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Yucatan Job - Interlude - A Journalist Abroad

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"You wanted to see me?" Andy asked, stepping into Brittany’s office. It was rare that one of the Council asked to see her in person. In her mad dash across the planet to preserve as much fragile cultural history as possible, they would normally contact her over the Clan comm.

"Yes," Brittany said, waving her towards a chair in front of her work table. "I have an important question for you."

"Okay…," Andy said, wondering what was so important that it couldn’t be asked over the comm.

"If you could go back in time and rescue your Miranda, would you?" Brittany said giving her an intent look.

"Of course," Andy said, her heart beating heavily. "But it isn’t possible. The Clan doesn’t have time travel tech."

"Strictly speaking, there is time travel tech," Brittany said, "but we don’t have access to it. It was deemed a threat to reality."

"Then why are you asking me that?" Andy asked. "If I could get her back I would, but I can’t."

"I’ve read your book," Brittany said. "I don’t think I would have taken it so well if I’d lost Santana in the same way. Just gone. No evidence to find. Disappeared into thin air."

"Taking it well?" Andy said, gazing down at her hands. "I didn’t. And never will. Every morning I wake up and reach for her and she’s not there. And I can’t breath. But I have to get up and go on."

"You hide it very well," Brittany said, leaning forward.

"Why are we talking about this?" Andy asked again. "Why now?"

"When we first considered you for your project, we discussed what would motivate you to work with us. What could we bribe you with," Brittany said. "A prime candidate was finding out what happened to Miranda Priestly."

"She’s dead," Andy said. "If she could have come back she would have. It wouldn’t have been much of a bribe."

Shaking her head, Brittany pushed a tablet across her table. She gestured for Andy to pick it up. "This is Council intel only. You cannot discuss it with anyone else."

"What is it?" Andy said, picking it up and swiping it awake. "Project Prada?"

"When we dug into old Clan records, from the cruiser we recovered in Cancun, we found some interesting information about a portal. Later, when we investigated the disappearance of the vehicle containing your Miranda, we found this."

"I don’t understand," Andy said, glancing down at the tablet.

"We believe we’ve found out where she disappeared to," Brittany said. "Without getting into the science, there appears to be a point along the path her plane took that leads to another place. We’re fairly confident that it went to this other place."

"Another place?" Andy said. "Another planet? You were asking about time travel… another time?"

"The current theory is that it leads to either another dimension, in the comic book - science fiction sense of similar worlds with differences," Brittany said, "or a different time slice."

"Time slice?" Andy asked.

"The theory is that time in our reality is many layered. Every time you make a decision, another slice of time is created. That’s actually the least popular theory. A multi-dimension reality seems more likely. With a portal between here and there."

"And you think Miranda is in one of these other dimensions?" Andy asked.

"Yes," Brittany said. "We don’t know if she’s alive or not but we believe there’s conclusive proof that the plane went through this dimensional hole."

"What kind of proof," Andy asked. "Did you find her plane?"

"One of our probes detected an emergency beacon near a plane wreck," Brittany said.

"Wouldn’t the battery have died years ago?" Andy asked.

"Go read the project report," Brittany said. "And then we’ll talk again."

Knowing a dismissal when she heard it, Andy nodded and removed herself from Brittany’s office.

Finding a quiet corner in the base cafeteria, Andy began to read the report. It was several dozen documents going back to when she’d originally encountered the Council and Clan. Brittany hadn’t lied. They really had considered using this to tie her to them. She’d been so desperate that first year that she might have done anything to get Miranda back in her life. She still would but she’d come to accept that Miranda was lost to her forever, even if the pain didn’t seem like it would ever stop.

The science in the reports didn’t really make much sense to her. She could understand the basics but then it jumped to things that were alien, no pun intended. But she kept reading, looking for that one thing that would say this was real, that they’d found Miranda.

The Clan emergency beacon made the least sense. How had it gotten into Miranda’s bags. This had happened long before the Clan had made its first appearance.

"So, she told you," a cheerful voice said.

Looking up, Andy saw Rachel standing there, holding a tray.

"Mind if I join you?" Rachel asked.

"Sure," Andy said. "Did you know about all this?" she asked, holding up the tablet.

"You’ll have to be more specific," Rachel said, humming as she sipped from a large steaming mug. "Know that Brittany has had some of her wonder kids looking for your Miranda? Or something else."

"Project Prada?" Andy said.

"The name was Brittany’s idea," Rachel said. "She considers you one of us."

"I’m not really," Andy said, blushing.

"You’re related to Coach, and the twins are from her old Clan," Rachel said. "So, that makes you family. Even if Coach won’t tell us why you seem so clan-like genetically when she is an ordinary human, genetically speaking."

"I can’t answer that," Andy said, shrugging. "She’s Aunt Sue, and has always been."

"No worries," Rachel said. "We’ll figure it out some day. Did she ever meet your Miranda?"

"Once," Andy said. "Before our wedding. They talked for several hours."

"I’m assuming she approved," Rachel said.

"Yes, though Miranda wouldn’t tell me what they discussed," Andy said.

"Another secretive person," Rachel said. "We seem to be surrounded by them."

"Can you answer questions about this?" Andy asked, waving the tablet.

"Just in general," Rachel said. "Yes, we very, very, briefly thought of using the promise of finding your wife to get you to work for us but as sneaky and manipulative as Brittany can be she didn’t think it was acceptable. We aren’t those kind of people. Free will works so much better."

"The proof doesn’t make much sense," Andy said. "Where would Miranda have gotten a Clan emergency beacon? Why would it have been on her plane."

"Don’t know. Can’t answer," Rachel said. "Sorry." She spend several minutes silently eating. "Did you want to get something to eat?"

"No, I’m on Moscow time right now," Andy said. "I ate several hours ago."

"Ah, Moscow. I’d really like to see the Bolshoi live, but Quinn thinks it’s too dangerous for me to go," Rachel said, pouting.

"It’s an interesting country," Andy said, "but she’s probably right. You’re very high profile."

"Some day," Rachel said. "Some day I’ll convince her."

Andy nodded, though she didn’t agree. Quinn was very protective of Rachel. The only way she’d let Rachel go to Moscow was with a battalion of her most experienced troopers as protection. "How are things going with you and Quinn?" she asked. Gossip about the personal lives of the Clan Council members was always a hot topic.

Smiling widely, Rachel held up her hair to reveal her right ear and a small gem. "She gave this to me on my last birthday."

"What does it signify?" Andy asked.

"It’s similar to your culture’s engagement ring," Rachel said. "Though not really. More of an indication of interest than a commitment. Very old school Clan."

"So no marriage any time soon," Andy said.

"I’ll take what I can get," Rachel said. "It’s taken years to get her to this point. To admit she has feelings of more than friendship. And that it isn’t a weakness."

"So, not quite congratulations?" Andy said.

"Not yet," Rachel said. "I think I’ll join you and Brittany."

"I’m not quite sure it’s anything you’d be interested in," Andy said. "We’re just going to discuss the project."

"I’m good at moral support," Rachel said.

Rachel waved, winking at Brittany as she slipped into Brittany’s office behind Andy, taking a seat to her right.

"So, are you in?" Brittany asked. "And no comments from the peanut gallery."

"I’m not sure what you’re asking me," Andy said. "In what?"

"Phooey," Brittany said, shaking her head. "Do you want to go looking for Miranda?"

"Of course I do, but what about my current project?" Andy asked. "What happens while I’m gone? And what about the girls?"

"You shouldn’t be gone long enough for it to matter," Brittany said. "At least not from here."

"What do you mean?"

"Time flows differently there than it does here, as far as we can tell," Brittany said. "If we time it right it’ll only be a month or two here. Might be a bit different there. The portal seems to fluctuate time wise. Sometimes time there moves faster, sometimes slower."

"So, even if I find her, she could be dead? It’s been years here so decades might have passed there?" Andy asked.

"Well, that's where time travel comes in," Brittany said, smirking.

"You said you can’t use time travel," Andy said.

"Not in our dimension we can’t,’ Brittany said. "But for this we insert you into that dimension so that you arrive around the same time as Miranda’s plane."

"Oh…" Rachel said. "And you send an emergency beacon with her so we can find her now?"

"Exactly," Brittany said. "We send you through, you find Miranda, set off the beacon and we come get you."

"That seems confusing," Andy said.

"Well, if you treat time as linear, things like this aren’t possible," Brittany said. "But we’re cheating."

"Brittany is really good at cheating," Rachel said. "It’s one of her talents. Just don’t play poker with her."

"It’s all about probabilities," Brittany said, glaring at Rachel’s interruption. "We’ve found a way to manipulate time in the portal. So we send you and a small team there and bring you back along with Miranda."

"What about other survivors from the plane?" Rachel asked, interrupting again. "Are you just going to leave them there?"

"Of course not," Brittany said. "It was a private plane with, what, ten people on board?"

"Miranda, her first assistant, and several members of her staff, and the crew," Andy said. "Eight."

"So, go back to Moscow and finish that up. How long do you need?" Brittany asked.

"Several weeks," Andy said.

"Finish that up, and we’ll start working on getting things ready while you do that," Brittany said. "And when you get back we’ll make sure you’re ready and send you off."

"What do I tell the girls?"

"Nothing until you’re all back here. They can’t go," Brittany said. "It’s too dangerous."

"They won’t like that," Andy said.

"We’ll find something to keep them occupied," Brittany said. "Don’t worry about it."

"So, she convinced her to do it?" Quinn asked Rachel, watching her dance around her moonlit studio.

"It didn’t take much," Rachel said. "Of course, Brit left out a few details."

"Like what?" Quinn asked.

"She’s not going to send Andy into the unknown unprepared," Rachel said, stopping in front of her. "She’s already sent one of her Ops teams ahead to scout it out. And she’ll have to go through a refresher of your trooper training in the pods."

"Brit asked for two of my troopers to go with her," Quinn said. "It might be a one way trip."

"Did you agree?" Rachel asked.

"Can you say no to Brit when she has a brilliant idea?" Quinn asked.

"Never," Rachel said, smiling and nodding in agreement. "So who?"

"No one you’d know," Quinn said. "The Potter twins."

"Potter twins? I didn’t know we had any more twins in the Clan, just Pip and Squeak on Gold Team. How long have they been out of the pods?" Rachel asked, frowning.

"Each generation has a set of twins," Quinn said. "They’ve got Brit’s sneakiness but wanted to be troopers."

"I’d like to meet them before they go," Rachel said, nodding to herself.

"I’m sure that can be arranged," Quinn told her. "It’ll be several months."

"Great," Rachel said, returning to dancing around her studio to a tune only she could hear.

"What do you mean we’re taking a break?" Cass said, watching Andy packing up their temporary office. "We’ve barely made a dent in Russia." Caroline waved her hands in agreement.

"Something’s come up," Andy said. "Something I need to do."

"So, can we take over?" Caroline asked hopefully. "We’ll do it exactly the way you’ve been doing it."

"No," Andy said. "You’re both still interns. I’m sure you’d do a decent job but you aren’t quite ready. Maybe in a year."

"So, in a year you’ll convince the Council that we can work on our own?" Cassidy said.

"On our own, with our own crews," Caroline added when Andy frowned.

"We’ll see what happens," Andy said, pausing in her packing.

"Yes!" Caroline shouted, dragging her sister to her feet and hugging her.

"Chill!" Cassidy said, prying herself loose from her sister. "So, what’s so important?" she asked Andy.

"Promise you won’t tell anyone?" Andy said. "No one!"

"Cross our hearts," Cassidy said. "Spill!"

"Lady Shadow thinks she’s found out what happened to your mother," Andy said. "She might be alive."

"We’re going with you when you go after her," Caroline said. "You can’t fool me, I know you’re going to go after her."

"You can’t," Andy said. "It’s too dangerous."

"She’s our Mom," Caroline said. "We’re going."

"No, you’re not," Andy said. "She would never forgive me if something happened to you."

"We’re still going," Cassidy said.

"Lady Shadow has already said no," Andy said, "and she isn’t going to change her mind."

"No one can resist the pout," Cassidy said, giving a demonstration.

"You learned that from her. She’s immune," Caroline said. "It doesn’t even work on Aunt Sue."

"Are you at least taking Aunt Sue?" Caroline said. "We want both of you back."

"I don’t know," Andy admitted. "I haven’t seen Lady Shadow’s plan for the expedition."

"She better send someone good with you," Cassidy said, crossing her arms in a familiar stance that made Andy’s heart ache at the rush of memories of Miranda standing the same way.

"No," Brittany said, unfazed by two identical high powered pouts. "You aren’t going. She’ll be perfectly safe. Two of Lady Q’s troopers will be going with her and I have a team already on the ground there gathering intel so they won’t go in blind."

"Have you found her already?" Andy asked eagerly.

"No," Brittany said. "They’ve been there for only a week. The portal apparently shifts around on the other side. It’s a big planet, she could be anywhere."

"What can you tell us about the 'other side'?" Andy asked, shushing the twins before they could say anything.

"It’s really close to our reality," Brittany said. "No signs of Clan or the Confederation so far, but a lot of space based comm traffic."

"So they have space ships?" Cassidy said. "Are they as cool as ours?"

"If they have any it’s a big secret," Brittany said. "What they’re hearing is satellite traffic. We’ll be able to really analyze it when my team returns, before Andy goes through."

"Ladies," Sue said, appearing in the door to Brittany’s office. "I believe you’ll be joining me for the afternoon."

"We wanna stay and listen to the planning," Caroline said.

"Yeah!" said Cassidy.

"If you aren’t going you don’t need to know the details," Sue said.

Rachel peaked around her and grinning, said "Don’t worry, you won’t miss anything. It’ll all go into the Clan Records. Our first Rescue Mission!"

Sue frowned down at the shorter woman. "Yes, apparently this will become a spectacle for the masses."

"Only the best spectacle for the Clan records," Rachel said, apparently not hearing the derision in Sue’s voice. Cassidy and Caroline giggled.

Sighing, Caroline stood up and grabbed her sister’s hand, pulling her to her feet. "After you, Aunt Sue," she said, waving at the door. With a barely audible 'harumph', Sue turned around and stalked out, the twins at her heels. With a wave, Rachel followed them.

"How dangerous is it, really?" Andy asked, once it was just her and Brittany in the room, with Lady Air and Lady Hands on comm.

"No more dangerous than any other op in possibly hostile territory," Brittany said. "There don’t seem to be any major wars or zombie infestations. No alien invasions. Standard Earth setup. We’ll know more in a couple days. Places to stay away from, all that."

"What about equipment?" Andy asked. "What can I take with me?"

"Only the best," Brittany said. "All new hard suits, designed for max stealth. With a few special features."

"Like what?" Andy asked.

"You’ll love them," Brittany said. "But first, we’ve lined up some extra training for you, along with your bodyguards. Then we can discuss equipment."

"I don’t need bodyguards," Andy protested. "I can do this on my own."

"Not a chance," Brittany said. "I’d rather send the girls with you than send you alone, and we know that isn’t going to happen."

"Okay…" Andy said reluctantly, standing up. "Training. When and where?"

"You’ve used the pods before," Brittany said. "Artie has one saved just for you."

"Gee, thanks Artie," Andy said, grimacing.

"It is my pleasure," Artie said.

Sighing, Andy turned and left Brittany’s office.

"When do my squads get some of this new suit tech?" Quinn said over the Council comm.

"How long until our Foe shows up?" Brittany asked.

"Still no sign of them," Santana said, grumbling. "Going to be very embarrassing if they never show up."

"You can always go conquer some planetary civilization," Brittany said. "Become pirates?"

"Pirates could be fun," Santana said. "But I don’t think the Confederation Poo-Bahs would be too impressed."

"We’re supposed to be the police, not run from the police," Quinn said. "So, we’ll get fancy new suits in enough time to learn how to use them before we need to fight?"

"Oh, definitely," Brittany said. "But it’s really new tech, even compared to your current hard suits and it’ll take time to get them in full production. We’ve got just enough material for a squad right now."

"Specs at least?" Quinn asked. "Our suit techs need to come up to speed on them."

"The specs are still being updated," Brittany said. "I’ve sent you the current draft."

"You’re sending Andy and two of my troopers out in experimental hard suits?" Quinn asked, several minutes later.

"Possibly," Brittany said, wincing at Quinn’s tone. "Think of it as a field test."

"That could get them killed. Some of this tech is so new it’s still shrink wrapped. I’m assuming some of this pod training includes suit training with the new tech," Quinn said. "Arrange for me to try them out ASAP."

"Of course," Brittany said. "They’re already prepping a suit for you now. It also requires nanite upgrades."

"What page is that on?" Quinn asked. "I missed that in my read thru."

"It’s not documented yet," Brittany said. "That’s part of what makes it so flexible and suitable for stealth missions. The nanites give you almost as much processing power as an AI."

"Is it permanent?" Quinn asked. "Artie? You approved this?"

"The nanite usage is within acceptable parameters," Artie said.

"Other than the usual nanite benefits, which you already have, they are inactive unless you are wearing one of our hard suits," Brittany said.

"Even the current ones?" Quinn asked.

"The programming isn’t complete yet, but eventually," Brittany said. "The nanites will be able to interface with the suit AI."

"Okay, I definitely want to check this out. Before Andy and the Potter twins get them," Quinn said firmly.

"It’s perfectly safe. They’ll be training with them in the pods," Brittany said. "But you know how that works."

"Yes," Quinn said, frowning. "I’ll be on Flag tomorrow to check out the suits."

"Good," Brittany said. "I’ll see you then."

"You’re pushing her buttons, babe," Santana said, once Quinn had disconnected. "Mama Bear doesn’t like her troopers taking risks."

"She takes risks all of the time with them," Brittany said.

"Risks that she has taken first," Santana said.

"It won’t be a problem, San," Brittany said. "Dinner?"


"Meet me at the embassy in Tokyo? Sophia’s there for the month, lecturing."

"Business dinner?" Santana asked. "She’s had comms for a while now."

"Partly business," Brittany said. "There are several local resources she’d like us to meet. Also, she’s found a restaurant she wants us to try. And you know she prefers face to face meetings."

"Stubborn," Santana said, grumbling.

"It’s a family trait," Brittany said. "I find it cute."

"I’m never cute," Santana said. "See you in Tokyo, Brit."

"So adorable," Brittany said softly, once Santana had dropped off the comm.

Andy slumped into the training chair in her virtual training room. In the past, when she’d used the pods it had been for basic trooper training and hadn’t been remotely as intense, spread over several weeks of daily sessions. But for this training, as she prepped to find Miranda, she’d been set up with long term residency. She wasn’t sure how long it’d been in real time but in her head it had been at least two months.

And it was exhausting. She hadn’t been worked this hard ever. Mornings spent relearning how to defend herself. Both alone and with the Potter twins. With and without the new hard suits. The twins had said she was doing extremely well, in what was essentially a compressed trooper officer training series with a few extra Shadow techniques thrown in.

But that didn’t mean she wasn’t tired. Afternoons were spent learning everything she could possibly need to know about the scary tech she and the twins would be taking with them. Some of it was beyond anything she’d ever heard about. New microscopic nano comm units that wouldn’t show up on an x-ray. Weapons that didn’t look like anything until they were assembled on command.

The suits looked like something out of a comic book, making the current trooper hard suits look awkward. Something that Captain Marvel would wear. They could theoretically withstand the force of a nuclear blast, though it wasn’t recommended to be too close to one. But they weren’t bulky. If you didn’t know it was a hard suit, you would just think it was some kind of ship suit. Much of their power came from the colonies of nano-bots she now had running through her circulatory system. It was as if the suit’s AI and related electronics were embedded in her. She wasn’t wearing the suit, she was the suit.

She just hoped all of this time and effort was worth it and they found Miranda.

"She comes out of the pods today?" Rachel asked. 'The girls have been getting anxious."

"Today, yes," Brittny said. "She was yummy before. All that training is going to max out the yumminess. I can’t wait to see her."

"I thought she was getting extended trooper training in the pods?" Rachel said. "She’s done some of it before."

"Yup," Brittany said, its an extra pop. "You do remember what that kind of training did to Q, right? Yummy with a side of yowser."

"Quinn still looks like she did after those years in the pods," Rachel said, nodding. "Double yum."

"You need to be in really good shape to live in a hard suit like Q and her troopers do," Brittany said. "Santana stays in shape, but she’s not even close to Q-shape."

"Hey!" Santana said. "I’m still the hottest thing on this planet."

"If you don’t snoop on comms you won’t hear things you don’t need to know," Brittany said with a giggle. "But I still love you," she added. "And you don’t need to be like Q to be sexy."

"I train," Santana said, the pout heard loud and clear by the others.

"It’s not your job to be in fighting trim for Q’s troopers," Brittany said. "If we weren’t sending Andy on this rescue she wouldn’t be getting it either. Only the Q-troops need that. Not even my baby Shadows train like that. But we don’t know what they’ll run into."

"I know, I know," Santana said. "So, how did she do?"

"Andy was her usual excellent self," Brittany said.

"And you still don’t know where her abilities came from. Hasn’t Coach told you yet," Rachel asked.

"She told me some things but it didn’t really make sense. It was like something out of a comic book hero origin story. Or the Bible. And Andy was too young to remember herself," Brittany said.

"Well, she looks good enough in that cat suit to be a superhero," Rachel said. "Can she fly?"

"The suit does give her a few extras," Brittany said. "Including flying short distances. But it’s really meant for emergencies, like falling out of a plane."

"We’ll need to think up an awesome superhero name for her," Rachel said, nodding to herself.

"She’s Andy, not a comic book hero," Brittany said. "She doesn’t need a superhero name."

"We’ll ask her what she wants to call herself," Rachel said, ignoring Brittany. "And I’ll need to write her a theme song."

"She can’t use it," Brittany said in protest.

"Why not?" Rachel asked.

"This is supposed to be a stealth operation," Brittany said. "Go in, find Miranda, come home. No time for side trips."

"I’ve got just the melody for her," Rachel said. "Martial but not, with a dash of mystery."

Shaking her head, Brittany leaned back and listened to Rachel’s ramblings. Sometimes you just had to let her go.

"Lady Priestly is on her way," Artie announced.

"When did she get 'Lady’d'," Santana asked, surprised.

"It’s honorary," Brittany said. "She’ll be our representative in this alternate universe. Our ambassador, if necessary."

"Why don’t we just send Lady Black with her?" Quinn asked. "She’s good at dealing with people."

"She’s busy," Brittany said. "She’s working on getting you that base you wanted in Mongolia."

"Damn straight," Santana said. "That’s the last keystone in the planetary defenses. What’d it cost us?"

"Nothing yet," Brittany said. "But at least a low level scan of the entire area. They want to know where any historical artifacts or metals are buried."

"Does Andy know that she got dosed by nanites while she was in the pod?" Rachel said.

"It’s all part of the training," Brittany said. "All three of them did."

"So, they’re okay?" Rachel said. "No bad reactions?"

"Nope. We’ve worked all of the kinks out of the process. Just ask Quinn, she did it first."

"Quinn? You let them experiment on you?" Rachel asked, switching her comm to Quinn’s private channel.

"What?" Quinn said, sounding very distracted. "Experiment? What do you mean?"

"The nanites used with the new hard suit designs," Brittany said. "I was telling Rachel that you helped test them before we set Andy and the Potters up with them."

"Of course," Quinn said. "I’m not letting my troopers do anything I haven’t tested first."

"Why didn’t you say anything?" Rachel asked, sounding hurt. "It could’ve hurt you. Badly."

"It was perfectly safe, Rache," Quinn said. "And it only matters when you’re wearing the new suits. Otherwise it’s just a more enhanced comm unit. Nothing’s visible."

"We’ll talk later," Rachel said. "When you aren’t busy."

"Yes, ma’am," Quinn said, to giggles by Brittany. "Later ladies."

"Later Q," Brittany said, before turning back to Rachel "See? Safe as houses."

"What does that mean," Rachel grumbled. "More people get hurt at home than at a riot."

"Can I come in?" Andy said, standing in the door to Brittany’s office, her presence stopping Rachel in mid pre-rant.

"Yes! Yes! Please," Brittany said quickly. "How are you feeling?"

"Like I’ve had too much coffee," Andy said, sitting down next to Rachel. "The suit tech said it’ll wear off eventually. Did the girls behave while I was gone?"

"Perfect angels," Rachel said. Brittany grimaced and shook her head.

"Angels with horns and tails," Brittany said. "They were all over the place. Coach kept an eye on them but she can only do so much."

"There were no riots," Rachel said. "No time in the clink. Nothing too outlandish. They behaved more or less."

"I’ll talk with them," Andy said. "They can’t run wild while I’m gone."

"They weren’t any worse than Quinn’s troopers after a month on Pluto watch," Brittany said, "but they could have been better behaved."

"So, when can we leave?" Andy asked.

"We’re still analyzing what we’ve gotten from there," Brittany said. "No surprises yet, though there seems to be a bit of heavily encrypted traffic that doesn’t match anything we’ve seen before."

"So we’ll be extra careful," Andy said. "What’s next?"

"Go spend some time with your family," Brittany said. "We’ll meet in the lower conference room tomorrow to review the plans and makes sure everything is ready. We’ll decide on the Go date then."

"Okay," Andy said, getting back up. "Where are the girls right now?"

"They are with Lady Sophia and her companion at her private beach," Artie said. "Shall I inform them that you will be joining them?"

"No, I’d like to surprise them," Andy said. "I’ll take the next shuttle down."

"As you wish," Artie said.

They waited for her to get out of earshot, before talking.

"What do we do with her after she gets back?" Rachel asked. "There’s no way this won’t change her."

"She’s already started to change," Brittany said. "Hopefully her Miranda still recognizes her after all our tinkering."

"She’s still Andy," Rachel said. "Just with a few extras."

"Dinner?" Rachel asked, standing. "I need to get back to my office but I’d like to spend some time with everyone tonight."

"Okay," Brittany said. "Here on Flag or in the enclave?"

"Here’s fine," Rachel said. "Just the four of us tonight."

"Okay," Brittany said.

"You’re up to something," Santana said quietly after Rachel was gone. "You didn’t answer her question about Andy."

"Nothing more than normal," Brittany said. "Just juggling a few heavy balls. And planning for Andy when she’s done with the museum job. She’s not going back to being a journalist if I can keep her busy."

"We don’t really have a place for someone like her," Santana said. "She’s already a combo of you and Q, but without the heavy training. Very good tactician. But she’s never going to be a soldier. She doesn’t have that vibe."

"Nope. Not a soldier. Or a spy. But I think we’ll keep her, and not just because we haven’t figured out what is going on with those twins of hers."

"Well, I’ve got a horde of engineers breathing down my neck," Santana said. "If they get bored they get dangerous. And then strange things start to happen. If I’m not careful they’ll completely rebuild the FTL engines to make better coffee and who knows what else."

"Okay, don’t forget - dinner with Rachel and Q in your dining room tonight," Brittany said.

"Would I?"

"If it was just me? No," Brittany said.

"Of course," Santana said. "I have my priorities straight."