by: CJ Fogarty
Me and my damn mouth. When I asked the man to put strong cuffs on me, I never woulda guessed that they would look impossible to get out of. He had placed a thin cord around my wrists that almost made me laugh, until he suddenly pressed a button on his arm which locked both of mine together. I was trying to figure out just how the hell it worked, some hella strong magnetism maybe, I dunno. What I do know is that Miri better have a fucking plan for bailing us outta here, because getting captured, unless it’s on purpose, does not sit well with me. Least of all when I’ve been woken from a sound sleep to some fucker pointing a gun in my face!
Sitting on that massive black helicopter/plane hybrid, my apparent partners in crime, next to me, I dreaded where they’ll be taking us next. Remembering Interpol from the past, I can only guess that we’ll either go back to their headquarters in Paris or worse, stand trial in the Hague. That’s the last thing I want. To my surprise, however, we seemed to be going further into the Atlantic Ocean, not quite following our jet’s path of course, but still heading West. All I could think was where the hell they were taking us, but of course, I was in no mood for opening my mouth. When I’m agitated like this, I have come to understand that it’s best to keep quiet. I then feel us rising up into the clouds, and when we emerge, I suddenly see our destination. Even if this is to be the place of our incarceration, I am truly amazed.
A massive structure with city-like qualities, the eyes drawn to a central pinnacle with a giant globe and a gold sword down the center, the symbol of the International Criminal Police Organization, commonly known as Interpol. Well, it looks like they’ve certainly been getting some funding. There are several ports surrounding this city in the sky, to and from which aircraft come and go. The foundations of the city are hidden in the clouds, heh, Cloud City. Sorry, I’ve really gotta stop fanboying, but, this is something completely outta science fiction, only, it’s real. Right before my eyes. A chromium and bronze city floating in the sky.
I hear the intercom towards the cockpit squawking out something in French, it would seem. My French itself is a little rusty, so, for curiousity’s sake, I turn to Rich, asking him to translate.
“Hm”, he analyzes, “it’s faint but I make out, ‘Corsair V has clearance to transport the captured fugitives, umm”, he pauses as the French drolls on, “he’s asking how many, and the pilot just replied, ‘trois’, um, ‘three’, and the pilot is requesting security level, ‘quatre’, or, ‘four’.
“Four out of what”, I ask.
“Out of five”, Miri replies evenly.
“Fuckin great”, I retort, while Rich sighs.
“Don’t worry, boys, we won’t in New Danzig long.”
“New Danzig?”, Rich and I ask
“Yes”, Miri replies, again evenly, “that’s the informal name for the Free Territory of the United Nations, also where Interpol is headquartered and where international terrorists are tried.”
“What happened to New York?”
“And the Hague?”, Rich and I ask respectively.
“You two don’t know?”, she replies incredulously.
“Oh, well, wait”, Rich replies, in a sadder tone, “yes I do.”
“Well don’t leave me outta the loop, guys”, I plead, sincerely not-knowing, “what the hell happened to New York, actually, what happened to everybody in the world, come to think of it, you guys are all-Ack!”
I’m suddenly cut off by the sharp sensation of my cuffs tightening their grip around my wrists.
I look to my right and find the operative who had placed them there, his arms folded and his finger just close enough to the button. I can’t see but I imagine the sonofabitch is snickering under his mask. Me and my damn mouth, I guess.
Arriving into New Danzig, I wonder how well that name’s gone over, we are shuttled through a hanger with attendants and repairmen of various ethnicities but the same black uniforms moving this and way that, worker ants in a globalized metropolis.
We find ourselves taken deep inside and into a smaller room, sat down in three chairs in front of a cold, aluminum table, and left alone. Our reflections face us in what is obviously a cliche two-way mirror, and the room itself is a commonplace white.
None of us speak. Rich and I know that there’s plenty to be asked of the leather-clad girl sitting between us, but we know not to. There’s nothing to be done about our current predicament save to wait and trust that Miri’s got a plan for this.
The door opens and a woman with astute posture, and deep brown eyes enters. Yet, the face looks strikingly familiar. The styled, short brown hair, athletic build, and nice legs I must say, admiring the skin glowing between her black skirt and socks.
“Wait a minute, you’ve gotta be kidding me”, I think out loud, remembering last night.
Pretending not to notice, our interrogator sits down, placing three files in front of her, the one in the middle, facing Miri, being noticeably larger than the rest.
“Good morning”, she begins curtly in an English accent, “you know your accusations I’m sure, and are familiar with your rights, provided you have any that is.”
She is met with silence from the rest of us, our eyes glancing towards Miri every now and then, and Miri’s eyes fixed on the woman in front of us.
“Let’s get straight to the point then”, she goes on, carefully measuring her words, almost as if not to say them incorrectly, “I am Inspector Angeline Cromwell, and the three of you have been apprehended on the proven grounds of international espionage without consent of any form of government as well as interference in political affairs and participation in acts of terrorism and vigilantism around the world. Your organization stands accused of facilitating revolts, illegally intervening in affairs of international and national governance, as well as the international trade of weapons and armaments. You are to be assigned representation when you stand trial in accordance with the International Fugitives Representation Agreement.”
Cromwell pauses but, again, we say nothing.
She continues, “here’s how it looks for you three right now. You have operated under the pretense that you are above the law and are free to intervene in whichever social and political arenas you see fit. Your organization has been spotted in various places infiltrating other organizations and movements and bending them to your own ends.”
She goes on but with every word, my heart sinks at the thought of what is going on. After all this time. Over a millennia to be exact, the Order has finally been found out. Somehow, I knew this day would have to come sometime. But, I feel awful that I hadn’t been prepared for this eventuality sooner. Dammit. Well, if this is to be how we reveal ourselves to the world, then I will not go down without putting a word or two in. It seems fruitless at a time like this when people are set against you from the beginning, but I, we, will have to try. But hell if I wasn’t prepared for this.
“May we speak in our own defense?”, I ask, trying very hard to be polite.
“No, you may not at this time”, Cromwell responds harshly, “these negotiations are for the purpose of deeming whether or not to execute the three of you. Now, if you do not hand over all the assets and intelligence gathered by your organization to International Authority then we will be forced to take more drastic steps.”
At this point, my blood starts boiling. I hate cops. I hate being captured. But, crawling underneath all the anger I’d just love to direct at this woman, is a layer of grudging respect. After all, it takes a lot to track us down, even if we’ve spent our days drinking and depressed. So, before I go all out, let me try a different approach.
“Well, you certainly have my respect. How ‘bout it Rich, don’t you agree?”
I know Rich feels the same way, but this is how we like to mess with people. It breaks their feeling of control over us.
“Quite Duke”, Rich replies, as nonchalant as me, “looks like you caught us, lass. You managed to track down our organization.”
“And identify its members and leadership…”, I add
“….all the while with us being an organization that prides ourselves on keeping things hidden.”
“Added to it”, I continue, “you managed to find the three of us in a manner of months…”
“…and pinpoint our exact location, mine to be exact, in a crowded London street at night.”
“Then, when we left you unconscious you, somehow, had the resources to track us down again…”
“…apprehending us in the one place where we couldn’t very well run or fight effectively”, I conclude.
“Oh, and by the way”, Rich adds, cutting off Miri who had been trying to interrupt us this whole time with gestures demanding our silence, “how does your head feel, lass? It just came back to me that I’d hit you pretty hard last night.”
With a sharp sigh, Cromwell replies, looking us dead in the eyes, “You boys can act as cavalier as you want but itths not going to-”, she pauses momentarily, and I discover that we’ve exposed her weakness, “save you.”
At this point, Miri sharply states, “I’d be more worried about what’s going to save you, Ms. Cromwell. Which, as I recall isn’t your real name, and even most of your Interpol friends don’t know that.”
A look of momentary surprise crosses the interrogator’s face, but an eased smile, closed eyes, and a small chuckle follows it.
“You’ve figured out that out, eh?”, she replies, trying to be nonchalant, “I’ll have you know that the ambiguity of my identity is well known around here. I’d be shocked if someone like you didn’t figure that out, Miri Larkin. Or should that be, Miri Morris. No, the old man was not quite your father was he. Oh indeed, I know about John.”
She said ol’ Johnny’s name with a revelatory air, as though her knowing it was supposed to shake Miri’s cool. Maybe it did, because suddenly, Miri’s eyes became downcast.
“Well”, Cromwell continues almost victoriously, “sorry, lass, but, you’ll find someone’s true self buried down if you just dig deep enough.”
“Funny”, Miri says, suddenly popping up, a light in her eyes, “I was just thinking the same thing, Gina.”
The shift in the other girl’s face is almost scary. I can tell she’s trying to keep herself composed, but the widening of her eyes betrays it.
She only manages to get out, “How in the hell did you-“, before she is cut off by the door behind her suddenly opening.
Another operative in a gas mask states in a low accent, “Ms. Cromwell, the Chief Inspector would like to see you.”
“Tell him I need ten more minutes”, she pleads, avoiding his eyes.
“Negative”, the operative replies, “he needs to see you now.”
She finally releases a verbal grimace of anger.
Getting up, she suddenly yells, “thith is not over!”, through clenched teeth, her lisp seeping through.
Judging Miri’s complexion, however, I can tell that it is over. I don’t know what she did but somehow, she got us out for just, then operative comes in and, pressing a button on his arm, releases all of our cuffs, to my particular relief. He then directs us to the exit where he states, in fairly good English, that we will be escorted to a transport out of New Danzig.
Walking down the hall, Rich and I take turns whispering both our thanks and our queries in Miri’s ear.
“Well, I never shoulda doubted you”, I state
“Aye”, Rich agrees, “you really held you own back there.”
“Oh it wasn’t that tough”, she replies sincerely, “but, thanks”.
I think I’ve doubted this girl in more ways than one, that’s for sure.
“But, so, you’re probably wondering just what happened back there, eh?”, she asks.
“Well, normally we’re not ones to question a good thing…”, I state
“…but, yes, we are very curious”, Rich concludes.
Turning the corner, we pass by several workers who glance at our outlandish appearances. When we reach what appears to be a large waiting room, we are directed by the guard to sit down and wait for our escort. She then proceeds to tell the story.
“It goes like this. We have long known that Interpol has been keeping tabs on us. You may not have realized, but the international community has put a lot more emphasis on combining their efforts to share intelligence gathering, manage espionage, and fight crime. Hence, the construction of an international free city to house both the United Nations, as well as most other international authorities. Nobody can claim that the territory is on any one nation’s land because it isn’t on land at all.”
“I dunno. Seems a bit superfluous isn’t it?”, I postulate, “a whole city built with millions of dollars in order to house an international government and police force? This is bound to have its share of complications.”
“Not to mention its share of protests”, adds Rich, “I am in disbelief that the governments of so many nations were able to pass such legislation.”
“As unpopular as it was in many countries, most governments were willing to disregard certain political factions for, what is believed, to be for the greater good of the world.”
“Hmph, this sounds familiar”, I add sarcastically, “security over liberty, is that it?”
“That’s a conversation for another time, Duke”, Rich warns.
“But, D.B. does bring up a point”, Miri adds, “with so much intelligence being shared in New Danzig, it makes spying on each other a lot easier. But, I think we got off topic. Anyway, it began this morning, when I was checking in with Guardian Headquarters. Our squabble last night had left me with a few doubts, particularly considering how a London cop managed to hold her own against me. So, I contacted Sage, and by that I mean roused him outta bed at 8 in the morning.”
That last comment brought laughter to me first, followed by Miri, Rich trying to smile along since he hasn’t met the kid yet.
She went on, “And, long-story short within a few hours, we uncovered that she was an agent of Interpol who had, rather hastily, given herself and a comrade, copper’s uniforms, and also that there were no real records of who she was in London police databases, so we cross-referenced her profile with Interpol, and we found a match.”
“You found all this out in a mere couple hours?”, Rich states in disbelief, a sentiment which I equally shared.
“Yeah”, Miri replies with a matter-of-fact shrug, “if you know what you’re doing, and have a good hacker, then nobody can hide from you. Anyway, like I said, we were long aware that the Order was being watched, to the point where they not only had a full knowledge our outward activities but could track movements of its members, even me.”
Here she pauses, because Rich and I become noticeably shocked. When she said that Interpol had both been watching us and knew what we were doing, then that’s what scared me. The vast majority of people aren’t supposed to know we exist because the nature of what we do would make it…catastrophic, if the world at large started looking in.
“Relax, they don’t know everything.”, Miri replies assuringly.
“You know, is this is the best place for this conversation”, Rich inquires.
“What here?”, Miri replies, gesturing to the room, “this might as well be the local metro station. The only people here are UN observers, lobbyists, and tourists waiting for a transport same as us. The official personnel are all back where we came from. And besides, have you two seen anybody look up from their holophones.”
Looking around, from two girls with red and blue hair texting, a pretty boy with his headphones in, and an older businessman doing face time, Miri appears to be right.
“Now, I will admit that her trail ran cold after an hour or so, but, it picked back up when the mysterious officer’s story ran along with two others: an Interpol agent whose origins had been unknown and an internationally-wanted fugitive from the terminated Pisces Project.”
“And, what’s that?”, I inquire.
“Pisces? I can’t believe you didn’t hear about it. Well, actually, yes I can. It was in the news and it was controversial for a long time before being snuffed out of people’s minds and holoscreens when reporters stop reporting it. But, we sure followed it, given what it claimed to be testing.”
“Which was?”, Rich asks.
“Human cloning”, Miri replies, the words carrying more weight than I can tell you.
“And, did it….succeed?”I ask, my voice sounding noticeably cautious, and a bit frightened. Concepts like this really make a man feel future-shock.
“Well, we don’t have time to go into the details and it was terminated because of intense political backlash, particularly on the part of the U.K. itself, where the experiments took place. Official records claim that the experiments were a complete failure, but, we had reason to believe something else was going on. The project’s leader, biologist Gina St. Clair, disappeared after the apparently unsuccessful project. Most of us concluded that she had flown under the radar due to public backlash, but, I looked at her various relations and, apparently, she possessed a lot of connections to New Danzig and the intelligence community. Given that it’s a city full of spies, we, Sage and I, concluded that it wouldn’t be hard for her to start a new life and also, here, she’d be in a position to tie up any loose ends.”
“Which is why she was targeting you and the Order so tenaciously”, figures Rich.
“In order to cover her tracks, she needed to apprehend the people who knew her identity before she was exposed”, I conclude, “but, it looks like you two beat her to the punch, eh?”
At this, I give her an actual punch, lightly, affectionately in the arm of course.
Her response is, somewhat surprisingly, a big smile and, “well, that’s what happens when you mess the Order of Godeseye.”
“Fuckin A”, Rich retorts.
Before we can talk further, a cute Asian girl all in prim-and-proper white approaches us, looking like a flight attendant as it were, asking if we’re the special transport to St. Helena. Miri replies that we are, and we are thus escorted out of the room down a long hallway overlooking a hanger with various planes, giant helicopters, and hybrids of both.
At this point, I have just one more question of our grandmaster, “So, Miri. Tell us this. Clearly you and Sage let the powers that be know about the lovely Miss Cromwell’s true identity. But so, why are they taking action against her and being so cozy to us?”
“Well naturally, she’s a political liability”, Rich offers.
“Correct”, Miri replies, “it would be an embarrassment if New Danzig, the place where international fugitives stand trial, was actually housing one in its police force. Naturally, it would bring more eyes into the city than Interpol cares to deal with. It’s really hard to be a private-eye without privacy, so, it looks like we’re in the clear. There’s a silent understanding between our organizations, now.”
As we pass through into another room, the smiley escort holding the door, making sure to make eye contact like her job depended on it, Rich asks Miri, “But, so, what exactly will become of poor Miss Cromwell?”
“Well, that I think, we may never know, but I’m quite sure that we won’t see her again.”
Turning right, we are led down the hall towards a steel elevator. For no apparent reason, I find myself turning around. What do I see but the devil herself. The woman who’d introduced herself as Angeline Cromwell, leaned over the desk of a grey-haired, Middle-Eastern looking man, behind the glass window of an office. His gaze is sternly fixed upon her, and I can only get by the back of her head, and deduction of the circumstances, that it’s her. The two say nothing, but I notice her hand moving upward and with restraint, a little, flat piece of something goes onto the table, probably a badge, followed by her actual piece, as she removes a pistol from her holster. Cromwell then stands at attention, her movements impacting me as I empathize her feelings, most likely of sadness yet speaking of a devotion to procedure.
I turn back around and enter the elevator with my partners in crime. Turning around again, I find that she is stopped in the middle of the hall. It catches her in mid-step, her body turned sideways. Her and I stare right at each other, both of us refusing to make the situation awkward by breaking eye contact. Through her messy, short bangs, I can almost see her eyes burning red, but filled with either anger or tears, I cannot say. But, all of the sudden, I feel mighty sorry for her. I don’t know why. She’s been less than kind this whole time, but, I guess there goes my empathy again. It leads me into nothing but trouble, but it always says something about other people.
“I’ve been wrong before though”, I suddenly hear Miri say, not with agreeing sobriety but rather enigmatically.
I turn to her, noticing the doors closing with my other eye. I am met with merely a glancing shrug.
I meet this gesture with a contemplative chortle and, “so, what now, boss?”
Another shrug answers me, along with, “We’ll just wait and see. In the meantime, you can finally catch up on that nap you’d missed.”
Rich starts laughing and, later, so do I. And for the first time, I decide to give this Miri girl my truest, and frankly long-deserved, respect.