Sunday, October 2, 2011

Meet Connie X, Assassin and Friend to Emily Kane

Can you tell us something about yourself?

You know I can’t tell you very much. You can call me Connie. I’ve been working as an analyst with Naval Intelligence for the last few years.

How did you first enter the Navy?

I went to the Academy right out of high school, and then straight into the Navy as an Ensign. I served on an aircraft carrier for a few years, and then was posted to a desk at Yokosuka. A brief stint in San Diego followed, and then I found myself at Patuxent. There, that’s pretty much a map of my career. Anything else you wanna know?

I have this feeling that your map doesn’t really scratch the surface of your activities. Is there anything else you can tell us?

I’m pretty sure you don’t really want to know much more. Some things can be dangerous to know.

Are analysts normally as physically fit as you obviously are?

Yeah, well, I got a lot of training at the Academy. I was on the Karate team and received special training in hand to hand combat. And, yeah, I try to keep in shape.

Look, we already know you’re a field agent, that you were part of a covert strike team and that you were working for Meacham until sometime last year, when you suddenly dropped off the Navy’s radar. Why don’t you tell us what happened?

You’ve done some homework, I see, but do you really want to know about Meacham, or the things I did for him? I don’t think so. People who nose around his affairs often regret it. But you’re right. Something did change for me last year, and I might as well tell you about it. It’s just hard to know where to begin.

Why don’t you tell us about the girl?

You mean Emily Kane? Yeah, it’s all about her. But maybe I should give you a little background. Everyone thought she was just caught up in this stuff by accident. It was Michael Cardano that Meacham was initially interested in. He thought Cardano was concealing information from him about some secret genetic experiments. Meacham was convinced that he was hiding one of the original scientists on the project at his estate, a woman named Yukiko Kagami. So he sent a couple of strike teams to grab her and sanitize the scene.

By “sanitize” do you mean kill everyone else there?

No comment. Anyway, the girl was apparently caught in the crossfire. She wasn’t the target. She’s just the chauffeur’s niece. But somehow she and her uncle managed to elude the strike teams. The odd thing was that the teams took some heavy casualties even though Cardano and the woman weren’t there. From what we could tell, the teams ended up shooting at each other.

So how was the girl involved?

Well, she probably wasn’t involved in whatever happened that night. But it turns out that she’s not unrelated to the genetics project Meacham was after. Meacham had gotten this crazy notion that Dr. Kagami had developed some sort of genetic enhancement to turn ordinary soldiers into super warriors. He called it the Predator Project. He wanted her to recreate it for him, and that’s why he sent the strike teams down there. But what he didn’t know, what nobody knew then, is that Emily Kane is really Yuki Kagami’s daughter. Had Meacham known that, he would have bent every resource to find the girl in order to have some leverage over her mother.

So the girl was in some danger then?

You could say that. Burzynski, you know about him?

Not really. How’s he involved?

Well, Burzynski is Meacham’s main rival. It’s amazing, you know, there’s this secret war going on within the intelligence community, it crosses all boundaries between the various agencies. Meacham and Burzynski are caught up in this massive power struggle, and nobody outside the community knows anything about it.

Anyway, Burzynski may have had some sketchy intel about the Predator Project too. He was always two steps behind Meacham on this one. But he figured out that the girl had not gone into hiding with Cardano. She had been spotted down by Covington, in western Virginia. And he thought she might be able to help him catch up. It turned out to be more difficult to take her into custody than he expected. Meacham got wind of his interest in the girl and sent me down with a team to take her out before Burzinski could learn anything from her.

That sounds like a pretty terrible assignment. Did you actually do it?

Back then, that sort of thing was just another job to me, another step on some path toward ambition. But I had no notion of where it would take me, or what I was becoming. I mean, I followed her into an isolated public bathroom in order to kill her. And who was she to me? Nobody. Just an innocent bystander. That’s how lost I was. But here’s the really amazing thing, she actually rescued me from myself. I didn’t appreciate what happened in that bathroom until much later.

What did exactly happen in that bathroom?

You’re asking me to relive a pretty embarrassing moment, you know. I’m a trained professional and this girl kicks my ass like I’m just some schoolyard bully…. But I guess I owe it to her to get it out into the open, and maybe to myself too. I had this syringe and tried to sneak up behind her while she was standing by the sinks, but before I could stick her with it she just brushes me aside, nails me right in the chest really hard. I gathered myself and came at her again with the needle. But just then I caught a glimpse of my face in the mirror and all I could see was this hideous, grotesque mask of hate. It’s painful just to think about it.

Before I could even react, she kicked me on the side of my head so hard I must have gone sprawling across the room. When I came to all I could see was her eyes looking down into mine, and all I could think was how ashamed I felt. I mean her eyes are so dark and deep they’re almost terrifying, but at the same time when you look into them you see how innocent she is. It’s really like a spiritual encounter. And all I could see was how disgraceful I had become. I mean, there I was trying to kill this girl who meant nothing to me, and she tosses me aside like I’m some sort of bug. The immensity of her fighting skills, the ease with which she tossed me aside, the depth of spirit lurking in her eyes, all of it just showed me who I really was. It was a stunning realization.

She sounds like a pretty special person.

That’s certainly an understatement. I feel like I owe her my life. I’ve never met anyone like her. But there’s more to her even than that. I mean, Meacham is looking for Dr. Kagami and a genetic code designed to create super soldiers, and right under his nose is the most amazing fighter I have ever seen. You know the thought had to cross my mind that she may be the very thing he’s seeking. And Meacham’s not the only one who’s looking for her. There are Chinese strike teams searching the southwest this whole time, looking for Michael Cardano. And I hear this rumor that North Koreans are looking too. Once they realize what kind of fighter she is, they’re all gonna come to the same conclusion I did and descend on her. And the only thing I can think is that I have to protect her if I can. I mean, I have no idea if she’s a genetically enhanced super soldier. The idea sounds preposterous when you actually say it out loud. But if these other operatives think she is, it amounts to the same thing. And I owe her everything.

Were you able to protect her?

I don’t know. I really don’t know. I mean, of course, I think the best thing is for her to stay in hiding, at least until she finishes high school. But the next thing I know, she’s entered into this high profile karate tournament, one of the ones frequented by armed forces personnel. And I know the Chinese are monitoring tournaments all across the country, so they’re sure to notice her at this one. When I ask her about it she tells me that she means to compete in order to draw her pursuers out into the open. You can imagine what I’m thinking. I mean, I’m ready to set up on the roof of the hotel with a sniper rifle and take all these guys out, but Emily makes me promise not to. She only wants me to make sure her friends are safe. On the final night of the tournament, she totally dominates all the other competitors. And these are like some pretty tough looking Marines for the most part. So there is no way the Chinese didn’t take notice. Later that night, I’m on the roof keeping an eye on a van in the parking lot where I think the Chinese are getting ready to move on her. And then I see Emily walk right up to the van and pound on the door. I’m watching as a half dozen guys tumble out of the van and surround her. I had my rifle ready. I could have taken them all out one by one. But she made me promise not to intervene for her.

That must have been harrowing.

My heart was in my throat the whole time. I mean, it’s strange to say, but I feel like she’s my own daughter sometimes. Not pulling the trigger that night was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But from what I could see through the rifle scope, Emily was completely calm. And that’s just like her. She’s just so calm and confident, like nothing ever threatens her. It’s like what I saw in her eyes on that first day in that bathroom, you know. I mean, there’s this peaceful innocent spirit at the bottom of those eyes. But there’s also something darker, something truly fierce. Well, it was that other side of her, the ferocious side, those Chinese operatives encountered that night. I mean she just took that hit team apart one after another. I’m sure those guys had no idea what hit ‘em. And then, finally, she confronts the leader, and he’s almost as good as she is. I had the rifle trained on him the whole time, you know, ready to take him out if I have to. And they fight to a standstill. He’s got this look on his face, this look of awe as she has him completely tangled up and then stares directly into his face. I could almost sympathize with him at that moment. And then they’re talking, very calmly, and a few moments later he bows to her, gathers up his men and they drive off.

Do you know what he said to her?

I really don’t. But it looked to me like he was apologizing to her. I think I’ve been in a similar position myself, and I’m pretty sure that’s what I would have wanted to say to her. She kind of has that effect on people.

Do you think Emily’s in the clear?

I’d like to think so, but in my heart I know she isn’t. There are other agencies interested in her now. I hope she understands the danger they pose to her, and to her friends.

What are you going to do now?

I’m gonna keep an eye on her. What else can I do? I don’t know if I can keep her safe, or if she’ll ever need my help. But I’ll be ready if she needs me, whether she knows it or not.

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