Monday, October 24, 2011
Cloak & Dagger
He should have known better. Getting involved with another Kassoff would only lead him down the road of misery. But in his life, misery had been a strangely faithful friend.
Ethan jogged through the tunnels near Westminster Abbey not seeing the popular tourist attraction the media had recently claimed was leaning. His eyes followed the dark waters of the Thames as his feet pounded the pavement.
He had returned from a mission more confused than he'd been before. All the leads he'd uncovered on the disappearance of his brother, Ian, took him down deserted roads that led to nowhere. Each scrap of hope had become yet another piece of disappointment.
He'd run into Athena Kassoff on his last journey and that chance meeting had been messing with his head.
"You think you're the responsible one?" she taunted. "You left me behind to bear the consequences of both our actions."
He'd attributed her words to consuming too much ale. She was spouting other threats but that one had stuck with him as he traveled back to London to rejoin his team.
The holiday had not been as relaxing or productive as he would have liked. And the memories nipping at his heels had faded with time.
His flat was a cookie-cutter brownstone that resembled every other on the block. Nothing stood out. Nothing distinctive. Being a ghost was something he did well in all aspects of life.
His breaths came in an even rhythm. He was an athletic man who kept himself in good physical condition. He didn't have movie star good looks like his older brother, Carter, but his chiseled jaw and rough appearance had its admirers.
Ethan ran down a familiar tunnel nodding at check points, men dressed as bums wearing wireless microphones. The last bum directed him to the entrance of the day with a simple playing card lying on the ground.
Ace of spades. So, it was the front door today. But the front door of the headquarters of The Legacy wasn't exactly a normal store front. It had a door, yes. A door to an empty room filled with pipes and hanging wires. He clamped two specific wires together, spun a handle counter clockwise two times and engaged the handle on the power box after flipping two breakers to the off position.
A door opened next to the power box and he stepped into the darkness. It was a small elevator leading him down into the bowels of the earth.
He emerged into what looked like a normal office. A receptionist sat behind a tall desk. She grimaced at his sweaty appearance.
"You look ghastly," Becca Ramsey told him. She was in her mid-fifties with hair the color of artificial chestnuts. "The director is expecting you in ten. You might want to change before then. A shower, perhaps?"
"Yes, mum. Always so concerned about me."
"Someone must. It's not like you'd do it on your own prompting." She returned to her computer monitor.
Ethan breezed past her and into the locker room. It wasn't one of those offices where you were familiar with everyone. Besides Becca and the director, he didn't have contact with anyone else on site at headquarters.
The analysts were too focused on their current assignments to worry about a strange man entering the locker room. But unusually, one analyst did observe him with a watchful eye as he wandered around the office. Her screen was dark, as if she was only occupying a cubicle and not actually using it.
She moved the typing glasses farther down her nose and followed Ethan with her eyes as he entered the director's office. Daniel Fouts was a dark-haired, hard-eyed man who rarely showed any emotion. He accepted Ethan into the fiberglass-walled office and gestured to a chair.
"Thank you for meeting with me. I know it's unorthodox to come all the way into Headquarters especially when you're spending every off minute searching for your brother."
Ethan's eyes narrowed. No one was supposed to know he was looking into his brother's disappearance. Especially no one in the upper echelon of management.
"I assume there is a reason you wanted to see me?" His voice was gruff. Any happy-go-lucky manner he had in his demeanor previous to now was completely extinguished.
"I'm adding someone to your team." Fouts motioned to the woman standing near the doorway. She was a beautiful blonde that looked like she'd been pulled straight from a Betty Crocker manual. "Bette Marstan, this is Ethan Fairchild. Your new team commander."
"What happened to her last team commander?" Ethan asked curiously.
Bette smiled impishly. "I blew him up."