29 Dec 2017

The Devil You Know - Chapter 22

Ione made arrangements with Gemma.
Ione and Karen arrived back at the hotel.  When they entered, Ben held the note Karen had left.  Ione waved to the angel before flopping on the couch.  Karen walked across the room on unsteady legs.  "Ione, I am never riding with you again."

"We got here safe and sound."

"Barely.  You almost hit that truck!"

"There was plenty of room."

Ben glanced from Ione to Karen.  "Let me get you something, Karen."  He helped the young woman sit down at the counter.  "You seem healthy."

"Just shaken.  Never get on a motorcycle with Ione."

Ione rolled her eyes.  "You insisted on coming along with me."

"Right, that."  Ben waved Karen's note in the air.  "I can't make out all the words on this."

Karen snatched the note from him.  "I just wanted to make – stop laughing, Ione – that you wouldn't worry if we weren't here when you got back."

"Where did you two go?"

"Setting up some insurance for tonight," Ione said.  "And Mara asked me to say 'hi' for her."

"Thanks.  And what sort of insurance?"

"The crazy kind," Karen said.

Ben pinched his nose.  "You didn't call in the French Foreign Legion, did you?"

Ione laughed.  "Not that crazy.  You know someone who did that?"

"Long story and not that relevant now."  Ben slipped in behind the counter in the room's small kitchen.  "I'm going to make us a snack.  How do Scotch eggs sound?"

"Wonderful."  Karen stretched her legs.  "So, oh great master spy, what now?"

Ione shrugged.  "The Scotch eggs sound good."

Karen wadded up her note and threw it at her friend.  "After that."

"I make a call and then we wait until Jack shows up."  Ione tossed the ball of paper back at Karen.  "I've got an idea in mind.  I wouldn't call it a plan.  Not even if I squint."

Ben retrieved the ingredients he needed.  "So you went out to get insurance that you don't know will help?"

"If you want to put it that way."  Ione sighed.  "Ben, right now, Jack's plan is to get me close to the rogue.  After that, I don't think even he knows what to do.  He wants to prevent the Final War.  You want the same thing.  If it means humanity doesn't get wiped from the face of the planet, I'm all for stopping it, too."  A knock interrupted her.  She got up to answer the door.  "The key factor is that you need a human."  Ione opened the door to see Mara standing there.  "Mara, hi.  Come in."

Mara handed Ione her sports bag.  "I can't stay long.  Jack's got me running around doing last minute errands."  The succubus entered the room.  "That smells sinful, though."

Ben looked away from his cooking.  "Could you find a different adjective?"

"Hi, Ben."  Mara tried to look demure.

"Hello, Mara."  Ben returned to cooking.

"Ben's making us a snack," Ione said.  "You're welcome to stay if you want some."

"No, no, I better go.  There's still things to do."  Mara turned to leave.

"Mara, later tonight, I'll make something else," Ben said.  "You're welcome to join us."

"Really?"  Mara perked up.

"Really.  We're all in this together."

"Thanks, Ben.  Oh, Ione, Jack wants you at the Port Hercule for five tonight.  He also said to dress warm."  Mara left, giving the angel a wink before she closed the door.

Ione set her bag down on the floor.  She unzipped it to find her laptop sitting on top of her now neatly folded clothes.  "Yes!  This helps!"  She scooped her computer out of her bag and set it on the table.

"You're going to hit the rogue with the laptop?" Karen asked, skeptical.  "It has points for being unexpected, but I don't think it'll do much."

"You're joking, right?"  Ben got out some plates.  "Because I don't recommend hitting an angel."

"Funny, guys."  Ione fired up her laptop, getting it connected to the hotel room's WiFi.  "No, what I'm doing is getting my insurance to get things I'll need."

"Things we'll need," Karen corrected.  "I am not sitting here waiting for you to return, Ione.  I could have done that in Ottawa."

Ione looked up from her screen.  "Why did you come after me?  

Karen walked over to join Ione.  "Someone needed to look after you and you're not the best at doing that."  She gave her friend a hug.  "And you do need looking after, cavorting around with a devil and a succubus, not inviting me along for the fun."

"You have an odd idea of fun," Ben said.  "The Scotch eggs are almost ready.  Ione, blame me.  I felt Jack's influence on you and sort of nudged Karen into helping."

Karen scowled at the angel.  "You didn't nudge me.  I already wanted to follow.  You just offered the airfare."

"I'm already falsifying my report for Lawrence.  Any more and he's going to wonder.  And I'm running out of names."  Ione launched several programs.  "Unless you want to be known as Hedy?"

"Isn't that 'Hedley'?"  Karen smirked.

Ione glared at Karen.  "Not Blazing Saddles.  Hedy Lamarr.  She worked on secure transmissions during World War II."

Karen sat across from Ione.  "Any relation to the actress?"

"Same person.  I just need to send a note to my insurance."  Ione flexed her fingers before typing.  Hello, Gemma.  It's your second favourite Canadian.  I need six radios for tonight, the ear type we used in Paris.  I'll meet you at the same bar at 4:45 tonight.  Don't be late.  Ione hit send after a quick proof read.  "There.  Now I'll go get changed into something more suitable for saving the world in and then enjoy one of Ben's Scotch eggs."

The rest of the afternoon passed as Ione wanted.  She changed out of her skirt into a faded pair of jeans and pulled on a blue sweater, leaving her corset on underneath.  The Scotch egg she ate settled her stomach a little.  After one last futile effort to try to keep Karen from following, Ione grabbed her jacket and left.

With plenty of time to meet Gemma, Ione took a quick ride through Monte Carlo, figuring it would be her only chance to see the city during the whirlwind tour she was on.  She kept the sports bike down at the speed limit to allow herself a good view even if she was on the city's narrow roads.  Ione promised herself a return trip, one where she could take her time and not have to deal with the end of humanity.

Ione eased the Yamaha to a stop outside the  Brasserie de Monaco.  Gemma walked out so she could be seen, a small bag hanging from her arm.  "'Favourite Canadian'?"

"Nope."  Ione raised her helmet's visor.  "Second favourite.  Do you have the radios?"

Gemma shook the bag.  "Why do you need so many?"

"That's on a need to know basis.  What you need to know is that one of them is yours."

"What are you up to, Mackenzie?"

"As soon as I know, I'll tell you."  Ione smirked.

Gemma rolled her eyes.  "You don't have a plan."

"It's more of an outline."

"And what is my part?"  The British agent retrieved one of the radios from the bag.

Ione's smirk became a grin.  "You get to be you in all your lovely suspicious secret agent-ness."

"You must be drunk."

"I think it's the corset.  I always get too far into character when I wear it."  Ione took the bag with the radios from Gemma.  "What's the range on these?"

"Twenty-five kilometres."

"Here's hoping that's enough."  Ione fished her phone out of her jacket pocket and checked the time.  "I have to go.  The radios can be set to multiple channels?"

"Bloody rookies!"  Gemma held up her radio.  "Here."  She demonstrated changing the channel on the radio for Ione.

"Thanks.  Set yours to channel five.  I'll call you when I'm alone."  Ione lowered her helmet's visor.

"Mackenzie, wait."  Gemma looked around.  "Good hunting."  She clapped the Canadian's shoulder.

Ione pulled away from the curb.  The ride to Port Hercule was short.  Jack looked impatient.  Mara stood two paces behind him, carrying a large briefcase and appearing impassive, though she did give Ione a quick wave.  Several metres away, Ben and Karen paced.  Ione dismounted from the motorcycle and approached the group.  She removed her helmet as she walked, smoothing her hair with fingers.  "Hello."  Ione handed Jack the helmet.  "Showtime?"

"You're late," Jack said.

"By two minutes."  Ben walked over.  "Just how pinpoint is the timing on your 'plan'?"

Ione held up the bag with the radios.  "I was getting some new toys for us."  She handed the bag over to Ben.  "What's the plan, Jack?"

Jack began walking, forcing everyone to rush to keep pace.  "The meet has been arranged.  The exchange is being done offshore outside the twelve mile limit.  That should keep law enforcement off your back while you wait for the rogue."

"And I'm going alone."

"What?  Jack, no!"  Ben reached out to pull on Jack's suit.  The devil stopped long enough to glare at the angel.  "You can't send Ione in by herself."

"Ben, he doesn't have a choice," Ione said.  "If I'm supposed to stop the rogue, Jack and Mara can't be anywhere near me.  Neither can you.  The rogue will press for the Final War if any of you do."

"I'm human," Karen said.  "I can go."

Ione turned around to face her friend.  "And do what?  The rogue won't be the only one out there, assuming he shows.  There's also the criminals and they haven't met you.  One look at you and they'll probably shoot us both."

"So I'm left on the sidelines."

Ben gave Karen a reassuring squeeze.  "I think we all are."

"That's why I brought the goodies."

Jack opened the bag.  "Radios?"

Ione nodded.  "So you can at least hear what's happening.  Maybe even give me advice."  She plucked a radio from the bag and repeated Gemma's demonstration on changing the channel.  "Set this to channel three."  She put the earpiece into her ear.  "And try not to be too loud."

Jack took a radio for himself, then passed the bag off.  "You've been thinking, my dear.  Maybe we do stand a chance."

"I wouldn't go that far.  I'm treating this like a LARP.  It's going to boil down to random chance.  I'm just good at taking advantage of lucky breaks in a game."

"My dear Ione, that's how everyone gets ahead on this Earth, by taking advantage."  Jack smiled.  "You're far more clever than I gave you credit for."

"Really, Jack, tempting Ione now?"  Ben rolled his eyes.

"Can't blame a devil for trying."  Jack stopped at a long red and white speedboat tied to the dock.  "Can you handle one of these?"

Ione stared at the boat.  "Maybe?  I mean, I know how to drive, but the only boat I've driven was my father's, and he had an outboard motor on a rowboat."

"Mara will show you, then, as she gets you out of the harbour."

"And where do I put the drugs?"

Karen blinked.  "Wait, what?  Ione, you never mentioned drugs."

"I also never mentioned the illegal arms."

Ben stepped in between the two women.  "Now isn't the best time."

"The angel is right."  Jack glowered.  "And you do have a point, Ione.  The boat can handle it.  There's a bunk just under the fore deck where they can be stored.  Ideally, you shouldn't have to worry about that."

"It's more for your criminal friends, Jack.  They might ask awkward questions."

"The briefcase's contents should distract them from looking too close."

Ione stared at the briefcase in Mara's hand.  "You have all the cash there?"

"They will check, my dear.  You should get going.  Mara?"

"Yes, boss."  Mara climbed on board the boat.  She set down the briefcase to help Ione in.

"Check the radios."  Ione pointed at her ear.  "I don't want to lose anyone because of a glitch."  The group verified the radios worked and were on the correct channel.  "Alright, let's do this."

Karen knelt down beside the boat.  "Ione, be careful, okay?  I don't want to explain to Amy that you won't make it to her wedding."

"I'll be careful, Karen.  Promise."  Ione sat down.  "Anytime you're ready, Mara."

Mara finished untying the boat from the dock.  She jumped into the driver's seat.  "Just watch what I do.  You'll pick it up."

Ione waved to Karen as Mara guided the boat into the harbour.  The succubus kept the speed down, though Ione could see that she wanted to open the throttle wide open.  The two women passed yacht after yacht, each one opulent and worth far more than Ione could ever hope to earn working.  Once the boat reached open water, Mara pulled in close to a jetty.  "Ione, I really wish I could be there with you."

"I really wish you could be, too."  Ione pulled Mara into a tight hug.  "Mara, thanks."


"For being here and listening to me when I was being a bitch.  You're not fluff."  Ione gave Mara one last squeeze.  "I better get going.  The world won't save itself."

Mara smiled.  "I'm rooting for you."  She leapt on to the jetty, landing with grace despite the high heeled boots she wore.  "The goods are on that boat there."  She pointed at a luxury yacht with green trim anchored far off shore.  "They're waiting for you."

Ione slipped into the driver's seat.  She opened the throttle little by little, getting a feel for how the boat reacted.  Once she found a comfortable speed, she took a quick look behind her.  Mara had left the jetty, heading back to meet with the others.  Ione reached into her jacket pocket and switched her radio to channel five.  "You there, G?"

"I'm here," Gemma answered.  "What's going on?"

"I'm heading to the meet.  There's a yacht with green trim past the twelve mile limit.  That's my destination."

"You don't make this easy, Mac."

"If this was easy, would I need you?"

Gemma laughed.  "Right.  Hey. Mac, what did you mean, 'second favourite Canadian'?"

"I figured Ryan Reynolds would be your favourite.  Have you seen his ass?"

"You got me there.  You have a plan yet?"

"Getting there.  Hard to know what to plan for without knowing what's waiting for me.  But something's coming together.  The rest of my team is on channel three.  Feel free to listen in, but give me a signal of some sort if you need to talk to me."

"I'll double click."  Gemma thumbed her radio twice to let Ione know what the signal sounded like.

"That works.  I'm switching back to channel three so the team doesn't start wondering."

Next Week:
"It sounds like a war there!"
"My dear, you're making me sound better than I could have ever hoped."
"Is he walking on the water?"
"Prepare to meet your maker."

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