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Ash

United States

Female. Youngest of six. Pretty (?), sarcastic, Tom-boyish, and very much a geek.

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The Trouble With This Year

January 28, 2015

There was something about this year. What was it? Oh yeah, the universe wanted to kill me. Or just drive me insane. Possibly both.
Oh, right, intros. I'm Trouble, and don't get any ideas: I'm not giving you my birth name. I'm a Federal Alchemist, so as far as the military is concerned, the codename is my real name. Either way, it fits.

"Kid." 

I hold back a sigh. It's the head of the military's blond secretary, Mike. Working directly under literally the most important ever has a lot of benefits, so it's only natural that dealing with the pretentious jerk had to come close to outweighing all of them. It's not like he can tolerate me any more than I tolerate him, so we have an unspoken agreement to try to stay out of each other's way. However, that doesn't mean that crossing paths ever leads to anything good.

I try to think positive as my gloved hands automatically curl into fists: he didn't start off by calling me Brat, so there's still plenty of time before I accidentally burn his face. 

"Micheal," I say as passive aggressively as possible.

"Mr. David wants to see you." And with that, the blondie pushes past me to exit the lobby where I had currently been checking in.

"Hold up," I say, turning around. "No 'hurry up before he realizes he doesn't need you,' no 'god, you look like a middle schooler. Oh wait,' not even a 'Problem, go away.' What's going on?"

Baby blue eyes meet my green ones: they don't reveal jack. Suppose he'd have to be unreadable for military work, even if he is just a desk jockey. "Nothing, Mr. David just wants to see you."

Taking a different approach, I tilt my head towards the clock above the door he's trying to go through. "Dr. Darma is suppose to be conducting an experiment in five minutes."

"And she can wait a few more minutes to poke you with needles full of poison. Go." He doesn't have his heart in the quip, but I decide to pretend to be pacified.

I walk upstairs to the thirty-fourth floor rather than take one of the elevators. My run-in with blondie only made me want to delay the inevitable. If the man isn't feeling up to insulting me, I really must've screwed up bad.

The only question is which one of my screw-ups did he find out about?

About ten minutes later, I arrive in front of Steve David's glass office. I never really understood why the head of the military ever thought it was a good idea to make his front and back walls see-through, but I try to rein my mind to the issue at hand as I walk into the room.

Normally, I'd lean on the bookcase off in the corner with my arms folded; today, I'm standing a bit awkwardly to the side of the two chairs placed in front of the man's solid oak desk. I wait until the tall, lean man looks away from the paper he's currently scribbling nonsense on and decides to look at me face to face.

"Sir."

"Trouble." He gets to his feet and fidgets a little with his hands.

"Listen, I can-"

He holds up his hand, and for the second time that day, I do as I'm told, vaguely aware that I must have made a new personal record.

"Trouble," he begins before continuing with five seconds of silence. "The facts are, well, what I mean is,...you're fifteen."

"Yes," I say slowly, not quite understanding where all this is coming from. "And you knew that when you accepted me as a dog of the military."

"I'm aware of that fact," he replies, pushing forward nevertheless, "but, at the time, I never looked at this from all angles." He suddenly finds something extraordinary going on from the glass wall behind him.

I can feel my posture straighten and my black leather gloves start to chaste my fingertips. "What are trying to say? I'm not mature enough to handle this?"

"No, I'm-"

"Am I too young to be 'risking my life,' cuz you have yet to put me on one combat mission."

"No, Trouble, it's j-"

"Are your superiors breathing down your neck for running experiments on a teenage girl? Is that it?"

"No." I can see his blue-green eyes again as he looks at me once more. "Trouble, I am aware of your determination and hard-work, but we can't keep our deal, I see that now."

"Why not?" Childish question, I know, but it was still the best one. Everything had been working out fine; David was just being crazy. Nothing was wrong with our arrangement.

He sighed. "You just keep getting hurt."

Did I just hear him correctly? I had to have misheard him because those words just could not have just come out of his mouth.

Still, he continued, "Lucas."

"That is not my fault!" My voice is getting more bitter and angry, desperate even. "He snuck past your defenses; I wouldn't've even met the guy if you hadn't outright forced him to be my guard while you were out of town. He played all of us." I'm surprised by how many words slip past my mouth in those few short seconds.

"And he almost killed you."

"He only kidnapped me. Sure, the kid held a knife to my neck-."

"This isn't a joke!" My superior suddenly screams, his hands pressed hard against his desk in a significant display of restraint. He slips back into a softer, more official tone, "you are an alchemist who does not need a transmutation symbol to use your powers. You are the only known person with this ability, Trouble. Do you know how valuable that makes you to your government, to this organization, to-." He bites his lips before straightening back up and continuing on. "That boy got inside your head; I know you know it. He read you like a book and I know that terrifies you, but you refuse to ever address the matter. He walked around your head and trashed the entire place, and I can't fix what I can't see."

Steve David pauses for a moment, expecting an interjection of some sort, but I let him say what he wants to unhindered. "This emotional trauma coupled with the normal amount of physical harm one must be expected to endure, not to mention your tendency to land yourself in more perilous situations makes you a liability. All parties would be safer if you left Centra and never returned."

"You're an idiot."

"Excuse me?"

"You heard me," I say with my usual hot-blooded confidence. "You're. An. Idiot. You just listed all the reasons I'm staying."

"Trouble," he says my name with pity and sadness; I don't like it.

"How did I convince you to make me a Federal Alchemist?"

"You barged in here like a brat and demanded I fight you for it."

I smile. "That's right. I convinced your entire security detail I was sent by the König, faced the Man Who Could Transmute Air without even knowing it, and managed to give you a burn while suffocating. I am clever, quick-thinking, and am a fantastic street fighter."

"You wanna get all sentimental?" I ask. "Fine. It absolutely sucks that the first kid I become friends with in over four years turns out to want me working against you or dead, whichever came first. I probably will become more of an introvert than I already am, but by no means should you be concerned I'm balling my eyes out whenever you look away. The second I meet him again, I am going to kill him. And as for what evil things he whispered in my ears, he told me to look for the truth, so here it is, Mr. David: I am the single most valuable resource you have and you would be an idiot to dismiss me," I finish as I cross my arms.

Steve David sighs a tad over-dramatically. "I'm never getting rid of you, am I?" he askes with a smile.

I smile back, reveling in the fact I won him over. "Only I if you drag me kicking and screaming out the front door." I look into his eyes and know this matter has been settled; I'm staying. "Now if you excuse me, I have to go get poked with needles full of poison."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1 Comment
  • George Downey
    Awesome Stuff. I feel drawn into the story, particularly because it feels like I'm hitting in mid-way through a post-crisis situation. Just a minor recommendation though, I think you should either combine the two sections that start with "I smile. "That's right." and "You wanna get all sentimental?" or maybe put a piece of text in between them. I was initially confused and had to reread it a bit to figure out who was speaking the second one, assuming it was a response by Steve David. Maybe his reaction to the first section like "His jaw tightened at my vehemency." It would super help it. Other than that you look in good shape. Good luck in the competition!

    almost 2 years ago