I stood outside the terminal waiting for Astral to show up. The Handler and I had been waiting for her for 20 minutes now, but the plane was delayed by the radiation storm from the north east. Bits of ash fell from the sky as people came walking in and out of the building in gas masks. Others were wearing full on hazmat suits. And one brown haired girl was walking straight towards us only wearing jeans and a leather jacket. Honestly, she couldn’t stand out even more if she was wearing a clown costume.
“Hello Astral.” The Handler said. “I take that your flight was okay?”
“It was below average at best.” she responded. She motioned to the limo as I began getting in as well. “Shall we?”
The handler got into the front seat and activated the route to the hotel. The limo began to move as we drove away from the airport. I sat across from Astral who paid no attention to me, even though she was all I could think about. Our first interaction at the ball wasn’t the best, and now here we were a week later forced to spend nearly a month on a mission. I honestly thought it was a joke from 1 but here we were and there she was, just staring out the window as the car raced past the skyscrapers.
I took in every detail of her looks and body language. Her perfect posture when sitting, the emotionally dead expression, the fact that her hair was now dyed brown, even how she rarely blinked. The fire inside her that was ever present from the ball was fanned out, leaving a coldness that can only be found in the parts of us that can’t feel.
After a few minutes of silence, we arrived at the hotel. It was a sight to behold. The Building had what can only be described at a melting cylinder in between two slim rectangular building with five small but wide pillars poking out the sides at top. While the rectangular buildings were about 400 feet in height, the circular attachment was about 600 feet tall, allowing anyone at the top to see for miles on end.
“Impressive.” I said to myself.
“The Alphacom building is nearly three times taller.” Astral responded.
I just rolled my eyes at her passing comment as we walked out the limo and into the lobby. Which was even more impressive than the outside. The lobby was several stories high, with walkways littered above them and several glass elevators riding people up and down the building. The lobby was filled with employees and visitors comercing with each other. Astral walked over to the receptionist desk to check in as I took in every detail.
The handler looked over in my general direction and could easily tell my infatuation with the building.
“I see your already enjoying yourself.” He commented.
“Something like that yeah.” I responded. “This is one of the most amazing things I have seen.”
“Didn’t you get to see the Pyramids of Giza?”
I looked at him. “Well, I did say one of.”
The handler smirked as he walked over to Astral who was talking to the receptionist. I found some chairs nearby and sat down in one. I thought about how giddy I was about being here and how new of an emotion it was to me. For years, I had been emotionally numb from the Code in my head; Strict, obedient, and silent. It was like that as far as I can remember, until one day when I just started feeling. I started to think, to see. I became aware of the world around me and how fucked up it all was. The handler was really the only one who noticed, mainly because that was the same time I started my drug habit.
I have a habit of getting high when I’m stressed. My handler had warned me about how that kind of use leads to addiction. But honestly, if it keeps the nightmares down, I’ll probably take it anyway. It’s not like its going to damage my body.
Astral walked up to me and revealed the key cards.
“We are going.” She commanded.
I got up and took my keycard, which I shoved into my pocket. Astral turned and led me to the elevators where the Handler waited with our luggage. We walked in and Astral pressed a button for...
“The top floor?” I asked.
“We will be staying in the very important person suite.”
“Would it kill you just to say VIP?”
She remained silent as the elevator rode us all the way up to the top floor, where the five cylinders attached to the large tower laid. We all walked out, luggage in hand, and made our way to our room. I dug the keycard from my pocket to open the door. I swiped the card scanner and turned the doorknob into the room.
The room was massive. It was 3 stories tall and had a giant window that acted as the outside wall. A small set of stair led us down to the living room which had a giant TV with all sorts of channel boxes and video game consoles connected to it and a giant leather couch that fit up to about 10 people. It also had shelves filled with books and movies for our entertainment. Walking down, I parked my bag in the middle of the room and looked to the left where a state-of-the-art kitchen and bar was located. I walked up to it and explored inside. The fridges had touchscreens on them with all sorts of features like a music player and a camera which allowed someone to see the inside the fridge where a plethora of food could be found, next to the fridge was a sink and dishwasher and several cabinets filled with cooking utensils. The counter in front of the sink and cabinets was where the oven and mini-bar were. Right from the living room was another set of stairs that went up to the second floor. I ran up to see what it had to offer. The second floor was made of up of a small walkway with a railing to the right side where you can see the first floor. That’s when I noticed the glass pool that laid directly above the kitchen. I walked over and dipped my hand in. It was at a normal temperature. I stood up and noticed a small screen on the railing. I pressed a button and the pool started bubbling. I turned off the jacuzzi and walked backed to the second door in the hallway. I opened the door and entered a large bathroom with a open shower in the corner, A sink to the left of me, A large tub next to the shower, and a toilet stall and urinal to my right. There were also two wooden doors on both sides of the room. I entered the room to my left which was a massive bedroom with a king sized bed that sat in front of a large painting. I made my way and collapsed on the bed. As I layed there, I realized that the bed’s mattress was made of memory foam. I flipped on my back and sighed away all my stress and worries and just went into bliss.
I jumped. Sitting up and looking up at the direction of the voice, I saw Astral standing in the doorway with two silver briefcases. As she walked in, she threw one of the cases onto the bed towards me. I got up and turned my body to face Astral who placed her case on the other side of the bed. I looked at case, It looked like a large pokercase. But as I looked I saw a small engraving on the upper right corner. SJ408.
I shot a annoyed glance at her before opening the case. Inside there was extra clothes covering whatever laid inside. I removed the clothes to see what the case truly contained. There were several debit cards, each for a major currency. A small laptop and a flash drive in which I immediately presumed to contain mission stats. Three fake IDs for the countries we’ll be visiting. A life support battery for situations where one of us are badly damaged. And the cherry on top, a black suppressed 1911 with two boxes of live ammunition.
I took out the 1911 to admire it. I took out the clip to find it already loaded with bullets. I looked over at Astral who took out some kind of dagger. The blade was six-inches long and the handle had a rubber grip wrapping around it. At the bottom of the handle there was a small snake figurine looking quite ominous. Astral touched the snake and the blade suddenly started to spark.
“Damn.” I commented.
Astral didn’t respond. She instead proceeded to place the dagger back inside and pack her things up.
“You can have this room if you want.” She said “The handler will be staying in a economy room so until it’s time to move out, we have the entire place to ourselves.”
She closed her case and walked towards the door. She stopped just at the front and turned back to me.
“Remember Jeremy. We are here on a mission. We do not have any time to play around so if you can just focus on your job. We can try and wrap this up quickly.”
She walked out, closing the door behind her. I looked back at the gun and thought about what she said.
“Yeah, that’s not happening.”