirihara’s recording of how Hourai’s scheme could have just as well wiped out all of Japan seems to have kicked various otherwise unhelpful government sorts in the ass. The Japanese government isn’t just spring-cleaning, they’re strip-searching every last department. From the sudden spike in official suicides, I’d say the Syndicate here is going down in flames.” Violet glanced at Huang; a black-furred shrug. “I wish I could search more deeply, but I still have to sneak around the Web. The last thing I need is a DOS attack.”