Strings of Retaliation – 13b – Report 05232513

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Starting the discussion on the receiving end of a Taser hadn’t been part of the plan, and Lorelei’s deadline burned a gaping hole in my self-control. Though every second was precious, I took a painful breath in before ruining everything with a shouting match.
“Saskia’s alive. I didn’t know about the failsafe.”
Lorelei snorted.
I swear, between Vexx and her…
“I was in the van in case you pulled something. The others like you aren’t part of my jurisdiction.” I was toeing the line by revealing that information. My bosses had been very clear that the structure of our organization was to be kept from the assets. Lorelei already knew more than she should.
“Really? They keep you in the dark about the thing I’m fighting for?”
It didn’t make sense and I had said as much before. “I have bosses. And orders.”
“Yeah. Nazis used the same excuse.”
Her goal was too obvious to deserve a retort. I knew she was going to test me in some way, try my loyalty. The fact that I concealed information from the Bureau to be here apparently didn’t weigh a lot on her messed up scale.
If I said anything now, my anger would get me shot.
“Let’s pretend you’re all good intent towards me and loyalty for the Bureau.” She wiggled the gun as if it was a toy.
“Which you think I am or else I would already be dead.” Or she snapped and would try her hand at torture for the first time.
She shrugged. “Things would have gone a lot differently if you hadn’t come here alone.”
Lorelei pointed the ceiling with her gun. A red dot blinked, drawing my attention at a block of explosives. It would cover her escape if needed. And hurt me or any possible reinforcement.
“What does the van’s event tell you?” The sharp edge of her calm was the same I had heard in her kitchen a few weeks ago.
Honesty was my only play so I shrugged and immediately regretted it. Tasers were a bitch. “Compartmentalizing information is standard procedure in an op like this. It bears some risks, but it also limits possible leaks. You need to come to terms with that.”
“Sure. Do you have enemies, Gabriel?”
I hadn’t thought the tensions within the team had been noticeable. Working with others was a challenge even in a less stressful environment.
Where the hell is she going with that?
She steadied her aim right at my head. “Humor me.”
“Not really. Some people don’t like the way I was promoted or how I manage you. Every op brings some discontent and disagreements.”
Lorelei cocked an eyebrow. “You’re the expert of me, right?”
She had been cryptic before, but she went above and beyond today. I nodded.
“So tell me, given the circumstances, how likely is it that I kill you tonight?”
Mental instability compounded by a recent feeling of betrayal and an on-going perceived disrespect which encourages a reversal to old habits that seemingly reaped more satisfying results…
“80%.” I should have done the math before I went through with this.
“And the chances I would have killed everyone in the van when Saskia’s life was threatened?”
“About 90%.” As her trail of thoughts became clearer, something inside me withered. “Lorelei, you’re a little paranoid.”
“Gabriel, you’re not that dumb.”
Before I met Lorelei, I thought I had a perfect control of my body language. Yet she aimed straight at my doubts. The way my hands had been tied from the get-go almost looked like someone wanted Lorelei to turn on me. It would have happened before if I hadn’t gone extra-curricular on a couple of occasions.
Her killing me would be the outburst the people who hated her guts would need to sway their opponents’ mind.
Lorelei smiled and holstered her pistol. “I assume that a few people have access to the ‘What Would Nightshade Do?’ program.”
“Yes.” One word, ripe with defeat.
“So, provided I chalk your behavior up to a blind sense of duty,” she sat on the ground, at my level but out of my reach, “options are limited.”
“Eliminate them for me. Option one: your bosses are suicidal or stupid.”
The mix of amusement and insult weirded me out. “They wouldn’t have gotten where they are.”
She crossed out the option on an imaginary clipboard. “Option two: our actions go against the true purpose of Operation Chimera. We’re in the midst of a big government conspiracy.”
“Plausible.” I didn’t like this game at all. “But it would be way more efficient to dissimulate the goals with similar ones and keep you working for them.”
“Ah!” She crossed out another line. “Option three: What’s common to sewers, MerriTech and the FBI?”
“There are no proof of that.”
“All this judge needs is circumstantial evidence.” She wiggled her gun.
I couldn’t argue against that. Operation Chimera involved a lot of resources. We tried to keep it under wraps and only recruit people we completely trust, but how could we be sure? The tech industries had very powerful allied all around the globe.
“MerriTech has the most to gain from the in-fighting,” Lorelei continued. “Divide, conquer and gather information while everyone’s busy pounding someone else’s face.”
This conversation hadn’t figured in any of my projections, but at least I didn’t have a bullet between the eyes.
“So how do we identify the rat?”
Lorelei moved closer and leaned in to kiss my forehead. “Trust me.”
Of course, she would play that card.
“See?” She said as she wrapped her arm around me to help me up. “That wasn’t so bad.”
I would have to be creative with my daily report before I could rest.

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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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