Articles - ArticlesPart Six
In the shadows of the night, a hooded man walks the streets of Athen, avoiding the city lights to remain unseen. He moves swiftly into one of the town's backyards and enters an apartment.
An automated female voice welcomes the man, "Welcome home Commander, you have twenty three messages in your grid e-mailbox, two listed priority level two."
He removes his hood and throws it on the floor as he sits down on his sabrethooth leather sofa, looking weary and worn out.
Holding his head down with both hands he whispers, "Bastards...damn bastards. How could I let this happen?quot;
"Command not recognized, please repeat." the voice says.
Screaming in frustration he throws a nearby lamp against a wall, breaking one his favorite paintings which ends up hanging sideways. Breathing hard, he closes his eyes and remembers the message he had received an hour before while traveling back to his home.
"Greetings Mr. Wagner. Don't bother to check the source of my transmission, you'll find that it is being routed through several systems and that it is untraceable. I apologize for the audio only, but we'd like to remain anonymous. Let me get to the point. Within the next forty eight hours you will officially disband your clan, and remove yourself from the public eye. We don't care where you go, but your days as a clan leader are over."
Smiling, Windguaerd replies "You must be high on some good stims buddy, why would I do what you say?quot;
"Because we have your father Mr. Wagner." the voice which clearly sounds to be altered so it is not to be recognized.
Almost crashing against a tree he hits the breaks on his yalmaha and stares and the terminal within; his heart beating fast he says "Who the hell are you?quot;
"Oh come on, do you really expect me to answer that Mr. Wagner?quot; the mysterious voice answers.
Parking his vehicle on top of an enigma tree, he raises his voice and tells his faceless foe "Drop the damn proprieties and tell me what you want."
"I told you what you need to do. You will also contact Andrea Machioni and all others to whom you have spoken to about the Unicorn Company, and retract your statement about it, say that you found the source of your information to have been misleading and inaccurate. After all this is done, publicly of course, we shall release your father, without a scratch on him. Tell anyone about this and you will never see him again. You can go check on the veracity of my words, but I can assure you, your father will not be found anywhere. Don't take too long looking, you only have two days to comply with my instructions. Good day Mr. Wagner."
Opening his eyes with his fists clenched he sees the lamp he had thrown in pieces on the floor.
"Open a secure channel to General Daimoness." he commands with anger in his words.
"Opening secure channel to General Daimoness." replies the automated voice.
He walks to the refrigerator, grabs a bottle of Sake and begins to drink it while he awaits for the General's response.
The wide-screen across the sofa flashes, and a solitus woman with red hair that obviously shows she was asleep speaks with a groggy voice.
"Uh...sir, a bit late isn't it?quot; she says while yawning.
"I know General. I'm going to give you my final orders." he tells her with a serious look.
Rubbing her eyes she asks "Final orders sir?quot;
"Yes General, as of tonight, Mercury Dragons Clan is no more." he replies lowering his head.
The officer's eyes open wide in disbelief. "Excuse me sir, I thought I heard... did you say we're no more?quot;
Hiding the bottle of liquor behind his back he raises his head and without a hint of the real reason behind the decision, says "Correct, you're to release all military personnel within the next few hours. We do not have enough people to sustain our Notum Base, not enough recruiters to get new blood, and certainly not enough officers to keep training the few people we do have. We've been struggling for survival for six months, enough is enough. It has taken a long time, but my decision is made. Make the announcement through our grid site as well please. I trust you, and as acting Commander you will be able to fulfill this, I'm ill and unable to do it."
"I... understand sir. I'm sorry that it has come down to this, we tried so hard to keep things afloat."
"I know General, but all good things come to an end, our time is up, we must move on."
He was lying, to his most trusted officer, to his second in command. Deception is a skill most agents master early in their careers, but he didn't know until that moment, that he was capable of deceiving his own people.
"Is there anything else sir?quot; she asked, fully awake, and perhaps hoping the Commander would change his mind.
"Yes... the Unicorn Company information was not reliable, my source was proven to be false, probably planted by another corporation, spread the word on this. That is all." he salutes his officer one last time, she salutes back.
"It was an honor serving with you sir." she says proudly.
Trying to push back his emotions he says "Daimoness, we'll always be dragons at heart, take care of yourself, and keep in touch."
"Thanks sir... and good luck, Wind." she says with a sad smile, then the screen flashes and goes back to it's default on-screen menu.
He raises the bottle of Sake to his lips and empties the bottle in one shot.
"They may have won the battle, but the war ain't over. Once I have 'Pops' back and safe, it'll be payback time... and payback is a...woah!" he stumbles and falls on the floor.
"Command not recognized, please repeat." the automated female voice says.
"Oh shut up already! de-activate voice recognition!" he shouts, climbing onto the sofa.
A beep sounds, acknowledging the order given while he stands up and heads to his kitchen, holding on to the walls for stability.
Whispering to himself he says "Coffee, I need some damn coffee."
Meanwhile, in an underground laboratory dedicated to secret and often illegal experiments even by Omni-Tek official standards, doctor Wineyard receives his subject and a datapad with instructions from Janus.
The former Commander is strapped to a levitating stretcher apparently sedated, surrounded by three men in white coats.
"Doctor, is he for project forty nine or fifty six?quot; asks one of his researchers as he hands the encoded datapad to him.
He shakes his head and replies "Dr. Ashwell, this one goes to project eighty six. Run all the necessary tests, if all checks out then prepare him for the mind wipe."
"Wouldn't we need to create the new memories first sir?quot;
"I have a feeling we already have that at hand" he says looking at the datapad in his hand.
"Very well sir." he tells his superior, and guides the stretcher along while the other two men follow.
"I'll be in my office if anyone needs me." he tells his staff, turning around and walking down a long corridor leading to the room which he considers his only refuge from the outside world, and sometimes from his own experiments.
He stops in front of the door to his office, then places his hand on a small terminal on the right side which is scanned to verify his DNA and fingerprints. The door slides open and the physician enters his sanctuary. The room is unusually large, with white walls that reflect the light from the ceiling. Monitors are mounted all over the office, showing data on experiments, his personnel and live video feed of subjects being monitored. The only real furniture is the metal desk and the white leather chair where he sits down.
He stares at the datapad which he put on his desk, knowing that he's about to be used once again by Janus.
"May as well get to it now." he says while he activates the datapad.
As in the past, the voice he hears is not that of Janus, but one which is altered so it cannot be used as evidence of his involvement with the project.
"Hello my good doctor, I hope all is well with you today. Your subject should meet all the requirements for project eighty six. You have two days to wipe and implement the new memory. Since we're short on time, we'll have to go through some shortcuts. From the previous results, I believe there will be a ten year gap. I want you to use memory preset beta three; he will become an InternOps agent, however I want you to modify his new memory. He must believe that he's been in stasis for the last ten years due to an experimental virus created by the clans against our company, which he was infected with during his last undercover operation into clan territory."
"Make the details as vague as possible, once he wakes up I'll fill in the blanks by debriefing him. We'll use the memory gap to our benefit, he will become a loyal employee and one less clanner to worry about."
The doctor stops the message and begins to tap on his terminal sending orders to his underlings, following the instructions he had heard.
After a few minutes he stops and stares at the datapad, he didn't want to hear anymore, but he knows there is no real choice about it. Janus was a dangerous man, faceless and feared within the corporation by even some of the highest executives; people who defied or ignored orders from the Chief of InternOps did not last long, or lived long, regardless if you were in his department or elsewhere within the company.
Telling his superiors was out of the question, even Rita Prestin, the Chief of Operations of Omni-Med would have turned away from the situation at the mention of Janus. Knowing there was no other option, he touches the datapad to hear the rest of the message.
"I envy you doctor, to reform these worthless criminals into upstanding members of our society will get you a Galaxy Award from Omni-Med once all your research is complete on the project. You made a few enemies with that little accident that your Mindhive project caused, we lost over fifty employees on that one if you care to recall. Even the clanners found out about it in the end, so remember who kept your name out of it. Just a friendly reminder my dear doctor Wineyard; it's always good to know where one stands. I expect a report on the subject by the end of the day, through the usual channels, good day doctor."
As the last word is heard, the datapad makes a sound which is very familiar to the physician, he knows it is deleting the message and removing all data stored.
He stands up, grabs it and drops it in the garbage bin on the side of his desk. His head turns to one of the walls and looks at a few monitors, checking results on a few experiments trying to distract himself.
Walking toward the door he stops in front of it and says "Friendly reminder, yeah... like I need to remember."
His dream was to reach a level of knowledge which would help humanity reach the next evolution, to create the first solitus superior. The dream of a new, stronger, smarter and better race to bring a new era of progress had been lost with hundreds of experiments, mostly illegal ordered by almost all of his superiors. All they wanted was to create an advantage against the clans, or other corporations. He had been trained since he was a teen to be who he was, one of the best bio technologists in the company.
His debt to Omni-Tek was far beyond what he could pay, and his contractual obligations had him legally bound to serve for another two hundred years. If he was alone, maybe he would have tried to leave Rubi-ka somehow, but he knew that he was always watched, and that his family was always under surveillance.
There was no need for a reminder, he knew what he had to do. He touches the door, it slides open and he walks out pushing his personal feelings aside, there was work to be done.
Released August 22, 29477 (2003)
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