Cylee Goes Home

Cylee was lying on the table in the infirmary when Cassandra came in. Despite all of Cylee’s protestations, Doctor Patel had insisted on hauling Cylee to her medical lab in what looked like a completely uninteresting light industrial building just outside of Seattle Metro. Cylee didn’t know if this was Cassandra’s headquarters or just another satellite office. And she mostly wasn’t interested. The job paid well, but so did a lot of other jobs. Rule 78: It’s okay to work for a weird, nameless company once, but don’t work for the same weird nameless company more than a couple of times.

Agent: That rule is almost entirely impossible to define. Cylee: Then it’s more of a maxim.

“Heya, Ms. Happy!” Cylee said. “Keep still. These cuts aren’t going to close themselves cleanly. Honestly, how was 'jump off a moving truck' your best idea…” Dr. Patel muttered.

“Congratulations on a successful operation, Cylee. I’m transferring your payment right now.”

“Thank you. Yep, I got it.” Cylee said. “What do I owe you for the good doctor’s time and all the adhesives that are currently holding me together?”

“Don’t worry about it. Are you planning on being in Seattle for a while? We may have other tasks that require your special abilities, and you’ve proven yourself to be quick on your feet, if nothing else.”

“I don’t have any current plans to wander into Canada, Texicali, or Bonneville, so yeah, send me any requests you may have. But keep Julian’s funny gun away from me this time.” Cylee said.

Doctor Patel turned away, stripped off her gloves into a trash can, and sighed. “Try not to overdo it for at least a few days. Just…go home and rest, I don’t know.” Doctor Patel glanced up at Cassandra, looking guilty for a split second. “Okay, Cylee, you’re set.”

Cylee swung her legs off the table and started dressing in her Portland-retro-chic outfit.

“Thank you Doctor. Sounds good. Okay, are we all good?” Again Tamara glanced at Cassandra. A slight nod from Cassandra and Doctor Patel said “yes, you’re good. Remember what I said.”

Cylee smiled at both of them and headed out. This building was much bigger than the warehouse in Portland, but was decorated in the same overall style: light paint, large windows where they could be made to fit. Julian was waiting by the front door. “Hey, Cylee, I just wanted to congratulate you. That was a tough job, and The Lady was pretty impressed.”

“How can you tell?” Cylee said and laughed. Julian just smiled. He put on a pair of small, round sunglasses, perfect circles that covered his eyes and turned his normally sunny face into an inexplicably frightening mask. The huge, overly-toothy grin he flashed her as he reached for the door suggested he was fully aware of the effect. “So where are you headed now?” Julian asked they both exited the building.

“I need to catch up on a few old friends, make sure my apartment is still there, maybe spend some of this cash you guys just dropped on me. Nowhere interesting,” Cylee said.

“Cool, cool. You hungry?” Julian asked.

Cylee’s pulse quickened. “No,” she lied. Julian looked over at her—probably, it was impossible to tell with those glasses—and suddenly did the huge smile again. It still made her want to hit him. “Well, I think I owe you a dinner. I screwed up the op, and it was Isaac and Howard who pulled you out when you needed an extraction. So let me know when you want to cash in on that bet.”

Run! Run away, Cylee’s nerves screamed. Outwardly she just smiled in what she hoped was a mysterious fashion and shrugged. “I’ll let you know.” In her mind she reviewed her words. Was that vague enough? Open enough? Did she sound scared? It wasn’t that she disliked Julian—except for when he did that smile—but…not now, not like this. Probably. “And you were fine on that operation. Anybody could have made that mistake.”

“Sure, but you told me I was lagging and I ignored you. I might owe you two dates,” Julian said and Cylee laughed.

“Another bold move, trying to turn your failure into a guarantee of two more dates.” Cylee replied. Julian just smiled and asked “Did it work?”

“Not sure yet, but I can tell you that those beastly sunglasses just got added to the banned list. Seriously you look like a goblin in those.”

“No shiny trench coats, no shiny glasses. You’re really limiting my choices here.”

“Promise me you won’t wear anything shiny and I’ll think about letting you take me out on one more date,” Cylee replied.

Julian smiled again. “Okay. Let me know. I’ll see you around, Cylee,” Julian said—mirrored sunglasses still firmly in place—and turned down the next street. Cylee kept walking, instructed her Spine to bounce her signal around a bit before connecting to her third favorite VPN. She needed time to think and didn’t want to be tracked while she did it. Seattle was her town; she knew this place. She could dodge and weave through town and lose followers without really thinking about it. Anyway, she was just about safe now.

Cylee walked another two blocks, then called an autocab. She had it drop her off three blocks from her apartment and walked the rest of the way. Autocabs were always restful. Sure, the fare is high and people can follow you if they know how, but at least nobody was looking at Cylee when she was in the autocab.

Home at last. Cylee breathed in and looked around. Various scanners, both in her Augment network and in the home, reported that nobody had been inside her home since she was there last.

Not that she had all that much to steal. The living room had a sofa that should have retired years earlier, an equally geriatric coffee table, and that was it. Neither was particularly used, in fact the whole living room had an empty feel to it, like its very existence was an oversight.

The kitchen was equally spartan, with two plates, two bowls, two cups, and a few insta-cook meals in the cupboard. Cylee wasn’t much for entertaining.

She walked into the bathroom, dropping her clothes into the hamper. Unlike the rest of the apartment, Cylee’s bathroom was brightly lit, spotlessly clean, and entirely modern. The shower not only had the usual water and UV cleaning, she also had a “bug shower”, which would illuminate anything emitting radio waves. If you looked under her sink, you would find a wide array of well used cleaning implements and products, as well as a well-stocked surgical kit.

After a long shower Cylee walked into her bedroom and dressed in loose pajamas. Her bedroom was the only room in the house that really looked lived-in, although when she was out it might be hard to tell what lived there. Laundry covered everything that wasn’t the bed, because the bed was entirely covered in quilts, blankets, pillows, and comforters, and had apparently been hit by a tornado in the recent past. She insinuated herself into the pile and suddenly it made sense; the pile was a nest. She curled up and slid her head back and connected to the Spine charger…

Agent: Wrong charger. You have a new Spine now. Cylee: Right, right.

Grumbling slightly, Cylee got up, fished around in her pockets for the new charging connector, and went back to her room. She should buy another one of these chargers, but for now she’d just have to remember to take it with her. Settled back in her nest, she pulled the blankets up over her head and called up her favorite sitcom.

Agent: We don’t understand why you watch this. Cylee: You wouldn’t. You’re not…a person. I think. Agent: These plots haven’t changed since the twentieth century. The problems they face are pointlessly trivial. Everything they do is pointlessly trivial.

Cylee laughed and shivered a bit. Not out of cold, but out of comfort. She was folded up safe in her blankets and this, she realized, was as secure as she ever felt. The blankets were entirely useless as protection, but she still loved the feeling.

Cylee: Maybe that’s the fun. They have simple lives, no consequences, and nobody ever shoots at them or tries to harm them. Their lives are so easy. It’s nice to pretend I can be one of them. Agent: If you say so. I’ll turn it off after you fall asleep. Again. Cylee: Thank you!