Mick never forgot the day he became a Whitewater Security Operative First Class.
When he first started with Whitewater, no one told him where he would be assigned, he could only guess that perhaps he would be assigned to be a bodyguard for a new millionaire IT entrepreneur. There were so many of them now, as Mick had been keeping up with what was going on in the world, even as he trained in a secluded forest.
He signed the contract with Whitewater because his annual payroll was more than twenty thousand dollars, and he would be paid that for the next five years. (EN: $20,000 would be $32,600 approximately in 2021 dollars.)
He had been waiting for such a chance as he spent his twenties training. It was only after he signed the papers that Mick realized his Whitewater Security Operative rank was only third class. Part of the deal was that Mick would stay at Whitewater, as he would be training until the clients called and he was assigned.
The instructor called Mick after a few months, and since everything had been hush-hush up to now, it was the first time Mick had a chance to talk to his fellow operatives. They all ranked high in mock tests and some were from special forces, so Mick was proud to be one of them.
Since everyone was curious about what they would be doing, Mick tried to gain some information on the car ride to the job. They were all third-class, and it seemed that the job was going to be something different. The Whitewater employee who had been assigned to command his team reminded Mick of the Terminator and made Mick stay silent. Paul, a guy who had dropped out of the Green Berets, whispered to Mick.
“I know that type. He reminds me of one of the guys who do ‘Wet Work’ from Langley.”
Langley? CIA? Mick’s eyes opened wide as he whispered back.
“Are we working for the government?”
“What if we are? This contract was much better than going to Africa.”
Mick had to agree to that sentiment. The commander spoke for the first time when the operatives arrived at an Arizona motel.
“You will hand over any and all items that can reveal your identities.”
It was an order, and this applied to everybody, not only Mick’s group, but other personnel. They obviously were hired by the client, and had clearly received military training.
“New agents will follow the orders of the second-class agents. Listen. We REQUIRE your secrecy and obedience to orders. Those who cannot do so can go back. We will pay for your return trip.”
No one flinched, and no one stepped back. The contract fee was too high for quitters.
“What will we be doing?”
“We’re going to catch a Cat.”
Of course, everyone knew the Cat was a codename for something or someone. Mick thought now he knew what was going on. He had heard that companies that employed bounty hunters were strict and paid very well. In a typical bounty hunt, the target would be someone who had fled after not paying back his or her bond. However, when Mick suggested this could be a bounty hunt after the commander went away, they were dismissive of the idea. They thought all the secrecy felt like Intelligence. With a capital “I”. Mick was sanguine about the possibility their job involved an Intelligence agency. He had long since accepted that with Big Money, came certain risks.
The next day, Mick and others were moved to another place and were ordered to load their weapons and stand by. The van was crammed with muscular men, but they were ordered to stay put, and stay quiet. After a while, their leader went away without saying anything else. They all waited tensely since they were armed, but Mick’s head was filled with questions.
What if the Client was actually a criminal organization? Would they take care of the law problems after he was fired? Should he give up now? It seemed that others were beginning to think so, too, as their faces showed their dissatisfaction. It was then Mick heard Paul’s voice again.
“Don’t think nonsense. We’re between a Rock and a Hard Place.”
“What do you mean?”
“Do you see that van across us? Shooters and Cleaners will be there, and they will take care of us if we try anything funny.” (EN: “Cleaners” are from the John Wick movies. They take care of the dead bodies. @[email protected] )
“Let’s wait and see…What’s this?”
Paul opened his eyes wide as a swarm of silver fireflies went through the van. Mick thought the sight was fantastically beautiful, and the light danced and disappeared as quick as it had appeared. Mick had held his arm out without realizing he had but now found he could not move from that position.
“I can’t move!”
It seemed that others were under the same influence.
“I can’t move an inch, either!”
It was then Mick heard the door handle of the van turn. It seemed someone was trying to open the van but found it locked. The window shattered at that moment, and a hand shot in to unlock the door from inside. Everyone in the car, including Mick, looked at the intruder, who was a young man wearing a hood to cover his face. He looked around and slashed the throat of the operative sitting closest to the door. The death was as meaningless as it was sudden, and it was certain that the intruder was out for blood. Mick lost the ability to speak as the intruder killed his comrades one by one. This was the first time he had felt such fear, as he could only sit there, helpless as he waited to be killed.
The intruder was sloppy, and that scared Mick even more as the screams rang after each clumsy slash of the blade.
“Please, let me live…”
Paul prayed as he realized it was his turn but to no avail. The intruder grabbed Paul’s neck and stabbed him there, and blood splattered onto Mick’s cheek. Mick now saw that the intruder was smiling as he clearly enjoyed his kill. Now it was Mick’s turn, and he closed his eyes in defeat. He heard the intruder say, “It’s a pity,” but did not know what he meant.
It was then he heard gunshots, and Mick opened his eyes to see that the intruder had disappeared. Those in the van across theirs had realized what was going on and fired. That day, Mick had become a first class just because he survived after meeting the Cat. He now knew where he had been assigned to and what he was paid to do. There was a Cat he needed to kill in this world.
Mick was still scared today as he could not forget that day even after some weeks had passed. Something supernatural had paralyzed him, so he could not move, and his fear of that unknown force lingered. Mick suspected that the Cat was their target in New York. He was waiting as the firm’s representative, and he now saw an Asian man approaching him. Mick stood up after a gulp to speak the prepared words.
“We have been waiting for you.”
The Asian man reminded Mick of that Cat with his impassive face.
“Are you alone?”
“The rest are waiting in the car. It’s an honor to meet you in person.”
The man nodded as he spoke.
“Do not be nervous. We are not going after the Cat today.”
Mick had not been briefed, but he knew that they were going to do something dangerous. That was why more than ten first class operatives had been brought in.
Edited by Userunfriendly