I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.
-Alexander the Great
June 12, 2021 3:21 PM
"Okay, Ria, so you started training the guy—but this isn't the important stuff. I need you to just bypass all this and get to the point of why he betrayed us?" James asked, sitting up in his seat.
"If you want to know why he ditched, you have to understand him, alright? You have to understand each step he took. He was a different kind of mind. I guess no one really knew—I didn't know for a long time—but every single move was calculated from the beginning. He just wasn't as clean of a slate as we thought he was." She sighed and twirled the ring on her index finger.
"So you think his memory was never completely wiped?" James mouth formed into a small 'o'.
"What I know is that it took a lot of planning. His memory was wiped, but his old life was hidden under a blanket or sorts. Someone went through a lot of work to make sure that he could preserve his memory." Ria cleared her throat. "Let me get back to it."
May 17, 2021
"Ria!" James called as he ran towards her. The last four nights her head had been too full to have him over, and the fact she'd signed a confidentiality agreement had stopped her from answering any of the nine calls he'd made to her. She had to think of a lie that would hold up against the lie detector himself.
He grabbed her by the shoulder and twisted her around. "What the hell's going on?" he growled. Ria opened her mouth to talk, but closed it again when his eyes narrowed. "I'll know if you're lying to me."
"So you're going to make me lie to you?" she mumbled, biting the inside of her cheek.
"Oh, Ria," he caved, pulling her into his bone-crushing hug. "I don't care about what you've been doing, but you've been gone for a few days and... And when you didn't answer my calls…" he took a deep breath, holding her at arm's length, "Well, I guess my imagination was just getting the best of me. I get if you can't tell me what went down, we all have our secrets… maybe just let me know you're not dead next time, eh?" he said, smirking.
"I don't want to lie to you, though." Ria glanced around the room before continuing: "Just go with it when they tell you that I've gone on leave, okay?" His brows knitted together, but a small nod was all she needed to know that he understood.
"Listen, I have to go; you know, be on leave. Don't get too attached to whoever is filling in for me," she winked, trying to make light of it.
He grunted, crossing his arms and setting his face into a sour grimace. "Be careful," was all he muttered before she left for the elevator. She punched in the code to take her to the basement, and watched as James walked away.
The big security guards didn't check her for weapons this time, simply asked that she put them into a bin before continuing on. She and Agent Turner had taken a few days to hashed out all the details of training. Today would be simple: teach him how to work a gun. She grabbed the case of guns from one of the guards and made her way to the Unbreakable's living area. When she knocked on the door, he opened it quickly: no needles, no drool, some colour returned to his face. He looked better than the first night—more alive.
Ria cleared her throat and met his eyes, "Ready to go?"
"I am," he said, grabbing the case from her and taking off without looking back.
They were silent until they got to the soundproof shooting room. "Ever shot a gun before?" she asked as she popped open the case. The guns were beautiful.
"Not that I remember. I don't even recall ever holding one." He furrowed his brows. She mentally slapped herself for the slip up: of course he wouldn't remember even if he had.
"Alright, then." She grinned once she saw the handgun she wanted. "This is an HK45, okay? Before I let you even touch it, you have to be all ears for this: guns are dangerous. You can stop a man's heart by pointing and flexing your finger muscle. But don't fear guns, okay? Because they can also save your life." She looked at him intently as he nodded along. "Yes, you could say that their life purpose is to kill, but in the end, they're just objects. It can do nothing without your say. So if you handle a gun correctly, it won't be dangerous, you will be." She smiled, grabbing a mag. "If you're going to do the things they plan for you, you don't want people fearing you for the objects you hold, you want them to fear the object you old because of you."
He grinned, shyly stepping close. "Okay," he said, grabbing the gun and tossing it between his hands, "show me how to make them fear me."
"First of all, let's show you how the safety works so you don't shoot yourself in the foot," she laughed, grabbing the gun from his hands. "Alright, this is the safety," she pointed to a small switch on the side of the gun. "You can check to see if it's loaded by cocking this here," she explained, pulling the top back.
It didn't take him long to figure out the mechanics of the gun. After only one close call with a rubber bullet, he had it down pat. It was the same with all the guns he got his hands on: his body knew what to do as if acting on muscle memory.
"Whatever that super juice is that they pumped in to you, sign me up for it," she joked while locking the case.
"Nah, you couldn't handle it," he smirked. She raised her brow in mock challenge, laughing when he raised his hands in defeat. "You got me, I can't complete with the eyebrow raise."
"Didn't think so." Ria pulled the case over her shoulder and nodded. "Alright, I'll be back tomorrow morning. Get some rest, eh?"
After dropping the guns off, she got into the elevator, still smiling. He wasn't what she thought he would be.
"Go!" Ria yelled as she clicked the timer to start. After only one week he was able to quickly take apart and reassemble every gun she threw his way, but there was still hesitation in what he did. He wasn't relaxed. His brows were constantly pulled together while he worked, and his mouth was set into a firm frown. He grabbed each item knowing it was the next piece to the puzzle, but would slow down before putting it back in its place.
"How'd I do that time?" he asked, interrupting her thoughts.
Ria clicked the button and checked. "Same as before. It's not bad, but we have a deadline to meet: four weeks from now you've got to be able to do it all."
He muttered a swear and glared at the gun with crossed arms. "What do I have to do to get faster then, huh?" he spat.
She scoffed at him. "You're thinking too much! If you'd let your brain go on auto-pilot you'd be faster." She clamped her mouth shut right after the words were out. Turner had told her not to say anything that might cause him to doubt his abilities in case it slowed down or even stopped his development. The Unbreakable was something knew, and they didn't know what might make the experiment go sour.
He looked shocked momentarily before curiosity covered his expression. "No one ever tells me that I'm thinking too much; they're actually always telling me to think more. What do you mean 'thinking too much'?"
Ria coughed, feeling suddenly uncomfortable. She couldn't be the reason he fell apart on them. "Well, it's good to always be learning and thinking here, but out on the field it's a different story. I mean, you can be quick as a whip with that super brain of yours, but sometimes you'll be put into situations where you don't have time to make a plan. Where you have to rely on instinct and muscle memory. If you try to think and calculate every move before you make it, there's no way you'll win a fight." She leaned back, shrugging.
"So you're saying that this brain can't be completely relied on?" he asked, thoughtful.
"I'm saying you have to rely on more than just brains." Silence fell between them again as he resumed his work on the gun.
"Why don't they give me a name?" The question came from nowhere and Ria found herself dumbfounded.
He wasn't programed to think like this; he was programmed like a soldier. "Because you're a weapon." Honesty was the best move here, she figured. She didn't want to get caught up in a twist of lies and have to keep track of them. She did that enough as it was. "But I've got to head for the night."
He contemplated it for a second, then finally mumbled, "What if I don't want to be just a weapon, though?"
Sighing, Ria stood and started gathering the guns back into the case. Once she reached the door, she finally answered him, "This is what you signed up for. This is what you're going to get. Goodnight, Break," she said using the shortened version of his title.
When Ria stepped into the elevator, Agent Turner was waiting for her. "Evening, Matthews."
"Turner." She leaned against the wall.
"How is the Unbreakable progressing?" he asked coolly. Ria stiffened quickly examining him. His jaw was set tightly, fists balled up at his sides: he was not happy.
"He's learning quickly. His progress is quite impressive." After a moment she added, "but you could read that all in my report, so cut the shit: why are you here?"
He smirked. "Quick as ever, Matthews."
He suddenly moved closer to her, pinning her against the wall and leaned in so his lips were at her ear. "Watch what you say to him. Everything is leaning on you here, and if you screw with it, you will regret it." He spat.
The elevator doors swung open and he pulled away, all smiles again. "See you tomorrow." Ria clenched her fists once he was gone, breathing unsteadily. It took only a second for her to pull herself back together—she was a government agent, after all: that was nothing.
Go on! Tell me what you think. All thoughts are most welcome!