Athena walked in the round room where the board had sentenced Alan two weeks prior. Alan was still not cooperating with her, and had, in fact, grown more zealous in his confinement. The Board was getting impatient, and they had called a meeting to discuss their options moving forward.
The Board member in glasses, a lanky black man from the midwest, arrived early for the Board meeting and was trying to organize himself at the desk.
“Secretary Glasser,” Athena said respectfully, bowing slightly. Glasser nodded to her, and went back to his work.
The door opened again, and the military official entered with a briefcase in tow. Athena stood at attention.
“As you were,” the General replied, and he sat down next to Glasser.
“Have you heard from the Director?” Glasser asked without looking up from his paperwork.
“We haven’t spoken since he called for the meeting, no. Did you hear something?”
“No, no. Just wondering what this is about,” Glasser replied.
The door opened and the other members of the board entered. First, the blonde woman, who was a judge in the Department for Mutated Persons. The second woman, who had short dark hair, was Deputy Director of the Board.
“Deputy Director Jimenez,” Athena nodded. Jimenez ignored Athena, and began addressing the rest of the Board.
“The Director asked me to begin, and he’ll be here shortly. Where are we at with Alan Mitchell?” Deputy Director Jimenez asked.
The Board turned and looked at Athena. She cleared her throat and reported in.
“We still haven’t been able to get information about Marshall Roberts. Mr. Mitchell has proven tougher to crack than previously expected.”
“I say we start phase two, and crack this kid open like an egg,” the General spoke up out of the group. “We don’t have time to just wait for him to soften up on his own.”
The Deputy Director spoke up, “Marshall Roberts’ family must be found. Now, if you’re willing to risk scrambling that idiot’s brain to get your answers, and lose the only feasible lead we’ve had in years… Well, we’ll let the Director know how you feel.”
Everyone seemed wary when the Director was mentioned. Athena didn’t know him, but, from what she could tell, she didn’t want to.
“Don’t try to intimidate me, Miss Jimenez. I’ve seen far too much to be frightened by a little girl from Des Moines,” the General fired back, smacking his fist on the desk.
The Deputy Director didn’t even acknowledge that the General had spoken. Instead, she was shuffling her papers and making notes with a ballpoint pen in the margins. Her silence gave the General pause. The General cleared his throat, looking at the other members of the Board.
The wall opened up and an older man with graying hair and a dark, navy suit entered. The other members of the Board stood from the seats.
“Good afternoon, everyone,” the man said, his light blue eyes shifting from one person to the other. The Deputy Director handed the man his folder with the day’s notes. “Thank you, Sofía. You all can have a seat.”
Everyone sat down, and the Director walked around to the front of the desk to face the rest of the Board.
“Mr. Director,” the General spoke up, “I would like to start our proceedings today with the Marshall Roberts case.”
“As far as I’m concerned, General, that’s the only case,” the Director replied, dropping his folder onto the desk. “I see from the notes that we’re having some issues with Mr. Mitchell’s interrogation.”
“I have advised we move into Phase 2,” the General chimed in.
The Director looked down at his folder, and then looked at the rest of the Board.
“And the rest of the Board members?” the Director asked. Glasser was leaning back in his chair, hand on his face with his thumb under his chin. His face seemed less than enthused.
“I’m not sure that would be prudent,” Glasser advised.
“Our results with Phase 2 have been inconclusive and dangerous,” Deputy Director Jimenez reported, “I told the General as much before you arrived. I think we have to take our time.”
“And I think we’ve waited long enough. It’s great that Marshall came quietly, but his siblings are just as dangerous to this Department. We have to be willing to take the risk. I believe the reward outweighs the risks involved with Phase 2,” the General implored.
“General,” the Director shouted, then his voice became calm once again. “We risk losing our only lead, and you want to use a dangerous, unfounded technique that could kill our lead or leave him in a vegetative state… because you’re impatient?”
The General swallowed the lump in his throat.
“Now, I picked you for this Board because I thought you were level-headed, but my instincts have proven wrong it seems,” the Director continued, his voice calm and menacing.
“I-I-I wasn’t,” the General stammered. The Director raised his head, his eyes looking down at the General at a condescending angle. “I merely think that the longer we wait the more dangerous it will become for this Department.”
The Director hummed, his head returning to a more normal angle. He looked over at the Deputy Director, who had an unsure look on her face.
“Judge Hastings, what do you think?” the Director asked.
The judge sat up in her chair, her blonde hair wagging behind her. She took out her reader glasses, and looked down at the file.
“I think that prudence should win the day,” Judge Hastings replied, “But we also have an objective at risk, and our very existence hinges on our ability to find and neutralize Marshall Roberts’ cabal.”
“We’ve received countless intelligence reports that this group has made countless attacks on our installations across the country,” Secretary Glasser added. “While I agree that the General’s plan is reckless, I do also believe our time is precious. The longer we wait, the more likely a high-priority target will be destroyed by these genetic-terrorists.”
“Deputy Director?” the Director turned to his right-hand woman. She nodded.
“The General has his points, and the rest of the Board has made a clear argument. I think we need to be cautious with any action that might damage the asset,” the Deputy Director explained.
The asset? Athena had remained silent, taking in the meeting with a sense of detached observation. But they were referring to her friend as an asset. He was a tool, a plaything for these people to accomplish whatever they wanted; to be discarded at the earliest possible convenience. Alan was important to them, for now. But the minute he wasn’t…
“…I would advise we give ourselves another round of interrogation, before looking to alternative methods such as Phase 2,” Deputy Director Jimenez concluded.
The Director nodded, pacing back and forth as he took in his Board’s ideas. He adjusted his navy suit, and stepped back a few paces from the curved desk of the Board. A white podium jutted out from the floor, and the Director pulled the touch screen attached to the podium up to his face.
“I am willing to move forward with Phase 2, after another attempt to gain information from the asset, Alan Mitchell. If he continues to be a problem, we will begin Phase 2 with a neural data mine. I will sign off on Phase 2 when we return to assess the efficacy of the interrogation,” the Director typed in his notes on the touch screen, and signed the document with his index finger. “As Director, this directive is legally binding under section 5 of the Genetic Deviations Act. Any one who circumvents my authority, whether intentional or unintentional, will be subject to immediate incarceration under the Department oversight. You are dismissed. Enjoy the rest of your day.”
The Board stood from their seats, shook hands, and left the room to return to whatever their normal lives were. The Deputy Director remained behind to talk with the Director. The Director turned to Athena, his eyes disappointed and coldly discerning.
“I hope that this next interrogation goes far better than your previous record, Operative,” the Director replied, condescendingly. “We’re only as effective as our records show. I hate having to answer these questions to the Deviation Operations Committee. Senators are about as forgiving as you’d expect. Carry on.”
The Director turned to his deputy, “Ms. Jimenez, can you please brief me on our current installation management?”
The Deputy Director nodded, and she motioned for the Director to follow her out of the room. As they left, Athena could hear the muffled voices become blaring thoughts.
“Have you ever witnessed the neural data mine work?” the Director thought as he asked aloud to his deputy.
“Not that I can recall,” Ms. Jimenez replied, thinking further that out of over one hundred test subjects, a majority were comatose. The rest were dead. Athena swallowed hard.
“A rather unfortunate setback,” the Director replied, as they walked through the sliding door toward D block. His thoughts wandered to Marshall. He would stop at nothing until his entire family was destroyed. Athena shook her head, and turned away from them.
Athena walked back toward the B block of the compound, where she thought of Alan waiting for a day that would never come. Athena bit her lower lip, as the B block doors slid open. Now more than ever before, Athena felt completely out of control, and she was afraid there was no way to fix it.

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