Just gonna be one of those days I’m glad none of you know where I live.
Oooon that Cheery Note, let’s get into this latest installment.
If you’re behind, catch up on the story here:
and onwards we go -salute and swoosh off-
A victory and a visitor
It wasn’t that I didn’t trust Wolfgang, but I was admittedly pretty doubtful that he’d gotten perfect footage after last time.
Still, he sounded very confident that he had over the phone. I couldn’t help being hopeful. And I didn’t need very much more evidence, really. Even a little bit more of connection . . . a slight implication of a threat more, and I could finally present it as a legitimate case, not just my hobby.
I’d already dropped Leif back off at the Fernsbys’, along with many apologies, and headed back to the SPI. I sat at my desk, assembling the rest of the evidence to look over. And really, my powers being back were one of the biggest pieces of evidence that I had. The rest were small connections between events and people. More vague suspicions.
But having video and recording to go with it? The case would be sealed.
I took in a breath and let it out, keeping it as slow and even as I could. My hands flickered slightly blue and I rubbed them together.
Please, God . . . please help Wolfgang have gotten something good . . .
There was a gentle tap on my office door before it swung in a little bit.
I straightened up in my seat. Kaity’s blonde, curly hair showed first as she poked in through the door. Her fingers gripped along the wood and she raised her eyebrows at me.
“What are you doing, Dallas? Your shift is just about over.”
I looked up at the clock in surprise. I had sort of forgotten when my shifts were supposed to be nowadays. I opened and closed my mouth. “I’m just . . . I’m assembling a few things. Looking over my research.”
Kaity slipped the rest of the way through, a concerned frown pulling the corners of her small mouth down. “You do need to sleep sometimes.”
“I’ll leave, honestly,” I stood up, straightening my back. “I’m just waiting to get something from Wolfgang before going.”
Her eyebrows went up in surprise. “Wolfgang? I thought he . . .” her expression grew more worried. “You know . . . has fire powers now and tried to burn you alive last time?”
I shifted my position, shaking my head. “Actually, that wasn’t . . . No, he didn’t. That thing at the opera was an accident.”
Kaity nodded slowly. She leaned over to look at the papers on my desk. “Is this the stuff with the Mansley organization?”
“I’m really close. Basically just waiting for what Wolf is bringing.” I clasped my hands behind my back.
Kaity poked at the papers for a few more seconds before looking up at me again. “How would Wolfgang . . .?”
She was interrupted as my door flung open again. Wolfgang strode in, wearing the red ballcap I’d given him, a different coat with the collar turned up and a big grin across his face. He quickly closed the door behind him and pulled off the hat. His cowlick jumped right back up like a spring, shooting off to one side.
Wolfgang muffled a triumphant laugh and spread his hands grandly.
“Now who says the Wolf can’t take on any secret missions?” he waved the hat in the air before handing it to me with a flourish. “And there, dear Agent Knight, is enough information to sink the organization of Silverwing down to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. With a full audio recording for good measure.” He pulled the microphone out of his jeans pocket.
Kaity took a step back. Surprise showed on her face and her mouth opened in an unspoken question. I wished I had more time to explain everything to her. But since I’d gotten my powers, things had kind of moved too fast.
I took both of the things, studying them for a second before looking back at Wolfgang. “What did they talk about at the meeting?”
Wolfgang gave an exaggerated shrug, gesturing to one side. “Oh, I don’t know. Only like their entire plan for the big move.”
My spirits rose, my breath catching in my throat. Oh, I hoped the recording had come through alright . . .
I hurried over to my computer at the desk and booted it up. “Let’s see if it works.” I turned the hat over, pulling up one of the seams along the brim so I could access the memory chip. A few quick alterations on the microphone pin and I was able to plug it in. I hooked both the microphone and the video chip up to the computer.
Wolfgang came around behind me, running his fingers through his hair with a huge grin still on his face. “I’m telling you, man. It. Is. Perfect. Couldn’t have recorded a better time if I tried.”
I pulled up the software to play both the video and audio in sync and hit the play button. Kaity stepped over next to us, looking over curiously.
As it usually was with hidden cameras, the quality wasn’t the best and angles were weird sometimes. The microphone picked up a couple of times when it got bumped. The beginning with Wolfgang trying to apologize made me wince.
But the meeting . . .
He got it. He got every word and managed to aim the camera hat brim just right for Maxine’s whole speech. Her face was unmistakable. I could even see the silver wing tattoos she had.
I almost wanted to pinch myself to make sure this wasn’t just some dream. It was perfect. It was everything I needed and more.
The video played all the way through and ended with a click, freezing Maxine’s smiling face on the screen.
I sat back in my seat, just staring.
“Well?” Wolfgang shifted his stance and raised his eyebrows at me. “Think that’ll be enough?”
I let out my breath in a partial laugh of sheer relief. “It’s perfect, Wolfgang. Thank you.”
Wolfgang half-bowed, “Teamwork, man. But I mean . . .” he grinned lopsidedly. “Still. You’re welcome.”
Kaity was still examining the screen, her mouth slightly open. “That was . . . oh my word, Dallas. Does this mean you can be done with researching this organization? This stops them, right? Are you done?”
I sat up to pull the information chips out and looked at them in my hand for a second before I nodded. “Yes, I actually think I could have this moved on to an official operation by tomorrow afternoon.”
Kaity gasped and jumped up and down, clapping her hands for a second. “Oh my word, oh my . . .” she squeaked, then threw her arms around my neck.
I stiffened for a second at the unexpected hug, her short hair tickling on the side of my face, but I laughed and went with it.
“After all that time, you finally did it! It’s . . . ah, you were right about them all along, I knew it.” She pulled back, smiling widely. “Dallas, this is awesome.”
Wolfgang stood back another few steps, not saying anything, but his smile even more sideways and pleased than before. I knew he was probably now adding onto the “you’re welcome” statement with the fact that he’d set Kaity and me up.
I just smiled. “It was . . . very much a team effort. Both of you helped a lot.” I looked between the two of them, resting my gaze on Wolfgang. “I don’t know what we would have done if you hadn’t gotten that keychain in the mail.”
And to give God credit where it’s due, this was based on some pretty huge chances taking place. I sent up a silent “thank you” prayer. It was literally a dream come true.
Kaity pulled back, tucking her hair behind her ears and smoothing her fluffy skirt. “And now that you’ve got that, you can finally get a good night’s sleep.” Her voice had a bit more of a firm note in it this time.
I looked over at my stacks of papers and evidence spread across my desk and hesitated in confirming that.
Wolfgang muffled a laugh, trying to disguise it as a cough.
Kaity caught the look on my face and raised her eyebrows. “Come on, if you’re done, no reason to stay late, right? Your shift ended while we were watching the video.”
I swallowed and sat up straighter. “Well, I . . . would still like to put all these things in order before I go. Have them all filed away so I can present them more easily tomorrow.” I made a point of always having my desk organized before I left, too. And right now it was anything but. “I’ll just stay a little bit after hours,” I promised. “I’ll go right home after that.”
Wolfgang looked over my desk as if seeing the mess for the first time.
Kaity twisted her mouth sideways, but assented. “Okay. Just get some sleep. You need to catch up now that you can rest easy.”
I nodded. “I will, Kaity.”
She leaned over to give me a side hug again before going for the door. Another smile spread across her face. “See you later then, bye. Bye, Wolfgang.” She waved to both of us and slipped out the door, her soft footsteps fading down the hall.
Wolfgang and I were silent for a few second before Wolfgang gave me a smug look. “I knew you guys would be adorable together . . .”
I felt my face redden and I ducked my head, but I couldn’t help a bit of a laugh. “Kaity’s . . . really nice, yes.”
“Well,” Wolfgang ruffled my hair. “Good job, man. Pleasure working on this with you.” He saluted and went for the door, stopping only for a second. “Oh, also if you could . . . put it a good word for News and me sooner rather than later?”
I nodded. “I will.”
“Thanks. See ya.” Wolfgang flashed me another quick grin and a fingergun, then slipped out.
I let out my breath, running my fingers through the side of my hair and looking over all the things spread over my desk. All my work since last year. Finally paying off, after all this time.
We could finally stop whatever else Silverwing was planning.
Thank you, God. Thank you, thank you . . .
I pushed out of my chair and got to my feet, grabbing a small briefcase from next to my desk. I’d had a few old papers in it, and I could easily move those to another file. Just some missions information slips. And I could probably fit all my evidence in this case pretty well if I had it empty.
I clicked the latch open and put the papers in their place elsewhere, then went about organizing the rest of my papers regarding Silverwing. Soon, I had them all in a neat stack. I slipped them into a slick, green file folder and set it in the briefcase. Then there were the recordings from Wolfgang.
I got back on my computer and transferred the combined video onto a thumb drive. That took a little longer than expected, but I got the quality a little better. I found a small compartment on the inside of the case and put the drive in there, along with the memory chips from the hat and pin.
Everything was in. I stood back and let out my breath, looking over the tidy case. All set for tomorrow. All in order.
I smiled to myself and shut the top. The latches clicked shut under my thumbs, sounding loud in the silent room. No other sounds from the outside leaked into the room and I guessed that all but the night shift crew had gone home by now. Most of the lights were off in this section, probably.
Time to go home. And get a good sleep for the first time in months, probably.
I picked up the case carefully, going to set it in a locked cupboard down below before I headed out.
A rhythmic knock sounded at my door.
I stopped. Who would that . . .?
Probably just one of the night guards, checking around the building. Odd, I hadn’t had trouble before with staying late.
I straightened up from my crouched position, leaving the briefcase by my feet. “Come in?”
The doorknob turned and the door swung in, two men stepping inside as it was opened. One wearing a suit and tie and a confident smile, the other with glasses and an oversized coat.
Franklin, and an SPI tech consultant close to my age I’d talked to a little bit before, Mr. Strauss.
I felt my spine stiffen a little. Both Silverwing agents, I knew from Wolfgang’s video.
But they don’t know who I am. Just another SPI agent. They shouldn’t know I’m connected. It’s alright.
Jay Strauss stuck his hands in his pockets, glancing around the room.
Franklin stopped for a second, clasping his hands behind his back and bowing slightly. He looked unsure for a second as he tilted his head. “Agent Dallas Knight, I presume?”
“Yes, sir.” I cleared my throat as they came closer. “Can I help you with anything?” I took a slow step backwards. Franklin couldn’t touch me, knowing from Wolfgang’s reports before.
“Ah, perfect, perfect.” Franklin smiled and straightened back up. He swung his hands back down by his sides. “Sorry I’m a bit late. I was supposed to have an investigation here earlier? You know, because of that whole thing that happened at my concert. They wanted a more of a . . . you know . . .” he did jazz hands. “ . . . up close and personal full report on what happened. And since I was there on stage, I was gonna give a full testimony to one of the agents. They told me to come by Dallas Knight’s office earlier, but I had some other stuff going on and couldn’t get to it until now. I mean, you’ve got the most knowledge on the subject, right?”
I blinked, watching his face. He didn’t seem to be . . . trying to get at anything. I’d heard talk of him being interrogated earlier. Maybe this was a genuine mix up.
I looked over at Mr. Strauss, who was still looking around the room. He looked back and met my gaze, raising one hand in a greeting and giving a faint smile. “We bumped into each other on the way here. I’m a little late doing the after-hours check of the SPI computers.”
I nodded hesitantly. “G-go right ahead, then.”
Mr. Strauss strode over to where I’d set my computer.
Franklin looked back towards my desk and concern crossed his face. “Oh, no, I’m sorry. Did we interrupt you doing something else?” He leaned in a little closer than I found comfortable.
I took another step back. “Oh, it’s alright, really. It’s fine. I was just filing some evidence away for a project tomorrow.”
“The briefcase?” Franklin asked.
“Sir, I believe SPI operations and details are classified to the general public . . .”
He laughed easily, shaking his head so his hair fell in his eyes. “Ah, man. Such a rule follower. I bet they’ll really miss you, won’t they, buddy?”
A chunk of ice seemed to settle in my stomach. Miss me . . .? I started to take another step back and opened my mouth to ask what he meant, but Franklin’s hand came up quicker than I could move.
His palm rested against the side of my arm as he firmly grabbed a hold.
I gasped at the electric-feeling jolt that spread through my body. My vision unfocused to a big blur before coming back, like a camera on high definition, with a slight gold tinge to it. All thoughts in my head disappeared before I could even blink. The sense of danger. The remaining victory at getting the last pieces of evidence. The relief that I’d get to go home . . .
All gone. Blank.
I tottered slightly, blinking a couple of times.
There we are. I more sensed Franklin’s smile than actually saw at as he moved his hand up my arm to my shoulder.
“You got him?” Jay’s voice came from over by the desk. He straightened up.
“All good to go.” Franklin replied.
Great. Now, let’s have you go grab that little briefcase sitting there, okay? Show me what’s inside?
I obediently walked over to the briefcase on the floor and picked it up, setting it on the desk. The latches clicked open easily under my fingers and I opened up the lid. I looked at the contents inside as if seeing them for the first time.
Franklin opened the file folder a little as Jay came around behind us. I caught the word “Silverwing” on the piece of paper and a sense of smug satisfaction leaked into my empty mind.
I knew Franklin was done with the case even without the words being said. I closed the case, flicking the latches shut again.
Franklin looked impressed and chuckled quietly. Whooo nice, very nice. This is way smoother than steering Dankworth around. He moved his cool, smooth hand up and rested it against the back of my neck. I felt slightly dizzy, the gold tinge in my vision growing. The empty feeling stretched further and I felt hollow.
“Right,” Franklin said, turning his head to look at Jay. “The evidence is in the bag, then. You get the traces off his computer?”
“Perfect. We’ll finish this up and take off.”
At first, the echoing Franklin-voice in my head started to tell me to get paper and a pen, but the audibility of it melted away. I didn’t hear him telling me what to do anymore. I was just doing it. The thoughts were my own and I didn’t have to process them to act.
I grabbed a pen from off the desk and one of the green sticky notes off the pad next to my computer. Click the pen out, and start writing a note.
I wasn’t addressing it to anyone in particular. Just a quick, informative note. I was leaving. It wasn’t worth it anymore and I had to go. No one could look for me. I didn’t want them to. This was the last they’d hear because after this I was . . . I was . . . killing myself.
A headache started prickling its way across the back of my skull from where Franklin’s hand rested. Some protest . . . some push back against the empty . . .
I scrunched my brow slightly and stopped writing for a second. Another mental nudge and the thoughts of the pain were shoved back into darkness. I kept writing, only paying attention to getting my letters right.
The short note was finished after another minute and I pulled it off the pad. A second of hesitation, and I put it on the headrest of my chair. An obvious spot for people to see when they came in.
I picked up the briefcase off the counter and handed it to Franklin, then turned to Jay. “Okay, all done. Let’s head out.”
Jay stared at me, his eyes wide through his glasses. He looked up at Franklin. “What . . .?”
Franklin laughed. “That was me, dummy. Seriously, it’s just like a puppet. Watch.”
I smiled and waved my hand.
Jay looked annoyed. “Brilliant, Franklin. We’re not here for that. Let’s get out of here. My block on the security cameras can only last so long without it getting suspicious.”
“Ah, you’re just no fun.” Franklin walked towards the door, bringing the briefcase and me along with him.
We walked out the door and stood in the partially darkened hallway. Jay stepped back out after us, looking up and down the hall.
Information appeared on the blank slate of my mind as we started walking again. The car was out the front door, parked a block or so down the street. Everything was going to go just wonderfully as long as we got out of that door.
Jay walked ahead, running his fingers nervously over his messy, dark hair. Franklin smiled down at me as we followed, out footsteps hitting the carpet in perfect unison. The headache pressed against the inside of my head again. My balance faltered for a second. Franklin’s hand shifted position another time and the pain was forgotten.
Everything was fine. Just following along with them and getting out of here. All I needed to do.
We kept walking along the winding halls of the SPI building until they opened up into the main front room. The lights were still on, but it was quiet and empty, except for one agent. He leaned against one of the chairs and sipped from a white coffee mug. His gaze darted up as we came closer and he let the mug down, wiping the tiny drops from the edge of his mustache.
“Hey there, Dallas. Staying around late again?” he smiled a little.
The gold tinge made my vision swim for a second. I grinned back. “Yep. Guess you are too, huh?”
“As always, you know.” His gaze went over to Franklin and Jay and confusion wrinkled his brow. “Who’re your friends?”
“Oh, just a few guys helping me out with an old case I was working on,” I replied quickly, my voice catching oddly in the middle of the sentence. “It’s okay. Nothing to worry about. We’re just heading out for the night right now.”
The agent’s expression relaxed a little. “Alright then. As long as you’re on the way out.” He saluted. “Get a good night’s rest, fellas.”
Jay nodded back and Franklin saluted. “Will do.”
We passed by, getting out to the door without any further interactions. Jay held the door open for us, his lips pressed together in a tight line.
Franklin stepped out, guiding me along. He came to a stop. “What’s the face about?”
Jay shook his head. “That’s . . . not how Dallas talks.”
Franklin rolled his eyes, starting me walking down the sidewalk again with him. “Oh, and I’m sure you’ve had a lot of time to talk to him.”
“I’ve talked to him a few times. Enough to know that wasn’t accurate. He was talking like you, not him.”
“Well, we got out. That’s what matters.”
I kept my gaze fixed straight ahead of me as I walked. The ache starting from the base of my skull was coming back again, along with a bit of lightheadedness.
But it was all good. I just needed to keep following along with Franklin and Jay . . .
The pain throbbed again and I winced at the feeling that something was wrong. Franklin patted his hand against my neck.
Just a little bit further. See that car up there? That’s our ride. You’re doing great, little buddy.
The ache blanked out again in my mind.
We got to the sleek, gold car and Franklin popped open the back door. He set the briefcase further in on the seat, then nudged me towards the seat with a gentle pressure from his hand.
I got in and sat, a little stiffly, clasping my hands in my lap.
You were perfect. Wonderful job. Franklin smiled. I smiled back. The tinge in my vision warped and his voice came from further away. The dizziness came back.
Been a long day though, hasn’t it? Guessing you could oblige me like your friend did a few days ago . . . just go to sleep for me, will you? Take a nice little nap while we drive to . . .
I didn’t catch the rest of the thought as my vision faded out completely. It felt like I was falling for a minute, then everything settled into warm blackness. It had been a long day. I needed to catch up on my rest . . . just like Kaity had said . . .
Kaity . . .?
You know, I actually have some pretty interesting pseudoscience explanations for some stuff that was going on there. But… I don’t know if any of you are speaking to me anymore so I’ll just keep it to myself for now.
Tune back in to see what happens next on Sunday!