A tale of the Ancient City of Ruins.
"Fuck! The video capture computer is compromised and that bitch may have my picture," Nadya screams as she starts powering things down. "Our location may be burned as well."
In a frenzy the young women disconnect every device and networked component in the office. This additional failure has put me in a very foul mood, but I bark out some orders as I take control.
"Pyotr, get the gear from the van and put surveillance up in here. Nadya, I need you to get your head in the game and stop letting this little girl own you. Nina, when Pyotr finishes take the van and get it swept. I think we need to abandon this apartment until we know how much has been gotten. Wipe it down, clear out anything that may have data on it. Nat, you go check out the backup office. Call back on the Hello line. Let it ring twice and hang up if it's clear. Follow protocol and check in with Oleg within twelve hours. I'm going to take the Metro and will be on my fail-safe number," I say pulling my battery and SIM-card and head for the door with Pyotr right behind me.
When the door closes, I say, "You need to get this shit under control or they are going to do worse than remove you from the team."
"How hell is zis happenzing?" he croaks.
"We've had our resources diverted for months now. Ryan barely lost that election."
At the bottom of the stairs, we part ways and I head toward the Metro station. I worry about even going to my flat when I remember that Dave has essentially invited me to return tonight. Perhaps I can lay low with him since it's not too late in the evening. With the fail-safe SIM-card and battery reinserted, I am on the network. I call Dave to tell him I'm accepting his offer and am on my way back. He mentions that I'm not calling from my usual number, and I fib that my phone has died. The ride and walk to his condo have my mind filled with crazy thoughts of how our whole operation may end up being burned by some young hacker chick.
When I finally reach Dave's door and ring the bell, he greets me in his pajama bottoms, "Hey, come on inside." After the door is closed, he hugs me and says, "I'm really glad you came back."
"Yeah, me too. I came here directly from my meeting, so I didn't get a change of clothes. But I'm wondering if maybe you'd be interested in getting out of DC over the holiday."
"You must be psychic! I submitted my multi-part article, to be printed over the next several days, shortly after you left. So, I was wondering if you'd be up for a trip?" he asks.
"Where were you thinking?" I ask excitedly.
"My family owns a ski resort in Vermont, or we could go where ever you were thinking."
"I was thinking warm, it feels like it's going to snow again, but skiing would be okay if there's a cozy fireplace."
"It's really up to you Rayne. My only constraints are that I have to be able to check e-mail and voice mail periodically. I've sent out numerous requests for comment for a follow-up piece. I need to be back a few days before New Year's Eve, but we could even go somewhere that evening if you like."
"Slow down cowboy. Let's see how this little trip goes," I tease him.
"Sorry, I just thought I'd let you know before you were surprised -"
"It's fine. I don't want to make the decision about warm or cold alone," I tell him.
"We can go somewhere warm that isn't effectively 'my turf'," he offers.
"I'm not afraid to be on 'your turf'," I tell him playfully.
"Okay, I'll confirm the reservations," he says and pulls out his phone.
"You already made them?"
"Well, I just submitted everything to my editor and I was thinking a break would be good."
His words were honest and pure, he'd already planned to ask but I hadn't known. The surprise catches me off guard and I'm not certain if I feel exposed or comforted that he's willing to commit to me like this. A sudden worry takes over me and I blurt out, "You were fairly certain I would go?"
"Well, I hoped. I made the reservations thinking we could have some fun and see where this is heading."
I'm an expert on reading people and Dave was being as open with me as