The Agency: Book One

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Fiery Flowers

As Zeus and Epione headed off towards the city, Dionysus stopped and made a plan. Her first task was to find a scientist, and the best way to do that was to search in places they would be employed. She walked up to the Titan Information Kiosk, and tapped the holographic panel.

‘Hello, USER NOT FOUND,’ the computer said. ‘Welcome to Titan. How may I assist you today?’

Dionysus blinked, and shot a look at Enyo. Enyo was ignoring everything around her, completely enthralled by the puppies in a store window.

‘And that one is Vlad, and that one is Vasily, and that one is Dimitri-’

Knowing this would fall to her, Dionysus returned to the screen. ‘I’m searching for scientists to employ for a cruiser. Where do I go?’

The holographic panel turned into a map, and twelve orange dots shone on the dark blue landscape. ‘These are the nearest employment agencies in your area.’ Four of the dots enlarged, then shrunk. ‘This is a science exposition at Washington Sta-’

‘That, directions to the science exposition.’

The map flashed an orange path for Dionysus to follow, which she had memorized in under a minute. She touched the screen again, and it faded away.

‘Enyo, we’re going to a science expo. Sound fun?’

Enyo nodded, now holding three puppies. Dionysus rose her eyebrows.

‘Please?’ Enyo said, sticking out her lower lip.

‘Enyo, we’ll be going on dangerous missions against aliens and demons. I don’t think the ship is the right place for puppies.’

After Enyo had returned the dogs, the two women set off towards Washington Stadium.

‘Zeus would have let me get the puppies,’ Enyo grumbled with a pout.

‘No, he wouldn’t have.’

Though Enyo was older and more experienced, Dionysus had taken the reigns to the mission because it was honestly the best decision. In Enyo’s hands, Olympus could have ended up with sixty scientists all specializing in physics. Dionysus, on the other hand, knew they only needed one scientist.

Dionysus was lost in her own thoughts. If it hadn’t been for Zeus, she would be dead along with the rest of her squad on Set Station. She needed to prove she was worth the risk Zeus had taken.

*

The science exposition was being held by a joint venture between Selene Corp. and The Solomon Foundation. It was a chance for people to come, learn and teach each other the wonders of every form of science, barring illegal ventures. It was heavily policed by security guards in pure white armor, a silvery crescent moon upon their chest.

Dionysus and Enyo were regarded with caution by the security, especially since they were armed. Both women were pushed into a scanner to confirm their identity. The screen flashed something many of the guards had never seen.

CLASSIFIED
AUTHORISATION: PRES. SYLVIA FROST

The two agents effectively held a higher rank than every person in the building, which surprised the security. Especially since Dionysus barely looked eighteen. Regardless, an order from the president of the Alliance was gospel.

‘You two may enter. We apologize for the delay. Enjoy your time here.’

Upon entering, Enyo’s pupils dilated at the sight of the booths, conferences and demonstrations. She was almost salivating at the prospect of learning so much new information, she ran ahead of Dionysus and started paying keen attention to a man describing how “phase engines” worked.

Dionysus, on the other hand, had no idea how any of this worked, so she focused on her mission. Surely there would be someone here that would love a job.

However, most of the presenters and people that looked like scientists had badges hanging off their belts, either with the crescent moon symbol, or lines in the shape of a mother holding a baby. All of these people already had positions that likely paid far better than Zeus could.

After two hours of searching, Dionysus had given up, sitting at the café in the center of the stadium. She had failed. How could she convince Zeus she was worth her position in Olympus if she couldn’t even find-

‘No! You are wrong!’

Dionysus groaned. She knew that voice. It was Enyo. She was screaming at a poor woman who was presenting her own interpretations on the findings of Soviet scientists.

‘If you are going to do a presentation, research the points you wish to present,’ Enyo said, drawing a crowd. ’Tokamaks were invented by Igor Tamm and Andrei Sakharov! Artsimovich built the first tokamak!′

Dionysus shook her head lightly, then noticed two people in the crowd. The first was a woman with her chestnut hair cut into a neat bob, and a pair of wire-frame glasses in front of her hazel eyes. She was watching Enyo with apprehension.

Next to her, however, was what could only be described as “not-human”. She had lilac-colored hair that fell over her face in strands, tiny, yellowed horns jutting out of her forehead. Dionysus also noted how attracted she was to her, which was extremely odd given her heterosexuality.

The thing she noticed most, however, was their lab coats. No markings. Did that mean she could hire them? Before Dionysus could make her way over, however, the woman giving the presentation started crying after Enyo’s verbal onslaught.

‘Damn it, Enyo,’ Dionysus growled. ‘We’re not here to traumatize scientists!’

Enyo waved Dionysus away, and walked into the crowd. It dispersed around her, and Dionysus had no choice but to follow, forgetting about the two women she had just seen.

Enyo sat at the café, fuming. Once Dionysus had sat across from her, she started ranting.

‘We were once a power to be reckoned with, rivaling America. It takes only a few hundred years to have everything you were forgotten, or misremembered. It’s infuriating.’

Dionysus understood, but couldn’t really sympathize. Enyo may have been someone in her previous life, but Dionysus was a criminal. As far as she was concerned, she’d been dealt a better hand this time around.

‘So be remembered this time around,’ Dionysus challenged. ‘Show everyone there’s still one Soviet who can change the world. Or universe, in our case.’

Enyo smiled, despite herself.

‘Oh, I plan to.’

Suddenly, the two empty seats at the table were pulled out. The two women Dionysus had noticed before sat with them. Whatever the non-human was, Enyo noticed the same thing Dionysus did.

‘Goodness,’ Enyo said, fanning herself with a program. The non-human grinned, flashing her sharp, white teeth.

‘So, why are you ladies here?’

Dionysus held her hand over the table towards the two newcomers, a practiced smiled upon her face.

‘Hello, I am Agent Dionysus.’

The woman with glasses took Dionysus’s hand and shook it limply, but the other did not. Dionysus felt a tinge of longing to touch her, but she suppressed it. Whatever it was was getting in the way.

‘My name is Dr. Eliza Fargood,’ said the woman in glasses. ‘And this is my friend, Dr. Kailey Refik.’

Kailey flashed her sharp teeth again.

’We’ve seen you asking around for personnel. So, Agent, what can you tell us about the job?′

Enyo was still enthralled by Kailey’s appearance, so much so Dionysus would have to do this alone.

‘First, I need to know what you two are capable of. You’re both doctors, yes, but of what?’

Eliza nodded quickly.

‘I have PhDs in microbiology, xenobiology, theoretical physics and botany. I attended the University of Larissa and graduated at 23, then worked for the Solomon Foundation until recently.’

‘And you, Dr. Refik?’ Dionysus said, kicking Enyo under the table in an effort to stop the staring.

‘I’m a doctor of medicine,’ Kailey said simply.

Dionysus nodded, then leaned forward.

‘I’ll be blunt. This is a classified mission and discussing this in public is not allowed. Is there a place you’re aware of that we can speak in private?’

Kailey nodded, then pulled out her data-pad.

‘The exposition is confined to the lower floors, but the stands and sky boxes are empty. We could go to either.’

The four women stood and made their way to the stairs.

‘Wow,’

Dionysus had just finished explaining the job to the two doctors. Eliza had paled considerably. Kailey’s smile only widened.

‘You have to be kidding,’ Kailey said. ‘As if you fought Klisk. You’re barely an adult.’

Enyo had rejoined the conversation after they had moved. Luckily for the negotiations, Enyo also had her helmet with her, the same helmet she had been wearing on Set Station. She connected it to her data-pad, and showed the doubtful doctor the evidence. Kailey’s smile vanished at the carnage on screen.

‘By Arrika, you weren’t kidding.’

‘And we need an answer now.’

Kailey and Eliza looked at each other, then began whispering. Eliza seemed frightened of the potential risk of the job, and Kailey just seemed excited. After a few minutes, Kailey nodded, then faced Dionysus again.

‘We would both like to join your crew, Agent Dionysus. Eliza will serve as Science Officer, and I will serve as Medical Officer. We want wages, vacation days, our own rooms and a say on missions.’

‘Yes to wages, no to everything else. We don’t get vacation days, we’ll be sharing rooms with one other person, and the only ones with say on missions are Olympus Squad.’

Enyo smiled at Dionysus. The scared girl they had saved on Set Station was finally coming into her own. She was their voice, and a very skilled one. The determination and steel in her eyes made Kailey falter in confidence, and the non-human bowed her head in acceptance.

‘Alright then,’ Enyo said, standing up in celebration. ‘Who wants ice-cream!?’

Dionysus sighed, the seriousness of the situation dissipating quickly. It didn’t last, however, when Enyo noticed the newcomers behind the doctors. Three men, all armed with guns.

Men was a generalization, Enyo had no idea what they were, except they were not human. Green scales ran over the exposed parts of their faces and arms, their ears were noticeably missing and their eyes had slits. Snakemen?

‘Are they friends of yours?’ Enyo said, gesturing to the three reptilian men. Kailey had barely turned when they held up their guns. Kailey dived on Eliza to shelter her, and Enyo pushed Dionysus onto the ground. The bullets smashed into Enyo’s armor. Most simply bounced off, but a few hit the areas unprotected, like in the joints, and Enyo found herself falling to her knees.

‘Kill the humans,’ one of the men said, ‘But leave the demon alive.’

Dionysus pulled her handgun out and fired blindly. The gunners took cover behind chairs, Dionysus checked her partner. Enyo was alive, but was bleeding badly.

‘Kailey, I need you to help Enyo. I’ll handle the snakes.’

Kailey and Dionysus switched places, and Dionysus fired her handgun again. The sound of exploded glass, then the screams of people below filled her ears. Security would be on their way soon, if they weren’t already.

Eliza had crawled under some of the chairs, and was breathing from an inhaler. Not a good sign for the stressful job.

Dionysus fired again, then she heard the click. There was no more ammo. Sadly, the snakes had heard the click, too.

‘Not a lot of choices now, marine,’ one of them shouted. ‘Give us the demon, and we’ll kill you quickly.’

Dionysus checked her ammo bag on her belt. One more clip. That was twelve bullets, and she was not a marksman. She loaded the clip into her handgun, then left her position and charged at the snakes.

They were so taken aback that by the time Dionysus had reached them, they were still trying to decide what to do. The agent tackled one of the snakes, then fired at the remaining two. They both fell to the ground, holes in their bodies.

The remaining one headbutted Dionysus, forcing her off, and he fired point blank into her stomach. The armor slowed the projectile, but it still met with her flesh. Blood rushed out from the new hole, and Dionysus fired her final bullet, which missed.

The snake laughed, then kicked Dionysus onto her back. She was already dying, and out of ammunition, so the snake continued on to kill the others. Dionysus’s vision started to blur, but she remembered why this was so important.

Prove you were worth it.

Dionysus rose to her feet, then used the remained of her energy to launch a heavy-handed punch at the snake. He had not seen it coming, so he stumbled, and slipped out the window where the glass used to be. The screaming grew louder a minute later, then Dionysus fell to the ground, her vision black.

Enyo’s eyes opened, and she sat up. Dionysus was down, and Kailey was already helping her. It was up to Enyo to get the doctors out safely, and save her partner.

Pandemonium downstairs had reached a critical level. Fear had infected every expo-goer, and several of the security personnel. There was a thundering on the staircase.

Enyo knew one of two things would happen. One, the thundering would be security personnel, or two, the snakes had back-up. The training in Enyo’s mind told her to expect the worst, so she pulled Eliza out from under the chairs, and made her stand.

‘Snap out of it,’ Enyo demanded. ‘Your partner is tending to mine, so I need you focused!’

Eliza’s glazed eyes shook as she returned to reality and registered the events.

‘Yes, I... yes’ Eliza mumbled. She still needed time, time they may not have had. Before Enyo could yell at Eliza again, the scientist bolted in the opposite direction.

Enyo growled, then took cover. She had a gun, but little training in it’s use. So she instead opted to use her talents. She unhooked the bag on her belt, and looked at the vials within. Each was labelled with their chemical make-up, rather than their name.

The door exploded and five more snakemen poured through, armed with heavy assault weapons. They saw Kailey trying to help Dionysus, but no one else. The leader grinned.

‘Well... less people to split with, boys.’

Enyo stood up, and felt the guns aim at her. In her hand was a shaking and bubbling vial, and upon her face was a demented grin.

‘Hi!’ she said brightly, ‘Who likes gardening!?’

One of the snakes absently rose his hand, only to be slapped by his friend. Enyo held up her vial.

‘This concoction is a mix of four highly explosive compounds, that upon contact with air, detonates with the force of a tonne of TNT. I call it my “Fiery Flower”. It’s extremely pretty, and needs no water to stay alive. Best plant ever!’

Before they could react, Enyo threw the vial at the snakes and dived down. The snakes dispersed in panic, but when the vial hit the ground, the liquid fizzled pathetically, then stopped. The leader smirked, then looked at Enyo.

‘Well, well, look who just run out of options.’

Enyo frowned, then held out another vial.

‘Maybe it was this one. Can I try one more time?’

‘Sure you can. But when you fail, my boys are going to eat you. Been a long time since we had Ruskie.’

Enyo nodded, then tossed the last vial to laughter. It hit on of the snakes in the face, and exploded violently, tossing the gunners aside in pieces. Kailey and Dionysus were thrown back like ragdolls. Enyo kicked the backs of her boots, which locked in place, and checked her armour. It was highly stressed from the shockwave, but would hold. She caught Kailey and used her body to shield the non-human.

Had Kailey been anyone else, the explosion would have torn her apart. The shockwave had damaged the supports, and the building was threatening to give way.

Enyo checked Kailey’s pulse, and sighed in relief at the faint, but present, rhythm. Dionysus had fared worse. Enyo turned off the locks on her boots, and ran over to her partner.

‘Sorry, friend, our exit must be swift.’

It was then the Russian noticed the flying car heading straight towards her. So they did exist. In the driver’s seat was Eliza, her inhaler held in her mouth with her teeth. She braked, turned the car around, and parked in mid-air by Enyo.

Enyo threw Dionysus and Kailey into the backseat, then the floor gave way. Sections of concrete and metal rained on the abandoned expo below. Enyo pulled out the last vial she had made, got a running start, then as she jumped, threw the vial to the ground. It exploded lightly, but gave Enyo enough of a boost to land on Eliza’s roof.

‘Go, smart lady!’

Eliza took off the handbrake and the car flew out of the stadium, which was going to need thousands of credits of repairs. Enyo climbed into the passenger seat, and breathed.

‘I’m going to need an explanation,’ Enyo said. ‘They were after your friend.’

Eliza looked at Kailey in the mirror, and sighed.

‘Kailey has a special... talent,’ Eliza started. ‘Two, actually. Her hands have little spikes that inject a venom. It acts like a powerful anaesthetic, and could knock out Klisk.’

Enyo was impressed, but that had not answered the question. Eliza continued.

‘The second is her pheromones. You felt them at the table, they affect everyone. Kailey can make friends with anyone.’

‘Why don’t they affect you?’ Enyo asked curiously.

Eliza tapped her nose. ‘I have anosmia. Have since I was a child. I can’t smell anything, including her. Makes our friendship the most genuine, in her eyes.’

Enyo nodded. That would explain why Eliza was not staring at Kailey all the time.

‘Those things were Saraks, snakemen from Avalon. They work for a man named Lorcan Callaghan. He’s a mobster that wants to use Kailey to consolidate his power. He sends Saraks because they can’t smell, like me.’

Silence fell over the car as Enyo processed the new information. Zeus had mentioned Avalon on the My Lady Elizabeth as the place Minnie Warsaw had come from. An entirely new dimension that could only be accessed from Earth, which housed what Enyo had considered only fantasy. Elves, Dwarves, Dragons... and now these Saraks.

Enyo smirked. She wanted to meet a Dragon now.

‘Thank you,’ Eliza said quietly. ‘I’d be dead if it wasn’t for you.’

Enyo nodded, then looked behind her. Kailey was unconscious, and Dionysus was still out for the count. That’s when she noticed the damage the explosion had done to her partner.

Dionysus’s face had been severely burned, and her right eye was gone. The armor had taken the brunt of the attack, but Dionysus had not been wearing her helmet, and had not turned to shield her face.

‘Zeus is going to kill me,’ Enyo muttered.

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