Underneath the twisting mass of cables, Jabba was sweating. He was still on his back with a penlight clenched in his teeth. He’d gotten used to working late on weekends; the less hectic NSA hours were often the only times he could perform hardware maintenance. As he maneuvered the red‑hot soldering iron through the maze of wires above him, he moved with exceptional care; singeing any of the dangling sheathes would be disaster.
Just another few inches, he thought. The job was taking far longer than he’d imagined.
Just as he brought the tip of the iron against the final thread of raw solder, his cellular phone rang sharply. Jabba startled, his arm twitched, and a large glob of sizzling, liquefied lead fell on his arm.
“Shit!” He dropped the iron and practically swallowed his penlight. “Shit! Shit! Shit!”
He scrubbed furiously at the drop of cooling solder. It rolled off, leaving an impressive welt. The chip he was trying to solder in place fell out and hit him in the head.
Jabba’s phone summoned him again. He ignored it.
“Midge,” he cursed under his breath. Damn you! Crypto’s fine! The phone rang on. Jabba went back to work reseating the new chip. A minute later the chip was in place, but his phone was still ringing. For Christ’s sake, Midge! Give it up!
The phone rang another fifteen seconds and finally stopped. Jabba breathed a sigh of relief.
Sixty seconds later the intercom overhead crackled. “Would the chief Sys‑Sec please contact the main switchboard for a message.”
Jabba rolled his eyes in disbelief. She just doesn’t give up, does she? He ignored the page.