The Grey Edge: Chapter Two

Taylor hit the play button again.
The video faded in, and his eyes were immediately accosted by the bare arse of a fairy. The camera continued to concentrate on the fairy’s arse, then slowly panned up to show a spread set of wings, then a spread set of legs. The owner of the familiar legs stood, and moved from what he knew from previous viewings of the tape to be a king-sized bed, to the shower. Water came on, and the owner of the legs was shown in an all-too-perfect and cinematic silhouette.
Another fairy joined the first on the window ledge, and made a move to take advantage of the first fairy’s nudity, only to be stopped by the sound of the shower, and the distracting silhouette.
More and more fairies joined the first two, until there were six watching the showering form. Two of the fairies became less interested in the shower, and performed devious acts with each other – which the video showed in detail.
The fairies weren’t what interested him, but he watched nonetheless, making sure not to blink, trying to take in all the detail, trying to capture anything he had missed. It was all information – he couldn’t act without information.
The camera turned away from the mid-coitus fairies to focus on the young woman stepping out of the shower, water glistening on her skin, make-up all too perfect, towel all too small.
The next couple of minutes showed her drying herself, with lingering shots of the areas traditionally thought of as sexy – breasts, arse, the long, perfect legs, and for some reason, her feet.
She returned to the bed, and lay there, sheets as pale as he skin, making her black eyes and feathers on her back stand out all the more. Her eyes closed, in the perfect mockery of sleep as the fairies made their way into the room and onto the bed.
Feigned surprise and false attempts to be modest were followed by badly acted lines, double-entendres and agreement to partake in coitus.
One by one, the fairies had sex with the young woman, the camera taking great pleasure in capturing every moment of the acts – the sometimes rather acrobatic and complicated acts – while the by-standing fairies would cheer, touch themselves while watching or simply take part in their own acts of coitus to fill in the time, changing size at will between their default six of six inches to human-sized, where they would fall off the bed or the window sill and continuing their acts, rolling around the floor like animals.
When they were done, the naked fairies flew off, and the young woman went back to feigning sleep for the camera.
He clicked his mouse again, pausing it just before the fade-out, the last shot of the young woman’s face, the one smiling in the afterglow of group sex with a bunch of horny fairies.
He knew the face, it was unmistakably Magnolia.
His Magnolia.
His damn recruit.
In a pornographic film.
A film that someone had been nice enough to zip up and email to him.
He ran the facial recognition program again, and it confirmed – for the sixteenth time – that it was her. A fact that he didn’t need a damn program to tell him, but it was comforting to have an external opinion.
He hit play again.
He paused it on the last shot of her face again, ran the recognition program again, and ignored the automatically-generated report that it asked him to sign, as running a single face, a single shot seventeen time was cause for it to consider that it had an error. It didn’t have an error, reality had an error.
Deciding that viewing the video four times was enough, closed the video, sent a reminder to the techs to rush the trace on the email, and opened up his underused friends list in his HUD.
A text-only reply came. [Urgent?]
[Yes, but not life-threatening.]
Again, a text-only reply came. [Give me five minutes.]
Five minutes, thirty-six seconds later, a freshly-showered and smelling-like-soap Grigori appeared. ‘Sorry about that,’ he said, leaning on his desk, ‘I was occupied with several rather beautiful women.’
‘Try and not act like yourself when I ask you this.’
Grigori required a chair for himself and he sat. ‘Ask.’
‘I need your help with…pornography.’
A momentary smile was replaced by a look of confusion on his friend’s face. ‘Specifically what?’
‘I need to track down who made a film.’
‘Should be reasonably easy, a film is a film is a film, directors have trademarks, production values narrow the field, content or fetish also helps, as does the age of the film. Do you have a copy?’
He swung his monitor around to face the Russian. ‘This stays between us,’ he said. ‘It doesn’t leave this room.’
‘Taylor, of course.’
He hit play.
Grigori watched the film without comment.
‘Play it again, please,’ Grigori said.
He hit play.
‘Pause.’ Grigori stared at the screen. ‘Play. Pause, no, no, step it forward a couple of frames. Play. Pause. Play.’
The short film took four times as long as normal.
‘I’ve got enough to work with,’ Grigori said. ‘I don’t know who made it, but I’ll follow some leads. I think I’ve seen a couple of those fairies in other films, and I could also track down the companies that put out-’
‘I want to come,’ he said.
‘Wait until I know where we’re going,’ Grigori said. ‘Where’d you get this anyway? I presume it wasn’t from cruising PornTube when you were bored.’
‘It was emailed to me. Anonymous. It was a temporary email address, I’ve put the techs on tracking it, not that I expect much from them, and I didn’t divulge the content.’
Grigori stood, walked around the desk and pulled him from his chair. ‘Come on, you need to hit something, I can see it.’
‘I’m fine.’
‘There’s a fist-sized hole in your desk.’
He looked to the other agent, then down at his desk, true to the Russian’s word, there was indeed an indent that matched his hand. ‘I don’t remember doing that.’
‘You. Gym. Now.’
‘Fine,’ he said as he followed Grigori through to the next room.
‘You didn’t know about it?’
He swung at his much-abused punching bag. ‘It’s from before she was here. The unimportant part of her life.’
‘You mean the majority of her life,’ Grigori said.
‘It’s still unimportant,’ he argued, ‘she wasn’t a recruit, she wasn’t-’
‘What you’re saying is she wasn’t Magnolia yet, well, wasn’t the Magnolia you know and love, so it’s like you’re talking about a different person.’
‘I don’t love her,’ he said, punching the bag again.
‘Turn of phrase,’ Grigori said with a wave of his hand, ‘stop worrying about what I’m saying and concentrate on what’s important.’
‘Finding who sent the video.’
‘You’ve really never spoken to her about her life before? Doesn’t it interest you at all?’
‘I read her file when I recruited her,’ he said, ‘it was enough. Before has no bearing on her life as a recruit. Ran away from home, became a criminal, nearly got grey-listed for crimes in Agency territories. Became a recruit. Became…better.’
‘And apparently did porn.’
‘That doesn’t bother me,’ he said, ‘I want to know why someone would send the video to me.’
Grigori stared at him. ‘Don’t lie to me, it bothers you.’
‘Pornography bothers me. It’s exploitative. Takes advantage of the weak.’
‘It also pays exceptionally well, especially fairy porn. It’s a thriving industry for them, and just a part of life. Hell, more than a few of them use it to pay for their castration and their lives after they’re no longer rules by urges. I know a guy, played parts in twenty skin-and-wing flicks, had his treatment and then opened a restaurant. It’s no different to girls stripping to pay their way through college, it’s just a part of life.’
‘It doesn’t have to be.’
‘Your recruit was selling her hair to eat, Taylor. Taking a day or two out to strip and fuck on video probably meant she could breathe easy for a couple of months. Don’t make this into more than it is.’
‘I’m not. What it is, is this: someone knows her history well enough to have found this film, knows her now well enough to know who her commanding officer is, and is smart enough to do it anonymously.’
‘I don’t know, and that bothers me.’
‘Could be just to rattle her.’
‘Then why not send it to her?’
‘How do you know they didn’t?’
‘Because I checked. It was only sent to me, so far as I can see.’
Grigori sighed. ‘What are you going to tell her?’