// 2021-02-14 // by Neon

The Zeta Directive [Section 11]

[The previous section of this story can be found here. The next section can be found here. If you are a new reader, the first section of this story can be found here.]

Like nails on a chalkboard, the metal chair gave an unsavoury screech as its legs were dragged along the cold congrete floor of the interview room. An older woman dressed in a well fitted suit took a seat in front of Josh. She looked to be roughly in her late forties to early fifties, but by no means was this a woman who was past her prime. Her face wore the wrinkled creases of age and experience, but she had the scowl of a deadly viper and the calculating stone-cold eyes of a seasoned predator. She casually leaned back in the spartan metal chair and crossed her arms.

"You really fucked up out there, Mr. Ames. I could call you a Lieutenant, but we both know you're done with that."

Josh sat in silence and stared back at her, seated across from him at the interrogation table. He was handcuffed with one arm to the chair he was seated in, but still dressed in his Air Force flight suit. He didn't really remember much in terms of what happened after he managed to send out his message.

They hadn't killed him yet, so clearly the message had gotten out. "If this is a court martial, I want a lawyer."

"I am not sure that you understand the gravity of the situation, Mr. Ames. Do you know who that women was who you were tasked to eliminate?"

Confused and unsure how to respond in a manner that would not be further incriminating, Josh cautiously responded, "Excuse me?"

"I know you don't, because, generally speaking, grunts like yourself don't need to know in order to do your fucking job. But in this case I'll tell you. She was my daughter."

"Respectfully, the fuck are you on about, ma'am?"

"Respectfully," Each syllable of the word rolled off her tongue slowly as she savoured the sound of her own voice, "what I am telling you is that our bosses up there don't give a damn about our human bullshit down here. They get what they want, and if you don't give them what they ask for on a silver platter, they take it from you and everyone you ever cared about. I was the one who gave the order for you to kill her, you know. I gave them my daughter with a smile on my face, because that's how this game works. But enough about me. Let's talk about you. It's a damn shame what happened to Abigail last night. She was such a smart girl, from what I've heard."

Josh slammed his free hand on the table and shouted back at her, "That's fucking funny to you, yeah? You leave my daughter out of this, you bastard."

"Oh, I didn't do anything. I didn't even know your kid... but you did, you know. You know the potential she had. It's truly regretable that she succumbed to peer pressure like that. They say that the first time is the most dangerous because you can never be sure how your body will react to the heroin in your system. She's with her mother now, I suppose."

Josh fought to hold back tears. The monster in human skin sitting in front of him knew exactly where his pressure points were. Abby's mother had relapsed while Abby was in the eighth grade. Her momentary lapse in willpower had left their daughter alone with just a single military father. Josh knew he wasn't always the best dad, and the fact that he was out on duty all the time left Abby to her own devices most of the time, and forced her to grow up way faster than most teens ever should. But she was the smartest and most dedicated girl that Josh ever knew; Abby was a straight A student and coming up on being the first person in the Ames family to ever actually go to college. She knew what the drugs did to her mother, and she'd never do something like that to herself.

Josh gritted his teeth. "Fuck you, ma'am."

The woman frowned ever so slightly, her eyes still dead of any real semblance of emotion within her. "Here's the deal, Mr. Ames."

She pulled a manila folder out from her suit blazer and set it on the table, sliding it across to him. "I'm going to give you your dishonourable discharge papers here, and you're going to sign them. You are a sad, unstable, and broken man who snapped after hearing the tragic news that his single daughter had just passed away. Nothing more. You are going to walk out of this room, in front of the tabloid reporters we've gathered in the other room, eager to harass you about your story. You will ignore them, and allow the local police to escort you off-base and drive you back to your empty home. I don't really give a shit what you do after you get home. You're not my problem anymore. We removed the tracking spider from your head, so good luck throwing together any evidence for any crackpot alien theories you might hope to spread around."

She rolled her eyes disapprovingly and quietly muttered to herself, "Heaven forbid you end up sounding half as clownishly obtuse as my reprobate daughter was."

Art sourced under free to use license. Minor edits made by me in GIMP. Source assets are listed below.