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As the elders fall
The young will follow.
Mistakes have a price
And the price is high


Youth Fall

Prologue:


In life mistakes are a given, although mistakes can come with a price.  A mistake was made and the price was a high one but the mission had to be completed regardless of the mistake made.
All those lost lives had to count for something and this was the only way to ensure that.  Life would end, of sorts, and life would continue as long as the mission had to be completed.

She was as ready as she'll ever be despite doubts in her mind, what choice was there though?  This had to be done regardless of doubts.  Need always comes before want.

"Let's get this done then"


1

Almost twenty five years later:


So much for that job.  Maybe if the guy had not tried to feel her up then she wouldn't have poured a jug of almost lukewarm coffee down his front followed by a raspberry pie in his face and ice cubes down his boxers.
No meant no, not shove your hand down my knickers for a feel.  Pervert had it coming and she had delivered.

Of course, despite the applause and cheers she had gotten from diners, her boss had reacted by yelling with which she had answered with a jug of milk poured over her boss's head.
Hence being fired just minutes ago.

It was worth it.

Sticking two fingers up at her former boss, who scowls and turns away, Leina Astry then bows to the crowd waving to her inside before twirling on her heels and walking away.

The job had been crap enough without being harassed by some mouth breather who was clearly never taught how to respect women.  If he hadn't learned after today then he never would.
If other men could control themselves around woman then surely that prat could as well.
It was one thing to be whistled at, being groped was quite another.
Now though she was out of a job, again.

Aye, the job had been crap but she needed the work.  This meant that she had to inform the job centre of her loss of employment and go job hunting again.
Not easy to do with so few jobs to be had, who would have thought that living in the back end of bugger all would be so low on jobs.

Still it had been worth it, the git had deserved it.  The coffee could have been hotter for better results however, much hotter.
She was still having to face the consequences of her actions though, regardless of the deep satisfaction gained.

So what now?

“Suppose I better inform the centre then”  Leina mutters to herself, they would have to know.  “Bloody worth it though”

Taking her hardly ever used phone from her handbag, since she had few friends and preferred to only have it handy for emergencies, she checks the time while walking to the closest bus stop.
A bus was due in about about fifteen minutes and the job centre was a good forty minute walk away, normally less with more comfortable shoes on.

“Walk or wait then?”  She whispers to herself.  The choice is made for her a minute later when it starts raining heavily.
“Prime”

~~

Three hours later and Leina is on the defensive.

“I know she's an ass but did you have to pour an entire jug on her?  What a waste, should have poured it down her bra”  Mostly defensive, her adoptive parents were alright but her short fuse did result in arguments.

“Don't encourage her”  Here was the defensive part.  “She assaulted a-”

“Assaulted?!  A pervert was feeling her up and her boss was defending them!  How is defending yourself assault?  Would you have been happy if she had been made to feel like crap?”  She wondered if she could slip away without being noticed.

“That isn't what I'm saying at all and you know it!  She should have just kept her temper in check!”

“So you are advocating that she should have let that pervert have a feel!”

“Don't you dare put words in my mouth!”

This was going to go on for a while as usual, it always did once her parents began to argue.
So slipping out quietly Leina heads back outside and savours the cold early spring air, there was a light scent of slowly blooming early flowers and the scent of a cold day, crisp and sharp.
Better than being in the middle of a yelling war.

The job centre was informed and she had been placed on the meagre job seekers payments while she searched for a new job, if there was one to be had any way.
The back end of bugger all wasn't exactly flowing with jobs, being a sheep seemed to be the most gainful form of employment around here.

Tomorrow she would be twenty five and she had no real plans since she had been expecting to be working, not trying to keep busy doing very little but household chores.
Maybe she could pretend that the hoover is singing happy birthday to her.

“Pull yourself together, lass”  She whispers to herself harshly.  “Just jobless, not lonely.  Got plenty to do”  Plenty.

~~

“Just get it done”  Four words and the job was done, a life is ended as ordered.

“Just get it done”  Strangled.  A clear death, an easily found body.

“Just get it done”  Shot.  Another body to be found.

“Just get it done”  No body this time, nothing left to be found.  Progress.

“Understood”


~~

Light morning rain greets her a happy birthday as Leina slowly returns to wakefulness.  It takes her some time to fully wake and after what feels like an hour, but was really more like fifteen minutes of tired blinking and rubbing sleep from her eyes, she is finally spurred into full motion from a full bladder needing to empty itself.

Once relived of her body's need, she goes through to her small kitchen to make some breakfast – cereal, piece of fruit, finger up to the outside world, a few mugs of water.
The light sound from her phone's ring tone indicating that she's received a message can be heard after the washing up is done.

'Something to talk to about, come see me?  Happy birthday *AW*'

Why was Weisner wanting to see her?  Adam Weisner was a nice enough guy but a bit of a recluse, she was one of a very few that he ever spoke to as he was pretty much her only real friend in the entire town and has been for as long as she can remember.
Still it wasn't like she had much to do once some chores were done and they could wait until later.

'Sure, be there in a couple of hours.  Thank you.  ~L~'  At least he was a friend.

~~

Thankfully the public transport of the town is pretty reliable so she didn't have to rush for a bus most of the time, she could have walked the distance but she didn't want to risk getting caught in a sudden downpour and she was thinking of doing a little birthday shopping with an intent on treating herself after seeing Adam.
Her budget was a little tight though which limited her options.  Better then nothing though.

Hopping off the bus just a few minutes walk away from Adam's place, Leina is glad to see that the rain has subsided at last.  It had been on and off for the past couple of hours.
Hopefully it would stay off for the rest of the day.

A small walk uphill and she sees Adam's place in view, a lovingly built two story cabin that seems cliché but fitting for the surroundings.
It was just on the outskirts of the town where the forest acted as a natural border, it is a beautiful area that is well cared for.

“Creaky!  It's me!”  Adam had given himself the nickname of 'Creaky' years ago and he wasn't bothered if others did when addressing him, few did though other than his few close friends of which Leina was one of them.

From inside a well built wooden shed a man steps out, his hair a rusty colour with hints of an invasion of grey gradually taking over, his skin ruddy with a hint of Hispanic and African descent, his eyes a smoky greenish blue with small dots of other colours around the iris.
He isn't super tall, only about 5'7 or so, but he carries himself with a strength that suggests a life of tough choices and a firm belief in his actions.

“Good morning, birthday girl”  He greets her with strong English that has a very faint accent in points.
“So is this one year younger or one year older then?”  He tended to say that every year on her birthday.

“A year older, before long I'll be as creaky as you”  She answers with a smile, she liked Adam and has known him since she was a baby, he was always a supportive, protective friend who even used to babysit her when she had been younger.
He was one of the few people she trusted completely.
“So what did you want to see me about?”  A small laugh from Adam before he replies.

“Straight to the point, good to see.  I heard you were fired yesterday, correct?”  How did he know?  So she asks.
“Had to get something from the general shop last night, it's the talk of the town since she had it coming”  That made sense, gossip was faster than light after all.
People at the cafe were bound to have told others about what had happened and they clearly had.

“Not sure how long the job hunt will take but I hope I find something before I'm broke”  She had a reasonable amount for now but it wasn't going to last forever.  Yay for being a saver in this case.

“And being your birthday today then you'll be looking to treat yourself”  A small now in reply.
“I might have a job for you if you're interested”  A job already?  That was quick.

“What kind of job?”  She wasn't bothered what job it was as long as it wasn't sex, that was where she drew the line.

“It depends on if you've been having unusual dreams recently, like since last night.  Have you?”  Images flash through her mind suddenly, clear and all too real.  Too real to be mere dreams or sudden imagination.
“You have, haven't you?  You can talk about them, it's part of the job if you want it.  I can pay you, say, three hundred a day with four thousand each month, but only if you're interested”  Four words float through her mind, four simple words that made her feel odd.
“Interested?”

~~

On the bus back into town an hour later, Leina reads the message on her phone again.  She had a new job and she had loose hours with it, she was already paid for today as well.  A full three hundred plus an extra three hundred as a birthday gift.
She never suspected that Adam had much in the way of money since he clearly enjoyed living without too much.
She was to head back tomorrow morning, he had asked her to get a notepad so to write down the dreams as they appeared.  She always remembered her dreams anyway so that wasn't a problem.
It was unusual, there was clearly more to the job but for now it was about her dreams.

Better than her previous job at least.

She would have to inform the job centre then once she got back into town shortly, she had to let them know.
Checking her purse again to be certain that she isn't dreaming, the six hundred nestled snugly inside, Leina wonders what to do next.  She would put three hundred in her account and use what's left, but what was she going to buy?  She didn't collect anything and had few hobbies, she was used to working, not having actual time to do other things let alone shopping.
The town wasn't exactly a major shopping hub either and she didn't feel up to going to the local city.

First things first though, job centre and bank.  She would consider her next move afterwards, maybe over a BLT or a cheeseburger.

Her stomach growls once food enters her thoughts, definitely time for something to eat.


2

Despite her parent's inability to see eye to eye a lot of the time, they did agree on one thing – That they both loved their adopted daughter, their only child, deeply.
She didn't know who her biological parents were and searches for any information on them had come up empty, but as far as she was concerned she already had great parents regardless of their inability to work together or get along at times.
They did work together when it came to making a birthday supper for their daughter though.

Her parents never spoke about her biological parents, all they would say was that she came into their care when she was a baby and they were more focused on caring for her than they were on why she had been placed into foster care.  The only information they had gotten was her name, Leina, there hadn't been anything else.

Technically her parent's weren't a couple, they were, kind of, friends who lived together.  There was no love between them, just a strong friendship of sorts that stayed strong despite any arguments and disagreements.  They didn't sleep together and had little in common other than the love they had for their daughter.
They had no relationships with anyone beyond casual friendships.  Leina tends not to inquire on their personal lives, she didn't like to pry.

They were her mum and dad though and that was all that mattered.

They cared for her since infancy, raised her, guided her, taught her, comforted her, provided for her and supported her.  As far as she was concerned that made them every bit her parents.
So they weren't a couple, that didn't make them any less capable of raising a child.

“And he hired you just like that?  Strange hiring policy”  Her mum, Sara Huntley, remarks while checking to see if the rolls are toasted enough.
“You would think that he would at least want credentials or a resume with a footnote saying 'Beware of short fuse'.  Still it's better than nothing”  True, even if it was a little on the unusual side.

“At least he isn't asking for sex or anything kink based so that's a bonus”  Again true, she liked Adam but not in that way, he was just a long time friend and he had never made any advances towards her in that way, he valued their friendship too much to risk it on lust.
“And the fact that he paid you so much for just an hour of talking about your dreams while helping around his home says how serious he is about the job.  What time do you have to go in tomorrow again anyway?”  Brushing some hair aside before slicing another tomato, Leina replies;

“Around ten tomorrow, I can be there about ten minutes before.  Two more tomatoes will be ready shortly, I can get some more if needed”  Her parents had told her to relax while they made the birthday supper but she preferred to lend a hand than sit around doing nothing.

“I think those will be enough”  Every birthday they made a birthday supper consisting of a favourite food of Leina's, this year it was going to be bacon cheeseburgers, last year it had been Sri Lanken curry.
She liked to help with making the meal even if her parent's insisted that she just sit back and relax.  Cooking was one of her hobbies, even though she rarely had the time for it.

“Still say that it isn't quite right without proper rolls”  Her dad, Lenny Chantry, remarks from where he's making the chilli seasoned chips.

“I prefer whole grain rolls, dad, burger buns don't agree with me”  He knew that of course, he was just a little traditional when it came to burgers.  He preferred the meat in a burger bun with tomato sauce and little else, very traditional.
Leina preferred a cheeseburger, bacon or otherwise, with all the trimmings in a whole grain roll while Sara wasn't fussed either way as long as it was cooked through and hot.

“Odd that he's so interested in your dreams, he's never asked about them before as far as I know”  He hadn't, not until today anyway.
“Little more pepper there, Len, the chips need to have a kick to them”  She did like her spicy food, had her biological parents liked spicy food?  Could that be where her fondness for it came from?  She would probably never know.
She couldn't get enough of it, that was for sure.

Tomorrow she would officially start her new job, whatever the entirety of it was over time.  Hopefully it wasn't anything problematic.

~~

“Just get it done”  Prideful target, as so many others recently.  One law for them and thousands for everyone else.  Wealthy supposedly public servants far richer than those they are supposed to work for, while only really working for the rich and approving laws that made life harder for the many.
Viable targets for her and her colleagues these days.

“Just get it done”  Locked and fired.


~~

After two weeks of working for Adam and talking about her dreams, Leina wonders over time on if Adam would get tired of her talking, not that he ever remarked if he was or not.
The work hours varied depending on what there was to be done and any dreams she had to mention.  Today it was storing away boxes, yesterday had been chopping and storing away firewood.
Her dreams were becoming increasingly clearer and feeling less and less like dreams do, they felt much less hazy and more tangible.  It anything they felt like memories.
But how could they be memories when her entire life had been in this town and it's immediate area?  And why was Adam so interested in them?

She did ask at times and he would just answer with “I just am”.  She wasn't a fan of vague.
Vague was pretty much the word these days, Adam knew more than he was letting on and tended to avoid answering any questions with anything beyond a vague answer.  He has always been a little mysterious at times but this was a whole new level of unusually mysterious.
Just what was so important about these weird dreams to him?

“I know I'm paying you to talk about your dreams, but daydreams not so much unless they're related”  Looking down, Leina sees that she's finished her work already without paying attention, she had been lost in thought.

“They are, I guess.  Why are you so interested in my dreams?  You were never so interested until recently”  Adam was likely to either not answer or be cryptic about it as usual.

“Just curious for now, they are fairly focused for dreams yes?  The more you talk about them the more they sound like lived events rather than random thoughts in a resting state.  Is that your developing conclusion so far or do you feel that they could simply be unusual dreams and nothing more?”  She was sure that he knew more than he was letting on and his response only strengthened that belief.

“So they aren't dreams then?”  If they weren't then how could they be memories?  It didn't make any sense.

“Only you know for sure that for sure and you will when you know that you're ready to know”  Vague again, he never failed there.

“And when will I know?”

“You'll know.  Lunch?”  Vague, always so vague.

~~

Cooking was relaxing enough and with more time to herself these days then she was able to make a more elaborate meal which tonight she was doing.  Work had finished four hours ago so she had taken some time to do some needed food shopping, she would have to do a bigger food shop soon though.
She fancied something spicy so she was making some Jalfrezi for one, elaborate but not complex.

Some music is playing in the background while she sets out some vegetables for chopping, peppers and onions mostly, the sauce was tomato based based with chilli and almost done, just the peppers and onions to be added.
The chicken was already done and ready to be added, she always cooked the meat first before doing the vegetables.

Adam had been as vague as ever, he had remarked though when today's work was done that she was trying too hard to understand the dreams, that she should let herself understand them at a pace that worked for her instead of forcing the matter.  Easier said that done.
How could she understand them when they didn't feel like dreams?  If they were memories then that made no sense to her, they showed things that both unsettled her and felt right to her.

Taking an onion, she first peels it and chops away the ends then prepares to slice it into the usual large pieces since she had never been able to master chopping them into smaller pieces.
As she positions the onion something seems to click in her and she starts chopping without paying much attention.  Five minutes later she stops, looks down and notices that she's done what she could never do before, the onion had been chopped finely into small pieces.

“The hell?”  She whispers to herself.  In all the years she has been cooking for she has never been able to chop an onion that finely, never.
Yet it had felt like she had done it many times before.

Curiosity urging her on, she takes a pepper after sliding the onion into a bowl.  Usually removing all of the seeds tended to be a chore for her, it would take her almost twenty minutes to do that.

So positioning the pepper, she grabs the knife.  Five minutes pass and the pepper is fully de-seeded with clean, precise work.

“That's new”

~~

Before:

Summer was coming to an end, autumn was approaching briskly.  She could smell it in the air as the mugginess of the heat is being gradually replaced with a chill and a sharpness that made her nose tingle.
Soon it would be winter, bringing brisk coldness to people's bones.  Every season brought something new, something fresh and something old with it's cycle of life and death.

Her grandmother used to say that you could feel the flow of existence just by smelling the changing of the seasons, she had been right.

“Miss Astri?  Did I say that correctly?”  Lisa Astri ceases her season sniffing and turns to see a man with rusty coloured hair standing a couple of feet from her, his blueish green eyes reminding her of the ocean, he looks maybe five years older than herself.

“Yes, you said it just fine.  May I help you?”  A cold breeze makes her arms come out in goosebumps, or maybe it was the way the man looked at her.  She didn't know who he was but she felt like she could be safe with him.

“I'm Adam, Adam Weisner.  We talked online and on the phone in regards to you joining our agency, I have to admit that I wasn't expecting someone so-”  Oh no, here comes the pick up lines.

“What?  Beautiful?  Sexy?  I've heard them all before since I went from ugly duckling to hard on queen four years running in school”  Adam seems to blush a little, which turned her on to both her embarrassment and delight.

“No, young.  Are you potty trained?”  Oh the cheeky git!

“Of course I am!  Do I look like I'm wearing a nappy?”

“Maybe, that skirt of yours could be hiding anything.  I can change nappies if I have to but it isn't exactly part of the job”  For being so cute he was an ass, and she liked that.

“Look I'm here for the interview, going to take me where I need to go or are you going to make remarks on my age?”  Adam thumbs over to the large building behind him.

“Just over there, come with me.  If you need a bottle or a nap just let me know”

“Shut up about my age!  I'm twenty three, not three!”

“Could have fooled me”

Oh she was going to like him for sure.



3

Now:

After explaining what had happened last night to Adam, Leina was surprised at how un-surprised he was once she finished, it was as if he had been expecting it.

“Here”  Adam says after Leina is done.  “Show me with this carrot, finely slice it into small pieces”  Taking the kitchen knife and carrot from Adam, Leina sets it down on a chopping board that is set down in front of her.
“Go for carrot sticks, you've never been very good at those”  True, her carrot sticks were usually more like neutered victims of some botched surgery.  She was glad she wasn't a surgeon.

Minutes later there is a small single carrot's worth of carrot sticks finely chopped in front of her.

“See?  What the hell is going on here?  My hand eye coordination has never been this good before”  Adam doesn't say anything for a few minutes while he nibbles on the carrot sticks, Leina also having a couple of them.
Once done he gets up and heads upstairs, returning with an air rifle.

“Let's test it, come on”  Curious about his reaction to what's happened, Leina heads outside with him into the overcast but mild day, despite the chill in the air.
Adam sets out a few targets before handing her the rifle.
“Shoot those”

“Maybe not a good idea, the last time I used this I shot a poor male squirrel in the nuts, twice”  She had been aiming for a large target placed beside the shed and her shot had gone far off target, both times.
“Might want to stand back then, don't want to shoot you by accident”  Adam replies with a small smile as Leina aims.

“You won't”  Expecting the shots to go wild, Leina is instead surprised as each shot hits it's target cleanly.

“What the hell?”  Leina whispers as she lowers the rifle.
“Never have I had that kind of aim before, you don't even seem surprised by this”  If anything Adam just had a look of mild amusement on his face.

“I think we're done for today, I'll go get your day's pay”  Leina watches him walk away before replying;

“You know what's going on, don't you?  Why won't you tell me?  I have the right to know!”  Adam doesn't reply so Leina goes after him, the rifle still in her hands.
“Tell me, Creaky, what's going on here?”  No reply, a couple of minutes of nothing before Adam steps out and hands her a day's wage, taking the rifle when she hands it to him.

“You're almost ready to know, almost.  See you tomorrow, there's something I have to show you then.  Be sure to take the time to think about what's happened so far”  Why was he being so vague with her?  Something was going on and she needed to know.
“Better catch your bus, see you tomorrow”  Just like that, no answers, just cryptic replies.

“Yeah, sure, see you tomorrow then”  She mumbles, trying not to let her growing anger with his vague attitude show as she turns and walks to the bus stop.

~~

Normally she wouldn't be caught dead in any of the local pubs, she didn't drink and couldn't stand the smell of alcohol – both the stuff itself and the smell of it on others.  There was something she needed to try though.

“Never thought I would see you come in here”  Arthur Alies, the owner of the pub and her former bosses' ex-husband, remarks as she walks up to the bar.
It smelled horrible in here and she wanted to get this done quickly and leave before it made her sick.
“Great job on the witch, she had it coming, greedy old cow”  Ignoring his remark, Leina looks around before asking;

“Do you have a dartboard?  Need to test something”  Arthur points a thumb to the back.

“Through there, need to buy something though”  Quickly scanning the menu, Lenia picks something cheap enough and non-alcoholic.

“Orange juice, no extras.  Plate of chips, hot, salt and vinegar.  I'll know if you spiked anything”  She didn't like Arthur much, few did, he was a bit of a slob and prone to spiking drinks.  He only managed to stay in business because of backhanders to a couple of people in the town's council.
Everyone knew about it but didn't care enough to do anything.  A few cared but no one really listened to them.

“Bitch”

“Woof”  His disdain of women is also well known.
Heading through to the back she sees that a few people are already there, one of them the pervert from the cafe.  Of the eight pubs in the town while did he have to be here?  Typical bad luck.

Just ignore them”  She thinks to herself.  The dartboard is at the back of the room and there are already darts there, the men in the room must have been using it.

“Well look who it is, Little Miss Temper Knickers”  Prime, just prime.  The pervert approaches her with a swagger in his step, the smell of alcohol is wafting from him, he is probably drunk which is a problem.
His friends look drunk as well and they have sneers on their lips.
“Give us a dance, girl, show us the goods”  He reaches for her and she steps back, his friends approach her and she steps back again towards the doorway, this was looking to be a bad day.
“Grab her then, this bitch needs to be taught a lesson in why women are inferior”  His friends grab her and pull her over to the pool table they were using, the pervert starting to undo his belt.
Arthur wasn't likely to help her, he was more likely to join in.  She was trapped and alone.

“Don't do this!”  Leina screams as the pervert's friends hold her down against the table.
“PLEASE DON'T DO THIS!”  Then something clicks in her mind, something she never knew she could even do – Fight back with years of training.
As the pervert comes close, she kicks out and hits him hard in the groin, as he drops to his knees groaning, Leina kicks off from the table which causes the pervert's friends to lose their grip on her arms.  Now she had an opening.
With her arms free, she grabs a pool cue and quickly smacks the pervert's friends with the thick end of the cue, knocking them hard head first into the sides of the table.
With them out she turns to the pervert and hits him hard enough to stun him before going over to the dartboard and takes the darts.
Turning to him she throws them, narrowly missing the pervert's groin by the merest fraction of an inch as they impact the floor just below tip first.
She follows this by hitting the pervert hard enough to knock him out just as Arthur enters the room.

“You know what”  She remarks after dropping the cue.  “Have them yourself, I'll just get a chippy instead”  Walking past Arthur, she leaves the pub feeling a sense of satisfaction.  Arthur says nothing as she leaves.

~~

Before:

“So tell me why you feel you're the best choice for this job”  An interview board of mostly men, a few women but mostly men is seated in front of her, most of them look to be the same age as her parent's with only one or two looking to be in their early forties.
Adam is sitting beside her, the smell of his aftershave a little strong.  She made a note to suggest something less musky to him after this interview.

“I'm trained in weapon use and martial arts, I'm no black belt but I will be one day.  I like to take the time to learn more and work harder, it's all the sweeter that way.  I'm a hard worker with a strong work ethic, I get along with people for the most part and I already sent in all my credentials and my resume as requested before this interview so this is more of a formality since I know I've already got the job otherwise you wouldn't have asked Musky here to contact me so often”  They had already sent her everything that told her that she had the job, this was just to make some bureaucrat happy with dotting the I's and crossing the T's.

“Yes, that is true, but the question still stands, why do you feel you're the best choice for this job?”  Her parent's had been concerned about her taking this job, it was dangerous with far too many risks.  The pay was good though and better than the previous job she had which had paid very little and been a horrible place to work in.
“Do you even understand why this agency exists and our purpose?”

“Because you asked for the best, you wanted someone who knew about sacrifice and loyalty, you wanted someone who had a strong education with a keen mind and you wanted someone who understands potential failure and doesn't have an ego that can get over inflated.  I know I'm young, which Musky here has been more than willing to tell me since I arrived here, but my age only means I can give years of dedication to the job.  And you were very clear on what you liked about me when you contacted me following my university graduation.
You tested me and I passed, perhaps not as perfectly as many of the men you tested with their greater physical strength compared to me, but I passed what you required of me.  You made it very clear that you wanted a sharp mind far more than you wanted a pair of strong arms
And yes, I do understand why this agency exists and it's purpose, to ensure that the corruption of past governments does not happen again, to protect the interests and lives of the many by monitoring and erasing any government threats that endanger the peace and the future of the planet as well as the life on it”  They had even remarked that they liked her bluntness and clear directness, they had remarked that it was an admirable quality due to how honest she was.

“When can you start?”

“Need anything done for today because I can start now”

“Mr. Weisner, why don't you take Miss Astri to the training grounds.  She can start now”


4

Now:

As she expected after telling Adam what had happened last night, he didn't seem surprised.  Typical.
She wondered if anything surprised him, there would probably be a giant meteor about to hit the planet and he would probably just shrug with that look of calm indifference.

After leaving the pub and getting a meal from one of the few very good chippy's in town, Leina had returned home still feeling satisfied yet confused over what had happened.
She never knew that she could defend herself like that, she had always been too busy to find time for self defence classes.
Something was going on and the only person with any possible answers wasn't answering her questions, only saying that she wasn't ready to know.
Which frankly didn't make any sense, she was ready if stuff like this was happening.  Adam didn't agree though.

Infuriating man.

“Wait here and I'll be right back with the thing I wanted to show you, won't be long”  Adam leaves the small but cozy living room, Leina somewhat annoyed at his seemingly indifference to what she had told him.
As she waits she looks around the familiar room, it was a cozy room that was designed well with the second floor landing just above and a beautifully carved staircase leading up.  To the right is a door leading to a sizeable storage space and another two doors leading to the bathroom and the kitchen, the kitchen itself is small and well equipped with all of the owner's cooking and food storage needs as well as a dining nook that can seat four people at a slight squeeze.

On the second floor are a small bathroom and two bedrooms, one of them turned into a spare room in case of guests.  There was attic access via a secure sliding ladder.
A door in front of her in the living room leads to a cosy study with a computer and book shelves lined with books.
A cozy cabin that has been made with a lot of love.

She wasn't sure if Adam had built it or if he had bought it from a previous owner, he has always lived here for as long as she has known him, which was pretty much her entire life.
He used to babysit her here, changed her nappies here, she felt safe here and with Adam, he was like a big brother or uncle to her.

“Here we go”  Adam comes back downstairs with a large case, very large.  It could be considered more of a large chest than a case.
Setting it down in front of her, Adam opens it to reveal what looks like a rifle, only it isn't like any rifle she's ever seen before.  It looks like something from a science fiction movie or TV show.

It is sleek while not looking deadly, there are what look like controls and a small display on it with a small key pad, it seems to be almost a foot long, maybe over.  The colours are a faint purple and grey with an adjustable sight at the top with a red and green colour selection for the cross-hair.
There is something strangely familiar about it the more she looks at it, like she knows it well.

“This is a TR50 Mark Four rifle, it doesn't fire conventional ammunition, it instead fires these”  Adam slips out what looks like a small tag from a large compartment underneath where the rifle is held snugly.
“These are charged with subspace temporal energy that can be adjusted for a choice of effects via the keypad and display, these effects can allow the user to alter the age of their targets, be it physical, mental or both.  A target can be aged to dust or reverted back to the point of conception, although that effectively kills the target.  The non-lethal choices available can be made to be temporally or near permanent, allowing the person to age back if made younger, if older then they will continue to get older from that point onwards”  The power of time in a rifle, scary.  Adam then takes out what looks like a grenade.
“These have the same effect but on a wider scale, whole rooms can be cleared with these.  The tags and temporal energy are self regenerating so you can never run out”  It was oddly beautiful in a deadly way.

“Where did you get this from?”  She asks as she examines it all without taking any of it out of the case.

“I've been keeping it safe, go ahead and take it out.  Tap the little orange button just above the trigger when you do”  Gently Leina removes the rifle, her left thumb lightly pressing on the orange button just above the trigger.  A soft almost feminine voice can be heard.

Bio imprint recorded, genetic signature accepted and saved”  Startled by this, Leina quickly places the rifle back.

“It's yours now, no one else can use it”  Hers?  But how?  There was no way that this could belong to her and she says as much.
“Your genetic marker has been saved in the rifle's memory, anyone else who tries to use it will be in for a nasty surprise”

“What kind of surprise?”  She hoped it wasn't an explosion, that would be nasty.

“Electric shock, regression back to a baby or aged to death, you can select whichever one you feel works via the keypad and display”  Maybe later, this was a lot to take in.
“Maybe we should do a test, see how you do, maybe test it on that pervert and teach him a lesson for what he almost did”  That sounded tempting all of a sudden, so very tempting.

Again something inside seemed to click when he said that, his suggestion sounded very good to her which surprised her.

“Sounds good to me”  She whispers, too good.

~~

After finding a duffel bag and showing Leina how the rifle folds up for easier carrying, Adam hands her a small device that fits snugly in her palm.

“This is a scanner that allows for tracking a target once the target details have been entered into it.  I've got one with me and I can get any additional information via  link to any networking satellite.  I'll show you how you can do that yourself, ready?”  A quick nod is the only answer given.
“Then let's go deal with an asshole”

Even though he rarely goes anywhere, Adam does have a car.  Well more of a pickup truck really since he lived outside of town and needed something more sturdy for going off-road and for picking up supplies.
He had tried a car before but it didn't manage the off-road stresses all that well after a year.

The pickup truck was one that Leina had picked out when she had been a toddler and Adam has stuck with the make ever since since he found it to be reliable.
After getting in and securing themselves with seatbelts, they head into town and stop a street away from the local hospital.

“He was admitted here last night, he's still there for observation.  He didn't report how he was beaten up out of embarrassment”  Not surprising considering that she must have wounded his pride.
“Mostly minor injuries, very mild concussion, very battered ego”  Taking his mobile from a pocket, Adam taps it online.
“Calling up his information”  It doesn't take long.
“Richard Mealie, forty three years old.  He's currently in a failing relationship with a Tracy Dandel, seems she is eager for a child.  She's twenty three.  He mistreats her, no surprise there, and he has no romantic interest in her, he's only in it for the sex.  He has no intention on settling down, Tracy doesn't take no for answer however and thinks she can get him to change.  He'll change alright”  Leina doesn't question how her friend got such information, she's only interested in getting even.

“So how will we test this out?  Wait for him to leave?”

“No, we find a vantage point”

~~

Finding a vantage point had been easier than expected thanks to some steps leading up to the roof of a currently closed down ship, it was undergoing renovation.
Setting up was quick and soon Leina was looking down the rifle's scope.

“Three inches to the right then down an inch, he's in clear view.  Wind is favourable for now”  She could see him, the vile git was sitting on a hospital bed, a woman was with him.
“Could be Tracy, be sure not to hit her.  Got the tag programmed?”  A quick check to confirm, it was programmed.
“Then fire when ready, just get it done”  With those words something clicks in her and she answers with a single word;

“Understood”  She fires a second later.

The tag seems to phase through the window and hits the pervert in the middle of his back, dissolving into the skin quickly before getting to work.
The effect is quick as he begins to notice something happening, it happens too quickly for him to react though.

His grey hairs begin to recede, colour returning to them, along with the lines that were deepening with age, then his height begins to decrease.  In seconds where there had been a man in his forties was now a male teen around the age of fifteen, then a child a of ten, six, then a very young child of a year old, his clothes in a pool around him before changing into a thick nappy with a baby sized onesie next to him.
A ripple like feeling can be felt in the air and instead of shock from Tracy, she instead just seems to accept what had happened in front of her, as if there had always been a baby there.

“He'll be aware of what's happened, to everyone else though other than us that is, he has always been a baby.  Nicely done”  To her surprise, again, Leina found that it had felt familiar to do that.  And there was a feeling in her of major indifference to what she had just done.

Like she was emotionally disconnected from it.  It felt too familiar, far too familiar.

~~

Before:

The target was in sight, ready for a snipe.  Her breathing is calm, her focus only on getting the job done.  Two years into her job and she has learned how to put her emotional considerations when working to the side, emotions got in the way with orders.

Just get the job done”  She hears through her comm clip, a trigger phrase that Lisa herself had suggested when her training had begun.  All agents were given a trigger phrase that was designed to ensure that they would complete their mission without doubt, fear and remorse.

“Understood”  She whispers softly and fires, her target feeling something hit their neck.  Then the tag's effects begin to kick in and within seconds there is only a pile of clothes to suggest that someone was even there.
“Target erased, clean up needed before the clothes are discovered”

Clean up on the way, they'll be there in less than a minute.  Good work”  Adam's voice always gave her a little tingle down the spine, he was a good man to work with and a good man to be around outside of work.  Their friendship was strong and looking likely to become something more, which they both wanted anyway.

“Anyone else to be erased?”  Lisa asks as she packs up quickly.

Not today, head back.  You have permission to feel again”  Good, the emotional disconnection for her work was always uncomfortable to use, she felt disconnected with who she was whenever she did it.  It was necessary though.

“Thanks, any longer and I think I would have screamed from being so disconnected.  Heading back”

Three hours later she is back at the office and handing Adam the case with her rifle in it, she was longing for a hot bath and some chocolate, maybe a film afterwards, something light-hearted.

“We found some files in your target's email account, seems he was using a private server.  He was part of some company that is looking into stronger drills that can cut through mantle better than anything else currently available, why is unknown but we have our experts gathering more information.  I don't know why he was marked for erasing but he must have angered someone far up the corporate ladder for them to pay us so much for getting rid of him”  It meant nothing to her and she says so, all that mattered was that she was done for the day.

“I'm heading home, see you later?”  Adam nods, his rusty coloured hair brushing against his forehead and making her feel a little warm inside.  He really was quite handsome and seemed to be getting even more handsome as he got older.

“Sure, I'll drop by once I'm done for the day.  Cheeseburger meals and something chocolatey for dessert sound good?”  Oh very much yum.

“Sounds great, see you later then”

“I'll bring some nappies as well”

“Oh ha ha, very funny, old man, very funny.  Fine, if you're going to do that then you know what I'll wear them as long as you wear them as well, after all you're an old man now what with being in your thirties.  Maybe I should call you Creaky”  Adam laughs, the sound wonderful to her ears.  He has a great laugh.

“You've got yourself a deal”  

And just like that they actually spend the night both wearing thick nappies, eating cheeseburgers, chips and chocolate and downing them with apple juice while watching some animated movie.
And their friendship moved closer to something more, something much deeper.


~~

Now:

After packing up and returning to the truck, they head for Adam's cabin.  Adam stops the truck after a couple of streets.

“Penny for your thoughts?”  He asks, Leina doesn't answer.
“Is this about what happened?”  No answer at first then Leina looks over to him.

“What was that ripple like feeling?  I was expecting his girlfriend, now his mum, to react but instead she just accepted what had happened, like nothing had happened at all”  It had been unexpected, she had thought that the woman would freak, not act like it was just a normal thing to see a man be reduced to an infant.  And that ripple like feeling had felt odd, it was hard to explain.

“That's for you to find out, I can't tell you”  A grumble from her stomach prevents a reply and she rubs her stomach.
“Hungry?”  It was hours since she had eaten and it was noon now.
“Let's get a bite to eat, my treat”

“Sure, wouldn't mind a cheeseburger”  A flash of what feels like a memory pops up in her mind as she says that and her stomach growls loud enough for Adam to fully hear it.

“Sounds good, cheeseburger meal it is then”  The truck roars back to life.
“I know just the place too, in fact we can get started on the main part of the job there”  Pulling away from the pavement, they head for Leina's previous place of employment – The Long Hill Cafe.

~~

When they arrive minutes later, Adam asks her to wait by the truck and unpack the rifle, then he heads up to the cafe and looks inside before returning.

“I'm going to explain how you can use the tags without the rifle.  First program them as before, set them for point of conception.  Program two of them then once programmed eject them from the clip with the Eject Tag command, do this twice.  Don't worry about holding them, they won't work until you say 'Revert'”  Leina does this and ejects the two tags into her palms where they sit snugly.
“Let's go get those burgers”

~~

Long Hill Cafe is one of the oldest and still popular cafes in the town, it was as old as Leina's parents, maybe older.  It was one of the few remaining mainstays left.  It helped that the food was excellent and the service was generally excellent as long as the staff weren't mistreated.
As expected the cafe is busy for lunch with just a few tables free.

“Take a seat, I'll be right with you”  One of Leina's former co-workers says politely.  Adam nods over to the nearest free table that looks out onto the town with a view of the local mountains in the distance.
“May I take your order?”  A waitress asks once they've sat down.
“Wasn't expecting to see you here, Leina, not after last time”  She hadn't exactly expected to be back here herself and she replies as such.
“As long as you don't pour anything on anyone then there shouldn't be a problem, so what would you like?”

“Two cheeseburger meals please, orange juice for me, apple juice for Leina”  The order is jotted down with a nod.
“And a slice each of the apple and cinnamon cake for dessert”  They had already chosen while sitting down, it all sounded good.

“Thank you, the food will be with you shortly”  The waitress leaves to call in their order, a light scent of spring roses in her wake.

“We'll start the next part of your job while we wait.  Now you asked about the ripple feeling earlier, have you noticed anything different since the feeling?”  Something felt different, an almost detached feeling for what had happened and she says as such.
“Good, now the tags you have with you are programmed as directed so let's use them”  Adam motions with his eyes and Leina looks over to see her former boss with Arthur.
“You have ten targets to erase, they are two of them.  The tags are programmed to revert them both back to the point of conception quickly, they need to be in full contact with the skin to work and will phase through clothing.  Once applied just say the activation word and they'll get to work.
How you apply the tags is up to you, as long as they can do their job.  Any questions?”  It sounded straight forward enough.

“Should I be worried about any intervention?”  Adam shakes his head.

“No, just get it done”  That odd clicking feeling kicks in again and Leina hears herself reply with;

“Understood”  Getting up from the table, Leina checks her target and heads over to them.

“What do you want?"  Her former boss, Linda Easin, demands with a sneer.  Arthur usually drops by to inform her of any happenings at the pub since she was a business partner despite no longer being a married couple.
There was some gossip that they were still having sex as part of their 'business negotiations', they probably were.

“I would like to apologise to both of you for my recent actions, could we talk in your office?”  Linda indicates to her office with a firm nod towards her office and Leina goes with them.  Part of her questioned why she was doing this and another, much newer, part simply says that it needs to be done.

“Talk then”  Linda says coldly, Arthur stands next to her, he is probably hoping for something to tell others about, like Leina pleading.
Leina grabs them both by their nearest arms to her and feels the tags latch onto them.  Before they can react she activates the tags.

“Revert”  Linda stares at her in shock as the tag begins it's programmed job.

“You remember”  She whispers as she shrinks into her clothing, Arthur doing the same as they both recede back through their teens then childhood before disappearing completely into their clothes which begin to fade away as the ripple feeling returns.

What did she mean by that?”  Leina asks herself with no reply.

Just what had she meant?  Remembered what?

~To Be Continued~
Welcome to Youth Fall, I have been writing this story by hand since around early May and typing it out piece by piece, the story is still being written and I am about to begin the rest of the story either by hand as before or typing it out.

This story came to me in a dream and has been refined and touched up from the original draft while typing with additional scenes.

When dreams are not dreams, then who are you if you are not who you thought you were?

*Update, prologue remade, additional detail added and the past and present scenes now labeled correctly and italics for the past scenes changed*

*Second Update, final edits made, some words adjusted, some added, a little more detail added*

*Third Update, all final edits made across all five parts.  Adjustments made for errors, errors removed, small changes to structure to improve continuity and story balance.  Story is now 100% complete*

Part 2 - 

Mature Content



Part 3 - 

Mature Content



Part 4 - 

Mature Content



Part 5 - 

Mature Content

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:iconmelancholyjeffrey:
melancholyjeffrey Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2017
In the bar scene, where shed like to test on a dart board, the word 'buy' is missing. So it looks like

"Through there, need to something though”  Quickly scanning the menu, Lenia picks something cheap enough and non-alcoholic."
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:iconreinahw:
ReinaHW Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2017   Writer
I went with picks since she didn't pay for it then, she was going to pay for it afterwards since she didn't trust Arthur to provide the juice and chips in a safe way.  So she intended on paying after having them, which she didn't, I left it open to the reader to think on if she left some money behind or not when she left
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:iconmelancholyjeffrey:
melancholyjeffrey Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2017
That makes sense, but I was referring to this line

"Through there, need to something though"
 
In the end, it doesn't matter much. Thought I'd point it out since it broke the story flow. Good story though, its up to you if you want to fix it or not.
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:iconreinahw:
ReinaHW Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2017   Writer
Fixed, I always miss parts, it takes a long time to edit my writing.
Reply
:iconreinahw:
ReinaHW Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2017   Writer
Ah, sodding edits, I keep missing something, I'll get it fixed right now.
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:iconareat:
Areat Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2017
A good start.
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:iconreinahw:
ReinaHW Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2017   Writer
Thank you, I'm hoping to get the second and final part started soon, just going over the ideas to be certain they work.
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:iconsgtslotter:
sgtslotter Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2017
Love this! Great that you are writing again. Looking forward to more!
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:iconreinahw:
ReinaHW Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2017   Writer
Thank you.  I intend on starting part 2 very soon, just giving myself a bit of time to get ready, good to see that someone read it
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:iconareat:
Areat Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2017
Eh, you wouldn't have almost three hundreds watchers if people didn't like reading your works! :D
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:iconreinahw:
ReinaHW Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2017   Writer
I tend to be unsure on if people read my work or only the AR/AB/DL stuff or just want to see the collection, it's hard to be certain
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