GBR.   Posted by Archival.Group: 0
 GM, 167 posts
Thu 8 Sep 2016
at 06:58

Tucked away on a streetcorner in downtown Paradise, just a few blocks off South Paradise Street, there was a tiny little café by the name Oranje. It was the sort of coffee shop that was just too pretentious to put the words 'café' or 'coffee' anywhere on their sign, meaning potential customers either didn't care enough to stop by, or were themselves pretentious enough to just walk into an unknown restaurant-looking establishment with a French name. At least the strategically placed vape shop next door helped things out, by a certain definition of 'help.

"Y'evah wondah what'd happen if we jus'... let everyfin' run its course? Maybe 'ey'd all cancel each ovah out or somefin' like 'at, eh?"

At about ten o'clock on a Saturday morning, there were only a handful of bodies in the building. Naturally, there were the few tortured poets and struggling 'authors' hunched over their over-priced laptops, and at least one larger group of said individuals, discussing their latest work without paying much attention to what each other was saying. And then, there was the pair sitting at a table in a quiet corner of the shop with one extra chair set up, the two of them sticking out like sore thumbs despite their tactical positioning.

The first was a platinum blonde woman in a slate grey business suit and red tie, a lazy grin on her face as she explained her views with a distinct Cockney accent. Her brown eyes seemed unnaturally vibrant and reddish, and sparkled in the light, no matter where the light actually was at the time.

"We don't take that chance," said her companion for the morning - a dashing Asian man, dressed in a black suit and tie, with a pair of opaque MIB sunglasses on his face. Despite the Paradise heat, a long, beige scarf hung under his lapel, while an unlit cigarette stuck out between his lips, bouncing around and rolling across his mouth as he spoke.

"Yea, but 'm jus' saying'. Wha' if we did?" Blackmoney asked. "I's a hypofetical, 'Aoy! Fuh fun! Always been a silly an' whimsical chap, you."

Hao pulled the cigarette from his mouth to take a sip of his coffee, considering the question. He smirked as the cup clinked back down against the table.

"You know better than most the kind of spooks that would come crawling out of the woodwork. That really a chance you want to take?"

The blonde smirked right back. "Always a biggah fish, 'Aoy," she replied, "always a biggah fish. See, ways I figah it, there'll 'ave to be somefin' big enough t'put 'em in their place."

Hao chuckled into his coffee, nodding toward the doorway as he took a gulp. Blackmoney glanced up, just in time to spot a woman step into the café. Her hair was short and blonde, a ragged scar ran across her nose, and she wore a long, sleeveless coat to show off her tattooed arms. Blackmoney gave the newcomer a small wave, which she returned as she made her way to the counter.

It wasn't long before the scarred woman sauntered over to the table and plopped down next to Hao and Blackmoney. She brought with her something tall and topped with whipped cream and chocolate drizzle, as if to give the other, plainer pair of drinks on the table as big a middle finger as possible.

"'Eyyy, there's me baby girl!" Blackmoney grinned, reaching all the way over the table to roughly the other woman's hair. "'Ow ya doin', love?"

"And what the hell is that?" Hao asked, a smirk on his face as he pointed to her drink.

The blonde batted Blackmoney's hand away, then grinned proudly. "Raspberry latte with whip cream and chocolate drizzle! She announced. "You want sip?"

"I'll have to pass," Hao answered.

Luka shrugged and took her first sip, giving herself a nice, big whipped cream moustache.

"So, eh, why are we meeting in shitty coffee shop this time?" She asked, idly lapping at her new lip decoration. "Is actually pretty good..."

Hao reached down to a brief case beside his chair and snapped it open. Slipping a handin, he produced a manila folder and slid it across the table to Luka.

"We have a job for you," he answered. "You know we wouldn't ask for this kind of favour if it wasn't important."

Luka considered the folder for a long second, then placed a finger on it and slid it back across the table without looking.

"I have bigger priorities right now," she replied. "Sad for you, I am not GBR lapdog anymore."

Hao stared through his opaque sunglasses and slid the folder right back.

"I know your priorities, and I know you have one priority above all others."

"Jus' give i' a look, love," Blackmoney added, giving Luka sparkling, pleading eyes. "Fuh me."

Luka shot both of them a withering glare before reluctantly opening the envelope. She stared for a brief moment at the eyes that looked back at her, then sighed and closed it.

"Does not matter," she said. "I have responsibilities here. The city needs me."

"You're not Superman," Hao shot back. "We're already arranging replacements to cover said responsibilities."

"And who are you going to get, eh?" Luka laughed. "The fucking wolves?"


The blonde blinked at Hao as her expression sunk. Hao, on the other hand, just sipped his coffee with a smirk on his face.

"The wolves have not been in this city for twenty years," Luka said. "Why you think this changes all of the sudden, eh?"

"I already told you," Hao said with a smirk. "We're making arrangements. Besides, you've got a whole mob of exes to run from, right?"

"'Ex' is... strong word for 'girl who was much too attach to you and not actually your girlfriend'. But, ehhh... is not entirely untrue, I admit," Luka said, letting out a guilty chuckle. She spent a moment mulling over the request and took a sip of her latte before opening her mouth again. "I don't know. I would have to find someone to look after my dog."

"You don't own a dog," Hao stated flatly. "Unless that's a euphemism for something."

"Eh, you know," Luka smirked, her eyes narrowing at Hao, "some girls, they like-"

"Aw, Lulu, don' even start," Blackmoney said, cutting her off, a look of only half-sincere disgust on her face. "Just do it fer us, yeah? Y'know yuh the only person qualified."

"What she said," Hao added. "So what do you think?"

"I think..." Luka eyed the folder for a moment, before a distant smile crossed her face. With a heavy, not-so-reluctant sigh, she placed her raspberry latte with whipped cream and chocolate drizzle atop it. "I think I look forward to seeing her again."


Far off the beaten path, in a forgotten corner of the world, there is a prison. The prison was designed and built to hold a single prisoner in a single, cramped cell. Every wall, floor and ceiling was plated with aluminum, each square foot wired up to dispense a thousand volts at a moment's notice. The wires trailed through the narrow halls, leading under a vault door that would make a national bank blush, and on through a smaller reinforced door with a single slat for dispensing food. Behind the reinforced cell door itself was a secondary, automated steel-bar wall and door left closed for most of the day.

The prisoner himself laid in bed, wiling the days away with a copy of Francis Bacon's New Atlantis, among other works sorted neatly on a pair of concrete shelves. The rest of the room was much as any other prison cell: a combination toilet, sink and nothing more. He was a tall, handsome man with sharp, angular features and a dark complexion, inscrutably North African or Middle-Eastern. His hair was pale white and slicked bad, while his eyes were an unearthly red.

In the midst of his reading, a loud rumbling shook the cell. There was no clock or window to let him tell time, but the prisoner wagered it wasn't time for a meal. That only left a visitor, and only one person who knew about the prison would bother visiting.

"KEEP AWAY FROM THE BARS," a voice blared over the loud speaker.

The prisoner glanced up toward the door and rolled his eyes. He had little intention of going anywhere near the bars. Instead, he counted down the seconds as the visitor was properly processed, not moving from his position.

Three minutes and twenty-nine seconds later, the cell's primary door squealed open. In stepped a lone, rugged forty-something man who looked entirely unsuited to the black suit and tie he was wearing. His brown hair was scraggly and unkempt, matching the barely-groomed sideburns and goatee that grew across his face.

"Good evening, William," the prisoner said in a cordial tone, an almost genial smirk on his face. "At least, I believe it's still evening."

"'s about three in three in the afternoon," William answered, his words coloured by a Texas accent.

The prisoner's smirk sunk as he let out a bemused 'hrmph'. "Well, in any case," he said, regaining his composure, "I may not have a calendar, but I have the sneaking suspicion that I know why you're here."

"Prob'ly do," said William, leaning against the far wall with his arms crossed.

The prisoner closed his book and rose from the bed, meandering toward the cell bars. Slipping his arms between them, he pressed his face between two bars, still smirking at his visitor.

"And what is it you plan to gain by talking to me, hm?" He asked. "What do you expect me to tell you, William?"

William shrugged. "Figured ya'd start talkin' soon as Ah walked in anyways. Maybe Ah'll get somethin' useful outta it."

"Has that ever worked before?"

Again, William shrugged. "On occasion. Usually a bit late t'matter, though."

"I do love my victory monologues," the prisoner conceded, his smirk growing into a whimsical smile. "It's just not the same without them, you know? But that's beside the point. My daughters are awakening and you wanted to check in on your old friend. Tell me, how many of them have you found yet?"

The visitor cast his eyes to the ground, frowning. After a long hesitation, he answered, "One."

"Oh, William," the prisoner gasped, sounding genuinely disappointed. "It's the one I think it is, isn't it? Please, she was the gimme. At least you seem to be appropriately shameful of your ineptitude."

"One'a our former agents is set to meet with Jeanne soon," William said, seemingly ignoring the prisoner's comments. "We're confident she'll be an asset, should we need her."

"You're free to think what you'd like," the older man shrugged. "How is she?"

"Jeanne?" William asked, as if surprised the prisoner would even think to ask. "Doin' alright, last Ah checked. Prob'ly the only one o' the bunch to scrounge up a normal life. 'til you decided t'ruin that."

"Can't be helped. Greater destiny and all that," the prisoner shrugged. "She was always my... Well, my second favourite, I think. They say you can never have favourite children, but you really do, don't you? How are your children, William?"

The Texan couldn't help but let out a chuckle. "Artie's good, just finishing up first grade. Cecilia's 'bout the same as any three year old. Little worse, maybe. Takes after 'er mother. Wouldn't be too surprised if she gets into th' same line a' work someday."

"I would love to see pictures some time," the prisoner smiled. "And your wife? Is she well?"

"Doin' alright," was all William was comfortable saying.

"Wonderful. ...I miss my wife," the prisoner said, his eyes wandering to the floor. "I miss all of my brides, but you know who I mean. The first one. And I'd love to meet all of my daughters. Soon enough..."

The prisoner let out a distant sigh and pulled away from the bars. Taking a few meandering steps, he sat down on the edge of his bed, his red eyes staring straight into his visitor's soul.

"You can't stop it, you know," he stated flatly. "I have twelve thousand years of contingencies in place. It may take a few more years, but it will happen soon and it will happen no matter how much you pray."

"We know," William answered. On his face was a smirk that barely veiled a righteous hatred. "'s why we ain't tryin' t'stop it. 's an awful nice thing ye're doin', givin' us all this time t'get ready."

The prisoner let out a long, faintly amused 'Hmmm' as he picked his book back up again.

"Well," he said, finding his place, "I look forward to seeing if this little scheme of yours plays out, whatever it may be. I could use some entertainment once I'm free of this place."

William scoffed and checked his watch. "That gonna be all for today?"

"I believe so," the dark-skinned man answered. "But just so you didn't come all this way for nothing, I'll give you a little hint. I have seven daughters. You already know the eldest, and the youngest is named Sherine."

"How generous."

"I think it is, given how hard a time you're having," the prisoner answered, waving his visitor off. "Have a safe flight home, William. And tell Vera I said 'hi', will you?"

"'course," was all Billy Winters said as he once again disappeared through the door.


Across the globe, a dark-haired woman practically skipped down a hall, bright and beaming with a smile a mile wide. Everything in the building was shiny and new, all sleek, modern and silver. The woman passed by enormous, wall-sized windows looking into bustling offices, and stopped to check her hair and suit in the reflection. Everything was in place, though perhaps her pencil skirt was just a bit too short for her liking. Regardless, it was too late to fix now, and she carried on her way without dropping her smile.

Eventually, the woman came across a door with her name on it and stepped into her waiting room.

"Morning, Commander Winters!" Her receptionist chirped, a bright and chipper young woman with a short mess of black hair.

"Gooood morning, Sharon~" The Commander called back, crossing the room to the door of her own office. "Is everything ready?"

"Of course, ma'am!" Sharon answered. "I tried to set up everything just the way you like it!"

"Excellent!" The Commander sang, turning the knob. "A new office, a new building! It's so exciting, isn't it?"

"Yes, ma'am!"

The door opened to reveal a rather enormous office, with bookshelves filled with texts and ancient knick-knacks lining the two side walls. Everything seemed fairly typical, if extremely expensive, from the sofa chairs to the enormous desk and top-end computer. The only thing that stuck out was the metal shutter that took up the entirety of the wall opposite the door, behind the Commander's desk.

Humming to herself, the Commander threw herself into her heavenly leather chair and spun around a few times to break it in. Satisfied that the chair was properly spinny, she flipped on the computer and plucked the name plate from her desk to examine it. Of course, it read COMMANDER VERA WINTERS, because what else would it read? Satisfied, the Commander leaned back in her chair and let out a contented sigh as she let her eyes drift closed.

It didn't take long for them to shoot open again, however.

"Oh! Almost forgot!"

Vera leaned forward again, feeling around under her desk. Her fingers found their way to a switch. With a click, it was flipped, and a mechanical whine echoed through the room. The Commander spun her chair once again, staring behind her desk as the shutter began to rumble up and away.

Her smile grew as her vision filled with rich, ocean blue. Bubbles rose past the window as slowly, surely a sprawling city of enclosed buildings and skyscrapers seemed to rise from the sea floor. As if on cue, a shimmering school of fish swam across her field of view.

The Commander hummed to herself, swaying back and forth as she enjoyed the sight.

"Finally," she murmured, pushing herself forward to rest her forehead against the glass. Vera stared out at the water, her expression relaxing as something distant and unearthly flashed in the depths of her eyes.