A closed collaborative.
One day, a man escaped from a mental asylum in London and set about to prove his theory that the Earth was flat. He didn’t achieve that goal, but he did end up stumbling upon an island in the middle of the Atlantic, which later ended up being called Euphoria.
The north-east side of the island was mostly a dense, thick forest which had been declared a site of ecological importance. This is where Dominion set up its headquarters, and this is where I work.
I remember the first day we came here to check out the location. We admired the forest’s natural aesthetic beauty, and then proceeded to destroy a small patch of it to build the headquarters.
I would be very surprised if you told me that you have heard of Dominion, because very few people have. It is an international agency for containment of terrorism and global crime, but it is a ghost. That’s what makes us so very effective. The other side doesn’t know what they are up against.
We are bigger than any other crime-fighting organization. In fact, comparing us to any organization such as CIA or Interpol would be like comparing ants to elephants.
Sometimes, it happens that a criminal on the most-wanted list of many nations suddenly disappears from the face of the earth, leaving the governments of these nations baffled. When this happens, you know that Dominion has done its duty.
We are fast, resourceful and smart, but above all, crazy. You don’t belong in Dominion if you aren’t at least a little crazy. It’s no place for normal people to be.
I was the best in training. I seemed to beat everyone at everything, even the much admired Miss Big-Shot Kathy Willow. But once training was over and I was assigned a desk job, I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t disappointed. I wanted to be in the midst of all the action, saving lives and all that. All I had to do at my desk job was make reports to give to the field agents. Not that it wasn’t an important job, of course. But still, it didn’t earn me the respect that I deserved.
Dominion’s ‘chronic underachiever’, they called me. They would point and say (at least in my imagination), “Oh, look! There’s Teddy Grewal, the man who never lived up to his potential.” And having a nickname like ‘teddy’ doesn’t help either. I am anything but a harmless little teddy bear. I may look scrawny, but training has actually made me quite lethal.
Kathy was one of the most recent success stories of Dominion. When Yvonne Reiter, also known as The Black Widow, disappeared off the radar, the whole world heaved a sigh of relief. Apparently, Kathy played a significant role in taking down that terror group leader. And when she came back from the Dominion headquarters at Euphoria, she was given a standing ovation. I didn’t clap, because I knew I was better.
Kathy had been in the same training class as me, and I had finished three spots over her. Three spots! If Kathy was such a great agent, wasn’t it clear from my beating her at training that I would clearly be even better? But no, they had to stick me with the dry analyst job.
But things changed that Sunday at work (Dominion workers don’t get Sundays off. We’re lucky if they let us sleep, but at the wages we are paid, it’s almost worth it). That Sunday, I got an e-mail from the boss asking me to come to the board room. I got all worried because I was still to finish my report, but once I got to the board room, I realized that I wasn’t there to deliver a report.
I knew that because everyone there was looking at me as soon as I arrived. Most of the agents thought my reports were so mind-numbing that they wouldn’t even wait till I got there to fall asleep. I admit, my reports can be a little on the long side, but they are all important points which an agent requires if he expects to survive his mission!
So when I entered and realized that everyone was looking at me, I panicked a little.
“Am I fired?” I asked my boss Abel Fargo, who was standing by the large screen of the board room.
“What? No! Take a seat, Theodore.” Abel said. I hesitantly sat down and looked around at the three other faces at the table. I recognized Kathy and gave her a polite smile, which she didn’t return, the stuck-up little snob.
Next to her was a blond woman I’d never seen before. She had a bright smile on her face that seemed stuck there, and something about her stare was very unsettling. Next to her was Antonin Gruszka , a fellow analyst. He gave me a faint smile in greeting.
“I believe Antonin has something to tell us.” Abel said. Antonin stood up and went to the screen. The screen showed a picture of a man standing by a car talking into his cell phone.
“Do you all know who this is?” Antonin asked, pointing to the screen.
“Jurgen Muller, suspected of heading a major terrorist organization called Tod Unternehmen, which means Death Organization in German. It has taken a backseat in terrorism activity to more vigorous undertakings by organizations such as Chaos, but it is believed that they are merely dormant at the moment, and will strike at any time. Jurgen has various disguises which he uses, but he originally has brown hair and blue eyes and is about 6 feet 2 inches tall.” I got all this out before Kathy could say a word. Beat that, Miss Big-Shot!
“Thank you, Theodore.” Antonin said. “Glad that you’ve taken care of all the background needed, and then some. My report will be considerably shortened.
“As the three of you may recall, we sent an agent undercover into Muller’s organization, whose identity, for precautionary reasons, has not been revealed to me. This undercover agent apparently has some vital information to convey to us, but sadly, our communications with him have cut off for some reason. We do not know if he has blown his cover, but if he has, then it will be up to the three of you to get him out of there safely. There is something big brewing here, and he’s the only one who knows what it is.”
“Wait, you’re sending me on a mission?” I asked, genuinely surprised.
“That’s right, Theodore.” Abel said with a smile. “You’ve been wanting this for a long time, and although we would hate to lose you at the analyst end of the job, we want to keep you happy. Get this mission right and I promise you that there will be lots more to come.”
“But sir, what about rogue agent Long?” Kathy asked. “I was told to spearhead his recapture.”
Dewei Long was an agent who’d turned, or so they told me. Apparently, he’d been feeding Dominion incorrect information. His protests that the information had been given to him by someone else had fallen to deaf ears and he had been imprisoned. However, a week ago, he’d escaped. This wasn’t very surprising because, according to office gossip, Dewei Long was the greatest escape artist since Houdini.
“The recapture of Dewei Long will have to wait, I’m afraid. This is much more important. Oh, and Theodore, I don't think you've met Agent Arianna Wilshire.” I shook hands with the blond woman.
“Arianna’s usually out on missions. That’s probably why you’ve never met her.” Abel explained.
“So you with two of our best agents on your side, you should be able to pull this off, Theodore.” Antonin said.
I had no doubt. I was pretty sure I could handle the mission single-handedly. I wouldn’t really need those two. They would just be the back-up. Theodore Grewal, Dominion's top agent. I liked the sound of that.
“Oh, and there’s something you should know about Arianna.” Abel said. “She suffers from a variation of the Jumping Frenchman from Maine disease. Whenever you say ‘pigs with wings’…” Just as the last three words came out of Abel’s mouth, Arianna dropped in her seat, eyes closed.
“She falls asleep?” I asked incredulously.
“Not exactly. She becomes a sort of android. She will be completely under the speaker’s control and will do whatever she is told to do without thinking. Let me demonstrate. Arianna, open your eyes.”
Arianna opened her eyes.
“Is this some kind of a gag?” I asked with a little laugh. “April fool’s day is long gone, guys.”
“It’s no joke, Teddy.” Kathy said. I hated it when she called me ‘teddy’. It was bad enough when others did, but when my arch rival said it…
“And that’s not all.” Abel continued. “When she is under the spell, she seems to develop incredible physical and mental strength. Our scientists have attributed this behavior to her unconscious mind’s power. It is well known that the unconscious mind is more powerful than the conscious, and this influences her strength.”
I looked at Arianna. The smile was no longer on her face, and even though her eyes were open, she looked like she was sleeping.
“Okay, now it’s just too tall a story to believe.” I said. “You should have stopped at the ‘pigs have wings’ bit. I might just have believed you.”
Kathy placed some kind of a metal rod on the table in front of Arianna.
“Arianna, bend this rod, please.” Arianna took the rod into her hands and bent it into a circle easily.
“I could probably do that too.” I said. “The rod’s probably flexible. Give it to me, Arianna.” Still playing her little game, Arianna handed it to me.
I took the circular rod and made it straight. Well, to be more accurate, I tried to make it straight. It didn’t budge. It was a lot tougher than I thought it would be. I tried to reach into my unconscious mind and get more power, but it didn’t work.
“Okay, so she’s strong, but I’m not buying it.” I said, finally giving up and placing the rod on the table with my sweaty hands.
“You probably should.” Abel said. “It is for this reason that she is one of Dominion’s best agents. She’s not only an unbelievable fighter under the spell, but is capable of hacking into complex security networks. When you want to take her out of the spell, all you have to say is ‘lightning strikes twice,” Arianna woke up abruptly and looked around.
“Did you put me under?” Arianna asked Abel.
“That’s right, Arianna. I’m sorry I didn’t warn you first. I just wanted to demonstrate your ability to skeptical Theodore here.”
“Oh, that’s all right. It’s just like taking a nice little nap.” She said with a smile. She took the rod on the table into her hands. “I did that? Wow, I’m good!”
“Our undercover agent is currently working in a weapon-manufacturing company in Frankfurt, which is under the control of Tod Unternehmen.” Antonin continued. “If his cover is not blown, then simply get the needed information and get out. But if it has, get him out of there as well.”
“Okay, team. Further details about the mission, including the undercover agent’s identity, will be sent to your Dominion cell phones.” All Dominion agents and analysts get Dominion cell phones, and let me tell you, they’re way cooler than Blackberries.
I looked at Kathy and Arianna. I guess I might have to cooperate with them. I don’t mind, as long as they don’t get in my way. I wouldn’t want them to cramp my style of operation.
“The team leader is Kathy Willow. The two of you will do as she says.” Abel said.
“What? But…” I was cut off by Abel.
“You didn’t really expect to be the team leader on your first mission, did you?”
“Besides, you don’t know the first thing about being an agent, Teddy.” Kathy said in a patronizing tone. “Don’t worry, though. Just follow my lead and you’ll be fine.”
I resisted the urge to reach out and slap her face and settled for a “Don’t call me Teddy.”