10 – Recruitment

Ryan had to smile – though the ease of her recruitment was unsurprising, it was still a rare pleasure for new recruits to be so openly excited at the prospect. More often, it was a case of “yeah, sure, whatever” or “how much do I get paid?” or “anything, so long as it keeps that six-armed-hippo-beast away”.

Stopping an angry agent from committing a murder he would have regretted wasn’t the only advantage that the memory had given her. Persons exposed to the wonders – and dangers – of the world, people who had seen outside the humdrum and the everyday, tended to subconsciously gravitate toward it. Sometimes, it just led them to walking a little lighter, more aware of the world around them, sometimes they joined up with one of the smaller factions, sometimes they joined Solstice, and sometimes the were recruited for the Agency. Continue reading “10 – Recruitment”

09 – The Third Path

‘I know you…I remember you,’ the girl said again, more sure of herself this time – none of the fear had left her expression, and she kept looking past him and to the window, as if considering leaping through it.

Ryan shook his head. No. Not possible.

She took a slow step back, as if he were about to pounce her like a rabid dog, and put the laptop on the bed, her hands shaking as she did so. She simply stared at him, her eyes occasionally flickering to the gun he had trained at her head.

‘You’re mistaken, Miss Mimosa,’ he said. Usually, knowledge of someone’s name unnerved them – she gave him no reaction. Continue reading “09 – The Third Path”

08 – The Last Moment

There was a strange noise.

Stef looked up from her laptop, taking a moment to process the sound – it wasn’t the same noise of a squib that movies and violent television had made her familiar with…but the screams of her colleagues down the hall confirmed that it had been a gunshot. Another quickly followed it, then two more.

The Solstice in the main room began to shout, and she heard the code monkeys go crazy. The heavy doors were slammed shut, but the shouts continued. She released a long, slow breath and closed Frankie’s lid and sat up, slowly sliding her legs off the bed. She stood, and was thankful that the old house was in good repair – no squeaky floorboards betrayed her movements as she moved toward the door. Continue reading “08 – The Last Moment”

07 – Responsibility

Ryan crouched and grabbed a hold of the corpse, closed his eyes and concentrated on shifting all of his recruits back to the infirmary. The Parkers were on him as soon as they appeared, picking up the body and putting it onto a gurney – the shorter of the two wheeled it away while his twin began to treat the others.

He caught one of his recruits, Enid, staring at the blood on his hands. ‘Sir, what did you do?’ Continue reading “07 – Responsibility”

06 – Maestro

Stef chewed on her pancake, watching the new guy and his flawless infiltration of the code monkeys. He was slick, nowhere near Dorian’s level, but smooth all the same – each name he was given, he seemed to immediately commit to memory – a worrying trait in and of itself.

She pushed the lump of pancake to the roof of her mouth, the syrup making it stick there for a moment, the strange sensation distracting her from the paranoid urge to run from the room. He was personable enough, easily mistaken for just another affable blond boy, but her imaginary Spyder-sense was making her tend towards panic.

New people were trouble…though she suspected that they must have felt the same way when she’d first shown up. Continue reading “06 – Maestro”

05 – Monsters

The smell of coffee permeated Stef’s dreams, and dragged her into the waking world. On autopilot, she lifted a hand and groped for the coffee. Her higher brain, slower to wake than the part that recognised the smell of coffee, wondered why the coffee was coming to her, instead of the other way around. Then again, when it came to free coffee, she rarely questioned it.

‘You’d best sit up,’ Dorian said as her fingers brushed against the hot cup.

‘It wouldn’t be a stretch to think that you’re some sort of pervert,’ she said as she slowly extracted herself from the sheet. Continue reading “05 – Monsters”

04 – 2am

The bleary digits on Stef’s screen informed her that it was two in the morning again.

Across the room, three of her fellow code moneys had given up on the task at hand, instead deciding to form their own little LAN party. A quiet LAN party wouldn’t have been a problem. There was nothing distracting about a bunch of gamers quietly questing toward a reward. Loud rounds of Counterstrike, on the other hand, complete with shouted insults at their fellows and cries of anguish when their soldier was completed pwned, was more of a distraction. She cranked up all of the sound settings, preferring the shake and reverb of headphones working over-spec to the hurled insults of FPS gamers. Continue reading “04 – 2am”

03 – A Conversation

Stef stared at the code in front of her, and made some notes on the already-full piece of paper to her right. The algorithm cycled in her mind, failed, spontaneously blew up, then laughed at her. Dutifully, she crossed out her last few notes, then searched for a new piece of paper. Finding none, she stood and walked over to the printer, pulled out the tray and extracted a few pieces of A4 paper.

She lifted the fresh paper to her nose and breathed in the smell, the faint scent of toner, the lingering smell of electronics, the cleaning chemicals that had leaked through. They were all comforting, familiar smells. With fresh paper in her hands, fresh ideas began to form. Not that she was anywhere near exhausting her current batch, but many were immediately shot down by her fellow colleagues.

A scream flushed all ideas from her mind. Continue reading “03 – A Conversation”

02 – Meeting

The world around Stef Mimosa had ceased to exist. The only things that were still tangible in the smoky limbo were her screen and her keyboard. The latter was less real, existing only as an abstract, a tool through which her algorithms and codes were inserted. From somewhere in the smoke there was a beep, reminding her to breathe. She took a breath, but didn’t dare to blink, lest the fragile connection she had to her task be lost.

A knock from somewhere out in the smoke made her hands slip from the keyboard. She swore, shook them and began to type again, her eyes never leaving the screen. She was satisfied with the change on the screen. Her hands left the keyboard again, this time of her own accord, one to grab the drink to her left, one to click the mouse three times. After this small pause, she began to type again. Continue reading “02 – Meeting”

01 – Broken Doll

The child’s scream continued.

Ryan narrowed his eyes and kept his gun trained on his target and by extension, the soldier’s human shield: a screaming toddler. He tried to block out the child’s screams. Although completely warranted on her part, they did nothing but escalate the situation.

Hostages always made a dangerous situation even worse.

The Solstice fought to get his breath back, his grip tightening on the little girl. He took a moment to scan the child. It was completely human, so that laid one of his fears to rest, and gave credence to the theory that the Solstice had only taken this course of action out of desperation. It hadn’t been planned. It wasn’t an attack. It was simply a botched escape attempt. Continue reading “01 – Broken Doll”