"True Colors" - Part One

14 October 2042
Bay City, California Free State

Janus stirred, sat upright in his meshback chair, unplugged from his deck, and let out a long exhale.

Then he grinned.

He hadn't expected that.

He checked his system clock.

Four hours later.

Four hours ago he'd been sure Eddie had pissed off someone big.

But that wasn't the case.

Not even close.

The realization he'd been wrong irked him a bit but he shrugged it off when the pieces fell into place.

This info was worth at least a mil. Mil and a half, maybe.

Two mil--

And then the feeling had hit.


Like a kick in the gut.

And he knew what he had to do.

What he'd seen had been good work. And considering the funding source, they'd reached pretty deep to get it done just so. Had to give them credit.

But fours hours later, it was done

And absolutely no trace left behind.

He'd left crumbs.

Strategically placed.

He grinned again at his screen and congratulated himself.

At that moment, the screen blinked and Janus felt the lump leap into his throat.

He swallowed and scowled.

Val looked out at him from his monitor, red hair falling across her face, dressed in a black t-shirt and seated astride a carousel horse.

And she was laughing.

And Janus stared at a pair of green eyes that looked back at him with such joy and merriment.

A long time ago.

He even remembered the photoprint as it had emerged from the nearby kiosk--

Janus blinked away suddenly blurred vision and tapped a key.

The image vanished, replaced by scattered program icons and a command box with a steadily blinking cursor.

She'd never look at him that way again.

He'd seen to that.

The memory rubbed at him like a bothersome itch and he quashed it.

But the crumbs.

He'd left the crumbs.

She'd find them.

He was sure of that.

* * *

8 November 2042
Chicago Metroplex, Northern Federation of States
16:22:35 CST

The tall man in the gray double-breasted suit stepped into the wood-paneled office and closed the door behind him. "I have news."

Irina Dragunov looked up from behind her massive oak desk and quirked a perfectly manicured eyebrow. "Is it from him?"

"Da," said the man.


"And he says everything is in motion."

"It's about time," Dragunov said with a snort. "This should have been already dealt with. I don't understand his need for dramatics."

"In any case," the man went on, "we'll be ready to start sending our people in."

"Good," said Dragunov. "Let's begin with Dmitry."

"Not Viktor?"

Dragunov smirked. "Not Viktor. At least not yet. That would be like dropping a bomb on the city. No. This must be quiet at first. Dmitry will be best for the moment."

The man inclined his head. "I will contact him immediately."

"Spasiba, Yuri."

Yuri gave a short nod and turned to leave.

"One more thing, Yuri," said Dragunov.

Yuri turned back. "Da?"

"Has there been any word yet about Nicolai Medvedev?"

(to be continued...)

"True Colors"
Part 2

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