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Second Mission, Part III

Posted on Aug 22, 2017 @ 1:06am by Chloe Nielsen
Edited on on Aug 22, 2017 @ 1:07am

Mission: Section 31

“Second Mission, Part III”
(contd from ‘Second Mission, Part II’)

Location: West City, BETA-525
SD: [2.17] 0819.1732
Scene: Humanity’s Hope Enclave – Lift

As they entered the lift, Stella wouldn’t stop chattering and her giggling between sentences was a little annoying. “You’re so going to love your suite. It has got the best amenities that most upscale hotels would kill for. The bed is so comfortable….” From then on, Chloe just zoned out the rest of the conversation, when she spotted the Communications Director, entering, just when the doors closed. It was also when Stella stopped talking, much to the agent’s relief.

“Whew, just made it,” Katie said, lining herself beside Nielsen, who somehow ended up between her and Stella. Pulling a strand of hair behind her ear, she smiled at Chloe. “So, Wilhelmina, I hope you don’t mind me being informal.”

“I don’t mind,” Chloe said, relieved to hear that Stella became quiet as the lift commenced its descent.

“Good.” Katie’s eyes brightened, her smile widening. “Anyway, I was wondering if you’d be interested in a guided tour of our residence.” She added as an afterthought. “At your convenience of course.”

“How about now?” Chloe asked, which drew an alarmed expression on Stella’s face.

The young woman, her mouth wide open, turned to Katie, her voice a little high pitched. “But I’m supposed to take Ms. Henstridge to her suite as per instructions.”

Katie placed a gentle hand on the other woman’s shoulder, giving her a reassuring smile. “Relax, Stella. I got this handled. If Ms. Henstridge wants to go on a tour now, then it’d best for us to accommodate her and then if she desires, I will escort her to the suite myself. Okay?”

Stella nodded with hesitation, gulping. “Okay, though I was so looking forward to telling Ms. Henstridge about how the bedsheets are made of the finest linen, imported from Earth.” She followed the statement with a giggle.

It was a good thing, Chloe made the decision to not remove her sunglasses as she had just rolled her eyes and sighed. But a tour was a great idea as it would provide her the layout of the place. Of course, she didn’t expect the brown haired woman to go anywhere outside the residence.

“Oh I’m sure, Wilhelmina would love the linens,” Katie said, grinning before turning to the blonde. The young woman tapped on the panel on the side and light blue lines appeared next to it. “Anyway, this is the layout of the building.” Pointing at the green coloured spaces, Katie said, “These floors mark the residence. You are free to go anywhere within the residence.” Her finger moved to the spaces coloured a brighter shade of red. “These areas in the building are restricted.”

But it was the red areas, the agent was most interested in. Chloe’s gaze was fixed on the layout – she needed to find a way into the restricted parts as that was where the artifact was kept and who knew what other secrets were found there. The really funny part was in a very serious situation was that those people continued to pretend to be part of a colony construction business. So if they were interested in recruiting her, then they’d likely test her first before revealing their real identity.

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Scene: Corridor -> Room
TI: An hour later

Well, after an hour, the agent managed to see the entire residence. Chloe admitted the place was very impressive – it was akin to a small town of its own, with its own school, dining areas, a clinic, recreation centres for different activities, a gym, various holosuites and a large habitat area, comprising of a variety of apartments, designed for single individuals, couples or family units. Now she was walking down the hallway with Katie in one of the habitat wings.

Regarding Katie, well the young woman displayed an overtly friendly demeanor and seemed all too eager to show the agent around the place. Nielsen wondered if it was all part of an act to impress her to either get her credits, recruit her or perhaps something else entirely. Katie, from the agent’s impression, came off as a bit naïve and that was just from listening to her – the woman was quite talkative. While Katie’s friendliness and cheery personality would be attractive to many, it wasn’t really to the agent, knowing the true agenda of the group and their harmful intentions towards Earth. HH Holdings, the company this gang represented, fronted Humanity’s Hope.

“See, Wilhelmina,” Katie prattled, beaming with pride. “You must know how proud I am of the work the company is doing. I mean, we make a profit out of it but to me it is something more profound. I’m really proud to be of service to humanity.”

Service to humanity. Chloe raised an eyebrow. That must have been some amazing drug, the woman was ingesting or she was just overdoing the selling of her organization part like an over-enthusiastic employee or cult member. They stopped at an office, puzzling the Section 31 agent. Of course, Katie continued her over-the-top sales pitch.

“It warms my heart, Wilhelmina to see how much we’re helping our fellow humans to build communities out here in the uncharted territories, where they could have a fresh start, away from all the problems on Earth and the Federation as a whole.” She tapped on a panel to the side of the door. “I just need to make a stop here before we head to your suite.”

“That’s fine with me.” Chloe let herself smile a little. The door opened and the agent followed Price inside. The Canadian took a quick glance around her surroundings – not a big living quarters but it was cluttered with items, mostly comprising of all kinds of hardware, gadgets and action figures, found amidst the bare furniture - a small brown couch, a few red and blue chairs. The walls, though a stark white, were covered with numerous holos depicting characters from holo-entertainment in all kinds of scenarios with disturbing images of violent acts against non-humans and scantily clad human women with unsurprisingly voluptuous figures. Chloe rolled her eyes, shaking her head - holographically enhanced from those women’s natural figures particularly the chest and hips in proportion to the rest of their bodies.

Not to her surprise, a young human male with short, light brown hair, slightly unkempt as if he just got out of bed, was spotted sitting behind a large rectangular, black metallic desk, his eyes glued to the screen. He was likely in his late-twenties like Katie or even thirties – hard to tell. He didn’t bother looking away, even when Katie cleared her throat to grab his attention and had an exasperated look in her eyes. Katie let out a low growl, when the man flailed his arms around and spoke in a loud voice, which the agent noticed, was high pitched.

“This freakin sucks.” He was seen banging his console. “They cast a freakin alien in the lead. My childhood is ruined! They made my boyhood hero an alien female! Damn it, the lead has always been a human male.”

Katie cleared her throat in an attempt to get the man’s attention and spoke in a loud voice, laced with a hint of sarcasm, “Hey Tom, if we could just interrupt your rant for just a moment.”

“I’m in the middle of something important, so come back later,” the man named Tom snapped back. “How the hell can I now fantasize being with her, when the hero is now an alien female!”

But the young woman said, the sarcasm growing in her voice, “Oh, important as in one of your lame holo-series and obsessing over a holographic bombshell.”

“Fine, what is it?” Tom rolled his chair backwards, his pale blue eyes shifting from the screen to the two women, when his mouth dropped as his eyes fixed on the agent. He then stood up and approached them, his gaze still on the blonde woman. The man was tall, standing about the same height as the agent, though he’d be a little taller, if she wasn’t wearing heels. A bit on the skinny side, he was a little baby faced for an adult male.

Chloe rolled her eyes, which was unseen, thanks to her sunglasses. The Canadian wasn’t surprised, having seen similar reactions in many humanoid men, when their gaze fell upon her. Her own reaction to those stares depended on the individual person in question and their intentions towards her, ranging from being flattered, very rare, to disgust. In Tom’s case, it was kind of a meh reaction like a mild irritant she could just brush off. In fact she couldn’t help feeling fa bit amused, when Tom’s leery gaze lingered over her chest. Nothing to see, she thought, sending him a cool, yet dismissive look in his direction.

“Well who we have here, Katie?” Tom asked, flashing a rather stupid grin in the agent’s view – a stupid grin she had seen on so many men – those with no clue about approaching women.

Katie answered, “Well, Tom. This is Wilhelmina Henstridge, the prospective investor whom Tim mentioned to you earlier, was visiting.”

“Oh right.” Tom’s eyes widened, yet his mouth still remained hanging as he smiled. “Welcome, Ms. Henstridge. I’m Tom Price, Tim’s younger brother.” His voice took on a slight drawl as if he was trying to impress the blonde of which he was failing miserably, judging from Chloe’s cool stare, which he couldn’t see. “I’m the genius in charge of all the technology in this residence. I know the network that connects everyone’s consoles inside and out.” Lowering his voice, he edged himself closer to the agent. “In fact from this console, I have complete access to the security systems, such as the holocams in every room so I know everything that goes on around here. Everyone here is at my mercy as I know all their dirty little secrets.” He smirked – a smirk that should be slapped off his face.

Chloe raised an eyebrow, placing her hat and bag on the desk, near the console. “Holocams in your private quarters?” This was going to be tricky for her, especially when she had to conduct intelligence gathering tasks. She might have to spend some time at her room in the Anonymous Hotel.

“It’s for our protection,” Katie said quickly, her cheerfulness somehow evaporated. “But the security team respects our dignity and knows when to look and when not to, unlike some.” She glared at Tom.

Tom added, grinning at Chloe, “And you know what else I can do – I can hack anything here. I’m like the most awesome hacker.”

An idea suddenly materialized in the agent’s head. If she heard right, then Tom’s computer console had direct access to the security systems – wonder if he managed to hack into the rooms in the red zones. That would be too easy and in her experience, nothing in the spy world was ever easy. The restricted areas would likely have an additional layer of security, difficult to penetrate. Still, if the tech guy had been hacking into other consoles in the residence, then his computer would contain information – one that could likely be useful to her own investigation. A plan formed and now was the perfect opportunity as she was already in the room.

Katie scolded, “Tom, stop acting like an idiot in front of our guest.”

“Does our guest know you chose to wear the light pink underwear, when that sexy red one may have gotten a reaction out of your husband?” Tom sneered.

“How dare you---?”

Tom’s grin widened. “Tsk Tsk, we have a guest here.”

“Know what, I don’t care,” Katie shouted, shoving her brother in law away from the computer and the two embarked on a loud, verbal spat, hardly paying any attention to the Section 31 agent.

Chloe moved around the table in a casual manner. She pulled her bag and hat closer to the dataport, to hide it from plain view of the holocams. The agent opened her bag and grabbed a pink lipstick. She then raised the cosmetic item to her lips, giving them a light touch up just for pretense. She brought the lipstick down, pretending to return it in the bag, but instead dropped it on the desk. Apparently, the sound the lipstick made from its contact with the desk surface didn’t catch the attention of Katie and Tom, still pre-occupied with their war of words.

The blonde bent side ways to pick up the lipstick, nicely positioned between the bag and hat. With her eyewear, she had the embedded holocam rotated about 90 degrees, allowing the agent to have a clear view of the dataport. She inverted the lipstick, the pink tip, positioned directly over the port. Taking on a casual pose, Chloe tapped on the black base of the object with her finger – the pink lipstick transformed into a data crystal.

The agent wasted no time and quickly inserted the crystal into the port – loading the bug into the system, thereby enabling her to access Tom’s computer remotely. A couple of seconds later, the agent’s fingers holding the device, felt a vibrating sensation – the downloading had been complete. Chloe immediately removed the device, pressed on the base, which returned the crystal to its lipstick form and dropped it into her bag. By that time, the arguing between the two had seized and they were turning their attention to her.

Katie stepped towards the Canadian, her cheeks flushed. “Wilhelmina, please accept my sincerest apologies. I didn’t mean to lose my temper like that.”

“Yeah right,” Tom quipped, sneering at his sister in law. “Too sensitive to handle the truth.”

Ignoring him, Katie feigned a smile at the blonde woman. “Anyway, I’m done here and can now take you to your suite. I’m sure you must be exhausted after such a long day. I know I am. Building a community for those lost humans is hard work.”

Chloe removed her sunglasses and just held them, folded in one hand, while picking up her hand bag and hat with the other. She returned a fake smile, all the while resisting the urge to roll her eyes, now that her eyewear was off. “Oh don’t worry, Katie. And you’re right, I could use some rest.”

“Oooh, can’t wait to find your secrets and…those other things,” Tom remarked, licking his lips as his eyes fell on the agent again. “I’m awesome with handling secrets.”

Oh he wished. Chloe couldn’t feeling a mix of annoyance and amusement over the young man’s audacity. Well, she was going to find out sooner or later just good his hacking skills were and how he was going to match up with Section 31’s tech. If he was a match for Section 31, then she was going to have a problem on her hands, one she’d have to deal with swiftly and decisively. She might have to take Tom out of the equation for the mission’s sake – not something she’d feel bad about it anyway.

“Alright, let’s go.” Katie waved at the blonde to follow her. The two women began making their way towards the door. Tom’s voice stopped them in their tracks.

“Uhm, Wilhelmina,” Tom began, as Chloe turned around half way. “Just so you know, I rated you an 8, missing certain features that’d have made you a 9 or 10. But no worries, it’s better than Katie here, who I only gave a 6.5 for being a boring plain Jane.”

Katie growled, her fists clenched and eyes narrowed, “Tom.” She turned to give Chloe an apologetic look. “Sorry about that. Tom doesn’t spend much time with other people.”

This was getting to be a bad comedy – Chloe wasn’t sure if she should laugh or not, considering the seriousness of her mission. “Actually,” the Canadian said, not willing to let his remarks slide and in this situation, it wouldn’t break her cover at all. The agent never really cared over how others perceived her own looks. She gave him a thin, cold smile. “Do you know what rating I’d give you?”

The young man’s eyes twinkled with hunger like a dog awaiting a piece of meat. “Oooh, I bet it’s a 9 or 10.” He winked, while at the same time, Katie snorted with disdain.

Maintaining her cool gaze on him, Chloe’s remark cut through him. “I wouldn’t bother giving you one, you’re just not worth it and I’m way above your league anyway.” She watched Tom blanch and heard Katie, let out another snort.

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Scene: Guest Suite

Chloe dropped her hand bag and hat on a sofa that was at a 45 degree angle from the door and made her way across the room to a modest looking queen sized bed. The whole suite was modest as compared to a room in a luxury hotel, with not much furniture besides a desk with a console, bed, sofa by the door, dressing stand with a long rectangular mirror, a couple of chairs and small tables. Not to her surprise, the carpet was ocean blue. She spotted her luggage, neatly arranged near the bed.

Putting her sunglasses over her eyes, Chloe strolled around the room in a casual manner like a rich socialite inspecting its condition with a critical eye to make sure everything was to her satisfaction. Using the eyewear, Chloe quickly pinpointed the locations of all four holocams, positioned at each corner of the ceiling by moving the embedded cam up and then in all directions with the information displayed on the inside of the lens – best part was her head remained stationery.

She removed her sunglasses and walked over to the desk, placing them next to the console. The presence of the holocams confirmed everyone was watched and their computer consoles were monitored. Reasons, well that was obvious – keep everyone in line, ensure the person wasn’t an alien sympathizer or worse a spy and maybe for signs of betrayal. All communications were monitored so Chloe wouldn’t be able to make contact with HQ or the outside world without a secure subspace channel, which would be risky in a place with such high security measures in place.

The agent sighed in exasperation as she removed her blazer and folded it over her arm - the peeping Tom, the letch with major low self-esteem and insecurity issues, would also be trying to monitor everyone’s activities and his motives didn’t necessarily jive with the security personnel. The blonde groaned to herself, in fact he’d be watching her now, hoping to satiate his perverted desires. The Canadian grinned to herself, looking up at one of the cams – she wasn’t going to give him to satisfaction and would just change in the bathroom.

Heading over to her handbag, Chloe pulled out a palm sized metallic blue case and moved to sit on the bed. Chucking off her heels, the blonde kicked them to the side and sighed with relief as she relaxed her feet. She lifted the lid of the case and turned a little sideways so the contents would be visible to one of the holocams, which were just make up items. Picking up an eye liner, she raised it to her eye as she stared at a small mirror on the underside of the lid and then her finger pressed on its end, turning on the holoprojector. So as far as the holocam was concerned, they’d only see her staring at her reflection, after playing around with the eye liner. Well, all part of her Wilhelmina cover – act vain.

Immediately, the makeup set panel flipped to a mini-console. Chloe tapped her finger on the console and the mirror transformed into a display of Tom’s computer screen. The bug was in place, hidden within its system, difficult to catch and she could now navigate around his computer when he was not around – the guy had to sleep at some point.

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Scene: Corridor -> dining hall
TI: Next morning

For the better part of the night, Chloe stayed up to pore through a treasure trove of information, using Tom’s computer as a gateway to access the locally stored information database, security and communications logs, subspace communiques, computer usage activities and layouts of the building including the vent systems – the map of the residence was available through her room’s console itself. The entire high rise building was listed under the ownership of the group’s front company, HH Holdings Inc, with the residence making up the upper floors. So what was the rest of the building used for and more importantly, what was happening in those red zones? Unfortunately, Tom’s computer was blocked from accessing those areas. Then again, Chloe thought dryly, the man wasn’t really interested in hacking those security cams anyway – no opportunity to peep at women undressing or engaged in intimate activities. Anyway, Nielsen had to find another way to get to those restricted areas.

Her information gathering wasn’t completely fruitless – the agent had managed to uncover details about many of the residents, enough to piece together character profiles, which included their personality traits, past histories. From those profiles, the agent planned on extracting their strengths and weaknesses to help her determine just how formidable they were to her. She focused her attention particularly on the company board members, aka the leaders and senior members of the group.

“Are you lost, Ms. Henstridge?” A soft, yet cold voice crept up behind her, making the blonde turn around. Facing her was the still form of a human man with South Asian features, standing about the same height, taller if she wasn’t wearing heels, and with salt and pepper hair, cut short. Fit with a lean build, the man looked to be in his early fifties and adorned in a black, two piece uniform over an ocean blue shirt. Chloe recognized him as the head of security from last night’s information gathering. She met his gaze with a cool one of her own.

She replied in a calm, yet her voice dripped with mild annoyance, “No, I’m just making my way to the dining hall.”

The man narrowed her eyes, his expression filled with suspicion. “Ms. Henstridge,” he began calmly, “Asim Kamal, I’m head of security of this building. Please remember that there are eyes everywhere watching and recording everything you do here. So keep that in mind, if or when you have any strange ideas here.” He just moved past her in the opposite direction. Well, he certainly wasn’t friendly – nevertheless the agent needed to be careful in her snooping. Since she was a guest, it was very likely, security was keeping extra watch on her.

Chloe proceeded making her way to the dining hall, remembering a visual communication log, she had viewed – a brief exchange between Mr. Kamal and Natasha Volkova in the latter’s living room. Apparently the acting chairperson was rather suspicious of the agent’s intentions and instructed the head of security to monitor her closely for signs of hostility towards their organization. But something the Russian said that stuck to Chloe – Natasha mentioned that she believed Jimenez made a big mistake in inviting Henstridge to the residence, ignoring the former’s demands to thoroughly vet her first and she had a bad feeling about the blonde businesswoman.

That one conversation cemented Chloe’s decision to conduct her analysis of any information gathered, formulate plans and communicate with HQ at the ‘Anonymous hotel’. She was a guest, not a prisoner at the residence and could come and go as she pleased for the duration of her stay, as long as the agent used their car. During her outings, Chloe would use the opportunity to visit her room at the ‘Anonymous Hotel’ for a few hours.

The Canadian entered the dining hall after passing through double glass doors. The room was large with a high triangular glass ceiling that allowed the morning sun through. The hall wasn’t fancy but quaint and a little informal. Circular tables with four to eight chairs filled the room, with a single, long black table lining up the wall by the entrance, where an assortment of baked goods, fruits, grains, eggs, potatoes and so on sat, their aroma filling the air. The place was nearly full with most residents occupied with their breakfast or conversations with others, though some glanced in her direction.

Chloe ignored their stares and walked as her cover dictated, with an air of aloofness to the long table. She was after all playing the part of a wealthy businesswoman with hardly a care for the plebs. She made her way to the replicator used to order the beverages and stood next to three, young women, deep in a rather serious conversation. One of them, a dark haired woman, hailing from the region known as Mexico, picked up a mug of hot, steaming coffee from the replicator and gave the blonde a smile before returning to her friends – a very bizarre conversation demonstrating their utter ignorance and hatred for non-humans. She wondered if the group decided not to pretend they were a colony construction company anymore.

“Did you hear the news from Earth?” A blonde woman asked – Scottish from the accent, as she sipped her tea.

“Yes, so depressing and breaks my heart,” the Mexican woman replied, sipping her coffee. “I spoke with my grandmother this morning and you know, she is in charge of the local garden society, right.” The other two nodded. “She was kicked off the committee after having served there for forty years. Oh it was so awful and she was in tears. Guess who her replacement was?”

The Scottish woman’s eyes widened. “Don’t tell me, an alien?”

“Oh yeah, a really disgusting alien, not even humanoid. My sweet grandmother replaced by that ugly thing.” She shuddered with disgust.

“The alien invasion has succeeded and our Earth is no more,” the Scot moaned, looking sadly at her friends. “If only that bastard Cochrane didn’t welcome those damn Vulcans, then Earth would have still been this beautiful world with only its rightful inhabitants.”

Oh right, party like the 2060s. Perhaps those idiots had missed their history lessons. Earth was still recovering from the devastation caused by the Third World War, a time when humans fought amongst themselves and the subsequent nuclear holocaust – so not a rosy picture those women were painting. The first contact with the Vulcans changed everything for the better. Chloe was tempted to roll her eyes but didn’t and she wasn’t wearing her sunglasses. As for her outfit, she decided to don another suit – a white blazer over a black top and black pants, along with simple, black pumps with high heels. She kept the same accessories as the previous day.

“I just got a message from my best friend,” the third woman, a petite, dark haired woman with distinct South Asian features, began. “She received really terrible news from her doctor.” She paused to inhale. “She can no longer have children anymore.” The other two gasped.

“This is terrible,” the Mexican woman said.

The South Asian woman ranted, “I warned her, you know to not go out with that Vulcan. But no, she didn’t listen and now she’s paying the price.”

Chloe sighed, ordering a tea from the replicator. Nothing good was going to come out of that conversation and instead, more ignorance and hate-filled rhetoric.

The same woman continued, “See, I heard from this doctor friend of mine that the Vulcan males have genetically engineered themselves where they secrete a hormone during mating with human women, thus making them infertile.” Her companions gasped in horror, while Chloe stifled a dry chuckle.

“I tell you!” The blonde Scot slammed the table. “The Vulcans have a plan to eradicate the human race and those alien loving liberals are letting them with their political correctness. It all started with that bastard Sardak taking over the council, where he and the other aliens forced Earth out.”

“It is now considered racist to use the word alien anymore on Earth,” the Mexican grumbled. But a new voice interrupted their rather lively, yet a hate filled conversation.

“That is ridiculous.” The voice belonged to a young woman, hailing from the South Asian region, India. Chloe noted her to be in her early thirties, had long, jet black hair tied in a neat bun and lithe, petite figure, standing at around 5’3”. The woman’s brown eyes were stern as their gaze fixed on the three women. “Vulcans don’t cause human infertility as evidenced from the recent births from human and Vulcan pairings. They certainly haven’t genetically modified themselves to secrete a hormone that causes infertility in human women.” Her words received glares from the three.

“Hey, Poorna.” The South Asian woman sneered. “I didn’t take you for an alien sympathizer. Maybe you don’t belong here.”

Poorna retorted, folding her arms across her chest, “I’m only stating a medical fact. You can’t let your hatred for non…aliens in the way of scientific fact.”

“Scientific fact, my arse,” the Scottish woman snorted. Thus the three women left, with the Mexican heard saying.

“If it wasn’t for her daddy being the boss, she wouldn’t be here.”

Poorna then sighed, turning her attention to the Section 31 agent. “Sorry, I can’t just ignore my years of medical training just to satisfy others’ hatred.”

“I completely agree with you,” Chloe said, picking up the cup of steaming hot tea from the replicator.

Poorna Mehta, Chloe recalled the name from her intelligence gathering expedition. She was the residence’s only doctor and daughter of HH Holdings chairperson and likely Humanity’s Hope founder, Mr. Mehta, the man whose large portrait loomed above them and currently in his quarters, supposedly recovering from an illness. Poorna’s mother, also a doctor, was Mehta’s first wife, who died a couple of years ago and apparently the man was only married to his second wife, Natasha for just a few months. Chloe had yet to uncover information on the founding of Humanity’s Hope itself, which might be hidden somewhere.

The Indian woman smiled. “By the way, Ms. Henstridge, welcome to the residence. Poorna Mehta, the only doctor here.” She headed over to the replicator and ordered a coffee.

Chloe inquired, taking a sip of her tea, “So, Dr. Mehta, why did you come here? It seems quite far from home.”

The other woman sighed, staring intently at her cup and shrugged. “Honestly, I came here for my dad. He is at an advanced age and I’m worried for his health.” She took a sip from her cup, grabbing a plate. “I was really worried the long journey from Earth would kill him and even tried to change his mind about coming here but he is too devoted to this gr…company…helping construct new colonies in uncharted regions for humans is a long-time passion for him and he seems to listen to my stepmother more than me these days and I don’t trust…” The doctor stopped, when her gaze met that of the person she just mentioned.

Chloe followed her gaze to the entrance, where the Russian woman stood, a cold stare in the Indian’s direction. Yes, Natasha the acting leader of this xenophobic band, while her husband was indisposed of.

“I said too much…” Poorna stammered. “You will have to excuse me as I have a busy day ahead.” The woman scurried ahead, grabbing slices of bread, cheese, some fruits and yogurt and quickly left. She had nearly bumped into Tom, who turned around, his plate nearly full. The man grinned at her as he made his way to the closest table, where two women sat. When he greeted them, the women glared at him and got up in a huff to move to the next table. He then turned his attention to Chloe and just kept his gaze on her, the agent rolling her eyes and glancing away.

Chloe’s gaze met Volkova’s cold and chilling stare as the latter approached the table, their eyes not leaving the other. A brief tension formed in the air and when the shorter woman stopped next to the blonde, her mouth curled into a tiny smile but there was no warmth behind it.

“Ms. Henstridge, I take it your stay is going well,” Natasha said, her voice like her smile – no warmth, all frigid like the arctic.

Chloe returned the smile in a similar fashion, cold as ice and spoke calmly, showing no hints of nervousness, “Great. I look forward to potentially doing business with you.”

“Alia, you know, Ms. Jimenez, our company’s CEO is very excited about your offer to help this organization grow and I myself am quite intrigued with you.”

Yeah right, Chloe thought with skepticism. She knew very well, Natasha didn’t trust her and was against the idea of bringing her to the residence. But all she did was smile at the older woman.

“Well, I must take my leave,” Natasha said. “I will see you around.”

Well, obviously, since she had Mr. Kamal keep a watch on the agent. Chloe merely nodded. “You too, Ms. Volkova.” She watched the Russian’s retreating back with trepidation – this woman was dangerous but then so was she. Just from her observations so far, there seemed to be some friction amongst the group like in particular, Natasha and Poorna and Natasha and Alia from that board meeting – it seemed there was a pattern forming there. She wondered if there was anyone else who got rattled by the Russian.

“Good morning Ms. Henstridge.” A new male voice alerted Chloe’s attention, the agent turning behind to spot a tall, handsome, well-dressed figure, whom Chloe immediately recognized to be Tim Price, the guy in charge of operations here. Unlike Natasha, Tim struck a different demeanor – there was a sense of warmth and pleasantness, but then again he might just be a better actor. From what Chloe got out of the information, he was one of the major players in the organization.

Chloe smiled back. “Mr. Price.”

“I just want to apologize on behalf of my brother, Tom,” Tim said, sporting a serious expression. “From what my wife told me, his behavior was just totally unacceptable. So please accept my humblest apologies and hope this doesn’t deter you from considering doing business with us.”

“That won’t be necessary,” the Canadian said. “I’m still interested in investing in your company.”

“Well, I’m glad to hear.” Tom’s voice raised with excitement. “My brother assured me he will not trouble you any further.”

Fat chance that was going to happen, Chloe thought with annoyance. But she had to give Tim credit for his false sincerity or perhaps he was like Jimenez in potentially wanting to recruit her into the group.

“Wilhelmina!” And there was the cheery voice of Alia Jimenez, who waltzed towards the blonde, a huge smile gracing her features. “How are you?”

Chloe kept smiling, despite her chagrin at the other woman’s overt enthusiasm. “I’m doing very well. Thanks for inviting me here.”

“Well, I’m so happy to hear that,” the black woman said, her voice filled with immense excitement and turned to Price. “Hey, Tim, might I have a word with you?”

“Sure.” Price nodded.

“Please excuse us, Wilhelmina,” Jimenez said, pointing at the food table. “And please, don’t be shy and help yourself to breakfast.”

Well Alia was right on one thing, the agent should get some breakfast after all she did need to eat. As the Canadian reached out for a plate, a familiar voice made her pause, her hand hovering just above the stack. She glanced behind her shoulder and raised an eyebrow, mild astonishment washing over her features.

A young, human man, spoke, a smile forming across his lips, standing just less than a feet from the agent, “Wilhelmina Henstridge, I’ve waited over six years for this moment.” He was tall at just over six feet, athletically fit, broad shouldered – well he seemed to have worked out quite a lot over the years, remembering him to be quite lean back then. He was in his late twenties with short, brown hair. His green eyes met her blue grey ones.

Chloe immediately managed to compose herself and maintained a cool demeanor but now her situation just got a little more complicated. Here was a person from a past mission that took place six years ago, who suddenly showed up in a room full of xenophobes on a planet quite far from the location of that particular operation. The good thing however, he didn’t know her real identity, at least she hoped.

The man continued, edging closer, lowering his voice to a whisper, “Six years for the day when you finally see me as an equal. Your words just before you left me stuck with me forever.”

Right, this just got more complicated.


*************************************************************************************

NRPG: Here is Part III. Well, I think I got all the players in the story introduced and the setting up part of the mission is done, so now we move to the fun stuff.

Here is a list of the characters introduced in Parts II and III to help you keep track:

Alia Jimenez – CEO of HH Holdings and likely leading member of Humanity’s Hope
Tim Price – Chief of Operations of HH Holdings and likely leading member of HH
Katie – Communications Director, Tim’s wife and likely member of HH
Tom – IT guy, hacker, Tim’s brother and likely member of HH
Natasha Volkova – Acting Chairperson of HH Holdings and likely boss of Humanity’s Hope, also wife of the founder, Mr. Mehta
Mr. Mehta – Chairperson of HH Holdings and likely founder of Humanity’s Hope (not introduced just mentioned)
Poorna Mehta – Doctor and Mr. Mehta’s daughter. May or may not be member of HH
Asim Kamal – Head of Security and likely member of HH
Mystery guy from Chloe’s past – more about him in the next part



~*~
Ranjani S.
Writing for

Chloe Nielsen
Section 31 Agent

 

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