Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Episode 4: Nightingale Effect
Daniel Fouts tried to leave the problems of the world and the Legacy at the office, but sometimes it just wasn't possible. He threw his keys on the counter and dropped his briefcase under the roll-top desk in the corner of the room.
Everything in this space was decorated for a male. There were no visible signs that made it seem a female lived here or was even on the premises. But he had sensed Faith Fairchild the moment he entered his apartment. That hint of citrus perfume she always wore infused the air with happiness. It was an emotion that didn't cloud the atmosphere of his home very often.
A gleeful scream of victory came from his study. As he slowly approached the room, he fully expected what he saw. She was playing a boxing game on the Wii wearing the running outfit and iPod she came in. The headphone cords swung wildly around her head.
"Take that sucker!" she squealed as she punched her electronic opponent.
Daniel scowled. She was killing his high score. Playing video games was his was of blowing off steam after a hard day directing the spies of the world. Faith had only recently discovered video games. Getting her away from the console was about as easy as taking candy from two year old.
He relaxed in the recliner waiting for her to finish. He was nearly asleep when her shouts woke him. "See if you can beat that, Fouts!"
Daniel smiled. She was his exact opposite. Full of emotion and easily connected to the world, to a joy he just couldn't access in his own life. He shook his head. That wasn't the way he wanted to forget his day.
"Come here." Daniel gathered her into his arms. He held onto her like she was the last breath of fresh air on the earth.
"Easy," she said with a smile. "Don't use me up all in one sitting."
She stared into his eyes. "Are you okay? More Legacy weirdness? You can tell me. It's okay. I've been pre-approved for this sort of thing."
Faith was right. She more than he knew what this business was all about. Both her brothers were elite spies inside the Legacy ranks and her father used to be the Director.
"We think Echelon is getting to our agents. Michela's Nightingale programming is resurfacing in strange ways. Today she woke up and thought she was seventeen. The effect still hasn't worn off."
"Does she look seventeen?" Faith asked with a smile, clearly not expecting the answer to be yes. "Because that would be a cool side effect."
"No, she looks the same as she always has. But all of her Legacy training is lost. This is completely in her head."
"Bummer. Think of all the re-training she'll have to go through."
"There will be no re-training until we find out exactly why this happened," Fouts said. "Echelon could be a bigger threat than we realized."
"Bigger than Julian Black?" Faith commented as a funny, but Daniel wasn't smiling.
"We believe the Black Council and Echelon has been working together. The Black Council had its PARIS artificial intelligence virus. And this is light years beyond that."
Suddenly, Daniel's phone buzzed. It wasn't unusual for him to get calls in the evenings. Espionage didn't sleep.
He glanced down at the caller. The words on his mini screen said 'High Council'."
"I have to take this."
Faith was used to such distractions. She moved to the door and paused on the threshold. "I'll go for some take out. Take your time."
She kissed him on the lips and closed the door.
The High Council's message was brief. What it said had him both concerned and baffled. Their recent asset acquisition from the Echelon Facility, Liz Hunter had just been promoted.
She was now his superior!
Next day, Fouts' Office.
"They're doing what?" Faith was baffled by the High Council's new decision. Even Daniel was a bit taken a back, and he was a man without expression. Every look he gave his staff was stern and serious. But underneath it all, she knew he was a pussy cat.
"They've made Liz in charge of our division," Fouts said, his jaw clinching in repressed anger.
"I thought you were in charge," she asked staring out his office window at the skyline.
"Liz has convinced Chandelor Knight that she has certain qualification. I'm not sure how she did it. Chandelor should be used to people trying to play him."
"Maybe he has the holiday spirit and is feeling especially charitable," Faith suggested.
A knock came at the door, but the person didn't wait to enter. The man was dressed in a very fashionable outfit with spit-shined shoes.
"May I help you?" Daniel asked. He didn't want to fathom how a walk-in got in through all their security at the front door.
The man looked lost. His white hair was short and expertly styled. His face was quite a contrast to his clothing. His face was pale and gaunt. He was definitely in the early stages of shock.
"I'm here for my severance check. Is this the right place? My name is Charles Ferguson. Fergus to most. And I am... well, I mean... I was... the long-time butler to Mr. Chandelor Knight."
"You're Mila's father, right?" Faith asked.
"Yes, I am."
"If I'm not being too forward," Faith enquired. "What exactly happened?"
"A woman came into the mansion three days ago and now suddenly I've lost the job I've had for seventeen years. I don't know how she got to him so quickly."
"Maybe she had help in that department," Daniel suggested.
"What do you mean?" Faith asked.
"Echelon. We know they've got the technology to download a personality into someone else's brain. They call it an ADP, Advanced Digital Personality. And getting to someone like Chanedlor wouldn't be easy."
"How did Liz get access to him?" Faith asked. "Chandelor doesn't trust a lot of people."
"That's something we're going to have to find out."
"Does this mean I may get my job back?" Fergus said with a hopeful lilt to his voice.
"I'll do everything in my power to get Chanedlor back into his right mind."
"Thank you, sir." The butler bowed and exited, closing the door.
"What if we can't get Chandelor back to his stuffy old self?" Faith asked.
Daniel grabbed his coat. "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it."