Chapter 9: Elena
He steps outside, adjusting his clothing. It appears my suspicions have been confirmed after all. I snap back behind the wall as the corner of his eye catches me peeking. I hear the sound of his footsteps growing closer to my position.
I recede into the shadows, pulling my suit’s hood over my head and lifting a mask over my face. I tap a button on my wrist display, causing the cloaking function to activate on the suit.
Rather than simply reflect the surroundings around me, this produces stealth very differently. When activated, my suit deploys a vantablack material that absorbs nearly all light around me. When standing in a place of darkness, it’s as if I’m not there at all.
I see him round the corner, staring directly at me. He steps forward, outstretching a hand into the dark. His fingertips just barely miss my face. He looks in the darkness with skepticism before shrugging it off and walking away.
I deactivate stealth when I feel he won’t turn back and watch him as he enters the elevator. I turn my attention to the door he exited from.
What is he doing on this level?
I’ve noticed Dante come up here several times before. Causing our little chance meeting a couple days ago confirmed that.
I approach the door, placing a few knocks and hiding behind the nearest corner. I peer around as the door opens. A woman opens the door wearing nothing but a silk robe. I look closer, finally realizing who the woman is.
“Doctor Cain,” I say with a whisper.
She steps outside and takes a look around before finally returning to her room and closing the door. I step out into the open, pondering what I just witnessed.
It’s clear what’s going on here. But the fact of the matter is, it just doesn’t make much sense. Why in the world would Dante ever agree to do anything of the sort with her?
Satisfied with my discovery, I travel down the elevator and return to my quarters. Another call is waiting for me when I arrive.
“What do you have for me,” She asks as I quickly answer the call.
“I’ve made a strange discovery,”
“Apparently, Dante Hall and Doctor Cain are sleeping together,”
“Interesting. That’s something we can use,”
“I’m not sure about that. I’d rather keep working the Blake angle,”
“From what you’ve told me, Blake has become too much of a liability,”
“That elevator incident was a small setback,”
“How big of a setback isn’t the issue here. Blake is a loose cannon. You can’t control him. He has nothing to lose and that’s dangerous,”
“That’s why I’m going to give him that something,”
She raises a cynical eyebrow “Are you sure you’re ready for a manipulation that complex? Blake isn’t your typical galactic thug. He’s an operator. An operator with psychological tactics training. Worst case scenario is that he sees you coming from a mile away,”
“This is me we’re talking about her An…” I catch myself before saying her name.
She stares at me unenthusiastically “That’s exactly why I’m concerned, Prydwen. You have a tendency to go off the books. Which often times lands you in hot water,”
“Off the books is what’s needed in this situation. Operators and agents read from the same manual when it comes to these things. I just need you to trust me on this. Blake likes me. He’s also very distracted. I just need you to trust me, damn it,” I say, losing my patience.
“Alright, alright. Calm down,” She says putting a hand up.
I sigh and relax in my chair “Thank you,”
“You better get me results,” I nod my head in acceptance.
“Keep Hall in your back pocket. It’s a good failsafe if you have to burn Blake,” She orders.
I decided that if I was really going to start targeting Blake that I was going to need to make a conscious effort to begin my manipulation. Small interactions here and there weren’t going to be enough.
Blake, for all of the simplicity of his surface character, is much more complex underneath. For this I’m going to have to separate the different people that he is. As a person and as a soldier.
As a person, Ethan projects a lot of intensity and anger. He has a reserved rage which seems to show itself when he feels even mildly threatened. Beyond that anger I can glean that it is overshadowing a man full of regret. The anger is the glue that is keeping the brokenness together.
As a soldier, Blake is extremely proficient. At times it can bleed into his personal self. His training is so engrained that it’s simple instinct at this point. Being that he’s an operator, I can only assume that his intelligence matches mine. Much of our mental training is very similar, so the manipulation must appear to be a genuine relationship growth.
Stroking his ego or using physical persuasion will not work here.
I ensure to plan my maintenance for the day around Ethan’s rounds. I’ve spent a couple days already learning his typical travel routine. It was made even easier to figure out by him seemingly taking an interest in the work he was assigned.
I work on a nearby power panel as he rounds the corner. When he gets close enough, I hold on to the metal end of my screwdriver and make contact with one of the non-life-threatening voltage points. It gives me enough of a shock to cause a real reaction as well as knocking me to the floor.
I let out a yelp as the current enters my body and body tenses. A moment later I’m launched back a few feet on to the ground. Ethan notices and runs to my aid. He takes me by the arm and helps me up.
“Hey, you alright?” He asks with a concerned tone.
“Yeah, I’m fi--,” I give him a half-disgusted stare. “Oh…it’s you,” I say, snapping my arm away from him.
“What is that supposed to mean?” He asks, confused.
“You know, when I said that I wanted you to keep that guy away from me, I didn’t mean you should beat him half to death,”
Ethan rolls his eyes “That was less about you and more about the fact that he threatened me for no reason. You just happen to get the bonus of him leaving you alone. I don’t see why you’re upset,”
“Just because I don’t like him romantically, doesn’t mean he wasn’t still my friend. I just needed a break from his advances,”
“Or…here’s an idea, instead of leading him on, maybe you should have put your foot down. I’m not your patsy,”
“If I recall correctly, you didn’t seem to have much of an issue with it when you asked me to dinner again,”
He shrugs “Yeah well, you stood me up on that one so…it’s kind of a moot point,”
I notice the hint of disappointment in his body language as he makes that statement. I decide to capitalize on it. I fold my arms and look at him indignantly.
“Well maybe I was little scared of what you would do to me,”
He narrows his eyes at me “Maybe you should’ve given me a chance,”
“Maybe, maybe not,”
He puts his hands on his hips “Maybe…maybe you should let me have the chance later on,”
“And why would I do that?”
“You do kind of owe me for standing me up,”
I glare at him “Unbelievable,”
“Let me finish,” He says putting a hand up. “I’d also like to…make it up to you. I…admittedly…shouldn’t have done what I did,”
“Fine,” I say plainly.
“Fine?” Ethan questions.
“Fine,” I repeat.
He stares at me, not quite sure how to answer. He shakes his head as he walks away. I smirk in satisfaction before finishing my work.
As my jobs come to a close for the day, I perform my normal routine of putting away my tools, showering, and changing. Upon leaving the workshop I find that Dante is standing in front of the door.
“Hey, girly. Mind if we chat?”
“Uh…sure,” I say, confused at his sudden appearance.
Does he know?
He motions a hand for me to follow him. I follow him until we reach his office and enter. He sits down behind his desk and I sit opposite him. I start to tense up, my heart racing.
“So…I’d like to talk to you about Ethan,” Dante starts.
“What about him?” I ask.
“I noticed you two uh…talking earlier. About a date,” He explains.
“Were you eavesdropping?” I feign surprise.
“What? No way. I was walking by and caught the tail end of the conversation. You guys must not have noticed,”
Yeah…he was eavesdropping
“Well what do you want to talk to me about in regards to Ethan?” I query.
“I just want you to be careful with him is all,” Dante explains.
“Why should I be careful?” I ask him with skepticism.
“Well, I mean, he’s not in the best place mentally right now. I just don’t want either of you to get hurt,”
I nervously laugh off Dante’s statement as I stand up. “We’re both adults, Dante. I can handle it,” I say as I walk towards the door and open it.
“Oh, and Elena?” Dante stops me as I take a step through the door.
“Yeah?” I say not turning around.
“Maybe keep your late-night activities to a minimum. Wouldn’t want you to be too tired,”
I look back “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” I say with a smile.
I make a quick trek down to the dining hall to meet Ethan, who is already awaiting my presence. He stands as I approach.
“So, I hope it’s okay, but I took the liberty of ordering you what you normally get,”
“That’s perfect, thank you,” I say with a smile.
We both take our seats and begin our meals.
“Work running a little late today?” Ethan says, wondering why I was late.
“Yeah, sorry about that,”
“So, what made you join the UEDF?” Ethan asks suddenly.
“Why does anybody? Everyone has to do their part,”
Ethan gives me a coy smile “Ah. So, we’re gonna do that huh?”
“What do you mean by that,” I say, smiling slyly in return.
“Come on. Seriously, why’d you join?”
“I don’t know. I wanted to get away from my family and all the things entailed with that. I figured if I was going to do that, I may as well do something that benefits others,”
“Yeah but…you come from Elysium. You could have done a million other things,”
“What do you mean?” Ethan prods.
“If I wanted to do anything else, it was going to eventually be what my parents wanted. Which is usually something that has to do with contributing to the commonwealth of Elysium. I wasn’t going to become another selfish bureaucrat that spends their lives doing nothing but trying to get ahead. UEDF was the only thing they couldn’t say no to. Mostly because I had already signed the contract by the time I told them,”
“Sneaky. What’d you do before you came here?” Ethan questions further.
Oh, nothing too special to note. Just became a special government agent comprised of only females to go deep undercover in galactic criminal organizations.
“I was an electronics technician on carriers. Mostly on the flight deck. I handled a good deal of the individual fighter ships,”
Ethan nods, showing that he’s staying attentive.
“What made you come to the Zeus?”
He’s so inquisitive. But to what end? Is he trying to make sure I’m honest?
“I had a close call during my last combat operation before coming here. Convinced me I needed take my luck and run while I still have it,”
“Wh--,” Ethan is cut off by the vibrating and blinking light of his wrist device.
Mine goes off not a moment after.
We both immediately leave the table, quick to report to the specified location. Ethan and I walk together to the hangar bay of the station where we meet Doctor Cain and Captain Andrews.
“You buzzed for us, Doctor,” I say.
“That’s correct. The Captain has a special assignment for you,”
“Indeed I do,” The Captain steps towards us. “We’re sending a small crew to the surface of the planet below. I thought it would be beneficial to have a well-seasoned technician there to help with their electronic gear. The Doctor suggested that sending a security personnel would be appropriate…just in case,” Andrews explains with a half-deviant smile as he glances towards Ethan.
“We can’t afford to send Hall on this one as he is the most knowledgeable about how things run here. It would be better if someone like you, Mr. Blake went. You do have extensive ground combat experience, do you not?” Cain adds to the conversation.
“That’s correct, Doctor,”
“Outstanding. Get yourselves geared up. You’ll be leaving in the next few hours,” Andrews orders.
Ethan and I glance at each other.
Ethan may see this as another remedial task given to him as punishment. I see this as a perfect opportunity to sink my talons in.