Chapter 1 - Operation Delta
Over and over her footsteps pounded into the muddy soil. Circling the vast grounds of the complex with speed, maintaining balance wasn’t always so easy. The heavy rain was quick to turn the grassy surface slippery. The back of the perimeter was much easier to navigate in such stormy weather. The trees provided a haven from the wrath of the treacherous rain and lightning that haunted the area.
The storm did not hinder her efforts, and no matter how close the lightning got, it did not bring her fear. The only thing it brought her was release. It was a vessel in which she could release the tension that she was not allowed to, using its energy to emote what she could not.
Dedication was one of her most valued attributes. Her work was her life, not by choice, but by obligation. Life had not offered her the hardship of choosing pathways for she only had one to follow. Decisions were made on her behalf, and she would find a way to navigate those pathways, regardless of the challenges to get to the end.
Injecting emotion into her work was not an option. Performing tasks almost robotically, she would compartmentalise them. Once the opportunity presented itself, she would run and continue to do so until she had released them back to mother nature.
All she could think of was the events of the last few days, of Private Lee Winters. He brought out a weakness in her that had nearly compromised an operation. She held no feelings or any form of affection for him, but in the days she had spent with him, he had done the unthinkable. He had connected to a part of her soul that she thought she had imprisoned for good. He had tapped into one of her few vulnerabilities, and for that, she had to punish herself.
With each step, she analysed each moment of the operation. Everything had been under control until her orders changed. She tensed her hand as she thought about the politician who had altered the outcome. After days of careful planning, everything had been wasted, overthrown by a political agenda. It was unethical. Ten lives had perished because one was thought to be more valuable. Where her logic chose life, the dirty world of politics could choose death.
Agent 411 was not like other agents. Born with unique abilities, her mind worked differently. She excelled in mathematics and was able to formulate tactical strategies in a way that no one else could. Her mission success rates were because of these abilities, but on that fateful night, her world came tumbling down because of human intervention.
The Agency had attempted to reassure her. They downplayed the loss by describing the outcome as simply not meeting the desired expectation. Of course, she knew the only expectation had been that the political pawn was to escape with his life, and for the loss of ten others, he did.
The Agency would tell her to acknowledge the outcome of her mission and move on. They expected her to wipe the event from her memory as if it never happened. Dwelling in the past was dwelling on failure. As easy as it sounded to push all of the events to the back of her mind, she couldn’t. Her memory was exceptional, and even on an eventless day, something could trigger a memory to surface.
For most of the night, she had been lying in bed with her eyes wide open. Every time she closed them, visions of the event would play as if it was still happening. Unable to sleep, she quietly slipped out of the secure agency building. Agents were forbidden from entering the grounds after hours, but she always found a way to flout the rules without security noticing.
Strategically placed in a rural area on the edge of the city, it was easier to move around unnoticed. National park surrounded the complex, offering protection from the enemies that lurked in the city. Neighbours weren’t a concern, but the rebels were.
It had been hours since she had started her run when she heard a noise emit from the agency building. While she continued to run outside of curfew hours she worried about every sound. The last thing she needed was security to catch onto her routine.
It was difficult to see clearly in the heavy rain. Being quite some distance from the main building, she hoped she had not been visible. It was unusual for security to complete their perimeter checks in such conditions, but she was confident the lightning would drive them inside with haste.
As she completed another circuit, she neared the main building. To her surprise, an individual was moving cautiously along the wall. It wasn’t until he looked up at the cameras that she thought something was strange. Covered in black rain weather gear, she wouldn’t have questioned a security guard protecting themselves from the rain.
She watched from behind as he moved to the edge of the building. He observed the area around him like someone who didn’t belong. He carried no radio on his shoulder, no keys on his belt, no weapons, nothing.
When he glanced behind him, their gazes met. Even at a distance, she could see his blue eyes and the pale skin beneath the hood of the rain jacket. The moment he picked up speed, she pursued him.
With each step the mud slowed him, sticking to his boots like wet concrete. She wasn’t the fastest runner, but her endurance was impressive. He had entered a shark tank with one of the most deadly now in pursuit.
The space between her, him and the fence closed in. Whatever courage and bravery that had guided him to make the dangerous journey would surely be dissipating. He had risked everything by entering the well-guarded premises, how he had gotten as far as he had was anybody’s guess.
She pushed on, noticing his body trembling. His heart rate had become alarmingly high as he neared the perimeter fence. She considered leaping to stop him before he could attempt to jump, but her calculations told her it wasn’t worth the risk. If she lost her speed and he made it over, there would be a delay before she could reach him again.
Watching him as he leapt forward, she slowed to see if he would make it. He pushed his hands onto the ground as he flipped backwards; his form was perfect. He fell hard, his left leg collapsing beneath him, bringing his knee into the mud.
As she watched him run into the dark forest, she followed his steps. Her form looked effortless as she jumped, unperturbed by the danger lurking in the wires below. The landing was significantly more graceful than the man she pursued, unlike him, she lost no time in recovering the chase.
Ahead she could see the glimmer of a red car through the brush, illuminated by the flash of lightning. As the thunder shook the ground, she closed the gap between them. Before he could reach the safety of his vehicle, she leapt into the air, throwing her full weight onto his back. He hit the muddy ground with such force that his body slid.
When she pressed her knee into his back, he groaned. Leaning forward, she pushed her elbow into his neck. The scrawniness of his frame surprised her, considering the feat he had just achieved.
“What did you do?” she questioned.
Coughing as she pushed his face into the waterlogged ground, he struggled to respond. “Nothing,” he choked.
“Who are you? Who do you work for?” she probed. With her free hand, she brought his arm behind his back, pushing it up until he groaned in pain.
“It was all for her,” he grunted as he struggled to breathe.
“All for who!” She pushed into him harder, motivated to get answers. Time was of the essence. For all she knew, he could have planted explosives in the complex. His capture may have only been the beginning.
Before she could press further for answers, he began to spasm. Weakly, he turned his head to the side to view her. “It was true,” he whispered as he smiled.
Upon seeing his body convulse, she knew time was running out. The symptoms of poison were prominent, and this only raised the concern that this was a well-orchestrated, targeted attack.
“What did you take? What was true?” she pushed.
“Your eyes,” he breathed, “are red.” As he finished speaking his eyes rolled into the back of his head, foam emerging from his mouth. In the blink of an eye, it was all over. His heart stopped, and she was too far from medical assistance to do anything about it. Giving him CPR would not reverse the effect of the poison.
With haste she searched him, hoping for some clue to what he had done. All he carried was the key to his car, a USB, and a photo of a young woman. He had sacrificed everything for this mission. The Agency complex was almost impossible to penetrate. Until that morning, neither rebel nor enemy soldiers had been able to complete such a task.
So many questions entered her mind as she stood. The one that perplexed her the most, where was security? As she surveyed the dark forest around her, she contemplated how this could have been missed. It was impossible the cameras had not picked up his movement. The cameras had picked up her movements; the only difference was that she had an internal ally who made her invisible when she needed it. If they had not noticed him when he snuck out of the building, they surely should have seen her pursuing him.
Picking up speed, she headed back toward the building. With each step, her anger grew. The security system had failed. Human failure had let this happen. The Agency had been compromised because someone did not do their job properly. If she had not vented her frustrations early that morning, the intruder would have slipped away unnoticed.All she could think about what was next. Death, destruction, war? The Agency was the most powerful law enforcement body in the country; without it, the government would fail to provide security and stability. Not knowing what was waiting in the building, she would need to raise the alarm as soon as possible. They would need to prepare for whatever was coming next.