The Ruiner: That American Life Pt. VI The Gig Is Up


Agent 34's Office

“Tell me again, then I need you to be quiet for five minutes and tell me a fourth time. Then you’re going to have to leave and wait for me in the recovery suite, don’t you dare say a word on your way out and don’t think about being your usual self with me,” Agent 34 said in between gulps of the pink goo. She drank it out of a coffee mug now and preferred it on the rocks.

“The couriers were late. The kid and I were waiting at the motel. Alec Riely broke into my room,” Harris began the third retelling of the previous evening's events, “so I killed them all,” he eventually finished.

Agent 34 stared blankly again through Harris and the wall behind him, just as she had after the first two retellings of Harris’ night. She picked up an egg timer on her desk and set it for five minutes before returning to staring blankly. Harris folded his hands and began moving his fingers in strange patterns, wrapping them around each other and tapping the tips together in quick, complicated combinations. His demeanor was calm and reserved. He gave no indication of being his reputation and had done nothing but cooperate the entire time he'd been talking to 34. It’s not that he had turned over a new leaf. Not even close, he was if anything, more disgusted than he usually was and he also was experiencing something new. Not quite disillusionment, more akin to a loss of trust. He wanted to get away from all this and that was just going to take longer if he went about it the usual way. The usual way being by being his usual, uncooperative, borderline bratty self.

The egg timer went off and Harris ceased his finger dancing and gave his boss his full attention. She looked at him and sighed. He inhaled and was about to begin the fourth retelling, as he had been ordered. Before he could start, Agent 34 cut him off with a hand gesture. She rubbed her eyes and continued, “Tell me about Alec Riely. We have no record of him.”

“The Limeys have a Ruiner. Not that you have to worry, he’s not really that good and I don’t think he has the goods.”

“What makes you say that?”

“Takes one to know one and he looked awful unfamiliar,” Harris answered in a tone that neither inflated or depreciated the scope or depth of his abilities, it just accepted them as they were. It was acknowledged but always unspokenly so that Harris’ cooperation at this point was entirely voluntary on his part. 34 nodded, “Tell me everything you know about him, please.”

“He’ not that good. He’s only been at it long enough to have learned enough to hurt himself. He didn’t strike me as that together mentally. Granted, parts of the training process tend to lead to some temporarily weird heap spaces, but he seemed a little off to me. He mentioned that my teacher had agreed to train him so I wouldn’t be alone, so that I would have peers. The whole UFO investigator thing was a cover. I don’t know if I buy that but I haven’t spoken to Mu in a while, so who knows. I don’t think he’s a threat in any way.”

“Why would MI6 send him here to do, what? Make friends?”

“Mu demands his training be followed without question, or else he walks and no one gets a super assassin. Look back through my records, how many time was I arrested for shoplifting? We spent three months racing go-carts for six hours a day. He gets away with all kinds of kinds of crazy shit.”

Agent 34 nodded again taking a sip from her mug before proceeding, ”The Parlance infant looked over 18 when they pulled his body from the pile of corpses you left in the middle of the goddamn town. Do you have anything to say about that?”

“That’s not my fault. He started growing soon after I acquired him from the target house. When Riely saw him, he freaked. That’s why he ran. As the child grew, he got more violent and seemed to just know things. At first, it was pretty nice, but when he hit his early teens it went south.”

“We don’t know anything about this program, or have ever encountered anything like it. The moral implications are mind-numbing. Is there anything else you know about it?”

“Given that Riely seemed to know about the kid it’s safe to assume it’s a British project.”

“We don’t know anything right now,” she snapped, “I have to explain a pile of dead bodies, and it looks like a trusted ally is growing mutant babies and preparing their own secret weapon. This doesn’t make sense.”

“This stopped making sense a long time ago.”

“You’re right,” 34 mumbled while rubbing her eyes, “OK. Mutant baby, origin unknown. I was wondering why it was so important to get our hands on that thing. Your teacher is training a potential rival, but you don’t think it’s a big deal and I’m tired enough to agree…”

“Wait,” Harris interrupted, “you didn’t know?”

“No, I don’t get told shit either.. Just, just keep going.”

“The couriers were late. The kid was hungry, probably from all the unnatural growing, so we went to get pancakes.”

“Did the kid do anything weird in the diner?”

“He visibly aged a few years but that was it. The waitress noticed,” Harris answered. He gave 34 the name of the diner, she made some notes. He had a feeling he’d be going back there to have a little talk with the staff that was on duty that night before this was over.

He went on to explain (again) about how the couriers were dicks and scared the kid into murdering them. He then preceded, with more than a hint of pride in his voice, to retell the tale of how he taught the kid how to clean up after a messy job. About how the kid seemed to have a real knack for this kind of work and how much of a help he was getting the bodies into the van. He beamed with a father’s pride as he over explained how he explained the rules of clean killing to a mutant killing machine.

“Enough about that,” 34 interjected while Harris took a breath to continue his tale, “how did the Uber shit start?”

Harris was dreading this, “ I didn’t know I was walking into a turf war, “ he began, “it was an ambush. We were coming out of a MacRonald’s, two rival drivers were pissed they hadn’t gotten any pings in six hours and tried to steal our delivery.”

Agent 34 didn’t know what to do when she heard the words spilling out of Harris’ mouth so she didn’t do anything for an entire minute.

"A what?”

“A turf war. When rivals war over turf.”

“I’m familiar with the concept. I just had no idea it had gotten that bad. Uber Eats is one of our projects. It wasn’t supposed to be anything like this.”

Harris choked on the word “what” as it tried to escape his mouth. A noise di escaped, but it wasn’t a word and it certainly contained none of the curiosity which commonly indicates a word might be a question. He became angry and then more so, but remained still. Very still. That’s not really true, contained is a better way to describe it, but still is what it looked like. Instead of his rage coming out through his mouth or his hands, it stayed inside of him. It grew and grew, and he became quieter, calmer.

A thousand thoughts collided in his head. His vision blurred and then cleared. internally he was aware of a high pitched sound that he assumed only he could hear. The frequency rose in pitch and then receded again until it was out of the range of even Harris’ hypersensitive hearing. His face didn’t become flush, nor did his breathing change.

Agent 34 witnessed this display with a mixture of curiosity and horror. She began to reach for the pistol she kept under her desktop, like a child reaching for her teddy bear after a bad dream. She stopped and reconsidered, realizing it would be of no help to her.

“Are you ok?” She said instead of pointing a gun at him.

Instead of responding Harris blinked twice and stared blankly at a spot approximately two feet above her head while his lips moved silently, mouthing words that should never be spoken. Harris lowered his gaze so that he was now looking directly into 34’s eyes. She flinched and wished she had reached for her gun.

“Yes, I’m fine,” he said in such a way as to indicate he was anything but, “but you’re about not to be.”

34 almost ordered Harris to stand down, but it had become obvious that he had been pushed too far. It had been years since anyone aside from Mu could take him down. As formable as 34 was, as much as she had been through, she was no match for a man who could kill everyone in the building unarmed,  without breaking a sweat or running out of breath. Her being alive was courtesy extended to her by Harris, who seemed about out of patience with the ineptitude of those he was forced to call his superiors.

"Harris..., "she began as she instinctually backed towards the wall, "stan...stand....do...,"

"No."

***

Miles away, Mu was, once again, sitting in the Lotus position on the floor of an expensive hotel. He'd been this way for hours, silent both inside and out. Just hanging in a void of non-thought. Without warning, his head began to throb in pain. He opened his eyes.
“It’s about time he stood up for himself,” he thought before shaking off the pain and returning to his meditation.

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