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Britchy shook her head sadly at him. “Poor deluded male,” she said in mock-regret.
“Tarlyle’s PM sent me – what mental delusion assailed him, I have no idea – but here I am.”
Heaven help us.
“So, status update.”
He then realised that they had finished. “So, where are twinkle-Dee and twinkle-dum at the moment?” Britchy enquired.
Rue pulled out her phone and took a look. “Still there,” she reported.
“And what does their itinerary say?” Britchy continued.
Racquel pulled out her phone and pressed a button. A holo-image of the itinerary appeared. She typed some instruction in on her phone and suddenly Bond heard a beep! from his phone. “Sent a copy to each of you,” Racquel explained.
Smart girl, Bond thought as he began reading their itinerary. He frowned and zoomed in one part of it. “One part of it’s circled thrice with a red texta,” Bond said.
“You’re right,” Rue confirmed, zooming in on her phone at the same part.
” ‘The National Museum,’ ” Racquel read out slowly. “They’re going to visit tomorrow. What’s so special about this museum?”
“Are they showcasing anything?” Bond suggested. “Paintings of nude women or- Ow!” He glared at Rue, who had hit him, as he rubbed his sore shoulder. “If you keep hitting me like that, you’ll ruin the whole body appeal that I have. I mean, it’s not everybody who has the body of a Roman god – OOF!!”
He picked up the pillow that had been thrown at him and threw it right back at Rue. “Hey! Watch my hair!” she exclaimed and threw it back.
“Children, stop it!” Racquel ordered. “I have googled Crystaldell’s museum and, according to their website, the museum will be showcasing some new antiques and fossil specimens.”
“Why would they want to go to that?” Britchy asked.
Bond shrugged. “Maybe they have a taste for antiques,” he replied.
“What are the stuff that they are showcasing?” Rue enquired.
“Fossils, ancient watches, jewellery, some ancient documents and carvings…and a crystal,” Racquel rattled off, giving slight emphasis to the ‘crystal’ part.
“Crystal?” Rue repeated.
“Yes. A large, powerful crystal that is meant to originated from some time during the Aztec period,” Racquel read out.
“So no paintings?” Bond enquired. Racquel shook her head. Bond pouted. “Just my lucky day,” he muttered.
“The important thing is that this crystal sounds a lot like the Polychora,” Racquel continued. “We never knew exactly where it was on Iota Parada, but now I think we have a decent hint.”
“Hang on!” Rue interrupted. “Something’s up.”
“What is it? Half-price on beer? Coffee? Single ladies?” Bond quipped.
Rue face-palmed. “You need serious help, Bond,” she told him.
“Oh, I’ve tried,” Bond deadpanned. “My psychiatrist needs a psychiatrist.”
“Anyway,” Rue continued, trying not to smile, “one of our targets have just entered the lobby…okay, now said target is exiting the hotel and…just crossed the street to…the nearest bus stop while the other is still in their hotel room.”
“So, who’s keeping an eye on whom?” Bond enquired.
“Racquel, you and Bond keep an eye on the one in the hotel room. Britchy, you and I will follow the one at the bus stop,” Rue ordered. “Everyone cool?” They all nodded. “Alright, then, let’s go!”
Rue slipped on her dark sunglasses and adjusted her hat, making sure her hair was kept hidden. Then she and Britchy came out and went over to the bus stop. Sean was there, checking his watch every few seconds. In his hand was some coins, which he absentmindedly kept turning over and over in his hand. Rue quickly worked out the change.
She glanced over at Britchy, who was getting the change from her purse. She and Rue, on the quick walk over, had slipped on wigs to disguise their hair and wore dark sunglasses. Hopefully, he won’t think twice about us. Rue opened her wallet and pulled out some money, stuffing her wallet back in her trouser pocket.
Glancing to her right, she saw the bus pulling over to them. She stood in line behind Britchy and Sean as they boarded the bus, handing the money to the driver.
Rue handed the money to the driver and received some change. She sat down next to Britchy. She surreptitiously glanced around and saw that Sean was right across from her. She pulled out her phone, keeping it on an angle so that Sean couldn’t read the screen and quickly typed out a message.
how’s it going, B and R?
A reply came a second later.
alright. no movement. u?
on bus with b and s.
Rue put her phone away and opened her wallet to put the change away. “Shit!” she muttered as she accidentally spilled her money on the bus floor. As she began picking up her coins, a hand reached out and handed her the rest. She looked up.
“Uh…t-thank you,” Rue stumbled as she took the rest of the money and slipped it into her wallet.
He nodded. “You’re welcome,” he murmured quietly. Rue gave him a quick fake smile and then pretended to be busy on her phone.
Britchy nudged her and showed Rue her phone. On the screen was a photo of Sean sitting down on the bus.
“Took it with these glasses,” and Britchy tapped them with her thumb. They were a special type of glasses that had a camera incorporated into them that were programmed to snap photos whenever the wearer blinked. “When I was making my way over to a seat,” she murmured. “And then transferred it to my phone. Look what’s around his neck.”
An ID card hung around his neck. Britchy zoomed in and Rue saw that it was a museum pass for staff. He’s trying to sneak in. Probably to suss out when and where the crystal’s going to be showing in the museum.
“Send a copy of this to Mum and Dad,” Rue said, for the benefit of anyone listening. “They’ll love to see photos of the beach.” She saw that Britchy understood that she was to send them to Bond and Racquel with instructions to make copies with the 3D printing tools that Racquel brought along with her for all of them. She then sent a text to Britchy.
we’ll need to find out what he’s doing at museum. any ideas?
She saw a smile cross Britchy’s face and Rue thought Heaven help us. A reply came a split second later.
leave it to me
Britchy sauntered through the museum’s doors confidently, trying to follow Stone without it looking like she was following him.
How do they do it in the movies?
Stone walked straight past a desk with a couple of clerks behind it and went over to a pair of grey metal double doors. She saw him swipe his card and the doors slid open. What’s in there?
“Miss? Miss? Excuse me?”
Britchy saw both clerks were looking at her expectantly. She smiled to put them at ease and went over to them. “Excuse me, is this where I can get a discount on padded rooms?”
Wow. Silence for one whole minute. Now that’s unusual.
“Discount on padded rooms?” one of the clerks repeated, sounding quite offended.
“This is a bloody museum, not a mental institution!” one of the clerks shouted in anger. That was the usual effect.
Britchy frowned. “No, I’m positive that this is where my doctor told me where I could get a discount,” she insisted. She then produced four glasses filled with utterly filthy water and placed them on the desk. I knew that it was a good idea to always have them on me just in case, Britchy complemented herself.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?!” One of the clerk’s yelled.
“We have a lunatic in the lobby,” the other clerk announced into his radio. “Request immediate back-up.”
Britchy gave them a blank stare. “My doctor told me to bring in my urine samples today. He suspects that they might be infected with Gobblyteruibubble. Oops! I didn’t mean to spill it! Oh, I’m so sorry. Let me clean it up.”
She grabbed the nearest paper and began sponging it up.
“That’s my newspaper!!” thundered a clerk.
“You are aware that people used to use these to wipe their-”
“GET OUT BEFORE I CALL THE POLICE!!!” the clerk yelled.
Britchy backed away, hands in the air, and darted out of the museum and down the street to a bench where Rue was waiting for her, holding her phone. “Cameras on the desk are now activated,” Rue remarked and patted her on the back. “Great job, Britchy. How did you distract them to plant the mini-cameras?”
“I just showed them my urine samples,” Britchy panted.
“Never…mind,” Britchy heaved. “I…need…to…catch…my…breath. Ohhhh, boy!”
BACK AT THE APARTMENT
An hour later…
“Where is he now, Rue?” Racquel enquired.
Rue picked up her phone. “He’s just entering the lobby.” Thankfully, after leaving the museum, Stone went straight back to the hotel. Britchy and Rue, after their ordeal, told her and Bond that since Stone noticed and talked to them, it would be prudent for them to head straight back to the hotel and not hang around, waiting for him to leave. Plus, as Rue had pointed out, she could watch him on the phone from her hotel room.
They were all in Bond’s hotel room. Britchy had described her distraction techniques to the rest of them, leaving them all in stitches.
“So, nothing happened while we were out?” Rue asked.
Bond shook his head as he lay on his bed. “Nope. Not a peep from Winter,” he commented.
“How did the 3D printing go, Racquel?” Rue enquired.
Racquel waved four ID cards in the air and then handed their respective cards to them. “This’ll gain us access inside?” she asked, just to be sure.
Rue and Britchy nodded. “Yep,” Britchy confirmed.
THE NATIONAL MUSEUM
The next day…
“So, what’s our plan of attack?” Bond enquired.
“We’re not going to ‘attack’,” Rue corrected, “we’re going to suss out where the Polychora is and the best way to retrieve it before Winter and Stone do.”
“So, in other words, we don’t have a plan?” Bond said.
“I’m in,” Britchy piped up.
“Any other words of wisdom?” Racquel teased.
Rue kept a straight face. “Don’t get caught.”
“Bloody inspiring,” Bond remarked sarcastically as they got up from the bench and crossed the road to the museum.
“That’s why you’re with me,” Rue grinned.
“I’ll go with Bond,” Britchy suddenly said as they arrived at the bottom of the steps. “They’ll send assassins after me if I show my face in there again.”
Rue shrugged. “Okay. You and Bond need to go to that door that Stone went through and see if the Polychora is in there. Me and Racquel will follow after distracting everyone – including Stone and Winter – while you two sneak inside.”
“And how are we going to do that?” Racquel enquired.
Bond raised his hand. “I have an idea!” he turned to Rue. She narrowed her eyes at him.
“What?” she said suspiciously.
His grin never faltered. That can’t be good, she thought. “Remember how we met?” he continued.
She went pale. “NO! No and no! Not happening! Absolutely, totally, NOT considering it!”
A little bit later…
“Are you ready?”
“No. I’m gonna’ die!”
“Can’t. Bond will never let us live it down.”
Laughter interrupted them. “What idiot workers are those?” A man snickered as he walked past with a bucket and a mop.
Rue wrinkled her nose at him. She let out a sigh and straightened her Lederhosen. “We take this shame to our graves,” she warned.
They then heard a wolf whistle over their ear comms. “This is going to be the most viral part of my memoirs,” Bond teased.
Racquel went pale. “What does that mean?”
Rue closed her eyes in anguish. “Oh, shit! I forgot! He has a blog!” Rue immediately touched her ear comm. “Bond, if you publish this, I will-”
She winced at a burst of static. “Rue? R(…)an’t (static)ou…”
“Bond? Bond? Damn him,” she muttered. She turned to Racquel. “No signal.”
“Very.” They were silent for a moment. “We’re attracting stares,” Rue muttered, suddenly feeling hot.
“We’re procrastinating out of fear, aren’t we?” Racquel sighed.
“Let’s just get this over with,” Racquel pleaded.
Rue sighed, suddenly wishing that she had her invisibility cloak with her. “If we must.”
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