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Introduction:

After a bit (maaaaaaaybe more than a bit) of a hiatus, i finally came back to this of writing.
So, this is a different story i decided to work on. I wanted to progress with my "New places, New faces" saga but there are so many thoughts, ideas and possibilities that i can't manage to find a specific way forward with the story. So i decided to go on a different route and write something different. Like in the other story, the first chapter is more of framework for the plot, and is mostly me explaining the world aroun the characters, and the characters themselves. Enjoy!

"Sentences said in english"
'Thoughts'
"<sentences said in arabic>"
"[sentences said in german]"

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"Prepare for your exectution, you filthy infidel!"

The statement was punctuated with a whack to the face of a man. Early twenties, green eyes, medium length brown hair in loose curls, a strong jaw, somewhat asymetrical nose and his lips in a perpetual state semi-smirking, an odd, but exteremely attractive fusion of rugged and handsome, in any other situation Mark Dunn would look like some sort of fashion icon, or model. But here he was, tied to a chair with a bloodied nose, busted lip and swollen cheek and black eye, inside a dimly lit cave and surrounded by fearful, tearful, innocent people.

After another blow, the man turned away and made his way out of the cave, joining his brothers in arms as they prepared the material to broadcast the execution of 5 people to the world at large.

"Finally! I thought he'd never leave us alone!" Said Mark with a sigh in an even tone. Even though he had been beat reppeatedly and for long periods of time, and after being forewarned of his execution, he did not seem to be preoccupied at all. He instead turned his head to the best of his ability despite being bound to the chair, locking his eyes on a petite figure cowering in a corner. Said figure, doctor Sarah Addelstein was a gifted individual, recognized as a prodigy at the age of 12.
By 14 she had earned herself a degree in Biology, by 16 she had a second one in engineering, by 18 a third one in chemistry, and by 21 she had a PhD in biomechanics. The only reason she was there right now is because she was abducted from a child vaccination initiative in Somalia by islamic extremists, and she believed that her life was over.

"Doctor Sarah" Said Mark over the hushed sobs from all around the cave, causing her to sniffle and look up, her eyes red and her face wet from the continuous crying "Yes, over here. My name is Mark Dunn, and i am here to offer you a job. I work for an association that could really use your expertise, and we'd like to offer you a spot as a researcher for us."

Sarah looked down and shook her head saddly. The fear had gotten the man delirious, and he was now spouting nonsense. But a few moments later she got startled when she felt a hand cupping her cheek. At first she felt the impetus to scream in pain, but she noticed she wasn't feeling the pain of being beaten again. She just kept her eyes low and her face down as she was instructed for the past few days, waiting for the eventual pain, but it didn't come. Instead, she felt the rope tying her hands being loosened, and her body being pulled up. She feared that it was the time she was waiting for, her final moments, but a soft pat on her head surprised her and made her look up to see Mark there, instead of her captives.

Her eyes flashed panic as that could only make things worse for all of them, but before she could say anything Mark shushed her "Doctor Sarah, as I have said, I come in the name of an association that could greatly use your expertise, and we'd like it if you considered joining us after i remove you from this scene, but for now, please work on untying the other captives, and make sure no one goes out until i say it's clear"

With that, Mark handed Sarah a knife and merrily made his way out of the cave. Sarah was bewildered, confused, afraid, and... Hopeful. After the days of pure hell she had gone through, finally a ray of hope shone in her way. But she felt that spark of hope being slowly snuffed out by the barrage of gunfire that erupted outside, her hands dropping the knife as she fell to her knees, feeling utterly destroyed...

But then, the screaming started. More and more screams, from different people, reached all the way into the cave as the gunfire started slowly dying down. After a few more moments everything was silent once again. When steps made their way back inside the cave, Sarah thought her life forfeit until Mark popped his head into view "Doctor, i thought i asked you to help free those people. We need to be ready for our pick-up in 15 minutes and the clock is ticking."

Sarah let out a heavy sigh of relief, and with it, every single ounce of strength left her body as she passed out. She woke up hours later, finding herself inside the cabin of a helicopter, surrounded by the people she was abducted with being fed and cared for. She tried to get up but couldn't feel her own legs. She tried to scream out in panic, but her voice wouldn't come out, but her panic was abated when she felt a hand on her shoulder and heard a familiar voice.

"Worry not, Doctor, you are safe with us. There is a conversation that I wish to have with you, but unfortunately you're in no physical shape for it. So please rest, and we can talk later."

Sarah rested her head on her pillow, deciding to just relax and drifted off to sleep. She had no dreams, and her mind told her it was probably because she was under anaesthethics. 'Wait, I'm awake?'

She stirred slowly, forcing her eyes open to find herself looking up to a white ceiling. She tried to move, this time with farm more success as she felt more strength in her body. She heard some movement from the side, and saw a pair of people, the man who had saved her, Mark, and a woman in doctor's clothes who was talking to him with a sour face.

"Mark, you're a dick. You know that, don't you?"
"Isn't that one of the reasons you love me so much?"
"Love you? What a funny joke. Just... get your business done with so i can go back to my patients."
"Sure, sure. I don't intend to stay long either way."

With that, Mark made his way to Sarah's bedside. She tried sitting up, but he put a hand on her shoulder and placed the controls for the bed on her hand, which she tilted upwards so she could meet his gaze.
"Doctor Sarah, I am sorry we had to met under such condit-"
"Thank you for saving my life." Sarah said quickly, her eyes moistening once again as she remembered the horrible things she saw and suffered. "If it weren't for you, right now i'd be..."

"No need to thank me, Sarah. I was simply doing what's right. And that is exactly what i wanted to talk to you about. I told you i worked for an organization back then, one that required your expertise. Well, my organization is one that is capable of helping people, saving innocents. We'd love to offer you a tour of the headquarters and a description of what it is we do, and offer you a place within our ranks, to help advance humanity."
"Wait! Before that i need to make sure my family knows I'm okay! My mother must be so worried, and..."
"Everything has been taken care of, Sarah. Your family has been notified of your wellbeing, and that you've been taken to a hospital to recover from your situation. You could go see them after the tour, if you wish to, but i believe that your decision is imperative."

And with that as a closing statement, Mark made his way out of the room. Two days later, Sarah felt completely recovered. She felt energetic, and better than she had in years! As she finished her lunch, the door was oppened by Mark.
"Sarah, we have been told that your release is for today, so we made arrangements for your tour. You can go shower and get ready, and one of the nurses will have a change of clothes in your size on the chair. There already are towels in the bathroom, and any sundries you could use, so feel free to make use of them."
With that said, and without giving her the time to respond, Mark made his way out of her room once again. She decided to do this as fast as possible so that she could refuse and go back to her family, at least for a while, so she did as she was ordered, getting ready in 15 minutes. As she left her room, she found Mark sitting outside of her hospital room's door on a couch, reading one of her books, 'Natural workings of the body and it's Idiosyncrasies'.
Without looking up from the book, he got up and made his way down the corridor, prompting her to follow him. After five minutes of corridors, and fifteen minutes of stairs which surprisingly did not tire her, they reached the helicopter stationed on the hospital's helipad. They were both silent for the duration of their flight, Sarah repeatedly looking at Mark and then looking away, afraid of what might happen to her when she refused the offer. Mark simply kept reading the book, her book, which unnerved her even more as he heard the sounds he made while reading. She felt as if he was judging the book, and her because of it, and for the first time it made her feel nervous. She knew her work was sound, but what if he disliked it? What if he thought her completely moronic?

'Woah where did THAT thought come from?' she asked herself with a slight sigh, reminding herself that she didn't need this man's approval. He was just a stranger to her.
After the hours of flight the helicopter finally touched down, and Mark looked up from the book, meeting Sarah's gaze. Her eyes were glued to his, her mind just wanted to completely lose herself in those green pools...
Sarah got back on track when her travel companion chuckled lightly, eliciting a slight blush and causing her to berate herself.

The doors to the heli were oppened, and as they both hopped off the helicopter, Mark was greeted by a very classy, very beautiful redhead in a white shirt with dark blue jacket and matching skirt, and a pair of black heels. The redhead handed him a tablet and an earpiece and turned to adress Sarah as Mark made his way to the side and started talking into the earpiece.

"Hello Doctor Addelstein, my name is Martha and I'll keep you company for a while in a tour of our facilities while master Mark takes care of some company matters. Please, follow me!" She said cheerfuly before walking off, making her way around the company and explaining , though with sparse details, the functions of each department or room. She finished the tour with Mark's office, where he expected both of them. Before opening the door, Martha asked in a hushed, conspiratorial tone "Did you get lost in his gaze too?"

Sarah responded by blushing, but Martha waved it off with a chuckle "Don't worry miss Addelstein, it's not uncommon for people who have recently met him to experience that. You get immune to it overtime." before ushering her into the office and making her way out with a curt bow to Mark.

"So, miss Addelstein, what did you think about your little tour?"
"It was... Interesting, to say the least. I saw your labs and some of the materials you're working with, and i have to say, they are amazing instruments. Anyone in the scientific fields would be thrilled to work here."
"So, is that a yes?"
"...I'm sorry, but i can't accept that proposal. I don't even know what it is your company does, or what I am supposed to do. This has all been very shady from start to finish!"
Mark let out a sight, oppening a drawer on his desk and pulling a tablet from inside, placing it on the desk and pushing it towards Sarah. On it, there were a series of extremely complex chemical equations, and some amazingly sound concepts for technology that, as far as she knew, did not exist yet. Her mouth was agape as she read the files and explanations associated to the concepts, before placing the tablet back on the desk.

"Sarah, I will be honest with you. This little organization that i have assembled is what most people would consider... Black ops. Technically, we are 'terrorists'. But those are all words used by the people in power who are afraid of us. What we really try to do is establish and keep some semblance of peace around the world."
"This... This is technology that's far ahead of anything today! This could help cure cancer! Cure chronic diseases! Why don't you go public with it, save lives?"
"Two reasons. Number one, it's not finished yet. It's actually what I'd like to assign you to. Number two, the repercussions. This technology is extremely dangerous. It could basically go into any cell and rewritte certain parts of the DNA to change certain conditions of the body, while releasing chemicals to help the body accept said changes quickly. Zero risk of rejection, and so on and so forth. Prosthetics would no longer be rejected, neither would organs. Artificial organs would be a possibility. But what would happen if the wrong people got their hands on it? Imagine if those men who abducted you had machines flowing within their blood that basically made them invincible? Immortal, incapable of incapacitation through conventional means? And about the prosthetics, how long before the government would start issuing out units with bionic limbs. Bionic legs to run faster and longer, bionic hands and arms to fight better, and control the weapons more efficiently. Bionic eyes to be able to better identify their targets. But from then, what would stop them from using those nanites to control minds? After all, thoughts, ideas and actions are onl chemical interactions in our brain. If those could be manipulated at a celular level... All that aside, what about when everybody got their hands on it? Humanity would basically destroy itself."

Sarah's head was swimming with thoughts. She was processing what had just been told to her, and trying to use her moral arguments against it, but she could see he was right. Those things would probably happen. Which prompted a question from her.

"What makes you different? What guarantees that you won't use that power to just rule the world, or something like that?"
"The fact that I'm giving you this proposition should show my point. I intend to protect the world from those who are stronger, and violent, but afterwards everybody makes their own choices. I don't intend to take away freedoms, nor liberties. That's why you're the one deciding whether you will work with us, or not, miss Addelstein. To be quite frank, our actions are quite... terror-inducing. But they induce terror not in innocents, but in the hearts of those pulling the strings from behind the curtains. The men who held you captive, the various terrorist, black ops and paramilitary groups who do indescribable things in the still of the night, all being funded and armed by the people who want areas destabilized, zones vacated, countries in chaos so they can proffit. Those who use such measures for leverage in political struggles. Land struggles. Those are our targets, and so far we have done a good job in dealing with them. But they are many, and we are one. There are certain limits that we follow. The things that we have, our tech, our magic..."
"YOU HAVE MAGIC!?"
"...Yes, and as i was saying... those things we have, others have as well. But there are limits to the body, mind and soul that we dare not bridge foolishly. Yet they disregard those values, and try to force evolution. They break their own men, but their broken men break our inferior men in exchange. That is why we need people like you. Any edge we can have in this battle is welcome. You can help change the world. You can be one of us. You can be a Fleur Noire as well. It is your choice to make."

Sarah was silent for a long while, just thinking her options over, while Mark looked at her. She hadn't noticed how intense his gaze had gotten as he spoke, his passion and ideals flowing through his words. But still. Such technology, and even magic, but they never tried to help the world?... On the other hand, the others had it as well, and the governments probably did as well, and none of them came public with it. Maybe he was right. But in the end, he was no different than them, keeping it hidden as well, for an advantage. Her choice was made at that moment.

"Well, my choice is..."




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The end! Hope you enjoyed it!... Whew. I had fun writing this, but it may have come out a bit... Different from normal. Gotta get the rust outta the ol' writing bone! Anyways, please give me feedback, your thoughts on the story and characters, and any improvements you think i could make. Ciao!
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