A Castle Reborn I
By R. Cary
Los Angeles, CA
‘Sigh’, Natalie rolling over stretching out her arms.
How did you sleep Natalie?
Fine. Why are you watching this guy Priest?
Just my morning routine Natalie. Well, sometimes. I normally watch CNBC news with Kramer at 6 am. He has the best metaphors for buying and selling. Then, CBS this morning at 7 am with Gayle. This morning I woke up a bit earlier and just turned it on, the TV. Natalie.
I am lying, I get up at 5 am and do yoga every morning and was embarrassed to have you catch me with my ass in the air.
You do Yoga Priest?
Every morning. And I meditate.
Well, I figured you meditate. You are a fucking Priest. That is your job to meditate. But yoga, yoga is for chic's. I don't even do Yoga.
Well. Now you know Natalie. I do yoga like a chic and I watch Gayle. Coffee?
Black please, like always. Now turn this shit off Mr. Priest. He is such a pussy. Conservative fuck who was involved in the race wars as a Republican Congressman in the 90's and is now liberal as shit, bitching and whining about The President every fucking morning. You know, I stopped subscribing to the NY Times because every page was about him, The President. I don't want to have to hear about him here.
Like I said Natalie, I am normally doing Yoga. Here's the dam remote. Put on what you want.
The Priest throws the remote at Natalie, landing on her pillow where she is resting her head. More like hiding her face. She quickly grabs it and throws it at the TV, as if this will turn off the TV somehow. She meant to hit the Priest, but couldn't bring herself to do so. The Priest is her only solace in her life. Her peace from what she thought was the bull shit of her daily life.
This was Natalie's typical routine. Work, drink, yell, scream, sleep. Work, drink, yell, scream, sleep. Work, drink, go see Priest when she was too tired to yell or scream, rinse, repeat. 3 years into the Bureau now. Every day haunts her. She hears the echo of her father's footsteps; sees the grave of his life she now walks. While she is a top agent in the Los Angeles field office, her life in the Bureau is like a ghost of whispers. Constant solitude even though she is surrounded by hundreds of people daily. This, she can't escape. Her feeling of loneliness, of being alone. Only the Priest made her feel not alone. Around everyone else, she is a bull of horns. Tall, purple eyes with tanned blonde hair, thin lips to match her thin frame, long gentle fingers that can caress someone like the Priest with care reaching their soul or grasp you like the talons of a hawk. Lately, her life has been more about preying than caressing one's soul, especially her own.
‘Thanks’, Natalie says. ‘You make the best coffee’. Ughh. I have to get to work. I wish I could just stay here.
The Priest noticed, she didn't say, ‘I wish I could stay here with you’. Natalie tended to run to him when life started beating her up. Every time he could see the exhaustion on her face and blatant desire to escape. He understood though, and he didn't mind. After all, he is a Priest. Sleeping with drunken women isn't exactly welcomed by the Catholic Church, so the ease of this relationship suited him.
The Priest himself was no Saint. His path to becoming a Priest was built off the pain of his life, not his angelic birth. His desire to help has come in many forms, including many years ago working with the FBI in Chinese espionage. He excelled at rhetoric and dialogue control and could hold a conversation with just about anyone in the world. Some called him a liar and manipulator, he viewed it as connecting to people, which is why he became a Priest after his time putting the Chinese in prison. To help people by connecting to their souls. But his life as a Priest was unfulfilling in many ways, something he never felt at home doing, like always feeling like he is an impostor in his new role in life. No longer flaunting his pretty blue eyes among the Chinese elite, swaggering his way into the hierarchies of China's black-market dealings, causing him to always feel a need of wanting, a need for more. He missed the thrill of conquering an individual, breaking into their consciousness then giving them the perception of their desires. In the end, they all walked away in handcuffs or dead. He became a Priest.
Natalie. Slow down, the world isn't even moving yet. It isn't even 6 am yet.
I know, but I have to meet with the Assistant U.S. Attorney to gain a warrant against this fucker's old business partner. Dems won the house, so they have been subpoenaing The Presidents records and there's shit everywhere.
Are you still working in the Organized Crime Unit?
No, I moved into investigating bull shitters.
Who do you think? Look at the TV. Natalie pointed at the TV, The President just came on interrupting Morning Joe.
Today, January 20th, 2022, The Chinese attempted to launch multiple mid-range nuclear weapons towards the State of Hawaii and the State of California. Through our advanced Space Force Agency we successfully deactivated the weapons destined for America before they could launch. I have authorized the Department of Defense to deploy 250,000 troops to the Korean Peninsula and have activated our emergency missile defense system in the region. We are currently in talks with the Chinese. I am here, right now, demanding the Chinese to stop or face nuclear destruction in minutes. America, trust me, we are perfectly safe. If I were China, I wouldn't dare try again...
What the fuck Mr. Priest? You better start praying. Because so far, it ain't working. How the hell did things get this far? We have a guy I am investigating for robbing anyone and everyone and he is right there, deciding the fate of all of humanity.
The attack was stopped, right? Maybe God is listening.
Or, we are just smarter than the Chinese Priest.
Maybe Natalie, but here is what I know. No one is dead, yet. Until someone dies, there is still hope.
Natalie’s phone rings. ‘Here we go Priest’. Yes Bryan. Shit. Are you kidding me?
You are wrong Mr. Priest, there is no more hope.
What happened Natalie?
The President was on Air Force One since the attack. 6 minutes ago it was shot down. No survivors are expected.
Now President Mike launched our nuclear arsenal at China about 90 seconds ago. We are at War. Better said, the end of the world begins now.
Not if I can help it, Natalie.
What, you want me to pray?
No, we are going to DC.
What are we going there for?
For your father.
My father is Dead! Why would you!
He is dead in 2022. Not in 2016 Natalie.
Waking up in his room of oriental decor, almost overdone, Agent Jackson begins his day. Isn't being in China enough, he thought. Why all the extra decor? It seems unnecessary, the decor, passively noting as he prepared for his day. 4 a.m. every day, Special Agent Jackson woke, went directly to the shower and got ready for his day. Barely even a thought entered his mind. By 5 a.m. he was out the door every day. On weekends he would be at his kitchen table by 5 a.m. reading the NY Times. Today, today is Sunday, Sunday June 5th, 2016.
Agent Jackson was working with China's Ministry of State Security regarding potential interference from Russia in the run up to the 2016 Presidential election. China, catching a sniff of making good with the U.S. found potential threats to our electronic electoral process while hacking the U.S. . They so kindly decided to share the information. Reluctantly, Agent Jackson had headed to China, really just as a symbol of good will rather than gaining any real knowledge the NSA hadn't already found. His meeting is in a few hours, at the home of Chen. Agent Jackson would receive a traditional Chinese welcoming in Beijing, in just a few hours. He had to prepare. The meeting was more so about posturing his jaw more so than anything else. His role was to be polite, thankful, respectful, and courteous and be on his way. Unfortunately for Agent Jackson, this is China. Nothing is as simple as it seems. Especially when the Chinese are watching your every move.
Dulles International Airport
Priest, you haven't said a word to me. You threw me on this dam flight to DC. I am hung over as shit. You wouldn't let me recover with a bloody mary. The damn world is ending and you are praying for 8 hours. I have had it. At least we are off the flight.
The Priest quickly analyzes his surroundings, ignoring Natalie and dragging her by her arm, hardly noticing she is there, as if she were a piece of luggage. Trying to tap into his old skill sets to take in the busy airport with rows of people miserable as hell. Everyone stuck where they are till flight restrictions are lifted, which isn't anytime soon. The fucking President was just killed. He notes, mentally, everyone here is tired, angry and in one spot, just waiting. Throw them out. Who is moving, who is here, not tired, not angry, focused? Who doesn't look like they have been here for 10 hours? Those are our guys.
Natalie, you see him, buying a coffee, being ever so polite with the cashier to appear 'normal'. Does he look tired to you? ‘No’. And that guy on the corner 'standing up', staring out the window, he looks as fresh as a butterfly when the rain clears. ‘Ya. So’? Look for more that don't fit as someone sitting in an airport for 10 hours.
Because those people, we don't want to meet.
And Natalie, I wasn't fucking Praying. I was getting ready.
‘Your newspaper Mr. Jackson’. Agent Jackson noted the oddity of the knock, but thought nothing of it, just as he hadn't thought anything of the excessive oriental decor in his room.
Agent Jackson opens the door.
A thin Chinese man is standing right in front of him with two larger males, well over 6 feet tall and each about 220 lbs on each side of him. In the foreground is even something worse, the barrel of a gun inches from his forehead. Agent Jackson fights his initial reaction and slowly puts his arms up and backs away. The Men walked forward in pace with him. Not saying a word, Agent Jackson goes down, only seeing a blur of his surroundings as his head bounces off the wall and finally, the floor. He is out, cold, with three unknown men towering over him. His eyes shut. His only thought. The Priest, Natalie.
Agent Jackson opens his eyes. Remembering his last thoughts, then the men, realizes quickly what kind of situation he is in. One you don't get out of by choice.
You see, Agent Jackson just didn't work with the FBI, where he built a career starting in organized crime, specializing in Asian crime syndicates in Los Angeles then into foreign intelligence and national security stemming from his experience investigating the Chinese-American Drug trade. Agent Jackson had spent a lifetime around China and its connections to the United States for the Bureau. But this trip, paid for by the FBI to assess the risk of a foreign operation on Chinese soil, was bluntly for the CIA. Agent Jackson was recruited in 1992 as a simple messenger on his trips to China. Now, he is much more. Part of a society manipulating and maneuvering the United States interests in China. As a result, he is sitting in a room in Beijing China with three men most likely just as trained as him holding his life in their hands.
Agent Jackson. I am Xi.
I understand you are here to meet with Chen. That is a few hours from now, no?
Don't worry. I am just making conversation as you say.
I need a favor from you Agent Jackson. May I call it that, a favor?
Agent Jackson nodded.
Chen, well his security team is gonna give you what you call a dossier on Russian interference with your alleged democratic elections. I want it. You will bring it to me.
Agent Jackson knows the only option is to agree and give no sign of otherwise. Acquiesce to the fear and they will believe you. Keep them in perceived control in the outcome they want and you can get out of this, for now. Cut and dry. You waiver, you are dead.
Agent Jackson nodded again in agreement.
Mr. Jackson, don't worry, we will come get it from you.
As they left, Agent Jackson sat there, on the bed, not much different than he did when he woke up. Analyzing the potential outcomes, weighing all parties' interests without having enough knowledge to do so. He never heard of Xi. Still, only one thought came into his head. Give them the information. If I run, I am never safe here again. If I give the information and nothing else, they will kill me. But if I give them trust I can get to know them.
Agent Jackson closed the door to his room, grabbed his newspaper and sat at the small Chinese table in his room and began reading.
Agent Jackson arrives in a black SUV. Everyone dressed in white, except the young Chinese women utilized as decorum, they had flowers on their dresses and Agent Jackson of course. He is in an MIB suit. Some things he just couldn't part with.
Mr. Jackson, I am sorry for the spectacle, but it is our way. I know you Americans care more about getting things done than display's for formality.
Agent Jackson immediately notices Chen's catering to him.
So now, we can get 'down to business' Agent Jackson.
It is very simple. Here is all the information we have on Russia attempting to interfere with your election. It is a brute force hack of your electronic electoral system.
Already knowing there is always more to these situations, Agent Jackson politely takes the files, not raising a question that will cause Chen concern. Letting him believe this is as simple as it appears to him and that he is gracious for the jester, passively thinking, what is the real message? The Chinese are never simple. On the outside Asians in general appear simple to Americans. But Agent Jackson knew better. Behind those eyes of theirs is a whole world being built. Today, he entered two men's worlds. He just wasn't sure why. In time, he would know why and deconstruct their mindful visions of their world they are manipulating. He will play their mule, for now.
Agent Jackson and Chen engage with each other for a few hours and then Agent Jackson is released from his duties. Being taken back to his room in the black SUV he arrived in, knowing Xi is nearby, he asks the driver to stop and wait for him. He wanted a newspaper. Before the driver could realize it, Mr. Jackson was gone into the streets of Beijing, buying himself a few hours. A few hours that will raise the suspicions of both men, possibly causing them to fear their worlds they are building are suddenly under threat. Now, Agent Jackson was in control. Now, Agent Jackson will be able to see the minds of both men.
Dulles International Airport
Priest, behind us.
Just keep walking Natalie. They will follow us at 4, 6, 8 O'clock. We need to get lost, to break their span. No, got a better idea. We can't lose them; they are too good.
I am a federal agent Priest. I don't run away from people. They try to lose me, not the other way around.
Natalie. We are at war. Remember that. And these guys probably had something to do with it. Feel me? To them, you are with me. Being with me means you are a threat.
How the hell are you a threat Priest? Are you gonna throw your Cross at them?
Funny Natalie. Funny. Just keep walking.
Let's bring them to an empty turn, you bait them Priest, I shoot them.
Natalie, there are a million cops here at the airport. Just don't rustle them, they need to keep following. Make them feel comfortable so they don't drop off when we reach security.
You and I keep focused on where we are going. Show them our focus. Let's get to security. They won't touch us here, too much risk. As soon as you see a cop, walk right up, keep eye contact, and tell the cop ‘don't look’, flash your badge. Tell them, ‘The three men behind us have been following us. Please stop them at security’. The cop will clearly see them, as we are the only one's walking out of here at a pace. Everyone else is sitting down, miserable as shit with the delay. Won't be that hard. I will continue through security. Follow me through.
Perfect Priest. I like it.
The Priest passively begins to walk through security. Natalie pans to her left, keeping her right hip open with her glock on her side, just in case. She demands the eyes of the police officer standing just to the left of security and begins to speak, smiles, then walks back to her right to go through security, without even a sniff for these guys to pick up. She sees the Priest and it hits her like a truck. Who the hell is the Priest? He didn't skip a beat. Almost stone-cold analysis of the situation. Not one emotive response. I know he worked with my Father sometimes. But like that? He was turnkey. Regardless. What I do know now. The Priest is a badass.
Sir, we lost them at the airport. We got held up at security.
The Priest. Those eyes of his. That is his real talent. He hides behind those eyes of his. I bet you think he didn't notice you.
Sir, we were very careful.
But you got held up at security?
I assure you that was no accident.
What do we do sir? About the Priest and Natalie?
Deter them. We lost our window. Communications will be up again and the FBI will know her exact whereabouts. We can't be part of a missing FBI agent investigation. That is a last resort.
For now. Find them. Follow them. And don't worry about getting made. Rather, make it clear you are there. Let them know we are with them each step they take. Besides that, do nothing.
I have to get to the office. The world is on fire. And people like me have to put out the flames.
Washington DC, Hotel
Nice moves Priest.
Let's turn on the TV and see if the world is burning. Have you heard anything yet?
No, the phone is charging now. Besides, most communications would be shut down. I will call from a landline once I put together a story as to where I am. What are they saying on the news?
At 9:02 am Eastern Standard time the United States launched multiple mid-range nuclear missiles towards China. Seconds after the launch, China called for a temporary peace agreement. The attack was aborted and the nuclear warheads exploded over the Pacific Ocean.
I repeat. At 9:02 am Eastern Standard time the United States launched multiple mid-range nuclear missiles towards China. Seconds after...
Breaking News, The Secretary of Defense will now fill your screen
As you all know, we have been attacked and are in a state of war. We are moving our defenses throughout the Asian Pacific Ocean. During our movements and nuclear launch, we received word from China that they are issuing a temporary peace agreement and will stand down. The President immediately ordered the hault of our nuclear assault on China, whereby the warheads were destroyed over the Pacific Ocean. Simultaneously and consistent with China's denial, our intelligence community, the United States Air Force confirmed the missiles and the plane that attacked Air Force One, with The President on it, were Russian in origin. Russia is denying this allegation. At this time please remain strong. The President, our intelligence communities with the Department of Defense are working to build a coalition to gather as much intelligence as we can to strike back at whoever is the cause of this war. We stand as one. The world stands at one with us. Be vigilant. And America, keep your faith. My prayers are with you.
Priest. Maybe your meditation worked? We all still have time. I bet you Russia started this whole thing. Let China and the U.S. nuke each other so they are left standing. Conniving fucks. I could just put a bullet right through Putin's head, with an extra grin on my bullet. And what the fuck was that Priest? At the airport.
Something your father taught me.
Exactly, how close were you and my father?
Natalie. As you know, I wasn't always a Priest.
I know you worked with my father on Asian crime syndicates.
It was much more than that. Our success turned us into spies. Our engagement with Asian crime syndicates in LA led us to bigger and broader investigations into China. Our success led to unparalleled information in China, turning over broader worldwide investigations. At the time, China was a hub of criminal and international crime rings that would reach the level of Heads of State. We, as a country, penetrated every country's activity through our work. The CIA took over after that and me and your father had a decision to make. He made his, I made mine. He kept going. I gave up. There is a difference between doing what is right and doing what is asked of you by your government. Since 9/11, we tended to overreact and I couldn't bear the burden of possibly harming people out of suspicion. I made my decision to become a Priest. Your father made his, which cost him his life.
My father was a spy?
Not just a spy. He was they spy. All those trips to China. FBI? He was a hub of information. The point man for the Alpha and Omegas.
What the hell is that?
An organization that seeks to manipulate the world in our favor. Kind of like those secret societies you hear about on the History channel, but real, impactful, and deep.
My father was a member?
Unfortunately, yes. I refused to join. I always viewed them as a group of guys that needed something to believe in, kind of carving their own destiny gig. Your father joined so he could be a perspective on reason and in some form, agreed to their cause. But since your father's death, I have always feared them. And now we are at war? I can't help but think of their involvement, especially with The President or, X President. This probably bolstered them.
Did they kill my father?
I don't know. No one knows what happened to your father. China refused to budge; back channel talks never worked. So, we all, especially you, were left without answers.
Mother fuckers! Why did you never tell me?
You were never with me fucking sober enough to mention it. Remember, you only come to me when you have problems. Not when things are fine.
Natalie calls in. ‘Ya, I am in DC’. ‘How did you get there’? ‘Flashed my badge, jumped on a flight with a friend. ‘I have been trying to get a hold of you’. You were directed to DC about 2 hours after we talked this morning Natalie. You need to get to headquarters now. And don't let your phone die again. Completely unacceptable. Next time you get fucked up, plug in your phone before you pass out. Am I clear?
Yes sir. Let DC know I am on my way. And Mitch. As of right now they think you got me here efficiently and quickly. Let's keep it that way.
This time. Whatever you are wanted for at Headquarters. Don't fuck it up. I am counting on you to make us look good out here on the West Coast. Call me when you are done.
Yes Mitch. And Mitch. Thanks.
Priest, I have to run. It so happens I was directed to get to DC headquarters. I need to get there immediately.
Natalie. Be careful. I am sure the guys who came for us at the airport will be around.
Priest. I am a federal agent with the FBI. I know how to take care of myself. Just wait for me here.
The Priest sits in the room with his thoughts and begins to Pray:
Dear Father, forgive me for my sins I am about to endure. I have vowed a life of peace, a life of helping others. I will stay true to my one path in life. Our world is at war and I have the ability to stop it. I am highly conflicted about the decision I am about to make. Please give me the strength to endure. I, of all people, know there is purpose in all our decisions. That each obstacle in life is an opportunity to overcome. I believe the challenge in front of me is to overcome my moral conflict and do what is right, to help people. I am asking for forgiveness. But I cannot stand by and watch the world destroy itself. I care too much. My heart is bleeding with too much pain and compassion for others. I am asking for strength, for the Blonde Beast to rise inside of me building piercing eyes of endurance with a brute will of strength delivered from the holy spirit. I was once a warrior. I ask for my inner Wolf to be fed once again. 12 Hail Mary's.
Washington DC, FBI Headquarters
How are you Natalie? You got here swiftly. Any problems with your flight?
I'm good Kilmr. And no. I jumped on with other agents traveling on a public flight.
Good. Some agents are having a hard time getting here.
Let me give you the rundown as we walk Natalie. We are putting together a task force to unravel this. Our role in this, Natalie, is to prevent the world from ending. Finding the truth matters. The CIA is running all over the place but are stuck in the myths of what they are being told. They are getting so many stories they are unsure of what to trust. We are the FBI. We follow facts, we construct a narrative and we deliver what happened. That is the role you are in Natalie. Like the others. You have been following the money and links between The President, Russia, and any businesses or business associates intertwined. I believe in your memo you called it a 'pile of shit'. It is much more than that. FBI Director James has brought each of you investigating varying aspects of the Russia connections or alleged connections together. What we know is this. The President was not 'in collusion' with Russia. But Russia manipulated social media to rally his base. That is a fact. We were busy defending the cyber-attack aspect so we missed the propaganda. Let me leap forward from there. China attacked us. Right? Why? We don't have a why. We know the plane and missiles that took down air force one was Russian in origin. Can you see where this is leading?
Are you saying Russia caused China to attack us?
Yes. That is the narrative we are building. Natalie, we need your help constructing the financial narrative. We are casting a wide net to construct a narrative out of the web of facts. Now, everyone is in here working already. Come on in. We have a meeting in 2 hours. All agents from the FBI, HSI, CIA, NSA will be here by 6 pm. For now, get to work. Break down what you know into a quick and palatable format to produce to your team. You have until 10 am to have your narrative built, any questions? I am sure you are blindsided. We will fill in as we know more. For now, we are all still in the blind. It is up to us to give the President, the people, the Department of Defense clarity so decisions can be made.
No. I am good.
Okay Natalie. Thank you for coming quickly. 2 hours. Have it ready.
Natalie finds an open space; cracks open the laptop in front of her and doesn't skip a beat. Profiling her narrative into a pattern of behavior and consistency for predictability of future actions. But on the back of her mind rests what she even came here for in the first place. The Priest. He said my father was alive in 2016. What the hell was he talking about? I assumed he was referring to some old case, something that could help us now. Damn, I should have asked before I left the Hotel. But I was too focused on what was going on. Knowing we are all on a timeline to find the truth. That is what we do at the FBI. Always. Find the truth. That fact is what keeps me alive and fighting each day through all the bull shit. I hate the bull shit. But truth matters. Focus Natalie. Shit, I am still hungover. You haven't eaten. No drinking Natalie. The world needs you, for once in her life she thought to herself. Rather than I need. The Priest needs me. A look of grit and determination comes over her face. She pushes her strands of hair back behind her ears. One big puff of air and she is once again determined.
FBI Headquarters 7 pm EST.
Cameras flashing, the reporters gathered outside FBI Headquarters looking for some information of hope. Director James walks astutely and calmly to the microphone, clearly showing his collectiveness, giving the world his body language displaying his confidence in what he is about to say.
At 5:20 pm the President and Department of Defense were given a narrative constructed by our joint task force with CIA, HSI, NSA. We address the public with a statement of confidence in this narrative and assure the American people, all resources are being funneled to this narrative.
Around 5:55 am today, China launched an attack against the United States. Our presumption is they did so under false pretenses and false information being funneled to them. Our relations with China have been under intense pressure, as economic policies began to threaten the financial structure of China's once robust economy. The information delivered to China over the previous 8 months is believed to have caused China's attack on our Country. Our narrative is consistent with China's behavior post initial attack on the United States. At this time, I cannot comment on the details of our investigation. Myself, the FBI, CIA, The White House want the American public to know, at this time, we are in a temporary peace agreement with China and communications are ongoing. We have no belief, knowledge or any cause to believe that China will attack us again. I will take your questions where appropriate.
Director James, MSNBC here. Are we still moving warships to the Korean Peninsula?
Are any other countries involved?
Yes. England, Germany, Italy have all sent warships to the Korean Peninsula according to the DOD Secretary Don.
Who sent China the information?
We are still investigating the information falsely given to the Chinese government.
Was it Russia?
Again, we are still investigating the information. At this time, I cannot comment further on the investigation.
Sally from CNN. We are getting news that two ballistic missiles were shot down on U.S. Soil. Reports are coming out that they were 2 miles out from the white house.
Can you confirm this?
No, at this time we cannot confirm this.
How many casualties so far?
We have estimated nearly 500,000 lives are here that would not have been if it had not been for our defenses and the brave decision by former V.P., Now President Michael to halt our attack on China.
Our only known casualty is our now former President. I assure you. We will find who killed our President and hold them accountable. The FBI is leading the investigation with military intelligence with all intelligence agencies funneling their information to our headquarters. This is what we do. We will find the attackers and advise DOD.
Thank you for your time.
Natalie sneaks off at the end of the press conference, finished with her work. She needs to see the Priest. She needs to eat. No drinking Natalie. No drinking. Stay focused.
The only thought pounding Natalie's mind. What is the Priest looking for with my father and 2016? I need to find out. Get to the Hotel Natalie. Get to the Hotel.
Washington DC, Hotel
Natalie enters the hotel room, gasping for air, staring blindly as she crawls onto the bed. I, I just need to lay down.
What happened Natalie?
I don't know. I need to eat. After the day was over, I left, figuring all was under control for the day. And then my thoughts became consumed with getting here to the hotel, well, more so to you. You mentioned my father. Are you looking for some file or something, maybe a case he was working on in 2016? I can help, furrowing her brow as she focuses on the idea then letting go as she loses focus, her eyes staring off lacking focus, realizing she cannot hold herself up any longer. She moves towards the pillow, laying herself down slightly, easing into a comfortable position until she accepts, the thought of her father is too much. All the pain of missing him overwhelms her and she will not fight it anymore, at least not tonight. She acquiesces into a position of comfort the Priest has never seen her in.
The Priest sits beside her, brushes her hair behind her ears, a touch of comfort he knows Natalie can feel and tells her,
‘No Natalie no. Not a file. Your father is in 2016.’
Washington DC, Hotel
Natalie wakes up gently, rising slowly but fluidly.
No answer. Her thoughts right back to her father. She is holding back a feeling she isn't ready to recognize.
She gets up, looks for something to eat. There is some pizza sitting on the kitchenette, half eaten and some warm soda next to it. She grabs a slice of pizza, as cold and dry as the weather outside and swigs down the lukewarm soda. As much as she could till her throat burned too much. Dizzy, light headed, exhausted, she places her hand on the small fridge in the room to keep her balance. Switching back between the soda and the pizza until she feels her blood sugars rise.
Priest. Where is he? My father. I have to find him. Again, exhaustion consumes her, having just enough energy to get back to the bed. Her entire body in a compulsion asking her to rest. As if she needs to prepare, like the Priest for what she is about to do. Still not clear to her.
Again, her thoughts arise, ‘my dad, Priest, 2016’. Her last thought was one of fear, realizing the world is at war for the first time. Natalie had a way of removing her emotions and barreling through life. It finally caught up with her and what matters to her is her father and the Priest. She lets go. Her head rests more comfortably than it has in years.
The Priest knocks on the front door and waits passively.
Shortly a man opens the door still dressed in his work clothes.
Kilmr. Missed us at the airport today? Tell me. Was that CIA or Alpha Omega’s ordering you?
Neither. It was me.
Agent Jackson returns to his hotel. 8 pm. Walks straight into his room, setting down his jacket with the file still in his coat pocket. Not even a flinch of concern for the inevitable. This is what he does. 30 years. Just another walk in the park for Agent Jackson. Fluid, seamless and right on cue.
Agent Jackson opens the door.
I see you took a detour. I knew you would come back. Took some time to make a copy? Smart move.
Some security, says agent Jackson, as he walks to his jacket, he turns his back to Xi, showing his lack of concern for his safety. This was Agent Jackson's specialty, reaffirming mannerisms.
Agent Jackson. I thank you. You are a big help. Do you think you may be of help in the future? You have proven your knowledge of our business and you met your commitment without question.
Agent Jackson simply nods and bows.
Xi tells his men something in Chinese and then walks out the door.
Beijing China, Chen’s Home
Did Agent Jackson give the file to them?
They are leaving Mr. Jackson's Hotel now.
Should I follow them sir?
No. The information was received by them. That is all we needed. They will believe we are not on to them.
Let them go on their way.
Shortly after leaving Chen’s home, Agent Jacksson at an undisclosed location.
‘I had to ditch my ride. A man named Xi wanted the file’, says agent Jackson.
Good. Won't they get suspicious? Of course. That isn't my concern. I just need to show up. Won't they expect me to make a move? More importantly, it will give them confidence in me.
Ya, I guess it would. Smart move.
Like I told you. This moment, this action can either be the end of civilization or the saving of civilization.
This file only shows Russia's attempt to attack our cyber security and impact as a threat. There is much more to it. This is the shuffle, their right jab while the left hook is coming.
What we have to do is expose the real attack on our democracy through psychological warfare or easier put, fake news to get one of the Republicans elected. When He gets elected the world order falls apart and his aggressive actions on international business causes severe waves in the international economy, most notably Chinas. War is inevitable.
And Natalie is counting on you, whether she knows it or not.
Well she is counting on us, don't you mean?
Priest, would you want some Brandy? It is my nightly routine. Well, a bit more than a routine.
No Kilmr. What is it you want from me? The Priest walks over to the seating area, comfortably grabbing the first chair he sees.
You know what is at stake, Priest. It is up to people like me to get the world through the chaos it finds itself in. This wasn’t exactly our plan. But as of now, things are working out just fine. Tomorrow will be a pivotal point in this process. And you, you are now an outsider. While you were never in, denying our offer, denying your future, you have knowledge of some of our operations. You jumped on a plane to DC. What the fuck do you expect would happen? Uh, Priest? You should have just stayed out of it. More so you should trust us. You were never a threat going off and living your life as an actual Priest. From the Blonde Priest penetrating world criminal organizations and Heads of States to a real-life walking talking preacher. I never saw it coming. I wonder what Agent Jackson thought of it? Anyhow. You know exactly why we came for you. Now you are here. I am going to ask you one time. What are you doing here?
I came to save The President's life. I came to stop the end of the world. The Priest engaging with a blunt and cordial conversation. Kilmr is a practical man. Not a fanatic. The Priest knows saving the idea of America is the path to pursue with Kilmr.
Now how are you gonna do that?
You know exactly how Kilmr. In fact, I got something for you. Where is Agent Jackson Kilmr?
Lost in China, like the soul of the world.
He is in China Kilmr. But what year?
We shut down operation Lazarus Priest. It proved unsuccessful.
Maybe, but you wouldn’t know it unless you were the one traveling. You would never know in fact if it worked, because history would be altered. I am gonna raise this a bit Kilmr. Tell me, did The President actually win the 2016 election? Did you go back in time and have Comey make those statements? Did the Democrats choose Bernie over Hillary but you changed it?
Absurd Priest. I couldn’t even see this coming. Hillary would have worked just fine. Her hawkishness in international affairs was well suited for our goals. Priest, your mind is getting to you. Maybe too much time praying?
Maybe. But something went drastically wrong. That is what I do know Kilmr. From one moment to the next the world went astray. In fact, since 2016 has anything made any sense?
Priest, slow down. Yes, I agree. We had to take drastic action. That I will admit. But I assure you, none of us altered history or attempted to. We are managing this as best we can. The President dying was an unfortunate side effect of our actions. But as of now, stability is in the air. America regaining its authority is in the air. An attack on us brings sympathy and puts the world behind us, in our rightful role in the world. That is our starting point. As of this moment, everything is fine. In fact, this is a relationship building phase. Today is pivotal. Maybe the world will realize how real the threats are. Maybe China will realize what a war would be like and Russia as well. Give them some perspective outside of their constant desire to defeat us. Something they clearly cannot do. Maybe they will begin to understand while we are on top, we give like no other has or will. Imagine Russia or China in control?
Kilmr. I agree. But there is a fact. Things are off. Something went drastically wrong. Can you agree with that?
Yes, Priest. I can. We can. So, what is next?
That is up to you Kilmr. Are you gonna let this happen? From our conversation, you are clearly hiding something. You are the point man now, taking over Agent Jackson’s role. Am I mistaken? So, at this moment, you decide the strategy. So, let me put my proposal in front of you.
Let me go back. Let me go see. We already have one of us there now? What harm will it do?
Is she going with you?
Natalie? Yes. But she doesn’t know it yet.
Well, you are right, Priest. Something is off. Something went wrong and there has been something hanging over my head. What if Russia did impact the election and the natural outcome did not occur.
Kilmr, has Russia had any success in infiltrating Lazarus or anything similar in development?
No. We know that for a fact. Why would they need to, they are doing it in real life. Remember, Russia views themselves in a historical context, similar to Hitler. They view themselves rising as the natural outcome, an inevitable fact. They will be as patient as they need to be. But, okay Priest.
Ok what Kilmr?
You and Natalie go back. You know the risk. No one has ever returned. For now, this is just you, me, Natalie.
Of course Kilmr, at least until I get some answers. At some point she will need the full picture.
Not until you are ready to get resolve, with your clear plan decided upon. The last thing I need is one of my agents knowing about me and the Alpha Omegas. Let alone that I am her new boss in DC.
Kilmr. You need to get us in the White House, to Lazarus.
That will be easy. Natalie is FBI, you are a contractor with the CIA or were. Are any of those not true?
Without referring to was and is, I guess you are right.
And Priest. In case I don’t see you before you leave, I appreciate your desire to help. If you see Agent Jackson, let him know how we are doing. He always feared the risk to our organization going astray. We are still on track.
Maryland, Secret Location
The Priest is meeting with Kilmr now.
Did you get audio?
No. Hold on, the door just opened. Sir. They just embraced, looking a little too friendly. What do you want me to do?
Take him out.
Kilmr. So far, the Priest is irrelevant. We can stop him without lifting a finger. His chances of getting anywhere without Kilmr is low. He is just a fucking Priest now. Killing both means someone from the inside did it. Just Kilmr and it could be anyone.
What about his family?
They are separated. Wife and kids are at her Mom’s house.
Bullet in the head?
Yes. Leaves open a lot, intentional could be anyone. A cover up bleeds into the intelligence community. Make it simple and swift. He deserves that.
The killer exits his vehicle, seeing The Priest drive away. He walks up with his hands in his pockets, dressed in Levi’s and a jacket from Costco, knocks on the door and puts one bullet between Kilmr’s eyes before he could even raise a thought. The shooter puts his hands with his long-barreled Glock 27 into his Costco jacket pocket and walks to his car, opens his door, puts the keys in the ignition and drives away. His only thoughts being, ‘that wasn’t right'. Kilmr was pure, rational, logical. Whatever he was doing must have been with good cause. Why didn’t he talk to Kilmr first, see if he could get some honesty? Then his thoughts change to rationalize his actions, something the brain does to excuse our bad behavior in life, a way of substantiating our decisions. No, big picture he tells himself. This was coming one day, just sooner than he thought. War is happening and drastic action needs to be taken. He feels he did the right thing. He says goodbye to Kilmr with his heart. You sacrificed yourself for us all. I thank you for that. We all do, he reflects, as he narrows his eyes to refocus on what will be next. What will be needed of himself in time? He very well knows the sickness of his thoughts to escape the guilt of what he just did, something he learned early on in the CIA. Remove your emotions through substantiation of a higher cause. Meaning, make up a fucking reason that aligns with your values so when you murder someone without cause you can keep going forward. That is exactly what he did. Keep driving forward he tells himself.
Washington DC, Hotel
The Priest walks into the Hotel room. It is now early morning, the sun just beginning to peak into the sky and he is feeling the toll the evening took on him. But he knows Natalie is going to need him. He noticed a few more slices were missing from the pizza box he left her and almost all the soda drank. She must have woken up in a haze, he thought. She could do this at times while she refueled herself with him.
Priest, Natalie says as she sits up rubbing her eyes. Where is my father?
‘In 2016', the Priest says, without a hint of the oddness of his statement, as if this is a normal conversation he is about to have, let alone with a well-educated FBI agent with two bachelor's degrees, one in International Politics and one in Economics plus a law degree from Yale. Someone who has stood up to her male dominated workplace without batting a brow, something she learned to do in college. She never could stand the white privileged kids at Yale, which is where she gained her voice. Always referring to them as a bunch of pussy’s and cunts. But her innate belief in something larger than her, while stored deep in her subconscious, far removed from her daily life since her father's death or missing, depending on who you ask, is what she is counting on, to keep going. The simplicity of his demeanor with a blatant star of his ice blue eyes will show her he is serious.
What is he doing there, asks Natalie?
The Priest, unsure if she is just delirious simply says, ‘seeing if history should be altered’.
The 2016 Presidency.
So, did my father die?
Natalie. Are you okay? I mean, did you hear what I said? Your father is in 2016.
I heard you. As absurd as it sounds. I know my father was a part of things I could only fathom. I know there are multiverses, I know because it is taught to young students, something I was just a few years ago. I know there is more to life than just what is right in front of us at times, just as I know at times seeing what is right in front of us leads us to the big picture. I know there is more. I just haven't been living in it. Last night I kept passing out and I only asked for two things. For my Father and you Priest. I have always been looking for you and you are right in front of me and now I can see. Now you tell me where my father is and I can see. Him being in 2016 means the idea of him is still right in front of me. I feel him again and it feels good. Just like me realizing what has been right in front of me this whole time was right there. You, you have been right there, and seeing you, feels good. I have just been running through life scared to face what I want. I want my father. I want you. This war, yesterday, the threat of humanity, my life, you, losing the one connection to my father, losing two people I care about at once brought me to my knees a bit. From here Priest, I want you to tell me all of it. What are we doing here? What is our goal? Are we going back in time? Who is in our way? Natalie showed a bit of her old self immediately, jumping right back into what made her such a strong FBI agent. Her relentlessness no matter what.
Natalie, in 1944 Hitler created something like a time machine, more so a multiverse machine. It wasn’t a machine really, it was electromagnets put around rock on the inside of a tunnel. The type of energy created would transport objects and people into other verses or one of the multi-verses. He was successful in sending people to other verses. Till this day, we believe the Nazi’s originally won the war, haven't you seen The Man in the High Castle? Well, there you go. Fiction comes from somewhere. This comes from this theory that Germany bombed us first, made an alliance with Japan and implemented Nazism in the United States. Some believe this has happened in another multiverse as truth. But we are here, in this multiverse, so this is our purpose. Your father went back to possibly correct the outcome of the 2016 election. Your father felt something had been wrong, as if some altering may have occurred. I mean, who could have imagined Him as President? Since then the world has gone astray. Obviously, Natalie, I am highly conflicted about this, but The President dying irked me. As you can imagine, there are actors here affecting these things, outcomes and the future within their control. Your father was the point man for a secret society called the Alpha Omegas who controlled this machine; again, not really a machine, but a portal and moved the pieces of the world around like a chess board, always looking for natural outcomes. Natural outcomes, not personal beliefs or perceived threats Natalie. I am the only one that knows he is there, in 2016. He is the only one to have used the portal in recent history. Well, that we know of. There is a theory Hoover went back into time to make himself FBI Director but we could never know. I mean, how the fuck did he become the FBI director? Never made any sense. We know people were sent by Hitler, but they never came back.
So, Natalie, we are going to 2016 to find your father. And if necessary, change the outcome of the 2016 elections. It is as simple as that.
Where is it Priest, Lazarus?
Well, that is the thing, no one knows. Here is what I do know. We have to get to the White House. What we perfected is the ability to transport an object or person from one space here to another space here, on earth. Only one has been created, as we don’t know the impact on reality.
What is our number one goal during war, Natalie?
Protect the President Priest.
So, it is in the White House now or nearby most likely. I know we need to start there. It will take us anywhere we want on earth, anytime.
How are we going to do that?
Taken care of. Went and saw an old friend while you slept. You are FBI, right? I am or was a CIA contractor. What are a few years?
I see. Not that hard then.
When are we going?
Before the world ends. It doesn’t really seem like it will happen, does it Natalie?
No, it feels like it is a warning to us all. Priest. I thought you knew my father from his time taking down the Asian crime syndicate in LA?
It was a bit more than that Natalie.
What happened with your father was a chance. Your father had significant experience with Asia while taking down the Asian crime syndicates in Los Angeles. As you probably know, the Chinese here hold a tight relationship with China, even the ones born here. They are more Chinese living in America rather than Chinese-American. Your father traveled to China frequently and knew the culture well. Even further, with me operating as the key American player smuggling in drugs and products to the United States, I was positioned, as was your father, as the Kevin Bacon of the Chinese American drug trade. Everything went through me. Therefore, it went through your father. I received everything. Pass it on to your father. It was simple. Brutally simple. When we were ending the investigation or towards the end, your father was approached by the CIA to send messages to groups in China. You see at the same time, in the late 90’s China began its entrance to the world market. This is prime for criminal organizations and Heads of States and their countries to engage. Everyone wanted in. China became the point of all human illegal activity. We turned it into a hub of information. Each piece connecting to another, each move affecting another. Russia, Iran, Japan, England, Germany you name it. Everyone was there trying to secure their rights in China. The best way in was through criminal organizations. Heads of State were sending in businesses, all corrupting any Chinese they could, anyone in China they could get too. At the core was the Chinese criminal organizations, which we were a part of. We saw and heard everything. During the same time, your father's role and eventually mine grew. We ran everything. And in time your father joined the Alpha Omegas. I chose otherwise. In the end, our work built the modern-day CIA. What we planted spread into every aspect of governmental and corporate espionage. The CIA took over completely, grew its agency and is now, to this day, in every country that exists on earth because of us. Like I said, just chance and circumstances. You knew your father; how simple and blatant he was. I still don’t know how our relationship worked or what in him gave me my chance. I really don’t. But I do know, this is his story. Now you know.
He never showed it Priest. Ever. I can’t imagine the scale of his responsibilities.
That is what happens when you believe in something bigger than yourself Natalie. Life becomes seamless and simple. You don’t question yourself so much.
And you! That is more surprising to me than my father. You handled those guys at the airport with the ease of a handshake. It was impressive. All the while I was thinking you were delusional and out of your league.
Ya, I know Natalie. I figured you just wanted to escape work so I ran with it.
I kind of did.
Well good thing you did. Now you get to save the world Natalie.
I guess Priest.
And for now on Natalie. My name is The Blonde Priest.
Ha! Ya right Priest. I am sticking with Priest. That isn’t changing. Natalie retained her ability to call out bull shit. Besides, that is a young man's name. You are your own man now Priest. Accept it.
The Priest takes this in, realizing she is right. He is no longer the ‘little brother’, hiding himself. He is delivering this. No one else.
Washington DC, Hotel
Priest. Turn on the news. I want to get caught up on the war before I go into work. Maybe the world ended and we are the only two left, right here in this hotel room.
Maybe Natalie. I wouldn't mind.
Is this local news Priest?
Hell if I know. It's the news.
Capital police are investigating the murder of Kilmr Van Jon. He was found with one bullet to his head. Police have no suspects at this time. Kilmr was the FBI agent in charge of Counter Terrorism with a career spanning 21 years. Kilmr survives his wife and two children, aged 12 and 15. If you have any information, please contact local authorities.
Priest! That is my new boss. Was my new boss.
Even worse Natalie, Kilmr was our ticket into the White House. He was who I went to see last night. The one who tried to grab us at the airport. The leader of the Alpha Omegas.
Natalie. We have a problem.
You see the news?
Clean. They will never figure it out.
No, they won’t. Within us, the Alpha Omegas, balance will be needed. If I come out waving my cock, there will be suspicion and hell to pay.
David. I know how you feel about what you did. I am sure you dug down into yourself and will find a way through. I feel just like you. But things got out of control, almost. What matters now is perspective and silence. I will wait for others to contact me. For now, just you and me. I will not ask something like that of you again. Now go home, be with your family and deal with this. Let me know when you are ready. We have more pressing work to do, especially on Russia. At the CIA things are unfolding quickly. We will have to move quickly, before the CIA can make their move. Can you do this David?
I am tired, but I will keep going Kyle. The world needs us.
Yes. Yes, they do David. I will put the Priest under CIA surveillance as a potential threat. It will fit right in. The Priest running towards The White House with a ‘rogue’ FBI agent. We can’t let history be changed. Once the narrative is sold to the agency, we can take the Priest out if necessary. For now, we need to discover that Russia put China up to this so we can end this nonsense. Reagan should have destroyed them when they were down. Fuck that, Kennedy should have lit them up. They are like pure evil. Fucking Russians. They don’t quit living in their bullshit destiny. No one gives a shit about them. Everyone just puts up with them. Cheap ass oil keeps Europe hooked. Drives me nuts. Meanwhile Putin thinks he is a living embodiment of his ancestors restoring Russia to ‘glory’. When the energy revolution arrives, they are brutally fucked. Sorry David, my passions are growing with the world at war. Go take a few minutes rest, get showered up and be ready.
Yes sir. Will do.
Kyle shows David the door and goes off to his kitchen to grab his now cold cup of coffee. He throws it in the microwave, turns around to lean on the kitchen counter, folds his arms and can’t help but ask himself, ‘Priest, what are you up to? What is your game plan? I need to be one step ahead. So far, I am.
Natalie. You need to get to work. I have some things to do.
What things? Who was Kilmr to you, to the Alpha Omega's exactly?
The Alpha Omega’s point man, like your father was, the one who gets things moving and shaking. What I am more concerned with was he was killed right as I left.
Priest, the killer probably knew you were in there with Kilmr! Why didn't he kill you? Did you see anyone? Any ideas Priest?
No, but since I didn't die yesterday, I am going to presume they, whoever they are, are trying to stay one step ahead, to sabotage us. Here is the bigger issue. Only someone from the Alpha Omegas could have known the effect of our conversation or the topic and take such action. Who the hell would do this? This was your father's biggest fear. Someone from the Alpha Omegas taking control, manipulating the consciousness of its members, rather than making sure America's goals are acquired through natural outcomes. What I mean is, when we compete internationally the threat to us is bribes and insider dealings, getting locked out. We basically ensured that didn't happen. When it did, we blackmailed the hell out of people, still allowing them in, but now we were in control. That was our goal, to pursue natural outcomes that keep us on top.
Maybe the war caused this Priest. People act pretty nuts, I mean, look at me. Our purest emotions come out. So, this person's purest emotion is to beat someone. To win. We need to find out who they want to beat. What are the chances the person who killed Kilmr works in government?
Natalie, they all do. They were smart Natalie, they didn't even try to cover it up, fake suicide, make a phony home invasion, etc. . It would confuse the intelligence community exactly on where to begin. They bought themselves time.
We are the only two who know all this Natalie. We are part of the crime. We know what we were doing and are doing, we know the when, we know the how, but we don't know the why exactly, the bigger picture that is. As you said, who do they want to beat? Why was Kilmr and essentially me a potential obstacle to their goals? What I do know is this, they got more info than us and are one step ahead. Let's get ahead Natalie. Today, you go to work, act normal, drive your office forward, and show yourself. If I can conjecture right, the CIA will be on us. Remember the airport Natalie? Stone cold, don't flinch, don't look back. At this point, we are not a threat they need to end. We are a potential threat. So today, forget about the uncertainty and do what is in front of you. I will keep the CIA on me. We know our obstacles today natalie. They will turn us into fanatics, running off to the white house for a portal. Get it?
‘Got it’, Priest.
Agent Jackson finishes his morning reports, always tracking his consciousness as 'notes'. Consciousness explains behavior, explaining behavior explains decisions, decisions he is held accountable too. Agent Jackson was always ready with his notes. A boss, which was pretty much just Congress, an accusation from a superior, questions of judgment are part of this type of career. Life and death situations, national security requires the best people, honest people, a genuine disposition and Agent Jackson knew this. So, if he is ever asked, ‘did you give Xi a file while working in China on or around June 2016?’, he could answer, ‘yes’. Then he could answer the why with clarity, with proper emotional attachment. He didn't mind this, like most in his field. He was always prepared, rarely caught off guard like he was in the morning. He included everything, ending his report with, 'file was also given to my future self' to prevent world war in 2022.
Washington DC, FBI HQ
The office is full of ruckus. Seemed more like a busy mall than a secluded office in FBI headquarters. It is as if the place was being raided. Everyone was being interviewed. Every computer was locked down.
Natalie receives a phone call from Los Angeles.
Natalie. You alright? What is going on over there?
It is a mess here. I just got in. I thought maybe a motivational speech from some temporary boss but the place looks like it is being raided. In fact, by my best bets it is being raided. If the FBI is raiding their own office, their starting point, the Alpha Omega’s has someone in intelligence.
So, what does it all look like? The big picture Natalie?
We aren't even there yet and now we got this going on. Our boss was murdered. Our 'new' office was raided. Listen, let me call you back, I need to see what is going on. She hangs up the phone, leaving behind her LA field office.
Sir, I am FBI Agent Natalie Jackson. I arrived yesterday. Are we going to be able to work today? Intentionally saying 'we' so she sounds inclusive with the rest.
Don't know, we were just ordered here 30 minutes ago.
Natalie noting to not ask any further questions or comment any further. Could appear she is digging for information.
Ok. I will just sit around, I guess.
Oh, wait. Are you Natalie Jackson from the Los Angeles office?
Yes, that is me.
Right this way Agent Jackson. The agent stepped close to her, placing his left hand approximately 6 inches from her back while extending his right arm open to the direction she must go. A few more inches and it will be a shove.
The FBI Agent opens the door. Natalie enters, with the door closing swiftly behind her. She looks directly into his eyes.
Natalie. I have some questions for you.
Natalie immediately recognized his face.
Washington DC, FBI HQ
‘Winthrop’, Natalie wanting to lay him the fuck out. One of those cunts from Yale. Of course, he is here. Rumors were his father was in the CIA and he was going straight there after law school.
So, how's life? The FBI treating you well Natalie?
Natalie quickly barks, her first warning, 'quit the BS, what do you want with me'?
Not much. Not much. Well, I do have an interest in someone you know.
Who? All my friends are FBI, you can go talk to them yourself.
I didn't know the Priest was FBI?
The Priest? Why do you give a shit about him? Natalie quickly gets back to her bullish ways.
He has been flagged with my office at the Secretary of State.
Natalie had to tilt her head down so her hair would cover her face while she laughs, ‘Secretary of State my ass’.
How do you know him, Natalie?
The Priest? I have known him my entire life.
Don't you mean The Blonde Priest, showing he knows a bit more about him than he is showing or getting Natalie to believe he does so she talks.
I only know him as Priest.
Did you know he has a CIA file Natalie? Whole fucking thing redacted.
Good for him. He worked with my dad. They were always overseas. So probably dipshit. Well, Natalie didn't say dipshit but she wanted to.
Could be just that. Or, he could be a member of the Alpha Omegas. What do you think Natalie? Show me that brain of yours.
Natalie completely passes on Winthrop’s interests. Still mad they wouldn't let you into Skull and Bones at Yale Winthrop, even with all that family money. Why do you work anyways? Ego? Want to conquer the world? Make up for your character inadequacies? What drives you Winthrop?
Now Natalie. I thought you would play nice. Anyhow Natalie. I need a favor, a favor you will do.
Oh ya? What is that?
Stick with the Priest. I want to know everything. That simple.
That simple you think? If only he knew, Natalie almost blurts out, catching her breath just in time to stop the words.
Yes Natalie. It is that simple. Do I need to flag you with the Priest? This is what is being asked of you. Comes from my boss. Feel me? You don't have a choice.
Winthrop. I am sorry. Yes, I will absolutely help. I just want to get back to finding out who started this dam war. And you know how I feel about you dipshits from Yale? Sorry, I should not have jumped all over you, Natalie showing her willingness to work with him, showing him she can bury her differences with him.
You always make yourself clear Natalie. Brutally so. But I appreciate your expediency. It is an admirable quality I wish I had.
Both parties give a little to build some trust, give a little just so they can try and take more from each other.
Natalie, prepare a file on the Priest. The ones we have are shit. Record everything you can and get into him a bit. See what he is hiding.
Did he ask you to come with him to DC Natalie?
Natalie noted this last attempt to extract information.
Winthrop, I have to go. Can I go?
Yes Natalie. You are doing your Country well.
‘Corny fuck’. Natalie again has to dismiss a BS laugh as she exits the room.
Washington DC, FBI HQ
Ya, this is Winthrop. She knows something. I just don't know what. I threw her a nib at the end and she didn't bite. No bite means she noticed. Only people that have something to hide have their guard up and will notice the inquiry. That was her mistake.
Keep her close. What is the Priest doing?
Don't know yet.
Washington DC, FBI HQ
Natalie walks directly to where her desk was, sits down, turns on her computer with a look of determination on her.
Hey, turn that off, shouts a random FBI agent.
Tired of feeling like things are out of control in her life, Natalie stands up and shouts 'stand down' agent. This operation is of National Security. Do you have a warrant?
Did any of you idiots ask to see a warrant? Anyone? Natalie yells, causing the whole office to stop.
If you don't have a warrant get the fuck out of my office. Everyone, get back to work. We have a world to save.
Who sent you? Did you hear me? Who directed you to take control of our operation? The FBI agent was a bit shocked and unable to exactly say.
‘Orders came from Assistant Director Smith. His orders came from the Secretary of State's office’, the agent says to substantiate what is going on, to establish authority.
You mean that cunt I just met with, don't you?
News flash. Winthrop is CIA. They probably want our info to take control of the operation.
How do you feel about that? CIA coming in and pushing us around, pushing you around, pushing around the FBI.
Now get the fuck out of here until you have a warrant. Now!
Winthrop, walking out of the office hearing the tail end of the engagement, talks to an FBI agent and continues walking until he exits the office.
The senior agent in charge tells everyone to pack it up, ‘we are done here’.
Natalie gets a smirk on her face thinking, 'fucker' as Winthrop leaves. Like the Priest said, 'one step ahead', 'one step ahead'.
Washington DC, FBI HQ
Winthrop picks up his phone while riding the elevator down from the FBI office.
Hello Kyle. FBI agent Natalie is playing rough.
Did you do what was needed?
Yes. Winthrop, put it together. I will let you know when.
Kyle. I got word about the Priest. He is at a cafe in DC, near the white house. He is just keeping us busy. He also went and walked outside the white house.
Knowing Winthrop is a pond in this, Kyle leaves out The Priest’s real purpose. To go back in time and change history. ‘Winthrop’, Have your team stay with him and get the images. Have one of your guys go have a chat with the Priest and tell him where we are to meet up.
I see sir. Will do.
Washington DC, Cafe
Hello Priest. May I sit?
What's your plan Priest?
The Priest noted the agent's abruptness that he has no knowledge of himself, the Alpha Omegas or the big picture. Just someone sent to let him know they are watching, carefully, the Priest notes. The Priest will come back to this moment. The moment he didn't recognize how far the killers of Kilmr are willing to go, how far the Alpha Omegas are moving from their purpose.
What are you doing with Agent Natalie Priest?
Well, she woke up at my home yesterday morning and had to come here to DC. I joined. What a great statement to downplay the conversation the Priest thought. Bring everything down to a basic human level. Good luck following up with that, agent whoever.
I see. We are concerned about you.
Me. A Priest? Who came with his sometimes girlfriend for work?
The agent, knowing nothing of the Priest or why he himself was there, realized he had nothing to go on. The agent came up with another plan, to play his role as a pond. 'Look, I don't know why I am here. My boss says go and I go’, an attempt to get the Priest to start flaunting himself, which the agent can only hope will work.
‘Good’ says the Priest. ‘I don't know why you are here either. But if you like, you can come to the Immaculate Conception. I need to pray for the world’. The Priest letting the agent know where his boss can meet him.
A shake of his head, the agent slides his chair out, raises his finger to say something and finally waves his hand as if pushing away air to say this isn't worth my time. He leaves the cafe. The Priest sits where he is. Doesn't flinch. No double look, continues on with his meal, ready to go to church when he is done. Knowing he just let whoever is in charge know where he is going and that he is invited. Hopefully, the man who had Kilmr killed will show up.
Natalie. When can you get out of there?
3, maybe 2:30. I can skip the meetings.
Meet me at The Immaculate Conception at 3pm.
‘Sure thing’ Priest.
Washington DC, The Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
What are we doing here Priest, says Natalie?
Praying. What else?
I don't pray Priest. Not since I was a child.
Pray for the person who killed Kilmr to show up.
So, what do we do Priest?
We sit, we talk, we pray Natalie. See if anyone shows up.
Priest. Why exactly did you become a Priest?
I didn't know what else to do was the truth. All those years living in conflict got to me. I guess I really wanted to work out some things for myself. I did a lot Natalie. I impacted people's lives. I am sure quite a few died as well. Here is the problem with evil Natalie. Once you respond to it, you're in it. I was always unclear if I was on the right side of good or just finding substantiation to fight. I always loved the fight. Things were never as clear to me. Like what we do is all good. My thoughts kept me questioning myself. Is the only way to beat evil to do nothing? By not responding and only living in the light is the only true way to beat evil. But we are people, not Gods. We have fights in front of us. I am coming to believe fighting is the only way. Last resort but the only way in the end. Look at what is going on now. What happens if we don't fight Natalie? And others like us. Like your father.
Priest, is this what caused you to act?
Yes, over the past few years my confliction began to be settled. I see much suffering, daily. And for the most part it is one of two things. The person is causing their own suffering by not letting go of their past or something in their life just happened. I realized they need to fight for themselves. Everything starts with the self. My rationale and step into faith rests in this, if we must fight for ourselves, shouldn't we then fight others for our ideals?
Like you Natalie. Your suffering is from missing your father. Rather than fight, you choose to ignore, making your pain haunt you every day. If you stand up to your pain, face it, take it on and fight your suffering will end. This goes for everyone Natalie, not just you. You are taking the first steps; acceptance and self-reflection. You are, for the first time, in a very long time recognizing your emotions. It is brutal isn't it, Natalie?
Painfully so Priest. But the reprieve I am getting, even if for just a moment, is nice.
That is what you need to follow Natalie. That moment. Keep going till your life is in that moment. Free from confliction, free from pain. That is a human's path.
And you Priest? You are not conflicted about 'altering God's will'.
No. My values are now well defined to me. I did ask for forgiveness for what I am about to do. I felt clarity. I prayed that my decision is morally acceptable in the eyes of God. So no, Natalie. In fact, this is an act of faith. Anytime you act with pure faith, you will be fine.
I don't know Priest. My feelings are in a different place. I am happy I am here, with the world maybe ending, with you. The Priest noted the change from just 36 hours earlier.
Natalie, whatever is compelling you forward is never wrong, if it is based on an act of faith. By the way Natalie. What happened at work? They getting anywhere?
Nowhere. Today the office was seized by other FBI agents.
What was that about?
Kilmr's death supposedly. I kicked the fuckers out though. No one thought to ask if they had a warrant. It was the CIA digging and waving their influence around. I thought they were there because it was the starting point of their investigation into Kilmr’s death. Made me think they knew it was an inside job or someone from the intelligence community. And that may be, but I think the CIA just took a shot at us, using the situation to gain control.
Besides that, Priest, everything is okay just as it is. We work. All of us across the country and overseas to get the answers. The politicians will use their negotiating skills to calm this, for now, till they get more information to make their decisions. Right now, we only have theory. The Russians somehow caused China to attack us. We have no evidence, but that is what is under scrutiny. I can't help but think Priest, someone wants to go to war with Russia. And I think it is someone from our Country. This is the only thing that makes sense.
Natalie. You said, we know the who, kind of. We have to find the why. I think we are getting there. If we can get the who, we can get the why. We do know it is Alpha Omega, well who is the most likely scenario? We just need this person to show up here.
No one yet Priest.
The Priest showed a puzzled look. ‘No one’. No one is showing up, Natalie. They would have been here, right away, not able to resist.
We are one step behind, aren't we Priest?
Yes we are Natalie. That means trouble.
Priest, we better get back to the Hotel.
The two walk out of the church looking around, just people going about their days. The Priest couldn't help but feel alone, stranded, almost desolate realizing how far behind he is. Natalie notices his disposition becoming nervous, his face showing his mind searching for answers. She grabs him by the hand, giving him some comfort, letting him know he is not alone. He grabbed hers back. Together they walked back to their hotel, giving themselves a few moments to let go and just be. That is all they could do at the moment. Just be.
Washington DC, Hotel
Natalie. Turn on the news.
President Pence declaring a cease fire has been established between the United States and China for another day.
FBI Director James will hold a press conference in just a few minutes. We will be right back after these words from our sponsors.
Priest, where do you think we are in this?
No clue Natalie. I didn't think about it the whole way here. The walk was nice.
It was. But we need to refocus Priest. We don't know what the play is. There is someone unexpected in this, after us, after you. Someone you know. Someone who knew Kilmr and you two together meant something. Someone willing to go to extremes to accomplish their goal.
MSNBC News is back
We break for FBI Director James
People of America. We expect to gain knowledge of the cause of this war within the next 24-48 hours. We do not have enough at this time to further divulge any new information regarding China, Russia, allegations Russia was behind this nor can I comment at this time on any aspect of the intelligence community, as Agent Kilmr's death is an ongoing investigation. We do have persons of interest as of 3:30 pm this evening that we are seeking. Natalie Jackson, a 3-year FBI Agent and her partner, only known as The Priest, both from Los Angeles, CA who have traveled to DC recently. Agent Natalie was directed to the DC headquarters two days ago and was last seen at FBI headquarters. Earlier today, the offices were raided by the FBI, which led us to need to speak with Agent Natalie Jackson. The Priest is a companion of Agent Jackson, accompanying her on this trip. They are staying in the DC area. If you see them, please call your local authorities. Again, as of now they are persons of interest. If you come in Ms. Jackson, this will go a lot better. The world is almost at war. We need you to do the right thing.
The Priest opens the door.
So much for going in ourselves Natalie.
Hands behind your back!
Don't say a word Natalie. Not a word.
Washington DC, Natalie's Interrogation
Agent Natalie Jackson. 3 years in the Bureau. A distinguished father who served in the FBI. A family history being built. Is that how you view what you are doing? Building a legacy. Building a history Natalie?
Why are you helping the Priest? Natalie doesn't respond again, waiting for the full storyline to be developed.
What are your connections to Russia Natalie? Are you a sympathizer?
‘With Russia’, Natalie asks, knowing the government is looking at Russia as the source of the current conflict in the world. Leave it open she thinks, let them divulge their narrative they built against you.
We found some emails on our FBI servers, the agent using the word 'our' to show an us vs you approach with Natalie. Who were you talking to?
There it is, Natalie thinks. Winthrop. The raid wasn't about the CIA gaining control of the investigation. He is working with the Alpha Omegas and planted something in my emails. Natalie quickly analyzes what kind of position she is in. Whoever did this is the ‘who’ in all this. Natalie’s mind begins to work. All directions are pointing towards Russia. Why Russia? Why is the narrative being built that Russia caused this? Why does this person want war with Russia?
Natalie thinks, you have an issue whoever you are, you are in over your head. Clearly, this was not the person, the ‘who’ in all this. ‘They gave me a puppet’. ‘Mickey fucking mouse’. So, talk to them on their level.
Agent whoever you are, you do realize I work in the LA office and just arrived here yesterday. You do realize this is a new unit, brought together with law enforcement of the highest pedigree and people from the intelligence community. You do realize we have no assigned computers yet? You do realize I never logged in after the agents left their bullshit raid. You do realize others were on that computer you found...whatever it is you found. You do realize how important the chain of custody is, right? Even further, check my office computer in LA. Something may be in the server, but I assure you, none of it came from the LA Computer. I will sit and wait so you can check this out. Natalie regains control. Typical agents operate as the letter of the law as their muse. Nothing is above the law. Natalie laid out the law for him so he could clearly see the issues she just created. Even further, pointed towards evidence that the agent will not be able to resist looking into whether something is wrong, very wrong here.
Natalie wasn't willing to be grilled for 24 hours straight. She couldn't do it. The range of emotions she has experienced in the last 48 hours have been exhausting. 3 days ago she had worked 72 hours straight, got piss drunk, went and saw the Priest, woke up, the world was at war; flies to DC, learns about her father, time travel, Alpha Omegas, her love for her father she has sorely missed, her love and care for the Priest, her new boss being murdered, all the while gaining some peace just for a few minutes with the Priest when they walked home from Church just hours before. But she knows, everyone has their breaking points. She is at hers. So, she mustered up everything she could to posture that she is ready for this fight. But she isn't. That is all she had and she hopes it works because at this time, being arrested or framed for what she is trying to stop is torturing the strength of her soul. She feels she can pass out at any time all the while holding her exterior posture to show a manifestation of someone innocent, someone who is seeing clarity under the pressure, telling the agent how to do their job, giving her substantiation for a much different conversation.
The agent freezes, recognizing that he must follow up with what she just said. Everything about Natalie irked that agent. Guilty people play games. Guilty people make excuses. Guilty people tell stories. Guilty people attempt to manipulate. Guilty people pretend. Either she is stalling and excellent at manipulation or there is something seriously wrong here. Like most FBI agents, they are well trained and will seek innocence as passionately as they will seek justice. This agent was no different. He exits the room without saying a word.
Washington DC, The Priest’s Interrogation
Priest is waiting in a room, alone, handcuffed to a table. Natalie is nowhere in sight. He hasn't seen her since the hotel. His only emotion is a feeling of letdown. He let everyone down and more so, people let him down. He couldn't overcome his feeling of worthlessness. Someone who ran and hid as a Priest and then couldn't do it. His self-worth coming into question, he just sits. Everything is suddenly out of his hands. His self-efficacy is demolished. Just when he was getting the hang again, his failure became blatant. His failure of self.
The door opens. His heart started pounding. You! Just when the Priest gave up hope, in that moment, his faith found him. His blood rushed. His heart was pounding. Him and Natalie were spot on, just a step behind.
Priest, nice to see again.
The Priest puts his head down, just slightly, to gather himself. He rarely exposes himself like that, realizing he gives up his cards when doing so. Just, his swaying emotions got the best of him, just for a moment. He lifts his head up, gathered himself. No one is there.
He pauses. Kind of looks around, looks towards the see-through mirror and the door opens, again.
The Priest says nothing. He just stares, letting his eyes do the talking without a word, without any show of emotion.
Priest, nice to see you again. Do you know who I am?
‘Kat Vogel’, the Priest says, neutralizing her mysterious persona play.
Tell us now and this will go a lot easier. Well, not easier, but quicker. And I would appreciate you admitting your guilt, telling us what you know so I can move on. After all, there are more pressing issues than you, if you haven't heard, her way of neutralizing the Priest back.
The Priest says nothing, establishing his position. Like Natalie, the Priest waiting to see the narrative they are bringing. Although he has a good beat on it.
Since you got to DC you have been busy Priest. Since you got to DC you have been busy. Since you got to DC you have been busy...
The Priest batting his eyes, still not giving an inch even though he is not sure what is happening. Did she just stand there and repeat the same thing over and over? It was like a computer glitch, stuttering to play a graphic.
Priest, are you listening? Did you hear what I am saying? We have you rushing to DC. We have photos of you at the white house, we have you meeting with a rogue CIA agent at a cafe in DC that has been arrested for treason and espionage. We have you at Kilmr's home, on tape, his death occurring moments after you left. We have you.
The Priest quickly analyzes the situation he is in, asking himself, what does he know, what doesn't he know, what does he need to know quickly. Quelling the shock of how far she is willing to go, something he never saw coming, that any Alpha Omega member will fall so far from its purpose. From day one, she was always ahead of me. I walked right into this. The Priest with a blurred past, with an FBI agent running towards the white house, killing along the way and meeting with his associates to further cause harm. That is the narrative, that is what I know and I easily painted for them. What don't I know is the why? What is the why? To go to war with Russia? The CIA is drawing a line to Russia as the cause of this. This is the narrative being given to the intelligence community. Natalie and I are the cornerstone of that investigation, the launching pad. From day one she had this built. What do I need to know? Why is she doing this?
Priest says, I will talk. Shall we start?
The woman says sure. I will be right back. The woman walks out smugly, proud of her evil doing. Proud of getting one step closer to her goal.
The Priest puts his head in his hands but doesn’t feel anything, his hands never catching his forehead. The Priest looks at his hands, they are gone. The table he is handcuffed to comes in and out of existence beginning to shake; unable to grasp a thought, a feeling, what is right in front of him is leaving him.
Everything goes dark, including the Priest's mind.
Washington DC, Agent Interrogating Natalie
Agent Bryce Miller is a career FBI agent. Educated at the University of California Los Angeles, studying political science, criminal psychology and law. A brilliant investigator that cannot be shaken. His father Stan was a local police officer who raised Bryce all by himself, as his wife, Bryce’s mother was murdered when he was young. Retaliation for taking down an Asian Prostitution ring in Los Angeles. Bryce would have been killed as well if he was home. They never caught the perpetrators. Dealing with international criminal organizations as local law enforcement is difficult. Many of these criminals come and go across all states of the U.S. let alone back and forth to Asia, Europe, etc. . Bryce's father did everything he could, worked relentlessly to find who murdered his wife, Bryce's mother, but lacked the resources and enough people to give it personal care. This is what led Bryce to the Bureau, the ability to work across all state lines and internationally if necessary. He would find by the time his career was over who murdered his mother, giving his father peace. Himself peace. Even more so, Bryce would care again. Every case taken will meet his brave heart with compassion of his soul. He will give himself to the truth every time. And you get the truth through people. People give you the truth through one form or another. He followed people's truth's whether they recognized their own truth or not. This was his talent, to bring out the truth of people's lives.
And in this case. He will get the truth. The truth of Agent Natalie Jackson and the truth of the Priest. Even further he thought, he will get to the truth of the investigation as a whole.
Agent Bryce Miller asks himself this question like he does for each and every investigation.
Why did I get this case?
Bryce, ‘what happened with Natalie’, say’s Kat?
She didn't say a word. Bryce not giving up anything, but does reassure her he will get to Agent Jackson. He knows better than to give up a word. But he wants to get in Kat’s mind. She is the one in charge, directing this, she is the one that appointed him, still really unsure why he was appointed from such a high-level member of the intelligence community. Why is she personally interviewing The Priest? He say's fuck it.
Ms. Vogel, why did you appoint me to this case?
What are you having doubts about Agent Miller?
No doubts, just wondering. I ran into Ms. Jackson like a truck. It worked. I can see it on her face. Just gathering more info. Then I will get to Priest.
It is simpler than you think, Agent Miller. You are well known in the Bureau for your investigating talents. They are just as good as anyone else I have. But what I don't have is someone neutral. We will run a parallel interrogation, don't misinterpret that. But you, you will be the voice of justice here. You are the 'front man' in this. Your reputation to go by the book, follow the evidence is what is needed to bring this forward. Our narration is clear, the evidence against Natalie and the Priest clear. If something is wrong, you will find it. If my, I mean our narration is right, you will build it. Now, are your BS sensitivities answered too?
Yes Mam. Clear as the day.
Now, get in there. Audio/video stays off, am I clear? Only you and I will have access to the persons of interest, now safe to say suspects. No one else. Do you have a problem with that?
No. Just how I like it.
Good. Now get the fuck to work. I have to leave. The world is at fucking war. These two are our pinpoint of knowledge. ‘Follow their minds, follow what the fuck happened’, says Kat, as if she doesn’t already know.
Bryce walks back towards the interrogation room, gathers himself to continue with Natalie and opens the door.
Agent Bryce closes the door behind him, facing the door as he closes it, giving himself one last thought to gather himself.
He turns towards Natalie but only a table and a chair exist. Where is she? What the fuck!
Bryce quickly opens the door, his chest leading the way out.
‘Where the fuck is she’, he screams at the two agents guarding the door.
She is in there. In the interrogation room.
Look for your damn selves!
The two agents walk in, stunned, looking at each other for support.
How the hell did you let her get out of here? She must still be in the building.
Sir, we were right...
I don't give a shit; she is still here in the building. It has only been minutes. Find her now. Wait a minute. Have you two morons checked on the Priest?
No, why would we, knowing they do not want that door to be opened. The fear of the possibility of the impossible engrossed them.
The two agents run to the door, stop, pause and gain their composure, pushing through the door. No one there. Same as with Natalie. Just handcuffs.
They turn around, look at Agent Bryce Miller. One agent's jaw is wide open, his eyes distraught. He looks at the other agent for support but only finds someone stone cold. He realizes what his partner is doing. Posturing. Don't show weakness, he tells himself, find your determination. He gives a shouting fuck to show his discontent. Sir, we are on it.
Good. Find her. Find the Priest. Find them now!
The two agents get on their phones, as they continue down the hallway, hit their radios, shutting the building down. Repeat, ‘shut the building down. Two suspects roaming the premises. One female, one male. The female is approximately…’
Agent Bryce Miller sits where the Priest was sitting. His only thought he can recognize is, what the fuck is going on here? Think outside the box Bryce, think outside the box.
Priest, how are you?
Jackson? How the hell did you get here? Where am I?
How did I get here Jackson? Last I recall, I had this weird feeling. I must have been drugged during the interrogation.
Priest I grabbed you. I had too. The world was gonna end in a few hours in 2022.
What? Are we safe in China?
For now, yes. Agent Jackson always answers with the minimal response.
What do you mean for now?
Priest, you are tired. You need to rest.
Where is Natalie, Jackson? She is looking for you.
Asleep, as you should be.
Jackson, I am not going to fucking bed.
Well, that is your choice. I might as well tell you since you won't rest.
Tell me what Jackson, spit it out already.
You are in China.
Ya, you told me.
Grab today's paper. It is over at my table. It is the NY Times.
The paper reads:
June 8th, 2016, Hillary Clinton makes history, seals the Democratic nomination
Kat comes running into the interrogation room where the Priest was.
Agent Miller is just sitting there. He doesn't say a word.
What the fuck happened Agent?
Agent Miller, what happened?
Agent Miller stands up, knowing very well, there is too much he does not now. He responds, 'They disappeared'. He didn't mean this as a metaphor. It is his most accurate depiction of what transpired.
No one just disappears, Agent.
I beg to differ. Can you explain what happened to Natalie and the Priest any other way?
Disappeared? Thank you, Agent Miller. Kat knows what this may mean. While unsure of the details it is a fact that is possible. Kat closes down all angles, this is her skill set. Corralling her opponent, just as she did with the Priest before, just as her mind is doing now.
The Priest taking a breath. We were on our way back here, to 2016. Unfortunately, someone was a step ahead of us.
Kat you mean?
Yes, Kat. I didn't see it coming. Kilmr is dead Jackson. Wait, how did you know it was Kat?
It is 2016 Priest, keep it simple.
Simple? I thought I was a bit looney for searching for the portal. Now, from what I gather. You grabbed us from the interrogation rooms at FBI headquarters and brought us back 6 years to a different country and you say keep it simple!
It really is Priest. The portal never existed. That was a long-nosed story we implemented. In case anyone wanted to change history, we could do what was done to you and Natalie.
What are you gonna tell Natalie?
That I missed her. And that I love her. I am sure she lives in a lot of pain. Pain I caused.
Yes, yes, she has been. She...
The bedroom door opens, Natalie almost creeping out, unsure of her surroundings, her hair pushed behind her ears with a few straggles draping over her face.
Priest? Dad? Priest, did we do it, Natalie asks, as she finds herself looking for a center point to focus on, the room, the Priest, her dad spinning out of her consciousness. She can't catch herself; she hits the floor folding over, looking lifeless, feeling lifeless. Her consciousness leaves her.
As Natalie lays there Agent Jackson cannot move. The force of his decisions affects his mind, ravages his mind with guilt. He runs to Natalie, picks her up, lays her on the bed with her head in his lap. ‘You were never supposed to be here. I failed. Me, not you’.
The Priest feels what has been lost between Natalie and her father and Agent Jackson and his daughter. He understands this, pain, human pain. Pain he lived in for most of his life. His failures, his vices. While doing the best he could in each step-in life and overall living a genuine life, he had to endure pain and has caused pain. His whole life was about relieving the pain of others. And in this, his consciousness of choice became his methodology of being. At this moment he will decide. Pain, others suffering, or to fight. In this moment he will shake the burdens of fear overwhelming his body. This is his journey, his path. He will lead Natalie and her father through this. As he learned as a Priest, each step-in life is the same. Each one takes a step of faith. Today, the Priest will walk in his own footsteps, something he has never done before, till today, recognizing the opportunity this challenge brings.
The Priest sits in Agent Jackson's apartment. The solitude here is what Agent Jackson liked. Just outside the window the world is hustling, the streets sprawling with people, each with their own focus, their own lives, their own vision of purpose. It is no different with this apartment. Each of us here for our own reasons, our own purpose, but commonality in pursuit. In here, Agent Jackson can be separate, yet so close to the world around him. This is the life of someone in intelligence, the Priest recalls. Live right in the middle of human life and go about your day. The same as everyone else. The Priest passively listens to Agent Jackson and his daughter Natalie speak to each other, but paying no attention or concern for it. Just compassion and care for their relationship.
The Priest has his own agenda. His focus is the 2016 Presidential election. It is June 2016, months before the election. Both parties have just elected their party's nominee. The Democrats elected Hillary Clinton and the Republican party elected Him. Up to this point, everything seems right. Where is the flaw, where is the mistake in history? Agent Jackson did not come back to this time by mere accident. This is the Priest's starting point.
For now, he will sit. For now, he will wait. He will let the answers come to him. The Priest closes his eyes. Agent Jackson is right, rest is needed.
Bryce is like a younger brother, quietly plotting and planning to beat his older brother just one time. One time is all he needed. And in his life, his work, this is the truest statement he could make. To arrest a criminal, he only needs to beat them one time. That is all it takes. When the opportunity arrives, he grabs it.
Bryce worked in the LA field office for the Bureau. He was quiet, walked larger than he was, chest always up, chin down. At a mere 155 lbs. he walked around like he was 200 plus. His pride in himself exuded from him. Some took this as arrogance, but he always knew he simply cared. And in caring, he took care for each detail. His posture, his demeanor all the way to his innermost thoughts were honest. His desire to be pure, to be relentless, to compete, to win by simply making sure his opponents didn’t win pulsed at him every day.
What others didn't know about Bryce, was his simplicity in character. From the get go when someone meets him, Bryce sets off a tone with others. A once frat boy at UCLA, now a man, his name and background paints a picture of privilege he never enjoyed. He had to fight and claw for everything he had. After his Mom's murder, his father fell apart. He loved his father, his desire to catch his wife's killer, the people who killed his son's mother. But he also saw his father's vengeance, disguised as a pursuit of justice, decimate him as a person. Bryce's father was lost to pain. Bryce had to take it upon himself to learn how to be, how to fight, how to maintain stability through the most stressful of circumstances. His skills with emotional intelligence grew out of his desire to make his father feel better. No matter how he felt, he always gave his father a bright smile and words of hope in his own compassion for himself, his father and the people that murdered his mother.
Elsewhere, through college and his career with the Bureau his status as an investigator is well hidden, never flaunted, he just seeks the answers. Like he did with his father when he was young, he learned to hide his emotions and continue on. This is his gift in life. The simple ability to keep on going.
And this, this is gonna be Kat's downfall. She brought him in. What she is getting is a well-built person who walks on his own two feet. A well-built person who fights with the slightest of eases without letting on a drop of sweat. His fluidity of operating in life to live in what lay beneath is what drives him. And when he met Natalie, everything about her bled into his true nature. He saw a raw purity with a tough exterior layer, an introvert like him, keeping emotions as a storm inside, living with it, accepting it while giving an external self, always posturing, always competing not to win, but to make the other person lose. Kat is the exact person Bryce holds disdain for. A person of perceived substance but severely lacking in self with nothing more to show but their aesthetics of presentation.
Natalie, I will discover the truth, Bryce says to himself. And the truth lies in Kat. I will break her layer of facades and tear down her walls of self-ignorance.
Bryce finally exits the interrogation room. His path is set.
Natalie realizes she was asleep for some time. It is now night. Her father was next to her, sleeping. The Priest?
She gets up, not waking her father, softly leaves the bedroom. There he is, turning a bit on the couch of Agent Jackson's apartment. She touches his chest, gently, and his eyes open. They are both exhausted. Both smile. For a moment, just a moment they are comfortable, resting in each other's presence. A knock on the door breaks their peace.
‘Newspaper’. Agent Jackson opens his eyes. But before he can get up Natalie opens the door. Just as her father did the day before, Natalie opened the door to a barrel of a gun.
Natalie moves to her right, her back bracing against the wall, still vulnerable from the night before. Priest just sits, knowing not to move.
‘Agent Jackson’, Xi says with a big smile, as if they were friends.
‘Xi', Agent Jackson replies, turning his back once again to him to get him and his two men with him to follow him, away from Natalie, away from his daughter.
Who are your friends, Agent Jackson?
Meet Natalie, special agent with the FBI and The Priest, CIA. Agent Jackson knows to keep things as close to the truth as possible. Xi will do his homework. Xi, we have work to do. What is it that you want? Arriving as you have, yet again is, well, thoughtful of you. In fact, why don't you just stay for breakfast, Agent Jackson say's facetiously in an attempt to establish some boundaries.
Okay okay Agent Jackson, you made your point. I was just having fun with the gun. We didn't know you had guests. If I had, we would have had 3 guns out. The two men behind him, the same big goons from his first visit, chuckle.
Agent Jackson. I have something for you. I want you to give it to Chen. Can you do this for me? It is very important. Don't worry, it won't harm him. I just want to give him some information. You will make him happy.
Xi. I am assuming there is another target the information needs to get too?
I think you are right, Agent Jackson.
Next time Xi.
Yes, Agent Jackson. Next time I will bring 3 guns. Ha-ha-ha. Oh c'mon, you have no sense of humor Agent Jackson. I will see you soon Agent Jackson, very soon.
Agent Jackson walks over and closes the door behind Xi and his two goons. The smell of them stays near the doorway and Agent Jackson can't help but swipe the air by his nose with his hand in disgust.
Dad, what was that about?
Priest, Natalie. We need to gather ourselves. The world is depending on us.
More than you know Jackson. The world is almost on the brink of destruction. ‘How did you know about Kat, Jackson’, asks The Priest?
Her father, Kat’s father, was killed by the Russians and we let it happen. She blamed us. It was bound to happen.
Priest, that is our why! Shouts Natalie.
What happened Priest? Agent Jackson is more comfortable speaking to Priest rather than Natalie about business.
Long story short. She killed Kilmr and we feel she is the one behind the war. The one driving the misinformation.
Priest, Natalie, here in 2016 I was handling information between two Chinese competitors. One in government, Chen, one a state criminal. In these transactions, like Xi is asking me to do, we could have discovered the truth about Russia's interference. Russia created a mule to carry information. That mule was me. Russia created a threat of hacking us, the United States and altering the outcome of the 2016 Presidential elections. That is too direct, too risky, too blatant for Russia. They created some small attacks with some Twat's, their words not mine, in run down apartments. They wanted us focused there. Russia's real attempt to alter the elections was through social media. They, Russia, wanted to sway His base, cause fear and get the votes out. The United States didn't see this coming. The big social platforms never cared enough to mention what they were seeing, hiding behind the guise of free speech when in reality it was about the money. He became President.
Natalie shouts something again, I knew it! Fuckers.
So, I am here in 2016 and will get Russia's plan to our intelligence community. China as well could have let us in but chose to only give us information we already had, trying to build some good graces with us rather than really helping. The Chinese never give without a reason. Xi wants to know what the Chinese government knows and what they are willing to share with the U.S. He is protecting Russia's real attack on the United States Democracy, which is low risk on their end.
The Priest looks at Natalie as if saying without opening his mouth, 'we were right’.
What do we do next Jackson, asks the Priest?
To go see someone.
Kat enters her black Escalade with blackened windows. She gets on the phone and calls David.
David, I have something for you. Meet me at my home at 6:30 tonight.
I will be there Kat.
Bryce, waiting in the lobby of FBI headquarters, his mind wondering. Focus Bryce. Take a step. Kat is key to this. Get in your car and follow her. She will lead you to your answers. Bryce picks up his phone, makes the phone call he does not want to make, takes a breath, hoping not to find what he sees. Bryce knows what this may be for his career. He is taking a huge risk with his own life, something he needs to note. But his decision is made.
Kat leaves FBI headquarters with Bryce behind her, right behind her.
Natalie, a man says.
Natalie's eyes widened. Is that you?
Yes, it is me.
But I don't understand, she looks at Agent Jackson, her father. Looking at this man, sitting in the restaurant, says Dad?
The Priest realizing what is going on and the potentiality. He too, along with Natalie have another one of themselves in 2016. Agent Jackson quickly grabs the Priest by the shoulder and tells him it is alright. Please sit.
All sit down, together, staring at each other.
The Priest begins, who is who?
He grabbed you from 2022 and brought you back to 2016, says Agent Jackson sitting at the table; he is Agent Jackson from the future. He is getting me the information I need from Chen. He was me when I was the mule for Xi and Chen. He is the person that will alter history, fix the 2016 elections.
Natalie, pretty fixed on the plan, her head down, slightly, brows focused, begins to lay things out, her FBI training taking over. How do you know this specific action that causes the 2016 election to be altered? What about Mr. Comey and his press release stating Hillary Clinton is again under investigation or having Bernie win the Democratic nomination?
Agent Jackson responds, wasn't enough. Hillary's issues were simple. She never delivered a message, causing low voter turnout. Blaming Comey is absurd. Her failures are her own. Which is where things went wrong. She could have won by delivering a message. She conveyed nothing. Just stayed in her history, Barack's, her husband and did nothing. Still, people voted for her as a leader of the Democratic party, but she didn’t take the next step she needed too. But in the end, it was Russia's tilt by rallying the vote and the message of Him that tipped the scales to an unnatural outcome, by turning a high voter turnout for him. Yes, Bernie would have beat Him by getting out the new base of the Democratic party to vote. But that isn't our issue. Hillary winning was a natural outcome, the course of history. There is a great American accomplishment here. We elected the first female nominee by a political party for President. That isn't something we want to remove. Only thing we want to do is stop Russia. Whatever happens is the natural outcome.
We should do more, Natalie say's, a craving in her eyes starting to develop.
The Priest reminds her of why the Alpha Omegas exist. That natural outcome is our purpose. We keep rogue actors from interfering. That is it. Anything else is extremely dangerous. And Natalie, would you really want to become like her? Like Kat?
No. Natalie always finds herself. She pauses. She reflects. Okay. Dad, how do we help?
In a few hours I am going to Chen's home. Chen is going to give me a file. All of his guards will be around me and his focus will be on me. Natalie, Priest, I want you to steal the file with Russia's real intentions. Get it to me. I will send you two back to 2022. I will get this to the appropriate people. It is that simple. We simply want to expose what is happening. Effect the natural outcome of the 2016 elections by keeping Russian influence out. Priest, Natalie, are you prepared for this?
Priest and Natalie look at each other, both relying on each other like they never had before. They are finding their place in the world. Their purpose. To serve.
Beijing China, Chen’s Home
Again, Agent Jackson arrives at Chen's home. However, it is much less formal. No decoratively dressed women, but plenty of security. Today is all business. A harshness is felt as Agent Jackson arrives.
Agent Jackson, welcome.
Agent Jackson bowing, acknowledging Chen who just waves him into his home. The security opened the door for Jackson to enter. Agent Jackson can't help but think this is the day when Chen decided not to share his intelligence truthfully with the United States. Agent Jackson reflects on his first meeting with Chen, the formality, the pleasantries. Chen was still deciding what he would and would not share with himself, with the United States. What could I have done better, if anything at all? Agent Jackson refocuses and knows this is his last meeting with Chen. He had been used, something he didn't notice in 2016, a rare mistake he is now fixing.
Chen walks briskly, directly to a big room set just for these types of meetings. Just as before, Chen offers nothing, walks back to Agent Jackson and say's here is one more favor from China to you. Both exchange files.
Jackson, you need more time, Chen wants you in and out, a sign of his lack of respect for you. Build the time for Natalie and the Priest. Think, create something. Now!
‘Chen. I gave the previous information to Xi', Agent Jackson realizing this was his test and may open Chen up. He failed. He caused Chen not to trust him. For Chen it did not matter, he would simply watch Xi deliver the file to Russia.
‘Xi is doing what he is supposed to be doing,’ says Chen. Now, I have to go. I have more serious matters than this. The rest is up to you, not China. Chen is still playing the role of the good guy, helping, but drawing a firm line. But Agent Jackson knew better. He knew Chen's reputation and how he built his career. A man of pride and ego who will crush anyone who challenges him.
Chen, you are fucking liar, a piece of shit. You disgust me.
Security closes in, Agent Jackson hoping the Priest and Natalie are on the grounds. They have two minutes at most to get the file.
Agent Jackson, you are in the wrong place to be speaking like that. I suggest you leave before you find yourself unable to get home.
Agent Jackson walks directly to Chen, give me the real file and quit fucking using me as a mule!
Chen, a bit stunned at first at his knowledge pauses, then reverts to his natural instinct, to meet the challenge. Grab him!
Agent Jackson struggles briefly only to have the guards bend his arms behind his back, leaving him half hunched over, almost as if he is bowing. Chen grabs his sword and swings toward Agent Jackson's neck, stopping just as the blade rests on his skin. ‘Agent Jackson’, Chen says, ‘I do not know what you are speaking of’. You are no longer welcomed in China. What you choose to do with the Russia information is up to you. That is not my business. You will be gone by this evening or you will be gone.
Agent Jackson knows this is all he could give. He looks up at Chen and sees out of the corner of his eye Natalie and Priest. With a smirk of his mouth, Agent Jackson looks at Chen and says, ‘don't worry, if I come back to China, you will be the one gone’.
Agent Jackson is taken back to his black SUV, escorted by Chen's men.
This was Agent Jacksons shot to fix history. He will know shortly if this worked or if history will fight back.
Beijing China, Chen’s Home
Natalie, hurry up, get in. Natalie is still getting over the stone wall, lagging behind The Priest. This was a subconscious thing, letting the Priest lead. Her nature is to always be the one in front, but not with The Priest, noting this as she drops over the wall, she gives a, 'right behind you' as an affirmation to the Priest as a form of acceptance of her acquiescence.
Let's go, says Natalie. The Preacher pushes down on the gas pedal but nothing happens. They both look up and realize they are in trouble.
Priest and Natalie wake up.
Natalie, are you okay?
Ya, I am fine. Giving the Priest and herself reassurance. I can't move. Where are we?
I don't know Natalie. I am blindfolded.
Me too. I can't see a thing. Priest, I am scared.
Natalie. Something I have been meaning to tell you. Well, tell myself. I...
A door opens. Footsteps are heard along with some men speaking in Chinese. One at a time their blindfolds are ripped off. Natalie and the Priest sitting there with their hands behind their back on the concrete floor look up and see.
‘Hello Priest, Natalie’.
The Priest and Natalie look at each other a bit confused, waiting for Xi to speak further.
I have someone that wants you. They pay really well. Your father will be disappointed but I am done with him. I am sure he will be waiting for you. Waiting for a very long time.
‘Sir. He is here’.
Ah, just in time. You got lucky; I was going to have some fun with you two.
A man walks in, Caucasian, reddish hair as though his beard is laid under his blood vessel toned cheeks, someone clearly not from China and someone walking with intention and purpose.
He walks in, doesn't say a word, pulls out his gun and fires.
Agent Jackson arrives at his apartment, hiding his emotions and concern for Natalie and the Priest. He knows they are well skilled, but until he gets them back to 2022, their lives are in danger.
Walking straight to his table he doesn't even notice.
Hello agent Jackson.
Oh, it is you. I suppose you want your apartment back?
Yes. Did Xi notice the age difference?
No, neither did Chen. Either I look young or you look old. They both smirk. Agent Jackson hardly ever fully smiled in his entire life.
The older Agent Jackson say's, you know I really wish I would have been there for Natalie, not leave her when I did. I chose others over her in the end. I chose myself in a way, my values over my emotions. I chose to make the world better at the sacrifice of my daughter. I question this every day. When I brought her back, I spent a few hours with her in a way I should have her entire life. I let myself go for just a moment. I want that moment to be the last thing she remembers about me. And that I helped her. You haven't been through this yet. It is a brutal decision to make. As you feel now Agent Jackson, as you have been thinking for years, one day, when you retire, you will be a better person, a better father, not so emotionally distant, to stop. You are addicted to this. It is the only way you see the world. You don't engage with nonsense, people posturing, you move through them and past them, when someone is pure, you acknowledge it, but the average person just is a tape recorder for you. You have given your life to the idea of America, you have given yourself to the idea we can be better, the world can be better and in turn your daughter, her children, your great grandchildren will be in a better place. As James Madison said, ‘I study war and politics so my daughters may study philosophy and poetry’ and that is what all of us, those like us do. We fight for others. We give ourselves and our beliefs. That life you were thinking about doesn't exist in you. And you will come to accept this. I just want you to know, whatever your decision is when the time comes, it is your own. Just know if you choose the path I chose, you will be fine, your daughter will just be fine, as you just saw.
Now I must go. They need my help now.
Xi drops to the floor. Then David, blood running through his red beard.
Again, the Priest and Natalie looked at each other for support.
I got here just in time it looks like. Chen called as I was taking the elevator up to the apartment and informed me Xi was taking you two to give over to an American. I guess he did care, after all and was just posturing earlier. His guilt of dishonoring our relationship must have been weighing on him, causing his anger.
‘Natalie, Priest’, Agent Jackson says as he unties them. We must keep moving. This is history that hasn't been lived before. I am just as blind as you. What I do know is this. I will get this file to DC but Kat will need to be stopped. Something I noticed is when you travel back in time, the future responds. Kat will always find another way.
Dad. I just found you! I can't lose you again.
Natalie. This is my life; this is what I chose. I care deeply about you and how I give to you is doing everything I can to make this world safe. And in that, is where I find solace, where I find peace, where I find my ability to keep moving forward. Without it, I am not the man you know.
Natalie, do you remember me in your youth?
What were those feelings?
I looked up to you. You always worked so hard. I always appreciated that and when you were home, you were there. You were never one to share your emotions but you always listened. As a child, I could always count on you to just listen, to let my mind explore itself with you.
Agent Jackson reflects on this statement, realizing, maybe he wasn't such a bad father. His work always pulled him away, but when he was home, his daughter saw him as he was. He can accept this as now he hopes Natalie can accept his decision in life. To leave.
Natalie, use the idea of me from your youth inside of you. Let it grow, let it foster. And then remember earlier today when you rested with your head on my lap. Keep that feeling with you. When you need me, just remember and feel I am always with you.
Natalie gaining some comfort, her body physically easing, the pain of her life subsiding. Her body again goes limp, the Priest catching her, letting her lay on the floor. Then he too begins to feel faint and lightheaded like he did in the interrogation room. Seeing Natalie go in and out of his arms, like a glitch. He keeps blinking until he cannot see anymore. Everything goes dark.
Bryce is slow to move closer. He very well knows there will be eyes with Kat, looking for everything and anything that could be a threat to her. Kat is eating alone. A salad with salmon and water with lemon. Bryce thought she was a steak, no sides with cranberry vodka kind of person. Bryce notes how you can tell a lot about how a person eats, where their consciousness is, their self. If they are being or, are they trying to be? In this case, Kat is trying to be. A sense of normalcy in her life, like being like everyone else is her goal. Immediately Bryce recognizes this could mean a conflict with herself. All he can do is watch. It is too early in the investigation to interfere. Everything is still fragile, and he has no evidence yet. But that is what he is here to do, build his case wherever the evidence leads him. And in this case, Kat is screaming at him. He looks at her facial expressions, is she thinking, is she reflecting? How did she just come to eat after two suspects potentially involved in causing a war disappeared from custody? Why isn't she at her office, having a press release issued? Bryce terms this behavior as abnormal. Either she simply needs this time to gather herself or her self recognition is severely damaged. People of her position usually plough into controversy, like a freight train. They constantly seek resolve. Why isn't she seeking resolve? Or has she? For another purpose? What is driving Kat in this investigation? Keep watching Bryce, keep watching. Follow your instinct and that instinct has gotten you, right here.
Natalie and Priest begin to wake up. Feeling exhausted and groggy, their breathing through their noses is well felt by each of them. Slowly they begin to take deep breaths and rise to their feet. Shaky, unstable, feeling breathless, each one begins to lift themselves up past their hunched over position, realizing they need each other to steady themselves, finding balance in each other's arms. Both look into each other, both lean forward, now feeling each other's breath as their lips connect, first by an electric spark, then with tender care they have both been missing in their lives. Their emotions are well felt by both of them and well welcomed. Each of them realizes they are right where they are supposed to be. Their feelings of longing and displacement in their lives are suddenly gone. Their path in life has arrived. Together, they will save the world.
Shit, Bryce say's to himself as he watches Kat leave. Not leaving but walking straight towards him. Bryce notes her passivity in approaching him. Like they were supposed to be meeting, like she was always coming to talk to him, and he was supposed to be right here.
They are right about you. You are persistent. You had the balls to follow me.
I am not following you Kat. I am following Natalie and the Priest. Somehow some way either you will find them or they will find you. What I do know is your key to this. What I am not sure of is your role, if any, Bryce says, looking to find a hint of anything, anything at all.
Yes Bryce, I am key to this. It is my job. Like your job is your job. You go where the information leads you. What I think is you are a caring person who allowed someone to get the best of you in your interrogation. Maybe your lack of understanding or your bloated care and compassion got the best of you, but it is clear to me you don't accept how bad some actors can be, especially at this level.
Have you heard of the Alpha Omegas agent Bryce? Kat is using a typical CIA trick, giving some information but not all to give yourself some space. Kat is using it as another tactic. Time is crunched and she knows it. Put a thought in his head and then walk away. Keep him thinking, unable to find the ground he is standing on and by the time he does, this will be all over with.
Ya, on the internet. What about them?
You are looking at 'them' right now.
Ha-ha, real funny Kat.
Now, if you don't mind Agent Bryce. Shouldn't you be looking for Natalie and The Priest rather than following your boss? Look around. How many people are around me? I can't move an inch without the world knowing about it. And if they do come, Natalie and the Priest, I will be just fine.
Sorry I ruined your lunch Kat.
You didn't Agent Bryce. It will take a lot more than an FBI agent to ruffle my feathers.
Bryce walked away, submissively, but analyzing what Kat just said; 'It will take a lot more than an FBI agent to ruffle my feathers'. That is a challenge was Bryce's first feeling. Kat telling him you will never figure this out. I am out of your league is the best translation Bryce could come up with. People like Kat are typically like this, a bit arrogant in their position, relying on their title for authority. In Kat's case, this means her authority to do whatever she likes. And that single thought began to enact fear in Bryce. What if she is the one calling the shots? His imagination began to get the best of him.
His cell phone rings.
Natalie gathers herself, knowing very well the Priest could probably stay right there forever with her. We need to go.
Natalie. We don't even know where we are.
We are at my childhood home. Follow me.
The Priest follows Natalie out of the room towards the front door. Natalie steps through and then The Priest.
Cars are honking, taxis are crowding the streets. The beat of the life hits both Natalie and the Priest intensely, giving them a feeling of being home, even though it isn't LA.
They are right in the middle of Washington DC. Right where they needed to be. Right where they can save the world.
Priest, are you ready for this?
The Priest finding himself once again, letting go and accepting who he is. Who he wants to become, and he wants to be that person with Natalie by his side. The Priest spent most of his life feeling like an impostor, like there was something more for him and he wasn't fulfilling his destiny. Now, that feeling is gone. And Natalie, while not so expressive about it, felt more at home than she ever did. Even as a rogue FBI agent wanted for espionage and treason, comfort was within her. She knew, all she needed to do was let go and let herself be. She didn't care anymore about her job, her work, finding her father, engaging with the Priest on an emotional level gave her more peace than her FBI career could. Besides, she has something bigger than herself to give herself too now.
The Priest looks towards Natalie and gives a nod of, 'are you ready', by which she replies with a nod of her head. Both stare forward, begin lifting their feet and begin their mission. Stop Kat and prove she is the cause of the war. Their lives depended on it and at this time, they are the two most wanted fugitives in the U.S. who are going to save the world from a war that ends civilization or, at least most of it.
Priest, here. Let's stop here and eat. I used to eat here sometimes as a child. French toast. It is the best here. They serve theirs with bananas and Nutella. A powerful combination for a child.
Sounds fine Natalie. As long as they have a TV.
The Priest and Natalie sit at the counter and ask a waitress to turn on the news.
‘Oh hell no’ says the waitress, I am tired of hearing all them white men talk.
Priest a little surprised but enjoying her natural demeanor and willingness to convey herself. Before Natalie can pop off, The Priest asks another waitress, this time a younger Latina who seems more passive.
Sure, what channel?
Just the news. We are not from here. We are from LA. So, we don't know what channels the news is on.
One second. The waitress goes to drop off some eggs and hash browns and returns to search through the channels for news. She herself is unsure what channel is the news. We only have rabbit ears here, HD rabbit ears, but rabbit ears. Ah, there we go.
‘7 am. We are on what the 3rd day’ says The Priest.
Natalie is sitting next to the Priest. She doesn't really care for the news. As long as she is breathing, she feels they have a shot. She feels all will be well. What she really wants is her french toast with bananas and Nutella. People did this when they connected with something in their life, they continually kept a connection keeping that feeling with her father alive this morning, through french toast.
Natalie, there is nothing, no news.
Not yet Priest. Maybe this channel is local. Look, they are talking about local politics. Everyone does need to keep on living, right? Shouldn't we do the same, just for a moment. Natalie wanting to stay in her comfort she is feeling, trying to drag The Priest’s focus back to her. He slowly acquiesces.
I guess you are right Natalie. Natalie, are you sure we are doing the right thing?
Priest, how can you be guessing yourself?
I don't know, I just have this feeling.
That feeling is your nerves. Look what we just went through. It is hard to let go of it. You will naturally search for validation or proof of it. So, you will question yourself so you keep searching. Priest, I am here right in front of you. Just hours ago, well I think hours ago you said you found yourself, your purpose.
Natalie. Living in the idea of myself and my purpose is a lot different than living in it. There is nothing more than what is here, now. That is a new feeling to me, no longer something I need to chase.
Priest, you are who you wanted to become, as am I. We are in this together. Our entire lives have led up to this. Natalie assumed the role of the resilient one now. Taking the reins for the Priest to follow.
Now Priest, after we eat. We only have one thing to do. Kill Kat.
Kat, you have a meeting with the President at 9 am, lunch at Five Guys at 12 pm.
What about my meeting with the Chinese diplomat?
Kat, that is who you are having lunch with. Xi really wanted Five Guys. He heard all Presidents eat there so thinks it is some diplomatic place. He is in for a big surprise, isn't he? Wait until he sees the line at that place.
The Priest, leaving breakfast, just can't help but think something is wrong. His entire body is telling him to stop. Just stop, Priest. Just stop.
The Priest has always had his issues with making decisions in life. People that are self-reflective typically do. The Priest himself suffered from making decisions based on morality. It is why he became a Priest, so no more decisions needed to be made. He would only live in the Good, in the light, refusing to engage with darkness and in this moment, he is feeling darkness, weighing heavy on himself he continues on with Natalie. He was there, he knows his history. He knows Agent Jackson, Natalie; he knows Xi and Chen; he knows what is going on in 2022 and how serious his decision is. He knew all he wanted to do was save the President's life. His mind searching for moral grounding to compel him forward, he begins to substantiate what he is about to do. What he and Natalie are about to do. Murder is a mortal sin, something he can never come back from. Something he has been fortunate enough to evade his entire life. As the time comes to live in this decision he is becoming irked, as if this was not so much what he always wanted, but what the worst part of him always wanted, to kill. To live in the dark so he can never have a controversy again. To relieve his morality of its purgatory upon him. His search for substantiation only leads him towards more controversy in himself. Then he refocuses and accepts his decision to save the President's life, humanity outweighing anything else. He asked for forgiveness again. Live in yourself Priest, it may not be your best self but morally, to expend one life to save many you can live with. The Priest erases his doubt and grabs Natalie as he stops at a newsstand.
‘Natalie look, it's Xi’, says The Priest.
Xi is an ambassador to the United States?
I guess so.
Where is he going Priest?
I bet Kat will be there. C'mon, we have to move.
Washington DC, Nero’s Home
Natalie, we need to get on the subway to 55th street. Nero lives there.
His nickname from my days working with your father, in the CIA.
He is like a hub of needs. If you need something you go to him.
Priest, we don't need the subway, that is just 3 blocks away. He must really be a go-to guy, living this close to the White House.
It is symbolic. He is like that. A very suspicious man who enjoys living as he does. He enjoys what people tell him. He always has the angles down on everyone who comes to him.
Well, I know he won't have our’s down Priest.
Natalie. You lead the way.
Washington DC, Nero’s Home
A man in running shorts and a polo V-neck opens the door.
Priest, what in the world are you doing here? I thought you were done? As you are now, a Priest.
I was. Until...
No matter Priest, who do you have with you?
This is Natalie. His daughter.
Yes, this is FBI agent Natalie Jackson.
Nice to meet you Nero. ‘Pleasure is all mine’ Ms. Jackson. Nero had that personality type. He enjoyed knowing and meeting 'somebodies', always proud of who he knows. Like the nerdy drug dealer that learns too much about how a drug is made and gets to be around guys he always wishes he was.
Natalie, your father is an icon in the intelligence community. People always ask about him. If anyone has seen him. If he really died or just went further in. He changed the way the CIA worked, well him and The Priest here. Dare I say it, 'The Blonde Priest'. Nero chuckles, more snort chuckles than anything with a flap of his hand. He found the oddest things amusing to himself and only himself.
Nero, we need something very simple.
A gun Priest? So unimaginable. So very, boring. Well, maybe not, I have something special for you. Kind of symbolic. Let me go and grab it for you. I have been saving it, as it appears, just for you. Nero had a way of making things seem bigger than they were. The Priest always appreciated this.
Here, Petrus .45 caliber.
Can't you just give me a Glock or a Sig?
I can Priest. But this is oh, so much fun.
Fine. As long as it is easy to fire.
‘Natalie, you okay with this’?
‘I am perfectly fine with it’.
Nero, we need to be on our way. Things are time sensitive.
After some more Chinese, are we Priest? You know, there is a Chinese diplomat in town today? Nero fishing for some information.
The Priest laughs, purposely not glancing at Natalie. I wish we were that important, deflecting the truth with precision and care.
Now, we must be on our way Nero.
I am sure you do Priest; I am sure you do. ‘Natalie, it was an honor to meet you’ says Nero, as he bows, but in a curtsy like a woman.
Always one for the flare of formalities aren't you Nero. The Priest kept the conversation on Nero. The Priest shakes Nero's hand with a slight bow afterwards to be supportive of Nero's character. Nero always needs special attention.
Priest and Natalie leave Nero's home without looking back.
Natalie say's, do you think he is suspicious?
That is his nature. We gave him nothing.
Washington DC, Nero’s Home
Nero goes to grab his phone. Natalie made a clear mistake that the Priest did not notice. She looked at The Priest when Nero mentioned the Chinese diplomat.
Kat picks up her phone. 'Hey, I may have something for you'.
What the Priest didn't know is Nero is no longer Nero. He is Dominic Culter, CIA.
11:30 am, Washington DC
Natalie walks up to the counter at Five Guys and asks for a hamburger, no cheese, mustard jalapenos, tobacco sauce, pickles and hold the onions, ‘I don't want my breath to stink’ she tells The Priest.
The Priest looks at her like she is fucking crazy.
Priest, what do you want? They haven't got all day.
Double Cheeseburger, the Priest passively says, looking over the menu and then scanning the room around him.
Fries, soda Priest?
Natalie leans into the Priest grabbing him around his neck reaching her arm behind his head, laying a kiss on his cheek and whispering in his ear, ‘act normal’.
‘Thanks honey’, The Priest says.
‘11.22’, the cashier says. Oh, is this for here or to go?
Dine in say's the Priest.
The cashier hands the Priest his cup of soda and Natalie's. She couldn't remember if she ordered one or not but took it anyhow.
I love strawberry Fanta. It brings back childhood memories. You Priest? Doesn't Fanta taste great? I prefer the orange Fanta. Let's go sit Priest. Natalie noting the Priest's passivity, as if he isn't present or feels lost. Waiting for their food, Natalie subtly tries to get The Priest to loosen up. It doesn't work. Ok Priest, since you can't focus. I will focus on us. What are we gonna do? Are we gonna take her, take Xi, are we gonna kill Kat and run? We didn't exactly set up a plan. We have been running for 72 hours and it culminates here, what we do now.
Are you prepared for this Priest?
Yes Natalie. I am just weighing the environment. What our best shot is. Can we get out of this alive, can we get away? Is it worth it? Is there another way?
No Priest, there is no other way.
Natalie, have you forgotten? We are wanted suspects for espionage. We are traitors at this point. It is giving me an ill feeling in my gut. I have always been one on the right side of history. Now, I am not so sure.
The Priest remembers everything that has been done to us. We are the only ones fighting for history, at least here, now. We are the only ones that can stop this. We are the only ones that can stop Kat. We will not get another shot at her. She has the power. Is that why you are acting so fucking weird? I thought you were backing out Priest?
It isn't that Natalie. As soon as Kat see's us, we are done. She will have security with her. We will have to move quickly.
#666, your order is up.
The Priest looked down at his receipt.
Relax, just a coincidence Priest. Besides, maybe it means the beast is coming and we have to stop her, having some fun with The Priest’s religion. Afterall, Kat is trying to start a war to crush Russia and end the world as it is today. How the hell could we be the bad guys?
I know Natalie.
You have the gun Priest?
Yes, it is in my right pocket.
Give it to me. I will do it.
Hold on Natalie, be patient. We have no idea how this will play out.
Well, I am starving. Let me go wash up, my hands are greasy. We have a few minutes until Kat and Xi arrive.
Sure thing Natalie. Have fun, say's the Priest.
In the restroom?
Sure, why not.
Natalie walks with her back to the Priest and heads directly to the restroom. Before she enters, she stops to look at The Priest to say in her mind, ‘don't worry, I will take care of this’. But before she can process what is going on, The Priest is walking straight towards the front door. Natalie looks to his line of sight, to see what he sees. No Xi, but Kat. Kat is walking in with her dark round sunglasses like from the 70's, with a brown tint to them. Then she sees them. Four men that were dining at Five Guys had stood up and were walking directly towards the Priest from behind. Each with their right hand hanging loose and ready, stepping carefully, their shoulders balanced in their stride. The Priest reaches in his right pocket and brings his arm up, pointing the gun directly at Kat. Before Natalie could scream the restaurant echoed with pop, pop, pop, pop, at least 7-8 shots fired. Natalie went running towards The Priest. The agents turning around at Natalie yelling freeze! freeze now! Natalie didn't care, she kept running. Her tears turn to anger, seeing Kat standing there, as if she didn't deserve this. One of the agents tackled Natalie, securing her on the ground. Natalie musters up enough energy to lift her head and stare at Kat with her eyes swollen with fear and pain; You, you did this, you did this to him. The agent slams his knee into her head as he handcuffs her. Natalie's face lay's pressed against the tile of the restaurant. As she stares square by square her line of sight doesn't allow her not to look. Laying there, covered in blood, blood flowing into rivers running down the grouted lines, finding its path as it pours from the Priest's heart. Natalie can only know. The Priest is dead.
Maryland Institution for the Mentally Ill
At her hearing, the judge ordered Natalie Jackson to undergo a full psychiatric review. The judge called her 'someone who is going to explode' and 'severely out of touch with reality'. This is where she has remained ever since.
Good morning Natalie. How did you sleep?
So not much. You haven't slept since you have been here.
Natalie, have you watched TV like I asked you?
I suggest you do it today. At 9 am to be exact. In just a few minutes. Can you do that for me?
I want to see how you respond to outside stimuli.
I know where I am Bryce. I know what year it is. I am not crazy.
Natalie, where are you?
A CIA insanity home.
Who am I Natalie?
I don't know. But I know you work for Kat. You must be CIA. Not the FBI like you said.
Natalie, do you still believe you traveled back in time?
Natalie just sits there. She has been asked this question every day since she got here. Natalie's relentlessness keeps her stubborn, refusing to believe anything right in front of her. She just sits in her room, thinking. About the Priest, her father, how close she was to happiness and now the misery she lives in. A fucking nightmare every day. She won't partake in any activities. Just takes her meds, lay's in her room, dreaming of a different outcome. In this, she knows she is fucking crazy. Thinking of how things should be will always drive someone crazy.
Bryce. Every day I have been here I have told you the same story. It isn't changing. I am not crazy. Natalie is firm on her position. Firm on why her and the Priest needed to kill Kat Vogel.
Okay Natalie. I hope you get some rest.
Natalie simply walks out. Feeling hopeless, she walks directly to the community room, turns on the TV and watches.
Maryland Institution for the Mentally Ill
Natalie Jackson’s file
November 5th, 2022
Patient continues to display symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia without lateral symptoms typical of other patients, including fevers, manic episodes, violence, or any other lateral symptoms manifested through physical means. Natalie's atypical schizophrenia allows her to remain in her alternate reality 100% of the time, which is keeping her calm, comfortable, without threat of her reality breaking. This is atypical with other patients with paranoid schizophrenia. It is unclear to me if challenging her reality will cause an outburst, resorting the patient to more typical symptoms and behaviors associated with her condition. I have refused to challenge Natalie's reality in an attempt to allow it to break on its own. Natalie suffered a recent trauma, which may be the cause of an extended state of her alternate reality. Until this trauma is resolved, losing her boyfriend, who she called The Priest, whereby she created an alternative depiction of what happened due to her guilt, relentlessly stating ‘Kat beat her’ Natalie’s delusions will continue. ‘Kat beat us, the Alpha Omegas are going to end humanity’ are consistent statements made by patient. Rather than taking responsibility for her action and The Priests, Natalie has created an alternate reality. I directed the patient to watch TV. This will directly challenge her reality and in turn, the patient may turn to me to understand, creating a relationship of trust that does not exist at this time.
What irks me most about this case is Natalie's calm, rational and has a clear ability to communicate her reality. She is sharp, witty, call's my BS, meaning attempts to build a patient doctor relationship are well recognized. Every morning I tell myself, today, today will be the day. Every day I am wrong. Everyday Natalie conveys her version of reality to me with such fluidity and ease that I only end the morning session with one feeling. That Natalie is somehow telling the truth. That her reality has or does exist.
November 5th, 2022
Bryce Miller, Ph.D.
Maryland Institution for the Mentally Ill
Natalie, has grown tired of her days, as she has spent months mourning The Priest, missing her father. She is tired. Really, she just stays in a state of sleep, non-sleep, fucking meds she thinks.
Natalie sits down on the sofa, curls up her legs and lets them both fall to the right, placing both her hands in between her thighs, ‘it is always chilly in here’ she mutters.
Alright Special Agent Bryce Miller. What is it you want me to see?
MSNBC Special Edition
Good, Natalie thinks, don't have to listen to the whiner at least.
We are 24 hours before 2022 Midterms. President Hillary Clinton has been traveling the country building support, getting the vote out to retain the Congress.
Natalie is stunned, baffled. Her first thought is simple, this is fake, they made it. But then she gathers herself. Natalie, you know the difference between what is real and what is not. This is not fake, trust yourself. You did it. The Priest, your father. Your father corrected the 2016 outcome, you just didn’t know.
Then she resorts to a panic. We just didn't know! I didn’t know! We never checked to see if history changed. We just kept running. At the cafe, the news said nothing, we didn’t see the change! The Priest didn't need to die, I, I am sorry Priest.
In other news Kat Vogel, Secretary of State is back at work today. Kat spent 3 months rehabbing after the attempt on her life by former FBI agent Natalie Jackson and her boyfriend, The Priest. What do you have to say Secretary of State Vogel?
Natalie again, resorting to trusting herself. Kat is Secretary of State? Natalie, you did it. Kat changed, we saved The President's life, the natural outcome of 2016 elections occurred. Give them what they want. Pretend you don't believe your story so you can have some version of a normal life Natalie tells herself. You can gain some peace, some comfort.
Then Natalie looks closer at the TV. She can't believe her eyes. Did Kat just mouth, 'you haven't stopped me yet’.
A Castle Reborn I
By R. Cary