Thursday, December 20, 2018

The hazards of black bag jobs



(I'm polishing A Revolution of Rubies for release and having some fun with it in the process. The CIA has decided to send Thalia and her topologist colleagues to Europe, to bug diplomatic offices and apartments for them. Even for people who can teleport, it's not always as easy as you'd think:)


Sheng was visibly nervous about our mission – I guessed he was one of those people who’s really only happy in a basement full of computers and electronic gadgets – but at least he’d been able to accept the reality of teleportation better than his predecessor, Screaming Geek. Now I took his (sweaty) hand, slipped my free hand into the pocket with the stars, thought about the Brouwer Fixed-Point Theorem, pictured the two glowing surfaces and slid us from one surface to the other via the single point they had in common.

We had time to take just one deep breath before the barking began.

This time I didn’t bother with half measures like hiding in a bathroom. We were in the Egyptian cultural attaché’s apartment and I already knew there was only one bathroom which the whole family shared. We zipped down a spiraling trail of stars through the in-between and back to the apartment Lensky and I were using.

My legs were shaky; I sat down on the cool marble floor. “That wasn’t supposed to happen!”

“No shit, Sherlock,” Sheng sniped. “I thought you’d been to a dinner party there.”

“I was. Just day before yesterday.”

“How did you not notice that he had a dog?”

“He didn’t have a dog. Not then.” I thought back over my briefing. “They told me Egyptians don’t like dogs!”

“They don’t not like dogs nearly as much as I don’t like dogs,” Sheng groused. Then a puzzled look crossed his face. I had the feeling he was counting negatives on his fingers, trying to figure out what he’d just said. “I thought that monster was going to take a chunk out of my ass.”

“You could be grateful for the quick reflexes that got us out of there!” Truth be told, I had been possibly a little more alert to the need to exfiltrate quickly than I had been before Screaming Technical Officer had fainted on me in the Polish embassy.

We learned later that Said, the cultural attaché, had been dog-sitting for just one night as a favor to a Parisian neighbor of his who’d been called out of town unexpectedly. Just our luck that we tackled Said’s apartment on that night.

We never did find out how a fashionable Parisian living in the center of the city managed to keep a dog the size of a small moose as a pet. But then, that wasn’t part of the assignment.

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