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Ventro – Bleach
Sector 7, Tamiku
Saturday August 11th, 2192
As I paced down the cold passageway towards the office, I kept my face neutral; even though I was dreading every second. The plush carpet was a light grey, filling the wide hallway and softening the light space. Hidden cameras burrowed in the walls, barely visible to even the most trained eye. My feet stopped before his door. With a deep breath, I held my hand on the handle, waiting for my fingerprint to be read. After hearing the lock click open, I stepped into his office, the smell of bleach reflected in the space that looked like a freshly cleaned hospital room.
“Did I ever tell you why my offices are always white?” Tristan asked, his back to me as he faced the floor to ceiling glass window.
I stopped just inside the door and said, “No, you didn’t.”
“Back in the 1800’s, many people thought that white was a colour of purity. That deep-rooted belief lasted throughout the centuries, at least for most of the world. Before the Takeover, there was a country called China. The Chinese believed that white was a colour that represented death. Rather than wearing black like the majority of the population, they wore white. Purity and death. Two starkly different ideals for something so simple as a colour.”
Tristan turned towards me as he delivered his final lines. “As someone who deals in death, I thought it was fitting. White, something pure but so easily tainted; yet deadly and grieving.” The contempt written in his face gave away his true joy. After a moment of silence, he picked up on my mood and said, “Cheer up, I’ve got a new assignment for you.”
Swiftly, he moved over to his desk and sat down, gesturing for me to sit on the uncomfortable excuse for a chair before him. I sat, feeling the edges of the plastic seat dig into my skin, staring at the file pushed in my direction.
“His name is Anton. He goes by the alias Shadow. His parents are dead as far as we know and he lives alone on the east side of outer Tamiku. His last known activity was at this address last week.” Tristan pulled an image out from the back of the folder. “Cost us four men on Wednesday and nobody’s seen him since. Most of his interferences are in minor attacks aimed at citizens who won’t comply with our new order.”
“What do you want me to do?”
“While we currently don’t have a location on him, I still need you to take a team to the building to clean up the mess they made; see if he’s there while you’re at it. If he isn’t, move to his apartment and take him out. Treat him the same as what’s her face…Death. Oh, and do try to keep it clean, the public don’t need to know the details.”
“I’ll take thirty men and a tank. Just as a warning of course. Don’t want to make too much of a scene.”
“Yes, prepare to hit them tomorrow night.” As I stood up to leave, Tristan said, “Just one more thing.”
“Yes?” I asked, the room beginning to slip into distortion.
“Bring him in.” Tristan said into his Visor, the computerised earpiece that could be controlled by brainwaves.
Realisation sunk in as two armed men brought a drugged man into the room. He looked around his late teens, with pale blonde hair that looked odd against his tanned skin. With a face made up of permanent reminders of malnourishment, gaunt cheeks and worn skin stretched over his skinny body. His chin tucked into his chest, blood tinged his left cheek and his legs dangled behind him.
“You remember Keller? You recruited him.” Tristan stared at me curiously.
“It’s Kell.” He spat out red after correcting his name, tarnishing the white floor.
“Kell, whatever.” Tristan smiled sadistically. “We recently found out that he was communicating with someone outside of the organisation and sharing secrets about what we do here at Oblivion. Why don’t you tell him what we do to people who betray us, Ventro?”
My stomach churned as I stared at him. Bile filled my throat and threatened to choke me. As his head tilted up at me, my resolve melted, I admitted to myself that I had no choice. Kell was one of ours, working for me; now Tristan was going to make me kill him. Even worse, he was Alex’s best friend. I couldn’t just kill him; the guilt would haunt me forever. What was more important, Kell’s life, or the lives of millions?
“Those who betray Oblivion are terminated in whatever manner deemed suitable by the High Ruler.” My tongue was dirt.
Tristan coughed, “Unless I decide they’re still useful to me with a new mind. There’s nothing a little memory wipe can’t fix, right men?”
Agreement momentarily spread around the room as Kell stared straight into my eyes. As I searched for a sign, all I could see was the acceptance in his eyes. We’d expected that this day might come, but it wasn’t supposed to.
“Ventro, you know what to do.” Tristan said smugly.
Steeling himself, I watched the acceptance in Kell’s eyes give way to fear. Moving closer to him, I noticed the cracks in his brave-faced façade; the hint of blood on his lips, a jaw clenched too tightly. I slapped Kell’s cheek, making it look as if I had hit him harder.
His response snapped. “Go to hell. I can’t believe you work for that monster willingly.”
“Finish him, make it painful. I want to see him bleed.” Tristan said bluntly.
I didn’t respond initially, I just stared down at him as the two bodyguards who held him moved aside. With what little optimism I had left, I hoped he’d have the energy to fight his way out. It didn’t happen. I pulled him up by his jacket; the same dirty, black jacket that I’d met him in. Alex’s face was beaming as he introduced us and we started the effort to get rid of Oblivion.
“Why would you do this?” I asked him.
He smiled through the pain. “Because sometimes sacrifices have to be made for the greater good. I’m willing to make the sacrifice to see Oblivion die.” As he said it, I felt his hand slip something into the inside pocket of my jacket.
“This is your price to pay.” I snarled insincerely as I lit the laser knife protruding from my fist.
I slammed the knife straight through his throat, holding it in for a split second, his eyes staring straight into mine. The smile slipped from his face as I dropped him in a pile on the ground, blood pooling from his neck. It was too much for me. Dropping to my knees, I held my hand out, the laser knife disappearing as my fist unclenched.
When I finally stood up, Tristan was beaming. “Good work Ventro. With that attitude, no vigilante will stand in the way of our dreams.”
My mind was blank, I was elsewhere as I stared at the bloody mess that Kell’s body had become. I knew that when I started the rebellion, this was the price that I might have to pay. That Kell had to pay.
Something hit me hard in the stomach. It took me a moment before I comprehended that it was Tristan’s foot. Another hit to the head and I fell to the ground.
Before I lost connection with my senses, I heard him say, “Clean them up. I want his memory…”
“Ventro, you okay?” Violet’s voice echoed in my head.
I shook myself slowly, “What?”
“You fell asleep on the couch again and I was just making sure you’re okay.” She said as she sat down next to me.
“Yeah, I’m okay.” I rubbed my forehead as I started regaining consciousness.
“No, you’re not. I can tell.”
Her voice carried a certainty that only our years together could ensure. Time suspended as she waited for me to talk. The moon kissed her face, lighting up her alluring features. It took me a moment to shake myself back into reality after allowing myself to drown in her deep brown eyes.
As the gravity of my dreams hit me, I sighed, momentarily breaking eye contact with Violet. “I just had another dream…it’s happening again where I can’t distinguish dreams from reality. Tristan gave me an assignment and then made me kill someone. Something about it feels real but it’s all so…confusing.”
“Hey, it’s okay. We’ll talk through it together. Tell me what happened.”
“I walked into Tristan’s office as normal, he gave me an assignment to take out this kid, Anton.”
“That part is real, it happened yesterday. Afterwards, you came back here, told me and then arranged with the team to foil your own attack.”
“Okay. After that, he gave me the details but as I got up to leave, two men brought in this guy for me to kill; I knew him from somewhere, but I don’t know where.”
“What did he look like?”
“Uh, all I can remember is how thin he looked and the colour of his hair, blonde. His name was…” I trailed off as I failed to remember his name.
Violet looked thoughtful for a moment. “That must be Kell, you killed him three years ago remember?”
“No, I don’t.” I was confused. “All I can remember was my dream, it felt like one continuous dream rather than two connected together.”
“Your memories come back to you through your dreams. It’s okay. We’re just discovering more pieces of the puzzle.” She smiled softly. “Tristan told you about Anton yesterday and Kell died three years ago, you don’t have to feel guilty about it.”
“Does Alex know?” I asked slowly.
“That you did it? No. That he’s dead, yeah, he does. They dropped his body outside the apartment we were staying in, right outside the door. Alex was devastated.”
“He doesn’t know that I killed his b…?”
“No. Your secret is safe. I know you didn’t have any other choice, it’s okay. You’re still a good man, no matter how much this hurts.”
“But Kell was one of ours and I…was the one who killed him.”
Violet gently took my hands in hers and smiled again. “You’ve saved more lives than you’ve taken. Both you and Kell knew the risk, being a part of Oblivion. He knew that the mission was more vital than one life, that’s what he told you. Sometimes sacrifices need to be made for the greater good. Anyway, this kid Anton? He’s your chance to make it right. You can’t bring Kell back, but you can stop this street kid from dying at the very least.”
I smiled at her half-heartedly as she said, “Remember, the battle might be lost, but the war goes on. This is what you chose to do, looking back isn’t an option.”
“You’re right. We need to take out Oblivion, no matter the cost…and maybe we can stop this kid from being buried alive while we’re at it.”
To continue reading 2192: Nerves, check out Chapter 4 here!
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