Chapter 11 Hat

        Porett reached out, tapped into the comsphere-3. His face appeared. "Thought I'd let you know I've decided to use the click-well link, then maybe tell Ansle where to find Conley."
        "Yourself?" The image raised its eyebrows.
        "Hell no, I'll have Liddy try it."
        "Had me worried for a moment there!" He smiled. "So why do you think the old lad asked for our help?"
        "Still not certain. I'm sure he really has lost his own tag, so he must know Conley's onto something or he wouldn't be looking for her all of a sudden. Quite why he'd come to us for help though... Why not make it a priority for his agents? Something he doesn't want too many people to know?"
        "Maybe his information is she's out of reach - the wilderness or someplace."
        "Yes, I did consider that, it's a possibility. But perhaps it's not Conley he wants at all, he might have found out about the extra zip her click-well's packing, could be trying to flush us into using it." He put his hands on his head. "Well whatever, the chances are he knows more than us about what she's discovered; if we do help him out, we might be able to draw his information. Even if it comes to nothing, at least he'll owe us a favour."
        "I agree. No sense in looking too hard for his motives, it's so hard trying to second-guess that guy - he doesn't think logically, does things you don't expect `cause they're so ill-conceived!"
        The exterior Porett grinned. "How's it going with you, anyway? Had any more of those turns?" He shuddered. "Makes me near black over just recalling them."
        "The disadvantage of a physical body! No, still only the three. I've been thinking, though: yesterday's chit on Conley's last click transaction, well the date matches the second pair of drains."
        "Could be, but I don't think so, I've been looking over other stuff for that date. Our woman in Magicorp says one of their night squads was wiped that night, odd thing is their thetics came apart. Clean-up found other stuff weird too, all their comms were out, light-sets too, and their suits were plain ordinary, no point armour, nothing."
        Porett stared into his comsphere-self's eyes, thinking. So that was it: Conley had access to a complete antimagic device, Ansle wanted it. All the more reason to link to her, then. No need to say anything, his other self already knew.
        "Want to merge?" he asked the com-3.
        "Give me a while, there's still some loose ends to tie up." Porett reached to tap out. "Oh, but before you go, one more thing. I was supposed to be calling Chewt, see if she could reach Farmer at East/Trad. She was using her comsphere, I couldn't get through."
        "So who was she talking to?"
        "No, no, I couldn't get through at all, couldn't even listen in."
        "There was nothing in the upgrade manual that covered shielding, was there?"
        "Nothing at all, no, but this was like a greasy wall, just kept slipping off."
        "You'd better look into that, doesn't cut with anything new I know, sorry. Oh, flash Elidia to come in, will you? I'll dictate a written reply to Ansle, and perhaps casually mention to her her forthcoming jaunt..."
        He tapped out.

Copyright © Richard A. Bartle (
21st January 1999: isif11.htm