Switching Teams

Switching Teams

Fan fiction by Halo

 
This piece of fiction borders on truth, my errant brothers and sisters, so attend to the words of old Brother Halo and be amazed and concerned as he gazes into the abyss and finds a comfortable spot to land.
 
I got a call from Severin while looking for an old alumnus in Ankara.
 
I hope the name rings bells, as he’s been on my mind for well nigh my entire life of crime and grace. For those who were on the cleaner side of the game, Severin is a particularly nasty character, a half-Algerian, half-French free trader with a taste for blood and a supply line much longer than his code of ethics. I bumped into him south of the border in a little bit of white slavery ugliness. It was an extracurricular job, the sort of damsel-in-distress good deed that promises to save the soul and that I hoped would keep me safe if the bogeyman came calling in what we’ll call, for purposes of fiction, Santiago. Always good to have an in with a local intelligence chief, I thought, and muscle work’s what I do.
 
The Santiago run ended with too many dead, including the girl and most of the local crew I assembled for the final negotiation. Severin disappeared and popped up in Indonesia a few years later, selling guns to rebels and rebel locations to the local angels until he got bored. I ran into him twice after that. We did a late-night run through Barcelona once; I received a shiny teflon knee joint and a new scar for my trouble, and he lost a boatload of tainted scag and gun parts.
 
The second time, I never actually saw him. He took me on a three day tour of the Balkans, following the bodies as he attempted to take advantage of a chaotic situation and “walk the ground where Alexander stood,” as he put it. It took me months to get the smell of cordite out of my hair after that one, and he still broke even.
 
After making sure my forger was ready to get back in harness if we received the call, I popped back into a safe house Pope had arranged. An envelope had been left on the door, with an address and a note:
 
Truce. Come see me, because you don’t want me to come looking for you.
 
I’ve never liked the way I look in photos. I particularly don’t like the way I look in photos taken through gun sights when I’m on a job following good tradecraft. Thus, I didn’t like the contents of the envelope.
 
I’d like to say I went to the sit because this didn’t look like Severin’s usual dance. In truth, I was just hoping for a good shot.
 
We met in a clean, well-lit place in the middle of the day. Schoolchildren were playing, birds were singing and he was at the advantage. I knew he had no compunction about killing civilians, but I try to avoid it when possible.
 
The sit was pleasant enough. He assured me that Fidelah, the lovely young lady at my side, would gut me if I made a move, while I made sure he watched the red dot on his chest as well as his manners. Those pleasantries aside, he told me what he knew:
 
Some high-dollar, high-effect technology was on the market, along with former Archer technical support. The photos, he said, were part of a remote viewing process our team had been working on before the split. He knew the boys and girls I’d been running with had all gone to ground after the Blue Light Special. He knew that he hadn’t been so much as sniffed by any of our people for months, and he said, smiling, that he missed the attention.
 
Most notably, he knew I was rattling cages in search of our scattered brethren. He was sure I had more sense than to try to rally troops under Archer’s banner, and he wanted to see if he could get a friend discount on my concerns’ services once we got rolling or recruit us outright.
 
“Black hat, white hat... these things are the past,” he said. “The simple truth is that someone will always consider bold action bad, and someone else will always praise those bold actions. The bright lights in The Shop knew which way the wind was blowing.”
 
He said he knew, and his clients knew, that Archer was no longer a threat. The dream was over, he said, and he was more than happy to ignore our past difficulties and bring me into the fold.
 
“You know what you are without sanction, after all,” he said. “At best, you’re a mercenary. With a cause and no sanction, you’re just a terrorist.”
 
I told him I’d consider his offer and I went home.
 
I’ve been looking for a sign from Mother Church that it was time to come home, and I’ve heard nothing. Since I started my search, I’ve assembled seven autonomous cells on three continents, which is more than some of our old playmates ever had. I’ve followed the advice of the priests at St. Crispin’s and feared God and hated evil for quite some time, and evil won by inertia. Maybe the Shoppers were right. Maybe it is time to go get paid and let the world take care of itself.
 
Maybe not. Probably not. But the seed is there, for better or worse.
 
Here endeth the lesson.