Don’t Shoot The Messenger: Breaking Down the Files
Messenger 9: Breaking Down the Files
There were roughly twenty sheets in the packet Tempest gave me. Fifteen of them seemed vaguely familiar. They were essentially profiles for everyone in the NYTE division. I’d seen Hyde’s after he had been killed, and the ones used for runners are similar. Every sheet is a treasure trove of personal information that I am unfortunately not privy to. The most helpful things of note that made it past were the photos, identification numbers, positions, and codenames. The real names were all blacked out, though. I guess I’ll need to get to know some people better before any of us are on a real name basis.
I think I’m getting a grasp on how the identification numbers work. All of them start with NYTE- which is pretty self-explanatory if you assume TE comes from Tempest’s name. It’s almost definitely what identifies our division. The second part is a bit trickier. It’s a number followed by a single letter. I think the number identifies different individuals, while the letter identifies the position. For example, Poe and Caper are trackers, and their numbers end with a T. Helios is a hunter and his number is followed by an H. Everyone else has positions that more or less line up with their letter, but mine is an X. There’s only one other person who has that. It’s likely that it stands for miscellaneous since my position is IT and his is transport.
The last five pages are a bit more confusing. It was just a list of twenty-five names. Not names, even. Those were all blacked out, but identification numbers. No photos, no codenames—I couldn’t even find a position. Just identification numbers labeled with an A and no indication as to what the A stands for.
I also found the new girl. Goes by Artemis. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any picture. Mustn’t have been time to include it yet. I thought I’d stop by and say hi. Let her know that I’m new here, too. She’s just new to the NYTE division, though. Not the Filii. There’s a field on the sheet for transfers, and while all the specifics were obscured, I can tell that this is the third division she’s been a part of. I still walked all the way to her door before changing my mind and turning around. Her sheet says she’s a hunter and I’m not exactly comfortable enough to introduce myself to someone who kills people for a living.
I decided to visit Caper instead. He’s the closest thing to a friend that I have anymore. Pathetic, huh? My best friend in the world and we don’t even know each other’s names.
I’ve never actually been to Caper’s place before so I was a bit reluctant to knock. I finally managed to work up the courage to take that step, though, and I let myself in when Caper told me the door was open. Oddly enough, Helios was there, sitting at a table across from Caper. Poe sat in a chair off to the corner, focused on a book. Helios turned and grinned as I entered.
“Hey Messi! …nger. Messenger. How have you been?”
“Uh…okay, I guess. Thanks.” I haven’t been sure how exactly to talk to him since I found out what his position here is. Fortunately he decided to continue his conversation with Caper rather than make small talk with me.
“So you’re thinking you’ll have that by…next week, you said?”
“Yeah, everything should be ready by then. I’ll let you know.”
Helios nodded. “Sounds like a plan.” He stood to go and gave me a wink and a little two-finger salute as he passed. “Good to see you again. Talk to you later?”
“Uh…yeah. Yeah, sure. Okay.” I turned to Caper once he had left. “So what was all that?”
“That? Just business is all. Don’t worry about it.” Ah, yes. Business. Just that whole “killing people” thing. No cause for alarm. “So Messi, what brings you here today?”
“Um.” I held up the file stupidly, not entirely sure how to start the conversation.
“Have a seat.” He nodded to the place across from him. “Let’s see what you’ve got.”
“Nice place.” It was all I could really think to say. The entire place was clean, but seemed devoid of life. There was a TV, a computer, and a few easy chairs, but that was really it. No knickknacks, no posters or paintings hanging on the walls…nothing that had any sort of personality or life.
“Feels pretty empty, doesn’t it? I’ve got all sorts of cool little decorations and stuff but Poe doesn’t let me bring them out of my room.”
“We have different views on interior decoration,” said Poe, not looking up from her book. “I prefer an elegant décor with just a hint of the macabre. That atmosphere is generally spoiled by posters of luchadores punching out sharks.”
“Cyborg sharks,” Caper corrected. “So we keep it like this because if we can’t both have our say, neither of us will. You know, we could have gone with steampunk, Poe. Steampunk’s Victorian-y but also awesome, right?”
“Speak not such blasphemies,” she said. She stood and quietly withdrew to her room.
Caper shrugged. “The girl doesn’t like steampunk, I guess.”
“Uh…Tempest gave me these.” I dropped the file onto the table. Caper brushed his finger over the triangular logo printed on it.
“Oooh, official-looking. And these are…ah, our documentation, I see.”
“Sorry, should I not have this?”
“Tempest cleared it, so apparently it’s fine. What are you showing me for, though?”
I shrugged. “I was hoping you could fill me in some. What exactly are all these positions?”
He leafed through the pages. “All right, so the—ooh, new girl—the letters at the end here stand for the positions. You’ve probably figured that out. H and T are Hunter and Tracker. I believe you know about those already, right? The S stands for Sweeper. You know, like they “sweep” things under the rug. Or sweep up the messes. Either works. Basically, if someone fucks something up—and not to throw the Hunters under the bus but it’s usually them—they go in and un-fuck things up. Uh…fuck things down? No, no, um….”
“I get the picture.”
He glared at me with that “let me finish, you killjoy” look of his for a few seconds. “Fix things,” he said. “Anyway, you’ve also got M for Medical—fairly self-explanatory—N for Networkers, C for Caretaker, V for Vende—”
“Stop. Don’t. Explain networkers, please.”
“You’re no fun. Networking is…well, they let people know about the Big Guy. Graffiti, word-of-mouth scary stories…things like that.”
“Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of the Sweepers?”
“You might think so, but there’s a very distinct difference. See, while we have to work underground to maintain our little masquerade, we also need to be expanding our influence. The more you know about Him, the more he notices you. The more people he notices, the more influence he has. The more his power grows. The more our power grows.”
“So theoretically, killing these people who know about him weakens his power? That sounds a bit counterproductive to me.”
“Well, sort of. But they also risk exposing us. We generally let them run around a bit, spreading their stories, passing it around like a virus.”
“That doesn’t make it sound too appealing.”
“I never said we were the good guys, Messi. So this new girl…have you met her yet? She cute?”
“What about the others? There’s a Caretaker a few X positions, and a lot of people who have an A position?”
He squinted at Artemis’s sheet. “Frustrating how Tempest blacks this shit out. How am I supposed to get this girl’s measurements off of this? I don’t even know how old she’s supposed to be. She’s legal, right Messi? Like, I wouldn’t be breaking any laws, would I?”
“Caper! What do these positions mean?”
He looked up at me. Hesitated. “Sorry, did you want to make the first move on her?”
I clenched my teeth. “I don’t have time for this, Caper. I asked you a question and you’re ignoring it.”
“I’m helping you out here. You don’t want the answer, Messi.”
“I do. I can’t stand being in the dark.”
He sighed. “Okay, well, the X positions are self-explanatory. It’s generally a bad idea to turn people away if you want to keep your organization secret, so we manage to fit everyone in somehow. The X posi—oh, hey, wait, I just realized that I’m expounding on these. Get it? ‘Expositions.’ Hah.”
“Right, sorry. Basically, the X positions are just dumb jobs we don’t really need.”
“Caper, I have an X position.”
“My point exactly. The other guy here, Noxus? ‘Transport’ is just a fancy way of saying he’s our pilot. If we have to do some legwork that takes us out of New York, that’s where he comes in.”
“…Really. A pilot. We have a pilot, and we have…” I gritted my teeth as I admitted, “we have an IT guy, but we don’t have, oh, I don’t know, a therapist? Wouldn’t something like that be handy for a place that shoves a bunch of psychos into a workplace together?”
“Well…I mean, since you mentioned it, technically we do have a therapist. But she’s not actually part of the division.”
“Do we, now?”
He nodded. “What do you have going on tomorrow? Any plans?”
“Not that I can think of.”
“And you’re serious about finding out about the Caretaker and that letter A?”
He sighed. “Then I’ll show you tomorrow. It’s better to just show you those two. I’ll introduce you to the therapist, too. You’ll want a session with her after that.”