Forge Netting 27: Regroup

‘377567473821.’

‘Liberte.’

‘HQ?’

‘Yes, Eustace. It’s me, Berry; time to come home.’

-*-

A package? What the fuck did it mean? He had to get home and open it. It had been so long that he had been doing this he almost creamed himself to actually have a tangible response to the question he had been scrawling.

His home had been an arena that played to his frustration; now it was audience to his incredulity. A recall – he looked at the magic eye picture and wept tears of joy. Following the message a purpose would come hot on the heels. Pinkerton was revitalised.

-*-

Fielding finally got something that kicked her memory into over-drive. Berry had been stringing her along all this time, which was fun. Fun was done with and now was the time for serious work. It did not take long for her to shrug off the mousy librarian shtick and start looking like her good old self.

Something in the stride; something in the purposeful look in her eye; something about the weapon strapped between her breasts.

-*-

Teschner, the head of the team, an message later, was emerging from a building he had been locked down in since this whole thing had taken off. He wondered whether the rest of them were as apprehensive as he was. Maybe they didn’t know the subtext of the activation

-*-

Standard deep cover rejuve job was on the cards for all of them. All of them reactivated, and for what? What was there that they could do in this world? In order for the kind of work they did to actually have some kind of effect there needed to be an order in place that they could exploit and work against; what was left that even vaguely resembled that?

‘So, Teschner, what are we all here for? Why send the reactivation code?’

‘Berry is the one with the skinny.’

‘Ah, don’t give me that shit.’

‘Pinkerton’s right. We all know that Ensign is awake, so what’s the dealio?’

‘Eustace, you should remember that whenever he is in action the rest of us are there as a control mechanism.’

‘That is one weird control mechanism, Teschner. We’re all killers, all programmed to walk around wiping memories, all barely there personalities, and we are supposed to control a blank psychopath with an unknown agenda?’

‘Control? Fielding, what the fuck is wrong with you? We’re a support network that controls him in the sense that we keep him focused and running.’

‘Oh, we are, eh? Shells to be programmed waiting for a programmer?’

‘Well, you responded to your activation code, didnt you? Your brain feels like it has been rewired too right? Want a purpose? Be on mission. We’ll track the bastard down and we’ll either stand next to him or taake him down; end the whole thing one way or the other.’

‘Sounds like a plan.’

‘Or a program, eh, Fielding?’

The laughter in the room was empty and hollow.

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Forge Netting 26: Waiting

One part awakes and others must stir in response. To think of Ensign in the singular was to misunderstand the nature of the organism that he was. Ensign misunderstood the nature of what he was quite proficiently – he was not alone in that misunderstanding though.

The scattered remnants of the thing that he was were half awake themselves – no one had said the magic word to them and so they sat there as inert as stones. Weapons were only deadly with some kind of impetus behind them – without a driving force they were just inanimate.

Eustace had a daily routine; he’d had the same routine for an age … so long that he barely remembered where it started. He made sure every time he stopped here that he had not been followed; no one else knew about this telephone (this solitary working phone) and he intended to make sure it stayed that way. He repeated a twelve digit code that he had memorised at some point, waited for the three beeps to signal acceptance of the code, and then he hung up.

Pinkerton made the same chalk mark he had been making every day of life on the side of the mail box. He would wait three hours, circle back round, and look once more for the drop which had not come. He wasn’t sure what the drop was supposed to be but he was convinced that the day it showed up he would know – that was what kept him coming back.

Fielding sat there and screwed the scrying glass into her eye. Another cryptic message left by someone who seemed to know her. It reminded her of something she couldn’t quite put her finger on; it was on the tip of her tongue so to speak but her tongue’s tip was lost.

Teschner sat in his study, the most expansive room in his subterranean bunker. The comm lines had been down for so long he suspected that the whole network was defunct – still he sat there though, waiting patiently for some sign that someone was still operating. And how would they all be? A bunch of assets stripped of their support network with no resources? Surely half of them had perished or were lonely confused old men — he chuckled at that one.

Berry was a lonely little computer geek who had the luxury of an entire complex forgotten by everyone else – the heart of the network which Ensign had been part of, so when the lights started flashing because someone was hacking the system he nearly fell out of his chair, quite understandably. Who the fuck in this day and age knew how to do such a thing? And of those who knew what they were doing with a computer system as complex as this one was had a computer? And of they had a computer, who had the power? Stupid questions, ones that made him laugh, but then he was very very stoned.

He swung round, punched the access key, and typed in the requisite code. So, who had surfaced? Who had woken from slumber like a lethal sleeping beauty?

One word was flashing on the screen …

Ensign.

Fuck.