A Novel Idea
Once he had eliminated the rest of the sappy romances from his reading list of best sellers, he found himself reading the most appallingly inaccurate police and espionage thrillers imaginable.
I know I've been busy, but how did I ever miss these amazingly bad stories? They're almost as bad as the two romances I read.
Then he read how-to books, and Learn to Plot Like a Pro, and . . .
Had a major attack of indigestion when he realize the kids were missing.
They didn't come for Nastasya for testing, damn it. They took all four at once. Damn, damn, damn.
He ground his teeth, sat down at his computer and started writing the worst possible combination of a ridiculous Romance Hero and Heroine imaginable in an over-the-top plot to stop the assassination of a regional governor . . .
I have that sample of the zivvy dissolver.
He ground his teeth. No. I shouldn't even have that. I shouldn't have ever wondered if the Imperium, not needing me any more, would just chip me.
I am an Agent of the Imperium, I answer as often to the Inquisitors of the Three Hundred as I do to the local office of Imperial Intelligence.
I have no business even doubting the Imperium.
He spent the rest of the day at his computer writing a brutal murder scene to establish the antagonist--named Vladimir--as a brutal sadist. It was shockingly easy, and what he was going to do to this sick son of a bitch by the end of this stupid story . . . Picked at dinner and ignored the usual insults from the rest of the family.
Didn't punch any of them.
It's done. One way or another.
He hid out in his second floor "apartment." Used the desk there to write. While arguing with himself.
It is illegal for me to have that stuff. Horribly illegal to use it. Capital offense. Four charges could get me executed. Or chipped, myself.
A tap on his door . . . a girl with a hair style problem and three bald kids, grinning and pointing at the one inch squares of exec plates.
He flopped back into his chair with a huff of relief.
And he absolutely did not have to blink away watery eyes when Nastasya parted her hair to show a shaved square. With stiches around three sides of a flap of skin.
She grinned. "It worked! And I have a horrible headache. We're supposed to stay out of sight, because the boys are suprise presents. I don't know why I have to . . . I think I can brush my hair to show nothing."
"Well, you've got a month to adjust, then Mr. Solovsky will start giving you some pointers." He eyed the boys. "I wonder about wigs . . . In any case, you can all come up here anytime. Bag a little sunshine, and I suspect Pauli's latest project is a dynamite gaming machine."
He relaxed suddenly, grinning. "Congratulations! You three will never have to peel another potato . . . although if Nastasya's going to be a spy, she may have to, now and then."
They all laughed, wincing at the headaches, but relaxing finally. Flopping on the floor in relief.
"N-n-nastasya t-told us how you f-fooled H-is L-lordsh-ship. D-do you know wh-which Twin g-get wh-who? And what about me?"
"I suspect Dear Uncle considers you a gag gift, suitable for his appalling nephew." Axel looked over at Dimitri and Barf. "I have no idea about which Twin gets which Ranger inflicted on him. Hell, I don't know for sure that I'll get Pauli."
He spun his chair back to his computer and started a search for "wigs" and "boy cut."
They climbed up off the floor and snickered over his shoulder as he zeroed in on the shortest possible and ordered the stretchy things in medium blonde, dark blonde and light brown.
"How about ultra blonde and black? Then we could do disguises." Varf exchanged grins with Dimitri
"I'm only doing this because I'm delighted to have pulled off using Snobovsky to manipulate Dear Uncle. Has nothing to do with relief that you guys get to keep your brains and mentalist abilities."
Nastasya snickered. "Right. We know you're too tough and mean to care."
He spent the next two weeks teaching all four of them how to change their postures and strides to be even less recognizable. And monitored their grow-in period, when the zivvy, the living wires, were growing into their brains.
No problems, Thank God.
Nastasya brushed her hair to hide the shaved spot with the stitched down flap of bare scalp, and as far as Axel could tell, neither of the twins noticed that Mr. Solovsky had four new assistants, let alone that they had executive plates. He ordered more wigs and cut them into inch squares of various lenghts. The boys stuck the rectangles of fake hair over their plates, and wore them even after their hair had grown out enough to mostly hide the plates.
And the Boss didn't call.
Axel gave up on his klutzy moron of a Hero and his Idiot Girlfriend. They just weren't up to dealing with the monster he'd created. He obviously needed a Real Policeman, to do the heavy lifting. It was quiet freeing to manipulate the whole thing, infuriating when he got carried away and wrote something he'd swear he hadn't intended but it worked out better than what he's sort of planned.
And . . . might have happened to find a few hours, now and then, to work with the kids, on a few methods of avoiding notice, and mental shielding. Telepathy. Deliberately pulling power.
Not that Nastasya needed more than a single lesson to pick up the techniques. And Pauli was positively gleeful when he connected to the miniature computer in his head. Well, screwed to his skull.