Thursday, January 19, 2006

Walking Death, Chapter 10

Frieda worked her way across the tarmac of Bennett Field. She changed a look back to toward the gatehouse nearest her entry point. She saw Rachel vamping to beat the band. This part of an infiltration was all about timing and not being where eyes were looking. Rachel owned the eyes of not only the guardhouse but of the patrolling pair that had just passed by. Captivation like that from a story of a broken down car just wasn’t natural. Frieda once again affirmed her desire to get that girl under mystic examination.

Liberty had provided travel passes for Rachel and Frieda to get past the Imperial checkpoints coming off Manhattan and into Brooklyn. The bored soldiers at the checkpoint barely looked at the Frieda while chatting up Rachel.

The dark gray sweater and pants she wore made her unremarkable. The canisters of gremlins were wrapped in cloth and packed in her shoulder bag.

The closer the time came to the mission, the more she regretted the tools chosen. Gremlins were the opposite of tools, they existed not only to break things, but also to make things go wrong. Worse, they had no loyalty. If one of the embodiments of bad luck got it into its head to be contrary, then she might find a jammed door or a breaking pane of glass alerting a guard. She would almost prefer to be carrying raw excelsiol. Almost.

She took cover in the shadows underneath a fuel truck. Hangar Twenty stood perhaps fifty yards away. Fifty yards of clear, lighted ground. There was no sign of a patrol, but their timing was erratic. She could have five minutes, she could have thirty seconds.

She broke cover before she could talk herself out of it. Long strides covered the ground as her hand gripped her set of lock picks. Eight seconds and she was kneeling by the doorway. The picks felt the workings of the lock. Tumblers fell, as did boot treads around the corner. Only discipline kept her heart in her chest as her fingers worked with new urgency. Steps came faster than the clicks inside. There were two strides approaching, a foot patrol. Frieda knew her life might be down to heartbeats.

The last tumbler slid out of the way and the knob turned. Frieda slipped inside just before the patrolling guards made it to the corner. She closed the door and eased the latch shut. She turned the lock an instant before the knob rattled. The guards never stopped their conversation about the latest football game.

Regaining control of her heart took a couple of moments. Looking about, she took stock of the hangar office. The desk was clean, but the floor safe looked promising.

First things first. She went into the hangar proper and opened the engine cowling of the first plane she came upon. Carefully, she directed the nozzle toward the distributor cap. An angry hiss escaped from the canister. Her curiosity ached to use her aetheric spectacles to see the gremlins infect the engine. More likely the gremlin would turn to feed on the magical energies of the device.

Infecting the rest of the planes took less than five minutes of careful work. A nagging doubt hung at the back of her mind about the malicious creatures she had just set loose. Her next step would be the test of that. The safe was more than they had planned, but she calculated that there must be plans on hand for the transfer of the Ambulamort. Any plan would have to have the origin of the compound.

In for a pfennig, in for a mark, she thought. She removed a stethoscope from her kit and set to work on the safe. The simple safe reminded her of her early years as a burglar. She smiled as the poorly lubricated gears clicked and springs slid. The safe was the work of only a few moments.

Inside was the treasure trove she had hoped for. The Ambulamort was arriving the next afternoon from a laboratory in Long Island. She memorized the address and returned the forms back into the safe, making certain that the dial was turned back to where she found it. After returning from this mission, she knew what her next stop would be.

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