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*Continued from part 1*

5

Before:


It is said that time can fly by when you're having fun, she supposed that it would be true since after seven years with the Agency she was having fun despite the nature of her job.
Odd really that she found enjoyment in erasing people who were seen as threats to those in power.  She wondered if it made her a sadist or a monster.

“Target in sight”  Another person in a suit marked as a threat, she had lost count by now at how many people in suits she and her co-workers had been sent to erase by this time.

Clear shot?”  Adam asks through the comm clip.  The area was crowded which meant a high risk of hitting someone else, that had to be avoided.

“No”  Lisa reports.  “Too many people.  I'll need to get close to tag them, have a clean up crew ready for a quick clean up”  She couldn't risk any potential civilian casualties that could potentially harm the Agency, the Agency had public support but that meant that any agents had to avoid harming anyone who wasn't a marked target if they wished to keep that approval.
It made the job harder, aye, but it was better to have that support than not since they had no support from the United Earth Government that the Agency had been formed to keep in check should they become as corrupt and greedy as the governments of old.

If any civilians were harmed by any agent then that would result in a serious media shitstorm and the Agency's future and ability to do their job would be compromised fast, the UEG was always looking for any excuse to be rid of the Agency since they felt that they didn't need to be monitored so much.

Clean up en-route to you, just get it done”  The order was given as always with the trigger command and she simply replied with, as always:

“Understood”  Removing the programmed tag from the rifle's clip and packing up quickly, Lisa heads down into the thoroughfare once done and tracks her target by foot.
It was another busy shopping day with people going to and fro buying things that they may or may not need along with some socialisation and some shopping alone.
It seemed a bit less lively though, almost muted in a sense as if people were just going through the motions with little thought on it.  She and the other agents have been noticing a change in the public over the past few years, as if the people are acting in a more programmed manner than in any individual manner.

Of course that was a pretty ridiculous notion though, maybe it was just how it seemed once the trigger was activated and the person was suppressed for a short time while the trained assassin was on the hunt.
She had a job to do after all and she had to focus on that, always got to do the mission regardless of personal feelings.

Her target pulls off from the crowd into a shop and she follows them in, a book shop by the small of it.  Old leather, paper and stale coffee.

“Book shop by the bagel shop, he's going to the counter”  She had to catch him alone so that the clean up crew wasn't interrupted.
“He's talking to the owner, handing him a book.  Not sure what it is, that will need to be checked by clean up”  It didn't seem suspicious but it was better to be sure than not.
She browses the shelves as she keeps close, buying a couple of books while she waits then follows after her target once he leaves.

Clean up in the area waiting”  She acknowledges the update and informs Adam that the target is moving towards them already.

“I see them, we need to box him in quietly”  Her target keeps walking and is soon met by clean up, she catches up seconds later.
“Shield me”  She says quietly.  Her target looks around, tears in his eyes.  He knew what was going on but was trying to not show it.

“Make it quick, and take the case”  He whispers tearfully, up close he looks dishevelled as if he hasn't slept much recently and his clothes look like they are in dire need of changing.  Has he been on the run for some reason?  He didn't look at all like a threat, if anything he looks like a scared man who hasn't slept well in days and barely eaten, as if he's been on the move a lot.

“Why have you been marked?”  Lisa asks while the man sets down the case at her feet.

“I don't think you'll believe me if I tell you, but please understand that I'm not a threat.  I'm a victim like we all are.  Just get this done, please, make it quick”  His behaviour is frankly unusual but she had her orders.
Taking one of his hands, she applies the tag and activates it.  A quick reversion and the man is gone, only his clothes and case are left behind while all that remains of him is a small spot of rapidly drying blood and viscous fluid.
Searching through his clothes quickly, she finds the key for the case and pockets it.  In the past few years every target was found to have a case like this and a key to open it, each case has contained documents and blueprints that seem to be pertaining to some experimental drilling technology that seemed much too far fetched to be true.

“Again?”  One of the clean up crew asks.

“Again.  I'll take it in to the Agency, can the rest of you manage here?  Also check in at the book shop I was in and ask the owner there about a book that was handed to them, could be nothing but better to be sure.  Be quick, see you all back at the Agency later”  Some quick nods in reply and the team get to work, Lisa picks up the case and heads for the exit.
“Adam, he had a briefcase just like all the others over the years.  I've got the key for it, heading in”  Adam acknowledges her report.  The job done, she heads back to the Agency building and enjoys feeling more like herself again than a trained assassin.

~~

After a bite to eat and something to drink, Lisa meets up with Adam in a debriefing room to go over the contents of the briefcase that she had returned with.  Irene Anders, one of the council board members for the Agency, is also there much to her surprise.
The council board was being kept updated about the cases and the contents but they hadn't gotten involved too much beyond approving the research into why the people they had been contracted to erase had this information on them and why it was so important to them.

Irene Anders is in her mid forties, Caucasian with light brown hair that has a slight hint of blonde to it and grey from encroaching age, a little shorter than Adam and Lisa.  Out of all of the council board members she is the most hands on and prefers to mingle with the agents and work alongside them in investigations than keeping a distance, this approach has made her pretty much the unofficial liaison between the higher ups of the Agency and the agents which has been a big help in managing resources and working conditions over the years.
Usually though she was in her office at this time of day so it was strange to see her at a debriefing room.

“Good day, Lisa, Adam informs me that you found another case.  Two other agents reported the same thing, they are with their operators going over the cases they've found at this time and I'm waiting to hear on their findings.  Since I was close by then I decided to drop by here and go through the contents of this case with you both, if you don't mind that is”  She didn't mind and she remarks as such.
“Excellent, then if you will”  Adam hands Lisa the key for the case and she opens it easily, inside are the usual documents and blueprints.  She had hoped for something new like maybe a recording that explained why all of this was so important.

“The others probably have the same in their cases, why though?  What's so important about this stuff?  This theoretical drill tech is too complex to ever be a reality and even if it could be it would be disastrous due to it's destructive potential, there would be no point in even creating these since there aren't any more fossil fuels in safe reach.  The fossil fuel barons of the past got everything they could get their hands on and almost destroyed the planet in the process, attempting to drill any deeper would place the planet at risk all over again and kill all life on the planet in the resulting extreme climate changes and increases in natural disasters.  It's why we even use renewable energy sources and cleaner, more efficient energy sources like the temporal energy.  Only the most greedy, most foolish people would continue to pursue fossil fuels now and they have been banned by law from ever endangering the planet again for their greed”  The law in question has been in effect for the past one hundred ninety four years since the near mid twenty first century following the conclusion of World War Three and the aftermath of that needless war.

The greed of the wealthy elite of the time had almost destroyed the planet, there had been mass extinctions of various species of animal life while the human race had began to die slowly as food and water became non-viable for life.
The mass climate shifts and increase in natural disasters had only made things worse and when the war broke out with nuclear warheads being fired between the former United States and assorted European countries that were fed up of the destructive greed and corruption of the former United States then things only got worse from there.

The former United States had started the war when their president, a vile, bigoted, greedy man who cared nothing for others while allowing religious fanatics to murder millions in the name of religious freedom while at the same time he and his greedy rich friends raked in as much money as possible for themselves, declared war on the world after the former United Nations and the European Union refused to allow the hatred of the former United States towards diversity to be worldwide law.
Many believed and still believe to this day that the former Russian Union had been behind everything by buying politicians and the wealthy in an attempt to disrupt the country's laws and diplomatic relations with the rest of the world.
The war itself lasted barely hours but the aftermath lasted for decades with billions dead, it took a lot to rebuild and once started it was agreed upon by the surviving countries that the greedy elite were no longer allowed to make any more money, that religion was outlawed completely and that fossil fuels were no longer viable.

It took time but eventually, with a surge in intellectual pursuits and an increase towards scientific progress, things improved.  Temporal Subspace Energy was discovered and found to be viable as a power source as well as defensive uses, cleaner renewable sources of energy were approved and improved on and the standards of living with better health care, education and other badly needed public services were given priority.
Some religious hang ons from the past still tried to force their archaic and unwelcome ideals on the people but they were dealt with swiftly, the general public refused to allow such hateful ideals to ever take hold again.  They had enough of such excessive bigotry and a refusal to accept reality.

The United Earth Government was formed during the rebuilding, every remaining nation felt it was long past time to put aside their differences and learn to work together in an attempt to not repeat the destructive foolishness and greed of the past, it wasn't perfect but the potential was there and improving every year.
Over a century ago the floating city of Fully Oath, a name that was unusual but intended as an oath from the UEG to the people of the world that they would work only for the many instead of an elite rich few like the governments of old, was founded.  It was placed above the Atlantic Ocean between the American continents and the European continents and would occasionally move to another position if there was any danger from any extreme weather in the area.

The city itself is large enough to house as many as seven billion people although the human population at this time is barely holding at four million and has been slowly dropping in recent years.

Many people live in the city and it acts as the central location for the UEG capital building, while many people still lived on the remaining habitable areas of the surface, they have the freedom to come up to the city and back whenever they wish.
There are security checkpoints of course due to some still harbouring hatred towards others for the sake of hatred but such people are few and far between these days.  The city itself no longer uses a police force as such but instead a security force that acts as a form of police but is more intended on keeping the peace instead of meting out justice, it is mostly filled with security robots more than humans since machines are impartial and not prone to excessive hatred like humans can be.
The only humans approved are those assigned to manage repairs, the general public didn't want to risk repeats of the police violence of the twentieth and twenty first centuries.  Racism and bigotry in general was heavily frowned upon.

“Then why are we being contracted to erase these people?  Not a single one of them has put up a fight, if anything they just ask for it to be done quickly.  They are always scared, always in poor condition, so why are they marked as threats to the government?  Something's fishy here and so far all we're getting is a formal 'Thank you for your inquiry, we'll look into it immediately' nonsense from some suit who doesn't seem to care less”  Adam and Irene don't reply while they look through the documents and blueprints, they were clearly trying to find anything that could explain why these seemingly useless files were being found all the time on marked targets.

“Adam, have the R&D labs check these over like they did the others.  I'll check in with the others and inform them of our need to push the matter, something is fishy here as Lisa just said and we need to find out what it is.  This nagging gut feeling keeps saying that we're being played but for what purpose and by who.  Lisa, check in with the other agents and see if you can get more information on their hunts.  There has to be a pattern here, it can't just be a series of contracts against people who, as you've said, have turned out to not be a threat.  Get results please”  Two sharp nods in acknowledge and Irene leaves to report to her fellow council board members.
While Adam puts the documents back in the case, Lisa leans against the table in front of him while he works.

“Join me for supper tonight?”  She asks once he's done.  Adam smiles and nods, she loves the way his smile brings out the dimples on his chin and around his mouth.

“I'll be there, how about we go out for a curry though this time?  I'm thinking Spirkia's close to your place, they make some great curries.  A balti in particular sounds good right now, say around half six?”  Her stomach growls hungrily at the sound of that, she and Adam both shared a love for spicy and not quite as spicy but still rich in flavour foods.  Plus scraping something together usually took time and work sometimes had a habit of taking longer than usual if there were other things to be done before clock out time.
Today was maybe going to be one of those days so scraping something together wasn't looking likely.

“Sounds great, I'll have a quick shower and get something less work-centric on before then.  See you there”

~~

Now:

The ripple like feeling fades quickly as a woman's voice speaks to her:

“Leina, you wanted to see me?”  Linda's words ring through her mind, the words of someone who had both existed and was never born.  It was a confusing sensation to experience.
She needed to focus on what was now though, not then.  Two lives were erased by her hands even though she still remembered them, they had been real yet they had never been born.
How was it possible to remember those who had both existed and never existed?  It made no sense.

Focus, mission complete for now, focus”  A part of herself whispers sternly within her mind, an older more lived voice.
Focus!

“Yes, I just wanted to say that the new décor really livens up the cafe up”  Alice Turner, her former boss, smiles gratefully.  She has only owned the care for a few months after the previous owners had retired.
They had felt that she would do them proud, it was hard work but she hoped that they were proud of the work she has done so far to update the cafe while still maintaining it's older charms.

Leina had left almost three weeks ago due to feeling that she needed new experiences after working at the cafe for a decade since the age of fifteen.

“Thank you, you may find that we've also been looking into ways to adding more choices to the menu”  She had noticed, well as soon as her memories had split and changed to accept the new set of memories caused by the erasure of Linda and Arthur.

“Well just wanted to say hi, I'll return to my table.  Adam says hi as well”  Alice nods, a warm smile on her lips before returning to her work.
Heading back to Adam, Leina sits back as she continues to try and make sense of what's happened.

“You get used to it”  Adam remarks quietly, he could see her efforts to try and adjust in her eyes.  Years of friendship afforded that understanding of one another.

“To what?”  Leina asks, just what was going on and why was she feeling so strange?  Something felt very different in her, more so than before.

“Erasing”  He replies.  “Just focus on the now, not on what was.  Did they say anything or was it quick?”  That was an odd thing to ask and she says as such.
“I know, but if they said anything then you have questions which I can't answer at this time”

“Linda said 'You remember'.  I don't understand what she meant by it”  Adam ahhs, as she expected.

“You will, you've already made the first steps to understanding what's happening to you.  Another eight and all will be revealed, you'll see.  Ah, grub's here”  She stops herself from asking a question that she knows she won't get an answer to, so instead digs into her lunch with gusto.  Answers were clearly going to have to wait.

~~

Before:

It didn't take Lisa long to have a shower and get ready, formality when it came to dates was never her forte.
Arriving at the restaurant in time was easy, they had come here a few times over the years and just like her Adam wasn't in formal wear either.  Their relationship had evolved beyond that by now.

“Looking great, less work, more flumpy”  He remarks when she walks up to him.

“Ageing past his prime He-Man look, guess you just had a piss before leaving work and gave yourself an admiring look in the bathroom mirror before slapping on some Dated Hulk hair gel”  The snide remarks at one another were common, it was their way of telling one another that they looked great and were eager for sex later.

“How did you know?  I did my best but the bowl is becoming hard to aim into correctly, my aim isn't what it used to be”  Lisa laughs, her laugh like sweet music to Adam.

“You had good aim before?  I have to have landing lights on to guide you in”  Adam kisses her, she lets herself melt into the kiss as she grips his arms tightly, he is a great kisser.

“Let's go eat”

~~

Now:

After lunch, Adam paying the bill as he said he would, they return to his cabin where he gives her the usual day's wage before driving her back to her flat.

“See you tomorrow, I'll have the next two targets waiting to be read.  You did well”  She tries to think of a response but nothing comes to mind.  Something felt different and she couldn't find the words to explain it.  So instead she simply replies with;

“Okay, see you tomorrow.  Bye”  A nod with a small smile then he drives off after she's shut the passenger side door closed.
Did he know how she was feeling?  If so then was he giving her time to process things?  It was hard to tell.

“Hey Leina, how's things?”  An elderly man asks as she enters the building where her flat is.

“Not sure, you?”

“Can't complain, could be worse”  True, she wanted to say, you could have been erased from existence.

“Guess so”  She replies quietly before heading in.  What more could she say really?
Once inside the flat she slips her coat and handbag off, the coat going on a peg and the handbag on the shelf below.
Kicking her shoes off and slipping her feet into a pair of cute kitten design slippers, Leina goes through to her bathroom and stands in front of the mirror above the sink.
For a moment she is sure that she can see a different woman looking back at her, an older woman.

“Who am I?”  She asks herself in a whisper.

~~

Before:

The meal had been delicious as expected given how popular the restaurant is, it wouldn't be so well acclaimed if it wasn't for the excellent food and service.  As they wait for dessert – Chocolate ice cream with a strawberry and raspberry sauce – they talk about the recent increase in natural disasters around the world.
The remaining land masses of Japan had been destroyed by a powerful earthquake while the remaining areas of habitable land in the former Americas were rendered uninhabitable by extreme hurricanes and earthquakes, what few survivors there were had to be relocated to the remaining habitable pockets of land in Africa.  All of ten of them out of four thousand people.

Habitable pockets of land were becoming fewer with every month due to the sudden and unexpected increases in natural disasters and extreme weather.  The floating city of Fully Oath was safe enough but life below was becoming harder for those who chose to remain on the surface instead of relocating to Fully Oath.
They were given as much resources and support as could be given while always presented with the choice to move to the city since it was safer than remaining on the surface.  The offer was usually refused, many didn't want to give up on making a living on the surface.

There was so little land though and sea levels were rising, before long there would be little more than a few islands dotted around the planet.  The world government always said they were investigating into ways to restore as much land as possible but they were working too slowly, their platitudes seemed ever more hollow every time they said them however.
The human race was struggling to maintain barely a population of three million total and that number was decreasing with every year, it was clear that the sudden reversal in Earth's restoration from the damage inflicted in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries has taken a sharp turn in the wrong direction.

It is believed that if this keeps up that the planet will be completely uninhabitable within a century or less and so far there was nothing being done to prevent this.

Which was why it was felt to live every day like it was the last.

“Got something for you”  Adam says after a few minutes of talking about recent events.

“Oh?  Like what?  If you're going to tell me that you're preggers and I'm the dad then something happened recently that was sudden and painless”  Taking a small box from his coat pocket, he opens it to reveal a gold, false of course since any real gold long since disappeared when the wealthy fled to their bunkers in the third world war in the 21st century, ring with small gem stones in a flower like pattern.
It was quite pretty.
Lisa reaches into her handbag and fingers a small box of her own.

“Either it's for me or you have a thing for the waiter”  She takes out her own box and opens it to reveal a larger, minus any gems, gold ring.
“The waiter is handsome though, it could result in a fight with cheesy battle music and bread sticks”  Adam chuckles, he is as fond of old science fiction as her although not as much as she is.

“What to get married?”  He asks.

“Do you?”  She replies.

“Yes and I'm looking at the woman I want to marry, perhaps spend the rest of my life with”  Lisa looks around jokingly.

“Oh, you mean me?  You sure you want to marry me?  I'm hardly perfect”

“No one is, but to me you are”  He had a way with words she had to give him that.  Men before Adam had usually been a waste of time, too many of them high on rampant testosterone and the stale alpha male bull.
Adam, though, was different.  He genuinely cared, he didn't let ego get in the way of work and life.  And he was more than capable of matching her wit with his own sharp retorts which she found most refreshing compared to other men in the past who had responded with anger and wounded egos.

“Then yes, I'll marry you.  Maybe we can grow old together and drive one another mad to the grave”

“That sounds like a productive marriage to me”  Slipping one another's rings on – Lisa slipping the one she had gotten for Adam on his finger while he did the same for her – followed by a loving kiss across the table, while resisting the urge to strip off their clothes and have sex there and then.

A year later they marry in a small ceremony with family and friends attending, nine months later Lisa gives birth to a daughter.  Two years later a son is born.

As life continues however, the planet continues to die a little more each day while the human population continues to dwindle.

~~

6

Now:


Another night of unusual dreams is interrupted by her bedside alarm, something her dad had made for her when she was a teen.

“Wakey Wakey, shift your backside!”  It blares out.  The usual reply follows;

“Get stuffed”  Leina growls as she gradually wakes.  Yawning and slowly pushing herself up before crashing back down face first into her pillows.  Waking up wasn't exactly a graceful thing for her.
After about ten minutes she slides out of her bed, pushing herself upon her feed before stretching with a groan.

Catching a glimpse of herself in her dresser mirror, she shuffles over to it expecting to see her barely awake reflection with messy hair all over the place looking back at her.
However this time she sees an older woman, maybe in her early or mid fifties, looking back at her.  She seems familiar even though Leina has never seen her before.
Then the older woman before younger, her greying hair becoming less grey and darker until it is the same colour as Leina's.  She even looks like Leina, exactly like her.
This changes as the woman slips into her teens, shrinking bit by bit until she's a child, then a toddler and finally stopping at infancy.

She reaches out for Leina and to Leina's surprise she is able to pick the baby up.  She feels real, from the weight to the softness of her clothing and the thick nappy that Leina pats softly subconsciously.

“Just get it done”  The baby in her arms speaks clearly.  “Just get it done”

Then the alarm comes on loudly, waking her up rudely.

~

After the usual routine of waking, finger up to the world, breakfast and picking out bits of cereal from her bra – she tended to have breakfast before fully dressing so she would eat while just in her underwear which was a nasty habit she picked up with living alone – Leina heads out to Adam's after getting dressed fully.
She didn't have to wait long for a bus so she was soon approaching his cabin after a short walk less than half an hour later.

“Good morning, how's you the day?”  Adam asks as she walks up, she had heard him singing as she had approached and he had stopped when she neared.  He is chopping firewood and looks like he's enjoying himself.  Adam is very much a morning person while Leina is more of a midday person once she's woken up some more.

“Morning, what's on the agenda today then?”  She hoped it wasn't going to be Adam singing, he has an annoying habit of singing when chopping wood.  Especially the Lumberjack song.

“Let me chop some more logs then and I'll tell you once I'm done”  Leina watches as he puts a new log on the chopping block, he was probably going to sing again.

“You sing that song and I'll kill you with that axe”  She remarks sharply, Adam mock pouts, the axe being brought up.

“No fun”  Adam replies as he brings the axe down.  A few logs later and he's done, and clearly he has been singing under his breath as he worked.  The axe is out away and they go to his cabin, Adam heads through to this study while Leina gets a drink of water from the kitchen.
The image of the woman in her dreams returns after she's washed the mug she has used.  She looked so much like her, was she a glimpse of the future or someone Leina had bet before and forgotten?  Just who was she?

“GPS not working?”  Adam asks, bringing Leina out of her thoughts.

“Sorry, just lost in thought there”  Leina replies while drying her hands, she hadn't heard Adam enter the kitchen.

“Fairly looked like it, must have missed a turn”  Must have.

“Probably”  Seeing something in Adam's left hand, she nods to it.
“Guess those are my next targets then”  He hands her two photos and she examines, the names of each target are on the bottom of the photos.

“Irene Anders and Sinei Keldin, I know them.  Irene was one of my teachers in my school years, she waved to me on the way to the bus stop today.  Sinei is a quiet guy with a fondness for bird watching, don't really see him very often though since he's usually at work at the bird reserve a few miles from here.  Last time I saw him was last week while food shopping, we didn't say much, just a brief hello”  Almost everyone in the town knows one another, there are those who keep to themselves for the most part as is the usual anywhere.  The town wasn't all that big really, it was just big enough to be labelled as a town with a central retail hub and more that had it labelled as a town, it has grown over the past few decades.
“I am curious about something though, why is erasing required for this job?”

“I can't really say why at this time, not yet anyway.  Will you be able to do this?”  A part of her says yes, another says no and a newer part says 'Let's get on with it'.
“If you want, before you head out, you can mention any dreams you had last night”  That sounded good, she felt that she needed some prep for half an hour or near abouts anyway.
She explains the dreams she had, the last one before waking left for last.

“Interesting.  How did it feel to you when she saw her?”  Good question, there had been something very familiar about her.  As if she had known her well despite having never seen the woman before, as best as she knew.
That she was so familiar because of that was strange, was she a long forgotten relative maybe?  That didn't seem right to her though, this woman felt a lot more familiar than that.
“I'm sure you'll find out soon, so ready to head out?”  A nod in reply, she was ready.  Adam gets her rifle and hands her a scanner after he returns.
“I'll show you how to use it, it's easy enough really.  These buttons can switch between life signs and general location, you can have both on at the same time but it can drain power fairly quickly so only do that if you need to.  The scanner needs at least an hour or two to recharge once the power is used, to recharge it just tap this button here on the upper right and hold it for a few seconds, it will go into recharge mode after a small bleep is heard”  Leina thanks him and pockets the scanner before putting her rifle into it's backpack and slipping her pack on her back.

“I'll be back afterwards”  Adam hands her some food and water before she heads out, she was likely going to need it.

“I'll be here.  Good luck and just get it done”  The click in her mind can be heard along with the strange feeling of disconnection flowing through her.

“Understood”

~~

7

After leaving Adam's cabin, Leina checks the scanner for Irene and Sinei's life signs, Irene is shown to be the closest with Sinei showing at the bird reserve a few miles away.  Irene is close to where Leina lives so a quick bus trip back into town wasn't a problem.
Both Irene and Sinei live alone with no family, she didn't know why they lived alone since neither of them were unpopular.

Sinei, despite his preference for his birds, is a gentle man with a quiet manner.  He has always been a man of few words who rarely raises his voice and no one ever has anything bad to say about him, he got along with everyone.
He spent most of his time at the reserve where he studied the local bird population and tended to their needs, why he is so fond of birds is unknown but it was clearly his passion in life.

Irene is also friendly and could be considered to be like a mother to some, a sister to others and a friend to many.  She had been one of Leina's babysitter's years ago.  
As a teacher she had always been patient with her students and when she had decided to retire a few years ago it had come as a surprise, she was barely older than Adam.
These days she volunteers as a substitute teacher at both the local schools and at the local daycare, she is a big hit with children and always loves to care for them, at this time she is at home according to the scanner.

Neither of them have ever married as far as she knows so erasing them wouldn't be too difficult.

With the next bus due soon, Leina waits at the bus stop close to Adam's place and is grateful that the day is mild for spring.  She still felt so disconnected and wanted it to wear off, it was uncomfortable and she felt so repressed within herself the whole time.  Were those four words a trigger code like what sleeper agents used in movies and TV shows?  It would explain that odd clicking feeling in her mind whenever they were said.
But why was a trigger phrase needed at all?  Just what was she turning into due to these dreams?  She needed answers but Adam was reluctant to give any, maybe Irene or Sinei might have answers for her.  She hoped so.

The bus finally arrives and after showing her return ticket, scolding herself for not getting a day rider ticket instead since she was going to be hopping on a fair few buses today, Leina takes a seat and waits until she reaches the bus stop close to her home before getting off.
About half an hour later she steps off the bus and heads to Irene's which is just down the street from the bus stop on the way to her flat.

Upon getting close to Irene's house, Leina looks around to be sure that she's alone then heads up the alley to avoid being seen by Irene.  She doesn't get far because Irene calls out to her from her garden.

“Hello Leina, I was waiting for you.  Come on in then”  She was expected?  She was not expecting that, she had thought she would need to be stealthy instead of being expected.
“I know you're there, Leina, it's okay.  I know why you're here so just come on in through the front gate, you don't need to go all stealth assassin on me”  So much for the element of surprise.

Heading to the front of the house, Leina opens the gate and heads in.  Irene is sitting at a garden table that looks out onto the street, likely enjoying the rare warmth for this time of year.
Irene is in her mid forties, around the same age as Adam, she is trim for her age and looks more like she's in her mid thirties.  She likes to keep herself in good health as much as possible so can usually be seen, when she's not working, out for a walk or headed to the nearby woodlands for a walk or sometimes taking part in an exercise class.

“I take it that you have the rifle in your backpack then”  How did she know about the rifle?  And she asks as such.
“Because I was the one who made sure to swipe one when we had to flee to safety, I asked Adam to keep it safe for you.  The biometric reader on it is in the trigger casing so grabbing it by the barrel didn't set it off, good thing to because I couldn't do what you have to do.  I would have one too many doubts which is the last thing we need at this time.  Have a seat and while you're doing that prep a tag for erasure.  Adam did teach you how to do that, right?”  Leina nods before sitting down and preparing a tag.

“Won't anyone see me do this though and call the police?”  Irene shakes her head while she sips her drink, it smelled fruity whatever it was.

“No, that was seen to before we came here.  So I guess you must have questions, I'll answer what I can but you have to find out the rest with each person you erase”  You turned twenty five recently so you must be having quite the interesting bunch of dreams these days, I can tell you that they aren't dreams.  They are a glimpse into a life that is long since dead and gone, I can't tell you more than that for now though due to a promise”  The rifle feels heavy in Leina's hands as she prepares the tag, could she really do this?  Irene is a lovely woman, always so kind and helpful to others with no interest in reward.  Did she deserve to be erased like this?
“I can see the doubt in your eyes, Leina, don't be concerned about me.  I've been waiting for this to happen for the past twenty five years and it's frankly long overdue, there isn't much time left so just leave any doubts at the door and get it done”

“How did you know though?  Does anyone else know?”  Leina asks as she works, she was purposely trying to stall.

“Yes, they know.  All but one of them will be waiting, one will likely be trying to hide but you'll have to track him down anyway.  He shouldn't give you too much trouble despite how much of a coward he is, he's known this has been coming for a while and he still refuses to accept it”  The rifle bleeps as it deposits the programmed tag into Leina's waiting hand.

“Can't say I blame him really, how did anyone know though?  I haven't been advertising this”  Another sip of whatever she's drinking, the glass is almost empty.

“We all felt the erasure of Arthur and Linda as well as the changes made to Richard, that boy had it coming and those two weren't exactly popular around here.  Richard wasn't needed for what you have to do but it was satisfying to feel him get his comeuppance.  The changes made to him won't affect the memory restoration however so it's nothing to be concerned about”  Memory restoration?  Is that what these dreams were?  Memories?  Is that what Irene meant about a glimpse into a life that was dead and gone?  She had so many questions and she goes to answer them only to be stopped by Irene raising a finger.

“I've told you all that I can without breaking the promise, you have to learn the rest yourself bit by bit.  All I can say now is that you've probably noticed yourself doing things that you couldn't do before, that's part of the restoration.  When I'm gone you'll learn a little more about the woman you've probably been seeing in your dreams as well, the more that's restored the more you'll learn.  Before long you'll be ready to do what needs to be done as soon as you understand, now tag me and let's get this over with.  Sinei is likely waiting for you as well so you better go visit him”  Leina reaches out, pressing her hand into Irene's open palm.

“Who is the woman though?”  She asks, still hesitant about doing this.

“You'll find out, we all knew her, we all worked with her and she committed us all to this through her actions.  I can't tell you any more than that”  Irene looks down at the tag in her left hand, such a small thing.

“Because of this promise you mentioned”  A nod in reply.

“Yes, because of the promise.  Activate it then and go see Sinei, I'm sure he'll have a few more answers for you.  Good luck, Leina, bring the needed peace that the world so badly needs”  Slipping the rifle back into it's backpack, Leina blinks away tears as she whispers;

“Revert”  Then gets up from the table as Irene shrinks into her clothing with a grateful final smile, the years melting away rapidly until all that's left is a pile of rapidly fading clothing and the ripple like feeling.  The house changes as the feeling increases prompting Leina to leave the garden quickly in case she was caught trespassing on someone's home.
The feeling fades away about a minute later and Leina is greeted with more memories that flood her mind.

“Goodbye”  She says softly, her voice shaking in sorrow as the new set of memories reveal more about Irene and the friendship the woman had with her.
Sinei was waiting however, she couldn't hold this off.  Looking back at the house that looks so different now, Leina wipes away her tears before heading back to the bus stop.

~~

Before:

Time flies when you're having fun, so it's said anyway.  A decade has passed since Lisa and Adam had married, a decade since they had become parents and a decade of yet more contracts issued against targets who were hard to believe were a threat to anyone.  And as expected with each erasure more information was being found on them concerning a prototype drilling technology.
Was it even still a prototype after all these years though?

Another contract was issued early this morning and as usual Lisa is doing her job, despite her feelings on these frankly unusual contracts.  Just how could these people they were being asked to erase be a threat to anyone?
The few times that they were even approached they didn't put up a fight, they just surrendered to being erased without any begging for their lives.  It was like they had given up on life in general, but why?  Considering that the human population was in a constant decline with the remaining population now under a million people and dropping at a rate of fifty per week then something was clearly wrong and as usual the UEG was just giving hollow statements claiming that they are investigating this decline.

However her mind is on the job and she doesn't have the luxury of concern about the ever declining human populace, not when the trigger phrase had already been used when she started the assignment.

“Eyes on target, same as all the others.  Clean lock”  The target is seated on a bench doing nothing but looking down at their lap, there is a briefcase next to their feet.  Just like all the others before them.
The amount of people in the area is low, barely a dozen people if that.  There are fewer and fewer people out and about these days.

Her target is a woman in her late twenties, maybe early thirties, pretty and looks quite sullen as if she already knows what's going to happen to her and has given up on life in order to let it happen.

Take it”  Clean lock, clean shot and all that's left is a pile of clothing.  There hadn't been a sound from them as they were reduced to little more than rapidly drying viscous fluids.  A clean up crew heads in while Lisa, after packing away her rifle, heads down to pick up the briefcase.

“Usual case found, nothing else”  She reports to Adam through her comm. set.

Understood.  Back still aching?”  She hated how much her body ached as she got older, it was only a matter of time before field work was no longer possible.

“Of course, heading in”

~

As usual with all of the other cases in the past fifteen years, this case contains the usual documents and blueprints showing the drill in it's prototype stage.  There is something new though, a recorded message;

I suppose if you are hearing this then you erased me”  A female voice, could the voice be from the woman she had erased earlier?  It was possible, the voice sounded young enough.

I knew that a contract was going to be taken out on me when I questioned this technology being used.  So many of us over the years have questioned it and so many of us have been erased not long after by the Agency, an agency that is supposed to be keeping an eye on the government instead of being used like this.
These are old documents, the plasma drill is already built and being tested before going into full production.  These tests will take a while because they don't want to draw any attention to themselves even though it has become increasingly clear over the past fifteen years of tests just how much damage they can do to the planet.

The extreme weather, the rising sea levels, the increase in earthquakes, it's all connected to the tests.  These tests are having a massive worldwide ripple effect as I am sure you have noticed.
Thousands are dead because of these tests, because of wealthy men and woman who are descended from those who caused so much destruction in the twenty first century are determined to access the remaining fossil fuels and precious minerals embedded deep into the Earth's crust.
They continue to cling onto the mindset that doing this will bring them great wealth and power, they refuse to grasp the reality that this new drilling technology is so powerful that once it's activated in full it will tear past any remaining resources and impact the planet's core.

According to scientists who have been researching and invented this technology, this will result in a large scale planetary destruction event in a matter of minutes or less.  They revealed their findings and were forced to keep working after a few of them were rapidly aged as punishment for questioning the greed of the wealthy.
They died screaming in agonising pain from the rapid ageing.

These drills, once constructed after the tests are complete, will be installed in a series of platforms that are connected to a central operating hub.  The wealthy see this as their way to maximise their profits quickly, they dismiss the facts that they will destroy the planet and what little life is left on it when those drills are brought online.

Me and many others have been willingly sacrificing our lives to smuggle out as much information as we can get our hands on in the hopes that the wealthy will be stopped, it is clear that the UEG won't help since they have been bought by the wealthy and are using the Agency to erase us so that we don't spill the beans about their plans.
As soon as I smuggled out what I could, and there is more in a secret compartment in the case that is more up to date and more of us will smuggle out as much as we can in the same way, I knew I was marked for erasure.

Please stop them, you have at least sixteen years or less before the drills are installed and activated on the platforms.  Don't let this planet die for the sake of the profit of out of touch monsters.

Don't let our sacrifices be in vain, stop them by whatever means are possible.  Save the planet even if it means at the cost of our own species.  Don't let Earth die, please!  I beg of you, stop them!


~

“Those bastards”  Linda snarls after the recording ends, Lisa and Adam had presented it to the council after they had heard it themselves earlier.  Everyone had kept silent until the recording was finished.

“All these years, all those contracts and this is why.  They've been lying to all of us for who knows how long, longer than recent years that's for sure”  Arthur's voice hints at his anger, he was supposed to be the liaison between the UEG and the Agency.  It was his job to ensure that the UEG understood that they were being watched closely, after hearing this though then it was clear that the UEG had found a way to keep the Agency blind to their actions.

“So what do we do about this?”  Annice Sarnor, the head of the Quartermaster department of the Agency, asks.  The other council members don't answer straight, this was big.  After a few minutes Terrance Tierna, head of Assignments replies;

“Nothing, yet.  We can't risk tipping our hand, they've had years to plan this while working with the descendent of the wealthy, it would explain the increase in Security droids being manufactured.  If they catch wind of how much we know before we can come up with an effective counter attack then we'll be swarmed within an hour”  A few council members nod in agreement, it was too risky to go up against the UEG now and they have all noticed the increase in security over the past two decades.

“We need more information on the drill platforms and their central computer, we need to find weaknesses that we can exploit.  We have to prevent them from being activated if possible, we have time so for now our agents should continue to act as if they have no idea what's happening while they retrieve the information from those people who are willingly sacrificing their lives to steal it.
With any luck we'll find exactly what we need”  Sarch Icari, head of Tactical Management, remarks which is also met with nods of agreement.

“Then it's settled”  Irene Anders, Personnel Liaison, remarks as she looks over to Adam and Lisa.  “We'll inform the other agents so that they know what to look for, we'll make sure to continue to work as if we haven't heard the recording so that we don't tip the UEG off on what we're doing, we have to play this by ear and be ready to react should they realise how much we actually know.  Prepare for the worst, hope for the best”

“Are you lot insane?  We're talking about lying to the UEG!  We can't defend against all of those Security droids!”  Barry Nemis, a lower tier council member who has only recently become part of the main council so hasn't been assigned a department yet, remarks with fear in his voice.  He is known for avoiding confrontation and only received this promotion because  his supervisor had recently disappeared so Barry received the promotion on his supervisor's place, he was clearly not really fit for the job though.
“We're not an army, we can't fight them!”

“They have lied to us and to the people, Barry”  Andreia Sezziro, head of Research And Development, replies.  “They are too likely behind all of the disappearances over the years as well, like the disappearance of your supervisor for example.  We can't let them get away with this but we need more information before we can act”

“I'll check in with my sources, see if they can help with uncovering more information on the disappearances”  Sinei Keldin, head of Agency Intel, speaks up after being quiet the entire time.  He wasn't much of a speaker but when he did speak then it was always a good idea to listen.
“If the UEG is involved with those disappearances then I'll find out”  It was settled then, plans were made.
Irene thanks Adam and Lisa for bringing the recording to them, as they leave Irene calls for Adam to stay for a moment.  They had something else important to discuss.

~~

8


Now:


Stepping off the bus and thanking the driver, Leina checks her scanner once the bus has left.  She is the only person other than Sinei in the area for the time being, that was to be expected since it was a work day.
Sinei is close, his location still indicating at one of the duck blinds behind the sanctuary which was easy enough to get to, she had come here a few times over the years back in her school years and after those years were over.

If Irene's expecting her earlier was any indication then Sinei was all too likely waiting for her as well, maybe even looking for her approach.  Was he making the most of his remaining time, maybe praying to whatever deity he believed in?
A flash of memory goes through her thoughts, Sinei is not religious, he loved being around birds far more than any religion.
She feels the emotional disconnection kick back in against her will as she hears the four words in her mind, she hoped she could find a way to control this since it was disconcerting to feel like this unwillingly.

“Understood”  She whispers as she heads to Sinei's location, it sounded so cold to her.  She doesn't notice how long it takes her to reach his location, she soon sees the duck blind and Sinei beside it.
He sees her approach, his posture saying everything.  He is expecting her.

“Guess it's time”  He says once she's in ear shot.  His accent isn't very thick, years of speaking English has softened it considerably.
Sinei doesn't talk about his past, he doesn't talk to people much in general.  For as long as she's known him he has always shown much more interest in birds than people.  He is friendly enough though and gets along well enough with people when he has to.
He always has a calm demeanour and prefers to not get involved with any trouble, a very quiet spoken man who is always gentle.

“Sorry”  Leina says quietly in reply.

“Don't be, it has to be done.  What do you remember by now?”  More flashes of various things, faces and moments appear in rapid succession while the detached feeling continues to hold.

“I'm still trying to make sense of what's appearing.  I remembered that you're not religious even though we've barely ever spoken”  Sinei doesn't seem surprised by this, if anything he seemed to expect that.

“It takes time for the implant to restore the memories, be thankful that the pain setting was disabled before it was implanted”  Implant?  This was caused by an implant?  Adam hadn't mentioned anything like that.
“I can tell that you're surprised to hear that, it's a neural implant that was implanted in you when you were a baby.  It's programmed from a punishment implant that was designed to have rapists, murderers, child abusers and others who were the worst of the worst  of society be forced to experience the memories of those they had harmed so that they would suffer the torment of their acts.
More effective than prison, that's for sure.  You and seven others were implanted with these modified implants when you were babies, with an adjustment made to yours so that as the memories return for you they also find themselves experiencing memory restoration on their end.
The more  that's restored on your end, the more their implants bring back until full restoration”  Sinei raises a hand to indicate that he isn't done explaining yet.

“The woman you are remembering died to ensure that you could live, the memories you are experiencing are hers.  Only memories and knowledge though, none of her personality, nothing of who she was a person.  That was the sacrifice she made to ensure the completion of something important that requires the restoration of her memories.  Now I can't tell you any more than that, you'll understand why as more of the memories are restored.  
I can tell you this, she was a brave woman to sacrifice so much.  All eight of those who sacrificed themselves for this were brave.  I hope you'll do her memory proud”  An image of the woman from her dream flashes in her mind, was that the woman Sinei had just mentioned?  She had so many questions and couldn't ask them due to this detached feeling.

“I keep feeling emotionally detached due to these memories”  Leina says quietly once Sinei finishes.
“Is that supposed to happen?  It's unsettling”  Reaching for her head, Sinei waits for permission to touch her.  He respects women and never does anything to them without their permission, she remembers that about him.

“Only if you don't mind, I can help you learn how to switch between full emotional awareness and detachment.  The woman who's memories you are remembering was taught this, it was a trigger phrase that was used to be able to switch back and forth”  Leina gives her permission and Sinei lightly touches her forehead.
“I'm going to take a small ring like object from a pocket, it will send a signal to your implant.  You'll remember how to switch back and forth between both at will”  He reaches into into of his pockets with his other hand and removes a ring like object which he then applies to her forehead.
It gives a small bleep and she begins to feel her emotions flowing back as the detachment lifts.

“Thank you”  Leina says with a smile, the detached feeling was horrible”

“To switch back and forth just think of it as two doors, behind one door is another you who has learned how to suppress her emotions and feelings in order to do her job while the other door is where you are.  When you need to switch back and forth just open the required door and the other will close, it won't lock, only close.  Can you see it?”  Leina nods as she sees the image of two doors in her mind, one said above it 'Just Get It Done' and the other said 'Assignment Complete”
“For what needs to be done then it is recommended to be detached, it prevents doubt and compassion from getting in the way.  Switch to the other door now please and do what you came here to do”

Just get it done”  Goes through her mind and the other door opens, the detached feeling returns.  Sinei steps back as Leina prepares a tag, he looks at peace with what is going to happen.

“I'm ready, I've been in mourning for so long.  I am long past ready for oblivion.  Make those bastards pay for what they've done, bring the peace that needs to come about”  The tag is ready and Sinei extends an open hand, Leina gently presses it into his palm and watches it sink in.

“Revert”  She says quietly and it takes effect almost instantly.  Sinei looks up at the sky as some birds fly overhead, he smiles as he shrinks into his clothing, the years falling away in quick succession.
Assignment Complete”  Leina says to herself mentally and the open door closes, the other opening letting her emotions come out.  Soon all that remains of Sinei is a pile of clothing that begins to fade once the ripple like feeling kicks in.

“Fly free, old friend”  She whispers sadly as more memories are restored, they had been good friends for years it turns out.  Time to report in to Adam.

~

At the same time that Leina is catching a bus back to Adam's, seven others within miles of one another experience more memories being restored.  Two of them call one another for they have been friends for years, another two who are in a quasi relationship talk about what's just happened and the other three are alone as they try to adapt to the new surge of memories.

After the memories are accepted, they all look for the one place that they instinctively know that they have to go to within the next few days.

Adam's home.

~To Be Continued~
Continued from part 1 - 

Mature Content



Yes, it's real, Youth Fall part 2 is complete.  I'll start on part 3 shortly after I have a good stretch or a little gaming time.  I am sorry that it's taking me so long to write this story out, it's been painfully cold for months and with no heating other than a hot water bottle on my lap then it's been hard to type much with extremely cold hands.  Hopefully I can get more done now that it's slowly warming up here.

This story has turned out to be bigger than I was expecting so bear with me as I gradually get it typed out and refined from the written draft.

Two targets down, eight to go and the truth is gradually being revealed with each erasure.

Part 3 - 

Mature Content



Part 4 - 

Mature Content



Part 5 - 

Mature Content

Add a Comment:
 
:icongumpybump:
gumpybump Featured By Owner Apr 8, 2018
That was really good! I loved it!
Reply
:iconreinahw:
ReinaHW Featured By Owner Apr 8, 2018   Writer
I would have done more but with refining and fleshing out the story more then it's adding more to the story than intended, I want to get it just right
Reply
:icongumpybump:
gumpybump Featured By Owner Apr 8, 2018
Well, I think you did a fantastic job.
Reply
:icongumpybump:
gumpybump Featured By Owner Apr 8, 2018
I'll get to reading right away! I've been super excited for this.
Reply
:iconreinahw:
ReinaHW Featured By Owner Apr 8, 2018   Writer
Still a fair bit more to go, just wondering if I should start part 3 now or hold off until it gets a little warmer.  Eager to keep writing
Reply
:icongumpybump:
gumpybump Featured By Owner Apr 8, 2018
You do whatever you feel is write. The decision will always fall to you! I just want you to be happy in writing it.
Reply
:iconreinahw:
ReinaHW Featured By Owner Apr 8, 2018   Writer
I just want to get it done, can't get anything else done due to how much of my creative focus the story is taking up.  Almost a year since I had the dream that set the story in motion and it's still demanding to be written
Reply
:icongumpybump:
gumpybump Featured By Owner Apr 8, 2018
Then do what you think is right. When I'm done reading this part, I'll tell you what I think!
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