Her name was Nico. She was the escort of Mankey wherever she was needed and clearly, a debriefing could use more legs. She was tall, seductive, and had a marked beauty about her that couldn't be fathomed. Off the top of one's head could they swear she was different, but as her walk towards him continued, Nicholas hardly regarded her.
Mankey stated, "Acacia Harbor is a city of dubious origin. It was created on the Planet Troy to mark a new, more elaborate era of reforming criminals across the galaxy. It's the 'Aligheri' method of imprisonment, where life could be worse and worse could be hell. Its early creation was first attained in simulation-based experiments involving contingency methods regarding terrorism similar to the Middle East on Earth.
"Acacia is much sweeter than that, but I am afraid that our enumeration of that is wearing thin."
Walking in were Arthur and Victor, who were able to catch his debriefing through the hallways that played the conversation in the room through speakers. Coming with them was a man with a black beard in a turban and suit; it was Rosser.
As Mankey continued, he said, "Shigure Felipe Romero is a young man of somewhat strained, vague history. Much of his past is unknown, except the fact that he has somehow risen through the ranks to acquire connections in the Acacia underground. The way by which Acacia works is that if criminals are allowed upper access to the city, they will continue under precise monitoring until they can be established as needing further reform. At the bottom of the city sits a warfare simulation that can immobilize enemies and deter crime. However, Shigure has not been apprehended, so his access to the lower levels has been unprecedented."
Nicholas added, "In its lockstep is how he's somehow marshaled weaponry to Acacia, as well as developed almost universal connections among the criminals."
Rosser asks through his spiraled, Eastern accent, "How does one unknown simply rise to such prominence?"
Mankey looked at him and replied, "We don't know. We've been observing him for the past two years and his criminal history indicates that he began as a lower-level sex trafficking operative."
Arthur followed with the clenching of a fist, stating virtuously despite his own cockiness, "That bastard!"
"It only pans out from there as being more wicked. He has been a notorious assistant to the realm of sex trafficking and he's taken some of his operations across the galaxy, something that we've had yet to fully connect to him."
In the case of all this, Nicholas was looking upon Mankey with a hoary, unfettered look of suspicion. In the midst of his feathered words, the young acolyte knew of something afoot in the very tone of his informant. It was clear to him that deception was being thought of.
Nicholas then stated, "The irony of it is that he's homosexual."
Mankey suddenly jeered toward him with the rest of the room, including the girl, and asked, "How did you know that?"
The bosom thoughts of these men were transfigured to wonder at how he concocted that insight so fast, his only reply stating, "He's gay. How else do you have the inability to detect someone whose more immediate hypothetical would be to adopt carnal relations with his subjects? Simple. How many men get sold at the Super Bowl?"
Arthur nodded his head in verbose, playful agreement at his peer. The fact of it was that Arthur hated Nicholas, but he couldn't dispute the brilliance of that statement. Alain, meanwhile, smiled through the tired and permanently charred skin beneath his turban. The only one who sought to continue was Mankey, who stated, "Shigure has been a negative life force in the Estate. However, his operation in the crime world is rather limited to Acacia; he is merely substantiating work for others in the realm.
"In other words, he's only become the greatest of our worries, because he has given us such a tight bargain. That is to say that if he were killed, Acacia would be under siege and his criminal empire would die a painful death. A painful one implies death."
Nicholas chimed in to clarify his statement, saying, "Shigure Romero has basically admitted that he is in charge of the crimes of Acacia Harbor. He's upstairs and downstairs. If caught or killed, the rest of Acacia would pay the price, including civilians."
Meanwhile, there stood someone at the side of a building as though he were a trained robber. Putting his finger to an earpiece on his person, he could hear every detail of the conversation as it proceeded. With Mankey's details continuing through the apparatus, the figure could hear him say, "Our only prime directive at this moment is to wait and see what happens."
Back on Planet Artemis, Nicholas, Alain, and Rosser were massaging the fields of grain with a walk as plentiful as it was slow. Ever the short man of the trio, Nicholas stood in front with a walking stick and a straw hat, while both creatures behind him were walking with their respective robes. Within their journey, Rosser stated with his cuddly yet thick accent, "I love how you totally shit-canned Mankey at the meeting. It's been out that Shigure's been gay for a long time; he probably thought you were stupid."
Nicholas replied, "I only stated that, because it was relevant to the conversation."
Alain asked, "What about it was relevant?"
Looking behind at Alain, Nicholas stated, "Unlike Mankey, Shigure chooses not to know his victims."
Ever befuddled by what that statement meant, Alain asked, "Explain."
"Intelligence has circulated that Shigure is a promiscuous young man, but it is rumored that he never has sex with his captives. In fact, he is never seen in incriminating places for himself to be connected to his operations. Women and children need not beware him in person."
Rosser started to chuckle slightly and say, "I get the joke."
With that, Nicholas smiled and Alain started to chuckle alongside Rosser. In the spirit of a mere walk, this made for something particularly funny. As they trekked, Rosser asked, "Why does Mankey insist on being so cavalier about his descriptions? I sensed a part of him that was making this out to be no big deal!"
Alain added, "I'm sure he means to subdue it for our sake. Acacia is going to be facing dire circumstances in the year to come."
Rosser agreed, but added, "But he just seems so nonchalant! He was surprised by one comment you made and when you added the detail about 'the Super Bowl', Nicholas, he looked worried. I don't think everybody was paying attention."
Nicholas stated, "There's method to his madness. I think something is very afoot."
Alain stated, "That's not proper grammar."
In stride, Nicholas replied, "I was being poetic."
Both of them looked at each other seeming a bit irked, not knowing what to make of his statement. However, Nicholas quickly stood behind them in saying, "Mankey is a suspicious individual; rumors have circulated for years that he has criminal proceedings and these have not been confirmed by governmental superiors."
Alain asked, "What?"
Nicholas pulled a grain of corn from the ground and whittled it between his teeth, adding, "They're kept top secret, because like Shigure, we have difficulty tying him to the heart of his crimes."
Rosser added, "But this dirtbag is our informant?"
Alain stated, "He's not the focus, right now. What is the focus is Shigure and his intentions; he's a dangerous man and on some level, I want to believe the levity of Acacia's city structure is to blame."
Nicholas added, "Prison reform has succeeded to the extent that we've been better able to identify the criminals. Making them change takes a lot longer."
Rosser stated, "But this man seems to have come out of nowhere! I've heard he's only a few years older than you, Nicholas!"
"He's in his twenties. It's a bit strange, given the fact his profile has achieved what other gangsters couldn't by the time they've reached 30. Not in this day and age, thus far."
As they were walking, they approached the outskirts of a village in the midst of the plain. Artemis' largest population was the more recently treatable African people, as well as Europeans whose economy was good enough for watching a few zebras. It was a popular vacation planet for a lot of people besides the unlivable regions of fire extending from the South Pole, dubbed "Molech" for obvious connotative reasons.
Watching them walk in, the villagers took notice and enjoyed their company. A child ran up to Nicholas and said, "Nicky! Nicky! I've been collecting sea shells! Wanna come see?"
Nicholas put his hand on the child's head and said, "In a minute, Mori."
"Nicky! You guys are the best! Remember when you were dealing with those criminals who tried to kill my mom? They can now look forward to getting..."
"Hush! Come on, Mori. Your mother doesn't want you using those words!"
The kids all ran up and saw that Alain and Rosser were there, some of them shouting their names like a chorus of fish diving through waves. They ran up to them and hugged them, not giving them a chance to get through. This was not something that could distract them, but Nicholas walked with Mori, who asked, "How's Jason?"
Nicholas replied through somewhat slow lips, "He's good. He's doing well with learning his skills, but he's still got some things to learn in the way of maturity."
Nicholas smiled and looked down at him, saying, "Why?"
Nicholas, toying with his curiosities, asked, "Tell me why."
Mori replied, "He doesn't think before he acts; I think he looks up to you, but he doesn't show it as much as he should. He doesn't know what you've been through and treats you like a babysitter."
"That's only because I've been sitting for a clone."
Astonished, Mori yelled, "What?"
His little shriek brought attention to the two of them, though Nicholas had to discourage little Mori from further spells. Nicholas said, "Jason Marcos is comprised of clone DNA. Lately, I've been able to detect the source of it, but the Culture of Telepathy doesn't usually have clone subjects. Unlike the other pupils, he's been particularly interesting to me; I think it's tied to the Priory."
All of a sudden, Mori made evil eyes by pulling his eyelids apart and making facial expressions to make light of our aspect. People love to make us into freaks simply because we're human; I should add the child says, "The Priory of Math is coming to get you!"
Nicholas laughs, I laugh with him. It's almost like I'm there with my son, but I digress. He states, "I would have you know that the source of the clone I'm detecting is a girl."
While Nicholas walked with Mori, Alain and Rosser were busy playing with the children. As Rosser's eyes looked up from the group below him, he looked forward and saw someone whose face nearly mirrored the look of Nicholas'. However, this youth's hair was a whitish blonde and he had more of a feminine quality, though his appearance was comparable to Nicholas'.
Rosser said, "Alain, look."
Alain looked up with his hand atop a boy's head and was equally surprised by what he saw. Noting his resemblance to Nicholas and his heavy black clothing amidst the arid day, Alain's mouth slithered under his mask. He remarked, "That looks like..."
Rosser asked, "That isn't... Leon, is it?"
While Mori and Nicholas talked, the young boy asked, "No way! Jason's gonna flip!"
Nicholas stated, "There's no reason for me to show her to him, except I need them for a future mission together. One day, you may be joining us."
Nicholas stated, "There's no reason for me to show her to him, except I need them for a future mission together. One day, you may be joining us."
Mori started to exultantly jibe with fists swinging, a chest thumping, and a smile that reached into all facial expressions at once; it was clear he was imitating a crime-fighter, even if that was only one detail of his idol. All of a sudden, Nicholas could sense a stranger and his face was immediately struck up from looking down at Mori.
For one second, it had seemed that all time suddenly slowed down as he was looking at the same youth his friends saw. If somehow possible, it was as if the stranger transported himself from where his friends were directly to where Nicholas was.
As he was looking up at him, he could feel a strange thickness fill the air, while Mori's movements seemed to be slowed down in time. All movement seemed to gradually fade to a slow pace, until one second determined that it would come to a grinding halt.
Nicholas and this youth were the only things that moved, making it a paradox unto the space they were separated by. His eyes nearly matched his peer's in a perfect straight line, as the two of them became statues in the spread of the street they inhabited.
While they stared straight at each other, Leon could be seen watching from above it all. Marking the semblance of the two below, he could tell all of the thoughts they were thinking without even having to look directly at them. In the case of Nicholas, there was concern; a preoccupation which mastered his poise to no peaceful end. For the other strange youth, he exuded an eerie emptiness in his look. No emotions were to be registered, except perhaps observation.
I, on the other hand, know what Leon must be feeling. His intrepid stare says it all.
Back on Planet Troy, General Ramsey and Mankey were discussing plans for dealing with Shigure. Above them, the dim fluorescent lights were an option of severity more than of choice. As they continued accessing their plans, Ramsey stated, "Mankey... There's something you should know."
Not slow to bobbing his head forward, Mankey looked up from the table to return his superior's requesting exclamation. He said, "It concerns the deal, doesn't it?"
With a mumbling pair of lips dragging his tongue underneath, the General said quiveringly, "Shigure Romero isn't an ordinary criminal."
Lifting his cigarette like a muse of old England's rainy weather, Mankey appropriately asked, "What details have I not heard of that, already?"
I think I know the rest.
Running up behind him, Alain and Rosser both found Nicholas right beside Mori as though a clear stupor had stopped him cold. They looked at him and while he stared straight ahead, Mori also couldn't help but look up as if something were wrong.
Overhead Leon was nowhere to be found, but Nicholas knew that he once stood in air like someone with eyes in the back of their head fondling the sight of a crow. Finally coming out of the state with which he occupied himself, he said, "Alain, Rosser."
The two immediately cast their gaze toward him with more attention as he turned to face them and said, "We need to return to the hub. Mankey's waiting for us."
Mori asked, "Wait, what's going on? Was it that kid you saw?"
Nicholas' bangs accentuated themselves against the pattern of breeze, while he asked his young disciple, "What kid?"
I have the ability to see many things in the galaxy, but I refuse to see a lot of them. I mainly pay attention to politics and family. Still, that's apparently not enough for people to think I'm very worthy of my independence.
I frankly can't stress enough how many opinions and worldviews are kept in one atmosphere; I'm surprised blue-sky research hasn't generated towards whether thoughts could cause the planet to explode. Still, my skin isn't singed in the midst of a burning field.
As I walk the Sahara, I observe the sun above me and note the inability of Earth's former semblance to be ruined here. It's an odd mischief, but at least we have a home. Finally, Leon appears behind me and says, "The new recruit has been planted, father."
I look back to him and say, "Ah, good. What of Nicholas and his interactions with him?"
"I had a front row seat; he didn't look like he could move", his brother says with crowlike arms rested upon each other. It was apparent that he was deliberating with such an endeavor as though he wanted to, even if the outcome would prove vague in the long run.
Nicholas, Rosser, and Alain rush from the village, proving their frustrations to be the equivalent of fleeing a robbed liquor store. Following after them to the spaceship they took, there suddenly came the twin voices of Jason and Mori as they ran after Nicholas. Jason's voice shouted, "Nick!"
Mori sounded likewise, as they came to a tired halt while Alain and Rosser began opening the space shuttle. Nicholas looked behind and walked to them, saying, "Jason..."
As he walked over, Jason stated, "Nick, I'm so sorry for everything that's happened, lately! I'm sorry I made you mad back there; your mom is really worried about you! She's picking up some seriously bad vibes and it involves..."
Signifying calm, Nicholas halted his student's speech and said, "You're good; we already talked about this."
Jason yelled, "It's not about that! Carmin is scared for you! It's like she senses danger coming your way!"
"Nicholas, you should talk to your mother", Mori said as a mirror pronouncement to what Nicholas instructed for him earlier. This would've caused Nicholas to smile if the banter beneath it weren't so serious, Mori further stating, "You and I both saw that man. He looked evil."
To be continued.