Another week, another argument with Adam. These two chapters are so damned short it would be cheating you to give you just one chapter!
In my opinion, of course.
And since I’m the one who’s doing the introductions these days, guess who won?
We’re still in my old bunker now, making contact with the outside world for the first time in a while. Well, by a while I mean about two days, but those two days were heavenly. And that’s all I’m going to say about them!
Okay, three bits of housekeeping. First, you want to skip the wait? There’s a button for that, or click on any image, and you can buy the book (ebook, paperback, or audiobook). Second, and speaking of the audiobook, the two chapters are at the bottom of the post for you to listen to. Third, Adam’s cover is in the final week of the contest, so go vote for it (and there’s another button for that!).
Chapter 20: You Want What?
Lisa had responded: ‘How can I help? What do you need?’
‘Pretty open-ended,’ commented Kendra. ‘Okay. Explain it to her. Delicately.’
‘Delicately, she says. Tell my friend delicately that I need her to help us violate security at the company she still works for.’ She thought, then typed. When she finished, she invited Kendra to look. What she saw was:
‘Open a backdoor. We need to do a little digging.’
‘Delicate,’ grimaced Kendra. ‘But it ought to get the point across.’
‘Done,’ came the reply, followed by an alphanumeric string.
‘Digging commencing,’ typed Cass, then Ken executed her program. Within seconds, she said, ‘We’ve got something.’ Kendra opened a file. ‘This look like it?’
Cass peered over. ‘Those are my notes!’
‘Can you tell if we have all of them?’
‘Let me see. Hmm. Looks like they’re all there.’ She switched to another view. ‘Doesn’t look like anyone’s played with these copies – all the dates are good, before the wedding day.’
‘Downloading, and, complete! Okay, I’m turning the worm loose. I’ve targeted it to attack anything in the system that went through your particular IP entryway. It’s overkill, and will wipe out more than just the teleportation files, but it might throw them off for a while, make them think it was a broad infection from your terminal instead of a specific attack.’ A few keystrokes sent the program on its way. ‘You can tell Lisa to close the door now. It’s in.’
The next messages were:
Cass: ‘Done. Close it up.’
Lisa: ‘Closed. You owe me.’
Cass: ‘When we get home.’
Lisa: ‘And when is that?’
Cass: ‘Don’t know. Will keep in touch until then.’
Lisa: ‘You’d better.’
‘She’s closed the connection,’ said Cass sadly. ‘I didn’t know what to say when she asked when we’d be home. Will we ever go home?’
‘I don’t know, babe. This gives us our best chance.’ Kendra hugged Cass close. ‘Now, no sniffling! We’re still on our honeymoon! How about some lunch?’
‘It’s only ten in the morning!’
‘So? Haven’t we done enough to earn something to nibble on?’
‘Well, if you want to nibble on something…’
Chapter 21: I Hate Paperwork
‘What next? Much as I’m enjoying our time here -’
‘It has been nice, hasn’t it?’ purred Kendra next to her.
‘- I really want to get this whole mess taken care of.’ Cass felt Ken’s head bob up and down, nodding agreement.
‘I should probably check in, officially.’ With great reluctance, Kendra stood and made her way down to the terminal. As she set up the secure connection, she said, ‘If I get a live link, don’t say anything until I bring you in, all right? I don’t know that they’ll need to talk to you at all, and I’m really not sure how they’ll react to you being here. I’m sure this is all classified or some similar shit, not that I particularly care.’
‘I can do that,’ agreed Cass.
For long minutes the only sound was that of Kendra typing, recording the events of the past week. With a final grimace, she sent it off.
‘That’s that. Now, we wait. What do you want to do?’
‘I should review my notes,’ said Cass. ‘If they’re really after me for teleportation, I ought to be sure it works.’
‘I thought you were sure?’
‘In theory, yes, it makes sense, but that’s a long way from having a working model. I don’t want to go down in history as a footnote like cold fusion, phlogiston, luminiferous aether, and the Martian canals.’
‘Okay, I was with you up to phlog-whatsis.’
‘Yeah. That.’ Kendra was saved an explanation by a ping from the terminal. ‘Huh. We must be on a short list. We’ve got a request for a little text ‘chat’ with my supervising agent.’
‘That’s good, right?’
‘Should be. Let’s find out what Amanda wants.’ She started towards the controls, stopped, and said, ‘I should probably warn you. Amanda’s not just my boss, she’s running the show down there now. One of the down sides to being a high-ranking agent is that there are fewer people between me and the big bosses.’
‘She’s more likely to take a hard line?’
‘Yeah.’ Kendra shrugged. ‘She was never exactly easy-going, y’know?’ Then she typed, ‘Agent Foster-Briggs reporting.’
‘Took your time, didn’t you?’
‘Damn skippy I did! It’s my honeymoon, fer gossake! I suppose I can’t type that.’ Instead, she tapped out, ‘Regret necessity of delay to ensure security of subject.’
‘’Subject’?!’ hooted Cass. ‘’Subject’? Really?’
‘Well, I can’t exactly say, ‘Delay caused by wanting to fool around with the love of my life,’ can I? Not in a formal setting, at least.’
‘Bullshit. You just wanted a couple days off,’ came the terse reply.
‘Guess you could have,’ giggled Cass.
Kendra typed, ‘Secure location established. Request further instructions.’
‘Formalities, then. Report in person to HQ ASAP.’
‘Guess the honeymoon’s over,’ sighed Cass.
‘Inform me of ETA. I want to meet Ms. Right. AT.’
‘That’s it. The connection’s been closed. So. How do you feel about New Orleans?’
‘Ken-doll, New Orleans is dead. Hurricane Alondra, back in ‘98, remember? Totally flooded, not worth reclamation this time?’
‘That’s what everyone is supposed to think.’