214 - Love is the Drug

Alycia Chin has been hard at work. She and SNOWMAN booked a pair of hotel rooms in Khartoum. Agent 1337 is working out of some kind of van, which they drive around the neighborhood to pirate good wi-fi. Nobody knows where Hot Mess is staying, but she’s around. Outside the window, Isbitalia Street is alive with traffic.

Alycia chose this particular location for two reasons. First, the University of Khartoum Faculty of Pharmacy is a block away, and there’s a hospital one block further. Second, it’s in a location Jason probably wouldn’t think to check for her. His messages have been getting increasingly and obnoxiously emotional. “I worry about you.” “I hope you’re doing okay.” “Whatever is going on, you have my support, but it would be nice to hear from you.”

I have to do this on my own. I can’t just keep running to a Quill when the evil Chin family needs to be stopped. This is how it is.

Aside from those reasons, she chose Khartoum precisely because it had no significance to the group’s mission. There are no important assets here, no individuals important to the mission. That’s the only way to stay out of her father’s omniscient eye.

Achilles and Pyrrhus Chin, in their video call with her in Mexico, didn’t - physically couldn’t - react with the same speed as a face-to-face conversation. But it was an interactive call. The speed of light is a constant, and electronic communications like video chats are ultimately limited by it. Even digital data is subject to limits in how many times you can bounce it around the planet before it degrades. With these factors, Alycia has been calculating a minimum and maximum distance where the call could have come from.

She thumps on the connecting door to get SNOWMAN’s attention, since she wants a second opinion on her conclusions. The door opens, revealing the robot boy stuffing his face with falafel.

“What are you doing?” she demands.

“Eating. Alex found this street cart with basically chicken tendies and french fries and ranch in a tortilla. It’s like a buck a wrap. So good.”

“You know that my father’s empire is trying to kill us, right?”

SNOWMAN shrugs. “He’s welcome to try. A man’s gotta eat.”

“You’re a robot boy, you do not have to eat.” Alycia emphasizes “boy” out of pure spite and annoyance.


SNOWMAN tries to shut the connecting door, but Alycia stops it with her hand. “Come check my data for me.”


Alycia spends twenty minutes explaining signal analysis, Chin family strategy, and her own assumptions about what happened on that call. At the end of it, the two geniuses agree on her major points. First, that strike had been intended to be lethal, but that Achilles Chin had accounted for the chance of failure. Second, the presence of her father and previously unknown brother in the same physical location probably meant it was an important base of some kind. Third, the potential search area was still a fraction of Earth.

Alycia states her conclusions with a heavy sigh. “We’ve got one set of data. We’ll need another line to my father, if we’re going to find him. And that’s just my father. I know him well. Pyrrhus, my new brother, is a total unknown. Did my father mold him the way he molded me? Or am I a failure, or an experiment, and he is different?”

Alycia’s gun comes out, and she whips it toward the hotel window. After a few seconds, Hot Mess peeks inside. “Hey gang.”

“How did you get up here?” Alycia demands.

Hot Mess holds up a specialized pistol as she crawls her way into the room. “Grappling hook.”

“Where did you get that?”

“Took it from a hero.”

“When did you run into a hero?”

“When I was robbing the bank.”

Alycia stands up from where she’s been sitting, and holsters the gun. “You were robbing. A bank?”

Hot Mess rolls her eyes. “No duh. I’m a villain, s’what I do.”

“What you’re doing is calling attention to us.”

“Nah, it’s cool. Pyrokinetic powers are pretty common, and I used a different skill set here. No hostages, no nothing. Burn my way through an underground tunnel wall, check. Burn my way up through the floor, check. Lure some broody guy in black robes to follow me, check. Get his gun and knock him out, double check. Now he’s gonna waste time hunting me, instead of the local villains. Just another day for a master villain.”

Alycia sighs and tosses her arms up in an angry shrug. “Fine! Fine. Any heat?”

“Just from my powers, ha ha.” Hot Mess peeks around the room, sniffs, locks onto SNOWMAN’s remaining falafel supply and heads into his room to steal some.

“That’s surprising.”

“Relax, boss lady. I robbed the Egyptians. Nobody minds them losing money around here.”

The British had invaded Sudan in the 19th century to “protect” the Nile from the French, and before that the Khedive of Egypt had invaded to take slaves for his armies. Sudan’s independence wasn’t recognized until 1956. Alycia can imagine how people feel.

“Fine. I assume you’re donating your haul to the cause?”

Emma comes back from SNOWMAN’s room with a falafel in each hand. “After subtracting everything this little joint venture has cost me personally, sure, why not?”

SNOWMAN interjects. “Back on topic. I think your next move is to do what AEGIS had already done - do signal analysis, try to spot a Chin-like pattern, follow up, survive your dad’s inevitable assassination attempt, get another line on him.”

Alycia glares, but knows he’s not wrong. “Let’s call the others.”

A shared call comes online, with Alex in their van and Nono presumably at her home in Halcyon. Alycia explains the plan.

“Unfortunately, we can’t compete with AEGIS in terms of SIGINT. They have massive taps on international Internet traffic, and equally potent computing power.”

Everyone’s quiet, until Alex pipes up. “We move to Hong Kong and take over a cryptocurrency mining farm.”

“We what?” asks Nono.

The others on the call can practically hear Alex warming up for a recital of their own awesomeness. “Cryptocurrency mining farms. These guys get a huge amount of computing power together to do complicated math. It’s a big money laundering scheme, as usual, but they’ve got the assets we need. The friendliest countries for this business are China, Venezuela, Georgia, and Canada. Of those, China has the biggest coast and hence the best data pipeline. So we take over a crypto farm, have SNOWMAN go diving to put a tap on the pipe, and start sniffing.”

If nothing else, Alycia is impressed by the audacity of this move. “Okay. How long to put together the kit to do that?”

“Three weeks,” says Alex over the call. “That should give you time to arm yourselves and roll up on some nerds.”

“Um, guys?” Nono’s voice is timid. “Are you… are you talking about… um, just, y’know, hurting people and taking their stuff? That sounds kinda, uh, bad guy-ish.”

“Sometimes people do bad things for good reasons,” Alycia admits. “The rest of us are struggling with what we’ve done in the past, Nono. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this here, I understand. This is the reality of the world of spies and secret agents, but you don’t have to be a part of it if you don’t want.”

There’s silence, and Alycia takes that as a refusal. “Okay. Let’s make arrangements. Emma, see if your contacts can get us some guns and tac gear. Alex, work on the pipe tap. SNOWMAN, get over to Hong Kong and scout us some guys to hit. I’ll start working on identities, passports, and the logistics.”

The call ends, and the team breaks up to commence its grim business.

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Night has come to Khartoum. Like any big modern city, there’s too much light pollution to properly see the stars. Alex and SNOWMAN are on the roof of the hotel, trying anyway.

“Any regrets?” SNOWMAN asks at last.

“The falafels? Nah, I took those like a champ. The lemonade was great too.” Alex laughs.

“No, no… I mean, what we’re doing.”

Alex turns to regard their less-than-willing partner from AEGIS. “Listen. If we were handling this the company way, it’d still end up being just as messy and violent. It’d still be America throwing its weight around. Sure, we’d have to run a plan past the superiors. We’d be worrying about budgets and clearances. We’d be doing due diligence. But y’know? At the same time, it’d be the same thing it always is. Men with guns, going and doing things someone else doesn’t want done.”

Alex takes their sunglasses from a breast pocket and starts fidgeting with them in one hand. “Parker, and Alycia, both have the right idea. We can’t move with the same agility when working through AEGIS. We don’t have to pretend to honor the false sanctimony of a governmental organization. This is the hacker ethos, man. It’s the way things get done.”

SNOWMAN sighs into the night air. “That’s also how villains do things. Like my dad.”

“Yeah, but it’s refreshing, ain’t it? It’s… liberating. Clarifying. We’re here to stop a villain, they’re in hiding, we have to root them out. Where are we going to root but among other bad guys?”

“It’s addictive,” counters SNOWMAN. “It’s addictive in a bad way. You start off doing the right thing, by anyone’s account. But pretty soon you make compromises. You justify them. Pretty soon, your mind conflates whatever you’re doing with ‘the right thing’, so anything you do is okay.”

“Like stalking your robot girlfriend?” Alex asks slyly.

“Shut the fuck up.”

The pair are interrupted by a phone call from Hot Mess. “Alex, Nono just called me. She’s in a really bad way.”

Alex glances at SNOWMAN. “Well, I mean, talk her through it best you can, yeah…?”

“She’s at Khartoum International.”

Alex sits up. “Okay. Listen. I’m going to dispatch SNOWMAN to pick her up, and I’ll monitor from here. Keep her on the line so I can track her. Got it?”

“Got it.”

SNOWMAN finds Nono Rodriguez curled up in a sobbing ball, being watched by baffled Sudanese authorities. He makes an excuse about picking up a relative, and they’re all too happy to put this troublesome white girl into the care of someone not them.

With Nono in his arms in a bridal carry, he phones Emma. “I got her. She’s unresponsive. This isn’t dissociation, it’s more like cataplexy. How do you refocus her?”

“Fire. Let her look at something that’s burning.”

SNOWMAN exits the airport and looks around for his options. He’s in the parking lot, and there’s plenty of cars here. Fine. He leans Nono up against one of them, then fetches some newspaper from a nearby recycling can.

Fire, fire, a source of fire. There’s no lighters nearby, of course, so SNOWMAN forcibly pries up the hood of the car, grabs the jumper cables off the battery, and sparks a fire himself. The newspaper alights, and he carefully cradles it in his hands and approaches Nono.

The girl’s gurgling calms itself, and her eyes start to focus. SNOWMAN listens to her breathing stabilize, and sees her muscles re-engage.

“Emma’s on her way,” he says, once he feels confident that she can process what he’s saying.


SNOWMAN shakes his head. “No. Call me John. Okay? I’m John.”

“John… I’m sorry…”

“You’re okay, we’re glad you’re here,” says SNOWMAN. The newspaper is burning faster than he expected. She’s sort of focusing, but he can see it’s unsteady. He can’t just leave her here and find something else, or he might lose the progress he’s made. Carefully, so as not to disrupt the hand holding the burning paper, he reaches for his shoulder and rips his sleeve off with the other hand. The fabric comes free in the face of robot strength, and he delicately ignites one end of it. It’s a wool shirt, a nice local one made from high-grade Sudanese cotton, but he can buy another one.

Emma pulls up on a rented motorcycle by the time the sleeve is halfway burned, and kneels down in front of Nono, taking over fire-making duties. “You okay, kiddo?” she asks with a softness SNOWMAN has never heard from her.

“Yeah. I’m… I’m okay.” Nono has regained herself, and reaches out to clasp Emma’s arm. “I made a mess of everything, I made you all worry…”

“Shh, shh, you know I don’t stress about anything,” Emma whispers. “I’m carefree and fun and I do what I like, and what I like is seeing you, don’t I.”

“I guess…”

“Alright. Well, kiddo, you’re in Khartoum. Sounds like Cartoon. There’s good food here, and we got a hotel, and you’re gonna come stay with me there for awhile. Okay?”


Emma glances at SNOWMAN. “How’d you get here, space cowboy?”

“I flew.”

“Well then ride my bike back. The hotel address is on the key ring. I’m gonna call a taxi for us.”

“Got it.”

SNOWMAN and Alex are back to their stargazing on the roof, this time with a bucket of deep-fried cheese between them. The others are in Alycia’s hotel room.

Once Nono seems well enough to be grilled, Alycia has begun grilling her. “How did you get here?”

“I took an airplane…”

“How did you pay for the ticket?”

“I didn’t have a ticket…”

“How did you get on a plane then?”

Nono tears up. “I don’t wanna talk about it, I don’t know, I don’t know…”

Emma intervenes, putting a hand firmly on Alycia’s chest and pushing her back. “Ease up.”

“We could have been traced here,” argues Alycia. “This is bad OPSEC. I need details.”

'You are so paranoid–"

Alycia holds up a hand for silence. The squeals of SUVs coming to a stop can be heard on the street below.

“We’re made,” she announces immediately. “Up and out. Go bags.”

She turns to Nono. “It’s now or never, Nono. Shit just got real. You with us?”

Nono, eyes still teary, grabs what looks like a nicotine patch out of her bag and slaps it onto her arm. Alycia watches her pupils dilate, watches her entire posture change, watches Nono become someone else. “With you,” she announces with an uncharacteristic confidence.

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Alycia fights to keep her stress under control. There’s an imminent attack, and Nono isn’t herself. Is she compromised? Brainwashed? What did she just dose herself with? Was that caused by a post-hypnotic suggestion? She doesn’t have time for the thoughts. Instead, she grabs hold of her phone and dials Alex.

“Where are you two?”

“On the roof. Some dudes just pulled up–”

“I know. We’re burned, what’s our exit?”

She turns, phone in hand, to see a masked face appear at the window. She knows there’s people with guns on the way up through the interior of the hotel. This one must have climbed the wall. But before she can clear her gun from the holster, Nono has grabbed hold of the desk lamp and thrown it at the masked head. There’s a grunt of pain, and the man falls.

“I’ll seal the door!” shouts Emma. She tosses the mattresses off the beds and grabs the metal frames.

Alex is on the phone. “SNOWMAN’s coming down on grapples,” they report, voiced interspersed with the sound of gunfire.

Alycia pulls her piece out and slings her pack over her shoulders. Nono already had her own backpack in reach, and Alycia is both surprised and pleased to see she automatically goes for Emma’s, now sitting near the hotel door where Emma herself is working.

SNOWMAN is at the window, swaying gently as bullets ricochet off his invulnerable android shell. “Got a few shooters downstairs,” he says unnecessarily. Alycia responds by tossing a smoke grenade from her pack to him, which he catches and just as deftly tosses downward.

Smoke fills the street, blocking line of sight to the gunmen there. With their immediate problem solved, Alycia snaps her fingers to grab Nono’s attention, and gestures over and up. Nono goes for SNOWMAN, and he hauls her up.

Alycia spares a glance at the door while waiting for her own ride. Emma is focusing her pyrokinetic power into a spot weld, using the bed frame as raw material to build a cage that’ll firmly wedge the hotel door shut against intruders. Just in time, too. Alycia hears the sound of shotguns being fired, and watches the latch blown off the door.

“Go, go,” she hisses at Emma, and the girl doesn’t need to be told twice. SNOWMAN is waiting, and as the two of them ascend, Alycia levels her pistol at the door.

Seconds pass, despite furious battering and muffled voices from outside. Alycia’s grip on the pistol stays steady, her eyes stay focused, her breathing stays rhythmic.

“All aboard,” she hears SNOWMAN call. A moment of judgement comes and goes - she’s clear to leave, there’s no danger she needs to hold off here, and so she lowers the weapon, spins, runs, holstering her gun again in a smooth motion timed with the pace of her sprint, leaps out the window, tucking to avoid hitting a limb on the frame, trusting trusting trusting SNOWMAN to grab her.

He does, and the two of them speed to the roof.

Alycia’s hyper-clarity is usually a good thing. Right now, it’s telling her things she wishes it wouldn’t.

I know why I work alone

I know why I hate leadership

I know why I push them away

When their lives are in my hands, I care I care I care so much, I get scared, I get protective, I get weak like my father hated

I can’t stop caring about the people I’m leading, and my father hated that I cared

That’s the paradox, that’s why I’m struggling with this team

The smoke is clearing. Alycia is pretty sure the opposing force will come for the roof next, but Emma has already started work on securing the far sturdier roof access door - not a handsome wooden hotel room door, but a slab of metal, and easily welded shut.

Alycia takes a breath and lets herself fall into the instincts of the moment. “SNOWMAN, start getting us across the street. 1337, get us a route out of Khartoum. Agent M, nobody comes through that door.”

Now is the time her uncertainties must be addressed. She decides to suss out her suspicions with direct questions. “Agent R, analyze the situation and report.”

To her considerable surprise, Nono is ready. “Four SUVs parked on the street. Maximum of 32 to 36 shooters based on seating capacity. If they split fifty-fifty, that’s 16 shooters covering the street and street-level exits, probably 8 on the hotel, probably 8 coming up for us.”

A novice’s idea of fieldwork. Nono lacks the experience in operations like this to really draw accurate conclusions, Alycia realizes. But what she’s got is a clear head in a stressful situation. The patch? A drug? She has spare seconds to ask.

“The drug patch, what’s in it?”

Nono recites a complicated chemical formula, too fast for Alycia to really catch it. But the important thing is her summation. “Listening to Bazar taught me how to make a drug that induces flow state.”

Holy shit.

“Side effects?”


God dammit. Nono, what have you done to yourself?

“Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, Zip-A-Dee-Eh, my oh my, our escape is this way,” reports Alex. Alycia decides questioning can resume later, and gestures to Emma and Nono.

SNOWMAN has anchored his grapples between the roof of the hotel and the University of Khartoum’s private garage. Alex is passing out zip-lines to everyone ready to evacuate. Emma gestures for Nono to go ahead of her, then follows. Alex goes next, and Alycia follows.

The five operators huddle silently in the NEMT van. Emma, Alex, and Nono are packed into the wheelchair loading area in the back, with Alycia and SNOWMAN up front. They listen to the sound of police sirens passing by on the street.

Alex is listening to radio chatter on an earpiece. “Local fuzz had their station power cut. Someone was pretty serious about hitting us. Cops are chasing black unmarked SUVs but are facing uh, considerable difficulty. Sorry, the auto-translation from Arabic is kinda rough.”

“I speak it.” Alycia beckons for the earpiece, and listens in. After a few minutes she nods. “Alright. I think we’re okay to move. 1337, what’s our route out of here?”

“They’re probably watching the airports and the roads. I found us a cargo train running north to Wadi Halfa, and from there we can get into Egypt. From the Aswan Airport we can get to Cairo, and make connections to wherever.”

Alycia nods. “Fine, just give me directions.”

Alex grins. “We’re gonna need to drive this van off an overpass and survive the landing onto a rail car. Think you can do that?”

Alycia rolls her eyes. “It’s me.”

From the back of the van, she can hear Nono starting to cry.

The patch must have worn off.

Emma is already comforting her, in that whispering tone of hers.

Nono, we are going to have a conversation about this dangerous gambit of yours.

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Interpol Inspector Lee Yan runs a hand through her spikey black hair. She reaches for her coffee mug, realizes she’s got an empty dirty one, reaches for the clean hot one that’s full of life-giving caffeine. Her eyes stay glued to the screen in front of her.

“Whatcha got?” asks a coworker.

“Sudanese police reported an attack on a tourist’s hotel in Khartoum. Lots of anonymous gunmen. No arrests. Some injuries, no casualties, on the cops’ side. One of the attackers fell out of a window but had safety gear on, so they’re being taken to a hospital.”

“Why’d it come to us?”

Yan’s eyes flicker across the reports on her screen. “This was a hit squad, not kidnapping. A well-prepared fireteam. Police interviewed the hotel staff. The attackers went for a room occupied by a group of college kids with American visas. The Sudanese reached out to the American embassy, who called the FBI, just in case.”

The coworker laughs. “Why would a hit squad go after a bunch of American college kids?”

“That’s not what bothers me.”

Yan’s steady gaze stays fixed on the glowing letters on screen. “What bothers me is that they didn’t succeed.”

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The battered medical van has seen better days. So have its inhabitants. The clacking of the train wheels on rails provides a soothing background for their recuperation.

SNOWMAN is asleep. The lazy bum, Alycia silently grouses. She’s in the seat next to him, fully aware that she’s being bitter and snippy and emotional, and fully okay with that. She glances into the back. Emma and Nono are curled up together, similarly asleep under the thermal blanket the group found in the van. Alex is busy on their laptop.

“What did you find out?” Alycia asks.

“About the assholes who hit us? Not much. One got taken to the hospital. I’ll have the police report, if or when they get anything out of him.”

Nono did that. The one she hit in the face with the lamp.

Alycia nods. “Someone got a lead on us. I take that very personally. I want to know how.”

Emma doesn’t open her eyes, but she does speak up. “It was one of Samir’s guys.”

“Your Ukrainian mercenaries?”

“Yeah. Samir sent me a short message, just saying sorry, but I knew. I’m guessing someone paid one of the boys for a lead on me.”

Alycia processes this, and nods again. Then it wasn’t Nono’s surprise airplane flight. And she said she didn’t get a ticket. Maybe she used that focus drug of hers to sneak on board?

“Alright. As much as that airplane of yours was handy, I don’t think we can trust those guys any further, at least for this operation.”

Emma still looks like she’s dozing, but Alycia hears the hardness in her voice. “I’ll settle with them when I’m back there. But yeah. Thankfully I’m still the world’s greatest supervillain. You’ll find uses for me.”

Alycia doesn’t want to admit it out loud, but Emma has indeed proven herself.

“Khartoum to Aswan is about 24 hours of travel,” she announces. “We’re going to be roughing it for awhile, at least until Hong Kong. Emma, you can look after Nono–”

Nono’s eyes open. “I can take care of myself,” she announces.

Alycia knows that Summer, for example, would try to be supportive and diplomatic at this point. But she’s in a van, on a train, in the Sudan, on the run from some unidentified hitmen, and this isn’t the time for delicacy. “I’m going to need you to prove that to me. You’ve got an interesting drug here that makes you useful in a fight for a few minutes, but you don’t have the training or lived experience the rest of us have. Nono, you were very useful to us back where you were. Why did you feel the need to come here?”

Nono has already cried herself dry, and her voice, though cracked and scratchy, is steady. “Because I don’t want to be weak and useless any more. Because I can’t live like that, not with all the incredible people around me. I’m going to do whatever it takes to keep up.”

Alycia frowns. “What about your parents? Do they know you left? Will they go to the police?”

Nono still isn’t crying, but her voice seizes up briefly. “They won’t care.”

Alycia winces inwardly. Do any of us have good parents? Really? But she stays on practical considerations. “Whether that’s true or not, is there the possibility that someone will report you as missing. That you’ll come under official scrutiny?”

“I guess…”

Alycia feels her heart twist and ache with what she has to say next. But she says it.

“You’re going to have to send them a message. Tell them you ran away. Tell them things got bad. Tell them… tell them whatever you haven’t told them yet. Give them a reason to think you want to stay hidden, but that you’re somewhere safe.”

Emma stares at Alycia for long moments, anger and frustration and understanding in her eyes. But she turns to Nono. “Hon, if the cops think this is urgent, they’re gonna look hard for you. That means more risk for all of us. But if you’re just another wide-eyed teenage girl who shacked up with her girlfriend in Georgia or something, they’re gonna shrug and ignore you.”

Nono pulls the blanket up over her face. “Okay,” she whispers. “Okay. I’ll do it.”

Alycia turns back around in her seat, only to see SNOWMAN looking at her from the passenger’s seat. “Sucks, don’t it,” he says.


“Giving up the family you had, for the thing your heart needs most.”

Alycia can only bow her head, close her eyes, and wish tears away. “Yeah. Yeah. It does.”


Next stop, Cairo. Then, Hong Kong, to roll up on some Bitcoin miners! But that’ll come later, because we need to see what’s going on with our other characters elsewhere.

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Looking forward to the next chapter of the story. This one was great with a lot interesting twists along the way.
Also, when the reveal of the plan happened (let’s roll up on some Bitcoin miners and steal their rig to do some complicated math) I laughed so hard. It makes perfect sense, it’s just such a ridiculous situation. :slight_smile:


It’s intended to be a comic-book black ops plan, so that reaction is good. Professionals are going to react with “that’s not how ANY of this works!” while casual readers ought to rub their chin and say “would that work? Sounds reasonable to me.”

Because it’s hard to show your ultimate antagonists on screen a lot, when the mystery is where they are and what they’re up to, we get secondary threats like rebel gunmen and Inspector Yan of Interpol Hong Kong.

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Went back and reread this again, btw. Good times.

“Aw, c’mon, it’s way too soon for current events to overtake my novel!” wrote every writer ever.

It’s not paranoia when your Science Terrorist Father (et al.) really are out to get you.

Also, in the game, I would be paranoid about this even before we started getting secret agent drug patches and squealing SUVs, no matter what character I was playing. :slight_smile:

Yup. Also why she broke with him, in the end. This speech, plus SNOWMAN’s earlier comments to Alex about “being right”. Achilles fell into that abyss, and the thing that save Alycia was being able to see it.

Okay, for my mental voice’s sake, is this actually spoken “Thirteen-thirty-seven”? Or is she saying “Leet”?

If the former, she’d have to find a way to shorten it from five syllables. If the latter, she’d consider shooting herself.

Or if it really is her gambit.

The hit is probably pretty scrubbed, but if not, I don’t count on dude’s life expectancy beyond tonight. Also, given how European we are, probably "being taken to hospital:. :slight_smile:

That’s a great line. I presume we will be seeing more of Inspector Yan.

Overall, good times her, and a lot of fun, and some good drama.

My personal feeling is that Alycia would not let her professional paranoia get addressed quite this quickly. Yes, Nono’s style is plausiblish, in keeping with some of the things she’s said and done previously … but it’s also very convenient. Hrm. Of course, Emma’s Ukrainians have further corroborated here. Still, there’s some good tension there that could be strung out a bit further, Alycia having to worry about Nono both as talented amateur and/or witting or unwitting dupe. Achilles Chin is known for his use of chemical cocktails, after all …

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