Sunday, 28 February 2010

Chewed up and spat out

I chew the gum cautiously, wincing at the bitter taste seeping through the mint overtones. The engineers assured me there is no risk of it exploding without the chemical stimulus of the detonator, but they've been wrong before. I curse the rules that say we can only use appropriate tech for the parallel we are active in. If it's not nanotech the engineers seem to treat it like some kind of game, an academic experiment in antiquity. As soon as the gum turns sweet I extract it from my mouth and push it gently into the lock. I take the packet of cigarettes from my pocket and pull one out, checking it to make sure it is one of the ones that I need. I lick the paper wrapper and gently break it apart. I tease out the dark, thin thread hidden within it and push it into the gum. Next I take off my watch and wrap the thread around the diver's face which I twist ninety degrees. A push of the wind-up knob sets the timer going and I quickly run around the oversize desk and duck behind it.

Unseen by me there is a fizzing and a sharp crack. I wince. I'm hoping the sound of the party below will cover up the noise of my break-in but there are plenty of guards patrolling around, keeping an eye out for people like me. I lift my head over the desk. The safe door is open, a small wisp of smoke caught in the moonlight crack of the curtain. Running back to the safe I start to explore its contents, pocketing the jewelry, putting the folders with documents to one side. The theft of the trinkets will help to provide a cover for my real reason for the burglary as well as inject some much needed local cash into the project's coffers. I spread the documents on the desk and begin to quickly identify those that might be of use. Plans for rockets, buildings and other assorted hardware, signatures on deals and contracts. I quickly photograph them all and then scatter them around the safe to give the impression that the have been discarded and thrown to the side. It won't fool the Professor, but there won't be enough evidence to prove we were here, either.

I clip the camera back onto my belt buckle, rearrange my bow tie and brush down the tuxedo jacket. I check the hallway outside. Still no-one. I need to get back to the party unnoticed and get out of here before the robbery is noticed. Always the fun part. A door opens and my hand slides to my gun. Agent Kowalski steps out of a side room, messing her hair a little. I take her arm and, turning the corner we begin to stagger down the hall with our best drunken walks. It's all going well until we reach the stairs to almost walk straight in to the guards forming a wall blocking our path. Behind us the Professors gentle voice speaks.

"Kill them."

Kowalski and I both launch ourselves at the guards, drawing our guns, but we are too slow to get off a shot and, deafened by the sound of shots, we fall. The pain and blood mix into my senses into a single flailing cry of annoyance.

Back at the base Kowalski, now back in her normal body, is cursing. Staggering around the office space as she paces through the adjustment exercises. I watch her, waiting for the hangover kick of the transmission to peel away before I start my own exercises.

"Not only did we not get anything, he also knows we are here. He's going to find the bloody camera and know it was us."

I shrug.

"We can still pull the images from my mind. Won't be as good, but it's something. And the Professor would have known anyway. It's not stupid."

Jung, the blue brain consciousness currently in charge of us, watches from his screen silently. He's a patient one, and he already has a plan in place, I can tell from looking at him.

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