The courier arrived in the predawn hours and silently handed Ned an envelope. “Go to a private place to read this,” the courier said and vanished into the jungle.
“This is about as private as it gets,” Ned smiled at his personal joke. He sat down to read the last briefing, hoping his humor would help overcome the fear he felt as he opened the envelope.
Ned read the briefing three times, letting the words sink in. While he was relieved a satellite laser would be able to neutralize the hybrid, Ned knew erasing all traces of his presence in Selvadorada would be difficult.
He opened Chapter 13 of The Long Con and followed the steps outlined:
- Change into a disguise.
- Make sure you have enough supplies.
- Perform the voodoo that you do so well.
- Eliminate any physical evidence.
A disguised Ned traveled to the marketplace. Who would recognize “George” the soldier in this get up? He knew that a fake mustache or dark glasses usually did the trick, but Ned didn’t want to take any chances.
“Excuse me, good sir,” Ned approached the vendor. “I have this list of supplies. I’m new on a jungle vacation. Will these be what is needed?
The vendor, spotting an inexperienced traveler sold Ned everything–at twice the price he’d paid only a few days ago. Ned was glad his cut from the artifacts more than compensated for the simoleons leaving his faux-alligator-skin wallet.
Next Ned traveled to the Angry Tiki Bar to test out his disguise. “Sul sul, my name is Johnny Disco, and I’m lost. I’m looking for the romantic gardens hideaway hotel.”
Relieved that nobody recognized him, Ned went back to the safe house and prepared for another journey to the jungle.
The trail head campground was empty, and the ranger told Ned nobody had made reservations. “Things get slower this time of year, especially during the week,” the ranger told Ned. Glad to have the place to himself, Ned harvested more herbs and cooked up a batch of insect repellent liniment.
Slathered in liniment, Ned quickly traveled to the tree of emotions and collected a sample for the folks back at the lab. He nibbled on a GRE, for even though the bright berries were tempting to eat, he needed to be in control of his emotions–no time for flirting or fever dreams of plane wrecks.
Once back at the safe house, Ned realized with a horrified start that Luz was there. “George?” she asked.
“No, George has no leave left,” Ned said in a deep voice. “I’m Johnny, I know him a little bit. He’s gone, but I’m here,” Ned hoped his voice sounded alluring.
“Uh, oh, okay. Well…” Luz stammered.
“Maybe I could keep you company instead,” Ned flirted. “Let me change out of my military uniform, and I’ll meet you at that bar in the jungle.”
“Uh, well,” Luz stammered again. Ned winked flirtatiously and vanished into a thick stand of trees. “Good think I have my full disguise,” he told himself, waiting until Luz walked away. He slipped into the safe house and changed clothes. Rummaging through the bins, Ned found enough voodoo dolls for the bartender and the illegal exports group.
This next part of his mission might prove to be the most dangerous. It certainly was the most difficult.