True Blue Lou
by K. Kylyra Ameringer
"What are you doing?" Lou gasped out from his seat.
"Plotting, planning, and scheming," Phoebe replied absently.
"We've got it narrowed down to these areas," Gloria said to Phoebe, indicating several circled spots on the drawings.
"No, this one isn't feasible," Phoebe said, pointing at one of the circles. "The broom closet's already been used. Try shuffling them over here," she pointed to an unmarked area.
"Yuri, can you make the adjustments to the equations?" Gloria asked, craning her neck to see around Phoebe.
"Sure, no problem," Yuri said, already scribbling away on a corner of the drawing.
"What is going on here?" Lou asked, rising from his seat.
"You," Phoebe said pointing at Lou, "sit and drink your espresso. And you," she said, nudging Yuri, "get to work."
Lou flopped back into his chair as Phoebe approached his table. She pulled a seat out and sat primly on the edge, swiping at a strand of her unruly hair. Clasping her hands together on the edge of the table, she moistened her lips and looked expectantly at Lou.
Lou gulped a large drink of his espresso, not even tasting it. He studied Phoebe with disbelief; she was not out of control, she was not referring to herself in the third person ... She was more than normal at the moment; she was in command of the situation. Lou watched Yuri as he moved over to the closest terminal and started pulling wires. Gloria assisted him by holding up some schematics.
"Lou," Phoebe said softly, drawing his attention away from the pair. "I wasn't kidding when I said there are plots and schemes going on here. We needed access to a terminal with the system already impaired to implant a subroutine in the RSM."
"But ... but you're always going on about plots and schemes against you and we've done everything to try to make you happy..." Lou said weakly.
"Yes, well, to paraphrase Salinger, 'I'm a paranoid in reverse. I always suspect people of plotting to make me happy.' I like to stay a step ahead of them." Phoebe caught the look in Lou's eye. "What? He said I could use the quote."
Lou shook his head slowly. "You're working with them, aren't you? The subversives."
"That's such an ugly word," Phoebe said with a distasteful look on her face. "We're a new political party."
"There are no political parties in the complex."
"Just like there are no plots or schemes - espresso or otherwise?" Phoebe asked with a laugh. "Grow up, Lou."
Lou sat silently for a moment, digesting this information. "This subroutine you're installing ... What does it do?"
Phoebe shrugged. "Nothing dangerous. We're just rerouting some friends to alternate locations for a little bit."
"Why? What's going on?"
"I could tell you but then I'd have to kill you," Phoebe said. "Honestly, it's better for you if you don't know the specifics. But remember," she stood and leaned across the table, "we're watching you. Any hint, any whisper of what's happening here today," Yuri had gained access to whatever system he needed and was busy tapping away at the terminal, "and you'll answer for it."
Lou shrank back into his seat. In all his six years, seven months and 291 days on the job he'd never seen Phoebe act this way. She'd been intimidating enough as a crazed but physically powerful field agent; in her new role as dominating commander she was downright horrifying.
"We're all set," Yuri called from the terminal. "The new emergency override system is installed and put to sleep until activated. Regular diagnostics should reveal nothing."
"Should?" Phoebe asked, crossing over to the terminal. "We can't depend on should. This needs to work. We've got people counting on us."
"I don't think Tro-" Yuri stopped himself at a look from Phoebe. "I don't think our friends," he began again with a quick look towards Lou, "will be detected anytime soon. I've done this sort of thing before, you know."
"If they are, you'll have to answer for it. I'm not facing her," Phoebe said.
Yuri raised his chin. "And if they're not I'll be the one to get the credit - for a change," he added pointedly.
"I'm sure," Gloria interrupted the two, "that everything will go fine. And none of us are in this for the credit. We all did our parts. Even Lou," she said, looking up.
True Blue Lou by K. Kylyra Ameringer