Arguing Semantics – Part 3

The final part of the story…

**

“Well done, boys,” Nate said once they were settled in her office. She touched the micro-transmitter that was on her desk. “We’ll get this down to the Section Eight folks in Washington. If it does what they suspect, they’ll be able to locate the base this cell is working out of.”

Andy heaved a sigh of relief as he smoothed his hand through Mariya’s fur. “It wasn’t easy,” he told her. His brows furrowed. “You’ve got our reports?”

Nodding, Nate said, “The lab techs assure me that it won’t matter if they pack up and move.” She leaned forward to look into his eyes. “You did well, Andy Capp. Just accept the compliment.”

Andy blinked. “Andy Capp?” he repeated, when Nate smiled, he gave Leon a flat-eyed glare. “Does this mean everyone is going to be calling me that ridiculous nickname?”

Leon chuckled and shrugged. “It suits you so well, partner mine,” he said, his tone light and teasing. Then, he moved to his feet, hesitating while Andy followed suit. He arched his brows at Nate, who shrugged. Then, they headed out of her office.

As they were heading down the corridor towards their own office, Andy said, “What was that look for?”

“I was wondering if she was going to scold you for disobeying my order out there,” he murmured. When Andy looked up at him in surprise, he rolled his eyes. “I told you to get out of there.”

“You said to take off, if you were spotted,” Andy said, nodding. He smirked and shook his head. “I followed that order to the letter, Lyova. I took off and got into the car and then… I came back and picked you up – to prevent your capture and possible torture or murder by enemy agents.”

Leon chuckled again and shook his head. “Are you saying that I should have ordered you to leave me behind?” he said.

“If that was truly what you wanted,” Andy said, nodding. He strode into their office and headed over to his desk. After settling Mariya on her pillow, he settled down at his computer. In moments, his fingers were moving over the keys in a rapid, steady rhythm.

“Already getting to your writing for the day?” Leon asked, as he turned on his own computer.

Andy rolled his eyes. “I’m sending a message to my cousin, asking him about the micro-transmitter. Are they really going to be able to track down the cell, even if they pack up shop?”

Leon scowled at him and then asked, “What’s he say?”

Glancing over at Leon, Andy smiled tightly. “All past experience says they will be able to do so,” he said, nodding. He heaved a sigh and then got to work on the story he was editing. It was a children’s book with his dog and Leon’s cat as the main characters.

“Next time,” Leon said, his voice soft. “Leave me behind, Andy. I don’t want you killed because of me.”

“Neither do I,” Andy said, looking over at his partner. He smiled faintly and then shook his head. “I’ve the same training as you, Leon. Stop trying to protect me. I can take care of myself.”

For a moment, Leon looked as though he was going to argue, but Andy cut him off. “Partners watch out for each other. That’s not the same as you keeping me from danger.”

“Right,” Leon said, ducking his head.

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Arguing Semantics – Part 2

The second part of the story…

**

Leon was more than a little nervous as they made their way back to their vehicle. There were so many things that could go wrong. All it would take was one of the ACRE agents spotting them and it would be all over. With the news that she was having them look into Leon, that made it all the more likely they were actively looking for them by now.

“Listen,” he breathed, as they strode across the parking lot towards the car, “if they spot me, you take off.”

Andy glanced back at him with a scowl. “You can’t honestly believe I would leave you,” he said, shaking his head.

Grimacing, Leon said, “If it comes down to that, Andy Capp, you need to get that micro-transmitter to Nate.”

Andy bit his lip and turned away, quickening his pace. “I won’t like it, Lyova,” he breathed. “Hopefully, it won’t come to that.”

Leon heaved a sigh and glanced back. His eyes widened when he spotted two of the goons he’d spotted hovering around the local leader. “No such luck,” he said, turning back to Andy. “Go,” he snapped. “I’ll hold them off.”

Andy said something unkind in Veligradian, but he took off for the car at a run. Meanwhile, Leon spun around, drawing his sidearm. He ducked behind a nearby car as he fired off two sleep darts. The enemy agents dodged to either side and returned fire. Of course, their guns fired bullets, so glass shattered around Leon.

He heard the squealing of tires and he knew that Andy, at least, had gotten away. He nearly jumped out of his skin when a car flew up beside him and Andy yelled, “Get in the car, Leon!”

“Andy?” he rasped, but he didn’t hesitate. Instead, he dove into the backseat and tugged the door closed as Andy floored the gas pedal. There was another squealing of tires as Andy took off away from the scene.

Heaving a sigh, Leon sat up and hastily buckled his seat belt. “I told you to get out of there,” he snapped.

“You’re welcome,” Andy said, his voice strained. He glanced in the rear-view mirror, catching Leon’s gaze. “I told you that I wouldn’t like to leave you behind, Lyova. I meant it.”

“I wonder which is going to get you killed faster: your loyalty or your stubbornness,” Leon said. He glanced back and was relieved to see that no one was following them. Relaxing back into the seat, he ruffled his hand through his hair. “Thanks for picking me up,” he breathed.

Andy heaved a sigh and nodded. After a moment of silence, he began chuckling. It was a thin, almost hysterical sound. “Did you see the looks on their faces?” he asked, tears in his eyes. He shook his head. “I don’t suppose you did, but… it was classic, Lyova! They were completely caught off-guard by what I did.”

“One thing I’ve learned working with you, Andy Capp,” Leon said, chuckling softly. “Expect the unexpected.”

Arguing Semantics – Part 1

Another short piece featuring Andy and Leon…

**

“The first thing we need to do is get into her room, to check the safe for the micro-transmitter,” Andy said, his voice soft. “To do that, we need to make certain she doesn’t return while we’re searching.”

“I’ll distract her,” Leon said, his gaze going to the woman. He smiled as he turned back to Andy. “You can break in and find the safe. It should be easy enough.”

Andy frowned. “Why don’t I distract her, while you get the micro-transmitter?” he asked, shaking his head briskly. He refused to admit that he was jealous. That wasn’t the reason he didn’t want Leon to handle the distraction of the woman.

“You’re a thief,” Leon said, his tone reasonable. He shrugged. “You know how to get in and get out quickly and without leaving any sign that you’ve been there.”

“I’m not a thief,” Andy said, rolling his eyes. “I’m an acquisitions agent.”

Leon smirked. “The difference is…”

“Thieves steal things for fun and profit,” Andy said, crossing his arms over his chest. “I steal things when it’s necessary for my job. I’m not a thief. I’m just really good at acquiring things that aren’t mine.”

Chuckling, Leon said, “I’m very good at distracting beautiful women. Let’s play to our strengths. Shall we?”

“Fine,” Andy said, heaving a sigh. He pushed away from the wall, heading for the stairs. Before he got out earshot, he added, “Watch for me to return.”

“You got it,” Leon breathed.

Without looking back, Andy headed up the stairs from the lobby. He used the elevator to go the floor where his own room was. Then, he used the fire stairs to go down to the floor where the woman from ACRE was staying. He chewed his lip as he headed to her room. It was directly below their own, which made it easy enough to find. It also gave him a pat excuse if someone caught him on the way in: he had simply gotten the floor confused.

He made it into the room without difficulty. The hotel used keycards, but OWL technology made it easy enough to bypass that. He eased the door closed in his wake and scanned the darkened hotel room, searching for the hidden safe.

He started by checking behind the pictures in the room. He almost laughed when he found it behind a print of a vase of flowers on a table. Setting the print on the floor, he put his ear to the door. He was glad that the safe, at least, was the old-fashioned sort. That made cracking it a simple matter of listening to the tumblers.

He eased the door opened and grabbed the micro-transmitter. It looked exactly like the picture that Nate had shown them. Tucking it into his jacket, he closed the door and turned the dial back to zero. He was just replacing the print when he heard the door to the room click.

Tensing, Andy hurried to the window. In a heartbeat, he was on the ledge and edging away from it, just before the person entered.

“Find out who that man was,” their target snapped at someone. “I don’t like how friendly he suddenly was towards me.”

“Yes, ma’am,” a low voice replied.

Andy glanced up towards the floor above and back at the window he’d just come out. He didn’t hesitate another moment before he climbed up from the window ledge towards the next floor. He grabbed the window ledge for his own room and then gasped when someone grabbed his wrists.

“Sorry,” Leon said, his voice faint. He peered over the window ledge. “I couldn’t keep her downstairs any longer without arousing her suspicion.”

“Turns out, you aroused her suspicion anyway,” Andy said, as he let Leon help him climb up onto the ledge. Then, he swung into the room and set his feet on the floor. “I’ve got it. Might I suggest we leave before she realizes who we are?”

“Good idea,” Leon agreed.

Captured

Just a short story featuring my two little spies from NaNo 2017, Andy and Leon.  Do I need to warn you that there’s violence and such?  There is… but it’s not graphic.

**

“Well,” Andy said, glancing around, “this is a nice change of scenery.”

Leon frowned, his gaze sliding over to his partner. “It’s a prison cell,” he said, shaking his head.

Andy sighed. Meeting Leon’s gaze, he said, “I was being sarcastic?”

“Ah, yes,” Leon said, smirking. He looked through the bars at their captor. “I should have guessed that, really.”

“Being in a cell should be the least of your worries,” the man growled, locking eyes with Andy. “Tell me what you were doing here.”

Andy blinked. “I’m a writer,” he said, nodding. He was speaking slowly, as if their captor wouldn’t understand him otherwise. “Leon’s a photographer. We’re working on a book together. He was taking pictures of the local wildlife, which I intended to incorporate into my story.”

“Do you think I’m stupid?” their captor snapped.

Leon bit his lip and glanced over at Andy. The expression on his face was one of mild annoyance. It seemed like he was about two seconds away from saying that was exactly what he thought. Clearing his throat, Leon said, “It’s the truth!”

“You’ll have to forgive me if I don’t believe you, Mr. Reilly,” he growled.

Andy blinked and looked over at Leon. “I thought your name was Jones,” he said, his expression one of wide-eyed innocence. He shook his head. “Who’s this… Reilly?”

Leon shrugged. “Search me,” he said.

Rolling his eyes, Andy said, “They already did that!”

“Enough,” their captor snapped. He turned to one of his goons. “See if you can force the little one to talk. He looks soft enough that it should be easy to break him.”

Frowning, Leon watched as the goon strode into the cell. As he approached Andy, the smaller man shrank back in his chair. Leon bit his lip, struggling to read the other man. Was he only pretending to be afraid or not? He couldn’t say for certain it wasn’t an act, but he also knew that Andy was easily frightened.

“What are you going to do?” Andy asked, shaking his head. He blinked as the handcuffs locking him to the chair were loosened. Then, he was being half-dragged to the center of the cell. He squawked as he was lifted off the ground and his wrists were locked into shackles that hung from the ceiling.

Their captor smiled. “Let’s see how much it will take to get you to talk,” he said, drawing a whip out of seemingly nowhere. He stepped around Andy and began lashing at his back. The shirt dulled the sting of the whip, Leon knew. At the same time, it wouldn’t help for very long.

He met Andy’s gaze and was not surprised to see tears standing in the pale blue eyes. What did surprise him was that Andy didn’t make a sound through the entire beating.

Finally, when their captor paused, he said, “We’ve told you why we’re here. What… could you hope to accomplish by… this?”

For the first time, their captor’s confidence seemed to falter. Glaring at the goon, he said, “Get him down. We’ll give them some time to consider their fate.” Then, after Andy had been deposited on a nearby bed, they were left alone.

Leon was about to call out to Andy when the other man lifted his head and frowned at Leon. “Think they’re watching?” he breathed.

For a moment, Leon didn’t know what to say. He glanced around, trying to spot anything that might be a hidden camera or a listening device of some kind. Turning back to Andy, he shook his head. “I don’t think so,” he said, finally.

Nodding, Andy took a deep breath and pushed off the bed. He was a bit unsteady on his feet, but he made it to Leon’s side and made quick work of the handcuffs locked on his wrists. As Leon stood, he wrapped his arms carefully around Andy. “How did you do that?”

“Vector Training,” Andy said, giving him a tight smile. “That goon hits like a girl… or, at least, he’s not nearly so good at giving lashes as my handlers were. Shouldn’t we be on our way?”

“Definitely,” Leon agreed. He helped Andy over to the door and was surprised when Andy made quick work of that lock as well. Perhaps it shouldn’t be so surprising. After all, Andy was specifically trained as an acquisitions agent. Locks and safes of any kind were his specialty.

They moved quickly, but quietly and carefully down the corridor until they reached the exit. It was, naturally enough, guarded. Andy gave Leon a crooked smile. “I’ll take care of them,” he breathed.

“You sure?” Leon asked, his voice hoarse. Andy still didn’t seem all that steady on his feet.

Giving Leon a playful wink, Andy stepped out into the open. “Be ready,” he breathed. Then, he cleared his throat. As the guards turned to him, he smiled. “I say! Have you happened to spot my partner? I’m afraid I’ve quite lost him.”

Laughing, the guards advanced on him. “Why don’t we put you back in your cell and then we’ll find him for you,” one said. He chuckled again when Andy gave ground before them.

Leon watched as they moved past him, totally missing Leon’s presence. He was surprised but he didn’t waste Andy’s effort. He stepped out and grabbed the gun from one of the guards. He struck the man in the face with the weapon, as he turned to Leon.

As the other guard turned to Leon, he smiled. “So, you’ve found me,” Leon said. He arched his brow and added, “Hands on your head.”

Scowling, the guard did as Leon had ordered. Andy neatly disarmed him and then they tied him up, gagged him and put both guards in a convenient closet. “Might I suggest we hurry?” Andy asked, smiling wanly.

“Absolutely,” Leon agreed. He definitely didn’t want to linger in an ACRE base for too long. They slipped outside and moved across the yard to where there were several cars parked. Leon stood guard while Andy broke into one, which just happened to have the key tucked inside the ashtray.

Leon sat in the passenger seat, while Andy drove. When they neared the gates, which were guarded, Andy ducked downward and slammed his foot down on the gas pedal. They crashed through the gates under a hail of gunfire. Then, they were out and away. They drove at full speed until Leon felt certain they’d lost any pursuit. Then, he touched Andy on the sleeve. “You can slow down now,” he said.

Heaving a shaky breath, Andy nodded. The car slowed down to highway speed and they turned onto a main artery into the city. He smiled at Leon as they joined the flow of traffic. Then, he began chuckling softly. “When we get to a rest stop,” he said, “You’re going to drive. I need to lie down.”

“Sure thing, partner,” Leon said, nodding.

Happy Halloween

A little scene, in preparation for my NaNo.  The official writing starts tomorrow!

**

Leon loved Halloween.  It was so much fun!  There were costumes and parties.  Children roamed the neighborhood, ringing bells to ask for candy.  Scary movies were all over the television.  It was, hands down, his favorite holiday.  He was in a good mood as he strode into his office.

“Nice ears,” Angie called, grinning.  Before he could thank her, she added, “Nate wants to see you in her office.”

Frowning, Leon tugged off the cat-ear headband and dropped it onto his desk.  The only reason Nate would need him was if he had a mission.  “On Halloween?” he moaned.  “Really?”

About Ann Williams

This is the last character that I’m profiling from my upcoming NaNo…

First Impressions
Name: Ann Blakely Williams
Age: 30 years (Apr. 5)
Occupation: innkeeper
Summary: Loves a good challenge and has a natural skill with leadership.  She is very intelligent and uses her determination and sharp mind to achieve whatever goal she sets for herself.
Culture: Grew up in the big city and is used to the faster pace there, but has come to love the country life.

Loves
Family: none living
Friends: the women in her knitting circle
Romance: her husband, Henry
Things: the inn

Individuality
Flaws: dominant, sometimes impatient, can be intolerant, not always in touch with emotions
Graces: efficient, energetic, self-confident, strong willed, charismatic and inspiring
Quirks: something of a perfectionist
Skills: interior decorating, knitting, cooking, baking

Language
Diction: Speaks with crisp consonants and precise vowels; very careful with wording
Catchphrase: Don’t do that, honey.

Appearance
Body: somewhat short (5’4”), curvy form
Skin: lightly tanned
Hair: shoulder length dark red hair
Eyes: wide hazel eyes
Face: heart-shaped, fine features
Hands: small, stubby fingers
Unique Features: none
Movement: brisk, precise

Style
Fashion Style: chic
Colors: cool colors, browns, creams
Textures: silk and satin, velvet, smooth cotton, wool
Clothing: stylish jackets, slim line skirts and trousers, heels
Accessories: wedding band and engagement ring; locket her husband gave her
Entertainment: knitting, reading
Activities: hiking, cooking and baking

A drabble, to show a bit about her:

pie

Henry could smell a rich aroma as soon as he crossed the threshold.  A smile touched his lips as he headed into the kitchen.  Ann was just setting out the pies on the windowsill.

“Those smell good,” he said, coming up behind her.  He hugged her waist and pressed a kiss to her cheek.  “What’s the occasion?”

“Lizette will be here soon,” Ann said, smiling over her shoulder.  “I want to make a good impression.”

Henry hummed softly.  “Good idea,” he mused.  Frowning, he asked, “That doesn’t mean I can’t have some now, though.”

“When they cool,” Ann said, relenting.

About Henry Williams

Another character from my upcoming NaNo…

First Impressions
Name: Henry Williams
Age: 50 years (Sept. 15)
Occupation: innkeeper
Summary: Focused on the world around him, he takes his responsibilities seriously and is very dependable.
Culture: He grew up in the countryside and enjoys the slower pace that is typical there (as opposed to life in the city).

Loves
Family: a cousin who has three small children
Friends: none close, but friendly with everyone he meets
Romance: his wife, Ann
Things: the inn that he owns with his wife

Individuality
Flaws: inflexible, reluctant to improvise, worried about social status
Graces: warm and sensitive, very loyal, very personable
Quirks: randomly doodles on any available paper
Skills: accounting, business management, singing

Language
Diction: He tends to speak in a relaxed manner and uses a great deal of colloquialisms
Catchphrase: Is that so?

Appearance
Body: not very tall (5’7”); strongly muscled; in good shape for his age
Skin: lightly tanned
Hair: dark brown, somewhat messy; part on right side
Eyes: brown
Face: rectangular; firm brows
Hands: large, muscular
Unique Features: small but noticeable scar on chin
Movement: long, rangy steps; easy and relaxed in motion

Style
Fashion Style: casual
Colors: dark brown, black; jewel tones
Textures: smooth cotton, denims
Clothing: polo shirts, jeans, sweatshirts
Accessories: wedding band, wrist watch
Entertainment: reading, fishing, bird watching
Activities: running, hiking

A drabble featuring him:

apples

Henry smiled faintly as he watched Ann bustle around the hotel lobby, making certain that everything was perfectly set for when guests would arrive.  She set a basket of apples on the counter and placed a sign beside it.  “Help yourself,” the sign read.

“That’s a nice touch,” he said, nodding.

Ann smiled, shaking her head.  “I know you had fun picking apples with your cousin’s kids, Henry, but… Why did you have to get so many?” she said.  Then she headed over to adjust the logs by the fire.  “We’ll never eat that three pecks of apples, silly man!”

About Mary Carlisle

Another character from next month’s novel…

First Impressions
Name: Mary Carlisle
Age: 24 years (April 6)
Occupation: ornithology
Summary: sweet, outgoing, intelligent. She likes to be outdoors, in nature.  She’s a real country girl.
Culture: Born and raises in a small town in New York, she isn’t comfortable in the big city, where everything feels too close.  She likes the wide-open spaces and takes things at a slow, relaxed pace

Loves
Family: parents, large extended family
Friends: church, work, etc. she has loads of friends
Romance: husband (Robert)
Things: charm bracelet (Pandora type)

Individuality
Flaws: fiercely independent, unpredictable (not a planner), easily stressed, competitive
Graces: charming, sensitive, imaginative, curious, artistic
Quirks: left-handed, sneezes really loudly
Skills: trained in zoology, very good at knitting

Language
Diction: relaxed manner with a distinctly Upstate NY accent (sort of NYC, but not quite); uses a bit of country dialect
Catchphrase: Did you see that?!

Appearance
Body: slender, athletic build
Skin: fair, but tanned from being outside
Hair: long, blond
Eyes: blue
Face: oval, fine features
Hands: small, delicate
Unique Features: none
Movement: walks with big, heavy steps; somewhat clumsy

Style
Fashion Style: casual fashion style
Colors: browns, tans, greens, soft colors
Textures: soft knits (sweaters, etc.); brushed cotton
Clothing: tee shirts, jeans, sneakers; flannels, sweaters; relaxed skirts; turtlenecks
Accessories: wedding band, scarves, sunglasses
Entertainment: hiking, biking, boating
Activities: knitting, drawing

 

I almost forgot her drabble:

hat

 

“Do you think you’ll need another sweater?”

Mary smiled as she looked over at Robert.  “It’s not going to be that cold, silly,” she said, shaking her head.  Closing the lid to her suitcase, she added, “One will be enough, along with my coat, for cool mornings.”

Robert nodded and hefted her suitcase off the bed.  Stooping to kiss her, he said, “I wish I could go with you.”

“Next time,” she promised.  As she followed him to the door, she shrugged into her coat.  “What?”

“Bring my hat,” he said, settling the ballcap on her head.

She grinned.  “Sure!”

About Eduard Davis

First Impressions

Name: Eduard Davis
Age: 45 years (Mar. 3)
Occupation: scientist (expert in biochemisty)
Summary: social and generally cheerful; he’s a hard worker, with a direct and honest nature.  He’s not the sort to shrink from telling someone exactly what he thinks of them.
Culture: He was born and educated in Mexico, coming to the States later to follow his career.

Loves
Family: parents, sisters, large extended family
Friends: many friends, mainly among his colleagues
Romance: no one steady, yet
Things: walking stick (gift from parents)

Individuality
Flaws: can be stubborn, judgmental, focused on social status
Graces: loyal, patient and reliable
Quirks: very organized, tends to untie and retie his shoes if one lace gets loose
Skills: graceful dancer, trained in higher sciences

Language
Diction: He tends to use somewhat flowery and poetic phrases.  He speaks in a way that draws the listener in and makes them pay attention to him.
Catchphrase: You see what I mean, of course.

Appearance
Body: average height, athletic build
Skin: medium complexion, tanned
Hair: very dark brown
Eyes: brown
Face: oval, strong eyebrows
Hands: large, muscular hands
Unique Features: slight limp
Movement: graceful, confident; erect

Style
Fashion Style: vintage style
Colors: grays and blacks, some soft colors
Textures: soft wool and cotton
Clothing: fashionable suits with ties
Accessories: pocket handkerchief, flower at lapel, hat
Entertainment: theater (concerts, plays); fine dining
Activities: dancing, reading

Leon Jones

Another character for my upcoming NaNo…

First Impressions
Name: Leon Jones
Age: 32 years (Mar. 12)
Occupation: photojournalist
Summary: gregarious, street smart, flirtatious, snappy dresser
Culture: a farm boy by birth, but he’s worked hard to smooth off those rough edges.  He comes across as sophisticated and refined.

Loves
Family: parents, young sister, elder brother
Friends: Nathan Donavan (co-worker)
Romance: nothing steady or significant
Things: pocket watch that belonged to his grandfather

Individuality
Flaws: can seem arrogant, sometimes stubbornly close-minded
Graces: an honestly good man who wants to help others
Quirks: shoots his cuffs when frustrated, chatters when nervous
Skills: self-defense, sharp shooter

Cardinal Sin
Pride | Greed | Envy | Wrath | Lust | Gluttony | Sloth

MBTI
Extravert / Introvert | Sense / Intuition | Thinking / Feeling | Judging / Perceiving

Language
Diction: speaks in a precise, careful manner; faint Vermont accent
Catchphrase: I’m sure I’m right.

Appearance
Body: lower side of average height; average build
Skin: rather fair
Hair: dark brown
Eyes: brown
Face: chiseled features
Hands: long fingers
Movement: confident, certain

Style
Fashion Style: rather formal
Colors: more browns and blues than blacks and grays
Textures: soft, smooth fabrics
Clothing: suits with ties; khakis rather than jeans, polo shirts
Accessories: pocket watch, tie bar, pinky ring
Entertainment: theater (plays, ballet, opera), concerts
Activities: reading, photography

 

pumpkin

Leon was tired.  It had been a long and day.  He wanted to take a long bath.  As if he could just wash the problems of the day away.  He knew it wasn’t that easy.  It never was.

He opened the door of his apartment.  Then, as he closed the door, something rubbed up against his calf.  Chuckling, he flicked on the light.

A small marmalade tabby was rubbing itself against him.  It blinked up at him before returning its attention to his leg.  “Hey, Pumpkin,” he said.  Stooping, he lifted the cat into his arms.  Life wasn’t so bad.

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