Hello Everyone as promised Chapter 6.
DISCLAIMER: I own all this material that I am putting forth. These characters and situations have been created with nothing but my imagination. I do NOT condone nor endorse any of the crimes that I write about.
The control room was amongst one of the most feared rooms in the winding halls. It was comparable to the war room of dictators in movies, but greatly more technology advanced. It also was where Number 11 would view her power. Hours upon hours she would stand in front of the digital map that was installed into the room as a table and stare at the blinking dots. An assortment of red, yellow, and green dots scattered on the map. Each dot representing another person or facet of power she had commandeered. If the map wasn't apparent it would seem as if she was staring at multicolored stars. The peace in her demeanor would usually be plastered on her face, but today as she awaited the DNA test results from the lab she felt uneasy. The boy that had escaped, the one that she had kept alive for the sole purpose to assist the test subject had been brought to the organization by the one person who Number 11 had despised more than anyone: her sister. A sister that the people who knew about didn't talk about or their tongues would have been cut clean out of their mouths. Most of the organization, however, had never heard about the sister. It was as if she was written out of the history of the organization. The pen doing the writing being held by Number 11 now, but prior by Number 2. What had that meant for the boy? Was he just a straggler that her sister had brought along for her attempted takeover? Or was it possible that he was the sisters?
She was grasping at straws trying to take control of narrative. On the slight chance that he was who Number 11 had assumed then she would have to fight for the pen that continues the story. For the person who had control over the world there were quite a lot of situations that were currently out of control. That was not alright by her by any means. It made her grip onto the table more firmly. All the red, yellow, and green dots were searching for the vermin high and low. The only question she really needed answered was when they were gonna catch him? The question of whether or not he was her nephew was question that caused her a great curiosity, but would end the same as her sister's arrival a few years ago.
A knock on the door interrupted the abundance of thoughts. With a simple nod from Number 11 the guard opened up the door. A scrawny male around the size 5'2" stood outside the door. His fingers gripping onto the paper were as white as a piece of paper. Each finger corresponded with the color his face turned when the metal doors opened within view of the dictator. The news the man had to report to the unforgiving woman would not be the worst she would get that day, but certainly send her over the edge.
The man hesitated on the outside of the door. It took a push from one of the outside guards for the man to stumble in through. The metal door closed behind the man making him feel confined. Standing in front of her now it was hard for him to make out words. The words that were only bound to aggravate her are the words that frightened him the most. Her frustration was thickening as each moment the tiny man's eyes burned through her. "Yes?" She challenged.
The gulp could be heard from the man, but it was not acknowledged in any way by any of the occupants in the room. He faltered with words and continuously said the word uhm for a few moments. "I have not so great news." The man managed to get out. It was then that Number 11 had given the insignificant man her undivided attention. Her cold eyes gracing his body and made him halt his words. "It seems that when the defector left he took a portion of the money reservation with him." He paused as he could visibly see the fire being lite in her eyes and a slight steam exiting her ears. Not sure whether or not to continue he waited for instruction. The guard to the right nudged him and the miniature man took that as his sign to conclude his update. "We found around twelve thousand that is unaccounted for as of now."
The silence in the room was deafening. Number 11 paused to take in the news. Chalk it up to bad timing or plain cosmic forces, but the news got worse as the lady looked down at the computer screen. A message from the lab appeared digitally. By the method of delivery the sender knew it would be best not to be in the vicinity of the leader. It was then that a strange occurrence happened that sent a shiver through the body of the first bearer of bad news: a scowl graced the leader's face. "Get this disgrace out of my face." Number 11 commanded. The guards that stood by the door grabbed the operative and pulled him out of the room by his upper arm. She felt disappointed in her current company, but more so in herself. How did she not see this years ago?
The anger that consumed her was something of a different nature. Finally after much deliberating she pressed a call button on the bottom side of the digital screen to which she spoke into, "Send all Shadows currently on the outside Connor's image. I want him found."
The receiver took down the command down. "Alive or dead?" The other holder of the line asked to confirm for preciseness in the command.
"Alive. This one I want to do myself." Number 11 answered the scowl on her face disappearing into the calm demeanor once again.
Meanwhile, Brooke's emotions were still in a disarray. The unopened envelope containing her future was unappealing as ever. Most days she sat by the side of her bed and cried. At one point it seemed as if her tears had run out and her tear ducts were as dry a desert. She would assume that this is what it felt like to be dead. A blank face like the others in murder hall. Pure emptiness inside her heart, eyes, and stomach.
It killed her knowing that he had left without a goodbye. A note with two words left under her door before the alarms sounded off. Stay strong. It was hard when she felt useless. Without him she wouldn't have made it passed day one.
It had been almost a week, but it felt like longer. What should have been her research and observation time was a self-pity feast. A feast that Number 23 was not having when he entered the room.
The concept of caring had long been lost on him in the past. The crimes he had committed and the lives he had ruined while he was in the field were a constant pressure on his conscious. A conscious that he hadn't known he still had until he connected with Connor during the three years they had spent working together. As he watched these two develop their friendship he managed to gain back part of the heart Shadow and the process had taken from him. His heart right now was telling him to check on the young girl. It's what Connor would want. Plus, Number 23 hadn't seen her for the past week it could only mean two things: she was letting her emotions for Connor get the best for her or she was doing a great job on her final task.
He saw the back of the girl's head upon entering the room and he knew it was the first option. He walked around the bed and stood over her. She looked up like a broken child would look at a parent. With cracked voice she asked innocently, "They didn't catch him yet did they?" Her black eyes slightly blood shot around the pupil from the crying. Number 23 shook his head in response. Brooke sighed a breath of relief before hiding her hands in the grey sweater. She bit the bottom of her lip.
Number 23 struggled to sit on the bed. His back in pain from old age, but he fought through the pain. "Do you think Connor would like to see you dead?" He questioned rhetorically. He hoped that it would be easy to snap her out of this. He had spent more than forty years being the tin man that it was hard to readjust to the fact he had a heart.
"I don't know what he wants. He's not here." Brooke conceded in a dead panned voice. If he had really wanted her alive why would he leave her here to fend for herself? Why not take her with him? She was doomed without him and his guidance. A life on the run sounded better than a life without him.
"The answer is no." Number 23 simplified for the stubborn girl. "He has been confusing what he wants with what he needs for too long. From what I can understand before you and before Shadow." He established before he continued, "If he makes it out of this alive then he's going to realize that wants are not needs. You need to be there for that." Number 23 knew Connor always wanted was for someone to love him for him. The way Connor had gone might have a bit superficial, but it has driven him and motivated him all his life. Too bad he didn't realize the unconditional love he wanted was right in front of him. Number 23 picked up the unopened envelope and handed it to Brooke. "He got you through the start. It's up to you to finish." Brooke shifted her position to face the bed before she reached for the envelope. She eyed the man that Connor had admired as she put her finger in between the fold. He nodded for her to continue.
"Easy." She repeated out-loud. The words were meant to reassure her, but she need the motivation as she took out the paper. With a deep breath she unfolded the paper to read her target. Her hope encrusted face shift to one of fear within seconds of reading the person she would need to follow. Number 23's encouraging smile switched to one of confusion. If Brooke had any tears left to cry she would have used them in that moment. In that moment she was hopeless. No one, not even Connor, could save her. Brown eyes went black as Number 23 took the paper from her hands. That wasn't the look he was expecting.
Upon looking at the paper Number 23 realized the shift in dynamic from the intended. Number 11 was marked on the paper. His face soon turned shocked as he had just taken a peek at the same paper a week ago and a week ago it had him on it. "That's impossible." He remarked, his voice filled with shock. Brooke was shaking.
"So is me living." She said was wrapped around her words like shrink wrap. Her hands went around her legs as she started hyperventilating. It was right now more than ever she had wished that Connor would have taken her with him. Number 23 had seen this many times, but never had to be on Connor's side of it.
How did this happen and more importantly why? Number 23 tried to rack his old forgetting brain on why the test would change, but out of all the plans he had known and been include in this was not apart of them. There was a reason or as she would call it a power play behind every move she made. How did Brooke fit into that? She would have to live to see the end of the test to find out. "Listen. If Connor believed in anything other than himself it was you. You have a purpose here this test proves it." Number 23 assured her.
"How does this test prove anything? She knows where I am twenty-fours hours a day and probably knows I have her. The moment I get caught I'm-" Brooke didn't want to say the last word but knew she had to come to terms with it eventually. "I'm dead." She said looking up at the man her mouth open a bit as a breath of air was let out from her lips.
"You are looking at this the wrong way. If you pass this test than you will be a better agent than Number 11." Number 23 promised. When he looked into her eyes he could see an uncertainty, but a want to be better. He knew she would breakdown a few more times and his connection with her had to end here. He had to light a fire in her that would keep on burning. "Instead of looking at what you don't have look at what you do." He continued to advise. Brooke took in the knowledge that he shared and nodded. "Stay five steps ahead of her. Let her try to catch up to you because if she knows your trailing her then you are as good as dead." He finished. He could see the gears in her brain ticking, but all at once it shut down again.
All fires that had been lite had been drowned in water. All thoughts immediately stopped with her concern. "What about Connor?" She asked. Her eyes avoiding eye contact with Number 23.
"Let me take care of him. You worry about you." Number 23 ensured. A smile in his voice as he struggled to get to his feet. "Now this old man has a job to do and so do you." Brooke got up off the floor and stood up. The arms covered in wet spots from tears and snot pulled the elderly man into a tight hug. He patted her on the back in response.
"Thank you." She whispered. Number 23 nodded and headed out the door. For a moment Brooke felt hope. A hope she hadn't felt in a while. She sat on the bed and considered what Connor would do if he was in her position. How would Connor stay five steps ahead? The door reopened snapping Brooke back into reality. "I don't need an-" Brooke said before she looked to see two guards at the door.
"Number 11 requests your presence." One mindless drone said. A light bulb went off in Brooke's head as she stood on both feet. Connor would use every opportunity that he had up close to learn. Brooke gave a more confident nod before she walked in front of the guards in the hallway.
Being in front of the lady that people have feared from afar had a different feeling for Brooke. Looking at her up-close she could assume there was more than to meet the eye. The right arm crossed over the left but her hands gently touching right above the elbow. It was possibly fearful to anyone, but upon closer inspection it was a powerful statement to those around her. Especially to those sitting down in the chair with a lie detector hooked up to them. Brooke took a deep breath and avert her eyes. "Congratulations, you are the first person in your section to see that this machine is like before your division." Number 11 commanded the attention back to her.
Number 45 took a seat across from Brooke. Another person that Brooke had to watch her back from. From the intel of many conversations with Connor this woman strived to take Number 11's spot one day after she passed. The protege she would call herself. "Let's start of simple." Number 45 begun. "What's your name?" A simple question indeed, but a trick upon itself.
"Br-" Brooke had started the pronunciation, but quickly halted realizing what this was. "According to this organization, when I started I lost my name." Brooke's eyes flicked back and forth between Number 11 and Number 45. Number 11 kept on her calm demeanor, but Number 45 saw through what Brooke was doing. Avoiding any aspect of the truth, but staying in between the truth and lie. A grey area.
"What's your age?" Number 45 continued. Brooke wanted to give a little laugh, but instead settled for an eyebrow raise and a simple plead that she didn't know. She still had no knowledge of her past. The last three years were the most she could recount. Judging by Number 11's shift in position she knew why Brooke had no memories. That and she knew more that she was letting on. "What section are you in?" Number 45 persisted. The more she spoke the more Number 11 felt the urge to shut her up, but she tended to hid her irritation pretty well. Brooke gave the answer she was expected to.
It was then that the devil spoke again. "How close were you with the traitor?" From against the wall in a darker area Brooke could feel her eyes drilling holes into her. Silently trying to break her and give up precious memories for the benefit of finding Connor. It was at this time Brooke had to think on her feet. The answer would, no should, be yes. Then again she was here facing off with a monster alone.
"I don't know." Brooke regurgitated. Her head looking down and letting self-doubt cloud her head to influence her results. A double edged question deserved a double edge answer and the nod from Number 45 confirmed her statement true. Number 11 remained calm nevertheless.
"How do you not know?" She challenged the young girl. The young girl made a mental note of the challenge, but continued to feel the self-doubt rush over her. The grey hair woman had an inquisitive look on her face. The winkles around her lips more pronounced as she pursed her lips.
Brooke let herself think about this one. Number 11 knew in someway Connor and her were connected. That would mean whatever The thoughts spiraled back to her original thoughts when Number 23 was with her. If Connor had really cared why would he leave her in this version of hell? This was a life, she had assumed because she was deprived of her memories, that she never wanted. The original reason for her staying for her memories had become a background fact that was her life. The reason for her living after the hope of restoring what was had faded was Connor. "How close can you be to someone who left you?" Brooke responded answering a question with a question.
The answer seemed to stir an emotion from Number 11. One brow raised at Brooke's snide remark. The remark was enough to get Number 11 to move closer towards Brooke. An intimidation tactic since Brooke was all but glued to the chair. "So you have no idea where he is?" Number 11 interrogated. The fingers that were once gently touching above the elbow now gripping a bit. Brooke shook her head in response. That may have been the easiest question she could answer. No trick behind it. Number 45 nodded in response to let Number 11 know this was once again the truth. "You know what we do to liars?" Number 11 threatened. Brooke let out a small acknowledgement that she knew. "Did Connor tell you?" Number 11 persisted.
The lack of common sense behind the question told Brooke that now Number 11 was just trying to get to her. To break her by using his name. "He didn't have too. You show your examples in the hallway." Brooke retorted back. A faint smile graced Number 11's face and what seemed like the motion of a nod occurred. Her hands loosened up and again laid gently on the arms. Both Number 45's and Brooke's eyes followed their leader as she turned her back to Brooke and walked to what seemed to be her prior spot.
"Out of curiosity, if you did know where he was would you tell me?" Looking into the Shadow from the light Brooke could see a faint smile once more. A loaded question, but Brooke didn't like she thought she could get any answer by intimidation. An intimidation that would usually work on all Shadow members, but in that moment Brooke had subconsciously connected her with someone that made Brooke smile.
The smile that lite up Brooke's face was foreign and the laugh was something that hasn't happened in a while. It felt nice that in the face of danger she could come this vile woman to someone with more comedic timing. From all the moments Connor and Brooke had spent together. Their favorite activity was their movie nights and his movie of choice: Annie. During those nights he would tell Brooke stories of his past. That he always felt like the outcast, the orphan, the Annie in any situation. And Connor was Annie in this world. That would make Number 11 Ms. Hannigan. Part of thinking of her in that essence took away the fear that Number 11 intended to inflict. "No." Brooke replied back with the smile still on her face.
The devil who wore only designer looked at the younger girl with intrigue. How far could she push her before she broke? With her heeled legs the frightening woman walked over to the nearest guard. She took his gun out of the holder around his hip. Her cold eyes looked at the gun before making her way back over to the seated girl. She released the safety on the gun and placed the gun to Brooke's head. "How about now?" Number 11 repeated.
The happiness diminished quickly in the girl, but her answer remained the same. "No." Brooke stated matter-of-fact. Number 11 kept the gun to her head for another moment. Before she put it down slowly, switched it back to safety and pushed it into the guards chest. She retreated to her original spot by the wall.
"Well then I suppose the next time I see you will be for your final test." Number 11 commentated. Brooke nodded in response. The next time Brooke would have the opportunity to be this close to her target would be during her final test. That didn't help her chances of living.