She was found sitting by the docks, dripping wet, a drowned rat reeking of the Hudson.
They came and took her. The people dressed in black and MP5SFA3 semi-automatics fitted with underbarrel flashlights and EOtech holographic sights.
Funny, she didn’t remember calling them.
She didn’t remember at all.
She remembered the guns. Hardware.
Nikita was her name.
Amanda was kind, always smiling and patient with her.
At night, she dreamt of crocodiles.
Alex didn’t like her.
She caught Alex staring, not paying attention. Bad habit. She hit her in the gut. It won’t bruise but Alex would remember not to let her guard down again.
“I’m sorry,” she said with a smile.
Amanda guided her through her missions.
“Nikita. The black box has been secured. Kill him.”
She pulled the trigger twice. Double tap.
The pale man was down.
Alex’s voice echoed in her earpiece.
Abort! Nikita, don’t!
Amanda was a textbook, undeterred. “Confirm the kill.”
She rolled the dead body over and touched the still warm neck. No pulse. She canted her head as blood pooled next to her boots.
He looked funny, she remarked.
“Bring back the body.”
Roan would be bummed. Good.
Alex was yelling.
“Stop it, just stop! One of these days she’ll remember!”
Alex showed up at her door.
Someone had sent Alex an invitation to take a walk. It was a plus one.
She looked around the gray box that was her room and shrugged.
Alex wanted her to dress warm.
Not a round trip.
“What about Amanda?”
“Amanda can go fuck herself.”
Division exploded behind them. They fell onto the grassy dirt.
She glanced back at the burning hole in the ground.
They stopped at the bank of a river.
Alex stared at the water’s dark reflection and started to shake.
She took the young woman into her arms.
Alex clutched at her arms. “I’m sorry,” she sobbed.
She soothed the girl, patting her on the head. “For what?”
Alex cried harder.
She tasted salt on her lips. Great, now she was crying too.
She remembered that she didn’t remember.
But the tears kept coming.
Ryan Fletcher sorted through the debris.
He found an email printout.
RE: Michael Autopsy
Late stage T-cell prolymphocytic leukemia.
The fire investigator brought him a charred piece of black plastic. The point of origin, the man declared. Used to be a box of some kind.
Ryan closed his eyes and whispered a prayer.