Test Number One

Training room 103 was a massive metal room, designed for holographic training courses. The floor was thousands of hexigonal tiles that lifted and lowered the terrain.

"Lets have the desert." I said, my voice carried to the control box placed on the ceiling. The two men working there pressed some buttons and a hot wind blew through the place, ruffling our hair. Meira gasped in surprise, and I grinned.

"Lets say we were in Saudi Arabia. Our goal, a high ranking general of the army here is camped just over that dune." I point as the floor ripples beneath us and turns to sand. The walls and ceiling melted away to reveal a blindingly blue sky, the control box became the sun, hot and unyeilding. Both our outfits changed to match the conditions as well, both being made of the all purpose fabric, which I was still having updated continuously, no time like the present, and staying present was key. Her outfit changed to a flowing white robe and head covering that wrapped around her head and face, leaving only her eyes. Her hands fluttered around the cloth, but she couldnt get a grip.

"Its holographic," I explained through my own head covering. "Its not real, but its pretty realistic, isnt it?" My outfit mimicked hers, the outfit was ideal for these desert conditions, as the Arab's had all already figured out. "Feel in your sleeve, you'll find a weapon."

She did so, and a strange gun was revealed. She stared at it, the expression in her eyes one of horror and confusion. I chuckled. The gun was not deadly, it was really little more than a blowdart gun. You press the trigger and a small dart comes out, propelled by centrifugal force, not an explosion. The dart was loaded with a paralytical solution that froze all muscle movement, hardly deadly, but it gave the appearance of death. Everyone would clear out and we'd be able to kill the target cleanly, without witnesses.

"Follow my lead." I said, crouching low and moving swiftly up the dune until I could see the general moving around the camp. His tent was pitched in the sand, weights holding it in place, it was a bright spot of color compared to the yellows and browns of the desert. The general himself was surrounded by advocates and underlings. I readied my own gun, then glanced behind me to see Meira struggling to imitate my ascent up the dune. I couldnt help but laugh and the air was filled with gunshots. One whizzed past my ear and I stood and ran down the dune, grabbing Meira's hand as I went.

"Quick we've got to find cover." I gasped. She tripped and fell along with me until I dashed behind a dune after several minutes of hard running. It was hard to run in the sand. "Note to self, invent sand shoes." I muttered. Meira was gasping beside me and she kept trying to turn around.

"What-was-that-they-were-going-to-kill-us?!" She said, all in one breath. I laughed again and waved up at the sun. The sand dune melted away behind us and our outfits changed back to how they were, her in the trainee uniform, I in my more formal business suit.

I dusted myself off and stood, signaling for the real test.

“That kind of exercise is something I do to train. You are not advanced enough. What I have in mind for you is more catered to your...personal needs."

A military obstacle course rose up from the floor. Complete with walls, monkey bars, ziplines and small tunnels. At the far end of the room, two figures rose up. 'The entire course must be completed before he," I pointed at the smaller of the two figures, the boy, bound and gagged with a gun being held to his head. I smiled, they were holograms, but very realistic ones. I wouldnt kill him, he was valuable to her cooperation, but I could pretend. "Dies."

"Luis!" She gasped, stumbling forward. The gun moved to point at her instead. Meira stopped and the gun returned to the boys head.

"Finish the course before the boy gets shot." I ordered, ice cold and merciless. She would have to complete the course in under five minutes. She launched onto the first obstacle, I watched as she struggled to overcome each challenge in time. When she had reached maybe the halfway point, the gunshot rang time, followed swiftly by a strangled cry of pain, not from the boy, who could not cry out, nor needed to, but from Meira. She came toward me, the expression on her face a mix of anger and grief. I glanced pointedly at the holograms, reset now, and then back at her, standing in shock, staring at the scene  that couldnt still be.

"Again." I said coldly. She did as she was told.

The morning stretched on in five minute increments as she continued to fail the test. I tuned out the gunshots and thought back to my beginning in this business.

I had been nine years old, found early due to some missense in my DNA. Walking home from my American school, I'd been grabbed and pulled into a van by several large men, men who now worked for me. My abilities had already begun to manifest in small ways back then. The boss of the time, a middle aged Brit, had said I was special. He had not come for me in person. Looking at his picture on video chat, I remembered hating him instantly. No child should ever be filled with so negative emotion as I was that day.

I snapped out of my reverie to realize the gunshot had not rang out in a while. I looked over to the obstacle course to see Meira on her knees below the monkey bars. Her position was one of total dispair. I walked over and nudged her with my foot. She looked up at me, eyes red and pleading, face blotchy. Completely vulnerable. I kept my expression serious. She needed to toughen up.

"Again." I ordered.

The End

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