Copyright © 2013 Mary Hughes
All rights reserved
Another uniformed man was dispatched, and quickly came back with several of the
black T‑shirts Cliff favored. Vickie took them one at a time, feeling the
hidden inner pockets. Empty. Empty. Jackpot!
She practically ripped the shirt pulling the hard, flat square from its hiding place.
“What is it?” the ambassador asked.
to herself. “It’s the
the HCC300 chip.” She waved it at the computer
expert. “We should be able to install it in one of the boxes [M1] already built.
There are a few produced , aren’t there?”
an HCC300 computer sitting in the corner of the room. “That was one of the first
things I tried . But
there’s no software on it, not even an operating system.”
She worked tensely for about ten minutes, then shook her head and offered the keyboard to the government expert. He tried a few commands, then returned the keyboard to her and pried the back off the box. After switching a few connections, they tried again.
Still nothing. Vickie said something to the expert, and began downloading the HCC operating system from the
palace network. An hour and a half left.
The expert reconnected the chip. Now the terminal flared to life, and Vickie hacked away at it for half an hour. Then she turned, brushed a drop of moisture from her temple and shook her head.
The ambassador’s face fell, and he lifted the receiver of a red phone in the room. “Your highness. I’m sorry we have nothing for you here. How goes the search?”
John, Tess and Vickie back to the airport.
Vickie had wanted to stay to the end, but John
had pulled her away. “He wouldn’t want
you to be here. He’d want you at least
to be safe.” She had not cried. The bitter tears would come later.
She wasn’t really looking at it, but something
about it caught
her eye. So that’s why it hadn’t worked, she thought.
Someone had defaced
it, putting several long scratches in it. Probably Fahrrad, she thought. Maybe Cliff had left
a clue in the memory , so Fahrrad had tried to destroy the chip. They would never know ,
She gazed blankly at the chip, her mind a thousand miles away. Cliff
. He had been behind
Kulinahr all along, only wanting her to trust him. What a fool she was. She had had it all,
and had thrown it away.
not when they’d had so little time
together . She must stop the car, she must run out and
find him before it was too late. And she
had only a half an hour.
She stared at the chip again. If only Fahrrad hadn’t defaced it. If only…she looked closer at the scratches. They weren’t on the circuit side.
They weren’t on the circuit side. So whoever had made them had either not known much about chips, or had intentionally made them on the side where they wouldn’t do any damage.
And that, coupled with where it was found,
might mean Cliff was attempting to leave a message.
She examined the scratches. Three of them,
look ing kind
of like a weird triangle . Now, where had she seen that symbol before?
The triangle was the mathematical symbol for change. Was he trying to indicate they were changing locales constantly? No, besides making no sense, Kulinahr’s air units would have tracked them, then.
Warped triangle. It looked familiar.
And then it clicked. The bizarre sculpture in the hotel where she’d been held prisoner.
She yelled out in her excitement.
“It’s okay, Vickie,” Tess
saw the wild‑eyed look in her friend’s face, “We understand. Go ahead and let it all
“No!” She practically shouted. “Stop the car
! You must
to the city!”
“Vickie,” John started patiently. “We’ve been over this already. We can’t do any more good here, and Cliff
She had no idea.
Cliff might know, no, obviously did know, but
she hadn’t seen her arrival or her
Then the Middle Yemeni officer spoke up. “I know the hotel
.” His English was obviously limited but that
was all they needed to hear. All three
urged him to drive immediately to the location.
The officer wanted to
reinforcements, but Vickie quickly vetoed that. “There’s no time. We have less than a half
hour to get there, break in, find Cliff and the computer and unlock the
destruct sequence. Go now!”
The officer drove even more maniacally now. Vickie held onto the door, narrowly avoiding getting crushed in a particularly quick turn.
‘Well, Cliff , if we can’t
find you in time, it won’t be for
this guy’s lack of enthusiasm.
She told him as much as she could remember, including how Cliff had rescued her, skipping only the kiss that had started it all.
,” he said,
slamming into the door on
another tight turn. As they bumped their way down the main drag, dodging cars
and people and animals, John explained what they needed to do.
[M1]I'll have to revisit this. I updated much of the technology but it could stand some more. Boxes are going away. We're in the tablet and smartphone age.
[M2]Again, it's important to not just show the action, but the POV character's reaction to high points.