“At some point,” Biff said, “we’ll get married again.”

Julia smiled, turning her head on the pillow so he could see it on her face.

“Good morning, love. Careful what you say.”

She had a playful tone, but they both knew what she meant.

He leaned over and kissed her, despite their mutual morning breath.

When they broke apart he said, “Cops have certain privileges.”

“Mm. Except when cops have travelled off world and have been involved in one of the biggest murder cases ever.”

He paused to consider it. Then he said, “Okay. You might have a point. Want some breakfast?”

“I’d love some breakfast.”

He got out of bed and padded into the kitchen area of the small apartment. Julia sat back and thought about their dilemma.

So far as anyone knew, Biff had met someone new and she had moved in with him. He had taken a few additional days off since the shooting, going into HQ only to answer questions. The rest of the time they had spent together.

True to his word, Sergeant Jefferies had the body of “Andi Jones” quickly cremated, and quietly let Biff have the ashes. Biff thanked him, and promptly poured them into the Thallick River which cut through the middle of Yorkton. There was nothing left to recover of the SSI agent known as Natasha Krizinksi.

Today marked the first time Biff would be going back to work since he left to go find her. He would be given desk duty for the foreseeable future. One of the benefits of this assignment included being home every night. Despite that, she felt certain the department would be watching him closely, at least for the foreseeable future.

Maybe StarCen did not monitor police in the privacy of their homes. When she married him the first time, he had no idea of her identity, and they did not have to play any games. But now . . .

Could he keep his mouth shut about her real identity? And if he slipped, like this morning, would it matter? Would StarCen ignore it, or would somebody else be listening?

Time would tell. For now, Julia would be on her guard and hope and pray that Biff could adapt. Already he had called her Andi twice, but that would be understandable. She read somewhere that men often mixed up the names of their wives and past girlfriends. So long as he did not call her “Julia” they were probably safe as far as name mistakes go.

She remained curious about the eavesdropping, and wondered if there might be a way to determine who was currently under additional surveillance on the police force. For now, though, they would have to play it safe regardless.

“You want breakfast in bed or at the table?” Biff called from the kitchen.

“Table. You know I hate crumbs in bed.”

Fortunately, she thought, StarCen had been programmed to ignore similarities between her personalities. Julia and Andi hated crumbs in bed, too.

“You’re doing it again,” Biff said as she walked into the kitchen where he had placed two plates piled high with pancakes on the table.

“Doing what?”

“Pulling on your earlobe.”

She smiled sweetly, sitting down at the table in front of her plate.

She said, “Everybody has their little quirks, Officer.”

After breakfast, Biff put his uniform on and left for work. Julia walked out of the flat and took the skybus to a different part of town. She wandered around on the street for a while, taking in the sights, and eventually found her way to a seedier, run down neighborhood.

After walking a few more blocks she felt confident there were no sensors anywhere nearby. She jumped over a metal barricade blocking the entrance to an abandoned subway and made her way down into the darkness.

Julia found a sensor at the bottom of the stairs. It looked relatively new, but someone had broken it recently. She headed down the tracks past other broken sensors and turned into a service tunnel.

She opened an old-fashioned door set on hinges and walked into a room holding four chairs and a table. Elephant, Lynx, and Owl smiled at her when she came in.

Elephant said, “Hello, Angel.”

Julia smiled back at them and said, “Miss me?”

Owl said, “We lost Shark getting you back.”

Julia said, “Shark is in good hands. He’ll continue the fight elsewhere.”

“What are our plans now?” Lynx said.

Julia smiled again and sat back in her chair. She said, “I think it’s time to stir things up a little more on Juventas.”

“We’ve stirred things up pretty good while you were gone,” Elephant said. “Lion took out a Vice Admiral and the Director of SSI in one blow.”

Julia’s eyebrows shot up. She said, “Samson maneuver?”

All three nodded back. Julia’s lips quirked down at the news. Lion had been a good asset for the Resistance.

Elephant said, “And Shark almost took out Cooper. Missed him by a second, apparently. Since then I don’t think the Admiral has set foot outside.”

“Who took over at SSI? The Wicked Witch?”

Everyone nodded again. Owl said, “She’s still getting her feet wet. But she’ll be just as bad as Fleming was, if not worse.”

Julia said, “Okay. I’m willing to leave Admiral Cooper alone for now so long as he doesn’t start forcing indents or commit other egregious acts. Let him stew in paranoia for a while. But Vicki Fenner moves to the top of the list. Get with Weasel and find out what you can about addresses, schedules, anything else that will help us.”

The three nodded. Elephant said, “Anybody you have in mind for this?”

“Are Dolphin and Peregrine still in the vicinity?”

“Yes. Although, we haven’t seen or heard from Peregrine in a while, I believe she is still available. We can contact Dolphin easily.”

Julia pursed her lips, her mind racing with possibilities.

She said, “Very well. Get in contact with those two and let’s wage a little war on SSI.”

A note from jaxonreed

Condor Rising wraps up at Ch. 39.

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