The Reluctant Assassin
Bureau network for Chevron Savano, and tested the extent of his new computer skills by inserting her on the FBI’s most wanted list. The hazmat team was gone, so why not make Miss Savano responsible for killing them?
    Hazmat, thought Garrick. What a delightful word.
    Garrick removed his own bowler, plucked Smart’s softbrimmed hat from the stand by the desk, and, tip-tapping his spidery fingers along the brim, put it on.
    Only six people in the Bureau have met Felix Smart since he came to London. Four are dead, one is on the run, and the last is on assignment in Iraq.
    “Hello, Waldo,” he said, trying out Smart’s voice. “I’ve heard a lot about you.” He cleared his throat and tried again. “Agent Gunn. At last we meet face-to-face. I believe you’ve got a couple of fugitives for me in the penthouse?”
    It was a fair approximation of the Scottish agent, and perhaps there was more he could do to bolster his impersonation. He was the master of illusion, after all, and the world’s first quantum man.
    Garrick checked his appearance in the hat-stand mirror. His face had always been plain as tapioca, which was a boon in his line of work, as people tended not to notice him, or to forget him instantly if they did. During his theater days, he would literally paint a personality onto his face, changing it to suit the illusion.
    Garrick stared into the mirror and watched as his skin began to bubble.
    For Garrick had come by more than knowledge in the wormhole; he had gained control of his own workings, right down to the smallest particle. Where most men operated on a small slice of brain, Garrick had the choice of the whole pie. This did not lead to telekinesis, but it meant Garrick could communicate with his own fibers more efficiently. He could control the whorls of his own fingerprints, or the balance of his thyroid to turn hair gray. Or, with a little effort, he could communicate with the marrow in his bones or the layers of fat under his epidermis to entirely change his appearance. He could not become just anyone, nor stray too far from his own mass, but he could certainly allow a physicality that was already inside him to emerge.

THE GARDEN HOTEL. MONMOUTH STREET. LONDON. NOW

    Chevie took a quick shower, strapped a gel-mask across her eye to bring down the swelling, then checked the closet for something to wear other than the workout gear, which seemed to scandalize Riley. There were numerous outfits to chose from, all draped in plastic, including several pairs of crime-scene overalls, a leopard-skin dress, and a puffy cartoon character mouse costume.
    Some of these people were deep, deep undercover, she thought, selecting an Armani suit and a pair of black Bally loafers that would have cost her more than a month’s pay.
Finally. A perk.
    The suit fitted well, and after Chevie had checked herself in the full-length mirror, she sat down to compose a report on the bedroom computer, trying to make the day’s events read more like real happenings than an episode of a sci-fi miniseries.
    Found out I was guarding a time machine in case the inventor happened to pop in from the nineteenth century.
    Nope, there was no way to make it sound like a serious report, even by using bureau buzz terms like unsub , asset, and AO .
    By the time she had pounded out five hundred words on the keyboard, Chevie was developing a headache behind her right eye and was glad to hear the doorbell ring. She pulled off the gel-mask.
    The cavalry, finally.
    Riley was still stuck in front on the TV when she passed by, stuffing his face from a platter of cold meats.
    “I hope you’re not drinking brandy,” said Chevie.
    “Absolutely not,” said Riley, waving a brown bottle. “Beer only, Agent. I do as I am told, I do.”
    Chevie deviated from her course to snag the beer bottle. “No alcohol, Riley.” She nodded at the screen. “How are you liking the twenty-first century?”
    Riley burped. “The Take That are most melodic. And God bless

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