04 – What Came Before

November 2nd

As the shift completed, Stef blinked, taking in the sight of Ryan’s office.

She’d been in the office fewer than a dozen times, but somehow, it felt safe. It felt like the first little bit of “safe” she’d had since before seeing the bird and volcano, and since becoming their trussed-up prisoner. She took a breath, and some of the tension evaporated.

Ryan paced in front of the window, in the small space behind his desk.

A pretty black woman leaned on his desk, watching him pace, and Jones sat on the couch, tablet in hand. Jones smiled up at Stef but didn’t say anything to break Ryan from the circuit he was wearing into the carpet.

The woman reached out an arm and touched Ryan as he turned. Ryan froze and lifted his head to look at the woman, who angled her head towards Stef. Ryan followed the woman’s head tilt and finally saw her.

‘Hi,’ she said as Ryan approached.

Agent hugs were really, really good at squeezing all of the breath from your body.

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02 – Legacy

Ryan stared at the space where Stef had been, curled one hand into a fist, then looked down at the floor, considering all his options, all possible permutations of the next five minutes.

Crawford had left him alone. If Ryan truly wanted, he could run. Unless the enforcer had a link into his system – of which he had no proof – he could shift to the very edge of system territory and run.

And if he did that, any chance Stef had of living through the next hour would be gone.

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51 – Nocturnal

‘Recruit, do you have a moment?’

Curt turned, and saw Jane leaning against the gym’s door. ‘Sure ma’am.’ He turned back to the target range, and reset everything with a couple of requirements, the paper targets who had stood in for Petersen disappearing into the void with every other dismissed object. He checked the safety on his gun, and holstered it. ‘How can I help?’

Jane walked forward, a slight smile on her lips. ‘Are you aware it’s two in the morning, Recruit?’

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34 – Subscript

Ryan shifted to the hall with no doors. It was a small, dead piece of the Agency, no longer connected to the rest of the building. It was always cold here, colder than the rest of the Agency – it felt like a mausoleum, and the association wasn’t entirely inaccurate.

He moved along the hall, and touched a hand to where a doorknob should have been.

A security prompt appeared in his HUD, and he manually entered the long password string – this was one that was unable to authenticated automatically. Another step. Another delay. Another chance to turn around and leave.

It was almost an oubliette, in its own way.

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21 – Clash

October 1st

Magnolia looked down at the small robot bumping into her foot – the small, comical-looking machine had a bag of popcorn attached to it, and a small sign instructing her to take some.

She took a small handful, then lifted her feet so it could pass. She lifted her head and smiled at Merlin, who sat next to Jones, on the row above her. Continue reading “21 – Clash”

19 – Before and After

September 28th

Ryan noted that the door to his office was unlocked – Jane was already there, and quite willing to make herself at home. He stopped, refreshed his uniform, and walked in, his face as professional and content as he could make it without filtering out all of his emotion.

‘Jane,’ he said, noticing the stack of files on the coffee table in front of his couch before he had the courage to look to the older agent. ‘I’d invite you in, but-’ Continue reading “19 – Before and After”