For All Nails #81F: A Honey Trap?
Bogota, New Granada
15 June 1974
Alexander Elbittar was a seriously concerned man. The coronation and the ensuing ball had largely gone smoothly,but there was a potential crisis afoot. The new King could not be located. More importantly, he had last been seen leaving in the company of Captain Evangeline Gilmore, a woman indicated by mounting evidence to be a dangerous CNA spy.
Elbittar had naturally dismissed the notion that the Confederation's space program had been "demilitarized". The so-called "Science Ministry" was an appendage of their military anyway, and spent millions of pounds on automatic surveillance planetoids. Why, when they had a "retired" Air Force officer in position directly over Ciudad Camacho, for example, would they refrain from having her examine the ground below?
Of course she was a spy. But more disturbing was the idea that she was engaged in covert activity on the ground as well. The background report he'd just received detailed her father's long career in Army intelligence, and her role in the assassination of the Numidian ambassador by an alleged lunatic, who just happened to die at Cadet Gilmore's own hands before he could be questioned. Now she was on the loose at this nexus of diplomatic intrigue, protected by diplomatic immunity and her own worldwide celebrity -- embarked on what sinister mission?
Elbittar hoped he was wrong, but he had a good idea. His researchers had briefed him thoroughly on what little was known about the military uses of neuroactive chemicals. Not harmless amusements like alcohol and mota, no, but drugs that could completely alter the subject's brain chemistry. Two CNA physicians, Gordon G. Leary and Thomas S. Hunter, were at the forefront of the public research, on various Mexican fungus species and an artificial chemical called "lysurgic acid". Who could imagine what the Science Ministry was cooking up in their secret facilities in the Manitoba wasteland?
The FANG's counterintelligence division suspected that officers planning the Trinidad operation had been subjected to a "honey trap" attack by entities so far unknown. Men would tell all to a beautiful woman under the right circumstances, and with the use of chemicals and Mesmerism they might have no recollection of having done so. Even the most loyal officer might be helpless under the influence ofso-called "sexual chemicals", like those of certain insects.
And here the target was not an experienced officer but a young man barely out of his teens. Elbittar had noticed the King's sudden distraction and rather odd behavior when they were introduced to Captain Gilmore. Could she have administered the drug at that time? It was imperative that he be found at once. So far, the King was not privy to any particularly dangerous secrets, but that would have to change as the new Privy Council considered the plans for territorial expansion and the RNG's role in the Ciudad Camacho project. Not to mention some diplomatic dynamite, with the sudden proposal of a dynastic alliance from the British. Was Gilmore tasked to disrupt that plan, for some unimaginable reason? Or would she Mesmerize the King and compel him to reveal state secrets later, in some kind of a trance?
"Colonel! In here!"
Gomez motioned him into one of the palace's many picture galleries. The scene opening before him was just as he had feared. The King was literally on his knees before Gilmore, his arms clutching her bare knees under the long ice-blue skirt.
"But I love you, Miss Gilmore! I love you!" he blubbered FN1.
"Your Majesty!" barked Elbittar.
The woman looked down at her abject victim with amused detachment. "Ah, Colonel, how delightful to see you. I take it that it's time for the royal nap?"
"Captain Gilmore. What have you done to His Majesty?"
"I'm not exactly sure, Colonel. Why don't you ask him yourself --he's your pet King, no?"
"I assure you that all questions will be asked, Captain. I regret only that the courtesies of diplomacy prevent me from questioning you as thoroughly as I would like. I ask you again for form's sake -- what have you done to His Majesty?"
"And I say again, I'm really not sure. I just seem to have that effect on people."
"I imagine that you do." Was she even now exerting some kind of sinister mind control on him? He found himself drawn to those eyes, feeling an urge to let that iron will dominate him... FN2 He rapidly pulled himself together and began issuing orders.
"Serjeant, His Majesty is unwell. Please escort him to his chambers, and summon Dr. Rodriguez to examine him. Corporal, please escort Captain Gilmore back to the public areas of the palace, and see that she remains within them for the rest of the evening. Captain, until we meet again, adieu. Rest assured I will not allow myself to be so easily surprised at that time."
He turned on his heel and strode out, but not before watching the look of (surely simulated) incomprehension break over that compelling face.
David Mix Barrington and Matt Alderman
(Forward to #92: Scenes From a Wedding.)
(Forward to New Granada: Springtime for Ferdi and Elbittar.)
(Forward to Ev and Alex: The Reproaches.)
(Return to For All Nails.)