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The 7 Plan

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I know they’re searching for me; I know I have to get away. I sprint across the gritty shore, running from the surreal events that flash in my mind. What did I just do? The words float in my mind, but I couldn’t concentrate on them right now. The only thing I could focus on was escaping. I push my feet harder against the rocky sand. For once I was grateful for the darkness, which would at least spare me a few minutes. Sirens ring in the distance, and sweat dews on my forehead. I had never done anything like this before; this was my first real “mission”. My slender hand pats the thin transparent suit on top of the worn pocket of my dark pants. I feel the slim, silver disk through the thin material, and relief mixed with a wave of nausea rolls through the pit of my stomach. I was still thrilled by what I did to get this confidential disk, but I also knew the danger my actions put me in. What did I just do? Once again, the words flow through my mind. I shake my head, hoping to dissipate the thought.
All of a sudden, I hear shouts and barks from down the beach. I whip my head around to find a party of police and their guard dogs dressed in that clear armor with its black and yellow badge on the shoulder. They were a few yards down from where I was. They could catch me. I turn and sprint with all the strength I could muster, ignoring the burning sensation engulfing my raw muscles. My team’s “invisible” ship, which was really just made of two-way mirrors, was a little ways off. I would be able to make it, if the officers don’t notice me anytime soon. A snarl rips through the salty air just then, and a panic courses through my veins. I didn’t dare turn around, because I could hear the thudded paws of a dog pounding on the sand, coming towards me. Oh no, I’m going to die. I hear several footsteps, and foreign screams of death threats toward me, but all I could focus on was the furious pounding of my heart. I’m going to die. My sore feet hit the charred wood of the dock, and a spark of hope flits through my system. I could see the speedboat hidden in the distance. The bustle of footsteps on the dock carries in the night breeze, and I pick up my soft sprint as I reach the edge of the boat. I swiftly jump in, and just as quickly I was off, grateful that my trainer, Charles, had insisted he come. Relief floods through me as the reality of it sunk in, I made it.
I look back at the dock, amused by the confused expressions on the officers’ faces by my sudden disappearance. My trainer and I head to the ship, hidden in an uncharted cave in the middle of the Pacific, where the rest of the team waits. “Get it?” Charles asks as he calmly drives the boat. I nod my head, but uncertainty fills my body. What did I just do?


I forced back my eyelids; the pain throbbing in my chest was too much to bear. I was immediately enveloped by a comforting darkness; this place was my only refuge now. On the rare occasions that I had time to myself, that is. It was a room in the heart of the ship, one of the few places not encased by the double sided mirrors that made up this vessel. There were no lights and no windows, just darkness. I was peacefully able to drown in the sea of my thoughts. This memory was always one that haunted me over and over; I couldn’t seem to shake it from my mind. It was the night of my first mission, and we were stationed in Division 2 – which I’ve been told used to be called Europe – gathering classified intelligence. The disk I stole was confidential knowledge about the government of Division 2E; we were doing this for every Division on the planet. But even then I had a feeling that something wasn’t right. So why did I stay here? Charles… The familiar stab of pain ripped through my heart again as the word entered my mind. Even so, I couldn’t stop the tiny smile from surfacing onto my face. I remembered the man who was my mentor, the man who saw my potential to become one of the team’s best members, the man who I fell in love with, and the man who soon became my loving husband. The man who is now dead.
This team was where I met Charles, at the time the Second in Command and employed to be my mentor. Everyone on this ship was forcibly recruited into this team – the Determinators. It was a team composed of two members from each subdivision’s army. We were secretly watched, and then one day were kidnapped and taken to the team’s covert ship. It was secretly formed after the world had gone into mass chaos from a nuclear war, where all the Divisions and had been completely destroyed. Most of the population had been wiped out as well, although there were a few of us who remained. None of the subdivision’s governments, or intelligence agencies, know about us. Boss, who formed the Determinators, knew how to keep out of the world’s watchful eye. He created it because our team was “determined” to restore peace to the planet.
There were seven Divisions overall, but each Division was divided into several subdivisions. The Divisions didn’t get along well; they were always trying to steal one another’s food or resources. When we went into a new Division, we had to make sure we looked like we belonged. Charles was always cautious and caring about the natives when it came to invading their Division for a mission. The rich caramel color of his skin and the piercing blue of his eyes are ingrained into the back of my eyelids. Although, I’ve realized that everyday his features are getting slightly more blurry, and I’m afraid that one day his face will completely disappear. The last time I saw him was the night of his last mission. It was the night he was gathering intelligence about Division 3C, but never returned. It was the night where he was caught by their police, thought to be a Division 1 spy, and was said to be cruelly killed. It was the night my heart was shattered into a million chards of glass…

“Alatea! Are you here?” The young soprano voice echoed from down the hall.
“Ugh” I huffed. My break was over sooner than I desired. Boss and the other elites of the team were in a meeting, which is peculiar since I’m Second in Command, so I should have been there too. They said I was not needed, and I didn’t dwell on it. It meant that I had a break from my work, and I have become extremely grateful for these over the past two years. It was over too soon, but I still remained where I was. I had the slightest hope that maybe she wouldn’t find me. Yeah right, I thought. She could be a persistent little creature when she really wanted something. She was a sweet girl; I have learned to love her like she was my sister over these past three months of mentoring her, but right now I wasn’t feeling it. Annoyance crept through my veins as I heard her voice call my name again. I wasn’t going to win this battle.

“I’m in here Keaira” I sighed. I knew this was the last break I would have until after we completed The 7 Plan. A hot beam struck my face just then, burning my eyes from the unexpected light.

“Oh good! I’ve been looking everywhere for you!” Keaira exclaimed.

“What do you want? Our lesson doesn’t start for another half hour!” I didn’t mean for the anger to seep into my voice, but I couldn’t help it. I hadn’t had a good rest over the past six months, as with everybody else, since we dedicated all day and night to perfecting The 7 Plan. There were violet bags under my eyes from lack of sleep and my muscles ached with exhaustion; they screamed in protest anytime I tried to move. I felt twenty years older than I actually was, and I looked it too. Keaira was the only one who probably slept a good eight hours a night but that was because she was so young and needed her rest.

“Oh I know. Boss asked me to send you over to his office.” Keaira stated.

“How did you see Boss? He was in a meeting all morning.” I eyed her suspiciously. She was nosy and didn’t try hiding it; I’ve caught her several times trying to sneak into the Command Center.

“Well, I might have been listening in on the meeting and Boss might have caught me doing so and then after it was over he might have called me in to his office to tell me that he saw me peeping - but I didn’t get in trouble! Then he said he needed you, so here I am, coming to tell you.” She rambled. Keaira couldn’t lie to me. Our relationship was built on concrete slabs of trust. We knew everything about each other. The first few weeks we spilled all of our secrets to each other and it was right after Charles had died that Keaira became my trainee, so it was a relief to alleviate the pain his death caused me by talking with her. Sometimes I felt that she was almost too nice, too willing, to hear my secrets though. But then again, what thirteen year-old isn’t curious about the expeditions of a secret agent?

“Okay I’m going, see you for your lesson later!” I ruffled her blonde hair as I passed by her, and she smirked while rolling her eyes. I chuckled at how her young, angelic appearance didn’t match the fighter she was inside. She was found in Division 6 by one of our crew members while she was attacking a man who was trying to take the loaf of bread she stole. Keaira was thirteen and fending for herself, as her family was overseas and she had no idea if they made it or not. Apparently she was known as a “ninja prophesy” in her quaint town, so we decided to take her in. Keaira definitely fulfilled her title; there was no doubting there was a determined fighting spirit burning beneath that deceitful cherubic face of hers.
I opened the ornate mahogany doors into Boss’s office. His head whipped up from something he seemed to be intently reading. Surprise spread across his features, like he was a little kid getting caught stealing a cookie…didn’t he just ask Keaira to call me though?
“Teya! Ever heard of knocking?” He joked, laughing it off.
“I thought we went over this. Don’t call me that name anymore.” I growled, glaring at him coldly. I felt the knife being stabbed through my chest again, and that slicing, familiar ache I’ve grown accustomed to followed.
“I’m sorry.” He whispered sincerely. “I forgot that Charles –“
“What do you have there Boss?” I pointed to the papers he was gripping in his hands,
changing the subject.
“Oh, I was just looking over the papers for The 7 Plan,” he shuffled the papers around on his mahogany desk, “which is what I wanted to talk with you about”.
“Right” I huffed. I was tired of discussing this for the past six months now.
“Well Tey-,” he cleared his throat, pity emanating from his eyes, “I mean Alatea, I’m assuming you read the report for the Plan, yes?”
“Yes! Why do you keep asking me that? I know the whole Plan inside and out! For the love of…” I stopped myself by the look Boss was giving me. His sapphire eyes looked painfully torn, but he quickly washed away the emotion once he realized I noticed. I gazed at him curiously, but he just leaned over the desk with a sudden fierceness in his eyes.
“Listen to me Alatea. Read over those plans good. I mean good. G-O-O-D,” he looked at me to make sure that I understood, then continued, “We don’t have time for any screw-ups, got it? One day, one continent. We only have one week, that’s it.” I just rolled my eyes at him, he was always so dramatic.
He continued, “Once The 7 Plan is completed, we will have saved the entire world, as you know. I have some news to share with you though. Remember how we were debating tactics for peace? Well we’ve decided what to do in today’s meeting.” My jaw dropped to the floor. I was speechless, the rage that shot through my body was so fierce that it was hard for me to concentrate, I felt betrayed.
“What? How could…how could you make a decision without me?!” I screeched.
“Alatea, we know what your opinion on the subject is. Based on our decision, you would have been overruled anyway. We came to the decision that once we restore the war damages to the landscape and eliminate the radiation, we shall remove, if you will, all the ‘bad seeds’ contaminating the soil of this precious earth. The-“
“Remove? Remove! They’re humans Boss! Not some expendable plants that you just rip out of the ground and throw away! They’re humans like you and me!”
“I understand Alatea; I understand they are of the same species as us. At the moment though, they are acting like savages, and they need someone to control them. They need us. The fate of the world is in our hands. We will see if peace comes to them naturally. But if trouble still remains, then we will have to take drastic measures and implant the P-Chips into all citizens’ brains, which will forevermore ensure peace. Alatea, it’s for…”
“Don’t you dare say it Boss. Don’t you dare! We’re supposed to be helping these people return back to their normal lives. Not turn them into some sort of human robots! How could you agree to this? You’re determined” I spat the word with disgust, “to save the world from injustice? You’re the injustice we’re trying to take away from these people!” I turned around to leave for the door; otherwise I might have punched him in the face right then and there. How could he be so cruel?
“Alatea! Alatea wait! You’ve got to understand this is what’s best for the people!” He called after me. I laughed humorlessly. Was it best for our world or best for him? With my hand on the shiny gold doorknob, I slowly turned around to face his weary face.
“You’re not a Determinator, just a ‘Terminator’,” I whispered. I knew it was lame, but I was fuming and couldn’t think rationally. I turned to leave, but not before seeing guilt flash in his icy blue eyes.

I opened my eyes, heavy with sleep. I glanced down at my cedar desk, seeing the unfinished letter I was writing. I must have dozed off. Darkness still enveloped my petite, mirrored room. The two-way mirrors on this ship let us see the outside world from inside, so that we didn’t have to venture out into the dangerous air every time we wanted to see our surroundings. We were also never spotted because the mirrors on the outside of the vessel reflected our surroundings, making our ship nearly invisible, and the only reason we were able to maintain our secrecy. All I could see now was the glittering Pacific Ocean disappearing into the black night and the pale light radiating from the chalky moon. It cast odd shadows on my cedar bed and dresser, which were the only furniture in the room. No one had any personal belongings; we didn’t have time to bring any, the capture was so unexpected. I heard tiny footprints running down the corridor just then. Soon enough, a little blonde girl entered my room, panting heavily as if she ran across the whole ship.
“Keaira! What are you doing awake at this hour?”
“I…I was listening in…to a conversation Boss and another guy were having…and I heard them say…”
“You’re listening to them at night too? Wow, that’s a new low for you,” I shook my head at her; I didn’t realize she was that nosy.
“Listen Alatea! I heard them say that Charles could be alive! They gained some info that he could be in the island next to this cave we’re docked at. Isn’t that great!?” I stared at her wide-eyed. It couldn’t be true, it was impossible. They said he was dead, he couldn’t be alive! Well, there was only one way to find out. I kissed Keaira’s forehead before heading to Boss’s office, for once grateful for her nosiness.
Charles. His name couldn’t stop bouncing around in my head. It was almost too good to be true. Maybe it was. I’ve learned to become suspicious of everything while on this team, and I tried to push down the hope that was surfacing inside. It wouldn’t hurt to look though, would it? Thump. I felt my body collide with something hard and warm. I looked up to see that it was Boss, looking down at me with that torn expression from earlier.
“When were you planning on telling me?” I asked, annoyed that I had to hear the news from Keaira first. I should have been the first one he told the message to, it was about my husband!
“We just found out tonight. I was going to tell you first thing in the morning.”
“Why were you going to wait? I should have been the first person you told!” I narrowed my eyes at him. He looked down and remained silent, and it looked like he was debating whether or not to tell me something. I couldn’t wait for him to speak though; I had to know if what Keaira told me was true.
“Is Charles here?” I couldn’t stop the hope from slipping into my voice. I could tell he was still debating, but this time he looked up and stared intensely at me. It was like he was trying to communicate with me through his eyes in what he didn’t want to say out loud. I had no idea what he was trying to tell me though, so I just stared back at him clueless. After a couple minutes, he hung his head in defeat.
“It’s possible,” he sighed. He sounded weary, like his internal debate had beaten him up and had left him drained. I couldn’t linger on it; the possibility of Charles being alive overruled my brain.
“I’m going to go look for him tonight. I’ll be back by dawn.” I tried to keep my voice steady, but I was so excited at the idea of Charles being so near. I gave Boss a huge grin while he gave me a curt nod; that same torn expression returned to his features. Without a second thought, I sprinted down the hall.
“Wait Alatea!” Boss called to me.
“Yeah?”
“After you return we will be going to Division 1 so that we can commence the Plan the day after tomorrow. We will be going across the Atlantic Ocean, past Division 4 and 5.”
“Why are you telling me this now?”
With that, he turned and walked back into his office.

I slipped into the thin clear suit with the familiar yellow and black badge – my RA suit – to protect me from the radiation outside. I pushed the red button and anxiously waited for the thick metal doors to open. I was greeted with the darkness of the cave and a sandy smell, reminding me of the night of my first mission. I stepped off the ship and steered my way out of the cave by using the light from my flashlight. The beam flashed against the mirrors and I caught a look at myself. My whole body was trapped in that transparent armor, clinging to me like a second skin. The radioactive sign was on my right shoulder, its golden yellow glowing against my black shirt. Underneath the RA suit I noticed my auburn hair was a disheveled mess and my face sagged with exhaustion, but my big hazel eyes were radiant in the darkness of the cave. I realized that for once in a long time, they were actually blazing with hope.
Once I was out, I gazed at the magnificent island that lay before me. There seemed to be thousands of palm trees waving their hairy leaves in the distance and the silky sand seem to pick up and dance with the wind. I was stunned at the beauty of this island, or maybe it was just beautiful to me. We were usually cooped up inside the ship for months because of the radiation that contaminated the air outside. We didn’t want anyone getting sick. They only time we were allowed to leave the ship was when we were ordered to go on a mission. Even then, we weren’t able to appreciate the beauty of the area our mission was for; we were too concerned with fulfilling our duty and not getting caught. Then again, most of the countries we were gathering information from were destroyed. This island was perfect though, it was like it was immune to all the atrocities of the world. I didn’t see any evidence of nuclear destruction here. There was a sparkling azure sea, moist grains of sand, thriving palm trees, even that grayish-blue boulder in the corner was….wait. What was that? It looked like a boulder at first, but now it looked almost like a…. body. Charles! My mind screamed at me. My feet started kicking up the sand, automatically rushing towards him.
Once I was a few feet away from him, I slowed down to a walk. His backside was facing me, so I couldn’t see his face, but those were definitely his clothes. There was something odd in the way he was shaped though, like his entire body was broken, mangled. He didn’t look like he was breathing either. My breath caught in my throat. He’s dead.
“Charles…” I whispered, trying to keep myself from going into hysterics. I knelt beside his back, and prepared myself for what his face would look like. I carefully placed my hands on his arms; then looked over to see my husband’s face.
I screamed.
This guy wasn’t Charles. I couldn’t believe it, who would do something like this? This guy wasn’t Charles, this guy wasn’t even human. It was just his clothes draped over three giant rocks! Why would someone try to pretend that this is Charles? Wait until I tell…Screech. I whipped my head up to that familiar high-pitched sound of scraping metal against rock…
I looked just in time to see my team’s ship leaving the cave – without me. Did they forget that I was here, looking for Charles? No, they couldn’t have, because Boss saw me leaving to go look for him. So why were they leaving me? I started running towards the cave from where they left.
“Hey guys! Wait! I’m still here!” I yelled from the tops of my lungs, waving my arms frantically. I knew it was too late though. They were too far gone; they wouldn’t hear me from here. They left me. Why would they do such a thing? I was Second in Command!
Then it hit me. I was Second in Command, I was the second most powerful person out of the entire team, I was the one person who didn’t agree with Boss’s decision, I was the one person who would fight him on it, and I was the one person who was in his way to getting what he wanted. He got rid of me. This was all part of his plan, no wonder I wasn’t included in that meeting yesterday morning! He wasn’t planning to keep me around much longer. Keaira! Her angelic face suddenly popped in my head. She didn’t deserve to be a part of such a messed up team, she was so young, so innocent. What is she going to become without me there to protect her? Rage seethed through me, and I plopped on the gritty shore in frustration. When I sat, I heard a crinkle coming from the inside of my pant pocket. I shoved my hand into the space, and pulled out the wrinkled paper that was titled, “The 7 Plan”.
I groaned in anger. I was about to throw it into the ocean when one of the sentences caught my eye. It read, “The Determinators will restore good and eradicate all evil.” I stared at it closer, and realized the word “good” was slightly darker than the rest of the sentence. How did I not notice that before? It triggered my conversation earlier with Boss, and how he kept repeating that word. I looked closer and saw there was one word written in each of the “o’s”. It said, Don’t go. It was written in Boss’s handwriting.
Was he on my side?






*

*

*

“She’s gone,” Boss sighed; his heart throbbed with sympathy for the girl they left.
“We did it, Boss! We got rid of her! Now I’m your new Second in Command! Believe me, I’ll be a way better one than Alatea ever was…” Keaira rambled on. Boss tuned her out, lost in his own thoughts.
“Boss? Boss! Your plan was more successful than you even intended! Isn’t this what you wanted?” Keaira questioned.
His plan. He hated the sound of that. He looked towards the island where Alatea had just been cruelly deceived and deserted. No, it wasn’t what he wanted.



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