September 3rd, Renton, Washington
The last three years had been exceedingly prosperous for the Resistance. Utilizing the information in Jerry’s head regarding the Order’s corporate structure, Resistance operatives around the world had secured multiple victories. Some of these had led to substantial financial windfalls. Whereas before the Resistance was a few hundred brave, well-informed souls who understood the need to stand against the Order, it was now a well-oiled, well-financed global organization with salaried employees. There was even a retirement fund and insurance. Needless to say, the premiums were pretty high.
Natalia Rodriguez sat at a small, unassuming, metallic workplace in her ergonomic red leather chair, poring over the field report that Angie Proctor had submitted the previous evening. While it was true her organization had been making impressive strides, Mag-Ex’s reign of terror was disturbing, and the alien hunter/killer was only growing bolder and more brutal. They had to find a way to stop her!
The room within which Natalia sat was genuinely massive, more of a hall really. State-of-the-art surveillance and communication equipment dominated the bustling space. Metalic workplaces, identical to the director’s, dotted the room, each occupied by a focused operative. One wall held a recessed area that contained two lifesized statues with corresponding plaques: one of Marcus and one of Shane. At its peak, at least a hundred feet high, the latticed dome ceiling was created with a patented material that made the entire complex a ‘dead zone.’ The Order’s surveillance could not penetrate it.
“Tilly,” Natalia spoke while still focused upon the computer screen before her. No response.
“Tilly,” she said again, this time looking over towards the subject of her query and adding a little steel to her voice.
“Oh! Oh boy, I’m sorry! Yes? How may I help you,” Tilly Lee, the Resistance’s resident hacker, finally responded in her trademark squeaky tone?
Shaking her head and letting a small sigh escape, Natalia rose from her seat and walked over to Tilly’s workspace.
“Have you had any luck tracking that fucking armored puta,” Natalia asked her young scattered computer genius upon arrival.
“Um, well, I mean…,” Tilly stammered, not equipped to handle pressure very well.
“Spit it out, Pequeno,” Natalia urged. She placed both hands on Tilly’s workspace and leaned down to look her square in the face.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry! No. No, I haven’t. I’m really trying! I swear,” Tilly gushed. The young Korean American was desperate to please her mentor and devastated at the thought of disappointing her.
“Calmese. Talk me through what you’ve been doing,” Natalia encouraged, softening her tone.
Tilly self-consciously removed her thick, square-rimmed glasses and wiped them clean with a soft cloth for the eighth time that morning. Straightening up in her seat in an effort to look more professional, Tilly set her glasses on her petite, round face and attempted to answer.
“Utilizing the information Jerry feeds us enables us to anticipate most of the Order’s moves and even counter-moves. As you know, this has allowed us to stay a step ahead of Mr. Busk for quite some time now. Unfortunately, Mag-Ex is a new, virtually unknown variable that neither fits nor operates in the previously established framework. We don’t know her agenda nor her complete capabilities. We are working in the blind with her: going off of rumor and supposition. I’m really sorry, Director. I swear I’m trying,” Tilly spat out in rapid-fire succession.
Smiling at her young subordinate’s earnestness, Natalia placed a supporting hand on Tilly’s shoulder before responding, “I know you are. You always do. Keep looking. We need to stop this pedazo de mierda.”
September 3rd, Renton, Washington