The Exquisite Corpse of Ava Cotto : Part 9

The woman behind the desk closed her eyes in exasperation. “So, just to be one hundred percent clear, we don’t know where the lioness is or her bloody husband  are, how much they know or who else is looking for them. And our own”brave lion” got himself killed with a bloody pen.”

Simons forced himself to speak in a steady voice. The Administrator hated uncertainty above all else, Simons had witnessed her order people killed from this office  with all the emotion of someone choosing blue ink or black. He hadn’t seen her personally carry out an execution but he was uncomfortably aware that the office was exquisitely and expensively decorated, (pricelessly if that was the genuine Just Judges to the Administrator’s left, and Simons strongly believed it was) yet the carpeting was cheap, utilitarian….easily replaced if bloodstained.

“Yes ma’am. We believe they are at least on foot. All of the vehicles on site are accounted for, obviously those within range of the activation are unusable. Our operatives have already set up a perimeter and are moving in to cover the search zone.”

“Oh well then, we should have them in no time then,” she hissed. “It’s not like there are places to hide in the city of Los Angeles!”  The Administrator held his gaze for just long enough to be unnerving, then returned her attention to her computer. She began typing, her attention fixed on the screen. Simons counted to five then drew breath to speak. The Admistrator beat him to it. “Recall all overseas assets immediately. We have three days. Nothing else matters for those three days but finding the lioness. If we don’t find her within the three days then there’s a very good chance nothing will matter full stop. Now get out.” Simons obeyed with unseemly haste.


Maria hated this. She was tired, she didn’t know where they were, this cafe? restaurant? was loud and full of people talking in languages she didn’t understand, her mom kept saying that things would be okay and Maria was  old enough to know that people didn’t say that a lot if things were really okay.  She was also old enough to know when adults were trying to  talk about things without scaring listening children. Her parents were doing it now.

“I need to go on my own, you can take Maria somewhere quiet, they aren’t going to be looking for you as much as they are me, leave L.A, It’s important you aren’t anywhere near the Valentia Center on Friday”                                                                                                        “Why mom?”                                                                                                                                            “There’s, erm, a really loud show going to be on and the noise will be awful. You would hate it sweetie”                                                                                                                                        Maria didn’t believe her mom was telling the truth but was too weary to argue. She was hungry too, and the smells were making her stomach growl. Her dad looked as upset as she felt and when he spoke his voice was wavering. “Amelia, if you think I’m going to let you out of my sight now then you must be insane. Whatever is going on, we can deal with it better together. You don’t get to disappear on me twice”                                                  Amelia sighed. If she was being honest with herself she didn’t want to go on her own again. And it would be on her own. The presence of that killer on the inside of the agency meant she had no idea on how compromised they were, who she could trust. Her husband and child were the last two people on Earth she had complete faith in.                   “Okay then. I have some things to explain”  Just then,  a waiter arrived and began transferring steaming bowls of noodles from his tray to the table. “You can at least enjoy some food while I try and get this to make sense in my head before I try and get it into yours”


” The parameters are all set as per your instructions sir, but without the Enu..”                     “I asked for the system status, not any opinions. If your work is complete and double checked then you can return to your office and make sure all the reports are complete. Paperwork is important Makin. If the proper records had been kept, perhaps it wouldn’t have taken us a thousand years to understand the potential of what we have here. Now carry on”                                                                                                                                                   The Professor took a moment to take in the room. He couldn’t help feeling there should have been more machinery. Rows of old style computers with blinking lights perhaps, like an old Bond film base. It seemed too easy to be able to carry out the upcoming test with a laptop. The other desks in the room had computers but they were solely for monitoring, recording. They were going to need a lot of evidence to overcome the sheer incredulity this device was likely to cause. The tinfoil hat wearing denizens of the internet were going to have a field day trying to explain how a device that possibly predated Rome could be capable of such wonderful feats. Or such unspeakable acts….he shook himself from his reverie. He trusted the people in charge here. There would be upheaval initially but the world afterwards would thank them for this….he was sure of it.