That One Day You Regret Having a Portal for a Cat Flap
“Thanks, have a nice day,” Harry thanked the girl at the counter, picking up his hot chocolate. He looked around and spotted Rose, who had managed to find a free table, near the corner of the little cafe. She smiled as he caught her eye. Returning the smile, he walked over and sat down.
“Hot chocolate?” she asked.
“You know me,” Harry replied, “So how’s your…” He was interrupted by a buzz from her communicator.
“What is it?” he asked after she had taken a look at it.
“Message from HQ,” she replied.
Harry took a moment to look around. The tables surrounding them were all filled.
“So did they find the anthill?” he asked.
“The whaa...ohhh...I mean yes, yes they found the anthill,” she replied looking sheepish.
“Damn. I thought I was going to get to enjoy some hot chocolate.”
“Well, duty calls,” she said shrugging,” we did sign up for it.”
“True,” replied Harry.
“Well don’t look so sad about it,” she said, shaking her head. ”Honestly, you’re such a drama queen sometimes.”
“I am not a drama queen,” he replied, trying his best to look affronted.
“You are,” she said, a smile creeping across her face.
“As you decree, your Highness,” he said, bowing low.
“Enough joking,” she said doing her best to appear stern but failing miserably,” Now come on.” The two of them made their way out, crossing the street to get to the bookstore across the street.
As far as entrances to secret organizations went, the shop didn’t look very impressive. A faded sign, hanging from one lonely nail, proudly announced it to be Aprana Books. They made their way into the ancient store. The only light came from the streaks of rapidly fading sunlight that managed to make their way through the grimy windows. There was a light covering of dust everywhere and toffee wrappers and bits of paper were scattered around the floor. A counter was set off to a side, a young woman staring at a computer that had been out of date even in the last decade, sitting behind it. Decaying shelves were arranged in orderly rows, each one bearing a modest number of books.
Harry nodded to the woman at the counter, who winked in return, as the two of them made their way to the back of the shop. Harry stopped at the history section and he bent down to pick up a book at the very bottom of the shelf. The title of the hefty book proclaimed it to be “Domnar Mane by K.D. Jayasinghe in golden cursive.
Harry flipped through the yellowed pages. A faint silvery sheen appeared around the book. Gradually, it began to turn to a dull green. He continued to turn till the color change was complete. Then, putting the book back, he strode confidently into the wall behind the shelf. He blinked and covered his eyes as they arrived in a well lit room. Why on Earth do they have to make the lights so bright all the time? As he squinted at the wall behind him, he saw Rose enter after him, looking a lot less affected by the light.
He turned towards the other side. In front of them, set neatly into three alcoves in the wall, stood three simple wooden doors. Each one was labelled with a number. Above the doors a simple plaque was engraved with the letters S.W.O.R.D.(Strategic Worldwide Operations and Reconnaissance Division.) One more mission to add to the record. Taking a deep breath, Harry walked towards the door with number 3 inscribed on it. He put his palm on the door and waited for the door to scan it. After Rose followed suit, the door slid open to reveal a large metal elevator.
“So, you think they made any headway on the case?” he asked once they were inside.
“Dunno, the message only said they’d found the location of the dirt guy," she replied.
“I guess we’ll find out,” Harry concluded. Rose shrugged.
Harry went silent as he pondered over the events of the past day. Good to know who that idiot is. I owe him a couple of good whacks after what he did to Rose. But why on Earth was he using so many non lethals? The mys… A pleasant “DING” interrupted his musing.
The elevator doors slid open and he stepped out into the corridor. The corridor, much like every other corridor in headquarters, had no decorations whatsoever. The monochromatic white walls, like they always did, looked too smooth to be real. No scratches or stains marred their surface. The corridor was illuminated by strips of luminescent parchment, enchanted with permanent lighting runes. There were reinforced concrete doors set into the walls at regular intervals.
“Which one was it? 1,4 or 7?” asked Harry as they passed by the doors marked “RECON”
“4,” replied Rose.
“Right, of course,” said Harry,” they’d need the satellite. He pushed open the door marked ‘RECON - DIV 4’.
Inside was a spacious room about the size of the average ballroom. The walls were painted a calming sky blue. Ordered workstations, each one containing a large monitor, were laid out in rows, all pointing towards a massive screen about the size you’d find in a standard movie theater. The setup reassembled a very high tech classroom. A massive map was present on the screen, blinking red dots scattered around seemingly at random.
Walter, the head technician, was sitting at his computer gesturing at something on the screen. Johnson, his amber eyes glued to whatever Walter was gesturing at, was standing next to him.
The two agents exchanged a look. Harry raised his eyebrows. She shrugged and tilted her head towards Walter. He gave a nod in return and the two of them made their way towards Walter.
Johnson was the first to spot them.
“Good afternoon. We’ve acquired the location of your dirt king.”
“The satellite picked up the signal in an apartment building on the banks of the Zarate,” elaborated Walter, turning away from his computer to look at them,” a bit of a long jump. I think you know the area well enough to be able to teleport to somewhere that’s fairly close to your target. I’ll send you the exact address so that you can get to the location”
“Right, sounds good,” said Harry nodding.
“So do we leave now?” asked Rose.
“Yes. Your mission should you choose to accept it is to get this man into custody,” he ordered.
“I warned you not to buy him those movies for Christmas,” Rose said, turning to Harry.
“How was I…,” began Harry but his defense was cut off by Walter.
“Guys. Act like adults here. Important Mission. Remember that?”
“Sorry,” chorused Harry and Rose,” We’ll get going then.”
“Good luck,” said Johnson.
They turned to leave but halfway there, Rose slid to a stop.
“What about the case?” she asked, turning back.
“Not the top priority right now. But getting it would help,” replied Johnson.
“But don’t we need both?” asked Walter.
“Not necessarily,” replied Johnson,” I’ll explain later.”
Harry rolled his eyes. Guess this wouldn’t be a secret agency if the boss doesn’t keep a secret. He continued out the door and held it open for Rose. She looked like she was trying to decide between demanding answers of just going with the flow. That look on her face when she’s thinking. So... Whoa Danvers. Where did that come from? Harry shook his head vigorously as if he could dislodge the thought from his brain. Mission time remember. Lots to figure out there. Who was that guy? What does he want? Why did he use the non lethals? How did...Ughhh...why do these things always have to be so complicated? You’d think we were in some fantasy novel...
“Penny for your thoughts,” said Rose, having caught up to him.
“Uhh...just some weird connections,” he replied giving her a small smile,” shall we go suit up then?”