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Four

Everything was dark. Deafening silence drummed my ears. I was awake but sleeping, alive but dead. I had no concept of where I was or how long I have been out. Yet the only thing that did exist in this void was a simple thought.

“Go to America, the United Russian Colonies, and the Sang-Wong Empire and convince them to buy the hybrids.”

I didn’t know why but that single thought kept repeating in my head like a broken record. I tried to think of something else but to no avail. In this empty ibis, where feeling and thought were numb to the bone, there was this one thought, one idea, one order, driving me absolutely mad. I just wanted to do something.

Finally, something happened. I started to feel, to think. The thought ringing in my head stopped and opened my eyelids. I was inside a limo. The windows seemed to by tinted black and in front of me was a man wearing a long black leather trench coat. Yet his face was blurred from my vision, like static on a TV screen.

“Good morning Astral. I’m sorry for the short notice but time is of the essence.”

“I understand,” I said obediently. “But why instruct me personally?”

“Because this mission is more extreme than anything I have ever sent a hybrid on. This will truly test your skill as an A-model.”

I looked at him, kind of confused. This wasn’t my first mission and being an A-model, I was expected to be thrown into the most extreme and stressful situations. I had the mind and computing power of a C-model and the strength and stamina of a B-model, so my expectation was very high. But even with all of that skill, here I was being cautioned like a child learning about stranger-danger for the first time.

“Did something happen?” I asked, in an attempt to get some reason for all of this.

“3 screwed up.” The man told me. “I won’t tell you anything more.”

“Understood,” I said obediently.

The man went on to tell me the specifics of the mission. The cities we would be visiting, the hotels we would be staying in, The equipment available for us, it was really basic information.

“You will be also working with SJ408 on this mission.” the man said. “You might know him by his birth name, Jeremy.”

I sunk into my seat when he said his name. “The one who gave me the order,” I said to myself quietly.

“I know it won’t really be comfortable, to say the least,” the man said. “But his cooperation in the mission is vital.”

I quickly nodded as I sank deeper into my seat. In all honesty, I was less ashamed about being paired with Jeremy than I was being sent on a duo mission in the first place. I was the best in the order. All my missions had hundred percent success rates. Why pair me up with anyone?

I kept my mouth shut about the topic, however, as I felt the limo come to a halt and the door next to me open. I look out to see myself at the airport. Servants moving to get my bags out of the trunk. I look one more time at the man as he hands me a satchel.

“Inside is your computer and passport to America. Good Luck Astral.” He said.

I grabbed the satchel and stepped out of the limo. My bags were already out waiting for me so I grabbed them just as the limo drove off and I walked away from the trail of smoke left behind.

A little while later, I was sitting in the terminal waiting for boarding to commence. I didn’t read a book or look at the phone. I just sat there, taking in the environment around me. The airport had holographic screens hanging from the ceiling, playing ads for Australia and west coast America. Many restaurants were serving things like french fries and boiled eggs covered in ketchup or mayonnaise. The walls were gray, the paint seemingly chipped away after years of ignorance. I pouted. There was just this depressive feeling that the whole place gave off. It was as if the entire area was just waiting, praying, for someone to scrape it. Then the holographic screens changed from location ads to displays are message. “Vidar Forseth International Airport. A new part of the Alphacom family.”

I stared at the screen for the longest time. I didn’t really know what to think about it. I just spaced out and watched as the screen changed from ad to ad.

Then, out of nowhere, I felt something sharp touch my shoulder. I jumped up, and quickly turned around and grabbed the wrist of what I only now realized was a young lady, ten years older than me, standing behind me. I quickly as let go of her hand as I felt my heart beating through my skin, only to return to a casual heartbeat seconds later.

“Are you okay?” The woman asked.

“Yeah. I just thought that… well… nevermind.”

“Okay.” she said hesitantly. “Well the plane is open for boarding.”

I looked over to the door to see families and business men waddling onto the bridge leading towards the plane.

“Right, I’ll get on that.”

“Ok” the lady replied

I grabbed my satchel from the chair next to me and made my way to the plane. once inside, I sat down and relaxed. Looking out the window, I watched the snow drip from the cloudy sky above. It was going to be a long ride and a longer mission.


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