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Stories from the Verse
Chapter 116: Brown 146
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Derek had been sitting for about twenty minutes when an officer he had not previously seen opened the door. “You’re free to go,” he said.
Leaning forward to use the table to help him stand, Derek suddenly froze, thought, and sat back in the seat. “I’m sorry,” he said. “You’re going to think this sounds terribly paranoid, Officer Collins, but in my job sometimes paranoia is what keeps you alive. Colonel Simpkins told me to wait here, and I assumed he meant to wait here for his return. If you will let him know that I am waiting, he can let me know what he intends to do next.”
Collins looked quite surprised that Derek knew his name, but then, Derek had been over the personnel files of everyone in the building several times. He knew that Collins worked with Williams, and it had abruptly occurred to him that “killed trying to escape” would be a reasonably good excuse to give to anyone investigating the situation. It occurred to Derek that he could probably settle the matter by reading the man’s mind, but then it was unlikely that Williams would have told Collins the plan.
In any case, Collins did not seem to know what to say or do next, and stood there confused for a moment. Finally he closed the door.
It was another twenty minutes before it opened again; this time it was the Colonel. He entered and took the seat across from Derek. Derek took the initiative.
“You should know, if you don’t already,” he said, “that Officer Collins came here about twenty minutes ago and told me I was free to go.”
“Did he.” It did not seem to be a question.
“I apologize if I inconvenienced you, but on reflection I can think of a dozen reasons why Officer Collins,” he emphasized the ranks of both men, “would do a favor for Agent Williams--some of them perfectly innocent and legitimate.”
The Colonel nodded. “Well, you’re right,” he said. “I’m not releasing you, exactly. You are to consider yourself under house arrest for the present. It’s a formality, but I must ask you to remain within the embassy compound and not openly carry any weapons. We’ll return your darts to you, but please keep them as securely as you can in your room. Just so you know, Agent Williams is being held in lockup for the present, and will be transferred back to London for a hearing within the next few days. I expect you will be wanted for that, and will be transferring out fairly soon yourself.”
“I understand.” Derek thought a moment before continuing. “Obviously my job here, the one on the record, was a cover to allow me to investigate the leak. I’m not sure how many people know that I am some kind of security agent at this point, and I’m honestly not sure whether it would be better to maintain the pretense of doing the job or vanish into my quarters most of the time.”
Simpkins pursed his lips in thought. “I’d say keep the job. At the moment all that is really known is that you uncovered some kind of espionage, not, I think, that you were looking for it. Do the job, maintain the cover identity, and when you’re called to London of course everyone will know it was because you had to go for the trial. Only a few people will notice that you never return, and they’ll write it off to the kind of transfers interns go through.”
Derek nodded. “What will happen about Samantha and Dorin?”
“Yes, that is a problem,” Simpkins nodded in agreement. “One wants to turn it around, leverage the boyfriend into being a double agent working for us. However, we can’t do that with the ambassador’s daughter, and there is good reason to think that he is not really interested in her anyway, apart from using her to obtain information. It’s going to be bad enough that I will have to explain the situation to her; I dread having to explain it to her father.”
“Yes. She’ll be heartbroken, and he’ll be furious, which won’t help her at all.”
They sat in silence for a moment, then Simpkins stood.
“Let me walk you out.”
“Yes, that’s probably a good idea.” He rose and followed the Colonel out of the room.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twenty other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #265: Versers in Motion. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: