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Chapter XI

Frankie leaned against the walls of the elevator, his heart rate returning to an even thrum. By the time the doors opened, he was back to copacetic, ready to face the world.

Mullihan’s cavernous underground garage was filled with domestic sedans, in the standard browns, blues, and greys. His own vehicle stood in a distant corner, a spot purposely chosen as far from the entering and exiting traffic as possible.

Frankie didn’t drive a sedan. He drove a red Shelby Cobra, with white exhaust pipes nestled low along its frame. He loved this car – considered it one of the truly great masterpieces of human creation. The Cobra could roar from 0 to 60 in the span of a few heart beats and take curves like it was on rails. Put it on a ramp and gun the engine, Frankie figured he had a better than even chance to beat Apollo to the moon.

Even as his footsteps echoed back to him, his smile faded though. A figure stepped from behind a concrete pillar, and even though she wore a white fedora and a long dark trenchcoat, Frankie would recognize her silhouette anywhere.

“What are you doing here?” he asked.

“Take the job,” she said without preamble.

“You promised me I’d be out of this chicken shit outfit in a month tops.”

“You were waiting for a particular mission.”

“The one I just got.”

She didn’t bother replying.

Frankie grimaced. “It’s not going to happen.”

“You’re here for a reason.”

“What makes you so sure the target will be on this mission?”

“You need to show me a little faith.”

“Show me a reason.”

She slipped a hand beneath the flap of her coat and for an instant, Frankie flinched, hand twitching by the concealed holster on his hip. What appeared in her hand, though, was a single photograph. She smiled as she handed it over, a silent commentary on his reaction. He glanced down at it, noted the photographer had caught the target in a relatively candid, unguarded moment, her dark hair swept away from her long neck, dark eyes flashing towards the camera.

“When was this taken?”

“A day ago in the LAX boarding area.”

“She made your surveillance.”

“We don’t think so.”

“Trust me,” he said. “She did. What makes you think she’s still heading to Texas?”

“Like I said, show me a little faith.”

“Any chance you’d clue me in on why the Old Hands have it in for her?”

“I wouldn’t concern yourself with that.”

“And the assets they sent after her last time?”

“Also not your concern.”

“Of course not,” Frankie said ruefully. “Afterall, I’m only the one risking his neck.”

His contact raised her head, enough to reveal blue-gray eyes beneath the fedora. “Oh, you’ll have company. Killing Agent D is going to be a team effort.”

Link to Next Chapter

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 to the b…

Chapter L

It was immediately apparent they were traveling downwards, not up. Marcus wondered aloud what sort of transportation they were going to find at the bottom of the station.

“A submarine,” Simplex answered matter-of-factually.

“A submarine encased in ice?”

“No,” Hugo said. “Open water.”

“This whole station floats?”

“Of course! That is what it is designed to do. No section of ice, however deep, could be guaranteed to support a structure this massive. What would happen if a freak warming spell intruded into the deep Antarctic? The builders of this place designed it to melt a hole through the ice into the cavern and float there like a rubber duck in a bathtub. This underside is a convenient place to store submarines, no?”

“Very convenient,” D said sunnily.

“Ah, we are coming to the first challenge of our escape from the Delta Omega.”

Ahead of them, the corridor was blocked off by a set of heavy steel doors. Each door had a small round window mounted about eye level. Steam and condensation blocked …

Interlude: Antarctica and Beyond

She saw all and knew more.

The place of knowledge looked exactly like the waking world in its details, its strangeness revealed only by implication. Looking down at her own body she knew she was dead. And yet the possibilities of her life were not entirely spent. She knew this too. Part of her wanted to simply slip back into her body and let the Charm of Utanghk do its work but she wasn’t ready to do that.

D pulled away from her body and the sub. In the ghostly second sight of the place of knowledge she perceived the submarine had already moved some distance from the dying Delta Omega Base. She watched the sub pass beneath the dark vaults of ice and turned her attention to colossal structure shuddering above.
Standing in front of it in the waking world, the station was simply a structure, impressive but also sterile. From within the place of knowledge she gained an appreciation for the effort that had gone into its creation. To see it brought low was an occasion not for celebration but …