Days became weeks, and for nearly a month Agent 547 and Smethnar traveled from place to place, spending their nights hidden in ditches or alleyways or woods, and spending their days always travelling in the hopes that they could escape from the council by always moving and staying one step ahead.

Agent 547 knew their best chances of survival still lay in escaping across the border. Unfortunately, Smethnar still believed that his purpose in life was to change Guritev, and he refused to leave. Agent 547 used her persuasion with him mostly to keep him from endangering himself by giving speeches, knowing she could convince him to do little more or less.

The issue of Agent 547's name seemed important to Smethnar. She'd finally managed to make him stop calling her "Deborah," but he refused to call her Agent 547, claiming that it wasn't a real name, and she couldn't call herself an agent when she no longer worked for the agency. She argued that if she chose a name for herself and the agency learned of it, they would be able to track her down much more easily.

Nonetheless, he insisted on finding a suitable name for her. She explained several times that names didn't have much meaning to her. She'd never had a friend or family member who she'd looked up to, and she couldn't use one of her old aliases even if any of them did hold any sentimental meaning.

Eventually, Smethnar decided to call her Lauren Freenow. When she asked him to explain the significance of the name, he'd said, "Well, I used to know a girl named Lauren. I guess you could say she saved me from a life of mediocrity. She was the person who first told me about the council and got me to start thinking seriously about change and government. The name has always had special meaning to me, and I think you should have it, because you saved me, too."

Agent 547 thought the explanation was sentimental drivel, but she didn't say so. Instead, she asked, "What about the last name?"

"Well, I was thinking that you've sort of been a slave your whole life," Smethnar said. "For so long, you've done what the agency tells you to do, and thought what the agency told you to think. Suddenly, you've begun a new stage in your life, and you're free now. Get it? Freenow?"


One night, they stayed in a seemingly abandoned barn. They slept high in the loft on moldy, sticky hay. After hours of tossing and turning, Agent 547 rose from the loft, aware that she was unlikely to find sleep simply by lying around. Instead, she climbed down the ladder to go for a walk through the pasture and farmland that surrounded the barn.

Cows lie in their pens, making misshapen lumps on the ground. Agent 547 wandered through and past the fields, watching the dim outlines of trees and fence posts as they slowly formed before her in the moonlight. She walked, and she thought.

To be truly free, Agent 547 needed to escape from Smethnar. She cared for him, in a way, but didn't want to spend the rest of her life travelling with him, especially if doing so would put her own life in jeopardy. As long as he refused to leave Guritev, she was in danger.

She knew where she could seek refuge. After all, she wasn't the only agent who had ever defected and lived to tell the tale. Other countries granted refuge to spies like herself, but if Agent 547 could never reach these other countries, she couldn't ask government officials for help.

She only had once option. She had to part ways with Smethnar.

Feeling resolved but base, Agent 547 returned to the barn, but stopped when she saw the lights of police cars around the barn. She saw the lights from far away, and was able to approach the barn silently and unseen. She knew what had happened; someone had seen her and Smethnar, and now he had been compromised. They'd found him.

From Agent 547's vantagepoint, she was able to watch as the officers stormed into the barn, and carried him struggling out. If not for her inability to sleep, she would most likely have been right behind him.

Agent 547 concluded that she wouldn't make any attempt to rescue Smethnar. She didn't want him dead, of course, but she still wasn't willing to risk her life for his sake. Just as she'd resigned herself to leaving Smethnar for dead, two shots rang out through the night. Smethnar had struggled free of the officers, and had begun to run for the fields on the other side of the barn. The officers had shot at him, and he'd dropped to the ground, dead.

Agent 547 bowed her head in respect for a moment, then turned and crept away.


The king of Miolgon peered down at the attractive young blonde before him. "You say you once were a spy from Guritev?" he asked. Truth be told, he knew her story, as she'd already related it to him and many of his inferiors, but he seemed to enjoy making a show of the proceedings.

The ex-agent answered "Yes." She tried her hardest not to be nervous, as the king was known to be generous in granting refuge to those, especially those from Guritev, which appeared to be a barbaric nation to those surrounding it.

The king considered her answer. "And, what did you say you wish to be known as?" he asked.

She cleared her throat, then answered, "Lauren Freenow."