So far …
The Agency (also known as Section 17) is a top secret organisation within Oceania who provoke corporations into crimes they wouldn’t otherwise commit. They answer to no one, other than the Minister of Homeland Security. Recently, after a period of dangerous leaks and double agents within the Agency, it is found that one of the leaks is the Minister himself …
Continuing datastream >>
“The Minister for Homeland Security was said to have been vacationing on the reserve when the accident happened. Two of his aides were also involved in the accident, which saw half of the party fall into the ravine. Security are still looking into the matter, but foul play has been rule out.”
Manly stared at the same spot on the gunmetal grey wall, feeling the sway and sink of the ship. The bright after effects of the news feed faded from his vision. It was several more moments before he drew himself out of his thoughts. He checked his chrono. Another thirty minutes. He wondered how this news would affect the meeting.
Manly looked over towards the bed as he sensed movement. Tyler was already well up off the bed, dressed in the barest minimum. He watched as the boy took up his jacket, that same, tired old thing that he always wore. He had to talk to Faye about him, Manly thought. He figured that he was seeing the early signs of a deeper depression.
“Ok then, son,” Manly replied, in the same Cuban dialect. That unfamiliar face stared at him, pale eyes strangely mistrusting. “I have a meeting with the Bunker in about thirty minutes. After that, how about you and me play a little chess?”
Manly nodded, watching as Tyler left the cabin. He tried to busy himself with paperwork, but ended up scanning the feeds instead for information about the Ministers death. There was surprisingly little information on the wires about it. He wondered who would be shortlisted as a replacement, but without Agency resources, he had to rely on memory.
Thirty minutes passed surprisingly slowly.
When the all too familiar link pressed into the front of his mind, Manly was more than ready for it. About him in the cabin, figures bloomed into hyper reality, more than he had expected. Janet Faye, of course. He knew that she would be the one initiating the call. He tried to wet down his surprise at the other two men, almost the direct opposites of each other.
Lord Carmel Raxworthy, dressed in a plain black suit and an archaic waistcoat, and resting on a cane. Rumor was he had been involved in a Downtown Skycity accident. The accident had claimed a city block, and damaged his leg. With his wild hair, and soft features, he looked scholarly, like someone’s grandfather. Manly had better sense than to ever refer to him as the ‘Old Man’, although the younger generation of the Agency did.
Including Christian Koll, the other man standing there. The Agency’s youngest handler, supposive genius, although Manly had his doubts. He cut a figure of modern sensibilities in an entirely black attire, pressed perfectly and offset by a blood red tie. He had a fashionable amount of stubble on his classic features, just a little more on his scalp.
And Janet Faye, Section 17 Chief. Manly thought she was looking a little better than last time he had seen her. Given the appearance of the other two, though, this was obviously a more important meeting than he had first figured.
“Gentleman, I’ve called this meeting to set a few things straight,” Janet started, before Manly could get in as much as a hello. Her demeanor was as cool as always. Strictly business. “Firstly, all of the leaks identified within the Agency have now been plugged. As of fourteen hundred hours tomorrow, the Code Black will be lifted.”
Manly was about to say it, but Raxworthy beat him to the chase. “I dare say, the accident with Lord Brockman seems strange. How does that place us moving out of the Code Black?”
“I’ve been following that situation very closely, as you might imagine,” Janet replied. “Insiders suggest that the role has already been filled by a man called Hank Alister. You might recall that he’s been prominent within the Department now for a few years, and most expected his appointment last year when Brockman was rumored to be moving back to the Homeland last year. The announcement on Alister’s appointment is expected in a few hours.”
Manly wanted to ask it, but kept his mouth shut on the subject. He looked at Koll, watching him, wondering if he was thinking the same thing. Janet pushed on, refusing to be sidelined.
“Plugging the departmental leaks have seen us lose an additional handler and agent,” Janet continued. “Koll, I’m assigning you to agent Toa Carter as handler. Raxworthy, I know you’re assigned with agent Welles. I’ll also need you to pose as handler to agent Fontainebleu while she’s here.”
Manly knew the surprise was written all over his features. Other than Janet, Koll was the only other that didn’t show surprise. The mention of agent Fontainebleu only confirmed what he was wondering about the Minister’s sudden death. He cleared his throat, shifting nervously.
“Fontainebleu would have plugged the leaks then, I’m assuming,” Manly remarked. He tried to sound casual about it, but it was hard. It was like taking a sledgehammer to a wetware operation.
The comment was final. Unquestioned. Raxworthy looked as uncomfortable about that particular revelation as Manly was feeling.
“Are you going to let us continue speculating who the leaks were,” asked Koll pointedly. “Or are you going to release the findings of the report that agent Constance compiled?”
“Frankly, the initial Dresden Report was a closed file, and the agents findings are also closed. There won’t be any opening of that case. It’s closed. The situation has been dealt with.”
“Janet, I’m not the only one who thinks that keeping the Agency in the dark as to who our leaks were is a bad thing,” Raxworthy noted. “It only leads to speculation and hard feelings as to who it might have been.”
“It’s not something I’m willing to open discussion on, Mr Raxworthy.”
‘Ouch. No first names’, Manly thought. Janet was really taking this whole thing harder than he had thought. She continued, unabated.
“There is not going to be any confusion over our role during the hand over to the new administation in Homeland Security,” Janet remarked. It was more of a statement of fact than a request. “I expect you all to make that clear to your agents, and I expect to see all of your agents returning to full duties once the Code Black is lifted.
“I’ll be looking to you three as the senior handlers to make sure that the transition on the ground is a smooth one,” Janet remarked. She gave them each a look that expected no reply. “Any questions, gentlemen.”
None that Manly wanted to ask publically, on the record, he figured. He watched the other two men, the three of them almost looking as if they were daring each other to speak up. It was Koll that did, calm and calculated.
“Agent Constance. She’s disappeared, or she’s gone double agent? Can we at least have some clarification on that one?”
“I’m expecting that calling in Lady Fontainebleu has something to do with that as well?” Manly asked, looking expectantly towards Janet. She looked hedged, unappreciative, but it was her job to face the hard questions.
“Frankly, I don’t have to answer to any of you, gentlemen. Only to the Minister of Homeland Security. Unless the situation is directly pertinent to your investigations or operations, the information regarding the Code Black, its reasons and its resolutions are not on the table for discussion.”
Koll had the balls, and Manly expected the younger man to push the point. His tone was sardonic, almost, “So she’s turned double agent. And we’re cutting the lose? There’s enough rumors as to her place in Section 17 as it is, all due respect.”
“That situation is not on the table for discussion, Mr Koll.”
‘Stonewalled,’ Manly thought. That in itself was interesting.
“If that’s all,” remarked Janet, daring another question on the matter. “Then you’re all dismissed. I know you all have a lot of work to do. Get to it.”
Raxworthy made a sound that implied he was thinking deeply on the matter, but little else eventuated. His image vanished a few moments after Koll’s. Manly willed the link to continue, despite feeling an override from Janet. She leveled him with a headmistresses stare.
“You’re known as a hardass, Janet,” Manly proceeded, cautiously. “But you’re really shutting us down on this one, aren’t you?”
“I don’t answer to you either Samuel.”
“Who do you answer to?” asked Manly, feeling his blood rush as he rose to the attack. He didn’t want to back down. Not when he realized what was going on. He knew too much. “You’ve ordered the killing of a Minister. That’s why Fontainebleu is here, right? She killed the Minister, and now you’ve got her tracking down her sister.”
Janet let out a long breath, her image flickering. She shifted, but the wetware compensated. Maybe she’d just sat at her desk, but there was little overbleed to imply where she really was. She looked pissed, but Manly figured pushing her was worth it. He couldn’t live with himself not questioning it.
“At the end of the day, the decision lays with me.”
“We have a mandate,” explained Manly, folding his arms tersely. “Sure, we might not be a recognised government department, but we do have a mandate.”
“That mandate is to undermine corporate influence in our Republic, Samuel,” Janet shot back. “Don’t lecture me on matters of mandate. If the holes weren’t plugged, we would have bigger problems. Why am I even discussing this with you?”
“Because we’ve been through too much together for you to expect me to just let this one pass. You know that Janet. We’ve essentially shot our head off because we thought he couldn’t be trusted. The only one of the Powers That Be who know of our existence.”
“You expressed complete confidence in Constance’s findings.”
Manly stopped short. There was that. Janet kept that same stare leveled on him. He could see she didn’t like this as much as him, only she wasn’t giving an inch on the matter. “It’s done,” she continued. “I will see the safety and security of this Section upheld. No matter what the costs, Samuel. There’s too much at risk oth–”
Janet stopped short, distracted. Manly frowned, watching her, before she continued, after a few silent moments. “Better call up whatever feed you monitor. Something’s –”
Manly bled up the main newsfeed from Skycity, catching Edward Skye’s smiling expression center image. There was a close press of people about him, a full occasion of camera flash and pomp.
“– passed on the day to day running of Skye Enterprises to my second in command, and absolved myself of any involvement that might see a conflict of interest moving forward,” he remarked, warm and smooth. “All I want is to see the Republic become a becon and example to the rest of the world for what utopia can look like when we put our minds to it. We have to start somewhere, and after a lot of thought, I know this is the right moment to start.”
“So, that announcement again, coming straight from Skycity,” remarked an onscreen reporter. “Edward Skye has announced his intention to run for Lord Mayor of Skycity, the Republic’s largest metropolitan area, and a city which has seen the benefit of his donations for numerous years now –”
Manly stared at the feeds, thinking them to mute, and watching as a couple of streams began to ticker at the lower of his vision, updates and progress. This changed things, he knew. Suddenly, things were about to become a lot more complicated.