A House Called Aurora
Mission Dossier: Desert Hand
1. The Synths Below Me
2. Aboard The Titanic
3. Dinner With Aurora
4. Her Former Glory
5. Where Ethan Went
6. For Twenty Seasons
7. Burn Notice
8. Just Like You
Hello, Fellow Traveller
Mission Dossier: Desert Hand
ASSET RECOVERY CIRCUIT
MISSION NO. 753-210
TIMELINE DIVERGENCE/WORLDLINE NO. 293991
CODENAME: DESERT HAND
LETHAL FORCE: EKX STATUS AUTHORIZED
• Gloria EKX/Primary Associate
• Icarus Viotto/Circuit Command
• Laurier Fynn/Placement Services
• Feran Copton/Housekeeping
• Veronica Klay/Alternate Associate
• Sorrel Pierce/Circuit Mechanic
• Noe Remington/Passage Specialist
An ancient Atlantean artifact that has been destroyed in 99% of other-dimensional timelines still exists in Wordline 293991. In order to ensure that our enemies, the Guardians, do not gain access to the powers of this artifact. Titan Universal has coordinated a joint effort across directorate lines to collect all of the remaining 7 artifacts across dimensions.
Three Associates have been burned attempting to retrieve the final artifact in Worldline 293991. We have assigned Gloria, status EKX, to do whatever is deemed necessary to retrieve the artifact.
• Task Organization - EKX Agents must be placed in Worldline 293991 in the year 2397 and must reach the Nexus convergence point for retrieval. All technology must comply with technology already available within Worldline 293991. See selected EKX agent dossier for preferred technology requirements. Any casualties of the assignment must be handled through the appropriate Housekeeping Agent as outlined within this brief.
• Assignment Summary - Retrieve the Atlantean artifact from the museum of Ancient Sciences in Australia and present it to Titan Universal headquarters.
• Method - Undercover insertion as an archaeologist within ranks of the museum staff. EKX Associate appointed for this will be provided latitude to complete the assignment by whatever means necessary.
CURRENT MISSION STATUS: COMPLETE
Mallory X: Inbound debriefing. Gloria Designation EKX. Please outline the details of your assignment.
Gloria: Initializing memory cache...
Mallory X: Please begin the assignment timeline debrief.
Gloria: Access granted.
The Synths Below Me
I couldn’t risk moving as the sweat slid slowly down my cheek in a snaking pattern. Silence was of the utmost importance. Any small noise or movement could give away my position. The Synths, as they were un-affectionately called, had incredible hearing and even better tech. Synthetic humans seemed to be something I just couldn't escape in any dimension I was tasked to visit. Not that I was so much different from them at this point.
The brush rustled below me, startling me into hyperawareness. I watched from my vantage point of the tall Kapok tree as an Asian-like Synth stepped into view. I took measured breaths hoping I had climbed high enough to evade any equipment he might be carrying. It did little to calm me.
“Anything?” he asked, as another, taller Synth came into view.
I had been there nearly forty minutes. I needed them to leave.
“The heat signatures fade out around here, I’m not receiving anything,” he replied in a heavy English accent.
Probably from the North American Union, I thought. NAU, that mega country that dominated all aspects of life in this backwater dimension. Timeline Divergence 293991.
I watched as they continued to scan the jungle beneath me. Their matching tan uniforms and government issue hydro static combat boots were meticulously clean for people scouring a jungle. But that was the thing with Synths: so close to human yet so different, and the exact same in every dimension, bloodhounds for the Guardians. Sent to do their bidding. Now: tracking through the rainforests of Bora Bora for me, Gloria EKX, who, just three hours ago, “liberated” a Guardian artifact from a high security private museum. It was kept locked away from the eyes of all but a few, a very menacing few it seemed.
“I suppose it could be the humidity,” offered the Asian Synth.
“Doesn’t matter, she won’t get far,” said the taller Synth. “The Sniffer team is gathering olfactory traces from the safe room. They're scheduling a drop in thirty-five minutes.”
I allowed myself a brief moment to panic before forcing my training to kick in. I didn’t have much time to get to the nexus point and shift back to The Sliver. Once the Sniffer arrived, it was lights out for me. Thirty-five minutes. How was I going to reach the Nexus in thirty-five minutes? I cursed internally.
“Let’s keep moving, see if we can pick up any traces as we go further in.” The tall one gave a slight nod, and they walked into the primal jungle ahead of them.
I loosened my bear-like grip on the branch and wiped away beads of sweat. I drew in my first deep breath in what felt like days as I looked at my wrist. I pressed the silver icon in the middle of the blue screen embedded into my skin and the Nexus locator came to life. I studied the red lines that provided the direction and distance to the Nexus point, then back to The Sliver and sanctuary. Maybe not “home” but it was safe. Not that I knew what home felt like anymore, but they had The Deep, my reward for a successful mission.
The Deep, I shivered slightly in anticipation. I knew I was an addict. All Titan Associates were.
I swiftly descended from the tree, dropping cat-like from the last branch. I had no time to lose. Once that Sniffer team arrived, they’d have me within minutes. And the thick jungle I had to traverse to the nexus was not easy traveling. The Nexus locator pulsed in my wrist, the arrows directing me like a compass. It was only two kilometers to the Nexus, one of those rare points of energy convergence where I could activate the hyper-resonant quartz that had been infused into every cell of my body I was standing in. I followed the indicator as it led me south, through dense jungle, and thankfully, not directly into the path of the two synths; the first break I'd had since they somehow managed to remotely shutdown my dropship. Any other person would be dead, pulverized like the dropship that had tumbled 4,000 meters to earth in under thirty seconds. Even though I'd been in