- We mean you no harm.
- -- The Daemon
Appearing in "The Wild Storm - Chapter Five"
- International Operations Headquarters
- Camp Hero
Synopsis for "The Wild Storm - Chapter Five"
In an I.O. facility, the assassin Michael Cray is taking his last assignment. He wants to leave and begin treatment for his brain tumor, but his boss, Miles Craven, is persuasive - his previous target, Jacob Marlowe, was saved from him by a woman identified as Angela Spica, who built a suit of armor from tech stolen from I.O. - tech I.O. was not supposed to have. Craven needs Spica dealt with, and Michael is the best for the job, but time is a factor and Craven needs him to also make the dossier. In private, Michael admits to himself that he loves the world for its strangeness and, because of that, he's afraid to die.
At night, Lucy Blaze is arriving at Camp Hero, responding to seismic activity and a sighting of Angela Spica. Via her earpiece, she confirms evidence of a struggle and the mangled corpse of an I.O. covert action operative. She finds an egress, not created by seismic activity, but before she can add more, the radio becomes useless from sudden static. At this point, a nonhuman creature steps out of the shadows and greets her verbally. Blaze refers to the creature as a "daemon" and pulls a smallarm. The creature says it is simply observing these events, as she is, and that it and its allies have reached the conclusion that if the situation surrounding Angela Spica is allowed to come to a head without either of their factions interfering, it will be for the best. The creature then vanishes, leaving Blaze to ponder.
A woman against a background of planets and pink energy. An arm, shapeshifting to reveal blue skin and talons. A chair surrounded by a wall of televisions, all showing one woman making a myriad of choices. "Incision", the new single from Voodoo. Coming soon on Lady Backlash Records.
In Michael Cray's headquarters, he is going over the raw data, trying to distract himself from his life-threatening condition. However, when he reviews the footage from the bodycams the covert action team was wearing, he makes a startling discovery...
On a street in America, Angela Spica is on the run. Without money or even a jacket equal to the wind, she uses her suit implants to hack into an ATM, wryly ashamed of herself for doing so. Suddenly, bursts of pink energy outline a human shape at multiple locations on this block, with the effect eventually grounding itself on the pavement in front of her. The woman in the spacesuit now standing there introduces herself as a friend, and asks for a chance to tell her story.
At a nearby diner, the astronaut introduces herself as Adrianna Tereshkova, a former member of a secret space program called Skywatch. Skywatch built the stealth system she reverse-engineered for her suit. She left due to the incident which left her with the mirrorglass eyes and teleporting abilities she now has.
Tereshkova explains that most of Skywatch's spacecrafts use electromagnetism, to great effect, but that they are keen to master interstellar engines. By interfacing with Angela's tech, she is able to show Angela a VR representation of her memories: Skywatch had assigned her to the astronaut team testing the Incision system. The Incision system was based on the theory that if one could cut through reality, one would find an "under-verse", through which it would theoretically be faster than light in travel. The designers had nicknamed this under-verse "the Bleed". But when the Incision system activated, the ship was crushed and the crew died. However, in the Bleed, she was found by... something, who put her back together and caused her to wake up in a crater in Russia. Adrift, she was found by Jacob Marlowe, who she acknowledges as a flawed employer, but also one who respects the needs of outsiders like her and Angela.
In New York, Michael Cray confronts Miles Craven, and turns down the mission to assassinate Angela Spica. Craven insists that Spica is a "good target", but Michael disagrees, pointing out that she was deemed trustworthy by every test I.O. put her through. That she needs a sympathetic ear, not a hitman. That she responds with fear in the footage from the CAT bodycam. And then Michael lays out his bigger problem: Craven assured him she deserved death, but he only found out she didn't because he was given raw data instead of manifactured profiles for the first time. So now, at the end of his career, he is left to wonder how many of his targets were good people who fell afoul of Miles Craven.
Craven jokes that Michael is not thinking straight due to his brain tumor, but Michael is unmoved. Craven shrugs, and says that if Michael will not kill, then he's useless to him. He orders Michael to hand over his badge and implies that he will withhold Michael's tumor treatment unless he complies.
In his quarters, Michael is left to think about the course of his life. The pride of his father. The wondrous strangeness of the world, at its best and its worst. The failings of his fellow men, and his efforts to correct it. Then, the Navy. National service with handgun and shotgun and hacksaw. And then, being recruited by Miles Craven. The wondrous strangeness of the world reduced down to a distant head in a rifle scope.
There is a knock on Michael Cray's door. When he answers it, a woman named Christine Trelane introduces herself as working for a private outfit, Executive Protection Services, who can offer him better medical treatment than his current employer, to do the same job but with more freedom.
There is a second knock at the door, and the knocker says that his personal effects have been taken to him.
- This book was first published on June 21, 2017.
- At one point, Michael Cray utters the phrase, "Strange world", which was a catch-phrase from Planetary, also written by Warren Ellis.
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