A Walk up Sheihallion
When Kaleidoscope Pink opened her eyes, laid before her was a beach bathed in the crimson hum of an early evening sun. She shook her head, annoyed at having dozed off and wasted the afternoon. She was going to have to do better if she was to maintain her position of the best agent at the Centre.
The only other visible life on the beach was a couple walking a dog by the gentle golden waves. She watched them as energy began to flow back into her weary body. Any one passing by at that moment may have wondered what the strangely dressed woman was frowning at, but Kaleidoscope was trying to make sense of a vivid memory.
Had she really seen cows surfing earlier or had she just dreamt it? "No matter", she thought to herself, as she searched for her shoes, "these eniany types would do anything; I must prepare myself for the unpreperable."
Kaleidoscope, shook the sand out of her shoes, put them on then stood up just as the couple had become dark shapes on the horizon. As she did so she stepped onto something hard which gave way. It was an empty can of Lolo and she paused for only a moment before heading into town, her thoughts full of the current mission.
She'd been working on deciphering messages received by a certain woman for a few months now. The woman had already been extensively screened and found not to be an eniany agent. Also, her workstation had proved to be a convenient place to work at night as it was a good source of sustenance: doughnuts, strawberry drink, warm salad and blue-tac.
Last week she had noticed that some people wrote mostly exclusively in lower case and it took her a few days to realise that this was, in fact, a code.
It took her a further three days to figure out just what the code meant. It turned out to be an elaborate scheme to inform fellow agents that they were currently working on a project. When they began to use mixed case in their messages she had been able to tell the Centre that an eniany operation had finished.
That case followed an investigation on the two eniany agents they called the Killifish Man and Woman.
Kaleidoscope knew that they were transferring information in the tiny fish which were sent around the world in people's hands. She had intercepted many of the handments and, after extracting the information capsules, had made a delicious stew with the remains of the carriers.
The current mission was to investigate a message about an exiled dictator which was the worst lead she'd ever had. It was childishly obvious to Kaleidoscope that this was the eniany's way of letting the Centre know that they were aware of her existence (they already spoke openly of her colleagues T*d and K*nt who'd carelessly blown their cover when they had left a message in a philosophy book and signed themselves "Phil [name]") but she wasn't all that surprised when orders came through to follow it up, "just in case" and had already packed her bags.
When Kaleidoscope first saw Cruzo it was after many weeks of waiting and watching various beauty shops.
He arrived that morning dressed in a full red velvet skirt which had a matching bodice, and tattered black leather shoes. The skirt had seen better days but now the hem was falling and some of the iridescent crystal daisy buttons were missing from the bodice. She had only recognised him because his pale eyebrows did not match the auburn hair which spilled onto his shoulders. His vanity had given him away from his otherwise complete image of poverty.
He wasn't hard to break; threatening to kidnap his 'boyfriend' and force-feed him courgettes (a vegetable known by the Centre to be highly toxic but known by the rest of the world as zucchini) had the man on his knees, sobbing and spluttering names and dates. The flicker of satisfaction of obtaining a response with such ease was dispelled as soon as Kaleidoscope realised that Cruzo was working for the Centre.
As she gripped the man's hair she frowned; why had the Centre sent her on this mission if they had known the outcome? Looks like she was working for the wrong side and either they had deliberately gotten her out of the way or they planned to dispose of her. The hair on the back of her neck began to rise.
When Nasturtiums Ray opened her eyes she could still feel sand between her toes. She looked at the grey ceiling and blinked. Looking over to her out-stretched left hand, she saw that it still clutched the micro-writer and she read the words "began to rise" on the one-line display.
She sighed with relief. Perhaps this time she had managed to record her dream; she was determined to be the first person to have a written transcript of an out-of-body experience involving the translocation of her mind.
She swung her legs out of the bed and then stepped onto something cold and hard which crackled when she stood up. As she bent down to see what the object was Cruzo padded into the room and began to lick the micro-writer. Nasturtiums uncovered an empty can of Lolo from under a copy of an old letter from Kispiox. "Hmmm," she thought to herself, "perhaps it wasn't an OBE after all ... ."
When Frijoda Vert opened her eyes the image of the room with the woman and the dog was just fading from the screen which she had just clicked off. She had seen enough random locations to be convinced that there was no intelligent life on the blue-green planet. She signalled the missile room and told them to proceed with the demolition of the planet.
As the ship's generator's began to warm up for the impending task, she reached for a can of Lolo and wondered why all the best paid jobs were so unsatisfying.
When Helvetica Gasp opened her eyes a tear fell onto her cheek as she saw that the audience were still on their feet as they cheered and held up their cans of Lolo to her in a toast. The curtains behind her had nearly closed on the screen used a few moments earlier to show a clip from the film "Frijoda sings Fever" for which she was accepting the prize of Best Actress.
As she gracefully bowed her head and wondered what to say now that the whole world was watching the ceremony, a huge cake was wheeled onto the polished floor. It bore the resemblance of the eniany flag with stars of glittering silver sugar beads and stripes of coloured marzipan.
The audience fell silent as the lights were turned off and the cake became magically alive with dancing flames from the myriad of candles. The heavy hush was then transformed into a heavy banging at the doors. They all seemed to open together and several hundred uniformed men rushed in.
One walked up to the stage and took the mike. "You're all under arrest". He spat into Helvetica's glass. "I hope they make you die for desecrating the beloved flag!"
When Georgeretta Poon opened her eyes she was relieved to see that the blazing sun had moved behind the pyramid. Ripples of water hazed in the distance and she was reminded of her thirst and that they had drunk the last of the Lolo a few hours earlier. She turned to Sian who had been talking quietly to her for some time now.
Sian carefully brushed the stone that she was working on and which held the history of thousands of years ago in a delightfully charming hieroglyphic script.
"I think I can make out the last section", Sian breathed. Georgeretta leaned towards the bleached stone.
"It says 'THeY mAKe YoU diE foR dEsecRaTIng tHe beLoVed FlaG'".
They looked at each other.
"You know what this means?"
"Yes", answered Georgeretta, as she sunk down onto her knees next to Sian, "it means that peroffspringkind hasn't advanced at all since this was written".
They clung to each other in a futile effort to comfort their despair at humanity's fate.
When Rissilion Maltlet opened her eyes she took in a deep breath then went through the paper one more time. Only then did she let herself dare to accept that she really had made the break-though that the Focus had hired her to make. She smiled to herself, knowing that she was finally going to get the recognition that she deserved.
Rissilion had found a way to find and eliminate the doughy agent, Kaleidoscope Pink, while reading the International Journal of Archaeology. The journal included an article painstakingly put together by a group of people who, while on a sight-seeing holiday, had found the entwined bodies of two dead scientists. The scientists' notes had been discovered nearby and the tourists believed that the memory of the scientists should continue by having their notes published.
Rissilion had cunningly plotted a bloody demise for agent Kaleidoscope Pink.
First, she sent a message about the exiled dictator; she knew that Cruzo was a double-agent, working for Focus. Then, all she had to do was to arrange to be in the same town as Kaleidoscope. This she achieved by writing another message and sending it to Kaleidoscope with the included lines...
january XER XOF guiXIF XIS senohpoXAS
...which would fool inews sufficiently to make the message appear to originate from the Centre. The message ordered Kaleidoscope to investigate the Cruzo message "just in case".
Rissilion opened her mouth from which spewed a vitriolic yellow laugh. "I'll be waiting for you, Kaleidoscope Pink!" She downed the last drops of Lolo, crushed the can with one hand, then flung her head back and screamed "and I'll crush you!".