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NAME: Annelin Mayz
REQUEST CONTACT: Officer Jem Blythe
KIN: none / permanent removal
The file includes a picture of a young girl. According to her PIS, she’s only two years old now. This is what I’ve been looking for: records of children who have been rewoven to foster families. Amie’s information will be in here, too. I push Annelin’s card back into the cubby and bump the latch on the next file. The small door slides open, and before I can close the lever, the next card ejects all the way out. Reaching down I pick up the card and scan it. Maybe there’s a pattern to the alterations. The first line of the dataset stops me in my tracks. Although it’s not Amie.
It’s Sebrina Bell.
I jam the buttons linked to the attached image files. The girl in this image is an infant, her cheeks both dimpled and a wisp of dark curls falling across her forehead. She seems too little to smile, but she is grinning like she’s staring at someone she adores. Someone like her father. Her eyes are a sparkling, deep blue. I know those eyes instantly. They must run in the family.
It’s Jost’s daughter – the one who disappeared right before his eyes. I choke back a sob. Clutching the card to my chest, I scan through the data on the digifile:
NAME: Sebrina Bell
REQUEST CONTACT: Ambassador Cormac Patton
KIN: father/abandoned  mother / permanent removal / deceased
NOTES: New personal identifying sequence to be assigned due to collateral removal.
All the resentment I’ve felt toward Cormac bubbles up and mixes with this information. I slip the card into my pocket and lean against the shelf trying to slow my ragged breathing. I’ll save the file in a minute; I still have to find Amie.
July 24th. Her sequence begins with 0724. The other girls’ information was filed according to the sector of relocation. I scan each row of files until I find the cubes for the Northern Sector. Rushing down the row, I scan the tiny compartments, watching the numbers build in size. I’ve reached 0618 when I hear a door click to the north of me. I hold my breath as the tap of dress heels echoes in the silent room.
Creeping to the edge of this unit, I peer around the corner. No one. Snaking along the side, I steadily move back to the opening I’ve left between the repository and Loricel’s studio.
The door clicks open again. I wait, praying the intruder is gone, but instead I hear another person call out and the first person heads back toward the door. I press against the side of a shelf, not daring to move forward. Two male voices echo through the room, but I don’t pay attention to what they’re saying. I hear their footsteps coming nearer to my hiding spot. I slip to the next set of shelves and wait breathlessly, gauging how close they are to me now. Then to the next. And the next.
I’ve reached the rift when one of them shouts. My hand grips the card in my pocket; I forgot to shut the door to its cubby. I throw myself through the rift as the repository lights brighten; they’re looking for me. Pulling the repository’s threads from the spot where I wove it into the fabric of Loricel’s room, I clutch the strands against my chest. As soon as I’ve put the strands back in their place, completing the repository in the compound’s weave, the loom whirs to life and dismisses the piece. I drop to the chair and listen for approaching guards. No one knows I can do this except Loricel, but how long before someone becomes suspicious? And even if they aren’t looking for me, this is the first place they’ll come to find out who’s responsible.
But when no one appears, I relax. It’s only then I notice her lounging on her sedan, stroking a fluffy ginger cat. ‘Loricel,’ I gasp. It comes out in a gurgle of apology and surprise.
Her eyes won’t meet mine.
‘Loricel, I—’
‘Leave me alone, Adelice. I need to think.’
I start to ask what she means, but she answers the question before I speak. ‘I have to figure out how to cover this up.’
‘I’m sorry,’ I say, lifting my eyes from the floor to meet hers.
She keeps her gaze on the cat and continues to pet it. After a moment, she asks, ‘Did you find what you were looking for?’
The tiny plastic card feels like a piece of lead in my pocket, but I shake my head.
‘You endanger your sister by drawing attention to her,’ she warns, looking at me for the first time.
‘I need to know where she is,’ I say.
‘Cormac showed you your sister, alive and well,’ Loricel says. ‘It’s best to leave it at that, unless . . .’
‘I’m not going after her.’ Not yet.
‘If he perceives her as a threat, Cormac will remove her.’ Loricel pushes the cat off her lap and stands.
It takes me a moment to realise she’s reading the coordinates I’ve left on the companel. ‘Ingenious plan,’ she says, ‘but I wonder how you found the coordinates to pull the repository’s weave up on my loom.’
I bite my lip and clutch my arm around my waist, hoping she can’t make out the digifile’s silhouette in my pocket.
‘I’m not going to tell on you, Adelice,’ she says, turning to stare at the false wall. ‘I told you this was your choice, and I meant it. But you’re playing a dangerous game.’