Here’s my sixth of eight installments in preparation for NaNoWriMo 2011, presented in its raw and unedited format for all to see.
Also, I have decided to raise money this year for NaNoWriMo and the Office of Letters and Light to support their efforts in encouraging writers both young and old. So, I am asking you, my readers, to sponsor my writing effort this year.
If you head over to my fundraising page at StayClassy and help me reach my goal of $250, I will post my NaNoWriMo effort on my website on 1 December 2011. Help me double my goal, and I will post the NaNoWriMo story plus a completed version of the story of which my preview vignettes will become a part on 1 January. If we go beyond even double, I will find something else cool to do for you.
NaNoWriMo Preview #6
A web of lies
By Dennis L Hitzeman
Lucas Cantril never suspected that his quest to protect his nation’s vital interests would find him in a seedy adult club in Moscow. Frankly, Lucas never believed he would travel all that much when he took his first job with the Network Defense division of the Domestic Intelligence Service, but his latest assignment had kept him moving in ways he never would have expected.
Now, he had everything on the line. It had taken two meetings with superiors and calling in favors to convince them to let him fly to Moscow to begin with. Everything depended on whether Colonel Whiteman was telling even part of the truth and whether his supposed contact actually showed. If neither proved to be true, it would probably cost him his career.
He jumped slightly when a slight woman took the seat next to him, but he tried to cover his nervousness by taking another drink.
“Are federal agents always so jumpy?” the woman said.
Lucus’s heart thundered in his throat. He was supposed to be a business contact looking for hackers.
“Don’t be surprised, Special Agent Cantril,” she said. “Your government has never been particularly good at keeping secrets, especially those of their employees. Nevertheless, we are both here. Perhaps we could find a better place to talk?”
Lucas nodded and allowed himself to be lead out of the night club across the street to a nondescript cafe that served coffee and beer. The woman slipped the hostess a small wad of bills, and she showed them to a secluded booth in the back.
“So, now that we can dispense with the pretenses, what do you want?” she said after the waitress brought them their coffee.
“Miss Karova, someone needs to go down for what happened next week,” Lucas said, “and I have been lead to believe you might be able to help me in that regard.”
“Please, call me Natalia,” she said with the flash of a pretty smile. “Whether I can help you depends a lot on what might be in it for me.”
“Well, why don’t we start with what you might want,” Lucas said, trying to play it cool.”
“I doubt you would be here unless you already knew what I might want,” Natalia said. “I doubt the US government sends its agents out with blank checks too often these days.”
Lucas sighed. She obviously had the upper hand here. “Fair enough. It is my understanding that you want to leave the country without anyone knowing. I believe I can provide that capacity for you, so long as the information you provide leads my government to be able to take someone down.”
“What guarantee do I have that you will follow through, Agent Cantril?” Natalia said.
He reached into his jacked and pulled out a small envelope. “This is the information you need to get to a safe house. They will keep you there until my government has acted. Once the take down is complete, they will provide you with passage to the destination of your choice.”
She touched the envelop tentatively, as if thinking about something, then pulled a small slip of paper from her blouse. “The man you are looking for is called Alexander Varisky. He can be found at the address here.”
Lucas took the paper and she took the envelop, and without another word she departed. Lucas was having a hard time believing it would be that easy.
Outside, Natalia Korova, folded herself into the crowd making their way to the nightspots that dominated the street, congratulating herself on another job well done. She wasn’t called the “Black Widow” for nothing, she told herself, and soon her price would go up even more.
She was so lost in her thoughts that the private channel surprised her. It shouldn’t have. Her employers were very particular.
“Zdravstvujtye,” she said.
“Is it done,” her handler said.
“That and more,” she said. “I will be able to make it to the US undetected thanks to your own government.”
“Good,” her handler said. “Contact me at the usual place once you are in the States.”
“I will,” she said.
“Don’t get careless, Natalia. You are not safe yet,” her handler said, then the line went dead.
She was suddenly apprehensive, but chided herself. The rest of these players were children compared to her or her employers. What could go wrong?
Alexi almost gagged when she stepped into the dacha. The place reeked of unwashed bodies and stale beer. Vladimir’s crew were strewn about the main room in various states of stupor brought on by too many days without sleep and too much boost. She saw Alexander passed out on a chair, drunk beyond caring.
In one corner, Vladimir sat with a laptop perched on his knees, his eyes fluttering in that strange way they did when hackers were multi-tasking between hard machines an their own connections to the net. He had a five day growth of beard, and she was sure he hadn’t bathed in that long either.
She knew he knew she was there, so she just went straight to the room they shared and waited. If he was going to come, he would come soon enough, and if there was some way to get the information she needed, she would, especially given the state he was in.
It was only moments later when he staggered in reeking and weak from his marathon exertion.
“I thought you had left for good,” he slurred as he collapsed beside her.
She lay back next to him and caressed his cheek. “What are they doing to you, my dear, sweet Vladimir?”
He growled. “Your bastard lover Ryan has poisoned Alexander’s network, Alexi! We risk losing everything if we cannot fix what he has done.”
She slapped him, hard, and rocketed to her feet. “Never say anything like that to me again, you bastard. I have been true to you.”
She turned as if to go, and she heard him sob.
“Alexi, don’t go,” he said. “It will kill me if you go.”
“Why are you doing this?” she said. “Why not just walk away?”
“I can’t Alexi,” he said. “You don’t understand…”
“Then tell me,” she put her hand on the doorknob and her heart thundered.
He sat up and buried his head in his hands. “Just don’t go.”
“I want to help you, Vladimir,” she said, “but I can’t if you don’t tell me.”
He looked up at her with blood-shoot, tear-stained eyes. And like an avalanche on one of the snow-covered slopes below them, he told her everything.