Chapter 3: Job Placement
So…things have been slow. Not for the city, though. I keeping hearing about the Response doing their hero shtick all over Indigo, Peacekeeper raising hell on the streets, and enough Carrier attacks to make any sane person want to move as far away from this city as possible (still haven’t figured out why no one does though). For me, though, I’ve been stuck at CBTF headquarters for months now, training. It’s a sweet gig, I’m not complaining. The apartment I’ve got here is better than my old one (this giant skyscraper doesn’t ONLY have offices), I’m an official CBTF agent (got a badge to prove it), and the food is decent. The only problem?
“I’m starting to get cabin fever and it sucks.” The woman across from me writes that down on her notepad, like it’s the first time I’m telling that to her. “You do realize that’s the same thing I told you last time, right?”
“Great, just checking.” I lean back in my chair and start twirling my finger, snowflakes beginning to dance around it. “Can you please tell me what the point of all of this is?”
“We have to make sure you’re the right man for the job, Mr. Kern.” She says, watching my little flurry show with more annoyance than anything else.
“Pfeiffer said I was the PERFECT man for the job,” I retort, getting annoyed myself. “I literally fell into your lap.”
“You’re arrival at the CBTF was a matter of luck,” the woman says. “For you. Just because you fit the bill doesn’t mean you’re right to go into the field.”
I catch the jab at the fact that I’d be dead if it wasn’t for the freak show they have locked up downstairs. Bubeck’s face runs through my mind and it makes me stop twirling snowflakes out of fright. I look at the woman and notice that the same look of annoyance on her face is the same as it face she’s had on ever since I’ve met her.
“You don’t like me, do you?” I say, to which her face doesn’t respond. “You’ve kept looking at me like that ever since we met. It can’t be something I’ve said, because the only thing I’ve talked about for weeks are those weird lemon squares you guys feed me. It’s because I’m black isn’t it?”
Immediately her face goes from serious to shocked, “What?! No! I’m not-I mean I would never-“
I smile, feeling a sense of accomplishment for finally cracking her. She gets my joke instantly and I see her fight the urge to slap me. Laughing, I say, “Sorry. That’s my go to thing to make people-“
“You’re unprofessional.” She states, back to seriousness. “The only reason you’re here is because Pfeiffer’s desperate; you know it, I know it. Someone like you should not be going into such a dangerous situation. This mission needs someone like-“
“Like you?” I see her lock up for a second and I put the pieces together. “You were one of the agents that was trying to get info on the Carrier camp, right? I guess by the way you were talking about it is that you were getting close until Pfeiffer pulled you out. You felt betrayed and now you’re taking it out on the guy that you know can get closer than you ever could.”
“How could you possibly-“
“I was a psych major before the Wars,” I say plainly. “But then a bunch of alien junk put a whole in the college and I’m stuck in a concentration camp. Never got too far after that.”
She sits up straighter, more than a little annoyed at me. “Yes, I was researching the camp before you came along. I never liked Carriers getting mixed up in our ranks, and my opinion certainly hasn’t improved with this mission.”
“I feel like we’re bonding now,” I joke. “Building bridges and all that.”
“You’re proving my point more and more.”
“I think being able to tell jokes in an uncomfortable situation is a good talent to have, don’t you?”
“Not when you’re being such a jackass,” she says sternly. “The people you’ll be meeting won’t hesitate to kill you if you piss them off.”
“I’ll keep that in mind, Agent…”
“Guild. Jasmine Guild.”
I smile. “Glad to finally get your name, Agent Guild.”
She smiles too, and I’m frightened by the sudden show of emotion, “You’d have to learn it sooner or later. I am your handler after all.”
Guild walks to the door of the interview room. She turns back to look at me, “You’re out in the field in a week. Be ready by then, no more jokes.”
She closes the door behind her. Her announcement sends a jolt of electricity through me. Finally, after months of waiting, I’m going out. The thought of actual sunlight is enough to get me excited.
I smile broadly, and the temperature around me drops a few degrees.
To be continued