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Chapter V

The Chief entered the briefing room in a deliberate, almost lyrical saunter. He gave the appearance of having measured out his entrance into the room, his progress past the line of red leather chairs and the exact foot he would use pivot on to sit in his chair across from Marcus and Spaceman. The Chief didn’t walk, he danced.

Tall and pale, with a pinched expression, like he had just bit his tongue, the Chief dressed in black: black slacks, black turtle neck and a black beret. He took a few papers out of his black portfolio and dealt them out like a deck of cards.
“Unacceptable,” he said in a high, musical tenor. “Marcus Dillacross, baby, how did you make it this far in the service?”

Shield flinched. He knew he was taking risk in reporting a 20-year veteran like Spaceman but the facts were clear and collaborated. Spaceman had deserted a fellow agent in the middle of an operation.

“It’s pronounced Dellacroix, sir, Marcus Dellacroix.”

“I couldn’t care less what your mamma calls you, I want to know why I have to deal with your dumb ass.”

“What I wrote in that report may be difficult to hear, sir, but I…”

“Oh can it baby, what’s difficult to hear is you offering excuses for pure shameless failure.”

Shield sat bolt upright in his chair. He couldn’t help glancing to his left where Spaceman was sitting slumped in his chair, clearly on the nod. With the Chief’s raised voice, Spaceman blinked once but offered no change of expression. For the first time Shield wondered how he might procure some of what Spaceman was on.

Slowly Shield recovered, “Sir, I’m sorry I but I don’t understand what part of the mission you are referring to. Within the constraints I’ve detailed in my report, I think the objectives of the mission were met. We saved the lives of over 200 dignitaries from around the world.”

“’200 dignitaries’,” the Chief mocked him, turning to Spaceman, he said, “Can you believe this square’s BS?”

If Spaceman was surprised at the question he gave no hint, “No sir, I cannot believe it. But take it easy on him, he’s new.”

“Goddamn it man, I don’t know how you can be so forgiving knowing what he wrote about you! This goddamn cube said you’re a junkie! Can you believe that?”

“Things happened,” he replied, his head listing to one side.

The Chief turned back to Shield, “Listen twerp and listen good. You may be used to half-assed mediocrity back in the CIA or the PRD or what-ever nadaville we found you, but that bag does not fly here.”

Shield was beginning to lose his cool, “What bag are you referring to, I mean, we succeeded, the mission succeeded. What do you want me to say?”

“What I want you to say is why the hell you let the number two man in the AC hierarchy just stroll out of Hungarian Embassy when you had the bastard right in your goddamn sights, daddy! Right in your sights!”

“Number two? Who?”

“Look familiar?” The Chief threw over a photo. It was the man he had seen briefly on the embassy dance floor, the same droopy face and bad comb-over. “You’re looking at Hugo Simplex kiddo, a man responsible for the deaths of 11 Section Starfire Agents and God knows what mayhem around the world. The best chance to neutralize him and you let him slip right out of your goddamn hands.”

“I’m sure he tried his best,” said Spaceman.

The Chief shook his head. “I just don’t know why you’re defending him, Spaceman. I should deactivate his security rating right the now.”

“We were all him once,” Spaceman’s eyes were focused on a point somewhere between Neptune and Pluto. “Give him a second chance.”

The Chief shuffled Shield’s report on the table, clearly thinking over Spaceman’s request. “Fine, Shield,” he said finally, “But you’re on notice. I better see improvement and see improvement fast or you’re out. And—” he held up Shield’s report, “No more of this shit!”

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Link to First Chapter


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Chapter I

When the light came back on, the room was empty save for a corpse and two baffled agents of Section Starfire, the premier Anarchist Spy Agency employed by the United States government. Two trained pairs of eyes quickly scanned the room and found it devoid of anything worth mentioning besides an old battle-scarred table along one wall and a book shelf against the other and, of course, the body of the man Spaceman had just shot. For his part, Marcus Delacroix, Agent Shield, stood across the room from him, blinking in the sudden light, unable to focus. On the table by his right hand was a squat metal object about the same color and shape as a wheel of cheddar cheese. Instantly recognizing this object, Spaceman allowed himself a rare moment of panic. Pushing past Marcus, Space dashed to the door and tried the handle. Inevitably, it was locked. “Do you know what this is?” said Marcus, slowly regaining his faculties. “Yes,” said Spaceman as he darted

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