The unicorn teleportation device appeared to fit perfectly in my bag of holding. Sometimes these things are hard to judge – an object that’s too wide and too long might not fit – and my backup plan wasn’t a good option given the high level of security in the Library of Artifacts. You don’t get far in my business without taking risks, but running through the vast maze of bookshelves, librarians and security officers with laser guns and hoping nobody notices you holding a holding a suspicious block shaped cheesecloth under you arm isn’t a good idea.

The real problem is buying the time. I needed a lot of time – a minute maybe, that’s a lot of time in these kind of jobs – to pull off this heist, and I wasn’t likely to get it.

I spent a great deal of my vacation time in the space-time travel exhibits, pretending to be interested in the various artifacts and gadgets on display. Not to say I wasn’t interested, but not interested in the same way an actual scholar might be. I spent some time in front of the holographic interactive information plague in front of the unicorn technology displays, one eye on the words, the other sizing up the unicorn’s toy. The Baneportal, of all bad names that could be given to a unicorn device.

I heard the footsteps behind me – the sharp clip-clip of metal toe boots with one inch heels – but I am ashamed I didn’t recognize the sound faster.

“Brin,” a familiar ultra-masculine voice behind me, deep and authoritative with a hint of mint. “A pleasant surprise to find you interested in unicorns. I always knew we had similar interests.”

I turned around to face my former boss from the Trade and Tariffs office. “Still chewing the same rotten breath-mints?”

Gerald frowned with one bushy eyebrow raised. He’d be handsome, maybe beautiful, if it weren’t for the nose hair. I could get over the receding hairline and the pouches under his eyes. “I’ve heard some things, and was wondering if you could help me get the facts straight.”

“Crooked facts are so much more fun,” I playfully punched him on the shoulder where I’d injured him the last time we met. “And my dues are paid.”

“I’m not interrogating you here. I was hoping to arrange a civil meeting.”

I smiled wide enough for him to see my gold tooth in my lower jaw. “All meetings with you start civil. I’ve got nothing for the OITT these days, and besides, you know I’m freelance these days.”

He growled as I walked away in my usual fast paced clip. The gimp leg and silly boots he wore weren’t amenable to chasing down people. Understandable, given he didn’t really have to chase people in his line of work. Paper pushers weren’t the most athletic people, and that was the only reason I’d kept two steps ahead of him since I left the OITT.

“What do you know about your current employer? You checked his history I assume.”

I spun on my heels. “I don’t choose clients based on history. Money talks louder.”

Gerald clicked his tongue. “You’re getting sloppy, Brin. I’ll be on the glacier for awhile. We talk more.”

He turned and walked away.

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