Part 21

by CM Towns

   “Advanced Human Affairs, huh? Weren’t you guys the Super-Human Monitoring and Policing Agency just a little while ago?” asked the officer driving.
   “Too hard to abbreviate,” Jessie said.
   “You don’t look like a government agent?” he said.
   Jessie knew the “Because I’m a woman? Or do you have a problem with my skin color?”
   “WHAT!? NO! I meant you looked young. Like barely in your twenties,” he said quickly.
   “Oh. Thanks. Sorry about that. When you’re in my business it’s very much a men’s club and a white persons club. People sometimes think I got where I was for diversity sake,” Jessie said.
   “I get it,” he replied.

   Jessie smirked. Act like you’re in charge well enough and no one questions it. She used the same bit about her gender and race to the officers who first greeted her. Worked there too. They were now leading her to the police station where they had a few Harkins waiting to be processed. She would only have a few hours at best to question them before Homeland Security, DOJ or even real officers within the AHA would arrive. Right now they were probably debating jurisdiction-who would be running the show and who would be backing them up. AHA would really be last to the party since they were more about registration, documentation and policing of humans with superhuman or magical abilities. However the director of the branch has made a case for keeping tabs on Harkin, aliens, and creatures once though of as myth. They effect the world around them with their presence which in turn leads to the growth of superhumans.
   When they arrived inside the parking lot Jessie saw heavily armed officers-no surprise there. These were members of the SHRT (Super-Human Response Team) and probably were working as a protection detail for this police station. Jessie figured more SHRT units were meeting and making plans about what to do with the alien menace as well as the giant steel machines of yester-millennia. Jessie thanked the cops for the ride and moved quick inside, where she moved through the checkpoint easily and got her badge. Jessie started to follow another officer until her alias was hollered.
   Jessie turned quick and there was a woman fast approaching.
   “You, I’ll take my agent to one of the interrogation rooms, you round up one of those dirty aliens. You got that?”
   He nodded and rushed off.
   “… Hello?” Jessie asked confused.
   “Stop looking so slacked jawed Sylia. Come with me,” she pulled Jessie with her.
   “You are-?”
   “We talked a few days ago,” she said.
   “Right-Nicole or something?”
   “You’ll address me as Mrs. Stanis. You’re superior as I am the head of the Advanced Human Affairs agency,” she said.
   “No shit?”
   “Gutsy pulling that badge and walking into this place but I admire that. Shows a head for this kind of work,” she commented.
   “Thank you.”
   “What I do not admire is that you went and let Fliopt resurrect God knows what.”
   “Ancient machines built on Mars made to exterminate humans. As for the whole letting him thing-didn’t work like-”
   “Shut it!” Stanis silenced Jessie. The two moved to an open interrogation room. She unplugged the camera inside and said, “We’ll be fine in here.”
   “What about eyes in the other room? Or voices?” Jessie said.
   “I am a very powerful woman. You think there’s going to be documenting evidence of you? I think not Miss Stingray,” she replied.
   “Well that’s good to hear. Posing as an agent is easier when I got the boss on my side,” Jessie said.
   “Posing? You seem confused. You think the ID is real but the persona is fake? You are a member of the AHA officially. You have a PO Box, a paycheck, a handler and are expected to write reports. Which you are very late on. Your activities are so black ops that they are off the books or so heavily redacted only the words ‘the,’ ‘and’, ‘or’ will exist on paper,” she said.
   “The handler will be someone trusted to the group. They will rarely make face to face contact but will know how important it is to keep you off all radar. The reports you will write will have to be good. With real intel. I imagine your position within the Guard will make that easy,” Stanis continued.
   “Wonderful. I’m seventeen, a superhero, and a government agent,” she said. Jessie then asked, “What group are you talking about?”
   “The Illuminati.”
   Jessie laughed, “Yeah right,” she then said but Satnis’ expression made her own change quickly. “You’re fucking serious? Oh God SubHumans going to freak.”
   “SubHuman is not be made aware of us,” Nicole Stanis replied.
   “I’m a tool of an evil organization.”
   “That’s not exactly true,” Nicole said as a Harkin soldier was brought in.
   The Harkin was forced down into the seat and Stanis told them to step outside. The Harkin spoke in his native tongue and Jessie was not paying attention, rather thinking about the recent development on top of other recent developments.
   “Miss. Stingray,” Stanis said.
   “Let him ramble for a minute,” she replied.
   “There isn’t time for that.”
   “Can you grab me some smokes? I have a headache,” Jessie asked. She added, “Trust me.”
   It only took a couple minutes but Stanis returned with a pack of Marlboro and a lighter. Jessie put them on the table and said, “Listen up. I got a job to do and I’d appreciate the help. What I don’t appreciate is having to hurt you to do it. Torture and beaten only work on thugs. Its not entirely reliable when the stakes are higher. Its not reliable when the people delivering said torture can’t tell the difference between a truth, a lie, and someone just trying to make it all stop.”
   The Harkin did not say anything. Jessie pulled a smoke and put it between her lips. She then said, “I use to smoke. Disgusting habit. Sometimes I smoke one to remind myself its a disgusting habit.”
   She offered him one and the Harkin shook his head.
   “I read that some Harkin have taken up smoking. Clones probably. You are a clone right? Yeah… I can only imagine the absolute stress and loneliness of it all. Suicide is frowned upon in your culture-”
   “You don’t know anything about my culture!” he responded.
   “You’re right. You don’t really know something unless you’ve lived it. However I wonder how much of your culture you know. Does Fliopt feed you stories? He’s the real deal? Your father pretty much.
   “Anyway, do you know how many Harkin actually arrived alonside Mizer bring over? Twenty? Closer to thirty? How many were packed on that ship? It was big and I remember reading there were small rooms with four bunks and they all worked and slept in shifts. Mizer got the big room of course,” Jessie said between drags.
   “That doesn’t matter. What matters is the future. Now here’s how things work normally-you give us something to work with and we fit you into a spot. This may mean imprisonment in one of the camps. The ones for B and C grade villains. You stay there for a while before being moved either into a work program or the island. You give good intel you go straight to the island. If you give nothing then you will be imprisoned indefinitely and believe me-the US could use a lot less prisons and prisoners. Now, before prison some people might decide you know something they need and use advanced interrogation techniques. The ones I said can be extremely unreliable. I do no approve of which is why I work in a more respectable field but I’m not willing to dismiss the need to beat up a prisoner just to be sure,” Jessie explained.
   “So give you what I got or I might get tortured and spend the rest of my days in jail?”
   Jessie nodded and continued, “Its lousy I know.”
   “Turning on Fliopt will cause me problems.”
   “True but you’re going to have problems anyway. How many more Harkin clones can Fliopt breed to replace the fallen? How much does he change between clones. Eyes, little hair, slight size shifts and features. What are you really worth?” asked Jessie.
   The Harkin nodded and thought about Jessie’s words.
   “I don’t have a lot to give. Fliopt tends to only let a few people know the specifics of his plans. We didn’t even know why we traveling to New York until we arrived,” he told her.
   “Doesn’t surprise me. But you do know his base of operations. You do have some ideas of his contacts and movements through Europe, Russia and the Middle East. You know his hiding holes in NYC right now,” suggested Jessie.
   “I do know some of those things. And I’ll trade everything I have for a few from you,” he said.
   “Okay-lets make a deal,” Jessie said and Stanis smiled.
   The conversation lasted almost an hour. The Harkin was taken away by the just arriving agents of the DHS. Nicole Stanis spoke with the lead agent in charge while Jessie found a spot outside to update her teammates. She was joined soon by Stanis who filled her in quickly with new details.
   “You were impressive back there. A shame you have no consideration toward government work,” Stanis said.
   “I don’t trust the government,” she replied.
   “Yet you are a cog in the system.”
   “Not by choice.”
   “No but by design either but we’ve been working on that.”
   “What are you talking about?” Jessie asked.
   “You are being welcomed to our organization,” Nicole answered.
   “Nominated I will not run, elected I will not serve.”
   “You will serve alright. Just like Blackwell.”
   “He was press ganged into service?” inquired Jessie.
   “Keeping you and Sally hidden was tough. Especially creating the very detailed origin of Sally Kanzaki as well as securing funds to help assist your family. If we had not found out as we did it only would have been a matter of time before King did,” Nicole explained.
   “Great. So how do you blackmail me?”
   “Same way we did him.”
   “Why me and not Sally or KV?” questioned Jessie.
   “Antoine has a very comic book attitude toward good and evil from what we can tell. Sally was Blackwell’s choice and it was felt she would have a better mind for our work but she’s an alien. The Illuminati’s membership has gotten more diverse in the last thirty years but its too soon to invite aliens to our group,” she answered.
   Jessie laughed. “Okay, here’s a big question. What makes the Illuminati any different than the Kings court?”
   “The original purpose of our organization was to steer the United States into a proper example of democracy and freedom. However at the end of the day we were content with being isolated. We traded with countries yes-but democracy was ours and we had no intent to go to other countries and force our ideals on them. No care for whatever conflicts they had. However the group were eventually pushed into the Great War due to various reasons. At that time it was all about what was best for America. The rest of the world should be jealous of us while we saw them merely as places to buy fine silks and spices.
   “Then the depression hit. Our forefathers did not expect that. However on the horizon was World War II. King-the original-pushed the group into utilizing this as a means of escape. King was a banker and merchant. Made some powerful moves in post World War I. He felt this would get our business’ on track and benefit us all. It benefited him greatly. So much that post World War II he began buying up or financing groups throughout the war torn countries and more abroad. He now had a major hand throughout Europe. His son continued the business,” detailed Nicole.
   “Somewhere down the line the Illuminati broke in half and you guys got an ass kicking while this one went onto secretly take over the world? The Cold War, the death Martin Luthor King and JFK so and so forth, right?” Jessie said before shaking her head before saying, “This is bullshit conspiracy talk.”
   “Fliopt needs to be captured or eliminated. He is too smart and too powerful to be a tool of the current King. Those monsters-they need to be removed. Every bad guy the Guard faces is a potential soldier in Kings army and sooner or later he-or his son or his sons son is going to get tired of ruling from the shadows and step out into the light. We’ve fought a shadow war for a long time, held up okay in the US but we can only do so much,” Stanis stressed.
   “Save me the speeches I know whats at stake here,” announced Jessie.
   “Do you really?” Stanis questioned.