Trials: Part Three

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Jude paced outside of Mr. Smith’s office. He recalled the last time he was here, when he gave Mr. Smith hell for trying to control Vanessa. He had a feeling that was not how this meeting was going to go. Jude did have a theory about why he was here; he’d outlived his usefulness. The original arrangement was for him and Paul to train Vanessa to be a superhero, and given that Vanessa has been gone for a couple of weeks now, and Paul for longer, he saw the writing on the wall.

As he paced, he saw another man through the small frosted glass window, and heard quiet conversation from inside. Jude had missed this guy coming in, but her imagined it was some business partner. Normally Jean would’ve gotten him when the meeting was just about to be over, but he was also taking a vacation, and his replacement, Gregory, was not quite as perfect. Jude found it interesting that he was nearly the only one not on vacation right now, but brushed it off.

Jude was caught off guard by the door swinging open. A man in a grey suit that he didn’t recognize extended his hand.

“Mr. Khoury? I’m Agent Christopher Daniels, pleasure to meet you.”

Jude shook his hand and nodded. His heart raced. He considered the possibilities. It could be that Mr. Smith had arranged for him to partner with the feds, but it was equally possible that he was about to have a much worse living situation. Jude followed the man into the office, and sat down as Agent Daniels shut the door behind them. He looked across the desk to Mr. Smith, who seemed as stoic as he usually does.

“So, Jude.” Mr. Smith began. “I know you’re a smart guy, so you probably could see this coming. Vanessa has gone off to California for an indeterminate amount of time, and who knows what she’ll want to do when she comes back. This makes our arrangement of you training my daughter rather difficult to achieve. Thusly, I’ve decided our agreement has come to an end.”

Jude nodded solemnly for a moment. “I understand.”

“However, I am neither heartless nor stupid. You are a special case, not suited to returning to warehouse work. That is why I’ve contacted Agent Daniels, here.” He gestured to the man in the suit.

“Yes, I work with a new agency called the Department of Supernormal Relations, or the DSR for short.” Agent Daniels flashed a badge with some convoluted government logo, and Jude nodded. “We acknowledge the need to have an accountable and effective team to deal with supernormal threats. One of our first initiatives is to recruit people with supernormal powers, who we call Supers, who were already doing good, into our fold..”

“Alright, so what would this mean for me? What would my role be in the agency?”

“Glad you asked.” Agent Daniels smiled, but it seemed forced. “I’d like to cover the benefits, and the get into the responsibilities. We would provide a house for you, which will be for just you and your team. No strange roommates will be forced on you. The house has an excellent location within walking distance of a shopping center and many other necessities. We will provide you with a salary, as well as regular full time benefits, such as a pension and healthcare insurance. As far as your responsibilities, you would need to go on missions when requested by the agency, and to cease all vigilante activity.”

“So no more crime fighting unless you say so?”

“Basically. Now this would be enforced by means of a tracking device we would attach to your ankle.” He reached into his bag and pulled out a black band with a small black box on it. “It’s much more covert than the ones we give to people on parole, so you shouldn’t have to worry about being mistaken for a criminal.”

Jude nodded along. He decided not to engage in a discussion on that point, despite the fact that being black was more than enough to be mistaken as a criminal, without a mysterious black anklet.

“Now, I’m also aware that you have friends overseas right now. This same offer would be extended to them as well. The house has 5 bedrooms, so that should be sufficient, assuming that everyone decides to take the offer. Additionally, we’d actually encourage you to engage in the recruitment of other supers you know for the same offer. Now…” He rifled through his bag and pulled out a couple of pamphlets, “On the matter of Mr. Weber. I’m aware that you have taken him into your care, however, we at the agency have assembled a couple of options for homes, which could properly care for him. Now, he would still be an affiliate of the agency, and may be called upon for missions, but he would never be placed in actual danger.”

“So how long do I have to think on the matter?” Jude took the brochures and looked at the covers. Pictures of beautiful scenery with a fancy font on top. He considered it for a moment, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that if Jude wasn’t monitoring Deven, the agency would definitely turn him into a weapon.

“On the subject of Deven, you have as long as you like, although a more prompt decision would be better…” He stood up, stretched his arms, and attempted to nonchalantly place his hand on his back behind his coat. “On the subject of joining the agency, however, I’d really encourage you to make that decision right now.”

“Gotcha.” Jude nodded. This was less of a job offer and more of him being detained. He imagined he could probably take the agent, but then what? He couldn’t exactly easily go on the lam. They’d definitely send more agents, and he didn’t feel like he could keep taking them out without killing them. “I guess I’ll pack my things.”

Agent Daniels’ returned his arm to his side and smiled. “Excellent, I’m glad to have you on. I’ll help you pack.”

Jude smiled and nodded, before turning to Mr. Smith. “It’s been a pleasure working with you and I regret that it’s come to an end.”

“I feel the same. If you need help with anything on your way out, don’t hesitate to make use of Gregory.”

Jude exited Mr. Smith’s office, followed by Agent Daniels, and went to pack his things and fetch Deven.

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(Art credit: WordPress Free Photo Library)

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