Been writing again. This moment sprung into mind inspired by something mundane... It almost always happens this way... Felicia

Awaiting the Next Move

Devra had made her move. 

It had been a long move. All the way across the a six-thousand four hundred and ninety-one miles that separated Los Angeles from Shanghai.   

Now it was their move. 

And that was fine. 

She had expected to have been met at the airport by a limousine and whisked to Hulong’s Shanghai Headquarters, welcomed as a visiting dignitary and handed a contract and then led to her lab. She had speculated on whether it would be the lab Lynton-Wolfe had been extracted from more than two years ago.

The driver had, instead, delivered her to the Shanghai Sculpture Garden and escorted her to a chair before a sculpture of a red and white chessboard (checkerboard?) with a number of metal arcs symbolizing, she suspected, moves to be made. 

She’d need Jarvis to explain the other sculptures scattered around the Sculpture Garden. She was sure that Ni’s choice of venue had some deep and profound meaning. Why else have the hired car drop her here?

Devra didn’t feel like contemplating, speculating, postulating or procrastinating.  She was jet-lagged and dejected. The brutal reaction to her interview with Susanna Moyer had stung. Now the sting was gone, in large part thanks to the bottle of champagne that awaited her on Hulong’s G550,  but the ache lingered.

She couldn’t help herself. She contemplated: why were the black squares red? That would make the sculpture a checkerboard. Or if the red were black it would be a chess board.  Red and White didn’t make any sense. Art with its endless paradoxes, puzzles and contrived irreverence was not stimulating, but simply irritating that morning. As irritating as the too bright sun striking her sunglasses at the wrong angle.

Either Red should be black or white should be black.  

It was that kind of jagged bad morning. Old song lyrics came back to her. ‘Out of the white and into the red’.  Or was it ‘out of the blue and into the black.’  The rest of the words came back across half-listened-to decades.

_“They give you this,
but you pay for that
And once you're gone,
you can never come back
When you're out of the blue
and into the black.”_

“Good afternoon, Devra.”

It was the voice of Yuen Ni. Devra turned.  Ni looked different. There was a streak of white in her hair. Or maybe it was the light. Her already inscrutable eyes were hidden behind sunglasses. Devra’s response was as automatic as gravity. “Yuen, its wonderful to see you again.”

“You left in CERN in such a hurry.”

“You weren’t there and I had a train to catch,” Devra said.  
Ni laughed. Devra had never seen the ex-head of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) smile before.  Indeed she had a full set of teeth, Devra mused, and my how sharp they were.

Ni’s move was simple and brutal. She’d set it up with a great deal of finesse.

“Did you bring the remainder of the sample vaccine?”

“That wasn’t part of the deal.”

“We don’t have a ‘deal’,” Ni said.  And then she made her move. “We have only begun negotiations.”

Now was Devra’s move.

And she didn’t have one.
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