matapam (pamuphoff) wrote,
matapam
pamuphoff

_Warrior at Large_ How not to arrest a spy

  Shortly after the Family Reunion . . .

Chapter Twelve

How to arrest a spy

1 Qadah 1421yp

Ice grinned at the number on his chiming comm. Another call from Keiq!

"Your buddy Dog's in deep trouble! It's going to get bad, fast. Uqqy is here with an Action Team!"

"Where?" Ice slid through the other Metro riders. They were coming up on his old stop, where he had not been planning on debarking . . .

"The Tower. Ground floor lobby."

He ignored the dirty looks and charged out before the doors were fully open, and bolted for the stairs.

Hustled for the corner . . . warped light . . . Yeah, XR brutes outside the windowed wall, two on either side of the double set of double glass doors . . . Ice closed in, paused . . . a woman walked out frowning. Ice leaped through the door, side-stepped more people leaving.

Loud voices, echoing. ". . . not your jurisdiction."

Oljo. Good.

"It is now! Cross-dimensional incursions are our business. We've got the spy, and we'll deal with him ourselves."

"You'd better mean arrest him." Oljo's voice dropped to a growl as he glanced at a pile of men.

What? Are they all on top of Dog? I don't feel him . . . Ice froze at the sight of a familiar shoe on a leg sticking out.

Kicking. He relaxed . . . a bit. Not dead. All right . . . he's either shielded tight or they hit him with methalformaline. Damn, he knows the anti-formaline spell same as I do, but he wouldn't be able to use it if they got it into him fast enough.

Ice skittered sideways as more people climbed the steps . . . Ehfa.

Fuck, no hope of Ink standing up to him. Ice backed away, staying clear of the growing crowd. No sign of Keiq, she'd probably left before she called him.

"Got him?" The Presidential Director paced forward. "Excellent. Let him up. I want to see the dirty traitor."

The pile dispersed and Dog was hauled to his feet. Under the bloody nose, his face was expressionless. Stiff. His hands were pulled behind his back, a faint metallic click of handcuffs.

"Well, well." Ehfa voice was gloating as he stepped closer. "I may shoot you myself, purely for the pleasure of it."

"I want a lawyer."

"Lawyers are for criminals. Spies are just shot out of hand."

Ice stepped to the door, opened one a bit and dropped the light warp as he stepped forward. Lots of attention turned his direction. "You actually think he's a spy?" Ice kept his voice calm, snob accent strong. "Earth or Comet Fall?"

Ehfa glared. "Comet Fall. We've got proof."

"Excellent, congratulations on a major diplomatic coup." Oh shit, now what do I do? I'm an Agent of the One, I can't help him.

Ehfa sneered. "Hopefully killing him will finally get us the war we need . . ."

He broke off and jerked to look toward the doors. Ice spun as Zizi burst through the doors, her frantic gaze on Dog, tears running down her face.

XR Teamers moved to intercept her, but Ice was faster. He had to grab her, block a clawed hand heading for his face, before she realized who had her.

"Ice! They're going to kill him! They called and said they were going to kill him!"

Oh. One. I can't betray the One.

I . . . have to.

"Calm down, Zizi. They wanted to frighten you, to hurt him. Dog is much too valuable as a negotiation point for them to just kill him." If they didn't want a war!

He shifted his grip to her shoulders and tightened his mental shields a bit, called up the anti-methalformaline spell.

"We'll get a lawyer." He cupped her face "You calm now?"

She nodded, and he cupped her face in his hands, and applied the spell to her lips. Loose, but thick.

"Good. Now go kiss your husband while I speak to the Director, then we'll go." He gave her a little push toward Dog and stepped in the way of an XR Brute reaching for her, as he kept his eyes on Ehfa.

"So, I suspect you're going to really enjoy rubbing Wolfson's nose in this, aren't you?" Ice could see Zizi in the corner of his eye plaster herself against Dog and kiss him. Reach mentally, just a tiny thread, to trigger the spell.

"I'd prefer to rub his nose in his agent's death."

"Oh, you think he's Disco? Well, I suppose there's not much difference, is there?" Ice frowned. "Have you checked his genetics?"

A rude snort from Ehfa. "We all know Wolfson's a genetic engineer. The genes mean nothing."

"Oh, yes. Of course. And no doubt not the only Fallen who can fiddle the genes." Ice had to work to keep looking indifferent. "But he really is a major acquisition. I wonder if Wolfson would try to rescue him? That would be very interesting."

"Shut up. Or I'll arrest you too. Native. One knows the President would like you dead. Get out of here before I give in to temptation. I'll send the stupid little girl out after I kill her husband."

Ice glanced toward Dog and Zizi, shrugged and walked away. Stomach in a knot. I should do more. What if it doesn't work? He pushed through the doors and stopped dead.

What if he doesn't know how to teleport? What if he breaks loose and kills people?

What if the spell takes too long and they kill him.

My friend, whom I just walked out on. Leaving Zizi in danger. Alone.

One of the Brutes gave him a hard nudge.

He stumbled down two steps, caught his balance and walked the rest of the way down . . . heard the shots behind him and spun.

From the street he couldn't see much . . . But there was no death flash. I would have felt that, right? Even with Methalformaline someone as strong as Dog . . .

The outside brutes were all looking inside, physically holding the doors closed. Ice warped light and walked quietly back up the steps. Over to the side. No bodies on the floor. No Dog, no Zizi. He turned and walked away, shivering.

I have betrayed the One . . . and saved two friends.

I hope the One understands. And forgives.

He headed home. Hell, he couldn't remember why he'd been here . . . oh, collecting gossip for a column.

Keiq was pacing the train platform, waiting for him. No bugs.

"I thought you'd be stuck in your office the rest of the day."

"I was on the way out when they grabbed your buddy. I . . . have a nasty feeling I shouldn't have called you." She leaned on him, hiding her between his shoulder and neck. He put his arms around her.

What can I safely say?

"I think he teleported. I'm not sure, I was on the steps outside. I heard shots but when I went up and looked through the windows, there was nothing but pissed off Brutes and Ehfa looking like he was about to pop a vein."

She snorted. "Mr. Shady. Didn't you go inside?"

"Walking lie detector. Yes. I pointed out to Director Ehfa that Dog was a superb diplomatic point, and got shown the door."

She raised a skeptical eyebrow.

Ice sighed. "They called Zizi. I got her calmed down. Tried to talk Ehfa down, but all he wanted was a war, preferably started by Comet Fall. But in the end it ended as well as possible."

Keiq nodded. "I think I'll take the rest of the day researching something. Want to come?"

"I'd better not. They did see me, so . . . you'll be in trouble if they catch us together." He tightened his grip. "I would love to spend the day with you. Although fetal under my blankie sounds pretty good too, when I think about a government desperately trying to get into a war."

She nodded. "Not to mention the worst of the XR Teams turned loose internally." Her grip on him loosened. "We should try this again, sometime when we aren't both terrified."

"Definitely." He let her go, and . . . resisted kissing her in public, in the Metro station used by half the people in IR. "Thank you."

And stepped back . . . and took the train home to write a very formal, serious post on the drive to start a war to divert attention from the President and his cronies part on the wrong side of the Cyborg invasion.

***

The lobby of the IR tower was too public for the debacle to not hit the news.

President Afgu gave a speech and assured everyone that the Directorates all respected each other's responsibilities. "But this was neither a criminal matter, nor political maneuvering. This was the deliberate infiltration of the Empire by the intelligence apparatus of Comet Fall. We had not just the right, but the responsibility to arrest that spy, and to employ deadly force if necessary." His lips tightened. "We knew Wolfson had a lot of resistance to Methalformaline, but we drastically overestimated how quickly a different Fallen spy could clear the drug from his system."

Three days later, fifty-two Oners in bright prisoner orange, hands on their heads, were marched out of the Comet Fall Embassy and down the block to the Oner Embassy. No complaint was made by Comet Fall. Just . . . snark.

The Newsies had a blast with it.

Keiq eyed Ice over lunch—well away from the Tower. "Internal gossip has it that they rounded up every single agent, mole, or observer we had on Comet Fall. Including the ones in other nations. They didn't even question them. 'We know what you know,' they said." She scowled. "And then that General Janic talking to all the Newsies on Embassy . . . 'See? This is the way it's done. No violence, maximum embarrassment.' Or words to that effect."

Ice nodded. "They called all the news agencies with the time and place. My former colleagues were quite alarmed, and wound up boggled. But frankly? I'm not sure this government is capable of getting that message. Agfu wants a war. Unfortunately the only reason I can come up with is they want something spectacular, to erase the impression left by the Cyborg invasion."

Keiq nodded. "Two wars in less than a year seems . . ."

"Something we should avoid."



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