Chapter 5: An Unwanted Guardian
Immediately after I left the pub, I took the Head Warrior's advice and went straight to Seeker HQ. I contacted High Command, and requested an audience with the Directors. They would surely have the answers to all of my questions.
The walk was a brief ten minutes south of where I was. I shivered again, although that time it was from the cold as the early spring sun had already set beyond the horizon.
I pulled my signature leather jacket closer to me as I tried to prevent the warmth from being swept away by the chilly breeze.
I distracted myself by humming a random tune. It helped me block out the cold, and time seemed to have gone by faster. Before I knew it, I was at my destination.
Seeker HQ resided in the building that was once known as the World Trade Center. I wasn't sure why the Seekers choose that particular building. It probably had something to do about proving to the Phantoms that they were not afraid of a few bomb threats.
Personally, I thought that the Directors were trying to tempt fate. New York did not need a repeat of history.
The Seekers were cautious, though, for they set up anti-missile guns on the roofs of the main building as well as several neighboring ones. Security ground forces were constantly patrolling the area. They even set up motion detectors and heat sensors in the sewers that came out from the main building. All in all, it was impressive.
There were a group of civilians standing outside as they protested in of the building. Once they saw me walking towards the stairs, they immediately tried to reach me.
"Look, it's a Seeker agent!" one guy stated.
A short woman shoved him aside, and glared at me. "How could you Seeker agents use the World Trade Center as your Headquarters? That's a disrespect to the men and women who died during the attacks. You even kept the memorial wall inside. We have a right to see it!"
Her companions shouted in agreement, and I winced at their ferocity.
Luckily for me, a security team from HQ came outside, and ushered the upset group away.
I sighed at the mistrust of the civilians, and went up the steps two at a time.
Once I arrived at the security checkpoint, I took out my ID, and swept it through the slot.
"Seeker ID #171010 recognized. Scout agent: Rachel Katherine Moore."
The scan confirmed that I was really who I claimed to be, and the security guard acknowledged my rank. He then unlocked the electric door for me.
I nodded in thanks, and proceeded inside.
Coming from the excited city, the interior of HQ's main hall was rather dull-looking. The walls were all the same shade of grey, fogged up glass covered the offices, and everything looked clean.
Too clean, I thought with certain distaste.
I sat down by the artificial waterfall, the sound of rushing water did wonders on calming my nerves. I definitely needed more than that though.
I was still trying to process everything that the Head Warrior told me. I attempted to convince myself that it was simply a bad joke, but I knew far too well that it was the truth. It still didn't explain the sudden feelings I got as if someone was watching me.
Thankfully, I didn't get that feeling where I was as I sat in one of the most secured places in North America. There were other stationary Seeker bases throughout the country, Canada, and they even extended as far as Eastern Europe and South Africa. The Middle East and Asia publicly announced their neutrality as they considered the Silent War to be an "occidental conflict".
The Australians, New Zealanders, and Japanese reacted the same way. The reported justification being that they were isolated islands who suffered little to no effect from the war.
I snorted at their foolish decision. They may not have had much Phantom activity compared to other countries, but they failed to realize that the Phantoms were everywhere, and they didn't care about who they targeted or why. The conflict may have been centralized in North America and parts of Europe, but sooner or later, the rest of the world would feel the full impact of this invisible battle.
The sound of my phone snapped me from my internal reflections. I took it out, and read the message as it addressed me to go to the Directors' room. I stood up, and made my way to the designated area.
I had to take a heavily plated elevator down multiple levels. The Directors' room was moved underground after several bomb threats plagued the original one. It was necessary that the room must be held in an area where it would be difficult for Phantom agents to infiltrate.
There was even a camera right at my face. It obviously showed that it was watching my every move.
The armored elevator finally arrived at the intended level, and I was more than relieved to get out of that annoying camera's view. There were several pairs of armed guards with rather big guns stationed along the hall leading to the Directors' room. They briefly glanced at me as I walked towards my destination.
At the door, I was met by a short secretary who gave me a folder. I opened it, and saw the Directors' report on my previous mission.
I nodded in thanks, and stepped around the small woman into the dim room.
The sound of the door shutting left an eerie echo in the hushed room. I could see the silhouettes of the five Seeker Directors that led our organization.
It was forbidden to ever see their faces, unless they gave permission. Even then, the trusted people were sworn to secrecy. It was a necessary precaution in order to prevent Phantom agents from attempting to assassinate or impersonate any of the Directors when they were out of protective territory.
All five heads turned towards me. I could practically feel their intense stares focused solely on me. Even the dim light seemed to have put me in the spotlight.
The figure in the middle gestured for me to sit. "Please take a seat, Agent Moore." A masculine voice instructed.
I promptly sat down, and placed the folder on the glass table.
The main figure continued. "As you undoubtedly already know, your last mission was a well fabricated attempt of killing you. It is obvious that the Phantoms are aware of your capabilities and your value to the Seekers, given your personal record."
I was rather bored as I listened to what the Head Warrior already told me, but I maintained my respect, and continued to pay attention.
"Your partner was a Phantom spy; we discovered that he disappeared over three months ago for a short duration of time. He was presumed M.I.A until he returned, stating that he was following some leads. Now, however, we know what his fate was." The speaker paused as he took a sip of clear fluid. The figure put the glass down, and cocked his head. "Your facial expression clearly portrays your unease. What's on your mind?"
The Directors' stares seemed to have intensified.
I gulped silently before I started. "I find all of this to be very strange. If the Phantoms wanted to kill me, as you believe, why bother killing their own agent? I wasn't even near him to say that they took a calculated risk by blowing up Madison Square Garden with both of us inside." I paused a bit as I breathed deeply. "Someone led me outside, as if to save me from the blast. That doesn't exactly fit the MO of the Phantoms. It's either they had a change of heart, and no longer desire to kill Seeker agents, or there is a separate party involved."
A prolonged pause occupied the small room as the Directors took my opinion into consideration.
Finally, the figure in the middle leaned forward. "If that is what you believe, Agent Moore, then what are you suggesting?"
"I'm not suggesting anything," I started, "but I believe that there's more to this than meets the eye."
A brief hum went through the row of Directors.
Finally, the main figure spoke again. "I'm afraid there's little we can do to prove that these assumptions of yours are true. Now we must press at the matter at hand." The speaker leaned back. "We called you here because we have a proposition for you."
"Your scouting skills are of most importance to the Seekers, therefore we cannot afford to lose you." A female voice spoke.
"Not to mention your deep and personal ties with the Seekers." Another voice added.
I stiffened a bit at his comment, but continued to listen.
"There is one course of action we must put in place in order to keep you safe." The first figure added.
I glanced between the Directors as I tried to decipher their body languages. I mentally cursed when their bodies were as still as statues.
Instead, I took a deep breath and focused on the first figure. "What are you suggesting, Director?" I asked politely.
"We are orderingyou to be put under the protection of a Guardian until the threat has subsided. I'm afraid that there's no other alternative."
I stared at their dark figures blankly as my brain processed the information. Deep down, I was just about ready to explode.
The Directors were basically telling me that I had no choice but to remain under constant surveillance by some random Guardian who would be watching every single thing I did. They might even have to relocate me.
My leg twitched which caused a squeaking sound on the tiled floor.
"Are you alright Agent Moore?" The main figure asked.
I nodded, but internally I felt like I was trapped in a cage that was slowly pressing against me.
The main figure sighed quietly. "I know that this news troubles you, Agent Moore, but you must understand that this is for your own good. We'll be damned if the Phantoms got you right under our noses."
I stood up abruptly. The chatter among the other Directors halted as they all anticipated my next move.
I merely glanced at what I assumed to be their eye level one by one until I stopped at the main Director. "With your permission, I would like to get my things together." I said monotonously.
The main Director shook his head. "You won't need to, Agent Moore. You won't be relocated."
I mentally let out a breath of relief. At least I would be in a comfortable environment.
The main Director pushed a button. The secretary came in and awaited her instructions.
"Thank you for coming in, Agent Moore. You may leave now." The main Director said.
A little too enthusiastically, I nodded and quickly left the room.
About an hour later, I was back home at my cozy apartment. I threw myself onto my inviting bed, and didn't bother to change. With the day's events pressing on my mind, I found it hard to fall asleep.
Eventually exhaustion won, and I drifted into a dreamless state.