Fiction Tuesday – To The Bottom (The Darned Conspiracy, scene 23)

Today’s blog is a section from The Darned Conspiracy, the sequel to my first novel In The Land of the Penny Gnomes

“Director,” said Agent Wadson. “You need a security detail! Someone just tried to kill you!”

Sills was collapsed into her desk chair, a cup of coffee was growing cold nearby. Bills had spent the past twenty minutes bringing up the security detail over and over, but she’d held her ground.

“What good would a security detail have done me at the Elevator, Bills? It just would increased the death count.”

“That’s not the only way people can try to harm you, Director, and you know it.”

Sills chewed her lip. “You know what’s nuts about all this, Agent Wadson?”

“You mean other than everything, Director?”

The gnome shot her subordinate with a piercing stare. “Yes, and don’t be cute. I’m a gnome, not a bunny 1.”

Wadson cleared his throat. “Sorry, director. What’s nuts about all this?”

“I’ve been the IBI Director for four years. I was a agent for many years prior to that. I’ve got contacts all over The Realm, and people I entrusted with my life on more than one occasion. But this happens and the first agent I let into my office for a chat… is you. You’re a good agent, don’t get me wrong, but you’re being here is a bit of a relational promotion.”

Bills swallowed. “I’m honored, Director.”

Sills waved her hand. “Don’t be. Well, yes be honored. But recognize it for what it is.”

“Which is, Director?”

Sills picked up her coffee and gulped down half the cup before responding. “Last time I felt this way was toward the end of the war. What do you know about that?”

“Only what everyone does, you were joined by the prophet of Narrative and he helped stop the war.”

Sills chuckled. “Well that’s part of it, anyway. Will wasn’t just a prophet of Narrative, he was a Narrator.”

Bills’ mouth dropped open. “I’m sorry, what?”

“Will was brought to The Realm by Bug Moume after Nobody identified him as the one who could end the war, and don’t ask me how The Professor figured that out because I don’t know 2. It wasn’t until after Will got here that anyone had an idea why he could stop the war.”

“Wait. So, the Sovereign was placed on the Throne by an actual Narrator?”

“Yes,” Sills nodded. “But we try to not make a huge deal about it, Sindy tries to keep it low key.”

“Uhhh,” was all Bills could say in response.

“So, yes, you need to keep that piece of information low-key as well. It’s not classified or anything, it just… feels right to keep it quiet.”

Wadson whistled. “That’s quite a revelation, Director.”

Sills smiled. “It is at that.”

“So, why tell me? Like you said, this seems to be a revelation that’s a few rungs above my relationship level.”

Sills downed the rest of her cup and grimaced. “Because I feel like you need to be here while we comb the building for both evidence and perpetrators. You’re here because this feels like the railroad which carried me to the end of the war, and I’m sure you’re supposed to be on the ride. Narrative has plans for you, Agent Wadson.”

The wizard took out a handkerchief and wiped his brow. “I don’t know what to say, Director.”

“Don’t say anything. Being on Narrative’s radar isn’t a perk, it means you’re likely to be standing on the terminator between right and wrong–between life and death. Do you understand?”

Wadson’s brow wrinkled. “I think so?”

The gnome shook her head. “You don’t, I certainly didn’t. But, you will. Now, about that protection detail. I think I accept two agents.”

Bills nodded, “That’s wise.”

“Thanks, that’s what they pay me for. I’m also going to beef up security down at Nobody’s lab. I don’t want anyone getting any ideas that he’s a soft target. Though, if someone attacked him I doubt he’d notice.”

Wadson shrugged. “You’re probably right, Director. Life seems to bounce off The Professor.”

“Yes, and then whatever bounces off him tends to hit a shelf and cause chaos. I’d like to avoid that 3.”

Wadson nodded. “Understood.”

Sills reached down to the intercom on her desk, “Frank, listen up. Wherever Offshoot and Olive are, I want them to report to my office immediately. They’re now my protective detail.”

“Yes, Director,” Frank’s voice buzzed back. “Oh and…”

“Offshoot?” a new voice echoed through the room. Sills and Wadson turned and found Sindy standing in the doorway. “You’re putting an elf in your protective detail after someone involved in a conspiracy fueled by elvish speculation just try to have you killed?”

The two agents stood as Sills responded. “I suppose the building being on lockdown wasn’t a significant enough indicator that it’s not safe for you to be here?”

Wadson turned his gaze toward Sills, his eyes opening wide. He’d never seen anyone speak to the Sovereign like Sills just had. Sindy, however, didn’t seem bothered by the casual rebuke.

“Relax Sills,” the Sovereign said has she collapsed into a chair. “I took the stairs.”

“That’s not the point, Sindy,” replied Sills as she sat back down 4. “There’s a good chance that whoever tried to kill me is still in the building. Don’t you think you’d be a much more intriguing target?”

Sindy shrugged. “I suppose, but they’d have to get through my hundred-being strong security detail to do so. And without a plan, I think I like my odds. Unless,” Sindy pointed to the door. “You want me to leave?

“No!” Sills blurted out as Sindy made to rise.

The Sovereign smiled. “Good. Besides, you’re changing the subject. You want an elf, on your protective detail?”

Sills nodded, “Yup. Offshoot’s had my back on a number of occasions. She’s a good agent, with a great eye. Pretty good with werewolves too, it it comes up.”

“But she’s an elf.”

“She’s an agent, Sindy. Same a Fineflin, and I’ve got him in Great Roll tracking down this conspiracy’s roots. I’m not playing this game, and you should know better. The minute we go down the road of “all elves this, or “all gnomes that” we’re fried. Offshoot’s the elf for the job, and if helps show that the IBI is on the case–that’s fine by me.”

Sindy raised her hands in surrender. “Point taken, and I know better. I’ll follow your lead as best I can.”

Sills nodded. “Good.”

“Um, excuse me?” Wadson had found his voice. “I don’t mean to interrupt, but…just how well do you two know each other?”

  1. In truth, The Realm’s sentient bunny population were far from cute. They’d set up a collective society deep in the Red Mine Mountains and had been known to attack hikers for breathing more than their fair share of oxygen. 
  2. I’d like to know that myself, to be honest. 
  3. Sills had some first hand experience with the unpredictable nature of Nobody’s bemused existence. 
  4. Wadson just stood there. He looked a bit lame but don’t hold it against him.