literature

The Colonial Wars: DeVitt PT.2

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Literature Text

(Find the first part in the artist comments.)

It had only been a week since DeVitt had returned from the operation in Argentina. The filth of the capital city already felt like it was seeping into her skin. The damp smell of decaying leaves mixed with the stink of the unwashed wafting over from a nearby park. A terrible chill had set in in the days since her arrival as well. She turned the collar of her tweed jacket against the elements and continued down the boulevard, otherwise unphased.

Soon enough she came to an office building. A skyscraper with a facade done in the modern Art Deco style that had made it's way over from France. The woman figured it couldn't be more than one or two years old. She pushed her way through the heavy brass door and into the foyer. It was huge and decorated in the same style as the exterior. Pillars of brick hidden under marble rose up at least forty feet, possibly more.

"Miss DeVitt!" A voice rose from the far end of the empty hall. It was the lone security guard at the front desk.

"Good morning, Barnes." Serena responded politely as she removed her jacket.

The man took it and tucked it under his desk. "Your friends made it back days ago. 'Don't mind tellin' you the bossman's pretty unhappy with you." Her brow furrowed. Barnes put his hands up. "Hey, I figure you got your reasons. 'Just figured you'd like to know."

DeVitt Sighed. "I assumed he would be displeased, but I appreciate the warning. I must see him anyway, however. Is he in?"

Barnes nodded. "Yep! He's meeting with the liaison from the army right now, though." The woman began to walk to the elevator. The guard leaned over his desk and called after her. "I wouldn't interrupt him if I were you! He's already in a bad mood!"

"Thank you, Barnes. I've made note of your advice." DeVitt replied without turning around. Barnes shrugged and went back to his newspaper as she entered the lift.

It was a long ride to her superior's office. The man had commissioned the entire top floor to be turned into a penthouse. He liked to throw lavish parties every other week, inviting all the influential people he could fit. As DeVitt ascended she adjusted the red tie she was wearing over her black button-up. The shirt was well-tailored, as was the matching skirt. The elevator came to a stop with a ding and the doors slid open. A smaller, but no less lavish entryway was revealed.

The sounds of shouting could be heard through the door to the left. The woman made her way to it over to it, her shoes tapping on the cold marble floor. As she approached she began to make out the argument.

"...Four-hundred of my troops were caught in the blast, Chairman! Four. Hundred. How in the hell do you sleep with that on your conscience? God knows what else you bastards have gotten away with!" An unfamiliar voice was spitting fire, but the reply was as calm as could be.

"I understand your frustration, General, but I assure you my organization was not involved. I'm not sure just how far you think our reach extends but I assure you-" DeVitt entered, clearing her throat. The Chairman cut his sentence off and stood. "Serena DeVitt." He stated, not so much a greeting as a curse. "I apologize, General, but I have to cut our little meeting short. I have urgent matters to attend to."

The General sputtered for a moment, looking from the woman to the man behind the desk and back before finally storming out the door. DeVitt quietly stepped out of his way. "The committee is going to hear about this, Chairman! You can't keep playing this game forever!" The door slammed behind him.

The Chairman and DeVitt stared at each other for a moment. His face was one of contempt and calculation; Hers was blank. Finally the man spoke. "Serena, I'm not even going to bother asking where the hell you've been-"

She interjected, her voice bored. "Drinking, sir."

His fist slammed down on the desk before him. "I. Am. Speaking." Serena simply blinked in response. "What in God's name were you thinking, staying that long? You could have gotten your entire team killed!"

A slight smile crept over DeVitt's face. "As insincere as it may be, sir, I appreciate the concern."

In an instant her superior was directly in front of her, his hand wrapped around her throat. Despite his actions his voice remained a disquieting calm. "You're right, DeVitt. I don't give a damn about you, Heretic, or Santos. Hell, I could slit your throat right here and not one person in this great country would shed a single tear for you. All that matters to me is how much I invested in you. The years of training, tens of thousands of dollars spent on turning you into what you are now. You are my tool, DeVitt." His grip tightened. "And I don't want my tools broken. Do you understand me?"

Serena's expression didn't change, even as the air began to leave her lungs. The Chairman released his grip after he had finished speaking. The woman took a moment to regain her breath before offering her response. Her voice carried the same bored tone as before, but with an undercurrent of an almost gloating scorn. "The thing about destroying our fear of death, sir, is that death threats don't really work terribly well anymore." She rubbed her throat as she continued, cutting off the man's response. "As to your concern about the mission, we could not be sure when to set the timer on the device until the enemy was within a predictable time frame of reaching the city. I assure you we were never at unmanageable risk."

The Chairman's gaze was acid. It bored into the woman who simply met it with her own now-defiant eyes.

"Get out. Report tomorrow morning for new orders." He spat.

DeVitt bowed and left the room.

It was only once she was safely in the elevator that she began to shudder. She had spent the week in and out of bars, trying to drink herself to the point where she couldn't remember what she had done. It hadn't worked, but the pain had been numbed enough that she could deal with it. The exchange with the Chairman had taken up the last of her strength and she now slid down the back of the lift with her head in her hands. She was silent, and no tears left her eyes, but her shoulders trembled all the same. It was a long ride down.

The doors slid open to Serena standing in the middle of the floor, composed as always.

Barnes sat up with a start. "Oh! Miss DeVitt! I wasn't expecting you back down so quick! 'Figured the boss woulda kept you longer than that."

Serena shook her head. "He wasn't nearly as upset as you thought Barnes. I'll see you tomorrow morning."

Barnes looked a bit taken aback as she passed him on her way towards the door. "Oh, uhm, alright. Here's your jacket, ma'am."

The woman donned the coat once more as she passed from the grand hall into the worn streets. The smells of the capitol once again reached her. Before they had simply been an unpleasant distraction to be ignored. Now they were like skeletal arms, the remains of a once-proud people grasping at her; begging her for something she could never give.

Serena turned her collar up and began to walk, not knowing exactly when she would stop.
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