The ride to the city was long. Alice had tried to make small talk with the two guards who escorted her back; one was driving, the other was sitting in the passenger seat, leaving her alone in the back of the vehicle. Her nervous chatter was met with silence, and she soon gave up, resigning herself to stare out the window as they made their way out of the military complex and into the long expanse of the highway that would lead into the city.
With the two guards unresponsive, the trip felt like an eternity. Left with only her thoughts, Alice frowned. She worried for Map, and still couldn’t shake the sadness she was feeling. That was the last time she’d ever see him, and that didn’t sit well with her. It was what she had signed up for, though, and Alice knew this would happen someday.
It wasn’t something she should dwell on, but Alice couldn’t help it. Would Map adjust well to being retired from the field? With a sigh, she leaned against the window, her eyes looking out at the towering buildings that marked the city’s presence.
As they approached her apartment complex, Alice slid out of the vehicle and went around to take her belongings from the trunk.
“A little help here?” She asked the two guards, who had followed her out, after the engine was cut.
“Do we look like porters?”
Alice sighed as she juggled the bags. “Right, fine. Thanks for the ride, then.” She spun, moving to the entranceway of the building. The two men followed her, but said nothing.
As the door to the complex opened automatically, she looked back at the two. “Well–uh, bye?”
One of the two shook his head. Alice thought it was Bill, but it could have been Steve – they both looked too much alike to her. “We have orders to escort you to your apartment.”
Alice looked at the two with exasperation. They insisted on stalking behind her, and yet they couldn’t be bothered to carry some of her bags? “Yeah, fine, whatever. Come on, then.” She grumbled, moving to the lift.
She pressed the button, waiting for the doors to slide open. Alice dragged her bags, barricading herself on one side of the small compartment, with the two large guards filling up the rest. She placed her hand on the scanner, allowing the security recognition software to process her hand print. The lift began to move, though the passengers were unable to feel it.
A ding, followed by a recital of her name came through the speakers, denoting the apartment the lift had open its doors to. There were no corridors in these complexes as the lifts were able to move both horizontal and vertical, opening to an occupant’s home directly.
Alice pulled her bags into the entrance of her apartment, passing out of the lift. Lights within the room had automatically turned on as soon as the lift doors had opened. She continued to drag her bags further into the apartment, giving the two men some room.
“It’s not much – but here we are.” Alice abandoned her bags to approach the two men once more. They had moved to a bare wall, taking residence pressed against it. She stared up, looking between the two while she crossed her arms impatiently. “I’m here in one piece. You guys can leave now.”
“Not until our orders have been completed.” Steve–or Bill, reminded her.
“There were more orders than that? Are you guys going to tell me what they are?” She prodded, her arms still firmly crossed.
The pair remained silent. Evidently their orders didn’t include informing Alice of them. She sighed, moving to the kitchen. The duo followed like her shadow. Every step Alice made was matched by one of their own.
“Well, I’m going to make some coffee. You guys want any?”
Again, the pair remained silent.
“I’m kind of starving, too. The food at the complex parties aren’t that satisfying. Really wanting a pizza – you guys in? We could all kick in some creds and split it.” Alice rambled, still obviously nervous. It was odd they did not leave yet, and she was clearly not comfortable with the pair invading her home.
It looked like Steve, if he was Steve and not Bill, was about to speak. The other guard quickly jabbed him in the ribs with an elbow, silencing him.
Alice responded to the pair with a roll of her eyes. She shook her head, moving into the kitchen area and accessing a panel. The menu options displayed on the screen for Ezio’s Pizzeria, her favourite place to order a pie. After scrolling through the options, Alice tapped swiftly on the screen to choose her pizza, and then shut down the panel.
While she had been busy ordering, one of the guards placed a finger to his ear as he received a call. “Understood.” A single word in response to the orders issued over the comm device.
“You two are going to be pretty sorry you didn’t chip in when you smell it. Ezio’s has the best pizza in the city.” Alice smirked, leaning back against the counter as she eyed the pair. “So, what was that?” She inquired about the orders he received.
One guard gave a gesture toward Alice, leading the other. They approached her far too quickly than she was comfortable with, surrounding her in close proximity.
“You’re coming with us.”
Alice didn’t like that answer. “Where and why?” She demanded to know.
They didn’t answer. The guards grabbed her, each of them holding onto her upper arms in a tight, vice-like grip.
“Hey! Get your hands off of me!” Alice squirmed in their grasp, though it did her little good. Her shorter stature was easily lifted from the ground as the pair started moving towards the door with her in their grasp.
She continued to try and get free, refusing to give up without a fight. As she wriggled in their grasp, Alice swung her legs, making contact with a guard’s shin. Though she kicked as hard as she could, the only response she received was a tightened grasp around her.
One guard encircled her body, holding her tight as the other accessed the panel for the lift’s system. Alice kept trying to get free, though it was to no avail. She screamed as loud as she could, while the pair of guards removed her from her home.
The eyes watching turned their gaze from the monitor system. Her screams fell on deaf ears.