Monday, September 15, 2008

Adept Tales 06 ~ Blood and Agony ~ “Slo Motion”

Excitement raged, ambiguous screams egging on the opponents. Fight night. Slo’s favorite night of the week, but not tonight. Tonight he moved through the jostling throng with a sharp eye and a worried heart. Were the Vendot among them? Had they already infiltrated his operation? It was hard to tell. Not all the Vendot operated in the open. Joshua was certainly right about that; secrecy was their bread and butter. He definitely had a vested interest in finding out. Joshua was right about that too. Lost in his worry, the night slipped away without incident, much to his annoyance. He cursed himself softly as the crowd shuffled out of the arena. He’d let his worries dominate him. He knew no one else would notice, but he noticed. As the last of the spectators exited, he cursed himself again. Somewhere during the night he lost track of G-Wiz and now he was already gone.

Even though the fights were over, the Dead Zone was still packed, music shaking the ground as Slo moved toward the doors. Outside he was struck by the deceptive Vegas chill. Huddled into his coat he headed toward his car. It occurred to him he didn’t have to be cold, but he enjoyed the simple pleasure of human gesture. Its nuances were what kept him in business, what kept him 10 steps ahead of the other guy. Except for tonight. Tonight he was off his game. He cursed himself again as he pulled out of the parking lot and headed home.

Home was in one of the new posh corporate condo high-rises built overlooking the Strip. Sage owned several floors and operated Rooms out of them. Living there put him in debt to Sage, but then again, they were pretty easy on his Fight Club, so really he already was. Of course, Sage wasn’t the only downside to living in the Rooms. You also had to put up with sometimes as many as 17 roommates. This particular building was still new enough though that Slo had only a few so far, and most of those he hadn’t even met yet. He himself had only lived there a few weeks, and the lack of decoration as he entered the unit showed the others hadn’t settled in much either. All, that is, except G-Wiz.

Beyond the bare front room was one of the most impressive array of electronics spread from the kitchen into the adjoining living room area. It was bare when Slo first arrived, but shortly after G-Wiz moved in the future tech rooms had manifested. Slo was impressed by the unique design of the equipment and even more so to find the kid had even greater ideas. Ideas that were slowly making his Fight Club the most popular in the city.

As Slo crossed the barren entrance he could hear the familiar beeps and blasts of G-Wiz’s game system. Good, he was home. Slo thought he might be. The kid didn’t go out much, but how many techies did? Slo ascended the few steps separating the front room from the kitchen-living room combo and saw G-Wiz lounged in his chair sideways, legs kicked over the arms. He saw Slo and gave him a nod as he moved to the kitchen island behind G-Wiz and leaned casually against it, watching him as he continued his game. “How’d the unit work tonight?”

G-Wiz paused his game and turned with a confused expression, “Great. Didn’t you see?”

“No, I was a little distracted.”

“That’s not like you.”

“You’re telling me.” Slo brought his hands to his face like he was splashing it with water, rubbing briefly to clean away his doubts. When his hands came away, he was filled with renewed determination. “Ever hear of an Adept called Agony?”

G-Wiz thought about it for a moment, “Sounds a little failure, but not really, no. Why?”

“He’s in town. I need to know where.”

G-Wiz cracked a smile Slo had seen many times before. A laptop manifested onto his lap and he began clicking away at the keys. It seemed to Slo that the keystrokes where over done and in greater number then any computer process he’d ever encountered, but he knew the kid had a flair for the dramatic. He wasn’t the only one who held a fondness for gesture. “Agony. No other known aliases, though obviously not his given name. At least I hope not.” He continued clicking, studying the data as it streamed across his screen. “Wow, this guys got quite a rap sheet; terrorism, vandalism, militant behavior, inciting riots, inciting rebel actions.” He turned to Slo, worry playing plainly across his expression, “And you say this dude’s here? In Vegas?”

Slo ignored the question, “Can you find him?”

G-Wiz turned back to the console continuing his clicking, “Well I’ll be dammed. You’re not gonna believe this.”


G-Wiz spun the console, now floating inches above his lap, “He applied for Room assignment.”

Slo pushed away from the island and leaned in. Sure enough, there on the screen was the hacked file showing Agony’s application to Sage. “Interesting. Have they placed him yet?”

He spun the unit back, clicking a few more times, “Nope, not yet. His file’s under review, whatever that means. Doesn’t say why, though I could guess.”

“So could I.” Slo straightened, considering the information. “Can you fudge his assignment? Get him a spot here?”

The fierce clacking of keys that had resumed slowed as a new look of concern dominated G-Wiz’s posture. He turned to Slo beseeching, “Why would you want to do that?”

“I didn’t say I did, I just want to know if.”

The clicking stopped as he closed his console, “Normally, yea, but not with this guy. If he’s under review that means someone’s personally handling his case. They’ll assign him deliberately and manually.”

The chime of the doorbell reverberated through the room. G-Wiz pointed a suddenly present remote at the large TV screen dominating the opposite wall, activating the front door’s security camera, another G-Wiz creation and addition. “Sage,” he warned.

Slo looked to see the familiar figures, “Ham and Fury. Great.” The sarcasm was not lost on anyone in the room. “I’ll get it. Don’t say anything about Agony.” Slo moved to the door as G-Wiz went back to his video game, a move only part subterfuge. Slo doubted the kid had the attention span to really care what was going on. Before opening the door he schooled his face to be pleasant and cooperative, a necessity when dealing with Sage Agents. He smiled at his guests as they came into view beyond the swing of the door, “Evening officers.”

“Evening Slo, how’s it going?” It was Agent Ham who spoke. It was always Ham who spoke. Slo was pretty sure he’d never seen Special Agent Fury speak or give any indication as to what the ‘special’ was for, but he was equally sure he never wanted to see either. “May we come in?”

“Sure thing,” he replied as he stepped aside, ushering their entrance. They moved passed the empty front room and into the area Slo had just been. He gestured to his younger roomie, “You know Wiz.”

Ham nodded, “Indeed.” G-Wiz gave a week nod in reply but kept playing his game.

Two stools appeared where Slo had earlier leaned, “Have a seat. Can I get you anything?” he asked as he moved further into the kitchen.

“No thanks,” Ham replied, taking a seat in one of the stools. Special Agent Fury didn’t, instead continuing past the island to take up station where she could see the whole room.

Slo settled against the sink facing opposite Ham on the other side of the island, leaning again. “What can I do for you?”

Ham reached into his overcoat and produced a file. “We need to cash in a favor.” He slid the file across the island to Slo.

He opened the file and saw the now familiar dossier of one Agony. Popular guy, he thought as he mock reviewed the file. It was almost identical to the one Joshua had shown him, except for Sage protocols. “Quite the character,” he said, closing the file and setting it on the counter. “But what’s it got to do with me?”

“We believe he could be a valuable asset. If we can get him on our side, that is.” Looks like Joshua wasn’t the only one who thought so. Hell, Slo agreed, but he still wasn’t sure why everyone thought he was the guy to do it. What had they seen in the file that he hadn’t? Files weren’t really his area though. There wasn’t anything they could tell him that a few minutes observing a person could. He was much better in person. Ham continued, “He applied for a Room assignment. We’re assigning him here.”

Slo and G-Wiz exchanged a quick glance. He couldn’t be sure, but he thought Fury noticed the look, though she didn’t react to it. “And you want me to do what exactly?”

“Nothing much, really. Just get to know him. Be friendly, or whatever it is you do.” Ah, now he was beginning to see. Slo had a reputation for collecting people. Not in a bad way, but Slo had a way of earning stranger’s confidence. This usually led him to be responsible for them in some way. G-Wiz was proof of that, his most recent project.

“That’s it?”

Ham nodded, “For the most part. We want him to work for us, so a little nudging on your part will be necessary, but first we want to get a read on him. Convincing this guy will require some finesse. He’s not big on authority.” G-Wiz stifled a laugh, causing Ham to turn his attention to him, “We expect you’ll be assisting in this too.” He slid of the stool and straightened his coat, “We’re not asking. You’re both aware of the contract for staying here. It’s not a choice. We’re approving his application tomorrow. Be expecting him.” He signaled to Fury, ready to leave, “We’ll be in touch.” The two headed to and out the door, leaving the two in silence.

Well, he thought, that was the danger of living in the Rooms. He did take a certain amount of satisfaction though in the fact that he was essentially paying back Sage by doing what he was already planning to do. And this way he didn’t have to track Agony down. All he had to do was wait. Oh joy. All this hype, Slo couldn’t wait to meet him. And only most of that was sarcasm.



Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see your still working on this for the overall book or is it just a short story thats going into the game? Either way its good, and I'm interested in this slo character, not sure what he can do so it will be interesting to see.

Myndtrip said...

Adept Tales is the overall book, more or less.

Poetry Sue said...

Slo is going to be a fun character, but this Agony Guy is going to be great! I can't wait until the inevitable pairing of Fury and Agony... seriously I saw that one coming form a mile away!

Myndtrip said...

Interesting take. Not necessarily an accurate one, but interesting non the less. It's hard to say what Agony will do since he has yet to actually hit the scene. You'll just have to wait and see. I'm working on he next one now. Just remember, assumptions can be dangerous....

Poetry Sue said...

COME ON! the obviously dangerous Agony and the super scary Fury. Aw man if you don't do it I'm going to just write some fan-fiction

Myndtrip said...

Except that Special Agent Fury is a hardline Sage operative and Agony is an anti-establishment anarchist. Actually I'm not sure if that supports your argument or mine...
But hey, I haven't ruled out anything. It's just not currently part of the plan.

Jason said...

I clicked this from the link in your sig at JC. Really good stuff. I feel compelled to read the backstories and catch up. You always were an admirable intellectual :)

Myndtrip said...

Thank you! You should definitely check out the previous stories and possibly the "Manifest Your Reality..." section from the RPG (link on the left) which is also posted in one of my first posts here. Originally the Adept Tales was going to be just random stories meant more to hone my skills and focus me, but I decided to use it to play out the "main" story line of my Manifestation world. More to come soon...or as soon as I get off my ass and get to work.