The Next Emergency – 3

Andy trailed along behind Leon as they headed into the hotel, where they would be working for the next several days. They were being called upon to help with the security of some dignitaries that were due to speak at an upcoming meeting in the League of Nations. Since there had been threats made, OWL had been called upon to help with security.

Members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation were also on hand, for the same purpose. Andy was nervous about meeting people from another organization. He’d heard from his cousin how FBI agents could be towards people from Veligrad. Even if their government leaders were shaking hands and smiling at each other now, the war hadn’t been so long ago and people weren’t quick to forget those they’d once called “enemy”.

“All right, Andy Cap?” Leon breathed as he led the way to the front desk.

Andy gave him a weak smile. “I think I might be sick,” he admitted.

Leon stopped to frown at him. He set a hand on Andy’s shoulder as he looked into his eyes. “Take a few deep breaths while I find out where everyone is,” he said, his tone gentle. Even as Andy nodded, Leon pushed him towards a low overstuffed chair that was set off to one side.

Andy watched his partner step up to the desk clerk. Then, he closed his eyes and focused on his breathing. Mariya settled herself on his feet, near at hand if he needed the extra comfort that petting her provided. She gave a soft bark and his eyes flew opened.

“Sorry,” an older man with a full dark beard and warm brown eyes said. “I didn’t mean to startle her. I just… you seemed distressed.”

“You didn’t startle her,” Andy said, reaching down to smooth Mariya’s fur. He gave a weak smile. “She’s trained to warn me if anyone approaches me that might catch me unawares. I… was actually trying to not have a panic attack.”

Blinking, the man settled down in a nearby chair. “Are you all right now?”

“I believe so,” Andy said, nodding. He shrugged and then rubbed a hand over his brow. “We’re supposed to be working with a team of FBI agents and… I think I let my cousin’s horror stories about them get to me.”

“You’re one of the agents from the Organization for Worldwide Law-enforcement?” the man said, blinking.

Andy gave a nervous laugh. “You… would be with the FBI,” he said, nodding. That was just the sort of luck he would have, after all. Rubbing a hand over his brow, he released a sigh. Then, he stood and extended his hand. “Andriy Pavlovych Surikov, with the O.W.L.”

“S.S.A. Devin Lorenzi,” he replied, shaking Andy’s hand. “It’s nice to meet you, Agent Surikov.”

“Likewise,” Andy assured him. He waved towards Mariya and added, “This is my service dog, Mariya. My partner went to see where we were meant to check in with you and with the delegates we’re all meant to be escorting.”

“I was just sent to get the two of you, actually,” Lorenzi said. He smiled when Leon stepped over to them. “You must be Leon Reilly.”

“Nate told you about us?” Leon said, blinking in surprise.

Lorenzi smiled, a ready, easy expression. “Only the basics,” he said. Turning to Andy, he asked, “Ready to get going?”

Andy rubbed a hand over his brow. “Sure,” he breathed. He followed Lorenzi through the hotel lobby and to the doorway of a small room next to the hotel’s dining room. He blinked when he saw two familiar figures among the strangers.

He very nearly stepped into the room, but he froze just at the threshold, unable to move. He heaved a sigh. “Mariya, check,” he said, signaling the dog. She snuffled and headed into the room. She made a circuit, sniffing at all the corners. After giving a soft humphing bark at each of the agents to tell Andy they were armed, she returned to his side.

Secure in the knowledge that the only people in the room were those in plain sight, Andy followed Leon and Lorenzi inside. Then, he smiled faintly at the two surprising familiar figures. “Rory,” he said. “It’s so good to see you again.” He nodded politely and said, “Thorinn.”

“You know each other?” one of the agents said, frowning.

At the same time, Thorinn shook his head. “Andy! Leon! Whatever are you doing here?”

Leon chuckled. “We manage the Kinderhook Manor,” he said, shrugging.

“Where we celebrated our anniversary,” Rory said. He had a speculative look on his face as he added, “These agents said we were waiting for two enforcement agents from the Organization for Worldwide Law-enforcement… Yourselves?”

“Indeed,” Andy agreed. He glanced at Thorinn. “Managing the Manor is… sort of a cover story,” he explained. “Our organization uses it as a secure location for agents to lie low or take holiday.”

“It’s also a great way to raise some capital,” Leon said, nodding. Glancing at Andy, he said, “Like your books.”

After the explanation had been given, introductions were made. If the agents thought it was odd that their organization would keep a bed and breakfast or that they allowed someone like Andy in the field, they were too tactful to say so. Instead, the leader of the team, Agent Aidan Barcroft, simply set out explaining what security measures were already in place.

While he went over the details with Leon, Andy checked the room for listening devices or hidden cameras. He did find one camera, but it was obvious that had been put in place by the hotel itself. Once he’d verified that the room was secure, he returned to Leon’s side. “The notes that Nate gave us mentioned that there had been threats made?”

“We aren’t certain who would have cause to threaten Rory yet,” Thorinn said, nodding. “However, they are attempting to sway the vote on a certain matter by doing so.”

“That was why you were brought in,” Lorenzi said. “Our superiors felt that your organization had more experience in such matters than we did.”

“To what, exactly, is the vote pertaining?” Andy asked, shaking his head.

Thorinn heaved a sigh. “As it stands, there is currently one representative to the League of Nations from all Huldrafolk,” he said. His brows furrowed. “Some would prefer that representation was divided, either based on race or on geographical region.”

Rory spoke up, his voice soft, to add, “Thorinn is perfectly happy with how things currently stand.”

“But someone wants him to vote for more representation,” Leon guessed. When Thorinn nodded, his brows twitched. “Are they asking you to push for the former or the latter?”

For a moment, Thorinn simply frowned at Leon. His tone was curious as he said, “The latter. Do you think that may be significant?”

“If it was a matter of feeling that the current way of doing things failed to take the needs and desires of different races into account,” Leon said, “you might be someone they’d try to influence.”

“Because he’s married to a gnome,” Rory said, nodding. “They aren’t trying to get him to be sympathetic to their cause, however. They mean to force his hand.”

“Ask yourself: who would gain by having the representation divided by region,” Andy said, shrugging. “Whomever that is will, likely, be the one behind the threat.”

Agent Barcroft nodded. “That makes sense,” he agreed. Turning to Thorinn and Rory, he added, “I’ll have Armer begin looking into those parties.” Then, he nodded at Leon and Andy. “Meanwhile, Lorenzi and Authier can show you the meeting chamber. We’d like your opinions on the security measures we’re already taking for the talk.”

“Sounds good,” Leon said.

At that moment, Andy’s comm warbled and he pulled it out. After assembling it, he said, “Surikov here. Is that you Kim?”

“It is,” she said, her voice light and relaxed. “I just wanted to let you know that everything is fine in Brussels at the moment. It’ll be a while before they come back, but they’ll be back as a group.”

“Thank you,” Andy said. He heaved a sigh of relief. “That’s good news, Kim. Thank you for the update.”

“Not a problem, chickee,” she replied. Then, the comm went dead and Andy tucked it away once again.

“Problem?” Agent Barcroft asked, frowning.

Leon shrugged. “We’re not on the list of those fully informed,” he admitted. “However, the agents that were originally to be sent here were called away to deal with a problem in Brussels.”

Andy nodded. “A security team had been dispatched there from the Albany Field Office previously,” he added. He shrugged. “We’re a small field office, Agent Barcroft.”

“It’s nice that you were concerned for your co-workers,” Authier said, his voice low. “I’m glad to hear that they’re all right.”

“Actually,” Andy said, grimacing, “Kim just said they’d be back as a group, not that they were all right.” He looked at Leon. “Careful wording, yes?”

“Definitely,” Leon agreed. He glanced at Authier and shrugged. “No one was killed, but… someone was hurt and she can’t give us details, so… she didn’t say that in so many words.”

“It can’t be easy,” Dr. Caudill murmured, “having to read between the lines all the time.”

“It’s part of the job,” Leon said, shrugging.

Andy smiled. “For us, anyway,” he added. Then, he smiled at Lorenzi and Authier. “However, we have work to do here and, for the moment, our colleagues in Brussels must take a backseat to our current concerns.”

“Right,” Lorenzi said, waving towards the door. “We’ll show you the meeting room.”

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