Origins 

“So, my dear Ciara is with your team now?” The ivory skin and English accent didn’t cover the venom. “We made quite an investment in her. What a waste as it was.” She pursed her lips. “She was always…volatile. We tried to eliminate that, but to no avail.” She tapped her fingers idly on his dusty desk. “Do you realize, my dear boy, the number of miles that girl has on her?”

Nolan relaxed behind his desk. He was greatly intrigued by his visitor. A starched English woman in backwater Kentucky. And one interested in Ciara.

“Has she told you, truly told you who she is?” She waited a beat; “Her father was rebel Irish. A car bomber and not a great one at that. He was also a gambler and he was even worse at that. He accrued some rather large debts to some rather nasty people.”

Nolan leaned back in his chair; he hooked one foot over the other and grinned insolently at her. He could see his casual disregard for her authority put that prim English back up. “Sounds like a fascinating tale.” He checked his watch.

She steepled her fingers and sighed. “A rather tragic tale really. Her father was given a choice. Lose his knees or hand over the girl to his debtors. They had other business with clients whose tastes ran to the young. We…acquired her six months later. She was 14 at the time. We felt her unfortunate experiences and estrangement from her family, such as it was, would be a strong motivator. We were right, to a degree. Ciara learned faster than everyone. Hand to hand, all manners of weapons, of fighting styles, languages, politics, history. A bright child, but also a deeply troubled one.”

“I can’t imagine why.”

She made no acknowledgement of his pithy statement. “Despite her natural skill we were worried about her consistency in the field. She graduated within two years, a record that still stands. She became our best asset, our most skilled and certainly our most used. I suppose we are partly at fault for her capture in Afghanistan. She had been on assignments for 427 days straight. Her volatility overcame her training and she made a mistake.”

“And you’ve told me all of this why?”

“Because a man like you, men like your team, they need to rely on people. And Ciara was taught to not be a team-player. We however, value that skill. We invested quite some time in her. We would like to reacquire her. The Academy feels that $125,000 would be a reasonable price.”

“You’re mistaken Madam DeBois, we don’t own Ciara. And no exchange of money would make a woman like Ciara stay where she did not want to be. I’d think you would know that.”

“I think you do own her. You own her with the possibility of a normal life. But she will never have one and neither would you. She can never have children, we see to that for all of our graduates. Children do tend to impede an operative’s effectiveness. But beyond that her missions were rather, shall we say, intimate. She was quite successful as a seductress. I’m sure you’ve enjoyed some of those skills we taught her? As for her staying, she knows what she is. She always did.  Why do you think she stayed after she graduated?”

Nolan swallowed the rage and kept his casual veneer in place. “Why now, after four years?” As she opened her mouth to answer his pone rang. With some amusement he held a finger up to her, a signal to wait and he watched her own icy cool melt a little in rage. “Yeah, I’m a bit busy right now wrapping up a deal. Come up in five.”

He saw Madam BeBois’ smile and knew she thought they had a deal. He wanted to wrap his rugged and scarred hands around her porcelain white neck and squeeze the life from her as her watched those watery blue eyes of hers go dead. He smiled widely at her. “$125,000 huh? How exactly do you intend to convince Ciara to go with you today?”

“Oh my dear boy, you’re going to help me with that. Now let me finalize this.” She pulled a corporate check out of her folder and proceeded to sign it with a flourish.

The door behind her opened and Nolan watched Ciara’s smile fade away. In its place she became ice. “Hello Madam DeBois.” She crossed the room and glanced at the check, whistling between her teeth. “Mmmm, I’m quite valuable I see.”

“You were always a crude child.”

Ciara grinned, a cold leer of a grin, “I come by it honestly.” She glanced at Nolan and gave him a conspirator’s wink, “Bad blood you know. Low class genetics.”

Madam DeBois’ face was frigid as glared at Nolan. “You implied we had a deal.”

“No.” He took the check from her gently and set it aflame with his lighter. He watched it burn and curl in his brass ashtray before he looked back up at her. “You assumed we had a deal. And you were badly mistaken.”

“She is our asset!”

Ciara’s voice whipped through the room, “I am no one’s asset.” Her voice calmed. “You lost your asset when you cut your losses and walked away from me in Afghanistan. I’ve been dead to you for four years now and that is how it will stay. I’m not coming back to the fold.”

“You will come back. It is what is owed. It is where you belong.”

Ciara stood and strode to the window. The light caught fire in her hair, silhouetted her muscled form. She turned and faced Madam DeBois. “This is how simple it is. The Academy trained me and used me because I was their best tool. For three years I earned my keep. And I did a damn fine job. But you are a fool and an idiot if you still think I’m your tool. Some animals can’t be retrained Madam DeBois.”

“In four years you’ve made no name for yourself. You were The Wolf when you were with us. Who are you now? A mercenary for hire. Where is you ambition? Where is your pride? You were trained for more than this.”

“Oh I think my pride and ambition are just fine. I’m The Ghost.”

Nolan nearly laughed as Madam DeBois went rigid. “I believe she’s heard of you Ciara.”

“It seems that way doesn’t it? Madam, The Wolf was nothing compared to what I am now. So, if the Academy attempts to acquire me, by any means.I will make it my new life goal to destroy you all. Slowly. Thoroughly.”

Ciara walked forward slowly and placed a hand on either side of Madam DeBois. “If you pursue this any further I will burn the Academy to the ground. The Wolf may not have been capable of that, but The Ghost wouldn’t even break a sweat. Do you understand?”

Madam DeBois shrank into the seat a fraction. She did not like what she saw in those eyes. She could handle the volatility but she had not been expecting the ice. That made Ciara a whole new animal. An animal she wanted nothing to do with. “Yes, I do believe we understand each other.”

Ciara stepped back and leaned on the desk corner. “I hope I don’t see you again Madam DeBois. Not for a vey long time.”

The Englishwoman rose and walked stiffly to the door. She glanced back, “You will not.”

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