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Chapter XXXII

Spaceman followed as Necropolis stalked over to Simplex.

“What is the meaning of bringing that women here?” he asked. Simplex followed Necropolis’ gesture and shrugged.

“She was a part of the plan. It seemed reasonable to have her on hand as we approach its fruition.”

“And you were aware of her involvement in the American Intelligence service?”

“Of course,” Simplex seemed genuinely baffled by Necropolis’ questions. “That’s the point of a double-agent, don’t you think?”

“Exactly,” Necropolis said, turning to Suliman. His eyes had taken on a different, more appraising cast. “Now that we have that obvious point established, let’s revisit your own identity.”

“Rasheed Suliman,” Spaceman said. “Importer/exporter of-“

“That’s not who you are,” Necropolis shook his head as though embarrassed for Spaceman. “If you were, in fact, Rasheed Suliman, you would currently be lying in a shallow grave outside of Waco, Texas.”

“Ah,” Spaceman said, suddenly feeling very uncomfortable. The two AC men looked at Spaceman as though he were a bug who had wandered out in front of them. “I see.”

“You see?” Hugo smirked. “Are you sure? Do you see that your entire scheme was comprised from the start? Do you see that your companions are even now being inducted into our ranks?” He patted the venom harnesses of nearby AC commando. “Do you see, Spaceman, that you have been brought here for a purpose?”

“It was I who summoned you out of retirement,” Necropolis said softly. “It was I who arranged the attack on Vienna. If you been less dissolute and craven, Simplex would have captured you there and saved us the necessity for the rest of this charade.”

“Then why did you bring me here?” Spaceman asked.

“Well, isn’t it obvious?” Hugo Simplex gestured at the station walls behind them. “We need you. We need you intact.”

Spaceman forced himself to smile. “I have underestimated your resources.”

“And our commitment, perhaps.” Simplex said. Necropolis looked annoyed and also changed in some way. “Do not be hurt, Spaceman. The Master thought it best you not know every particular of this mission.”

Necropolis leaned over to Simplex and whispered something in his ear. Simplex nodded. Spaceman saw what had changed about the Greek’s appearance; he was older. White strands appeared in his formerly black hair, deep lines wrinkled the corners of his eyes and mouth. Necropolis left the room with a half dozen commandoes, only a few behind with Simplex and Spaceman.

“Forgive us, Spaceman,” Simplex said. “The hour is late and you have had a long journey to get here. I think it’s time you were shown your quarters.”

“And my luggage?”

Simplex’s wide smile exposed a great many small teeth. “Oh, I’m sure it will arrive shortly. You don’t have anything in them too important, do you?”

Spaceman gritted his teeth, not sure what infuriated him more. His cover was blown. His captors’ casual treatment implied contempt for his chances to escape. And now, after a long flight, the old shakes and nausea returned.

Following the AC commandoes leading him deeper inside Delta Omega, Spaceman sighed heavily. The withdrawal was definitely the worst.

Did he even know any hustlers left in Antarctica?



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