Ethan-Day 4: Alarms and legs

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Ethan didn’t remember falling asleep, but there was no doubt about when he woke up. The screaming alarm and flashing strobe light jolted his eyes open sometime in the painfully early hours of the morning. He was lying facing James whose eyes popped open at the exact same moment as his. He was almost as startled by the woman sleeping next to him as he was by the blaring alarm.

About four seconds after both their eyes opened, hers widened with apprehension. “The recording!” she hissed, and stumbled out of bed, grabbing for the wire she had installed on the bug near the bed. Ethan rolled off the bed and into the bathroom, pulling out the wire for the bug in there. When he came back out he said, “Are we okay?”

“I hope so,” she answered, speaking loudly to be heard over the screaming noise. Ethan hoped so too. If anyone was listening closely they might notice that the alarms started about 45 seconds later in their room than anyone else’s. James was closing files on the computer. “Do you think this is a coincidence?” she asked. There was no need to worry about them being overheard in this racket.

Ethan grabbed his gun and her knife off the bedside table and shoved them back under the bed. “A fire alarm going off in the middle of the conference? No I don’t.” She gathered the computer and bug wires and shoved them under the bed. A quick survey off the room revealed no red flags. It looked like any innocent hotel room. Ethan thought he could make out sirens over the sound of the alarm, which meant that this wasn’t just a drill. “We need to go.” Continue reading

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Ethan-Day 3: Fools Rush In

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In keeping with her cover of being ill, James ate very little at dinner that night. (Except for mashed potatoes. She ate all her mashed potatoes and half of Ethan’s. He had no idea what that was about.) But Ethan was beginning to realize this fake illness had more than one advantage. When Burgstein, whose entourage had finally dissembled, approached them, she only had to mention having a bug of some sort and he immediately backed away.

And another advantage of having a sick wife was that now he would have an excuse to duck out of tonight’s dancing. Ethan didn’t know how to dance. He read a book about it once, but it didn’t seem like the kind of thing you learned from a book, and he’d never been given an assignment that required dancing before. Continue reading

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Ethan: Day 3-X Marks the Spot

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With a last look behind him, Ethan opened the door and they slipped in. He let the door softly close. They were in the large power room that occupied the center of the building, on a walkway that led both left and right.

The girl was busy scanning the surroundings. They were sheltered from view by a large platform of machinery, but could look down from their walkway to see everything below. A guard disappeared into the maze without looking up.

Ethan knew that they would not open the door and see a big sign that said, “Here is the clue” with an arrow pointing at a flash drive or something like that. But still, for once, when they were in a hurry, it would have been nice to have the clues be a little more obvious.

The girl made the decision to go right and started moving—more like gliding along the walkway. “Why this way?” he asked.

“The door to the stairs over there has another light,” she said. “Let’s hope that access card works everywhere.”

They passed the machinery and slowed to watch for guards. Two were walking the bridges above them, and they had to wait until both moved on, out of sight. Ethan swiped the key card again and they opened the door to a set of metal stairs. His partner didn’t hesitate to climb them. Continue reading

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Ethan-Day 3: Go to the Light

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“Welcome to the Heaton Laboratory and Assembly Center,” the tour guide said. “As you know, Heaton has been a proud partner to the US government in providing the military with the latest in weaponry technology. Projects that will save countless lives are being researched in this building as we speak.”

More likely they were projects that would cost people lives, Ethan thought. His partner had her hand linked in the crook of his arm comfortably. She appeared to be completely absorbed in the tour guide’s lecture, but he suspected she was looking as vigilantly as he was for the next clue. The morning had been quiet. No clues. Burgstein, still with an entourage though of diminishing size, had gone with an earlier group, and one more tour from the conference would start in 10 minutes or so. If there was going to be a clue today, it was likely to be here at the weapons facility.

“Of course, much of the facility is restricted,” the tour guide was saying. “We wouldn’t want this technology to get into the wrong hands. We won’t be able to visit those areas. And I need to remind you that photographs of any type are prohibited. If any of you have not yet placed your personal belongings– including cellphones, in a secure locker, please do so now.” Everyone appeared to have already completed this step, so the guide directed, “Please follow me.” Continue reading

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Ethan-Day 2: Writing on the Wall

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She was already dressed for the night in the black tank top and pants, sitting on the bed cross-legged staring at the computer. It felt like déjà vu. Hopefully the computer meant that she had an idea. But first they’d have to get through the pleasantries of a fake conversation. “You’re still awake,” he said as he closed and bolted the door.

“Just barely,” she responded in a voice much more sleepy that she looked.

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you.”

“S’okay. How was the afternoon today?”

“I would have rather gone shopping,” Ethan responded dryly.

She laughed, both with her voice and her face. “That bad, huh? I’m sorry.”

“How was shopping? Did you get anything?” She reached over to the side of the bed and picked up a bag that crinkled loudly. Ethan looked inside. There was a peach colored dress folded neatly. “It’s…nice.”

“I only bought one thing. I know we’re trying to save money, but everyone else was insisting that I couldn’t leave empty handed, and it really was perfect,” she explained guiltily.

He saw the receipt in the bag, picked it up, and crinkled it a little for the sake of the bugs. Then he whistled. The agency was not going to appreciate that bill. Continue reading

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Ethan-Day 2:Watching the Winner

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“Major James! Good Morning. I don’t know if we’ve met. I’m Chance Smith.”

“With Aeromatics, correct?” Ethan asked letting his partner’s hand go so he could shake the man’s hand.

“Exactly! Great conference so far, don’t you think? This must be your wife.”

“Kathleen,” she said.

He shook her hand, but focused his attention on Ethan. “So how did the competition go last night? You must have blown everyone else away.”

Ah, so that’s why Chance Smith had pounced as soon as they appeared in the doorway. It also explained why more people were abandoning their half-eaten breakfast plates to come greet him. “I’m afraid I did quite poorly.”

Smith’s face visibly fell. Another couple, not much older than Ethan and Kathleen came up just in time to hear Ethan’s answer. “Sargent Reggie Black. This is the wife, Alison. I saw your round last night Major. Tough break.” Continue reading

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Ethan-Day 2: Three Words and a Shower

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Ethan woke up with a kink in his neck from sleeping on the too small couch. There was a soft light coming in through the crack in the drapes, just enough to allow the room to materialize around him. The hotel was silent. He couldn’t hear the sound of a TV in any of the near rooms, and there was no one opening or closing doors. He swung his legs around and stood up, stretching and rolling his neck until the kink worked itself loose.

She was asleep diagonally on the bed, bent so that her head just missed the pillows. She had never pulled down the blankets and the laptop was still open as if she had fallen asleep while working on the clue. Ethan was surprised at how young she looked. Looking at her now, it occurred to Ethan that she was probably the youngest agent he had ever known.

Given that she’d been up who-knows-how-long, Ethan decided to let her sleep, but he wanted to see if she had come up with anything on the targets. If not, they were in trouble because they couldn’t afford to get behind. He ease onto the bed, trying not to disturb her, but she didn’t stir.

He reached over and grasped the base of the laptop, but just as he lifted it, she shot out her hand, grabbing his wrist with more force than he would have thought possible. In one swift motion, she pulled his arm back painfully before Ethan had a chance to react. She was about to attack him when she froze, staring at him with fierce animal-like eyes, her breath heavy, and her jaw clenched. He decided it was best not to move. Continue reading

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