Saturday, March 7, 2015

Recruitment #13 : Lacuna

01/31/2015
Recruitment #13
Lacuna, Part I. The Birth of Mystery and the Girl from Blue City

With the recent incursions the Company has had, new protocols has been set up to secure all new applicants.  Reception reminds the applicants there is no such thing as Wine level clearance and are reminded that the Dara Protocols are in place.  Sadly, they are not given information on what these are given their clearance levels.

Agent Draper, 30 years old and male, was trained by Senior Agent Snyder.  He has learned Meditation and is a Writer and a Doctor.

Agent Singer, 25 years old and male, was trained by Agent Duke.  He has learned Endurance and is a Caller and Armed with a Submachine gun. 

Agent Fisher, 29 years old and male, was also trained by Agent Duke.  He has learned Endurance and is a Driver and is aware of a Safehouse (the Garden) as well as has a Contact in the Blue City (Agent Mason).  He is assigned the role of Team Leader.  He has access to Reciprocity as well, but has no recollection what is supposedly can do.

The three are inserted into the Blue City and sadly, due to existing Static, the Team Leader upon arrival in the Blue City should attempt to contact Control immediately.  Security reasons require such information to be gained while within the Blue City.  Memory loss is common in the Blue City.  Agent Singer considers having "challenges" among agents to recognize each other given the possibility of counter agents and the use of Cover, as well as the abuse of certain skills by Rogue Agents.  Fisher asks if it is possible to use a terminal to see what Reciprocity means.  Reception checks if Control has given him clearance for it, but sadly is informed that it cannot be clarified while in Reception.  When Fisher asks the Receptionist for her name, she simply states she is the Receptionist and her clearance level is Green.  Agent Draper tries asking if there are any organizations directly opposing the Company.  Reception explains there are no actual organizations directly opposing the Company, contrary to rumors they may have heard.  She wishes them all the best and they prepare for Insertion.

They sit comfortably, place their hands on their laps, and close their eyes.

*

In the Blue City, and the first to open his eyes is Agent Fisher, who finds himself in a dark room.  There is a window where blue light filters in.  He is alone in his suit with the Lacuna device.  There are two doors, one in front of him and one behind him.   He picks up the device and pins it onto his shirt.

Agent Draper opens his eyes to find himself in a dark parking lot.  The left building is taller than the right.  Both look old and dilapidated. A billboard above stands, but is not illuminated.  He too is in his suit and wears the Lacuna device on his shirt.  He hopes the others are fine.

Agent Singer opens his eyes to find himself in a crowded office.  There are desks and chairs all around.  There is not much light to see.  There was a chime, a soft sound somewhere nearby.  He finds the Lacuna device and tries to wear it.  One side shows overturned tables and filing cabinets.  He Calls Control.  Control asks him to identify himself and after clearing that, Singer requests for Intel on where the others are.  But Control seems to be having trouble locating the others.  "They should be within the block radius.  The team seems to be suffering from Static.  Did you notice a lot of blue?"

The chime.  It sounded louder for Agent Draper.  He starts fumbling in the dark looking for where the sound came from.  He starts looking around the dark room for where it may be.  He finds a device on the floor. A phone or a camera?  He feels like he owned it as some time in his life.  It is plugged to a socket on the base of a street light.

Fisher goes to the window, and peers down to see a parking lot.  There is a man in a suit who is looking around and searching the ground.  Fisher tries calling out to Agent Singer in his head, but nothing happens.  He never was trained to be a Caller.  He goes to the front door and listens in or tries to smell anything that might be there.  He finds movement.  The smell is of old books and dust and rotten wood.  He then checks the back door and hears dripping water. The smell is of heavy and thick.  He returns to the front door and opens it slightly to peer who might be there.

Singer hears footfalls.  He turns to the sound and draws his weapon, ready for a possible hostile.  He sees the door, approaches it, but as it opens before he gets there!  He readies the gun and asks, "Doctor?"

The head peering from the other side replies, "Who?"   Singer and Fisher identifies each other.  Happy to have reunited, Fisher insists they try to find the last guy.  He mentions the man in the parking lot below who might be Draper, but he's not sure.  Fisher tries to recall where the Safe House would be.  He remembers the Garden.  He recalls the thorn bush which will hurt those who want through it, but the pain should strip away any disguises.  They will have a secure Hard Line inside.  Fisher tells Singer about it.  Singer insists they should get out of the room.  Fisher tries to recall who his Contact is, and he realizes the name of the Contact is Agent Mason. He stays at the Bridge.  Or at the Bar.  Fisher knows Mason can be trusted.  Singer asks about the man Fisher saw in the parking lot and they decide to check him out.  Especially since a vehicle would be a great thing to have in the Mission.

Draper hears the device suddenly give out a ringing noise, then die out.  It's.. a mobile device?  He also finds a box.  Moving to the light, he holds the box there and sees the message upon it:

Do not trust the Cat.

Inside, he finds three more Lacuna devices.  He pockets them, not sure where it came from.  He decides to carry the box with him.  He does not know where the two other agents are.  The cars around the parking lot are filled with spider webs.  Draper does not recall noticing that before.

Fisher and Singer brushes away spiderwebs that catch their faces as they move in the dark room.  In the office, they see the stacks of tables and chairs which may be blocking another door.  Based on the orientation, Fisher considers the stack on where it would be in reference to the parking lot.  The stack seems to be a further route.  They consider checking the other room, but then hear a car coming up.  Peering out the nearest window, Singer laments the billboard is blocking his view.  They quietly rush back to the other room.  Fisher tests the other door and finds it locked.  Singer tries to break door the door with Force, ramming it open with his shoulder.  The door groans, then the wood breaks.  He tumbles inside and nearly slips on the wet floor.  The room is a bathroom.  Tiled floor and walls, feels almost prison-like with its tiny windows.  The bathrub has overflowed and water has spilled onto the floor.  There is a body inside the tub.  Nearly slipping, Singer regains his balance in the last second.

Fisher thought he heard skittering somewhere from the other room.  Singer leans forward with a gun pointing and notices there is no smell of rot.   He submerges his other arm into the water to lift the body out.  Fisher looks out the window for a way down and finds a fire escape; an old metal thing that would probably groan against their weight.  Light flashes and Fisher realizes it seems to be coming from the office.  He closes the bathroom door quietly, and starts sliding out of the widow onto the fire escape.

Singer realizes the water is warm and thick.  It might not be water.  He pulls the body out and water splashes out onto the floor. The face had been bashed in so many times he cannot make out any features.  The body, however, is male.  The clothes suggest a Mystery Agent's apparel.  

At the parking lot, a car drives into the area.  Draper ducks behind a car as it arrives, its headlights streaking across the area.  It is a bright red car and it comes to a stop and its driver steps down.  Draper is around sixty feet away.  When the door swings open, he suddenly smells orchids. Staying hidden, he looks at the device in his hand and sees messages coming in.  He is not sure if he can trust them.  He looks for a better vantage point to observe the woman from the car without revealing himself.  The woman in red lights a cigarette and surveys the location.  Draper's foot gets caught on something and he falls.  She turns to the sound, "Who's there? Is someone there?"  Draper opts to stay silent.

"Fisher, is that you?" she asks.

"Maybe," Draper replies, "Who are you?"  Draper sees her maneuvering to keep the red car between her and his voice.  "If you are Agent Fisher, then you should be able to answer this challenge:  What is your job?"

Draper trusts his gut feelings and answers, "Whatever needs to be done."

Singer tells Fisher the body is a dead agent and that they best have to get out.  Singer plants the body across the room to place it against the door.  Whoever is in the other room is about to make its way to them.  Fisher sees the woman in red, smoking and talking to someone he cannot see.  Did he hear his own name?  Singer has the body pinned to the door and moves to join Fisher at the window.

The woman in red accepts the answer and tells Draper, whom he thinks is Fisher, that she is happy he is safe.  Seeing him, she wonders if he's in Cover, given he looks like someone else, and tells him to get into the car.  "I was waiting for your return."

Draper asks who she is, and the question makes her worry until he admits, "Its the Blue City.  Memory loss is..."  She agrees, "Memory loss is common in the Blue City."

Fisher and Singer use parkour to descend down the fire exit as quietly and quickly as they can, scaling the metal to reach the ground level.  Singer lets Fisher go down first, and he covers him if necessary.  Fisher quickly follows to do the same.

"We don't have time to waste," the woman in red explains, "Its me." She opens her red jacket to reveal a shock of yellow color beneath. "It's Kira.  Get in the car, we have to leave."

Seeing the two getting back into the car, Singer tries to Call Draper.  But Fisher ends up yelling aloud, "Doctor!"

Draper turns to the voice and replies, "Who!"

Kira turns to the voice and realizes Fisher at the distance.  She looks at Draper, and realizes he is someone else.  Singer comes into view with a gun tells her to keep her hands up.  She tells them there's no time, that they have to go to the Garden, and that Hostile Personalities are close by.  Fisher tells them trust him and to get in the car.  Singer asks why she knows about the Safe house, but Fisher tells them to just trust him.

Shots are fired from above as the Hostile Personalities open fire.  Fisher rushes inside with Draper.  Singer sits on the passenger seat and trains the gun at Kira.  "Drive! Drive!" Singer gasps as Kira roars the engine and drives off.  The bullets do not find their mark.

As the car tears down the road, Singer asks Fisher why they are trusting Kira given they were told in Reception that Kira is one of the rogue agents. Fisher asks Kira how she knows about the Safe House and she tells him that was where they last talked before he Ejected.  He admits his memories are once again faded because of the Blue City.  "God damned memory loss... makes everything harder."

Kira seems amused that the Company is now referring to her as a rogue agent.  Draper, seated behind Kira, stays focused on her in case she tries anything.  Singer thinks about Calling Control to inform them they have the rogue agent in custody, but Fisher suggests they go to the safe house for now.  Kira dares him to try it.  She hisses about them not trusting her, especially Fisher given she helped him get out before, and falsified the reports to grant him the Commendation he needed to get back in.  Fisher realizes that did happen during Reception.

Singer realizes the dead body of a Mystery Agent in the bathtub might have been one of the agents with Fisher when Kira helped him.  Singer lifts his hand to show her the bluish buzzing at his palm, "What is this?"   She stops the car, and yells at them all to get out.  "I'm not driving around with them.  These assholes are carrying Static with them!"

"I'm not going anywhere without them," Fisher insists.   "We're trusting you, so you better trust us." He apologizes but they are all doing what they need to stay safe.  "Let's just discuss things better once we are all in the Safehouse."

"For all I know, you're going to go sing all the way to Control," Kira snaps at Singer, "Let me guess, you're a Caller?"  Singer snaps back, "But I'm the one with a gun."

Fisher tries to impress to them all that they have to trust each other and make their way to the Safe House, and she admits, "Only because Mason trusts you."  Fisher tells them that Mason is his Contact in the Blue City.  Singer puts down the gun and tries to get some rest while in the car.

The ride is a quiet one.  They all find a moment to rest a bit for the remainder of the ride.  Singer keeps looking back, still tense, during the ride.

Kira shares what happened in the last mission.   Four agents with Fisher as the team leader.  They were looking for the scarlet woman and learns she had been infiltrated and replaced by Jigsaw.  They lost three of the men and Fisher only realized too late the fourth was working for Jigsaw.  He revealed he worked for the enemy when he revealed the Cat mask he has.  Draper shows them the box he found with the warning about not trusting the cat.  "Damn it Fisher," Singer hisses.

Fisher admits he thinks he was sent back to eliminate Kira.  He tells Kira he trusts the two other agents.  She asks Singer about his background, and he shares they were both trained by Agent Duke.  Singer admits he was trained especially to handle small arms.

Draper asks Kira if she would happen to know a certain number.  He shows the number on the mobile device.  She doesn't admit she recognizes the number, even if it actually is Mason's.  They ask why she is branded as a rogue agent if she's helping them, and Singer suggests maybe it is to act as a double-Cover.  Fisher muses that someone in the Company might be a double agent as well.  "Either the Company itself is bad, or someone high enough in the Company is manipulating it."

Singer realizes Kira was Calling someone too during her moment of silence.  "Who are you talking to?"

Kira smiles, "Nice to see you noticed."  Then she glances at Draper through the rear view mirror. "I guess he told you. You don't recall meeting Mason in the past, do you?"  Draper admits he doesn't.  He suggests they play this out to see where it goes.

Fisher admits the Company considers both Kira and Miner as rogue agents.  She explains its because they've realized the Company is lying to them, about who they are, and what they are doing.  Draper though maintains communications with the mystery messenger sending him messages through the mobile device.

Draper asks if Kira is a Writer, and she admits she's been in the Blue City for so long she has learned a lot of techniques.  Before she can say more, however, a truck suddenly slams into the car and forces it off the road!  The group braces themselves as the car spins out of control.  The car slams into an alleyway and the truck continues down the road.  The agents quickly disengages from the vehicle and hurry into the street.  She rushes down the road and tells them to regroup in the Garden.  She rushes into the nearest building, dropping her red jacket as she slips inside.  The others hurry out and opt to head in the same direction, rushing into the same building.  The three step inside to see its is a posh looking restaurant and some sort of a dinner is going on.  Everyone is dressed in posh clothing with suits, elaborate gowns and masks.  Animal masks.  Draper notices at least five people in cat masks.   A woman in a rabbit mask stands at the entrance with a list of names looks at them and smiled, asking if she can be of any help.  There are numerous animal masks on the table.  Fisher whispers to Draper to pick up a mask they can wear.  Thinking of blending in, Draper reads the names out loud as they plan to be guests for the dinner.  The names are vaguely familiar:  P. Garces, J. Allosado, J. Roxas.  Singer claims to be J. Allosado and picks up the Elephant mask.  He hands the J. Roxas mask to Fisher, an orangutan.  Draper gets the P. Garces mask, a great white shark.  "Enjoy the hunt," the rabbit girl tells them. Singer jokes if this comes with a rifle.

They approach the tables and realize the "animals" at the tables are of similar types: sharks in one, great cats in another, and so forth.  The three start to worry what this hunt is supposed to be about.  A woman with a narrow face (an ostrich) watches them as they pass, and then pulls out a pair of spectacles to look at them.  Singer greets her good day.  Fisher joins the table with the great apes.  They talk about how the lions have been winning the hunt and how they hope to win this time.  At the corner of Draper's eye, he catches Kira slipping into the kitchen.  The Elephant mask joins the other pachyderms.  A woman with a wholly mammoth mask admits she's surprised they all appeared at the same time.  Singer claims they were friends and took the same ride.  She laments how she doesn't like them "mingling."  Singer tries to respond, "Don't worry, an elephant never forgets." But she retorts, "You do."  Draper joins the other sharks.  A door slams open and two men enter the room in cold war Russian military garb.  The two, however, do not recognize the Mystery Agents.  Then they carefully back away.

Fisher realizes something is up and makes a public display of needing to go to the bathroom.  The other monkeys are a bit bothered that he wants to go. "I guess my bladder is kind of-" The other monkey however questions his urge to go given "My bladder is quite well done."  Singer tries to excuse himself to smoke, but the others all draw out their own cigars after statements on Global Warming and the like.  Draper realizes at his table the other sharks aren't really wearing masks.  The hammerhead mask's eyes blink.  "Who do you think it is," the tiger shark asks Draper, "Could you be the one?  You can never know which one at each table is the one wearing a mask... I can't wait for the hunt. Its been so long since I've had flesh."  He hurriedly makes his way to the bathroom, giving some excuse about coming down with a cold.

At the restroom, the three meet up to discuss where Kira had gone but to their surprise, there are three people inside who gasp in fear.  The three ask if they are... and the three huddle to one corner.  They talk about how the hunt will begin and they can't run.  That the moment any of them run, the hunt will charge.  Singer tries to have the waiter serve some drinks to his table, but the waiter admits drinks are not until after the hunt.    The people are terrified, talking about how the hunt happens every week.  Fisher tries to find a way out via the bathroom.  Singer considers running out of the windows but one of the people tells them that the hunt begins the moment people run out.  Singer ties a handkerchief over his face and offers his mask to another to swap with them.  They ask why they are here and Draper tells them they are here to stop the game.  They are not sure how to help the people.

Agent Fisher.  Can you hear me?  This is Kira.

She chides them for stepping inside and realizes they don't recall the location.  She states she was able to safely come in because she used Cover.

You are in the Zoo.  You can't get out.  I'll have to find a different way.  Buy time.

Heavy knocking begins to slam on the door, and the waiter is asking if everything is alright inside.  The people are pleading that the three help them, but when one mutters, "Oh what's the point, its not as if you are Mystery Agents or anything," Singer homes in on the statement and asks him to explain.  Fisher tells them they need to buy Kira time.  Singer calls out claiming he is having trouble with his make-up.  Fisher asks the three others to explain more what they can about the hunt and how they can help.  They admit all they know is that when they make the mistake of stepping in here, there is no going out.  When asked of any recollection of what happened the last time, they admit they died.

Singer realizes the lions are probably the most vicious given their reputation.  But all the other tables have at least one predator.   Or worse, the six of them are the non-animals.  Knowing the hunt begins once they run, they consider returning to their seats while asking casual.  Another knock and they are told to step out.  Draper reminds everyone to stay calm and never run.  Fisher wets his hands and steps out.

As they step out, they nervously look around for possible ways out.  Fisher hopes to make his way to the kitchen, but then the music stops and everyone else stands and starts applauding as they emerge from the restroom.  Many are starting to lick their lips, if they had them.  Other are starting to gnaw unconsciously, baring their sharp teeth.  The waiter tells them to all stay where they are.  Fisher whispers hurriedly to the others to find a way to the kitchen while he buys them time.  Fisher grabs a goblet of wine and starts giving a talk to distract all those present with his rambling speech.

Singer Calls Control, whispering to it to ask about the Zoo.  Control states that records show the Mystery Agents have been in the Blue City for over two hours and they have not asked for intel.  Singer explains the team leader is distracting the hostile personalities while Fisher explains where they are.  Control is horrified that they are near the outskirts and he explains they were chased down by a truck.    "Thats why I am calling you now, for help."

The speech captivates the animals, distracting them as Singer and Draper consider their options.  As Draper nears the door to the kitchen, he notices the Hammerhead staring at him.  He realizes going into the kitchen might be considered running.  He opts to stay in place.

Singer reports the three dead agents and tries to tell them to Eject.  "You are not supposed to be there!  You are not supposed to-" but Static takes over the line.  Fisher glances at the two and sees Draper has not stepped to the kitchen.  He has not gathered the weapons.  Singer successfully convinces all of the hunters to close their eyes and after twenty-minutes to open it.  Draper glances at the ceullar and realizes the message there is suggesting something.  He walks towards the crowd and hears Fisher mumble to the rest to head to the kitchen.  The three break into a quick walk to the kitchen and as the door is shoved open, the animals count down.

The kitchen is filled with stacks of meat.  Singer grabs a leg to jam the door.  Draper realizes the leg is human, not an animal leg. Fisher grabs a pair of knives.  The message Draper receives is "Kiss a Frog and Make a Wish"

"We're supposed to Eject," Draper tells the others.  Singer and Draper hit their Lacuna devices to Eject.  Fisher sees the black pits where the two earlier stood.  The door slams open.

Singer hits the Lacuna device.

He sees the sharp teeth and fangs closing in.

*

Reception.

The three look around and see each other.  They are all seated at the table, lethargic but alive. The Receptionist is calmly waiting.  Singer mutters it was an interesting trip.  Fisher apologizes that they got into trouble and had to run away.  He asks what they saw in the report and she tells them they are welcomed as new Applicants as Mystery Agents.  Singer mutters he's confused given he thought they already were Mystery Agents.  Receptionist apologizes and reports to Control that one of them recalls already being a Mystery Agent.  Draper admits he too recalls Reception telling them they were Agents.  Singer mutters, "It must be a Blue City thing" but this makes Reception more curious.  Fisher starts stressing they are just confused and are wondering when they will actually begin Insertion.  They are all worried they may have said more than they should have.

Door opens.
An older man steps inside.  His tie is white.  He walks up to the three.  Draper recognizes Senior Agent Snyder.  He tells them Reception informed him of a problem.  He asks Agent Number Two if he recalls anything strange.  Singer claims he does not recall anything.  Draper is confused as to why they have not dived yet.  He asks Agent Draper to guide Agent Number Three through the Reception process.  Snyder asks Singer to accompany him to the door.

"Something feels fishy, I don't think we were supposed to remember anything," Draper whispers to Fisher.  He agrees.   They start to wonder if Clearance level Green is not actually just a clearance category, but a level of access to the Blue City.  Have they been in the Blue City all this time?

Outside the room, Snyder leads Singer outside of the corridor.  Singer asks where they are going, but before his question can be completed, Snyder shoots Singer on the chest.  He tells Reception, "Clean this up" then tightening his tie he uses Cover to become Reception and steps back into the room.

The Receptionist in the corridor walks up to Singer's body, places a Lacuna device onto him and activates it.  The body vanishes.  "Control, one body on the way.  He was remembering things.  Soon enough, we will uproot all of the rogue elements."






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