The Agency: Book One

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Nine Lives

All at the same time, each team of agents faced a problem from the same source. Lorcan Callaghan’s crime syndicate. Each team knew where to go, but getting there was the hard part.

The garage door was kicked in, and four men with handguns strode inside confidently. Zeus knew two of them were Humans, and the one with pointed ears was most likely an Elf. The fourth, however, with his snout-like nose, greasy black hair and brown skin was not something he recognized.

Phil, however, did. ‘So nervous about facing me you had to resort to an Orc?’

The leader, the Elf, laughed, and pointed his gun at Phil.

‘Oh, sweet little Philicia,’ he said. ‘None of your sass today. We want our money. We’re going to either leave with the money, or leave with your fingers. Your choice.’

Melissa heard the back door close, and shot her gaze to Zeus. He had heard it to, which meant the children were safe. However, with a gun pointed at Phil, his choices were limited. So he chose the best one, and stepped forward.

‘Gentlemen!’ he said loudly, walking forward with his open hands on display. He felt the aim of their guns on him, but powered through his plan.

‘My name is Agent Zeus. I represent an organization within the Alliance that wishes to hire young Philicia. If you kill her, you are killing an Alliance employee.’

The Humans faltered, lowering their guns a little. The Orc didn’t care. He was either too stupid to know the implications, or too uninterested to care. The Elf, however, smirked.

’Oh, really? Well, Zeus, I don’t rightly care right now. I’m here for the money, not to congratulate her on scoring a job. So, sit down, shut up, and maybe I won’t have Jorax here snap you in half.′

The Orc, Jorax, grinned, showing his incisors. Zeus did not like those teeth.

’Maybe I’ll snap him in half,′ Zeus said boldly.

Jorax and the Elf laughed. The leader put his gun back in it’s holster, and stepped back.

‘Go nuts.’

Jorax sprinted forward with surprising speed for his size and caught Zeus before he could move. The Orc lifted the Agent and applied pressure onto his suit. Zeus’s readout started blinking as his suit caved in. His arm and legs were started to feel numb.

Zeus had one free hand, and stabbed both of Jorax’s eyes with his fingers. The Orc threw Zeus into the ceiling and roared in pain, clutching his face. Zeus hit the ground and bounced off the floorboards. Zeus launched himself up with his hands, kicked Jorax’s feet out from under him, and held his handgun to the Orc’s head.

The Elf’s eyes widened.

‘Alright, gentlemen,’ he said with a satisfied smile. ‘Perhaps we can talk like adults now?’

Kailey awoke in the backseat with a shocked inhalation. She checked her pulse and body parts, then noticed Dionysus and checked her.

Enyo smiled into the mirror. ‘Good to see you survived, doctor. Please help my friend to not die.’

Kailey nodded, using her hands to anesthetize Dionysus, and using her little bag of tricks to patch Dionysus’s many wounds up. Enyo averted her gaze when Kailey removed Dionysus’s breastplate.

‘Is that necessary?’

‘Do you want her to live, or do you want her to be modest?’ Kailey retorted.

Enyo shrunk in her chair, murmuring to herself she wanted Dionysus to live.

Eliza suddenly breathed in sharply. Enyo took notice, and leaned forward, lowering her voice.

‘What is it?’

Eliza’s eyes darted up to the rear-view mirror, so Enyo looked behind her, through the back window. It seemed the Saraks did not take kindly to their brothers being killed, as a car full of the snakemen was hot on their trail. One slithered onto the roof of the car, waiting for his chance to jump.

‘Oh,’ Enyo said, then pressed her comms. ‘Olympus, Enyo and Dionysus need help. Being pursued by hostiles.’

As Apollo and Tartarus came out of the ruined tunnel, they heard the message being relayed from Enyo. Luckily, Tartarus had Alice, and she was able to pinpoint their squadmates’ location by their tracking coordinates.

‘Enyo’s coordinates keep changing. They’re on the move, and at their velocity, they’ll pass over us in two minutes.’

Tartarus nodded, then turned to Apollo.

‘Give me the cannon.’

Apollo held his new toy tightly.

‘Listen, Apollo,’ Tartarus said, attempting calm. ‘Enyo and Dionysus are going to fly over us soon. If you think you can hit a moving target without an A.I, go ahead. If not, give me the cannon.’

Apollo’s pride nearly took over, but Tartarus was right. Apollo would miss, and they only had one shot. Reluctantly, he handed the cannon to the better marksman.

Tartarus knelt down to level his aim, and Alice worked on the equation. She calculated the speed of the projectile, the speed Enyo was approaching, Tartarus’s reflexes, and how long it took for the cannon to charge. She, however, did not know the coordinates of the pursuers.

‘I need to leave, be back soon,’ she informed Tartarus. She used the comms to transfer her consciousness to Enyo’s suit. Time slowed for the artificial catgirl. She spotted the vehicle with the pursuers, worked out their speed based on the gains they were making against Eliza’s driving speed, and added the variable to the equation. Alice knew when to fire, so she returned to Tartarus.

‘On my mark, Tartarus,’ she said clearly.

Tartarus’s grip tightened on the cannon. He heard the roar of the approaching cars. He focused, blocking out all noise except Alice’s voice. Eliza’s car flew overhead.

‘Mark!’

The Saraks were gaining, and Enyo grabbed her handgun. She fired once through the back window, missing terribly, and wasting her ammunition.

Then the pursuers were enveloped in bright pink energy that crackled with yellow lightning. The car melted with the Saraks inside, cooking the cold-blooded goons in molten metal, before it exploded violently, sending blobs of liquid metal and flesh across the area. The remains of the car fell fast towards the housing district.

Alice watched the car fall, and realized Zeus’s coordinates were in that housing district. She traveled to his suit through the comms, and found herself in a new situation.

‘Whoa, ok...’

Right now, Zeus was going to be hit by the car when it landed. It was going to kill the blonde civilian, and the people he was squaring off against. The last civilian would be heavily wounded, with a twelve percent chance of survival.

She had time to make a plan, but Zeus would need to move in seconds. Alice calculated her plan. Based on Zeus’s performance in the simulator, and on Set Station, he could move fast. It was likely he could get the civilian out of the way, too, though he’d need medical attention quickly.

Then Alice detected a new anomaly. Someone was tracking Zeus’s suit, and they weren’t from the Agency. She probed the tracker, and it disappeared. Ignoring it for now, she spoke to Zeus in his comms.

‘Grab blonde, jump right.’

Any more words and he’d never make it. She watched Zeus in normal time. He heard the message, leapt at Phil and wrapped his arms around her. He threw her right and attempting to leap that way as well. As this happened, one of the goons fired a shot that narrowly missed Melissa.

Then the remains of the Saraks’ car smashed into Melissa’s home, crushing the Elf and his goons. However, Zeus was caught in the crash as well, his leg crushed under the debris from the house. The damage Jorax did had weakened his suit to much.

Zeus fell back, the pain shutting his brain down to deal with the situation. Phil tried to move the debris, but found she was not strong enough.

Phil growled and punched one of the concrete blocks, her eyes flashing with uncontrolled anger.

‘Phil!’ Melissa warned, and Phil breathed in quickly. Mother and daughter then worked together to lift the debris off of Zeus, and drag him out of the destroyed house, into the alleyway where Epione was hopefully waiting.

Alice smiled, then returned to Tartarus. ‘What would they do without me?’

Phil and Melissa dragged Zeus’s unconscious body outside of the burning house. Melissa collapsed against the wall.

‘Jesus, he’s heavy,’ she breathed.

Phil nodded. If Zeus wasn’t wearing armor, it would have been easier. Then Phil noticed the earpiece in the Agent’s ear. She unhooked it and plugged it in her own.′

‘-we get them?’ came a dark, American voice.

‘Yeah, you got them, Tartarus,’ came a bubbly, Russian voice.

Phil smiled. She had access to the comm network for Zeus’s squad.

‘Hello?’ she said, cutting off the others.

‘Is that Epione?’ came an Australian voice.

‘No, Epione is Welsh,’ said a Japanese man. ‘This is English cockney.’

‘Can you all just shut up and let me talk?!’ Phil said impatiently. They complied. ‘Zeus is wounded, and I assume all of you are his buddies. Can you tell me where Epione is so I can take him there?’

After a moment of hissing static, Tartarus spoke.

‘Epione is 700 meters away from you. Do you have the comm in your ear?’

‘Yes,’

Phil’s ear burned with a sharp pain, then her vision saw a glowing yellow line on the ground.

‘Whoa, this will take me to Epione?’

‘Yes, it will,’ the Japanese man snapped. ‘Can you please hurry up? We’re all being chased by some crazy Irish bastard.’

Phil nodded, and tapped the comm on her ear. She picked Zeus up and growled. She wasn’t strong enough.

‘Melissa?’ Phil grunted. Her mother shook her head.

‘I’m sorry, Phil, he’s too heavy in his armor. Either we dump it, or he stays here.’

Phil dropped Zeus and looked for the release latch on his armor. Her hands explored his chest and ribs, fell over his stomach and waist, and curved around to his back. Nothing.

‘How do I open this piece of crap!?’ Phil yelled at the armor. Melissa stumbled over, pulled the latch by Zeus’s neck, and the armor opened in segments.

Phil looked at Melissa incredulously, then pulled Zeus out of the armor. It was far easier to lift him up in a jumpsuit rather than bulky armor. Phil placed Zeus over her shoulder and Melissa folded the armor up into a neat square, then pocketed it.

‘Miniaturization tech,’ Melissa explained as they followed the arrow. ‘Expensive stuff. Whoever they work for has money to burn.’

‘Zeus said black ops,’ Phil grunted. Melissa instantly looked nervous, but said nothing. It was one thing to send your child off to war, but another to send them into black operations.

Phil had already been through so much.

Melissa’s reverie was interrupted when Epione hurried over upon seeing Zeus over Phil’s shoulder. Melissa passed the Agent to check on her children.

‘Pinky, are we all here? Rat? Damien? One, two, three, four five.’

Phil put Zeus on the ground for Epione. The paramedic checked Zeus’s vitals, then focused on his leg.

‘It’s broken, and I only have one more shot of the magical orange goo,’ Epione said, readying the syringe. ‘After this, if he breaks another bone, I need medical facilities. What happened in there?’

Enyo followed the destruction below. Zeus was down there, she knew it. Mere moments after the crash, Zeus was wounded and unconscious? Coincidence was not likely.

‘Eliza, go down there,’ Enyo said, pointing towards the wreck. ‘My commander is there.’

Eliza nodded and turned the car around, following the smoke trail to the ground. She parked the car neatly in the alleyway behind the burning house, then took a puff from her inhaler.

‘He’s in there?’

Enyo tapped her comms.

‘English woman,’ she said. ‘Where are you?’

‘Can’t you see the yellow line?’

Enyo exited the car, feeling the intense heat on her face. She looked at the ground, the felt the burning pain before seeing the yellow line.

‘This technology is amazing,’ she said with a grin, following the line. Eliza followed her slowly in the car, until they arrived at the scene.

Epione was injecting an orange liquid into Zeus’s leg. Zeus was no longer wearing his armor, and the woman she had been speaking to was kneeling beside the two.

‘What on Earth happened?’

‘We’re not on Earth,’ the English woman said, without looking at Enyo.

Epione took the syringe out, now empty, and Zeus’s bone liquefied once again before reforming. Epione stood up, then faced Enyo.

‘Thank God someone else is here,’ Epione said hysterically. ‘He drove a motorcycle that was barely holding together-’

‘Hey!’ Phil said.

’-barely holding together,′ Epione continued. ’Jumped it off a building, then faced off against who knows what, then had a building and a car fall on top of him.′

Enyo blinked, then grin happily.

‘That sounds awesome!’ she exclaimed. Epione rolled her eyes, resigned to the fact her squadmates were insane.

Zeus sat up groggily, and Phil held him up.

‘Hey, cowboy,’ Phil said quietly. ‘How you feeling?’

Zeus smiled despite himself. He had memories of fighting an Orc, riding a motorcycle and watching Phil eat egregious amounts of fast food.

‘Am I dead?’ Zeus asked seriously.

Phil jabbed his leg. Still tender, Zeus yelped and jumped.

‘Not dead, definitely not dead.’ he winced.

Phil helped Zeus stand as the other agents came over. Zeus was relieved to see Epione had escaped unscathed and Enyo was only some damaged armour. He did notice Dionysus was missing, however.

‘Unlike you, we didn’t have magic goo,’ Enyo said, making Epione sigh.

Zeus walked over to the car, and looked in the driver’s seat. Eliza smiled nervously at him.

‘No need to be nervous, ma’am,’ Zeus said, trying to hide how much pain he was in. ‘Thank you for helping my friends escape whatever plight they were in.’

Eliza blushed as Zeus looked in the backseat.

Kailey looked up at Zeus, then continued to work on Dionysus. Zeus had fared rather well compared to her.

‘The bullet is still inside,’ Kailey explained. ‘I can’t get it out without major surgery, and even then, she’s lucky. She won’t get metal poisoning from Avalonian slugs, but if I don’t get her to a facility soon, she will die from the corrosion her stomach acid is doing.’

Zeus nodded, then turned back to Eliza, who was fanning herself with her hand.

‘Ma’am, please take Dionysus to my ship. There’s a medical bay on board. Agent Epione will accompany you to assist. Epione!’

Epione ran over and Zeus explained the situation. Once the car had taken off with the four women, Zeus strode back over to Enyo.

‘Alright, new mission,’ he said. ‘We need to regroup with Tartarus, Thanatos and Apollo, then move back to the shipyard. We’re taking Phil and her family, too.’

‘Civilians?’ Enyo asked.

’Well, we did destroy their house.′

In any time, the sound of sirens was an easy one to identify, and they were rapidly approaching the site where, until recently, Melissa’s house had been. Zeus knew it was better to be gone, rather than explain the situation to law enforcement.

‘Enyo, I need you to contact Tartarus. Coordinate with him and get us a meeting point. Melissa, take your children to Titan Shipyard. You, too, Phil. I want my ship ready to fly as soon as I arrive.’

Unaccustomed to taking orders, Melissa opened her mouth to retort. Phil shook her head in alarm at her mother. Melissa bit her tongue, then threw Zeus’s armor square back to him.

Zeus caught the square and smiled.

‘Thank you, ma’am.’

Based on the radio call, and the explosion when the car’s wreckage landed, Tartarus had guessed Zeus was in that location. Some would call that luck. Tartarus wasn’t sure if it was good luck, though.

‘We need to regroup,’ Tartarus stated. ‘Isaac, is Allyra stable?’

‘Yes, but it won’t be for long. She needs a doctor.’

Tartarus nodded, then looked at Thanatos.

‘You don’t have a weapon, Thanatos,’ he said. ‘So Apollo and I will move towards Zeus’s position. You get Isaac and Allyra to our ship. There’s a medical bay on board we can use to keep Allyra safe until Epione can look her over.’

Thanatos was not pleased by this order, but it made sense. They were still being pursued by Lorcan’s men, so it was best to get as many non-combat personnel to safety.

‘Isaac, try to keep up,’ Thanatos said, jogging towards the Shipyard. Isaac grinned, matching the Agent’s pace.

At that moment, Tartarus’s comms sparked to life.

‘Tartarus,’ Enyo’s voice said. ‘Have Alice calculate a logical meet up point for us. Zeus and I will meet you there.’

Tartarus’s eyes moved to the hologram only he could see. Though she was a computer, Alice’s program looked exhausted. She shook her head at Tartarus. All the jumping around and calculating must have overclocked her.

‘We’ll come to you. Thanatos is taking our recruits to the Shipyard, but Apollo is still with me.’

Tartarus started moving towards the slums, and Apollo followed, still a little upset he didn’t get to fire the last shot from his cannon.

‘Epione and Dionysus are heading to ship. Dionysus is shot.’ Enyo said.

‘What’s the plan?’ Apollo said, ignoring the news about his comrade.

‘I’m sure Zeus will fill us in when we arrive.’ Tartarus said, ending the conversation.

Once Tartarus and Apollo had arrived, and Zeus had donned his damaged armour on once again, the four remaining Agents sat down in the alleyway half a kilometre away from Melissa’s house. An advertisement flickered on the wall, promoting dog food.

Zeus drew a map in the dirt for the squad with a stick.

‘Based on the events I’ve been following, we’ve all gotten on the bad side of a Lorcan. The demeanor of his men suggests he owns a criminal syndicate.’

‘Yeah, a big one,’ Apollo said. ‘We met him, too. Doesn’t like Isaac too much.’

‘And he wants Kailey for something sinister,’ Enyo added.

‘So, in order to protect our new friends,’ Zeus said, drawing attention to his crude map. ‘We need to re-focus Lorcan’s attention. He can’t follow us if, say, his city loses all power.’

Tartarus grinned. So far, he was liking the plan.

‘We’re going to damage the power reactor. Since none of you actually read up on Titan before we left, I’ll fill you in. Titan is powered by something called an Anchorage Six reactor. It can’t blow up, but if it’s damaged, it automatically shuts down to repair. This can take anywhere from ten minutes for minor damage, to seven days for catastrophic failure.’

Zeus tapped the stick beside the map.

‘Apollo and Enyo will handle damaging the reactor. Given Enyo’s love of explosions, it seems like a good fit.’

‘So why am I going?’ Apollo asked.

‘If a fire-fight breaks out, I’d like for Enyo to have back-up. Tartarus, there’s a high-rise hotel over here. I want you and Alice to watch for law enforcement and any of Lorcan’s men. Do not fire on the police, but if you absolutely need to, you may fire on Lorcan’s men.’

Tartarus nodded, and he checked Alice. She was still tired. It was unlikely she’d be handling anything for a while.

‘I’ll be distracting security at the reactor. I do, after all, have top Alliance clearance. Once the reactor is damaged, we make to the Shipyard. No rendezvous. If one of us becomes compromised, say “Hercules” into your comms, and we’ll try to help you. Do you all understand the plan?’

Enyo and Apollo nodded, but Tartarus was still looking at Alice.

‘What is it?’ he asked.

‘Someone’s watching us.’ she whispered.

Tartarus immediately readied his rifle, which caused Apollo to do the same. Zeus stood up, his eyes flicking around.

‘Hello?’ he called out.

There was no vocal response. However, the advertisement flashed white, and text ran across it.

I can help you, too.

Zeus smiled. ‘So you can hear us?’

Yes.

‘Care to tell us your name?’

Junior.

‘Alright, Junior,’ Zeus said clearly. ‘How can you help? And what do you want in return?’

The advertisement was blank for a moment, flickering white. Then, the text came back.

Damaging the reactor will also put the hospitals and critical services out of commission for too long. I can trigger a repair sequence that will shut the reactor down, then remove it once we are off world.

‘We?’ Zeus asked. He had not considered the hospitals, and silently cursed himself.

You asked me what I wanted.

‘I did indeed. Very well, Junior. Where would you like to meet?’

Tartarus watched the text crawl across the screen, and his grin returned.

‘So, the plan hasn’t really changed.’

Zeus nodded as he read the text.

I’m at the power plant, but I need help getting out.

’Alright. New plan. Apollo, you and I will go get Junior. Tartarus, same plan for you. Enyo, I need you to find us some transportation.

‘Legal or illegal?’ Enyo asked seriously.

‘Illegal is faster,’ Tartarus commented.

Zeus nodded again, sighing in resignation.

‘Illegal is faster.’

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