Two days later in London England...
10:30am in London is a normal, chill grey-sky sort of day. The usual businesslike bustle of the city pays little heed to any one individual. This day, a lanky but good looking young man is crossing the Millennium foot bridge. He wears black pants and a black leather jacket that looks new. The collar of a pale yellow striped shirt barely peeks out beneath a dark red sweater under the jacket. His hands swing comfortably by his sides, kept warm in a nice pair of black leather gloves. His hair is dark and cropped short in a longish buzz cut. His gait is confident but casual. A slight smile crosses his thin lips as the sound of a couple of guys playing jazz on saxophone and trumpet drifts across the murky water.
A few streets later, the young man opens the glass doors of a large office building and enters a grand reception room, complete with dark wood paneling and a shiny black marble counter top with gracefully curving corners. A narrow faced woman with carefully crafted dyed-blonde hair sits behind the imposing structure, with a black phone to her ear. She acknowledges the newcomer with a slight glance, then continues her conversation. After a moment, she puts the phone down.
“Can I help you?” she asks, her voice neutral, her eyes bored.
“Yes. I would like to speak to Ivor Mylad.”
Her expression changes just slightly as she becomes almost imperceptibly more interested in the stranger. “Do you have an appointment?”
“Mr. Mylad only sees people with appointments. If you would like to make an appointment, it will—”
“Please, maim,” the young man interrupts politely. “I do not have an appointment, but I am quite sure the Mr. Mylad would like to see me. If you would be so kind as to give him my name and tell him that I am waiting?”
“I’m sorry. He sees people by appointment only.”
“Then simply giving him my name will not be a breech of protocol.”
“Alright,” she said, after a moment’s hesitation. “Your name, sir?”
“How do you spell that?” she asked.
“G A R I T H.”
“Do you have a last name, or is that your last name?”
“No, to both your questions. That name will be enough for Mr. Mylad.”
“Alright,” she said dubiously. “Please have a seat.”
“Thank you.” said Garith. He went and sat down in a plush waiting chair. He picked up a magazine from a small table in the waiting area and flipped through it uninterestedly. Time passed. After flipping through the magazine twice, Garith picked an article to read. He was nearly finished reading it when he finally heard the receptionist mention him.
“There is a man without an appointment here to see you, sir,” she said respectfully into the phone. “I know sir, I told him that, sir.” Pause. “Yes, sir. He said to tell you his name. Garith, sir. Yes, with an ‘I’. How did you kno— Yes, sir. At once sir. My apologies, sir.” She hung up. She then actually stood up and came around the desk to where Garith was sitting waiting. “Mr. Mylad will see you immediately. Please follow me.”
Garith rose and followed the woman to the elevator. Two men in black suits met them when the doors opened. The receptionist gestured for Garith to enter the elevator. He did so and the doors shut behind him. The three rode the elevator in silence and got off when it dinged and stopped on the sixth floor.
The two suited and armed men escorted Garith down a pink carpeted hallway and into a large, many windowed room containing a large wooden desk with a large well dressed man behind it.
“Garith,” said the man in a booming voice. He rose out of his black leather chair as Garith approached the desk. They shook hands across the wide desk and Ivor Mylad said, “it is a pleasure to finally meet you, Garith.”
Garith nodded slightly, but did not return the remark. He took a seat in a chair across from Mylad. The suited men stood silently and stilly in the background.
“So. What can I do for you?”
“Well, I’ve been doing some serious thinking lately.”
“Since you fired yourself?” Mylad asked, the expression on his wide face still friendly, his tone conversational.
“Yes, since then, and of course, some before, too,” Garith said. “And I’ve come to some conclusions. I am tired of this life. I want to retire. And I know I can’t do that while you have a ransom out for me. So here’s what I propose. I will work for you for one full week. I’ll give you information you need, and put my thorough knowledge of your enemies to work on whatever plan we form that will give you a jump start on taking them down. Then, once my week is up, you send me to a house on some little island or remote location, where you will fund my quiet retirement. You will never hear from me again, and I will never hear from you again.”
“Interesting, interesting.” Mylad tapped a pen thoughtfully against his clean shaven cheek. “I find it hard to believe that you would change alliances that quickly. I don’t see why I should trust any information you give me.”
“There is little difference between the two sides. The end goals may be different, but…” Garith did not need to finish his sentence, so he didn’t. After a pause, he continued. “In all honesty, I still prefer the other side. But more than that, I want out. And I can’t get out if I’m on the other side. So I’ll make do with changing allegiances for a week, before I quit entirely.”
“And you are here because you think I’ll agree to this?”
“I do have valuable information that you need.”
“I know this may seem counter productive, but I know you well enough to know that you don’t trust us. So, why are you convinced that I’ll pay up after you’ve finished your two weeks? Most people like advanced pay for work like this.”
“I know. But you can’t exactly give a retirement in advance… and retirement is really the only thing I want. Death and the kind of seclusion I’m asking for are practically the same thing in this game.”
“As long as you remain in seclusion. Maybe.”
“You can keep watch on me. And besides, I keep my word, even if you don’t.”
Sandra was perspiring. Not a lot. But enough to make her hair stick to her forehead. She watched the screen that looked through the Contrived Garith’s eyes as if nothing else existed. For what felt like the millionth time these last few days she wished that she could hear what was going on.
She felt so helpless and disconnected, sitting in this bright little room with the still form of the real Garith silent beside her. And Dr. Malpus alternately busying himself with who knows what and watching the screen. Now he was sitting beside her, his concentration just as focused as hers. He was better at lip-reading than she was, and attempted to translate some of what was going on for her. But they couldn’t tell what Garith was saying. It was terribly frustrating.
The conversation in the room went on for quite a while and ended in a definitive handshake across the wide desk.
“Oh, and Garith,” said Mylad, “one more thing.”
“Yes?” Garith paused before leaving the room.
“Why the change of clothes and the hair cut?”
“Who would take a person seriously who is sitting there in a black trench coat and long dark hair and asking for a normal life? Besides, it is giving me just a little taste of what it is like to be normal… to not attract stares, or averted eyes, when I walk down a street. I should have done this a long time ago.”
Mylad laughed. “Welcome to the real world, lad.”