In the previous installment, Azibo gets another shock. He’s told by the federal authorities that he won’t face jailtime for his crime and that they’ll give him a generous chance to reform himself. He also discovers that his girlfriend, Unity, had been an undercover federal agent the whole time he knew her.
Let’s jump to Part 17, where Azibo learns more about his future after The Collective.
Sevil, the federal agent, stayed in the room with Unity and Azibo while everything was explained. Azibo felt betrayed at first but then realized it all made sense. Still, he questioned if Unity really loved him.
Unity, who was usually so submissive with Azibo, seemed totally different now. She was assertive, calm, collected. In fact, her whole demeanor intimidated Azibo, who wasn’t as confident as he liked to project.
“So, what about us?” Azibo asked. “Were your feelings for me – were they fake?” He heard himself say it, then almost cried when thinking of the irony. Just a few days ago, Unity had asked the same question, and he brushed her aside and decided The Collective was more important than her.
“Yes, I have feelings for you. It’s natural, Az. You’re a good man.”
“What now, then? Your assignment, I guess, is over.”
“For now. But there will be other assignments. I have a tendency to fall for the people I spy on. I’m sorry, Azibo. In the end, it’s just business.”
Azibo felt his heart breaking. But considering he was getting away with murder, it didn’t seem so bad. Just like when his parents died, his whole life had changed in the blink of an eye. Unity would move on, he was done with the Collective, and he’d be shuffled off to a new city.
“Azibo, listen to me,” Unity began. “You are a good man, and you’re smart. Yes, you have your demons; but we all do. You have a chance at a whole new life now, a better life. No more living in squalor.
“Take advantage of this opportunity. Go back to school; better yourself. You’re worth so much more than you think.”
“Thank you,” Azibo said. Unity placed her hand on his and smiled. “Will I ever see you again?”
“Maybe, maybe not. Working for the Ministry is a tough job. I’m going to take a sabbatical – I always do after an intensive mission – and then I’ll reassess what I’m going to do with my life.”
Sevil had stayed silent throughout the meeting, and she was looking impatient. Finally, she said, “Okay, you two. That’s enough for now. Azibo, it’s been a busy night; I’m sure you’ve seen the news.”
“No, I haven’t.”
“Well … We’ve coordinated a sting operation nationwide. A crackdown on The Collective. You’re not the only one with their life turned upside down right now.”
With that, Sevil and Unity left him in the holding room. They said someone would be there to talk to him in the morning and discuss what came next.
Once they were gone, he switched on NetNow News to watch Iris Greene and catch up on what he missed. Iris’ blue face didn’t seem to annoy him anymore, and he didn’t mind the infomercials with Portia.
“This just in,” Iris told the viewers. “The Anti-Terrorism Ministry has rounded up hundreds of alleged Collective ‘members’ in a nationwide sting operation. Several regional leaders were killed in shootouts, and dozens more are under arrest. It’s been reported that The Collective was planning a large-scale, multi-pronged terrorist attack on Machina Churches nationwide …”
Azibo flipped the net off after a few minutes, and he went to the large window of the holding room overlooking the city. Blue lights shone from buildings and into the night sky; everything was a shade of blue. He didn’t feel like a stranger anymore, alienated from his fellows. Perhaps he could get used to life as a modern man. Perhaps his fanatical days were really over.
To be continued
Check the following links to see previous installments of Mother Portia: