Spiders and Spies: An Espionage Story in Five Acts

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Spiders and Spies: An Espionage Story in Five Acts

Postby Varenna » Mon Nov 01, 2010 11:05 pm

((This is a story I've been trying to write for literally years. It contains violent language, violent violence, murder, intrigue, and lesbians. If you don't like things like that, read something else.

Now in progress.))
Last edited by Varenna on Wed Nov 03, 2010 9:04 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Varenna » Mon Nov 01, 2010 11:06 pm

EPILOGUE:

It was dark. The trees cast spindly shadows across the stone and disturbed earth.

The grave was lonely, cold, and fresh.
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Postby Varenna » Wed Nov 03, 2010 8:51 am

ACT I: PROLOGUE
Last edited by Varenna on Sun Nov 07, 2010 4:11 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Postby Varenna » Wed Nov 03, 2010 8:51 am

Some years ago:

Two flies were fucking against a window. The agent's long ears twitched with each bounce and frantic buzz against the glass. Her pencil had broken five minutes ago. Every attempt at resharpening it just made it shorter and more broken. The report she had been writing lay half-finished on her desk with no progress being made to the remaining half.

There was a bigger buzz, loud and continuous. As she flinched, the agent wondered if it was the insect equivalent of a toe curler. As it went on, she decided she didn't care. The report was due in forty minutes.

Her desk drawer had a knife in it.*

(*Technically, her desk drawer had six knives in it. She only needed one. She picked the biggest.)

The drawer opened, closed, sliding silent on oiled tracks. Everything in her office was oiled and coiled and soundless. Everything in the building was that way. The fucking flies were still fucking. She hefted the knife, hoping thorium would be sharp enough to sever wings. She took aim...

She paused. One of the flies was buzzing more desperately now. A wild bounce had dropped it directly into a grey neglect of spiderweb lodged in a bottom corner of the window. The other fly, sensing its partner's distress, left it to its fate and flew as fast as it could in the opposite direction. The agent sighted at it. She'd had partners like that.

She set her knife down, then her chin in her palm as she watched the spider come for its prey. It was an Elwynn Recluse. Not the most poisonous creature, but it didn't need to be. With each panicked pull against its imprisonment, the fly weakened. The agent nodded at it.

“Are you fucked or what?”

Bzzzz.

"Rhetorical question."

The spider performed lazy somersaults as it lowered on its string. The agent smiled admiringly, jealous of the easy way it adjusted its balance with its many legs. It landed next to the fly and she caught her breath, waiting. Her ears pricked at the pitchy sound of the fly's shrieking.

Somebody knocked on her door. She frowned. It opened. She glanced at the slim figure coming through it, then too late returned her eyes to the window. She'd missed it; the spider had already plunged in its fangs. All that was left now was a lot of twitching. She swore, then sighed and rotated her chair around to look at the other woman.

She was new. The agent had seen her before, but not close up. She was fucking short, which for a human was average height. It was the dark suit that made her look slim. The body underneath was unremarkable. Her face was forgettable, her makeup was bland, and her pinned back hair was a ridiculous tomato red. She gave a polite, neutral smile.

“Raven wants you.”

Her Stormwind accent was perfect. It was fake. The agent's was the same kind of perfect.

It took her a moment to respond. She'd stopped staring at the hair - it was clearly intended to be stared at - and was drawing her eyes down the boring suit, counting hidden weapons. She could tell the human was doing the same.

At least five.

“I didn't know she had hired a messenger girl...”

“It was on my way. I'm new. Nice to meet you.” The human's lips twitched up again, calculated. The agent matched the bogus smile as she rose from her chair. Their hands met. Both sets of fingers twitched on contact, fighting reflexes that called for blades or poisons.

“I'm Shall.”

“Lane.”

Bullshit, they both thought at once.

The agent - Lane - let go, checked her hand to be sure it was still intact, and left her office. The tomato-haired human called Shall fell in step with her as she started down a quiet, empty hallway. They walked in silence awhile past portraits of dead people before Lane gave her a glance.

“Think it's the Finen case?”

She didn't have clearance to know about the Finen case. Nobody did. Obviously, that meant everybody had heard everything about it. The redhead kept staring straight ahead.

“...I don't have clearance to talk about that.” She paused. Lane waited. The redhead shrugged slightly, glanced at Lane, then returned her eyes forward. “...Everybody knows she's overseeing that case. Bit jealous, really. I'm in her department but all she's been using me for is surveillance. Guess she wanted somebody more experienced.”

Lane nodded. They reached a turn. She went left, the redhead right.

“Thanks, red. Maybe I'll see you on the job.”

“Good luck, blue.”
Last edited by Varenna on Sun Nov 07, 2010 7:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Varenna » Sun Nov 07, 2010 3:54 am

She used her fingers to comb her blue hair out of her eyes. Someone had called it “midnight colored” once, a few millennia ago. That had been when she still liked poetry. Now it was just blue, if a blue so dark it looked black in most lighting. She shifted slightly. The cushioned chair she'd been told to sit in was human size and therefore uncomfortable. The stare she was receiving was worse.

Certain conventions are true. One has to do with names. In every espionage agency in the universe, there's somebody identified only by a number, there's someone else who only goes by a letter, and there's at least one person codenamed after some time of bird. At SI:7 it was Raven.

Raven was a high elf. Her hair was black - real black, coal colored, not midnight. Her clothes were blacker, and form-fitting. Her smile was only just short of outright hostility. The glowy blue eyes watching from over black-gloved steepled fingers made Lane think she knew how the fly snared at her window had felt. Raven took her name seriously. For a moment Lane had to look closer to be sure the fingers, slightly splayed on either side of their steeple, weren't feathers.

“Is something wrong, Miss Lane?” Her voice wasn't a caw, thankfully. But it wasn't much warmer.

Lane shook her head.

“Just contemplating my mortality, ma'am.”

“Yes, I understand you people do a lot of that these days.” You people was said with some disdain. Lane kept her mouth shut. It was true. Raven stared at her a bit more before dropping her attention to the open file on her desk. “Do you know why you're here, Lane?”

“Girl with tomato hair told me you wanted me?”

“No, although thank you for that astute answer. I meant to ask if you know why you're here as part of this agency.” Raven slid the file toward her. “Don't answer anyway, it's rhetorical. It's because of cases like this. I don't mean just you, of course. I mean all of us. We're here because of loyalty.”

Lane leaned to examine the file. The newspaper clipping drew her eye. A corpse hung suspended on shiny wires. She mentally fistpumped. It was the Finen case. As she looked up she noticed Raven was still staring at her. “..Loyalty ma'am. Yes ma'am.” Raven smiled.

“We're here because we're loyal. Sometimes, people are less loyal than they should be. Our job is to deal with these people. I'm making sure you understand this because your record has some things in it which... concern me.” She paused as she leaned behind her desk for another file. Lane recognized the thickness of it. This one was hers.

Raven took her time leafing through it. Lane sweated.

"...Not many of our agents have backgrounds as a priestess, although I see you didn't last long at that. Let's see, what else. Treason. Desertion. Shadow magic... Can't fault you for exotic dancing, however piracy is a bit more frowned on, especially the sort that gets you death sentences in five separate ports. Ordinarily I'd commend following that up with mutiny, but it isn't good with the rest of your record. You have loyalty issues, Miss Lane."

Lane sighed. Raven put away her file. “I want your talents for my investigation, but you understand my concerns, don't you? I suppose I'm wondering when it is you'll lose your loyalty to this job too.”

“...I'd say it's more I have trouble with commitment, ma'am. And shit luck.” Lane frowned. She was starting to feel a little bit picked on. “Two thirds the people in this building have similar records. I'll do my job. I like the insurance plan here.”

“I'm sure you will. I'm just making certain we're on the same page..." She gestured at the remaining file. "Now that's out of our way, why don't you tell me what you know about the Finen case?”

Lane paused. She was put off balance by the comments. Carefully, she shrugged and lied.

“Just what I've read in the papers, ma'am. Not authorized to know more. Six people found dead under similar circumstances involving suspension with lines of sharpened metal wiring. No apparent connection between any of them. Stormwind papers are all over it calling it the 'Spiderweb Killings'. And then word around the office is that's the focus of the Finen case, investigating some smuggler by that name in connection with the murders.”

“That's accurate, if vague. Since you... allayed my fears, Miss Lane, I am bringing you in on this case. So I'll give you a more complete picture. It's not strictly necessary you have it for you to be able to do your part, but I think you'll benefit from knowing how important your part is.” Raven leaned forward on her desk to tell Lane what she'd already found out through persuasion and gossip. Lane barely heard. She was still gleeing over the words bringing you in on this case.

“Our victims were all members of this agency. Four were high ranking. All six were involved in delicate missions which have since fallen apart. We have a security compromise and no hint where it might be. Look shocked now.” Lane politely pretended to look shocked. Raven went on. “This brings us to Finen. His full name is Rodney Randall Finen, poor sod. Smuggles lotus, minor offensive enchantments, and illegal Horde pets. He's unimportant but we think he has information. Two of the murders took place at a warehouse we've found out he owns...” Raven looked up. “Are you following?”

“Following, ma'am...” Lane blinked at her. She'd been wearing her best attentive face. Didn't look too different from her normal face, but she hadn't been snoring or anything.

“Just making certain. I'm aware your people aren't known for your attention spans.” Raven smiled. Lane, definitely feeling picked on now, stared as the bitch resumed. “Finen's gone into hiding, which supports our theory he was involved, but we have somebody we think will know where to find him. Turn a page in the file there.”

Lane did. She found another newspaper clipping, this time with a picture of a cute blonde human in a tutu. The Raven bitch nodded at it.

"That's his niece. Turns out he's been using the money from his smuggling to put her through opera school. She graduated a year ago. Tonight she's opening in her first leading role, which..." The bitch smiled her scavenger smile. "We think is why she's not in hiding yet herself. No telling how long that's going to last, so we - by we I mean you - are going to grab her now while we know where she is. Here's your ticket for the boy at the counter. Also contains full mission information. Don't give the boy that part, obviously."

Lane caught the envelope that was slid across the desk.

"You want me to, what, go on stage with her and grab her there?"

"No." The bitch seemed immune to sarcasm. "Wait until the second act. There are three consecutive scenes in the middle she's not in; she'll be in her dressing room changing instead. After you grab her you can get out by the fire escape on the roof. There's backstage access. We've made sure it won't be watched tonight. Any other questions for me you could answer instead by opening that envelope?"

Lane somehow managed not to leap across the desk and strangle her.

"Yes ma'am. I wondered why you're giving this to me if you have doubts about my loyalty. Also I'm not exactly going to blend at a human opera." She forced a smile of her own, only slightly resembling a snarl.

"That's why. Our human agents are loyal. So are our Quel'dorei, our dwarves, and our gnomes. They might be tempted to do something to the girl they shouldn't as some form of revenge. Some of the people we lost were very popular; had been with us, doing good work for the Alliance, for a long time. But you're new to the Alliance. You're not even from this continent. And your record already tells us you personally don't give a shit about anything, so it shouldn't be too hard for you to do your job and nothing else. Am I right?"

Lane swallowed, stared at her, then stood stiffly and turned for the door. The envelope went in a pocket.

Raven called after her.

"Try to wear something appropriate. Silk might be better than leaves."
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Postby Varenna » Thu Nov 11, 2010 4:34 am

Getting in was easy. The ticket she had been given was a valid one. The boy in the ticket booth was too busy staring at her dress and what it didn't conceal to notice the things that it did. She spent the next two hours comfortably seated in a private box while people in tights leapt and warbled on the stage. The tips of her ears twitched in time to the notes. She found she was actually enjoying it, and was a bit disappointed at the first intermission when she had to go get in position to kidnap the star.

She snuck in along a maintenance hall hidden away from public eyes. It had been easy to find; the sign had read Maintenance Only. The walls and floor were bare, unfinished and sawdusty. A stage technician taking a smoke break at the end of the hall found himself also having a nap, then she was safely in the shadows backstage.

Fifteen minutes later, she was swearing in the shadows backstage. She had five remaining minutes until the girl currently onstage went offstage, then twenty to get her offstage more permanently, and she still hadn't found the girl's room because backstage was a fucking maze of ladders and rubbish. And it was massive. She had no idea where she was. Everywhere she crept she tripped over a pile of rope, or a dummy, or a cardboard cutout of a bush. Three minutes. Two...

It took her another seven to find the dressing rooms. Twelve more seconds to find the door with the tacky star and the name Finen on it. She drew one of the sharp things her dress was concealing, shoved through the door, and tripped over a corpse.

After she picked herself up from the pool of blood that went with the corpse, she was able to identify it as not the girl she was supposed to be kidnapping. This was good. Instead the corpse was the girl's bodyguard. That part was less good. She'd been planning just to stab him someplace nonfatally painful. Whoever had gotten here first seemed to have felt his face was a better target.

She looked around. The girl had been changing. The gown she'd worn for the first act was on a peg. Her bodyguard's eyes, likely, had been closed. Lane had been planning to capitalize on this. Hadn't planned on somebody else with the same idea. He would have been better off with his not a chance if it had been her. So would the girl. Lane would have let her finish changing. Whoever else had been there hadn't; a second even frillier gown lay empty on the floor.

She swore as she ducked back out of the room. Her silvery eyes traced through the dark, then she swore louder and moved after the trickle of blood going off behind a set of false chariots. She'd been in too much of a hurry on her way in, missed it. It led her to a ladder, the same one she had planned to use. The ladder went high to a walkway suspended out of view of the audience above the stage.

In the center of the walkway slumped the girl. Lane's ears twitched. Her heels clicked as she moved closer on the gridded metal, uncomfortably loud. Below, the temptatious mistress and the treacherous leading man kept their murder plot Piano. The string section buzzed under them like a sneaky swarm of bees.

As she got closer, Lane could see the girl's hands were bound. The wire was thin, silvery, and had torn into her wrists, the source of the blood that had let Lane find her. She shuddered like she was crying. Five feet off, she heard Lane's heel click, looked up, and the orchestra's crescendo from stealth bugs to wrathful roar of the gods drowned her out as she tried to scream a warning through her gag.

Lane saw the blur of motion slightly too late to completely avoid it. It came from the corner of her eye and resolved to soft black boot. The foot inside was less soft. She had time to take the boot to her shoulder instead of her face.

"Fuck!"

She stumbled back. The owner of both boot and foot let go of her wire and dropped to the walkway, turned to face her. It turned out to be a ninja. Lane was surprised; she had been expecting a spy.

The difference between ninjas and spies is not that ninjas kill and spies infiltrate. Spies often assassinate, and ninjas have been known to tell very convincing lies. It's also not cultural; Lane had herself been a ninja on occasion. Instead the difference lies in what you wear. Ninjas get masks and skintight spandex or leather, but never anything glittery; spies get eveningwear, which may glitter if appropriate, but never masks. Both get advanced covert technology in the form of plot-convenient gadgets but, while ninjas may carry as many any-sized weapons as they wish, spies are limited only to what they can fit under their dress or tuxedo. Both, of course, heavily favor the color black.

This ninja had leather and a pair of dramatically long knives from the sheathes on her hips. Her mask was of the entire face covering variety. That she was lightly built and had breasts was all Lane was able to tell about her. Lane drew her own much more compact knife from its hiding place in her glittery black dress, stepped out of her heels, and fell into stance.

"You're the killer. Do people say hello with their feet where you're from?"

The ninja hissed at her "You were supposed to fall off."

Lane blinked. The ninja's voice was...

She didn't have enough time to think about it. The ninja lunged. A knife sliced the air. Lane sidestepped, then flowed into a kick, which the ninja ducked. The ninja swept her legs at the remaining one Lane was balanced on. The spy dropped to her hands and landed next to the girl, who was trying to rise. She had time to bark an order at her, then had to roll to avoid taking a knife to her back.

"Stay down, stupid!"

She came up on one knee. Her weight was still on the hand with the knife. The ninja was right beside her, turning with her own knives. She grabbed her, bared sharp night elf teeth, and sunk them into the side of her neck. A swell from the brass section covered the sound as the ninja screamed.

She drove an elbow into Lane's chest. They fell apart, the ninja clutching at the side of her neck, Lane laughing and spitting out blood. The girl cowered between them.

The ninja looked at her fingers.

"Fucking savage. Missed the vein."

Lane shrugged and showed bloody teeth in a smile.

"Under standard Stormwind Intelligence arrest procedure, you have the right to remain silent until such time as you are interrogated. You have the right to a fair trial under Stormwind law provided the severity of your crimes has not rescinded that privilege according to guidelines set down in Service Document 45..." Lane was edging closer to the girl as she talked. Talking was good. It was a great way to make people not pay attention to what you were doing. Unfortunately, she noticed the ninja was looking at the girl as well. "You have the right to request legal counsel, but no guarantee you're going to get it..."

They both moved at once. The girl screamed as the ninja got a grip on her hair, Lane on her neck. This time the sound fell during a quiet moment. Lane risked a glance over the side of the walkway and saw people onstage were peering upward. When looked back up, she saw the ninja had one of her knives held a hair away from the girl's eyes.

"Let go." The ninja didn't bother adding an or else. Her knife blade made that part pretty clear. The girl was trembling.

Something about the ninja's voice...

"You aren't going to do it."

"Won't I?"

"You won't. You want her alive too or you'd have killed her in her dressing room." Lane adjusted her grip on her own knife as she talked. It was still in the hand away from the ninja, but now the girl was blocking the ninja's view. She couldn't see Lane's hand slowly raising. "You're after her uncle."

Below, someone seemed to have decided the show had to go on. The music hadn't stopped, the performers were still singing. But Lane could hear something else. People were climbing up the ladders to their walkway. They were running out of time. She could tell the ninja heard it too, so it made her nervous that she sounded like she was smiling.

"Yes, I want him. Never leave a witness alive. Old bastard runs a lot faster than I expected. But I'll settle for keeping you from finding him. He certainly won't surface again soon if he thinks SI:7 killed his little songbird here."

It was one of those questions left unanswered just so it could be asked. Lane started her weight shifting as she went through with it.

"And why is he going to think that?"

"Because of the dead agent they're going to find with her, of course."

They moved at the same time again. Lane was relieved to see the ninja had been bluffing; the ninja's knives came toward her, not the girl. Her own knife rose from behind the girl's back.

They both twisted to avoid being hit. Both lost their grip on the girl. The girl stumbled to her feet, both tried to catch her and stab the other. Lane took a knife to her thigh, the ninja to her arm, and the girl lost her balance and fell.

Lane rushed to the side of the walkway. The girl plummeted. Lane saw the silvery shine an instant before the girl hit the suspended wires.
Personal isn't the same as important.


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