"Ox didn't think you'd fit in well with the War Ministry. Ajki said you'd own the taskforce within the first month."
"I don't own them!"
"Nah, they just look to you for advice, for opinions, for direction . . . and donuts. In just a week." Onca grinned. "And Ajki said you'd look after your Guards."
"I don't own them either, but apparently I need to be driven to my other office right now." Ice shook his head. "This is ridiculous."
At the task force office, he answered questions about his visit to Fort Degalle during the election . . . so they could go to a meeting after lunch at the War Ministry building to report and, no doubt, answer questions . . . He emphasized that he had only guesses, as to which officers were puppets, and which were not. And same as to who had tried to mentally influence a presidential contender.
He wished them luck as they headed out, popped out to grab a sandwich, and stuck around the office to field questions. Only three, he was glad to say. He contemplated "Why was an Internal Security senior investigator with the party?"
An unexploded bomb, and best answered honestly. "At that time Imperial Analysis was leaking classified information. Later traced to the Drei Mächte Bündnis agent and the puppet in the group, but at that time Senior Analyst Icka Withione Tall Trees was the top suspect. The Senior Investigator encountered Icka as he left the building to meet Rumakova's entourage, and was included in the tour of Fort Degalle for no particular reason other than that she was with Icka."
The defense is going to love that. "This so-called Warrior who is considered a security risk . . . " And the War Party upper levels who still feel any loyalty to Afgu will try to blame me.
Gah. Why do I like politics? Am I crazy?
He turned back to his statistical analysis of a bunch of city level elections from the last ten years . . .
Keiq bounced out of the amazingly ugly modern building that housed the local fire Department's business offices, and drove the three blocks to a huge hardware store that specialized in renovations, although usually of houses much younger than hers. Well, Ice's.
She parked and call the fire sprinkler place first, then called Ice's private comm, and knew she sounded utterly gleeful.
"The Hissies loved your gothic ceiling, and approved the disguised fire suppressor system. So I ran by the FD headquarters and got the chief's signature on the permit and some guy named Harvey at Safety Systems who said he'd talked to you said they had all the parts they needed and can start tomorrow!" She paused to take a breath, still grinning.
"Excellent . . . Sounds like I'd better get to work on the plumbing! They'll need water pretty soon."
Poor man sounds wishful. I'll bet both bosses think they have him for two-thirds of the time.
"Oh! I showed them--the Historical Society--the plumbing plan and the electrical as well. They're a bit miffed over the requirement for so many bathrooms, but you're hiding the pipes well enough that they approved both those plans, too!" She snickered. "Six bathrooms in the basement?"
"Holy One! You are awesome. And there wasn't anyplace else to put them. As soon as the Taskforce has survived their meeting, I'll head for the house. I'll need to get the under-the-slab pipes done ASAP."
She laughed. "Yeah, I had a good day. Right now I'm in the parking lot of the hardware store, and I'm going to look at windows and door just in case there are some that are close enough that you could mold them into the authentic shape."
"If you find any, get the specs on the size of the rough opening that's needed."
"Will do, see you at the house, whenever." She clicked off, grinning. That man thinks I didn't notice the windows and doors were suddenly wide enough to pass the Fire Department's requirements? Ha! I just wish I could do it.
She strode into the store and headed for the doors and windows department. Drooled over the gorgeous creations.
All of Ice's furniture is sleek and modern. I wonder if he'll like his house as well once it's all gaudied up in faux-neo-victorian and faux-neo-gothic windows doors and furniture? Maybe . . . we could keep parts of the top floor not period . . . well, not the either Oliver or Mikel felt the least need to be consistent.
She stopped and admired an arched glass door that was so close to perfect for the upper floor doors to the balcony.
"That's beauty, aint it?" A man wearing the store employee's official shirt stepped up beside her. "We make all these doors, so some customization is possible."
"Really?" Keiq pulled out her folder of pictures. The old picture from the book. "These three doors up here."
"Mikel's House?" His eyebrows rose. "We heard someone was renovating it, but just leveling it . . ."
"It's leveled, and we have the permits in hand for the plumbing, electrical, fire suppression, The go-ahead to keep fixing the roof, the blessings of the Historical Society and . . . I'm looking at doors and windows."
"Ma'am, you have come to the right place. May I bring a crew in to make an estimate?"
"Certainly. In fact, I'll be there all day tomorrow while the fire suppression system installation gets started."
The meeting ended with Subminister Imro taking a tour of his new group's facilities.
"Damn, Roz, how'd you manage this? When you said apartments in an older building, I was picturing slums. This bears a shocking resemblance to an office. Have they go more space?"
Erzo grinned. "Not at the moment, but the owner seems to be taken with the idea of making the whole building into offices, one apartment at a time, as tenants move out."
"Tell the owner we'll take them." He gave Ice a dubious glance, obviously recognizing him. But stuck his hand out anyway. "I'm pleased there's such good cooperation with the Directorates."
"The Drei Mächte Bündnis is a large problem, and unlike the Earth, they know where we are. This isn't the time to descend into internal partisan strife." Ice grinned. "Maybe next year."
The subminister snorted and continued his tour, greeting most of the people by name.
Right a reasonable boss. At least at first glance. We'll see if I get tossed to the sharks in an effort to save Afgu's head.
The subminister headed upstairs, then returned and Erzo escorted him out to his limo and returned.
Glanced at his watch. "Right a quick after-meeting meeting, then we can all head home. Imro's pleased with our overview of the whole history of the Dreis' infiltration and has picked up six points he wants details on. How many kinds of them are there? How many of which are there? The timing of them switching from infiltrating to invasion prep and what that looked like? Is the approach to our world standard? Have we caught them all? Have we found all of their gate beacons?"
He glanced at Ice. "So how many answers do you have?"
"Not any of them with any certainty. I wonder if we could get Eldon to come talk to us? Or if Wolfson would let us go talk to the Free Cyborg Rebellion people?"