They hurtled along the motorway swerving between bugs. Ted covered his head with his wings whenever they came close to clashing with the carapace of another bug but Amanda barely noticed. Things were going wrong. Blackbeard was high up in the police it wasn’t like them to send someone of his talents to investigate a common homicide, particularly not out in the sticks. They shouldn’t have even found the body for weeks, if ever.

She was over the relationship, it had really only amounted to a couple of dinner dates and a bad film about a mermaid and a squid who fell in love despite their nations being at war. He’d been pleasant, funny and intelligent, she hadn’t even been put off when he said he was taking the box. It wasn’t as though he was particularly attractive in the first place, or even humanoid for that matter.

No, she was sure of it, Blackbeard himself wasn’t the problem. It was the presence of that many police so close to where she had killed the gnome, then there was the matter of Jack Walls. She knew she’d have to seek counselling at some point from one of the company’s people. Killing things on this side of the door was one thing, but a person from her own side, no, that wasn’t what she’d signed up for.

They took the flyover into town, traffic was light and she made it through the town centre without hitting a single red light. Pulling up by a fast food drive-in she turned to Ted, the bird seemed relatively calm though she was no expert when it came to reading avian emotions. “You want something to eat Ted?”

“No thanks, I’ve got some fresh sunflower seeds at home and a bit of carrion that’s gone off nicely. Actually, if you don’t mind I’ll fly from here.” Ted said.

She shrugged. “Good work today Ted, hopefully we won’t be back in the field for a while now.”

“Boss, I wanted to ask you, how did that fella even end up here?” Ted ¬†asked.

“Bad luck I guess.” She said. “See you tomorrow.”

“‘Night boss.” The bird said vanishing in a flurry of feathers.

She sat in the bug, roof up in the dark eating a burger and drowning her problems in a thick chocolate milkshake, seeking comfort in the food while knowing she’d punish herself for it later. Ted had touched a nerve and she had an idea that it wasn’t an accident.

Her team were loyal, they were also very well paid, she had no reason to worry about their betrayal but still that nagging thought wouldn’t leave her alone and now thanks to Ted she had an idea why.

The interview hadn’t been arranged by her it was an order from the other side of the door. She’d been expecting a new member of the team for this side and that meant somebody from this side. Instead they’d sent Jack Wall. It wasn’t like he’d been an idiot. Well at least as far as she could tell. There was just something a bit empty about him.

He hadn’t panicked though, that had been a good sign. Still it couldn’t be allowed, that wasn’t how people were recruited. Nobody gets into the company by accident.

That was the crux of the problem then, had she been set up? Was Jack more than he had seemed? One thing was definitely true, someone, somewhere, was playing games.

She threw what remained of the milkshake out of the window and turned the bug in the direction of the office. She grinned as she gunned the bug. “Sod this for a game of soldiers.”