imes Square, New York. 22 people were pronounced dead during the midday rush while shopping at various electronic stores. The cause of death is still unknown. Authorities are not ruling out the possibility of a terrorist attack according to police chief William J. Bratton, who spoke at a press conference yesterday evening: "I don't want anyone to jump to conclusions. We're working with the Department of Homeland security and the Justice Department to determine the cause of this incident. That's all I can say at this time."
Eyewitness reports indicate that the victims were struck suddenly by an unknown force. Several conflicting reports detail government officials moving witnesses away from the scene. The State Department could not be reached for comment but no known terrorist organizations have come forward to claim credit for the incident. What connection, if any this has to the death of 6 people in a Los Angeles electronics outlet earlier this year is unclear. The similar circumstances, however
"The real death toll was 54, but it was difficult trying to amnesticize such a crowded place." The shadowy director then reviewed the rest of the folder's contents. "All Maxwellists? No civilians involved right?"
"So far, yes. Just like the other cases." The agent stood in front of the desk. He knew he had little to no progress to report on the matter and knew he was going to be asked, just as he was asked two weeks ago.
"And the progress on those cases?"
"Sir, I— I think we need to look into additional resources if we are to pursue further. The autopsies indicated that the cause of death originated from their own cerebral implants, sir."
The director's eyes narrowed onto the agent. "You are just telling me things I already know." He tossed the folder off his desk and onto the hard linoleum. "Six dead a year ago, twenty-seven this past summer, and now fifty-four this week. Not to mention the other isolated incidents we have managed to keep quiet. How long before it all spills over? You know what— do not answer that. Just leave, I have phone calls to make."
The agent hurriedly grabbed the articles and incident reports from the floor and scurried out of sight down the hallway. The office was then silent in thought. After a minute or two, the director's finger pressed a long sequence of keys on his office phone and waited for the automated response.
«I'm sorry, your call cannot be completed as dialed. Please consult the personnel direc—»
"Dossier Tempo Boycott Marvel Hessian Lunar Niner Niner One Eight Capricorn."
«Voice confirmation passcode confirmed; Director Aktus. Opening encrypted channel to O5-7.»
After a few seconds, a digitally filtered voice answered. "Director? It's 3am here." Karlyle faltered in his next sentence. "A-apologies, Overseer. I did not reali—"
"What do you want, Director?" Karlyle looked at his stack of memos and thumbed through it. "That proposal I sent, just a few months back— the one about initiatives in proactive cyber security in case we needed to use it? I believe it is time we take a second look through it."
Two Weeks Later…
There was a spark in the darkness. Then another. And another. Till there was a chain reaction of flashes that sparkled in the empty space. Flashes then elongated into lines. Lines then connected to other lines. Lines that eventually made 2D polygons floating into their own calculated places like precise falling snowflakes. Slowly but surely, a room was rendered in cyberspace. A plain room with two doors, four chairs, and a sturdy table.
Not long after the bump mapping for the carpet was complete, four conscripts entered that virtual room. Alex sat at the head of the table across from Thorn, Grape, and 8-Ball. Each dressed in rather plain looking attire; with the exception of 8-Ball who more or less lacked a discernible body and was just a floating mass of cubes. She looked at each of them with a warm smile. For her, this was a pleasant reunion.
It was quiet. The other three stared at one another without exactly knowing why they were activated and called here to begin with.
And then they knew.
Grape scowled at Alex from across the table. His arms crossed and unflinching as his mustache twitched from side to side in reserved jealousy. Alex was quick to pick up on the tension.
Alex slammed her fist onto the virtual conference table so hard that it actually glitched.
Again, the room fell silent. A stifled sob from Alex was all that could be heard. Thorn was tempted to walk over and comfort her, but the oppurtunity passed too quickly. 8-ball sat frozen in mid-air wondering if this was going to work or not, already hard at work assessing possible outcomes. Grape, however, sat statuesque in his seat. Stoic and 100% unapologetic.
Grape gave a long and drawn out sigh. Even though breathing was completely unnecessary for someone like him, he knew how to correctly use body language just as a living person would to convey his emotions.
Grape scooted out of his chair and somberly headed for the exit. As the door closed, a wave of muddled emotion washed over Alex and Thorn. 8-Ball was still organizing its doubts about the team. Only 1.5 milliseconds in and already there were signs of trouble.
Alex slid over a small gold plated cube. Thorn picked it up and palmed it in his hand, watching it shimmer in the overhead light.
Alex got up and gathered her files from the table. 8-Ball simply floated out the exit to join an old friend waiting outside. The meeting was adjourned. Thorn, however, finally piped up for a question.
Alex gripped the door handle and stopped. She glanced over her shoulder, just enough for Thorn to understand her.
With that she left. Thorn pocketed the cube and hustled out the opposite door to join the other two.