The files that Avery had read about Sierra didn’t make sense. She was supposed to be ruthless. Most of her file was eradicated but what Avery was allowed to see painted Sierra as a completely different person. Sierra was nothing like she expected. She was sarcastic and impulsive, this had to be a mistake. What kind of woman is Sierra? Find out in the next chapter of Catching Time!
[Read First Chapter Here.]
Chapter 7: The Truth Hurts
The parade came to an end two hours ago but the party in the street continued. Music played in the background and people crowded the sidewalk. For the first time in days, Avery remembered who she was. Realization hit her all at once.
“Misha, do you have a cell on you?” Avery asked, she needed to get out of here. Staying was a waste of time.
“Yeah.” Misha had finally pulled himself together. He had been angry at Freya for stealing his date but after a few more beers he finally had a smile back on his face. For the past hour, he had been talking about his favorite football team.
“Can I use it?” Avery asked, this was the first thing she had said to him since he went on his sports rant. It was a good thing, it allowed her to figure out what she was going to do next now that her mind was finally in the right place.
“Sure.” Misha pulled a tiny device from his ear and handed it to Avery.
“Thanks.” Avery dusted the device on her shirt to get rid of excess ear wax. These devices were nice but they weren’t the best to share. It was possible to make calls off of them and search for information. The cell was able to feed you information through your ear and into your brain. Avery stuck the device in her ear.
In the corner of her eye she was able to see the device come to life as it connected to her thoughts. The first image she saw was a lock screen and the image of a touchpad. She turned to Misha to ask for the code.
“Eight, zero, zero, eight,” he already knew what she was going to ask.
“Thanks,” Avery thought of the numbers and the screen unlocked. She navigated to the call icon and turned to Misha one last time. “Excuse me for a minute.”
“Yeah, I’ll be right here.” Misha shrugged, he looked sad again, glancing over at Freya and the woman she was with. They were deep in conversation, ignoring everyone else around them.
Avery left the scene, she didn’t belong here. The war was over but there was still loose ends to tie up. This party wasn’t meant for her. The Organization wasn’t going to be happy and she wouldn’t be surprised if she was benched after this.
Sighing, It was time she made the call. Failure wasn’t something she wanted to admit or report but the situation demanded it. She walked into the least crowded corner and stood near an empty food stand. Her mind was racing with what she was about to say as the sound of the cell rang in her left ear. The events of the last couple of days flashed through her mind.
She remembered landing on Sierra’s property, stepping out of her cockpit, and dusting off her uniform the way she always did. She stretched her legs and stretched her arms because she always felt stiff after a long flight.
“Wait, I didn’t crash here?” She thought. The device didn’t catch her sentence. The detail flashed suddenly as she was thinking of making her way back the way she came.
“Hello.” A woman’s voice echoed in her ear, disrupting her train of thought. It was too late to dwell on the past, she’d have to tell them everything.
“Yes, Dr. Fabre?” Avery started.
“Ensign Rozario, we thought we lost you. I’m glad to hear your voice again.”
The conversation hadn’t been as bad as she thought it was going to be. At least she didn’t get fired over the cell.
Avery sighed as she opened the door to her hotel room. She felt like she was finally in control of her own life again. Now that she knew who she was, she was able to get credits transferred to her account and she bought herself a change of clothes plus a room from a decent hotel.
This felt good, not the lingering headache or that she still felt a little sick to her stomach but the fact that she finally knew who she was. It finally started to settle in that her memories were back. As for the physical symptoms, it was nothing a little sleep and a shower couldn’t fix.
Once she was inside the hotel room, she stripped down to her underwear, and walked directly into the bathroom. Looking at herself in the mirror, Avery could see that she looked exhausted. The last couple of days hadn’t been kind to her. She splashed some water on her face and brushed her teeth. Then, she turned on the shower.
“Finally.” Avery whispered, letting the water fall off her shoulders.
The shower felt cool and welcoming. She played back the conversation she had with The Organization in her head. Dr. Fabre, the woman who Avery had talked to was a physicist at the lab. She was calm as Avery explained her situation. It was strange. Avery didn’t know Dr. Fabre that well but she wasn’t expecting an almost non existent reaction.
Avery remembered seeing the doctor once during her briefing to catch and arrest Sierra. She was the second lead scientist at the time. Avery was now informed that Dr. Fabre was promoted to head the entire operation after the war. Avery hadn’t thought much of her since their meeting but she guessed that the military knew what they were doing since she got the job.
Turning off the water, Avery stood in the shower for a minute to think. She was still not entirely certain what The Organization did but they seemed to be constantly changing management. The military was no longer in control and Avery was uncertain what that meant for her. She wouldn’t know until after she gave her report back in person.
Towel drying her hair, Avery finally stepped out of the shower and found a white robe with the hotels emblem on it. She pulled it over her shoulders. This next part was what she was looking forward to the most. Sleep. Avery made her way towards the bed and crawled under the covers.
Tomorrow, she’d get a flight out of here. Yeah, she’d be able to report back and find if she was permitted to continue. Right now, all she cared about was the feeling of a soft bed. Within seconds she was out.
Avery dreamt she was back inside Sierra’s house. It felt strange because instead of the bright lights of the artificial windows, the house was completely dark.
“Hello?” Avery called out as she walked up the steps, the floorboards creaked under her feet. “Is anyone home?”
A sense of knowing surrounded her, Avery was there to arrest a war criminal. Sierra had to be brought in at all costs. The problem was, she was nowhere to be seen as Avery searched each room of the house.
“Sierra, I know you’re here.” Avery called out but she was not getting a response. She rounded the corner to the master bedroom. It was empty too. The only signs of life were two full coffee cups on the nightstand. Avery sighed as she put away her gun. She looked at the mugs and wondered if the woman she spoke to was really capable of committing any kind of crime. Maybe, Avery was sent after the wrong person.
Kneeling down on the floor, she looked under the bed. No one was under it and for some reason she knew that no one would be. Next, Avery checked the closet. Everything was left undisturbed. A cream colored robe stood out and Avery ran her fingers across it. It was the same one Sierra had worn that night she walked into her room. Lightly brushing the fabric with her fingertips, the fabric was silk and cool to the touch.
“Who are you?” Avery whispered to herself.
She took the robe off the hanger and walked over to the bed with it. Having it with her made it easier to imagine Sierra wearing it. She imagined pushing the fabric down Sierra’s shoulders, ignoring that she was sent to arrest her. In that moment, Sierra was only the beautiful woman Avery had first met at her front door. Avery let her mind run with the thought.
The files that Avery had read about Sierra didn’t make sense. She was supposed to be ruthless. Most of her file was eradicated but what Avery was allowed to see painted Sierra as a completely different person. Sierra was nothing like she expected. She was sarcastic and impulsive. She wasn’t some violent mastermind. This had to be a mistake.
“No.” Avery shook her head. She couldn’t do this. It was a bad idea to start sympathizing with Sierra.
Avery sat down on the edge of the bed. The first time she’d seen Sierra in the doorway of her house, she found Sierra attractive. Then, with her memory wiped, the first time she laid eyes on Sierra in her kitchen, she found Sierra attractive again. When Avery got this mission all she had was a name and a blurry cctv image. She wasn’t expecting Sierra to be so…well, her. Avery didn’t think she could be so shallow. The fact that Avery found her attractive must be clouding her judgment.
“So, you think I’m hot?” Sierra’s voice was heard from the hallway.
Without realizing it, Avery noticed that the lights were brighter. The house no longer felt threatening and she was taken by surprise at the voice and the sudden shift.
“What?” Avery responded as she was startled. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Sierra walk into the room.
“Even after I shot you and put you through hell?” Sierra looked amused as she walked up to Avery.
“Where did you come from?”
“You were just imagining undressing me? Want to tell me what you planned to do next?” Sierra teased.
“Sierra? Wait-I wasn’t… why are you in my head?” Avery said without knowing what else to say. The dream shifted.
“I’m not in your head, I can read you like a book.”
“I’m not going to let you get away with what you did.” Avery changed the subject, she felt her face blush but she wasn’t going to let her feelings get the best of her. It also wasn’t as though Avery had actual feelings for Sierra. This was more like lust.
“Do you even know what I did? I can tell you this, you’re not the right person for this job.” Sierra stood in front of Avery now. She was so close their knees were touching.
“I earned it.” Avery said confidently despite that that wasn’t how she felt.
“Sure, keep telling yourself that.” Sierra reached down and pulled a strand of hair away from Avery’s face.
A door slammed in the hallway of the hotel and Avery shifted awake.
As soon as it started, Avery’s dream ended. She turned around in bed and pulled the covers up around her. Drifting back into a light sleep, the first part of her dream forgotten.
The next morning, loud knocking pounded on her door. She sat up on the bed, wishing that the hotel was less noisy. The reviews didn’t say anything about loud guests but then again there had been a really big celebration last night. The knock came again, bringing her back to the present.
“Avery, are you there?” A woman’s sounded muffled on the other side.
“I bet we got the wrong room.” Another voice was muffled by the door.
It only took a second for Avery to recognize the voices. It sounded like Freya and Misha were on the other side. She shook her head in surprise, Avery didn’t remember telling them where she was staying last night.
“If you’d just remembered the room number she told you before she left the party last night-”
“Well sorry, if you didn’t leave us to entertain my date you could have had a chance to find out for yourself.”
“Girls think you’re an idiot, you don’t have to blame me.”
“If they really knew you, they’d think you’re an idiot.” There was a pause in the argument for a second, “Plus, Avery didn’t tell me but I saw the key-lock before she left. The number was smudged.”
“So, you’re guessing the room number? If she’s unconscious in her hotel room with no one to check on her, it’s all your fault.”
Avery got up out of bed and walked to the door. She didn’t want them to walk away before she’d be able to answer it. She unlocked the door and opened it.
Freya and Misha were standing on the other side looking angrily at each other before turning to Avery. Their expression changed as they saw her.
“You’re OK,” Freya said, she walked up to her and embraced Avery in a hug.
“Hey, glad you’re alright.” Misha nodded towards her. “Sorry, I didn’t know you were that sick. You should have told me and I wouldn’t have talked your ear off last night.”
“That’s ok, I needed it,” Avery said pulling away from Freya. “Want to come in? I just need to get ready but you guys can wait for awhile.”
“I kinda need to get back to my date,” Freya said.
“My date.” Misha mumbled under his breath and shot a glare at Freya. He then turned to Avery and continued, “Actually, I’m on the clock and losing money by the second. Unless you want a ride in the next couple of minutes?”
“Yeah, actually, I do. Is it ok if I get changed really fast?” I’ll be out in five minutes.” Avery asked. She needed to get to the skyport early this morning anyway and report back to base.
“Sure,” Misha said.
“I guess, I’ll be leaving you two,” Freya leaned in for another hug.
“Hey, nice meeting you,” Avery hugged her back. She remembered the night on the bathroom floor. It had been nice to have Freya there in that moment. Avery also didn’t expect Freya to come back and check on her after the night was over.
“Nice meeting you too.” Freya pulled away again and gave a short wave and a smile. She walked away from them and disappeared down the hall.
“Five minutes.” Avery now turned to Misha and she got a nod in response.
“Five minutes.” Misha repeated and leaned against the wall.
Quickly, Avery walked back into her hotel room. It only took Avery a few minutes to change and brush her teeth. She walked back outside the door and found Misha waiting for her.
“It took eight minutes.” Misha shrugged and joined Avery by the door.
“I’ll tip you the difference,” Avery said as they walked down the hall.
“Don’t worry about it. I’m just bothering you.” Misha shrugged again as they made it down to the main lobby. “So where do you need to go?”
“Yeah, I’m still on the clock too.”
“That sucks, I know the feeling.” Misha paused for a second before continuing. “I know you were having a hard time last night but I really want to know…Freya was really into you when I first introduced you two. So, why didn’t you want to be with her? Are you a workaholic or is it someone else?”
“Are you asking for Freya or are you prying?” Avery asked. Misha had been really upset last night after Freya stole his date. It would have been easier on him if she had kept Freya company instead.
“Oh, come on, I think you know.” Misha seemed irritated as Avery danced around the answer.
“Ok, I’ll tell you. It’s a little of both to tell you the truth.” Avery sighed, for the first time that morning she started to remember her dream. It was best that she didn’t tell anyone the details about it. She couldn’t let it show when she’d talk to her superiors.
“That’s too bad. Whoever she is, she’s really lucky.”
“I wouldn’t say that exactly.” Avery remembered Sierra standing over her with her gun pointed at her, the look of panic on her face when she realized that it had gone off. They were both on opposite sides of this conflict. If they had met under different circumstances they could have been “lucky.” Now, it wasn’t like that at all.
Avery arrived at her destination on Earth six hours after Misha dropped her off at the skyport. Now, she was standing in the main building of The Organization.
Looking in the reflective walls of the elevator, Avery took a good look at herself. She was back in uniform and finally looking like she had gotten some rest. She straightened up her shirt collar and wondered how she was going to explain what happened in person. Avery sighed, she couldn’t think of anything that could make her sound good as she stepped off into the hallway once the elevator doors opened. It was one thing talking over a cell and another meeting face to face.
“Ensign.” A man nodded to her as she approached.
“Hi?,” Avery said, not knowing how to address him without a name or a rank on his uniform.
The building she was in was owned by the company that called itself The Organization. Avery knew them as the group that recruited her to arrest war criminals. None of the workers came from the military. They contracted certain people in other fields to do things they couldn’t. Avery thought they hired her because they needed a pilot to get to Sierra. The house she was in was located off of one of Jupitor’s moons.
“You can call me Dr. Markus.” The man said.
“Yes, sir.” Avery watched him. Personally, the workers kinda creeped her out. Everyone who worked here wore white jumpsuits with no markings or name tags. The people themselves also looked strangely plastic.
“Just step right in, we have a medical examiner waiting for you.” The man said as Avery walked through the door.
“Hello, nice to finally meet you Ensign Rozario,” a man in another white jumpsuit said. He looked exactly like the man who was standing outside the door.
“Hello, am I going to be reporting to you?” Avery asked. She had gotten used to the weirdness of this place after her first visit. She wouldn’t be surprised if this man was the same man that had shown her in the door.
“No, my name is Dr. Cortez and I will be treating you today. You ran into some resistance on your last mission?” He stepped aside and an examination bench was in the middle of the room. He motioned for Avery to sit down.
“You can say that.” Avery said as she walked over to the bench. Was everyone here a doctor, she wondered.
“While I’m checking to see if you have any lasting damage from your gunshot wound and the memory regressor. You will be talking to my boss.” Dr. Cortez said and pulled up a small bag. He then pulled out a small rectangular device.
“Alright.” Avery sat down on the bench and watched him hover the device over her head.
It was only a few seconds later when a woman walked in the door. She was also wearing a white jumpsuit and a blank expression on her face. She held a manila envelope tucked under her arm. It was almost as jarring seeing something on paper as it was seeing the people who worked for this place. It was rare that anyone used paper anymore.
“Hello, Ensign.” The woman stopped and faced Avery a few feet away from her. She looked at Avery and then she opened up the file. She had dark brunette hair that was pulled back into a bun. Avery recognized her as Dr. Fabre.
“You’re Dr. Fabre?” Avery asked. She watched as the woman flipped through several pieces of paper and then looked back up towards Avery. Her lips were pressed in a thin line.
“Yes, I am.” The woman said. “From what you told me, it seems like you ran into some unfortunate circumstances.” She eyed Avery.
“Yes, I’m sorry sir.” Avery said. She was unsure if she should continue talking. She couldn’t read Dr. Fabre and couldn’t tell if she was in trouble or not.
“Ensign, tell me everything that happened from the start, again.” Her voice was calm but her expression changed. She looked impatient. This was what made reporting in person so difficult. Avery could feel the disapproval.
Avery took the next twenty minutes to recount her story. She started when she knocked on Sierra’s door and ended the night she made the cell call. When she was done, Dr. Fabre was still standing and watching. The man on the other hand had finished his examination and he stood to the side and waited.
When Avery was finished, no one in the room said anything. “Am I to be pulled off of this mission?” Avery asked, the pause had made her uncomfortable.
“No.” Dr. Fabre stood up straighter and handed Avery the files.
“No?” Avery looked at the manila envelope in confusion.
“It has been under The Organization’s understanding that you are not aware of the full length of the importance of your mission. We’d like to tell you what’s at stake.”
Avery sat up a little at the implication. She knew that she shouldn’t take this for granted. She could have gotten fired from failing and she could have gotten let go as soon as the war ended. “Yes, thank you,” she said but the woman held up her hand to get her to stop talking.
“There is no easy way to put this. Sierra Mirza was in one of our groups permitted to time travel.”
Avery blinked, she felt a little dumbfounded. This couldn’t be real. “So, the rumors are true?” Avery asked. She saw the man in the corner fidget a little as she said it.
“Yes, and seven years from now she will take one more mission without the consent of our Organization. This mission will set the events that started this war.” Dr. Fabre’s expression became more serious.
“You want me to arrest her for something she hasn’t done yet?”
“Yes.” Dr. Fabre said without missing a step. “It doesn’t matter if she isn’t capable of it yet. Does one life over the lives of billions matter?”
“Well…no.” Avery said after some thought. She remembered her friends that she had served with that never made it home. Then, she remembered Freya on the bathroom floor. How she had disassembled her leg and her arm and the pain that came from those injuries. Avery thought that it was unfair for all those people too.
“Good.” Dr. Fabre placed the envelope in Avery’s hands. “Read that. It will tell you everything you need to know about Ms. Mirza.”