Copyright © 2013 Mary Hughes
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“Well, I’d better call the embassy, and find out what’s going on.” John moved again toward the door, Tess following.
“No, wait,” Vickie exclaimed.
“I’ve got to go. I’ve got to see if there’s anything I can do.”
John shook his head.
how you feel . But you can’t do anything
Cliff can’t do for himself. You’re
better off here, out of the way.”
complied,[M1] getting the
number from some magical place all secretaries keep obscure information like
She listened anxiously to his end of the conversation
What exactly is going on over there Mrs. Ambassador
Uh‑huh. [M2] No, I don’t know anything about it. But
the project leader is here with me, maybe I can ask…well, I don’t know.” He
covered the mouthpiece.
in control of the palace defense
. It’s the
HCC300. They can’t
break into the network , and they can’t find Fahrrad. And Fahrrad
kidnapped the only person who could break in.”
Twelve hours later, she was
in front of
and Tess sitting with her, the American and English ambassadors
pacing behind. She pushed the keyboard away[M4] .
The American ambassador cleared her throat
, then spoke. “As you know,
our government was friendly to Prince Kulinahr, but as long as Col. Fahrrad had
the token backing of the Parliamentary Council , and official
control, we could do nothing.”
Vickie kept her opinions to herself.
had done some thing.
did not see Vickie’s face.
“Mr. Hawkesclyffe had infiltrated
the palace to disconnect the palace security system and reconnect Kulinahr’s
John spoke up.
contacted the militia, and an
overwhelming majority was still loyal to the Prince. And the citizens of the
country were secretly joining in droves . Cliff
was able not only to communicate with
to open channels among the resistance, to
help initiate the counter‑coup.”
The ambassador cleared her throat
. Perhaps John was not supposed to know more about this matter than
the government , Vickie thought, smiling wickedly to herself. “Well, apparently Fahrrad got wind of what your friend
Cliff was doing, and although
Cliff was able to disconnect the
palace security system he had to install
the new one.”
John shrugged. “The bad guys have informants, too, Mrs. Ambassador.”[M5]
“Perhaps,” she said stiffly.
Hawkesclyffe was able
to disrupt the new security system
enough for Kulinahr’s militia to break through, at any rate.
Fahrrad got away with his personal guard, and
Vickie held up her hand.
disrupting Cliff did wasn’t for the whole system. The destruct
mechanism is still active , and the HCC300 is fully in control.
We have two hours.”
The American ambassador sighed, her hard‑nosed
professional image cracking a little. “And now you tell me Fahrrad took this damned
security system, too.”
John shook his head.
“Not the HCC300 itself . Just the master
the console. The computer is probably
locked away in some secret location. But the console
is deadly enough, because right now, it’s the only thing the HCC300 will listen
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Ambassador, but the system is absolutely tight. I
don’t know who designed this, but it might as well have been Sir Humphrey
Hawkesclyffe himself !”
“Somehow, we have to locate either the computer or this master terminal, but then what? Could you stop the explosion, Ms. Johnston?”
“I hadn’t thought of that.”
“I think our best bet is to find Cliff. The console and Fahrrad won’t be far away.”
hard against tears of exhaustion. She
hadn’t been sleeping well for two weeks.
She hadn’t slept at all since the beginning of this crisis. “John, you know Cliff better than
any of us. What would
he have done?”
John considered a minute. “He hadn’t been really acting like himself since he left, but I think even instinct would have prompted him to try
to leave us a
clue as to where he was going , or how to break the system. Did you
find anything in the code?”
nothing. Maybe he didn’t
time . And I’m sure Fahrrad
wouldn’t let him near the console.”
John picked the handful over, selecting a small piece of paper and a copper button shaped like a mushroom for a second look.
Vickie looked over his shoulder. “Well, that last thing is greater than or equal to.”
Now her eyes did glisten, remembering
the one mistake she had caught him at.
“But the others are just the topics from his last memo. Remember? Chip
production here is about to start. Factory is complete, except for backup power
“Did you memorize that?”
When he caught the look on
though, he didn’t press her. Truth
to tell, she
herself reading anything that came from
the last few weeks several times a
The ambassador peered over John’s shoulder, and
selected an item. “But this button. Cliff
is an electronics genius , he could have
a radio controller or something in here .”
Tess took the button from
the ambassador. She turned it
over several times, then took a clip from her hair and attacked it. The
ambassador grabbed at her wrist, but not before she flipped the back of the
button off. It was empty.
[M1]Excessive words. I show John complying, getting the number and calling. Don't need to say, then show the same thing.
[M2]I've learned that it isn't always enough to show the action. You should show the character's reaction to the action too.
[M4]The reader will picture things in the order you show them. Originally I had Vickie doing something, then John and Tess coming in a sentence later. The poor reader will have a picture of Vickie alone (because John & Tess were coming later on the charter), then have to pop John & Tess into her mental picture. Better to just put them all there to start.