The First of Many

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Chapter 3

“Please,” Hannah begged softly from the sidewalk, her voice weak and strained. People walked past her without taking note, ignoring the rag-clothed child begging for scraps. Desperately, Hannah spotted a man in his early twenties. He had dark, compassionate eyes, and seemed well off – rich, even – if his tailored suit said anything about him. As he passed, unseeing as the rest, Hannah gently grasped at his pant leg, making him spin on his heel and look at her, his eyes widened in shock.

“Please,” she whispered again, looking up at him through wide, haunted green eyes. “Do you have anything to eat? My sister... she's sick, she needs food...”

The man's eyes widened further. “Of course,” he promised. “Can you take me to your sister? Maybe I can help a bit. I'll get you some food right after, I promise.”

Hannah nodded slowly, staggering to her feet. She took the man's hand gently and led him further into the alley.

“This way,” she said quietly.

The second they were out of sight, Hannah stood up straight, whirling around and pointing a pistol at his head.

The man stumbled back and tried to run, but Hannah closed her hand harder around the man's wrist, and he let out a pained whimper as his hand convulsed. His briefcase clattered to the ground.

“You're coming with me,” Hannah said softly. “You will make no noise, you will not alert anybody. I will continue holding your hand. I assure you that I am more than capable of breaking it should I choose to do so. Do we understand each other?”

The man nodded shakily and Hannah led him through the streets of the city, leading him toward the back entrance of the building that functioned as the base of Department Nine. When Hannah brought the man to the basement, the man coughed as he gagged on the hot air, thick with the scent of blood. She skillfully tied him to a chair to await the arrival of Nine and Nico.

“What do you want?” The man asked Nine, who was clearly in charge. “Please, I have money, I can give you anything-”

“-Shut your mouth, if you please, Mr. Sigurdsson,” Nine interrupted coolly. “I assure you, a ransom note has already been sent to your father. We mean you no real harm. This is a mere reminder that your father owes us a great deal, and we intend to collect. So long as he pays his debt in full, you will be realeased.”

The man paled. “My father and I haven't spoken in years,” he said. “He won't care about ransom. He won't pay.”

“Pity,” Hannah said with a careless grin. “That means I get to kill you.”

"Please, don't kill me. I can give you money."

"All we want is what your father owes us. Once we have it, then you will be released. If he doesn't pay within forty-eight hours, then we kill you. You will stay here for the duration."

“Don't worry,” Hannah said softly. “You'll be sleeping for most of it.”

The man gazed at her, wide-eyed, and Hannah smirked at him, tilting her head to Nine. “Sir?” she asked quietly. “What's your next plan?”

Nine smiled fondly down at her. “Now we wait, Pet. You've done well.”

She'd done well.

He was proud of her.

“Thank you, sir,” she whispered.

“What have you done to her?” Sigurdsson demanded. “What did you do to that child?”

“I've only helped her see what she truly is,” Nine said, stroking Hannah's cheek with the back of a finger. Hannah forced her muscles to go slack under his hands, fighting back a wave of fear. “People are only monsters that have learned to change. Your father would know – he helped me make her.”

"What do you mean, make her?"

"We made some modifications to her. Certain enhancements that make her the perfect soldier."

"You're a monster."

"Oh, you haven't seen monster yet," Hannah said with a grin.

“Didn't your father tell you about the family business?” Nine grinned. “He used to be a close partner of mine. He ran away when the human tests began, I believe. Something about 'inhumane'. Poor man was delusional.”

"Human tests?" the man asked, horrified.

"Of course. Your father developed the serum that makes people completely obedient to their maker."

“That's... That's not possible,” he whispered. “He wouldn't do that.”

“Look at her and tell me I'm wrong,” Nine said, gesturing to Hannah, who bowed her head in recognition. He smiled coldly at her. “Good work, Soldier. You may go rest for an hour before you report to weapons training."

Hannah bowed her head, backing away towards the door. “Yes, sir,” she whispered breathlessly, the idea of sleep fogging her exhausted brain.

“Wait!” Sigurdsson called. “I promise, I'll find you a way out. If my father did this... he can fix it. I can help you.”

Hannah blinked at him. “I don't want help,” she murmured as a headache assailed her. Her vision went completely white, and she tried to push away the momentary blindness. “There's no choice here. The few must suffer for the salvation of the many.”

“Tick tock, Mirage,” Nine said. “You have fifty-eight minutes.”

Hannah nodded once, turned, and fled, racing down the hall to attempt an hour of sleep.

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