Strings of Retaliation – 13a – Report 05232513

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They were pretty good at watching me. But once you had faced guerrilla warfare, your survival instinct noticed every little shake in the leaves. The slightest unnatural offset sent a warning to my conscious mind. After that, it became impossible not to notice the people looking at me when they thought I wouldn’t know, or stepping close enough to eavesdrop when they oughtn’t do it.
I wasn’t sure what insulted me the most: that they thought I would be stupid enough to involuntarily help them blindside Lorelei or that I would betray the Bureau for her.
Or that they weren’t completely wrong on that second point.
I would never betray my country. However, the way this whole operation had been managed so far made me doubt it had the country’s best interest at heart. Pissing off the most dangerous assassin we ever faced couldn’t be beneficial to anyone. Especially if she became hell-bent on annihilating the agency. The director may think she couldn’t be such a threat without her nanobots, but I disagreed; years of experience and habits were hard to erase. If they were, I’d be oblivious to the bureau’s surveillance.
“Look what the cat dragged in,” said the one person who could help me out.
“Hello Vexx,” I replied. I nodded to the guard and he closed the door behind me. “Peace offering.” I put the mechanical cat on the floor and pulled up a chair.
“You can’t buy me.”
The cat jumped on the bed next to where Vexx sat. He ignored it.
“That’s not what I’m trying to do.”
Vexx’s laugh prickled my calm. I took a deep breath.
“You need to help me appease her.”
“Why?” Vexx glared at me. “I warned you. She warned you. You ‘good-little-soldiered’ on.”
A sharp pang rang through my chest, but my face remained marble. I couldn’t let tension get the best of me.
“I did what I could within the parameters of my job.”
Vexx snorted.
“You know trouble will rain down on you and her if we can’t settle this misunderstanding.” I was running out of things to say to get him to help without tipping my hand. With the cameras on, I couldn’t tell him I had a secret meeting with Lorelei before the official summon. The Bureau wanted to put some time between the last confrontation and the next discussion on the off chance that the dust would settle in-between.
Mess-understanding is more like it. You can move on to threats if you want to. You’re not getting anything out of me.”
I should have known he wouldn’t help. After all, I had written ‘fiercely loyal to Lorelei’ on his psych evaluation. “The Bureau doesn’t torture its assets.”
“What about its prisoners?”
“You’re just here until we resolve the current issue. It’s in your best interest to expedite the matter.”
“Suuuuuuure.” Vexx’s cat climbed on his lap and he petted it absentmindedly. “Truth is, if you can’t figure it out by yourself, you never deserved her trust.” That too felt like a stab. “I rue the day I let myself believe you could help.”
I sighed and knocked on the door. “You’ll come to rue today.”
The guard opened up for me and I walked out before I took all the bottled-up frustrations out on Vexx.
“You have a week to reign her in or I put her back on the Most Wanted list,” the director had said the day after the incident. He always talk to me through my superiors, but not this time. “She’s of no use if you can’t control her.”
Since I got promoted to senior agent on Lorelei’s terms, needless to say I would be stuck behind a desk in Alaska for the rest of my career if I failed. It didn’t matter how impossible the Bureau made the task.
To calm my nerves, I spent an hour in the shooting range before heading out to my secret meeting with Lorelei. It was fairly easy to lose my tail without making it look like I meant to; they really didn’t want me to feel as if I was under surveillance. The FBI’s standard enhancement package came with a remote surveillance detection program. It didn’t pick up any intrusion, which didn’t mean there were no inactive bugs waiting to transmit at the most inopportune moment, as Vexx had proven. I had brought a change of clothes to counter that.
My generic car would make it hard to catch up with me using traffic cameras. That their doubts on my motives mobilized that many resources was unlikely.
The alleyway behind Subcutaneous Wonders was empty when I entered it. I waited for a few minutes, but Lorelei didn’t show up. Maybe my message was too cryptic, but I walked the length of the block to make sure. I passed by a dumpster.
I drew my gun and aimed before my brain registered that something had moved. At the other end of the canon, Frogster took flight, humming the James Bond theme song.
“What the…”
Frogster flew around the corner, and I jogged after it. It disappeared down a manhole.
“Of course.” I couldn’t blame Lorelei for her reluctance to meet where I wanted. She demanded a show of good faith. “Please don’t let me regret this.”
I holstered my gun and followed the frog in the sewers’ labyrinth. By the time Frogster landed on a pipe, I had lost my bearings.
Pain shot through me and my legs gave in. I hit the ground.
“For old time’s sake.” Lorelei towered over me, Taser in hand and her Nightshade face on. Not a good start. She crouched to disarm me.
“This is unnecessary,” I mumbled. The electroshock overloaded the tech in my head and caused a blinding headache. At least I wouldn’t need to trigger an EMP to make sure nothing of this encounter was recorded. I cringed when Lorelei prompted me into a sitting position against the wall.
“You hurt my feelings.” She stepped back and aimed her Desert Eagle at me. “You have one minute to justify the rest of your life.”

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About Aheïla

Somewhere in Quebec City, Aheïla works as a Game Design Director by day and writes by night. Known for her blue hair, unyielding dynamism and tasty cooking (quails, anyone?), she’s convinced “prose is the new crack”. She satisfies her addiction daily on The Writeaholic’s Blog and weekly on Games' Bustles View all posts by Aheïla

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