Traveler: Storyteller Tales: Men (and women) in Black

            The security guard was pleasant enough.  “Morning Doctor Shakowski.  Missus.”  He even touched his hat before looking hard into the back seat.  “No visitors.  I’m sorry Mam, you won’t be allowed in.”

            “She is with the government people.”  David began to lie, but Mishka interrupted and handed forward a slim billfold such as the FBI sometimes carry.  It had some kind of I. D. in it, one that even had a picture attached.  The picture was of Mishka a bit older, but who can really tell with such pictures.  Mishka, accent and all, said flatly that she worked for the National Security Administration and she reported directly to the President. 

            “I am here to investigate yesterday’s incident.”

            “Yes mam, er, Colonel.”  The security guard appeared impressed with her and her credentials as well as the fact that she knew about the incident.  Of course, there were local police and firemen all over the place yesterday, but somehow the security guard had the idea that the incident was a secret like so much else at the Labs.  He handed back Mishka’s billfold and waved them through.

            “National Security Administration?”  David asked as soon as they were clear.

            “Agency I think in this country.  I have a long history of working with the Men in Black.”  David and Nancy did not know what that was, but Teacher Nancy had another question.


            “Soviet, but it was just window dressing for the war.”

            “The First World War?”  David asked as he parked.

            “No, Second,” Mishka answered.  “The one where I was at Stalingrad.”  And she smiled and asked her own question.  “Shakowski?”

            “Polish,” David said.  Mishka started to say something in a foreign language, undoubtedly Polish, but David shook his head.  “Fourth generation,” he said.

            The security at the front door was much less accommodating than the man at the gate.  One guard took Doctor Mishka’s credentials and stepped behind a desk to make a call while the other blocked the way.

            “What is the problem?”  Nancy asked David, and quietly, but the guard in front of them answered her all the same.

            “Someone from the NSA already showed up this morning,” he said, and with that, the guard at the desk hung up his phone and three men in suits, two gray and one black, approached the front door.  David knew the two in gray suits.  They were internal security and government men.  Mishka knew the other.

            “Goldman!”  Mishka ran to hug the man.  He looked surprised, like he was being hugged by a complete stranger before something triggered in his mind.

            “Doctor?  Mishka?”  He backed up a little to look at her.  She was nodding.  “But you are so young, and pretty if I can say that.”

            Mishka grinned and took the man’s arm.  “You can always say that, but I do get around in time, you know, or did you forget.”

            “But how did you get, you know, younger?”  He paused and looked pale for a minute.  “I heard you died.”

            “Ah!”  Mishka had to decide what was safe to say before she spoke.  “After I died, Lady Alice revived me, I regenerated, and got to go into cold storage until needed.”  To Goldman’s curious look, she added, “I believe the current science fiction name is suspended animation.”  That helped a little.  “David.  Nancy.  This is Goldman, one of the men in black I was telling you about.”  She made the introduction and without a breath she asked Goldman, “Is young Jax around?”  Then she added one more thing before breathing.  “Goldman saved Churchill’s life in the Second war, just to be sure which war we are talking about.”

            “Hold it,” Goldman said as he finished shaking Nancy’s hand.  “I helped, maybe a little.”

            “Mam.”  The guard at the front door returned Mishka’s identification papers.

            “These gentlemen were just taking me to Doctor Thompson’s office when you arrived.”  Goldman continued.

            “Good idea.  Start with the director.”  David nodded, and the two men in suits turned without a word and began to lead the way.  Mishka, still holding the man’s arm, turned Goldman and followed while David and Nancy brought up the rear.  When they arrived at the director’s office and went straight inside, Mishka was asking another question.

            “How about Mister Smith.  Is he around?”

            Goldman shook his head.  “It is borderline since the Reichgo have visitation rights in the treaty.  Ultimately, that is for the Kargill to decide.”

            The door closed.  The director was behind the desk and looked up, his face covered in a deep, red rash, and he said, simply, “Hold them.”  The two men in gray suits pulled their guns.

            Someone else stepped into Mishka’s eyes, so to speak, to take in the scene and make a quick assessment.  Then Mishka was no longer standing there, but Diogenes, dressed in armor and weapons spun, and caught the hand of the man nearest to him.  He turned that hand just so in order for the bullet to enter his comrade’s middle.  That comrade also fired, but his bullet hit Diogenes in the shoulder and bounced off the armor, leaving only a bruise.  As Goldman made certain of the man on the floor, Diogenes let his hands work over the man beside him.  It was short work, and the man quickly slumped to the floor, not likely to rise for some time. 

            David and Nancy were staring when Diogenes turned and flashed his awesome smile in their direction.  He shrugged and went away, letting Doctor Mishka return to Glen’s time and place.  Mishka kept the armor, though, and David and Nancy watched it adjust automatically to this new shape and size.  Doctor Mishka was a couple of inches shorter at a bit over five foot, eight, and she certainly had a different shape, but no one would know the armor was not made for her. 

            “We need an ambulance here.”  Goldman said from the floor.

            “Wait.  Don’t touch him.”  Mishka ordered, and while everyone thought at first that she was talking about the man on the floor, she had noticed that the Director had gotten up.  He was sweating from fever, and the rash was more extensive on his face than anyone had ever seen.  He was staggered around the desk, holding on to keep from falling, and he did not look happy.

            Everyone backed up when they realized what was happening, but when Mishka returned, she returned with her black bag and she opened it.  The Director just let go of the desk to stand before her as she pulled a spray bottle from the bag and sprayed it inches from the Director’s face.  The man paused.  Doctor Mishka sprayed a second time.  With the third spray, the man went completely limp and collapsed to the floor like a rag doll.

            Mishka turned quickly.  “David.  Please phone for an ambulance.  Don’t tell them what happened, just say an ambulance is needed stat – immediately.”

            “Right.”  David started for the phone, but paused when Doctor Mishka handed him an old fashioned handkerchief. 

            “Contact is the way this appears to spread, and even immunized it is better to be safe.”  Mishka was staring at the Director.  His case was worse than she had seen, and she was revising her estimates as to how virulent the disease might be in humans.

            “Doctor.”  Goldman spoke from the floor where he and Nancy were kneeling beside the unconscious man.  They had turned him over and Goldman was holding something in a pair of tweezers.  “It came from the back of the neck, just under the hairline.”  He said as Mishka reached into her black bag and pulled out what looked like an old fashioned magnifying glass such as Sherlock Holmes might carry.  Teacher Nancy was not surprised when Mishka touched something and the lens on the glass illuminated with a small, white light.  She was surprised when Mishka twisted the handle and examined the little thing.

            “Very sophisticated.  I would guess it was designed to interfere with brain functions, maybe sending continuous signals that would be near impossible to resist.  I can see to the viral level with the glass, but I see no sign of infection which may be why these two men were not broken out with the pox.”

            “Viral?”  Nancy widened her eyes.  “That would be very small.”

            “Da.”  Mishka said, and she put the magnifying glass and the little thing into her black bag.

            “Medical team on the way.”  David said as he hung up the phone.

            “Now we must move.”  Mishka said as she vanished and the Princess came to stand in her place.  The Princess smiled for everyone and again they saw that the armor had adjusted to a woman that was an inch or so shorter and a figure that was near perfection.  To be sure, Doctor Mishka was very pretty, what some might even call beautiful; but she was not the Princess.

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