“Mortician!” The Director called, adding a few comments to Medical’s yearly reports. How exactly did Agent Carlson sedate Dr Westly and escape while she was in a full body cast? he typed out, and looked up as the door slammed open.
“Ah. Agent Morgan.” He leaned back in his chair and raised his eyebrows, taking in Mortician’s less-than-composed appearance. “The Archers running you ragged?”
“I’ve given them Zephyr. Someone’s got to get a handle on that insane group. I swear, Agent Fuchs is causing me to go gray prematurely.” He scrubbed a hand over his face. “Anyways, what did you want from me, boss?”
“Well, you know what Precedence’s done to the poor Junior Agents. Although, remind me to keep an eye on that Agent Matsumura. She seems like she’s going to be a surprising asset. But that aside-” Yakuza looked over Mortician’s shoulder and hesitated. “Enforce the anti-eavesdropping methods, please?”
“Mmm-hmm.” The man hummed, and did as his boss asked. Then he sat down in the chair in front of the other man’s desk. “What’s so secret?”
“Well, you have heard about Precedence’s little stunt, yes?”
“Yeah, all of the senior agents are all abuzz with the news of it. Rumor has it a couple of them beat up the Executioner pretty badly. God knows the man must have been feeling pretty guilty about the whole thing in order to let a couple kids hit him.” Mortician smirked.
“Oh, dear god. Medical’s going to have a field day with that one. Jeez. Some of the doctors there have been waiting years to get their hands on that man.” The Director sighed. “I’ll fill out some orders for iron bars and send them down to Finance & Accounting.”
“F & A’s probably going to think you’re starting to turn into a kooky old man.”
“This job is enough to turn anybody a little stir-crazy.” Yakuza resisted the urge to bang his head against the mahogany desk. “But back to the point - I think the pulse hit some people other than those in that room.”
“What?” Mortician leaned forwards, his face crinkling a little with worry. “Who?”
“You won’t believe it, but two people were walking outside the room just at that moment.” The Director looked at him seriously for a moment. “Who do you think it was?”
“Oh, god.” Mortician turned pale. “It was the twins, wasn’t it?”
“If you’re referring to Haley and Luka Galahad, then yes.” Yakuza leaned back, smug as hell. “It was.”
“Anyone but the Galahad twins. Please, anyone.” Mortician moaned, covering his face with his hands.
“It’s your fault you pissed off Haley Galahad’s male counterpart. You did wreak havoc on the P.D.’s budget that year.”
“The two who got gifts from that blast-thing just had to be people from the Political Division and Human Resources. Why not someone from Tactics & Strategy? Or even Weapons Designs? Agh.” Mortician fumed a bit in his chair.
“Well, someone has to make sure that when we take out a tiny country’s tyrannical dictator, it doesn’t just fall into anarchy. And besides, if not for them, the entire Swedish government would be out for our heads.” The Director was laughing a little.
“What did they get? I might as well know now.”
“Mr Galahad seems to be able to sense life forces. As for Ms Galahad, she can change her body’s temperature. A lot. We’re talking extreme cold and extreme hot. On a semi-related note, Psych won the bet on best theory for the transformations. Their main doctor says that it seems to expand upon talents they have.” Yakuza grinned. “For example, Agent Matsumura? She had a fearsome kick. Mr Galahad? Apparently has a green thumb - everyone else’ll abandon a plant for dead, and he’ll just nurse it back to health. Apparently he’s good at seeing things’ potential. And as far as I’m concerned, Haley Galahad just won himself the right to announce his Appellation - her brother, too.”
“No. Just, no. This is a bad idea.” Mortician looked a little desperate to stop this particular train of thought in his boss’ mind. “This is a spectacularly bad idea.”
“Oh, this is going to be very fun.”
“Do you have any idea why we’re going to Director’s office? I’ve heard horror stories about that office. I just don’t get it. P.D. even handed all the status reports in on time, which almost never happens.”
“And as for H.R., we’re- well, we’re doing okay.” Luka seemed a little worried, but upon seeing his sister’s look of consternation, he said, “Look, it’ll all be fine. Probably.” They approached the Director’s office.
“The twins? Go right in.” The secretary - Revels - said, waving them into the office as they approached.
The heavy twin oak doors swung shut behind them, and both of them felt more than a little trapped.
“Sir?” Haley ventured.
“Ah, good. You’re here.” The Director looked up from his paperwork. “Sit down, please.”
They shared a look, but seated themselves in the two identical chairs in front of the mahogany desk. The doors swung shut behind them.
“Now, I’m sure you two know what an Appellation is?”
“Yeah, it’s where the chosen agents get to give themselves a handle.”
The Director gave a considering nod. “Yes, that’s basically it. Now, it’s your turn.”
The twins shared a look - unease and confusion mixed into one. “But we didn’t really do anything,” Luka said nervously.
“I know about the skills, Mr and Ms Galahad.” The Director leaned back.
Haley went a little pale. “Oh.”
“I’m not going to take them away. I won’t state my reasoning, but the fact that you’re both very non-threatening does play a part.”
“Um,” The male twin glanced at his counterpart. “You first?”
“Solitaire.” She raised an eyebrow, as if daring him to argue.
“Ace,” Luka said, glancing hesitantly at his sister.
“So quick to come up with your Appellation?” The Director asked.
“To be fair, we work in H.R. and the P.D. respectively. We have a lot of time to think about these things, and Jeremy from Interrogation brought some cupcakes by a couple days ago. He asked us what ours would be, and it kind of got us thinking about it.” Luka shrugged.
The Director blinked. “Jeremy O’Malley has never distributed baked goods around the Recon & Asset area.” He said, and there was a twinge in his voice, something reminding the twins of an offended little kid. It was quickly gone, however, and the Director pulled himself together. The man gave a thin smile, ad he said, “Of course, we’ll have to introduce you to the Junior Agents. They’ve been here for 12 months, after all, and you’ve been here for twenty. And, of course, they share your addition of certain… talents.”
Luka twisted a little, uneasy. “Won’t they be upset?”
“Of what?” The man behind the desk asked.
“That we got to keep our wings.” Haley almost whispered.
The Director frowned. “Wings?” He inquired. “You don’t have wings.”
“But we do. These gifts, they run fingers over our nervous system, breathe over our brains, poke at our bones. They look and look and touch and touch and then they settle themselves into our framework. They complete us. Another puzzle piece to our DNA, our makeup, our wiring.”
“I… don’t understand.” The man’s forehead furrowed, his hands itched over one another. “I- I kno- knew someone. Someone who lost their wings. It hurt them. A lot.” The sentences he spoke were stumbling things, just learning to walk. Not his normal sentences, not smooth, not pre-planned, just honest. Newborn. “Did this- did it hurt them? A lot? Having their wings taken away?”
Luka sighed. “I have a friend over at Records & Archiving. Y’know, what everyone just calls the Archive? She watched the tapes for documenting. They were horrific. I saw a bit of them when she wasn’t answering her phone and I went to go get her. She had told me beforehand that they were traumatic, and she might become emotionally compromised. She was crying. Crying. This is a woman who has watched torture and hasn't shed a tear. It was… I can't imagine the pain.
“That one with the branches. Oh god. The tape looped back to the beginning when it ended, and… it was a part of her. Less like an arm and more like a lung. Don't you see what you’re doing to them? Yeah, it hurt them. A lot.” He slumped into his chair and scrubbed a hand over his face. Haley was rubbing her palm over his back in slow, soothing circles.
“I-” The Director sighed. “I can’t take it back. The Executioner’s done it. What he does, he doesn’t undo.”
Haley was quiet for a moment.
Then, she said “When we meet these people, we want a proper introduction. Otherwise? They’re going to hate us.” She stood up, her hand on her twin’s upper arm. They walked to the large oak double-doors, both seemingly drawing energy from one another.
“By the way?” Haley looked back.
“You might want to revise your assessment of ‘non-threatening’.” Luka smirked a little.
They doors slammed shut behind them.
The Director let his breath leave him with a small hissing sound, and then his head met the mahogany of his desk, resting his forehead on the cool wood.