Seventeen year old Lorraine Evans looked up at the grey clouds that threatened to storm. The last thing she needed today was to be rained upon. She had had enough problems in the last week, and a rainstorm on her walk home would really set her off.
She shouldn't have had to walk home from school that day, but her car had broken down a week earlier. It was bound to break down sooner or later with its rumbling engine and decrepit exterior. She only hoped she could convince her mom to get her a new one.
Her house was still a little more than a mile away. However, Lorraine knew that she could take a shortcut and arrive home in ten minutes. She stopped walking as she arrived at the shortcut, a dark and narrow alley that separated two old apartment buildings. The alleyway looked dangerous, especially for a young girl walking alone. Soon, however, a large, wet drop smacked her in the side of the face and she looked to the sky with a groan. That was all the persuasion she needed. She took a step into the alley just as the downpour began. The rooftops provided enough shelter so she barely felt the rain on her skin.
She tentatively began to walk forward, leaving the light behind her as she strode deeper into the alley. The graffiti covered walls appeared to mock her fright as her eyes darted back and forth at every sound. Her home was just outside of the violence-stricken part of town, and she regretted having to walk through these streets.
Stop it, Lorraine, she chastised herself. Not everyone's as lucky as you. Just because people are poor doesn't mean they'll attack you. She tried to comfort herself with these thoughts as she scanned a rickety old fire escape that creaked in the wind. She thought she saw a silhouette appear on the brick wall behind the metal stairs. Now you're just being paranoid, she said. Her nerves were getting the best of her, though, and she clamped her jaw tight to keep from squeaking at every sound.
The next sound she heard made her heart skip a beat. There was a gunshot. Lorraine stopped and looked wildly about her. She had heard the sound come from behind her. Just as quickly as the gunshot came, she heard voices. Screams and shouts reverberated against the walls. She suddenly got a hold of her senses and turned, taking off at a full run. She only wished she had taken P.E. classes more seriously because her short sprint was making her winded. She could not look behind her, in fear of what she would see.
She heard the voices getting closer.
"The code!" someone shouted as there was another loud bang. It was so close now, she had to cover her ears with her hands. All she could hear now was a ringing; the bullet had come too close.
She was so winded now that she knew she would have to stop soon. Fortunately, there was a crevice up close. She could hardly think straight. Her flight or fight instincts had taken over, and all she knew was the danger around her. However, her cramped legs were telling her to stop and she fell wildly into the crevice against the brick wall. She heaved as she tried to regain her breath, trying once again to comfort herself. They're not after you, she repeated to herself. Just stay hidden and they'll leave you alone.
She took one last breath before holding it, in fear that even shallow breathing would be detectable. Slowly, she peeked one eye out over the edge of the hole. A man and a woman had stopped in the alley. Both were clothed in black and they looked frantic.
"Get rid of it," the woman demanded. "They're only a step behind us."
"Where the hell do I put it?" he asked harshly. The woman looked about her frantically.
"Just hide it. We'll come back for it later."
"This way," Lorraine heard someone yell from the front of the alley. She gasped as the sound of footsteps – numerous sets of heavy boots – began to enter the alley. The two offenders in front of her looked anxious. Suddenly, the man loaded his gun.
At the sound of that dangerous click, Lorraine let out a whimper. She could not control her fears any longer. The man's dangerous eyes flashed her way and very suddenly, a slow smile crossed his face.
"There," he said viciously while pointing his gun her way. He shot.
In an instant, Lorraine slumped to the ground.
Lorraine Evans died that day. Her innocence, her ignorance, her interests – all died the day she was struck with that infamous bullet. It was not a bullet meant to kill, however. It was the next day, when she woke up, that she realized she had gotten herself into one of the most dangerous situations in her life. Lorraine would never be able to return to the same girl that she once was.
She found herself in a white room, strapped to a white, solid board. An intense pain shot through her shoulder when she tried to move. She could see a door out of the corner of her eye. There was also a camera watching her every move. She only found this out later, when she was shown the secrets of this room. The cameras were the size of her pinky nail, a small translucent dot on the wall. Upon first glance, one could never recognize it. However, as Lorraine was soon to learn, looks can be deceiving.
She attempted to scream, but no sound escaped. Her throat was dangerously dry. She lay on that board for an hour before someone finally entered the room. Unable to speak or move, she lay there with only her gaze betraying her fear. Her eyes darted to the man that approached her.
The small, Indian doctor drew forth a clipboard. He checked her vitals quickly and made various marks on the board. When finished, he loosened the bondage around her chest and allowed her some mobility. Then, he began the introduction to her new life with these words.
"Welcome to the Agency. Henceforth, you shall be called Maya."
He handed her a glass of water, which she gulped greedily. A look of disgust crossed her countenance when she was finally able to think straight. There was something in that water…
"Why?" was all she could croak. The man leveled his piercing gaze directly at her.
"Rule number one. Never ask why."
With that, he left with a sweep of his white coat. Suddenly, there was another horrible stab in her shoulder. She craned her neck to see that it had been patched up from the night before. There was still blood staining the medical gauze. In order to take her mind off it, she concentrated intently on her breathing, which had begun to slow. Soon, black covered her eyes and she dropped asleep.
The next day, began the first course in her three year training. It was hell. Boot camp had nothing on the Agency's training camp. And to this day, Lorraine still resented her years spent in Training. It took the best years of her life. While Lorraine could have been having the time of her life at Boston University, Maya spent three years pushing herself past any human's limits.
She received no further instructions after leaving the little white room. The doctor, whom she had mentally dubbed Doc, presented her with a black sweat suit and ordered her to change into them. She did so, only later realizing she had been so drugged that she couldn't think straight.
The first day, she was thrown into a room with three other trainees. These people were the cream of the crop. Fit physiques, mental capabilities – they had it all. Lorraine trembled at the mere sight of them. She just wanted to know why she was there. She found her mind was in a continuous haze, the only thing that kept her sane during that period. The room, much like a classroom, was painted a horribly drab grey. She stood at the end of their line, confused as hell. The pain in her shoulder had dulled, and she had woken up to find her arm in a sling. She suspected a large dosage of pain killers, which accounted for her lack of mental capabilities.
A large man entered the room once the four trainees had lined up. He wore a black outfit like the trainees. What struck Maya about it, however, was its semblance to the outfits of the men in the alley. This man's muscles bulged significantly. He had intimidated Maya then.
"All right recruits. The next month will be hell. Be prepared." He didn't skip a beat. The others listened intently, hardly moving a muscle. "Your first task," the man said as he paced the room with his hands clasped behind his back, "will be a little jog. You will find markers along every mile of your path. You start here. Begin!" he commanded.
No one else questioned the man. They all filed out of the room and began their run. However, Maya stayed. This had to be a nightmare, she was convinced.
"Maya," the officer barked. "What the hell are you doing?"
"My name's not Maya," she muttered softly, but he clearly caught the statement.
"You're name's Maya if I say it is," he came forward, his mouth millimeters from her nose, and yelled. She took a step back.
"What the hell am I doing here?" she cried desperately, looking about the now empty school room. It was her and the beefy man, and he scared the daylights out of her.
"How about this, Maya," he spat. "Complete this training task, and I'll answer your question."
"No!" she demanded, growing bolder by the second. She could feel the haze lifting from her mind. "I want to know!"
The officer stared at her for a moment before laughing. His throaty laughter echoed off the walls, irking the hell out of her. But, in a split second, he stopped. He looked down with raging eyes and then grabbed her shoulder, sticking his thumb in the injury from the night before.
"God damn it you fucking son of a bitch," she yelled as she wrenched her arm out of his grasp. The man looked delighted.
"That's more like it, recruit. Now get to running."
Maya still couldn't believe he was serious. He ushered her out the door, nonetheless. When she exited, her jaw instantly dropped. She was in the jungle. Everywhere, there were trees. She turned around to complain to the officer, but he had disappeared. There was an orange marker up ahead and, facing no other choice, she began a slow pace toward it.
Even still, she couldn't understand why she did it. The cons outweighed the pros by a million, but she did it nonetheless. Looking back, Maya contributed it to a sense of adventure. Doesn't every young girl look for a certain amount of adventure in her life? She also desperately wanted answers. The walk lasted a good four hours. She jogged part of the time, yet spent the majority of the day ambling at her own pace. When she returned, red-faced and breathless, the captain stood at the checkpoint with a stopwatch and a clipboard.
"All right recruit, you may state your question," he said solemnly, clicking the stopwatch and recording a number. Maya burned to ask so many questions – about her surroundings, her purpose, the entire setup. But as was typical of the old Lorraine, she spoke before she could think it through.
"Why wasn't I killed?"
The captain eyed her queerly as he analyzed the question. He thought over his answer before speaking.
"You are crucial."
Those three words meant nothing to Lorraine, yet she didn't realize that they were the true beginning of the Mayan. Maya was crucial. That sense of self-importance kept her completing strenuous task after task as more of her questions were answered.
Maya spent many of her days during training in tears, pitying herself. She wasn't allowed to see her family, friends, or anyone familiar. She wanted to run away, but feared the penalty of escaping was death. Nobody ever mentioned the penalty for runaway recruits explicitly, of course. But the deeper she delved into the agency, the more she realized their nature.
The Agency was a top-secret government institution. They were created to maintain order at any cost in the United States, and they dated back to the start of the country. Sure everyone knew about the CIA and the FBI, and those bureaus were important to maintaining stability and peace of mind in American's minds. But the Agency, well, that was where the real work took place. It had three purposes: to cover up what must not be seen, to recover what was rightfully theirs, and to discover a possible end to the work of internal insurgents.
Maya learned this at the end of her first year of training, after completing the equivalent to a Navy Seal's physical routine. However, her training was far from finished.
It was during the second year that the trainees were moved from Washington D.C. to California in order to complete coastal and water training. The move infuriated Maya. She felt powerless against the agency and their demands. She was forced to go to California and participate in these tasks. She rarely had the chance to make her own decisions.
In order to rebel in California, she completed all of her tasks as slowly as possible. This pissed of the Trainer immensely. At night, when she should have been in her room at the resort in which they resided, she would wander the hotel, looking for an escape. Any escape would do. One night, she met a sweet-talking surfer. She was still a teenager with raging hormones and she ended up in his room that night. She lost her virginity to him and didn't show up for training the next day. That's when the Agency called in Agent Greene.
Greene was a tall, lanky redhead whom Maya learned to absolutely adore. He was sent to California upon Trainer's request. When she had refused to complete training, he came to talk to her.
"Maya," he had said, sitting her down along a beach café. "I understand where you're coming from. This Agency stripped you of a normal, teenage life. But you have to understand, it was my…our only choice. After you discovered the Agency that night in the alley, you couldn't continue living your normal life with that knowledge."
"But I didn't ask for this," she had complained. "You don't have the right to take me away from my family!"
Greene put his hand on her shoulder. "Listen Maya, I was the one who was sent to retrieve you and take you back that night in the alley. You don't understand it now, but you are the only person to have survived an encounter with the Agency after the kind of discovery you made. You are important!"
"Yeah, I've heard that before," she said bitterly. "But it's just not fair."
"I know," he said staring her directly in the eyes. She was taken by his piercing brown eyes. "But we can't change it now. If you make the best out of it, after training you will get to do so many more things. An agent gets to control their own life."
She wasn't sure what it was, but Green had the ability to reassure her. Heaving a sigh, she gave in. "I just want to know one thing," she said tentatively. Often times, she had flashbacks of that night in the alleyway. Every time she remembered the night, she tried to remember the night, she could never recall the agents or what they had been saying. She wanted to know. "What were those agents doing that night in the alley? It was something important…" she trailed off, her mind still blocking out vital facts from the night.
Greene looked away for a moment, staring off into the ocean. When he finally faced her, he seemed upset. "Listen, don't think too hard about it, Maya," he said softly. "I'm sure the Agency could never tell you even if they wanted. Just concentrate on your training and try to get along with Trainer. Trust me when I say this, he's looking out for you."
Greene's answer made no sense to Maya, but somehow she was calmed. "Yeah, well I can still resent the agents that shot me that night, can't I?" she asked with a last ditch effort.
"You can," Greene said hesitantly. He looked away. "But they're dead."
Before she could display her shock, he pulled her into a tight embrace. It was the first real sign of comfort she had received throughout her time in that damned agency. Greene kept Maya going through the rest of training. Without him, she probably wouldn't be here right now.