Sunday, August 5, 2012

Episode Twenty Nine

 
Episode Twenty Nine 
 
Unrequited

We must be careful about what we pretend to be.
-Vonaget

      Tobie stared up at a quickly darkening sky, the rustle of leaves peppering the air. The placement of the trees below that sky, the way the wind blew through them, seemed, for a split second, frighteningly foreign. He refused the synch of panic in his chest and forced a deep breath. Be calm. Think. Just think. An ache rang down his side, his arm. Familiarity resonated. Angry red marks, like burns, streaked down to his wrist. His fingers burned. A smile creased his face. He'd sent the Glimmer back.
      "Oh man..." He rolled to his side with a wince then hugged his knees, his breath hitching on the pain. "Ugh." He pulled his cell from his pocket.
      Two Text Messages
      Gus: 1:35 Got Jacob home. He and Leyas are fine.
      Gus: 3:12 You ok man?
      Tobie hesitated. He texted: Yeah. Then his hand went to his ear cuff. His eyes closed.
      Hey, Luc. You busy?
      The leaves swooshed, evening set in and the light dimmed. Tobie rose, stretched, and headed back towards the dorms. He shoved his hands into his grass stained pockets.
      Forget it.

*
     "Pay attention Alt."
      Lucas' hand and attention jumped from the silver cuff at his ear back to Aloysius. "Oh please forgive me. Go on."
      "Apologize to your partner. You’re wasting her time here."
      Lucas frowned as Marie continued.
      "There's more to the Iota problem then the disappearances. We must take the malformed creature we found there into account."
      "Miss Ventras, there is no link from the missing children to the demon you exercised in the prefecture." Hasford held up his hand before she could interrupt. "We have looked into it and are continuing to attempt some sort of connection since your report but the research shows that the appearance was a coincidence. We can not argue against the results."
      "What if the results are wrong?"
      "Like a false positive," Lucas added, gaining a glare from Joseil.
      The room was silent a moment, calculated stares pinning Marie.
Joseil rolled her eyes. "Speak your mind, Miss Ventras."
      Marie wet her dry lips. "The Iota prefecture is a precursor."
      "Is that your opinion?" Aloysius grinned lazily.
      "It's an informed observation."
      Lucas glanced at Marie, realization dawning. You called this meeting?
      "A single incident doesn't an invasion make."
      Marie bristled. "We shouldn't be so dismissive of anything so...so..."
      "What? While you might find this new and threatening, more seasoned Agents might not see it as such."
     Lucas raised an eye brow at the cynicism, Marie seethed below a quickly cracking veneer of calm.
      "Please, there doesn't need to be any animosity," Hasford said, waving a hand as if to physically clear the air. "We aren't dismissing your claim out right, Miss Ventres. Do know that. However, there is no direct link so far in the research and no other phenomena has been reported. And you shouldn’t concern yourself with the incident more than what is necessary."
      "So we are just supposed to wait and let others go missing?"
      "No, we are to wait for orders." Joseil crossed her arms. "We don't go rushing after half-baked hunches."
      "I don't see why--"
      "No, you don't." Aloysius sneered. "The efforts of our illustrious staff are focusing on controlling the northern block of instances, as well as monitoring the current awakening of a new operative. No one needs to be rushing off after red herrings." He glanced at Lucas. "By the way, hear from your little one lately? He's not been filing his reports on time from what I gather. Wonder where he picked up that lazy habit."
      Lucas smiled. "Nice to hear your concern, Al." He glanced at Hasford. "If this is deteriorating into small talk I take it the meeting is over?"
      Hasford sighed. “Yes, I believe so.”
     Lucas stood before Hasford finished the sentence. “Great to see all of you.” He heard Marie make a her hasty goodbyes and follow. Ignoring the halls, he crossed one and turned blindly down another before he turned. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
     Marie glanced up at him, crossing her arms. “I didn’t think I would be heard so soon.”
     “Bull. Come on Marie. You should have at least…said something. I’m your partner.”
Her mouth twisted, as if holding something back.
     “Yeah, I know. For now.” Lucas leaned against a row of interior windows, running a hand through his dark hair. “Still. I deserve to know something like our missions being covered up or…whatever. I expected that from you.”
      Marie sighed. "And they expect loyalty."
      "This," Lucas rammed a finger at the cuff on his left ear. "This is my loyalty."
      Marie blinked. "I...I didn't say..." She collected herself. "Come on, Luc. You know I didn't mean it like, well, they mean it."
Lucas glanced at her. "Yeah I know. I know. Those guys just..."
     "Intimidate."
     "Something like that." Lucas said, slowly.
      Picking up on his surprise Marie continued. "I mean they do it on purpose.”
     Lucas watched her vanish around the corner and pulled out his cigarettes and lighter. With a surreptitious look around he continued down the hall, turning the opposite corner while lifting the flame.
      “Don’t let them see you so shaken.”
     Lucas fumbled with his lighter. “Raimei.”
     A small Asian girl with white bandages over her glossy black pig tails stood facing a long curtained row of windows. Her gaze shifted from the glass, a white stick stuck out of her mouth, lollipop clicking against her teeth as she spoke. She readjusted a sling on her right arm. “You do realize that was a complete farce.”
     Lucas shoved the lighter in his pocket. “And you would know?”
     “Everyone knows.”
     “Good to know.” Lucas smiled down at her. “What are you doing down here?”
     “Visiting.”
     Lucas tilted his head, seeing through a small sliver of curtain. A bed with silver rails lay beyond, a box with tubes and, as he moved in, could see a body on the bed; the blanket over his chest barely moving.
     “Is that as bad as it looks?”
     “Probably worse.” Her eyes shifted upwards in the glass. “But it usually is, don’t you think?”
     Lucas took in the little girl’s covered eye and small cane at her side; a long pleated blue skirt over he couldn’t guess what kinds of injuries.
     “I think that is what they want us to think. And we are good at that.”
     “Such submissive terms. It’s too much like a mongrel.”
     "Mongrel." Lucas found himself smiling. “What’s wrong with dogs?”
     “Nothing. If you like brutish, slobbering beasts.”
     Lucas leaned in close to her ear. “Woof.”
     Raimei started.
     Lucas smirked as he continued down to the elevators at the end of the corridor. “Don’t them see ya shake, right kid?”







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