It rains acid and ash on where London once stood; the air is thick and heavy with chemical fumes and radiation. Eric notes, for the umpteenth time, that his breathing apparatus prevents him from having a cigarette. He deserved one, he would argue, especially since this shift now clocked at 329 hours and counting.
A growl of irritation as he brushes the slime from his brow before it could burn his skin. A soft chime interrupts his thoughts.
"Agent Slingby, report status and location."
"Slingby, present on reconnaissance. Location one click west of Leicester." No life resided in Leicester anymore- then again no life resided in general outside of the Londinium Ark. No life but those that belonged to weary Reapers sent on long reconnaissance missions to map out what remained of their home after the fallout. They had to tread where even Demons had abandoned, in search of clusters of survivors- or missing fellow Agents.
"Agent, your mission has been terminated. Please return to headquarters at once." The soft, genteel voice did nothing but fuel his exasperation. There was no lovely lady on the other end of the line- just an A.I. crafted to handle communications.
"What the fuck do you mean my mission is terminated?! I'm working on-"
"Your mission has been terminated. Please return to headquarters at once. Thank you, Agent Slingby."
Eric clenches his fists, the leather creaking in protest as he swore up and down he would tear that fancy computer apart. He was still swearing by the time he returns to the decontamination chambers, throwing off his gear and snarling at the young attending Reapers as they scramble to take the equipment for cleaning.
This is Spears' doing. The Reaper redresses himself in his office uniform, daring anyone to question him as he strides straight into the Director's office.
"The fuck do you mean by my mission is 'terminated'?" Eric slams his hands on William's desk, though to his credit the Director didn't flinch. He had grown accustomed to the older Reaper's outbursts centuries ago.
"Your mission," he began coolly, "has been terminated. In its place-"
"No. NO." Eric cuts him off, voice growing. "You do not just terminate a case, this case, my case just because it hasn't been successful in under a month! The Pup is still out there somewhere, so help me Thanatos I will take that stick of yours and shove it-"
"You mistake my intentions." William holds up his hand, narrowing his eyes. "I know the retrieval of Agent Knox is paramount, and that is why-"
"Why what? Why you're calling off the search and leaving the kid to die out there instead of wasting precious Division time? Or worse- abandoning him so he can get diced up and shoved in an ice box for experimentation?"
Regret. Regret and shame at his barbed malice, spoken out of tired frustration and desperation. Eric closes his eyes, letting out a weary sigh.
"I'm sorry, Boss, that was out of line." He hadn't missed that flinch, that widening to his eyes and that short, sharp intake of breath. He had hit something; he had stabbed straight into a wound barely healed.
"I have terminated the case because I am creating a team and solely tasking them with retrieving Agent Ronald Knox." There was a strain in William's voice when he finally replies, choosing to ignore Eric's outburst. "You are to lead that team and shall not be given Field Duty until you have located and returned him to base."
"Agent Humphries, Coveney, Henley, Godfrey, Moloney, Carnegie and Aberdeen shall be under your command and the debriefing is at five tomorrow. Understood?"
She sleeps deep and undisturbed in the heart of the laboratory. He visits her every day if he can, and the scientists have long learned not to ask.
She sleeps, as she has been sleeping for the past 84 years, in her stasis pod with its sealed, frosted Perspex cover that displayed her bodily statistics. She sleeps and she won't ever wake up for this body is too damaged to ever heal.
A pair of Deathscythe scissors pierce her chest, her Cinematic Record wound around the flat side of the blades, unharmed and secure.
She will sleep until the Cybernetics Division has finished crafting a new body for her. The first of a new kind- provided the experiment is a success. There exists no control, there has been no prototype. Just her.
Just Grell Sutcliff.
He rests his palm atop her glass coffin, the Perspex lighting up and refreshing the statistics. A Reaper's heart did not beat, but they dreamed, as indicated by the brainwaves. Did she dream in her trapped body? Or did life seem to go on for her, unaware that she was trapped?
His fingers brush the outline of her brow, before he draws his hand away and steps back. The automated lights dim and the stasis pod hisses as it retreats into the wall.
"Pleasant dreams, Grell."