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Flash Fiction – Coffee Break January 29, 2010

Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
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This story is part of a weekly series, updated every friday. Click Here to read from the beginning.  

Nox sat at her workbench, with an empty coffee mug at her elbow and a large stack of notes close to hand. She had re-read the last section of Lord Galen’s journal at least fifty times, and every time something new had shown up in the text. Which meant she had to annotate her notes.  Stupid enchanted journal.  She shoved her hair back out of her eyes and reached for the coffee pot, but it was ice cold. “Dammit.” she muttered.  She picked up the offending pot and spun around to hop off of her stool, only to find Loki standing right behind her.  

“Gaahh!  I swear I’m going to put a bell on you!” she said, her heart pounding from the scare. The coffee pot sloshed as she tried to keep it from spilling. 

Loki laughed and took the pot from her.  “I think you’ve had quite enough caffeine, little lady.  You’re wound tighter than a harp string.”  He tipped up her chin with his free hand, and viewed the dark circles under her eyes.  “When was the last time you got some rest?” 

Nox batted his hand away and sat back down.  “I’m fine.  Any news, Mr. Spy Man?” 

He gave her a skeptical look, but answered anyway.  “Nothing much.  I went back down into the tunnels to see if our friendly neighborhood cultists left anything behind.  Surprisingly nothing has changed since we had our run-in with them.  I suppose they were too afraid of Grimm to go back for the bodies.” 

Nox sat up straighter.  “You went back down there?  You’re crazy!” 

“All part of the glamorous life of a spy. Skulking through dank tunnels, rummaging through dead-men’s pockets for loose change.”  He sat down a few copper coins next to the coffee pot.  “Normally I wouldn’t have bothered picking these up, except that every dead cultist had exactly one newly minted coin in their pocket. I thought maybe they were using the coins to identify themselves when they weren’t wearing their official robes, so I did some checking around.   Didn’t get any hits though.  Either they changed the token they’re using, or I missed giving the secret handshake.” 

Nox rummaged through a drawer for a jeweler’s loupe, and took a closer look at a coin.  “Minted by the Mountain Clans.” She turned it over.  “Nothing out of the ordinary, though I can always analyze the metal content.”   She set it down and put a finger on it, frowning in concentration. With an electric sizzle, a web of light shot out and connected the coins.  She quickly jerked her hand back. “Whoa!  Not good!”  Nox scooped up the coins and ran to the far end of the workbench. She slapped a lever on the wall and tossed the coins into the containment field that sprung up. 

Loki peered over her shoulder at them.  “Well, that was entertaining!  I take it you know what just happened?” 

Nox let out a nervous laugh. “Yeah, I nearly dumped us down another portal hole.”   She fidgeted with a few more levers and dials, until the coins were floating suspended in the energy field.  

Loki let out a low whistle.  “I nearly bought a coffee with those today.” 

They looked at each other, then burst out laughing.  Nox shook her head. “You’ve been carrying the triggers for five portals in your pocket?” she said, still laughing. 

Loki made a face and waggled his fingers.  “What can I say? I don’t have your magic hands. As far as I knew, they were ordinary coppers.”  He gave the coins a speculative look.  “I’ve been trying to figure out how the Morning Lord got enough troops into the Storm Queen’s stronghold to pull off the coup.  Now I know.  All he had to do was seed the area with these.” 

Nox drummed her fingers on the bench top.  “There has to be a limit to the area affected by the portal triggering mechanism.  Otherwise there’d be holes opening up all over the country, there’s no way to keep all the coins from circulating outside the area you want to hit.” 

“Even a handful in the right place would be enough to do the job.  I’ll warn your father about them, before any more of his allies get invaded. And you,” he said, pointing an accusing finger at her, “need to get some rest. Come on, upstairs with you.”  

“I can put myself to bed without any help, thank you.” she said, tartly. 

There was a wicked gleam in his eyes. “But what fun would that be?” 

“Coins. Warnings. Go deliver.” 

“Not until I see you actually lie down, if I turn my back you’ll be right at that workbench again.” 

“I will not! And you are not getting anywhere near my bed!” Nox said, yawning as she made her way through the clutter towards the stairs to the loft. 

Behind them, Grimm materialized, chuckling quietly.  If those two didn’t end up a couple he’d eat his favorite book.   He started to follow them upstairs, but got distracted by a buzzing sound in his ears. The hound shook his head so hard his ears flapped.  Ever since Nox had brought that journal home, he’d been hearing a strange sound, like surf at the beach, or the murmur of voices from a room full of people.  He padded over to the workbench.  There it was, the book with the answers Lucien had mentioned.  It was right out in the open, almost if it was planned. Or meant to be. Why else would Nox be so careless… 

Grimm shook himself from nose to tail and with an effort of will managed to wrench himself away from it.  He knew something in that journal would cause him to hurt Nox, so he wouldn’t read it.  No matter what the voices told him.  

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1. ganymeder - January 29, 2010

You never disappoint. This is such an awesome series. My only complaint is that I want to read it all at once! Great job.

techtigger - January 31, 2010

thank you! I try to make sure I keep things interesting 🙂 It’s always a challenge, need to write 2 hooks, beginning and end, and keep story from bogging down in details. But it’s a fun challenge!

2. Laura Eno - January 29, 2010

Uh oh…Grimm is hearing voices. At least he pulled away from the book. Another great installment!

techtigger - January 31, 2010

Grimm’s a tough cookie, and (almost!) as stubborn as Nox 😉 He certainly gives the voices a good fight!

glad you liked it!

3. Michelle - January 30, 2010

mmm. great reading…

techtigger - January 31, 2010

and good for you too! low cal, low fat … *grinz*

I’m glad you enjoyed it, I always have a great time writing these 🙂

4. Anne Tyler Lord - January 30, 2010

Excellent read!! This series is very interesting. I love how the characters interact, they make me smile. And, your imagination comes up with so much great magic!!

techtigger - January 31, 2010

I have a blast thinking up ways for Nox to do things – always a mashup of science and sorcery.

And Loki is just too much fun to write. Such a good bad-boy! *lol*

5. Cascade Lily - February 1, 2010

This was a lot of fun. I found the name Loki in a book of baby names once and didn’t know its real meaning until I mentioned it as a possible name for our then unborn son – my husband laughed so hard I thought he’d burst. I’m glad we didn’t call him Loki! 🙂

6. Mariana N. Blaser - February 2, 2010

I’m loving how you’re picturing the incoming romance. It’s going to be one, right?

Oh, wait, I don’t want any spoilers; your timing is great! I’ll just keep enjoying your story. Can’t wait for this Friday! heh

7. mazzz_in_Leeds - February 4, 2010

I missed a couple of episodes a few weeks ago, and I then I kept missing more as I intended to catch up and read them all in one go… I’m annoyed at myself for not having done so yet, but will rectify this as soon as possible!

I tried not to read any of this so I wouldn’t meet with any spoilers before I catch up – but I did spot the name Loki. I’m glad Loki is still with us 🙂

8. Walt - August 20, 2010

The voices are back, wonder what that means for Grimm?
On to the next one!

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