The story so far:
That evening Greg pulled up to the safe house in London with a passenger in tow. He opened the door to find himself staring down the barrel of a revolver.
“****! Greg?” Kate asked, immediately holstering her gun the in back of her jeans.
“In the flesh,” Greg said, quickly hugging his sister-in-law. “Kate, I’d like you to meet your temporary techie, Max Shultz. Max, this is the team leader, Kate Mitchell.”
“Just Kate,” Kate said, offering her hand. “Iris is team leader on UK soil.”
“Beg pardon,” Greg asked, shocked.
“Don’t sweat it, and try not to tell Kelly,” Kate said. “Come on in.”
Kate led the two men into the living room where Iris sat at the listening station while Emily was teaching Jack to play poker.
“See, that’s a full house, which beats your pair of queens,” Emily explained, pulling over a stack of coins and dollars to her large pile. “Another hand, Jack?”
“Sure,” Jack sighed, counting her dwindling pile of money.
“Hold off, Emily,” Kate said, motioning to Iris to hit record on the listening device. “This is Max Shultz, our tech for the next few days. This is Iris Quinn, team leader, Emily Smithe, recon expert, and Jack Teague, tech and demolitions.”
“I thought this was supposed to be an all-girl team,” Iris said.
“Sorry to disappoint,” Max replied, shaking hands all around. Max was very tall and very skinny, with brown hair buzzed close to his scalp. His eyes were an interesting shade of hazel, like they couldn’t decide between being green, brown or gold.
“Where’d they dig you up from?” Emily asked.
“I’m stationed at the Pentagon,” Max answered. Jack perked up with a hungry gleam in her eyes.
“Not the Tomb…”
“I can neither confirm or deny the existence of a place called the Tomb,” Max said in perfect military diction. Then he smiled. “But if I could I would say it’s pretty intense.”
“The Tomb?” Iris asked. Kate shrugged; she had no idea.
“Basically the nerve center for American intelligence and security,” Jack said. “Or so I’ve heard.”
“And how did one so young get an assignment into one such place?” Iris asked.
“Family connections,” Max said, unashamed. “My father is a senator.”
“**** all, Greg!” Kate yelled. “A senator’s kid? Really?”
“Short notice, Kate, and last I checked you’re a senior officer’s sister and Iris is related to half of MI6. We’re not exactly an anonymous group here,” Greg shot back.
“If I may,” Max stepped forward. “Let me show you something.”
“If he strips I’m going to start shooting,” Kate muttered.
“Speak for yourself,” Emily replied in an equally low voice.
Max ignored the low comments and settled on the sofa with his laptop case. He quickly unzipped it and pulled out a sleek black computer and set it on his knees. Jack gasped.
“Is that the new…” she started. Max glanced up at her and placed a finger to his lips. “Never mind.”
Max quickly began punching keys on the machine.
“What’s the assignment?”
“A gala at Sir Seamus Connolly’s house on Friday,” Iris replied. Max nodded and punched more keys.
“How did you get into the Pentagon?” Emily asked.
“Through the front door,” Max said.
“Are all techs cheeky bastards or is it just our luck?” Emily asked. “What I meant was what branch of the military are you in?”
“Oh come on! They’re the boy scouts of the military! Matter of fact, the boy scouts are way more badass than the Air Force! Your boot camp was six weeks in San Antonio! People do that for vacation,” Kate complained. Max said nothing while he took a small flat device out of his bag and attached it to the bottom of the laptop. He punched one last button and a projection of his screen came up on the wall.
“Okay, you’re looking at complete 3-D schematics of the Connolly home. The moving dots are the security patrols. I’ve also spliced the mysterious sound signatures coming from the kitchen, the billiards room and office; you ladies wouldn’t know anything about those, would you?” Max asked, looking up at the four stunned women.
“He’s good,” Jack said, grudgingly.
“Thank you,” Max replied, smiling.
“How old are you anyway, you look about twelve,” Kate asked.
“Twenty-four last month. The Air Force keeps me baby faced.”
“You got a degree?”
“Two from Yale.”
“**** Yale! Kate, I changed my mind,” Jack said.
“Too late,” Iris said.
“What do you have against Yale?” Max asked.
“A degree from Harvard and one from MIT for one,” Jack said.
“Oh **** Harvard!” Max groaned.
“Make nice, you two are going to be stuck in a surveillance limo for hours on end in two days,” Kate laughed.
“**** Colombia?” Jack asked.
“My enemy’s enemy is my friend,” Max said, grinning again. He looked even younger when he smiled due to twin dimples that appeared on his cheeks.
“Yes well, now that that’s settled we do need to talk logistics for Friday,” Iris said. “Kate, your invite is for a Trish Waggoner, from California. She’s a photojournalist who was given an invite ‘in thanks for services to the Crown.’ Basically translates to ‘she didn’t publish embarrassing pictures of one of the princes.’”
“What am I wearing? Kate asked with a sigh.
“An Oscar de la Renta that’s worth more than a year’s pay; we meet with the tailor in the morning,” Iris said. “Emily, you’re on bar detail as Tara Deeds. Your main job will be watching Pierce. Jack, you and Max will be in the limo out front. Basically, you’ll be watching our backs to make sure we don’t get caught. I’ll be with my father so my cover is blown from the start, but I’ll be able to talk with Sir Seamus and get a bead on what he knows about his son’s activities.”
“What are we doing with the intel?” Kate asked.
“That depends on the toys Max brought with him,” Iris said, looking over at Max.
“The safest bet is to simply copy it and give it back. Do we know what form the intel is in?” Max asked.
“No,” Kate said. “He hasn’t mentioned it since yesterday, he’s just been shooting pool with the guards. He sounds pretty good.”
Max nodded and opened another pouch in his bag. He pulled out a contacts case and tossed them to Emily.
“Infrared contacts, you’ll be able to detect where the intel is and in what form. Relay it to us when you find out and we’ll go from there. Worst case, I bust it open and take the memory out. Not very subtle but it’ll work,” Max said. “What kind of mics do you guys have?”
“Basic CIA issue,” Kate shrugged. Max pulled out four small black boxes.
“Well, I’m not sure how these will coordinate with your wardrobes, but diamonds are a girl’s best friend…” He opened the top two boxes to reveal two diamond pendants and two sets of teardrop diamond earrings. “The mic is in the necklace, the earrings have ear pieces in them. Completely undetectable. Emily, what is your uniform like?”
“White shirt, black vest, black tie, black pants, sensible black heels,” Emily listed off. Max nodded and opened the third box.
“I wasn’t sure if we’d have to mic a guy or not so this will work for you. Gold tie pin is the mic, the earrings work the same as Iris and Kate’s.”
“Um, my ears aren’t pierced,” Emily said. Kate pulled out her knife with a smile.
“Huh, okay… Do you have a hair clip or something?” Max asked.
“Yeah, I’ve got one,” Emily replied, glaring at Kate’s knife.
“Get it for me please; I’ll work on it tonight.”
“Emily, after this op, you’re getting your ears pierced,” Iris said.
“Sod that,” Emily said. “I’m not putting any more holes in my body, thanks.”
“It’s the easiest way to hide an earpiece, Em,” Kate explained.
“No, Kate,” Emily said, her voice going cold. Kate studied Emily for a moment before smiling.
“You’re scared of needles.”
“I am not! I’ve gotten countless shots,” Emily scoffed.
“Fine, you have an aversion to needles that precludes you from getting anything pierced,” Kate laughed.
“I don’t like them either, Em,” Jack said, smiling.
“Your ears are pierced,” Emily said.
“Yeah, because my mom did it when I was a baby, I never wear them,” Jack shrugged.
“Oh good, you’ll get some use out of your gift then,” Max said, opening the last box. “Sound-canceling headset with imbedded mic in the earphone; if one of them drops a pin you’ll be able to hear it.”
“Thanks,” Jack said.
“You’re welcome. If anyone asks, you didn’t get this stuff from me and you sure as **** didn’t get it from the United States government,” Max said.
“Not a problem,” Iris said. “Now, we’ve taken care of as much business as we can tonight. What are sleeping arrangements?”
“The sofa pulls out into a bed and there’s an air mattress in the coat closet,” Kate replied.
“Lovely,” Greg said, stretching. “Well, I can’t speak for Max but I’m exhausted. A teething baby, a biting toddler and a worried wife added to an international flight makes for a very sleepy man.”
“What’s Kelly worried about?” Kate asked. “Oh, right; me.”
“She’s your big sister, Kate,” Greg sighed. “She always worries about you.”
“She needs to stop wasting her energy.”
“Yeah right, she’s as stubborn as you are,” Greg laughed.
“And Kelly is…?” Max asked, confused.
“My sister, his wife and our boss,” Kate explained.
“That’s not complicated at all,” Max said.
“Tell us about it,” Jack said.