The Turn of the Tide?
CBTF Headquarters, A Little While After the Last Issue (still very far back in the timeline)**....
The wolf has entered the pit of snakes.
I'm deep inside enemy lines. Mark did it. He got us through security without a glitch. Looks like this plan is working out pretty well so far, but I don't want to speak too soon. We still have a lot to get through. Hopefully the elevator works. "You guys do have an elevator, right?" I ask Mark.
"No, we don't." He shrugs. "Budget cuts and such with the whole new Response thing."
I scuff. "You're joking." Just then he steps aside and pushes the elevator call button. That's a relief. The elevator comes and a rather large, burly man with a familiar mustache and face steps out, but I can't put my finger on who it is.
"After you," Mark directs me into the elevator. I step in. "Ladies first." He laughs to himself and then follows me in. "This is so fun already. I feel like a spy.... Call me Brooks. Mark Brooks." After a little while he starts humming the "Mission Not Very Possible" theme. Ugh. This is gonna be a long ride up.
We're about halfway up now from what Agent triple zero over here tells me. His "spy disguise" is holding the newspaper up every time the door opens and suspiciously glancing side to side at the other people in the elevator.
Three quarters of the way up now. A young girl, about Mark's age, steps in the elevator.
"Hi." The lady says to Mark.
"Good, how about you?" Mark responds before clenching his teeth, realizing how he just messed up.
"Fi-fine, thanks." The door opens and she steps out, "Enjoy the rest of the ride." The lady says genuinely.
"Yeah, you too." Mark responds. The girl looks confused and walks away. "Jeezus, that was bad." Mark mutters out with a sigh.
"Yeah. Yeah that was pretty bad." I respond.
Apparently this is our stop. We walk down some halls until we get to a desk with a funny looking lady standing behind it. Mark smiles proudly at me for completing his mission before stepping forward.
"Hi there, Mister Brooks. Didn't realize you were coming in again today." The lady behind the desk calls out.
"Yeah, Perry, it was a last minute decision. Is Pfeifer in?" Mark asks.
"No, Mister Brooks, he just finished a meeting and stepped out for a little bit. He should be back soon." The lady, named Perry, pauses for a second and glances at me. "I'm not sure I've met your friend there, Mister Brooks."
"Oh, you mean Alex here? Alex, this is Perry. Perry, this is my psychopathic, murderous carrier friend that used his powers to force me to smuggle him into headquarters." Mark states with a smile on his face. After a moment of silence Perry bursts out laughing as does Mark. I follow suit, awkwardly.
"Oh, well, "Mister Psychopath Alex," would you like some lemon squares?" Perry asks, still chuckling to herself.
"Oh, uh, sure." I respond and walk towards the desk. She raises a platter full of lemon squares up and I grab one. "Thanks."
Perry smiles. "I made them myself. Hope you enjoy it, Mister Alex." I nod a little then hesitantly pop the square in my mouth.
"Perry, if you don't mind, I'm going to show Alex around the place while Pfeifer is out." Mark tells Perry as I eat the lemon square.
"I don't see any problem with th-" Perry starts to say.
"Oh my god...these are amazing!" I shout. That lemon square was one of the best things I've had in a long time. Perry looks surprised. "Mind if I?" I ask as I point towards the platter.
"Oh, sure. Go right ahead, Mist-" Perry starts to speak again, but stops when I grab a whole fistful of squares. Her and Mark's eyes widen in shock. In this moment of awkwardness, with them staring at me while I down these squares I realize I should probably use the Director's absence to my advantage and get the job done while he is gone. I pretend to stumble and knock over a stress ball Perry had on her desk, then use my telekinesis to roll the ball a little down the hall just long enough to have Perry gone while I talk to Mark.
"I need to get to a computer. Now." I declare to Mark. He looks confused and points out there's one on Perry's desk. I shoot him a look of annoyance. "I can't do anything while she's right here." At this point, Perry is siting back down at the desk and Mark and I turn back to talk to her, but suddenly an idea pops into my head. "Wow, Perry, you don't look too well." Mark catches on immediately.
"Yeah, wow, you should probably go home or to the doctor, Perry. You look like you just ate one of your lemon squares." Mark comments. I don't get the lemon squares comment. Those things taste great, but Perry looks concerned.
"Well... I feel fine." Perry responds, but she no longer sounds fine. In order to make it more convincing, I decide to go a little deep into her mind to give her a headache. She immediately starts wincing. "Good Heavens, I felt fine a second ago. Guess I'll go check in at the doctor's office downstairs quickly. I'll have to write the Director a note telling him what happened in case he gets back before I do." I give a quick "she can't" glance to Mark, don't want to risk anyone bringing up I was here in the future. He volunteers to tell Pfeifer if he should come back before her so she can get down and back quicker. She agrees and walks hurriedly away.
I discovered something mildly concerning when inside her mind, that the CBTF captain that I ran into after the Devil's Den bombing was just here. I can't remember his name, but he was here. Bah. I'm sure it's nothing.
"Thanks, Mark. Now go to the bathroom for a few minutes while I do this so if anyone comes you won't be caught here." I direct Mark, and start the download process by plugging in the adapter and first couple flash drives. Mark nods and starts to walk down the hall. Files pop up for a fraction of a second as they are downloaded onto the flash drives, but it's taking longer than I hoped. The progress bar is barely moving. After a few moments, a notification shows up that the first drive is full, so I exchange it for a fresh one, but feel a cold shiver go down my back after I do so. I turn around to see the Shadow standing in front of a door.
"I told you I would tag along for this one." The Shadow says plainly, "Now, quickly, lets check out what secrets lie within the Director's office. We both know Captain Cooper was just here. Don't you want to know if he was gossiping about us?" Ah. Cooper. That's his name. And I am interested to what goes on in the Director's office. I glance back towards Perry's desktop, wait a second for the next flash drive to fill up, then switch it out for hopefully the last time. Then I turn back towards the Shadow, nod, and walk into the office as the Shadow opens the door.
CBTF Headquarters, At the Same Time as Above
Captain Cooper stands expressionless in the elevator on his way down from Director Pfeifer's office. His full suit of officer designated CBTF armor clinking as his body shifts. He glances up towards the floor numbers as they descend, takes a deep breath, looks down at his helmet under his arm, scratches his mustache, and moves towards the door as the elevator comes to the main floor. As the elevator door opens two men step out of his way, one quite stocky, robust, unkempt, and unfamiliar, the other quite average, thin, moderately kept, and somewhat familiar. He gives them a nod and continues on his way, but not before he hears one of them allow the other one on just to say "ladies first". Not long after he walks away from the elevator two other people approach him, one woman, one man, both moderately muscular and in full suits of standard CBTF armor, they are part of the fairly new squad under his command.
"Tell them to get the truck ready. We're going back on patrol right away." The captain orders as he charges out of the headquarters.
The woman, named Madeline Bonney, activates a wrist display that connects her to the squad's truck waiting outside. "The captain's meeting is over. We're heading out now. Be ready to move." After she gets a response she taps the display and it closes down with a beep, after which she puts on her helmet.
The man, named Cole Simmons, a member of Cooper's old squad, only surviving the brutal attack by the terrorists by luckily calling in a sick day, puts on his helmet as well. "Let's go ahead into the truck, Bonney. The captain's gonna wanna quick smoke before we head out." Cole glances back at his old friend, who returns the favor with a quick nod before pulling out a cigar from the pouch in his backside. Cooper goes to grab his lighter, but can't find it. He pats around himself quickly before realizing he must have left it in Pfeifer's office when he sat down.
The Captain steps into the truck, puts down his helmet, and orders them to drive him back up to the headquarters main entrance then tells them he'll be right back as he jogs back into the home of the CBTF.
The Shadow disappeared after I walked through the door- of course. I don't know what I expect to find, but I'm glancing through things nonetheless. Have to make sure everything looks just how I found it. So far it's nothing but a lot of reports about the Response, papers on criminal carrier cases, a schedule for the day, and a tiny little note.
Captain Cooper is far less patient this go around on the elevator. He taps his fingers in a rhythmic pattern on the rail, and groans after glancing up at the floors to see he's only half of the way there.
"Now that's a keeper." The Shadow comments with a chuckle as I pick up the note. Huh. Guess I'll check it out. All it says is...
"Kingville." My head shoots back in horror. "Oh God, no." I grab the note and run out of the Director's office.
"Dang, Pfeifer have you been working out lately? Looking good, Big P." Mark says with a snicker as he leans on Perry's unoccupied desk.
I ignore him and check the computer. The download is complete, so I start to unplug all my things and shut down the desktop. Mark rolls his eyes at me for not responding to his joke. Now I just need to wipe Mark and Perry's memory of today. "Mark, I need to find Perry. Right away." I tell him with a wave of my hand, then he nods and turns towards the elevator. I'm just about to unplug the adapter when the elevator rings. The door opens and a huge figure steps out of it and strolls down towards us.
"Good news! The doctors said I was as healthy as a horse when I went down there, Mister Brooks and Mister Alex." Perry calls from down the hall. I quickly unplug the adapter and step away from the back of her desk. "But you two really didn't have to sit and wait for me to come back."
Another elevator rings and a CBTF captain, with a large mustache steps out, then states quietly "Evening again, Perry. Forgot my lighter in the Director's office. Mind if I go in to get it?" Perry nods and gestures towards the office. Crap. It's Captain Cooper. Hope he doesn't notice the note missing.
After a second of hesitation Mark picks up the conversation. "Oh, we didn't, Perry." Mark says plainly. Captain Cooper steps out of the office and stuffs something into a pouch on his back. "We were just stopping here on our way back because Alex insisted on getting more lemon squares. Right, big guy?"
"Right." I respond as I pick up the whole platter of lemon squares and hold them high in hopes of Cooper not getting a good look at my face. "I'd like to take the whole thing if that's alright."
Perry, Mark, and Cooper all stop dead and look at me in shock. They all glance at each other, at the lemon squares, then back at me. Mark and Cooper's face are in disgust while Perry looks like she just got proposed to. "This guy must be suicidal," Cooper mutters under his breath, then starts walking towards the elevator, but stops for a drink from the water fountain. I take this chance to enter Perry's mind, and distort or [attempt to] erase all her memories of me, then I enter Mark's to release him from his commands and try my best to erase the entire time he's been with me today. Then I speed past Cooper, still drinking, leaving Mark and Perry together, and press the call button for the elevator several times. I keep glancing at Cooper, then the elevator, and start tapping my foot anxiously while I wait. Finally, the elevator comes and I leap in, but not before Cooper sticks his hand in the door to prevent it from closing. "Room for one more?" He asks, smiling courteously.
"....sure." I respond. Dammit. He steps in next to me and we both go to press the main floor button at the same time. I step back and gesture for him to hit the button. After several floors of nothing, but time-slowing elevator music I feel the need to say something so I don't look like I'm actively trying to avoid him. I turn towards him, raise the platter, and ask, "Lemon square?"
He stares at me, sickened by my offer. "I threw up last time I had one." He looks back up to the floor numbers. "So no, thanks."
"Sounds good." I respond before plopping one into my mouth. I can feel him gazing at me in disgust. Then I realize he might not be looking at me for the lemon square in my mouth, but the note in my pocket. "Can you hold this?" I ask him as I hand him the platter, catching him off guard. He nods with a roll of the eyes, and holds onto it awkwardly while looking up at the elevator numbers to see we are almost done. I drop down to tie my shoe and at the same time secure the note deep in my pocket without him noticing. The elevator opens as I finish "tying my shoe", and a young lady is standing right at the door when it opens. I'm not sure what it looked like, but the stare she gave at me on my knee in front of Cooper was complete shock. After a second, she regains her composure and backs away from the door.
"Oh- no. Come on. Are you kidding me? He was tying his shoe for Christ's sake!" Cooper shouts. I stand up now. "Here's your freaking lemon squares." Cooper states coldly as he shoves the platter back into my hands, then he storms out of the CBTF headquarters and lights up a cigar in front of what I presume to be his squad's truck. I nod to the CBTF employees as I walk out, trying to look casual, then give Cooper a half salute and a smile as I pass by him.
Now I just have to download this data for viewing and pray no CBTF forces are at Kingville when I get back. The wolf has survived the snake pit, but now fears the snakes may be in his den.
This is still a few months before recent events like Diver's child, PK's Officer Slaughter, and Dervish.