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Three

I watched as Astral’s head dropped down. Another poor girl forced to do the Order’s bidding. Granted she was a bit of a bitch when I first met her, but that was part of the plan.

I watched as the Handler took out the O-port from the back of her neck and raise her up from her arms.

“Good work SJ408. I’ll put her in the van, you keep watch,” he said as he entered the woods with her.

“I’ll be back shortly.”

“You’re welcome!” I yelled at him as he disappeared with Astral into the forest. The van was parked one hundred meters from where I was standing so I had some time to kill. I pulled out a vape and started smoking. Just then, I saw a group of young girls run out of the building, huddled together like a group of penguins. The girl in front was screaming for Astral’s name. I mostly ignored them until I saw them marching toward me. I put away the vape as the same girl who was yelling for Astral came up to me

“Can I help you with something?” I asked, only to get immediately slapped by her.

“What did you do to Astral?” She said, her anger and anxiety clear as day.

“The cutie? I don’t know.” I said, keeping up my act from earlier. “Did she come outside because she wanted me after all?”

“Don’t play games with me.” She said. “I can make your life a living hell so you better answer me.”

“Calm down Amelia.” We all turned to see 2 walking towards us. A woman that I had learned from personal experience was always in control. She was 1’s top advisor and partner, a genius on nearly every level. She ran all of Alphacom so she technically had all the power in the Order, yet she was still subject to 1. The leader of Alphacom who no one has ever seen, excluding the top 12. Everything about 1 was a mystery, including gender or basic appearance. But what everyone in the Order did know was that with his/her contacts and resources, he/she was the most powerful person in the world.

“What seems to be the problem here?” 2 asked in her calm motherly tone. It sent chills down my spine.

“I’m sorry Mrs. Wintercoat. Astral ran off to talk with this peasant but she seems to have disappeared.” Amelia told her. “I thought he might have done something.”

I rolled my eyes. I’ve dealt with harassment like this for all my life from my Handler, Commanding Officer, and even rare instances when I met with members of the top 12. It was more annoying me then it was making me angry but I still didn’t stand for it.

“I sure she just needed some time to herself.” 2 told the girls. “Why don’t you go inside and get yourself drinks. I’ll set some manners for this young boy.”

The girls nodded there head and walked off. Yet I still hear Amelia mutter under her breath how “the best way to teach peasants manners is with a bullet in there head.” I actually got mad when I heard that. Everyone just has to be an asshole.

“Jeremy.” 2 said, her calm tone turning cold and harsh. “Do you care to explain yourself?”

I looked straight into her eyes. Still angry from Amelia’s comment, I told her in a harsh but nonchalant tone, “Orders from 1, madam. Astral has a new mission.”

“What,” she said. Her eyes widened in shock. She whipped out her phone and started touching buttons.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m calling 1, I’m going to try and change his mind.” She said

I stood there for a solid second trying to process the information. “Okay, I have several questions right now. First, 1 is a dude? Second, how did you get his number? And third, why bother calling him? You know he won’t change his mind.”

“He’s right, you know.” I turn to see the Handler walking back from the woods. “It doesn’t even matter anymore. I already gave her the code. The mission is underway.”

2 took a deep breath of anger and defeat before putting her phone away. “I’m still talking to 1 about this.” and with that, she walked away back to the party.

The Handler tapped me on my shoulder and ushered me towards the woods. I followed him as we began walking back to the van. As we walked, I took out my vape and blew some smoke.

“You know that’s a bad habit.” The Handler said.

“Yeah, well it’s not like it’s going to kill me.” I bit back.

He chuckled as we continued walking. A minute of silence passed before he spoke up again.

“3 fucked up.”

I looked at him with a confused look. “I’m sorry?”

“That deal 3 made with the Chinese. It was directly against 1’s orders. Peace between the three nations might complicate matters.”

“As if things weren’t complicated enough,” I muttered to myself.

“I’m serious.” He said, stopping us in the snow. “Things are about to change, some for better and others for worse. But if we play our cards right, we might end up on the winning side.”

“Or end up getting deactivated,” I said.

He put his hand on my shoulder and looked at me with insurance. “That’s your problem, not mine.”

So much for insurance.

“Come on now, vans just a bit farther.” We continued to walk until we finally reached our black covert van. I went around and sat on the passenger side while the Handler went for the wheel. I looked back behind the seat to see Astral sitting in a chair built into the side of the van. She was still wearing her dress but she seemed to have something placed across her body. I looked a bit closer to see… rope?

“You tied her up?” I asked the Handler.

“It’s in case she falls.” He said

“Yeah, try explaining that to the checkpoint officer,” I said sarcastically

“I think it will go smoothly.” He said joking around. We both chuckled at the joke as he turned the keys and the dirt road ahead lit up from the headlights. I looked out the window as the van began to move. The mission was underway.

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