Monday, June 11, 2012

3/15/12 - The Day of The Gorgon - pt. 2

By the time Myron gets into the interrogation room, there's already quite a crowd -- both inside and outside the doors. He has to pull rank to get them to shoo, but even then there's a real reluctance to do what he wants.

(These lateral personnel transfers the COMPANY's gotten from other Agencies, after the President's assassination, aren't exactly the most obedient types. He's complained, before, but it's gotten him nowhere.)

Once it's just him, a rat-faced guard he doesn't particularly like, and a few other necessary Agents in the room, he's able to get down to business.

The first thing he does is look into the room. It looks like SPYGOD, alright. He's wearing the uniform that he had taken to wearing during OPERATION BUGSMASH, once they were cleaning up the Central HIVE. Her's been shot once in the leg, and he's barfed and !@#$ed himself into near-oblivion. 

"So what's the story?" he asks, trying to act surprised as he turns away from the window: "Is it actually him?"

"If it isn't, then I don't know who it is, sir," the guard who took helped bring him into the room says: "But I gotta tell you, sir, it's spooky the way he just went down like that."

"The field  Dr. Yesterday put up must be really good."

"Either that or he's really off his !@#$ing game," the other guard says, handing over a bag full of the prisoner's effects: "He was acting like he was disoriented. He actually walked up to us, and asked us... what did he ask?"

"Where he was, exactly," the first guard says: "And then when we opened fire up on him he tried to laugh it off at first."

"And he didn't have any guns?" Myron makes sure, looking at the contents of the bag. All that's in there is Costa Rican money, a beer tab, and a key to a room in a hotel he knows all too !@#$ well.

"He reached for one when he realized we weren't !@#$ing around, but he had none, no," the other guard says: "Like I said, sir. Disoriented."

Then there's a voice from the other side of the room, behind the one-way glass: "Oh, let's not start that !@#$ again."

His voice. 

"He's up," rat-face says, hovering his hands over the button: "Should I?"

"Not just yet," Myron says, coming over to watch the man stagger around the room: "Let's see what he does."

He throws up, first. Then he pokes around his wound with an astonishing lack of gentleness, maybe judging how fast it's healed. And then, obviously disgusted with his state of affairs, and not finding a table or chair to steady himself with, asks "Can I get a !@#$ drink? Wash the taste out of my !@#$ mouth."

"You can choke on it, !@#$," ratface says into his microphone: "You're lucky you're even breathing, you traitor."

"You're lucky you got me on a bad day, son," he says, staring at them through the one-way mirror but not quite seeing, somehow (which is highly unusual): "I don't know what you GORGON !@#$ers have going on, here, but when I get out-"

Ratface looks at Myron, and Myron nods at him. The Agent presses the button, and SPYGOD goes into a seizure, falls down to his knees, and sprawls out on the floor, messing himself yet again.

"You know what?" Myron asks the two guards: "I think the two of us have this. Could you go outside and keep the curious out and away?"

"Yes sir," one of them says, saluting as they head that way.

"And good work, gentlemen!" he calls after them, feeling grateful to have them out of the room at last. Now he just has to figure a way to get rid of ratface and they're super groovy.

"You like that, huh?" ratface says into the microphone as Myron gets the door closed and locked: "Bit different from shooting a man in cold blood, huh? Not so high and mighty now, are we?"

There's no answer, but ratface keeps going: "And I can keep that up all day, you cycloptic, has-been, traitor !@#$. Maybe you should just keep quiet for once."

"Maybe you should suck my !@#$ing !@#$," SPYGOD says, and ratface chuckles as he hits the zap button again -- keeping it down for an entire minute this time.

"Okay, different tactic," Myron says after the man lets go: "Turn down his lights, turn ours up, and I'm going to pretend like I just got here."

"What are you hoping to get out of him," ratface snorts: "A confession?"

"Cooperation," he answers.

And time.

* * *

The Flier hovers just off the coasts of Havana, far from the masses of people who still want to take pot-shots at it after they were rudely made free by its advanced weaponry, just six days ago.

As liberations went, it wasn't exactly the most well-planned or conscientious. The COMPANY was more or less punked into it by its former Director, who clearly had a personal score or two to settle. Worse still, it now seems the entire thing was just an elaborate distraction, so as to get something -- someone, rather -- extremely dangerous out of Guantanamo Bay.

And between a newly-minted Director who didn't seem to know what he was doing, a headstrong Colonel who was clearly overly-eager to bag public enemy number one, a foreign national of questionable allegiances, and the former Director's ostensibly loyal, but never entirely-unquestionable, second in command, The COMPANY just walked right into the mother of all boobytraps.

The President, who wasn't happy to be woken up and informed that Cuba was now free on his watch, by his unwitting hand, has to make nice on the television, but is taking a massive drubbing from all sides for this one. Both Republicans and Democrats aren't happy with him, and the independents are going spastic. And the international community -- especially Fidel Castro's old club of America haters -- is rather unamused.

In fact, the United Nations is so displeased that they've all but flooded Cuba with a reverse flotilla of pro-democracy monitors. These earnest, young men and women are all traipsing up and down the countrysides, ensuring that no one's civil rights are being violated by The COMPANY, or any other American Agency that might be currently working there.

(Where were they before the liberation, one has to wonder?)

But, in spite of all international criticism and condemnation, the Flier remains not far away, making sure that no one comes in to take undue advantage of the situation. Numerous pro-democracy organizations within Cuba are currently working on a new government, and it would be a terrible tragedy if their careful, impassioned work was to fall victim to one of America's enemies, or some group of science terrorists eager to make a beachhead in the nation.

Another thankless job for The COMPANY, in other words, but nothing they're not used to.

Second keeps that in mind as he strides towards the Director's office, carrying a clipboard filled with the latest reports in triplicate for New Man to sign off on. Mostly maintenance schedules and section reports, thankfully, though there's a few in here that will doubtlessly make him really !@#$ing angry.

Provided he reads them at all.

He knocks on the door, and hears nothing on the other side. Ten seconds go by, then twenty, then a full minute. He's about to ask one of the two Specials standing guard outside the door to see if the Director stepped out for an early lunch, but then the door finally opens. 

"I was about to see if you'd flown the coop, sir..." he starts to say, but then stops when he sees that the Director is sitting in the middle of a massive paperwork apocalypse. He's surrounded by report after report, memo after memo, and printout after printout. And, as Second watches, his email dings once, twice, three times to let him know he's got that many new no-doubt urgent messages in his box.

"Can I?" New Man all but begs: "Just fly away? Is there someplace I could hide for a few months?"

"I hear Maui's nice this year, sir," he says, walking closer with the clipboard: "I just need a few quick John Hancocks on the bottom of each, and then I'll let you get back to... this."
"How in the heck did SPYGOD deal with all of this?" New Man asks, grabbing the clipboard and signing everything without even looking at it.
"He didn't, sir," Second says: "He was too busy running an intelligence organization to bother with all of this."
"What..." the Director says, shaking his head as though he couldn't believe a word of what he'd just heard.
"He said that when it came to the day to day running of the COMPANY, the Flier, the Heptagon, or anything else, unless it was earth-shattering news, don't tell him. If it was bad, fix it if you could, and only tell him if you couldn't. And if it was good, leave it for the status report or end of mission briefing. Assessments, dangers, defeats and victories were all he wanted across his desk immediately. Everything else... well..."

Second gestures to the pile of memos.
"Well, I think the President wants someone to take a firmer hand at the till, Second," New Man sighs: "I may just have to bite the bullet on all this."
"Well, if you'd care for my advice-"
"Is it going to get me fired, and you promoted?"
Second looks at New Man, who doesn't look back at him. 
"Sir, everything I do I do for the good of the United States of America, through the engine of this organization," Second says, putting the clipboard down: "I do not have any ambitions beyond getting her through another day, and getting us from mission to mission in as few pieces as possible."
"Really?" New Man asks, finally turning to regard the man.
"Well, that and maybe another pay raise, sir. It's hard to have Remy Martin tastes on a Pabst Blue Ribbon salary."

"I'm being serious, Agent."

"So am I, sir. And you need to understand that, while I do a lot of the things a Director should be doing, I do not, and have never wanted, to be the Director. I would be lousy at it. I'm a much better second in command. I'd tell you to ask SPYGOD about that, but..."

New Man nods, and hands the clipboard back.

"You know, every day I'm here, I can't help but wonder how long it's going to take me to crack," New Man says: "It was simple during the War. I told you about Tarawa, didn't I?"

"A few times, sir," Second smiles, hoping the man doesn't launch into that one again.

"And that was before I got my powers, too. Just me and my buddies in an Alligator, waiting for the next salvo to knock us over and turn us all inside out. But somehow, it was clear. We knew what we were doing. There was a logic to it. A reason.
"This..." he waves his hand at the wall, where he's painstakingly mapped out the entire state of play of the world's known intelligence operations, strategic talents, and known enemy operatives. Pushpins hold notes in place, and different colored lengths of string connect pin to pin in a worldwide web of malfeasance and terror.

Second blinks, walking towards it in awe: "Sir, when did you...?"

"I finished last night," the man says, wearily: "That's when I started trying to catch up on this. I don't think I'm doing a great job of both."

"Good lord, sir. When do you sleep?"

"I don't," New Man admits: "That's one of the reasons I think they gave me this job. Ever since the accident, I've been-"

His explanation is cut off by the door opening. The Dragon is there. 

And in less than a second he's covered the length of the room, and jabbed a very large, impressive-looking dagger right through New Man's heart.

New Man looks surprised, as though someone told him a surrealistic joke. And then he tries to speak, fails, and closes his eyes. A moment later his body begins to flicker and fade, like it was the screen of a dying television. The dagger glows and sparkles in time with the flickering.

"It's time, then?" Second asks, watching the door carefully.

"It is," Dragon says: "The enemy is on the move. SPYGOD needs our help now more than ever."
"Who can we trust?" 
"The new guards are all compromised. As for the newer Agents, I think perhaps one in five is a saboteur."

"Then it's you and me against the world, huh?" Second says, putting the clipboard down on the nearest pile of memos on the desk: "Funny how it all works out, huh?"

"I do believe there is a saying about the last person you would ever suspect being the last person you should ever fully trust," The Dragon intones, languidly gesturing towards New Man.
"So what does that make you?" Second asks: "I know you have your own angle, here. How long before there's a knife in my back?"
"One can never be certain of such things. But I know there is a saying regarding the enemies of one's enemies?"
"'I against my brother. My brother and I against my cousin. My cousin and I against the stranger.'"

"That's not quite the one I was thinking of..." Dragon says, looking quite askance.

"I do think you're right," Second agrees, looking at New Man: "But I have to hand it to the stranger, today. This man was one of the secret heads of GORGON all along? Who would have ever thought?"

"Double bluffs are their specialty. Shall we go?"

Second nods, and lets Dragon lead the way. On the way out he looks back at the Director -- stuck in a flux state and unable to leave it -- and smiles, ever so slightly. And if the Specials outside the door have reason to suspect a quiet counter-coup has just occurred, right under their noses, they make no sign of it as the two men walk down the hall, heading for the underbelly of the Flier.

Meanwhile, back in the office, New Man's email keeps piling up in is mailbox. They're all marked URGENT, of course, but one from someone calling himself HOTBILE, titled "Queer Happenings in India/Pakistan, possibly also worldwide, READ NOW" is the only one that seems to be worthy of the red exclamation point.

And it sits... and sits... 

(SPYGOD is listening to Shadowplay (Joy Division) and having a Last Lion Ale)

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