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By the Horns (Chapter Cover Art)

Chapter 68 - By the Horns[]

Ivan Patrice Computer Sciences Center, University of Taurus
Samantha City, Taurus
Taurian Concordat
November 27, 3025

“Sandra, my dear, you are a genius—genius, I say!” exclaimed Karl Mosley as he finished running the last diagnostic on the Vickers Core where it stood upright in the center of the room . . . right beside an identical (albeit empty) core. “Suggesting that we borrow the empty core from the Navy War Museum saved us weeks—weeks!—of work on bypassing the lock-outs and safe-guards on the prize.”

“But we couldn’t have done it without your work, Doctor Mosley,” Sandra Ingram whispered in his ear as she stroked the Taurian scientist’s back (and ego) with one firm hand. “I just thought that since we had this old, empty core sitting in the museum, you could compare the two and see what modifications the Navy made—and what extra traps they installed.”

Karl chuckled and he turned around to give his assistant a quick peck on the cheek. “Of course, darling,” he drawled with a chuckle. “I am the foremost authority on Taurus on these cores,” and then he frowned. “I still wonder, though, how the Science Museum managed to misplace their core example. We had two—one in the Naval Museum and the second here on Taurus, but the second one is missing. Pity. It was in better shape than this one.” He sighed. “But ah well. We will make bricks without straw—as usual.” He paused and then leered at Sandra. “What say you, me, and Angelina celebrate tonight? My apartment?”

“Whatever you want, Doctor Mosley—whatever you want,” Sandra answered in a husky voice as she nibbled on his ear lobe playfully.

There was a click from the Vickers Core as the diagnostic finished running—and Karl began to grin. “All safe-guards are bypassed—starting decryption protocols . . . now.”

“You are certain that this is the correct decryption key?” Sandra asked, and Karl frowned.

“My dear, I am the expert here. Yes, the key is working and in . . . fifteen minutes . . . the core will be accessible.”

“Good, Karl,” Sandra whispered as she nibbled again. And began to work his way down his body; as her head passed his waist, the scientists trousers hit the floor—and he flinched as he felt a sharp fingernail poke him in his now bare buttocks. But the pleasure he was receiving from his assistant put the momentary discomfort from his mind. Especially when Angelina entered the room and passionately kissed him, even as Sandra kept working on him. So caught up in the moment was Karl that he never noticed when he could no longer feel his muscles—not until he collapsed onto the floor with a thud.

“Nice technique,” Angelina said as the Core beeped and she began to transfer the unlocked information to the scarred example borrowed from the museum.

“Curare takes ten-to-fifteen minutes to work—had to keep him occupied,” Sandra said as she wiped her mouth on a paper towel. “Got the plastique?”

“In the bag—according to Nicky we’ve got fifteen—maybe twenty—minutes before those Death Commandoes come barging in. Will the down-load be complete? And did you get his signature on the order transferring this Core back to the museum?”

“Yes and yes—and you don’t want to know how,” Sandra said with a grimace as she pulled the explosives from the bag and attached them to the outside of the Vickers Core. “Pig,” she muttered as she kicked Karl in the head. “The bigger question is can we get this thing out of here and away from the blast radius in time?”

“She says she and some ‘friends’ are working on that,” and the two Cores beeped in unison.

“That’s it,” said Sandra as she armed the explosives, setting the timer for five minutes. “Time to leave.”

“The guards are just going to let us walk this out of here?” Angelina asked as she loaded the museum core into its transport case.

Sandra waved a sheaf of papers. “Signed authorization to move the museum core back to storage,” she said with a laugh. “And the serial numbers match. They’ll send two guards with us . . . but if you can’t handle two Taurians at once, I think we need to send you back for a refresher course, Angel.”

The second MIM agent stuck out her tongue, and then lifted the case. “You're right, past time to go,” she said. “What about him?” she asked, pointing at Mosley.

“What about him?” Sandra answered and she kicked him again. “Either the explosion will kill him, or the Death Commandoes will kill him, or Protector Thomas will kill him for giving us access.”

“Yeah . . . but he’s still awake and aware. Are you really going to torture him with not knowing his fate?”

“Damn straight, Angel. Let’s go,” Sandra answered as she held open the door to the lab . . . leaving Dr. Karl Mosley lying helpless on the ground unable to make a single sound or lift a finger.

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