A rough ride in the back of the surveillance van woke Elle up. She was on the hard, slippery, cold floor. It smelled like motor oil and wet soil. Apparently, it rained while she was failing at her first mission.
Sammi, her handler, noticed the young spy awake. The intense redhead, strapped into a seat along the van wall, unbuckled herself and as the van still vroomed on the move she lunged for Elle and picked the teen up by the girl’s hair.
Yelling in her face, “Failure was not an option!”
Elle hardly felt the pain of hair being severely pulled at. She felt more of an emotional agony. That the woman who raised her could be loving and supportive one moment, and callous and deprecating the next. Hating and fearing punishment for tears, Elle forced herself not to cry.
“I didn’t know there was anyone out there stronger than me. You said this mission would be easy!” Elle hollered back. In one swift motion, she pinched Sammi’s wrist together to induce enough pain for her to release Elle’s hair, allowing Elle to slide back from Sammi.
Sighing, Sammi sat back down and strapped herself in. “Sit down.” She huffed sternly.
Elle followed orders. She buckled into the empty seat beside Sammi.
“I assume the person was male, looked to be in his late 40s?” Sammi asked.
“Yes,” Elle said.
“Once you made it into the target’s room, your comm feed cut out. Did he say anything to you? Did he say anything about your target?” Sammi further questioned.
If Elle said the stranger said nothing, Sammi would do some digging. Everyone knows when communication was broken there was one of two motives or both: prevent a way for the enemy to call for back up and/or share information one didn’t want others to hear. But what if the whole thing was arranged to test Elle’s loyalty? To see if she would be honest when someone tried to get her to defect and to give up on the cause of Spectrum to unite America again.
“He said I didn’t know who I was fighting for. That Spectrum couldn’t be trusted. That you weren’t who you said you were.”
“What else?” Sammi wondered.
“He tried to say more, but I decided to fight him. I was doing pretty good until he told me something I knew was a lie. He tried to convince me the target was my mother.”
“What— what did you do then?” She stuttered. That was unlike Sammi.
“I called him a liar but he put me in a chokehold and I passed out.” Elle said. She lied, mostly.
Sammi tucked a strand of loose hair from Elle’s ponytail behind the teen’s ear. She put her arm around Elle’s shoulders and then rested her head on the girl’s nearest shoulder.
“You know, I’m your mother, right?”
“I know.” Elle lied.
That’s the thing. Elle thought she was orphaned because that is what Spectrum told her. When she was 6, and failing at her early trainings, Spectrum permitted Sammi to tell Elle the truth. That shewas actually her mother, that they made up the South of France story. They claimed it was Elle’s protection but also, to protect the agency. If Elle was ever captured they couldn’t risk the girl giving up Sammi because the woman was special.
To this day, Elle hadn’t quite figured out what made Sammi special to Spectrum.
Since Elle was 6, Sammi formed a strange mother/handler relationship with Elle, making the girl believe the now teen was her daughter. That she and Elle’s father were America’s greatest spies ever. And Elle believed her until the girl was 11. For fun, Elle hacked into Spectrum’s database the evening Sammi was in labor with Milo, and pulled her own file.
A woman named Mara was Elle’s mother. The South of France story was the truth. She left Elle as a baby with the real Sammi in the South of France… Cat, the imposter playing Sammi, killed the real Sammi months after Elle’s mom Mara left and took the infant away from France off to Spectrum’s headquarters. Until that day, Elle believed the lie that the fake Sammi was her mom.
Spectrum permitted the lie due to Elle’s low performance and they were thinking of terminating Operation Elle for not yielding desired results. The day Elle bonded with a mom was the day Elle showed the promise that Spectrum wanted all along.
For years, Elle’s been trying to find out more about her mother. Had she known she was sent to kill Mara, she didn’t know what she would have done. But Zave, the teen’s father,, came through on the intel and gave her enough to flee?
The van stopped. Sammi fixed her composure and ended her embrace. Then, she unbuckled herself and went for the black compartment box on the opposite wall, under the desk.
“I really thought you’d be out the way home.”
She pulled out the kit. Ear plugs, noise canceling headphones and a nice cotton sack to put over my head. As usual, Sammi did the honors and did everything for Elle, afterwards she secured the teenager in plastic handcuff zip ties.
Spectrum did this any time Elle was removed from headquarters and brought back. They wanted to make it impossible for her to escape.
The eerie total silence left Elle alone with her own thoughts. Once the van started moving again, Elle also counted the seconds it took to get home like all the other times. After all, she had nothing better to do, and if she was ever going to escape Spectrum headquarters, she needed to at least ballpark where she was.
About 82,800 seconds later Elle got the sack removed from her head standing in her room. Sammi cut the zip tie cuffs and Elle took off the noise canceling headphones and removed the ear plugs.
“You get the next 24 hours to rest. Leadership is disappointed you failed your red test but they understand you faced a contingency you weren’t trained to handle.” Sammi explained.
“What contingency was that?” Elle inquired.
“You fought against Prometheus II. The fact that you’re still alive is a marvel.” Sammi responded as she swooped Elle into a comforting hug. “Don’t worry, I’ll make sure you’re safe.” She whispered in Elle’s ear.
Elle was freaking out they would kill her and use her eggs to make as many new Prometheuses they wanted. But then Elle remembered, if they’re not scrapping Prometheus IV, she was safe.
Sammi patted Elle on the back ending their embrace and then she left.
Prometheus IV was Milo.
He was 5, and probably the smartest person in the world. He was almost faster than Elle and one day he would be stronger. Unlike Elle, he wasn’t ever emotionally compromised, in fact, he was the opposite or worse. He was clinically a sociopath. He basically was going to grow up to replace her.
Elle wasn’t sure if fake Sammi was biologically Milo’s mother but she did carry him for nine months. He was genetically engineered using the same nano tech from the Prometheus II sphere that made Zave Wace who he was. The same nano tech that influenced Elle’s DNA gave Spectrum the ability to modify her to specify their needs.
The night he was born, he was blind folded before he could open eyes. The Director of Spectrum was away on business and there were strict orders the Director would be the first one Milo saw.
Sammi, treating Elle like a daughter, took the 11 year old to meet her new baby brother when he was a few days old. The Director was still not back yet and the blind fold was still on.
The baby boy was quite lifeless and his skin was nearly gray. Elle was scared the boy would die. For some reason, Elle thought the blind fold had something to do with the baby’s lifelessness.
Sammi looked away for one moment. And though Sammi told Elle not to remove the blind fold, she did anyway. The second the baby opened his eyes and color flushed his skin and he cried for the first time. He imprinted on Elle as his caretaker, which was a role the Director originally intended to be.
Milo only took orders from Elle. If anything ever happened to Elle, the scientists for Spectrum aren’t certain what will happen. Would he let his life dwindle away or would he go on a rampage and become an uncontrollable monster? It was hard to say.
The door opened and Milo came in.
“Welcome back,” he said with his lips, but with eyes using the code they invented similar to Morse Code, he asked: What happened?
“Thank you, brother,” Elle said but blinked: They sent me to kill my mom. We need to get out. That’s what my father told me.
“Are you hungry, sister?” The little boy asked and blinked: I think I have a plan that will work, but first, where did you go and how many seconds did it take you to return?
“Super hungry. I haven’t eaten in two days.” Elle said and blinked: New Texas, Republic of America. 82,800 seconds nearly. Traveled by van, and jet and all terrain vehicle to get back.
“Let’s go raid the fridge, I think there are leftovers you’ll love,” Milo said as he blinked: Give me ten hours to run my final calculations and then we’ll leave. You are really hungry, right?
“Sounds so good, I’m really hungry.” Elle agreed while blinking: Can’t wait to escape this prison and yes, I could eat a cow.
To the normal human eye, no one could notice their eye-blinking code. With their ability of rapid speed in short bursts they can move their eyelids faster than speeding bullets and they designed their code to prevent their blinking from seeming abnormal.
Milo took Elle’s hand and they left her pink princess room to go get something to eat.