Location: Briefing Room A23
“…” Samad’s answer came in utter silence.
His trapped his words behind sealed lips, his eyes narrowed in Lawrence’s direction. His arms crossed over in front. He had to remind himself he had to be less of a ‘jerk’ as Cade once put it, but Lawrence’s outburst screamed stress and irritation. The behavior didn’t match the one from their first mission.
Thankfully Lawrence’s partner stepped in then smoothed over the issue. Like Cade had done for him numerous times, he watched the exchange careful then nodded. He was aiming to let the matter rest. His arms released their grip before they dropped to his side and he turned toward the hallway.
Time: 2 weeks before the present.
A sober Alistair sat in a chair within a conference room. The interior was shrouded in darkness except for a single spotlight, the illumination bearing down on him in the small room. It appeared to be an interrogation, but it was not. In fact it was far from it. Alistair had been struggling to get Zak reassigned from Ante Mortem with little success. The only thing the mentor’s stubbornness had accomplished was delaying Zak actually taking on his newly assigned responsibility and sparing the boy’s potential being completely ruined.
Now he wondered about his own ability remain neutral in regards to his student. Pushing the thought away, his attention returned to the deal being woven together by his hand and another’s.
The figure was shrouded in the darker part of the room beyond the light. An attempt to hide the individual’s identity and intimidate him, but Alistair merely let his mask slip into place. He wouldn’t let fear spoil this conversation. Taking a moment, Alistair sipped on his recently warmed tea in thoughtful silence.
With this small favor someone higher up would be looking into the file while freeing Zak from his obligations. During the ‘process’ they had removed his mentee from watching or even contacting the Experimental Team. They still needed watched, much to Alistair’s irritation, but it wouldn’t be Zak that would do it. The higher ups felt he risked attachment which made Alistair scoff in amusement.
The tone reflected that with each word, his aim was clarification and absolution in the terms.
“So, I take this mission and you will release Zak of all obligations concerning both Ante Mortem and the Experimental Team? No unpleasantries will follow his career into other… areas?”
“And the file?”
“It’s a curious thing, but it will take time and resources to discover what you are asking for. You’ll be under quite a bit of ‘debt’ to pay for the information brought into light,” mused a feminine voice as the figure’s silhouette shifted into a more comfortable position.
“Story of my life,” Alistair answered.
Immediately he pulled up from his seat, taking his mug into one hand. He reached out the other to offer a handshake then hold it for several moments. As he suspected, she didn’t bother to reach for it. There was no intention to return the friendly gesture. Instead her eyes stared him up and down, absorbing his appearance into memory.
“I believe that’s your way to say you agree?” Her voice purred to confirm.
“One of many.”
Leaving the cryptic answer in the air, Alistair nodded.
“Good, I’ll inform the people I work with. We’ll inform you of anything we find, until then good luck on your mission,” the woman commented as she stood up, her heels clicked across the wooden floor toward the exit.
She paused at the door then flipped her head back toward him with the last word.
“Try not to die before you deliver on your end of the bargain.”
Alistair idly engaged into a brief, but boring staring contest with his fellow Overseer, Malcome Raine. It was obvious something he had said provoked his peer. Not that he cared as he let his eyelids shift into a half attentive glance. Underneath his calm and easy going mask, Alistair relish the expression of anger growing on Malcome’s face. The redness in the squarish features had already made his day much better.
“Do not test me, Mr. Rhones. I tolerate you for now,” Malcome warned.
It only widened Alistair’s smile.
When it came down to their personalities, the two were extreme opposites. Alistair improvised most his plans and hide the true self from sight. He was known as the Multi-Faced Asylum for that little talent. On the other hand, Raine kept firmly to the rule book and was straight forward with everyone. Even if the truth would kill most individuals.
Between these differences, the biggest miracle had been the fact the pair hadn’t killed each other yet. Not that the notion hadn’t crossed Alistair’s mind once or twice.
“If I was testing you, you’ve been aware of it by now. I assure you.”
Alistair raised his hands in a surrendering posture, his figure leaned away and settled into the chair. He folded them into each other when he spotted signs Malcome’s anger had began to dissipate.
“I’m simply asking if anyone knows why Ante Mortem went temporary AWOL. Did anyone attempt to debrief them or the other members of that assignment?”
“No, it was deemed best to leave them to their own devices.”
“Then you have no idea what their mental state might’ve been-”
“They weren’t classified as a danger or self-harming.”
“That doesn’t explain why you have several retrieval teams coming back injured or why you’re sending the Asylums from his last mission to bring the pair back. We have no idea how Ante Mortem will react, unless you’re using them to get rid of the chaff from the wheat,” Alistair podded, suspecting that wasn’t the real reason.
“OF course NOT!” Malcome hands slammed down on the table along with the rest of his patience.
“Whatever you say, I’ll go get our ‘team’…” Alistair rose upright then walked to the door, leaving the other Overseer frustrated and angry.
His red head peeked through the door to note nearly everyone had arrived. After looking at the collection, he frowned then raised a hand closer to his chest. He pressed his first, then second fingers against his thumb as he counted off the individuals waiting there. He stopped at Samad realizing that Cade was missing. Though his expression showed nothing, he inwardly sighed. No wonder Zak had such difficulty with them.
‘So I’m babysitting those two. At least the others appear to be adults,“ Alistair’s cynical thought disappeared as he put on a smile.
He opened his mouth to inform the others to head on in before he paused mid-sentence. His vision caught movement heading toward them, Cade looking pale and more sickly than usual. Dark rings circled underneath his eyes giving them a hollowed out look in the shitty light.
“I’m sorry for keeping you waiting. Why don’t you all head in and we’ll get started.”
His head ducked back in, expecting the more powerful members to arrive whenever. They already had been briefed over the missions expectations and giving their assignments, so the only reason to meet here was to make things go faster.