Chapter 33: Persistence

Energia: Titans of Verità
Table of Contents (For Catching Up)

“No.” Anna’s answer came immediately, coldly, and brutally. If Tommy had come at a different time, it may have been gentler. But given the foul mood she’d been in the last few days, she couldn’t help herself.

Her words seemed to hit Tommy like a baseball bat. His wounded expression did make her feel a little guilty. But when she remembered who she was talking to, that remorse quickly vanished. “Why not?” he asked a little too loudly.

There were a few reasons for it. The first was her paranoia. She didn’t trust that Tommy didn’t have some ulterior motive to his actions, especially since he had spent so many of their interactions trying to get into her pants. The second was money. Squading up meant dividing the pay of each job between everyone. While she didn’t have much use for money, she certainly wasn’t eager to lose any if she could help it. The third and final reason was prestige. She couldn’t risk someone stealing her thunder and slowing her ascent to the top.

But she didn’t say any of these things. Her only answer was: “Because I don’t want to.”

She had figured that would bring the conversation to an end. She had forgotten who she was talking to. “Come on, think about it for a second!” Tommy said, pressing harder on the table to lean closer to her. She had to move the half-eaten mango pudding she had been working at to the side to avoid its untimely demise at the weight of his chest. “It would be like the old days! Our squad would be the talk of the town!”

“Or the laughingstock.” Anna scowled. “There’s a reason the old days are called ‘the old days’, you know.”

“But we can make them new again!”

Anna rolled her eyes. “You’re clueless.”

“Maybe I am!” Tommy huffed. “But I think it’s worth a shot! Come on, at least try it! It’s not like you have anything better to do!”

She would never admit it, but he was right. Ever since her first patrol in the jungle, she hadn’t managed to find another job like it. All the others were mundane work within the city itself. Basic patrols and surveillance duty. Every day, she would go back to check. Every day, she was disappointed. So, there she sat. Waiting.

Still, she wasn’t too pleased to hear that comment. “Maybe I do.” she snapped. “Go away.” she shoved a particularly large spoonful of the pudding into her mouth, as if to say that she wouldn’t speak anymore.

“At least hear me out!” he pleaded, ignoring her silent message. “You know how Commander Milldrew got the job so quickly? Because he and his team were the best in the business! They got all the best jobs because they worked well together!”

“Uh-huh.” Anna held back a sigh. “And can you name his teammates?”

Tommy paused. “Uh… well…”

“Exactly.” she pointed her spoon at him. “That’s why Operatives don’t team up anymore. Only one of them gets the glory, in the end.” she stood up, her meal finished. “Go ask some other idiot to tag along with you. You’ll probably get the same answer, though.” With that, she left him there. She was sure she would never hear anything more on the subject.

She was wrong. In fact, for the next week, not a day went by that she didn’t hear of it. Whenever she crossed paths with Tommy, which was so often that she started wondering if he was stalking her, he would pester her about it. Every time, she would say something along the lines of “No, go bother someone else and then die.” Every time, he’d come back later.

In the meantime, whether he was pestering her or not, Anna hovered around the job board. Even a week later, it hadn’t changed. There were still no jobs at her access level that would allow her outside. She wondered why that first one had been there in the first place. Had it just been a stroke of luck? She could never say that; Lucas would have a field day.

This is stupid. she thought. Just take a damn job. Do enough boring stuff and you can get back to the fun! So, without even looking, she picked a job off of the board. It was only after she put her E-Suit on that she checked on what she would actually be doing. Patrol the Israeli Sector? she groaned. Yup. This’ll be boring.

She made a dash to catch the next train headed in that direction. It was still midday, so she didn’t have to muscle through too many people. She managed to secure a seat shortly after it arrived. Looking around at the empty cabin, she felt oddly relaxed.

Then they arrived and ruined everything.


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