Last week you read about Tompa’s meeting with an important alien visitor: a Detchvilli who has chosen the name Sir Charles for his dealings with humans. Detchvilli’s adore human music, and he has brought his woodwind quintet to the embassy in order to entertain Tompa and the other humans.
Here we meet the hero of the book, Sergei Iusefovich Mengliev, a flamboyant musician who styles himself “Ming the Merciless.”
Although Tompa doesn’t know it yet, Ming is an undercover agent whose services are available to the highest bidder. Instead of Agent Oh-Oh Seven, he is Agent Oboe Seven.
The oboist took Tompa’s hand and kissed it. She jerked her hand away.
“Ming,” Sir Charles snapped. “Pay attention to me, not the ambassador.”
Ming lifted one of the Detch’s tentacles and kissed it—or tried to; the tentacle had already been snatched away.
“Sorry, sir.” Ming’s tone was defiant, making Tompa wonder if the alien would recognize the sarcasm. “We aren’t ready to play yet. We didn’t expect you for another hour.”
To Tompa’s ears everybody had an accent, but this man’s was intriguing. She looked from the instrument to his face. Also intriguing. He was thirty, tall and solidly built, with luxuriant black hair that matched his dark eyebrows. His sharp-featured face, wide shoulders and thick arms projected barroom-brawl strength. The exact opposite, in other words, of the prissy old gordo she’d pictured playing an oboe.
“My interview with the ambassador zoomed beyond all speed limits,” Sir Charles said. “She informed me that I am a dirty old man.”
“She did what?!” The oboist’s startled eyes bored into Tompa as though trying to read the fine print on the last page of her soul.
|1.||Veronica Scott||5.||Sue Ann Bowling||9.||Cary Caffrey|
|2.||ML Skye||6.||Rachel Leigh Smith||10.||Deborah A Bailey|
|3.||Greta van der Rol||7.||Shona Husk|
|4.||Edward Hoornaert||8.||Heidi Ruby Miller|