“You’ve done well, Captain, and you can expect your effort to be rewarded,” said Ouroboros. She’d been born Olivia Shen, but she’d given up that identity along with everything else to become an Agent, one of the shadowy operatives who lived between the stars. They were the movers and shakers around whom this galaxy spun. And Captain Grenweller of the HCDN And Stay Down had one in his brig—another Agent, captured. Ouroboros worked this system alone. Any other Agents here could be assumed rogues. And to be captured in the first place, it was unheard of. Agents were never taken alive. Not once in hundreds of thousands of years. Never.
Captain Grenweller led Ouroboros, whose tight black armor seemed to absorb the light around it, like the void made manifest, through the corridors and sublevels of the great battleship. They passed so many posted guards that she wondered if the ship held enough bunks to contain them all. “Extra security?” she asked.
The captain nodded his grim war-hardened face. “Had an entire battalion shuttled in. Better to be overprepared.”
“Hmm,” she said, disagreeing dispassionately. He could have brought in ten battalions; it didn’t matter. Agents aren’t acting on the same battlefield. She’d made up her mind; if Grenweller indeed had an Agent in his brig, they hadn’t been captured. It was a gambit. But toward what end?
He turned into a dark room. “This way.” She followed him in.
When the door closed, a bank of monitors came on. She saw a figure sitting quiet and still, bound to a bench with graviton cuffs. The figure wore a black combat suit and helmet that matched her own. So it was true. The confirmation bothered her.
“You can speak to them with this mic.” Grenweller indicated. “I’ve tried. They haven’t said a word, but maybe they’ll respond to…” he cleared his throat and looked away, “one of their own.”
She spoke into the mic. “This is Agent Ouroboros. Identify yourself.”
For a moment the figure was unresponsive, but then it turned its black-helmeted face toward the cloud of camerabots hovering about within the cell, appearing to look at her through the monitor.
“Ouroboros,” said the Agent. It was a voice she couldn’t be hearing, because it belonged to her. “I am Ouroboros.” On the monitor, the captured Agent’s helmet folded away and Ouroboros looked upon her own face.
All the monitors in the room, and all the lights aboard the And Stay Down, suddenly went out. There were no alarms. No emergency lighting. No backup generators. Just the dark silence of dread.
Notes: I used an image as a writing prompt for this piece. You may be able to find the image on the artist’s ArtStation page. Image by John Park, used with permission.