that’s because we’re intelligent

“HumInt?” Chris said. His brows furrowed and he looked at Keenan. “Why do they call it that?”

“Because,” Keenan said, grinning. “It’s people gathering the data, rather than machines or computers or what-have-you.”

“Why?” one of the visitors asked, “What do you call it?”

Chris smiled faintly and said, “Usually, we call it foreign research.”

When the visitors looked at them in surprise, Keenan grinned. “We call it that because we’re clever,” he said. “We don’t want to tip our hands, ya know?”

“I thought we called it that because we were sneaky,” Bertram said, his voice soft. He shrugged. “We almost never refer to our agents as ‘Agent’, either.”


Shoes to Fill

Chris felt a moment of nervousness as he stepped into the Team Alpha offices. These people had been working together for… years now. Each of them had been handpicked by Keenan. How would they feel about a new team leader?

Llewellyn was the first to notice his arrival. He poked Hollis on the shoulder. “Look ye,” he said. “Survey that countenence. Does it not speak of trepidation?” He looked at Chris then and shook his head. “Why should ye fear us, good sir?”

Blinking, Chris shook his head. “I’m sorry… what?” he managed.

Hollis chuckled and then smiled at him. “That’s Llew’s way of asking why you’re so nervous,” he said. The smile turned impish and he added, “Only one of us ever bit and he’s been promoted.”

“Aye, under Peter’s Principle, perchance?” Llewellyn teased. He rose and brushed himself off, then. “But come, and I will show ye to your office.”

Chris bit his lip and nodded. He followed the elf into a side office. It was sparse – just the standard furnishings. Keenan had taken all his personal belongings with him to his new office. As Llewellyn left him alone, Chris spotted a sheet of paper on the desk.

He stepped across the room and lifted the paper off the smooth wooden surface. It was a note – to him, from Keenan. “Chris,” it read, “Don’t worry about trying to fill my shoes. I’ve got small feet. Llew and Holl are my friends from way back, so they know how much I actually am looking forward to this. You won’t get any grief from them.

“Michael and Jewel are a couple. They both work surveillance, so that works out fine. Just poke them every once in a while and make sure they aren’t distracting each other. Harmony’s a bit squirrelly, but you’ll get used to her. That comes of working forensic magic – something in it makes you eccentric.

If you need any advice on how to handle a situation, feel free to shoot me a line. I think you’ll do just fine, though.”

Chris sighed and then chuckled softly as he saw the way Keenan had signed it, “Keenan, who is now the boss of all of you!”

As he was setting the note aside, the telephone rang. He bit his lip and lifted the handset to his ear. “Chris Starbright, Team Ga-Alpha,” he said, remembering the change at the last second.

“Your team has a mission,” the director said, his tone brisk. “Your tech person has the details.”

“Yes, sir,” Chris said. As he set the handset back down, he called, “We got work.” It was something he’d always done as Team Gamma’s tech. It made no sense to stop doing it now, when he was a team leader.


“Hey,” Chris started, as he entered the gallery. His words died on his lips. Ezra was sitting his desk, his arms folded and his head down. His brows furrowed and he stepped over.

It only took a moment for him to realize that the former thief wasn’t harmed. He was sound asleep. A faint smile touched his lips. “You work too hard,” he murmured. Then he turned away and slipped out of the main room. He knew there was a blanket around the place somewhere.

He opened a few cupboards and cabinets before he found it. Ultimately, he was spread out on a low couch in Ezra’s little workshop area. He returned to the gallery area. Silently and gently, he set the blanket over Ezra’s shoulders.

The younger man murmured something and he smiled. “I help whenever I can, Ezra,” he whispered. “You know that.” His conversation could wait until Ezra woke.

A Dark and Dozy Day

Connor hated days like this. He sighed and stared out the window at the gray clouds that hung over the city. Shaking his head, he looked away from the window. Devin yawned deeply and he nodded. “Me too,” he said.

“Hmm?” Devin rubbed his eyes and then relaxed in his chair, kicking his feet up onto the desktop. “You too what?”

“I’m tired,” Connor said, smiling faintly.

Chris leaned against the doorjamb of his office and said, “It’s the sort of day for a nap – dark and gloomy. I’m always more tired when it’s cloudy.”

A Promise Broken

The members of Team Alpha had already been over the with a fine-toothed comb. Nearly the entire floor was taped off, marking it as an active crime scene. The members of the team watched as the leader for Team Alpha arrived with a smaller man in tow.

Ezra was frowning. He looked around and sighed. Then, he turned to Chris, arching an eyebrow. What’s this, then?” he asked, his tone laconic.

“We know that she was taken from apartment and that brought her down the hall to this landing,” Chris said. “After that, we lose them.”

A slight scowl touched Ezra’s lips. He looked down the corridor and then down the steps. “Lose them?” he said, blinking.

Chris shrugged. “The tracks vanished,” he said. “We can’t find a trace of them with mundane forensics.”

Nodding, Ezra drew out a wand. He traced a sign in the air and then frowned. He turned to look down the corridor once more. He seemed to be watching something that only he can see. His brows furrowed and he moved slowly down the steps, as if in a trance. Chris followed silently behind him.

Chris stopped on the bottom steps as Ezra reached the window. As he watched, Ezra tilted his head and then opened the window. He leaned his head out the window to look downward at the alleyway.

For a moment, he was silent. Then, he turned back to Chris once more. There was a bit of tension in his voice as he said, “She was taken straight out this window,” Ezra said. “I suspect a car was waiting in the alley below.”

Brows furrowing, Chris said, “Do you know anyone in Keller’s organization capable of something like this?”

“No,” Ezra said quickly. He bit his lip and added, “He tends to recruit people with non-magical supernatural abilities – like Devin has.”

Chris nodded, but he was frowning slightly. They stared at each other for a moment, then, Chris turned away and headed down the steps. Ezra sighed and looked out the window. Then, he shuddered and hurried after Chris.

Broken promises

Just as with the other team, he followed the trace to the landing. However, his tracing continued down the steps. Scowling, Ezra moved down the steps. Chris followed, scowling slightly to hide his pleasure. Ezra had proven useful after all! Haruko was wrong on two counts now!

Ezra stopped at the next landing and frowned at window. He pushed it upwards and peered out. The assailant had taken the kidnapped informant out the window to the alley outside. How was that possible?

No sooner had he thought the question, but Ezra had the answer. He knew someone who was capable of such feats. The only problem was: Severin was supposed to be dead! He took a steadying breath and schooled his features. Then, he turned to regard Chris.

“She was taken straight out this window,” Ezra said. Glancing back at the window, he added, “I suspect a car was waiting in the alley below.”

“Do you know anyone in Keller’s organization capable of something like this?” Chris asked, his brows furrowing. He peered out the window and then looked back at Ezra.

Ezra shook his head. “No,” he lied. He’d promised to deal straight with Chris. He’d just broken that promise. He flinched inwardly, then, he added, “He tends to recruit people with non-magical supernatural abilities – like Devin has.”

Chris nodded. He kept his features carefully schooled. Ezra wasn’t telling him something. Whatever it was, it scared him badly enough to make him break his promise. Somehow, Chris had a feeling he’d need to find a way to get that information. Otherwise, things could be much worse for Ezra.

Only later would Chris learn how right he was.

Curious fears

Ezra was staring, frowning, at Chris. The expression on his face told of intense curiosity mixed with disbelief and suspicion. “You’re making that up,” he said, after several moments.

Chris shook his head. “People can’t control what they’re afraid of, Ezra,” he said, blushing just a bit. “I know it’s silly. I just… I can’t help it!”

Nodding, Ezra said, “I suppose that makes sense. I just… I can’t imagine anyone being afraid of something like… a rabbit. They’re so cute!”

“With big teeth and really strong back legs,” Chris said. He actually looked tense. Perhaps he wasn’t kidding after all.

Leaving Home

“Are you sure you want this?”

Raven adjusted her grip on her bag, nodding. “Chris,” she said, taking his hand in hers. “I’ve thought this over. I’m never going to get anywhere if I stay here. You’re just… I don’t blame you, but I’ll always just be your little sister, if I stay here.”

Chris sighed. “I suppose,” he said, nodding. He pulled her into an embrace, then. “Keep in touch.” As he released her, he smiled. “Kit’s a good man and I know you know your job. I’ll just miss you, ya know?”

“I’ll miss you too, big brother.”

Life is full of horrors

Chris looked up when he heard an ear-piercing shriek from the other room. His brows furrowed. “Connor,” he called, “are you all right?” He was just standing and heading for the door when Connor flew into the room and buried his face in Chris’s chest.

Blinking, Chris set his hands on Connor’s shoulders and eased him back. Looking into his face, he said, “What’s wrong?”

“It – it came out of the drain!” Connor shrieked.

Scowling, Chris moved to the other room and frowned. A large, nasty looking spider was perched on the edge of the sink. He bit his lip to keep from grinning. “That spider came up out of the drain?” he asked.

Connor made a soft whimpering sound. “It was horrifying,” he whispered. “I tried to wash it back down, but… it came back up.”

“I’ll take care of it,” Chris said.

Connor patted his shoulder. “Be careful,” he said. Then, he hurried away. As he disappeared into the other room, he called, “Tell me when it’s dead.”

A work in progress

Chris tilted his head to one side and looked at the painting. It looked as if Ezra had gotten partway through the work and just decided to stop for no apparent reason. There were parts of it that were only lined out in pencil. Other sections had paint applied, but they were obviously incomplete, since they lacked the detail he normally gave his work. Only the lower right corner looked as if he’d actually decided to finish it.

“It’s called Reflection,” Ezra said, from just behind Chris. When Chris looked up, Ezra smiled. “I noticed you scrutinizing it.”

“Why didn’t you finish it?” Chris asked, shaking his head.

A faint smile played as Ezra’s lips. “It’s a bit of symbolism on my part,” he said, his own gaze going to the piece. “It’s a reflection of… me and… I feel as if I’m still growing and changing. I’m constantly learning new things and pushing myself to take that next step.”

Chris blinked as he realized what Ezra was saying by leaving the piece so obviously unfinished. “You’re a work in progress.”

Ezra nodded, his faint smile growing into a bright grin. “Precisely,” he murmured.

Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries