Note to Readers: That's my Working Title..... it's Gaelic for "Fuck Off"
Arianna “Nihilist” Connolly was drunk when the call came. Not drunk in the way that typically preceded carousing and debauchery, but in the sort of way that made one deeply philosophical. In fact, she was convinced that she was mere moments away from determining the true meaning of life when a telltale vibrating came from her back pocket.
“Focáil leat!” She exclaimed, catching only the bartender of the Irish pub by surprise. Two things stunned the bartender: the severity of the Gaelic swear word, and the fact that it was emitted by a lithe, red-headed young woman, who looked like she’d be more at home in a Catholic School somewhere than in a bar. Arianna fixed him with a look, green eyes flashing, as if she dared him to correct her, but so few of the bars supposedly Irish patrons actually spoke Gaelic that no one was disturbed by the outburst. The cell phone continued to buzz at her, despite her attempt at ignorance, and sighing, she flipped it open. “Connolly.” She stated in greeting. She was on vacation. A very well deserved vacation at that. After the sort of messes she’d been cleaning up recently, she deserved more than just some stinking vacation. Considering the fact that her parents were dead, and that she had no real friends the only people that called her were Chronosceptre operatives. Who most definitely, she decided, were violating the terms of her vacation.
“Nihilist.” The voice on the other end of the phone stated. She recognized the voice as that of a minor Basement operative whose name wasn’t worth remembering. “We need you back in HQ as soon as possible. There’s been an…accident.”
“What form of accident?” She asked, trying to keep her tone even and not swear at the twit on the other end of the phone, but she knew that her concern over the details was useless. Cell phones were finicky, and easy to trace, descramble and hack, so they’d never give her information over such an unsecured channel.
“You will be advised upon arrival. A flight has been booked leaving Dulles in approximately 1 hour. I’ll have a car waiting for you.” The other agent stated, seeming smug. He knew she was on vacation. She was sure of it.
“Johnson!” She exclaimed, suddenly remembering his name. “Don’t you do this to me you sick son of a…”
“See you when you get in Nihilist. Johnson out.” The call was ended from the other end of the line, and Arianna sighed. She was far too inebriated to deal with the hassle of cleaning up other people’s mistakes at the moment. But as soon as she thought this, she realized that the news of action had abruptly sobered her up. She stood, slammed the rest of a shot of Irish Whiskey, grabbed her coat, and threw a tip to the bartender.
As she flagged down a taxi, she recalled a conversation she had had with another agent when she had first started cleaning house for Chronosceptre. Agent Smith, a Sniper of sorts as she recalled him, had pulled her aside after a mission, when she had arrived to dispose of a few dead bodies, a large weapons cache, and oh yeah, there was the rather large crater that she’d need to fill in from god only knows what sort of man-portable ordinance detonation. She didn’t ask. She never asked about the things she cleaned up because more often than not the problem could be handled in a far less noisy manner.
“So why do you do it?” He had asked her, as she spray-painted icons from local gangs on the walls of the abandoned warehouse.
She had raised her eyebrow, eying him with some amount of confusion. “The spray painting?” She asked, not fully understanding what he meant.
“No, why do the clean up? Why miss out on all the action.” He had pryed.
No one had ever really asked her this before. She was proud of the answer she made up on the spot.
“Because I was running with the IRA until about a year ago. We were Catholic, so naturally we thought we were in the right no matter who died in the street. It was a holy war, they told me. But so were the crusades.” Connolly opened a packet of fake blood and began tracing more gang emblems on the wall. The sicker the murderer, the less people asked questions. “But you might say I’ve grown in my faith…and this seemed the best way to atone. In a way, I’m cleaning up after myself.”
Coming back to reality, Arianna sighed, resting her head on the window of the taxicab. It was raining – did it always rain in DC? It sure seemed that way recently. The rain was oddly appropriate for her current mood. C’mon God, I’m repenting for my sins, where the hell are you? She thought to herself. But as always, there was no answer, no divine wisdom, nothing. If that wasn’t proof that he didn’t exist then the IRA definitely was. Hell, maybe she was the one who didn’t exist. It was all perspective, she had realized at some point.
She had gone to Washington to follow a lead. Rumor had it her mother was working in DC, but those rumors seemed to be unsubstantiated. All she’d found in DC was rain and corrupt politicians. Her search for self, divinity or whatever the hell she’d been searching for had failed once more. She realized her hands were clenched unnecessarily tight on the door handle, and tried to relax. Who could have screwed up bad enough for them to call her in?
The taxi pulled up to Dulles International Airport, and Arianna frowned. Paying the driver, she headed towards the inevitable. Sheer force of habit made her study everyone she passed. She was looking for anyone who looked out of place, or just downright suspicious, but she quickly realized that since she carried no luggage, and her eyes darted about rapidly, that she was the most suspicious looking character in the place. Not good. She was one of the ones who was supposed to avoid detection. She closed her eyes, weaving herself into the crowd of people. I’m not here, you don’t notice me. It had become her mantra recently. Avoid detection at all costs, even when it wasn’t important. She continued in such a fashion as she made her way toward the ticket line.
She produced a convincing fake ID from her back pocket, and handed it to the ticket agent. She just hoped that some moron in the Travel department hadn’t mistakenly registered the tickets in her real name again. “Kathryn Shaughnessy” She stated, adopting a thick Irish brogue. Kathryn Shaughnessy, one of her pseudonyms, was an Irish diplomat. Considering her prior source of employment, that seemed rather ironic to her. Mere years before she was killing diplomats.
“Ticket for one to LAX?” The ticket agent asked. Connolly nodded. “Any carry-ons?” She shook her head. “Have a nice flight!” The ticket agent said brightly.
Connolly faked a smile, but as she turned, muttered an expletive under her breath. It must be nice to be ignorant. She thought to herself. If Ignorance was bliss, then she figured she had to be one of the more aware people in this world. She found a seat, grabbed a newspaper, and sat, skimming the headlines in boredom. She strategically eavesdropped on people about her, but learned nothing of interest from the conversations. Just a bunch of people sick of the weather in Maryland.
The flight to LA was uneventful at best. Arianna slept, ignoring the attendants who were trying to be “helpful”. Why they considered it helpful to interupt her rest every 15 minutes was beyond her. Ordinarily she wouldn't have minded the offers of alcoholic beverages, but one of the Corporation's policies stated she couldn't drink while on duty. Upon landing, she was approached by a man in a suit, whose manner was disturbing at best.
“A... I mean Kathryn Shaughnessy?” He asked. She raised an eyebrow. So this was the promised ride. She thought for a moment that perhaps she’d be better off walking, but realized that that was not necessarily a prudent idea. Instead, she simply nodded, deciding that it would be an exercise in patience if she could successfully deal with him without too many casualties in the process.
He led her to the car – a limousine with diplomat tags. At least someone was paying attention to details. She just hoped that her companion was more adept behind the wheel than with his social skills. He got behind the wheel, and advised her to hold on before peeling out of the parking garage. Oh, that’s why I hate wheelmen again, no appreciation for remaining unnoticed. “Don’t make me clean you up, grease spot.” She warned. Newbies.
“Um…. Terribly sorry, ma’am. Believe it or not, I do have the deepest appreciation for what you do. It’s a great honor…”
“Please stop talking.”
“My apologies, ma’am,” He replied feebly.
“Call me ma’am again and I’ll give you a reason.” She then located the button that conveniently rolled up the glass separating passenger cabin from driver. Connolly leaned back, looking at the scenery pass by her window. She noted that their path was winding, in case anyone was tailing them. She had to give her driver credit for that, if nothing else. They weaved around for some time before finally reaching their destination, and Arianna exited the vehicle before it had come to a full stop.
Arianna entered the elevator, and realizing her driver intended to ride up with her, pounded the close door button. Some people just didn’t get hints, did they? A feeling of apprehension began to grow within her – she had no idea what sort of accident would be big enough to waste airfare for her back to HQ when there were plenty of half decent Cleaners on premise. Somebody must’ve screwed up – big time. The elevator doors opened at her destination, and Agent Johnson stood waiting for her.
“I heard you had arrived. Davis is waiting for your attendance in his office,” He explained.
“That bad?” She queried.
“Worse.” He turned, leading the way to Carl Davis’ office. “From what I understand, someone made a major faux pas,” He paused momentarily, but continued on to prevent her from interrupting. “Listen, I know what you’re thinking – ‘What else is new’ – but this is bad. Very bad.”
Bad enough, in fact, that Carl Davis was not just waiting for Arianna, he was pacing back and forth outside his own office. “Nihilist.” He greeted, before gesturing for her to enter his office and take a seat.
Davis sighed. It seemed to Connolly that he had no idea where to begin. “We’ve got a situation…”
Arianna sighed. “Who was it this time? Let me guess, Belushi was involved?” Davis neither confirmed nor denied the statement. “Miller?”
“Well...” he seemed afraid to answer her query.
Arianna’s heart sank. “That’s impossible! I thought we took care of this! Belushi is in New York, and Miller is a good boy who confines his disasters to LA!” Arianna felt like bashing her head against the wall. It was certainly more productive than what she normally did in these situations. No matter how many times she’d advised her superiors to hire people who didn’t sacrifice millions in civilian property, she’d always been ignored. And now this. She could handle Miller, and besides, he was new. She could handle Belushi because he was a cop and rarely required Corporate help unless the fire couldn’t be put out manually. The thought of them together anywhere was the kind of thought that motivated her to drink. “So what’s the damage?”
“One city block,” was the response.
Arianna was struck by a sudden moment of passiveness. “Oh. A city block.” She stated, her tone unnaturally calm as she stood and paced the room. “You want me to completely rebuild an entire city block!?!” She erupted. “What do I look like, Jesus Christ? No, wait a second, Jesus only had to WALK ON WATER not deal with shit like this!!” She slammed a fist down on Davis’ desk. “This has got to stop.” She stated through clenched teeth.
“It was an accident...” Davis began to explain.
“It’s always an accident!” She replied. “So where was it?”
“Great. That makes it ten times better. There have got to be hundreds of witnesses. She lapsed into thought, trying to figure exactly how she was going to pull this one off.” She snapped her fingers. “What’s Tomlin up to?” She asked. There was no way she was going to make people think that absolutely nothing happened there, and too many people would have to be killed to keep it under wraps.
Davis frowned. “I don’t think anything at the moment.”
Arianna fought the urge to monopolize on Davis’ poor choice of wording with a snide comment, but continued on. “Alright, grab him a camera crew, and let’s see if we can convince these people we’re shooting a movie. He can decide to “ditch the footage” later.” Anyone who was familiar with Arianna, or even Tomlin for that matter, knew how many times Tomlin has pissed her off. He owed her enough favors that some one once joked that if she were the Mafia, he’d be in a river somewhere with cement blocks for anklets.
Davis chuckled. “Tomlin help you out? That’s an unusual change of pace. I thought you two hated one another?”
“That’s an understatement, and you should know that,” she stated, sitting down once more in front of Davis’ desk and steepling her fingers. “You see, Tomlin makes a lot of… how shall I put it… noise. He makes it very difficult for me to keep your dirty little secrets hidden.” She shot a significant look at Davis. “But then again, that’s more your problem than mine.”
She didn’t wait until he dismissed her. In her mind, the conversation was over, so it was time for her to leave.
“Nihilist!” Davis stated, his tone reprimanding.
Arianna turned, fixing him with the sternest glare she could summon up. “Yes?” She asked, one hand still poised above the door handle.
“Your flight to New York leaves in two hours. I’ll have Tomlin grab his Wheelman and meet you at the airport.”
Arianna cringed. She hated wheelmen with a passion akin to when someone had the gall to steal her liquor. Or confuse her with a Scot. Cutting off yet another biting retort, she exited the office, slamming the door behind her. Great. Just great. What a vacation.