Need to Know
By: T.G. Browning
Paperwork. There was always paperwork. Throughout his incredibly long life, he’d written reams of messages, memos, notes, forms, requisitions and minutia; he had to admit the dawning computer age appears to have an advantage. Way back when he’d started, he’d been forced to use onion-juice and other invisible inks for his minutia, now he used electrons and computer passwords to hide the words. As trade-offs went, it was a nice plus. One could always trash the machine and run a rare-earth ceramic magnet over the floppies and hard disk now. No dealing with smoke inhalation or possible third degree burns.
Well, there were always third degree burns to deal with, he reflected. Just not so many.
He looked at the clock and wondered if things were proceeding according to plan and then laughed. Plan, what plan? There was no plan.
Opportunities presented, yes.
Avenues opened for exploration.
Human traits encouraged, oh my, yes!
But they didn’t need no stinkin’ plan! Indeed, one would have prevented a lot of what he’d hoped to accomplish.
He was, after all a recruiter.
A spy, too, for that matter. But in actual fact, a spier of spies who spied on spies. A triple agent in essence, far beyond the usual scope of the double cross and snatch and grab of ordinary intelligence agents. Had been for over four hundred years.
He continued to regard the clock. About now, McKinley would be in the most danger. God, he hoped the kid had as much sense as he seemed to have. He was smart, that was a given. He was capable, but of just what and how much, McKinley himself was unaware. That was why Kevin was in the process of testing. They lost a large percent of the candidates in this test and he personally didn’t want Kevin to be one of them. He’d liked what he’s seen so far. The kid had a mind that defined the word open. He questioned everything. He counted on stuff that he knew, only as long as it didn’t contradict facts in evidence. He showed an amazing amount of intellectual pragmatism that, frankly, even in this rapidly evolving age of tunnel diodes and quantum black holes, of sages like Steven Hawkings and Roger Penrose, was all too rare. He was orthodox only as long as orthodoxy worked.
He thought he heard a small, booming sound and sat upright suddenly. What the devil was that? He ran over the list of things that he’d been prepared for and couldn’t find anything in that long list that would account for a bloody explosion.
He quickly shut down everything, leaving only the night light and a guardian circuit running as he pulled out a small crystal globe and activated it with some ancient Hebrew. His face immediately reflected a glow from the orb and he gazed at the physics office, apparently from a height of about seven feet and placement in the northwest corner near the window. No one there.
He muttered another word of command and the scene shifted to the electronics lab where McKinley had actually data mined the hard disk. Nothing there.
He sat back. He’d set up only the two speed-dial scenes and now had to think about where Kevin might be at this point. He decided that his best bet was somewhere around the electronics lab (God, he hoped it was. He’d miscalculated horribly if the lab wasn’t the center of focus!).
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