Fade

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At the time, I didn’t know that I shouldn’t have told. I didn’t know that letting those four seemingly harmless words escape my lips would change my life forever. It was stupid of me to even allow myself to get so close to…him. After all, things were running far too smoothly for everything to be right in the world. Situations like this are never easy. That’s just a basic rule of thumb in my field of work. Ugh, stupid, stupid, stupid! I suppose I should have been more careful…should have kept my guard up…but then again, when you are the world’s most dangerous link to the Outer Limits, caution isn’t exactly your middle name.
* **
“COP 21-18…COP 21-18!” the Boss’s voice blaring my name out over the loudspeaker snapped me out of my daze. I lifted my violet-flecked eyes to the big screen. There was so much information splayed across it, and yet, to me, it wasn’t even there. I was not on this planet today. I was somewhere else. With him. How could one person hold so much mystery? This wasn’t the overrated teenage crush that Layla accused me of. In fact, I didn’t even really like the guy. I generally don’t get along with someone who is stubborn and completely bull-headed. Those kinds of people are far too much like me. Yet, he was always on my mind. I couldn’t get those petty thoughts to go away and leave my brain in peace to do my job. Why did he look at me like that? What did it mean?
“…not enough evidence to prove…21-18, are you even listening to me?!”
Oh no. I hadn’t even realized that Boss’s words were going in one ear and quickly flying out the other. I let out an exasperated sigh. How much longer would this last? Why did he even have to walk into my life? He had no right! The more I thought about it, the angrier I got. I am good at my job. I take my work very seriously, and I pride myself on the number of assignments I’ve completed. The next would make number 89. I’ve been in training since the age of five. I am one of the most valuable agents at this firm. Or I was…until he came along. I was, until he rudely intruded upon my thoughts and broke my previously flawless concentration. I could feel my face heating up with rage…
“…work closely with COP 34-69, the newest agent in the COP 34 squadron. He was appointed to this assignment this morning.”
Oh, I hated him. I hated him, I hated- wait, what?! My head snapped up once more towards the screen. Now here was something to hold my attention. Sure enough, his face flashed up on the screen. COP 34-69. His arrogant crooked smile made my face burn. He was the newfound bane of my existence. And he was my new partner.
Twenty-eight missions later, I realized that he was exactly everything I thought he was. His real name was Xane. He was overly confident, stubborn, and completely headstrong. The catch is, I ended up falling a little bit in love with him. We worked well together. We made the perfect team. The first two years of working with him contain nothing but fond memories. I told him everything. I told him my biggest secret. My real name is Freedom Wentworth. I was a COP agent, but I was also the Outer Limits’ most dangerous weapon. Fortunately, the Outer Limits know nothing about that. When I was a little girl, my brain was programmed with computer chips. Inside those chips is everything there is to know about COP. All of the agencies strengths, weaknesses, histories are all in my head. It was the safest place they knew to hide it all. The last place anyone would think to look. The only person who originally knew about it was the commander of COP. However, I found out about it all on my own when I was 15. Since then I have kept the secret. But I trusted Xane. He was my best friend. He was my other half. Besides, it’s nice to have someone who understands you.
* * *
It had to be here somewhere. If my calculations were correct (and they always are) there should be a secret entrance to the Outer Limits right in front of where we were standing. I placed my hand on the wall, testing it’s make-up.
“I believe you’re looking for this.” Xane said, as he leaned casually against a spot on the wall a few inches to his left and gradually a gaping hole appeared in the wall.
“Thanks,” I smiled and walked past him. I could feel his eyes follow me as I walked on.
“Ok, let’s go over all this one more time,” I insisted. “What do we do about the Outer Limits?”
He seemed caught off guard by this. “Well, we know what every agent knows about it, I guess. We know that it is the largest secret society in the world. We know that only the COP agents know it exists. We know that its goal is to take over the world, technically speaking.” He laughed. “Sounds kind of cliché when you list it off like that, huh?”
I ignored his rhetorical question. “And COP’s mission?”
“Um, and why are we doing this? It’s all kind of common knowledge to us now. It has been for the past 5 years at least.” But he answered anyways. “COP wants to conquer the Outer Limits and bring safety to the universe without exposing themselves in the process.”
“And your mission is?” I inquired.
I could see that he was beginning to get annoyed. “Our mission is to convince the Outer Limits that their only headquarters are in grave danger from an outsider agency. We will assure them that we are there to help. We’ll get them to trust us, and in turn, the entire COP agency. When they least expect it, we’ll stab them in the back and take over. Pretty simple concept if you ask me.”
I laughed at his exasperated expression. I know it sounded stupid, but going over all that common information before a big mission helped to get me focused. Now it was time to get to work. By this time we had made it inside the walls of the Outer Limits headquarters. Inside, it was technological chaos. Cameras, robots, utility machines and strange things that were unrecognizable even to me were hovering and zooming every which way. The workers of the Outer Limits were bustling about their business. Nobody even recognized our entrance. In my peripherals I saw Xane sizing up the place. I could see the gears turning in his head as he quickly soaked in every aspect of his surroundings.
“This way,” he instructed abruptly. He headed towards a narrow corridor on the left wall. I had to admit to myself that I was a little impressed with his quick perception. The only thing more dangerous than in agile physique is an agile mind. Halfway down the dark passageway, we were intercepted by a guard.
“State your identity and business, or you will be terminated immediately,” he demanded in a monotone.
In one swift movement Xane pulled a card from a back pocket and simply stated, “Fero Wheeler, cousin of the commander.”
Fake ID. Classic. I smiled. I really sort of liked this boy. The guard studied Xane’s face a moment before nodding and moving aside to let us pass.
“That was pretty smooth,” I commended him. “But next time, let me know about your plans before you carry them out so I know you’re not about to do something stupid.”
Xane chuckled. “Will do, ma’am.”
We made it to the commander’s office. There was an eye scanner next to the colossal steel door. Xane and I reached into our pockets for our specialized contact lenses disguising our true identities and quickly popped them in before the scanner began the identification process. There was a beep of confirmation from the computer, and the door slid open, revealing a large room with a high ceiling. At the far end of the room was an enormous wooden desk. The commander was standing not far from there, facing away from them and looking out the window.
“Sit.” His voice was booming.
Xane and I quickly obeyed.
“Not you Xane,” the commander corrected. “Just the girl.”
I looked at Xane in puzzlement. He simply reamined standing and shrugged. How did the commander know his name?
“I am pleased with your work, Xane,” the commander continued. “Though I am surprised that it took you this long. Your most important mission and it took you nearly three years.” He let out a cold sharp laugh. “Regardless, she is here now, you got the job done. You are free to go.”
I felt my stomach drop. I didn’t know what was going on, but I could feel that it wasn’t good. Xane looked down at me. He had a strange faraway look in his eyes. It sent a chill down my spine.
“I’m sorry Freedom,” he whispered softly. “Really I am. I had no idea that I would….I didn’t mean to get as close to you as I did….I really do love you, I just…it was selfish of me, I know. I should have ended all this the month after my arrival. But I fell in love with you too. And I didn’t want to leave so soon. I am so sorry.” A single tear slid down his cheek, and he turned and left the room. All my body could register was shock.
“You don’t know what’s going on, do you?” the commander asked.
I numbly shook my head.
“Xane is not who you think he is. He is not a COP agent. He works for me. He always has. His mission was not always to bring you to me. At first, he was just sent as a spy to find out anything he could about the COP agency. However, there was a drastic turn of events when you let your little secret slip about you being the key. I was quite pleasantly surprised indeed. Xane turned out to be much more helpful than I anticipated. So you see, this was all a trap. Now I will strip your brain of the computer chips, and you will no longer be an agent for anyone as long as you live.”
I felt tears streaming down my face, not for the loss of my pride, not for the loss of my skills, not for the loss of the salvation of the world from the Outer Limits. Those things all seemed trivial to me now. I had lost my best friend, my heart, and my identity. The one person I had ever trusted had betrayed me. I had loved and lost…everything. I no longer had a purpose.
I was once COP 21-18. COP 21-18 was strong. She was a hero. She was confident. She was everything that I ever wanted to become. 21-18 was no more. She no longer existed. My identity has faded. Now I am just Freedom Wentworth, a boring average girl. Freedom Wentworth is a nobody.





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