Location: A.N.I school. sector 7, tower 31.
“Who can tell me what the problem on the board indicates?” the teacher requests.
“Ah yes, Jess,” the teacher looks at a student with a raised hand.
“XY cubed – with 7x squared variable,” a lightly toned voice spoke- it belonged to girl with dark brown eyes, and light brown hair. While her appearance was well kept- beautiful straight hair – it was otherwise somewhat basic, and would have appeared plain had her beauty not been what it was. She wore a singular bracelet on her left wrist on an otherwise simple uniform.
“Oh right- i put down the wrong answer, actually…. you’re right. haha, good job.”
“Oh man, she’s smarter than the teacher…” one of the boys said. They would’ve called her a brainiac or another name, but she was too mild mannered and pretty to be teased. Instead they would try their best to impress her by studying themself.
Jess sat at a table alongside another girl, “Cria.
“Jess- you have a letter from someone!”
Jess walked up to her host ‘mom’ from the dining room where she’d been sitting. Her guardian handed her an unopened envelope with a seal- indicated to be from the ‘school’ for something uninteresting.
“What is it?” her host mom spoke.
Jess opened up the letter to her expectant guardian, “oh… Uh… nothing important. Just an update on the ballroom dance that I’ll be an aide to.”
“Oh!” her host mom replied. “You’ve been elected to a ball?!
“I’m just working as an aide for an older diplomat.
The host- mom thought for a minute ignoring the reason, perhaps out of excitement, “You know- my daughter may have had something that fits you for that.”
“Oh?” Jess spoke with forced enthusiasm- Her host family was well meaning but dense… she’d always grown up as a tomboy – uninterested in her own femininity- the thought of trying to attract the opposite sex didn’t interest her.
Jess watched her host mother excitedly walk into her own daughter’s old room as she secretly sighed.
The mother and father she was staying with were part of an exchange program that jess had been assigned to last semester. She’d been there for a total of three months now.
She was quite studious but she had a charisma that people were attracted to despite her being somewhat aloof.
Jess followed her host mother to the bedroom where her mother pressed a button in the wall – revealing an opening where a storage of clothing was. Unlike a majority of the tower- Jess stayed with someone more notable- an accountant and a teacher- thus was able to enjoy the benefits of a more luxurious life.
Her daughter supposedly was a similar size to Jess.
Her mother pulled out a certain dress – Yellow with orange stripes. Somewhat showy and with ruffles on the bottom. Jess was somewhat shocked by it. It would definitely expose a lot of skin. She wondered what her host mother was thinking.
“Uh I don’t think it’ll fit the dress code…” she replied with her hand to her forehead.
“Oh?” the mother looked disappointedly at the dress, “what does it say?”
Jess re-read the note aloud.
“Welcome to the official party for…” she continued down to the dress-code, “attire must be formal. For the men- well-suited. The women may wear knee-length skirt or…”
“Nonsense!” Her step mother spoke, “there’s no way that it says that- let me see!”
Jess tried her best to tuck the note away- but her mom snatched it up.
The invitation itself only mentioned the ball- the attire part she’d made up.
“you’re a pretty good liar!” her host mother spoke.
“ahaha, I’ll give it a go!” she replied. Inwardly- she was groaning inside.
“Her step mother looked questioningly at her for a second then lightened up. “Great!”
According to her exchange mother – she looked radiant- beautiful. She pulled out a reflector- which Jess looked into. Cleavage was clearly visible. She thought that if someone flicked a quarter it would probably get caught between. Her upper thighs were also half exposed.
Jess was more a straitlaced type- definitely a tomboy – uncomfortable with something so revealing. It was at least five inches above her knees.
Jess tried to smile.
“oh!” her mom clapped while Jess looked into the mirror.
(There’s no way I’m wearing it like this….) She could see the host mom light up.
“Is there anything a little less… revealing?”
Susie frowned. They went through the closet. Jess would have been fine wearing her school uniform and probably would have- but susie wouldn’t have any of that. Eventually.
“a pretty girl like you should at least make some effort…”
Jess sat up in her room. After forty-five or so minutes of dressing up- she’d finally been able to escape after having chosen something of a compromise.
The entire note had been a lie. Under the pretense of a blank sheet of paper was another secret note. She removed the secret note.
Place ‘Scanner-bug’ into Elite- Archus (Level T), hologram unit.
At 19:30 the doors will open to ‘Archus’ home for a gathering of intellectuals.
As aide to ‘Elite’ Rich, you will escort him as usual through the premises. At 20:04, you will open window in hall B of second floor for ‘SX3’ member ‘Midnight’ (a diagram of the premises explained the route) to enter in. You will then continue on, business as usual- ‘Midnight’ has left the premises aiding ‘Midnight’ with escape if necessary.
It continued on with details and specifics that she’d long gone over.
Normally focused on the task and hand and easily put anything else on the back-burner. However, this time was different – Firescout was a codename for a boy she’d known when she was younger- ‘Vincent Elluvia.’
She leaned backwards and remembered a distant memory of a young boy and girl. Ten years ago she’d chosen her father over the boy.
Vincent arrives at the base of the giant towers. Stretching far above him and far above the relics of an ancient city once known as New York- each cylinder stretched a mile wide and two miles high. The towers were originally developed with one floor. As commerce advanced so did its height. Eventually it capped off at 12 floors plus a top cylinder half sphere covering the top for the elites to live. In the heart of the towers is a power plant which works as the central energy source for the tower system. Perhaps twenty-five towers connect to each plant with eight plants connected along the east coast of North America.
In one such tower, an elite named Arthur is responsible for maintaining the train system. The top of the towers are the least accessible and most guarded and it is for this reason that spies are necessary to gain access to information. The Underground’s greatest strength is its ability to gain information- as the espionage agents are the most critical resource.
Within the tower of assignment, Vincent is already prepared a burn location on the fifth floor of the tower under an anonymous name. From there he will wait until the appointed time.
Entering into the other floors of the tower is relatively simple as commerce is an integral part of the ANI nation- they are used to foreigners coming and going and it is only the upper floors that are watched.
Place ‘Scanner-bug’ into Elite room- Arthur (Level T), hologram unit.
At 19:30 the doors will open to ‘Arthur’ home for a ‘elite’ gathering.
As aide to ‘Elite’ Rich, you will escort him as usual through the premises. At 20:04, you will open window in hall B of second floor for ‘SX3’ member ‘Firebird’ (a diagram of the premises explained the route) to enter in. You will then continue on, business as usual- until ‘Firebird’ has left the premises aiding him with escape if necessary.
It continued on with details and specifics that she’d long gone over.
Normally focused on the task and hand and easily put anything else on the back-burner. However, this time was different – Firebird was a codename for a boy she’d known when she was younger- ‘Vincent Valeras.’
She leaned backwards and remembered a distant memory of a young boy and girl. Ten years ago she’d chosen her father over the boy.
“I heard you were going to a party, Jess!” a girl came up to Jess at school. A part of her position as a Nightwing agent was that she was placed in long term assignments to ‘fit in’. Her assignment was an exchange student which included her work as a student in addition to her main objective of gathering intel.
This friend was someone Jess got along with to maintain cover. She figured that she’d fit in better with some sort of social life. Even still she didn’t dislike her friend.
“Ah yes… that,” she replied- positive yet reserved, “well -it’s for work…”
Her friend was keen on noticing emotional details, “What’s on your mind?”
Jess figured she’d open up, “I might see a friend i knew from a long time ago…”
The friend looked at her for a moment.
“Is it a guy?” she spoke with a sly smile.
While Jess could usually trick people about most of her life’s details- when it came to relationships – her friend was second to none in intelligence gathering.
“You like a guy!?”
“Come on… i said he was a friend.”
Her friend just gave her a skeptical look, “So how did you two meet?”
“Hmm,” she replied, “we met when we were little… but then my father had to move.”
It was easier to maintain cover when telling as much truth as possible. Lies were harder to remember.
“Oh childhood friends!” her friend couldn’t help clapping excitedly.
Jess on the other hand just felt more pressured.
It was after school the next day and before the party – Jess had already gotten ready as she sat up in her room.
It would be time about now. She’d have a basic conversation confirming the plan with her liaison…
She took a breath and sent a call to Vincent.
From the temporary checkpoint on the fifth floor of the ANI tower, Vincent receives a sudden beep. The only ones capable of contacting him on this hidden frequency are those involved in the mission, in other words, Jess. Following the beep he places a disposable contact into his eye.
“Hello Firefox,” Jess speaks to Vincent.
“Hello Black Wing,” Vincent speaks professionally looking at her. After attaching an augmented lens, a hologram of her appeared in front of him as well as building schematics.
She continued, “Status of party is green.”
“Understood…” he spoke, “arrival is at 20:04 at western window.”
“These are the current schematics.” (she sends the virtual map into his augmented lens.)
Vincent smiled, “It’s nice to see you, Jess,” he spoke, breaking from the professional character.
Her heart leapt hearing this.
“Thanks…” she responded. she was unsure of how to respond -but figured she’d try to talk about something. “I can’t wait to get out of this into something more comfortable…”
“It looks good on you…” he responded.
She blushed a bit, thankfully, the hologram within the lens probably wouldn’t be able to pick that up, probably.
“You like this kind of girl?”
Vincent felt challenged by the question… “Uh… i don’t think it’s that.” He thought it was probably best just to end the conversation before it went in a direction off topic and took the focus off of the mission.
“Uh…” he wasn’t sure how to respond to that as the tone that spoke was somewhat judgmental “I don’t think it’s that.”
“Anyway, i’ll see you at the party.”
“Haha, alright,” she spoke catching onto his change of subject.
Jess gave a slight smile on her end before following his lead. Even after all this time, she thought, they still got along.
Vincent takes his up his bag and makes his way to the nearest elevator. Within three hours he will arrive at the top floor of the tower.
On her own end she made her way to the mansion of the assigned elite for the party.
Jess walked up to Rickie Gerthman in front of his large mansion. He was the diplomat she was responsible for informing throughout the function of the event. He was an older gentleman, around before the development of the towers, probably mid seventy. He was responsible for diplomatic relations with other Cities. It was an important position and he was well respected by those he was in contact with.
“Hello Nikita,” He spoke as he met her. “My, do you look lovely. I do think I will be the most envied old person at the event.”
The man wasn’t thinking anything inappropriate, but a simple compliment without meaning Jess smiled, “How are you sir?”
“This will be a large party won’t it Nikita.”
“Yes sir,” she took on her more formal tone, “there will be many guests.”
“I hate crowds,” He frowned, he paused for a moment then direct his attention said politely but commanding, “I expect you to handle the people for me if you can.”
“Of course sir,” she replied.
Everyone at parties had their own agenda. Rick was one of the few without one.
“Well, let’s get going, Nikita,” he said as he entered into the taxi prepared to fly them.
Jess entered in alongside the diplomat. Jess’s cover was the daughter of an undercover family in the Allies’ system. She posed as an on-call aide to the diplomat. Between twenty and thirty, the position of allied youths would be to follow a mentor during the times they weren’t at school or partying. To work for a diplomat required a relatively clean and knowledgeable background.
Jess would work tirelessly to maintain tabs on all that she could in the diplomatic aspects as well as Underground. She learned most of it from her father, who had trained her to be knowledgeable of politics as he wanted her to be a representative of the towns; she was well versed in multiple languages and dialects and could fake a lot of different identities. She had a unique skill set, but was generally shy. Rick was a good match as far as diplomats were concerned for her cover.
They flew off into the darkness towards the top of the hemisphere where the event would be. From the top you could actually see the moon and stars, compared to the depths which hid them in the city that stretched above it. Even at the top of all the sections, there were massive buildings that hid the sky underneath the layers of Elites housing and the schools and police and government bodies that occupied it.
Vincent had the hard part. As the main operative, he would have to enter the opening that Jess hopefully had time to reach: undetected by people and sensors and guards. After he got in he would change to match the party, get past security and into the main room which only the leading elite who monitored the trains had access to, install the device and escape without the detection of the elites. If he got caught they would most likely scan the premises and find the scanner as well as trace the source. The mission was crucial to intelligence for second strike and that’s why he was chosen.
Vincent sat in the back seat, looking out the window. As the Flier went stealth and flew up the city sectors he got a look. The city was always night, lighted synthetically. Each sector held dark alleyways and flashy lights in their own area. The buildings were all assorted apartments. They reached the top dropped Vincent off as close to the building as possible then they went to their own stations. Tech installed the re-router.
As they entered the party, Jess slowly introduced all the people that would shake hands with Rick Garten; eventually they got a spot on the side and Jess told him she’d go to use the restroom. Something looked different than expected. She noticed guards watching the premises but they seemed ready for something. She needed to tell Vincent.
As she headed down to the restroom area, she broke apart once she was out of view and took out her de-sensors and placed them on the glass of the building wall.
She had it timed that Vincent would be able to enter just about thirty seconds later.
Vincent climbed through the window- a change of clothes had showed Vincent in a dapper looking uniform fitted to those Elite youths. Jess looked at him for a quiet moment before getting back to the task at hand.
“Hey Vincent, I think something’s wrong.”
“I noticed there was extra security- I’ll take a look from the inside.”
“I need to go back,” she replied. Vincent nodded. The difficulty with the mission was the need to maintain presence with her Elite ‘master’. She moved back to the room leaving him there to take care of what he needed.
He walked slowly behind, following the premises, getting a scope of what was at the mansion.
Vincent scanned the area, he took different positions posing as a party goer. Most of the diplomat’s children attended the parties and were the most active individuals, usually dancing and trying to find ways to meet up with other youths. Vincent noticed extra security as well as the sensors that seemed to be scouring the area. ‘Nikita’ was aiding her diplomat with information on the party and other people inside, Vincent went up to Jess while she was talking with Ricks.
“Excuse me sir,” Vincent spoke to the diplomat, “May I have the honor of asking your aide to a dance?”
“Certainly” Rick replied,” It’s very rare to see a young person with such respect nowadays.”
Vincent went up to Jess, “May I have the honor of this dance?”
Jess smiled, trying to play it off, she pretended not to want to as much, “Well, sure I guess. Maybe just a dance, I’m kind of busy at the moment.”
“Ah, go take two,” Rick replied.
They started dancing; Jess was smiling. His footwork was actually good, and suddenly they became the center of the floor.
He whispered in her ear, “We might need to adjust our approach.”
After another few steps, he continued, “You were right; the security is all different than planned for.”
“Should we regroup?”
“No, I have a plan. It involves a distraction and i’ll give you this to take care of.” It was the identity chip that scanned as the leader’s hand and the bug that would track the whereabouts of the Elite’s action.”
She took it from him.
“When do you want me to do this?”
“As soon as you get the signal”
“And what’s the signal?”
“When the building next to this has an accident- you’ll hear it.”
As the dance ended he leaned her back and kissed her on the hand.
“Thank you for the dance.”
She curtsied and went back to Rick.
“What was a polite young man,” Rick replied.
Jess watched as he walked away into the crowd of people.
“how is it, dating nowadays?” Rick asked.
“i don’t know… i’m usually too busy so i don’t do it,” she replied.
“But for him, you’d make an exception?”
“Eh…” she wasn’t sure how to respond to that.
He laughed at her red cheeks and lack of a response.
“Hmm i see…”
She led Rick around, meeting up and introducing him with different diplomats. The party continued like this for a bit. Suddenly- a large explosion sounded and shook the building.
She watched the guards move off in a hurried direction towards the exit. As she guided Rick to safety, she pretended to get split up from him in the crowd. She moved quickly in the direction of the main offices.
After scanning the buildings nearby and finding one with the possibility of least casualties- (At this time office buildings were usually unoccupied) he planted around it a set of charges at the structures integral points.
Making sure that everything was set he pressed a button, detonating all of the charges. The impact was success as the structure of the building began to collapse and the noise of the charges itself were enough to shake and alarm any nearby guards- specifically those at the party next door.
As soon as he saw that his distraction was a success- Vincent waited long enough for the enemy to get a slight visual on him. Once he got the attention of the guards he began to circle around on his speeder and get them to chase him.
“Hey you!” he shouted at some guards stationed outside of the premises.
“Long live the revolution!” he said and the bombs went off. He took Flier and dove down to the lower levels as fast as he could with multiple guards making an effort to pursue him.
Jess looked around at the havoc caused by the sudden explosion near the party. The guards were preoccupied ushering the guests that had began to hurry out of the building in a panic. Now was her chance.
She made her way to the second floor- sneaking quickly by a door while slightly opening it- and threw in the device that Vincent had handed her. On its own it would attach itself to the data terminal and begin its functionality- relaying the details in patches of code at specific times to the Underground headquarters.
The mission complete, Jess went to find Rick. She spotted him amongst the party goers looking pale from the excess activity.
“Sir, are you alright?”
“Yes Nikita. Thank God you found me.”
As she consoled a few of the people around and told them that things were fine, she overheard a conversation by the guards that were involved.
“It seems whoever it was outran about fifteen guards on a speeder and got away,” he spoke.
“I heard it was one of those Underground terrorists.”
“It’s just scare tactics. They’re trying to install fear, but they know they can’t get anywhere close to the action.”
“Yeah,” the other guard spoke, “but we were warned there would be something going down. Good thing too…”
She breathed a sigh of relief.
Meanwhile Vincent himself, having escaped out of the city’s depths into the night.
Vincent had gotten back to ‘outpost’ outside the ‘city’ where upon arrival had little time for relaxing.
Vincent relayed the events of the mission along with the details in different security and his change of procedure- via a holo link-up.
In front him in holographic form stood the ‘Council’ of the Underground, All the major heads were there including the current leader Ragu.
“You did what!?” said the new leader, Ragu, of the underground.
“Well it worked,” Vincent said.
Rage seemed to turn red at the response. “I’m tired of your lack of consideration- it weighs on the point of insubordination,” he seemed like he was about to recommend his execution with the tone he had; even though execution wasn’t a proper course of action.
“It’s seems like a logical change of plans sir,” someone responded.
Vincent listened a little tired- something about him risking compromising one of their highest assets and daughter, and ‘irresponsible’, ‘reckless’ while he was just pooped out and only stood there; outrunning the group of Allied security had taken a toll.
“As of this moment, you’re-” Reeg B stated.
Another leader spoke up, “We aren’t an oppressive government or even a military. We have to expect that things won’t always go the way we want but the objective gets met with Vincent. We need him. We’re not able to suspend him indefinitely.”
“Point taken,” Ragu said somewhat darkly. It was pretty obvious that he liked the power and being countered by someone ‘beneath him’ frustrated him deeply, “We’ll put him on temporary suspension.”
Vincent was dismissed and left respectfully, which is to say for Vincent, disinterested. Despite things going badly in front of the council and him losing some privileges in the UG, Vincent now had the time and excuse to keep tabs on Raeg- so it worked out in the long run.
Overall, he was happy. Things went well, despite the seemingly negative repercussions of the mission update status. Jess was due back any time and when she got back he wanted to get some ice-cream and celebrate.
She must have been on edge herself. From her side of the update, she’d have to relay the details of information gathering itself as well as a status update- however, after a little while in the holo-room, she had left it and gone to her room.
He made up his mind. He was going to ask her out.
Vincent walked down the corridor leading up to Jess’s quarters. He felt happy and he was going to do something with Jess.
He knocked on the door.
He heard scuffling as Jess opened up the door and greeted him, “Hey Vincent,” she adjusted her hair, “How’d it go?”
“Oh you know; I got temporarily suspended from missions and was assigned cleaning duty.”
“What??” Jess closed the door behind her as they talked in the hall.
“No biggee. Now i get to spend more time here with you,” he smiled.
She smiled back, “That’s not even fair; they actually congratulated me for the work I did.”
Vincent smiled, “Well you are the commander’s daughter. Beside that you’re easy to like.”
Jess smiled, “Well, if they don’t like you, that’s their problems.”
Vincent smiled, “Do you want to go out for ice cream?”
“Sure,” she said.
Jess got out of the room and closed the door behind her after a quick check in the mirror. She didn’t generally worry about what people thought of her appearance, which could have come in the fact she didn’t really have to.
She was excited but tried not to show too much energy. Jess had seen him like this a few times before, but he was almost a new person when he was like this. Either way she like who he was regardless.
They walked their way to the cafeteria in the underground. There was a little section with deserts and assorted things that only cost a little of the underground currency. Vincent and Jess both had a lot. They could make their own ice cream. He got vanilla and she got chocolate.
Jess smiled in his direction. It had been a while since she got to be with him. She wondered if it would always be like this. Upon his attitude, she knew that he’d treated the Allies that he’d killed with respect. He closed their eyes after killing them. Deep down he was actually a good person even if he didn’t think so himself.
Vincent looked at her.
“What are you thinking about?” he asked.
“Nothing,” she responded.
They started taking a walk looping around the Underground.
Vincent asked her about her future, wondering what she had in store, “So, when all this over, what are you going to do?”
“I don’t know. I think I’m going to go to an independent nation and maybe help the country develop into something better.”
“That’s cool…” she had lofty dreams, while he didn’t have any besides his revenge, “you have big dreams. I like that.”
“So, how about you, Mr. stands alone. Anything in particular?”
“Uh,” Vincent didn’t know how to take the remark, “I’ve thought about it enough not to know. I guess I like to write…” she didn’t know his plan of revenge. He gave a little thought and then replied, “Maybe I should just join you in what you’re going to do. It sounds more interesting and maybe I can work with people there.”
“Maybe you should,” Jess gave him a sheepish smile.
Vincent grinned but then a thought troubled him. How am I going to tell her about her father?
“Err it’s about your dad…”
Jess looked at him questioningly, but before he had a chance to tell her, a couple recruits rushed by.
“-I’ll tell you later.”
“There’s an emergency down in the hanger,” they said to Vincent and Jess.
Vincent regretted not telling her however that changed quickly as they rushed to see what the bustle was. As they got there they saw the medical staff taking in Jaydon and Sally and someone they didn’t recognize. Something seemed wrong, the person was passed out from something and they were monitoring his vitals. They too seemed a little tired.
A speeder and a grounder were lying next to the group.
“We were on our way back from recruiting new people from the village when suddenly…” Jaydon said.
In the dark recesses that took the edge of the commander elect’s office, a conversation occurred between Reese and an unknown but familiar voice.
“It was my goal for you to bring his daughter into the limelight for extra leverage but we ran into a complication,” Reese spoke on the line to ‘Fox-hound’.
“It’s okay, Reese – the mission is a success regardless. Her involvement is unnecessary now…” he dropped the topic, “just proceed as planned. As long as the strikes succeed, I’m sure we’ll have a bright future ahead of us, he spoke.
Reeg disconnected the com link.