We flew to the Quantum Cave in silence. None of us wanted to say another word. I was just hoping for no more bad news. I groaned when I saw Jennifer come out to the hangar to meet us. “I know, I know,” I told her. “I need to go into the Box.”
“Well, yes,” she said, “but that’s not why I came out here to meet you. I came out here because there’s a man here to see you. He’s with the government.”
“Government?” I turned around and gave Jamal a nasty stinkeye. He was ‘conveniently’ busy looking elsewhere. “Look, just tell the guy that we got the Dinozen king to sign the treaty, but if there’s a problem we’ll do our best to take care of it.”
“He’s not here about the Dinozens,” Doc said. “He’s not with State.”
“Then who’s he with?” I asked.
The CIA? What could the CIA want with us? The Dinozen mission had nothing to do with them. What else had we done wrong? I don’t know what we could’ve done. We’ve been gone for days. But then again, with this group, it could be anything.
We followed Doc to the front of the Cave where we left visitors. The CIA man was standing in the middle of the room when we entered. The first thing I noticed about him was the eyepatch. “Dr. Clay?” When I nodded, he introduced himself, “I’m Agent Peterson Samuel.”
“If this is about the Dinozens…” I began, but he stopped me there.
“This is not about Dino anything. I’m here to recruit you.”
“Recruit me?” I laughed.
“For a mission,” the agent said. “You have the unique traits we’re looking for.”
“You have to understand, Agent. We just came back from a mission.”
“I know, but I think you’re the only one who can help us.”
“Help you with what?” I asked because I might as well hear him out.
“Have you heard of Ramstov?” the agent asked.
“No,” Jamal answered.
“Yes,” I said. “What of it?”
“We need you to go there.”
“To do what?” I asked.
“Find out what General Zlodeyskiy is up to.”
“You want us to spy on him?” Jamal laughed. As he was currently in the body of a dinosaur, I had to admit the idea was pretty funny. He wouldn’t exactly blend in. “Isn’t that what you do?”
“Yes, but we don’t have what you do.”
“And what’s that?”
Agent Samuel pointed at Tilly. “Her.”
Jamal stepped in front of his daughter and bared his razor sharp teeth. He wasn’t laughing anymore. “Excuse me?”
The CIA man didn’t flinch. “I’m here because of her.”
“My daughter is 16,” Jamal said.
“Yes. And I can’t think of another 16 year old with the experience and training she has.”
“And tech,” Tilly added.
Jamal glared at her. “You’re not helping.”
“Look, Mr. Sampson,” the agent said, “your daughter is a unique commodity.”
“She’s not a commodity,” Jamal growled.
“We need her.”
“Not a chance.”
“She’s not going to be going in alone. I’m asking for your team with our support.”
“Why don’t we listen to the mission first?” Doc suggested. “It can’t hurt.”
“Fine,” Jamal relented. “What’s your stupid mission?”
“General Zlodeyskiy’s son is having a birthday,” the agent explained. “We want to send someone in to see if we can find out what he’s up to.”
“His birthday?” Doc asked. “You don’t think he’d notice someone crashing the party?”
“You’d be going in undercover, as an ambassador.”
“Don’t you already have an ambassador to Ramstov?” Jamal asked.
“No, actually,” the agent replied. “We don’t. We’ve never been allowed one. But you’ll be sent in as the representative for the American government. The cover will be that the president chose to send you because you have a daughter approximately his son’s age.”
“You’ll be sending me?” Jamal laughed.
“Actually, no,” the agent replied. “Because of your condition, we were planning to send Mr. Clay.”
“Me?” I replied. “You want to send me in? You realize I’m not a diplomat.”
“You just negotiated a peace with the Dinozens.”
“I guess…But this is something else. With the Dinozens, our mission was out in the open. They knew what we wanted. Here, we would have to be covert.”
“I understand you’re not a spy, Mr. Clay, but I believe you can do this. And frankly, we have few other choices. We need you and we need her.”
Tilly smiled. “You want me to be a spy?”
“Tilly, this isn’t a game,” Jamal warned.
“You think this is more dangerous than mom?”
“I assure you, Mr. Sampson, we will do everything in our power to keep your daughter safe,” Agent Samuel said.
“What will you be able to do? My daughter will be there, in the thick of it, surrounded by Ramstovian soldiers and you’ll be where? How could you save her?”
“I can take care of myself,” Tilly said. “Thank you very much. Plus, Frank will be there.”
I opened my mouth, but I just didn’t know what to say. “So we’re agreed?” Agent Samuel said, but continued quickly before anyone could reply. “Then we’d better get your photos for your IDs.”
“Not yet we can’t,” Doc said.
The agent looked confused. “Why not?”
“Because Frank needs to go into the Box first.”
“The Quantum Instability Chamber,” I told him. “It’s the only way to affectively dissipate my instability.”
“You mean because of your accident?”
“Yes. My body is unstable on a quantum level. The instability grows all the time. The Box, as we call it, refocuses that quantum energy to create a temporary stability.”
“It’s how you change bodies?” he asked.
“Yes,” Agent Samuel conceded, “I guess we better do that first. Then we can have the IDs made up.”
“Well, you can make mine now,” Tilly said.
“Who said you were going?” Jamal grumbled.
“It was agreed, Dad,” Tilly replied. “You were here. You agreed. We all did. We’re just waiting on Frank. Go on, Frank. Let’s hurry this along,” Tilly waved me on.
I glared at her. “Careful now. I can still say no.”
Tilly smiled at me. “I’ll be good.”
to be continued…