In a world where even the internet is relentlessly monitored, a small underground organisation known as extractors- trained hackers and infiltrators- lease out their skills to those who wish to gain information. Emmett, one of the most talented extractors in the business, is sent on a simple mission, but one that sets him in a direction that changes him, and the face of Metropolis, forever.
The sun was high in the clear blue sky on another cold, dull day, and the sunlight reflected on the polished, gleaming windows of the sharp metropolis skyline. Emmett took a last long, satisfying drag of his cigarette before throwing it over the roof and watching it plummet to the pavement below. He was here on a gig- a client wants to get some dirt on some sleazy politician so he can win some kind of electoral race-- Emmett wasn't interested. But he didn't like what was going down. This is too easy, he thought. Something's not right.
"Is everything alright?" came a voice from behind.
Emmett touch one last glance at the world below, the people mulling about as if they were half-asleep, going to and from work. "Yeah. I'm ready."
"I don't like this Emmett, this gig is something the newer guys are better off doing. What is the organisation doing sending us here?"
He sighed. "I know, I don't like it either, but intelligence says it's a simple in and out job- I go in, get what we need, and then leave. Alright?"
"Alright." Alexander was leaning nonchalantly against the metal fire escape that lead out onto the roof of office blocks that they were on. He was dressed in his usually ensemble of a black, pin-stripe suit and red tie, with his hair slicked back in a black, suave style. Slick, Emmett thought. He wondered why Alexander ever got himself caught up in this gig in the first place. He was handsome, he noted, objectively, and wasn't stupid; He could get himself a nice girl and settle down somewhere, not get himself so mixed up with a dangerous crowd such as the one he was in. Emmett was involved for his own reasons, but a pretty boy like Alexander had much more opportunity to make something better of his life. At the end of the day, Emmett just wanted cash.
"It's 1:00pm- time to go" Alex said, snapping Emmett out his stare
"I'll meet you at the entrance in 20 minutes, okay?" He called out.
Alex made a sign of agreement without even looking at Emmett, and then quietly slipped out the back door. He wondered if Alex even cared about what he was doing.
With the roof to himself, Emmett gave himself a moment to go over the plan. It was an extraordinary maneuver; he was to practically base-jump off the side of the roof, and then, in midair, attach a hook to the roof and swing in through an open window left there by an employee connected with the organisation in the building. The whole operation took as little as 10 seconds, but even then there was a fair chance of being discovered by people who lived nearby- they did live in a metropolis after all. That was why they scheduled the operation for 1:00pm; the nearby buildings were mostly empty as it was UML, or Universal Mandatory Lunchtime- appointed by the High Chancellor- from 1:00 until 1:45pm. It was something only the more advanced extractors could do, and Emmett was among the most "talented".
He took a deep breath. Then, with tentative steps, he climbed up onto the guard rail and, with arms out-stretched gracefully, jumped from the top of the building.
For a moment, he felt weightless- he was falling towards the ground with absolutely nothing to suspend him, and as many times as he's done it before a quick shot of adrenaline coursed through his veins regardless, and sheer exhilaration took over- but he wasn't here to enjoy the ride. In midair, he whipped around and, extracting a grappling hook from within his jacket, placed a well-aimed shot at the railings of the building. He had taken a amount of time to carefully consider where in the fall he needed to fire the hook, and thankfully, he was right--moments later his descent ceased and he was soaring through the open window and into the building.
He landed, two feet firmly on the ground, in a narrow hallway marked with office doors and ceiling-high panes of glass along it's length. Behind him, the grappling hook came loose and the rope whirled back into his gun with a quiet sound as he put his back to the wall. At various spots throughout the office, CCTV cameras dotted the walls- something Alex had never informed him about. Shit, he thought. Looks like I'm going to have to improvise. The door at the end of the hall, Alex had explained, was protected by a specialized electromagnetic mechanism that would only be deactivated through the use of a hand-scanner. Seeing as they didn't have the fingerprints on hand, they needed to find another way around.
He considered his options- he can disable the camera's forcibly, but that would leave evidence and would result into an investigation- not good news for the extractors. He extracted one of the small, round objects attached to his belt, and looked at it- an EMP grenade. It would release a short lived pulse that would disable most nearby electronic equipment and provide a 30 second window for him to dart across the hallway and open the door. As risky as it was, it was his only option. He ripped the metallic pin from the grenade and, quietly rolling into a nearby blind-spot, heard the grenade release it's pulse, running across the hall and picking up the used device as he went.
Still running, he quickly grabbed the door-he wrenched it opened and practically dived inside-he slammed the door before it closed-and he heard, barely a second after it closed, the device resetting. Thankfully there was a control pad within the office that deactivated the device momentarily, allowing him to leave without setting off the alarm. The cameras he would concern himself with later. Quickly surveying the office, he saw a large, polished office desk with a sparkling stream of sunlight pouring in through the window, sparkling and playing on the woods smooth surface. Around were pictures of the owner shaking hands with various important people, smiling and looking good for the journalists. Fake- all of them fake. Emmett though to himself. It was all in the eyes, whether a smile was genuine- and this guy was full of it.
He noticed the computer, and remembered why he was here. Not bothering to look around the rest of the room, he moved quickly to the desk and sat down, focusing on the task at hand. He was thought, ever since he first joined the extractors, that speed is essential. You have to assume there's someone constantly around the corner, someone always right behind that door. If you spend too long on a job, you'll get caught- that was the harsh reality of the situation. With this in mind, Emmett worked at an insane speed, his fingers nearly a blur as he typed passwords and code in attempt to crack the machine.
"Interesting- I didn't think you were this good when they told me about you, but here you are right in front of me." a voice came, suddenly, from the corner.
In one quick movement, Emmett moved away from the computer and extracted another gun, used only in extreme cases, from the other side of his jacket. In the corner, hidden in the shade where Emmett didn't bother to look as he entered the office, was a middle-aged man, dressed in a typical three-piece suit, sitting relaxed in a leather armchair. With dark brown eyes and lighter brown hair, the man watched calmly as Emmett pointed the gun directly at his forehead. "You have five seconds to tell me who you are, or you're never getting up out of that chair." Emmett said, his voice as cool as the smoke of dry ice. "That's one second." He released the safety from his gun.
"Now now, Emmett, calm down, I'm here to hel-"
"What would Alexander say now that you were willing to throw away his life?" He replied, smiling somewhat devilishly.
Emmett tightened the hold on his gun. "What do you know about Alexander?!"
"Only that if you were to kill me, you'll never find out where he is. I suggest you relax," he said, getting up out his chair, "otherwise you may end up making a very serious mistake. One that will compromise both you, and the organisation."
Emmett was taken-aback; normally no-one knew about the organisation, and normally Emmett was the one dictating the terms. But here he was confronted with someone who seemed to know exactly what was going on, and Emmett had played exactly into his hands.
"What do you want?" He growled, holding the gun even tighter.
"I simply want to speak with you, Emmett. I have an interesting business proposition. But I suggest you put the gun away first."
With a heavy sigh, he put the gun away- but keeping a hand close-by in case this weirdo tried pulling anything. "I'll only ask one more time- what do you want?"
"I know all about your little group of friends, Emmett- the extractors, the people you work for, what you do and how you do it- and how you're one of the best in the business. I also know something you don't, and that's partly the reason why we're here." He said, sitting down in the chair behind the desk.
"And what would that be?" Emmett asked, starting to get slightly impatient with this guys rambling.
He leaned forward, his elbows on the desk, and looked him right in the eyes. "The extractors have a mole, Emmett- a few of them in fact. There's people on the inside funneling information to the government or to other bodies who want you guys taken down, and it's working; surely you've noticed the increased amount of arrests, the higher amount of set-ups and raids taking place, no? Surely you've noticed less and less people turning up after completely gigs? The extractors are slowly on their way out, and if you don't get out now, you're going down with him.
Emmett thought for a moment. It was true that there was more and more set-up's taking place. Daniel, a talented extractor that only joined them a year ago, was taken down after he got caught in a set-up last week by the government. He like so many others fell victim to jobs that we given by clients who were acting as proxies on behalf of the government, who wanted to stamp out the extractors. They circulated information that was better left isolated, and as a result They came down on top of them. "So what?" He replied, "What has that got to do with me- as long as I don't get caught I don't care."
The man laughed, sitting back again in his chair. "You may be good kid, but you're not that good. Trust me, I've seen better extractors that yourselves be caught in a net and never seen again. After all, I was able to get you here without raising suspicious, wasn't I?"
"I knew something wasn't right." Emmett added, aside.
"Whether you had a gut feeling or not, you still went through with it, and if it wasn't me that set up this gig you'd already be in prison, or worse, executed as an example for the rest of you.
Emmett let this sink in. "Okay, so you've got a point. But what are you going to do about it?"
"Like I said, I've got an interesting business proposition." He folded his arms across his chest. "Seeing as the organisation you're working for is falling apart as we speak, you're going to need to get out, and you're going to need to stay under the radar. The proposition? You work for me, and in return, I keep you safe."
Emmett sat up immediately. "Where are you going?" The man asked, still sitting down.
"I'm leaving. Do you have any idea what happens to rogue extractors?"
"As far as I know, they're hunted down and they're killed."
This time it was Emmett who looked directly into the man's eyes. "If they're lucky. I had the task of hunting one down once. He was a new guy- decided he didn't like the extractor gig and decided he wanted to work for the government instead, help Them root us out from the underground. When I was finished with him, not even his dental records would have served as identification."
A grim expression came across the man's face. "I see. My offer still stands however, Emmett. The way I see it, you have two options. You can return to the organisation and continue working for them, where, chances are, They'll catch up to you and you'll be either executed or incarcerated without a chance to say otherwise. Or, you can work for me and remain safe. The people you'lll be working for will be slightly different, and I will provide a safe place for you to stay. Other than that, you'll be working for me whenever I call you. Either way, it's up to you."
Once again, Emmett was given a lot to think about. If he was right about extractors being ratted out, which he probably was, then he was right about him being caught eventually. If anything he'd be surprised if it wasn't true, considering the amount of extractors that have gone MIA lately. But if he worked for him, those who he left behind will hunt him thinking he's working for Them or for someone else who was working against them. They couldn't afford to let the inner machinations of the organisation let slip to outsiders, otherwise, they'd be done for. That was why rogues were hunted relentlessly.
"You don't have to answer right away. Seeing as I was the one who set up this meeting, I prepared the material that the "client" is looking for on this disk. Hand it to your boss and then I'll take care of it from there. I'd suggest you plug it into a computer first before giving it to them- my contact details are on that if you decide to get in touch."
Emmett took the CD, and stowed it in away in one of his pockets. "I want to know something before I go: Why do you need an extractor, and why take Alex? And what is your name?"
The man laughed, getting up out his chair again and facing towards the window. "I never did tell you my name, did I? Damien", he said, "Damien Forester. As for why I want you, that will become clear if you decide to work for. As for Alex, I hung onto him because I knew I wouldn't be able to get your attention otherwise."
Emmett set up as well, moving towards the door and towards the exit. He moved to push the button on the inside. "Oh, don't worry about that," Damien said, behind him. "I'm taken care of everything. I've told the staff downstairs that I was meeting a client during lunch- they don't suspect a thing."
"Alright," Emmett replied, "But listen here, 'Damien'- If I find out you're bullshitting me, you'll know about it. Trust me." And with that, he wrenched the door open, and began to make his way to the street.