The Hard Choices

“If you live long enough you are going to come across a hard choice. I don’t know what it will be and I can’t help make the choice. All I can do is tell you about my first one and hope you learn from it.

My hard choice came when I did my first bank job. My team was there in masks and were clearing out the vault when the security guard made his move. He lunged for our hacker, who was busy jamming signals, and managed to get his mask off before being knocked unconscious. The only other person in the room was a young clerk, kid couldn’t have been older than nineteen. I had a choice. I could leave him alive and hope he didn’t identify our hacker or I could kill him and get this bank job upgraded to a murder. The cops were still a public service back then and they took murder very seriously so it would put us at risk.

I killed that clerk. I picked up the security guard’s gun and shot him in the stomach. Then I put the gun back in the guard’s hand and made his finger squeeze the trigger four more times. Finally, I took the mask out of his hand and placed it on his face. The hacker snuck out through the vents and we made our getaway. I killed a man and ruined the life and reputation of another to protect one of my team members from potentially being identified.

I’ve thought about that decision many times over the years and I’ve come up with better ways to handle it. I don’t let that eat me up inside and that is what you will have to do when the time comes. You will have to make your decision and live with it. Don’t second guess yourself or feel guilty. If you find that you can’t handle the decision you had to make find a way to deal with it. Most agents climb into a bottle for a few years after their first hard choice so you will be in good company.”

“Hello John. I got your message about my researcher. He will be disciplined for not going through proper channels.”

John’s voice was cold on the other end of the line “The situation has changed. The experiment done here was done on a child.  I trust you will adjust your punishment accordringly.”

Prometheus choked on his drink “He what? I know just what punishment this calls for. Watch the night sky tonight you may see a shooting star.”

“Glad to hear it.”

“What’s the situation there?”

“One casualty, one psychological scars, one unknown but safe. The site is awaiting sterilization.”

“What of the child?”

“No longer a concern for you or your company.”

“Thank you, John. Good luck in your retirement. I might join you soon.” Prometheus rubbed the bridge of his nose as he hung up. John was a problem that he was happy to not be dealing with anymore. Shortly before he came on as executive the previous CEO, a man of few scruples, had sent John’s team on a suicide mission and used their broken bodies as experiment material. John had been mostly just a brain when his team broke containment and went on a killing spree. The conversion process had driven them into a bloodlust and they had killed the previous CEO and most of the executives. Prometheus had been promoted because he was the only remaining executive that didn’t suffer from paranoia after the attack. While he was dealing with getting things sorted the R&D people performed the same procedure on John but he didn’t snap. John resumed work as an active free agent and assembled another team. He kept assembling new teams and taking work. Prometheus had hired analyst after analyst to explain why he was different but they couldn’t figure it out. Until the day he retired no one knew what he was aiming for.

When he retired, he invited all the CEO’s he had worked for to a big party where he fired any of them he didn’t like. The only ones he couldn’t fire had been the CEOs’ of Prometheus, Finger of God Weaponry, and Hades Inc. They were the only companies he hadn’t managed to get a controlling interest in. Prometheus remembered helping him get some of the shares he had gotten in his competitor’s companies and the way the other CEOs had fidgeted made him realize that they had done the same thing. They nearly lost their jobs to their desire to hurt each other. It had been a serious lesson and he had left it as just a lesson for them but in exchange he had put a rule in place. His apartment complex/hotel, which he had named The Bunker was off limits, to anyone he didn’t invite and they would help him enforce that even against each other.

“Come Little One. Fixer is waiting for us up top. He says he has something to block out the voices.” John said to the girl.

“Thank you Mr. Doe. But what do we do after he fixes me.”

“We go home Little One.”

“I’ve never had a home.”

“You do now.”

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