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Peregrine Island, August 5 2022, 0235 EDT, 18°C


Samantha Harris was raised Catholic but described herself as reformed over drinks. She had said grace before supper and had said her prayers before bed-time at her parents urging but had never really believed, but on this day she prayed as Malta operatives chased her through the streets of Peregrine Island. She didn't pray to the gods who had never gifted her a bicycle. She didn't pray to the gods who had never punished Jenny Turner for slamming her into a locker. She prayed to the silent gods. She prayed to the gods who hear the call of those in need, and her prayers were answered.


Thunder rolled over the skyline and a burnt orange glow flashed above the clouds, briefly illuminating the streets below. Sam reached out and grasped a standpipe to swing herself into an alley off of Church street, the apartment buildings loomed above her she hurtled between the bricks as the sound of jack-boots rang in her ears. Carnies paused and glanced as she passed, shaking off the reverie of their games as they became aware of the oncoming storm. Jugglers and Strongmen abandoned dice and cards, ignoring the young woman as they made good their own escape.


Sam turned another corner and sprinted before crouching behind a dumpster to catch her breath. She tapped her breast pocket, reassuring herself that the data drive was still there before closing her eyes once again.


Sam crouched behind the dumpster, gasping for breath with her entire future in her pocket. She squeezed her eyes shut and said one more prayer "Please, whoever is listening, if you can hear me... I need you. I can't run anymore"


She heard the jackboots arrive and opened her eyes before turning her head to stare down the barrels of six standard issue Malta BRK-47 Plasma Lances. Thunder rolled once more over Peregrine Island. A man's voice, hard like gravel and crisp like winter "Miss Harris, my name is Green-04 and I'm here to take you into custody for the theft of proprietary information from Crey Corporation. If you'll please come with me." The Cowboy ambled out from between the Malta agent, all blacks and blues, from chaps to hat. He rested the heel of his right hand on the butt of the modified Peacemaker on his hip.


Sam watched as the head of every agent at the other end of every gun swiveled left, down the alley and into the dark. The Cowboy quickly placed a finger to his ear and motioned, sending all six agents into cover position with rifles aimed down into the black. Sam eyed the way she's come thinking to run but was forestalled when she heard the click of a hammer cocking behind her ear.


Green-04 held the gun pointed at Sam's head and time stood still. It stood still for so long that Sam began to wonder if she could leave before The Cowboy called out.


"We know you're there! Just come out, already!" His voice echoed off the buildings and vanished into the streets to be swallowed up by the hiss of rubber on pavement and the sizzle of streetlights. He placed his finger against his ear again and Sam could barely make out the words "... priority one ... leverage ... target Hellfire ... backup ... ".


The silence was palpable until the cough.


"Beg yer pardon, mates." The Scottish brogue cut through the night, followed by the click of hard-soled loafers. A bright, burnt orange glow blazed in the shadows of the alley, down-gun of the Malta agents guarding their prize.


All of a sudden Samantha Harris was no longer the center of attention as The Man in Black stepped out into the light. Not a man of great stature, but one that commanded attention. A flat black suit and tie with burnt-orange pinstripes, shirt and shades to match. The Man jammed the black fedora onto his head and stuck the cigar back between his molars before offering a grin.


"Mr. McRae! On the order of White-01 you are under arrest! Get on your knees and prepare for immediate detainment!" The Cowboy's Peacemaker was no longer pointed at Sam's head and so she crept out from under her captor's gaze, sidling towards the way she'd come, hoping to escape once more. It seemed like a good plan before she kicked a small plastic cup that rattled and clattered for what seemed like an age. All heads turned and then Samantha Harris was the center of attention once again. She looked past The Cowboy and the Malta agents at The Man in Black. She couldn't see past the lenses of the opaque shades but she knew he winked.


And so she ran and the world exploded. Plasma fire echoed in her ears as the world slowed. One step in front of the other as Sam raced down the alleyway towards the street. Men and women screamed in agony behind her. Three more steps and she heard the Peacemaker fire once, twice and then she was almost thrown off her feet as a rush of super-heated air carried her forward in a whirlwind of trash. Sam watched as the rooftops spun above her as she was carried forward by the sharp exhalation. She grasped, finding security in the little lump in her breast pocket as she was propelled forward. Her feet touched the earth again and she willed them forward. It was hard to breath, the air was so hot.


And then it was over. Everything was red and blue and white as the buildings spun over and over and before long she heard a voice asking her her name and her date of birth. A warm breeze washed over her before she lost consciousness.


Talos Island, July 2023, 1337 EDT, 23°C


Samantha Harris watched her son play with the other boys as she sat on the park bench and drank her coffee. This was her favorite time of the week despite the fact that the other moms chided her about drinking a hot drink at this time of year, but ever since that day Sam had never really minded the heat.


She looked across the street and caught a glimpse of a man in a flat black suit and smiled to herself as she reached instinctively for the data-drive that wasn't there. He nodded and the cherry of the cigar flared and then he was gone.

Edited by Living_Hellfire
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-The Legendary Living Hellfire

"The newest person in the room is always the most important person in the room"

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