RATales Archive


by Alicia

Subject: [RATales] NEW to this list: Annapolis
From: LC Fenster <lucienlc@ix.netcom.com>

As requested, and with the author's permission.
All feedback to zootlet2@aol.com, since Alicia is not on this list.

To Jill, without whose ideas and painstaking editing this story would not exist.

Disclaimer: Of course, these characters aren't mine. No copyright infringement intended. Mr. Carter, 1013, please keep letting them have lives of their own, 'kay?

Alex Krycek stood at attention in the well-appointed room in the BOQ. The young man showed no emotion--a large mirror on the far wall was almost certainly one-way glass--but he was quickly evaluating possible scenarios. Ten minutes earlier he'd been sound asleep in his bunk, until a sharp knock on the door had summoned him, hastily attired in his dress whites, to this empty suite.

Shortly, a door at the back of the room opened and two business-suited men entered. One leaned casually against the wall, lit cigarette in his hand. The other took a seat and began speaking in a faint British accent.

"Some . . . irregularities in the results of a recent examination have come to our attention, Midshipman Krycek," the man said quietly.

"Sir?" Gaze precisely focused over the right shoulder of the man who'd addressed him.

"And we have reason to believe you developed the scheme."

"I see, Sir," Alex replied calmly, knowing his hack was untraceable--for hadn't that been the whole point? It certainly wasn't to improve his grade; he was acing the class with his eyes closed.

The men looked at him for a moment; then the smoker spoke for the first time. "If word of this matter were to reach your mother . . ."

Alex couldn't entirely suppress the amusement lurking behind his eyes. "Sir, if you have evidence of wrongdoing, by all means report it to whomever you think appropriate." His mother would condemn him only had he fallen for their ruse. The oldest trick in the book, bringing family into it. He wanted to grin. Resorting to threats meant they had nothing on him. He had been confident that his precautions had been sufficient; now he was certain. So--what next? Wait for them to continue, or seize the offensive?

All these thoughts flashed through his mind in the time it took the smoker to raise his cigarette to his lips for another drag, and by the time the man exhaled he'd made his decision.

"Will that be all, Sirs?" Nothing remotely offensive about the words, just in case he was being recorded.

The grey-haired man's eyes narrowed and he shot a glance at his companion, who smiled peptically and sat down at the table. "You're a very special individual, Mr. Krycek."

A slight lift of one eyebrow.

"How would you like to work for us?" the smoker continued.

"Who are you? . . . Sir," Krycek replied. Not "doing what"--he could guess the answer to that well enough.

Silence. "We've been watching you, Alex," the smoker finally said, shuffling papers in a brown folder and
pulling out a sheaf of reports from the State Department schools Alex had attended while his mother was stationed in Bangkok, Moscow, Tokyo . . . . "Our organization is always looking for young men with your . . . talents."

"Why would I want to give up my promising naval career to work with you?" Not "for" you--Alex never planned to work "for" anyone. And he had known before he entered the room that he would leave with a new allegiance. But the response might be revealing.

"You may think you covered your tracks in this grade-rigging thing, young man. But let me assure you, that would not prevent us from finding a way to . . . terminate . . . your military career should you make that necessary."

Alex didn't flinch. He had a pretty good idea what these men were.

"On the other hand, in our organization your . . . skills could be nurtured, allowed a much freer rein than within the rather restrictive environment of the Navy."

Alex stared straight ahead, unblinking. He ran through the Russian alphabet. The Greek alphabet. Then he looked the smoker in the eyes for the first time, and nodded.

"You'll still be working for your country," the smoker said as he rose from his chair.

"Right," Alex replied, with just a hint of challenge in his voice. And smiled.