Robby was sitting beside me in one of the chairs we kept around the pool. The rest of the kids were in the pool, so I wondered a little why he was just sitting there. I abruptly found out, as he said, “Congratulations on your new job Steve. It's nice that we'll have you as a teacher for another year. I can't say we were looking forward to Mrs. Fairfax as a teacher. We'd probably want to run away.” he grinned at me.
I wondered how he knew, I'd just gotten confirmation this morning. He answered the question he hadn't been asked. “I'm an Elder, Steve and I was one of your students. Right now more than half of the school board, are werewolves. They didn't see any conflict about asking my opinion and in acting on it, especially since it agreed with theirs.”
I smiled a little ruefully. When you're around Robby on a daily basis as I had been during the school year and the many pool parties that had been held since the pool was put in, you sometimes tended to forget exactly what he was. Changing the subject, I nodded at the two Davis kids. “What do you think about the twins?”
Robby thought for a few seconds, before saying, “They're nice uncomplicated little werewolves. They should fit into the porch homework group very well. Sunday evening though, Teddy was wishing he'd met them a month later. His birthday spankings were a much more painful affair this year with the twins added.”
I asked him, “What do you think of their brother? From what I hear from the twins, he has a very high opinion of himself. An IQ of 170 and in an accelerated program in his last school in Cormier.”
“Brent and Trevor consider him an asshole.” he said, with no indication of what he thought. I was startled for a moment. Robby didn't swear very often, then I realized he wasn't swearing now either, he was simply relaying the twins, opinion.
He expained, “Personally from what I've seen of him, what the twins see is really a cover for insecurity. He knows what his IQ is and he was entered in a program where he continually had to prove himself. Looking at his mind, he's really a very shy person, who unconsciously loathes the attention he's always gotten. So, he's taking out his frustration by bullying the twins. He's got a strong mind and what he needs is a real shock, which I'm afraid he's going to get this fall.”
“How so?” I asked him, interested in his opinion.
He paused for a moment, before saying seriously, “The Benson school is very different from the Cormier system. When he first enters school this fall, he's going to think, 'I'm going to blow these hicks out of the water.' He's going to find that the grade eight he's going to be entering is at least as advanced as the accelerated program that he's always attended. That's going to be a real shock and the second shock will be when he finds he isn't the best student in the class. If he gets over the shock all right, he might actually turn out to be a nice person.” Robby said with dancing eyes.
“What do you know that I don't?” I asked cautiously
He said with a smile, “My dad was a nice person, you would have liked him. He knew his strengths and he knew his limitations. He's the only person I know personally who ever turned down the position of Elder. He thought it over for almost a month before he decided to say no. He knew he simply didn't have the personality to be an Elder. The Council decided that he was too valuable a resource to just discard, so they initiated him anyway. It was a private ceremony and it was never announced because they didn't make him an Elder. They gave him the abilities of an Elder with none of the responsibilities. It happens more often than most werewolves know.”
Robby explained, “Along with his actual profession as a small arms expert and consultant, he was also considered one of the Council's top advisors. He was a very precise man, something that developed because his official profession required it. You'd never know it if you didn't know him and happened to get a look at his study. It looked like a mess, but he knew exactly where everything was and he could find things almost as fast as a computer.”
He grinned, saying, “I was curious to see exactly how good he was, so with Mom's help I drew up a list of ten questions and tested him. With his complete cooperation of course. Let's see. I can still remember three or four of the questions.”
Robby thought for a moment and then said, 'What type of gun was John Dillinger killed with?'
'What type of rifle did Oswald use to kill Kennedy?'
'What type of gun did the attempted assassin of Robert Kennedy use, how many shots were fired and why was Robert Kennedy only crippled and not killed?'
'When was the first Luger pistol developed, who developed it and what caliber was it?'
I looked at him, feeling I knew what was coming. I asked with extreme curiosity. “How much did your mother help you with those questions.”
Robby looked at me with the calmness that he often showed when he was about to drop a bomb, telling me, “Just with the spelling. Anyway I gave him the list and within ten minutes he had all of the answers.”
Robby said with sadness in his voice, “When I was seven and a half, Dad was diagnosed with cancer. They gave him six months. As I said, Dad was a precise person. Despite the school not using IQ tests, he wanted to know what my IQ was. Mom didn't really care, but she humored him. She laughed when they got the results.”
“And why was that?” I asked, Positive now, what was coming.
Robby told me, his eyes twinkling, “That's because even after the test they still didn't know. I tested off the scale.”
“Do you slack off in school?” I asked.
He shook his head saying, “No, I pay full attention. I don't really know how it works, probably only part of my brain is actually on my schoolwork and in the classroom. Subconsciously it's on other things, because I still have to study, for tests and exams, if I want to make good grades. With me of course it's internal study since my memory is so good, I don't need the books or my notes any longer. I still have to go over it, to remember the sense I had made of it when I originally read it, or worked through it.” he told me.
“Can you tell how intelligent other people are?” I asked.
Robby shook his head at my question, explaining, “Only with Wil. He's the only one who has almost an identical educational experience, with an intelligence close to mine. I would think if he was tested he'd also be off the scale, since what I can see in his mind is very comparable to mine. As I said I have a somewhat better memory, but that comes with being a werewolf. Weres in general have better memories than full humans, though there are certainly individual humans whose memory is as good or better than ours. Of course that's because up to the last couple of generations, our history was entirely verbal, Much of it still is.”
It was three o'clock on June 23, which was a Monday, I had just spent a couple of hours with my lawyer, going over my will. Since I had been selected to replace the retiring head of the NIA and I considered it a possible dangerous position I wanted to make sure that my will was up to date.
I stopped by my car and was about to tell Roger Carson, my driver where we would be going next, when I realized that it wasn't Roger, though it looked much like him. I tensed but before I could do anything the side door of what was supposed to be a maintenance van opened.
I was somewhat surprised to see passenger seats in what was supposedly a commercial vehicle, but Robby Hansen, with big green eyes twinkling, said, “Would you join us, Uncle General, sir.”
My mouth dropped when I got out of the van, or at least my duplicate did. This one looked even more like I did, than the resemblance that the driver had to Roger, who I could see, was already sitting in the van. I looked at Robby and remembered what my sister-in-law Louisa had told me, about Robby and about Onario County. This wasn't a prank and there would be a good reason.
I climbed into the van and Robby closed the van door, “Let's go, Len.” he said, and the van began to move, as I fastened my seat belt.
Robby nodded at Roger, telling me, “I'm afraid we had to put your driver to sleep, when we wake him up again, he'll remember driving you to Cargall Industries and then relaxing for a nap.”
“Why such drastic measures?” I asked, with curiosity.
Robby explained, “Two reasons, you're being followed and your car is bugged. We want it to appear like you decided this appointment with Cargall Industries is a waste of time. So, instead you're going on a sightseeing tour. After all, it's been years since you've been in Washington with any time to spare. You'll show up quite late at Cargall and we'll switch drivers and passengers in their underground passenger garage. When you drive out it will appear that you only spent a few minutes there. That will make your watchers boss very happy and we like to keep the enemy happy and ignorant.”
I had met Dwight Cargall many times in the past, the last time had been just before I had retired as head of the NIA in 1995 and we were on a first name basis. He told me gravely, “Ford, I'm afraid what is going to be your agency when you take over on July 7th, has been royally screwed over in the last eight years. Your external security is first rate, but your internal security is truly dangerous.”
He expained, “When we signed the contract in 95 to provide the security systems for the NIA, we stated specifically that our system was a proprietary system. In order to keep it up to date, it was an absolute necessity that we do the upgrades. That if they decided not to use our system at some future date they would have to completely replace it, since no other firm, could upgrade it properly.”
He shook his head with annoyance, saying, “In spite of that in 1997 the Senate Intelligence Committee decided to get bids on upgrading the system. We know our bid was five million dollars for the first year and going up two million dollars, a year each year as the system became more complex, leveling off at fifteen million dollars, a year.”
He paused for a moment before statinge emphatically, “In spite of our warning, they chose a company that gave a bid of ten million dollars for the first year and going up appropriately each year following that!! By the year two thousand, the cost per year had jumped to thirty million dollars a year and has remained at that level since then!! In actual fact the work they have done each year has actually cost them five million dollars or less!!”
Robby started speaking, “Please bring up Clause 710-1 on the computer screen please David. If you would read it please General.”
The actual computer screen took up almost the whole wall. I read the clause. Unlike most lawyer's language this clause was almost blunt in what it required. Robby continued, “As you see this clause compels, not requires Cargall Industries, to test the system at least once a year as long as any part of the contract is in force. The contract is actually divided into two separate sections, one section covering internal security and the other concerns external security. That is much smaller, only covering the office of Director of the NIA, his Deputy, the code room and the active files room.”
He said flatly, “However there were never any bids on the external security section which Cargall calls Section Red. Cargall has continued to upgrade that section at least twice a year. Therefore, Clause 710-1 is still in effect.
Robby told me, “We have scans going back to 1998, if you should require them but we'll just give you the last scan right now. David please put up Section Red.” Suddenly the screen looked like it had millions of small colored dots on it. “Cycle through them please, David.” and as he hit the Enter key several times, the screen obviously changed but they were still just screens of dots.
Robby said softly and his large green eyes were cold. “This is what the system Cargall originally supplied is supposed to look like. It's not even supposed to give one solid color in case it could be unscrambled. Each of those screens that you saw actually changes several thousand times a second, randomly and each of the screens is scrambled separately each time it appears, from a random code with over a billion possible combinations.”
“The next part is live, General. Section Yellow is internal security. Show them Section Yellow, David. The head of internal security's office would be nice.” Robby said it, sarcastically, obviously it wasn't directed at anyone in the room. Suddenly I was looking at the head of internal security or at least the top of his bald head, since he was reading a newspaper.
“Nice resolution don't you think General?” Robby asked, “Zoom in on the paper, David and pick a story or ad that the General can read.”
It ended up being a real estate ad and some of the print would have been hard to read when actually reading the paper, but I could read every word. I had begun to get angry minutes ago and I had to push my anger down in order to keep my concentration.
Dwight Cargall took over, “As we said General, for someone else trying to upgrade our systems, they destroy the integrity of the system. No matter how good they are and the technicians who worked on the upgrades are very good. However, limited to five million dollars a year, which is what they believe the budget is, all they managed to do is increase the resolution and destroy the scrambling system.”
Robby said thoughtfully, “When Dwight realized how bad it was, he tried to inform the NIA sending letters by secure couriers, with video scans to the head of internal security and then to the Director of the NIA. When nothing was done he informed the Werewolf Council and we've been watching to make sure your security hasn't been compromised. As far as we can tell, it hasn't been so far. If you doubt our intentions, we can provide full information to any independent electronics firm that you wish to use. What Dwight provides the NIA is a very small portion of what his company does. He would lose little by losing the account.”
“No!” I said with emphasis, “I don't doubt Cargall at all. I could see the date on that newspaper and it was today's date. Who's responsible for this?”
Robby said, “Thank you, Dwight, David. I'll take over from here.”
If I'd doubted the power of a werewolf Elder, I learned then how powerful they were. David as Dwight's assistant, was of course used to taking orders. Dwight wasn't, I had seen him argue vehemently with some powerful Senators, yet he accepted the order so calmly, that I could tell he totally respected the one giving the order. Both of them left the room and Robby moved to the computer.
Robby brought up a still picture, which I recognized. It had been taken at the Senate Intelligence Committee. He enlarged it, showing one of the Senators, telling me, Robby said intently, “Senator Peter Thompson, is the most powerful single member of this committee. He's never been chairman and he doesn't want to be. However up to your selection he thought he controlled the committee. He found out that he didn't. We swung a little weight behind you, to make sure you were chosen and he was totally shocked.”
Robby brought up a second picture, Owen Thompson, head of internal security, I didn't like him any better now that I could see all of him, than I had when I had seen him slacking off in his office and could only see the top of his head. Robby said, “Remember I said in Texas that you were on the short list and were probably at the top. Well I was wrong. Owen Thompson was at the top.”
I snorted with disgust saying sarcastically, “He couldn't find a spy, if there was one, two feet in front of him, with a sign in one foot letters saying SPY on his chest.”
“We agree.” Robby said and then in the coldest voice I had ever heard, “We agree so completely that if he had been chosen, in spite of the fact that this would have been a major change in our policy, he wouldn't have lived to take over the NIA.” There was no doubt in that cold voice nor in my mind, that they would have done it.
There was a buzz on the intercom beside the computer. Robby pushed down a button and without asking who it was he said, “Come on in Len.”
I recognized the man who entered from Texas. He was carrying a briefcase. Robby told me, “This is Len Peters, General. I won't insult your memory by telling you where you met him. He's been checking the blood test that the Cargall medical staff has been doing on your driver. The drug we use is almost harmless. The key word is almost. Depending on which drug we use to wake him up and we have a choice of four, the chance of any danger is about one in one hundred thousand of causing some damage. One in one hundred thousand is unacceptable when with a simple blood test, we can reduce that risk to nil.”
It was almost a little incongruous. A couple of seconds earlier he had been calmly discussing killing a man. Yet now he was showing that he had the compassion to make sure there was absolutely no danger to my driver. My heart warmed to my ruthless, yet compassionate little nephew. I know many people, would have considered him no relation. However, I knew from my sister-in-law that when he had called me with a little humor, Uncle General, without the General part, was exactly how he regarded me.
Len Peters opened the briefcase and handed Robby a removable hard drive and then set a small cube, about two inches on a side, on the desk. When he switched it on, half a dozen red lights came on. While Robby turned off the computer and swapped hard drives and then rebooted the computer, the lights went from red to green at about one every ten seconds.
When the last light went green, Len said, “Nobody watching or listening, Robby.” He came over and sat by me and when I offered my hand, he took it in a firm grip.
Absently, Robby said, “Len was in Naval Intelligence from 1991 to 1999, General. All right General,” he said when the screen came to life. “We're up. We trust Dwight completely, but at the same time, we don't want to reveal everything that we know.”
He clicked on the browser and then entered an url, stephenkingfiction.com. He clicked on Cycle of the Werewolf and then entered a password. I smothered a laugh and Len grinned at me. The screen went black and then white. On the screen the words appeared, 'May we help you, Elder?'
Robby typed in, 'Show NIA headquarters, Red Section, Director's office.'
The screen suddenly showed a picture of the Director's office. Miles Reach, who I would be replacing was going through a file, unlit pipe in his mouth. My mouth went dry as I recognized the clothes I had seen him in earlier in the day.
“This is just a little cautionary note, General. While Cargall's security system is the best that you can get, it's not impossible to penetrate.” Robby said, coolly. “I told you in Texas that BeeGee doesn't exist in any organizational sense, well there is one exception, the scientific division. It has no particular name, but as far as we know, we're several years ahead of the rest of the intelligence world. All they knew about Cargall's system is that it existed. It took them a year, but they finally managed to penetrate it. If we can do it, then someone else can do it, as well. I hate to do this to you but your safest option is to be paranoid. Always assume that the enemy is watching and listening. Your instincts have always been good about people. Trust in them rather than in technology.”
I could see the General was shaken, but technology had changed a lot in the last eight years. People tended to rely on it too much. Technology changed, people didn't.
I hit ESC and when the white screen returned, I typed, 'Put up the company that does the maintenance on the NIA security system Yellow Section and Peter Thompson's holding company.'
The holding company was at the top and it was called Thompson Inc. and the electronics firm was Micro Electronics Inc. One further command, 'Connect the dots please.' and an organizational chart was shown, showing a couple of dozen companies with four layers between the two companies.
Robby told me, “We've been putting this together for the last three years. Through Micro Electronics, Thompson has bilked the NIA and several other intelligence agencies to the tune of two hundred and fifty million dollars. We connected the dots, or in this case, companies and most of what we did, was illegal. I don't know if it would be possible to put this together legally. I rather doubt it.”
He said emphatically, “Yours is the only agency that is a danger to Thompson right now and that's because you're taking over!! None of the other agencies will be changing heads before the next election!! Thompson planned to get his cousin Owen in as head of the NIA to hide what he had been doing, until after the next election, since he has already announced his intention to retire! After his retirement he would have disappeared, first easing himself out of the limelight, then moving overseas to a country with no extradition treaty with the US.”
I typed into the computer, 'Put up the Andropov photograph please.'
A picture was placed on the screen. Obviously, the General recognized Peter Thompson, but not the other man. I told him, “Meet, The Savage, General.”
I saw his hands clench. I told him, “No, General your people hurt him but they didn't kill him. It took four years to reconstruct his hip and leg and another two years to completely rehabilitate his injuries. We thought the NIA had got him as well, but one of our people sighted him in 95, just as he was going into rehab. We've been keeping an eye on him since then. He's a very dangerous man, General because he's a total believer and he will do almost anything to bring back Communism. Though it's a minor consideration, he's also a werewolf. This picture was taken in Geneva in late 2000 and that's when we started investigating Thompson.”
I said seriously, “Unfortunately Nicolai Andropov is aware that he is being watched and he disappeared on two occasions. On each of those occasions an agent who was investigating Peter Thompson died. We don't think it was a coincidence. The Savage is being duped, General. As I said, he's a dedicated communist. The only way he would work for Thompson is if he believed that Thompson was also a communist and was working to overthrow the capitalist system of the United States and bring in communism.”
“Show him, Len.” Robby said.
Len took a case out of his pocket, such as was used to display jewelry. It was about ten inches long and was lined with a white cloth, on which I could see absolutely nothing. Len handed me a magnifying glass and with it I could barely see what looked like a very thin piece of black thread, running the full length of the case. I had been aware that while I had been looking at the case the screen had changed. When I looked up, I saw a map of the world on the screen.
Robby explained, “The Savage had a very small group of individuals that he used. One of them you code named, The Planner. The Planner's real name is Alexie Yachenco and he was unwillingly co-opted by The Savage. He has been working on a werewolf funded research project in Siberia since nineteen ninety-three and he's a good friend. Since The Savage went active again, we've been expecting him to get in touch with Alexie when the need for complex planning appeared. What you see in that case is a tracking device. It's one-tenth the diameter of a human hair. One exactly like it was implanted in Alexie.”
He explained, “Four days ago, I got a message from Cyrus Amree, who's a friend and works with Alexie. They were in Moscow for a conference and Alexie showed up in Cyrus's room and said if he disappeared to call me and tell me 'The Savage is loose.'“
Robby hit enter on the computer and a line starting at Moscow, went to New Delhi, to Hong Kong, to Honolulu, to LA to Washington. Robby said, “Satellite tracking shows that The Savage, assuming he's still with The Planner, is in Washington. He is and we've been watching him and who else would he be after except you, General. You're the only one who is endangering Peter Thompson at the moment.”
I nodded. I was the only logical target. It didn't thrill me but at the same time, it didn't really frighten me all that much either. Just from the way he talked, I had complete confidence in Robby. I'd known Generals who didn't organize information as well as this little boy. I asked, “I gather you plan on doing something about it?”
Robby's eyes were cold as he smiled at me, telling me, “Oh, we already are, General. When we first got here, Len also contacted the people we had in Washington who have been watching The Savage and they're moving in on him, right now. If they get him we won't send you out by car but go to the backup plan. By the way, Owen Thompson doesn't know anything about his cousin bilking the government. He a loyal member of the NIA. He's simply a person in a position of power who's not very bright. He's put his thirty years in, retiring him will be adequate. That tells you how much of a threat we regarded his possible appointment as head of the NIA. He's what we consider an innocent. To kill an innocent would not only be against our policy, but against our principles, but we would have done it, anyway.”
Robby's big green eyes were suddenly laughing at me, as he asked, “We're going to have to wait General, how do you feel about cartoons?” and he hit the Enter key and suddenly Rocky and Bullwinkle were on the screen.
We watched two complete episodes before the phone rang. Robby hit ESC and the action on the screen froze. He put the call on the speaker phone, saying, “This is Robby Hansen, I hope you have good news?”
“I do. We've got them all alive and Alexie is fine. We had one person shot, but it's not serious. We put everybody to sleep except for Alexie”
“All right, bring them to Cargall's. We have the truck ready.” Robby said. He switched off the computer and removed the hard drive, replacing it with the other and handing it to Len. He put it in the briefcase, also shutting off the bug detector and placing that and the case holding the bug into the briefcase as well.
“Shall we go, General.” said Robby.
I nodded at the Doctor, “Wake him up.” and he put a hypospray to The Savage's neck and pressed the trigger. In a few minutes, he started to wake up. It took about five minutes before he was fully alert. He tried to move and found that while he could move his arms a little, that was all. He looked around, it was brightly lit and looked like a living room, but he could tell we were moving.
He asked in perfect English, “If you don't mind a prisoner asking questions, would you mind telling me where I am? This feels very weird.”
I moved forward and his eyes flicked to me, looking at me closely. I told him, “You're in a small transport truck, you know the ones with the cargo box attached directly to the cab. In some places, they're also called a straight truck. I didn't rig this out, by the time I got here everything was already in place, so I decided I might as well use it.”
“Do you have me drugged?” he asked, with curiosity.
“No, I've got most of your muscles locked down, allowing you some arm movement.” I told him.
He looked at me, “An Elder, you must be Robby Hansen. Well Robby, now that you've got me, what do you intend to do with me? Kill me?”
I laughed, telling him, “That would be silly. If I was going to kill you, I had no need to wake you up. It would have been simpler and caused less emotional toll, on the people involved. No I intend to let you have a glimpse at Peter Thompson's mind. How are things going, Len?” I asked of Len, who was sitting in front of a television monitor, which showed the road ahead of us.
“We're almost at the accident site. Maybe another thirty seconds.” he said.
I said generally to everyone in the truck, “Everybody grab on to something. We're not supposed to get involved with the accident but we'll be stopping abruptly, so I don't want anyone hurt.” I sat down on the sofa, which was facing The Savage and waited for the jerk as the truck stopped. I saw him grasp the arms of his chair with his hands. When we topped abruptly, I reached out until I located the mind I wanted. I began digging deep until I found what I required, then reaching out for Nicolai's mind I joined the two together.
I told him, “This is Peter Thompson's mind. This is the section that's about you, Nicolai. Just have a look at it. I'll let you find out what it's all about without my interfering.”
I watched his face and in a way, I almost felt pity for him as he found what I wanted him to find. The fact that he had been duped. The rage began to rise on his face, as he found the fact that when he killed the agents investigating Peter Thompson he had killed two innocents. That sickened him. He was a fanatic and I intended for him either to die, or be rendered harmless, but outside of the parameters of his fanaticism he was a gentle man. His code name was a little misleading since he had chosen it himself.
Not that he hadn't lived up to it on several occasions. Unfortunately as a fanatic, he would kill what he considered the opposition in any way possible as long as he wouldn't kill an innocent in the process. Therefore, he usually killed up close and personal, or long distance, with a rifle. He would never have dreamed of using a bomb.
I nodded at the General, who was sitting behind Nicolai. I told him, “You can come forward now, General.” When his intended target came into sight there was no change on Nicolai's face. He was already as angry as he could get, with Peter Thompson.
Rutherford Mayer sat down beside me on the sofa. I said softly, “You already know who this is, I could see in your mind that he was your next target. He too is what we would consider an innocent. Killing him would simply have been to cover up Peter Thompson's tracks, in the bilking of the government of hundreds of millions of dollars.”
“What do you intend to do?” he asked, in an anger thickened voice.
I explained, “The primary werewolf Law, an eye for an eye. Right at this moment, you're thinking of revenge. Well I intend to release you and allow you to go after Peter Thompson. You're a good commander, Nicolai, but you lack the planning skills needed for the operations that you have pulled off. You've always been aware of your lack, so you use people like Alexie Yachenco.” and I gave a nod toward Alexie, who was also sitting behind Nicolai.
He started to turn his head and realizing that I had relaxed some of the controls, he was able to turn it to see Alexie. Turning back to me, he said with amusement, though anger was still evident. He asked, “It was a trap, right from the beginning, wasn't it?”
I nodded, telling him, “Yes, it was. We want Peter Thompson and you're too dangerous a man to let live in human form, Nicolai. We will give you weapons. Short range weapons, which will mean that you have to get close to him to use them. His guards too are innocents, so you won't kill them, but you're good enough to get Thompson before they get you. We have located the documents in the Kremlin which indicates that Thompson was recruited by the KGB in 1980. The ones you knew about which convinced you that he was actually a communist. Of course, he was just using them, as you now know.”
I said soberly, “Whether you are killed or not, we will release those documents, as well as the fact that you are a dedicated communist, who hasn't belonged to the KGB since the early nineties. You found out what Thompson was doing and outraged went after him. That means that you particularly, not Russia will be blamed, so the relationship between the two countries won't be harmed.”
I told him, “If you should manage to survive, we don't intend to let you languish in prison. Your planning skills might not be adequate when you have only a few hours or days. We are quite aware that when you have the time, you are an even better planner than Alexie, so we won't give you time to plan your escape. We will arrange an apparent escape and you will be sealed into wolf form. I doubt if that fanaticism that is part of you, will ever change, so it's unlikely that you'll ever be returned to human form. Unlike others who have been locked into wolf form, they didn't have the survival skills and probably didn't have the ability to learn them. It's something we are quite sure that you can do, so we will release you at Alexie's compound and you can be fed while you are learning how to survive in wolf form.”
His eyes took on a faraway look for a moment and then he looked at me directly, saying, “It's sounds very peaceful. I'm looking forward to it. If I survive that is.” and he grinned and I couldn't help but grin back and I could see the General from the corner of my eye trying to hold back his smile.
Wed June 25,2003
Senator Peter Thompson was killed yesterday by an unknown assailant. He had dismissed the guards who usually escorted him. He was driving back to his home last night when his car was stopped and he was shot twice in the heart at short range.
Sat June 28,2003
Shocking documents come to light about recently slain Senator Peter Thompson, showing that he was recruited by the KGB in 1980.
Sun June 29,2003
Recently murdered Senator Peter Thompson was revealed today to have used his position on the Senate Intelligence Committee to have bilked the government out of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Government sources say that they suspect a former KGB agent code named The Savage of killing the Senator. A dedicated communist, The Savage had broken with the Russian government when the communist regime was toppled. Apparently The Savage had worked for the Senator believing him to be a committed communist. When he found out that he was being duped he killed the Senator in revenge.
I was taking a last break before I took over the NIA on Monday. Since my sister-in-law Louisa and my niece, Jennifer, were spending the July 4th weekend in Benson I had decided to join them, especially since that would give me a chance to talk to Robby at the same time. They held a barbecue in the Hansen-Wilson back yard and I managed to grab a chair beside Robby.
I said to Robby, “Dwight was telling me that it should only take a couple of weeks to strip out the supposed upgrades that were installed and perform legitimate upgrades, since much of the system was designed in modular form. I'm also kind of glad that Nicolai, managed to pull off such a clean hit.”
“It helped that the Senator decided to leave his guards behind and drive himself.” said Robby, his big green eyes twinkling.
Looking at him, I had a hunch, asking, “You helped the Senator decide that didn't you?”
Robby shook his head, as he said, “The Senator was the type of man who wanted control. Just to prove it, he did have a habit of insisting on driving himself and in this case I didn't have to help him make up his mind. He wanted to prove he was in control. He proved it right into his grave. You have somewhat of the same problem, General, not because you want control, but you tend to underestimate your importance. Don't make the Senator's mistake. Promise me that!” and his big green eyes locked with mine. Now, I had never been outstared by a child before, but those eyes were wise, far beyond his years and my eyes dropped first and I nodded.
“Alexie says that Nicolai seems to be enjoying his permanent switch to wolf form immensely. He can't breed of course, but he seems to be enjoying himself hugely with the lady wolves.” Robby said, as if nothing had happened. “Without his guidance, his assistants are essentially harmless, though we will keep an eye on them.”
Now one doesn't get to be a General, if he can't concentrate on two things at once. I saw Robby's little brother sneaking up on him, yet I was able to keep looking at Robby without revealing that fact. I had heard that Teddy had been looking for revenge ever since he had been awakened by having water poured over his head, when Rose Peters' babies had been born. It looked like he was about to get it and I certainly didn't want to spoil his fun. He was carrying a plastic bowl but I couldn't tell what was in it.
I found out when Teddy dumped it over Robby's head and Robby got slimed. It was green Jello, which had been put into the fridge just long enough to set a bit so it wasn't completely liquid. Robby just stared at me in shock, as the green stuff began running down his head and shoulders, chest and back and everybody started laughing. I imagine it was quite chilly.
He got up and with great dignity said, “Excuse me, but I think I have to get cleaned up.” and then he began giggling as he made his way toward the porch and a towel first, then inside to change.
Teddy had some paper towels with him, I found out that they weren't intended for Robby but to clean up any Jello that had spilled on the lawn chair. He'd had perfect aim though and there was only a few drops on the chair. After cleaning them off, he sat down in Robby's place, sitting sideways on the chair, both hands on the armrest.
I was curious and I asked, “So, does this mean that Robby will be coming after you for revenge?”
Teddy shook his small blond head, clear blue eyes looking at me. He told me, “No, since he started it, we're even. Until one of us pulls another practical joke. We sorta have a agreement that you have to wait about a week before you pull another joke, but that doesn't hold if you think of something really great.”
“I gather he arranged an awesome birthday present for you this year.” I told him.
Teddy bounced in his chair with enthusiasm, saying, “Yeah, he gave Barry and me roller blades, but he 'ranged with Sam and Jeannie Reynolds to fly us all to Allanta for the weekend and to see a couple of Braves games. We sat in a couple of private boxes. We rattled around in the plane. It's a 747 that Sam’s company owns. Even with my whole class, Barry and Robby and Paul, the twins, the Wilkins kids the porch gang and Ishmael and the Ross's to act as chaperon's, it almost seemed empty. Sam's company owns a small hotel in Atlanta, that's supposed to open this weekend so he put us all up there so the staff could sorta have a dress rehearsal.”
He explained, “Sam was going to Atlanta anyway, but it's sorta awesome to know that you have a brother with friends, who can arrange things like that. One of the Davis twins, just after we met, asked what having an Elder as a brother was like. This is the first time me and Barry have seen a little of what that means.” Teddy ended seriously.