3 June 188x,NByr 6
Jed sat up in bed and ran her fingers through her hair. This was not what she wanted, or expected, but it seemed that the boys from the Manor would have their pound of flesh one slice at a time. She noticed that she was wearing some sort of gauzy cotton nightgown in place of the silk chemise and underpants she was wearing under her gown at the party. The man noticed her change in expression and he already had a razor thin smile at the ready when the obviously annoyed redhead turned to look at him.
“Before you ask, your maid Lupe changed your clothes while you were asleep. She’s been seconded to you from our Latin America bureau, so you won’t be by yourself for the duration.”
“Lovely, already assigned me a handler to keep me in line?” Jed scowled.
The man shifted in his seat again. “She is also well aware of who you are and what you are capable of Morrigan. You keep thinking that we mean you harm, when it is the furthest thing from the truth. You may not know this but there is a new occupant in the Master’s chair.”
Her eyes narrowed as the man rose and began walking to the table at the other side of the room. She stood and walked across the floor to stand next to him, where he had already busied himself opening a thick folder sealed with scarlet tapes and numerous wax seals. Jed read the title on the folder and was suddenly gripped with a feeling of nostalgia and dread. Written there in her own hand was the legend “Operation Thunderbolt” and underneath was the box stating “prepared by Dagger, J 186..”. At that instant the silence in the room hung thick like a New Babbage fog.
“You may recall this man, Dr. Ramon Cortez, was working on several projects related to an advanced weapon system that you had determined would be sold on the open market,” he said, tapping the engine-printed picture of the man, “and the end brief said that the files and journals had been confiscated and that the good doctor would not be resuming work on this project.”
He opened a second folder and placed it on top of the first. “What we have learned now is the good doctor is working for an Eduardo Aguilar, a local industrialist who is flush with cash from a recent success in the regional markets. Mr. Aguilar fancies himself as becoming the Krupp of South America, and he feels that Dr. Cortez can give him the edge he needs to step into the arms market.”
Jed leafed through the new folder, reading the briefing materials and making mental notes of what she read. The doctor had come to the island a few months ago, and was living alone in a cottage adjacent to his workshop. Alone? This thought ran through her head as the man continued.
“The mission is pretty straightforward, assess the threat, observe any activity at the lab, gather any actionable intelligence or any materials about what the doctor is up to now, and take those actions necessary to ensure that there is no threat to Her Majesty’s interests in this area.”
Jed looked at the man as those words danced in her mind, the old bugaboo “any actions necessary” meant that she would have to decide, and the higher ups could walk away and say that it was merely the actions of an overzealous agent, or worse yet deny that she was even associated with the Ministry at all. New tune, same old dance.
“The overt cover is you are on holiday with your maid, and you will have the proper introductions to get you in to Mr. Aguilar’s evening get together. It seems he has a taste for English noblewomen, so Lady Burnley will be making a reappearance. He also has a taste for blonds..”
Jed swore under her breath.