Taylor opened his eyes.
His HUD initialised. Four AM. Expected.
Some agents missed dreaming. He had no opinion. Having an opinion would require- He ran his morning macro as he stood from his cot. A thought out of place was something that could be dealt with. Unexpected but manageable.
His uniform appeared, its weight expected, as it should have been.
His desk appeared. Everything as it had been the day before. A note from Magnolia, with the hours she had requested off, in her neat handwriting. The adjustment had been made to their schedule. Was visible in his HUD. The note was unnecessary. The note was…appreciated.
The request was unusual but not unprecedented. The majority of the time, she worked her leisure time around her scheduling, informally taking breaks when her duties allowed.
Sometimes, there would be events that she would want to attend, often with other recruits, that needed blocked-out time to be the appropriate level of available.
She always made sure to reiterate her duty when requesting time off, assuring him that if she was needed and it was physically possible to attend, that she would be there.
So far, summoning her from her free-time activities had been a rare occurrence.
He began his standard Thursday routine while the rest of his morning macro ran in his HUD.
Magnolia’s location and condition. No injuries sustained overnight. Current location, her dormitory room. Within expected parameters. Normal. Nothing to be actioned.
The Scholar was in his office. Ryan was walking the halls of his primary floor. The Parkers were in the infirmary. Applebaum was marked “unknown” – expected, as he was on an overnight excursion to Faerie. Natalie was in her room.
The macro indicated a pause in its operation, and a prompt window appeared. It indicated a new permanent-assigned agent had been listed to the roster and gave him the option to add them to the daily check.
As of the previous afternoon, officially an agent, though inactive until all testing had been completed.
He suspended the choice, and the macro continued to its next step.
The Parkers’ overnight log indicated only treatment for a single, non-combat event. The notes that began to scroll by indicated a sexual mishap, though with more detail than was needed for a medical entry.
Next came suppressed alerts and messages. Magnolia’s job to deal with those.
No personal messages. Nothing that needed his attention.
Enough was within expected parameters.
Enough was outside expected parameters.
It was easy to do his Duty. To do what was expected of him. Routines and consistency kept everyone safe. When things diverged from the norm, then people got hurt.
An agent possessing roughly one kilogram of mirror was unacceptably far from the norm. A threat. Every Agency had risk factors. Risks had to be evaluated. Most risks had precedent. There was no useful framework to conduct a risk assessment on Mimosa.
Magnolia felt the same way. She had voiced her concerns. Had stated she would withhold judgement until after the testing period. That was her formal position as aide.
In the tone she reserved for informal opinions, she had expressed an issue with Mimosa’s placement. That Tech would have made more sense than Field. A place under the Scholar would have also decreased multiple risks.
She had finished with a laugh, knowing no one would listen to Combat.
It wasn’t a situation Reynolds would have allowed. Not a situation he would have allowed if he was interim Director.
His first thought on waking. Now Reynolds. Connected thoughts. People quoted Reynolds as saying, “never ignore omens”. It wasn’t something he remembered, but the sources were reliable.
He selected Mimosa from the personnel roster and shifted to her location.
The lab was on an unused floor. One that could be quarantined and destroyed with a single command without endangering anyone else. A necessary precaution.
Most of the lights were off. Standard overnight lighting. Mimosa sat at a desk, her back to him, still wearing night clothes. She lifted her head as he took a step forward but didn’t turn around, instead focussing on peeling a monitoring electrode from her forearm.
‘You said I could do this myself if I woke up early. Don’t worry, I’m following the manual.’
Evidently, she’d mistaken him for the Scholar.
She laid the electrode onto a scanner and made some inputs on a tablet, then spun on her chair to look at him.
After a second of stillness, she stood, one hand slapping her other arm to cover a patch of scarred skin just below the sleeve of her T-shirt. A strange movement.
‘I thought you were Jonesy- Agent Jones. Sorry. Sorry, sir.’ She looked down, and a uniform replaced the T-shirt and flannel pants. ‘How- Can I help you? If you’re looking for-’
‘Did you dream?’
‘Huh?’ She raised her head for a moment, then returned her gaze to the floor.
He wasn’t going to repeat the question.
Some augments dreamed at first. Technical error. Corrected upon discovery. Usually indicated further errors were to come. If Mimosa dreamed, it had to be factored into the risk assessment. An omen not to be ignored.
‘Oh, um, yeah. I know about- Sorry. Sorry.’ Her back straightened, she met his gaze, and when she spoke, her accent had changed, making him think of Jane. ‘It was something I was made aware of, Agent. It’s part of why I’m running these reports without waiting for Agent Jones, who I do expect will double-check my work. I do not consciously recall any dreams, nor do I feel any indication that one occurred that I do not remember.’ She motioned at the table and the electrodes on the scanner. ‘These were set up to monitor for any anomalies during my sleep cycle. So far, nothing unexpected has been flagged.’
Magnolia had been right. She spoke like one of the Scholar’s recruits. An entire speech to say “no”.
He grunted to indicate he’d heard her answer. That meant Reynolds remained the only dreaming agent in their vicinity. As expected.
He shifted back to his gym.
Movement drew his eye. Magnolia. Training uniform, doing morning stretches.
He fell in beside her, matched her lunge, and calibrated to where she was in the routine so he could follow. Expected. Within parameters. Good.