2012: Coming Clean
She slipped through the hallways like a shadow, pausing every so often to look and listen. Her hair gleamed like dull copper in the dim lights of the building. There were only a handful of guards and none should be on the same floor, but she was not one to take anything for granted. Her stolen access guard had gotten her farther than she’d expected with much less hassle, but at a junction she had to stop. The lab lay just beyond a pair of locked security doors, steel and electronics combining to make them all but impassable.
To most people, anyway.
She smiled to herself and her eyes took on a smoky appearance. Had anyone been watching they would have seen her become hazy, indistinct. Humming a little tune she stepped forward through the doors. Like a ghost. Once inside she became solid again, her eyes returning to their dark blue color. She ran her hands down her sides to her legs in a smoothing motion in spite of the fact that she wore a skin-tight leotard as black as night. It was a habit, one she unconsciously performed when she was nervous or excited.
The lab was deserted but there was the low hum of running machinery. Computers, refrigeration units, a solid looking box with a few gauges and dials and a handle—she passed them all. She stepped over to the back where several small stainless steel doors lined the wall. She was reminded of a morgue, but the doors were smaller. She reached into a small pouch on her belt and withdrew a small device not unlike a smart phone. She tapped a couple of buttons then studied the labels on the doors again. Finding the one she wanted she pulled on the handle, a small sucking sound breaking the silence around her. Inside the refrigerated unit was a small box no bigger than a box of tissue. She pulled it out slowly, carefully, and opened it. One dozen vials, each about the size of a roll of breath mints. She smiled again and closed the lid. She slipped a strap off her arm, an expandable pack revealing itself against her back. She turned and placed the box inside the pack and slipper her arm back through, the box resting snugly between her shoulders. She closed the door and turned to leave just as the doors to the lab opened and the lights came on.
A large man stood silhouetted for a moment as her eyes adjusted to the sudden brightness. He wore a red leather vest and tight blue pants and was very, very muscular. His head was shaved and tattoos adorned every part of his visible body; chest, arms, neck, scalp and cheeks. A large snake encircled one massive bicep, the body coiling down the arm to end just above the wrist. He was, as he’d intended, an imposing figure.
“They told me someone would try to steal the serum,” he said in a rough voice. “I just didn’t think it’d be you.”
She smiled and shrugged. “Life’s full of surprises.”
The big man nodded. “Indeed. You were always a respected member of the team. I will feel bad about your death.”
She laughed softly and brushed a stray lock of hair from her eyes. “Life’s also full of disappointments.”
The man nodded again. “And you are one of ours.”
She sighed. “You could just let me go. For old times’ sake.” She knew it was unlikely but she had to ask.
“No,” he said simply, and stepped further into the lab.
She sighed again. As expected. She held up the small device still in her hand and pushed another button. There was a high-pitched whine and the power went out. All the power. Lights, computers, refrigeration units…everything just went dark. After a moment’s pause there was a click and two dim lights came on in the corner of the room, providing illumination barely above a candle’s flame.
“The dark will not save you,” the big man said, sounding annoyed. “Your tricks will not save you. Even if you phase my density powers will still be able to reach you.”
“I know,” she said. He moved slowly, trying to find her in the deep shadows, but she stepped quickly and quietly. She came at him from the side, moving fast, and landed a punch on the side of his head. He flew against the wall, cracking the reinforced material before sliding to the ground. Breathing deep as if suddenly exerted she knelt to check that he was still alive. She nodded to herself and took several deep breaths. Merely unconscious. He’d have a hell of a headache when he woke up.
“But I’ve learned a few new tricks,” she said to his unconscious form. She stood with a sigh and walked out the door.
* * * * *
She leaned casually against the edge of the book case, one finger idly running along the spines of the volumes contained therein. Mostly classics with a few antique reference books mixed in. Behind the large wooden desk a man carefully opened the box she had so recently liberated and, satisfied as to the contents, closed it and set it aside. He pushed a button on his desk phone. Almost immediately a young man in a suit entered through the door and retrieved the box, nodding once and backing away two steps before turning and leaving. She thought he was cute. She brushed her hair back over her ear. It was down now, falling on her shoulders like a copper wave.
“So we’re good?”
The man nodded. Despite the lavish office setting and dapper suit, the man looked like nothing more than a soldier who’d been shoved behind a desk. Which, she supposed, he was.
“We are. As agreed, your case file will be locked.”
Smiling broadly she pushed off from the book case. “Good. Then I’ll be seeing you.”
“Not so fast.”
She stopped at the stern tone and looked at the man squarely. He stood and clasped his hands behind his back. “We have more….uses…for you.’
She shook her head in a curt negative. “Not going to happen. We had an agreement. You already have the research notes I brought you. I retrieve the serum and we’re square. That was the deal.”
“The deal has changed.”
“Like hell.” She took a step toward the desk, finger pointing like a weapon. “When I left the Cabal it was because I wanted my life back. I came to you because you agreed to give me a second chance. I’ve done what you asked. I didn’t trade one master for another. I want out, and you’re going to make that happen.”
The soldier-turned-executive seemed almost amused. He cocked his head to the side. “And if I don’t?”
She stepped forward and leaned against the desk in what might be construed a seductive pose under different circumstances. She smiled sweetly.
“If you don’t then you’ve just pissed off a woman who can walk through walls, break into any security system, access any computer or safe, and has a reason to see you fall.” She cocked her head in mimic of his own gesture. Her smile grew mischievous. “Got any secrets?”
The man simply stared at her. She didn’t blink. Finally, after perhaps a minute, he nodded curtly and sat down.
“So be it.”
Her smile broadened slightly as he picked up the phone. Not looking at her he punched two buttons.
“Seal the Whisper file,” he said into the mouth piece, then hung up. He finally met her eyes again.
“You’re clean. Satisfied?”
She nodded and stood straight. “Yep.” She offered a mock salute. “See ya.”
He watched her walk out the door. Only after she was gone and the door closed did he allow himself to exhale as if holding his breath. He chuckled softly and shook his head and went back to work.