“I can’t do it, I won’t!” I exclaimed as I slammed into my boss’s glass walled office, my fiery locks flying around me and sparks flashing from my emerald eyes. He merely raised one salt and pepper brow as he looked up at me from his desk chair. His wizened face showing shock and dismay.
“Anhilla, I can hardly believe the attitude you’re showing me! You, who are usually calm through the worst of storms. What has your knickers in a bunch?” He said as he gestured to the chair across the desk from him. I stared at him in astoundment for a moment. How could he even have to ask? I thought to myself. He’s the one who assigns the cases. He should be the last person to be asking that question!
I can feel the heat in my flushed face as I pace back and forth one the unforgiving concrete of the floor. “This assignment is too much to ask! I may have an extended life span, but that doesn’t mean I want to spend 20 years on one assignment, and I certainly don’t want to have to conceive and raise a child with a stranger halfway across the galaxy!” The implants all agents received after recruitment effectively quadrupled our lifespan while also allowing us to communicate with one another unhindered by time and space distortions. “I would have thought that you, of all people, would know better than to put me in this position! After all, you were my recruiter” You know where I came from!”
I was having a hard time controlling my volume and the last words were said at screech level. My childhood had really messed with my head and I couldn’t see passing any of that onto an innocent child. Having grown up in an orphanage on Gellan Prime with no family and no hope I was tainted by the things I had to do to survive that place. Unfortunately, Gellan society valued family above all else and most interpreted this to mean us against all others. This generally meant there was no generosity or compassion left for those who didn’t belong, like me. Most would rather kick you out of the way than to give you a hand up.
I was recruited by the order of Krono at the ripe old age of 16 when the idea of being able to bop around in time and space seemed new and exciting, A real chance to drag myself out of the gutter and actually make something of myself! At least, that’s how the sales pitch goes. I had no idea of the pain and work that would be involved in getting from here to there but I was damn sure going to try! My handler and recruiter, Malvos, was insistent that I would make the perfect agent and spent countless hours in private instruction and counselling to make that happen.
The next 3 years were spent in training and surgery to receive the implants that would allow them to send me where and when they wanted me to go and communicate with home base without the time and space distortions getting in the way. The training was brutal as we had to be in peak mental and physical condition to endure the transfer procedures and complete our assignments according to exacting parameters. One wrong move and an agent could mar the timeline irreparably, so there could be no mistakes. I just couldn’t get past the length of commitment I was looking at with this assignment. My usual assignments had all been either surgical strikes to get in and alter one detail then get out, so most only lasted four or five days with the longest I had been on lasting three years. That was the longest 3 years of my life stuck in the middle of a territorial dispute, constantly having to be on guard for discovery while making small adjustments along the way.
Sighing in an explosion of air Malvos seems to shrink in on himself, and I am reminded of Malvos mortality. He has always seemed so solid and immutable to me and now another worry lands heavy on my shoulders. His hair has become more salt than pepper and there are dark circles under his eyes with wrinkles covering his face like the lines on a map. I find myself wondering what will happen if he were to die while I am on assignment! The Secretariat would have recruit and train a new handler for me and while that was going on I would be cut of from home base, effectively stranded as I could neither communicate with them, nor transfer back home!
“Unfortunately, I didn’t actually pick you for this assignment.” Malvos exclaimed, “I don’t really know who did, either. It was on my desk when I came in this morning. It has the seal of the Secretariat, though, so there is no real choice here. You either do the assignment or you resign!” Malvos leans forward, folding his hands in front of him on his desk. There is a moment, a pregnant pause, while he stares me down then he sighs, “I am truly sorry, Anhilla, I know this won’t be easy for you.” Malvos gestures toward the chair placed opposite his across the desk.
“That’s an understatement!” I throw my hands up in the air. “Head Mistress Yansa didn’t teach me anything about raising children other than how to teach them to lie, beg and steal. How to avoid a punishment, and to kick some ass when running doesn’t work! If I were to raise him according to what I know he really won’t be a gift to the Falkanburgs!”
“I’m sure the Secretariat is aware of your circumstances and have taken into account all of your strengths and weaknesses! Remember, they have the details and recommendations of both the Seers and the Chronographers. If they’re sending you they must think you’re equal to the task.”
How do you , argue with people who know absolutely everything! Short answer, you don’t. Wrestling with my inner demons is a full time occupation and this assignment is going to stress me beyond belief, but Malvos is right, there really isn’t much of a choice here. I wasn’t flush enough to resign, so I must go. “All right, I’ll give it my best shot!” I grumble.
“Right then, you are due at the processing center at 10:00. You know the drill by now. I will see you for debriefing in roughly 21 years.” Malvos says, looking relieved.