Phyllis Esposito: Interdimensional Private-Eye #148

“So what’s the plan then?” asked Fox. “We’ll have a prototype for this in a few hours, but what are you two planning to do with it?”

I flashed him a gentle scowl. “Don’t think I didn’t notice you excluding yourself there. Very team player of you.”

He at least had the good grace to look awkward. “I didn’t mean that that I wasn’t willing to help more. It was just that, I’m already helping to design the blocker you need, and letting you use my workshop and all, even though you brought the nanobots that destroyed most of my equipment, and I just didn’t want to presume that you needed me to actually go and fight these things. After all, isn’t it better to have someone stay here to maintain a safe base of operations? And—“

“All right, that’s enough,” I said, then turned to Henricks. “Will you be able to operate this thing in the field if Fox doesn’t come along?”

Henricks nodded. “I can.” They turned a disapproving glare to Fox, which was amplified by the angry-eyebrows lines of the helmet.

“Though there is a risk that I could be compromised by the nanobots if it or the helmet are less than fully effective. Any adjustments of the device would be left to Phyllis.” They gestured in my direction.

“Fine!” Fox groaned. “I’ll come. Jeez.”

I blinked. “I’m going to just go ahead and not be insulted by that,” I said. “Because it will let us move on.”

“Don’t be insulted,” said Fox. “You have… different skills.”

“Stop talking now,” I said, with a gritted-teeth smile. “So that I can answer your question about the plan.” I watched them both, waiting for any additional comments. “Okay then,” I continued. “I suspected that we might be having to deal with a little trial and error. As much as the two of you are very good at what you do, I know that this is asking a lot of you in a short time.”

Fox opened his mouth, but I suggested with my expression that he should close it again.

“So,” I said, “I think we test it first with a quick hit-and-run mission, before going after Alurian himself. We drop in, try to find Pensky and Eduin. Test the bug zapper on them to see if it frees them from Alurian’s control. Either way, we zip back here and bring them with us. Then we make whatever adjustments are needed for the device, and go back to take out Alurian himself.”

They both watched me in silence.

“Okay, that’s the plan,” I said. “You can talk now.”

Henricks raised their hand. “How will we find them?”

“That is a very good question,” I said. “I am planning to take us right back to where we left and hope that they are still there.”

Fox and Henricks both raised their hands.

“This is not a classroom, guys,” I said. “I know there are a lot of unknowns, but we need to test the equipment and we need to rescue Pensky and Eduin. Do either of you have a better idea?”

Fox raised his hand.

I glared at him. “If you are going to make me call on you, just so that you can sarcastically suggest that we surrender, I will spread your pieces across a thousand different dimensions.”

He lowered his hand.

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