A note from B. A. Baker (Thedude3445)

My ability to write South African accents is absolutely zero. Please, any South African readers, help me make the dialogue in this chapter better

“Report, now.”

The hologram flickers into view, and Agent Z sighs.

Director A begins, as usual, chewing Agent Z out in the rapid-fire ranting that he’s become quite famous for in his time as leader. Agent Z might feel like this is an important message he’s trying to get across, except that he’s speaking entirely in Xhosa and Agent Z knows absolutely none of that.

Agent Y, standing precariously off to the side where the hologram camera may not necessarily see him, probably understands better. He grew up in Durban, at least. Z’s from Cape Town and it’s not her fault that her folks brought her up entirely in English and Afrikaans. She’d been just as fine learning anything else, but she missed that window.

“Can you help me out here?” Z whispers to Y.

Y shakes his head. “Can’t help, don’t you know?”

Agent Y and his awful quirk with this “don’t you know” business. Just the worst. Why did he have to be picked to be her partner? Why did Director A always have to chew her out about everything? Why did she even join the Secret Service to begin with?

“And with that out of the way,” Director A suddenly says in English, “Thank you two morons for accidentally saving the day.”

“What do you mean, sir?” Agent Z asks.

“Keeping tabs on that Solbourne of yours might just get us a real snack.”


“...You don’t know why, do you, Agent Z?”

Agent Y steps into the frame and says, “No, she doesn’t, don’t you think?”

“I, uh, don’t know why,” she admits.

Director A sighs, and very nearly launches into another rant in Xhosa, but instead says, “We got the tests back from the blood sample on Solbourne. It confirms what we suspected. He’s not human, just like the others.”

“Well, not human like us,” Agent Z corrects. “They’re still mostly the same.”

Homo sapiens sapiens and Homo sapiens neanderthalensis are mostly the same, but they’re still different enough that it matters. These people, though... They’re more like Homo Sparus. A whole new species that just happens to look the same on the outside.”

“We already knew that much from our prelims.”

“The full blood tests went far beyond that, Agent Z. They showed rapid healing and cell growth based on almost all stressors. These cells have NO mitochondria. None.”

“...Blood cells don’t have mitochondria, sir...”

“Oh, sorry. Did I say blood tests? I meant that we sequenced Solbourne’s DNA and made some clone stem cells with it. No mitochondria in those either.”

“...Uh, okay,” Agent Z says.

“We need new samples from the other System Users, but since everything else in the blood samples matches, we can assume that all of them are just the same as Solbourne.”

“So that explains their power,” Agent Z says. “The others seem like they want to hide it, or they don’t even know in the first place. Solbourne, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to care at all. He’s unleashing powers no human on Earth could ever achieve, and he hasn’t even faced a serious threat yet.”

“Well, maybe we ought to give him one, don’t you think?” Agent Y suggests.

“No, not yet. Not allowed,” says Director A. “We can’t let the U.S. know about these System Users. By the way, Agent Z. The CIA is going to call you later today. Make sure to make them think we’re chasing aliens. That usually gets them off our scent.”

“Yes, sir...” Always the one tasked with lying to the CIA. Always the one who has to play up the Americans’ huge ego and make them think like they’re the protagonists on all of planet Earth. What a waste of time. They’re going to find out about the System Users eventually, so what’s the point?

Especially when Solbourne is acting like a moron and getting himself crowned KING of a fucking NATION instead of laying low like Agents Z and Y expressly warned him about! What a dof.

“We’re going to have to do something about Solbourne, and soon,” she says. “If he’s caught, our whole operation will explode.”

“Agreed,” says Director A. “He’s going to, where next? On his little road trip?”

“Apparently, they’ve stopped in Simi Valley for the night and they’ll stay for the rest of the day before they go to Los Angeles.” Agent Z sighs. “If nothing goes horribly wrong this time, of course. But it shouldn’t. There’s nothing in Simi Valley except the Reagan Presidential Library, which is hosting an elementary school read-a-thon in the morning. They probably won’t even visit. So it’s that, then... Los Angeles.”

“And that’s the final stand, don’t you think?”

“I know a way to get him out of suspicion,” says Director A. “In L.A., anything is possible. So I’ll do the same thing we did when we hid Post Malone.”

“Are you... sure that’ll work this time?” Agent Z asks.

“Don’t question your superiors. Last time you did that, you nearly jeapordized the whole mission, you—“

“What about the others, don’t you think?” Agent Y asks.

“Yes, Agent Z? What do you think of the other System Users? Is it time we make advances on them?”

“The other four are mostly okay. The one in San Francisco isn’t a threat, and the one in Los Angeles has been well-hidden for long enough that the CIA probably can’t catch her. The two on the East Coast are... It’s harder to say. I’m worried about the one in D.C., but we have no way of making contact there without blowing it. And the one from Atlanta... Well, they went off the grid.”

“Off the...”

“We lost them, sir,” Agent Z says.

“...And you didn’t report this, why?”

“Solbourne felt like, um, a more pressing issue?”

Thus begins yet another long, not-in-English rant by Director A.

Maybe Agent Z should have just gone into accounting.

A note from B. A. Baker (Thedude3445)

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About the author

B. A. Baker (Thedude3445)

Bio: I like to watch movies.

Avatar art by Bryan Lee O'Malley.

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