Je toho 33 kusů. Protože bázeň jsem na to vzdala.
Into the light
The world was dark. Bubbles of air were leaving her lungs. It was cold, so cold. She needs to stay focused, she can make this.
She can survive.
Down, down, down, there is no air up there. Go down and out of this place that closes around you.
She was crazy.
Did she really volunteer for this?
Of course I did. I will do whatever it takes. Nothing can stop me.
I survived. I will keep on surviving.
Down and out!
Her pager beeped and Risa shot up, freeing herself from the nightmare
Oh, a mission is coming up!
The Trinity Meets
“Interesting,” Eagle was reading the report of activities of a certain organisation. “They despise magic. Worse, they try to exterminate it’s every trace, be it in a person or in an object.”
“Infiltration and monitoring, for now,” Wolf suggested. “Their headquaters. And, we suspect they use this chain to gather information...”
“But who to send?”
“Someone who only uses magic passively. They wouldn’t trigger their alarms... Osprey is on call.”
“She is too junior for this. And someone without any magic at all is better choice,” Swan argued.
“Raven it is.”
“Call them both. And Fox,” said Wolf.
When One is Enough
“Infiltration. Monitoring. Screening. Now Osprey can be assigned for screening. She can do that well enough. And she knows Northern England and Scotland. You had Fox in mind for infiltration or monitoring?” asked Eagle.
“Neither,” Wolf said. “This calls for more than just a sneak in and out. Raven would be the best for both. It’s one location, sending more than one agent in would tripple the danger. Send Fox with Osprey, they could cover larger area in shorter time.”
“Joined mission would be good for both of them,” said Swan. “Let Raven have more space.”
The Trinity decided.
Risa entered the headquaters with smile. It was like coming home. No, this WAS coming home. She missed it... and she wasn’t gone longer than three days.
In the briefing room Swan greeted her. Fox slid in a minute after her.
“You will check these hostels. The hired help seems to have it’s own agenda. You will screen everything for magic reading devices. You will not write anything down, you will not take any pictures. You need to remember everything. Do not use any magic. Under any circumstances. Stay low and very very quiet. Stay safe.”
Something Not Right
Edinburgh was next on their list.
Risa couldn’t wait. She loved the city, especially the upper part of the Royal Mile. It shined so much. Well, it had magic, that’s the right term for the shine. There are magical structures, half concealed portals and built in artifacts. She could see it even before and now, after her training, it will be something fabulous...
Except it wasn’t.
When they arrived, she went straight through the Roxburgh’s Close to the St. Giles cathedral.
It always shined.
Now it was just... dark.
Yes, there was something to report.
The Royal Mile turned off.
You Learn Something New Every Day
They moved from hostel to hostel. When possible they stayed in different dorms each, to get more coverage. There were some.. interesting things to notice.
And other things.
Combination lock for the hostel, for a room. Different locks, different combinations.
It opened something in Risa. She started to notice. Everything.
“The man in front of us,” she muttered to Fox when they were at an ATM one day. “Had PIN 5672.”
“You couldn’t not notice, could you?”
“Now we have to follow him, kill him, take his card and clear his account.”
“Kid, you are a good one.”
Typical hostel problems
The dorms are small, the common areas not big enough for even half the hostel capacity, toilets and showers just a few, never enough pans in kitchen, never enough room in shared fridge and so on.
One of the problems, of course, is the light.
There is a light switch at the door. Just in the right height and distance so noone can reach it from their bed.
Someone needs to get up.
Turn the light off.
And then not die trying to navigate through all the baggage that clutters the floor.
Every room needs one of the last ninjas.
Risa completely refused to enter this hostel.
There was something she could feel at the door. Like a portal, but opposite. It didn’t take you somewhere. It took (or could take?) something away.
She wouldn’t sleep there. It was safe enough for Fox.
Fortunately, you can sleep outside in Scotland, wherever you want. And it was summer and she got a sleeping bag.
She found a nice spot.
It was after midnight when she felt some dark wave climbing and washing through the area.
She felt it in her dream. Couldn’t breath. Couldn’t wake up.
Swim to the surface!
Stay Low, Stay Safe
Risa shot up gasping for air.
That dark wave was not a dream. She could half-feel it. It was real. Without thinking she pulled couple of things out of her pockets and started forming a protective star.
She was never taught this, but since early childhood she knew how to protect against shadows lurking in half-seen darkness.
Her hand stopped before she began with the activation.
Do not use any magic. Under any circumstances.
This was magic. Low key, but magic.
She dropped her hand and scattered the objects into a non-pattern.
Then laid down and let the darkness flow.
There was no signal in this place. They could try the (possibly compromised) payphone or go somewhere else.
Unfortunatelly bus service wasn’t running on Sunday. Hitchhiking it was. Thumbs up...
Risa was still pale, but tried to look cheerful enough. Fox was cheerful by nature.
If you look good and clean, they will stop for you.
But they didn’t.
It was fourty minutes already and Risa, tired from the last night, was almost crying.
Truck loaded with sheep was coming. They lowered their hands. This one will not stop.
“You need a ride?”
The sheep smelled of hope.
Risa fell asleep in the truck, snuggled to Fox.
That was new.
Their destination did have a signal. It even supported videocalls.
“Should we abort?” Fox asked. “Ospery was hit quite hard.”
“How are you, Osprey?” Swan asked.
“Fine. Shaken, but fine.”
“Really?” Swan gave her quizical look.
Risa turned away from screen so the telepath could not read her mind...
That wasn’t very smart.
“There is one last place left,” Swan turned to Fox. “The decision is yours. Don’t go in if it feels similar like the last one. Extraction team will be ready.”
But better not use them.
A Good Potential
Tyndrum felt strange. In a good way.
They stayed in one of the round houses. Basic, neat and dry, as heavy rain started to beat on the roof.
The last place. We didn’t learn much. There’s something going on, but we don’t know how to put it all together.
That’s above my pay grade anyway.
Tomorow we fly home and let someone else deal with the data.
Risa turned her back to the wall.
There was something in this place. It has always been here.
She didn’t use it. She just was... it passed through her and healed.
Risa was back from the mission for almost two weeks and in top form. There was a talk about her learning some more about portals. Soon.
That will be fun.
But for now, her availability shined green.
Then her phone rang.
“I need a favour,” he said without any introduction.
Isn’t he in deep cover?
“An escort for someone. Keep him safe.”
Of course he is.
“In case they take him, you need to kill him before he talks.”
“Can you do that, Osprey?”
“Intel in your mail. See you on the other side.”
To Get In
You need to be good.
Good enough, but not too good.
Smart enough to follow orders.
Strong enough to fight. Not too strong to endanger them.
They cannot see how good, smart and strong you really are. That’s the only way you can get in. Slowly. Infiltrate, watch, set them up.
Sometimes that means you need to lose. You need to seem defeated.
Thorne was strong enough not to let his pride stand in the way.
He allowed himself to lose.
It was a path to victory.
The blood in his mouth tasted sweet.
He planned the next move already.
The Second Best
Thorne needed someone reliable. Someone he could work with.
He needed Maddie.
That was not possible.
Not because he would want to protect her. Not even because she was taking care of their little one.
Maddie knew him too well. As an empath, she couldn’t be fooled.
And not just her. Every seasoned agent would know something is amiss. They wouldn’t listen to his explanations. He has this under control. He will not abort the mission.
Not an seasoned agent, but someone reliable, who would listen to his orders. And not die.
It’s time for Osprey to leave the nest.
Hanging by a Thread
“...and what are YOU doing here?”
The blow was unexpected.
Thorne hanged his head low and mumbled apologetically. If he could, he would show Psycho what for... but he couldn’t. Not yet.
He was walking a fine line with the crazy local leader. Keeping close enough, getting intel...
From the next room a cracking noise sounded.
...but not too close to actually be considered a thread.
He was great in following orders...
“You, big guy. Get rid of this body, will ya?”
He was also sure he is going crazy in here.
He needs out. But finish his job first.
The next step was getting the lawyer guy to safety.
“Follow me,” Risa said, passing the man in a smart suit who was leaving the bank. “I’m your ticket out.”
“Where are we going?”
“I’ll get taxi then.”
A car stopped next to them.
“No!”Risa pushed him to the nearby building, lead him through and into the back alleys.
“Suicidal much?” she muttered.
They took the airport express.
“Where do we fly?”
“Nowhere.” Risa ignated the portal activator.
After showing the lawyer through, she looked around.
Someone was here.
They need the safe house.
Thorne: Turn the light off!
Risa: This is a safe place...
Thorne (angry): Turn the light off!!!
Risa: I know it’s not my call...
Thorne (icily): It isn’t.
Risa: But you look terrible.
Thorne (dark): Don’t you say.
Risa: Something’s wrong, right?
Thorne: Not your call.
Risa: But I will report it.
Risa: I’m not afraid of you...
sounds of breaking furniture
Risa (carefuly leveled voice): You KNOW there is something very wrong.
Thorne: I’m close to finishing the mission, Osprey.
Thorne: What is it?
Risa (calm): Sandwich. Eat. Rest. Survive tomorrow.
“Why am I here?” Risa asked after the food was eaten.
“Pass on the message,” Thorne replied. “Tell them. To remove the head would do more damage than good, as local leaders are crazy. At least some of them. Tell them. I am setting up a survailence system securely transmitted to the agency. One or two more weeks, tops. To watch this Psycho and his branch carefully.”
“Why didn’t you send it by email? Or text? You were texting me...”
“It passed through someone else’s account. Now he is dead. Tell them... I might need an exctraction. A fast one.”
“You need rest.”
Thorne was way too pale.
“I need to watch out. Cannot rest.”
“I’ll watch out for you, tonight.”
“Sure you will,” Thorne chuckled, then ran his hand through his hair..
“Wake me at 0300.”
He didn’t sleep well, flinching all the time. Risa needed to stay awake, keep watching her surroundings. So she started to sketch. Window. Door. Clock.
It was three.
“It’s time,” she said quietly.
Thorne shot up and looked at the clock.
“Wake me at 0630.”
He slept more peacefully, didn’t even move.
I wonder how does he like his coffee?
A good night’s rest and some good meal can do a lot for one’s spirit. Thorne hastened his pace. He has couple more minutes...
He was beaten, but far from being defeated. And far from being without resources.
So he lost a phone. No big deal.
He entered through garage. In the corner sat well loaded truck, ready for today’s work. Well loaded for sure.
Passing the truck, Thorne reached behind the cabin and tore of a little package.
A new old Alcatel popped into his hand.
As the welcome picture appeared, Thorne nodded to himself.
Always have a backup.
Quis Custodied Ipsos Custodes
Noone in the control room, as usually at this time.
Thorne put the USB stick into one of the computers. Again. A program made by an unknown expert continued to install more and more into the network. Sending information out.
Which artifacts they keep tabs on.
Which they destroy.
Who they watch and what is their profficiency in magic.
And who they, meaning this branch, eliminate.
Is it really magic what is poisonous here?
He gave the screen a piercing look.
They won’t continue for long with this.
True to his name, he will be a thorn in their side.
Thorne continued. Slowly, steadily. Minutes stolen here and there.
Cameras put into the control room. Not much work left...
His eyes widened. He hit a jackpot. The servers were accesible from the Agency now.
Too bad he tripped a flag in the process.
He needed five more minutes to end this part.
Thirty to be done.
The alarm will sound in fifteen.
There was no choice.
After five minutes he took the USB out and left the room. And the building.
When the alarm sounded, he was safely out. Angry, but...
With the Agency uncompromised, someone else can finish this.
Let us say our last goodbye to Terrence Darwin
He was a great person. Both mentaly and physically.
When his parents died in the Northridge earthquake, which was, as you all know, caused by evil that is magic, he changed his life completely, trying to get revenge. Last month he was a valuable addition to the organization until yesterday, when he was run over by a train.
May he rest in pieces.
Thorne made an awful noise on his guitar. People were ignoring him and his hat begging for money.
Another day, another identity.
He will not miss his life as Darwin.
Tomorrow, he will not miss this life.
“Twenty five minutes. That’s all we need.”
“Who to send?”
“Osprey. She’s been there...”
“That’s why I WOULDN’T send her, Lynx.”
“They could be more relaxed around a girl.”
“You worked with her, Fox. Lion, you trained her for undercover. Any input?”
“She is... likeable. She can get to you.”
“Incidently. Still quite innocent. The charm wouldn’t work otherwise, but she knows she has it.”
“And she could kick their asses.”
“So proud of your trainee, Squirrel? Almost like a daughter you never had?”
“Shut up, Lynx.”
It’ll be Lynx’s call anyway. Coordinating a mission is not an easy job.
A Full Agent
It will be a short term thing. She only needs to gain access to the control room and finish setting up the cameras and the live videofeed. Nothing too complicated. If she treads carefully.
She’ll pose as a seasoned transfer from another branch. The identity is already set.
This mission is far from “nothing to worry about”, but also far from “I swear I will die there”. She can manage. She has all the training she needs. Lynx told her.
And Raven will keep an eye on her, as soon as the cameras go live.
Everything will be just fine.
In the Office Jungle
Risa was briefed on her upcoming mission already. There were just some details to take care of. She went into Ram’s office for that.
Mountains of paperwork defeated the meaning of a paperless office. That’s normal.
“And now you need to get the form from over there...”
The stack of papers was weighted down by a small statue. Of a ram.
“You can get it yourself...”
Risa reached up.
“... but carefully!”
She pulled on the paper. The paperweight moved a bit.. and then toppled down, almost surfing on the immense amount of paper that went down with it.
The New Girl
Risa put on Rebecca.
Rebecca went to the office every morning. She made coffee and worked on the reports.
Couple times a day she slipped into the control room, bringing in sorted reports. And more. She didn’t expect to finish uploading of twenty five minutes in one go.
So far, she got about ten.
Everything was going slow... but smooth.
She didn’t see the guy Raven called Psycho. Good. It seems he isn’t here now.
Nice and quiet...
A tall blonde blue eyed man entered while she was running a copier.
She gave him a shy smile.
Nice and quiet.
Watch Your Step
Everything was nice and quiet throughout the week. No one tall, dark haired around. The Psycho guy problably left or got transfered.
You will know it’s him, said Raven.
She’ll be careful.
She started a new batch of coffee. Brought reports into the control room.
Five more minutes down, ten to go. Getting there.
The handsome blonde stopped her, for the fourth time today, just to chat. A nice guy, not too pushy or anything.
She wasn’t that stupid, sweet words wouldn’t let her forget what is important here.
But she could pretend she is.
She will bring him coffee.
No Need to Lie
Her reading magic? It wasn’t usable here.
Opening portals? She wasn’t allowed.
Far from empath, she could “feel” others if she tried hard. Only got the basic understanding.
It’s not that hard to make coffee.
She brought it to the blonde. Tax for being junior in the office.
He thanked her.
“How do you like it here?” he asked, lightly touching her arm.
She lifted her eyes and for the first time actually looked into his.
They were blue, cold and dead.
She found Psycho.
She gave him a little smile.
“I feel like finally making a difference.”
Hide It Well
She was making a difference. The time needed for the transfer was just minutes now.
She was in the control room, seemingly shuffling papers around. She needs to hurry. How long will Psycho stay pleasant?
Speaking of the devil...
The door opened.
“You changed your hair?” Rebecca was sometimes stupid.
“The blonde didn’t really suit me. This is better.”
There was something disturbing about Psycho’s smile.
“Oh,” Rebecca said, plopping up on the desk and looked at him thoughtfully. Sometimes she was really stupid.
Risa on the other hand was not. She sat right on the USB.
Only seconds remained.
On the Other Side
Signal sounded and Thorne perked up. They were in.
He marched straight into the Comm 3, the small room designated for this operation. Lynx was already there.
“We have visual,” he said as if the confirmation was needed.
“Get extraction team, right this minute. Get her out,” was the first thing Thorne said when he looked at the screen. Osprey sitting on the table, Psycho looming over her.
“She has it under control.”
“No. This guy is dangerous. Don’t you see the signs? I worked with him...”
“Raven, I am in charge of this operation. No extraction necessary.”
A Bad Move
“Would you join me for a lunch?”
“Um...” Rebecca actually blushed, standing up. Her hand went through her hair... while her other hand behind her back disconnected the USB and slid it into the back pocket.
“That would be nice... but I already have plans. How about coffee after work instead?”
“Let me think... maybe...”
“So see you in the afternoon?” Rebecca turned to leave.
He slammed her to the wall, hard, punching her in her left shoulder.
No, not just punching. Pinning her to the wodden panneling with a knife he somehow materialised
“Maybe I don’t want to wait.”
Not Following the Plot
He kissed her passionately. She... kissed him back.
“How do you like it?”
“I don’t like pain,” she said in a leveled voice.
“Shhh,” he put his finger on her lips. “I’ll go get us something nice. Don’t worry, you WILL like it.”
A push dagger connecting her to the wall. She grabbed on the handle, leaning forward. Again and again. Finally she succeeded.
She slid out of the room, grabbing her purse and jacket on the way. The jacket goes over her shoulder, everything seems normal, out of the building and into a taxi.
“To the airport.”
Restrictions Meet Reality
“They won’t make it in time,” Lynx protested, as Thorne barked orders, dispatching the extraction team.
“Why doesn’t she have the standard equipment?” Thorne turned to him.
“For the same reason you didn’t have any. They would detect magic.”
“At least she can portal.”
“She can’t. Even a short distance in the perimeter would sound the alarm.”
“You forbade her to do so.”
“And you didn’t give her the activator.”
“And you didn’t deploy the extraction team in time.”
“Exactly, but the mission is safe.”
“But the agent isn’t!”
“There is enough agents, Raven.”
Bad choice of words.
The airpoirt was outside the watched perimeter. Risa could portal. But didn’t know where.
At least it was easy to get lost in there.
She made a beeline for restrooms. Tied her red scarf over the wound. Keep it tight so it doesn’t bleed.
The shock was setting in. She continued to walk, looking around frantically.
A tatooed hand waved at her from around the corner.
“You found me...”
“We have a chopper here. Let’s go.”
He started to walk towards the security checks.
“I can’t go through,” Risa protested. “I have a knife.”
A Simple Shortcut
“Where’s the chopper?” Risa started gasping for air.
“Over there,” Tiger showed her through a window.
“And you came in it?”
“We did. Don’t ya worry, we’ll get you there, somehow.”
“Yeah,” she said in a weak voice.
There was noone around now.
She held out her hand.
Tiger took it.
One focus point. The helicopter the other. Sharing connection...
She took a step... out of the portal opening right next to the helicopter, taking Tiger with her.
The last thing she saw before passing out was a tattooed fist slamming to the wall right next to her.
Blanket and Chocolate and Fairytales
Risa came to strapped in her seat. Then noise started.
She looked around. The team was here, complete. Her shoulder got a new white patch, the knife still in. She could feel it.
Or bad. She could feel it.
Tiger was sitting on her right, watching her carefully...
“I am fine,” she said.
“Of course ya are,” he said.
Her fingers were wet and slick. Blood was dripping down.
“You know my blood group, right?”
The helicopter lifted off the ground, taking her away and leaving chaos that is evil behind.