Title: Welcome Back
Summary: A typical day of research in the library turns into recruitment by the intelligence division of the World Government.
These characters, stories, and ideas are the original, copyrighted work of Nicole Sharp and are protected under a Creative Commons License.
Maybe he was a stalker. Elana wasn’t sure, but the man had been following her, careful to stay just out of sight as she made her way down the aisles of the library. She would ignore him, and he’d probably go away. Elana carried her stack of books on the government of the Former United States of America to the nearest table and sat down. With the foundation of the World Government and the abolition of sovereignty of nations, such installations as these had become obsolete. But, in some places, like Washington, D.C. large governmental libraries with paper and electronic resources still existed.
Elana had learned to love them during her first semester at university. Most of the professors had been around when countries still existed and they gave many assignments on obscure things like former governmental agencies. For instance, her political science professor assigned each student a section of the former U.S. government to investigate and present. Elana’s assignment was to report about the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency. She wondered why they had separate agencies for what sounded like the same thing.
Elana glanced up as she flipped through the yellowed pages. The man was still there, in the shadows of one of the bookshelves. Their eyes met for a moment, and she looked away. This man was creepy. He looked middle-aged and wore clothes that made him look like one of her professors.
Elana tried to concentrate on the page in front of her. It was telling about something called “The Red Scare” in the 1950s. Her eyes scanned over The Hollywood Ten and J. Edgar Hoover without seeing the names or details. She wished the man would go away. Turning the page, she feigned interest in the reading. She saw a picture of a man, a Senator from the former state of Wisconsin. Subversion. The man had accused others of being spies for an opposing government. He claimed that they were involved in acts of subversion against the United States. Elana’s eyes were caught on the word ‘subversion’, and she didn’t notice the man come behind her. She jumped when he set his hand on her shoulder.
“Shh, I won’t hurt you,” he said, a hand over her mouth. He had an accent, like someone from old Britain.
“Who are you?” she demanded in a loud whisper as he pulled his hand away.
“Come with me.”
“What? No! Who are you?” Elana was out of the chair, placing the table between them.
The man looked down at her open book and smiled, his moustache curving upward. “The FBI?” he asked. “I would find you reading something like that, wouldn’t I, Elana?”
“How do you know my name? Who are you?”
The man took a pair of glasses off, and put them in his pocket. “Walk with me, Ms. Samuels, and I shall explain.”
Elana knew well enough that she shouldn’t trust the man. But she was curious. How did he know her as well as he seemed to?
“I don’t have all day,” he said, turning back to her. “Coming?”
“Yeah.” Elana grabbed her satchel and left the books where they were. She hurried to catch up with him. “What do you want to say to me?”
“Walls have ears, Elana, or, at least, the bugs in them do.” He led her outside, down the stairs at the front of the building, and out onto the mall. It was a Tuesday afternoon and few people could be seen.
Elana stopped and turned to face the man. “How do you know me?”
“My dear, anyone in the world could know you with the right resources.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means nothing to you. Let it be enough that I know you.” He held out his hand. “I am Captain Lawrence Whittaker, known to most as Loren.” They shook hands. “Now, we should keep walking. It makes it more difficult to be overheard.”
“Why are you so worried about someone hearing us, Captain?”
He smiled at her. “You will be, too, soon enough. I work for the Government.”
“Then I was right. You are a stalker.”
Whittaker laughed. “You know, Ms. Samuels, you have a perfectly wonderful sense of humor. Yes, I am a stalker, in a way. I’ve been sent to find you and recruit you, if possible.”
“Recruit me for what? I’m a college student.”
“Haven’t you ever heard of early recruitment?” he joked before turning serious again. “My department is under GA-76.”
“The intelligence departments?”
“Indeed. I’m a part of an organization that prevents subversion against the World Government.”
Elana turned to look at the man, her eyebrows drawn. “DOCS? DOCS is an urban legend, a myth. What kind of joke is this?”
Whittaker stopped to face the incredulous young woman. “We prefer the name Para-D.O.C.S. actually. It suits our purpose better.”
Elana froze as she heard that name. Where had she heard that?
“You look surprised, Elana. Had you forgotten?”
“I don’t understand.”
The man took her by the elbow, urging her forward. “Para-D.O.C.S. is your trigger word, but it seems that you no longer have the memories to be triggered. You’ll have to be trained, then.”
“What do you mean trained?”
“Would you rather be like them all your life?” he asked, motioning to the other people milling about. “Uninformed? Endangered and ignorant of it?”
She stopped. “What are you trying to say?”
“Haven’t I made myself clear, Ms. Samuels? I’m offering you the chance to be one of our agents. Unless, of course, you’d rather?” He took a small metallic sphere from his pocket. It was silver and less than five centimeters in diameter.
“A memory cube?” she asked, looking up at him.
“I see then. You remember something, at least. Does this look familiar?” He replaced the sphere and held out a small device with eight buttons in two columns.
“An escaper,” Elana said.
“How do I know these things?” Fear was tightening in her stomach.
“You’ve been trained before,” Whittaker said simply as he continued walking.
“All that you need to know is that you knew before.”
“What is with you and these riddles?” she called, hurrying to catch up.
“The first lesson that any agent learns is how to deal with knowledge on a need-to-know basis,” he answered.
“Yeah, well, I need to know. Now.”
He smiled at her. “No, you don’t. You need to come with me. The only way you’ll ever get your answers is to rejoin the Para-D.O.C.S.”
Elana looked away, shaking her head. What was this? Had she been a spy once and forgotten it? No, how could she forget something like that? The memory cube. Her memories could have been E.R.ed. E.R.ed? Where did that come from? Erased and Replaced, came the answer. She glanced back at the strange man. Maybe he was telling the truth. Could it hurt to follow him, just until she knew for sure? She bit her lip. “Alright. I’ll play spy.”
“Not spy, Ms. Samuels,” he said as he led her into an old office building. He opened the door for her, and she heard it lock behind them. “Agent.” He opened another door and ushered her through.
They were in a lobby, much like any other. Whittaker walked toward the gateway and placed his hand on the pad. “Whittaker, Lawrence E.,” he said. Elana watched as a port opened, scanning the man’s eyes, and then a pleasant, female voice said. “Good afternoon, Captain.” The doorway slid open and Whittaker stepped through, pausing to look back at Elana. “Well?” he said, motioning to the pad.
Elana stepped forward, and set her right hand on the pad. “Samuels, Elana.” It hummed beneath her, and she glanced up in time to see the flash of the computer scanning her retinas. Then the computer voice returned. “Welcome back, Lieutenant,” it said before she stepped through.
“So you’ve brought me Elana Samuels, Loren?”
“Yes and no. I’ve brought Elana, sir, but not her memories. They’ve been E.R.ed, I think.”
“That’s impossible. We would know about it.”
“Whatever happened to her, sir, she doesn’t remember about Cecile. I don’t think she remembers Samantha, either. She didn’t respond to Para-D.O.C.S., sir.”
“Great. Just great. Sammy’s gone, and Elana doesn’t know an escaper from a PPC.”
“I think she does, sir.”
“Are you sure you got the right one?”
“You saw her. The computer recognized her, and she can’t fake that.”
“Does she know anything?”
“I think that she may begin to remember things. She does know some things. She recognized both my memory cube and my escaper.”
“Does she know the functions?”
“I’m sorry, sir, but I didn’t have time to test her on everything.”
“Well, send her in with the rookies. We’re going to have to bring Cecile down without her.”
“Permission to speak freely, sir?”
“I’d like to train her myself.”
“Emotional attachment, Loren. You knew Lieutenant Samuels, and that’s a weakness. Elana Samuels is not the same person.”
“With all due respect, sir, she is. Elana may not have all of the lieutenant’s memories, at the moment, but she most certainly is the same person. And I don’t think having known her before is a weakness. If you allow me to train her, then she’ll be ready faster than if you place her with the rookies. She has done this before, and she may only need a few reminders to remember what she already knows.”
“And if she doesn’t?”
“Then I’ll go after Cecile myself.”
“My best agent after a half-wit? You give her too much credit.”
“She’s no half-wit, sir, and you know that. She was responsible for the twins.”
“Just what do you intend to do if I let you train Elana?”
“If you think that I’ll be easy on her, sir, you’re mistaken.”
“Listen, Loren. As much as I need Elana Samuels, I don’t need her screwed up. And I don’t need you emotionally attached to her, in any way. Do I make myself clear?”
“All right. I’ll trust you on this one. You’re responsible for the training of Cadet Elana Samuels. All normal regulations concerning training will apply. You will not disclose any classified information to her without my explicit permission. Do you understand, Captain Whittaker?”