The Intelligence Director

Hidden deep in the southwest desert, away from civilization, a top-secret, high-tech research facility is experimenting with many forbidden things. Things that even most of the employees don’t know about. The task of protecting the compound and keeping its various experiments under wraps is Director Raze, Head of Security for Diotech Corporation. But when one of those experiments manages to escape and Raze is to blame, he must figure out a way to recover the missing property without exposing himself. In a place where minds can be manipulated and secrets can be wiped from existence, how far will one man go to keep his own secrets buried?

Like some other stories published on Tor.com, “The Intelligence Director” contains scenes and situations some readers may find upsetting and/or repellent. [—The Editors]

This short story was acquired and edited for Tor.com by editor Janine O’Malley.

The girl tasted like apathy and delusion. She lay perfectly still as he kissed her neck and lowered himself onto her.

Her stillness irritated him. He wanted a participant. Not a zombie.

“You like me,” he whispered in her ear. “You want this.”

Instantly her body responded. She wrapped her arms around him and pulled him closer. She opened her mouth to his kiss. She even moaned as his tongue slid between her teeth.

She felt amazing beneath him. Her slender frame inviting him into her. It had been far too long since he’d been with anyone. And he needed this. Needed it to stay focused. Needed it to do his job without feeling distracted every five seconds.

It was a stressful job. But this would help.

Plus, he told himself he was ultimately doing the scientists a favor. The persuasion serum was still in its early test phases. They hadn’t irrefutably proved that it worked on humans yet. Well, now Raze had. This woman—a lab assistant from the Aerospace Sector—was clearly fully amenable to the power of his suggestion.

Not that he needed a woman to be completely mind-warped in order to be with her. He wasn’t unattractive. But this was certainly cheaper than buying three rounds of drinks at some seedy bar. And decidedly faster.

Director Raze didn’t have time for the chase. He had an entire research compound to watch over.

But a short break wouldn’t hurt anyone. He was fairly certain the headquarters of Diotech Corporation would still be standing when he was done.

Which is why he’d had no qualms about deactivating all his comm devices before he slipped into the woman’s room. Why he’d disconnected from the central network so he couldn’t be tracked here. And, of course, why he’d temporarily cut the security feeds in the Residential Sector. If anyone were to investigate the gap in coverage, it could easily be blamed on a short-term systems malfunction.

In other words, he was alone.

He groaned into her mouth, running his hand down to her waist. He could feel her body stiffen at his touch but he quickly eased her softened mind with another suggestive whisper.

She instantly relaxed.

He pulled back long enough to study her features. It was a pretty face, framed by thin blonde hair. He wished her blue eyes didn’t look quite so empty when they stared back at him, an unavoidable side effect of the serum, he supposed. But he was in no position to be choosy.

“Close your eyes,” he commanded, and she did.

God, if only women in the real world were this easy. The last woman he’d been with had been a real piece of work. It was because of her Raze didn’t do relationships anymore. Not that he had time for one. Intelligence Director and Head of Security at Diotech Headquarters was a full-time job. One that didn’t come with much free time. If any.

Raze dipped his head to kiss the girl’s neck, sighing at the supple feel of her skin.

Yes, he definitely deserved this.

The door beeped open just then and his chief operative, Agent Vas burst breathlessly into the room.

It clearly took a moment for Vas to make sense of what he had just interrupted, and once the comprehension registered, he blushed and turned his back to the scene.

“What the hell?” Raze bellowed. “What are you doing here? Get out! I’m busy!”

“I’m sorry, sir,” Vas apologized, but he didn’t leave. “There’s been a situation. We’ve been trying to ping you but your comms are down.”

“I went off-line,” Raze growled. “Now get out before I throw your ass out.”

But still Vas didn’t move and Raze felt the familiar rage boil up inside of him. The same rage that had gotten him kicked out of the Army.

“You need to come back to the ICC with me now.”

Raze balked at Vas’s directive. Since when did he give Raze orders? Since never. Raze climbed off the woman’s bed and started barreling toward his subordinate. “What did you say to me?”

Vas, still facing the door, cowered at the sound of Raze’s angry footsteps but stayed firmly planted to the spot. “There’s been a C9 breach,” he shouted before Raze could reach him (and more than likely wring his neck).

This stopped Raze in his tracks. “A C9, you say?”

Vas nodded in the direction of the door. Raze could see the beads of sweat on the back of his agent’s neck. He’d clearly been running around the sector looking for him. Most likely he’d followed him to the last spot the system had tracked him before he went off-line, and then had to resort to searching the old fashion way.

“Flux,” Raze swore, grabbing his coat from a chair by the door. “Fine. Let’s go.”

He reluctantly followed Vas out of the room. But not before casting one final glance behind him at the woman lying on the bed, her eyes still closed, her breathing fast and shallow from their prematurely halted activities.

So close.

Now he supposed he’d just have to go back to buying women drinks in bars.

 

Agent Vas didn’t want to lose his job. He liked it here. The hours were long but the pay was good. Plus, it came with free housing for his family, and free medical care for his eight-month-old daughter. If anyone was going to come up with a cure to the disease that warped her tiny bones, it was Diotech. And Vas would be right there when it happened.

Sure, the abundance of secrets around the compound was unnerving—and oftentimes insulting—but he knew if he just kept his head down and his nose clean, he’d have C9 clearance in no time. And then all of this confidentiality flux would be a thing of the past. He’d have full access to all the data. Including what went on in the Restricted Sector.

Vas knew it had to be something good if they went through so much trouble to keep it under wraps. Ninety-five percent of the employees here didn’t even know it existed. And the ones who did probably thought it was just unused space. But Vas knew better.

You don’t hire someone like Director Raze to protect unused space.

Vas had his guesses as to what they were hiding back there. Biological weapons for the government. A teleportation portal. Unicorns.

He admitted that some guesses were more likely than others.

There were very few C9 projects at Diotech. Which is why when the breach alarm came through his comm, he was fairly certain that it had something to do with the Restricted Sector.

And he knew that this was his big chance to prove himself worthy of a higher security clearance. If he could just stay quiet and follow orders, maybe Raze would throw him a bone. Maybe he’d need help resolving whatever the breach was. And maybe he’d ask Vas for assistance.

And Vas would be ready. He’d stay calm. He’d do as he was told. And whatever was revealed to him behind that security clearance, he would not react.

And he certainly wouldn’t utter a word about what he’d just seen. What Raze did on his own time was his own business. An agent didn’t get promoted around here by being a snitch.

He was deathly silent as he led Raze to the awaiting cart. The Director hopped in and gave the cart the order to bring him back to the ICC. Vas had to run and leap into the already-moving vehicle to avoid being left behind.

“Reactivate,” Raze ordered his comms. “Sign on.”

Vas stole glances of his director out of the corner of his eye, waiting for his reaction. As soon as he connected back to the network and received the download, he’d know what was happening. And his reaction would dictate how severe the breach was.

Vas could remember the last C9 breach they’d dealt with. A lone delivery boy had somehow managed to access the Restricted Sector. How? Vas hadn’t a clue. Raze had taken the news uncharacteristically in stride. Calmly apprehending the harmless trespasser and transporting him directly to the memory labs.

The boy’s memory was altered and it was as though the breach never happened.

The only evidence of the infringement was the two-hour lecture Raze got from the president of the company, and an increase in the amount of security surrounding the Restricted Sector.

It was never mentioned again.

“That mother glitching son of a bitch!” Raze bellowed beside him and Vas worried that the director’s rage would fling him right out of the cart. He almost had the instinct to reach out and secure his arm around his boss. But he knew that would only irritate him further.

The cart glided to a stop in front of the Intelligence Command Center (known to its employees as simply the ICC), the base for all Diotech security, and Raze jumped out. “I’m going to kill that kid.”

As Vas followed him into the building, he suddenly understood who Raze was talking about.

Lyzender Luman.

He’d been a thorn in Raze’s side for months. The boy was only seventeen but somehow he’d managed to wreak more havoc on this compound than any other potential threat. He wasn’t like the other “compound brats,” as Raze liked to call them—sons and daughters of Diotech employees who had nothing better to do after school than run around the place causing trouble. Lyzender was the worst of them. So far he’d managed to break into seven different labs and destroy millions of dollars in research.

Raze had petitioned numerous times for a memory modification on the boy. Something that might help control him. But his requests were always denied. The boy’s mother was just too far up the ladder. And had too much influence over the powers that be.

But what connection Lyzender Luman could possibly have to a C9 breach was beyond Vas. The boy had a history of breaking into C3 labs, or C5s at most. There was no way he’d ever be able to get access to a C9.

Vas was so caught up in his thoughts, he nearly slammed right into Raze’s back. The director had halted mid-step. And when Vas glanced through the transparent walls of Raze’s office, he understood why.

The president of Diotech was waiting for him. The tall, blonde man was sitting in one of the guest chairs, drumming his fingertips casually across the armrest. As though he were simply waiting for a regularly scheduled appointment.

Vas could feel Raze’s body tense in front of him.

Raze ran a hand through his tousled hair and stood up a bit straighter before walking briskly toward the office.

“I assure you, everything is under control, Dr. Alixter,” Vas could hear Raze say as he walked in.

“I’m afraid you’ve lost the ability to make such assurances,” the cool-tempered man replied.

“We have measures built in for just this purpose,” Raze argued. “We’ll find her.”

Vas’s mind spun as he sat down at his desk alongside the dozens of other agents. He struggled to make sense of the snippet of conversation he’d had the unique privilege of overhearing.

Her?

He’d been certain Raze was talking about Lyzender Luman just a minute ago. Now he wasn’t sure.

It wasn’t until his gaze was met by the cold stare of Dr. Alixter’s icy blue eyes that Vas realized he’d been gawking at the two men through the synthetic glass wall. He blinked and looked to the floor.

Dr. Alixter turned his flat gaze to the director, who understood.
“Sorry,” Raze mumbled, and swiped a fingertip along the surface of his desk. The door to the office sealed shut and the transparent dividers were no longer transparent.

When Vas looked up again, he found himself staring at the digital projection of a lifeless brick wall.

 

A single drop of sweat traveled a crooked path down Director Raze’s back. Dr. Alixter always had a way of making him feel like a grain of sand. It was worse than any of his superiors in the Army. And that was saying a lot.

Alixter certainly didn’t look happy to be here at two in the morning.

At least Raze could agree with him on that account.

Raze pressed his finger to the surface of his desk, accessing the primary tracking system. A map of the compound unfolded before him, taking up the entire surface of his desk. He moved his empty coffee cup, which was covering the Residential Sector, and for a flash of a moment, he thought about the lab assistant. The one he’d just paid a visit to. When this was all over he needed to make sure to clean up after himself there. He needed to make sure she didn’t remember his face.

But he couldn’t worry about that right now. He had higher priorities. Namely the missing girl.

His eyes scanned the length of the map, his chest tightening when he noted the absence of one very important blinking blue dot.

Flux.

He pushed his finger against the intercom button. “VAS!”

He could see his subordinate jump on the other side of his office wall. The one-way transparency block had given him and Alixter privacy while still allowing Raze to keep an eye on his operatives.

“Vas,” he repeated in a subtler voice. He reminded himself to remain calm. He couldn’t let Alixter know just how panicked he was.

“Yes, sir?” his agent’s shaky voice came back.

“Double-check all systems. Make sure there’s been no signal interference. Or network disruption. Check all the backup systems as well. Report to me anything that looks unusual.”

“Yes, sir.”

He watched his agent spin his chair toward his screens and get to work.

“Does this mean you think we’ve simply lost her signal?” Alixter asked, arching a single eyebrow.

God, Raze hated when he did that. On anyone else a simple eyebrow raise might look harmless. But on Alixter it was downright creepy.

“It means I’m exploring all options,” Raze countered, wishing Alixter would get the glitch out of his office so he could actually figure this out. It was almost impossible to work with the president hovering over him like this.

“You’re wasting valuable time,” Alixter growled. “She’s not inside compound walls. Will you just run the damn satellite search?”

Of course, Raze had thought to run the satellite search. The glowing orange button on his desk screen had been taunting him since he sat down. But he knew what would happen if he did run the sat search and it did reveal that she had somehow gotten outside of the compound walls.

It would mean his job.

His life.

Particularly if it was discovered why Raze hadn’t found out about the breach until a good thirty minutes after it happened. If he hadn’t been messing around in the Residential Sector with his comms off, the girl would still be here. He would have seen the alert the moment she stepped a single foot out of place.

So, no, he wasn’t quite ready to run that search yet.

Raze lowered himself carefully into his chair. “It could be a systems failure, in which case she may not even be gone. Are you sure she’s not just asleep?”

Well, that was the wrong thing to say.

Alixter’s stare was like icicles raking across his skin.

“She’s not asleep,” he said, the words squashed between his clenched teeth. “Dr. Rio said he returned home to find her gone. He looked all over the Restricted Sector. There’s no trace of her. And her tracking ID disappeared from all of our radars. What I want to know is how she managed to get past the outer security measures. The ones you swore were impenetrable.”

“Luman,” Raze spat under his breath.

“Excuse me?”

“It’s that damn Lyzender Luman. He’s been a pain in my ass ever since he got here.”

“Are you telling me a seventeen-year-old kid managed to break through a C9 security system? If that’s the case, then I have sincere doubts about your methods.”

Raze scoffed at this but didn’t refute it. “Let me just finish running the system diagnostics and then we’ll have a better idea of—”

“Oh, for glitch’s sake,” Alixter swore and before Raze could stop him, the president’s pale white hand was launching toward his desk. His finger jabbed against the orange button.

Raze shut his eyes as the search engaged. Somewhere up in space, a satellite was beaming a tracking signal down to earth that would locate the girl’s genetic implant and report her coordinates.

And any minute now it would reveal Raze’s worst nightmare. That the girl really was gone.

That she had somehow managed to bypass his top-notch security system. The one he’d spent years developing and perfecting.

When he opened his eyes the surface of his desk had transformed. It now showed a much larger map, covering twenty square miles of barren desert. The compound had been reduced to a tiny, inconsequential square in the center.

And there was her blinking blue dot.

Traveling west along Route 72.

Raze could feel the walls of his office closing in on him. The room suddenly seemed no bigger than a nanoparticle.

Alixter activated Raze’s intercom. “Agent Vas. Get the director a hovercopter.” Then he turned his cold, steely eyes on Raze. “It would appear you have some explaining to do.”

 

Agent Vas hadn’t left the Diotech compound in months. There was no reason to. Everything he needed was right here—his family, his job, an array of entertainment options for the employees on their days off. So when Director Raze directed the hovercopter they were riding in to exit the property, he blinked in surprise and stared out the window of the small vehicle as it banked to the left and cleared the perimeter wall.

He was cramped in there with Director Raze, three burly guards, and—surprisingly—Dr. Rio, with whom he’d never actually spent much time, or even seen around the compound. Dr. Rio was the other founder of Diotech. But normally it was Dr. Alixter who made visits to the ICC. Rio was known for keeping to himself and his research.

Vas wasn’t sure why Rio had been sent in place of Alixter, but he had a feeling it had something to do with the nature of the breach. And something to do with Lyzender Luman. That much he had ascertained from the limited brief he’d received as they made their way from the building to the awaiting copter.

“We will apprehend the two subjects using whatever means necessary,” Raze had ordered. “But the girl is the priority. You got that?”

Vas had got it. But he still couldn’t figure out who this mysterious girl was. Another compound brat like Luman? Somehow he doubted that. Dr. Rio didn’t leave his research for just anybody.

And never had any of Luman’s previous pranks sounded off a C9 alert.

No, this was something else entirely.

Raze interrupted Vas’s thoughts. “That must be them.” He pointed out the window at a small van that was speeding down the darkened two-lane highway.

“How the hell did they get into a delivery van?” Rio spoke for the first time since the hovercopter ascended into the sky. “Someone had better get to the bottom of this mess.”

“Don’t worry,” Raze assured him in that annoying syrupy voice that he reserved for the higher-ups. “We’ll figure it out. For now, let’s just get her back.”

“She’s not to be harmed,” Rio warned.

“She’s not to be harmed,” Raze repeated.

Vas turned around and studied the three large muscular men whom Raze had brought with them. Death machines, Vas secretly called them. They were the operatives recruited only for their strength. Only for their fighting capacity. Only for their abilities to follow orders.

Vas found himself wondering how Raze planned to keep his promise not to harm the girl when these three were involved in the operation. They certainly didn’t look like the kind of agents you brought along if you wanted to resolve things peacefully.

“Vas,” Raze ordered, “patch us into the van’s auto-conductor system and override any previous directives. Bring them to a halt. But I want to be on the ground before they realize what’s happening. We can’t have them running. We’ll never catch her on foot.”

Vas wanted to ask what he meant by that, but he held his tongue. This was the opportunity he’d been waiting for. His opportunity for advancement.

Keep your head down. Don’t ask questions. Just do as you’re told.

The hovercopter kept pace with the van, descending slowly as Vas sent the override command. It was a vehicle that made frequent deliveries to the compound, which made it easier to access its systems. Raze required all delivery vehicles coming in and out of the compound to have a mandatory override functionality installed, as a cautionary measure. Vas had always thought it was an excessive condition.

He didn’t think that any longer.

“Prepare yourselves,” Raze said.

The override took hold. Vas entered the command to bring the vehicle to a halt. The van slowed to a stop just as the copter lowered gracefully to the ground.

“Now!” Raze yelled, and they all leapt from the copter, running full-force toward the van. Raze took the lead, staying in front of the group. This was his operation. Although it wasn’t officially part of the brief, it was understood that he was to be the hero today.

Rio stayed a safe distance behind all of them.

“Door,” Raze whispered as they approached the stalled vehicle. Vas initiated the command.

The door unsealed and slid open. Raze stood before the opening, his head rotating slightly as his eyes swept the interior.

“Well, well,” he said, his voice playful but still packed with venom. “Going for a little joy ride, are we?”

Then suddenly a body was upon him. Like an animal being let loose from its cage. Raze fell back onto the road with a grunt. The shadowy figure threw messy, unformed punches at his face, which Raze expertly dodged.

“RUN!” the attacker shouted. And it was then that Vas recognized his voice.

Lyzender Luman.

But who was he commanding to run?

The answer came a moment later when something emerged from the truck. It burst forth like a bolt of lightning. It certainly looked human, but it moved too fast. Faster than any human Vas had seen before.

From the blur of brown hair that whipped behind its head, he presumed it was a girl. Most likely the “she” everyone kept referring to.

He didn’t have time to process. The girl zoomed past him before he could even blink.

He heard the muted plinking sound of a long-range mutation laser somewhere behind him and spun around. The girl had been hit. She froze mid-stride; her body wavered and started to melt. She staggered backward, then collapsed.

The only thing Vas could think to do was put his arms out.

And she fell right into them.

He glanced down at what he had caught and felt like someone had stolen the breath right out of his lungs. For a moment, he almost wondered if she was an angel. There was nothing else in the world he could imagine that possessed such beauty.

Her face was exquisite. Her skin the color of smooth honey. Her maple hair felt like silk draped across my arms.

“No!” he heard a voice call. It was Lyzender. He had jumped up from atop Raze and was running straight toward Vas.

Vas felt a sudden, uncontrollable urge to protect the girl. He scooped her up into his arms and began running back to the hovercopter. He passed the three other agents who formed a wall between him and Lyzender. He heard the teen boy barrel into them. It sounded like a body colliding with raw stone.

“Get back here, you punk!” Raze’s voice cut through the dark night. Vas could hear the director struggling to his feet. “I swear I will end you. I will take every precious memory from your brain, every useful function. I will leave you nothing more than a glitching vegetable.”

“Director Raze!” That was Rio. He sounded sterner than Vas had ever heard.

Vas stopped and ventured a glance behind him, his eyes widening in shock when he witnessed the doctor physically restraining Raze. “Stand down, right now. That’s an order. I will handle the boy.”

“Wipe him,” Raze yelled. “Wipe his puny, spastic brain!”

“I said stand down, Director,” Rio roared. “Transport the girl back to the lab. I will take care of Lyzender.”

Raze breathed deeply. It seemed to calm him. “Protocol?” he asked, his jaw rigid.

“Full restoration,” Rio replied. “I don’t want her to remember any of this.”

“No!” Lyzender screamed again, once more trying to push past the death machines. “Don’t you touch her!”

This catapulted Vas back into action. He continued to run toward the hovercopter, the girl’s body still in his arms. He lowered her onto the seat. Her head lolled and her eyelashes fluttered. The effects of the laser were starting to wear off.

She blinked and Vas saw her eyes for the first time.

They were the most breathtaking, iridescent shade of purple.

 

Director Raze knew this was far from over.

Even after they’d managed to return the girl to her lab and successfully wipe the incident from her mind, he still had the matter of the breach to deal with. Which was why he wasn’t surprised to find Dr. Alixter back in his office the very next morning.

He took a seat in the chair opposite Raze and crossed his legs casually. As though he were just there to talk about the weather. “I want to know how this happened.” His voice was calm. Eerily calm. Raze almost preferred it when he was angry and yelling through his teeth.

Raze nodded, indicating the cluttered desk screen, as if the mess of reports and briefs were enough evidence to assuage Alixter, which he knew it wasn’t. “I’m working on it.”

“Clearly not hard enough,” Alixter argued. “Otherwise, this mystery would have been solved.”

The truth was, the mystery had been solved. Raze had figured it out late last night. That glitching Lyzender Luman had distracted his guards with a vapor bomb in the Medical Sector. Then he and the girl had managed to board a delivery van leaving the compound.

Fortunately for Raze, Lyzender didn’t know about her genetic implant. The one they’d used to pinpoint her location via satellite.

But he wasn’t about to admit any of this to Alixter. Not until he could figure out a way to bury his own culpability. Because Raze knew none of this would have happened had he not shut his comms off yesterday. Had he not been in the lab assistant’s room.

Raze stared through his office wall at the buzzing command center. A dozen agents running fool’s errands in an effort to make the place look busy. To make it look like all resources were being exploited to get to the bottom of this.

His eyes landed on Vas. So far he hadn’t asked any questions about the girl, which was admirable. But he also knew he couldn’t allow the memory of last night to remain in the man’s mind. It was too risky. He’d already scheduled a memory modification session for later this afternoon.

“Actually,” Raze said, still staring at his chief operative. He turned back toward Alixter. “We do have a lead.”

The doctor’s eyebrows rose inquisitively.

“I’d rather wait until I have a chance to follow up on it before I divulge any further information.”

Raze half expected Alixter to fight this but, surprisingly, the president rose from his chair and said, “Very well.”

And then he was gone.

Raze waited until the doctor had left the building before swiping his finger along the panel on his bottom desk drawer. He pulled it open and surveyed the contents. He only had two injectors left. He was now wishing he hadn’t wasted the third on the stupid lab assistant.

For more reasons than one.

He pulled out the tiny device and pushed the drawer shut with his foot.

Raze would be damned if he was going to let a glitching seventeen-year-old punk ruin his life.

Hiding the injector in the palm of his hand, he accessed the intercom. “Vas?”

“Yes,” came the fast, obedient reply.

“Can you come in here, please?”

He watched through the glass as the agent leapt to his feet and hurried toward Raze’s office door.

Raze felt just the slightest hint of regret as the other man took a seat in his office. It was always a pity to lose a promising young operative. Vas had shown a lot of potential.

But, just like the rest of Raze’s staff, he was expendable.

As all subordinates should be.

 

Vas had a hard time sitting still in the chair.

This is it, he thought anxiously to himself. He had finally proven himself worthy. He had done an admirable job with the recovery operation and Raze had recognized his potential.

That had to be what this was about. He could hear it in his superior’s voice. In the ten months Vas had worked here, Raze had never said “please.”

Raze paced behind Vas’s chair, his hands clasped behind his back. “You demonstrated excellent aptitude last night, Agent.”

Vas stared straight ahead, trying to fight back the smile that wanted so desperately to light up his face.

“Thank you, sir,” he said.

He couldn’t wait to tell Jenniver. She would be ecstatic. She would leap into his arms and kiss his eyelids, the way she always did when she was excited about something. And, of course, the baby would only benefit from this promotion, too.

“As you know, Diotech Headquarters has many secrets. Secrets that should never be revealed to the world.”

“Of course, sir. I can be trusted.”

“I know you can. But more than trust, I need people on my team who are willing to do what it takes to protect those secrets. And keep the integrity of this company alive.”

Vas nodded sharply. “I understand. And I am more than willing to put the safety and integrity of this compound ahead of everything else.”

He could almost hear Raze grin behind him. “I was hoping you would say that, Vas.”

Then Vas felt something cold and metallic on the back of his neck, followed by a pinch of pressure. It was over so fast, he almost wondered if he’d imagined it.

The room started to shift, the crispness of his vision slowly dulling. The edges of Raze’s desk and chair were softening. Like he was seeing the world through a soap bubble.

His thoughts were distant and muddled, as though they had been locked in a dark closet in the back of his mind, and now all he could hear was their faint echoes.

When Director Raze spoke next his voice had a melodic lilt to it. A song-like quality that Agent Vas found incredibly pleasant to listen to.

“Stand up,” came the command.

Vas didn’t even need to process it. He rose to his feet obediently.

“Now listen very carefully,” Raze began, walking around to face Vas. He held his gaze tightly. “The girl escaped because of you. You cut the feeds. You facilitated the van’s exit. And you deactivated my comms so I wouldn’t find out until she was far enough away. You let her escape. Because you are in love with her.”

Somewhere in that dark closet in the back of his mind, Vas’s own thoughts were rebelling, banging against the door, begging to be let out. They screamed about lies and corruption and manipulation. They shoved images of Jenniver and the baby and her brittle, warped bones at him.

But he could barely hear those thoughts, let alone heed them.

Not when Raze’s words seemed to make so much more sense.

He felt his head fall into an obedient nod. Raze was right. He had let the girl escape. Because he did love her. How refreshing the truth felt to him. How freeing.

“You will confess to Dr. Alixter,” came Raze’s next command. “You will admit to what you have done. You will tell him you acted alone. And you will suffer the consequences alone.”

Yes, thought Vas. That is the right thing to do.

All criminals should be brought to justice. And he was a criminal.

“Do you understand what I’ve told you?” The director’s lilting voice massaged Vas’s brain, warmed his soul, made him feel alive.

Made him feel important.

“Yes, Director,” Vas responded blissfully. “I understand.”

 

“The Intelligence Director” copyright © 2013 by Jessica Brody

Art copyright © 2013 by Goñi Montes

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