Her late mum would say that the springs would wear down over time, of course the arrogance of youth meant that she hadn't been paying much attention. Youth was, after all, wasted on the young. Not for the first time in recent years has Lisa wished she had listened more.
“Quit your aching” Lisa whispers to her body, for all her exercise and training her fifty year old body was making it very clear that it wasn't as young as it used to be.
Her back ached, her legs were feeling stiff and she was already feeling tired. Ageing was a serious pain in the backside.
Oh she could take a desk job but she was and always had been for twenty seven years a field agent. She liked to be on the movie, not sitting behind a desk withering away while her spirit yearned for more.
Sadly her body wasn't one with her spirit these days.
“What was that?” Adam asks over the comm, he sounded tired and sore. His back was acting up a lot as well, before long he was likely going to need a walking stick.
“Just telling my body to shut up. Target is still sitting, they look around from time to time. Take them or send in Clara?” Clara is twenty five years younger, she had joined the agency two years ago and completed her training with flying colours.
She was a competent agent and would be a good replacement for Lisa once she's retired in five years.
“Clean shot?” Adam asks, there weren't a lot of people in the area and the recessed corner she's in has a decent vantage point of the area.
“Yes, so take or wait?” Clara was on the ground waiting, with the agency's older agents nearing retirement age then it was felt best for younger agents to be teamed up with older agents for experiences and health purposes, also in case the UEG got wind of how much the Agency knew and sent security after them.
“Take the shot, usual routine. I'll have Clara hold back until you're done” The usual being to secure the briefcase that their targets always had with them, call in a clean up crew and return to base.
Clara didn't know about the additional orders that the older agents were given, trust was still being earned from the younger agents. It was also part of the reason for the teaming up policy, until the younger agents could prove that they were trustworthy with what the older agents and the council knew then they weren't to come across the information and start asking questions.
There was a concern that the younger agents were loyal to the UEG and would report to them what the Agency knew.
Waiting until Adam has informed Clara, Lisa takes the shot once informed. Packing quickly, she heads down once done and retrieves the briefcase while calling for the clean up crew.
“What's in there?” Clara asks as she joins Lisa. Lisa doesn't reply, she couldn't say anything about the case.
“Wait here for the clean up crew, I'm heading back. See you later” Clara looks disappointed but accepts this explanation, Lisa leaves and Clara watches her leave while deactivating her comm. clip and taking out a small device from a pocket.
“It's Clara, looks like our suspicions are confirmed, they know what's going on. Orders?” She listens to the voice on the other end before replying with:
As soon as Lisa and Adam had heard the new recording and seen the proof in the case, they immediately went to the council. They had to know, Sinei had been drawing up a blank on the disappearances due to all of his sources disappearing before he could contact them, now they knew why.
“THOSE SLIMY, SCHEMING, EVIL BASTARDS!” Linda is well known for her strong language, considering what the council had just been informed of then it was a given that her reaction would be as such.
“All this time, all these years, all those people relocated to a computer simulation and they lied to us, saying that the city was so big that it was bound to result in pockets of less habitation but this, this is pure evil!” Inside the case, along with a new recorded message, was a handheld computer filled with videos talking about a secret mass computer simulation that was secretly hidden within the city, so hidden that even it's power usage was hidden away behind false readings.
The simulation has been in operation for a little over twenty years and going by the information retrieved, at least fifty people a month were being relocated once they underwent subliminal messaging treatments to make them willing to do what security ordered.
Every person who had been rescued when the land masses had been lost due to the rising sea levels, earthquake increases and extreme weather increases were all taken there to live out the rest of their lives while unable to ever escape. They didn't even know they were in a simulation, to them it was a real place.
Even worse was that time in the simulation went at a faster rate than in the real world, a year that passes in the real world is a century in the simulation. People were living their lives practically in the blink of an eye.
It was likely where previous employees of the Agency who have been disappearing one by one over the years have been relocated to and explained why the human population was in such a sharp decline in the real world.
Again according to the information the simulation was created so that the wealthy and powerful could claim the planet for themselves, lock away the general population while removing all support for the Agency, weakening them enough so that they would be easily relocated to the simulation when the time was right.
Without the support and approval of the general population then the Agency couldn't do it's job against a tyrannical government, they couldn't go against the mandate. There was nothing they could do.
“We still have five more years before those drills are estimated to come online, it should be time enough” Arthur remarks, both he and Linda managed the recruitment side of things and were married with four grown children. He wasn't known for rushing into things without Linda's backing, she was more hot headed than him and tended to fly off the handle which had earned her the nickname of 'Fire Knickers' because of her temper.
“It may not be enough time” Irene replies. “The human population is barely twenty five thousand now and declining with each month, now that we know why we should try to bring that simulation down and free those in it, we need their support” There was a problem with that plan though and Adam says as such;
“Those people don't know who or what we are, all they know is life in the simulation. The original people who were relocated there are centuries dead by now in simulation time and they all too likely remembered nothing about life in the real world, we can't rely on their support even if we did manage to save them. We're on our own and we need to adapt before the UEG sends security after us for relocation” He was right, of course, they had lost their support and the remaining populace was too brainwashed to be of any help. The UEG had managed to cut them off perfectly.
“Then we fight without approval, we do hit and run strikes on select targets. We hit them hard and fast, try to leave no trace linking back to us while we also gather as much resources as possible, even get the younger agents in to help. We're running out of time” Usually protocol asks that an agent not speak during a meeting with the council unless asked, this time though it was accepted. And approved.
“We have a government to fight, check in with the other agents and see if they found anything that can help us with any weaknesses to those platforms. Consider this the call to arms”
Almost an hour after erasing Sinei, Leina arrives back at Adam's cabin where he greets her and asks how it went.
“I know about the implant that's causing the dreams, well memories. Sinei helped me to learn how to switch back and forth between emotional and emotionless mindsets. I'm still trying to make sense of the memories, am I really remembering someone who died or is there more to this that I'm missing?” Leina flops down tiredly on Adam's sofa while talking, her sigh of relief loud and clear after being on her feet for so long.
“Both, you'll understand more once more of them are unlocked” Of course, she thinks to herself, it wasn't going to be as easy as that, not after all the work already done.
“Here's the day's wage, go relax and get some sleep” Sleep sounded so good right now, so taking the day's wage before getting back up.
“See you tomorrow then, night” Her body feels so tired after the long day, she is eager to get back home. Her legs feel like they are going to collapse.
“Hop in the truck, I'll give you a lift home. Need to get a few things in town anyway before the shops close for the night” Adam gets his keys while Leina heads back outside.
“My feet thank you!” She calls out before stepping back outside.
About ten minutes later or so they arrive at Leina's flat, Leina thanks him and says good night. Heading inside while Adam drives off, Leina watches him leave for a moment and wonders how well he had known the woman who's memories she was experiencing. So far nothing about Adam had appeared in them, maybe that was for later.
Once inside her small but cosy one bedroom flat, Leina slips off her backpack with the rifle inside followed by her coat and handbag. She picks up the mail from the floor below the letter box and has a flick through.
“Bills, junk, bills, new offers at the local shop. Oooo, half price off Jaffa cakes, must get some!” Looking over to the clock in her living room, she decides to head out to the local shop to get a few things. After she's drained the old bladder of course.
Once relieved and washed up, she slips her handbag and coat back on. Looking over to her backpack she has the thought to take a few tags with her as a just in case.
Finding a small container for them first, she then programs four tags, takes them from the clip and slips them into the small container which is then slipped into her handbag.
If there was anyone looking for trouble then they were going to regret it.
The night air of near mid spring is crisp with the hint of a winter that stubbornly refuses to release it's grip, her nose tingles from the bite of that stubbornness. The sun is slowly setting in the west, the street lights will probably be on in a few hours once it's dark enough.
The shop isn't far, about five minutes of walking down the street and around the corner. The problem was that the streets weren't exactly safe at night, even with the sun still a few hours away from setting there were those on the streets who were always looking to cause trouble.
She hopes that the four tags and her stun gun will be enough in case of problems, she didn't like to be out at night even before sunset due to how rough the streets could be. She did need to get the few things though, she needed to do a full food shop soon. Maybe during the weekend or in a few days if there was time, she had some food but not a lot.
It doesn't take long for trouble to find her as she turns the corner, she can see the shop in the distance but between her and the shop are three men and two women and all of them clearly intent on causing problems to anyone crossing their path.
They see her within seconds and one of the men calls out to her;
“Hey love! Need a sex buddy!” She tries to ignore them, keeping her head down as she walks. This only ends up in the man who spoke to her running up to her.
She slips out a tag and recalls the code words quickly, then the man grabs her left arm and the emotional detachment kicks in automatically.
“Hey! Listen to me, girl!” Leina pulls her arm away, swings round to face him and slaps the tag to his face.
“Accelerate” She whispers. The man screams in pain as his body ages rapidly into dust, the years falling away in seconds and leaving nothing but dust where he had stood seconds before. The ripple feeling begins to kick in as the second man tries to tackle her, she whips out her stun gun and hits him full blast in his chest. As he falls to his knees she kicks him into unconsciousness with a swift kick to the side of his head.
The third man and the two women attack her together in an attempt to grab her, they fail as the training from the memories first have her step back to avoid being grabbed, then grabbing one woman and slapping a tag on her right arm.
“Accelerate” More dust falls to the ground which she steps through. The stun gun is fired again and the second woman drops, a tag slapped above her breasts.
“Revert” A baby girl replaces the grown woman seconds later. The third man soon joins her in infancy after a round house kick sends him flying, a tag slapped on his neck after a rough landing.
They fade away as the ripple feeling finally tapers off, likely sent to their new lives.
The remaining man stays where he is, out cold and likely to wake up with quite the headache. Leina calls for an ambulance, not giving her name when she does, before resuming with her walk to the shop and full emotional awareness returning in full.
Almost forty minutes later Leina returns to her flat, stores away the things she's bought and makes supper. That fight had left her so hungry.
After an almost filling supper, she decides to watch a movie via her new TV and DVD player that she had bought recently to replace her ageing ones that had been in need of replacement for years and nibbles on some Jaffa cakes.
“Full moon, half moon, total eclipse! One more time” She says quietly to herself as she eats the dark chocolate orange sponge biscuits, she loved that old advert.
The pack is soon finished before the movie has reached it's first half hour.
“No more full moons” She mummers sadly when her dessert finishes. “Complete total eclipse” Her thoughts soon move to the fight, the movie wasn't all that interesting. Some mindless twaddle with explosions and bad writing.
She had felt nothing during the fight earlier, no fear, no hesitation. Two people ages to death, two reduced to infants and one in hospital and she felt nothing even with her emotions back in full.
It was strange to feel like this, to feel so detached from her actions. Just who was this woman that the memories had belonged to?
Why did she feel so familiar?
Five years of hit and run strikes were running their toll on the elder agents and the council, the younger agents didn't know what was going on due to the distrust still being strong and they were asking questions that weren't getting answers.
Resources were starting to run low, tempers were becoming frayed and the human population was now barely a thousand people and dropping rapidly, the platforms were due to be activated in three months time.
The hit and run strikes weren't even making a difference, for every one person being interrogated and erased there were still many more in the UEG who were out of reach. The elder agents were no longer as able as they used to be which only increased the risk of the UEG learning just how much the Agency knew.
Lisa is now fifty five years old, Adam is fifty nine. They have forgone their retirement for this silent war, neither of them are in the prime of health any more from the stress of this silent war.
And things had only gotten worse with the news this morning from the UEG, they had officially announced their plan to move all but the rich and powerful to the simulation within the next week.
Time has run out.
“Maybe we should give ourselves in, tell them everything we know. They might just let it be” Barry remarks after the daily war council is finished with their reports. He has been a vocal opponent to the war for the past five years and his concerns are usually dismissed, now though it was starting to sound like a good idea. They couldn't keep the fight up, especially once the UEG security droids came for them.
“And let them do whatever they want without consequence? Let them destroy the planet and the remaining life on it? We are supposed to protect the many, we are supposed to be their sword! We can't give up!” Annice replies, her voice cracking from fatigue but her anger still as strong as ever towards the injustice committed against the planet and the life on it for decades.
“Have you looked at our 'mighty' army? We're a bunch of old farts who can barely keep our eyes open! We are in no shape to be fighting this stupid war, we've lost, it's time we accepted that!” This only gets an angry glare from Annice to Barry, she wasn't ready to give up, not yet.
“Us old farts, as you so colourfully put it, aren't done yet. We need to hit them harder, we need to make them seriously bleed” Lisa says quietly, she feels Adam lightly squeeze her left hand in agreement. He wasn't ready to give up despite how unwell he has been recently.
“Then do what you have to, we'll face the consequences whatever they may be. If it's to be the charge that kills us then so be it, as long as we wound them deeply. Just get it done”
Another morning arrives with the sound of her alarm and a muffled “Shut it” from Leina as she struggles to wake up. Mornings are not her strongest asset.
It is still a little on the cold side which has her body protesting at having to get out of bed so that didn't help matters.
With a groan mixed with a sigh, Leina pushes herself out of bed and tends to her usual morning routine. One done and dressed, her stomach not completely satisfied with her breakfast, she decides to head out to the local shop on the way to the bus stop. Hopefully they had some good pieces in that could satisfy her.
Since she couldn't be arsed with make up then she fluffs and brushes her hair, adjusts her bra so that it's more comfortable and finishes her beauty regime with slipping a necklace on, she doesn't care much for jewelry but does like to wear a necklace.
She had half an hour before she had to catch the bus so once she's slipped her hang bag, coat and backpack with the rifle inside on, she heads outside – locking the door securely in case some desperate prat tries to rob her of what little she has – and heads for the local shop first since it was on the way to the bus stop.
Her breakfast had been little more than a toasted bagel, quarter of a bowl of cereal and some orange juice. Not the most satisfying breakfast she's ever had, her stomach was still grumbling away to itself with hunger.
Outside the flat the air is gradually warming up, spring can be smelled on the air with the promise of a possibly warm summer if the weather didn't decide to just spend the next several months raining with too much wind.
It was unlikely that there was going to be any trouble, such people were too much of a coward to cause trouble during the day in plain view, they tended to prefer the illusion of anonymity with the darkness.
“Morning” The shop owner, Razel Nindara, greets her when she enters the shop, nice enough guy, pretty friendly. Although maybe behind that smile there was a wild party animal inside who was longing to strip down to their underwear and dance to some loud music.
Maybe, people did tend to hide part of themselves away much too often.
“Morning, any pieces left? Breakfast was disappointing so looking for something more interesting” She would have to do a good amount of food shopping soon at this rate, she was low on food. Maybe later after work today.
“Hmm, there should be plenty left since few have been in this morning” That was odd, usually there was barely anything left within two hours of the shop opening. Maybe people were sleeping in, lucky them.
“I'll have a look then” A few minutes later Leina has an apple and cinnamon mini sponge – well mini since it was smaller than the larger one that she was considering buying later if it's still in stock after work, a chocolate bar and a bottle of water in a plastic bag swinging at her side. She always reused the bags until they crumbled before placing them in the recycling bin.
There is surprisingly few people around which is unusual for the morning, usually the roads have a lot of cars going to and fro and people walking to their jobs. Maybe they really were having a good lie in. Maybe it was some national holiday today and she forgot about it.
“Morning” A few people say, the few who were up and about as and when she encounters them. She greets them the same way, only polite to do so.
She arrives at the bus stop with time to spare so digs into her rare treat as she waits, very tasty indeed.
A few people arrive and finally the bus itself arrives, a familiar face behind the wheel.
“Morning, Adam's place again?” The driver asks, Leina nods as she hands the money for the fare over.
Another work day beginneth.
“So who's next?” Leina asks after Adam greets her upon arrival.
“Quick Draw Astry today I see, in the house then. Did something happen last night by the way? Felt some ripples” Leina explains on the way to the cabin.
“I see, noticed anything different since?” She mentions the odd quiet from earlier.
“Could have resulted in a larger change by the sounds of it, interesting” He hands her two new photos once they're inside, the names on the bottom say:
She knew Andreia from her teen years, an intelligent if a tad reserved woman. She worked as a patent clerk for the town council. Leina usually saw her at the bus stop heading to work, she hadn't been there today.
That meant she was likely waiting for Leina.
Barry Neimis she doesn't know, she has never seen him before.
Taking the scanner from her backpack, the scanner powering up as soon as she taps the screen, she scans for their whereabouts. Andreia is indicated to be at home a street over from where Leina lives, Barry however is indicated to be in the local city about fifty miles away. His movements seem erratic as if he's trying to avoid being tracked.
Having to go into the local city wasn't exactly what she had been expecting to do, it was a long trip by bus. Informing Adam on where Barry is, Leina decides to visit Andreia first since she's a lot closer.
“I'm heading into the local city anyway today so I'll give you a lift in and back once you're done. I'm sure I can easily spring for food while we're out. Is there anything you need to do soon because we could get that done while we're out” Adam asks once Leina lets him know of her plans with today's assignments.
“I need to do food shopping, I'm running really low. Down to little more than a few things which is about a day or two's worth” Bare cupboards are not a good thing, her meagre breakfast had been a result of how little she had left.
She had been so busy with work that she had kept pushing back her food shopping needs until there was more time, she couldn't keep pushing it back now though.
“We'll get that done as well then once Barry's been erased. We'll go see Andreia first” Adam goes to get his keys while Leina heads out to the truck.
There was something about Barry that seemed familiar even though she had never met him before, a few faint images of someone the memories called a coward flicked through her thoughts. Was that him?
Less than ten minutes Adam parks the truck close to Andreia's house, Leina stepping out after checking her scanner again.
While Adam waits, Leina walks the rest of the way to Andreia's house for a few minutes and sees Andreia already waiting for her and beckoning her over.
“Guess it's time” She says when Leina approaches her, she indicates for Leina to enter which she does. After the door has closed Andreia invites her to take a seat in the living room, she's calm and not at all concerned that her life is going to end soon.
She has few close friends, no family to speak of. She's social but has never been known to pursue anything more than casual friendships. Usually she just work which is the most than Leina knows about her, they haven't really spoken much.
In Leina's teen years, which seemed so long ago now to her, Andreia would attend business fairs and job information rallies as part of helping to educate the students on future employment opportunities.
She also, via her work, helped aspiring inventors with getting their inventions noticed for possible future approval for use to the public.
Other than that though Leina knew little else about her.
“I am sorry about this” Leina replies after she's sat down.
“Don't be, this has to be done. Getting used to the memories?” Leina wasn't surprised to hear Andreia ask that at this point, clearly those she was tasked with erasing knew more than she did on what exactly was going on.
“I guess you're not feeling up to any vague answers to any questions you might have so let's just get this done, who's next after me?” Leina tells her.
“He'll try to run, do what you have to do. There isn't much time left so just do what needs to be done, complete the mission” What mission? She asks but Andreia only shakes her head and nods towards the backpack.
“My answer would only be a vague one, the memories are the best bet for answers. Going to get a tag ready?” Disappointed at the lack of any answers, Leina slides the backpack around, opens it and prepares a tag while Andreia waits patiently.
Once it's ready Andriea extends a hand out to accept it, Leina gently presses it into her palm.
“Say it and go deal with Barry, don't look back either. You'll get your answers soon, you may as well head outside once you've said the activation word since the house is likely to disappear” Getting up from the sofa, Leina makes for the door but not before saying a final word;
The ripple feeling returns once she steps outside the house, she doesn't look back as asked. Even if she had there wouldn't have been anything to see but an empty patch of land where a house had once been built and lived in.
Neither of them say anything on the way to the local city, Leina is lost in thought while Adam focuses on the road. There wasn't really anything to be said by now since Adam wasn't exactly forthcoming with answers.
Leina, instead, tries to understand the new memories that have appeared. She sees more faces, new names, new locations and she doesn't recognise most of it except for a few faces from the town that she's seen a few times over the years in passing but didn't know much about.
There were still no answers though, those were likely in the next block of memories or still to appear at some point soon.
There was definitely nothing about this mission that Andreia had mentioned, she had wanted to ask Adam but suspected that he would be tight lipped about it if he even knew about it himself which he probably did.
Was he bound to the same promise that Irene had mentioned? Whatever the promise entailed anyway. It clearly seemed to be a vow of silence in regards of the memories from what she could tell.
Maybe this Barry person would provide some answers if she was lucky, then again he might not. He sounded like he wasn't going to be all that reasonable though.
But maybe he might be, with any luck.
Stopping short of Barry's location, his location was noted as being in one of the mean shopping centres in the city, Leina steps out of the truck, slipping the backpack on as she does so after saying to Adam;
“I'll meet you here afterwards, not sure how long this will take since I was told that he's going to be trying to evade me” Hopefully Barry wasn't going to be too much of a hassle, if he had any answers for her then she wanted to avoid erasing him until she had some answers, even if it was only one or two.
“I could intercept him if that's of any help” The help sounded good since it was a big place and he could run for any exit, she could only run so much without drawing any unwanted attention to herself. Not all of the exits could be cut off though.
“If you want to and can”
“I do, I'll head to the east entrance. If you can herd him there if he tries to run then I can intercept him” Sounded good to her, she was a fast runner but if the place was packed then it would be hard to keep up with him if he bolts.
Adam heads to the east entrance while Leina goes in from the nearest entrance to her, the northern entrance. The scanner is keeping a constant track of Barry and Adam has his own scanner.
Thankfully, as she finds when she enters, the shopping centre isn't too packed at this time although that did mean that Barry would see her easily if he's looking out for her. She would have to be careful with approaching him.
Checking her scanner again, she notes that her target is nice shops down in front of her, she would have to use the crowd for stealth and gradually make her way to him. Hopefully he won't see her until it's too late.
It wasn't much of a crowd though so it was going to be tricky to accomplish.
Being sure to keep a calm and steady pace, Leina walks with the crowd and through it when an opportunity for keeping hidden reveals itself, sometimes needing to say “Excuse me' at times.
Six shops down now, she moves a little closer and finally sees him. He's sitting on a bench looking around, he looks dishevelled and thin.
If anything he looks like he's been sleeping rough for a while, maybe homeless. He doesn't look in the best of health.
Almost within grabbing reach, so close. Then he looks right at her, his face pales and he jumps up.
“STAY AWAY!” He cries in fear before he breaks into a run.
“Balls” Leina growls as she runs after him. This time the less dense crowd is helpful as she is able to keep him in her sights, but he has a head start and she can't herd him to the eastern entrance without getting closer.
Seeing a flight of stairs leading up to an upper floor, she makes for those. When she reaches them she races to the top and sees Barry who stops for a second thinking he's lost her, he doesn't look up as he makes for the western entrance in an attempt escape.
He passes within range of her location so jumping up on the railing, she jumps off and lands beside him, grabbing him before he can react. No one even notices to her surprise.
“Let me go! I don't want to be erased!” He tries to fight her grip and fails, his strength seems low. Maybe as a result of poor health if his appearance is anything to go by.
His clothes are dirty and worn thin, he looks like he hasn't bathed in a while, he's thin and possibly malnourished. He definitely seems to have been living rough for a while, just for how long she wasn't sure but it looks to have been for a long time.
“Please stop fighting me, you'll just make yourself worse. I promise this will be quick but I wouldn't mind some answers to what's going on before I do what I came here to do” This only makes him struggle more until he weakens and sags to his knees, Leina helps him over to a bench where he almost seems to sink into it from fatigue.
“I wanted nothing to do with any of this but here I am, a sorry mess who's been running for too long from a fate he can't avoid. I've lost everything because of you lot and your arrogant notion that you could on a giant. That giant stomped all of us into the ground, took pretty much everything we had and still you insist on fighting it, on fighting them. You refuse to accept the fact that you can't fight them, they're too strong, too powerful. All you're doing is running into a death that has no grave marker to be left behind, nothing to remember that you even existed!” Leina slips her backpack off and prepares a tag after opening it, Barry looks down at this hands. His eyes hint at possible tears, are they of fatigue or sorrow though or maybe both?
Who was this giant he was talking about, who were 'They'? He clearly wasn't going to provide any answers, he seemed too tired to even care about providing any.
“Does it hurt?” He asks once Leina's done programming the tag.
“No one seemed to be in any pain other than the two people I aged to death last night, being erased seems to be painless” He seems relieved at hearing that, the anger and fear melts away to be replaced with a look of peace. He was ready to be erased.
“Do it then, I'm tired of running, tired of hiding. You've got a mission to complete and I can't get in the way of that, it's bigger than me and anyone. Make all this worth it” He reaches out a hand and the tag is pressed into his palm, he looks down at it and waits for Leina to activate it.
“Revert” A tired smile is his gratitude before he's gone, the ripple feeling returns and fades away after a minute. Nothing remains of him but memories.
Leaving the shopping centre a minute later, she meets up with Adam and lets him know that it was a peaceful end for Barry, mission complete for the day.
Almost a month of stealth attacks are already showing their toll on the elder agents, neither of them are as young as they used to be and the strain is showing.
Since they weren't sure if they could trust the younger agents for fear that they were loyal to the UEG then they did the attacks themselves under the orders and permission of the council board who themselves weren't reporting it to the higher ups in case they were compromised by the UEG. Reports were easy to falsify so any supply reports were altered before being sent to those in charge of the Agency.
The strain, however, was showing and mistakes were starting to be made. They couldn't keep this up for much longer, they needed to hit harder which was too risky.
But what other choice did they have? Just sit back and let the UEG have it's way? That wasn't exactly a preferred option.
Something needed to change though and soon or the fight would be lost very soon.
“Three gone, I can try to get more before heading back” Each target they were taking out was when each target was alone, they couldn't risk being seen. This was a slow form of attack though even if it was being noticed by the UEG, they had no idea who was causing politicians to appear or what but they were becoming concerned with each disappearance.
Time was short though and taking out one target at a time wasn't making enough of a difference, a bigger attack was needed.
“Lisa, time to head back. The longer you and the others are out there, the sooner you'll be seen” Not yet, she wanted to give these greedy, lying gits a message before heading back. They needed to understand that they had an enemy who wasn't going to lie back and take the upcoming destruction of the planet and what little life remained on it lightly.
If she could wipe out a lot of them with one attack then maybe, just maybe they might finally listen to the people.
“Have evac ready for emergency pick up on my signal, it needs to pick me up fast” From where she was in the Governing Chambers she could see down into the central chamber and hear them clearly.
The greedy scum were about to finish the day off after imposing more edicts that endangered the planet and what life there was left, they had actually supported and cheered an additional platform to be built within the next few months while not even accepting the fact that as soon as the platforms that were already built were brought online that there would be no more few months for the planet.
They had to pay for their crimes, for their greed. This had to stop. It was sickening to see that the greed and arrogance of the past was still very much alive in this day and age from a government that was meant to be for the people, of the people.
They had manipulated the Agency, relocated the general population to a farce of an existence, they followed the demands of the wealthy few. They cared nothing for the consequences of their actions and for that they had to pay the price for their crimes.
Agency mandate was clear about what was to be done against tyrants, they were to be erased. It was long past time for that mandate to be brought into play here and now.
Taking two temporal grenades from her equipment belt, she sets them for a mass erasure in a six metre wide radius, it wouldn't reach her since she was outside of it's radius. Once set she drops them down into the chamber, not noticing that something has fallen from her equipment belt and dropped down with the grenades as well.
“Evac now” A bright flash fills the chamber below and she watches for a few seconds before heading out the way she came in, she had to be quick to avoid detection since any second now there was going to be alarms and security swarming the area.
She hopes, as she runs for the pick up point, that she got a lot of them.
Alarms blare loudly behind her and she can see lights in the distance, security was fast and would be here very soon.
“Evac now!” It was only going to be a matter of minutes before security arrived, she couldn't risk being here when they did.
“Evac's just down the street, move!” Moving as quickly as her tired legs can manage, she sees the nondescript vehicle that was chosen for evac waiting for her. Getting inside quickly, it heads back to the Agency while she hopes that what she's done has sent the message intended.
“They found your spare ID chip at the scene, they arrested two of our people who couldn't return in time and interrogated them with rapid ageing and reversion. They broke after the fifth ageing.
They know what we're doing, Lisa, and they're coming for us. They'll be here soon so we need to leave before they do, you've endangered everyone and everything we've tried to work towards” The news had spread fast, Adam had quickly left to pack while Lisa was called before the board.
“Picking them off on by one wasn't helping, we have a little over two months left before those drill platforms come online. It won't matter that this city is in the sky since when this planet goes then we are all screwed. I felt that a message had to be sent” Her legs felt like rubber after all that running earlier, her body was screaming for a rest. That rest wasn't looking likely now though.
“I agree, we all do, but this action has exposed all of us. The younger agents have already been informed to go into hiding, as have the elder agents and the entire council board from here to the top. Security must not find us here, they have been given orders to terminate with all due prejudice and we can't fight back against an entire city's worth of security droids armed with the same weapons we have, temporal tags don't work on them and it would take us too long to get the conventional weapons ready in time. We have no choice but to go into hiding and wait for another chance, if one appears before those platforms are brought online” The meeting is ended and the council board get up to leave, only to be interrupted by the communication screens snapping on and several agent's appearing on the monitors, only one of them speaking though as the others are caught up in conflict with security.
“We're under attack! Security is swarming our homes! Anyone who hears this, get to a safe location before they find you! They're erasing everyone, not just agents, they're erasing whole families! We can't fight back against so ma-” The communication is cut short as the agent is hit by a tag and begins to shrink into their clothing as a security droid turns to them and fires.
Lisa pales as she thinks of Adam, their children and their grandchildren and any remaining family members, she had to get to them!
Another agent appears on the monitors, their face filled with fear as they try to fight back against security.
“To all agents and council members who can hear me, RUN! The entire city's worth of security is attacking, run!” The last seen of them is as they are hit by a tag and only clothing remaining seconds later.
Then Clara appears, Adam is with her.
“All council members and remaining agents, this transmission is encrypted. Head to these coordinates and hurry, I've sent transport to you and they are waiting for all of you right now, get to them as quickly as you can, Clara out” A series of numbers appear on screen with a map of the city, a blinking light shows where they need to go.
Andreia doesn't waste any time as she activates a building wide intercom to everyone still in the building.
“Everyone evaculate the building immediately, head to the location marked on your personal computers, this is not a drill, evacuate immediately!” Irene leaves the room quickly, she was headed for the armoury for some reason while everyone else heads to the waiting transports.
As they run for the exits Andreia contacts Sinei and Barry since they hadn't been at the meeting, they had gone home for the night and informs them to head to the provided coordinates. She can hear Sinei just reply with a pained:
“On my way”
Barry saying the same thing, had security gotten to their families already? How had they survived? The pain in their voices hinted at something having happened just recently. Irene joins them as they reach the transports, just as security arrives and begins opening fire.
“GET IN!” Andreia cries out as agents and employees fall around them, shielding the council board and Lisa from security so to give them a chance to get to safety.
Getting on board quickly, the transports roar into life as Lisa watches friends and co-workers fall to the onslaught from security. Only she, Andreia, Irene, Annice, Terrance, Sarah, Linda and Arthur had managed to escape.
Had anyone else?
With Adam's help after finishing her work for the day, Leina gets all of her food shopping inside the flat once they return to town, they had gone food shopping after Leina was finished for the day and she had bought as much as she had needed.
Finally, she would be having a supper that wasn't lacklustre this time.
“Thank you, I'll see you tomorrow then. Usual time” Waving him off, she returns her attention to her food shopping once he's left. Storing it away takes a little time and once done she starts on making her supper, something quick and easy but satisfying since she is a little tired.
After eating and cleaning up, Leina gets ready for bed and spends a couple of hours once dressed doing a strip clean of the rifle followed by a short movie.
At least that had been the plan, she did put a movie on but didn't watch it since she spent the time stripping the rifle, cleaning it and putting it back together like someone who had been trained in doing so. It was so easy for her to do despite having never done it before, but with these memories they knew exactly what to do and even timed herself at points with the hardest parts just to see how quickly she could do it without damaging the rifle.
The movie is barely seen let alone heard, she doesn't even know it's finished until the rifle is put back together for the seventh time in a row after timing herself to see how quickly she could take it apart and put it back together.
The entire time however, the only thing on her mind is trying to understand the new set of memories and a constant question;
Who was Lisa?
Another morning arrives and Leina, after her usual morning routine, is back at Adam's cabin.
“So who's next?” She asks while helping to store some kindling.
“Give me a moment and I'll tell you, besides they called last night and asked to meet you instead of you tracking them down. Let's finish this first before I tell you who they are” Once the sticks are stored away, they head inside where Adam heads to his study to get the photos while Leina waits eagerly to get this done, some questions were being answered thanks to the memories but there were still large gaps that she was eager to fill.
She wondered if it made her a pretty twisted person to be so eager to erase more people even if they were just sitting back and letting her do this in the first place.
Adam returns from his study and hands her three photographs, a change from the usual two.
“Here you go, Annice Sarnor, Terrance Tierna and Sarah Icari. They'll be waiting for you at the community hall at close to midday in over an hour's time. They want this done quickly and have requested that you take one of the grenades for this” Strange that they wanted this done so quickly, why the rush? The others had mentioned that time was running out but for what?
“Return once done, you'll just have one target to erase after today and there's something I would like you to see when you return” Just one more, did that mean that she was going to be jobless soon? She remarks on this as she gets the grenade and tucks it in her handbag.
“No, in fact once this is done you'll have one last thing to do. Now go get this done, I'll see you when you return” Adam watches her head to the bus stop down the hill from his place, he wanted to tell her everything but he was bound by a promise. She was so close to understanding everything that had happened and why what was happening now was so important, tomorrow was going to be a hard day for her.
Time was running out.
“Almost time” He whispers to himself before heading upstairs and retrieving a beautifully crafted wooden box from his bedroom which he has kept safe there for a little over twenty five years, a box with Lisa's name on it.
Less than an hour later Leina arrives at the community hall and enters, the doors are usually locked until the afternoon unless it was an important event.
Hearing voices from the central hall she heads through to see her next three marked targets, they notice her entering and greet her over.
“The Reaper Cometh” The man in the group remarks as Leina joins them.
“Now now, Terrance, she has to do this. No need to make her feel like crap for it” One of the woman says in reply.
“It's okay” Leina replies” I brought the grenade you asked for” Taking the grenade from her handbag, she holds it up as proof.
“Set it please and hand it over, there's no point in wasting time any more than it already has been” Doing so with ease thanks to the memories, she hands it over once done, one of the women taking it.
“Considering that you'll be better off just getting the next lot of memories in a oner than either of us answering any questions then you should go. It saves time and time is a luxury now, finish the mission that was started, make those bastards pay and bring the peace the world needs. Thank you, Leina, good luck” Leina turns to leave but not before trying to ask any questions, but one of the women raises a hand to stop her before she can ask anything.
“The answers will come to you in full very soon, it's better this way. Now get going, just get it done” The other door in her mind opens while the other slams shut, she had her orders.
“Understood” Is her only reply as she leaves the building, there is a bright flash behind her as she leaves and closes the door, the door locking itself seconds later after the ripple feeling has come and gone.
The other door slams shut and her emotional awareness returns, job complete. Her stomach growls for lunch then so she heads off to somewhere for lunch before returning to Adam's.
Two hours later after her lunch and a little window shopping on the way since she had decided to walk back there she arrives back at Adam's place, it had been a pretty nice walk while giving her the time she needed to understand the new memories that were appearing. So many of them and they were still appearing one after another, it usually takes time to process the memories and there were a lot here.
Adam greets her once she arrives.
“Come inside, you must be needing a good sit down since it looks like you walked here” Her feet ache in reply, that sounded good.
Sitting down on the sofa once she's inside, she notices a medium sized wooden box with the name 'Lisa' on it on the coffee table in front of her. She has never seen the box before despite being at this cabin so many times over the years.
The wood it's made from is a mix of dark and light woods, it looks to have been lovingly made with an assortment of patterns ranging from spirals to flowers and a fantasy heart design above the name.
“I'll go make a cuppa, be right back” Leina's gaze is fixed on the box, she doesn't hear Adam head into the kitchen where he watches her through the partially open door while the kettle boils.
He had purposely left the box there for her to see, not that she knew this.
She feels drawn towards the box and reaches out for it, opening the well maintained lid which give barely the slightest of sounds.
Inside is a collection of photos, artwork and letters along with small items like jewelry and little knick knacks. They all seemed so familiar to her.
Picking up a photo from the box, she sees the woman from her dream in it. She looks exactly like her right down to the small dimple on her chin and the smile.
Images appear in her mind, words, faces, events. Talking another photo out she sees the woman with a younger Adam, only this one is a wedding photo. More images appear until it begins to click and she hears the name 'Lisa' clearly in her mind, Adam's voice. It was said with love.
And she finally remembers almost everything as the memories fill in the majority of the gaps.
“You alright?” Adam asks after returning from the kitchen, he sounds concerned for her. Leina looks at him, seeing him in a new yet old light. She knew him a lot more than she thought she did.
“I was Lisa, wasn't I? I used to be named Lisa Astri until something happened, something I can't remember yet. We were married, we had children together, made a life together. We were in love. I understand why now but I still don't fully understand how this happened. All these years, Adam, all these years and you've watched your former wife grow up again after something happened that resulted in her having to live a new life. No wonder you've always been so protective of me, why you've always been such a strong friend even when I've been at my worst towards you” She could remember so much now, she could remember their children, their grandchildren, her biological parents who had died when she was in in her early fifties.
But there was still this gap in her memory, something had happened that had forced her to live this new life. If she could just remember what had happened.
Adam doesn't say anything, he just sits down across from her while handing her a hot drink which she takes without really noticing it.
“I take it from your silence that my last target will have the last set of memories I need then” Adam just nods in reply.
“Tomorrow then, tomorrow I get all of the answers. I should go, I have a lot to think about” Getting up from the sofa and slipping her backpack on from where it's been sitting on the sofa for most of the day, Leina wonders why Adam isn't saying anything. Surely he wasn't going to just let her leave without an explanation.
“Take the box with you, have a good look through the contents. They'll help you to understand a few things about who you were. I'll see you tomorrow” Just like that, no confirmation, no explanation, just take the box and learn more about who you were.
“Okay, tomorrow then, I'll be here” Taking the box and securing it close, Leina heads for home. Adam just watches her leave, two wedding rings being cupped in a hand held close to his heart.
Arriving at the location that Clara had given, Lisa and the council board members with her see Clara waving them over.
“Come on, hurry, can't let security find you nor this place!” The transports head off on automatic to try and lure security to another part of the city once everyone gets out of them, they join Clara and follow her down into an unknown part of the city while the entrance seals shut behind them.
“We managed to save a few people but security is everywhere and we could only save those we could reach in time, we couldn't take on all of the droids without the risk of being swarmed” The lighting is dim as they arrive at a lift and get inside, it's large enough for everyone.
“Who are we?” Andreia asks while the lift heads down to it's destination.
“Good question with a bit of a long answer. We are what you could comically call the resistance, not that there's much of us to pull much of a resistance off with. I'll explain once we're out of the lift, the others are waiting for you” No one else says anything until Andreia snaps and slams Clara against a side of the lift.
“Are you here to arrest us or erase us? Are you working for the UEG?” Clara pushes her away before replying.
“No, neither of those. I'll explain when you meet with the remaining agents and Adam, we tried our best to save as many as possible but we were too late. Sinei and Barry are here as well, they arrived just before you did” The lift reaches it's destination and they pile out, Clara leads them down a dark corridor before opening a door into what looks like a makeshift briefing room.
Adam greets them once they enter, his eyes are red and swollen from crying. Lisa doesn't see their children and grandchildren, had they been saved?
“Adam! What happened out there? How did you escape?” Lisa asks as she wraps him in her arms, Adam kisses her before replying.
“I was headed back home after you let our children know to meet us there, I just arrived only to see security swarming the place and Clara here pulling me aside before they could see me, I saw security erase our children and our grandchildren. We had to run for Clara's car before they saw us, I couldn't do anything to help” Sorrow grips her heart as she sinks to the ground, their children and grandchildren erased, any remaining family members had likely met the same fate.
“They've been doing the same to everyone, whole families erased. Me and my people saved as many as we could but like I said, we were outnumbered and outgunned. We managed to save two civilians who were friends of one of the agents who was erased, they had tried to save her but couldn't. We saved as many of the remaining agents as we could, we managed to save seven before we had to retreat” Clara remarks as she leads them to where the others are, Adam supporting Lisa who is racked with grief.
No one says anything as they follow her, their own grief clear on their faces as they think about all of the loved ones they have lost and couldn't help.
Eventually the meet with the remaining agents along with Barry, Sinei and the two civilians who were rescued, Sara Huntley and Leonard, or Lenny as he introduced himself as, Chantry.
The reports from each of them are grim.
Sinei's entire family has been erased, Sinei only survived by hiding with the pigeons he cared for, thankfully they had managed to mask his life-signs when security came looking for him.
Barry's entire family was erased while he was out in the back looking out at the stars, he had barely managed to escape thanks to someone who worked with Clara.
The remaining elder agents – Riccola Seiou, Samuel Fliers, Alica Knorlen, Raymond Steele, Elizabeth Cheraz and Fredrick Friores – had all been intercepted by others who worked Clara. They had all lost their families to security as well.
So many people lost in a short span of time, so many lives erased.
“Okay, let me explain what I mentioned earlier” Clara says after the last report is given. “As you all know from history about the 21st century and the war in that time, the wealthy had retreated to their bunkers while keeping everyone else out. However they didn't know that a small band of people who were fighting back against them as best as possible had managed to secure one of the bunkers, leaving it's intended occupants to face the consequences of their greed.
That group of people managed to survive thanks to the bunker being well stocked as well as an extra bonus, the bunker was connected to every other bunker so they could listen in on what the rich prats were planning once they left their bunkers.
Almost a century passed and the bunkers were opened, the rich prats began their plans while the group of people began theirs. It wasn't easy though since they had limited resources and weren't sure who they could trust.
While the wealthy wormed their way into the UEG, the group of people formed their resistance with the central goal being to make the wealthy pay dearly for the pain, suffering and damage they had caused. But they were so few, little more than sixty or so people with little to no training.
Over time though that changed, especially once we learned of the temporal technology and the tags. The wealthy, of course, began using the tags to keep themselves young and in power while the resistance used them to help in reproduction and keeping the fight going.
I am one of the founders of the resistance, I've been keeping myself young like this for a long time now because I refuse to let the wealthy have their way. When several of us learned of the Agency we felt it would be wise to keep tabs on you, see if you could be trusted. Eventually we found that you were and several of us signed up in the past decade with the intent on letting you know that you have an ally.
However we knew you didn't trust us because you thought we were loyal to the UEG, we aren't and never were. We saw what the wealthy were doing and we've been doing everything we can to stop them for a long time, however they have their way of getting to those who are weak willed and easily bought. Something we refuse to do.
We've seen the damage they've caused, the rising sea levels forced the resistance to move to the city and seek out a hiding place which we found by securing an entrance to the mass simulation that the wealthy ordered to be built as part of their plan to secure power.
We send false reports on a daily basis so that they don't realise that the resistance has this place locked down tight, we do sadly have to let people be relocated here by approving a pick up point with the transports otherwise we would risk the resistance if we didn't play along.
Lisa, when you attacked the UEG earlier you really kicked the hornet's nest before we could be ready to inform you on who we were and that you had an ally. We had to move quickly but sadly it wasn't quick enough, it was too short notice and we could only save those who are here now.
We've had to speed up resource gathering because we have no choice now but to take the fight to them by attacking that central computer platform and taking the drill platforms out of commission before they can be brought online, that attack has endangered all of us and security will be on the hunt. This place could be exposed at any time” No one says anything for a time until Sarah speaks up, sorrow strong in her voice.
“How long will it take you to get what you need?”
“Two months or less, we'll do everything we can to speed things up but two months is the estimate. We'll have barely forty eight hours to take down the platforms after that. The problem though is that we don't have enough supplies to feed everyone here in that time so we've come up with a plan to ensure everyone's possible survival, well almost everyone. We'll need to use the tags for this”
“THAT'S ILLEGAL!” Barry yells out, Andreia just glares at him until he backs down.
“Hear me out. As I said the resistance has been using the tags as have the wealthy, we had to break the law in order to keep the fight going. The wealthy have been using them to keep themselves in power and keep the UEG in their pocket, what I'm proposing here is this” Clara explains the plan, Barry angrily pointing out with constant interruptions about how illegal it is and Andreia giving him glares to shut up each time.
“We also have a mission plan for the platforms, you aren't going to like it though” Clara then explains that and looks of horror are on every face once she's finished explaining the mission plan.
“That is genocide!” Barry snarls at her. “She's proposing mass genocide!” The other council members and the agents all think it over before replying.
“It's the only way, she's right” Irene says after a moment of thought. “We can take the platforms down but the cost will be too high and they can always rebuild, we need to make sure that they can't rebuild. So let's take it to a vote, how many for aye and how many for nay?” All but one hand rises for yay, Barry's is the only one for nay.
“The ayes have it, we'll go with this plan. Let's get started then”
*To be Continued*
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