Truth. Justice. Minesweeper.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Cruickshank wanted me to set up some time for him to talk to Greyghost about the whole Underhand thing, and Greyghost insisted that Cassie and I sit in. So yesterday morning the four of us were sitting around the table in the blue room. Greyghost was still and enigmatic. Cassie was attentive. I was bored. Cruickshank was going on and on.

Essentially he was explaining to Greyghost about all his financial machinations under the guise of Dieter Solarin. Solarin has been buying land and weapons and chemicals and other things intended to bring him to the attention of Underhand, but without doing anything yet to interfere with any of Underhand's activities. This must be some kind of long-term plan they were cooking up.

"Next!" Cruickshank shouted, waking me up, "Underhand's organization seems to have a new player. He was seen poking around our mail drop in Prague, and I've also gotten word that he's been active in Miami and Washington. Definitely an Empire City boy, though. His name's Fountain.

"He's only been with Underhand for a short while, but he's already got a lot of authority. His operation in Miami was a raid on a rival drug enterprise, and in Washington he handled some very sensitive negotiations with one of Underhand's tame congressmen. So this is a guy who's got something on the ball.

"From witnesses in Miami we do have some details about his super powers. He seems to have drowned one man in a globe of root beer that he conjured into existence. He's stronger than a normal human, and he seems able to use fire to fly in some way. The accounts aren't really clear on that point."

"Could we go back to the root beer for a second?" Cassie said.

"All I know is what they tell me," Cruickshank said.

"Where is Fountain now?"

"Somewhere in Europe. It's possible he's investigating Solarin. Which is good--we've left some interesting things around for people to find." Then he shouted, "Dennis!" which woke me up again.


"I need you to be John Caruthers again. Solarin is buying the Neural Distorter Cannon that used to belong to ShriekFiend, and you need to sign some papers. I'll give you the details later."

"Aw, man. I don't want to."

"Dennis, you're John Caruthers. You have to."

"I feel like I've got a big target on my back every time I do this stuff. Besides, who cares if Caruthers doesn't look the same every time; Solarin's the important fake guy. Can't you do it? Or, I don't know, Cole?" Watch this.

"No. I want you to do it," Greyghost told me. "I don't want any of the people involved to see Cole or Cruickshank. But there should be no danger, and in any case Perseid can accompany you in disguise." Ah ha!

I nodded reluctantly and the meeting broke up. Cassie stopped at my desk. "Who's Cole?"

"Cole is Greyghost's deep-cover guy. Anytime Greyghost has a plan that needs somebody to be in disguise for a long time, he calls Cole in. I've only met him once. But now I know that Greyghost is planning on using him in this Underhand thing."

"Why didn't you just ask him normally?"

I shook my head. "He doesn't like to talk about Cole. I think he figures that the less often his name is spoken, the more secret he is."

"So all that trembling in fear, that was just to draw Greyghost out."

"No. I really am terrified of Underhand. I think he's going to kill us all." I do, too.

"Oh. So, lunch?"

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