#TeamSteamPunk - Part Five: Redemption's Song - @TheOrangutan

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The Winter War: Part Four

by bloodsword

"Time to get up, Colonel Steele," a low voice urged through the smoke and screaming that was clouding Balt's dreams yet again. "Time is short and the list of things to do is long!"

"It's too damn early in the morning for cliches," he grumbled as he pushed himself towards full consciousness. "Not to mention, Agency wags that feel important enough that they can break into my room whenever they want."

"Your arrival has sent ripples across London, colonel, whether you intended them to or not," the voice dryly pointed out. "I merely thought it prudent that I arrive before one of your enemies did, to at least give fair warning."

"Bah!" Balt threw his blankets off and sat up, taking his sidearm out from under his pillow where it had laid close at hand all night. "Hearing Agency logic at this time of day makes me want to shoot someone." Prying his eyes open, he looked over at the small, rather ordinary fellow that was sitting at the room's small desk.

"Carlton, I presume."

"Colonel," the ordinary looking fellow replied with a nod. "Considering that you've already met with the turncoat and the tinker, can I assume that the weapon plans are being analyzed?"

"Aye," Balt said, standing to totter over to the night stand. He put his gun down just long enough to splash tepid water from the pitcher that sat on top of the stand into the accompanying wash basin before scooping it up onto his face. Toweling his face dry, he looked over at the Agency man, who hadn't stirred from his place at the desk.

"Can I assume that you've been keeping an eye on where my other messages went as well?"

"You can," Carlton confirmed. "We're stretched thin in the ongoing hunt for the remainder of Brown's associates, and for the handful of Prussian agents that escaped Kate's destruction of their underground base, but not so much that we don't have our eyes and ears deployed appropriately."

He then abruptly stood.

"The Polish ambassador has requested an audience with the Queen for eleven this morning," he revealed. "Our contact in the Polish embassy has confirmed the reason for the meeting is for Poland to formally request aid from Her Majesty to fight Prussian aggression on their south and southwestern borders."

"I was wondering when that would happen," Balt said, tossing the towel onto the nightstand. He then reached for his duffel, intending to pull out a clean shirt. "Has Willoughby already moved to begin his delaying action?"

"The Defense Minister has called for an emergency meeting in Parliament to discuss the ongoing situation in Poland," Carlton indicated before looking at what appeared to be a watch strapped to his wrist. "In fact, it should be starting right about, ... now." He looked up. "Did I fail to mention that the minister is aware of your presence in the capital, colonel, despite your attempt to circumnavigate notice?" Carlton let his hand drop back to his side.

"A dispatch carrier from the Ministry will be arriving in about ten minutes with orders for you to immediately make your way to the Tower and report to Brigadier General Harker, who will likely demand to know why you've abandoned your Gibraltar post and throw you in irons for dereliction of duty."

"Then I think it best to be gone in five minutes," Balt retorted, "so I can truthfully say that I missed the carrier."

Carlton smiled as the big soldier pulled out a long bladed dagger to begin dry shaving his stubble-covered jaw with long, practiced strokes.

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