AN: So if you remember a little while ago I had a poll, asking which of my 'Stories I'm Working On' works should be published. Unfortunately not that many people voted but this was the winner. I watched You Tube clips of the red test scenes like five times to make sure this was as accurate as possible. Anyway, I hope you enjoy and please review.
United By Red Tests
Chapter 1: Assignments
"His name is Hunter Perry, your mission is to kill him," the Director said.
Charles "Chuck" Carmichael froze. The analyst-turned field agent in training was wide eyes as he was given his final exam. He never thought he'd have to do this, okay. well he thought but he always prayed he wouldn't have to. But it was his final exam, his red test. If he could kill the mole then he would be a real fully-fledged agent, simple as that.
But with emotions, nothing was simple. Because those little feelings, those little voices at the back of your head, they like to complicate everything you do. Every little action was either right or wrong, or in between, or made you feel guilty. And his first kill, that was a field day for those little voices.
"Problem, Carmichael?" Graham asked.
"Uh," Chuck looked at the photo of the man he was supposed to kill. "No, sir. No problem." But he had to do this. To become an agent, a real spy, to be somebody.
"Excellent," Graham replied.
But he wasn't a killer. It wasn't him, he couldn't do it, he couldn't take somebody else' life. But at the same time, how could he not? It was his real chance, to be a spy, to be an agent, to be not just some guy who arranged things for missions, no, he was going to be a real spy. There were those voices again, telling him different things, conflicting with each other, they were going to give him a headache.
"You know where and when," Graham said, gesturing to the documents.
"Uh, yes, yes sir. Tonight," Chuck replied.
Graham nodded. "Very well then. Dismissed, Carmichael. Chuck left Graham's office. As the CIA director sat back in his chair, he received a phone call, he picked up the phone and glanced at the caller ID.
"Evans, secure," came the voice on the other end.
"Graham, secure," he replied. "What is it?"
"Walker's just landed in Paris. Her red test is going to take place tonight. Which in your time would be about six pm I'm guessing."
"Very good, Agent Evans," Graham said. "How is she?"
"Nervous, I think. Trying not to show it and succeeding for the most part, but there are those fleeting moments."
Graham nodded. "I see. Goodbye, Evans," he put down the phone. He looked at the copies of the files of the two agents, he'd assigned red tests tonight. Tonight, if all went according to plan, the CIA would have gained two very talented agents.
Chuck was nervous as hell. Pull the trigger, it's that simple. But it wasn't simple, he was taking someone else' life. It was so hard to think.
'Don't think, just pull the trigger', was what his mentor, NSA agent, Major John Casey had told him. But that was different. Casey was a burnout, an old school assassin, completely unquestioning about his orders. Chuck so badly wanted to be a spy, but at the same time, he so badly wanted to be human, not to ignore all his emotions like most spies. It was a tear between the agent he wanted to be and the humble nerd he still was.
He grasped the gun in his hands and fired three rounds at the target. Two straight in the chest, one a little lower.
"Not bad, Carmichael," Casey remarked, walking into the range. "But try aim one in the head. Surefire way to kill the bastard mark."
"Thanks for the tip, Casey," Chuck said. "I appreciate it."
Casey grunted. "Don't get your lady feelings all over the place. I'm only doing this because General Beckman assigned me here."
"I know, Casey," Chuck said. "As you've told me so may times, you don't want to be here. But after this is done, won't you miss me, just a little bit?" Chuck teased.
"Okay, I guess not," Chuck said, loading more ammo into the gun. Casey saw the trainee's hand's shaking as he put in the bullets. Despite training and everything, Chuck was still uncomfortable with guns and the idea of killing someone.
"Nervous, Carmichael?" he asked.
"Yeah, I wanna be able to go through with this. I know he's a bad guy, Graham gave me the info on him, I mean, he's smuggling CIA information to enemy organizations. He's responsible for tortures and deaths, some of innocent civilians," Chuck babbled, trying to believe that this guy was so evil that he could kill him. But as much as he tried, he couldn't seem to convince himself.
"Don't think, just pull the trigger," Casey repeated. "If you think, all your lady feelings and emotions will come into play and you won't be able to do it."
"I can't, Casey," Chuck said. "I can't just not think and shoot. It's not me," Chuck said.
Casey nodded, he had gotten to know the kid over the past few months, and no matter how hard he tried, Carmichael was not hardwired like a killer. It just wasn't him.
"I dunno what to tell you, Carmichael," Casey said. "You're not like me. I can't relate."
"What about your red test?" Chuck asked. "What was it like for you?"
Casey sighed. "I was already in the marines when I was recruited by the NSA. By that time I'd been to war and seen so much blood and death around me, it seemed that it was only one life," he said walking away.
"Where are you going?" Chuck asked.
"None of your business," Casey replied. Then, turning around for a second, he glanced at Chuck and then at the target. "Remember, aim for the head."
At approximately the same time, in Paris, France, Sarah Walker was preparing for her red test. Much had changed since she was recruited to the CIA at seventeen. She was 22 now, a Harvard graduate, with a new look, new skills and soon enough, a new title. She was already one of, if not the CIA's most promising trainee, all she had to do was pull the trigger to become the best of the best now.
A nameless woman as far as she was concerned, or supposed to be at least. Graham had told her that this woman was a traitor, that she was bad. But this wasn't a fairy tale where there was the hero and the villain, nothing was purely that simple. A time, a place. Midnight, the streets of Paris.
"You okay?" Evans said, walking into the room. Joseph Evans was a CIA agent, based in Paris. He was supposed to supervise Walker's red test.
"Yeah, fine," she said, coolly, if only she felt that way.
Evans wasn't stupid, he was a trained agent, he'd seen many trainees go through their red tests. But none seemed to succeed in keeping their emotions as in check as Walker. A lot of trainees tried to act tough, as if it was no big deal and would only come to terms with what they'd done after. Others cracked under pressure and couldn't go through with it. He wasn't sure which direction Walker was heading in.
"You sure about that?"
"I'm fine, Evans," she said, her facade never wavering.
"I just alerted the director that you've arrived."
"Yeah, thanks," she said dully.
"You seem pretty confident," he remarked.
"I guess I am."
Shifting his eyes, towards the wall, Evans left the room. The minute she was sure he was gone, Sarah stretched her neck and looked up at the ceiling. She was in no way confident about this. Could she really just pull the trigger? Being a spy was one thing, she knew that, but this was...Half of her wanted to run, to back off, to quit the CIA if it meant not having to pull the trigger. All those bottled up emotions she had from her years as a con-artist and then a spy? They all came crashing down.
She leaned back on the sofa, staring blankly at the ceiling. She knew she was going to have to do this. Sarah's mind drifted back to when she was first recruited by Graham, at the time it seemed like her best option, now it seemed like she had been played. The CIA was supposed to help people, save lives, but this...It seemed like the exact opposite of what she thought the CIA stood for.
Just then her phone rang. She picked it up and saw Graham's face on the caller ID. Collecting her thoughts together, she answered.
"Agent Walker, Evans alerted me of your arrival in Paris."
"I wanted to make sure that you were alright, going through with this. Some agents get cold feet, fear strikes into their hearts, that's how we lose them."
Sarah took a deep breath. "Well you're not going to lose me, Sir." She'd basically said she was going to go through with it now.
"Very good, Sarah. Report back to DC afterwards, take a few days off if you need it."
"Yes, Director." The call ended.
She'd only seen a photo. The photo of the woman she was meant to kill in cold blood, the woman who Graham said was a traitor. Sarah wanted to protect her country, to be an agent, she only wished that the costs always weren't so high sometimes. The gun was in her hand, concealed and within reach in her coat pocket. Sarah saw the woman, she walked past, every thing was going according to plan.
Sarah walked past and the woman dropped something, a piece of jewelry perhaps, she wasn't sure. The woman bent down to pick it up. And then suddenly a thought flashed through her head.
'I can't do this. I can't kill her. Not with her on the ground like that, I just can't. Keep walking, just keep walking.'
Sarah walked past a car, and in the rear-view mirror, she saw the woman reaching for a weapon. Or what she thought was one at least. Turning around, Sarah raised the gun and fired.
The shot went straight into the woman's chest. She fell, the smoke from the gun still lingered in the air. Sarah's jaw dropped, if only for a second. Had she actually done that?
She turned and looked at the woman. She wanted to go back and check, but there was no time, she knew that.
Sarah Walker walked away, she was an official spy now. But at what cost? This was saving lives, but if that was all it was, why did it feel so wrong?
She was sure of one thing. This was the worst day of her life.
Chuck ran down by the tracks, chasing Perry. They'd met briefly at the restaurant before the mission kicked in. He gave Perry a chance to be arrested, he didn't take it and fired and bolted. Chuck sped after him, gun in hand. It still felt weird after being used to a tranq gun for so long. He wondered if Casey was watching, he probably was since he was meant to be supervising.
Perry tripped and Chuck quickly caught up while he was on the ground. Chuck pointed the gun at him.
"Don't, don't, don't do it. This is exactly what they want," Perry stammered.
"I gave you a chance," Chuck said.
"Please, I had no choice."
Chuck's finger squeezed into the trigger, but then retracted. In that second, Perry saw the hesitation and reached for his own gun. The bullet fired. Chuck could have swore there was an echo, but it was probably just his mind playing tricks on him. Perry was on the ground, dead.
"Carmichael, what's happening?" came Casey's voice through the earpiece.
"Perry's dead," Chuck replied. He still couldn't believe he'd done it. He'd killed someone in cold blood. Self defense, he tried to convnce himself, yet his mind was wrapped with guilt. Casey jogged over.
"Nice shot, Carmichael," Casey remarked examining Perry's body.
Then he spoke into his watch. "Carmichael's a spy."
AN: Well? What did you think? Okay I know that this chapter was kind of dark-ish, but it will get better, you know, eventually. In case you're wondering Chuck and Sarah will meet up, either in the next chapter or the chapter after that. That is if you guys want me to continue. Please review and tell me what you think. Reviews make me smile.