CutFreeze – Chapter 1 and 2
Directive Compound – Squadron – Central Office
Chloé Zettanu yawned and stretched her legs on the small fold-up chair. The waiting room was empty and she knew that the Director had no interview right now, but even so he preferred to make her wait. She hated that. She had done her best to be on time and she found it disrespectful that he could not give her the same consideration. She was a High Dacarian, after all.
The low coffee table next to her was empty. No magazines were left here for the many Dacarian recruits who were summoned to the Director’s office. Such literature was beneath him and should therefore be banished from his waiting room.
The wooden door opened a few inches and his deep voice bellowed.
“You may come in now.”
For good measure, she smoothed her shoulder-length black hair and cast a last glance at her jacket to make sure it was impeccable. Then she walked in.
The Director was a short man, looking even tinier behind his massive mahogany desk, but Chloé knew better than to underestimate him. Within his small hands sheltered unrivalled power.
“Close the door,” he ordered her.
Unable to hide her smirk, she did as she was told. He could do it himself with a simple click on one of the many buttons on his desk, but apparently, he liked to see his human subordinates do menial tasks. Perhaps it gave him a brief reminder of his lost humanity. Chloé wondered how long he had now been a Director of the Squadron. As far as she knew she had known him as nothing else during her lifetime but she had heard the stories of his exploits long before she was born.
“It is good to see you,” he said with a smile that didn’t reach his reptilian eyes. “Take a seat.”
Two large sofa chairs stood across from his desk, and she picked the one on the left, near the window.
“We are assigning you a new partner,” he announced without further ado.
“But Caleb …”
“… hasn’t been found and I doubt he ever will be. Let’s face facts. Caleb has been gone for three weeks. He is likely dead.”
She had never accepted that last possibility, but hearing it from him made it all the more real. She still wasn’t ready to deal with it.
“He disappeared. What if he is held captive?”
“Where? And for what? We have sent out search parties. We have done everything we could. You have done more than should be expected. It’s time to move on, Zettanu.”
“We haven’t explored the swamp.”
“That would be a waste of time. No one ever gets out of there alive.” He rose from his chair and leaned with his hands on the desk, looking at her sternly. “Enough. I am assigning you a new partner and you will work with her from now on.”
Chloé knew better than to protest but the notion of working with Canea was so ridiculous that she couldn’t stop herself from snorting.
“Excuse me?” The Director stared at her hard. “Do you doubt Miss Delu’s abilities?”
“No, Sir. I don’t.”
She was aware that Canea had just undergone a freezing procedure. If she wasn’t mistaken it had been done a few hours ago. Unbelievable! Who would do such a thing nowadays? Why couldn’t she just move on without the pompous ritual? Chloé didn’t believe in the freezing technique. She thought it was a waste of time and only used for hopeless romantics such as Canea. Besides, she was a Middle Dacarian. Even though the Squadron had recruits from Middle and High Dacaria they tended not to mix.
“She will be here any time soon. I believe she just underwent a freezing operation.”
Operation? Hardly, Chloé thought in derision, doing her best to keep her snorts under control. She didn’t want to annoy the Director. He wasn’t known for his patience.
[Please click on page 3 to continue reading]