Twenty agents are staking out ASU, all ones whom Isis has had no contact with. Some are posing as students, others faculty and still others just visitors. One familiar face could blow the whole deal. It's 1:32 PM and her meeting is at 2 PM. I'm watching the whole affair from a command vehicle, a highly modified and Atlan-98 armored GMC Suburban painted alpine white. Tech1 sits beside me and it is like old times again. The adrenaline is pumping and the divided big screen in front of us show the twenty different camera views from miniature cameras mounted on the undercover agents. Another screen gives a realtime satellite view of the entire area. We can see cars come and go and the entire campus and surrounding streets are covered. We don't know what vehicle she will arrive in and another crew back at Shamballa is busy trying to scan for Isis' fundamental brain frequency with another classified satellite that scans for signals, not images.
"This is Tech78. I've just picked up a match for the suspect description emerging from what appears to be a late model Cadillac Escalade. Request visual verification with base."
We zoom up the feed from Tech78 and see a young blond haired woman in skinny jeans and a sweater. It is definitely Isis. It's 1:40 and she is twenty minutes early. She pulls out a large backpack and puts it on. Odds are one of the Atlantean texts are in that backpack.
"Identity confirmed. Suspect acquired. Parking region near 49th Avenue and University Way North. Techs 57, 64 and 82 converge on parking lot and prepare to place tracking equipment on suspect vehicle. Do not move on suspect or vehicle until authorization is given. Repeat. Do not move on suspect or vehicle until authorization has been given."
"We need a thermal scan of that vehicle. Is Encyclopedia inside it? The tinting is too strong to get any idea. Satellite control please shift to live thermal signal."
The screen turns a series of colors from green on the cool end of the spectra to white hot on the other. The parking lot glows a bright orange. The mid-day sun has already heated everything up. The Escalade engine appears as white hot. There appears to be no passengers or people in the vehicle.
"Dang it all! She came here alone."
"C'mon. What did you expect? They're smart. They probably don't even share the same home and just keep in contact via cell phone or even citizens band transmissions if they are near enough."
"Tech82 you have authorization to install tracking equipment on vehicle."
Tech82 looks to be all of 23. She looks like just another student and in an instant she drops her knapsack near the tail bumper of the suburban and crouches down, apparently to pick it up. She places a powerful magnetized transmitter, that only broadcasts when activated, to the steel frame of the vehicle, grabs the knapsack and walks on nonchalantly. Very professional.
"This is Tech82. Tracking equipment in place."
"Affirmed. Good job."
"What's your plan now," the current Tech1 turns to me and asks.
"The professor she was scheduled to meet has already been delayed and diverted by our agents. One of our men is on the inside - in his offices - and the make up boys created a dead ringer for the professor. Her 'meeting' will continue as planned."
One part of me hates all this cloak and dagger stuff. Another is pleased to try and outwit Isis and Encyclopedia. Their betrayal of SDAI is somewhat annoying and while not the first time someone has gone rogue, it is the second and the first time was back in the late eighties when SDAI was still very young.
"The plan is to get her to bring as many of the texts as possible and find out where Encyclopedia is. We only grab one when we can grab the other."
"What about grabbing Isis and threatening her with prosecution if she doesn't turn over Encyclopedia?"
"She's too stubborn, and would not betray him. She would rather be prosecuted. At their age the martyr complex still has some appeal."
We watch on the screen as Isis makes her way to the faculty building. Our agents are all in position.
"Alright 'Professor' you're almost on. She's just a few steps outside your door. Remember, cool, snobbish detachment. Nothing excites you. You're emotionally constipated."
Isis walks through the door and seeing her on the 'professor's' camera brings back memories. She looks well, somewhat stressed, but apparently going rogue has not been too big a burden on her conscience. They shake hands and she introduces herself.
She talks and the 'professor' let's her talk. Meanwhile her Escalade's registration is being run through the computer. Surprisingly, it's not a rental and we want to see if we can find a useful residence connected with it.
"This is Tech50 we have a tall man in a beige trench coat and black hat approaching the offices."
"Hey, where did that guy come from? He wasn't there a moment ago."
"Cut the chatter. Distract him. Move!"
Tech50 moves in and asks for directions. The man reaches out with his arm grabs Tech50 by the neck and throws him 20 feet in the distance.
"What the hell! We have a situation! Powerful male en route to you Professor. Likely very dangerous. All B team members converge on the offices, now. Tech50 appears to need medical assistance and is unresponsive.
From the Professor's cam I see the tall man enter.
"I'll take this."
He grabs Isis' knapsack and Isis screams.
"No! You bastard give that back!"
Isis leaps toward the man and the man flings her aside as if she were a rag doll.
The professor pulls out a gun.
"Put down the knapsack."
"Go ahead. Shoot. Bullets don't harm me."
I turn to Tech1 "I recognize that voice! This is not good."
Tech1 turns to me, "Who is it?!"
"It's Lal-Atha. The bastard is back!"
"Stand down Professor. Don't shoot. Let the man leave with the knapsack."
"I have him clear in my sights."
"Don't shoot that is an order!"
Isis turns to the professor, "Who are you talking to?" and then turns to the man in the trench coat.
"Please don't take it! It's just a bunch of history documents!"
In a flash Yal-hune appears inside the office next to Isis and erects a bright blue field.
"Lal-atha you were warned about returning to Earth."
Tech1 turns to me, "Lal-atha?"
I answer his query, "A very powerful alien - and a galactic criminal."
"Yal-hune, you and your Confederation cannot stop me."
Lal-atha lunges at Yal-hune with some sort of orange hued energy blade which appears in his hand and Yal-hune teleports to the other side of the room behind Lal-atha. Lal-atha turns, lunges again and Yal-hune disappears again and returns with a long, white, glowing staff. She jabs Lal-atha in the back with the staff and he slumps to the floor as if he had been tasered, though he is in some sort of stasis field.
Yal-hune fires a force teleport signal, with her mind, at Lal-atha and in an instant he disappears.
"Yal-hune! What's going on?"
"You placed yourself in harms way when you took the Atlantean texts. There are those who will seek those books destruction. I'm not going to tell you what to do, but be aware those books are in the cross hairs."
Yal-hune vanishes before Isis can even respond.
Team B converges on the offices, weapons drawn and Isis realizes she has been set up.
"You bastards! Go ahead and take me and the book! Encyclopedia will carry on!"
"Take suspect into custody." I say into the comm-link mouthpiece.
"I thought you wanted to let her go?" Tech1 asks.
"The rules have changed. She's in too much danger - as are we all. With Lal-atha's appearance all bets are off."
"This is Tech43, Tech50 needs emergency medical attention. He has concussion, shock, an injured back, a broken collar bone and has suffered windpipe damage."
"An ambulance is on the way."
This operation has been a huge failure. Isis will be combative, Tech50 has suffered serious injuries and Encyclopedia is still out there with 4 other Atlantean texts. And all this because Lal-atha returned to seize the Atlantean book. Why? Why does he want it? Why pick this time to try and seize it? Lots of questions and no answers.
I watch as Isis is placed into the back of a white van. She looks very unhappy and is crying. Sometimes life seems miserable. I try and retain equilibrium. I try to recognize that even these circumstances hold equal good within them.
Tech1 turns to me, "Did you see Yal-hune whoop the ass of that other alien guy?!"
"Yeah..that's Yal-hune. Ass whooper extraordinaire."