You are Ruled by Criminals – Chapter 11

Joe rifled through the pockets of his new outfit, finding the small baggy of marijuana and tossing it into a bush as he quickly moved towards the house that the unfortunate Fino Cannicus was to have lived in.  He eventually found the RD, a high-quality newest generation cellular phone model, pulling it out of the over-sized hoodie’s pocket.  He pressed it against the metallic surface of his gauntlet, the device now compressed down to the size of a large wrist watch, his system hacking the phone and changing the passwords to presets he had created prior to embarking on this mission.  He heard the RD vibrate as it received a message, Joe hoped that it was the certificate that allowed him access to the home, he wanted to be inside before the rest of his soon-to-be housemates arrived.

Joe pulled out the retro flip phone RD, flipping it open with a snap of his wrist, and inputting his password.  As Joe began walking up the steps to the faux-Victorian house Fino was to live in, he read the message that had just been sent, it contained all the usual information one would expect in a college entrance packet, as well as instructions for using an RD to enter the assigned living-space.  The RD buzzed again, just as Joe was about to use it to unlock the door, the message appeared above the phone, without Joe needing to flip it open, which was strange in and of itself.  Joe looked down at the hologram and read the words, “Your assessment test has now begun.  You have been designated ‘Target 2’, you have an hour to evade capture and to return to the testing hall.  No manifestation may be used publicly, nor can students use lethal force, and staff will be observing everything so as to provide a safe testing environment.  Good luck trainee! :)”

“Shit.”  Joe ran away from the house at a dead run, noticing two students walking towards him, they had been at the auditorium with the two men who had destroyed his world, “Well this is just fucking unlucky.”

*****

Adrien tried to surreptitiously observe the young boy who walked alongside Ahsha, his innocence lent him more youth than his actual age.  This boy, Eric as he’d introduced himself, was to be another new housemate, and although he appeared to be oblivious to what was going on around him, Adrien couldn’t be too sure.  This situation had placed Adrien well out of the familiar world, into one where men who looked disturbingly like infamous international terrorists recruited former murderer’s (since they clearly knew Adrien’s name, they knew the history behind its change), then decided to make a pass at them.  Adrien still could not comprehend that.  If that had actually been the Aaron Duval, he would be nearly forty-seven by now.  There was no possibility anyone could have aged that well, he looked at most to be a relaxed, well-to-do late thirty something, but several other former members of METRops had appeared to stop aging as well, though this was never talked about openly on any major news outlets.

Years had been spent crafting this ideal identity for Adrien.  Countless hours spent memorizing behavioral patterns, the walk, posture and all the other countless things necessary to become another human being.  Regardless of every step taken another direction, no matter how many seasons changed, Adrien could still feel the wintry steel of the gun clutched in the twelve year old’s hands, shaking with fear, the empty clothing of her mother just feet away.  Adrien still could see the bullet, projected from that gun, fly straight to the target, Dustin Eberts, the world renowned pop star who Adrien later learned had killed 3456 people that day after snapping on a film set in LA.  Adrien had known at the moment the bullet left the gun that disappearance would be a necessity, and had moved as quickly as a shell-shocked twelve year old could ever be able to move, letting no seconds squander, and shot to the seedy local hang-out of a criminally inclined uncle. This was a man who had done plenty of wrong, but also a man who had helped Adrien go to ground, build a new identity, and then, against all tradition and legacy, put his own flesh and blood up for adoption, the only reasonable course of action for obtaining any safe-haven.

Adrien’s mind returned to the now, focusing back in on the surroundings and the new housemates.  Eric was now talking animatedly to Ahsha about the varied fauna of western Wyoming, a locale he had clearly enjoyed, made evident by a glowing wistful expression on his face.  Ahsha was managing to either play a convincing listener, or was paying genuine delighted attention to Eric’s detailed explanation of the mating habits of a moose.

“Excuse me Eric, but the test is about to begin,” the voice from behind them startled everyone but Ahsha, who just turned and coolly looked behind her, a man who Adrien had overheard called Omar stood only five feet behind the three students, “and I’ll need you to come with me to the main testing location.  Sadly, you were not placed directly in the AP program, so your two roommates will not be joining you for this test.”  Omar turned his attention to Ahsha and Adrien, “Your test will be sent to you via text, and the new GUI you received will help you track your targets,” he smiled at them both, “I wish you both luck, apparently, one of your housemates has been chosen as the other AP exam target.  Sounds – like – FUN!”

As soon as that last word was spoken, Omar abruptly turned around and began walking back towards the TCU campus without turning to check if Eric was following.  Eric hastily mumbled out a, “See you later,” to Ahsha and Adrien, and hurried off to catch up with Omar.  Ahsha waved, then turned around and continued on towards the neighborhood which held their new home, leaving Adrien staring at the backs of the retreating pair, feeling a discernible sense of whiplash.

Adrien’s RD vibrated, sending a hand into a coat pocket and engaging the viewer from habit formed by years of constant use.  Ahsha also seemed to be engaging her device as Adrien began reading the message while hurrying to catch up with Ahsha.  According to the message, Adrien was to pair up with Ahsha to help track down and capture one of two targets, but no manifestations were to be used publicly.  There was also an attached widget which tracked the location of the two targets, one of which seemed to be right at their new front porch.

“Hey Adrien,”  Ahsha pointed her finger toward a figure in a striped hoodie running down the steps of their front porch, “I think we found that housemate slash target Omar was talking about.”  The hoodie twisted, its occupant glancing towards them for an instant, before dashing off in the opposite direction.

 

You are Ruled by Criminals - Chapter 10
You are Ruled by Criminals - Chapter 12
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